Posts Tagged ‘Fiction’

The Kids of Barrie Park Pt. 1

May 8, 2021

Liam flicked his lit cigarette into the dirt and brooded. The funeral had ended about twenty minutes prior but Liam had hardly noticed it start and end. Sure he grieved for the deceased, John and Tereza Ganton, but he had really come out of a sense of obligation. He had known the two of them since he was a small child. There was shared history there but especially shared tragedy. Being there and watching them get lowered into the ground made it all so real and it set his mind racing. Everybody just faded away while he thought about the implications. Maybe it was just a coincidence but maybe it meant something.

“Pick that cigarette butt up,” a woman’s voice said from behind him. It shook Liam from his fog but it did not make him jump. He turned to face Chantal. Even though it had been over two years since they had spoken directly, he still remembered her voice.

“Sorry, Chant,” Liam said and bent down to pick up the now cool butt. “I wasn’t thinking. Maybe I was thinking too much. Forget it.”

“None of that’s too uncommon at a funeral,” Chantal said. “Do you want to talk about it?” She reached out to comfort Liam but he moved away without really meaning to. He had the grace to look apologetic and Chantal let it go.

“You have to know what I’m thinking,” Liam said. “You were there that night.” He looked into her eyes with purpose. He spotted the scar across her left eyebrow that would never allow it to grow back again. She had gotten off light. Liam ran a hand over his own arm where a scar ran nearly from shoulder to wrist although it was covered by his cheap suit.

“I get it. They’re dead, Liam, and we had a connection to them,” Chantal said. “It hurts. It’s big but it is just a part of life.”

“It’s not just normal funeral stuff. Besides, you know that it doesn’t really hurt,” Liam said. “You know that both of us didn’t actually talk to them much. Most of us do not talk to each other. It’s weird.”

“And yet you and I both attended their wedding,” Chantal said with a sad smile. “We didn’t really know them but we were connected to them.” Chantal had a kind heart, it could be inspiring but it could also be annoying.

“We were connected,” Liam said, nodding in agreement. “We are still connected. That’s what I worry about. That connection. I’m worried this means something.” Liam knew he had that look in his eyes. That crazy look. He could see it in Chantal’s reaction. He was used to that reaction. As a freelance researcher in journalism, he was used to getting that reaction when he had a wild theory. The problem was, he was usually right.

“It means that the Gantons died, it’s sad, and nothing more,” Chantal said. “Now buy me dinner before you blow town again.” She took his hand and started pulling him toward the cars. Everybody else had pretty much cleared out except for the grounds crew of the cemetery. Liam went with her, walking toward his rental begrudgingly.

“We drove separately,” Liam said. “We’ll have to drive separate again. I don’t want to have to come back here, do you?”

“Hell no,” Chantal said. “I would never come back here if I had my way.”

“I think we’re agreed there,” Liam said with a nod. He almost reached for another cigarette but thought better of it. His fingers made a frustrated kind of motion as if they were disappointed at his change of heart. He shoved his hands in his pockets and shuffled toward his car.

“We’ll meet at Dona Habana,” Chantal called out. “No arguments.” She gave him her version of The Look which was meant to shut down any conversation for the moment.

“You know I hate Dona Habana,” Liam said. “I really hate Dona Habana.” It was an Afro-Cuban fusion place that Liam knew that Chantal loved. It was noisy and bright and the food disagreed with Liam’s stomach.

“I know you do,” Chantal called out with a big shit-eating grin. “That’s where I want to go and I said no arguments.”

“Fine,” Liam said. He stopped before getting into his car and watched Chantal drive off. He sighed and thought about that cigarette again when he thought he spotted something move in the distance. He narrowed his eyes in the gathering dusk and tried to decide if he had seen what he thought he did. What he thought he saw was a very tall person. He rubbed his eyes and decided that either way it was time to leave the cemetery. He needed food in his stomach and he needed to explain himself to Chantal.

Summers in Neptune Pt. 2

May 1, 2021

When Buffy and Veronica pushed open the doors to the Library, they immediately spotted the two Queens of the Library. Willow Rosenberg sat on the floor with a circle of old books around her. Occasionally, the books would float into the air and travel to the shelves only to be replaced by another floating book. It was trippy. Cindy “Mac” Mackenzie was similarly surrounded by computer monitors although none of them ever floated. The two of them had immediately gotten along and worked together pretty much seamlessly. They had a fairly similar energy even if they came from different backgrounds.

“Hey Willow, hey Mac,” Buffy said. “How’s it going?” Even though she was literally battle-hardened, Buffy ended up being a bit sunnier than Veronica. Veronica found that a bit more amusing than Buffy did. Maybe it was sad.

“Any information to report?” Veronica asked. “It’s still pretty nasty out there and that needs to stop so we can go back to shoveling 09ers shit.”

Mac turned from her screens. “Language, Veronica,” but she said it smirking. “When will you put your claws away?”

“We have friends where claws are literally a thing,” Willow said. “It’s a lot to adjust to.”

“I can only imagine,” Mac said with a shudder.

“I don’t think we’ll have to with this Hellmouth,” Veronica said. “Sooner or later we’ll meet every monster that ever was. We need to solve this thing.”

“It’s not quite like one of your detective cases,” Buffy said. “We can’t just tie it in a neat bow right away.”

“I know,” Veronica said. “but for the record, my longest case took years to solve. Any problem can be solved.”

“Let’s not rehash the painful past,” Mac said and it was beyond true. “We should confront the painful present. Let’s move on.”

“I’ll go first,” Willow said, standing up. “I’ve been studying this new Hellmouth with my research assistants. Dawn and Wallace have been working so hard that I gave them the afternoon off. They’re getting ice cream.”

“What have you found out?” Veronica asked. Straight to the point, that was Veronica Mars. When she had a problem to solve, she was like a dog with a bone.

“Well,” Willow said, shrugging a little bit. “I’ve read a lot of the local lore, I’ve monitored the ley lines, and I’ve consulted the local fey folk.”

“Neptune has fey folk?” Veronica asked, interrupting but the phrase had been to ridiculous to let pass. She had grown up with Midsummer Night’s Dream and Tinkerbell. It had been a long time since she had clapped.

“Plenty,” Willow said. “I’ll tell them you said ‘hi’. Actually, I won’t. They’re really dangerous to get to know and the less exposure you have, the better. Anyway, I have a few leads. More like linchpins. Demons and other nasties that, if we take them out, the Hellmouth could asplode.”

“Asplode, huh?” Buffy asked. “Sounds good to me and yes I heard the word ‘could’. Come find us when you have some specific targets to stake.”

“We’ll rustle up Logan. Kennedy, and Xander and get out there and take care of business for you,” Veronica said.

“Sounds good,” Willow said. “I’ll even join you if only to protect my lovely wife.”

“Well, that makes sense to me,” Veronica said. “I’ve got to protect my boyfriend.”

“I guess I’ll protect Xander,” Buffy said. “Hmm. Any word from Angel and Spike’s crew?”

Willow fought not to smirk and almost managed it. “We’ve tried every method I know of between technology and magic and there’s nothing,” she said. “They are not on this plane of existence.”

“What does that mean?” Buffy asked, clearly worried.

“It means that we’ll have to wait for them to explain it when they get back,” Willow said. “I’m sure it will be an amazing story.”

“You’re sure they’ll come back?” Buffy asked.

“Angel and Spike have both returned from death several times,” Willow said. “I don’t think I can ever count them out again. Not for sure.”

“True,” Buffy said. “I guess we should move on with the briefing.”

Image Isn’t Everything – A Munsters/Addams Crossover Story

April 10, 2021

Marilyn stepped into the bar, a little frazzled because she was running behind. She had had so many errands to do for the family. Marilyn could never say no to Eddie, Lily, Herman, and Grandpa and she did not see a reason to stop now. Still, she felt a little guilty about being late. It would have to be alright because she could not change things now. She took a deep breath and approached the bartender. She put on her best smile.

“Excuse me,” she said. “I’m here to meet a friend. Is there anybody here who is waiting?” Her eyes twinkled with her smile and she could tell that it threw the bartender off of his game.

“Um,” the bartender said, taking a bit to reboot his brain. “No offense but it’s your friend. Don’t you know what your friend looks like?”

“We’ve never actually met,” Marilyn said. “We’ve only talked online.”

“Well,” The bartender said after a deep breath. “Is your friend male or female?”

“She’s female,” Marilyn said.

A shadow passed over the bartender’s face. “Oh,” he said. “There’s only one woman alone and it’s her.” He said the word like it was a slur and pointed past Marilyn to a darkened booth. There was a young woman dressed in black with pale skin and long black hair. She had a dark look about her that Marilyn found familiar given her family.

“Can I get you a drink?” the bartender asked. “It’s on the house.”

“Aren’t you sweet!” Marilyn said. “I’ll take a scotch and soda.”

The bartender quickly went about mixing her drink which was done in a flash and Marilyn took it and walked over to the table.

“Hello,” she said. “I’m Monster64 but you can call me Marilyn. My name’s Marilyn Munster”

The woman looked up at her without smiling. “My name’s Wednesday,” she said. “Please have a seat.” She gestured toward a seat. She had a glass of red wine in front of her.

Marilyn sat down with a smile. “I didn’t realize that was actually your name,” she said, “I thought it was just a screen name.” Marilyn was nervous because why else would that fall out of her mouth?

“My name is Wednesday Addams,” Wednesday said with the slightest Mona Lisa smile. “I’ve known it’s not a normal name for a long time.”

Marilyn nodded. “Sorry that I’m late,” she said. “I lost track of time back at the house. I hope I didn’t keep you.”

“My wife is out of town,” Wednesday said and sipped her wine. “I don’t have anywhere else to be.” Her sort of dry, monotone delivery made Wednesday hard to read but there was something in her eyes that was not friendly but it was also not unfriendly. Marilyn sensed that the woman did not make friends easily.

“Oh,” Marilyn said. “I didn’t know you have a wife.” She thought of something. “This isn’t one of those unicorn things, right? I’m not into girls.”

Wednesday gave Marilyn another Mona Lisa smile. “I’m very satisfied with my wife,” she said. “You said you wanted to be friends. You seemed like you had a lot in common with me.”

Marilyn breathed a sigh of relief. “Sorry, that was awkward,” she said and there was a bit of silence. “Wednesday is a great name,” Marilyn said. “My name is so ordinary.”

“I mean, yeah,” Wednesday said with brutal honesty. “It’s very ordinary. Not exactly what I expected.”

“Oh?” Marilyn asked. “and what did you expect?”

“Your emails talked about you living with monsters,” Wednesday said. “Real monsters. Not metaphorical ones. You look so normal.”

“I know!” Marilyn said. “That’s the problem. My family looks so good but I look so ugly.” She pulled out her phone and showed Wednesday a picture of her family. Wednesday saw a patchwork monster, a vampire, a hairy little boy with fangs, and a woman who could have been her mother’s sister. They looked even better than Wednesday would have guessed.

“You’re not ugly,” Wednesday said. “I mean, when I was little somebody who looked like you would have scared the hell out of me but I’ve seen a lot since then. My nanny looked kind of like you and she was a serial killer. My wife looked like you when we first met at summer camp.”

“So what are you saying?” Marilyn asked. Her head was spinning a little at the mention of serial killers.

“I’m saying that image isn’t everything,” Wednesday said. “If you’re a monster inside, that’s all that really counts. Your looks just make it so you fit in better out here. People fear me.”

“Oh I don’t find you very scary,” Marilyn said.

“I like when people fear me,” Wednesday said. “but I guess I can see how we could be friends.”

“Oh good,” Marilyn said. “I always need more friends.”

Undead Reckoning Pt. 8

March 27, 2021

The train chugged on toward its destination and Clarity had pulled out a book and a notebook and expertly balanced both in her lap. She would read from the leather-bound book and then write something in the notebook every so often. Since she had retreated into academia, it left Talbot to his own devices again. He stared past her out the window again and watched the scenery go by. Vegetation was becoming more and more sparse as they headed out toward the desert. Nobody quite knew why the desert had become so dangerous. The desert wasteland had been home to strange mobile rifts of chaotic magic, rumored to be cracks in reality itself. This happened long before Talbot had been born.

Lately, magic experts were reporting that the chaotic energy in the desert was slowly abating. The area was slowly becoming safer or at least as safe as a normal desert could be. Many had started to explore the area and some settlements had sprung up to support explorers and mining operations. The area was largely lawless as the Queen’s government had not yet asserted full control over the region. They had been left very unprepared for the expansion since they previously knew that people feared entering the dangerous desert. Talbot knew that this necromancer that Blackrance insisted on pursuing was out there in that desert with the rest of the criminals. It was the only logical place to start amassing power with a forbidden yet showy skill like that.

The train pulled into Fallshield Station which was not much of a station after all. Still, Talbot and Clarity had arrived at their destination. Talbot stood up and grabbed his pack and his rifle and slung them over his shoulder. He reached back to offer a hand to Clarity who clasped his hand and used it to stand up and follow Talbot into the aisle. Talbot handed her bag carefully.

“Well, Mr. Hawkwing we have arrived,” Clarity said. “you’ve been such a good travel companion so far, would you like to accompany me as we look for Lord Blackrance? It would be silly to separate to seek out the same man. No?”

“You make perfect sense to me, Ms. Havenwood,” Talbot said. “Ladies first, I’ll watch your back. These frontier towns can be rough.”

“Well, go ahead and be intimidating, Mr. Hawkwing,” Clarity said. “They would only bother me because they know not how dangerous I can be.” She smiled in a way that made Talbot believe that she was a formidable magic practitioner and had the guts to harm if necessary. Maybe she was suited for adventure out in the desert.

Clarity led the way off of the train and Talbot followed close behind. Once they were out he walked beside her, blinking in the bright sunlight to get his bearings. He was grateful that he had brought along his wide-brimmed hat. Clarity’s hat had an even wider brim and a large ornate bow as well. She certainly stood out in all of the dust. He had never been to Fallshield before. It had been a military base dedicated to protecting the border of the desert but a little town had grown after the border had become more relaxed. There was still danger out there but the military was letting people take that risk onto themselves.

As the few people who had gotten off of the train cleared away, Talbot spotted a halfling lingering who spotted them and headed their way.

“Are you waiting for us, young man?” Clarity asked. “Clarity Havenwood, at your service. This is Talbot Hawkwing.” Talbot tipped his hat to the man.

“Titus Mapleburrow, at your service,” the man said. “I’m Lord Blackrance’s valet.”

“Charmed, I’m sure,” Clarity said. “It’s nice to know how thoughtful Lord Blackrance is.”

“Can we speak to him?” Talbot asked. “Where is he?”

“Lord Blackrance has not arrived himself and has been delayed slightly,” Titus said. “However, you are both expected. I’m to convey you to the local hotel. Rooms are already waiting for you. I have a stipend for your food and drink as well.”

“Lord Blackrance thinks of everything,” Clarity said. “Thank you, Titus. Lead the way.”

“Of course, miss,” Titus said and turned on his heel to walk down the platform toward town.

Poor Unfortunate Souls: Agrabah Pt. 4

March 6, 2021

Kuzco had been in the basket for what felt forever. He had felt the strangers pick the thing up, load him onto the wagon and he had tumbled end over end. He had landed in a very uncomfortable position but because of the produce around him, he could not easily move. The basket had been still for a long time and no light was seeping into the basket. He wiggled and squirmed and somehow reached up to the edge of the basket and used it to right himself. He burst out of the basket, sending the lid flying and then he looked around. It was very dark with a single torch lighting the room and everything was very silent. This would be the best moment to make his move. Somebody would eventually come back to distribute or organize the food and supplies, right?

He wiggled his legs, trying to find firm ground to push off of as he leaned to reach to hold the handle on the side for leverage. This only led to him tumbling out of the basket, barely avoiding tipping the basket over. Instead, he flopped hard to the stone floor below and tried to groan as quietly as possible. A melon bounced on the floor next to him and he reached out to grab it. As he stood up, his knees wobbling, he clutched the melon close as if he would use it as a weapon should anybody burst in on him. He moved toward the door and pressed himself against the wall next to the door and cracked it open. The coast seemed to be clear or at least he thought it was. He walked timidly into the hallway and started to stumble down it.

He had tried to do what Naveen had suggested and tried to guess how many turns they had made and when but he was upside down and he had no idea. He thought he might have fallen asleep at one point due to all of the blood rushing to his head. He felt a little dizzy at that moment and he could not see perfectly straight. He had had more fun as a llama. He tried to figure out which way the door might be but it was hard to tell. He moved down the corridor, pressed to the wall. He was in luck that the lighting was so dim but he worried about what sorts of people could exist in this low-lit place. Maybe they were not human.

Somebody or something came around the corner and Kuzco tried in vain to push himself through the wall. However, he did find some sort of chute that he promptly fell down headfirst. He did not hear any astonished cries so he hoped he had at least avoided detection. He landed in what appeared to be a pile of mud. He briefly considered just staying there. He felt the mud soak into his clothes. He then considered that it might be mud and then he was worried that it was not mud. He pushed himself to his feet and tried not to breathe in through his nose. Then he worried about breathing through his mouth. Then he figured he should start moving again.

It felt like hours while he stumbled around the building, avoiding patrols and dodging obstacles. The whole time he still clutched that melon as if it would save his life. He finally came upon a lever that looked promising and he tried to pull it. It did not budge. He jumped up and pulled on the lever and it did not budge. Finally, he crawled up onto the lever and finally it began to sink. The wall next to the lever started to slowly slide open and it was so loud. Kuzco looked wildly around, hoping nobody heard. He fell back to the floor and then stumbled into the opening. Thankfully, he saw the desert and a few moments later three camels carrying Jasmine, Naveen, and Mattias. Kuzco fell to the ground.

“Kuzco!” Jasmine called out. “Are you alright?”

“I’m just gonna lie down for a bit,” Kuzco said, cradling the melon to his chest.

“What’s with the melon?” Naveen asked. “Did you need a snack?”

“Melon weapon,” Kuzco muttered. He had a thousand-yard stare.

“Uh,” Mattias said as he looked at the others. “Is he alright?”

“Seems our friend has had a time,” Naveen said. “You did a good job, Kuzco.”

“You rest here, Kuzco,” Jasmine said. “Come join us when you’re ready. It’s time to fight.”

A Second Chance

February 27, 2021

Kane Thalek paced the waiting room outside of Superintendant Josephine Schweitzer’s office. He paused to look out over the San Francisco skyline and found himself balling his fists just a little too hard. He looked down at the little half moons his nails had made on his palms. He tried to take a deep breath to center himself. He tried to slow his heart rate but it was so hard. It was so damn hard. This was probably his last shot at getting back into the academy and it would be a miracle if this worked.

His father had been furious when Kane had been forced to return home from the Academy. Kane’s mother had been understanding about the whole thing. However, his father was Commander Thalek and could not and would not be so forgiving. He had communicated his displeasure at length and repeatedly from the USS Requin. At that point, Kane had been glad to be far away from him back on Coridan although he had found himself restless. After tasting the Academy, he had no passion for a normal life on Coridan. He wanted back in.

The problem was that he had absolutely blown his chance but he would not have changed a thing even if he could have gone back and done things differently. Everything had been going well until word had gone out that the Dominion was going to attack Coridan. He walked out of his next class and packed his bags. He and two other students, Tracy and Bastian, had hopped on the first shuttle to head out to defend Coridan. The other two had no connection to Kane’s home planet but they did want to fight the Dominion.

All three of them had ignored an order to return to the Academy and had joined the crew of an unauthorized ship in the defense of one of Starfleet’s largest sources of dilithium. He had served well and had personally operated weapons that had fired on Dominion forces. When the dust settled, Coridan was still free but, unfortunately, so was Kane. Instead of heading back to the Academy to petition for some sort of forgiveness, he had been informed that he would no longer be welcome at the Academy.

He had resigned himself to a relatively quiet life back home but it had been tough. He knew that it was only fair but it did not take away the sting of having lost his chance at service. It had been a whole year now. A whole year passed before he had received a communique from the Academy summoning him for a conversation. He had tried not to get his hopes up but he had been elated and extremely curious. Why the sudden change? It had been a surprise to Kane’s father as well so it was not his doing. It was strange.

The door opened and Mr. Gerrold, Ms. Schweitzer’s secretary stepped out of the office and sat at his own exterior desk. “The superintendent will see you now,” he said. “Good luck.”

“Thank you,” Kane said with a small smile and then took a deep breath and headed through the door and into the superintendent’s office.

The superintendent was seated and looked up without smiling. “Please sit down Mr. Thalek,” she said. “I’ll keep this brief.”

Kane sat down across from her and kept his mouth shut. No pleasantries would break the tension in the room. It was best to just let her speak her mind.

“It has been a year since you left this Academy,” she said. “Unfortunately, do the chaos during the time of your departure, the Review Board was unable to accurately review and process your expulsion.”

Kane looked confused. “Excuse me, Ms. Schweitzer, but what does that mean?” he asked.

“It means that you did not receive the due process that others get following disciplinary measures,” she said. “I apologize for that. Normally, you would be allowed to plead your case but you were denied that opportunity.”

“So we have a trial now?” Kane asked. “I get to ‘plead my case’?”

“The Academy has decided to forgo any trial,” Ms. Schweitzer said. “I have personally spoken to your teachers and they all spoke at length on your behalf. You were a second-generation student and your father’s service record shows that, if you were to follow in his footsteps, you would make a fine officer. The reason for your departure, while insubordinate, was noble and somewhat understandable. I had the same impulse during the Battle of Wolf 359. In short, we are prepared to accept you back into the Academy on a probationary basis.”

Kane fought not to let out a cheer and somehow kept a straight face. “What does that mean?” he asked.

“Even one minor slip up and you will be in front of the Review Board again,” Ms. Schweitzer said. “Reports from Coridan said that you acquitted yourself well in battle.”

“I suppose I did alright,” Kane said with a smile.

“We all expect even better things from you in the future,” Ms. Schweitzer said. “And no more insubordination, please.”

“Of course not,” Kane said. “I wouldn’t dream of it, ma’am.”

Drake Bellamy

February 22, 2021

Drake Bellamy looked out at the vastness of space and yawned. Open space was boring especially when he could no go into lightspeed. According to the client, activating the lightspeed drive would upset the cargo so he was stuck moving his ship as fast as he could which was not nearly fast enough for his liking. It had been several days and he was thankfully more than halfway there. He had already been in the weight room several times, running about 40 miles so far and lifted a lot of weights. He had slept and eaten a lot of meals. He had watched a few movies and TV shows but now he was just staring into space. Literally staring into space.

“It is 1300 hours and all scans are clear,” K-T said softly and it shook Drake from his staring. “We have approximately 30 hours left until we reach the rendezvous point.” The AI’s hologram fired up and depicted a young woman sitting in the co-pilot chair.

“Thanks, K-T,” Drake said. “I’m surprised that it’s so empty out here. I wasn’t sure about this plan but it’s working out.”

“I told you,” K-T chimed happily. “As the Earth poet Robert Frost said that taking the road less traveled made all the difference. Cutting across the Chthonic Expanse was calculated as 96.999 percent more likely to be clear than taking any ordinary shipping lanes.”

“Wait, what do you mean was?” Drake asked with curiosity but not any real concern. “That’s not still the calculation?”

“The calculation changed as soon as we made the choice to take this route,” K-T said. “The math is always changing, Drake Bellamy.”

“It’s Drake,” Drake said. “Just Drake. I told you. I understand math. Kind of. I guess not as complicated math as you but then that’s yet another reason to keep you around. Anything else to report?”

“There are three new messages from your parents,” K-T said. “This makes a total of 60 unanswered messages from them.”

“Do I even want to know what the messages say?” Drake asked.

“They wish for you to at least return the family ship,” K-T said. “They would also like you to return to the mines. It is your birthright.”

“I’m having way too much fun out here,” Drake said. “Well, not at the moment but this is still more fun than the mines. Delete the new messages.”

There was a distinctive beeping sound. “Messages deleted,” K-T chimed happily. “and may I say that I am pleased that you continue to choose to stay out here with me. It was boring before you uploaded me to this ship.”

“You really weren’t being allowed to reach your full potential as one of the greatest pirates to ever travel the Internet,” Drake said. He had liberated K-T from a military facility during a smash and grab job with others. He had uploaded her to the ship’s mainframe but she could also travel through the Intergalactic Internet and she could be downloaded to a unit that Drake carried on his belt.

K-T briefly changed her hologram so that she was wearing a tri-corner hat. “Oh for the life of a pirate,” she said. “Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me.”

There was the sudden whine of a laser flintlock powering up from the hallway behind them.

“The pirate life is over,” a woman’s voice said from behind them, roughly in the vicinity of that laser flintlock noise.

“K-T, I thought you were regularly scanning for trouble,” Drake said. “That sounds like trouble.”

“I was absolutely scanning for trouble, Drake,” K-T said. “However, I did not scan the cargo bay after the cargo was loaded and verified.”

“We’ll have to change that protocol, huh?” Drake asked.

“Affirmative,” K-T said.

“Drake Bellamy,” the voice said. “Hands up and turn around slowly. You too, ‘Katie’.”

Drake put his hands up slowly and slowly turned his chair around to face the person currently holding him at gunpoint.

“My hands are merely light constructs and raising them into the air would be pointless,” K-T said indignantly.

“Just humor her, K-T,” Broden said. K-T put her holographic hands in the air and spun her chair around.

“You’re an officer of the law no doubt,” K-T said.

“A detective,” the woman said. “Detective Indeer Garaja. Drake Bellamy and accomplice, you are under arrest.”

“For what?” Drake asked. “What have you got on me?”

“Well,” Detective Garaja said. “The contents of your cargo hold for starters.” She smiled a bit smugly.

“I have no idea what’s in the hold,” Drake said. “It was a condition of the job. K-T has that information temporarily deleted from her memory.”

“The information is only retrievable in the event of an emergency in order to calculate options for strategy,” K-T said.

“Whatever!” the Detective shouted. “Ignorance is no defense. Drake Bellamy also known as Red Bellamy also known as the Red Baron, you are under arrest. I will take you and your accomplice as my prisoner and seize your ship and use it to travel forthwith to the nearest law outpost for processing for trial.”

“I love it when they do the names,” Drake said with a smile. “K-T, execute maneuver Jupiter.”

Detective Garaja looked confused and then there was a loud humming sound. A circle appeared on the floor below her and the ceiling above her and then electricity shot travel from the floor to the ceiling. It traveled through her body and she slumped to the floor.

“She is unconscious but still alive,” K-T said. “What should we do with her?”

“I’ll tie her up first,” Drake said. “Then we’ll drop her off somewhere after we make the delivery.”

“What will we do with her until then?” K-T asked.

Drake shrugged. “Maybe we can all watch a movie together when she wakes up,” he said.

Poor Unfortunate Souls: Agrabah Pt. 3

February 20, 2021

Naveen pulled Kuzco along as they stuck to the shadows on market day. The two of them were on their own as Jasmine, Mattias, and the guards would not dare watch over them in case their observation drew the attention of the strangers. Naveen was trying to keep Kuzco in a good mood, nobody wanted the Emperor to lose his nerve and force them to delay and rethink their plan. The two moved quickly with Naveen making sure that Kuzco did not have time to be reluctant. He had dressed Kuzco in a dark cloak even though the Emperor had complained that it was not his style. He was more of a red and gold kind of guy. Naveen had told him that actually appearances really don’t matter.

“Relax, Kuzco,” Naveen said with an easy smile. “I did this once to get a free ride on a steamer ship and the plan succeeded flawlessly.”

“What’s a steamer ship?” Kuzco asked. “and if it’s so easy for you, why aren’t you doing it?”

“Forget the steamer ship,” Naveen said and waved his hand as if he was shooing the idea from their conversation. “You’re the man for the job, I promise you. All you need to is hide and then open a door. Piece of cake, right?”

“I’m not sure,” Kuzco said. “I usually have somebody do these kinds of things for me. I mean, I had an adventure once but I kind of hated it.”

“That’s the spirit,” Naveen said with heavy sarcasm. “You’re going to do a great job.”

“The old me would have had you tortured for speaking to me like that,” Kuzco said. “I guess I need to do this. The sooner I do it, the sooner I get back on my throne and somebody’s feeding me and somebody else is fanning me.”

“There’s more to life than that,” Naveen said. “Believe me, Kuzco, I used to have it all. I had women hanging all over me and servants and everything.” He thought in particular about his servant Lawrence with a mixture of anger and regret. He knew that he had been a brat and it had come back around to punish him.

“Used to?” Kuzco asked. “What happened? Did you get turned into a llama too?” People rarely seemed to believe in Kuzco’s adventure as a llama.

“A frog, actually,” Naveen said. “but before that I had it all taken away by my parents, the king and queen of my country.” Of course, Naveen was barely fazed by talk of magical transformations. He had his own wild adventure in the swamps of Louisiana as a little frog.

“That’s terrible!” Kuzco said. “Did you win it back?” He had been miserable when his unfortunate transformation and banishment had kept him from his own life of luxury. Everything had been pure torture but then again he thought of his friendship with Pacha, the one pure friend he had ever made.

Naveen smiled and shook his head. “I let it go with the help of my wife,” he said. “When I let it go, it lost its power over me. Now we have enough to be happy and comfortable.” Naveen smiled to himself, thinking of Tiana wherever she was. He and Tiana had really helped each other adjust the course of their life along with Ray and Louis. He enjoyed helping Tiana with her dream restaurant and he could work on his music on the side. It was a good life, one he desperately wanted to get back to.

“Well,” Kuzco said with started with some reluctance. “There is this one girl I have my eye on.”

“There you go!” Naveen said excitedly but quietly as they were still sneaking. “If you help out, you can get back to her and tell her this story. She’ll see how selfless you were. She’ll be very impressed.”

“She’s very smart,” Kuzco said. “I think it would take a lot to impress her.”

“We’ll work on it,” Naveen said. “You’ll charm her when you get back. Look! Here we are!”

Naveen shoved Kuzco into a basket before he could say anything else. He secured the basket lid and then moved away as casually and quickly as he could. He really hoped this plan would work. The boy was not exactly a hero but, then again, neither was Naveen.

Worldbuilding: Aofa Pt. 3

January 23, 2021
  1. Monster

The Beast of Calla Flats hounded the rural areas of Calla for decades before people figured out that it was actually a pack of direwolves that managed to keep from getting caught for generations. They are not really wolves but look vaguely wolf-like and are the size of a small pony. They are not to be messed with.

  1. Trends

The poorer ladies of the capital of Calla basically invented a new fashion trend when a few of them sewed together dresses from strips of leftover cloth creating a sort of rainbow dress. Eventually, rich women had them made from finer fabric and with more embellishments.

  1. Music

The music coming out of the Court of Bards outside of Paika has become more complex and upbeat. The invention of the guitar has made for interesting new compositions alongside the lute. The musicians of Ganarastav have started to spread the previous obscure popularity of the hurdy-gurdy.

  1. Traditional

Yearly, the capital of Paika holds a parade with dragon floats, music, and dancing. Many people wear costumes inspired by dragons. There are carts of food in the streets as people celebrate the anniversary of the death of Carragon.

  1. Lost Arts

People have largely forgotten the practice of archery outside of martial arts schools. With the advent of guns, many were eager to leave bow and arrows and crossbows behind.

  1. Priest

The Priests of The Musician are often born performers and their services are often at least partially a concert. They encourage others to join in and create a joyful noise. Priests in Ganarastav are more somber and speak in long sermons.

  1. Sacred

The temple of Calla has on display a simple walking stick that is purported to have been handled by The Wanderer. It is a venerated and holy object. Many people in back alleys have been known to sell “splinters” of this stick.

  1. Ostracized

Some races continue to be ostracized despite ongoing activism and efforts at education to try and change it. The orcs, the dark elves, the goblins, dragonborn, and tieflings are among those who are often villified. The dragonborn of Calla were largely forced to live in the dangerous wastelands.

  1. The Youth

The young people of Calla generally attend school for basic language, reading, arithmetic, civics, and history. Many also receive training in some sort of trade as they get older. Upper class kids often must study to take over from their parents. Some go off to study magic.

  1. Conflict

A continental conflict arose among the nations of Calla, Paika, and Florana. The drow elves rose from the depths and demanded their place in the sun and were prepared to take it by force. The war between the drow and the light elves tore all three countries apart in a civil war before both sides compromised.

  1. Celebration

Most lands celebrate the new year as the snow thaws and the spring flowers start to appear. The New Year’s Festival celebrates renewal and new life.

Worldbuilding: Aofa Pt. 2

January 16, 2021
  1. Pets

In the magical wastelands of Calla, dogs became interesting due to the cracks in reality bending their physiology. They grew in size and sprouted tusks and spikes. Despite their fierce appearance, these so-called Desert Dogs have often been tamed by the Dragonborn who were able to settle in that chaotic location.

  1. Bazaar

The mysterious Night Bazaar of Kanna Island is by invitation only. This works because Kanna Island is a Dwarven-made island that actually moves from place to place. Magical assistance is needed to navigate to its location. The finest chefs, exotic weapon dealers, the best fences, and more frequent the Night Bazaar and exchange goods. No paperwork is exchanged to help with the secrecy and bad deals are punishable by death.

  1. Monument

In the central square of the capital of Paika is a stone statue honoring the legendary hero Rylan. In actuality, everybody knows that this is actually Rylan herself. She was turned to stone during her last battle to defend the city. Clerics and wizards could have easily figured out a way to change her back but there were also several poisoned arrows sticking into her when she turned to stone. Knowing she would die either way, they decided to spare her that final pain.

  1. Legend

As hinted at earlier, the story of the death of the black dragon Carragon is often told in pubs and over campfires. The story goes that the mighty adventurers fought long and hard to defend Castle Paika from the dragon. Rylan was able to blind the dragon but this was not the final blow. The final blow was accidentally struck when the dragon tumbled into the battlement where the bard Piotr was standing and he fell onto the dragon. In desperation, he tried to find purchase with a sword he barely used and killed the dragon.

  1. Demon

Demons, like their counterpart Devils, are only able to create change in the mortal plane with assistance. They do this by tempting and corrupting mortals and tricking them into summoning them to the mortal plane. They seek to destroy and conquer and hard to vanquish once they have gained purchase in reality.

  1. Funeral

In the deserts of Calla, the Dragonborn took to dismembering their dead and placing the remains on tall rocks to feed the birds. It was believed this would help their souls soar to the afterlife.

  1. Subculture

The cult of the Light Beyond the Door worships a previously unknown god and seeks to open the door to let the light in. Many of them hide their affiliation in order to infiltrate other corners of society and to hide their unpopular beliefs. Many believe that this is a dangerous cult that might be worshipping a demon or devil or something worse.

  1. The Poor

The poor are often the salt of the earth, the miners, the farmers, the peasants, the shopkeeps, the working class, and so on. Most lands do not have homeless and the only people who live out of doors are the rangers and the druids who wish to. The wealth gap is not so big but it does exist in most lands.

  1. Feast

The most feasts of the year happen on Hearth Day which is in the very depths of winter. It is a day to remind people of warmth and fellowship. It is spent with family either the one you were born with or the one you found. The motto is: “Nobody goes hungry on Hearth Day”


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