This is the last update notification fro Reaper I’ll be posting here. I’m going to turn this site into an author’s blog for random stuff and varying notifications. If you want to read Reaper do it on the linked site, or just check back on Mondays.
“The police have been called, what local assets do we have?”
I winced at the static that accompanied the message; it was rude jamming the whole area and using encrypted comms. I almost couldn’t listen in. I tried to ignore the background chatter as they discussed option, and I clambered up a fire escape onto the mall’s roof.
Anna was waiting for me at the top, and chewing bubblegum of all things, wearing her guns ‘n’ roses hoodie. Putting a finger to her lips, she pointed at the sniper team on the other side seemingly watching the courtyard.
Standing behind them was a tall woman, the lights below causing her red hair to create a fiery red halo around her head. Her immaculate white suit caused her to stick out like a sore thumb on the dark roof. Not that the sniper team noticed her, or the other team across the courtyard.
Anna was equally impervious to notice sauntered up next to her and offered some gum. Unlike the two girls, I wasn’t impervious to notice and had to mask my presence with magic.
The simple spell required nothing more than to trace the top button of my leather coat with my index finger. It was costly power wise but would buy me another fifteen minutes.
“Target spotted, north entrance to the courtyard.” The spotter said she was a woman too. I hadn’t noticed.
It also meant I was on the wrong channel since my ear piece was still feeding me information about negotiating with the local enchantresses to mind wipe the cops. Flipping the known Dullahan channels, I found the right one.
Three teams seemed to be closing in on the courtyard; they were probably in groups of two. I knew this mission was short notice, but they seemed understaffed. Overlooking the edge I saw the target, but at the range I needed my phone’s zoom function to get a good look.
She looked homeless, wearing several coats equal parts mud and holes. With her matted hair full of reddish mud, she looked nothing like the surveillance photo I had received, it had been taken only two months ago at a hospital in Ontario.
“All units move in.”
The two snipers shot almost simultaneously, and the woman fell to her knees, the teams on the ground entered the courtyard shooting. I winced in reflexive sympathy, having a shield tested with that much firepower had to hurt.
She responded by making a slashing motion with one of her hands causing a wave of force to blow two of the men off their feet. I doubted they would be getting up anytime soon; the two other teams ran for cover.
“Aren’t you going to do anything?” Anna asked me.
“What and get shot? I’d rather not die tonight.” I answer making my way to the door.
“Target entered the south wing, no shot,” the spotter on the opposite roof reported.
“We are in the south wing right?” I asked Anna as we reached the second floor. “I don’t know this Mall.”
“Yeah, the first floor is one long corridor with shops on the sides. They have metal shutters, so if anyone goes in them, we’ll notice. Bathrooms are near the exits, and there isn’t much else to hide.” Anna answered.
“No other doors?”
“Nope,” she said as we reached the first floor.
The stairwell exit burst open as the woman ran into me, I fell to the ground pulled on top of her just in time for the two Dullahans to arrive. They froze SMG’s pointed at me, the woman with one arm trapped under me used her remaining to grab my throat.
“Now I know this looks awkward, but I, at least, want to make it home tonight.” I razed one hand in a placating gesture. The other reached for the sawn-off shotgun hanging under my arm. “So why don’t we talk about this.” I shot her in the shoulder.
The angle was, of course, odd and the lance of pain meant I had probably fractured my wrist. One of the Dullahan’s grabbed me and threw me out of the way; the other opened fire. Her shield deflected most of the shots that would have hit center mass; that last few made it through.
They went for their secondaries as she somehow found the strength to charge them, I shot her in the back. They moved out of the way and emptied their guns into her back as she fell forward.
Reloading I shot her corpse twice more in the head, leaving an unholy mess all over my shoes. We all took a step back to make sure she wasn’t playing possum as the to Dullahan’s reloaded.
“She dead,” Anna confirmed, “you should go.”
“She looks dead to me, shall we get out while the going’s good?” I ask.
One nods while the other speaks into his comm, “target terminated, heading to the courtyard plus one.” Then addressed me, “who are you?”
“Corvid, I’m local also,” I pull out my amulet from where it hangs around my neck. A silver pentagram wreathed in lilies. “I’m with Garden View, a pest exterminator.”
“Sorry Sir, we didn’t realize Garden View had any chapters in the area. Or that you had an extermination unit.”
“We don’t advertise,” I was cut off by a loud crunch, looking back I saw Anna had impacted the metal shutters of a store front. She grabbed her skateboard-wielding it like a club and ran back into the stairwell.
“I’ve never heard a decent explanation as to why that happens, I’m Vincent.” The one who hadn’t spoken yet said. He held up an amulet; a pentagram wreathed in thorns with a cross overlaid on top. “With the Vatican exorcism unit.”
“I’m Jacob, Dullahan.” The other said, his amulet was a pentagram with a headless horse on top.
Neither of the men noticed the sounds of combat behind us, but they did flinch whenever something broke. We sped up as the sounds of breaking intensified, “I assume you have an explanation for the press.”
“We rigged the boiler, and I think support is negotiating with some local witch coven to make sure the all the reports say it’s an accident,” Jacob answered.
“Your men in the courtyard?”
“One dead the other in critical condition, we’ve heard there is a healer in the area but couldn’t get a contact, so we were going to use a hospital.” Jacob said the implied question was obvious, as a local I might know.
“That would be me.”
“There is a handful of us in circulation, although I’m rather new, so my work isn’t beautiful.” I reply.
“We wouldn’t presume to ask more,” Father Vincent assured me as we reached the courtyard.
Two men and a woman wearing white leather coats with the Dulahan sigil on the back, support staff, were crowded around the other fallen man with a first aid kit. There was no sign of the snipers on the roof or the other team on the ground. Presumably, some of them had gone to blow up the south wing.
The dead Dulahan covered in a sheet with the redhead crouched over him. As she leaned in to kiss the dead man’s forehead I looked away, it wasn’t pleasant to watch what her kind did to the dead.
“Out of the way medic coming through,” I said shooing the Dulahan’s out of the way. The man stripped of his armor and outerwear; wasn’t in good shape. A very broken left shin, the angle his leg was at made me suspect his thigh was broken.
Right arm was broken as well, lots of fresh bruises everywhere. Pupils dilated, broken blood vessels in both eyes. The only blood was the red foam around his mouth probably from the punctured lung; his left side had a visible indent.
“Jesus, I don’t know why you were bothering with a first aid kit. Sorry father.” Father Vincent gave a nod of acknowledgment but didn’t speak.
I reach into the pocket of my jacket for a carabiner with seven color-coded laser pointers. I take off the red, white, and green ones before shoving it back into my pocket. I point the green one at the man’s chest.
A pattern of a snake eating its own tail and two more inside the resulting circle seemingly fighting appears on him. “Time to do something stupid, I would appreciate it if everyone could stand back a bit.” They did so as I began to chant. “A snake eats it’s own tail, life turns to death, show me the cause.”
Information flooded my mind even as it started to go dark, in desperation I reached out to the part that wasn’t my own and clung to my familiar. Anna was annoyed but had the power to spare and fed me what I needed.
“Fuck, I hate that spell,” I say picking myself up off the ground. The Dulahan’s had taken my words to heart and hadn’t moved to help me.
Blood pooling around the heart would kill my patient first, and then the punctured lung I would have to do something about the bone fragments first, internal bleeding in the abdomen was next, last was the brain hemorrhage.
Pointing the red laser at his heart, the same snake pattern appeared but in red. “Blood flows but does not pool directed to purpose the dam must not leak.” The spell had been designed to have a light touch and a limited scope, so I needed to cast it another six times before I had stemmed the internal bleeding around his heart.
The strain was causing the world to lose color around the edges, the only reason I was still upright was the redhead who the propping me up. I should probably get her name being coworkers and all.
“Could get some water and a power bar.” The Father handed me a bottle, after gulping down some I continued. “I’ve bough us about twenty minutes if I can fix the lungs before passing out he’ll probably make it to the hospital.”
“We appreciate this Sir,” Jacob said handing me a bar of dark chocolate.
“Don’t I started this of my initiative, and now I’m committed.” The chocolate lasted about two minutes, in that time some of the color in my vision retuned but the edges were still fuzzy. My headache got worse; experience said I would need to sleep it off. I pointed the white laser, the same pattern. “Bone grows, bone binds, bone shapes, bone minds.”
I got most of the fragments where they were supposed to be but didn’t bother trying to fuse them. The hospital could wire his ribcage together or something; of course, it made the bleeding worse.
Eight less discriminating rounds of the red, and his lungs stopped doing their best sieve impression. Another hit dealt with the blood already in the lungs. Anna was running low on power; she seemed slightly upset with me. Regardless I moved onto the holes in the intestine.
“Corvid what were you thinking?” The question cut through my addled brain like a knife.
I tried to blink away the spots in my vision; it helped a bit. I was laying on a patch of grass covered in one of those reflective blankets. Standing over me was Matilda, a member of the local enchantress coven. She was five foot nothing, but due to angles managed a good loom.
Like everyone in her coven she was wearing entirely too little for the season She was using the eye catch on her amulet to draw attention to her impressive bosom. Locally, at least, that was almost as good as the amulet itself to ID her clan. Her’s was a pentagram formed out of a whip.
“Dulahan’s needed a healer, so I offered my services.”
“You realize no one put them in contact with you precisely so you wouldn’t get yourself killed trying to heal one of them.” She glared at Father Vincent probably because he was the closest, ignoring the fact that he wasn’t a Dulahan.
“He found us, just in time too,” Father Vincent said.
“Of course, he did, I assume you want a ride home because I’m not letting you drive like that.”
I’m not dead and here’s why I haven’t been posting.
I’ve been depressed for a rather long time, I’ve probably had anxiety problems since middle school. I’ve never really talked about it, it’s hard to admit you have a problem when everyone around you seems so damn competent all the time. It’s my fault in a way I like competent people, smart people, I like people striving to be the best. I want to be the best, probably why I’m so critical of myself all the time.
I reached a point in college where I couldn’t get out of bed except to eat, shower, and go to class. It wasn’t sustainable and I broke down. This was just before I started writing, it helped me focus on things again. I didn’t end up getting any real help just a change in scenery which was temporary at best. It wasn’t sustainable and my writing schedule suffered.
Now I’m in a new place, I have an internship opportunity (not in a field you’d guess but if you do I’ll name a side character after you), and I’m going to start seeing a counselor.
I’m back, I’m going to post the first chapter of Reaper on the 1st. I don’t even have a proper synopsis for it and I scrapped the first draft so I have no buffer. Fuck it I doing it anyways I need the scheduled. Since my life is about to get a lot more busy I’m only going to do one update a week for the time being.
The Defection rewrite made it about 1/3 of the way before I stalled so I’m going to start working on that again [3 months max], and get a pretty cover made.
I’ve already redone the site a bit I probably won’t do much more but I will go through the backlog of un-moderated comments and approve them [I was feeling guilty and haven’t been checking them. I have the same problem with e-mail and texts].
So here’s to being better than I was. How are you all (the few of you who get updates or still check) doing?
Sorry, none of the technical problems have been resolved , so work is slow to say the least. But if you’re itching for something to read other serials have put out books.
Twisted Cogs – I’ve probably posted this link before but that author is a good friend of mine and much better than me. Alternative history, politics, and a very interesting magic system.
Continue Online – This one is technically one of those RPG stories that I mostly dislike. Instead of falling into the god modding pitfalls Continue online is an emotional journey, that is again well written.
Curveball – It’s been going for a while and is a fairly standard superhero story, interesting action, diverse character, politics, some sort of scheme. Also Captain America gets killed by a Nazi in the prologue.
First I’d like to apologize for a lack of updates and information on said lack. Here is what happened. First I ate the wrong thing had to deal with a shitty time, I got over it. Then there was a fire, it didn’t effect me or my stuff but it was close enough by to be extremely distracting. Then I had to deal with governmental shit, also distracting. Now I’m suffering from technical difficulties. My six year old laptop had been dying and is only operational due to a bad solder job and a single working fan. I get 3-4 crashes a day and while I keep everything backed up daily, with most important docs in the cloud I’m not willing to work on it. My Ipad which is still running strong, but the Bluetooth keyboard has decided now is the time to crap out as well. The keys keep sticking, usually ‘control’ ‘A’ and ‘delete’ (I am not kidding, it will delete a whole document and exit the program). The backup I had apparently has never worked, go figure. Because I’m on an island getting a decent replacement is difficult (because I’m not buying a pos that will break in a week) especial now that it’s monsoon season making leaving difficult. That is the current state of affairs. This isn’t me about to go on a donation drive don’t worry just explaining what’s been going on.
“Are you sure we’re doing this right?” Bernard asked.
The super-villain formerly known as Hercules, now known as Steve handed two more rocks down to Bernard. “Sure, dig hole, line with rocks, fill with fire. Couldn’t be simpler, I got instructions from the internet and everything.”
Bernard placed the last two stones on the bottom of the pit and started working on lining the sides. It was large enough for him to maneuver around comfortably, and deep enough that only his head was sticking out of the pit. “Why the sudden interest in cooking in a hole?”
“I’m retired; it’s oddly boring. So I’ve taken up online cooking classes, along with a few other hobbies.” Steve’s hobbies included six handmade wooden surfboards on one edge of the beach and a stargazing tower, easily seen from every part of the island.
Other wooden structures and sculptures now dotted the island, ranging from the mundane to the fantastical. “Dude, you’re not going to last at this rate. I could arrange for you to come back to the community as a hero, or disaster relief work.”
“I went to a lot of trouble for this island, and I’m staying here. I even convinced my daughter to visit on the holidays.”
“How’s that going?”
“She might be bringing her boyfriend.”
“Could be worse, I wish my daughter just had poor taste in men.”
Steve laughed, harder than was appropriate. Offering a hand to Bernard he pulled him out of the pit. “She probably does, I saw the pictures of that alien’s real face.”
“Don’t remind me, the union was trying to promote me to ambassador and send me to their home world. I had to shut that down hard.”
“So the imminent war people on the internet keep speculating about?”
“Not going to happen, but we will have to be on the lookout for passive aggressive attempts as colonialism.”
“Business as usual then.” Steve started throwing logs down into the pit until there was a good sized pile of them. He then dropped a small incendiary device to light them; Bernard suspected it was some detonator.
“No way that is how you’re supposed to light the fire.”
“I have some C-4, but you aren’t supposed to cook with it.”
“Ooh fire.” Keanan said as he floated over the treetops. “Jessica get the marshmallows.”
He was in his golem form looking pristine and not at all like he had been sparring with Jessica. Jessica was looking slightly worse for wear as she exited the trees, her visor cracked.
“Do you even have marshmallows, Steve?” She asked.
“Of course he does, my mom built the pantry and wrote the restocking algorithms, he has marshmallows.”
“Where does your food come from?” Bernard asked.
“I never got the chance to ask Alecia, and now I’m honestly afraid to find out at this point,” Steve admitted, “it just shows up in the pantry.”
“There is an unfortunate amount of black box Prysim tech floating around these days. I think people started finding her labs. We still haven’t found her money yet.”
“Oh it’s the NewYork stock exchange, and the Hong Kong one, and Australia.” Shatter said, “Also controlling portions of most investment banks, I get it all when I turn eighteen.”
“Why do none of you look surprised?” Bernard asked.
“I own most of the Shanghai exchange,” Steve said.
“I got a couple pharmaceutical companies, and a handful of controlling interests in some tech companies,” Jessica answered.
“Most of them.”
“Damn it,” Bernard, prevented from saying anything else on the matter as his phone rang. “I’m on vacation.”
“Sir, you and your daughter just escaped from the orbital prison.”
“Of course we did. I’m on vacation you guys can handle it.” He hung up on the man. “How long till we put the pig in?”
Gaslight took another step leaning on her cane heavily. Far more heavily than she needed too, although she still needed it more than people suspected she did. Asking Alecia for a quicker recovery only lead to a stricter rehab schedule, and being told to suck it up.
Alecia had then flown to the other continent, this world only having two, to fight the loyalist forces. The death of Ares, the three Alecia’s and those others hadn’t done much to the empire; it was too damn bureaucratic to fall that easily.
Now Gaslight found herself being followed around by two of what Alecia called freedom fighters, Gaslight called them zealots. They looked the part, in full dark body armor, guns vaguely resembling Kalashnikovs, and an absolute willingness to die for her.
They were also wearing the armbands, black strips of cloth with a crossing Wolf and Cane over a white sun. The symbol Fey had designed, all members of the freedom fighters wore them, and their supporters, and anyone who wanted to profess their loyalty to the cause.
She had to detour around a fallen statue, the head of which was on the path to the government building. At one point it had looked like Ares, now it had been too defaced to tell.
She took the steps slowly, a loud crack ringing out through the otherwise quiet courtyard from her cane on the marble steps. Her guards didn’t follow her up, only the upper members of the movement were allowed to use the front entrance.
Her secretary was waiting at the top step, tall, bald, very pleasing to the eyes, and a total fucking sociopath. He wasn’t the only bald person in the building, a good two-thirds of the people moving through the lobby were.
No one was quite willing to explain why the sudden fashion trend, but it had first shown up in those working directly for her. Unlike Alecia and Fey she had taken in interest in redevelopment, as those two instituted a scorched earth policy against the loyalists. Gaslight suspected it was people’s way of professing a more personal loyalty to her.
Gunshots rang out in the distance, and Gaslight looked questioningly at her secretary. “Rioting in the lower south district again Ma’am, the peace legion has been sent down to pacify them again.”
“Damn it,” Gaslight said rubbing her head. It wasn’t quite bald anymore, but she refused to wear a wig or cover it up, she wanted to watch it grow out. “They had better be quick about it; I want to rebuild that area properly soon.”
The governments building was a holdover from the empire, but someone had found the time to redo the floor. It now sported a large version of the symbol Fey had created; it was even showing up on flags now. Underneath it was the words, ‘Prysimguard stands free’. The name; a joke from Alecia, that had managed to stick despite her objections.
Standing on the symbol were two more guards wearing more ceremonial uniforms wearing both the armbands and silver metals shaped as stylized canes. Her secretary started talking as soon as they entered the building. Food production was down, spies caught, some dissenters lynched.
She couldn’t quite understand why everyone seemed to think she had all the answers, she was thirteen for fucks sake. Still petition after petition arrived, until she pawned the task off to others, now she only heard reports on current events, and two other things daily; just to make sure everyone was doing their jobs. It was easier to replace to replace people than to re-educate them on their failings.
Speaking of replacements her new secretary met them in the halls, as her old one was dragged off by two more guards. He really shouldn’t have tried to use his position to further his agenda. Maybe this new one would be better.
“I have some new social policy ideas; I’ll need to talk to the ministers about implementation.”
“Well this isn’t good,” Ares said as the saucer shook from another impact.
“The portal is confirmed down, and our defenses went with it,” Alecia said, “Imaging showed the dome flicked so I guess it’s now under the control of this world’s Poltergeist. I think he was called Gaslight.”
“So no retreat?”
“No retreat home, we could attempt to flee, but this ship was not made for running in. It’s likely they’ll catch us before we make it out of the solar system.”
“Oh, the dome just went down. Scans indicate only one life sign inside. I’d say that Sophia abandoned us.”
“It’s the logical maneuver.”
“What is our logical maneuver, Boss?” Alecia asked.
“Broadcast our surrender, time to find out what they do with criminals in this universe.”
“I’m not going to be your prison bitch.”
“Damn it Alecia be serious for once will you,” Ares growled.
“Is that it?” Uriel asked, “they just surrender?”
“Probably, their invasion had a single point of failure, and it just failed,” Owl answered, “you sound disappointed?”
“I didn’t even get to blow up the mothership, or anything the rods just broke apart.”
“Oh get over it, not a single landmass got hit. but we might have killed some whales.” Nightingale said, “one of you remembered to send out some tsunami warning right?”
“I handled that,” Ares said joining the conversation. “Are you ladies just going to talk or is someone going to board that thing and get me some prisoners?”
“I’ll do it,” Owl said. “I have some things to talk about with my ex anyways.”
Her robot landed on the surface of the saucer and drilled a hole into one of the corridors creating a seal at the same time. Jumping through the formed walkway didn’t quite work as planned.
She had expected artificial gravity, but it apparently had relied on the portal for that, forcing her to navigate a corridor that had been made for gravity. “Stupid shoddy engineering, HAVEN’T YOU HEARD OF REDUNDANCIES?”
“That’s what I kept you around for honey.” Ares said over the intercom. “But then you went and betrayed me, so that went out the window.”
“My heart bleeds.”
“I wish it would.”
“Aww, you’re too cute.”
Owl did make good time without the gravity, arriving in the control area before Ares could formulate a retort. It was just him and a completely normal looking Alecia. Owl opened her mouth to say something, but Alecia cut in.
“No, I don’t want to be here for whatever you two have planned. Be it thinly veiled sexual tension or a slap fight.”
Owl threw a glowing green disk at Alecia when she caught it she vanished into the air.
“Teleport Beacon? Straight to prison?” Ares asked.
“Pretty much, now it’s just us.”
“Are you going to hand me over too? Or deal with me yourself?”
“Hand you over, of course, I’m hardly one to judge. I helped back when I was all angry.”
“Now you’ve got a whole calm thing going on, what’s your secret? Yoga.”
“Ok this is going nowhere, we have nothing to say to each other.” Owl threw a beacon at Ares.
“It’s pretty,” Alecia said staring up at the portal, “I can’t believe this worked.”
“It was your plan,” Gaslight said.
“Yeah, but my plans suck.”
Blackbird chuckled, him, Bluebird, Firebird, and Koi were all standing a bit farther back from the portal. Gaslight was sitting with her back against the base of it. Ares was descending from the sky, “they surrendered, it’s over.”
“It isn’t over quite yet dad,” Alecia said.
“What are you planning?”
“Well I went to all this trouble to capture me a portal, it would be a shame not to use it.”
“You want to shove a nuke in the thing? I know a general who would donate several to the cause.”
“Why would I send a nuke? I have something so much better, something that won’t just destroyed a few kilometers of ground, but bring an entire empire to it’s knees.”
“Why do you have something like that?”
“Because I can’t get rid of it.” Alecia started running towards the portal, “Tell Keanan I love him.” She dove through.
There was a partially stunned silence, “did she just?” Koi asked.
“Yeah, and she can’t come back that way. That portal is one way right now, also really far off no simple task coming back, even for her,” Gaslight answered. She got up and stretched brushing flaked of dried blood off of her dress.
“I suppose we’re going to have to send someone after her,” Ares said. “Maybe I can send the Na’thrim.”
“I’ll go,” Koi said starting to walk towards the portal.
“No you won’t Jessica, I’m not sending a kid behind enemy lines for an undetermined amount of time.” Ares looked over at the three fairies, “I don’t suppose I could convince you guys to go could I?”
“Oh hell no,” Bluebird said, “she’s on her own. My advice, don’t send anyone just collapse the bloody thing.”
“Now, now stop it with the bickering. Alecia left very clear instructions about the portal.”
“She did? It worries me that she thought so far ahead.” Blackbird said.
“Yeah, it’s simple. Once she goes through wait five minutes for her to clear the opposition. Then follow.” Gaslight said.
“What?” Ares shouted running at Gaslight. It was too late as she fell backward into the portal; it evaporated behind her. “I’m going to get into so much trouble for this.
“Oh hey, you made it,” Fey said to Gaslight. She had slipped through the portal unseen earlier. There was a crunch in the distance as Prysim punched her way through a turret. “If we move now she might leave us some scraps.”
I don’t normally post things completely unrelated to my serials here but right now I don’t care. NASA FOUND WATER ON MARS. Liquid fucking running water on the surface. There could be living microbes, viruses, bacteriophage, shit we don’t have names for. Look if you like hard science fiction go read the Red Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson, because I predict we’ll have a colony there in the next two decades. Also if you are looking forward to watching the Martian ( I know I am) the bit in the trailer about there being no water is no longer true. Anyways regular post on Friday, have fun with that one.