Saturday, May 4, 2013

nook central...and big news!

Well, due to some internal conflict, I've had to part ways with Amazon. However, in every cloud there is a silver lining, and my library is now live on nook! Click on this link, or on the bog NOOK BOOKS link right over there --------->> to the right.
In further news...

-Flesh Wound is finished, also with a name change to the Warhammer. Its live right now on nook.

-My library of titles will soon be available on Kobo.

-Junker Girl and her Droid now also contains Junker Girl and her Destiny. Two books in one!

-I am working on TWO new titles, Country of Superheroes 2 and Space Marine.

Stay tuned....

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Flesh Wound- Two

My name is Cain the suicide. If it was Cain the book lender, I might have chosen another profession. My hair is cut into a War stripe, and I kill Orcs.

My favorite way to do that is with a sword, although I'll use whatever comes easily enough. My sword is a mean bugger, hand and a half valyrian steel. I wear ramshackle Shardplate armor. Orc teeth are sharp. Like any suicide, I stole or bought illegally all this. I’m not a fucking knight. Or a barbarian. Especially not one of these Imperial redcoats, running around with their fancy new rifles. Smarter than that.
In town I like dark ale, loud music with a Nord bard on the drums, and a woman with tattoos and a war stripe. If a bitch approaches me and she looks like she comes from temple, I won’t pass up, but that isn’t an often occurrence with my appearance. Not that my appearance matters to me. I can read and write, and do sums, which is more than many of your Ser's and Milady's.
The last bloody mess I was in came courtesy of a favor I did while I was in Cyrodil. They happened to let me in one of the nicer areas, which doesn’t happen too often. Means they don’t think I'll steal too much, which I did anyway. I was between horses when I got there, and had to ride a caravan, which seemed to work out all for the best, as they were attacked by gobs three times. Things are rough these days in the Empire. I impressed the lot with my swordplay, and a visual display of gob guts and brains in abundance, but none of the womenfolk was a proper nice wench, and one of the menfolk seemed to be looking at me in that funny manner which I don’t go for. So I kept to myself and did my business, got off at the gates and didn’t look back. People are funny about suicides, they want us when there’s things to kill, and every time else, not at all.
I am here today, to save a Princess. It is entirely the wrong sort of job for a suicide. As such, I have failed at it horribly.
The Princess is in my arms, dying. If I want to I can feel the holes in her side, where the arrows stick out. An arrow is a messy wound, and you don’t want to pull the shaft out, if you can help it. Not without a Maester around.
"Can you hold me tighter?" She says. "It’s getting kind of cold."
She isn’t dressed for warm, that’s for sure. High boots and bustier, with one of those short black skirts whores prefer around Kings Landing. Lips and eyes painted dark, along with jet black hair. The hair coloring is natural, only. I don’t tell her that the chill she feels is death coming. I just press her tighter to me. A beautiful girl. Her teeth are chattering now.
"Just answer me one question." She says.
Anything, I tell her.
"How is it my father was so stupid to send a suicide to guard me?" She asks
A long story, I say. And then I start to tell it.


An Orc is nowhere near as attractive in its menace as popularly portrayed, by artist across Cyrodil. An actual Orc is about four and a half feet tall, grey, and wrinkled. Not to mention the smell. The stink of perpetual feces and rot, is a calling card for anyone that’s dumb enough to look, a sure indicator, Orcs live here.
The story starts with me in single combat against one such Orc. I say single combat because there is two of them, and I have a companion, so the odds are even, in theory. In practice, I am standing out in the woods with a dumb, fat friar, armed only with a ceremonial mace, who looks as if he might piss himself at any moment. It is two on one, then, made even more complicated by the fact that I have to keep both Orcs attention, and keep the friar alive, in order to get paid for the job.
I have evened things up early by relieving one Orc of its arm. It was a smooth cut, and it staggered the creature. Will most likely kill it, eventually, from blood loss. But the Orc is overall too stupid to care about little things like a mortal wound, and it hobbles around with a simple club, swinging back and forth. Possibly it will hit me, possibly it will hit its comrade. So much of fighting these things is a game of chance.
The other Orc is quicker. It has one of those rusted edges of black metal they use as blades. Its own blood is trickling from between its fingers where the creature is gripping it. There is no handle to an Orc sword, no unsharpened or padded point on the sharpened edge. They lose their own fingers often, and with little regard. "Grag slagger de nork!" The Orc howls at me, which I take to be its own language for "Kindly relieve me of the useless burden of my own life."
It jumps furiously. It is nimble despite being ugly, and I have only made minor wounds. It suddenly shats and pisses itself, the urine dribbling out its member in brown gold trickles. A series of warts decorates its lower belly, making its way prominently to the penis. To save me from this sight alone, I would clothe the enemy myself. I have an epiphany, and drop my guard.
The Orc takes the initiative immediately, charging and howling. I let my armor take it. That is the key thing about shardplate, it can indeed take it. The black metal sparks with each impact, and leaves a glow from where it was hit, but it holds. I bring my sword up in time to save my face from the one lucky blow that might get me. The Orc is fast, but frantic and erratic.
The thrust that kills him he almost throws himself on.
I take its head off for good measure. You have to be sure, with Orcs. There is absolutely no need for an abundance of caution. I move over to the side, where I see the other Orc has sagged to its knees. Its eyes are dull and mostly lifeless, a stroke of good fortune for the overweight friar, who is comically dancing forward and back, swiping his ineffective mace just short of touching the beast. I take this one's head as well. The friar squeals when the torrent of blood that issues forward splatters the front of his brown habit.
"You got me." The friar whines. It’s all over."
I ignore the man. It isn’t over, of course. There still is a matter of the eggs.
The friar sits and eats a leg of mutton he brought with him to satiate his appetite. I give him credit for that, I have little stomach for eating after spending a day around Orcs. I look around for the nest. It has to be close. Orcs don’t stay in one spot unless rooted. I find it at last under a fallen tree stump that comes up nearly as high as my head. Five eggs, two hatched. The infant Orcs are ugly pink thinks, blind and mewling like kittens.
I crush them quickly beneath my boot. One of them a merely maim with the first stomp, and it lets out a tinny howl at the injustice. My next blow crushes its head flat to the Earth. Afterwards I put flint and tinder to the mess, and burn the unhatched. Only way to be sure. No need to waste time, trying to crack the shell of an Orc egg. Let it cook.
When I get back the friar looks up at me, his face a mess of mutton juice. "What’s that smell?" He asks. "Are you making breakfast? Those eggs are rotten. I won’t eat rotten eggs."
"Neither will I." I tell him. "So let’s get back to your abbey, and you can make breakfast for us both."

He does. Or rather, a slightly plump, well bosomed handmaiden does. The church eats well, in my experience anyway. This meal is no exception. Buns with honey and butter, strips of bacon. Bowls of berries. Fine mead to wash it all down. We finished our business early, and it is just mid-morning when I push back from the table. The light is shining through the stained glass windows, warm sunshine. I think I could take a nap, if I let myself. Just in the grass, outside the confessional. I imagine the residents of this Shire have lazy moments, just like that.
The friar pushes back, and smacks his lips. We get down to business. "Now," he says. "On the matter of your payment."
"Twelve talents." I tell him. "Six an Orc. agreed upon guild rates."
"Ah." His eyes darted around nervously. "And you feel that is, shall we say, appropriate?"
"And you don’t?"
"It did seem a quick bit of work." The friar said. "No doubt, I am sure that you are very good at what you do."
"The best." I lied. One-lipped Sawl is the best, but there was no reason for this asshole to know that.
"As you say." The friar said. "The best. I am quiet adept as well, in my ministries. And I believe that as I was out there, the Prophet God himself was helping me, aiding my strength, that I was able to dispatch one of the fell Orcs myself. So I do believe, that, ah, if guild rates were to be applied, then the price should be-"
I summoned up the steel in my voice, and turned my eyes to ice. "Should be what?" I asked him.
"Six talents." The friar gulped.
I let my right hand subtly drift to the sword resting beside me. "The price was for two dead Orcs." I said. "Those are both dead. What’s more, a nest of eggs was destroyed, free of charge. This was agreed upon on condition of hire."
The fat man gulped, and said nothing.
I let my voice soften. "But I suppose a discount could be provided." I said. "For assistance rendered, and this fine meal. Five talents an Orc, then."
The friar was happy, smiling contentedly between greasy cheeks. "Ten it is." He brought out a fat purse, brimming with more than six times that number of golden coins. For a moment, I considered taking it from him, and taking off his fat head with a Valyrian blade. Then the moment passed. The friar intoned that he would pray for my soul. I thanked him graciously. As I walked down the road, away from the abbey, I gave it my middle finger. Five an Orc was the actual guild rate. I had told the man ten because I knew he would try and cheat me, and I knew that I would have a better chance of getting my money if he thought he was getting some sort of bargain. Men of the cloth are notoriously stingy when it comes to settling their debts.
I knew what would happen next, of course. Or rather I didn’t know, completely, but more like heavily suspected, based on years of being a suicide. So I ducked in the woods, a quarter mile down the road to Westshire from the abbey. I dusted off my boot prints from the dirt, so if you read my tracks it would look like I simply vanished in my tracks, called up to heaven by the Prophet God. I picked a spot off in the woods, and waited.
It didn’t take long.
There were four of them. Amateurs all. The kind of rough sort you pull up from the docks in any city, especially the so-called free cities beyond the dark portal. They weren’t wearing professional garb, no mail between the lot of them. Simple peasants rags, mostly. Their weapons were the worst of it. I counted two with long knives, one with a lumberjacks axe, and one with the sort of rapier that is mostly ornamental. They had a half starved dog, which they obviously didn’t know would be no good against a proper suicide. When they reached the point where my tracks vanished, they started to argue.
“He’s in the trees!” Said the fat one with the lumberjack axe.
“Shut your mouth.” Said a skinny one with one of the long knives. He spat, and I could see a mouthful of ruined black teeth. “You think he’s a bird then? He can fly.”
“He can jump!” Blubbered the lumberjack. “Jump high, to the thick of the branches.” He scratched his mangy head. “We should have brought arrows.”
"Oh?" Said the fat one. "And who would have shot the arrows? Perhaps you could stick the bow up your fat arse, and pleasure yourself thusly."
A brief struggle ensued, in which the fat one managed to blacken the skinny ones eye, purely on accident. After which they separated, muttering curses. The one with the dog petted it on the hind-quarters, which caused the animal to wag its tail morosely. I could see that this one was merely a boy, very young indeed.
"Toby's lost the scent." Said the boy."
"Fuck that dog." The skinny one spat in the dirt. "It’s done nothing but chase a damned squirrel. This whole things a wash. I told you we should have gotten what we could out of the friar when we could have, and then headed to the pub to drink it away."
"He promised us half a talent each." Whined the fat one. "From what we got back from the suicide."
"Do you think it really was a suicide?" The boy asked. "I’ve heard the stories..."
"Every sell sword this side of the plague lands calls themselves a suicide." The skinny one said. "It’s just business, and nothing more. That lot died out a long time ago."
But I hadn’t, and to punctuate the point I took out a small dagger, and threw it so it caught in the skinny ones shoulder, buried to the hilt. He let out a howl and then fell and started to kick and thrash around. The others that weren’t carrying their weapons in their hands drew them. I rustled the bush I was hiding behind and stood up, allowing them to see me. The reaction was predictable. Shouts of "there he is!" and "let’s get him!" If they looked around them carefully, they would have spotted me long ago.
I took off on a careful run, headed back into the woods. It was careful because I was deliberately letting them see and hear me. The group chasing me made only slightly less noise than a herd of Kroog, particularly the fat one, who managed to fall down twice. The dog took the lead, yapping near my heels, but not getting close enough to bite. I doubted it would, anyway. When we reached a small clearing that I thought was perfect, I let them surround me. I took a moment to let them feel comfortable. They were cowards to the bone, the kind that would only think of killing a man in his sleep, ordinarily, unless the target was weak enough. And I didn’t want them to run. I would have to chase them. I kept my hands by my side, off my sword, and tried to look neutral. They were panting, breathing heavy from the run through the woods.
It finally happened with the skinny one. Anger from the wound I had given him earlier gave him enough courage to cry "God damn it!" And charge at me with his long knife. I drew my sword cleanly while slashing low, in the manner of the east. The cut opened up as he passed me, and his guts spilled out the wound, to his feet. He fell trying to put them back in with both hands.
I took the one who had not spoken with the most skill, afraid he would run, in a leaping thrust. After that my Valyrian blade went in neatly to rupture the fat ones heart. When I reassessed the dog was long gone, being the only member among the party with any degree of good sense.
The boy put his back to the tree, his eyes wide and bright like two shiny pennies. He looked impossibly young now, years from shaving the hair from his face. I pointed the blade in his direction. As I did blood gently dripped from the steel, making a soft patter onto the leaves.
"Who sent you?" I asked.
"The friar." He told me, confirming what I already knew.
"Are there any others?"
He shook his head. "You killed them." His voice was filled with awe. "Your sword wasn’t even drawn, and you killed Lean Tom without even trying. I’ve never seen anything like it."
"I doubt you have seen much death, boy." I told him. "How old are you?"
"Fifteen." He sniffled, a thin trail of snot running out his nose. "I’ve seen Lean Tom kill a man once, by the docks in Kings Landing. A merchant. He bought me a sweet bread with what we got." The boy shook his head again. "It wasn’t like that, though. What you did. You’re going to kill me, aren’t you?"
I said nothing.
"I didn’t want to come." The boy said. "They told me I had to. I was planning on running away once we got to the Shire. There’s work there, you can work the fields when harvest comes in, and they don’t care who you are or what you've done. But they made me do it. I didn’t want to."
"I believe you." I said gently. And then I brought the sword down fast to the back of his skull, splitting it to the brains, so that when he fell forward I would not have to see his face.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Flesh Wound- One

Flesh Wound

the American Soldier

Thomas was on the front porch, smoking his pipe, when the truck pulled up the dirt road, to park in front of the cabin. He sucked deep one last draw, before stamping out the bowl next to his rocking chair. It was good shire-leaf, from away, and he didnt want to waste it. He felt the last rush to his head from the smoke, the elation making him slightly dizzy, before he looked in regret at the pile of ashes next to the rocker chair. A bit of the other world, wasted now. Impossible to get back.
The man from the truck walked up to him. He was ex-military, that was impossible not to judge, by his walk, if not his general frame. Thomas sighed. It had been a long time since Vietnam, and one hip replacement later he didnt walk so straight. When the kid got closer, Thomas could see the inconsistency, his right leg was prosthetic. A deep shiver passed through Thomas. An ounce of regret, for what was about to happen. Then he forced the smile.
"You must be Conner." He said. "I'm glad y'all could come out."
The kid offered his hand, close enough so that Thomas could see the colorful tattoes, extended from his wrist and dissapearing beneath his t-shirt. "Conner James, sir." The kid said. His grip was firm. "Are you Mr. Cowens?"
"Ya'll can stow that sir crap." Thomas said. "And Mr. Cowens was my daddy. Im just Thomas, if that's all right."
"That's cool, Thomas. I'm Conner James, then." The kid grinned. At one level he was starting to make Thomas sick. The kid was young, tan, and healthy, with dark blonde hair and green eyes. Thomas was pale white these days, with only the occasional blue vein giving him any sort of added color, and what hair there was on his head and chin had faded from grey to white long ago. Was I ever so young? He thought. Maybe. Before sixty-eight, maybe. After that I was old inside, until I matched it out.
"Put your stuff inside." Thomas waved, in the general direction of the screen door. "And get changed up. After that we'll have a little sit-down, you and me, and I'll tell you what's what. And you can tell me about yourself."
"Did you get my facebook messages?"
"That the new internet thing?" Thomas said, and laughed when the kid's face fell. "Ayuh, I got what you wrote. Someone printed the thing off for me, and I read it. I'm not one for computers, mostly. Dont have one in the cabin, and cell phones down work either. Its more or less a dead zone. But I read what you wrote, and I liked it. You wouldnt be here if I didnt."
The kid walked off to the truck, good mood restored. "If I didnt think you had a chance." Thomas continued. He hated himself, for a moment, watching the kid grab two green duffel bags, and hoist them up on his back. Then he turned to go inside.
The kid came out fully dressed in the period attire, which wasnt exactly what Thomas had in mind, but damned if he didnt look the part. "How do you feel?" Thomas asked.
"Not bad." Conner said. "How do I look? I mean, will it pass?"
"Not bad either." Thomas said. "You bought everything from our distributor? Special order?"
Conner nodded. "Jenkins had some of it tailored." He said. "To make it- to make the fit right."
"Ayuh." Thomas nodded. "They see a lot of travel over there-a lot of foreigners. You dont have to look absolute perfect, and you wont- too clean, for one thing, but it wont matter too much." He switched to the common tongue. "But you have to speak the language."
"I'm okay with it." Connor replied, in Common. "I've studied for a year, on your program."
"Have you now." Thomas said, in english this time. "Thats good. You've got an accent, but there are a lot of accents out there. You should fit right in." Thomas looked him up and down again, at the medieval-ish attire, down to the cape, and the sword in its scabbard, at the belt. "How are you with that pig-sticker?" He asked.
Conner drew it with a flourish. Thomas was pleased with the look of the blade, a mostly traditional longsword, with a plain hilt and no ornamentation. He had a fear initially that the kid would bring some guady thing with etchings and dragons that belonged only in a video game.
"I've spent three weeks going over it with Jenkins your farm." Conner said. "Before that, I was part of a medieval reenactment group, back in Texas. I thought I was pretty good, until I met Jenkins, and he kicked my butt all over the place."
Thomas grinned. "Thats what I hired Jenkins for." He said. "He was a military man himself, before spending all his time with a sword. British special air service. I dont know if he mentioned it."
"He didnt." Conner said.
"I didnt find him myself." Thomas said. "The video game people did, but when I got a hold of him, and got my little plan together, I thought how useful he would be. Its paid off in spades."
"Speaking of video game...." Conner brought out a plastic sleeve, and laid it on the table, next to the remains of dinner. Thomas picked it up. He recognized the copy immediatedly. Worlds of Mourn, for the Playstation 3. Game of the Year edition. "I was hoping I could get an autograph."
Thomas did so, signing the cover with a flourish of his pen. "You realize, of course." He said. "That you cant bring this with you."
"I wasnt going to." Conner said. "Its for my nephew. He's an addict."
Thomas handed the game back. "Well, tell him thanks for playing." He said. "Then tell me a little something about yourself."
He had heard Conner's story before, of course. It was why the kid was here, why he had been chosen, out of all the possible applicants. It was still something to hear him tell it. He started with the parents, both dying when he was a teenager. From there it was the perrenial pit stop in a millenials history, nine-eleven. An enlistment in the Marines. A roadside bomb, ending a five year career, on the third tour of Iraq, and taking off Conner's right leg just above the knee.
The story got better and worse. Conner got depressed. Did something stupid with a gun, and a quick call from his wife landed him in a brief stay in a psych ward under suicide watch. Conner got divorced. Got broke. Went to college, and it didnt take. Got into something called Crossfit, and something else called MMA, some sort of fighting and exercise, and both of those did take, but the injury tempered any real competetive drive. Found out about the video game from a website, after wasting most of a month playing World of Warcraft. Loved it. When the "Learn Common to Win." Contest came out, studied for months, before submitting the Youtube vid.
"And what do you think your winning?" Thomas asked.
"Jenkins said it was the real deal, the one time I asked." Conner said.
"And what do you think that means?"
Conner scratched his head. "Ive been thinking about that." He said. "And I think either you've got the greatest LARP group of all time, out here, or you've got some sort of virtual reality stuff. Either way, its an experience, right?"
Thomas nodded. "That it is." He said. "And experience."
Conner's eyes dropped to the table. "I've had a lot of shitty ones." He said. "I dont know if thats normal, at thirty, to look at your past and see a pile of shit. Pardon my language."
Thomas got up to get in the cabinet. "Dont worry about the cussin'." He said. "I was in the Army myself, and it doesnt bother me none. As for the pile of shit, you'd be suprised. I saw things about that way, at your age, and I'll bet you'n me werent the only ones. A couple of them young rock stars, that died out when I was comin up, Janis Joplin and them. They prolly saw it too."
He found the bottle of Jack Daniels and two tumblers, and poured them each two fingers. And then he went into his own story.
In some ways it was a mirror of what the kid had told him. There was Nam, and a divorce, three of them, to be exact. There were jobs that didnt work out. Finally there was the big C, cancer, eating out his lungs and bones after twenty years of cigarettes at two packs a day. Then there was this very cabin, and a loaded shotgun, with no hope left...
"And then I went through that very door there." He pointed to the back of the cabin. "And when I came out, I was in Mourn."
To his credit, the kid did not fall over laughing, or even smirk. It might have had a little to do with how Thomas was looking at him hard in the face. "What do you think about that?" Thomas snapped, despite himself.
"Its..." Conner was struggling. "I guess..its the kind of story I wish I could tell, right now."
"Are you ready, then?" Thomas asked. A thrill of excitement ran down Conner's back.
"Sure." He said. "Lets do it."
Thomas brought up the leather bag, that had been sitting next to him. "This should be enough to get you started." He said. He brought out a small book, with parchment pages. A map was folded up in the front. Thomas drew it out. It was Mourn, beautifully detailed. Thomas brought out a coin purse, and shook several pieces out. He held up a small bronze piece. "An urn." He said. "Ten urns to a jot." The next piece was square, and square. "Ten jots to a talent." He said. "If you get one, make sure its silver, and not tin."
"How can I tell?" Conner asked.
"Bite it." Thomas said. "Tin will bend, and silver wont." He held up one more coin. It was unmistakably gold, circular with a square hole in the center. "A talent." He said. "Never pay in talents for anything besides horses, property, or well made weapons. Try not to pay that much at all. Haggle whenever you can. Most vendors expect it."
Thomas took out one last item. It was a letter written in parchment, sealed with red wax. "When you come out on the other side of the door, walk straight until you get to the road." Thomas said. "If you take it left, its ten miles to Winterhill, a good mid sized city. If you take it right, its forty miles that leads to wilderness, and forest, and cold, frozen tundra." Thomas shivered. "Its a long way, if you go right. So take it left. When you get to the city, head to the Carls seat and ask to see Octavian. You wont be admitted right away, but my letter should get you in. Your story, when you see Octavian, is that your Lord Griffen's natural son, from the southlands, and you seek to make your fortune. Have you got that?"
"Griffens son." Connor said. "Turn left. Carls seat and letter. Got it."
"Remember." Thomas said. "His natural son. Make sure you put that bit in." He got up, and took the bottle of Jack with him, taking a long swig. When he came back it was with a piece of greyish brown fur.
"Put this under your cloak." Thomas said. "Mourn gets cold, dont forget."
Conner grimaced. "It got cold in Iraq, once or twice." He said. "It actually snowed, if you believe it. I havent seen a lot of snow, since I moved to Texas."
"You'll get your fill." Thomas rubbed his eyes. "Shit. What am I forgetting? Oh right, your leg."
"What about it?" Conner asked.
"Modern things dont work." Thomas said. "Not on the other side of the door. I tried it once with a gun, and it didnt fire. I took the bullets apart and tried to light the powder with a match, and it just fizzled."
"My leg isnt a gun."
"No." Thomas said. "But theres a chance that- I dont know- the springs could burst apart. The frame could rot out. I'm not sure.
Conner looked thoughtful. "There isnt really anything complicated to it." He said. The frame is carbon fiber. I'll risk it." Thomas felt guilty for bringing it up. Of course he would risk it. What other choice did the kid have? Hobble ten miles on a wooden crutch?
"Right." Thomas said. "Are you ready?"
He hobbled over to the back door of the cabin. Bringing out the small, metal key. Putting it in the lock. Already he could feel the chill coming from the door.
"Wait." Conner said.
A sinking feeling came over Thomas' stomach. He's going to say, dont do it, he thought.
"What happened to your cancer?" Conner asked.
"Cured it." Thomas lied. "Full remission." He turned the key and swung open the door, and Conner's eyes went wide. The woods painted white with snow. Everything large and in color, somehow more of it, then through the front door. The world of Mourn.
"Good luck." Thomas said, and, resting a hand on Conner's shoulder, pushed him through, the kid staggered, and then Thomas swung the door shut, and locked it. He walked away as quickly as he could, hating himself. He poured Jack Daniels into the tumbler until it overflowed the brim, and then he tossed it back, down his throat. Whiskey spilled down the front of his shirt. How much time had he bought with this? Another year? Three months? He shivered, waiting.
Out of the corner of his eye, a shadow moved, with a pale face.
"Its done." Thomas said. "He's on his way."
"we know." The shadow hissed. "We see everything."
Thomas grew angry. "This ones good." He said. "He might make it."
The shadow laughed, and the sound made Thomas sick to his stomach. "Is that what you think?" It said. "Doesss that help you ssleep at night?" It moved behind his chair, and the presence made Thomas want to run outside, screaming. "Iss he asss good as you, Thomasss?"
"How much longer do I have?" Thomas whispered, afraid. He turned around, and screamed, "How much longer!" But the shadow was already gone, and the kid was gone, and he was alone, in a cabin in the woods.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

News! News! News!

the Junker Girl and Her Destiny , now live on the Kindle store.
Up next....
EPHRAM THE BARBARIAN, appearing right here on this blog!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

the Junker Girl and Her Destiny-Chapter 15

The Cryo level of the station was freezing cold. Mona looked inside the pod at the frozen crew member. "Is he dead?" She asked.
"According to the logs." Aleph said, "He suffered a large wound to the abdomen, and the medical staff wasnt sufficiently trained to help him. So, right before he would have expired, they placed him in cryogenic stasis."
"So, he's almost dead."
"From what I can tell." Aleph said, "The minute you wake him up, he'll flop around and bleed out, then die."
"Sounds horrible."
"And, for my plan, thats exactly what we need him to do."
"What!" Mona looked angry. "Whats your plan?"
Aleph held up a mass of wires. "This is a retinal scanner, I've rewired from the bridge. It will provide us with access to all the stations functions- including, hopefully, the military ship docked nearby. Which gives us a way home, and a massive weapon for the Colony. All we need this guy to do is look inside it, and were all set."
"And then he'll die."
"Thats right."
"We cant do that."
"Why not?"
"Its murder."
Aleph sighed deeply. "Mona, can you fix this mans wound?"
"And neither can I, and neither can Arril. That makes three people, the last three people left alive on this station. None of us have the needed medical training. This man would have died hundred of years ago, if not for this cryo-tube. The fact that he survived at all is nothing short of miraculous."
"So, we shouldnt just use him for out benefit."
"This is the best plan I've come up with." Aleph said. "It will almost certainly get us home. Remember that sythesizer? Think about all the people it could help back on the Colony, if only we could bring the schematics. This could be a real breakthrough."
Mona looked through the foggy glass. The man had a thick neck and bald head. Underneath the green medical gown he was sleeping in his skin looked pale with frost. "What was his name?" She asked softly.
"David Akerson, according to the records." Aleph said. "First officer aboard this station."
Mona stood silently for a moment. Then she nodded reluctantly.
The procedure was a complex one. Mona stood by the bank of controls for the Cryo-pods, while Aleph hovered directly over the frozen crew member. "You need to let him up slowly." Aleph said. "He needs to live long enough so that I can establish a good read on the retinal scanner. Ready?"
"Lets do this." Mona said.
Underneath her fingertips, she began the rescucitation program on the computer. Lights began to hum in the pod. A heart rate showed on the monitor followed by a stark red warning banner, for low vital signs. "He's destabilizing!" She said.
"Open the pod!" Aleph said. "Do it now!"
She hit the control. The pod door flipped open. The near-corpse awakened to gruesome life, life some malevolent Frankenstein. Blood spurted in his mid-section, across the pod and the front of Alephs uniform. "First Officer Akerson!" Aleph shouted, as he keyed the device in his hand. "Look into the retinal scanner! Do it now!"
The man screamed and thrashed around violently. Finally he began to shudder, in the action of dying. Through it all Sgt. Aleph held the retinal scanner to his eyeball, even drenched with the mans gore. There was a small beep at the end of it, not quite inaudible.
"Thats it." Aleph said. "We got what we needed. Full access throughout the station." He stood up. "I need a clean uniform. Lets get out of here."

Saturday, March 2, 2013

the Junker Girl and Her Destiny- Chapter 14

Mona pushed the red button.
From the screens on the control panel the canisters detached, assisted by tiny rockets headed for the planet below. Good luck, she thought. She had this strange sensation like she had accomplished something of immense importance, with this tiny action. Would the scientists plan work? She hoped so. Humanity had survived this long, despite everything.
Back at the dining hall, Aleph told her "I think I've figured out a way out of here."
"How?" She asked.
"We need crew member clearance to do anything." He said. "To get on board that military ship. And for that, we need a living crew member. And I think I might have one." He looked at Arril. "Hey kiddo, for this next part I think you need to go back to the room, okay? This might be messy."
"I want you to show her the guitar first." Arril said.
"The guitar?" Mona asked.
"Its a little embarrassing." Aleph said.
Back at the room Aleph brought out a long, flat case. "So me and the kid here." He said. "While you were doing what you were doing, we were digging around in the crew quarters, trying to find what we could."
"Well, not really. The idea was we would come up with some way to get access to the systems. I mean, I guess that got put on the back burner. But anyway, I found this beauty during the little expedition." He took out the guitar. "This is a Fender Stratocaster. Its one of the finest electric guitars ever made."
"How do you know about guitars?" Mona asked.
"I had one." Aleph said.
"Remember when I told you I was trying to be a junker? Well, my one real find was an electric guitar. Just a crappy mass produced late twentieth model, but it still worked. It had an instructional tape with it on how to play. I worked on it all the time." He plugged the guitar into the amp "And lets see if I'm any good."
The music howled and stirred the room. For a moment, Mona forgot where she was. Aleph seemed to be putting his heart and soul into the work, making the instrument sing and burn.

The droid was not dead.
When its cameras came back on it struggled to stand up. It had been it its previous body when the explosion went off. Those systems were now mostly terminated. In its way Markus felt regret, a twinge of something akin to nolstalgia. The body had served it well, from the time the droid had reassembled itself until this moment. Then the Droid stood up in its new wartime frame.
The data transfer had been nearly instantaneous, taking all of its consciousness and transferring it into the hardened case of the Droids new head unit. From there, it was a simple matter of rebooting key systems, piece by piece, until everything was in its right place. Markus looked around the laboratory. The explosion had done a great deal of damage to many of the Droid's experimental drone creations, as well as a few modified appendages designed to function in combat. But overall, the laboratory was only an interface for Markus, with the server systems of the dome. He could quickly set up another hardwire point, in order to access what he needed to. He did, in fact, find a suitable interface in the very next room, and plugged in to the data feed. Within minutes, he had assembled the accumulated security feed from the dome, regarding every minute of the explosions, as well as key details before and after. The Droid new immediatedly what it had to do.
From outside the dome, it began to rain.
The rain set a frenzy on the citizens of the Colony. For one thing it was harsh, stinging eyes and skin like acid, and leaving a bitter taste in the mouth. For another it had never rained before. There was no known precendent for water falling from the sky, first drop by drop, but then with a steady patter, and soon a monsoon torrent.
At the open air market the ground quickly turned to mud, and residents scrambled for some degree of safety from the downfall. Fruits and goods tumbled into the street. Cloth coverings of stalls failed and vendors hastily tried to secure electronics which would soon be rendered useless by the bath. In the habs children screamed with fright, and mothers held them close to their breast. There was always the chance, in this rotted Earth, that everything could change in an instant, and that this could be the true end. At that time there was nothing to do but hold the one you loved or cared about as close as you could, and hope things would pass quickly.
Inside the dome the technicians watched with a degree less superstition, but no less wonder. They spoke to each other about possible reasons why. They wondered how long it would last, and whether anything would grow afterwards. In the library Ms. Witingtons students remembered the story of Noah's ark, and wondered out loud if the dome would float. In his quarters Yaryl Rogers clung to his whiskey bottle and wondered if this were all punishment for his sins. In his head the Black Century leader asked him,
What is it?
And out loud Yaryl answered "Its raining. Its raining, its raining, its raining."
Let me see, the leader whispered, so Yaryl pressed his face up to the window. Through his eyes hundreds of kilometers away the leader watched it through his GameStation room, and tried to think what it would mean to his plans.
Out on the perimeter the Colonial Guardsmen have adjusted the visors on their helmet down, to protect their vision. Biel and Den were on duty together again, as usual. Both of them were excited by the possibility the attack opened up. They were both young and foolish enough to welcome the possibility, even the eventuality of real war. Somewhere ahead of them, off in the distance, the raiders had began to assemble. Now they were scuttering for cover from the stinging rain.
And under the far corner of the junkpiles, where only a few drops were reaching, the raider Khef was waiting for the courier with his cargo. In his pack were data transfers of sensitive intel from the colony, a Plasma Pistol, and a plasma rifle. The electric motorcycle whirred quietly to meet him, across the wastes. The rider stood to greet him, and saluted. Khef shot him quickly in the head. The corpse crumpled to the floor, but Khef had no regrets. It was not coincidental that the cycle had only one seat. Most likely the rider had orders to give Khef the same treatment. After all, it was not long since Khef had terminated both his own men. For some reason the traitor Yaryl was being allowed to live. It seemed the leader had designs for him still.
Hours later Khef had arrived at the ruins of the Mega-city. He was either recognized on sight, or more likely his arrival was already planned for. The raiders made way for him, from each quarter to the next. Until he arrived at the very heart of the place. The leaders tower. The door automatically opened before him. He had been here before, but only once, right before his mission. He took the silver elevator up, to the top floor, where the leader would be waiting for him. The true leader, in his checkerboard Vans and skinny jeans, with an ironic t-shirt. Or so he described himself.
"What's up, Khef!" the leader hi-fived him. "Come on in, dude. Chillax for a minute."
"I have the data and equipment." Khef said.
"Cool." The leader said. "Just throw that stuff on the couch. Come on in with me to the GameStation room, and tell me what you know."
Khef's eyes grew wide when he walked in to the GameStation room, with its concave screens covering every surface of wall. The leader laughed. "Oh, shit." He said. "I forgot. You've never been here before, right? This must be total sensory overload."
"Is this where?"
"This is where I run everything." The leader said. "I mean, everything everything. Everyone of those, I guess you could call them, Leader puppet guys. Which reminds me, if you see any more tall, muscular dudes out there, let me get to them so I can pump them full of brain control juice. My supply is running low."
"What was...what was the purpose of this place?" Khef asked. "In the time before."
"That's a good question." The leader said. "You know how many raider guys I have that ask good questions?"
"Not many. Not enough. Were entering a growth phase, right now. Moving out of the simple patterns we have and becoming a full-fledged society." He pointed at Khef. "The right sort of people, that ask good questions? In a society they serve prominent roles. They become men of power." He laughed. "Aw, shit. I'm sorry. It was a room where they played something called a video game."
"Whats a video game?"
The rain lasted hours. At night when it ended there was the faint smell of moisture in the air, the hint of humidity. At dawn little green sprouts fluttered in many places around the Colony. People approached them with curiousity and wonder. Children would pick them and dart them inside their mouths before their mothers could object. Something strange and wonderful had happened. It was the first item of discussion when the Droid met with the Council.
"It rained." Witington said. "It really rained. That is something."
"Your traitor is a member of this council." Markus said.
"Impossible." Veers objected. "Why do you say that?"
"All deduction about crime can be reduced to one simple calculation." Markus said. "Who benefits?"
"No one benefits." Berks said. "At least, none of us."
"Incorrect." Markus said. "The Black Century benefits when this Colony suffers. The traitor, or should I say traitors, because we are using the plural, have been promised material gain and a position of power once this government falls. And of everyone gathered here, Yaryl Rogers stands the most to gain."
"The devil you say." Veers said. "I've known the man for years!"
"Councilman Rogers held a much different position that any of you when the old tier system was in place." Markus said. "Controlling the markets and illicit purveyment. He thinks he has lost power since the new democratic functioning has taken effect."
"Where is Veers?" Witington asked.
"In hiding, no doubt." Markus said. "The attacks are supposed to have crippled this Colony sufficiently to allow the raiders a clean sweep." He brought up a drone camera on the touch screen display, showing a Black Century horde gathering. "But two things have occured they could not possibly have calculated for. I have survived, and this rain has come to pass."
"Surely a little water wont hurt a mighty horde of raiders." Veers said. "What do you expect them to do, melt?"
"If I may interject." Witington said. "We have already seen the effects of this rain among some of our citizens in the clinic. It burns the skin, and in some cases has damages eyesight severly."
"Which is exemplary to our cause." Markus said. "But not quite the point I was attempting to make."
"Which is?" Veers said.
"I have analyzed samples of the soil in the aftermath of this torrent." Markus said. "It has undergone genetic alteration at a truly fascinating level. What was once simply a desert is becoming verdent topsoil. You can plant from our seedbank directly outside, and it will take hold."
There was murmuring from the Council. "How long will this take?" Berks asked.
"A season." Markus said. "But even when a sapling takes root, the psychological impact will be immense. This Colony will be a slim part of the world that is not rotten. Moreso than it already is."
"So lets hunt down Councilman Rogers." Witington said grimly. "One way or another, he has something to answer for."