Monday, September 23, 2013


Written while listening to The City Is At War by Cobra Starship.

((In an attempt to ensure I felt properly in-character for my upcoming table-top session with this character, I decided to write a short vignette from her perspective. This is Abigale Two Thunder - a.k.a. "Zata" - from the Shadowrun universe.))

. . . . . Abigale's hands shook as she lit the cigarette clamped between her lips. As she stabbed the match out on the scarred synth-wood of her coffee table and drew a pull of smoke in, images from her medical training flashed in her mind – shriveled, blackened lungs, the A-Z how-to of performing a tracheotomy, yellowed teeth, metastasized lumps of uninhibited cell reproduction. She tried to decide what was worse: knowing what she was doing to herself or knowing why she'd started doing it in the first place. A groan cut through the silence of her tiny flat as she put the just-lit cancer-stick out in a stale cup of soykaf. She couldn't do it. She was still too clean, too responsible, too safe to kill herself – even slowly.
 . . . . . “I have got to find a different outlet,” she muttered, letting herself fall backwards onto the futon which served as both couch and bed. Six-thousand nuyen more in her bank account and she still couldn't shake the nauseating feeling that she was clawing her way out of a million nuyen hole. And that hole was on fire. It had been ten months since bailing on Denver and she still spent every waking moment looking for Red Hands over her shoulder, waiting for the corp to cotton on and send a retrieval team, breaking into cold sweats like she had the DTs every time she heard the metallic click-clicks of an engine turning over.
 . . . . . Taking a deep breath that still tasted faintly of nicotine, Abigale started running through her nightly litany. “This is Seattle. You are not you in Seattle. You are Zata in Seattle. You will survive in Seattle.” Her breath hitched in a snort but she pushed herself onwards. “You make your own fortune here. You have no one to pay for. You know what end of the gun to point. You know how the fire flares.”
 . . . . . The ritual of reassurance was the only sound, if one didn't count the ordinary creak of pipes and thumps of heavy-footed occupants upstairs, in her flat. She didn't even rustle fabric as she pulled a sheet up over her still fully-armored body. In the last ten months, Abigale had gotten comfortable sleeping in her armored jumpsuit, comforted by the stiff prods and unyielding pseudo-ergonomic curves of the plating. A re-breather shared her pillow and a Colt L36 was her teddy bear.
 . . . . . “You know how to ghost,” she told the darkness as she turned off the light. “You know how to deal with Mr. Johnson. The shadows are feared. The shadows are respected.” As an image of the Awakened hobo huddling under the overpass and negotiating with another hobo for entry into the goddamn ACHE, a humorless laugh barked out of her, interrupting her catechisms of courage.
 . . . . . “I am in such deep drek.”

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Necessary Sacrifice, Part 2

((This is set some 20 years in the past in this universe.))

 . . . . . A crowd surrounded Master Vincenzo's residence well before I'd finished the mile-and-a-half sprint to reach it. Elua forbid that I should ever try such a stunt again. Bent over my own heaving bellows, I tried not to vomit my breakfast onto my shoes while I listened to the angry rabble around me. I recognized several students among them and was certain that many more I simply did not know were there as well.
 . . . . . “The Masters are exploiting us!” came one angry Caerdicci shout.
 . . . . . “It is the foreigners corrupting our virtuous women!”
 . . . . . “Oh, shut it, Andros, you're foreign!”
 . . . . . “Your mother is foreign!”
 . . . . . An elbow crunched down on my bowed spine and it was truly just instinctive reaction which led me to shove my shoulder sideways into my unwitting attacker's knees. With a yelp, he fell, flailing out to catch another man in the stomach with his fist. That man, enraged – once he stopped barking for lack of air – fell upon the first with fists. Cries of “Fight!” rang through the crowd and before anyone could quite put stop to it, the crowd gathered in front of the residence had devolved into fisticuffs.
 . . . . . I gained a few bruises for my troubles, but I managed to dodge the worst of it as I battled free of the riot and found myself at a wooden door set into the stucco-brushed stone walls protecting the Master's loggia. The door itself was painted a rich green. While I was busy considering how to scale the wall and gain access to the balcony above the loggia's arches, the door creaked open. A furtive face peered out, marked by the broad nose and curly hair of a Hellene.
 . . . . . He spied me and made to close the door, but I hissed “Wait!” as loudly as I dared. “Wait, please, I beg” I repeated in Hellenic.
 . . . . . That earned me a skeptical look, but the man glanced towards the corner I'd rounded which separated us from the rioting crowd at the front and nodded once. I was attired – and dirtied – as a gardener, not a University student, and my Hellenic was of the common man instead of the orator.
 . . . . . “What has occurred here?”
 . . . . . At the man's beckon, I pressed my back against the wall next to the door and listened to his quiet words. “Great tragedy has befallen my master's household,” he bemoaned. “Lady Basilia has been foully murdered for refusing the advances of one of my master's students. A sweet and innocent lady! I shall never see her warm smile and soft brown eyes again!” I heard the clack of komboloi as the servant fingered his worry beads. “Master Vincenzo has gone to the magistrate with the city guards to provide information so the student may be caught. He fled! Oh, the misfortune, he slipped right past me!”
 . . . . . “I am sure all will be righted in time,” I murmured to the servant as the beads clacked somewhere behind the door. “Dike throttles Adikia.” An old Hellenic saying, I assured him that moral justice prevailed over injustice.
 . . . . . An approving cluck of the tongue was the response, followed by, “You should leave before this gets worse, especially being Kriti.”
 . . . . . “Especially?”
 . . . . . “The student was Kriti. Actually, he looked a bit like you, with longer hair.” The servant peered out as if inspecting my shoulders for recently clipped strands.
 . . . . . “No, I've not had a haircut recently,” I demurred even as I strapped a bit of mental steel to my spine in preparation for another full-speed flight.
 . . . . . “Even so,” the servant warned.
 . . . . . I took him at his word and pushed off the wall, fleeing into the streets.

Friday, May 10, 2013

A Necessary Sacrifice

Written while listening to Prophecy by Remy Zero.

((An evolution, if you will, of something dated.))

 . . . . . “Hoi, brother.” A lanky shadow fell across me, blocking the warm shaft of afternoon sun I'd been basking in. I cracked an eye open and focused on my twin. We were not identical, but quite similar, sharing the same warm brown eyes, thin and broad builds, large hands, and wooly hair. Theo let his curls grow long, tying them back in a puffy mass which resembled the belly of an ewe – while I kept my own too short to be springy. One of his curls dangled near his left ear, and I knew that was the one he tugged on when he was paying attention to something else.
 . . . . . It was mid-afternoon. The grass beneath me was spry and the tree at my back sturdy and happy. I blinked a few times and looked to my right. While I'd been napping, the painter had packed up her easel and departed.
 . . . . . For several hours here in the park, I'd watched her practice her art, sketches of passersby turning into quick, colorful paintings. The last had been an exotic, dusky couple stopping at at sweets vendor along the walk. The petite, dark-haired woman bought a rosewater confection and the towering man behind her took it from her upraised hand, removing two bites which he appeared to relish before sharing the morsel with his lady. The artist had been halfway through something beautiful in deep reds and warm golds when I'd fallen asleep here in the sunshine.
 . . . . . Now here was Theo interrupting my basking.
 . . . . . “What,” I groused flatly, closing my eyes again and trying to wave him out of the warmth.
 . . . . . The leather of those damnable too-tight pants he insisted on wearing creaked as he crouched by my side – blessedly out of my sun now. “Get up,” he hissed, “I need you to take my bag home for me.”
 . . . . . “You take it home for you.”
 . . . . . “I can't.” He drew out the last vowel into at least four extra syllables.
 . . . . . “Why not?” I did the same.
 . . . . . I felt my hair ruffle and smelled cheese – a blown-out breath of exasperation. “Because I don't want to haul it to Master Vincenzo's.”
 . . . . . “Wouldn't you want to take your work to your master?”
 . . . . . His knuckles connected with my shoulder, jostling me from the tree. I felt momentarily bereft. “Because he invited me to dinner.”
 . . . . . That finally convinced me to stop lolling in the grass. “What.”
 . . . . . “Master Vincenzo,” my little brother said slowly as if speaking to a dim-witted child, “invited me to his home. For dinner.”
 . . . . . “Oh ho!” I cackled like a bold hen. Or was that old biddy? Eh, details. “Aren't you going to go home and change first?”
 . . . . . “Cha-... OH!” Theo threw his hands up in the air and rose so fast my head spun with the motion. “I should change!”
 . . . . . I scooped the skin of water next to me off the grass and wobbled my way upright. “Take your bag back home with...” He was already fifty yards away. “You.” I sighed and picked up his satchel.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Apropos of Absolutely Nothing

So my main role-playing hub these days decided to create an "anything goes" section for a few days, where we could post - according to the rules of the subforum - anything we damn well pleased. I pondered for a time what I wanted to write, when this scene leapt fully-formed from my brow and refused to get out of my way until it had been written. The setting belongs to my partner-in-crime, Eredis, and is roughly equivalent to modern day alternate history. Similarly, re-imaginings of characters once bound to a single setting reappear.

There is no point to this scene, no reason for its existence beyond the fact that it obstructed me until I let it free. I decided to share it because one line in it makes me giggle.


. . . . . Instead of looking out at the lonely expanse of polished wood that passed for a dance floor, Rosoe buried her face in her folded arms on the table next to a half-full glass of very expensive martini and groaned.
. . . . . Sitka! Hey, sitka! Look!”
. . . . . She quite pointedly did not look until his yelling became insistent enough to be more annoying than the erratic thumping beat of the song. Out on the dance floor, entirely without benefit of a crowd to conceal him – at all – was the minor Nordic landmass known as Ôzurr Bergmann. Two long, blond braids of beard swayed across a chest only barely contained in the XXL t-shirt he wore as he flailed his arms in perfect disharmony with the music. Years of chasing her up mountains and across sand wastes and down barely navigable rivers had returned his fighting form, but he was still built like a moose's love-child with a bear. As the lead singer (if one could call the erratic spoken form 'rapping' such) passed once more through the chorus of being sexy and he knew it and was not afraid to show it, Oozy – what she affectionately called the northern lug – wiggled his hips suggestively towards her. The lyrics continued to instruct such and she put her head down again.
. . . . . Behind the bar, a Moroccan barmaid polished a glass and giggled.
. . . . . “You see, sitka, Zoë knows what she sees!”
. . . . . Rosoe counted to ten before she raised her head, the thick tumble of dreadlocks falling back as she squinted her black eyes at the giant wheeling and wiggling alone on the dance floor. Mindful of his fragile ego, she called out over the music, “A bleached bear trying to catch honey-bees with his pinga?”
. . . . . Oozy didn't deflate in the slightest. “You think I am built strong like bear?” His voice held a note of preening.
. . . . . As the song blessedly transitioned to something just as thumpy but less embarrassing, Rosoe picked up her martini and stood up. Hips swaying, she walked over to the north-man and patted his chest soothingly. “Yes, mwen renmen,” she murmured, rising onto the tips of her toes to plant a kiss on his cheek. Oozy's pale cheeks turned beet red, and he didn't even flinch from the spark of static jumping from her lips. “You are strong like bear.”
. . . . . Leaving him to dance alone once more, she walked over to the bar and leaned forward over it, well-aware of the distraction her leather-clad derriere provided. “Zoë!” The barmaid – some little chica between fifteen and twenty-two, it was quite hard to tell – smiled her bright, sunny smile at Rosoe.
. . . . . “What are you needing, boss?” Her English still needed work, but Rosoe wouldn't be the one teaching her; Rosoe already had a terrible patois of English, old French, Haitian, and gutter Spanish. Thanks to Ôzurr, she was adding inexplicable moments of Russian and Norwegian to it.
. . . . . Nevertheless, she had to try. “It's just 'what do you need, boss.' And for you to remove that song from the playlist.”
. . . . . “But Mister Azure loves it!”
. . . . . Rosoe didn't bother correcting the nickname. “It is a terrible excuse for him to terrorize people. You want people coming in here for drinks, yes?”
. . . . . Zoë looked closer to fifteen than anything as she looked down and mumbled something vaguely affirmative while she dried a glass with a bar-rag.
. . . . . “No one will come in when word gets out that a white devil beats others with golden chains here.” So she was exaggerating. Morocco was not truly so insular; in fact, they were quite used to tourists and no one expected much from a run-down watering hole in a back alley. She just wanted an excuse to keep Ôzurr from humming that damned song in the middle of the night.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


((In which someone new based - again - on someone old shows up. The actor-image representing Dionysos Iraphiotes is a picture of Liam Neeson. He is and at once is not at all familiar in my head canon.))

. . . . . Plip! I miss the sky...  
. . . . . Plip! You know, if I look at it just so, that rock looks a lot like Deora's tits.
. . . . . Plip! If I don't find the source of that drip in the next five minutes, I'm going to lose my mind.  
. . . . . Oh. Wait. That last one was me. Blinking my way out of sleep, I realized that I was lying face-down on the battered wood surface of a potting bench. The stool I was sitting on had managed to cut the blood flow to my legs off somewhere around mid-thigh, and the tingling pain was blood-starved toes and not frostbite setting in. The incessant drip was not rain-water on unyielding stone – which, truthfully, made more of a Flop! sound anyway – but condensation from the glass panes above me collecting and dripping into an empty metal tray on the top shelf of the bench.
. . . . . I had just begun to consider whether or not my legs would hold my weight steady if I slid off the stool when every piece of very expensive glass in the small greenhouse rattled in its frame. Steady thumps followed it and I was just bothering to lift my head off the bench when Zeno lumbered into view.  
. . . . . “You're worrying Mother,” he rumbled, crossing arms like twigs over a barrel chest – or is that arms like tree trunks over a keg chest? I never get metaphors right. At any rate, Zeno was big, the kind of big which came from being able to arm-wrestle bears and lift horse-drawn carts on his own. From the way he said it, you'd think worrying Mother was a crime on the same level as defaming the king.  
. . . . . You'd probably be right.  
. . . . . I reached over and swiped a wineskin off the potting bench and was just about to wet my mouth with its contents so I could respond when Zeno clamped a meaty hand on my wrist, took the wineskin from me, and tossed it casually into a tray of rye seedlings. As cheap fermented grape juice soaked into the loamy soil, I think I whimpered.  
. . . . . “And how can you stand to be around yourself? Have you taken a single bath in the last three months? Pshew!”
. . . . . “I had one on Friday.” Three Fridays ago, but who was counting? Me, I suppose. Perhaps Zeno too, since he caught my wrist again.
. . . . . “Bath. You stink.”  
. . . . . He turned and started to walk away, pulling me off the stool. As it turns out, my less than sanguine legs were, well, less than sanguine about the idea and my knees buckled. Zeno didn't notice until one of the tables covered in baby vines tied with twine to toothpicks rattled ominously because my right shoulder had just banged into it.  
. . . . . I looked up at my older brother from my comfortable sprawl on the dirt floor, my left arm well above my head and caught in his hold. I tried a winning smile. I didn't win anything. Zeno dropped my hand unceremoniously, then took two steps until he was standing next to my waist. I will admit, I was jealous of the way his knees didn't even creak a little as he crouched down, shoved a forearm under my back, rolled me over and lifted me onto his shoulder in one smooth motion.
. . . . . “I'd like to register my objection to your crotch, brother,” I mumbled, jouncing along with my head unpleasantly near his waist.  
. . . . . “And I object to your stench. And the way you've been treating Mother and Father. Theo is out telling bard's tales at the Split Peach. You're going to have a bath, drink several glasses of water, and go join him.”  
. . . . . “No?”
. . . . . Zeno grunted at me. It's strange how he could make a grunt sound suspiciously similar to 'Disobey me and I'll rip your arms from their sockets and beat you into bloody unconsciousness with the stumps.'
. . . . . Not yet entirely resigned to my ignominious fate, I tried wheedling, “Can I have a tankard of ale while I'm there?”
. . . . . This grunt was a span of degrees more violent.  
. . . . . “Fine. As long as my objections have been noted.” Unable to do anything about it while endeavoring not to stare at my older brother's pants' placket, I was carted out of my greenhouse quite against my will for a bath.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Challenge

((Zurine Haizea - my Guild Wars 2 character - has seen new life in a much more fitting setting in the new forum. She is represented by a somewhat altered image of the Egyptian actress Nelly Karim. Ironically, her original story has changed very little from its roots in GW2 and, indeed, the first draft of this piece was written in that world and needed only a perspective shift and a few name alterations to be reset.))

. . . . . The wattle and daub coating of the wall behind me pulled a few sable strands of hair free from their neat captivity every time I turned my head, but it was nothing that could be helped. There was quite simply far too much worth watching to stay still. A bracelet caught the afternoon sun with a gleam of silver. A flounce of lily pink silk swirled across the cobblestone street. A red ribbon, dark as freshly-spilled blood, fluttered from a man's back as he strode among the market stalls.
. . . . . That's the one, I decided. Never mind that it was trailing from the hilt of a broadsword strapped across his back; plucking that prize free would be child's play. I wanted that ribbon.
. . . . . Beneath my slight weight, the daubber's scaffolding did not shake or tremble as I crossed some ten feet above the street, flashing between drapes of canvas that protected the market-goers from falling clay as it dried. My belly rumbled a protest that my mark was no flatbread or juicy pear, but I paid it no heed – the demands of the body were a distant second to the rush of pursuit. The man was taller than many in the market by a third again, his wide shoulders cutting a track through the crowded streets as easily as a chef's knife through melon flesh. There went my stomach again...
. . . . . As the wooden supports below me ended, I had to take my eyes from the taunting ribbon long enough to pull myself to the roof and jump across to the next building. It was no more than a matter of sixty seconds, but in that time, the man vanished. A scowl twisted my lips as I scanned the market, looking for the behemoth among midgets. It was like trying to track a sand flea! But then a dark shape loomed some half a block beyond where he ought to have been, and I raced across the rooftop to catch up.
. . . . . It took two jumps and one precarious crossing involving a clothes-drying line, but I caught up to him, and then surpassed him. Planning carefully, I dropped down from the edge of the rooftop, heels catching on an awning covering a doorway below. Despite broad daylight, all eyes were occupied with market goods and I remained as invisible as if cloaked in night. He would have to pass by here – I need only wait; the linen merchant's stall across from the building I perched on along the narrow street would force him close enough.
. . . . . Indeed, circumstances were in my favor and a knot of women stopped to finger bolts of fine lawn, cooing over misty blue fabric the likes of which would never touch my own poor skin clad in rough-spun. The giant man had to step close to the building to avoid them, and that's when I leaned out as far as I dared, one hand bracing along the awning's support as the other stretched forward. Warmth radiated from the sun shining on his dark, clean-shaven head as he passed just under my hand and my fingers caught up the red ribbon to unravel its simple knot as he walked past.