Friday flash, it’s been a while

So this friday flash from Chuck Wendig is theme specific: “We’re all human, even when we’re not”

Hmm

Sounds eerily similar to the theme of ‘Only Human’ a book I have drafted and am attempting to edit. Some stuff is going to have to go and be rewritten and as it happens this seemed like a good opportunity to write a peek into that world. This had not appeared before and may or may not end up in the book, I haven’t decided yet, but I think it stands well on it’s own.

Standard Procedure

Everyone was being tested. Garret watched the reports with eyes half closed, a pen twirling in the air above his hand. They were saying this was for the good of all, that the next step in evolution needed every bit of help that could be given.

Hearing other’s thoughts and levitating pens didn’t sound like the next level of evolution.

Mark next door was claiming anyone with powers was sub human, not the next stage of evolution, and there were a lot of faces on the tv that agreed with him. The debate was raging everywhere and registration was a compromise, stalling for time.

Garret twirled the pen.

A knock came at the door. He ignored it, but let the pen drop into his hand and proceeded to stab the other palm with it. Flakes of plastic littered his lap, then the floor as he went to answer, the knocking this time more insistent.

“Yes?”

“Garret Norton? We have you down as untested” There were two black suited men and a woman from the local doctors’, all looking a little unsure.

“Really? Suggestion: invite people down for an appointment, takes off the ‘jackboot’ edge you’ve got going here”

“Sir, this is routine and will go much smoother if you just let us in, please” The man on the right was older, had very dark skin and lacked the ‘scrutinising a bug’ eyes of his partner.

“Fine. Though you didn’t need to bring her, I already know,” He smiled a little at the nurse and turned into the house.

He’d expected dull thuds in his back with accompanying sizzle, but there was just the door closing instead. They’d brought the nurse in anyway and the Suspicious agent pushed past Garret to explore the rest of the house.

“Standard procedure, sir, we take a blood sample from everyone” Older Guy said.

The nurse approached, opening her little case and slipping on a pair of gloves. As she extracted a needle Garret smirked, making Old Guy raise an eyebrow.

“Got goggles too?” he asked.

She frowned, but did and put them on. He pulled up his left sleeve and presented the arm, watched the needle gently prod at his skin, noticed the twitch in her eye when it wouldn’t go in.

“Push harder”

She did, and the needle snapped. A piece careened off her goggles while another bounced off Garret’s cheek.

“Told you,” Garret looked pointedly at Older Guy, saw his hand go to his ear.

So that answers that

Suspicious Guy came back, blocking the way to the front door. “You’ll need to come with us,” Older Guy ushered the nurse out through the back as he spoke.

“Why?” Garrett knew, of course.

“Sir, please don’t make a fuss,” Old Guy said as Suspicious approached.

“Then answer my question, I’m curious”

A look was exchanged between the two agents and Old Guy let out a sigh. “People with any new ability are to come with us, for their protection”

He looked like he’d swallowed something foul and Garret smiled. “Realising that line won’t work with me, Agent?”

“You could say that. But I assure you, sir, this will be much easier if you just come with us,” Old Guy said.

“Where’s the family, sir?” Suspicious guy asked.

Garret leaned back in the sofa and smiled at him. “Not here, obviously. They’re not quite so indestructible”

Both agents touched their ears and listened for long moments. Garret was fairly sure he knew what was coming next.

“We have backup on the way, sir. Until you are designated as safe you will have to come with us,” Old Guy said.

“Okay,” he replied, turning to stretch his legs on the sofa, “I’ll wait ’til they get here. Want to see what else I can do?”

The agents took a step back. Garret chuckled a little, wishing it actually drove away the nerves. These two seeing now would be easier than the big group later.

More of the house would be left standing.

He pointed at a coaster on the coffee table and the sliver of glass rose into the air. Hands went to concealed guns as he made it rotate lazily. Nodding carefully at the coaster, Garret said, “Push on it”

Old Guy shot a meaningful look at Suspicious, but did as he was asked. The coaster stayed in place, even when he put his whole weight on it.

“I imagine,” Garret began as he lowered the coaster, “that there will be a lot of people asking questions”

Old Guy nodded.

 

Government had been, as ever, efficient and discreet.

So there were three news vans and a gaggle of photographers behind the line of police cars and black vans.

Questions, cheers and noise greeted Garret as he left the house, an agent’s gloved hand on each shoulder. He’d declined hiding his face and no amount of force would keep a jacket over his head. Forcing himself to smile and look into every camera he could see as they rushed him to a van, he didn’t see the tomato coming.

Soft flesh smacked his cheek and sticky wetness rolled down his neck. Garret wrenched around with a growl, seeking the attacker and dragging the agents with him. The next projectile stopped in front of his face and was joined by others before they were returned to sender with prejudice.

One person was actually knocked over. There were screams from the crowd that set off a storm of camera flashes.

“Damn it,” he muttered, accepting the jacket now as the agents forced him into the van.

“Why’d you do that?” Old Guy asked as they sped away.

“I don’t know,” Garret smiled sadly as a pair of handcuffs were slapped onto his wrists, “what would you have done?”

Old Guy didn’t reply. There was angry chatter from the front of the van, and Suspicious was still staring.

“Agent Phoenix,” Old Guy said, extending a hand. Garret shook it, just once.

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Back in something, probably not black

Time to restart, methinks.

Ugh, I hate that word.

This blog has been neglected for the various reasons people neglect blogs. I won’t bore you with details.

I finally finished last year’s nano story, and by finished I mean it has a beginning, middle and end. All of which are too thin and require a metric tonne of world building to work properly; I really need practice with fantasy writing.

It’ll get done, just needs to simmer for a while.

I’m editing Only Human, a previous nano story which needs more work. But the difference is I know what it needs now, enough time has gone by for that to become clear. Editing is it’s own kind of slog though, so that’s fun.

Write write and write some more, that’s what we’re aiming for.

Enough gibberish from me, I’ve got a first line to figure out for a Chuck Wendig friday flash challenge 🙂

Shattered Blade

This years (years’? year’s? I don’t even care anymore) Nano novel is one that has existed in one form or another in the back of my mind for a couple of years now. I wrote out the first few chapters by hand in a notebook and it kind of died an odd sort of death as I drifted away from it. Now though it is not a tale of gods intruding on the world we know, but one set in a fantasy world where they have always existed.

And always been petty, as it turns out.

The titular item is a weapon forged in the last great war between the heavens and hell. Neither of which are really more than the domains of their respected gods, He on high and the Vengeful One, both of which are just the most powerful of their kind. There are many others all vying for power, but this weapon is going to change the entire world with it’s coming. Forged when the greatest weapons of heaven and hell clashed this thing is stronger than both and will end up in the hands of a mortal woman who just wants to know more about the world.

She… may have to stab some people in the process ^^”

The synopsis be here: Permanence, and the first 1200 words or so are here: Fragment

And now I rush off back to it, my word pile is not nearly high enough.

Behold the Nanobolt

Storm clouds gather in the deepening dark, mustering energies beyond fathoming with which to assault the ground below. The arcs begin even before the rain starts but they are merely the light show, the echoes of what is to come spreading in grand webs through the strengthening storm. Rain and ocean mix in the wind, the smells combining in the charged atmosphere to make that unique air of the storm.

The first strike explodes a tree. No one notices.

A second writes glittering letters in sandy soil of a language none can read.

The third, it’s always the third, strikes me, and life is reborn.

Somewhere, quietly, a madman is cackling with glee over this very subject. Or because he spilled his soup and it looks like jesus, it’s hard to tell.

The grand storm is Nanowrimo and it has, as pointed out in this silly little post, brought me back to writing life. I fell for an mmo, always a silly thing to do, and have written very little for the last few months, but no longer. I am 17,530 words into this year’s little month long novelling adventure and could not be happier to be back into it, with a little look see and revision (advised against, but I take advice sparingly) I think I’ll be posting my first 12-1500 words here shortly. Why? Why not, and because Chuck Wendig put it forth as the flash fiction challenge, of course 😉

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 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.