Archive for the ‘Writings’ Category

Undead Reckoning Pt. 12

September 18, 2021

Pepper and a young man that Talbot did not recognize started carrying a veritable feast into the room on platters. It all smelled very good and it was far finer food than Talbot had expected this far out in the frontier. There were several whole roasted chickens, steamed carrots, toasted mushrooms, brisket, and mashed potatoes. Rahj immediately reached out and palmed one of the chickens, whistled, and then threw the chicken out of an open window. Something very large and hairy jumped up in the window and snagged the chicken. There was a deep growling sound from beneath the window. Everybody stared at Rahj who shrugged.

“They won’t let me keep Sandor inside but he still must be fed,” the large Dragonborn said. He then set about devouring whatever food he could reach.

“Um,” Clarity started, seeming to be at a loss for words for once. “Is Sandor your dog?”

Rahj grinned and began to speak with food in his mouth. “Ha!,” he cried out, letting out a single barking laugh. “In the desert, we have pets far superior to your dogs. It’s an insult to call Sandor a dog.”

Clarity seemed to think about that, almost as if she was deciding which part of the statement she was most interested in. “I’m sorry,” she said. “Did you say ‘out in the desert’? Do you mean to tell us that you have lived out there? Is this a recent occurrence or have you lived out there when it was still dangerous?”

Rahj frowned and looked at Clarity as if he was deciding whether or not she was being ignorant or insulting. Talbot immediately realized Clarity’s mistake and he looked around and saw that Clarity was the only one not in the know. She had an innocent look on her face which must have convinced Rahj that she was merely ignorant.

“Your government has always hated my kind,” Rahj said, his voice a low growl that almost harmonized with the growl from Sandor outside. “They made it real hard to find land of our own. Our scales are resistant to magic and we went out into the desert to settle where other mortals were too scared to go.”

“That is impressive, Mr. Blackscale,” Clarity said. “I apologize for my ignorance, I had not known that the government had dealt you such a poor hand. It is shameful. I am sure that everybody in this room does not share in such prejudice.”

Rahj grunted. “Thanks,” he said. “We made it work out there but the government and all of the business types want back out there now that it’s safer. I’m sure they’ll take our land too.”

“I hope they don’t,” Talbot said. “I never did cotton to how that worked out. You all should get first dibs, of course.”

“Blackrance is going to go to the government about it,” Rahj said. “He understands what it’s like since he’s drow. It’s the only reason I agreed to guide all of you out there.”

“You’ve talked in person to our illustrious patron?” Clarity asked. “I have only communicated with him via correspondence myself since I was out of country.”

“He sent me a letter too,” Talbot said. “I haven’t met him.”

“He came out into the desert,” Rahj said. “Faced me like a man alongside that one.” He pointed at Titus who nodded.

“I accompany Lord Blackrance on most occasions,” Titus said softly. “This is a rare moment when I am not by his side.”

“He came to see me at church,” Ana said. “He vas very polite and convincing.”

“So only half of us have met him,” Talbot said. “Wait, that reminds me. What about the other one? The person across the hall from me? What is their deal?”

“Mr. Seneca has a complex situation so he and Lord Blackrance agreed that he would not meet you until Lord Blackrance could be present,” Titus said. “Everything is going according to plan.”

“You do realize how suspicious that is don’t you?” Talbot asked, his eyes narrowing.

“I am very aware,” Titus said with a smile. “I can only operate according to Lord Blackrance’s wishes unless there is an emergency.”

“A lot of rules go out the window in an emergency,” Talbot said with a sage nod. “I remember that.”

“I’m sure you do,” Titus said.

Poor Unfortunate Souls: China Pt. 10

September 11, 2021

Mulan was able to lead her team since she had been to the Imperial City several times before. They crept down several alleyways. The place was crawling with those shadowy creatures and the dragon was raging, stomping around everywhere and large parts of the city were burning with green flame. This whole thing was coming to a head and Mulan knew that she had to end things soon or there would be no China left to protect. They broke a window in the lowest floor they could reach and they all snuck in carefully.

“Which way do we go?” Aladdin asked, crouched against the wall.

Nobody seemed to have an idea right away. The city was chaos and the palace was not much better. Everybody was relatively unscathed from the cart crash. They still had their gear and weapons but there was no way to know which way was the solution to their problems. They could not stay still for long. The longer they stayed still, the more likely it was that they would be found and cornered.

“I’m not sure,” Mulan said. “I feel like logic would dictate that we’re heading to the throne room but that could be wrong.”

Suddenly, Rapunzel’s short brunette hair started to pulsate with bright white light and momentarily became blonde before growing down to her shoulders. Everybody looked surprised and Merrida opened the door a crack to make sure the sudden blazing light had not attracted attention. Rapunzel had taken hold of her hair and was marveling at it with a mixture of awe and worry.

“What is going on with you?” Merrida asked. She came off as gruff but everybody was concerned at the surprising turn of events.

“Are you alright?” Anna asked, taking hold of Rapunzel. Anna definitely wanted to fix everything for everybody and she was beside herself.

“I think so?” Rapunzel said. “This is actually sort of how my hair used to be. There is a lot of magic floating around this place.” She tied back her hair with a bit of string she found on her person.

“Do you have a feel for where the biggest mass of it is?” Mulan asked. “Where are we headed?”

Rapunzel closed her eyes and thought. “The highest point,” Rapunzel said softly. “I think.” She pointed upwards toward what Mulan knew to be the top floor of the palace. The Emperor’s living quarters were up there. It made sense.

“That’s good enough for me,” Aladdin said.

“I can lead us there,” Mulan said with a smile, her confidence returning to her. Everybody else looked bolstered by this news as well. “Follow me.”

They set off again and crept through the palace. Their pulses were pounding so loud that they thought somebody would hear them. Their stealth could only last so long and soon they were having pitched battles in the hallways and on the stairs. The shadowy creatures were all around them but they fought bravely. The fighters fought and the more peaceful people supported as best they could. They all knew that it was only a matter of time before this fighting would attract the dragon. If that happened, their time might really be up.

They fought to the top of the palace except that much of the Emperor’s quarters had been burned away and that level was exposed to the open air. Mulan hoped that the Emperor and his family were safe somewhere. They looked around and there was nothing too obvious. There were what looked like they could be magical objects of some sort but it was all foreign to the adventurers.

As they stood trying to figure it out, a massive claw hooked onto the edge of the roof and green flame erupted. The adventurers gathered their weapons for a fight.

Poor Unfortunate Souls: Hawaii Pt. 10

September 4, 2021

In the morning, something happened that had not happened in days. Jumba came out of the underground lab. He was carrying Maui’s hook and he carefully set it down on the table as Maui, Moana, and Adam were having breakfast. Maui instantly snatched it up, obviously happy to have it back in his sights.

“Not a scratch on it,” Jumba said. The alien looked tired and Moana watched him some concern at first but knew that Jumba would not have accepted her fretting over him. Jumba had similar bravado to Maui. It was easy to spot but not exactly easy to deal with.

“Of course not,” Moana said. “It’s fine.” She put a little force into her voice to try and convince Maui to not worry so much. For all of his bravado, Moana knew that her friend could be very insecure. Out of every mortal creature in her whole world, Moana actually knew the demigod the best. The bond they had formed was strong.

“Uh huh,” Maui said with some doubt in his eyes. He was looking over the hook in minute detail, determined to find any slight bit of damage. He got up from the table and started using the hook to transform into various animals. Each transformation was very sudden and startling and Adam tried to keep calm watching it. Moana seemed to be used to it and ignored it. Adam tried to do the same.

“Did the hook help you figure anything out?” Adam asked, getting to the real topic at hand.

Jumba’s face brightened a bit from its usual stoic expression. “Yes!” he said excitedly. “I discovered many things. This object has opened many doors in my studies.”

Maui transformed back into his musclebound humanoid self and managed to tear his eyes away from his hook. “Anything specific to what we’re dealing with?” he asked. He sat back down at the table. He seemed to be back on mission once he was sure that the hook was intact.

“Oh yes,” Jumba said and put a small disc-shaped object down on the table. He smiled slightly and looked at the three sitting at the table. They looked at the device and then they all looked back at Jumba. They stared at each other for a few beats.

“What is it?” Adam asked, looking dubious. He leaned over momentarily to get a closer look. If he was still The Beast, he might have sniffed it. Since his arrival, he had seen a lot of strange so-called technology. It was all still very new to him. Magic had seemed much simpler in his world but somehow more wondrous. Moana seemed to be better adapted to it all but Adam looked at her and she was just as clueless.

“It is a tracker for the source of the transformation magic,” Jumba said. He pressed a button in the center of the device and a blinking arrow appeared and then started pointing in a direction away from the city. “Magic is over there. Apparently.” He stepped back and looked proud.

“That’s great, Jumba!” Moana said. “Now we can hunt down whoever or whatever is doing this and maybe fix things around here. Maybe we can even get everybody back to where they belong.” She took a deep breath. “One step at a time. Let’s finish eating and then we’ll get out there.” She started to eat her breakfast again. She was excited to solve the mystery and save the day but she knew that she had to take care of herself.

“We’re going to make somebody hurt,” Maui said. “Fuel up for beast mode, Adam.” He punched Adam’s shoulder playfully. Adam tried to smile. He was still not completely at ease with his inner beast especially when it became his outer beast. He was not sure if he knew how to control the transformation.

The Faceless

August 28, 2021
Photo Credit: @rn_murse on Twitter

Cat and Sparrow stood, barely hidden in a back alley. Cat was having a hard time keeping it together. Anxiety was clawing its way out of her and she had to fight to stay still. Meanwhile, Sparrow was standing as still as a statute, not a bead of sweat. The tall girl was very narrow but had long pretty pink hair. Cat always felt self-conscious about her own black hair which she kept extremely short. She tried to push such thoughts out of her head. They were on a mission. Besides, everybody else was walking around them without a care in the world. They were all smiling.

Of course, they were all smiling because that was their default setting. They were not actually present any more. As far as they could tell, something had invaded Earth two years earlier. Cat and Sparrow were part of the resistance, something that Cat had stumbled into completely by accident. As near as the resistance could tell, whatever was doing this was taking people and turning them into robots. Well, robots was not the correct term. They were still organic but nobody was home. The things that were no longer quite human walked around and remained productive but they were easy to spot. They just smiled way too much and had vacant stares. It was creepy. Otherwise, they looked untouched.

“Stay with me, Cat,” Sparrow said firmly in a whisper. “Stay present. We have a mission to complete.”

“Sorry,” Cat said with a slight nod. “I’m feeling very exposed out here.”

“If you don’t feel nervous in the field, you shouldn’t be in the field,” Sparrow said. “I wouldn’t have brought you with me if I didn’t think you were ready.”

“Why does everything still look the same as before the invasion?” Cat asked. “Like, why do they keep all of the signs illuminated? it seems pointless.”

“Well, it’s not exactly the same,” Sparrow said. “There are definitely little differences. Like that sign.” She pointed.

Cat looked where Sparrow as pointing. The sign read ‘You must wear a face’.

“That makes no sense,” Cat said.

“They haven’t quite mastered our language,” Sparrow said. “but I think it’s a reference to the facial recognition scanners.”

That had been part of several briefings before returning to the surface. The resistance had found and dismantled a few of these scanners for study. The most likely conclusion was that when citizens were taken, they were scanned and cataloged. The scanners in the wild would catch anybody who had yet to be cataloged and would sound the alarm. Reviewing this in her head did not make Cat any calmer.

“How safe are we out here?” Cat asked, her voice suddenly a little shaky.

“The lab rats whipped up these jammers for us and they are field-tested,” Sparrow said. “Visually, we are wearing our own lovely faces.” Cat turned away a little so she could blush at that. “Electronically, we present as drones already on file. We’re good. Though, we should probably limit our exposure out here to the mission and only the mission.”

Humanity’s resistance lived underground in isolated cells that communicated through dead drops and encrypted burst transmissions. They were structured so if one cell was taken, they would not be able to discover the others easily which would give the other cells time to scatter. They stole food and technology from the surface the best that they could. Luckily, they still had some engineers and scientists on their side. They were important for staying in front of the invaders’ efforts to hunt them. The countermeasures were holding for now. Their enclaves remained hidden for the time being.

“That makes sense,” Cat said. “We’re taking one of these brainwashed people to a safehouse for study, right? To see if their condition is reversible?”

“Yeah,” Sparrow said with determination and a faraway look. “I know the perfect person too.”

Undead Reckoning Pt. 11

August 21, 2021

Clarity thought about that statement as they started down the stairs. “Very interesting,” she said. “I suppose if the stories are true and the gods were destroyed, all of that energy would have to go somewhere. There is no way to destroy energy like that and the Riders were at least semi-mortal and they could not absorb that much energy. What vessels are the gods in now? Maybe they have no vessels. Maybe that means they are more powerful than ever.”

Ana shrugged with a small, unbothered smile. “I have not given it much thought,” she said. “It is enough zat I have faith, no? I am more focused on doing good in the vorld.”

“Now that’s an attitude I can get behind,” Talbot said. “You’ve just got to leave the world better than you found it.” He could guess that Clarity’s intellectual curiosity was not satiated but then again how did she expect to test any theories when it came to deities from the beyond?

“Vat do you do for ze vorld, Talbot?” Ana asked with a curious smile. “How do you make it better?”

“I’m a carpenter,” Talbot said. “I share a shop with two partners back home.”

“A noble profession,” Ana said. “Vhat brings a carpenter all ze vay out here for zis endeavor?”

All three of them stopped outside of the dining room as Talbot turned toward Ana. He was not about to get into it with a complete stranger even if Ana was a woman of the cloth. His past was painful and he still did not know why he had discussed it with Clarity. Something about her inquisitive eyes, maybe.

“I wasn’t always a carpenter,” Talbot said. “I’ll leave it at that for now. Lord Blackrance wanted me to come out of retirement but we have a difference of opinion. I came to tell him no face to face.”

“I tried to change his mind,” Clarity said. “It didn’t take.” She shrugged and shot a mischievous smile at Talbot. The look irked him for a heartbeat.

Ana’s smile was more beatific and kind. “I respect that you are a man who has left violence behind,” she said. “A man of peace. However, peace is not alvays the answer.”

“It’s my answer,” Talbot said. “I’ve already lost enough to battle. I support the mission, of course, but I don’t have the heart to join in.”

“Perhaps your heart may yet change,” Ana said with a smile. “Only you can decide your path.”

“Maybe,” Talbot said. “Anything is possible but I just don’t see it. You’ll just have to take care of this without me.”

The door to the dining room burst open and Titus was standing there looking frustrated and a bit desperate. “Could you come in to eat?” he asked. “He’s getting impatient and I really don’t want to piss him off anymore.”

“Who?” Talbot asked. As soon as he asked he knew it was a stupid question. It had to be the Dragonborn from earlier.

“You’ll see,” Titus said. “Quickly, please.” He held open the door and the three all looked at each other and then entered the dining room. Seated at the head of the table was the giant Dragonborn who practically glared at them.

“Finally!” he yelled. “They said they would not serve the food until you came. Sit down.”

“Such manners!” Clarity said. “We were having a lively discussion. We apologize if we kept you and Mr. Mapleburrow waiting.” The four of them moved to seats around the table. Talbot made sure to sit closest to the angry dragon man. He was sure Clarity would disagree but he did not want either lady to be harmed if it came to a fight. He had a feeling it would not and that the Dragonborn was more bark than bite.

As they all sat down at the table, the Dragonborn slammed his fist on the table. “Food now!” Titus flinched a bit at the sound and Ana got very still. Neither Clarity nor Talbot reacted and Talbot fought the urge to roll his eyes. No need to rile the guy up any further. There was definitely movement in the kitchen.

“What do we call you, sir?” Clarity asked. “We haven’t been formally introduced yet.” Titus was not about to make any introductions in that moment. He was rattled.

“The name’s Rahj,” the Dragonborn said gruffly and when Clarity arched an eyebrow at him he looked remorseful for a moment. “Rahj Blackscale.”

Poor Unfortunate Souls: Atlantica Pt. 10

August 14, 2021

Aurora and Ariel rushed back toward the library. Ariel was worried for Belle for two reasons. One, Belle might have gotten skittish and opened another portal and she would be in some other world alone. Two, one or more of the Poor Unfortunate Souls might have slipped in and gone after the biggest source of magic in the palace. Aurora had left the troops to burn the body of the sea witch. Esmerelda and a few others were busy reacquainting the Unfortunates with reality again. Things were looking up in the kingdom and Ariel hoped that people were waking up below the waves as well. She needed her father to be ok and she needed him to restore order to Atlantica.


Belle and Tiana were pacing in the library. Belle had the incantation ready to open the portal and was trembling as she held onto the book. Tiana was clutching a frying pan as she tried to listen out. There was the sound of running footsteps in the hallway.

“Somebody’s coming!” Tiana whispered.

“Who is it?” Belle asked, her eyes wide. “Is it the invaders?”

“I’m not taking any chances,” Tiana said.

As somebody stepped into the room, Tiana swung the pan hard in a downward stroke. Thankfully, the blow glanced off of Aurora’s steel bracer as she reached up to block the shot. Aurora stood there with a smirk and Tiana looked embarrassed and dropped the pan.

“Sorry!” Tiana said. “I thought you might be one of them.”

“Don’t apologize,” Aurora said. “If I was one of them, you would have taken me out. You did the right thing.”

“What happened?” Belle asked. “Are we safe?”

“I think that the danger is past,” Ariel said. “Ursula the Sea Witch is dead again.”

“Let’s hope it sticks this time,” Tiana said.

“Agreed,” Aurora said. “So what now?”

“Now, we need to open up that portal and try to focus it towards somewhere we can solve this whole problem,” Ariel said. “We each have loved ones still out there. We have to get them back.”

“We’re still a bit shaky on directing the portal,” Belle said. “We can’t be completely sure where it will lead us.”

“That’s troubling,” Aurora said. “I don’t like that at all.”

“We just have to focus is all,” Ariel said.

“Focus on what?” Tiana asked.

“We need to focus on what might help us save our friends,” Belle said. “Magic seems to be largely a matter of willpower and emotion. After all of the preparations and the ingredients and the words, it comes down to thought more than anything.”

“So we focus on what?” Tiana asked again.

“I could be selfish and say ‘Prince Eric’,” Ariel said. “but I think we should focus on the heart of the matter. The source of all of this. Ursula was not working alone. Somebody organized this.”

“Let’s do it,” Aurora said. “The sooner we go, the sooner I get Phillip back.”

“And I get Naveen,” Tiana said.

“Adam,” Belle said. “Let’s do it.”

There was suddenly a crackling sound and a bright light followed by a rushing noise.

“What’s happening?” Aurora shouted over the noise. “I thought it involved more words and preparation.”

“That’s not us,” Belle shouted. “We didn’t do it.”

The rushing sound got louder and the light got brighter and all of them were forced to shut their eyes or be blinded. Then the sound stopped and there was dead silence. They all opened their eyes. There was a stunningly beautiful woman standing there in the middle of the library. Aurora started to draw her sword but the woman wiggled her fingers and the sword just was not there anymore.

“Who are you?” Ariel asked.

She ignored the question and looked at Belle. “I heard your thoughts and they pulled me here, young Belle,” the woman said. “You’re the one who broke my curse. The woman who tamed the Beast.”

“You!” Belle shouted, astonished.

“Me!” The woman yelled back and laughed. “They call me the Enchantress.”

Undead Reckoning Pt. 10

August 7, 2021

Talbot set his bag down on the dresser and laid the rifle on a little desk near the window. He eyed the bed and contemplated getting a little shut-eye before dinner. However, he instead sat down at the desk and carefully unwrapped the rifle. He started to fully examine the rifle, something he had initially been reluctant to do. He turned it over and over and studied all of the markings. The feel of it was still so familiar after all of these years. There was the stamp of the Callan Army on the walnut stock, slightly worn from use. He had personally filled in his own engraved initials with paste and then revarnished over it before selling the rifle.

Somebody had obviously cared greatly for the rifle as it was in great condition. Of course, Blackrance may have had the thing refurbished and cleaned before having it mailed. Everything was shiny. The stock had been oiled and wiped down and the iron and steel had been similarly oiled. It looked exactly the same as when Talbot had been issued the weapon after boot camp. Touching it definitely conjured up a lot of bad memories but there was also security there. He remembered falling asleep in the camps of the battlefields with the rifle firmly in his hand. A soldier could not be caught without their weapon, especially when the fighting got more bitter and bloody. The rules started flying out the window.

Talbot laid the rifle back on the cloth and wrapped it up again. He moved over to the bed and removed his boots before laying down. He stared at the ceiling for a while and did not remember falling asleep. He had intended only to rest his eyes but he was out like a light. He did not dream exactly but instead had a vague feeling of anxiety. It was the feeling he always had on the morning that a battle was to begin. He had no intentions of joining any battles but the dream on the train had already unsettled him. He should not have touched the rifle. It awakened something in him that was dying slowly on its own.

He woke up at the sounding of a bell from below which he guessed was the signal for the evening meal. He slowly sat up and rubbed his eyes before slipping on and tying his boots. He rose from the bed and entered the hallway. He turned slowly and locked the door and then looked at the door opposite his. He waited to see if Mr. Seneca would open the door and head down to dinner but the door did not move. He made his way down the narrow steps on his own but had to stop and make way for an enormous Dragonborn who grunted and kept moving. As soon as he passed, Clarity’s door opened and she caught sight of the large gentleman and she shared a look with Talbot. This was evidently the guy who had been arguing with the staff earlier.

Talbot spoke softly after a moment. “Black scales?” he said more as a statement, barely a question. “Watch yourself. The chromatics have bad reputations. He’s huge too.”

Clarity pointed at the horns sprouting from her head with a flat look. “Careful how quickly you judge by appearances, Mr. Hawkwing,” she said. “You’ll embarrass yourself.”

Talbot did feel embarrassed. “Thank you for setting me straight,” he said. “I apologize. I should know better.”

“I’ll forgive you this once,” Clarity said. “If you keep an open mind, we won’t have this problem again. I also told you I can take care of myself.”

“You did,” Talbot said. “I guess my machismo is showing.”

“Your gallantry and chivalry are appreciated but not needed at the moment,” Clarity said.

The conversation was suddenly interrupted when another door in the hallway opened and a slight blonde human woman stepped out. She looked at Talbot and Clarity and smiled a thin-lipped smile. She was wearing a plain and simple dress and a heavy chain around her neck. Something was hanging from the chain but it was tucked into her dress. “Good evening,” she said and her Ganarastavan accent was immediately apparent. “Are vee going down to dinner now?”

“That’s the general idea,” Talbot said. “We were just about to go down if you want to join us.”

Clarity cleared her throat. “My name is Clarity Havenwood and this is Talbot Hawkwing,” she said. Her breeding definitely included more refined manners.

“My name is Ana Koryana,” the woman said. “It is nice to be meeting you.”

“It’s nice to meet you as well,” Clarity said. “That’s an interesting necklace.”

“Thank you but it is not necklace exactly,” Ana said. She pulled out what was evidently a symbol of The Defender. “It is holy symbol.”

“Weren’t all of the gods killed years ago?” Talbot asked.

“I still believe,” Ana said. “and my belief is rewarded with power. The gods are still out there somehow.”

Poor Unfortunate Souls: Agrabah Pt. 7

July 31, 2021

With the help of Genie and Elsa, the locks on the cells opened much more easily. Jasmine let them do the opening and was one of the people who comforted and helped the prisoners adjust to being conscious again. There was no way of telling how long people had been left in suspension in these cells. She woke up a young woman named Namaari who raged desperately until she was reunited with her girlfriend. There were two little boys named Luca and Alberto who looked like fish one moment and then like humans the next. An impossibly muscular man in armor named Hercules. There were five fairies of various sizes. Three were dressed in blue, one in green, one in red, and one who was tiny enough that it was hard to see her clearly when she lit up. They were assembling a small army

Jasmine found a box nearby and climbed up onto it to get her head above the crowd. “Everybody, please listen!” she called out. Nobody turned toward her.

Genie turned his thumb into a whistle and blew into it, letting the shrill sound echo through the cavernous space.

“Thank you,” Jasmine said, her ears ringing a bit. “I’m glad that you are all free. We will figure out some way to get you all to where you belong. For now, you are in the middle of a desert outside of my home, Agrabah. I am Jasmine. We need to clear out this facility and stop these people. I recommend that we apprehend and not kill these people. Please. Those who can fight, scour the building. Those who can’t, please find someplace out of the way. Everybody keep an eye out for some sort of magic to get us home.”

Everybody started to move in a more orderly manner. Jasmine hopped down from her box and picked a direction to head in herself.

“Jasmine,” Genie said, floating beside her. “Don’t you think you should rest? Leave the heavy lifting to the rest of us. You’ve earned it.”

“Thank you, Genie,” Jasmine said. “but I won’t rest until I get Aladdin back.”

“Al’s missing?” Genie asked. “Say no more. We’ll find him together.”

Jasmine walked down a hallway while Genie floated. They turned a corner and there was a very angry hooded woman standing there.

“You!” the woman yelled. “You’re one of the people who ruined things here.”

Jasmine’s eyes narrowed. “And who might you be?” she asked. “The warden of this prison perhaps?”

“My name is Mother Gothel,” the woman said. “All prisoners belong in their cells. We’ll see if we can find you one.”

“That will not happen,” Jasmine said. “No more cages and I will not be taken prisoner again.”

“Then you will die,” Gothel said and produced a knife.

“Genie,” Jasmine said with a calm smile forming on her lips. “Apprehend her.”

Genie smirked and cracked his knuckles but before he could act, Gothel pointed at him and he evaporated. Jasmine was stunned but was forced to get over it quickly as Gothel lunged with the knife. Jasmine had brought her sword and raised it to block the slash. She then thrust her shoulder into the older woman to push her back and took two big steps backward to create distance. The two circled each other. Jasmine could sense that Gothel was not a practiced fighter when it came to a straight-up physical fight. She was a magician and judging by her anger she was used to being in control. Being caught off guard had made Gothel unbalanced and unpredictable.

Gothel lashed out again and again. Suddenly, Jasmine lost her footing and tumbled to the stone floor. She lost her grip on the sword, sending it sliding out of reach. This was a painful reminder that Jasmine was also not really a seasoned fighter although she was quickly learning. Gothel approached rapidly, a decidedly evil laugh starting to echo through the room. Jasmine raised her hand as if to ask for mercy she knew that would not come. With a flash, a blue sword formed in her hand and she blocked Gothel’s shot, much to both of their surprise. The sword dissolved and the blue stretched up Jasmine’s arm, making it enormous and muscular. She punched Gothel and the villain was out like a light.

Jasmine’s arm returned to normal and the blue smoke stretched and grew into Genie’s form.

“Sorry,” Genie said. “it took me a bit to pull myself back together but you did great, kid.”

“Thank you for the assist, Genie,” Jasmine said. “It looks like there are some scattered papers and journals here. Let’s gather them up and bring them back to the others. There may be some clue to the magic for traveling beyond our world.”

“I’ll carry, you lead the way,” Genie said, starting to scoop everything up carefully.

Starfleet Adventures: Dragons of the Deep Pt. 1

July 24, 2021

(I had this idea as part of the backstory for my Star Trek character for a pulp series of Starfleet Adventures. The idea is that a somewhat underground publisher would take advantage of hunger for adventure stories and would create fictional accounts of Starfleet ships sort of like pulp novels or cheaply made procedural shows)

Captain L’ara, sat in her ready room and looked out over the vastness of space and she was bored. Space was mostly boring. As a Federation Captain, it was her job to find the interesting parts. The exciting parts. The crew of the USS Forrestal had just been through a harrowing adventure against a Tholian threat but L’ara was already itching for more. She knew that she was not alone in that. She picked up and started to brush her fur absent-mindedly. She sipped her coffee and felt the sip buzz through her and her tail swished from side to side. She hit a button on her desk.

“Captain’s Log, Stardate 2270,” L’ara said. “The Tholians are definitely not as tough as advertised. After some repairs, the Forrestal is back on mission. Starfleet contacted us to check in on the Adora IV colony in the Atrea sector. Apparently, they have failed to respond to any communication for days. We’re the closest ship fit to check on them. Rumor is that they had some difficulty with Klingons a while back. I anticipate a fight. I’m ready. We’re ready.”

There was a beeping noise from the ship’s internal communication system and L’ara quickly stopped the recording. She would get back to posterity later.

“Bridge to Captain L’ara,” Lieutenant Yolen said over the comm system. Yolen was a rather dispassionate Denobulan but was a good pilot and he was cool in the face of certain danger. There was nobody else that L’ara could want flying her ship.

“L’ara here,” she responded. “How can I help you, Lieutenant?” She sipped more of her coffee. She had a hunch she knew why she was being contacted but it was more fun to ask.

“We are approaching the colony,” the Lieutenant said. “We will be entering orbit of the planet soon.”

“Acknowledged,” L’ara said, barely keeping the purr out of her voice. Something was happening and the boredom was over. “I’m on my way to the bridge.”

A few moments later, L’ara walked on to the bridge. Everybody stood up when she entered and that still gave her a thrill. She waited a bit before she let them sit down again. She looked around the bridge and noted that Commander Sakazaki was not present. That was a bit strange as L’ara had left him in charge of the bridge before heading off to her ready room. He was supposed to be there and in charge in her absence but he was not there. She guessed that was why Yolen had contacted her.

“Ensign Statlander,” L’ara said, glancing at the young and beautiful Yutan communications officer. “Hail the colony.”

There was a pause as Statlander attempted communication, pressing buttons and speaking into her headset.

“No response, Captain,” Statlander said. “I’m not reading any broadcasts on any frequencies at all.”

“They should be transmitting a navigation beacon, right?” L’ara asked. She knew she was right but, once again, it was more fun to ask.

“You’re right, Captain,” Statlander said. “There is no reason that the beacon should be off.”

At that point, Sakazaki walked onto the bridge. “Sorry I’m late, Captain,” he said. “I had a lingering injury that needed tending to in Sick Bay.”

“More like a nurse that needed tending to,” L’ara said with a smirk. “You’re my second, Commander. You’re supposed to be here when I’m not.” L’ara knew for a fact that Sakazaki had his eye on Nurse Cassidy. Everybody on the ship probably knew it.

The easygoing Sakazaki suddenly looked nervous. “I can only apologize, Captain,” he said. “It won’t happen again.” Sakazaki was a lot like L’ara. He was always up for fun and adventure. Still, Sakazaki was a Starfleet officer and his Captain was bearing down on him.

L’ara laughed. “I’m just teasing, Commander,” she said. “You’re just in time. Grab a phaser, we’re going down to see who we need to shoot to get this colony back on its feet.”

“It’s been a while since I mixed it up with Klingons,” Sakazaki said with excitement. “I’m ready.”

Undead Reckoning Pt. 9

July 17, 2021

Talbot and Clarity followed Titus through the dusty yet bustling town of Fallshield. Apparently, a mining company was in the midst of shipping some new workers through the town out to the desert. A new mine was opening up in the southern area and therefore a lot of equipment and personnel needed to get out there before the families followed. Thankfully, the hotel that Lord Blackrance had selected seemed to be away from all of that. It was suddenly a lot quieter as they approached the hotel.

“Lord Blackrance had me acquire all of the rooms at this particular hotel to avoid any conflict or disruption with the miners,” Titus said. “Otherwise, rooms would have been difficult to come by.”

“Lucky for Lord Blackrance,” Talbot said. “It seems like he thought of everything.” He tried to make that sound sarcastic but was not sure he had pulled it off.

“Lord Blackrance has a way of being several steps ahead,” Titus said. “You’ll see.”

“I’m sure I will,” Talbot said. “I aim to have several words with Lord Blackrance when he arrives. Until then, I suppose I’ll look at whatever room he has provided. I’ll take my leave with your permission, Miss Havenwood.”

Before Clarity could answer, there was a loud thumping that shook the room slightly and some dust drifted down from the ceiling. It was obviously somebody or something big moving around in the room above the lobby. Shouting could be heard from above between two people and then some weird scratching sounds. Talbot could not make out any words but there was definitely a conflict happening.

“Sorry, ladies and gentlemen,” a young woman almost shouted. “A little disagreement with a guest about the rules against keeping pets in the hotel. We’ll have it sorted soon.”

“I could go help them handle it, miss” Talbot offered. “The guest sounds pretty big.”

“Nothing to worry about,” the woman said. “Welcome to the Lonely Bell. My name is Agatha but you can call me Pepper. Seeing as how you’re here with Mr. Mapleburrow, I assume that you are guests of Lord Blackrance.”

“You are correct, Miss Pepper,” Clarity said. “Clarity Havenwood. A pleasure to meet you, of course. Have my boxes arrived?” Talbot’s eyebrow rose a bit on the mention of boxes. Had she had things shipped ahead to this small town? It looked like she had packed light but maybe Talbot had misread the situation. He certainly thought it was impolite to ask her about it now.

“They certainly have, Miss Havenwood,” Pepper said. “I have taken the liberty of placing them in your room for your inspection. There are quite a few.”

“Well, one has to be prepared for anything,” Clarity said. “May I have my key, Pepper? I must freshen up before meeting Lord Blackrance.”

“Of course, Miss Havenwood,” Pepper said and pulled out an iron key with a ribbon tied to it and handed it over. “First on the left. Mr. Mapleburrow knows where it is.” She gestured vaguely toward the large staircase which she obviously had no intention of climbing while the argument was happening upstairs. Smart girl.

“I suppose you must have a key for me,” Talbot said. “Talbot Hawkwing is my name. Nice to meet you, Pepper.” He tried his best smile. Since leaving the military, he had had to work at being personable again and he knew that he could come off as formal and stern. He had also spent a train ride talking to Clarity Havenwood whose formal language was practically infectious.

“Ah yes,” Pepper rifled through her collection of keys. “Sergeant Hawkwing. You have the other room at the top, across from Mr. Seneca.” Talbot got the feeling that Pepper was fighting the urge to salute. He would have brought up once again that he was no longer in the military or a sergeant but he decided to let it slide. That was really a conversation better had with Lord Blackrance.

“Mr. Seneca?” Talbot asked instead. “Who is that?”

“One of our party,” Titus said, cutting off Pepper which was instantly a bit of a red flag in Talbot’s eyes. “You’ll meet him soon enough but don’t worry about it for now. He asked to not be disturbed and I am inclined to respect that.”

“I have never wanted to disturb anybody,” Talbot said. “So I am inclined to agree with you. I wouldn’t mind shutting my eyes for a bit to clear my head.”

“Follow me, then,” Titus said. “Lord Blackrance should arrive by dawn. However, dinner will be soon. Listen for the bell.”

“We will,” Clarity said, ending her polite silence. “Neither of us would dream of being so rude to be late to dinner. Isn’t that right, Mr. Hawkwing?”

“I wouldn’t dream of it, Miss Havenwood,” Talbot said. “Lead the way Mr. Mapleburrow.”

Titus nodded and started to lead the way up the stairs. As they reached the second floor, Clarity muttered some words and made a gesture at the noise coming from behind the door at the end of the hall and there was silence in the hallway. Clarity smiled proudly and then unlocked her room and slipped inside before shutting the door firmly.


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