November 25, 2012
Footsteps sparkled in the sun, impressions in the soft wet sand filled by spray from the roaring surf.
He bent knee as a salty breeze pulled gently at a few wild strands of hair. The red plastic cup was battered but bright in his fingers, and he dipped it into the rising tide.
Triumphantly, he held aloft his glittering prize, marveling at the play of light on water. “There is nothing I do not control,” he whispered.
His words were lost in a dull roar. Behind him, the sea continued to swell, unabated.
March 12, 2012
She sighed up at me, the sigh reserved for idiots, lovers, and children. “I’m not sure that cats have a last full measure of devotion.”
November 3, 2009
“Sorry doesn’t cut it!” she shrieked. She grasped the black plastic handle firmly, and the steel trailing behind it came away wet. Dimly, he felt at his neck. The entire front of his shirt was rapidly becoming warm and moist, but there was no pain.
“Why,” he tried to ask, but it came out as a bubble of blood.
October 14, 2009
“One. Certain.” Her voice was cool and melodic in the afternoon summer heat. The blade missed her by millimeters, and I held my breath, not daring to disturb the combatants. The slightest push could disturb their struggle, and I dared not push it the wrong way. Why was she only dodging?
“Two. Scientific.” She leaned backwards as the silver length passed over her head, close enough to kiss. Behind her, an elbow stretched, and in front, her hand, index and middle finger extended.
Stupidly, he fell for it. “And three?” The blade went up, poised for the killing stroke.
I knew what was coming next, so I turned away. There was a violent shriek as the air was torn asunder, and I felt the flash even despite my closed eyes. When I thought it was safe, I ventured a look.
The smell of cooked meat mingled with the odors of dust and ozone. Two cauterized stumps, shoelaces still neatly tied, lay on the ground. Behind them a blackened trail led to the stone wall, which had been pulverized, and behind it a black furrow stretched back as far as I could see. Smoke rose in the distance from what was probably the terminus of the shot.
April 30, 2009
Grell – An unreliable narrator, were he to narrate. Primarily concerned with his own survival. Took a beating from the Man in the Mists but was warned against seeking payback.
The Man in the Mists – A young, polite man capable of terrible things. Has strange methods of dealing with problems, stemming from his unusual take on the world. Unnaturally attached to the Revealer of Silver.
Revealer of Silver – A revealer of the second water, her ability is crucial to the plot in “Agenda.” Something passed between her and the Man in the Mists.
Walker in Twilight – Seldom seen. This fact really ought to cause more concern.
The Princess of Eight – Royalty; she rarely speaks except at official functions. Favors light colored clothes, which she must frequently replace due to her vulgar habit of getting blood on them, as shown in “Hither.”
The old woman – An information broker who is dangerous in her own right. Respects the Man in the Mists; deals with Grell.
The Deathless – Possibly a misnomer.
Unnamed Arcanist – Possibly one of the named persons. Possibly not.
Pastoral – A diplomat that no one can afford to ignore. Precisely what he can do has not been shown, but nobody sane really wants him to demonstrate.
Issei – A man to whom strange things happen. Arguably one of the most normal people around.
Tsundere – A walking, talking, property-destroying concept. Fond of kittens.
Mr. Black – Retired.
September 10, 2008
Pastoral’s voice filtered through, strong but indistinct. “Synchronicity.”
I winced. “I don’t really want to go into it, but you deserve some explanation. I’ll know when I need to act.”
“How will you know?”
“I get certain cues. I’m sure you are not unfamiliar with the concept.”
I tapped my ear. “Yes. Be right back.”
I saw her shadow enter before I saw her. A reflective black coat, open to the summer night, framed a Victorian dress, creating a look not at all spoiled by the sleek weapon she slipped out with a gloved left hand. The DJ abruptly switched tracks and I knew that it was on.
To their credit, the guards immediately to her left and right knew something was amiss as soon as the tip of the jet-black handle started coming out of her coat. But even as they made contact and closed their hands around her arms, I knew they had made a mistake. Supernatural speed does not mean very much if you don’t think fast enough to go along with it. A split-second later, the crack of four wrists echoed off the brick wall behind me, and a split-second after that, the stutter of the submachine gun split the air.
In a sense it was a poor choice of weapon, I thought as I reached for the flask in my left pocket and flung it behind me. The liquid silver splashed out, pooling under the exit, and I automatically moved on to the next door. More than a few glasses had dropped and shattered, adding to the general confusion, so while one more might be noticed, I felt it was a reasonable risk.
The uzi continued unabated. Slugs flew, racking up property damage, gauging shallow furrows through flesh, and spraying blood through the air, but this was frankly no more than a cosmetic annoyance for the clientele. More than one of the lords paused, making irritated noises, and gestured for members of their retinue to clear out the nuisance. Guns are notoriously ineffective against the undead.
This, of course, was just what she wanted them to think. As she continued her noisy but largely ineffectual fusillade, I silvered two more exits – the other fire escape and the window. One of the elite guards, who’d been a mercenary in life, charged head-on into the cone of fire, bringing a knife down and slicing neatly through the Uzi. Calmly, as if she had not just been deprived of her only weapon, she brought her right hand around – ungloved and index finger first – and put it cleanly through his head. The fingernail came out the back of the skull, dislodging bone fragments and grey matter.
Then she opened her hand.
It got pretty messy after that.
August 25, 2008
The cold was bitter. White flakes fell gently, not enough to blanket the countryside except in the most symbolic of senses. Amid the falling snow harsh voices shouted out into the air, guns discharged, and cannon thundered.
They came, in twos and threes, black-suited, and stark white, the Princess stepped out from among them. She had gone without her parasol and bonnet: white she stood, hair uncovered to the snow. The people would understand. Alone she stood, a single, blinding white candle in an army of shadows.
The people came, and gathered. There were words, and at a certain time, the heavy black covering over a slab of stone was thrown back. The people were silent, and appreciated it. Then they left, trickling away.
The Princess stood sleeveless in the snow until the last of them had gone, and simply faded out.
Then there was only the stone.
BENEATH THIS STONE RESTS THE BODY
OF A NOBLE CATGIRL
UNKNOWN BY NAME OR RANK
BROUGHT FROM FIELDS OF BATTLE TO LIE AMONG
THE MOST ILLUSTRIOUS OF THE LAND
AND BURIED HERE ON ARMISTICE DAY
– : —-, IN THE PRESENCE OF
HER MAJESTY THE PRINCESS OF EIGHT
HER MINISTERS OF STATE
THE CHIEFS OF HER FORCES
AND A VAST CONCOURSE OF THE NATION
THUS ARE COMMEMORATED THE MANY
MULTITUDES WHO DURING THE GREAT
WAR OF 1333 – 1337 GAVE THE MOST THAT
CAT CAN GIVE: LIFE ITSELF
FOR LOVED ONES HOME AND EMPIRE
FOR THE SACRED CAUSE OF RATINGS AND
THE JUSTICE OF THE WORLD
February 4, 2008
The Princess of Eight shifted her parasol ever so slightly, exposing a portion of her face. Under the shadow cast by her pastel-pink bonnet, a single shining iris caught the light, and her eye met those of the man across the room. Raising her left hand, she crooked a finger imperceptibly.
With a lurch, the man’s body responded. Abject terror came over his features, as he jerkily lifted one foot high in the air, moved it forward, and planted it on the ground in front of him. Then his back foot moved. His neck was rigid, but his eyes rolled down, trying to confirm with his sight what he knew to be true. His mouth worked, but no sound came out. Eventually it set in a rictus grin as he stopped concentrating on speech and instead tried to stop walking.
Body spasming, fighting control and panic in equal measures, he stepped across the threshold.
In an instant the mists were upon him, and he vanished from Grell’s sight. When they dispersed, all that remained was a red puddle on the floor.
January 14, 2008
Grell slammed against the wall. Dust liberated by the impact billowed out and fell upon the scene.
A young face appeared. “What is her name?” he demanded. Impossibly young. Grell tried to rise, and felt the pressure of an invisible hand against his throat. Too young, but it was there.
“Revealer of Silver,” he rasped.
“Yes. Revealer of Silver. Not the Revealer of Gold. NOT the Revealer of Lead!”
Grell coughed. “Why do you – “
“Names! Names have a point. Titles must be carefully adhered to, or else they become broken, and then all that is left is chaos.” The young face looked over his shoulder. “Some of us would like to prevent that, Princess.”
The Princess of Eight, a figure in delicate pink, shifted her parasol and favored the pair with a ferocious grin. Abruptly, the pressure on Grell slackened. Pushing himself up off the wall, he stood with one hand braced behind him.
So. The Princess of Eight. A silent Walker in Twilight. The Revealer of Silver. Grell’s eyes shifted to the young face, who was eyeing the Princess uncertainly. And a Man in the Mists who favors precision.
This was going to be interesting.