Taking off

So things have been a little quiet around here, sorry about that! Life Stuff happened, as it tends to, and left me distracted. Not an excuse, just stating fact. I have not been entirely idle in absence, however, books are being written and, sad as it may be, Having Wings has to come to an end. I think that you won’t be disappointed 🙂

Having Wings part six: Price

Questions, comments, screams of rage and long winded rants? All are welcome!

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Itchy wings

We’re getting close to the end now. There’s only one more chunk of Having Wings to go after this one so I hope you enjoy it while it lasts! Things come to a bit of head this time around and because of that it’s a little longer than usual, I didn’t feel like cutting this section into two chunks would really work (unless you like really small chunks, which I don’t).

So I’ll see you next week for the finale!

Part five: Symbiosis

A flashy end

This week’s friday flash from Chuck Wendig is a lot shorter than normal, just the last line of a story. After much cogitating and scratching of my head, I decided an attempt at the last line of a book I have yet to write would be the best choice. I have read, reread and rewritten this so many times I don’t know if it’s any good anymore, but there you go:

Nox turned and looked through me, through the vague fog of reality that was my body and the fabric of space beneath, and smiled; she saw you.

For those interested, Nox is going to be a character I plan on having a lot of fun with. She’s… not exactly of this universe and is capable of almost anything, but she falls at least somewhat into the blue and orange morality category, for those actions that we are capable of understanding. Nox appears as a human most of the time, but in reality she’s more of an eldritch abomination.

Just a comparison, please don’t tell her I said that.

 

-I heard. I don’t care-

Winged Revelation

It’s that time of the week again! Wait, it’s a day late? Crap

So the next chunk of Having Wings is now up, and is a little shorter than usual so I’ll include it in the post. We’re over half way through now and I need to take a look at how the rest of the chunks fit together to ensure everything makes sense. And try to avoid too many cliffhangers… I had one last week and there may or may not be one this time around ^^’

Hope you enjoy Revelation!

 

She was on her back, her breathing rapid and shallow, but still very much present. There was weight on her chest and hair in her eyes, she could only guess that her attacker had missed. Forcing him up and off, she realised he was missing half of his face.

An errant human explosive had landed behind him, sending huge chunks of shrapnel through his body and a couple of the others. Only one of the attackers got to his feet, barely, and lumbered towards her. She grabbed the dead Valkyrie’s sword and threw it at her young brother, managing to pierce his chest with it in his shocked state.

Cohen was alive, of all those that had come, but he was unconscious. Alicia managed to drag herself to her feet and limp to him, placing her hand on his head. She whispered some words and felt him coming back, so slowly withdrew to put some distance between them.

Her body was healing rapidly, smaller broken bones already mended but vast areas of tissue damage so far untouched. Alicia was thankful for shock, its muting of pain rather helpful at this point. Cohen groaned as he rose, his wings spreading to steady himself.

“Your fellow dutiful soldiers are dead, Cohen” She said plainly, focusing her mind in case he decided to fight. She was in no condition to do so, running would be her only option.

“Killing so many of your own Kin, Alicia, how can you have fallen so far?” His eyes cast about, taking in the bodies as his left hand fiddled with a pocket.

“Ha! It’s almost like I guessed it” Alicia looked for her sword, muttering to herself to call it back.

“What are you talking about? And, by any chance, looking for this?” He held her sword in his right hand, the little notebook in the other.

Her muttering changed and the book yanked out of his hand, he screamed in rage as it flew to her but stopped short of chasing it; Alicia’s free hand was on fire.

“Just how many names are in this little book of yours, Cohen?”

Spitting through gritted teeth, Cohen said, “All those that have been chosen and all of our brethren that have fallen. The number is beyond comprehension”

“Oh I wouldn’t say that. Just what do you think would happen if someone were to release all of those chosen souls?” Alicia spoke softly, sweetly, and watched Cohen’s blood boil.

He rammed her sword into the ground. “An explosion of ridiculous proportion, ripping through from our plane to this one and just about all others. Have you truly lost all that was left of your mind?”

“I don’t think so. But you’re right, that plan is out. Different question, since you’re being obliging while more help musters: what is the limit of our capacity to collect souls?”

He frowned at her. “We never bring back more than a few. There are never that many truly worthy, I know of no limit, you may as well ask how much water I can put in the oceans”

She smiled at him as horror slowly crept into his face. Before anything else could be said, she disappeared.

 

A commotion in the hall. The dead were guarded by several elite Valkyries, armour shining even in the dim light that reached the walls. These men and women had never left their posts, never moved save to defend the dead, which, as it turned out, meant they had never moved. It made them slow.

Alicia was among the spheres of the dead, dancing in and out of the brightest points between them as she closed the distance to her adversaries. There was only a slim chance of her winning this one, but she no longer cared; she was doing this for herself, and for them.

The spheres, it seemed, approved of her attitude. Past disbelief, Alicia grinned as they moved from their appointed places, gathering behind her in a swarm of glittering light. The guardians seemed incapable of grasping what they were seeing, but thrust their lances her way nonetheless.

She weaved through them, closing the now insignificant distance in an instant, but had miscalculated. A sword came up, her meeting the pointed tip of which was now inevitable; she couldn’t fight momentum.

A crack, then the gentle tinkle of glass shards on stone as a scream filled the hall. The sword was gone, the hand that held it mangled and burned and quickly withdrawn. Between Alicia and her would be killer was a glowing shape, formerly bound in glass but now beginning to dissipate. Reforming quickly, a young girl’s face took shape before her, smiling sadly for a moment as the edges began to tear. The guardians surged forward, hands outstretched, but Alicia was quicker.

The flightless Valkyrie stepped into the cloud as the face lost its shape, her hands at her sides, palms open to the world. Resisting the urge to take the soul in her hands, Alicia breathed in.

A little Dream

So once in a very rare while I’ll get the urge to write a poem. This is not something that comes easily and is usually triggered by something specific. In this case it was the phrase “Blood is thicker than water” which happens to be one that makes me want to spit bile and run through the streets with a pair of fire axes decapitating all those that use it. For a lot of people it signifies that family bonds are unbreakable, pretty much regardless of what family does, and I just want to scream in the faces of such people because they don’t realise how they have caged themselves into a destructive mode of thinking.

Family are just people. They are related, big deal. They are supposed to be the people that would do anything for you and in a lot of cases are (if you are among these, yay! if not, go away). Of course, you would do anything for them too, because they’re family. But understand one thing and it’s really simple: they are just people.

And no one deserves to be shat on by people.

We don’t let friends do it, we drop them as we rightly should. Why does sharing a bit of DNA make a person worth more? Their actions are what make them worth more (Kids get a free ride on this, unless they’re being raised by shitty parents in which case help them rebel, but be prepared for failure).

Basically, everyone has to earn your respect, love, and dedication. You can afford to spend a little respect to get to know them, we do this for friends already, but this is a debt that has to be repaid. If they are good people, they do so intrinsically, without knowing. If not, drop them. You can feel bad about this, you may well take shit for doing it, but life with such people is not worth living.

Blood is thicker than water. It leaves a stain, and is much harder to clean up. In the end the stain is a little like a Rorschach test with a twist: your character isn’t revealed in the blot, but theirs is.

Not to say that I’m an expert in all this, but this is my reality on the subject. I would die tomorrow for my family if necessary, but not everyone I am related to is part of it.

Damn. Now I wish I’d thought up the Rorschach thing when writing the poem. A rewrite may come, but not this day.

I think I’ll file poetry under Dreams, since it tends to be less coherent (for the dream readers out there: more) than short stories (Daydreams around these parts).

I hope you enjoy blood is thicker, after the more since condensing the damn thing in wordpress is eluding me

Continue reading

A damp friday flash

Yet again Chuck Wendig has put up the challenge and I felt obligated to meet it. This time around the random page on tvtropes was the method of action, and frankly this seemed more than a little cruel… it took me an hour to realise I’d bounced hopelessly away from my first decent pick(If you are unaware of tvtropes… pretend I didn’t mention it while you can). The trope I got was The Can Kicked Him, basically someone getting their ass kicked in, and with the fixtures of, a bathroom. Seeing the opportunity to make Ikumi’s story continue in an episodic fashion, I went with it and came out with Water(I do so suck at titles, still working on that). I hope you enjoy!

Water

Ikumi knew the attack was coming. There were always consequences when you welched on a deal, but she had to admit to being surprised that anyone would be foolish enough to try this with her. Frankly, she was tired of killing stupid people.

A little variety is all she asked.

But no, yet again she was being followed by several over muscled men in dark clothing, trying to fit into the environment and… doing quite well, actually. Only she knew everyone in this crapped out section of the city and for good reason: it belonged to her.

The Sunderers had pushed out everyone else. The people payed her protection and her gang followed through; even the police didn’t come near these days. Not that the place was run down, mind you. Ikumi saw to it that those that could pay, payed, and those who couldn’t were given a leg up. The area was quietly thriving, and her pockets were filling out nicely.

So she knew everyone in this part of town, and these guys didn’t belong. The people passing by knew it and the message would already have gotten through to the others, leaving no need for her to call. She wandered casually and without purpose, leading these fools on through the dirty streets she called her own, looking for a prime spot.

They had tried to take a shot, at first. Her armour had coalesced from nothing around her, the Nanites building faithfully as always in response to the stress pheromones floating about. So now they followed, waiting for her to end up in a corner, for her to lower her defences.

Ikumi smirked at the passers by and they grinned in return, knowing what would happen. She made a bee line for her favourite bar, but ignored the patrons and the drinks, heading instead for the bathroom.

She did so love the ring of skull on porcelain.

There were three, as it turned out. One covered the door as the other two followed her inside at a rapidly closing distance. She went to a stall, put the seat cover down, and sat heavily so they’d know she was vulnerable.

The heavy ‘chak’ of a gun being cocked, and not an expensive one at that. She put her hand to the wall, imagined it soft like confetti, and the nano’s went to work. Before they fired the first shot she was able to squeeze through a disintegrating hole roughly her own size and into the next cubicle.

Ikumi sat on the floor, head low as they unloaded into the stalls. The primitive bullets tore through the flimsy metal with ease, would have been a challenge for her lightweight armour, but nothing save ricochets hit her. A gun was strapped to her waist, a high end gobbler pistol, but it felt almost like cheating to use it.

As they reloaded she burst through the door. Magazines went everywhere as the men frantically tried to jam them home and she closed with a crazed grin on her unarmoured face. Gauntlets seized weapons and threw them aside as the men tried to grab for her, but her suit was slippery and she was quick, twisting out of the grunt’s grasp and breaking an elbow for the trouble.

The second attacker punched, she blocked with an elbow that tore his hand apart. Wrapping arms around his neck she brought him across to the sink and slammed his head into the taps. He went limp and she brought an elbow down on the back of his head as she turned away, just to be sure.

The first guy’s nanos worked quickly, his elbow nearly restored as he charged. Ikumi braced against the sinks and brought up both legs to kick him in the chest. He caught her and pulled, but she twisted and pulled back, straining on the sinks. A sharp heel bit into his chin and as he screamed in rage she pushed down with full force, sending him through the swiss-cheese door of a stall to slam against the wall. Breathing hard she found her feet and ran to him, bringing a knee to his face with the momentum of her run.

Slumping to the floor he groaned in confusion, so she grabbed his head, pulled him up, and slammed him into the toilet until the porcelain cracked.

The first shot barely grabbed her attention. The next shattered her left shoulder and made her howl with rage. Rolling away the following shots only peppered the man’s partner and the other stalls, allowing her to get a bead on the final attacker. But he left no opening and had an extended magazine, following her relentlessly through the room.

More hits to her armour and she knew she was losing, despite most being stopped a few found chinks and bit savagely. Ikumi ripped a sink out of the wall and used it as a shield for a moment, then threw it at him when he changed magazines.

The sink hit squarely in the chest and his arms flew out with the impact, then Ikumi was on him, punching with sharp gauntlets and head butting him with her helmet. She darted back as he struck out, tore a pipe from the wall and proceeded to shatter both of his arms.

Falling to his knees her attacker attempted to scrabble for the door but she broke his leg, then lined the pipe along his throat and pulled his head back. With a grunt and a twist she tied the metal around his neck, crushing airway, major blood vessels and fracturing his spine.

Ikumi stumbled to the bar, dripping wet, as patrons went to gawk. The Sunderers came in as she sat down, took a look at her and grinned before going to clean up the mess. The barman came over and asked what she wanted. She raised a hand, watched the drops fall with a smirk.

“Water. Just water”

“On the house” He replied, fetching her a glass.

This may become a habit

Ok so the friday flash challenge from last week on Chuck Wendig’s site was so much fun I went for another roll and came out with a mix of picaresque, nanopunk, a powerful weapon and a key made of bone. This sparked fairly quickly and I’m tempted to continue this little band’s story in the future. We shall see, as I think they deserve fleshing out but finishing other things must come first! (Which reminds me, I must add some more bits to Fragments and Echoes, there are longer things on the way)

Hope you enjoy Nullified

The gang rolled in as the always did. Louis and Magyar first, and loudest, going right to the bar. The triplets were next, all named Callie and finishing each others sentences, fishing for the best catch in the place whether it be man, woman, or anything in between. A pair came next, the two lieutenants Margo and Egan scanning the room as they went and staring hard at anyone with silly ideas; those that didn’t blanch outright always did a quick calculation and decided their drink was more interesting.

Always last came Ikumi. Leader of the gang by right and skill, and by the number of unfortunate fools left dead in her wake. She might have been beautiful but it was impossible to see through the grime, the self inflicted scars, the lightweight armour she wore from head to toe.

Jean had to speak to her. The woman made no sign as she went to the bar, but Jean could tell: Ikumi knew who watched her, always. Letting out a long sigh Jean got to her feet, noticing a path opening between her and the bare space next to Ikumi.

If she bore ill will to the leader of the gang, she suspected she would already be dead.

“So what do you want?” Ikumi’s voice was harsh coming through the angled metal of her helmet.

“To see who I am talking to, for a start” Jean signaled the bar tender, who was looking for a way out and shot her a dirty look as he came over.

“You ask me to expose myself? Really?” Ikumi turned to look at her with the blue eyes of her helmet. “Fine” Her head twitched to the side and the various plates that made up the helmet dissolved, retreating until there was only enough cover for the back of her head.

“Thank you. I have a proposal”

“You are welcome, you odd little thing. Speak”

And she did. Jean spoke for near an hour, and the bar got steadily emptier as the rest of the gang crowded around. Most of it at least, the Triplets were nowhere to be seen.

“So why exactly have you brought this to me?”

“Who else could get it done?”

A cruel smile crossed Ikumi’s face. “There were a few”

Breaking into the facility was relatively easy. Jean had never seen anything like the triplets though, the three of them seemed to move with one mind, moving and covering faster than could be done just on reaction time.

Callie dragged her out of the way as she watched, nearly getting herself shot. “Fool, don’t expect us to clean up your corpse”

“Sorry”

“Why are you so at ease with this, anyway? Didn’t you work with these people?”

Jean looked at her hands, more than mere flesh and bone, her deeds woven inextricably through them.

“It doesn’t matter, Callie, your sisters need you” Ikumi passed, a rifle in her hands, speaking between shots. She had clearly customized the weapon, the shots carving through the nano defences holding walls together with ease.

“But I-”

Callie spat blood as Ikumi went back to firing. She hadn’t even looked at her subordinate. The triplet went back to her sisters and as Jean watched they broke through one of the final doors, narrowly avoiding an ambush as the Callie that had spoken to her killed a guard who had been hiding.

Jean went to say something to Ikumi, but she had already moved on. The facility was built in an underground cavern, one huge building they had now fought through most of. Jean carried a gun, on her belt, and hadn’t fired a shot.

“We’re here” She said at last as the gang almost ran past an inconspicuous door, heading for a huge vault instead.

“Really?” One of the lieutenants asked.

Ikumi’s helmet retracted and she looked Jean in the eye. She knew if Ikumi made so much as the wrong noise she would die in an instant. But the leader just nodded and the gang went to work on the door.

They cursed and screamed in anger as they worked. Finally Ikumi combined fire with several of them to overcome the nanoweave holding the door together, but it was close.

Inside they found a set of simple work benches, an odd oblong of metal sitting on the one in the centre. Ikumi looked at Jean meaningfully as the majority of the gang set up defensively outside the room and the two of them went inside, a Callie along for the ride.

“How do we activate it?” She asked, not looking comfortable to be in the same room with it.

“We don’t need to here. Just take it” Ikumi said to Jean, scanning the room.

“We need to make sure it works! I don’t want to waste our biggest payday on a dud!”

Ikumi sighed heavily and nodded to Jean. Reluctantly she went to the device and inspected the surface, ensuring it was still as she had left it. She removed the anti tamper device that would have destroyed her creation, and tapped the side to open it.

The others watched intently as she pointed her right index finger at the device. Her nanites went to work, removing the flesh from bone and exposing her personal key. She winced and shoved her naked finger into the slot she uncovered and had to fight tears as the device thrummed with power.

“I give you the nano-nullifier”

A body was brought in. Ikumi fired the nullifier, and the body started disintegrating, the skin aging and falling apart before their eyes. Before long there was nothing but bones and clothes, and everyone murmuring in disbelief.

“Put it back on the bench” Ikumi commanded.

Everyone shouted as she aimed and fired at the nullifier, destroying it. She did the same for every data terminal.

“Why did you do that?” Callie asked.

“Because some things are worth more than pay. Let’s move”

Jean, on her knees, wept for joy as they trotted out. Ikumi stopped at the door and shouted her name.

“You can stay and die if you like. Or…”

Jean was up and through the door in a moment, gun in hand.