Febuary 2018 WEP “In Too deep” Challenge

When I first saw the themes for this year WEP challenges, I realized I could do an anthology of sorts. Incorporating various off-shoots of the science fiction ideas of “Steampunk, Dieselpunk, and Cyberpunk.” While the variations on those three concepts are starting to grow in genre knowledge, they each present an atmosphere all their own.  For this months piece, I fumbled around with a few different ideas before setting my mind on a Nanopunk inspired story. Nanopunk is one of two offshoots of the Cyberpunk idea, with a heavy focus on the impact of nanites and nanotechnology.  Unfournatetly writers’ overall tend to favor a negative impact over positive. Taking the extremes of both sides, while exploring the duality of technology use. I humbly present my entry into the first WEP contest of 2018, “Hope.”


Hearing brief snippets of conversation as the anesthesia began to wear off. Something about “last hope,” and “the resistance failing.” Starting to feel the nanites start their rapid enhancement of my body. Grabbing the corners of the operating table before waking up. Scanning the room to see General MacArthur and Sergeant Jones, standing on the left edge of the metal table. Several scientists with bloodstained green robes and masks stood behind them. Everyone’s gaze focused on me, seeming mentally noting every movement I made.

General MacArthur commented “Welcome back Captain Allen, and it seems the last-ditch hope of the resistance was successful. Which is fortunate, since the losses of the human race have suffered is to deep for it to fail. Get him any gear he requires sergeant. We will be dropping him deep into enemy territory soon. Remember Captain you are no longer just a man; you’re a living weapon.”

Nodding my head in silence, watching the scientists begin to unplug the various tubes and needles from my body. Feeling a slight pinch, before the nanites started sealing the wounds. Staring at the cracked bright lights above me, waiting for them to finish unplugging me. Eager to prove I was the right candidate for Project Salvation.

About twelve hours had passed before I was leaning out the open door of a programmed drone. Dressed entirely in a sleek prototype lightweight mesh armor, designed for high stealth missions. Choosing a tri-barreled energy shotgun, two compact tactical pistols. Along with a curved metal handled plasma sword and various grenades. Making a significant assumption, I could take steal enemy weapons if necessary. Glancing at the radar, tightening the straps on my parachute as the drop zone approached. Jumping out the door, instantly bringing the various factors of the drop onto the air in front of me. Keeping a close eye on the ground radar and altitude level, knowing the minimum height I could open the chute. My body was feeling the wind fighting against along its steady descent. Using my hand to open the parachute with a mighty pull at a little over six-hundred feet above barren enemy territory. Being shot upwards some as my descent began to slow.

Rapidly detaching my parachute after landing, rolling to the ground afterward. Taking cover with by sprinting towards a nearby pile of discarded, obsolete robots. Taking a quick survey of my environment, looking around for the giant water pipe. Managing to find two ITY-2000 guard robots blocking my entrance into the control facility. Unholstering one of my pistols, aiming it swiftly. The nanites in my blood were doing a rapid analysis of their structural weak points. Finding their weak spot was the power coupler on the left side of the neck. Pulling the trigger a few times at each target, knowing the noise from the gunshots would attract attention. Noticing their heads twist from the power coupling separating, before falling into the pool of water below them. Waiting a few seconds after the splash before running onward. Leaping into the large pipe, stretching my body out on the rusting metal. My eyes adjusting to the darkness before crawling forward. Using the nanites to hack into the mainframe. Determined to find the fastest way into the control room, that would shut the killer machines down for good. Using a hacked map to navigate the tunnels.

After a couple of hours of careful navigation, I found the ceiling access panel to the control room. Using both hands to carefully move the panel to the other side of the tunnel before peering downward at the immaculately clean control room. Noticing the small army of ITY-2000s’ patrolling the place. The regiment was guarding the large silver computer near the center of the room. Thick black cables ran upward from the back of the machine, supported by the base of a large gray metal structure. It appeared to be a symbiotic structure that ran to the communications array at the top of the structure. Focusing my gaze on the structure, letting the nanites analyze it. Trying to find its weakness from here. Doubting I had enough firepower to drop down and perform the task more overtly. Minutes passed before the nanites brought up three weak points, I could attack.
Pulling myself forward into the tunnel, feeling the cold metal under my fingers. A large maintenance panel was blocking my path, with a large handle protruding outwards. Wrapping my hands around the metal, before pulling it towards me. Finding several black cables bound together, running uninterrupted by the vents. Separating the cables, before placing a grenade in the interior. Using the nanites to sync three explosives on a five-minute timer before pushing myself backward past the access panel. Letting the nanites calculate the trajectory of both grenades, before tossing them along the projected arc. With the central communication tower rigged to blow, I traveled the tunnels toward the exit. Being careful of the explosives I rigged on my ascent towards the control room.

Suddenly plummeting down as the ventilation shaft I was near dropped from the ceiling. My eyes were opening to see lines of the enemy surrounded me. Barrels of their weapons pointed directly at, as their hive mind processed what to do. Massively outnumbered, and outgunned I quickly realized this first mission post augmentation, would be my last. Taking a deep breath, pressing the detonator attached to my wrist. Making peace with myself as the explosions began above me. Hearing them before I could see the orange flames work their way down the building. Watching the fire dance their way down to me before I could feel the heat on my skin. Screaming as my gear caught fire, burning my skin. The nanites were struggling to heal me against the flames rapid consumption of my body. Hearing the shouts of my comrades as I left the burnt remains my body.

Critique level: Full Word Count: 982

Feel free to stop by and check out the other entries for this contest at the link below: http://writeeditpublishnow.blogspot.com/2018/02/wepff-february-2018-challenge-in-too.html?m=1



Another picture is worth another thousand words


Sanctuary by Rashomike

Vines crept in through the broken window, dropping down like an organic rope.  The light from the sun revealing the broken floor and rotten crumbling. Nature had taken parts of this church back following the Gaea event. Yet there was an odd silence that hung in the air. Following the careful steps of my companion Milton down the rotten looking wooden stairs. Hearing the occasional creak as the three of us descended the staircase. Pausing as something rustled in the dark green brush near us. With quick glances at each other, we ran taking tactual positions in the area. Aiming our rifles at the bush, our hands shaking with a mixture of anticipation and fear. Watching the bush through the sight of our guns. Listening to something growl from the bush. Setting the barrel of my rifle on the banister staircase, before feeling around for something to toss at the bush. Managing to grab on to something that had a rough texture. Hurling the item at the bush, attempting to draw out what was hiding in the bush. Quickly putting my hand back on my rifle as the object flew through the air.  Watching a blur of movement as something caught the brick in mid-air.  Slowly the beast crawled forward, revealing long skinny dark green legs that pierced the floor. Milton glancing at Alex and myself before giving us a slight nod, the three of us know the danger of an Archanis. Within seconds all of three of us opened fire, breaking the sacred silence of the old church. Watching in horror as the Archanis continued to crawl forward, emitting a deep growl in the process.  Revealing the organic layer armor, the covered its body. The twisted face of both the human and the spider staring out at us layers of white eyes. A small gold chain with a small cross still hanging around its bent neck. Holding onto a remanent of its former life like it was still human. Launching its entire body forward into the rain of bullets, almost like it wanted to die. Continuing to fire my rifle until I saw the thing had stopped moving forward. Its body twitching and spurting out a thick dark fluid that could have been the thing’s blood. Staining the area around for a few seconds before turning the ground a soft green color.

Alex shouted “Masks now,” sliding the filtered gas mask around his mouth.

Quickly doing the same before the body could begin emitting lethal spores. Noticing Milton do the same seconds prior to the body releasing small lethal white spores into the air. Being careful moving around the corpse, we walked down the stairs. Pressing down on the plastic clip on flashlights, letting the light cast itself in front of us. Glancing around for anything else was hiding in the nearby foliage.

I shouted through the mask “Finding anything else that can kill us, or should we begin looking for supplies?”

Milton yelled back “Not yet, Jess. The supply cache I heard about is supposed to be in the far back of the church,” turning towards us. “I think the door should be around here somewhere, keep an eye out for it,” pivoting on his feet before resuming his walk.

Alex fell in behind him, leaving me to take up the rear. Walking backward slowly, scanning the plant life with the sights of my rifle.  The wind begins to pass through and down the open window some in the process.  Almost making me fire my weapon as the plants moved.

Milton shouted “Damn it the door is jammed. Alex help me try to force the door open, Jess watch our backs.”

Nodding I stopped walking, observing the plants.  Hearing Alex and Milton slamming themselves into the door. Listening attentively to something moving, trying my best to ignore the creak of the something being pushed back from behind me.  Continuing my watch for several minutes before I heard a series of loud bangs behind me. Pivoting quickly on my heels I saw they had opened the door. Forcing several boxes to collide with the ground in the process.  Pausing midstep once I heard a large monstrous growl, that sounded terrifyingly familiar.

I shouted “We should get moving if my gut feeling about what heard is correct,” reaching for something a little more explosive I packed for this trip into the ruins.  Feeling around before pulling out an old wine bottle filled with a mixture of alcohol and gasoline. “Grab anything light and salvageable you two,” peering around the room quickly for signs of movement.

The ground beginning to shake under my feet a few minutes later. Hearing Milton curse under his breath, as him and Alex shoved stuff into their backpacks. Sprinting to the staircase with all the energy I could muster, trying to find higher ground. Seeing out of my peripheral vision Alex and Milton quickly following my lead. The frequency and ferocity of the ground shaking rapidly increasing. Managing to drop large pockets of dust down from the ceiling that sparkled in the sunlight.

Milton taking control back by testing the strength of the knot and rope we used to get in here. Alex and I kept a tight watch on everything as the ground continued to shake. Noticing something was pounding hard on the large arched barricaded door at the back of the church, trying to force its way in. Lighting the Molotov cocktail with a matchbook, before tossing it hard at the door. Watching the door begin to burn as Alex climbed down the rope first. Milton followed behind him a few seconds later. The door being broken forcing large shards to fly through the air, as the monstrous Behomethes entered the room. Knowing I wouldn’t survive long even with the flames delaying that abomination, I reached for the rope. Tightening my grip before starting to descend down. Keeping my gaze straight ahead as a precaution incase the Behomethes tried to follow.


A picture is worth a thousand words


Fallen Titan by Jinho Bae

Mesimired by the beauty of the landscape, I found myself staring out from the snow-covered mountain edge. Seeing the truth of the bold mythic tales I heard as a child from my grandfather. The ivory bones of the last king of the frost giants Yrgor lay back against the unyielding stone of the mountain. Preserved by the constant cold and snow of the mountain. Impaled there by his own weapon, by the demi-god Omsar the Brave. The various tales surrounding the encounter varied on how Omsar managed to grab Yrgor’s sword Msoror. Easily recognizable from the description of it based on the tales, complete with random chips out of the steel blade. From this distance, I could see the strange angles Yrgor’s rib bones were broken outwards. Making me recall one of the more far-fetched tales, about Yrgor eating Omsar. Trying to use his the natural extreme low temperature of his body to freeze Omsar to death. Unwittingly given Omsar the upper hand as his cloak lined with the fiery orange feathers of a phoenix kept him alive. Assuming any extent of the tale was true Yrgor had a violent reaction to the strange warmth in his body. Dropping the mighty Msoror point first into the stone mountain to pry out the source of heat. Osmar was slicing his way with his own mighty blade, Cisoer. Leaping out Osmar’s chest covered in the bodily fluids of Yrgor, dropping Cisoer along the way. His divine nature awakening in the process. Endowing him with the godly strength of his father, rivaling the mighty power of Yrgor himself. Osmar managing to lift Msoror into the air long enough to impale the blade into Yrgor’s tremendous heart.

Shaking the inspiring images of the battle from my head, I carefully walked down the slippery mountain slope. Stopping at the makeshift bridge of Yrgor’s snow-covered femur. Taking a tentative step with one foot, to see if I could walk on it without falling into the crevice below. Managing to slip forward some without my other foot leaving the mountain. Choosing to leave my pack mule behind taking small, cautious steps forward. Keeping my gaze upward, ignoring the whispered voice in my head to look down. Taking slight pauses every few steps to plunge steel anchors into the bone. Cautiously sliding some rope through each anchor encase the wind would strengthen.

Taking a deep breath of relief as I managed to find solid footing on the other side. Grabbing the climbing pick from my belt, getting a tight grip before swinging it at the skeleton. Feeling the impact through both of my arms, forcing me to grunt. Ignoring the tremble of the impact, continuing to swing my pick. Creating small holes in the pelvic bone, on the sheer hope of finding the precious frosted sapphires inside the bone. While the secret of frost giant bones having the jewels deep in their bones was well known, few were crazy enough to attempt to dig them up.

Losing count of how many swings I did before finding a rich glowing blue vein in the interior of the bones. Reaching one hand into the hole, instantly feeling a substantial temperature drop. Quickly pulling my hand back, grabbing my pick again. Swinging with care to carve out the vein, trying to avoid damaging it.  Surprised that the interior bone was softer than I would have expected. The tremble lessening compared to previous hits.  Keeping myself warm with each swing,  beginning to sense a presence within the small cavern I had created.

Hearing a whispered voice speak “The line of Osmar continues,” being carried by the wind. Refusing to stop my swing, ignoring the strange words of the wind. Unsure what they meant since my parents had told me about my ancestors.  Being well known that Osmar had fathered no children, before his death. Managing to pull out the vein without much damage to its valuable contents. Grabbing an old fishing net from my bag, setting the thick vein inside it. Tying it with care before grabbing a long rope to drag it out. Securing it to the front part of the anchoring system I made on the femur. Walking back into the artificial cavern looking for another vein to carve out.

Tripping as I hit something hard that was covered in snow, forcing me to fall forward. Grunting as I collided hard with the body of the mountain. Reaching out at what I thought tripped me, I felt something that was oddly warm. Something that somehow resisted centuries of the worth of snow and cold. Brushing off some the snow with my glove, finding the object possessing a faint mystical ivory glow. The glow was brightening some upon my touch, calling to me. Taking my time to clear the snow from the blade, without cutting myself. Finding the blade’s handle was made of ebony metal, with slight inlays of gold on both sides. A clear jewel had carefully been placed on the crossguard, surrounded by runes I didn’t recognize. Wrapping my hands around the handle, I picked it up. Surprised by the unusual lightness of the blade.  Being cautious as I slide the blade into my belt, before going back to my pick. Pulling a handful of smaller frosted sapphires out of the bone to keep. Hulling them back over the slippery bone bridge, with great care.

Using strong ropes and knots to attach the large vein to the side of my mule. Making sure it was secure before checking I had ample supplies for my trek down the mountain.  Taking a few moments to eat some dried out beef jerky to gather my strength back. Feeling more than ready to leave this place to the cold.  Hoping I would never have to return here unless I was desperate. Grabbing the rope of mule a few seconds before starting my descent. Eager to see something other than white snow and mountain with haste.


WEP December 2017 “The End is the Beginning”

I struggled with this theme at first. Writing out multiple ideas before realizing they would not work or would go rocketing over the word limit. Beginning to realize I was overthinking things by trying to stick to the redemption idea my stubbornness latched onto. Moving away from that, I let my mind open. Coming up with what would become my entry titled “The Truths of Realities.”


The Truths of Realities
This the ninth time I have watched myself test the Chronos device. Seeing the device emit the same intense white light that imprisoned me. Forcing me to watch each test, as something akin to a ghost. Watching steady dim of the light, as my colleagues starred into computer screens. Making notes on paper about everything the specific instruments measured. Believing the test was a successful human trail, as the self-sealing silver sphere opened. Releasing a burst of cooling and sterilization gas into the air. Obscuring the truth, that imposed into this agonizing loop. I knew I had to escape. Removing the suit would expose me to an unmeasured, unnamed amount of radiation. Even trying to interact with the real world was an almost impossible task. My best suspicion about why was the test changed the frequency my molecules vibrate at.
By will alone, I forced myself through several metal doors. Knowing where to find the only other working prototype time suit. Hoping the internal battery within the suit would allow me to interact with it. Finding it on the charging platform in a thick clear case. The backlight casting a neon blue glow on the suit. Floating to the release control, I reached forward. Receiving a brief shock as my hand reached for the release lever. The shock propelled me backward into the nearby wall, knocking over a metal shelf in the process. Spilling failed battery prototypes, and tools to the ground. Moving towards the release control again, I seized it. Ignoring the pain as I struggled to pull it down. Enduring the pain for several minutes before letting go. Feeling the lever lock into its opening spot at the bottom. Moving the protective case to the side. Floating around the control system, I approached the suit with caution. Trusting my head was right about this idea. Managing to float up to the slight platform we built for the suit. Feeling the electric charge in the suit release some of its energy, making the nearby air tingle. Placing my hand on the chest piece, surprised when my hand didn’t phase through it completely for a few seconds. That jolt must have changed my frequency enough to make minor interaction possible. Taking a deep breath, removing my own suit with haste. Leaving the thin bio-conductive hybrid undergarment on. Pulling myself into the other prototype time suit. Using the internal charge to make sure I stayed there.
Waiting a few minutes before attempting to walk down the stairs. Making certain I wouldn’t fall through the suit or the stairs to the bowels of the building. Feeling a weak tingle, as I willed the suit to move with me. Fighting the tingle, walking with caution towards the room that housed the Chronos device. Letting the bio-conductive suit, take the brunt of the tingle the best I could. Watching the doors open from the other side, as I approached. Seeing my coworkers scream in shock at the unnatural moves of the suit. Ignoring them, with only one goal in mind, returning to reality. Beginning to sprint through the door, hoping they wouldn’t stop me.
Passing several doors, as I ran towards the Chronos device. Almost colliding with the reinforced security door. Typing in my access code into the keypad. Feeling the soft impact of the suit’s fingers on my arm, until the door opened. Flinging myself through the door, with haste. Hearing the rapid shut of the door behind me. Approaching the opened silver sphere with caution. Finding my weakened but living body still in the cushioned chair. Taking my seat exactly where my body was, somehow merging us together. Screaming in agony, I began to work the controls. Sealing the pod from the inside, to prevent any interference. Overriding the exterior controls, before initializing testing protocol. Knowing outside of cutting the power they couldn’t interfere with what I was about to attempt. Watching the readings I could manipulate, with great care. Already knowing what the narrow range would have to reach before I could use the Chronos device. Propelling myself back into my body, assuming things went well. If they didn’t, I wasn’t certain what would happen but, I doubted it would be pleasant. Seizing a series of overhead levers, I begin sliding them down in a precise order. Being careful to not screw up the order, since it would cause a full shutdown. Simultaneously moving two levers when full pull power was clear. Hearing the exterior clamps give way, as the orb began to rotate. Gaining speed at a steady rate as its magnetic field expanded. Within minutes, the Chronos had enough speed and a large enough magnetic field. Slamming the palm of my hand down on a large red button nearby, activating it. Allowing the pent-up energy to release all at once. Creating a focused wavelength of polarizing light that bathed the room.
Sending a painful throughout my body, as I merged back into reality. The light dying as the sphere came to a hard stop. Sending a rush of gases as the hatch automatically opened. Stepping out, almost colliding with the floor as I saw my colleges come rushing in. Both giving me puzzled glances, as they tried to process my arrival.
Dr. Martin asked, “What in the name of Feynman happened, Jack?”
I answered “A new direction in understanding reality,” giving a slight smirk. Knowing that my experience would halt our experiments with time travel.

Full Critique Word Count: 921

Pending title: A Thief in the Neon

While this is still a work in progress overall, I feel confident about the first section. Building this cyberpunk influenced world, while maintaining a slight fantasy element. Yet the elements interact in a simple but, believable nature.  I present you to for your reading consideration: A Thief in the Neon.


In silence moved to the back of Restir, taking a seat at a small round table. Ignoring the disgusting smell of cigarette smoke, and piss that lingered in the air, as I observed. Enjoying the experimental jazz music that was playing through carefully hidden ceiling speakers. Disregarding the bar’s other customers, focusing my gaze on my target. Watching the strange man sip a black bubbling drink in a  short clear glass, at the bar. Two other clear glasses rested upside down on his left side, the black drink still sticking on the sides in small spots. Hiding some of his face under a wide-brimmed black cowboy hat. The raised red collar of a long black trench coat hid what remained. Knowing with certainty that he was armed with at least two handguns, several short knifes, and the Marsekoh blade I was after. I didn’t know why my client wanted it, but, considering how much he was paying me I didn’t care.  

A short, narrow-waisted waitress approached me. Dressed in short eggshell white button-up dress, with a black and red belt around the waist. The dress fell from her shoulders enough to reveal the tufts of her breasts. Narrow blue eyes peered down at me through rose red glasses. With a flirtatious smile, she handed me a menu, before running her hand through her short dyed blue pixie haircut.  She smiled before another customer called out to her, forcing her to walk away.  If I wasn’t on the job, I would have considered flirting with her. Setting the menu aside, I resumed my observation.

After I saw him down his fourth drink, I got up. Lightly pushing people aside, as I approached the bar. Taking a seat next to my target, lifting my phaser without revealing it. As he watched the bar-bot make his fifth drink I made my escape plan. With a slight turn, I pushed down on the trigger. Releasing three short burst low energy plasma, intending to stun him. His body began to unsteadily shake as he fell to the ground. A surprised look on his face. Reaching down I quickly grabbed the Marseketi blade from the right side of his waist. Sprinting into the kitchen, almost colliding with one of the cooks. Pushing him aside, racing towards the back door. Running through the door, before jumping off the edge of the delivery dock. Feeling the exhilarating rush as the air pushed around my face. Letting the air expand the gliding flaps that were custom sewn into my coat. Slowing my fall some, allowing me to navigate through the resting traffic of flying cars. Being careful to avoid a collision and the seemingly endless array of surveillance cameras that littered the city. Hoping the Obscura tech was working, as I made my way to the bottom of this colossal metropolis.

Rolling onto a low city rooftop, when my descent was done. Nearly crashing into a rusting air conditioning unit. Listening to the machine’s hum as I dusted myself off. Slinging the stolen sword over my shoulder with care, before standing up. Looking around some, before climbing down the remains of an old fire escape. Keeping my head down, as I walked towards the buried light district. My right hand inside my coat wrapped tightly around my phaser. Scanning the environment with care, knowing how gang-ridden the low city was. Brushing off the pleas of the barely dressed neon wrapped prostitutes.

Turning into a narrow alley, between two crumbling brick buildings. Watching the flicker of the overhead lights. Placing my hand on the left’s building’s facade, feeling the rough brick carefully. Stopping and pushing a specific combination of false bricks near the building’s rear. Taking a small step back as the wall rescinded, revealing a handleless door with a small slotted about three-fourths of the way up. The slot sliding back quickly revealing a hexagonal pair of cybernetic red eyes. Briefly, they shot a narrow red beam of light. Patiently I waited as the light scanned me from head to toe. A mechanical voice pronounced “Thief’s guild member Acomi, recognized,” before the false platform I stood on began to descend. Keeping me in place with an intense localized magnetic field focus around my feet. Silently, I watched the steady show of old buildings forgotten by most. Unperturbed by how much people can forget when they feel like it. Watching the reinforced infrastructure being carefully maintained by the labors of the hidden light district. Hearing the rhythmic pounding of hammers, and machinery echo around.

Landing on the ground level of the hidden light district. My arrival completely ignored by those nearby. Stepping off the platform, I made my way north. Weaving my way through people when needed. Knowing few would be bold enough to trifle with a member of the thieves guild with so many people around. Beginning to relax my guard the more I moved. Letting go of my phaser, slowly pulling my hand out of my jacket.

I heard someone shout “Acomi,” stopping me in my tracks. Without hesitation, I unlocked the collapse shock baton I kept at my wrist. Letting it slide some, before grabbing the handle. It naturally extending outwards before turning it towards me, with a flick of my wrist. Feeling the tingle as the end lowly crackled with electricity. Scanning the area before seeing a fellow member of the thieves guild, Isenia. Dressed similarly to me, in her dark grey clothes. The cloth enhanced with technology that allows thieves to camouflage themselves when necessary. Her short black hair tied up, hanging over her right shoulder.

She remarked “That was a quick trip to the upper cloud district. I expected you to be gone at least another couple days,” with a slight smirk on her face. “I should let you go to the manor, and speak with the Exalted. Move quickly though, you weren’t the only one of us on that contract. Once you’re done, you know where to find me, “running her right pointer finger down my cheek. Winking at me before walking away.

Shaking my head some, I started sprinting towards the thief’s guild headquarters. Not sure if I should believe Isenia’s words, but she was usually correct about most things. Beginning to run a little faster, with a tight my grip on my baton. Continuing to sprint onward, I spotted the large graffitied industrial beams. Knowing the strange mixture of old shipping containers, brick, and industrial sheeting anywhere. It may not look like much but it allowed the truth to be hidden from most.

Approaching the westernmost entrance, I tapped my baton against the door three times. Releasing a brief muffled thud noise with each knock. Waiting a few seconds before the interior locking mechanism was released, allowing me to enter. Strolling inside, into the blue light of monitors that lined the walls. Being careful with my footing, as I moved around the various orange, yellow, and red cables that ran along the ground like tree roots. Feeding almost endless amounts of data to this city thief’s guild, and our associates around the world. Allowing the guild to have a slight stranglehold over the city’s  authorities, when they pressured the guild. Within minutes I managed to exit the sea of cables. Finding several seated Cyberheads locked into their bulky tan head encompassing viewing machines. Neon-tipped fingers typing away at invisible keyboards, processing the relative and the useless alike. Being fed from above by thin clear wires dripping with a synthetic nutrient blend. Oblivious to the workings of the real world around them.  Few among the guild understood how useful they were. Walking past them, I climbed up a fixed metal ladder. Feeling the rough texture of rust mixed with chipped old paint through my gloves. Climbing up another ladder to the third level of the manor.

Pulling myself up, onto a small piece of flattened metal. Walking forward a few steps into another repurposed upright shipping container. Feeling around for the built-in hand scanner in the darkness. Managing to find it when something pinched my whole hand. Putting a slight pressure as red light was released. Waiting a few seconds before the pressure vanished, creating a hiss of air from the other side. Pushing in on the wall, I managed to enter the chamber of the Exalted. Sauntering forward with my prize, in hand.  Setting it down on the large thin rectangular scanner that erupted out of the wall. Waiting for the empty blue screens to whir to life, as the scanner worked.

The screen by the scanner began to flicker blue before a virtual face appeared. It’s face a pale white, with dark sapphire eyes. Lips blacker than coal smirked at me before speaking “You are as able as you are quick, Acomi. The scanner picked out the necessary details that the client was looking for. Telling us it is the correct blade and not a cheap mass-produced imitation. While you will be paid for the completion of the contract, the client had a stipulation not revealed in the original arrangement. It waits for the return to your room. Along with a single use contact device, that was supplied by them. Destroy it promptly if you choose to use,” before the face vanished. Keeping the chamber in a dim blue glow for a few seconds afterward.

In the darkness, I pondered their words. The Exalted kept secrets by their nature, but it was rare for them to edit contract terms before sending it out to the guild members. This client must have some influence on both sides of the law. Walking out I moved towards my chamber. Carefully leaping down the ladder, before making my way out the manor the way I came.

Walking a few blocks before finding the reinforced boarded=up apartment structure I lived in. Ignoring the barricaded boarded up ground level door, sliding my magnetic grappling gun out its holster at my waist. Aiming it carefully at the rooftop, keeping both hands on it. Squeezing the trigger carefully, releasing the compressed titanium alloy hook. Watching it rocket upwards, followed by strengthened cable line. Seconds later the gun kicked back against my hand hard. Pressing the small button just under the trigger, I began my vertical ascent.  Keeping still to keep the hook in its place, since the slightest movement could twist the cable releasing the hook early.

It took a little over a minute before I landed on the roof. Placing the grappling gun back in its holster, before approaching the locked rust-covered metal plate. Bending down some, I quickly unlocked it with the custom-made octagonal key. Lifting the hatch before heading inside. Making sure to lock the hatch behind me, with the same quickness I unlocked it. Automatically turning on the lights inside. Rapidly blinking, I walked forward carefully descending the rotted warped wooden stairs. Doubting the strengthening gel I bombed the building with before I left had kicked in fully. Still hearing the subtle creek of the wood every few stairs, I walked. Testing each stair down as I enter the third floor.  Walking on the ancient cracked stained linoleum floor, to the second door on the left wall. Pressing a small button in the center of my built, to activate the PhasTek in my clothes. Letting it create a tickle like vibration throughout my body, walking forward through the unyielding steel door.

Quickly turning off the PhasTek, the motion activated light turned on. Keeping my back to the room as removed my coat setting on a nearby hook. Removing the wrist-wrapped multi-purpose gadget bands, that held my stun batons, Obscura tech, and various non-lethal pellet grenades. Setting them down on a wide side table by my coat, before removing my belt keeping them together. Turning around, seeing a small faded tan box had been placed on my medium sized bed. With a slight suspicion, I inspected the box slowly. Turning it in my hand, feeling around for traps. After several minutes of finding nothing, I opened the box. Finding something unexpected, a thick handwritten paper contract. This client must have money to burn, given the high cost of making paper.  Pulling it out, I read it slowly. Surprised by the soft slightly rough texture of the paper. By the time I finished reading it, I had some answers and a lot of questions for this particular client. Reaching into the bottom of the box, finding a rectangular piece of plastic about the length of my thumb. Pulling it out, I saw it was narrow then I expected barely wider than my pinkie finger. Somehow it rotated open, splitting it almost in half as it doubling its length. The entire thing was oddly smooth, not giving much indication of how to use it. Bringing it closer to my face I wondered which end I was supposed to talk into.

Without much warning, the pipe began to emit a rhythmic hum before a garbled voice came through. “To which thief who successfully completed the first contract, by reading the unedited paper contract you have unwittingly agreed to the terms. You will meet with a contact outside of the cryo-polis in the third layer of the abandoned Dead District,” pausing a brief second and releasing a bright but brief flash. “We have seen your face now, thief. Our contact will know your face. The meet will take place in the next twelve hours, there will be no extensions on time. Come alone thief,” was all it said before it fell silent.

Tossing it on the floor, I stomped on it. Hearing a snap as the thing was being crushed underfoot. Looking at the shattered remains I found little indication of who manufactured this highly illegal device. The circuits could be easily found on the various black markets of the city if you knew where to look and who to ask. Along with a small but sophisticated tracking chip that still had a slight glow to the dim red light attached at its top. Something about that made me suspicious about meeting anyone this client was associated with, but I doubted there was much choice. They had seen my face, and know where I lived, which means I could be found if I didn’t show. It seemed the contract was a written version of an ultimatum, with the recording being the enforcer.

With little choice, I gathered my things. Doing a quick check of their stock and charge before placing them back on my body. Bending down and pulling two medium-sized flat lock box out. Putting in the combination, along with my handprint opened it. While the thieves guild wasn’t a particular fan of lethal weapons. A trip into the Dead District required them given its reputation for taking in broken, barely legal cyborgs, mods, and androids. Taking out my silver short barreled stunning phaser, placing on the unopened lock box. Replacing it with a grey and silver Omni assault pistol, with an easy adjusting system and multi-use chipped ammo. Setting two full ammo clips under the holster, securing all of them with small leather straps. Looking at the other two guns I had in the box, having sincere doubt I would need their power. Grabbing the extension and amplifier rod for my batons instead. {impact amplifier brass knuckle/}Attaching it to my belt before shutting the box. Quickly opening the second one with a different combination, and handprint. Placing the phaser into its foam fitting before shutting it. Sliding both boxes under the bed before standing. Doing a quick check to make sure everything was secured, before grabbing my coat. Slinging it on over my shoulder to hide my weapons. Tightening the waist and shoulder level straps, buckling them to keep the unarmed illusion believable. Adjusting some before sliding on my boots.Feeling them tighten automatically around my ankles within seconds. Tapping the center of my belt once more, I walked back through the door. Deactivating the PhasTek once I was in the hallway. Sprinting up the stairs, knowing I would have to make a few stops before heading into the Dead District.

Jumping off the roof onto the building next door. Standing quickly before jumping onto the lid of the dumpster below. Grunting as I landed on the hardened plastic, making a considerable dent in the process. Swinging my legs over, I stepped on the trash littered ground.Noticing some of the larger clumps of trash move some when I got close. Assuming they were bums, I ignored the movement as I walked.  Being careful where I stepped as I made my way out of the alley. Stepping onto the cracked, rough sidewalk. Noticing the number of abandoned antique cars had grown some, in the time I was in the upper city. The rich still using the lower levels of their city as a private dump for things that had lost their recyclability. Even the most talented Breakers wouldn’t attempt to salvage the cars, almost as if they were art from a past. Running my fingers over the cold, polished metal of the nearest one, I tried to understand the sentiment behind keeping these things intact. Finding nothing in the feeling of the metal against my fingers. Turning the corner into a wave of people going the other direction. Pushing my way through the throng, like rolling stone.

After twenty minutes of walking, I turned left into an alley wedged between two storefronts. Keeping to the right side of the alley, with one store in particular in mind for my stop. Pushing the second door open gently, releasing a slight bell tone upon my entrance.Finding the wall covered with various types of rifles, and shotguns. Some were obvious in their design about what ammo they could fire, others not so. Walking past long metal shelves stocked with ammo, I approached the glass counter. Seeing handguns, knives, and batons on lighted displays through the glass. Tapping the bell on the counter, I waited for the clerk to come out from the back. The wait was brief as a short, stocky man walked out from the back of the store. Bringing with him the distinctive smell of cigar smoke, and gunpowder. A dark blue cybernetic lens, in a pewter frame, was attached to his face. Covering up his eye, ears and some of the man’s nose. Wispy and thin hair made up a pathetic attempt at a greying beard. Stained clothes barely covered his frame, allowing his gut to stick out some. With a nasal shallow, he asked “What can I do for you,” looking at my clothes carefully, “ or the thieves guild?”

I responded “For the guild, nothing at the moment. To my knowledge, things have been paid up on both sides. However, for me, I need a powerful gun designed to disable cyborgs, mods and other partially mechanical things I may encounter in the Dead District. Preferably with a variable discharge setting, as a precaution. Keeping my All Assault pistol as a heavier back-up if it needed.”


The man twirled a few hairs in his beard, humming some in thought. “I may have some guns that may interest you, but since your destination is the Dead District transportation is a challenge to consider. That rules out anything too heavy or requires assistance in order to use it. Given the thieves guild’s preference for avoiding taking lives, several weapons I think may interest you. Including three traditional shocker round capable weapons, two laser rifles with rechargeable cells, and one plasma-based compact semi-auto. All of which have a variable setting system built into them. Keep in mind, the legality of possessing some of them is a jailable offense,” he commented. Reaching over with his left hand, placing his fingers under the counter hitting something I couldn’t see. “Follow me to the back, my friend,” walking back some as he talked.

Leaping over the counter carefully, I followed him. Seizing the release button on my baton, as a precaution. Watching him open the back door, waiting for me to enter it first. In silence I walked into the back of the store, turning quickly as I entered. Waiting for the shopkeeper to show me the merchandise that he suggested. Still slightly suspicious this could be a trap, despite the store’s experience with the guild. The door slammed before being locked from this side. Watching closely as the merchant walked to a set of stacked black crates set off to the left of the door.Pulling out three crates in silence, waiting mere seconds in between to make a decision as if something was scanning the crates; contents. Setting them on the ground a few steps behind him, waving me over with a finger. Releasing the lids from behind, forcing them to slide back before lifting the merchandise from the inside. 

The merchant commented “The semi-auto is inside the crate at your left. While the shocker round capable pistols are in the crate to your right. Leaving the rechargeable laser rifles in the center. Feel free to lift any of, get the feel of the weapon. Just don’t try to fire any of them, I’m not stupid enough to keep them loaded,” chuckling to himself.

Grabbing the plasma SMG first, thinking the extra ammo could be useful. Pulling the back end out to release the extendable stock. Bracing it against my right shoulder, before placing my hand on the secondary handle. Peering down the sight, to get some idea of how accurate my aiming would be in a firefight. Noticing the sites were slightly off each other, but otherwise, the gun was good condition. I asked, “Where does the charge cell get placed since it feels like the modulation system is where the secondary handle is?”

The merchant answered “Both standard and overcharged cells go in under the sliding stock, at an angle. Locked in place by a small part built into the stock. Given how many shots you can get out of one cell, it is efficient if not crude design. There is cell storage built into the right side of the gun for quick loading.”

I nodded, before setting the gun back inside its crate. Grabbing a shocker capable pistol, with a textured plastic grip. Noticing a small laser sight under the barrel, hiding in a small plastic tube. It had a secondary sight on the top, as a backup. A small gray knob set near the bottom of the grip, I assumed controlled the charge built inside the bullets. Easy to change with a finger as the situation changes. It weighed a little more than the phaser I usually carried. Given their similar designs, I wasn’t particularly shocked by that. Gripping it with both hands, I aimed it at the wall. “I will take one of these, along with at least four magazines of shocker ammo prefilled and a waist holster,” lowering the gun as I commented.  

The merchant smirked some, “That is an excellent if not the slightly expected choice. Keep in mind this gun can be lethal to those who are more flesh than a machine. Take your shots carefully, thief or the law will be on your tail. Now follow me back to the more public storefront and wait. I will gill the ammunition and holster,” walking back to the door.

I followed, keeping the gun in one hand. Letting it sway some as I walked around to the front counter. Setting it on the scratched up glass, waiting for him to gather the shocker rounds. Tapping the tips of fingernails upon it, I checked the time carefully. Doubting I had spent much time here, but given the high levels of paranoia, the client displayed I would prefer not to take my chances being late.

The merchant had sweat on his brow by the time he returned with two boxes of ammo, two magazines, and the holster I requested. While the holster wasn’t what I expected, the cloth pouch attached to the underside of the holster would be useful and convenient. It should be easy to hide under my coat, and easy to pull the gun if needed. I watched the merchant load both magazines by hand, with quick fingers. His cybernetic lense keeping contact with me in the process. Removing the magazine in the guns handle and loading it as he completed loading the other two magazines. Sliding it back into place before lifting it into the air, shaking it a few times before setting back onto the counter.

“That should be enough ammo for your trip, given the magazines eighteen round capacity apiece. Given the reputation and controversy of the All-Assualt pistol, you should survive your journey into the dead district,” pushing most of the items I requested over to me. “Your total for today’s transaction is two-thousand crypto-bits.  Are you paying on the books, or of them today thief,” he asked with a degree of bluntness.

I responded “Off them. This is a private contract of sorts, that came from a first time client of the guild,” pulling an unmarked thin transparent card from my pocket. Handing it to the merchant, to scan. “There is more than enough in this account to cover the cost., and buy the proper discretion.”

The merchant smirked some, before scanning the card. Not saying much more as the transaction was completed. Handing me the card back before I placed the holster on my belt, holding the one side of my coat aside for the moment. Feeling it lock into place letting go of my coat to cover it.With a slight nod, I began to walk out of the store. Heading towards my secondary destination, a large vehicle warehouse the guild owned.

Fortunately, it was a quick walk there, as I saw the wire fence appear on the horizon. Guarding the old brick building inside with its silent presence. A few low ranking members of the guild walked around the building in groups of two. Armed with low wattage shock staffs, and phasers, if my memory of my time as one of them was accurate.They dressed in gray clothing, that offered little in the way of protection but did give them anonymity. Holding my head high, I approached through the only hole in the fence. The two closest by sprinted towards me a tight grip on their staffs. Stopping I waited for them to get within earshot, before saying anything. Observing a few nervous finger taps of both guards as they stopped. Small beads of sweat dripped down their faces, leaving a slight trail of moisture I could see despite their hoods.

The one on the right asked “Things are fine here, which is why I don’t understand your presence. There has been no memo about a contract needing a vehicle from here. Why are you Acolyte Acomi,” bowing their head slightly as they finished speaking. 

“It is obvious why I am here. The contract I’m currently on was expanded after I fulfilled the completion of the original. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to berate both of you for your impeding my job. Now, tell the one who hides inside to expect company, and to begin readying motorcycles for me to choose from,” I responded.

Slightly awestruck they stared at me before I around them. Allowing them to resume their patrols, as I walked. Pushing the door open with some annoyance as I entered. Seeing rows of cars, motorcycles both in various colors, and styles. Sorted by the qualities that made them different. Walking over to the motorcycle area, I scanned each one with a quick glance. Looking for one with high maneuvering capabilities, speed, and an auto-piloting system. Turning around when I heard footsteps approaching me. Seeing the footsteps belonged to women who dressed in grease-stained coveralls. The top of which was tied off at the waist, revealing a tight white tank top that covered petite breasts. Her head was almost fully shaved, as she looked at me with cybernetic green eyes. A grease-stained ratchet swinging freely in her left hand. While a flexible cuff mini-computer rested in a black plastic shell.


“Keep your hands where they are thief, these vehicles are like my children. Break them, and I will break you,”her voice more childlike than her appearance would suggest. “Now what are you looking for?”

“Preferably a motorcycle with high maneuverability, that is fast and has an auto guidance system capable of extended use. Nonlethal weapon attachments would be useful as well,” I remarked.

“That I can do, but it will be something military based. Based on your needs, I would suggest the XR-3VUmach8 or the HD-NR86. Both are quick as a rocket and are able to go through weaker structures with enough momentum. Complete with lightweight armor plating, and an incredibly low profile. I believe both are equipped with a short-range gel gun as well, but that I’m not sure how operational it is, or if it has ammunition preloaded. Give me a few minutes to do a quick diagnostic before you leave,” she said.

I nodded, trusting her knowledge given my guess as to what her job was here. Noticing her begin walking backward, keeping her gaze focused on me. Seeming to know every vehicle’s location with barely a glance at the ones she passed. Making a slight assumption she was leading me towards the two vehicles she mentioned, I began to follow her. Hearing someone groan before shouting “Finally,” followed quickly by the sound of a motor coming to life. She chuckled some continuing to walk. Resisting the urge to roll my eyes I continued to follow her.

It took about ten minutes of walking before stopping between two bikes. The one on the right had two curved carbon fiber rods extending from the painted blue arches above the two thin front wheels. Connecting to an arched plate above a larger back wheel. Reinforced smart tech was clearly built the protective glass above the carbon fiber rods. Layered angler plating ran along the front wheels and sides, giving it almost a battering ram look. A short but wide barrel erupted near the top of the platting. I assumed it belonged to the weapon system built into this specific bike.  While the other was a little more spread out, with a singular large wheel at both ends. Giving the body a slight angle as it met in the middle. Both wheels were shelled by a bent metal plate with small spikes protruding out of them. Layered plates formed a protective shell where the driver would sit. Sharing a steeper angle than the middle as they met more towards the back. Attached to the right side was a pipe that extended past the front wheel. I assumed it was part of the gel cannon system that was built into it. Both seemed well equipped and durable enough to survive a journey into the dead district without incident. I watched as the mechanic girl bent down near the motorcycle on the right, pulling a thin cord from her minicomputer and plugging it in. Lighting up the small screen on her wrist as she worked. The computer doing most of the work as she waited, tapping at the screen every once in awhile. With patience and silence, I waited, hoping this wouldn’t take long.


Another ten minutes passed before she said “Both bikes are in optimum working condition, yet they are low on ammo. Unfortunately, I don’t believe we have any on hand. I’m not even sure they even manufacture it much anymore since the technology was never cost effective. In theory, they could be replaced with immobilization foam rounds but they aren’t common on the black market. The HD-NR86 is the one on the left, while the XR-3VUmach8 is one the right. Which one would prefer to borrow since both are fully charged?”

Glancing at both bikes, before I answered “ I believe the XR should get me to my destination within the time frame I was given. Along with surviving any encounter I have to deal with on the way,” choosing to keep my destination private. Knowing I had about eleven hours to get there and meet with this mysterious client.

The mechanic nodded before pulling a small fragile looking plastic thing from her pocket that was barely larger than my thumb.Tossing it to me without much effort. Catching it with an open palm, with quick reflexes not sure how fragile this thing was. Running a finger over it as I approached the XR. Bending down slightly to peek at the controls inside.Seeing a blank screen rested over in between the supporting pipes. The screen looked like it was recently cleaned, as a slight filmy residue remained on it. A compact simple metallic silver steering system came up at a steep angle. The steering system was slimmed down, only having inward curving pieces resembling a crescent. A small vibrant red button contrasted with the silver on the top of the right crescent. I assumed that was how to trigger the gel gun system that was built into the bike. Two unlabeled buttons were built into the upper part of the left crescent. Matching two unlabeled buttons that were installed just under the red button on the right crescent. An open-faced silver helmet rested cracked open, revealing a thin black patch circuit board. Two silver circles were placed near the bottom of the circuit board connected by a silver line. Placed about where the neck would rest against while on the driver seat. Another set of silver lines ran upward to another set of silver circles. My guess was a basic neural piloting interface that was built into the helmet afterward at some point. Given the steering system and the autopilot system, I had to wonder why they wasted the tech.

The mechanic said “You can engage autopilot and brakes from the left. The XR has two cycles based engine, which is what is the buttons on the right side turn on in stages. Standard ignition activation is on the top, while the hyper charger activation is on the bottom. Try to limit the hyper charger use, it runs hot and will shut down the engine entirely if it is used in excess. While the helmet is your choice, I would only advise its full use if the autopilot is active.The built-in neural interface is functional but, works best to induce a brief REM sleep cycle which it looks like you could use. I have been trying to upgrade it. However, the work is tedious and time-consuming since the idiots who put in the helmet locked the bolts with a strong adhesive.”

I didn’t feel tired but if it was noticeable to her, then the client I was meeting would notice it too. Assuming she right, I brief respite would be practical to me. Giving me a more professional appearance before meeting my client. Carefully getting into the XR, I leaned back into the seat. Feeling the contour and cushion of the seat, surprised it was firm and soft simultaneously.  Providing some lumbar support as I leaned my head into the helmet. Turning on the autopilot and the touch screen once I got comfortable. The touchscreen illuminated itself once my finger touched it, causing the black to change to blue. Bringing a simple labeled menu onto the screen, that was embodied in thin white trim. In descending order the tabs read, maps, radio, information, and settings. Tapping the maps button, it quickly brought up a search system and a virtual keyboard. Typing cryo-polis and Dead District into the search bar, and then waiting a few minutes for it to load directions. A small box popped onto the screen with two options. The first being autopilot, while the one below read manual.  Tapping the first option, a small white loading circle appeared on the screen. Waiting silently as the directions were uploaded to the autopilot system.  Placing the small plastic thing the mechanic girl tossed me, into the small opening under the left side of the steering system. Forcing a weak purr to erupt out of the electric engine as it was brought to life. Bringing the rest of the motorcycle’s online in the process. Seizing the sides of the steering system, lightly tapping to the top button the right side once. Turning the electric engine onto its lower capacity, before carefully maneuvering the bike out of its spot. Continuing to navigate carefully around the various other vehicles nearby before leaving the building and the surrounding area.

Tapping the autopilot button after I believed I was far enough away, to not be followed. Letting the helmet seal around my head tightly. Surprised when a tinted dark yellow glass dropped down over my eyes. Feeling a slight shock on the back of my neck as I began to slowly drift off. Letting the autopilot operate as I slept. On the beginning of my journey into the Dead District.

As always, thanks for reading. Any comments or thoughts on the story please post below, are greatly appreciated.



WEP Oct 2017 “Dark places” challenge


I awoke surrounded by darkness. The sound of slowly dripping water echoed around the darkness. With a great struggle, I failed to move anything but, my aching head on a cold, wet stone. Trying to recall how I got here, only to find a sea of drinks before the darkness appeared in my memories.

The sound of deep, drumbeats began to echo from somewhere off in the distance. Turning my head, I tried to locate the source. Beginning to see a ghastly green light entering from the left side of the area. Suddenly, the chamber began to illuminate from around me. Forcing shades of orange, blue, and green to reveal a large ancient looking cavern. It appeared as if something was carved onto the walls, but the details were difficult for me to see. Keeping my gaze locked on the approaching light, I began to see its source. A swarm of strange, humanoid figures carrying tall staff like torches walked towards me. Patchwork, tan hooded robes covered them from head to toe.

They all stopped a few footsteps from me. Beginning to move around until they formed a circle. In a language, I couldn’t understand they started to whisper in a strange dialect. Starting to slowly rotate the circle, as the whisper got louder. Rotating faster the louder they got, quickly becoming a blur. I shouted at them to no avail.

After a few minutes the chamber once again fell dark for. Moments later a ghastly, transparent giant eldritch figure stood at my feet. Noticing small concentrated orbs of white light where the joints would be a human, giving it the appearance of a living constellation. Its features giving it a hideous visage, and a twisted demonic multi-toothed grin. Soulless, black eyes looked down at me. Watching me struggle against my bindings in a fear-drenched sweat.

Strange worm-like appendages began to erupt from the things body. The tips of each one consumed by rows of teeth.Screaming in agony as the tentacles latched onto my entire body. Somehow flooding me with images of a dark, strange ancient looking world. Slender humanoid looking creatures seemed to populate the world’s cities. Their faces an ugly blend of a worm, squid, and fish features. Narrow interconnected tentacles made up their feet and arms. Living in monolithic cities of stone, and wood under cloudless dark grey skies. Effigies of alien-like beings watched over the edges of each city. Standing on tall walls of pale stone. Peering inside and outside the city with connected faces.

The images faded into black, as a sense of empty bliss began to fill my body. A hypnotizing rhythmic tone blowing through my mind, repeating itself every few seconds. Lulling me into a state somewhere between sleep and consciousness. Flashing vivid images of humanity’s ancestors arriving at the stone city. Taking over the city by the spear point, slaughtering the city’s original inhabitants. Bathing the city in a river of green blood, as screams of agony and battle echoed in my head. I looked up at the strange eldritch being, in disgust at the barbaric nature of my ancestors. Beginning to wonder if I was here as an act of penance on behalf of humanity. It seemed oblivious to my gaze, force-feeding more images into my head.

Beginning to feel disoriented and weak as three of the robbed beings approached me.Standing on either side of the stone platform, twisted curving blood-stained daggers in tentacle-like hands. One standing above my head, only their outreached hands visible. Their gazes locked onto the eldritch being. Almost as if they were waiting for something to happen.

I watched helplessly as three more worm things shot from the things body. These ones were incredibly narrow compared to the others. Even possessing the strange light that was in the things body, that ended in a sharp needle-like protrusion. Managing to penetrate the heads of this thing’s summoners.Forcing a brief full-body spasm, before they started emitting a low-pitched cry. The cavern filling once again with the strange chant.

Mere moments later in unison movements, the daggers were plunged into my body. I screamed out in a mixture of surprise and pain. Feeling the bliss shoot out of my body, as blood began to crawl out of my wounds. Screaming again as the daggers plunging was repeated. Creating new wounds, and more pain.

Beginning to see a strange almost blinding white light appear on the cave’s ceiling. For reasons beyond my understanding, it was drawing me towards it. Emptying my body of all feeling, as it extracted my essence.Holding it within itself as I looked down at my dead body. Seeing that I wasn’t the first victim of this strange cult, nor did I believe I would be the last. Finally giving myself fully to the light, as the last flicker of my existence gave way.

Critique level: Full

Word Count: 807

Well…..there is another idea

Do you ever write something, and think to yourself, where on Earth did this idea come from? It seems to be happening frequently to me, as I try to keep my creative juices flowing. Either that or I’m in a state of creative overflow. I guess it could always be worse.

In silence moved to the back of Restir, taking a seat at a small round table. Ignoring the disgusting smell of cigarette smoke, and piss that lingered in the air, as I observed. Enjoying the experimental jazz music that was playing through carefully hidden ceiling speakers. Disregarding the bar’s other customers, focusing my gaze on my target. Watching the strange man sip a black bubbling drink in a short clear glass, at the bar. Two other clear glasses rested upside down on his left side, the black drink still sticking on the sides in small spots. Hiding parts of his face under a wide-brimmed black cowboy hat. The raised red collar of a long black trench coat hid what remained. Knowing with certainty that he was armed with at least two handguns, several short knifes, and the Marsekoh blade I was after. I didn’t know why my client wanted it, but, considering how much he was paying me I didn’t care.

A short, narrow-waisted waitress approached me. Dressed in short eggshell white button-up dress, with a black and red belt around the waist. The dress fell from her shoulders enough to reveal the tufts of her breasts. Narrow blue eyes peered down at me through rose red glasses. With a flirtatious smile, she handed me a menu, before running her hand through her short dyed blue pixie haircut. She smiled before another customer called out for her, forcing her to walk away. If I wasn’t on the job, I would have considered flirting with her. Setting the menu aside, I resumed my observation.

After I saw him down his fourth drink, I got up. Lightly pushing people aside, as I approached the bar. Taking a seat next to my target, lifting my phaser without revealing it. As he watched the bar-bot make his fifth drink I made my escape plan. With a slight turn, I pushed down on the trigger. Releasing three short burst low energy plasma, intending to stun him. His body began to unsteadily shake as he fell to the ground. A surprised look on his face. Reaching down I quickly grabbed the Marseketi blade from the right side of his waist. Sprinting into the kitchen, almost colliding with one of the cooks. Pushing him aside, racing towards the back door. Running through the door, before jumping off the edge of the delivery dock. Feeling the exhilarating rush as the air pushed around my face. Letting the air expand the gliding flaps that were custom sewn into my coat. Slowing my fall some, allowing me to navigate through the resting traffic of flying cars. Being careful to avoid a collision and the seemingly endless array of surveillance cameras that littered the city. Hoping the Obscura tech was working, as I made my way to the bottom of this colossal metropolis.

As always comments, are welcome. Thanks for reading.

Preview of Death’s legion (title pending)

I’m not really sure where this idea came from. Yet, given how death exists (in some way) in every genre of fiction it was something I can build on.  Twisting and shaping it to something both strange and plot building. Without diminishing the power that death could wield in a fantasy environment.

Raising the visor of my battle damaged helmet, I attempted to wipe the blood away from on a battlefield that had fallen mostly silent. Only the caw of crows and the ramblings and moans of those who death has yet to take were the only thing heard. Keeping a tight grip on my sword I began to step away. Prepared to be merciful to the fallen, ally and enemy alike.

Stopping completely when I heard a strange almost inhuman groan from behind me. Turning around I raised my sword. Only to see the fallen general of the Tisthan forces, had begun to raise. Bloodied arrows still through what remained of his eyes.

Trying to hide my fear, I asked “You are dead, I watched you fall. What in god’s name are you,” raising my sword to defend myself if needed. Still struggling to understand what I was seeing.

The general’s corpse chuckled before responding “What or who I am is not your concern mortal,” as his flesh began to change. Becoming rapidly darker as it tightened around his bones. “All you truly need to know,” being cut off as a sword with a body of fire decapitated him.

Sensing I was going to be killed by the blade’s unknown wielder, I struggled to pull a dented, muddied shield from the ground below me. Hoping I would manage to die with honor, as my ancestors have. Raising the shield I readied myself to die. Glancing over my shield I saw the wielder of the strange flaming sword. A tall warrior clad in ebony plate armor. Yet somehow the flame the sword possessed was within its body. The strange blade sheathed at the left side of his waist. Cautiously lowering my shield, I watched this strange warrior. Trying to understand any of what was happening. This shouldn’t be happening, it went against everything the Kuorkizin.

Rapidly reciting a quick prayer softly, I began to step backward. Keeping my gaze focused on the strange warrior, as I attempted to flee. Ignoring the screams of the wounded as I passed over them. This place was no longer a battlefield but, a place of damnation. I may have killed today in defense of my homeland, but I felt no desire to be damned.

Managing to reach the outskirts of this unholy battlefield, I turned myself. Breaking into a run, trying to escape all of this like a coward. Believing it was better to be branded a coward, then to die in a fight against a warrior of unholy origin. There was no honor in that.

Being stopped by a forceful tap of something hard, as I ran around a tree. Grunting, I looked up to see what had hit me. Only to see the same strange warrior from the battle-field. Holding a bloodied iron halberd where my chest would have been if I hadn’t stopped. How he managed to get ahead of me was beyond me.

I shouted “I don’t know what you are, but I beg you to leave me alone. Please,” trying to get up. “My family will not ransom me, there is no reason to follow me,” managing to get to my feet. Looking past this strange warrior, at the area behind him. Remembering an old monastery of the Iquarthi monks was nearby. Hoping they knew a way to stop this thing from following me.

This strange knight barely reacted to me getting on my feet. Moving the halberd out of my way, keeping its gaze on me. Without hesitation, I broke into a run. Ignoring the pain in my chest, and legs. Keeping a slight gaze over my shoulder as I ran. Only to see him standing there still, watching me.

Following the dirt road, I attempted to flee once more. Keeping a close eye on the nearby forest in the process. The monastery was protected by the forest that surrounded it, according to my mother. I never knew what she meant by that.

Starting to alter my direction some, I ran towards the forest. Feeling the dirt give way to stone, before quickly being replaced by dirt once more. Continuing to push my body, as I saw the twisting spires on the horizon. The setting sun casting its light on it from behind.

With relief, I slowed down. Noticing the monks inside had begun placing candles in the spires’ peaks. Creating the illusion of a circular ring around the sun. The monastery appeared to change much since my childhood visit. A wall of trees of various shapes, sizes and types formed a defensive wall around the structure. Two watchtowers rested above the treeline. Watching for pilgrims try to get through the only iron gate into the monastery. A lone torch rested in the middle of the gate. Watching silently for pilgrims arriving at this late hour.

As the sun fell away, I reached the gate. Finding it locked, as I attempted to pull it open. In frustration I pounded on the gate, considering trying to force my way in. Yet, that would only add more blasphemy to my arrival. Assuming they would listen to the strange tale I would tell them, at this late hour.

A monk shouted from somewhere nearby, “Stop that infernal pounding soldier it’s late,” as t torch began to make its way into view from the left side of the door. Revealing a hooded monk in brown robes. Keeping their face hidden, the monk asked “The time of darkness begins, and a weary soldier pounds on the door. What blasphemous actions could you have done that couldn’t have waited until morning?”

Continue reading

There is an idea….

I’m really curious to get feedback on this idea. Something tells there is something in this idea, just not sure how far to move with the hybridization of steampunk and magic.

“Finally I found you, Dorian,” recognizing the scar on his shaven scalp, despite the lone light in this abandoned factory. “His majesty is asking for you, yet you brazenly refuse. Despite generous offers of gold, land, pardons, and resources for your strange experiments. I was sent by the king himself to bring you in before he decides to send in soldiers,” pulling out compacted repeating crossbow. “Now, are you going to be civil, or do you need some enticement,” I asked.

He laughed not turning to see me. “I knew at some point you would come, Alister. However, you are late, my old friend,” raising an intricate mechanical right arm of brass. The arm was engraved with symbols of powerful magics. “The majesty wants the man I once was,” turning to face me. A mask of tarnished bronze covering the right side of his face. His eye covered by a thin piece of clear glass. Lines of sorrow and age were rampant on the uncovered half of his face. The rest of his body was hidden under a patchwork gray cloth. “There are other reasons, besides my appearance why I have refused the king’s offers. Why I chose to hide away from both worlds. Please for old times sake, lie to the king.”

“That will be difficult I’m afraid. Your presence is well known to the locals, and they are easily bribed. I know you still grieve for your wife and child, blaming the king’s soldiers for their tardiness. Your grief and anger have clouded your mind, for too long.It’s time for new ideas to clear it, as you create under the country’s banner.”

Dorian said “You speak some truth, Alister. However, your blind loyalty still prevents you from seeing much more than you can fathom,” flexing the fingers on his mechanical limbs. The Engravings beginning to emit a shade of light blue, before three short bursts were released from its palm. The magic landed on the floor around my feet, creating three concentric glowing rings. “It is time for you to see the truth, Verus Vedonre,” forcing the grounded magic to spark to life. The sparks building up rapidly before they struck my forehead.

My knees buckled, as visions passed through my head. Screaming out, I was a court of people at what appeared to Parliament. They were extravagantly dressed, sharing the same shade of ebony throughout their clothes. Twisted, old-fashioned, blackbird masks hid their faces. Yet standing above them was another, who was dressed almost entirely in ivory. The only thing that wasn’t was the black cloak that was hung around his shoulders. I assumed that the one in white was running this strange court. The intense pain faded as the vision vanished, leaving me with several questions.

Dorian asked “That was only one of the government’s secrets. I don’t know what they call themselves but, I have taken to calling them the Black Court. From the little I managed to find out, most are related to the royal family or are royalty themselves. Individual names are challenging to find for certain, as it gives them deniability. My informant revealed they orchestrated the deaths of my wife and child, along with much more that sorrowful day. If you insist on dragging me back, I will reveal the truth to the citizenry. Which I doubt will end well for those in power. Is the king really willing to risk that, for my return?”

Staying silent, I pondered all that he had shared. Forcing me to question, all that I had done in my life. All that my ancestors had done in the name of crown and country. There was so much, I didn’t fully understand but, I intended to find out.

I responded “The king believes a war is coming because of all the attacks on our own soil and on our own territories. He wants to gather his resources trying to strengthen the nation, to endures it. I should force you to come with me, but with what you revealed I’m wondering how many of the attacks were orchestrated by those in power. Not to mention the possible civil war that may break out if the citizenry reacts violently to the truth,” setting down my crossbow. “Yet I may have a proposal that would satisfy all those involved. It will be unpleasant though, and will require me to take your mechanical limb.”

Dorian blinked several times in rapid succession, gazing between me and his mechanical limb. “This damned place has some of the most brilliant minds in the world who would be foolish enough to begin a war with us,” he asked almost shouting out his question.

Something crashing through the barricaded roof windows, prevented my response. Grabbing my crossbow from the ground, I sprinted towards Dorian. Hearing several more loud crashes all around us. Glancing around to see strange steam driven humanoid machines, watching the room. Long narrow pipes erupted from the things backs, releasing whistles as steam shot out of them. Each one a terrifying giant body of iron, and bronze. They bore no symbols on the metal that I could see. Thin extensive claws reached out from each hand on the eight of them.

I shouted “hope you still remember how to fight my old friend,” quickly tracing a Pyrosis rune on the crossbow’s quarrel. Raising the first bolt, I looked at Dorian. Taking aim at the nearest ones ready to fight. “Some things never change, something is always to kill one of us.”

Dorian chuckled, tearing off the cloth that cloaked most of his body. Dashing off towards the nearest giant, before the fabric could hit the ground. Leaving me to cover him from here, or work on getting the others attention. They managed to break into groups of four, before sprinting towards us. The ground trembling with every step. Releasing the first bolt at the right knee if the nearest colossus. Watching the tip catch ablaze, leaving a small smoke trail in its wake.quickly drawing back the mechanism, the quarrel loaded another bolt. Releasing another bolt before rapidly repeating it. Managing to get two additional bolts fired before they got too close. Yelping some as the one landed a strike on my back.

It took minutes of careful dodging before I ran through a found a small window. Running through it I fired blindly, to some distance between me and them. Glancing over my shoulder to see two of them were following me with ease. One of them was struggling to keep up. Aiming over my shoulder, I fired another bolt. Reloading another bold with haste, hoping my previous one made its mark. Blaring glancing over my shoulder I fired once more, before climbing on top of an old loom. Checking my quarrel to find six bolts left.

Sliding the quarrel back into its place, I watched. Two had fallen massively behind while one kept pace. Getting close to melee range rapidly. Dropping my crossbow, I reached for my behind. Pulling out two matching curved short blades, with leather wrapped handles with great haste.

The iron behemoth’s claws reached for me, ready to kill. Leaping over claw, I quickly looked over the thing for weak points. Finding two sets of thick rubber belts that ran from the shoulders into an iron cage on the thing’s back. Rotating my body slightly I bought my blades together. Slashing through the belts on the right shoulder before rolling on the floor as I landed. The iron giant struggled to move, as it turned around. Managing to find a similar set-up powering both legs. Kneeling some I sliced at the uppermost part of the left hip. Repeating the strike on the right while I still could. Now that the iron giant was immobilized, I sprinted off to the next one.

Rolling out of the way of multiple strikes, once I got close to the two who targeted me. Giving me a small advantage, as they both struggled to turn. Slashing out at the right hip belt of the closest one. Feeling the blade struggle some as it crossed the belt. Forcefully pulling the blade back, as I stepped back. Keeping myself moving in the opposite direction they were turning. Striking with precision at their hips or shoulders, when I could. Keeping myself moving and slashing until they iron colossi were immobilized.

Running to Dorian, I saw he had dealt with all but one of the mechanical giants. Without much thought, I plunged both of my blades where the steam pipes met. Feeling something shatter inside, before water started leaking down the things back. Depowering the thing before it could slice at a sweat-covered Dorian.

Out of harm’s way for the moment, I did a closer examination of these things. Finding nothing to indicate who made them, or where they could have been built. Their pilots would have to be taken into custody. Along with suits, taken away with great discretion. Given how close Agloia was to war, I felt no inclination to prematurely spark it.

Dorian inspected the machines as he said “These colossi are an impressive feat, of engineering. Yet the design isn’t particularly efficient in a cramped area. I’m curious to meet the mind who created them, nonetheless.”

I remarked “Indeed they are. The mechanics and engineers at the Mechinka Consortium should see things. Deconstructing them for use in the army, with improvements after they are remade. Yet, they make for a bothersome challenge, in a group. I will send for backup and transportation. If you have any prohibited items or experiments, I suggest you hide them,” pulling a small disc of bronze and enchanted glass out of one of the pouches on my belt.

Dorian glared at me, “There is more at work here than you know. Only scurry, someone, you can trust,” flexing his hands some. Letting them emit a glow before shouting “Ocacco Tgoe,” releasing a burst of magic over the area. Hiding old decaying books, scrolls, unfinished projects, and so much more. “Contact your friends now, I shall dress for my return to court,” he said before walking away to the far left corner of the area.

Pulling the scurrying device closer to my mouth, I whispered “Reffero Fator, Sgt. Drusilla,” feeling the runes carved on the bronze warm as the magic began to work. “I need transport, at my location. Enough for at least twelve, including four guards, and eight prisoners in the count. Along with something large enough to move eight mechanical colossi. Colonel Alister, Quies Slentium,” ending the scurrying. Letting the device get cold, as the magic was released.

Carefully placing it back in its pouch, I reached for my blades. Seizing them out of the back of the iron giant, I examined their edges. Finding small nicks in the metal and some loose material from the slashed belts. Pulling the material off, I wiped them clean with a nearby cloth. Setting the cloth aside before sheathing them. Letting the tail of the dark blue overcoat cover them some. Preparing my clothes before my help would arrive. Knowing Sgt Drusilla would make a remark, with the nimble tongue of hers.

Satisfied with my appearance, I went to retrieve my crossbow. Being cautious despite the paralyzation of the iron colossi. Yet with their pilots still inside them, I would prefer to be prepared for anything. Unsure if they could escape from their metal cages or not.

Refilling the quarrel as I walked towards, I peeked outside. Keeping watch for friend and foe alike. Glancing up at the cloudy sky, desiring to find a clue on where the mechanical giants could have dropped from. Having strong doubt they could have climbed the building, without making a noise, or falling through the rotting roof. Seeing nothing outside of common citizens, I retreated back behind the door. Wishing the door’s rusted out lock worked.

Staying close to the door, I leaned against the wall. Trying to keep more curious citizens from entering and learning what happened here.

A sharp piercing whistle sounded three times before stopping abruptly. The sound of several precise footsteps hitting the ground all at once. Stretching some, I peeked through the door, crossbow loosely in hand. Several soldiers of Agloia had arrived, dressed in dark blue. Curved and straight swords alike hung around their waist, by gray belts. A brass buckle embossed with my country’s flag sat in the center of the belt. Tight gray pants ran down their legs, to polished brass buckled black boots. Sgt Durisallia and another were the only two whose dress was slightly different. White circulates sat upon both her shoulders. Along with two thin bands of white at the end of each sleeve. Her shortened black hair tied mostly back around her neck. A few stray strands set around each cheek, barely contrasting to her naturally tanned skin.

Sgt Durisalliaia said, “Transport has arrived, as requested sir, “saluting me with the two-fingered salute of our country.

I said “Good Sgt. Have your men remain out here for the moment. Follow me inside, Sgt,” turning around and stepping back from the door. Sensing she was smart enough not to question why.

Moments later she wiggled her way through the door. Looking at me for a few seconds before, noticing the mechanical giants that were in here. Her mouth starting to slowly drop.

Dorian remarked from the shadows, “Durisallia it has been a long time,” stepping into the light. Revealing he had dressed in a purple vest with gold trim around the edges. A bright white ruffled shirt contrasted beneath. Matching black pants and boots, and a top covered the rest of him. An intricate towering staff of bronze, with what appeared to be small metal feet at the bottom help him walk forward. Several runes were carved into the staff with great care. Each band connecting into a unifying spiral, where a single clear jewel sat. “I doubt you may recall who I am from your childhood, but I was once great friends with your parents. Your ravishing beauty reminds me of your mother when she was young.”

Durisallia reminded silent for a few seconds before remarking, “Only a little old man, “turning her head some. “Is he why you summoned me here,” a little ignorance in her questioning tone. “Or is it the strange mechanical giants?

I responded “Both, Sgt. Those colossi were dropped on us from above. However, they are currently disabled with their pilots still inside. The suits will be taken to the Mechankia Consortium. I want their pilots incarcerated at the nearest constabulary by them. If the war does break out, these suits could be useful on the battlefield. You and your men will escort them there, and try to be discreet if you can. Keep the full truth to those who can guard their tongues.”

Sgt Durisalles said “As you command, Colonel thy orders will be done,” saluting me once more.

I nodded dismissing her with the opposite salute, on my right eye. Three fingers resting against the eyebrow, with two clenched inwards.

Dorian asked, “Now that those things are being taken care of, where are you leading me?”

I responded “You will be escorted by me, to see the king,” watching Sgt Duriasalles walk out the door. “Contact someone you trust at the Mechanika Consortium, I want to make sure they know what is coming. From what I recall most of their leaders were once your former pupils. Have one of them contact the nearest location ArcMeckia, and pass along instructions,” checking to make sure I had my blades and crossbow. “Follow me, Dorian, to where our transport awaits,” heading towards the back door.

Making my way towards the old dirt covered train tracks, that had been forgotten. Unmoved by the rusting, broken machinery that was scattered there. Rotten, Dirt covered spools of various fabrics were spread around. All in various degrees of thicknesses, and colors.

Taking the path north into the forest four about an hour. Stopping at a small brick shack, with a brown door. A single slot about three-fourths of the way up was the only thing visible on the outside. Dorian followed behind as I approached the door.

A deep voice bellowed from inside “Quis Approphquat?”

I answered “Colonel Alister Dukerf, and a high priority personage sought by the king.”

The voice bellowed again “ Entrance Sententia?”

I responded “In totum requim adquire, quaerve captis putei abysi.”

The door slides open from the inside. Revealing a single hanging glass lantern, above a set of stone stairs. In silence, I entered first. Grabbing the lantern, before descending the stairs. Dorian following close behind, leaning on his cane some.

At the end of the stairs were three guards, dressed in dark gray uniforms. Black belts, gloves, hoods, and boots were only they were that wasn’t. Two stood at the edges of the wall. Rifles of brass and wood, against their shoulder. The rifle’s barrels pointing towards the grounds. On the far wall was alone sitting guard. A mounted steam power multi-barreled Mling machine rifle obscured some of him. In the middle was a set of iron tracks, that hid a powerful hydraulic system. A polished brass oval-shaped egg rested on the tracks. Attached to the northern part was an iron cone. The cone had small holes around in a spiral pattern. A singular piece of latched copper sat on the left edge, for refilling I assumed. Four narrow copper pipes erupted from the back, almost parallel to the tracks. Multiple sections of blackened glass formed the top. Separated by a brass rib about the thickness of a child’s arm. The crest of Agloia was painted in black and blue on the low side of the rib.

I commented “This will transport us to the royal family’s castle, with necessary swiftness. Strap in on the far side Dorian. There is little knowledge of this tunnel system outside the royal family and their elite guards and soldiers. Try to keep it that way, Dorian.”

Dorian nodded briefly before walking around me. The larger black glass section, sliding back from inside. Revealing alone sitting guard rested inside, the leather interior. Along with two other seats in the back. An iron brazier, engraved with multiple Pyrosis runes rested on the guard’s left side.

Minutes later we were inside the pod. Beginning to make our way to the capital as the brazier was slide into the cone.

Random Musings #7.9

Previous entries: Random Musings #7, Random Musings #7.1, Random Musings #7.2, Random Musings #7.3, Random Musings #7.4, Random Musings #7.5, Random Musings #7.6, Random Musings #7.7, Random Musings #7.8

Raising my group after a quick breakfast, I sat down across from Martin, Beth, and two other members of Martin’s group. Max sat on my right, Beth on my left.

Martin said “The storm has passed Jack, which puts me in a perplexing situation. Without your groups’ assistance, last night would have had a severely bleaker outcome. For that everyone in my group is incredibly grateful. Yet I gave you a verbal contract about sheltering your group, and I have fulfilled it. Which makes it your priority to leave, completing your half of the agreement. However, after a late meeting with my advisors, I have a proposal to make on behalf of my group. While you will be told shortly what that is, I’m most curious to know your plan when you choose to leave.”

Glancing over at Beth, before switching my gaze to Max, for a brief moment. Looking at Martin, I asked, “How much have you heard about Quietus, through these barricaded walls?”

Martin responded “Much and yet very little simultaneously. I believe people exaggerate what they hear through whispers and white noise radio, the apocalypse just amplifies it. If the rumors are to be believed, this place is where humanity has taken its final stand. Some place where the snow is filled with snow, hope, and gunpowder. For a place seeking to preserve humanity, I’m curious to know why they reveal as little as possible about it. I imagine there is more to it than that, but that is what I believe.”

I said “Fair enough. That was where I was hoping to lead my group before you encountered us. I would prefer to continue the way there if we leave. ”

Martin said “Interesting Jack,” scratching his chin a little. “The proposal I offer extends to everyone in your group, but that will only be once. Out two groups merging, becoming a fellowship of sorts. Your group will have to work and defend this hospital like mine does. That being stated, Max and you would be given leadership positions, and spots on my council. Keeping things running smoothly, as everyone gets used to having more people around. I will give you two hours to think it over, among your group,” standing up. “Everyone in my group please follow me out. Send everyone from Jack’s group in for their private discussion,” walking out of the room. Followed quickly by the two members of his group that sat beside him.

Beth lingered behind, as my group slowly made their way inside the room. Making me wonder if she was going to follow us if we left. Trying to fill the parental role for Jet and Jillian.