Currently on hiatus. Will resume in July, or sooner.

Current story updates:

Current story interludes/Side stories:
Every other Saturday

Other pieces:
Every other Saturday (Saturdays I don't run the Interludes/Side Stories)

During certain periods updates may come more often; at other times updates may come less often. This schedule is my hoped-for goal.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Epic Poem

This is the beginning of my epic poem for Writers Craft. This is the first chapter/segment. It is still a work in progress, much editing needs to be done, so if anyone has any suggestions, they are welcome. The rest will come later, so for now, enjoy!

This is the true tale of the first great Knight Magus,
Vendar Freeborn, who was a true king among us,
And then of his duel with a dark fiend most foul,
The dark Lich-King Caar’ Rukos, master of Sorcel

This does tale start in the old hometown of Vendar,
A quaint little place, tucked safe in the Dale of Nar.
At the Oakenleaf Tavern a place all jolly
The minions of Rukos did make a grand folly

An escaped slave has searched for this place wide and far
To bring his dire plight before the great Vendar
To beseech the swift aid of this mighty hero man
In freeing his people from Rukos, vile villain

There a figure most dashing, the great Vendar sat,
A sharp blade on his hip, his strong helm for a hat,
A girl on one arm, full tankard in the other
He dropped both at once when he saw the man stagger

“My dear good fellow you look most badly out-worn
Like an old hat or coat in the briar patch torn!
Sit here, eat and drink, take the time to be merry,
If your business is not pressing, then please, tarry”

“Your food and drink are on me, you poor man in need
Just look at your feet, worn so ragged that they bleed
Why not tell your tale whilst your feet take rest”
Then Vendar crossed his arms o’er his mighty chest.

“Nay, I must yet go on, unless, nay, be you he?
Yes, for now only Vendar Freeborn can help me”
“Why that is I good fellow, so please speak your mind,
And if you know of ill, speak it so I may find”

‘Kind Vendar, great Knight, my land is cursed with plight
The fields are all barren, and the wells all run dry,
Fear of darkness rules the day, and death rules the night
And if you plan to escape, they catch all who try.

“I beseech you sir, I have heard of your exploits
And how you can beat one hundred fiends with one blow
I believe then that you can defeat vile Rukos,
The monstrous Lich who controls the beasts that plague us”

Afore the man could continue his tale of woe
The wall o’ the tavern did shatter with a blow
And before their eyes stood a creature all of ice
Which snapped the poor man in a grip just like a vice

“Stand down beast most foul, and release this good man”
Vendar did cry at the sight of this disaster
But the beast listened not, for it had but one task;
Kill the escaped slave, and report back to Master

The man screamed in pain as the beast closed sharpened claws
Vendar drew magi-steel as the beast gnashed its jaws
The escaped slave fell dead, his lifeblood running free
As the savage ice monster hip howled its glee

“I do challenge you beast, for what you have here done
I shall tear you apart, limb from limb, bone from bone”
The beast roared in reply, great claws clicker-clacking
And charged straight forwards its spines hack and slashing

Vendar did o’erleap the beast as it came on
His blade he did slash in an arc, crying “Begone!”
But it did bounce-skitter off the armoured hide
The unblooded clean blade made Vendar’s eyes grow wide

The beast turned about, and came charging on again
Afore Vendar could react the beast leapt on high
And came crashing down knocking Vendar’s sword aside
The beast slashed across, catching Vendar in the face

Vendar’s face, cheek, bled, twin cuts from the vicious claws
Whose edges were serrated, all jagged like saws
Vendar cast a spell of healing, sealing the wound
His blade hacked at ice unyielding, he felt doomed

The beast ignored his blows, icy hide shielding it
It lunged forwards all at once, and his arm it bit
The hero cried out, trapped arm feeling aflame
The monster struck him, launching high the man in pain

Vendar landed in a heap, bleeding from the nose,
As the beast advanced, to strike the killing blow
He pushed himself to his knees, and from there he stood
He swayed as the beast approached face covered in blood

“Die you demon, ice fiend, skrull, monster of the snows
Fire is your ever-bane, as any child knows
Fire will cleanse, scour you from this abused world
So I say to thee, decree, let you be burned!”

Flames leapt from Vendar’s sword, ready to burn and bite
As he charged forwards, eager to rejoin the fight
The Fell-ice saw the flames, but charged even faster
It must still fight on, at command of its Master

Vendar danced his blade, swift here, swift there, blade right left
The beast fell back, pressed hard by the fire sword’s weft
It was no use though, as Vendar threw sword above
And pulled it back down, grasping hilt with hand and glove

The momentum was built, the flames whipping about
Tightening grip, he slammed the blade down with a shout
Sheathing it in ice and snow, the flesh of his foe
Vendar stood for a moment, then fell in the snow

The unmoving snow was stained red by his blood
As he lay near to death, bested by the monster
Yet e’en as he gasped what should be one final breath
He placed a hand that glowed with light upon his chest

With final breath a great, potent spell he did cast
One that would grant him more breath and healing to last
The wounds sutured shut, fresh pink flesh growing anew
The spell e’en worked down to muscle and sinew

Blood flowing backwards, nose’s break righting itself
He pushed back to his feet, and surveyed the tavern
Others were injured, but no more had been killed
He fixed their wounds, then knelt by the escaped slave

To be continued

Friday, 10 January 2014

HyHm Pt 2: Chapter 17

Chapter 17

Lian twisted the thinsuit helmet to seal it and pulled out her pistol. It was not the best model; it did not have strength, a large capacity, a good fire time, or accuracy, but it was legal. That made it better than most in her books.
She keyed in the override and the cargo bay doors slid open. It was a mess inside. Dozens of crates, toppled everywhere, everything spilled. Half the bay itself was missing. It must have been destroyed when the enemy shuttle crashed into the ship. Lian could see crates scattered across the floor of the hangar from the impact.
She scrambled along the now sideways stacks of crates to reach the edge of the room and look out. She could see chaos from there. Jor leapt, spun, and shot his way through a group of black armoured soldiers. She couldn’t see Kral anywhere. He might still have been unconscious.
Damn. She took another look and did a double take.
The bay doors were still open. She wasn’t sure how she had missed it the first time, but that explained why the cargo bay was depressurized. And the doors were not closing.
That needed to be fixed, or else Jor, Kral, and herself in their thinsuits would not survive beyond a single hit, even in an extremity.
She looked down for a place to jump to. That was what saved her as she heard the whine of a bullet pass over her head. She threw herself forwards, no longer having the luxury of worrying about where to jump to.
She twisted as she fell, and grabbed onto a protruding spar. She swung herself on it and dropped the rest of the way to the ground. As she landed she swung her gun up and fired in the general direction of her attacker. The bullets went wide.
She lunged, and managed to get behind some debris before the counterattack destroyed her suit. She crouched, trying to make herself as small as possible.
Moving around she managed to get a look out through a gap in the debris. Several of the soldiers were making their way towards her, coming at the pile from different directions. They were trying to cut her off.
Lian sighed and pulled an ION charge out of her boot. That was definitely not legal for a civilian to have, but at this point she was beyond caring. Jor’s crew might catch her using it, and then there’d be questions. But there would be no questions if she was dead.
She pressed the button, counted to three, and leaned out to throw it as hard as she could at the approaching soldiers.
It bounced off the floor once as she hunkered down, and then exploded.
The blastwave threw her away from the debris and threatened to knock the pile down on her. As she rolled out from under it she saw that much closer soldiers had been incinerated, blown to pieces, or just stunned.
She ran to one who was stirring, and shot her in the forearm. Stunned as she was she reacted on reflex, and her hand released as it pulled in closer to her
She bent down, and got both arms under the immense rifle the woman had been carrying. Lifting it to her shoulder Lian set it, sighted, and fired.
The soldier’s faceplate fractured, hairline cracks spreading from a neat round hole in the center. Lian didn’t look long enough to see if there was a red spray; she trusted to the fact that she soldier had stopped moving and that depressurization would kill her.
She sighted in on the next soldier who was starting to come to, slammed back the firing lever to eject the spent shell, and fired again. The second soldier stopped stirring as Lian ran towards the bay door manual override.
Although the rifle slowed her down leaving it was not an option. She knew that her pistol couldn’t do any real damage to the enemies armour.
She ducked past a crate as a soldier swiveled to take aim at her. She tried to quickly run to the next crate along, but tripped, and overbalanced because of the rifle. She managed to land sitting down, but out in the open.
Knowing that she was about to die she turned to look at the soldier. They raised their gun to their shoulder, sighted in on her, and were crushed by a flying hunk of metal.
Lian stared for a moment, before tracing its path with her eyes. It had flown off the top of the MET. The top of the cockpit. Chairs followed a moment later, then Kral ran out, charging towards the nearest group of soldiers, gun muzzles flashing from the stream of shots.
She picked up her rifle and was about to continue when two soldiers exited the cockpit after Kral. They began to set up their shots, and she knew that Kral wasn’t paying attention. She had to save him.
The rifle came up almost of its own accord and even as she staggered from the kick of one shot her hand worked the lever, and she turned enough to fire at the second soldier as the rifle steadied again in her hands. Both went down.
Lian looked at her rifle, and then at the two dead soldiers. She had not known that she was that good a shot.
But she needed to close the bay doors.
Turning, she worked the lever again as she ran to the console beside the hole into space. She did a quick scan to make sure that no soldiers were preparing to fire on her, or even paying her any attention before turning her full attention to the console.
It was non-standard, which was odd, but she had dealt with more complicated things before. It looked like she would just need to falsify an override code, preferably from someone with high clearance, re-route power from an non-essential part of the hangar bay or ship, and then activate the close sequence.
Not hard at all.

Kral stood back to back with Jor as the two of them retreated even deeper into the hangar. Right now they were in the shade of an executive shuttle’s wing, preparing for the dash to the cover of the landing struts, and then from there to the service sled loaded with parts that the technicians had been using to repair the ship’s engines.
They were wearing down the assassin’s numbers, but Jor had begun to move slower and slower as the vacuum took its toll on his body. He would not be able to hold on much longer. They needed to end this, and soon.
As Jor tapped Kral on the shoulder to signify that they would make a break for it in five seconds, a mechanical whir filled the room, and the bay doors began to shut. At the same time airlocks cycled open around the room and armoured soldiers poured in to surround the assassins.
As Kral stepped out from under the shuttle supporting Jor assassins were surrendering on every side to the superior numbers.
As the doors finally cycled shut and the room began to repressurize, Kral passed Jor off to a pair of medics who quickly set about strapping him into a suit and getting him to the medbay.
“Agent Kral? We have the one who let these assassins aboard”
“You do?” Kral spun, hand going for his gun, to face the commander of the guard squad “Where are they?”
The commander motioned four other soldiers forwards. They marched in formation, then spread out when the reached Kral. Lian stood in the middle of them, wrists shackled.
“They say that she knows you, and that you can vouch for her. But she isn’t on our personnelle list, so I figured that she had snuck aboard, gotten one of our thinsuits, then locked the doors open”
Kral shook his head as Lian grinned at him.
“Much as I hate to say this Commander, but she is telling the truth. I had to pick her up, thats why I was gone. Agent Mallar sent me, he can clear it when he gets out of medbay. In the meantime, she was with me the entire time before the attack. If it turns out that she is responsible, I’ll take full responsibility. Also”, he continued as a thought struck him, “Don’t touch any of the crates in this cargo bay. You’ll want to give this woman the run of the cargo bay, maybe with a few techs if she needs them, who have been run by me first, and nobody else. Agent Mallar would give the same order”
The commander grumbled about Agents who thought that they could tell him how to do his job and who were too big for their britches, but he had everyone clear the hangar bay as ordered, leaving only Kral and Lian.
“One thing I like about military folk is that they sure know how to follow orders”
“Shut up and open the boxes Lian”

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

HyHm Pt 2: Chapter 16

Approaching the end soon. Sad as I am to say it the stories of Jor, Sho, Lian, and Kral will soon be ending. Although, just because this story ends does not mean that that will be it for this world, or these characters. I will revisit them later, mostly in short stories, likely about the war, and Jor's early life. I also plan to write more stories set in this universe; if not in the same part of the timeline, then at least with recognizable aspects.

Chapter 16

As soon as the fighter streaked through the bay doors and hit Kral’s ship the Agent knew he was in trouble.
The ship would not stop some of the debris from flying forwards and breaching the screen. Technically he shouldn’t have been on the walkway. It wasn’t safe, in case something like flying debris entered the hangar. And the bay doors weren’t closing yet.
He was in trouble.
As armed figures dropped out of the hatch of the second fighter to enter the bay he realized that he had been too complacent. He should have expected an assassination attempt by the Earth Council and taken steps to prepare for it. As it was, he was out of luck.
All the same he planned to do his best to survive. If he had been alone he would have just dropped the wall and hoped that there was enough air still in the walkway area to last him until he could force the doors.
Unfortunately he had to watch out for Lian, Kral, and whoever they were bringing to see him. So he had few options remaining.
The first was to run anyways. But that was not an option at all.
The second option was to grab a thinsuit and try and struggle into it before the area depressurized enough to kill him. He didn’t think that he could make it as he couldn’t move faster without risking tearing the suit.
He could try and patch the screen, but that thought left his mind as soon as he saw the cracks spiderwebbing away from the few large and many small holes. He had only moments before the entire screen exploded outwards.
So he instead did the only other thing that he could do. He grabbed the bubble helmet of a thinsuit, threw off his coat, and pulled the helmet on. He grabbed a self-adhering hull patch from the supplies table and wrapped it around his neck. It would seal the helmet to the armour and hopefully give him some kind of protection from  the vacuum.
The screen began to bulge outwards as more assassins leapt out of the fighter and began to move towards the back of the hangar, towards the Agent. Others set charges on the door of Kral’s MET, and took cover as they blew the hatch off.
The Agent noticed this from the corner of his eye as he pulled on the thinsuit’s oxygen pack, attached it to the helmet, and activated the flow.
He took a breath of clean, clear air, his first since the fighter crashed through, and pulled his pistols. Thankfully he had put on the gunbelt with the new Drag-ION Vs. He pulled out the Dragons, as he thought of them, and put another two rounds into the screen.
Being shot was too much for it. It shattered and flew outwards, great sheets of it still intact in some places, only fine crystals in others. The assassins who had gotten close enough had to dodge to avoid having their suits be compromised.
That was enough opportunity for the Agent as he leapt down behind the sheet of glass. His right foot connected with the lead assassin’s gun hand, and the pistol went flying. His foot hurt from kicking the solid metal space armour that they were wearing, but the man had lost his gun. As he turned towards the Agent the Agent swung one of his Dragon’s around and pulled the trigger. Bering newly developed the designers had not had time to eliminate the kick entirely, so his arm got jarred and his entire arm as the slug left the gun and punched through the assassin’s faceplate. It was halfway through the man’s head when the ION charge detonated, blasting the man’s skull open from the inside out.
But the Agent was already on his next target. Even as the kick from the one pistol jarred him along one arm he swung his other Dragon up and aimed it at the still hovering fighter’s underslung engine.
He pulled the trigger, and the twin kicks at the same time knocked him backwards, changing the direction of his fall. He rolled with them as he hit the ground and bounced back to his feet, ready to take on the next wave of assassins.

Kral opened his eyes to see a blinking light on the console in front of him. His head was throbbing in time to a wail and he when he put his hand to his forehead his fingers came away bloody.
He blinked and checked the light. Ah. Depressurized. That wasn’t bad. It was only the cargo hold and main hallway. His head was throbbing so hard that he couldn’t concentrate. Why was the depressurization a bad thing? And why was he on this ship anyways.
He looked out the viewscreen to see a sideways hangar. Black armoured soldiers had begun  to trade fire with someone at the far end of the hangar. They were using two crashed Earth Council shuttles for cover. But why would there be Earth Council shuttles here?
And then Kral remembered. Jor, Lian, the passenger in the crate, the impact with the enemy shuttle, the assassins, the spin and crash. Everything.
He slapped the release on his restraints and lowered himself to the wall, now the floor. He pulled off his weapon belt long enough to pull on an emergency thinsuit, then pulled in back on. Drawing his auto-pistols he thumbed the door and stepped through as soon as the door retreated into the bulkhead above him.
The hallway ahead of him was empty for the moment, but he knew that that would not last long. The assassins would likely have made their way past at least a few doors. He was lucky that they hadn’t already gotten to him, as he had no idea how long he was out. So rather than risk getting blown apart by a breaching charge he crouched down a ways back from the next door and steadied his pistols on a knee.
Moments later his caution proved worthwhile as the door blew inward. He opened fire as soon as the door was out of the way. The slugs leapt forth and peppered the men in front of him. Likely they wouldn’t do much damage against the armoured space suits, but he might get lucky.
As the assassins began to shoot back Kral leapt up and retreated back to the cockpit. Firing one last burst he palmed the pad until the door began to slide closed again.
Of course now the cockpit was depressurized and they could just open the doors. But by the time they got there, Kral wouldn’t be.
He keyed in the eject sequence and stood back as the upper canopy and part of the roof blew off and the cockpit seats shot out. They didn’t get very far as gravity pulled them into the ground, but as soon as they were clear Kral jumped out and charged towards the nearest group of assassins, guns blazing.

The Agent completed his backflip despite the growing pain in his body from being exposed to the vacuum of space and brought his Dragons up to fire at two different assassins. He used the familiar kick to build his momentum as he slammed his arms around into either side of another assassins head. The man staggered backwards, helmet cracking, and went down as a bullet shattered the already damaged screen.
“Agent Kral reporting for duty sir!” Kral’s mechanically amplified voice rang out as the gunman shot down another assassin with a concentrated burst of slugs targeted directly at the screens.
“I found out how to kill ‘em. Shoot for the head, armour’s weakest there”
The man actually sounded to be enjoying the fight of all things.
“Where is Lian?”
“What do you mean? You haven’t seen her yet?”
As they spoke the Agent kicked off, and rolled over Kral’s back. As he landed and shot another two assassins, Kral spun beneath him and sprayed bullets in a wide arc. The remaining assassins retreated long enough for the Agent to pull Kral back behind a crate.
“No Kral, I haven’t! She was with you in the MET. Where is she?”
“She must still be aboard! I’m going to get her”
“Wait. What about the passenger?”
“In the cargo bay”
“The cargo bay?”
“Deep-freeze. Lian assures me she will be fine”
“Thats good but”, He paused as the assassins picked up the fire again and the crate started to shake from bullet impacts. Leaning out he fired off another round with each gun, then began reloading them “We are pinned down. Those two will have to fend for themselves for the moment”