Fight Or Sunny Flight

Previously

“Put the junk down and turn around real careful like.”  A voice hissed from behind me; a young voice…

~~~~~

I did as I was told. I slowly set down the scavenged core-plug I was holding and then carefully turned, hands up, to get a look at my demanding offender. Standing just outside my truck, next to the open driver-side door, was a boyish young girl, hair short and tossed, clad in a shambled mess of scorched cloth and mesh. I recognized the gun she was pointing: an old, once trusty, slug-thrower I kept tucked away in case of emergency. She was holding it awkwardly.

“Tell me who you are and where I am.” Her voice and the demand mirrored her shaking stance.

I told her, “Arthur Aiden Dalaran, folks call me Aarden though. As far as the where: you’re standin’ in my garage in my house after I saved ya from wandering the dunes ’til ya became desert jerky, so how’s about we do introductions civil like and you put down that gun — ”

I took one step in her direction. She pulled the trigger and the following soft click and “pop” filled me with life-flashing dread and god-thanking relief all in one breath of an instant. She seemed as shocked as I but I didn’t give her another moment to think; I drew my pistol from the holster on my side and fired a searing shot just right of her head that punched a cratering dent into the brittle wall behind her. The echoing crack shook her and she flinched giving me the time to clear the two steps between us and wrest the malfunctioning firearm from her hands. She stumbled back, edging away, and her eyes flicked from one wall to the next but her gaze returned to center on me.

“You gave me a real good reason to shoot you, but I’m gunna let that one go if you agree to calm the hell down.”

No sooner did the words come out of my mouth did the interior garage door fly open, “Mister Dalaran!” a tall, clean shaven boy stepped through gripping a beaten metallic rod in his hands. “What’s going on?” His expression turned up, deep concern etched into his brow, as he looked from me to the girl, her back now almost against the wall with crumbling debris falling.

I kept my pistol trained on her but turned an eye to the boy, “Eizak? What the hell are you doin’ in my house?”

“Ma’am, are you alright?” He ignored me and began to cross the room toward the girl, lowering the pipe and approaching her as one would a scared critter.

“She ain’t very friendly. I wouldn’t walk up to her like –”

As soon as he stepped within her reach she grabbed and twisted his arm, stepping behind him and using him as a shield to block any clear shot I may have had on her. She stole the rod from his hands and forced him along edging closer and closer toward the now open door into my house. Eizak grunted and whimpered, pleading for me not to shoot and with her that we were not going to harm her. Either too dense to listen, or blatantly uncaring, she dragged Eizak within sprinting range of the door and then bashed him in the back of the head before scampering like a flash into the depths of my home. Eizak crumbled to the floor, cursing and gripping the back of his head.

“Maqola sirukaashaa! See, that’s whatcha get, with ya peanut head, for pokin’round in business that ain’t none of yours!”

~~~~~

ToBeContinued

Daily Prompt: Scamper

Unfamiliar Sunny Burb

Previously

I grabbed one of their arms and shouldered them at the waist then carried them over to the passenger side of my truck, still swearing up and down that this would be the death of me…

~~~~~

My new acquaintance seemed to have embraced hibernation – that or they were dead; either way, the remaining drive across the dunes was silent and uneventful besides the roaring of my engine and the wind whistling through the ventilation ports. I drummed my fingers on the barrel of my sidearm and hummed the bass of a slow tune to fill the void and occupy my mind until the long drive eventually brought me to my destination and I slowed my truck to a stop in front of the patchwork composite walls of a canopied town built into a deep valley between two concave rock formations. At the top of the wall, just above the gate, a figure emerged with a large railrifle in hand and peered down the scope at me. Moments later, the radio in my truck pinged and I flipped a switch to accept the traffick.

“That hull’s lookin’ real nice, Aarden, but who’s that sleepin’?”

“Ain’t had the chance to ask yet.”

A chuckle came back, “don’t matter whatcha find out there, yer gon’ take it and see what it’s worth, huh?”

“S’what I do. Now’re’ya gunna open the gates there or’re’ya payin’ me to chat?”

A grumble, “yeah, alright. Gimme a second. If whoever that is end up causin’ any trouble though, and the marshal come ’round askin’ me, just lettin’ ya know, I’m pointin’er right at you.”

“Yer a saint and a scholar there, Ven. A real friend.” Another grumble from the other end and then I began to hear the churning of gears as the shambled gate began to withdraw. I eased forward and through the maze of streets until I came to my shop sitting proudly on the corner where two main streets met. I pulled into the alley and around the back where I remotely ping the garage to open then parked my truck inside the bay. Home sweet current home.

My truck’s roaring engine descended to a low hiss and then a sudden stop as it powered off. I glanced over at my passenger – still no signs of movement but the faint sound of breath against the true silence. I raised my gloved hand and snapped my fingers just above their head three times. Nothing. I shrugged my shoulders, content to wait for answers, and exited the truck. The automated garage door began to shut and I walked around to the bed of the truck to sort through my salvage and inventory what was gained. Most of it was body scrap, junk useful for repair, but some of it looked promising – one piece turned out to be a core-plug just shy of disrepair.

“Put the junk down and turn around real careful like.”  A voice hissed from behind me; a young voice — the person I had picked up?

~~~~~

ToBeContinued

Daily Prompt: Passenger

Word of the Day: exurb

Morsel For Body and Mind

We had been traveling for ages – being chased, more like – at a paced hike through unwieldy terrain, roots and underbrush, and I could feel my body pleading against future steps. The rain had kicked up some time ago and, though the dense jungle canopy shielded the majority of the drops, it brought with it an unbearable humidity that weighed on my clothing and my heart.

“Here,” my teacher slowed his pace approaching a shallow cave created by the roots of a great tree separating the earth. “This is the perfect place for a quick break,” as he set down his pack.

“Shouldn’t we keep moving?” I countered, baffled at his jaunty disposition.

“I’m a little hungry, aren’t you?” He had cleared out a space and begun setting the works for a small fire amongst the dirt within the cave.

“This doesn’t really seem like the time for a leisurely snack.”

“We’ve had an exciting morning. Food, rest, and mediation. Sit.” He was seated, kneeling with his legs underneath, in front of the simple fire pit, with two small portions of our rationed food in either hand. I sighed and rolled my eyes and stepped down into the cave beneath the roots to kneel across from him. He reached across to hand me the small bundle of dried fruits and meats then lowered a single palm over the prepared kindle. Within moments a spark and then embers, a steady spread until a fire lit.

“Eat, calmly, and let your thoughts wander.” His voice seemed to divagate within the cave and he closed his eyes. Everything about him fell dormant except for the simple motion of his arms feeding food to his mouth and the churning of his jaw.

I watched his example and closed my eyes, struggling to pull my thoughts away from our pursuers or the future what would come if they managed to capture us. I chewed anxiously on dehydrated mouthfuls, my mind racing, concentrating on channeling drills from the day prior.

“Stop trying,” his voice flowed through my mind like a breeze. I opened my eyes to look upon him there and for a moment I found him difficult to perceive. “Just do. Chew and relax. Absorb your surroundings.”

I closed my eyes once more, took in a deep breath, and turned my mind away from my fears. I focused on the warmth of the fire, the crackles of the kindling, and the rain fall outside, until my thoughts left me and I floated into a state of autoscopy free of time and my understanding of space. I traveled like air through the trees, brushing the leave and carrying with me dirt and pollen and seeds, the very breath of life. I became the crashing waters, and the shifting earth – the primal powers both fearsome and superb. I was at balance and, for once, for what felt entirely too brief, I was at peace.

“Better?” My teacher’s voice again. I took a deep breath, my worldly senses returning, and opened my eyes to look up at him standing.

“Better.”

~~~~~

Daily Prompt: Snack

Word of the Day: divagate

Sunny Side Down

I hoisted the last bit of scrap from the wreck into the bed of my truck and wiped away the dirt scattered across my goggles. A look down to my watch and then an eye toward the glaring suns confirmed it: it was closing on midday and it was time to head home before I ended up salvage for a more fortunate crow. I gathered my equipment, my tools and portable shade, and strapped down my take from the days scavenging. Once inside, I took off my mask, my head-wrap and goggles, and cranked the engine, basking in the glory of air conditioning. A moment to track home and another to calibrate excess rear weight then I was off, kicking up dirt through the desert tundra against interdigitate suns.

After escaping the rolling dune hills I relaxed at the wheel, one eye on the “road” and the other counting the cash I would get for this hull. Perhaps I would have enough to finally employ a crew —

My full attention snapped to the road again and unto wreckage ahead. Smoke billowed just off the dunes, possibly from a recent attack. I slowed and steered wide, weary of looming raiders, until I spotted a figure stumbling away from the carnage. I had half the mind to turn around and divert my route but instead I continued forward and audibly cursed my heart.

One hand on the wheel and the other gripping my sidearm, I approach though they hardly seemed to notice me and kept to a lumbering pace, a daze, bound for no city. Their tattered and scorched clothes explained little but I knew one thing: the bolstering sun of midday could bake the life right out a soul.

I eased up to them and lowered my window, “where ya headed?”

They must have taken this as an open invitation. “Next town over…anywhere… whatever” A young voice, possibly just a teen. Without so much as an introduction, they hoisted up on my rear -driver wheel and tumbled into the bed of my truck along with the piles of junk. I huffed and grumbled and turned in my seat, reaching out to open my truck’s rear slide window.

“Hey!” They were face down, unmoving, legs still half way out of the bed. I grumbled again and quickly stepped out into the sand, peering across the dunes with my pistol in hand. I saw nothing moving so edged over to the stranger and nudged them once before pulling them out of the bed of my truck. “Hey!” Still nothing and I holstered my gun. I grabbed one of their arms and shouldered them at the waist then carried them over to the passenger side of my truck, still swearing up and down that this would be the death of me…

ToBeContinued

~~~~~

Something I may continue. Of course, it’ll need work, but let me know what you think.

Daily Prompt: Sunny

Word of the Day: interdigitate

Lore Excerpt – Rise of Fey

The end game was always the same; while the wheel turned and the players ran parallax, the tools changed but the goal remained: the return to the Prime Material Plane.

Though each of the Feylords had their own way, each knew the key to success lie within the mortals. The art of manipulation and espionage became common tools – The Mother with Elegance and Mystery; Onerios with Revolution and Rage – they sought to abuse the mortals’ malleable beliefs and hopeful naivete to create the bridge between the Prime and the plane of Fey. Eventually, each individual domain of the Fey created a link through time and space and connected the Prime Plane, a new common playing field, a battleground where beings of terrible power could war and play.

~~~~~

Daily Prompt: Wheel

Word of the Day: parallax

The Sprite of Shindiggery

A haze took me, I felt like I were floating, coasting through the room unhindered by any barrier. The walls blurred and the floor fell away and muddled voices came to, buried and slurred, unintelligible against the humming in my skull. I blinked once and suddenly, like a bird, I looked down at the world, I saw vehicles and people, town square and the surrounding traffic; stands being risen, banners being hung, grills billowing smoke, and streets being roped off for the parade yet to come.

The energy was palpable, I could feel the excitement take me, and I lowered myself into the crowds and joined them on the street. I hovered over shoulders admiring the work of others. I shared in their laughs and bathed in the joy, their readiness to dance and to celebrate and to lose themselves in food and drink. Festivity took me and I gave myself willingly following the music and the odors from one corner to another.

A familiar voice reached me, “that’s enough. Come back,” it beckoned and I turned away defiantly. Why must I go back, I was happy here where I could sing and dance and was free of fear. I was weightless and joyful and finally somewhere pain couldn’t reach.

“You must or you will wither and this disembodied illusion will become real.” But this was what I wanted. “And when the celebration ends, when these people leave this place and take with them their laughter and gaiety?” Then I would wander this place and embody their joy until they returned to maffick once more.

~~~~~

Daily Prompt: Illusion

Word of the Day: maffick

Defeated, Not Weak

She wasn’t going to quit. “You’ve been through worse’n’this,” she counseled herself and wiped her arm across her lip. Blood, mud, and sweat painted her cheek, a long gritty smear from lip to ear, and she struggled with the fear and fatigue tearing at her muscles, fighting against her as she rose to her feet.

Her vision hazed over, perspirant burned at her eyes. She tasted iron on her tongue and in her nose and her arms sagged useless, one deadened numb, by her side.

“You ain’t done yet?” A disembodied voice vibrating from tree to tree.

“Saiyadorei don’t quit…” A strained spiteful reply.

She supposed, this was how she would die.

~~~~~

Daily Prompt: Commit

Paper Run

3rd Cycle/242nd Hour/112 Hybrid-Era

I sat with my back to the wall, legs crossed beneath me, on my bed staring down at my datapad. I slowly scrolled through section upon section of convoluted notes detailing the debatably mad doctor’s latest undertaking: passing notes to the alter-plane. My peer, resting on the bunk above, was supposed to be doing the same.

“Listen to this: ‘a thorough investigation following the vein eruption in Middle City Three5 reveals evidence of fowl play and leads to two recently escaped nomad pit fighters. The fighters’ handler reported that the two had gone missing shortly before the eruption. CDF Units are searching for these men and are rewarding any information in regards to their whereabouts.’ They’ve even got a generated rendition of the guys. Look.”

Gebblen shifted in his bunk, his shabby head lowered from the edge and he dropped his datapad on my bed. On the screen, side by side images of computer modeled men based on the descriptions provided. One of the men – the name provided was Warmworm – appeared invariably ill with heavy dark eyes and ashen skin and his scarred shaven head made him look like death warmed over. The other looked much more alive though no less strange: his faintly scaled skin and unruly bush of hair were almost identical in color, a ruddy crimson brown, and for a moment I thought the render had glitched out his eyes but I could see the reflection of light on his otherwise ebon orbs – they were calling him Jackal, he was detailed as having a severely scarred right hand.

The door on the far end of the room swished open and the mad doctor himself stood just on the other side, though he hardly seemed to be paying attention. A mechanized exoskeleton carried a profuse array of different books, papers, and utensils as well, as the Doctor, as he examined and scribbled with archaic quill and paper, “I need more sheets.” He demanded without turning his head.

I lurched out of bed, almost knocking heads with Gebblen, “I can make a run for you, Doctor.”

“Brown-noser.” Gebblen mumbled and I only grinned. Considering the Doctor’s relative negligence, it paid to apple-polish from time to time – or as much as possible – as to avoid being the test dummy; the experiments usually weren’t life threatening but feeling like you were going to die was just as bad, if not worse.

“The usual size and amount,” the Doctor stopped scribbling, another arm from the exoskeleton reached up and took a hold of the quill, and he fished out a small chit from his stained jacket and quickly assigned an amount to it. “Use the extra to buy as many of the largest paper you can find.” I crossed the room and took the chit from his outstretched hand, “and tell that rock-knocking slug if he shorts me again I’ll be sending Gebblen to have a talk with him.”

“Sir, I don’t think I’ll be that intimidating — ”

“You will be when I send ya.” With that the exoskeleton carried the doctor away, it’s many metallic legs tapping against the worked stone floor.

“Or he could just go himself.”

I shrugged and smiled, pulling a hat and coat on and fastening my boots. “A doctor can’t be punchin’ dudes.”

“Yeah, well a doctor shouldn’t be shooting people up with Psycho serum to turn them into freaks to intimidate merchants either. Speaking of, have fun out there. Don’t get snatched up by escaped mutants.”

Shit, I completely forgot! “That’s not funny. Come with me~” I pleaded. Gebblen simply chuckled and laid back on his bed with his hands folded behind his head. I pleaded and prodded, shaking the bunk, until finally: “what do you think’ll happen to you if I don’t come back at all?” That got his attention and he grumbled, pulling on his shoes and coat.

The walk to Pawnimportium was uneventful – or as uneventful as things were in the layered and twisted cacophony that was Middle City Eleven2.  Gebblen and I weaved through the mess of people and carts and neon signs, through the thick haze of frozen air created by vents both living and machine. We followed our usual route which avoided the most cluttered streets. When we entered the jumbled mess of a shop the keeper greeted us distractedly while barking at a worker and sealing the deal with another customer. He knew what we wanted and saw to us personally, disappearing into a backroom only to reappear from a trap door on the opposite wall moments after.

“So whats’it all for?” He questioned, stacking the sheets and bundling them into a tight package. We both shrugged our shoulders in feigned ignorance to which the stout man clicked his teeth. When it was done I handed him the chit and he nodded, grinning, pocketing it. “Oh, and one more thing,” I relayed the Doctor’s message and the shop keeper roared in unabashed laughter feeling none-too-intimidated by Gebblen’s scrawny girth. Still, he pulled out another chit and refunded a fraction of the original amount.

Back on the streets, we made a detour and stopped at a food cart to appease Gebblen’s ‘growing’ physique. “The doc’ll never miss such a small amount,” he assured and I shrugged, “probably not,” and we sat on a dingy wall chomping on Gebblen’s favorite: caramelized trenchworm and cavern beets.

~~~~~

Daily Prompt: Paper

Word of the Day: apple-polish

 

Party Crasher

He’d been playing the estival crowd for hours aboard the cruise ship, weaseled his way in and convinced most, if not all, that he was truly one of the family. A few drinks, a laughable tale thrown here and there, and he’d secured the narrative: he was the unspoken son of the late Barney Sinclair.

Stewart, the name he’d adopted, was more loved and cared for than he’d ever be. He dazzled his new found family with song and dance and karaoke, eventually gathering mothers, brothers, and other distant family on the stage for the chorus of Outkast’s ‘Roses’ with him as the lead.

When it was all said and done, applause following, he rested himself at the bar in the corner and enjoyed a quiet drink on the tab of the Sinclair family. And, although he had no right, he sipped silently and relished in the joy of time well spent with friends and the blood of his ancestry.

~~~~~

Word of the Day: estival

The Dazzling Scheme

Tucked away in a quiet corner of the Spastic Cistern, just past the gaming floor and the muddled crowds of sinful degenerates, I spotted a man in a booth sipping casually on a stout drink and he too spotted me. He flagged me down and I made my way over, narrowly avoiding rubbing shoulders and elbows and attempts to commingle.

“Why here?” I grumbled.

“Where else? Your home? The bath-house? The streets? The Kaizar’s front stoop?” The much elder man turned his head and waved his hand, signalling across the room. “Need a drink? S’totally on me.”

I glanced over and noted a waiter, attention locked in our direction. I shook my head and lowered it still, “shouldn’t we be a bit careful? What if the Kaizar gets ear of our plan to meddle.”

My would-be host shrugged and waved off the waiter. “He’ll be none-to-pleased, probably pissed, but that’s what it means to meddle.” He grinned then sat forward, just barely speaking lower, “so, what’ve ya got?”

I sighed and reached into my satchel pulling out a roll of paper and spreading it on on the table; it was archaic documentation but at least it could be disposed of with no hope of replicating. I explained the diagram to him and made notes for clarification.

“I’ll set the plates as high as I can here, here, and here. If your technique works the way you say it the entire city will be briefly confusticated.”

He gave a short chuckle, “I like that word. I’ll keep it.” I shrugged. He pondered for a moment, nodding his head, then inquired, “how brief is brief? What about my escape?”

“A storm,” I declared. “Not my forte, but I’ve friends that can arrange it. Give us time and wait for the earth to quake.” I turned my attention back to the illustration. “You and the novitiates’ll follow this path but be quick or you’ll be trapped in one of the sectors and on your own.”

Seemingly satisfied, he sat back in his chair and finished his drink, setting his mug down as if to punctuate. “Operation Confusticate. Not bad, kid, I like it. Just remember to keep your head down. Forget the Kaizar, it’s the Cindarii who’ll tear it clean off if they suspect you.”

~~~~~

Daily Prompt: Meddle

Word of the Day: confusticate