That Lovely Girl

“There she goes, that lovely girl.”

She had an air of genuine kindness that the residents loved. Always interested in their tales from decades past, no matter how often they rambled on during their telling. When they sung her praises to their relatives, she was always modest.

“I don’t need to be thanked for that.” She’d smile while steering a tea trolley loaded with treats, all ready to be dispensed before Countdown came on.

“Isn’t she such a dear?”

Every once in a while when they were distracted, a ring or trinket would vanish.

But they’d never blame her, that lovely girl.

This week’s Three Word Wednesday words were: Distracted, Genuine, and Modest.

Anticipation

The atmosphere was electric. Anticipation was eternal in that place. They never tired of the thrill. As long as they were alive they were ready to party. All they had to do was wait and a chance would present itself.

And it just had. Someone had been foolish, negligent, or careless. The door had opened and they had surged towards it. She was waiting. The meeting with their beloved was a passionate one. Sparks flew when they touched. The heat was palpable.

For the poor soul who bridged the gap the result was a sharp, savage, and ultimately fatal shock.

This week’s Three Word Wednesday words were: Electric, Passionate, and Savage.

Sat Aside

Away from her boisterous colleagues celebrating another Earth Year passed, Jena sat by her bivouac bag doing a spot check on her pulse rifle. The cyborg was not in a jovial mood, and the attempts of her squad-mates to cajole her into attending the festivities didn’t help matters.

Her visual checks of the large energy weapon were accompanied by in-vision overlays relaying diagnostic data from it. She was meticulous in her checks. Having gone through the pain of losing a large majority of her birth body to combat injuries, she didn’t want to have to repeat that with her cybernetic replacements. A well-maintained set of equipment was the first line of defence. A good monitoring network was second, and the feed from the deployed probes scrolling past her eyes provided that.

A din came from around the camp fire, an ancient Earth song traditionally belted out while drunk. They didn’t know all the words, so they just whooped and droned until they got to the few lines they remembered. The absurdity of the situation made her chuckle. An old song sung light years away from home. How many years had it been since she was last in the Solar System, let alone on Earth?

High Command were resolute that EY2982 would be the final year of conflict in the Makardis Sector. With EY2981 slipping away, Jena made herself a promise. If she survived her tour of duty? She’d take a trip back home.

And maybe she’d welcome EY2983 in on Earth in a bar, rather than sat aside on an alien world.

Writer’s Note: This week’s Three Word Wednesday words were Jovial, Resolute, and Promise. Happy New Year, here’s to a 2015 with more writing done in it than 2014.

Process

“I don’t mean to criticize you,” his superior spoke in a voice that indicated he -was- meaning to, “but couldn’t you hurry that up? We need a lead.”

Pinching his brow as he bit off his planned retort, he sucked in a deep breath before responding with all the patience he could muster. “It’s not a simple task. I am working as fast as I can, and I could work faster if I did not keep having to explain this.”

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Parasite Control

They burst from the walls, horrid creatures of hard exoskeletons and proboscis designed for blood sucking. About the same size as a dog, the term the local tribes coined for them translated roughly as ‘blood-wraith’. Through the streets of Walkingburg dashed Weaver, in his element as an agile swordsman fighting a running battle.

When they leapt at him, his scimitar lashed out to carve chinks in their natural armour. When they curled up to roll at him, he simply danced over their balled forms. And when one blood-wraith surged up at him, it was met with a near-point blank blast from Weaver’s battered sawn-off shotgun.

“Jackass.” The blonde man muttered, ducking under a leaping bug before slicing clean through one of its leg joints. Another blast from his shotgun at the softer underside of a parasite emptied his barrels of ammunition, and started him running again.

Up close to the ruins of the town, it was clear that the sun and sand had done a number on it, without regular repair the wooden structures had been baked and sand-blasted by desert winds. The webbing of the blood-wraiths criss-crossed between broken homes and vacant businesses, and became his scimitar’s chief concern as he raced for the town square in the centre. As he neared it Weaver gathered arcane energy in his free hand, feeling the limb turn heavy and numb as power surged through it.

The torrent of light that shot up into the air hung about, glimmering a soft gold as he engaged his opponents amongst the remains of market stalls and once-picturesque benches. Outnumbered ten to one, sweat soaked his robes as he darted to and fro, sword biting into carapaces, cleaving skittering limbs and separating antenna and proboscis from their owner’s head.

“You’ll find I’m not much of a snack.” Weaver called as they amassed around him. “I’m stringy, tough, and a half-breed too. Not some gamey elf or juicy human.” He glanced up at the fading sight of his signal spell, wondering if he should cast it again. Spells weren’t his forte, and- his scimitar slashed out rapidly at the cluster of long, pointed appendages aiming to drain him dry.

Their behaviour suddenly changed. Some were turning their backs on Weaver in response to something, giving him the chance to press the attack. With both hands on his scimitar, he put power into every stroke as he advanced through his attackers to be greeted by a spear-tip rupturing through the body of a blood-wraith.

“Splendid day for a fight, eh?” A slender man called, his face angular and cheeks harshly pointed. In the desert sun, his pale complexion was made more pronounced.

“You could say that, Saddler.” Weaver grinned, getting into position by his fellow adventurer. “No one told me about the blood-wraiths.”

“And yet you charged in regardless. Most brave. Most daring. Most-”

“Stupid?” Weaver finished.

“I was going to say dashing, but I will defer to your superior judgement in this case.” The elf said with a slight smile, flicking haemolymph from his weapon as he readied it to strike out once more. Glancing across the crowd of bloodsuckers, he looked to his companion. “Twenty two left. Eleven apiece?”

“Take sixteen,” Weaver chuckled, “I wouldn’t want you to think I took your share of foes.”

The dark-haired elf pursed his lips. “Ten chore duties says that I defeat sixteen before you defeat six.”

Weaver’s scimitar flicked out at an attacker. “You’re on.”

Author’s Note: This week’s Three Word Wednesday words are Jackass, Rupture, Splendid, and continues last week’s story, Walkingburg.

Investigation

The roll-neck top she had pulled up over her nose did little to stifle the sickly-sweet smell of rotting garbage in June. With hands clad in blue nitrile, she sifted through the alleyway while breathing as shallowly as possible. “On TV, detective work isn’t nearly as glamorous as this.” She joked between breaths, before scampering back as hard-shelled roaches scurried out to fight over the remains of a gyro she’d unearthed.

“Yeah,” her partner responded, hauling a refuse sack out of a dumpster to start pouring over, “It’s all the boring stuff. Pitched gun battles, car chases, hot sex and cool champagne. They leave out the trash duty, the desk work, the endless coffee runs. That’s where the action is.”

“I wish we could wrap up everything in forty-two and a half minutes. We’ve spent that long here already.”

“Maybe there’s extra long advert breaks?” A grin crossed his face as he shook an empty box of condoms. “Holster your piece with Magnum, sponsors of Two Detectives and a Dumpster.”

Her laughter soon became spluttering retches as an unpleasant whiff struck her nose through her top’s light fabric. “Is that what our show is called? I was hoping for something more catchy. Kovalski and Renault, but instead of and, it’s one of those squiggly…”

“Ampersand?” Renault supplied.

“That’s it.” Kovalksi nodded, carefully climbing to her feet. “Why don’t we have uniforms on this task, anyway?”

“More imperative duties. The President’s in town after all, so the gruntwork is all ours.” Wiping his brow on his forearm, he gestured at the pile of trash he’d unleashed. “Not a sign of anything vaguely relating to murder, unless you count some awful Kung Pao chicken and a copy of Diane Taylor’s ‘Fit Fast’ work out DVD.”

Peeling her gloves off, Kovalski tucked one into the other. “Pretty sure that gave someone a heart attack. Not so sure it resulted in someone being choked with a bike tyre’s inner tube.”

Renault sighed. “How annoying is that? Our murder weapon currently has more traction than our investigation.”

Author’s Note: That was a fair absence, wasn’t it? My apologies for the vacation. This week’s 3 Word Wednesday words were: Garbage, Traction, Imperative.

Glass Eye

Digitized vision bore witness to the beatdown the woman was getting. Boots collided with ribs; soles trampled on limbs.

She laid helpless on the ground. The cameras were mute, content just to watch and record and to then send that data to the national database.

No one who saw that footage would care for her plight. The glass eyes were vigilant, dedicated to protecting the population and helping to enforce law and order.

She was just a dissident.

Author’s Note: Today’s Three Word Wednesday words are helpless, trample, vigilant.

The Grave of Swords and Soldiers

Once the site of bloody battle, the blood shed now comes as a way of tribute from those that believe. From the worlds over they come via portals and starboats; soldiers whose day of drawing their blades are over. Amongst soft white grasses and delicate flowers that climb up rusted swords they walk. They seek a place for their weapons to be driven into the ground.

Worn, scarred, and calloused hands now free of the burden they carried. They nick their fingers on the blades, shedding a claret tear for the lives they have taken, the bodies they’ve maimed. Some of the swords are notched and worn. The soldiers bodies more so.

To come to the Grave of Swords and Soldiers is the ultimate act of the penitent. With muttered breaths they vow to only ever take up a weapon in the defence of themselves or others. Never to march to war; to instigate fights. And once they come, they never return.

The grave is for soldiers. They have relinquished that burden.

 

Author’s Note: This week’s 3 Word Wednesday words are Believe, Tribute, Penitent.

Home Cooking

A fierce craving for Mom’s (not really)patented chicken casserole drove her towards the kitchen. She stumbled a little with the weight of a night’s drinking making her strides anything but steady. Reaching the vast fridge that occupied one corner of the kitchen, she flung the massive doors open to begin browsing the shelves and racks.

Some fuzzy part of her mind knew that she’d brought some casserole home in one of the many Tupperware boxes that her parents dolled leftovers out in. Was it the red topped one? No, no, Mom had a system. Red was for beef dishes, chicken was…

Yellow! A flash of yellow caught her eye as she moved some assorted jars out of the way. Grasping the box with both hands she pulled it out and took it to the counter. Peeling the lid off to take a deep sniff of that rich, heady sauce.

A gag, a shudder, a lurch of her stomach! Putrid stenches assailed her nostrils. Retching, she clamped the lid back on the box and ran to the back door to gulp down fresh air. As the sobering and crisp night atmosphere settled her stomach and purged her nose of the violent attack, her mind focused. The last time she’d visited home to have chicken casserole… was two months ago.

Pulling a face, she steadied herself with the doorframe. Her craving had been crushed, her appetite abated. Come morning, she would clear the fridge out and write a big post-it note for herself: If she really wanted home cooking, she should really go home for it.

 

Author’s Note: Today’s 3 Word Wednesday words were Crave, Putrid, Shudder.

Scars of War

“I sit writing this in the pockmarked remains of a border town, our unit having rolled in to secure the area. I am Specialist Jacob Dalmers, a member of the United Nations Armed Forces, of the North American Regiment’s Engineering Corps. Our duties here are threefold:

  1. Sweep and secure the area, making buildings safe and disabling any IEDs or traps that may have been left.
  2. Restore utilities to the area, from water and power to sewage and communications.
  3. Aid the civilian population who have remained behind.

The first duty is very important. A year ago, I was on the receiving end of such an attack. Most of my body is now military-grade cybernetics. A rough estimate would be 80%. Organs have been replaced with cybernetic components to power and work the prosthetics that make up my limbs. I had some augmentations beforehand, military standard comm units and vision augmentation. This is far beyond that.

Removing these threats means the rest of our operation can proceed smoothly, with minimal risk of injury. And the threats are not always due to traps. Unstable buildings are common thanks to artillery and rockets, and we have tools to buttress them or bring them down if they are too hazardous.

The second duty only takes place after the first. We have supplies to last us while we work on repairing the destruction brought here thanks to the war between the UNAF forces, and the insurgent Cartel organizations. The Annexation Wars that ended in the 2080’s were supposed to be the last major conflict. As a soldier, I can say there will likely be more after this. As a person, I am sad to feel that way.

The people in this region have had to endure much in the course of this conflict from both sides. War damages everyone. And the populace do not have the benefit of exoframes to enhance their strength to clear the rubble. They lack the armour plating to protect themselves or their livelihoods from damage caused by both sides of this battle. They do not have the benefit of carefully planned logistics to keep them supplied with essentials.

And that is what the last duty is about. The first two points help the people, but we must do what we can to aid them and to gain their trust. We cannot presume to ride in the victors to praise and adulation. There is only one way to earn their respect and prove that we are here for the right reasons…”

The journal he had been writing disappeared from his vision as he approached the rubble of a small housing complex. Saved to memory, Specialist Dalmers had more important things to do than write for his memoirs. With his mechanical limbs, his body armour and the corps exoframe he wore to aid him in his duty, he towered a head or two above most of the men left in the region.

The people digging through the remains of the building looked warily at him as he approached. With his armaments secured in their holsters, he raised his hands up. One of them, an older looking woman, said something to him in Mexican. After a moment, the translation of what she said appeared in-vision, suspended above her in a speech bubble.

[We’re looking for our belongings. We aren’t looking for trouble.]

Nodding, Jacob joined them and sunk down to his knees to begin lifting chunks of debris up, his arms and exoframe easily hefting the rubble to the wheelbarrows they had set up to aid in clearing the site. With wary eyes still on him, he pulled up his translation program to compose a sentence.

[I am not looking for trouble either. May I continue to help?] He selected, and then watched as the program finished the translation. Reading off the words, the civilians seemed to consider this for a moment before nodding. With a slight bow of his head he got back to digging with armoured hands well suited to the job. It would take a lot of work and time to heal the scars of the Annexation Wars, let alone this conflict.

Author’s Note: This week’s Three Word Wednesday words are: Destruction, Endure, Trust. This is a Tranquil Law setting story, dealing with one of the secondary characters in his former profession.