Bonds of Family, part 3

It doesn’t take long for someone else to join me in the tent. I turn, looking over my shoulder to see a male human in full armour, though without a helmet. His armour is slightly better decorated than the rank and file troopers, so I assume he is some sort of officer. I don’t even make eye contact, just facing forward in silence again.

“Stand up,” he says, his voice authoritative as he makes his way to my back, detaching the chains that bind me to the tent, but keeping my hands bound. I just sit there; I’m not about to let this human order me around. “I said stand!” he says again, walking over and dragging me to my feet. “With those ears, I would’ve thought you could hear me.”

“I heard you, human. I just didn’t care,” I answer, looking over my shoulder with a grin.

The human grabs the back of my neck and shoves me towards the entrance to the tent. “Just move it.”

The human shoves me out of the tent and back into the pouring rain. I was starting to dry off, but all hopes of that evaporated as I was met by the heavy rainfall of the Arathi Highlands. It was still late, the plains lit by nothing more than star light and the occasional lantern. The human pushes me out of the camp, up a small hill and over to another group of Alliance. My adoptive sister is among them, a longbow slung across her back. I find myself wondering if it was my mother who taught her how to fight. It’s a shame I won’t find out. It’s clear to me what this is; it’s an execution. I spot the stone they will use as a headsman’s block, there’s what looks like a priest and two other soldiers in attendance. If I was armed and armoured I could probably kill all of these pretenders; luck has surely smiled upon them today.

The human shoves me over to the large stone and the priest walks to the other side, his robes muddied at the bottom. He looks me straight in the eye as one soldier walks behind me while the officer and the last soldier flank me. Elise walks just behind the priest, looking at me with a stoic expression. I wonder if she is still conflicted and I cling to the hope that she will help me out of this situation. For all my confidence, I don’t want to die. Not like this at least; there is no honour in being chained and executed. However, I see that is just a fantasy. After all, we’re on opposite sides of this war. If I were in her position, I would likely be the executioner as well as the priest in this situation. She is my enemy as I am hers.

“You call yourself a paladin of the Holy Light, yet you slaughter men and women in their beds,” the priest says, his gaze never leaving my eyes.

“It’s a military target,” I answer, looking straight back into his eyes. “It was not a dishonourable strike. If anything, it was poorly executed. We four met your fourteen in open combat and yo-…”

The soldier to my right punches me across the face, sending me stumbling aside. The officer catches me and shoves me back into position. It’s at this moment I realise how weak I am in my current state. I lost a lot of blood not too long ago and I still ache from the injuries I suffered in the previous battle.

“That’s enough,” the priest says, a strong, assertive tone to his voice. “Now, elf, you have been charged with murder and abuse of the Holy Light. Do you deny these charges?”

“Of course I do. If I were abusing the Light, do you not think it would turn its back on me? Also it’s not murder if it’s a paramilitary operation in a war. That’s called warfare, priest.”

The priest frowns. “You will face judgement for the lives you have taken.”

“I will be judged for the crimes I have committed, but it won’t be by you and it won’t be for what transpired here.”

The priest looks at the guard behind me and nods. I feel an armoured gauntlet on the back of my neck, pushing me down and forcing me to my knees. This is it. They’ve decided to just get the execution over and done with. My main regret is that I feel that I have not yet managed to atone for my sins. Will the Holy Light take that into account when it comes to my judgement?

I feel an armoured boot on my back, forcing me onto the stone, my head hanging over the other edge. I look up to the officer who has pulled out his blade, then to Elise, then to the priest who is saying a typical prayer to the Holy Light. I know the Alliance’s protocol when it comes to executions like these; even for their enemies they recite a generic prayer. It has no meaning and I think they’re just doing it for show.

I close my eyes and face down. There’s nothing left for me. This is the end.

Suddenly, I feel a shift in the air. I open my eyes in time to see an arcane flash from behind the priest and two hulking figures come charging out of it.

“What? We’re under attack! Protect Father Astrior,” the officer yells, turning to face the charging figures. This is the only chance I will get. I spring to life, jumping into the officer and colliding with his armoured form. We both go sprawling to the ground, but I am unarmed, unarmoured and weakened from my previous injuries. We hit the dirt, but before I can react the officer is upon me. He raises his sword to finish the job, but before he can plunge the blade through my chest he brings it up to parry one of the charging figures. I look up to see Uruda slamming into the human, bashing aside his defences and slamming her axe into the human’s chest, piercing the armour and sending a trail of crimson spilling from his breastplate behind his tabard.

“Laralla, can you walk?” she asks, picking up the human’s sword. I nod as she runs over, getting to my feet. She runs behind me and brings her axe down on the bindings, smashing them and freeing my hands. She thrusts the officer’s sword into my hands. “Good. We’re getting you out of here,” she says before charging off to engage another target. I look over to see Elise standing between Argrok and the priest and in that moment I can see that she was trained by my mother. Her fighting style is reminiscent of how my mother fought the Scourge, dodging and ducking beneath blows. She dodges to the side of his overhead swing, moving to slash at Argrok, but he brings his mace back around, causing her to back off to avoid the powerful swing of the Orc warrior. This isn’t a fight she can reliably win.

Lara Ready

Another soldier charges Argrok and Elise immediately disengages, moving to his flank and ready to strike him from behind. I will give these Alliance credit where credit is due, they work in unison far better than our Orc duo. I charge at the Alliance soldier, coming to Argrok’s aid as they seek to outnumber him, bringing the officer’s two handed sword around in an arc. The blade digs into his armour deep, but I don’t have the strength to pierce the plates. He turns, bashing me away with his shield, but in doing so he turns his back on Argrok who shatters the human’s spine with a powerful backwards swing of his mace.

I turn to Elise and the priest, but see the priest’s body burning as Claude hurls fireballs him, his robes aflame as he stumbles about, screaming at the top of his lungs before eventually collapsing to the ground, dead.

“Come on Uruda. Back to Claude!” Argrok yells, starting to bound back to the mage who appears to be starting a teleportation spell to pull us out. I notice Elise out of the corner of my eye. She has taken out her bow, pulling an arrow from her quiver and taking aim at the mage. I get ready to charge. I can’t let her kill my only way out. I won’t be recaptured and put in chains by these human dogs. She may have been nice to me while I was in captivity, but that was her mistake.

Before I can charge, Uruda barrels into Elise, causing her to lose her shot and hop backwards to avoid the axe swing, though she doesn’t hop far enough and Uruda’s axe slams into her side, piercing the lightweight chain armour and carving deep into her body. Elise drops her bow and immediately buckles, gasping for breath as Uruda pulls her axe out and starts to run towards Claude as well. I watch as the broken human struggles to move, her blood mixing with the wet mud beneath her as she bleeds at an alarming rate. She has mere seconds to live.

I look to the others. Their focus is elsewhere, watching for enemy reinforcements as Claude continues to channel his spell. I look back to Elise as she starts to slow. Time seems to stand still as I come to a realisation; the Light is testing me. Testing my will, testing my resolve, testing my honour. This woman had, in truth, put her neck on the line to at least make what she believed were my final moments a bit more bearable. If the Alliance had known that her reports were a fabrication…

RIP Elise

I extend my hand to her, closing my eyes as I channel holy energy into the girl, closing the gaping axe wound in her side. She looks up, locking eyes with me. “Now we’re even,” I say in Thalassian as she collapses to the dirt as shock and blood loss take their toll. With the wound closed, she should live as long as she receives medical attention in the near future, but she will feel awful; worse than I felt as her wound was a lot nastier than mine.

I turn and run for the other three as I see reinforcements coming up the hill. It’s time for us to leave. “We’re all here. Let’s get out of this place!” I yell as I reach Claude, putting a hand up to conjure a barrier of holy energy around us. I won’t have a stray spell or arrow stop us now.

Claude finishes his incantation and we are pulled through the nether, appearing on the dusty planes of Durotar, just outside of Orgrimmar. I collapse to my knees, exhausted but happy to be back in safe lands.

“Can you walk to Orgrimmar, or are you elves so fragile that I need to carry you?” Argrok asks with a big, toothy grin.

“I will be fine to walk, Argrok,” I answer, grinning right back and climbing to my feet. I look at the Alliance officer’s sword before offering it to Uruda. “Hey, you want this as a trophy? I believe he was the commander of that camp.”

Uruda smiled and nodded. “He was my kill, after all. First we show it to our employer, then Argrok buys our drinks for losing my bet,” she says with a chuckle, looking straight to Argrok.

I start to laugh as we begin our short walk to Orgrimmar. Despite losing my weapons, armour and holy symbol, my first combat job in years was a success. I grab the necklace my mother gave to me, partially to ensure that it is still there. Mother is alive and working with the Alliance. She has taken on a human girl as her new daughter. I must find her. I have so many questions to ask her, but if it comes down to it could I really fight her now? Now that I know what kind of a monster Father is.

It seems the Holy Light has more trials for me in the years to come. I will not waver.

< Part 2

Bonds of Family, part 2

That’s why I’m leaving, sister,” Anatheia says as she turned to face me for what felt like the first time during the entire conversation. I can tell she’s upset, that she’s holding back the tears as she speaks.

Father won’t allow it, Ana. You’re the oldest child with a gift for the arcane, you know he has plans for you to take over as head of the house. Besides, what will you tell Vel?” I reply, a firm tone to my voice despite my little sister’s current state of mind. I don’t want her to leave and I always was the more assertive of us three girls.

I don’t care what father wants. His training is smothering me and I feel I can do more good in Stormwind, rather than sitting safe up here in Quel’Thalas. Our allies need us; are we going to just sit up here safe behind our forests?”

I sigh. “No, of course not. But equally you need to think of the immediate ramifications of you leaving. How do you think Father will react? You know what he’s like.”

He’s the main reason I’m leaving. It’s decided; I leave tomorrow and my bags are already packed.”

Please reconsider. You’re going to tear the family apart over this.”

Anatheia’s expression shifted to one of anger. She tensed up, storming up to me. Is she going to punch me? No, I’ve been here before…

You wouldn’t know, Lara! You don’t know the training he puts me through. You haven’t seen what I’ve seen; how dare you assume to know what drives this decision!” she says, shoving me back. I’m shocked, mouth agape at my little sister’s sudden outburst. I look back to her to see the tears streaming down her cheeks.

Then why don’t you tell me, Ana? I want to help, but I can’t if you’re going to act this way!” I answer, keeping my posture non-threatening. I may be the stronger and faster of the two of us, but in her current state of mind I would not want to push her buttons any more than I apparently already have. She’s either overreacting and she’s unstable, ready to start throwing spells at the drop of a hat, or she has seen something that has changed her life for the worse.

I-… I can’t,” she replies, stepping back again and looking at the ground. She appears to have regained some control over her emotions at least.

Why not? I’m not against you, I just want to find a resolution to this that keeps us together as a family.”

I just can’t, okay.” She looks up at me, sniffing and carefully wiping her eyes. “Good bye, Lara.”

I take a step forwards and reach out to pull her into a warm hug, but she disappears from where she stood, appearing outside the room before rushing off. I chase after her, but when I get to my bedroom door, she is gone.

I wake up to the feeling of raindrops on my skin. It has only just started, as I am still dry for the most part. I feel awful. There’s a sharp pain in my stomach and a dull headache pounds within my skull. I move to get up, but my hands are chained behind my back. I turn over slowly to see a chain connecting me with a hitching post and a couple of horses about five metres away; a fresh pile of horse excrement lies far too close for comfort and I roll away from it a little. There isn’t too much slack in my chains, but enough to get me away from the horse droppings. My armour is missing, as well as my weapon and holy symbol. My necklace remains tucked beneath my clothing, my mother’s family crest; her final gift to me after Anatheia and I renounced our heritage on our father’s side, gave up our titles and claim to land and decided to live with the surname of a traitor instead of a madman. I lie there on my back, wearing just my underwear, a thin tunic, thin trousers and a pair of socks, closing my eyes and asking the Holy Light to guide me. It’s cold and the rain isn’t doing me any favours, starting to get heavier and soak me through. I have no access to a mirror, but I imagine I must look like hell right now.

A few minutes pass before I hear footsteps approaching. They aren’t the heavy plated boots of an Alliance soldier and for a moment I assume the best. Perhaps it’s a fellow Horde soldier here to free me? Maybe I have concussion as I see a woman round the nearby tent and walk over. She’s human, with long blonde hair worn loose beneath a blue hood and blue, lightweight chain armour covered by the tabard of Stormwind. I lock eyes with her and refuse to look away. She walks past me and grabs the chains by the hitching post, crouching down and undoing the lock. She stands, holding the chains and wrapping them around her wrist, while pulling out a simple shortsword with her free hand. She makes her way over to me and places her chained hand on the back of my neck, pushing me forwards. I stumble a few steps, but come to a halt, staring at her over my shoulder.

“Move it,” she says calmly, poking me in the back with her shortsword. I oblige, curious where this will take me. Perhaps she is my executioner. Perhaps she is going to question me. Either way, I would like to get out of this downpour.

She takes me to the far tent and pushes me in, following shortly after.

“Sit,” she says, gesturing at the chair. I feign ignorance, turning to stare at her again and pretending I don’t understand Common.

She rolls her eyes, grabs me by the scruff of the neck and shoves me down onto the wooden chair in the centre of the tent. She then walks to the corner and affixes the chain to the piton keeping the tent in the ground. I wonder if I could pull hard enough and bring this tent down on us? It wouldn’t be especially dangerous, but it would probably get me killed so I hold off for now. I am still curious to see where this goes. Inside the tent, apart from the wooden chair I sit on, is what looks like a hastily set up makeshift desk and another chair. These Alliance soldiers probably weren’t expecting to keep prisoners, hence the very makeshift interrogation set up. Amateurs.

The woman sits opposite me. “So, you have a name, Elf?” she asks in Common.

I still pretend I do not understand.

“Don’t pretend. I know almost all of your kind understands Common, unless you’re a ten year old child which I am quite confident you aren’t.”

I still don’t respond.

The woman sighs, rolling her eyes. She stands up, picking up the chair and moving within spitting range. Wonderful; I can spit in this woman’s face as my final act of defiance if it goes that way. However, what happens next takes me by complete surprise. The woman lowers her voice.

“Fine. Let me extend you the courtesy of communicating in your own language,” she says quietly in perfect Thalassian; even her accent is on point with any well-spoken blood elf. I find myself staring in shock at the woman, as it’s a rarity to find a human who speaks our language.

“Where did you learn?” I ask, narrowing my eyes.

“No, no, that’s not how this works. I asked the first question, so I will be more than happy to answer once you have answered mine.”

I smirk. “Laralla.”

“And your family name?”

“That’s not how it works. I answered yours, so now you answer mine,” I respond with a grin. If this is going to lead to execution, I would rather just get it over with.

The woman cracks a smile, nodding. “Fair enough, Laralla. I learned from one of your kin who you cast out for refusing to resort to fel magics to feed their addictions. Now, surname?”

I nod. “Dawnsinger.”

The woman blinks at me, staring for a moment.

“What? Did I get dessert on my nose?” I ask, grinning.

“No. Now, what were you trying to achieve here? Four of you against a camp this close to Refuge Pointe?”

“I think it’s my turn to ask,” I say with a grin.

The woman shakes her head. “No. You asked if you had dessert on your nose. I happily answered that question, so now it’s back to me,” she answers with a smug grin on her face. I can’t help but smirk at her style.

“Bitch.”

“Guilty as charged. Now, my question please.”

“Simple. I was hired to kick your pampered baby squad back over the Thandol Span.”

“So you’re not official military?”

“Nope. Anyway, that’s two you owe me now, so firstly, what’s the name of the Quel’dorei who taught you our language? I’d like to know so I can pay them a visit later.”

The woman hesitated, before smirking again. “Arinella Dawnsinger. You look just like her.”

No. I refuse to accept it. Arinella Dawnsinger? That’s the same name as my mother. The mother who tried to kill my father and then fled. I thought she was dead; she had to flee through Scourge controlled lands shortly after they destroyed the Sunwell. “She’s alive?”

“From your reaction I would say my hunch was right. She is alive and well, yes. I take it you are related? The family resemblance is there.”

I narrow my eyes at the human woman. “She’s my mother. She tried to kill my father and then fled.”

“From what I’ve heard, your father is a bit of a nut-case,” the woman replied, her tone very to the point.

“You couldn’t possibly understand. Anyway, why are you asking me these questions? Aren’t you going to interrogate me for military intelligence and then take me out back and execute me?” I ask, spitting on the ground.

“Because normally I would relish in conducting an interrogation with a Sin’dorei. I hate your people.”

“But this time’s different because you know my mother, right?” I ask, rolling my eyes. “Please, spare me your f-…”

“This time’s different because this particular Sin’dorei is my sister by adoption. Arinella adopted me as a war orphan. I may hate your people, but family is important to me.”

“Then how about you let me go?” I ask, rustling the chains slightly.

“I can’t. You murdered Alliance soldiers and sister or not, you have to face justice for your actions.”

“So where do we go from here?”

“I-… I’m going to say I got everything I could from you. That you have no intel to give and the strike was orchestrated by independent agents. Your fate is in the hands of the Alliance military and that of the Holy Light.”

The woman turns away, her tough exterior melting away. I can tell she’s conflicted with the situation and not an official member of the Alliance military. A contractor? Perhaps something I can use to my advantage.

“Your name, human? I’d like to know the name of my new adoptive sister before I meet the Holy Light,” I ask, softening my voice. If I’m going to get out of here, she’s my way out, so I need her on side.

The human woman turns to look at me, the conflict clear on her face. She takes a deep breath and regains her composure. “Elise Dawnsinger.”

I open my mouth to speak, but Elise rushes out of the tent, leaving me alone, but still restrained.

At least it’s dry in here.

< Part 1 | Part 3 >

Bonds of Family, part 1

As a preface to this, I will say that I have written and rewritten this three times. I just couldn’t get it right! I still don’t think it’s perfect, but it’s by far the best attempt I’ve had at it. So, I present to you, the first piece of Warcraft based fiction I have written in probably around seven years; last time I wrote any Warcraft stuff I was visiting parents during my university holidays. All names are random and not meant to represent any other characters that aren’t mine. It may be the Warcraft universe, but I still prefer to create my own characters.


It had been a while since I had seen active duty for the Horde. I tried moving into the civilian workforce after the Sunwell was liberated, but I was hounded by ghosts of my past; thoughts of guilt ate at my mind every day for what we, the Blood Knights, did to that poor Naaru. We faltered in our faith and the Naaru paid for it. I tried to take to life as a priest, I tried to take up the blacksmithing trade. Neither were difficult, my previous experience with the Holy Light and my responsibility as a Blood Knight meant I had an affinity for both of them, but I didn’t feel like I was on a path where I could atone for what I did. I kept my body in shape with daily exercise and a training regimen I used to abide by when I was an active Blood Knight, so donning my armour and picking up my spear was no strange experience, even after all these years.

Now here I stand, the Arathi Highlands. Reports indicated that the Alliance has used the conflict with the Legion to push advanced scouting parties closer to our borders and we had been hired to attack one of their camps. We will be outnumbered, but we will have the element of surprise if we play our cards right. The team is comprised of myself, a paladin of the Light, Claude, a forsaken spellcaster, as well as Argrok and Uruda, a pair of Orc warriors. I haven’t known them for very long, but it’s clear there is history between Argrok and Uruda, perhaps even a romantic history with the way they interact, though I am not an expert on Orc culture. Perhaps that’s something to ask my little sister about; her position as a diplomat means she has spent far more time around them than I have.

Watching

I can see the target in the distance. Four tents, with no more than four soldiers in each, meaning at maximum we will be facing sixteen Alliance soldiers. However, I have only counted ten so far, though the others could be asleep. I hear footsteps behind me.

“Is that the camp?” Argrok asks, cresting the small mound I had placed myself on to observe the Alliance forces. Argrok takes a knee next to me, observing the soldiers’ movements.

“It is. We wait for their next patrol to leave and then we strike,” I answer, not taking my eyes off the troops.

“Why not just attack now? Those Alliance dogs can’t stand up to us. They’re cowards,” Argrok says with a grin.

I turn to lock eyes with him, a seriousness piercing the calmness of the Highlands ambience. “Do not underestimate them, Argrok. By my count they could outnumber us four to one, and while they are cowards, they aren’t necessarily poor fighters.”

“Maybe by your standards.”

“I won’t argue the point, Argrok. We attack when the next patrol leaves.”

I turn to watch the camp again, hearing a grunt from the Orc as he gets up and walks off to the rest of the group. I wasn’t used to dealing with Orcs, as when I was a Blood Knight I was surrounded by my own people. We are very different when compared to the rest of the Horde and I can see why my little sister feels like we don’t belong, however this is the hand fate has delivered us and unity with the Horde is what we need to survive after the Alliance stabbed us in the back. I find myself lost in thought, considering what could have been if the Alliance hadn’t betrayed us, if we were still a part of the Alliance. That could be me down there in that camp, about to be attacked by a group of Horde soldiers. Also, I had friends in the Alliance military when we were still a part of it, so those people down there could be former friends.

“Hey, shiny,” Claude says with his usual neutral tone, “what are you doing?”

“What do you mean? I’m watching,” I respond, turning to look at the forsaken.

“Then you’ve noticed Argrok and Uruda heading for the camp talking about, what was it? The one who kills less buys the drinks?” he answers with a dry, sarcastic tone. I immediately turn, looking down to see the two Orcs approaching the Alliance camp. We cannot let them attack by themselves as they will be overwhelmed by the Alliance forces.

“Oh for the love of all that’s holy… We need to get down there and help them or they’re going to die,” I say, turning and making my way off the small mound, brushing past Claude who simply chuckles.

“We could always leave them to their fate. It’s their own fault and if they really want to die, who are we to stop them?”

I turn to face Claude, anger burning in my eyes. They may be stubborn and of questionable intelligence, but they’re our allies. “No. We support them. If we are under threat of being overrun, you pull us out of there.”

“Fine, but we will need to move quickly. The Orcs will not wait for us.”

I rush down the side of the hill, keeping out of line of sight of the camp as I dash after the two Orcs, trying my best to catch up with them. Then I hear it.

“The Horde are here! All forces to the east!” I hear someone shout out, followed by the sounds of combat. The pair of Orcs had already attacked. I discard all thoughts of moving stealthily and charge straight for the camp, spear at the ready. I crest the edge of the steep incline leading down to the Alliance camp, almost sliding down the dirt. As I drop down, I see the two Orcs surrounded by Alliance soldiers. They’re fending them off, but they’re going to get cut to pieces at this rate. I grasp my symbol of the Holy Light, holding my spear with one hand and muttering a quiet prayer as I reach the ground and charge at the Alliance soldiers who have surrounded the two Orcs. As Uruda takes a heavy sword blow to her abdomen, her wound immediately glows with holy energy and seals itself. I will not let my comrades die while I still draw breath.

“Someone deal with the elf!” one of the humans shouts, noticing my contribution to the current fight before Uruda plants her axe through his helmet, crumpling the metal inwards. Claude has taken up position on the ridge and starts raining fire down on the Alliance camp. The hit was going okay, considering Argrok and Uruda has screwed up the planned alpha strike. Then I notice how badly outnumbered we are. Fourteen against four were not odds that I felt comfortable with. I grip my spear in both hands and charge the formation around the Orcs, thrusting my spear into the back of the nearest Alliance soldier. He arches his back and collapses to the floor as I withdraw my spear, turning to parry the sword of another soldier.

Another soldier stabs Argrok in his side, causing him to double over in pain. He brings his mace down on the head of the soldier who stabbed him, crushing the human’s head in a single hit, but he falls shortly after. Uruda rushes to his side, defending him as more of the Alliance soldiers encircle the two Orcs while a four of them keep me preoccupied.

“Claude! Get down to Argrok and Uruda and get ready to pull them out!” I yell as one of the Alliance soldiers slashes across my back. My armour takes the brunt of the hit, but I stumble forwards from the impact. If we stay here, we’re all going to die.

“I’d rather not get chopped to pieces!” Claude yells back. I barely hear him over the sounds of battle and my concentration in fending off four soldiers.

“Just do it. I’ve got you covered!” I call back, parrying two of the Alliance swords with my spear. However, one of the Alliance soldiers slips underneath my guard, driving his sword straight into my gut. I cough blood and grit my teeth, my vision wavers as I notice Claude appear in the midst of the melee. I extend my free hand in his direction, muttering another prayer to the Light and enveloping the three of them in a shield of holy energy. Perhaps this is what I was searching for. Perhaps I have been seeking redemption through my own death. It would be a fitting end, considering all I have done, the atrocities I committed.

My vision grows foggy as I see the golden glow of the shield disappear in a flash of arcane energy. Claude teleported them out. My job is complete. I smile through the intense pain in my gut as the Alliance soldier removes his blade. I keep hold of my spear, but drop to my knees as my legs lose all strength. I don’t have the energy to stand. I feel drained. Like hell am I about to let some Alliance filth kill me off without a fight. I press my free hand to my gut, feeling where the sword pierced through my armour. My blood pours from the wound and my hand shakes as I channel holy energies into the wound, sealing it up. I still feel fatigued, having lost a lot of blood and my head spins, but I am at least no longer at risk of bleeding out. I struggle to my feet, my legs barely able to keep me up. I ready my spear and look for the nearest target.

“Oh bloody hell, nobody finished the paladin?”

“Take her alive. She can barely stand and may be more useful to us alive.”

I swing at the nearest soldier, but he catches my spear on his shield and shoves me backwards. I stumble, barely able to keep my footing before I feel a pommel strike me in the face, sending me crashing to the ground. I lose grip on my spear as I hit the dirt, knocked flat on my back. The sky is blurred and spinning, darkness creeping into my vision. I’d rather die than be taken alive by these treacherous snakes. I roll onto my stomach and try to push myself up, but my arms have no power. I can’t push myself up. Then I feel a hand grab my hair, an armoured gauntlet pulling me to my knees and another pressing a dagger to my throat. I stare at a blurry form in front of me, a figure in blue armour.

“Wait, who the hell is this?” a female voice asks as I lose consciousness, the darkness finally overtaking my vision.

Part 2 >

A Romantic Evening

((This was something I did to explain what my character was doing in her downtime on Valentine’s Day in the Cyberpunk 2020 RPG campaign I am currently a part of. I play a very corporate mother of two))

I step out into the medical district, new waterproof cybernetics ready and raring to go. The air is thick with smog, even here in the medical district, the pollution filling my lungs as soon as I dare to draw breath in this city. It’s early afternoon, nearing two o’clock, and I haven’t eaten since I took the twins to school this morning. I hop on the next bus to the New Harbour Area and grab myself a quick bite to eat, a ready to eat meal; I’ve given up kibble since the graduation and have started buying better for the family too. Since EBM sent us over here, life has been really shitty. Compared to France, America is a real shit hole. No style, no sophistication and no appreciation of talent.

That being said, that gutter-punk who keeps my baby girl awake and jacked in to the Net has the wrong kind of appreciation for talent. H4lf_J4ck, I think his handle is; some cowboy from Northside. He has no idea what he’s fucking with, and I bet he didn’t even notice the trace I put on his connection or the tap on his messages between my daughter and himself. If I have to give the kid a scare, I will. Infect his deck with some mad virus; no black ICE, I don’t want to flatline the little shit, but enough to keep him away from my daughter. Amandine needs to be kept in check too, come to think about it; constantly out late at night with the punks of Upper Eastside. Both of my girls have pistols and have been trained in the proper and safe methods of using them, I made sure of that personally, but it’s a mother’s job to worry about her children. Night City is not safe at night, there are occurrences that even I would not walk away from in the streets and I wish that my two girls wouldn’t court with disaster so much.

I finish my lunch and take a quick detour through the Mallplex. I recently got paid and waterproofing my sockets was cheaper than I originally thought, so I have some disposable income to treat myself with. I still need to buy a wetsuit, some extra bullets and a few other bits and pieces, but that shouldn’t come to much either. I reckon I’ve earned myself some new clothing. As I make my first circuit through the Mallplex I take out my phone, dialling Julien. He’ll still be at work, but considering he’s an office drone and not some covert corporate operative like me he should be able to answer at work. I call him on his personal number.

“Salut, ma chérie?” Julien answers, though I can hear in his voice that he’s keeping the tone quiet. Perhaps his manager is close. A shame, but I will be brief.

“Salut Julien! Are you free this evening? I’d like to go somewhere nice with you before my next job pops up,” I reply, lips curling into a smile as I pass by a really nice coat. I make a mental note to try it on later.

“Ah, yes. That would be great, but I cannot speak right now. Manager is doing performance reviews so I need to be on point!” Julien responds hurriedly, causing me to chuckle quietly.

“Okay. I’ll speak with you later. Kisses.”

“I love you too,” he responds before I put the phone down. Time for some serious shopping.

I eventually make it out at 6pm, another message from Amandine to say that she won’t be home until late, as usual, and one from Isabelle saying the same sort of thing, on my phone as I wait at the bus stop. I keep the bullets hidden, along with the other ‘abnormal’ items, out of sight, only my various bags of high fashion and business clothing on show as I make my way onto the bus back to Upper Eastside, the area where my small, grimy little apartment is situated. Hopefully by the end of the month I won’t have to put up with this crap any more and I can relocate the family to the Corporate Zone. That’s why I do what I do. That’s why I put myself in danger.

I step off the bus and start to make my way home. I cut through an alleyway to get home quicker, as I would like a good amount of time to make myself look my best for the night. As if right on cue, a pair of street punks step out from behind a dumpster. One is armed with a jagged looking switchblade, the other with some sort of heavy pistol.

“Okay lady, we’re going to need to relieve you of your money and all your belongings,” one of them says, a faint sense of giddiness in his tone as he aims his pistol in my direction.

“We caught a good one this time. She looks like she’s got a lot of money,” the other whispered, thinking that I couldn’t hear him. Amateurs.

“Okay, okay. Please don’t hurt me,” I beg in heavily accented English, dropping my shopping to the ground.

“And your purse. Come on, we don’t have all day!”

“Alright, alright. Let me get it for you,” I answer, still with the same panicked expression and tone. I momentarily glance at them. They’re buying the act. Not just amateurs, but morons too. I reach inside my jacket and my combat senses flair to life. Before the two punks can react, I’ve brought my pistol out and around, aiming along the barrel to the pistol wielding one’s chest. Two shots from my silenced HK P9S sends the gin-totting one to the ground as the second one jabs his switchblade towards my gut. I sidestep the thrust, grabbing his wrist and disarming him of his weapon in a brief second. He tries to grab my gun, but I force him to the ground before he can get anywhere near, placing one shot clean through his head as I hold him pinned against the floor. I quickly holster my pistol, scoop up my shopping and make my way out of the alley before anyone can come looking.

“Bon soir,” I say with a smile as I push my way through the front door. Julien is doing some cleaning up, having taken off his suit jacket and tie.

“Bon soir. I see someone has been busy,” Julien replies, turning to me with a wide smile on his face.

“Last job paid fairly well. Saving most of it, but I figured I deserved a little treat.”

“Little?” Julien asks, eyeing my shopping bags.

“It’s all relative,” I answer playfully as he moves closer, planting a gentle kiss on my lips. I trace a finger down his chest. “Miss me?”

“Always. You’re away way more often than I’d like. What’s so important to keep you away from me and our children?”

“You know I can’t tell you. Just trust me, we’ll be better for it in the long run,” I answer, pulling him into a hug.

“I do… Anyway, you should start getting ready. We have a table booked, remember? Even if you refuse to tell me where.”

I grin, quickly plant a kiss on his cheek and weave my way past him. “I know. I’m the one who booked it,” I respond, sending a quick wink his way before getting myself ready for the evening. I sometimes wonder if there are any other netrunners like myself; not from a covert corporate operative standpoint, but from a ‘I am one hell of a charismatic son of a bitch, about to spend the night with my husband, having a romantic meal, worrying about my daughters getting involved with street trash’ angle.

We leave the apartment at about 7:30pm. I drive, as Julien has no idea where we are headed, and I wanted to keep the surprise for as long as possible. On the car journey he asks where we’re heading, but I refuse to tell him. He’s persistent, but I’m an expert on leading people on; for better or worse it’s a talent that I have. I can be a terrible wife sometimes.

We arrive at the restaurant, a fancy place in Charter Hill. We’re far from the only couple and I recognise two others from EBM with their respective partners. We chat, he asks about my next job, I tell him that it’s better that he doesn’t know, as usual. The food is great, especially considering we have been living off of kibble for the past year or so and neither EBM worker comes over to say hello; a blessing in disguise, really. We take a walk around Charter Hill after the meal.

“You say you’re going to be away for a while?” Julien asks me as we round the corner.

“Yes. It’s due to work. You know how it is,” I answer, semi-honestly at least. He turns to me.

“I’m worried. About you and our two girls,” he says suddenly, the worry evident in his features.

“Why?”

“Your work is obviously dangerous, and the girls are always up late.”

I raise an eyebrow. “They’re fifteen, coming up sixteen, Julien. The fact that they’re still in school is a miracle over here in America.”

“It shouldn’t be. Why are we even here? You seem to know more about the situation than me, despite my position in the company.” Of course, Julien out-ranks me within EBM’s corporate structure, but it’s my job to know things.

“The company wants us here. That’s why. I don’t know either, but it’s clear that they don’t want us to know. We don’t need to know, we’re disposable assets to them.”

“I’m sorry,” Julien starts, “but what of the girls? This is a crucial time for them and they need their mother around.”

“This is only temporary, trust me.” I lean in and pull him into a hug. “I hate being away from you and the girls as much as you do. Every time I leave, it hurts more than anything else, but I do it for our future. I don’t want my family to live in some crappy place in a crappy part of town eating crappy food, where every day brings danger in the form of muggers.”

A scratching sound. Speak of the devil. I turn towards the origin of the sound.

“Huh?” Julien looks at me, his worry turning into a look of perplexity, before one of horror as a group of gangers emerge from the alley to our left. My eyes are immediately scanning the environment, looking for the best cover, the best position for me to pull out my pistol and fill these guys with holes.

“All right lovebirds, you’re going to give us your valuables and we’re going to walk away,” the lead gangster almost snarls. A large scar runs down his face, a ravine amongst a desolate wasteland, his skin is cracked and his face malformed. It looks like a really bad attempt at cosmetic surgery. He turns his attention to me and grins. “Well, we might take her with us too.”

Julien steps in front of me. “I don’t think so. You’re going to walk away before I’m forced to do something we’ll both regret.”

The gangsters burst out laughing and I roll my eyes. He’s a corporate worker, so he has to deal with danger and be ready to defend himself but this is not his battlefield. “You against us five? You really think you’re capable of that?”

“You have no idea,” he replies, his voice a rehearsed, smooth tone that seems to unnerve some of the other gangsters in the wings.

“You’ve got balls, drone, I’ll give you that. Maybe I’ll remove them,” he threatens, brandishing a jagged machete. He turns his attention back to me. “Come on sweetheart, I’ll show you what a real man’s balls are like.”

His friends laugh again. I’ve had enough of this shit. I can see that my husband is about to start shooting, having a concealed pistol inside his suit jacket. I can see the gangsters preparing their weapons; one has a chain, the leader has a machete and what looks like a machine pistol at his hip, two have pistols and one has a pair of switchblades.

Once again, my combat instincts kick in. I reach into my suit jacket and pull out my HK P9S, picking out the rifle wielding ganger and firing at him as I dive behind cover. Gunfire erupts from the gangsters, but I can see that Julien has done the same as me, hunkering down behind a wall. I hear the leader shout something at the remaining three, the rifleman now a bloody mess on the floor of the alley. They appear to open fire on Julien, keeping his head down as the gang leader and the one with the switchblades advance on me, the leader firing his machine pistol into the dumpster that I’m hiding behind, keeping me suppressed as well. I wait for the two to emerge and, surely enough, the switchblade wielding gangster emerging first. I grab him and flip him over, throwing him to the ground with a hard thump.

“You’re going to pay, bitch!” the leader yells as he comes as me from behind, grabbing one of my arms and forcing me against the dumpster. I look over to see Julien dispatching one of the two with guns, but the other keeps him busy for the moment. The gangster pushes on my arm again, threatening to dislocate it at the elbow and sending my pistol to the floor. The switchblade wielding gangster makes a grab for my gun, but I hook it with my foot, dragging it away from him before he can pick it up. The gang leader pulls me around and hits me in the face, but my skinweave absorbs most of the blow. I recoil from the hit as he pulls around his machine pistol. I hear the click as he readies the weapon, shortly before unloading a full clip into my stomach, knocking the wind out of me. I fall to the ground to see Julien dispatching the other gang member, turning his attention to me at the sound of the gunfire. A grin, almost proud as he calmly reloads his pistol, drops to one knee and fires through, killing both gang members that were attacking me; he didn’t allow himself to get all emotional until after the fight was over. What a champ.

“Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God…” he mumbles as he sprints over to me. I can see that his suit took some bullets, but he doesn’t appear to be bleeding. I give him a thumbs up as he kneels beside me; I’m not bleeding either.

“You’re not the only one who dresses practically,” I say through deep breathing, filling my lungs with air once again. Julien stares at me, puzzled once again before drawing me into a tight hug, so tight that he threatens to wind me once again.

“I thought that was it. I thought you were dead. I heard the gunfire and…”

“Settle down, you’re going to suffocate me,” I mutter, catching my breath once more as he releases me from his grip. “And don’t worry about the girls. Who do you think taught them about fashion, and the importance of spending a bit extra for protective, but good looking clothing.”

Julien picked up my pistol and handed it to me. “You’re security, aren’t you?” he asks as he hands my silenced HK P9S back, laser sight still blinking. I turn off the laser sight and re-holster it beneath my suit jacket.

“Yeah,” I reply. A half truth.

“You could’ve just told me.”

“I didn’t want you to worry.” I look around, getting up to my feet with Julien’s help. “We can have this discussion another time. Cops will be here any minute, and I’d rather spend the rest of Valentine’s Day with you, rather than some angry police officer.

He nods and we leave the scene, getting back to the car. He drives this time, taking us home as soon as possible. Fortunately, police response times tonight are not exactly jaw-dropping and we get away from the scene with no repercussions. When we get home, the girls are absent, as usual. I slip out of my suit jacket, kick off my shoes and walk over to the bed, collapsing on it.

“Nothing like a brush with death to get the blood pumping,” I say with a smile. The adrenaline rush has ended and I find myself rather exhausted. “But also exhausting.”

Julien sits on the other side, before suddenly rolling over, his arms either side of me with a wide grin on his face. “I hope not too exhausting.” He leans in to kiss me, his hand running up the side of my body to the buttons on my shirt. A wave of heat rises through me, flushing my cheeks with red.

“Not too exhausting,” I reply with a grin.

I don’t get much sleep that night. The girls don’t even wake us when they sneak in during the early hours of the morning.

Running Away

I was asked by the GM of the Cyberpunk 2020 game I’m a part of to write a “what has Alessandra done since last session,” thing for some closure. Essentially, Alessandra Moretti was my Netrunner that I’ve been playing, but she’s decided that being a low life scum isn’t for her and has (re)joined the glorious corporate master race. I thought I’d put it up here.

My next character is also a member of the glorious corporate master race, but she’s better suited to working with criminal scum. She’s the driver/pilot for a very professional corporate security team 😉


Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Fuck. Shit.

Expletives are all that seem to rush through my mind as I leave the hospital. Seeing Vibora in the hospital, all hooked up and totally incapacitated was just too much; I thought he was joking, trying to raise my spirits as he always tried. I thought I’d turn up to see him fine, maybe with just a scratch. He always seemed to shrug off the worst the Combat Zone threw at us.

Then there was me. Always hiding. Always with my tail between my legs. I tried so hard to help. I tried so hard to be useful, to not be a burden. Maybe I’m right. Maybe I am not cut out for this world. This world, this line of work, will eat me up and spit me out. I don’t want to die in a ditch, bleeding because some punk decides that they feel like attacking me. Then there’s Calm Boi. Now there is a person who isn’t likely to win any awards for being a good employer. The pay for the jobs was trash, I was expected to do jobs way, way out of my area of expertise; I mean, come on, professional make up and hair? Managing a spoiled little brat and her spoiled little brat friends? How many netrunners have to deal with that shit? My sister said I was free, but she’s wrong. I am just bound by different shackles. Shackles made of some shitty, jagged metal. Calm Boi promises the world, but ends up trying to kill us.

Fuck. That. I want my shackles to be comfortable, maybe with fur lining. All these “free” people, preaching their anti-corporate bullshit are just immature. This is the way the world works, the way the game is played. You play by the rules, you play well; trying to bend or break the rules will just get you disqualified, fatally, but playing well nets you vast gains.

I reach my apartment building and make my way upstairs. It’s late, I’m tired, I’ll think more tomorrow. I get undressed, glancing over at the clothing that I was going to throw in the trash. I had almost forgotten about that whole episode. Having to dive into a pile of garbage to get away from a seriously fucked up situation, and Douma didn’t even give a shit to see if I was okay. Asshole. I eventually fall asleep, windows open, in nothing but my underwear. Night City is perpetually hot at this time of year.

The following morning, I catch up on the news and get dressed. I call the number that my sister provided and somehow manage to get an interview; maybe the tech team was already recruiting, or maybe my family name carries more weight than it perhaps should. I don’t really give a crap about the reasoning, I just want in to the corporate world. I was a complete fool to try and run from it, my life has been nothing but misery and fucked up situations since I left the comfortable life. Anyway, I have things to do today. I head to the mall. It’s time to go suit shopping.

I spend most of the morning walking around the shops, eventually picking out a smart, black suit, some shirts, blouses, smart shoes, the whole ensemble. Running around as a low life, I never really needed such clothing, but in the corporate world, the real world, I understand the importance of appearances better than anyone. It fits snug, keeping my curves noticeable but definitely rocking the “smart, businesslike” appearance. I grab lunch and my mind wanders. I wonder how the guys are doing. I wonder if I’m even missed. Not likely, with how useless I was. I don’t know, I’d hope to be missed by Vibora, but I don’t reckon Douma will give a shit. From this point on, Null_Point goes back to how she always used to be: a ghost who exists solely in the matrix.

A few days later, the interview goes well. They want to know of my skills and I show them what I’ve done. The cityscape I programmed seems to interest them, so perhaps a future in VR production is going to find me. I spend what feels like hours gliding through cyberspace, showing off a little bit here and there, a grim determination driving me to some of the best acts of computer manipulation I’ve ever done. In meatspace, I maintain a professional appearance, bringing back memories of my mother and father; how they raised me and my siblings to be the perfect corporate workers.

Such lessons prove incredibly useful as it takes a monumental effort to not baulk at how shitty a human being I’ve been. We were a happy family, strict but happy. My parents forged us into individuals with all the skills needed to not only survive, but excel in the corporate world and I ran away like a spoiled child. I gave such a bad example to my younger siblings, an irresponsible child squandering her future on notions of freedom. Yeah, if that’s freedom, I don’t want any part of it. I’d rather be comfortable and shackled in the corporate world than… well, uncomfortable, at risk of being mugged when I step out of my door and still shackled, but “free.”

A few days later I get a call to say that I got the job. Cybersecurity and programming are going to be my life from here on out. Null_Point becomes a ghost, Alessandra Moretti starts her journey up the corporate ladder. Not only that, but I burned a lot of bridges in my immaturity; bridges that are going to need to be rebuilt between myself and my family. I hope Vibora’s doing okay. I hope he doesn’t hate me for running away what seems like again, but it’s time to stop running; I’m just not built for that world.

Yeah, I’m going to wipe the floor with the competition with the variety of skills I’ve been expected to have as part of my previous job. I start next week, but in the meantime I have another move to organise. At least I don’t have that much stuff…

Asuka Tries To Do What Is Right

A quick note on this. Yes, it is highly biased because it’s from a certain character’s point of view. A certain character who is directly opposed to the rest of the party on a particular matter. It was from a Stars Without Number session in a campaign that I am a part of that I decided to turn into a brief piece of narrative. Essentially, we have a rat-man who is worth a lot of money welded to the ground. I play a doctor who thinks that his treatment is really inhumane and has been trying to hatch a plan to make it right. Then we get attacked by a guy who wants the rat-man and Asuka, my character, has to improvise with a far from perfect situation. Both plans were basically a betrayal of the party, but not in the sense that she’d kill everyone, but more in the sense that everyone else wants to sell him for large amounts of money and Asuka just wants to do what’s right in her eyes. This does not tide over well with the rest of the group when they find out about plan B. (They never found out about plan A).


Boom! Boom!

I struggle to keep my balance as the ship is hit by two more missiles. I can see on the holographic screen that the turret is a flaming wreck by this point. I hope Kiril got out okay; he may be a psychopath, but he is also a member of this crew. I make a mental note to sit down with him and get a proper diagnostic on his mental state at a later time, but time is not something that we currently have. The Ige-gumi helicopter starts to hover above the ship, armed men rappelling down along with the same man who came for Timmy before, a new cyberninja in tow.

There is no way I can prep these engines for take off in time. These armed men will be inside way before I can do anything useful here.

“I’m heading to the computer room. No way I can prep these engines in time,” I yell in English through the intercom as I pack up my tools and bolt down the corridor. I can see the movement outside the ship. They are getting into position. I can’t believe these idiots brought arguably the largest yakuza clan to our doorstep with an attack chopper. Why? Why couldn’t they have waited twenty four hours? I would’ve had Timmy out of here and in the care that he needs after what the crew has done to him. His mind is damaged beyond my counselling skills. He needs specialist help that I could’ve got him to. I had even planned on taking out a loan to cover the costs. It’s the least I could do now. I should’ve spoken up earlier.

But that plan has gone to hell. I will have to cancel the pick-up tonight. Why can’t these muscle-heads do anything right besides commit murder and inhumane atrocities? I get to the computer room and immediately try to hack into their comms. The security is there, but I easily overcome the obstacles and tap into their network. I hear them going over the plan. My God, they plan on blowing up the radiators once they’ve grabbed Timmy. That would cause the ship to explode and take the entire hangar with it. They want to kill us all, but it seems like they especially want John dead. Also, I get a name.

Reuben Jacobs.

I almost wish I hadn’t. Jacobs is big time in the Jewish mob, which explains why a yakuza clan would be working with a gaijin; he is obviously offering them something in return. Perhaps a share of the profits they’ll get from selling Timmy?

“Reuben Jacobs. We don’t have to do this,” I say into their comms network in English. I just hope that he is still amenable to reason after everything the crew have done.

“Oh?” he replies.

“That’s right. I am the ship’s doctor and I believe that we can come to an arrangement that doesn’t involve violence.”

“The rat-man. Give him to me and I’ll let you live. Hell, I’ll even give you the eight thousand that I promised your captain last time.”

“Done,” I say as I tap furiously at the computer keyboard, exploiting holes in the ship’s security to wrestle control of the doors.

“Nice job getting into our comms, by the way. I wasn’t expecting that,” Jacobs says as I open the ship airlock’s outer door.

“What can I say. I’m a woman of many talents,” I respond with a smile. “I want one of you to step into the airlock. Not you, Jacobs, and not the cyberninja. One of the others. I’ll release the rat-man into his custody and we can both go our separate ways.” I hear the thud of footsteps as John pokes his head into the computer room and asks me what I’m doing. I tell him what I am doing and instantly wish I had lied when he runs into the cargo bay.

“All right,” Jacobs says as he motions one of the yakuza into the airlock. I close the airlock door behind him and transfer comms to my compad, telling the man in the airlock how it’s going to go in Japanese to ensure he understands what I’m doing. I take my monokatana from my belt and leave it in the computer room before I run to the cargo bay and head over to where the rat man is welded to the floor. I fish around in my first aid kit and take out a tranquilliser, which I administer to the rat-man; I can’t risk him biting me while I work. Once he is sedated, I take out my toolkit and start cutting the rat-man loose. The whole scene makes my stomach turn every time I see it. Anything would be an improvement on this. We’re miles south of best case scenario right now, but at least I can save the lives of the crew in doing this.

As I work, John seems to have his own heated conversation with Jacobs as he points the humvee’s turret at the airlock doors.

“Change of plans. I’m going to bring the rat-man out myself. Tell your man to leave the airlock,” I say as I continue to release the rat man, re-opening the outer airlock door and re-iterating the change in plans in Japanese to the yakuza. Once he walks out, I shut the airlock door behind him.

“Hey, we’ve just been locked out here,” Jacobs says, suspicion prevalent in his voice.

“I have to ensure the safety of everyone. I will be out with the rat-man, don’t worry.”

That’s when I hear a click behind me.

“Asuka, if you don’t stop what you’re doing, I will shoot you. You’re getting between me and a pay day” John threatens as he points his spike thrower at my back. If I keep working, I have no doubt that he will pull the trigger. All over a pay day, of all things; he would shoot me over a sum of money, after all I’ve done on this ship, the hours I work. Morality and human decency on this ship are basically dead concepts.

Defeated, I stop what I am doing and pack up my things, leaving the job half done. I turn to John. “Then the deaths of the crew are on your hands, Mr. Mayhew,” I reply, though my tone is low. I make my way out of the cargo bay and transfer control of the doors back to the ship and the rest of the crew.

“Then I guess we do this the old fashioned way,” Jacobs says as he and the yakuza start to make their way around the front of the ship.

“I’m really sorry we couldn’t work this out, but the crew threatened to kill me if I continued. Can’t fulfil my side if I’m dead,” I say into their comms. I keep my link into their comm as I may need it should the crew fail to defeat these people. I slump down into the corner of the computer room and just let it all go. The stress, the emotional trauma, I let it all go, curling up and crying into my knees.

All this because I tried to do what was right. Well, at least I didn’t tell Summer of my plans, so she’s safe from John’s trigger finger should the crew make it out alive.

Character Genning Mood

So, I’m in a Cyberpunk 2020 game every week and, whilst the slightly over-the-top 80s style of it isn’t my exact cup of tea, I’m enjoying it thoroughly and I love my flirty Italian Netrunner so much (she got her first kill -ever- last session. It was a learning experience).

But in case she is hospitalised or killed (hopefully not!), I will need a back up character. So I thought to myself, what sort of character am I going to play…

Inspired from one of my own characters in my own cyberpunk setting, though with modifications to fit the Cyberpunk 2020 setting and rules, I decided that a possibility is that I may go for a burned corporate operative.

Note: I haven’t proof read this. It’s coming up 3am. I need to go to bed. Badly. It’s going to get light soon and I’m a light sleeper. This is bad on so many levels, but I had to at least finish!


Nobody is safe. A message comes through to my mobile phone, a contract. Corporate worker, supposedly leaked company secrets to a rival. I don’t fucking care, they tell me to ice this guy, I ice this guy. There are no questions, no arguments; this is just how the corporate world works.

Nobody is safe.

I pocket my phone inside my jacket pocket, I wear business attire, though my clothing is threaded with kevlar. My line of work is dangerous, though I must also keep a professional appearance in the office. Corporate security is no different in that regard. We all abide by the same dress code. Inside my jacket I feel the grooves of my heavy pistol. Colt. AMT Model 2000 with armour piercing bullets. There’s enough firepower tucked under my arm to dent even the heaviest personal armour; whoever this guy is, I could probably ice this guy through a solid wall.

I trawl through our databases and find this poor bastard’s address. He lives in an apartment in the corporate zone, the building is owned by us so getting into the block shouldn’t be a problem. There will be a maglock on his door, though it’s nothing I can’t crack. This is all routine by now; if all fails, I can probably blast my way in with this hand cannon I’m sporting.

I grab my motorcycle keys and make my way to the parking garage. It’s night by now, but my work often comes in after hours, so I am no stranger to it. I put on my helmet, start her up and drive towards the block where the target lives. I park up, take off my helmet and walk through the front door. The building security are expecting me and let me in. If this keeps up, I should get home in time to see my fiancé. With a grin on my face I make my way up to the target’s apartment and get to work on the keypad.

It doesn’t take long for me to crack it and I’m in. I open the door…

WHAM!

Something hits me in the face. Felt like a rifle butt. My training kicks in and I pull my pistol, firing two shots directly in front of me. Apparently whoever ambushed me wasn’t expecting that. I see the figure, heavily armoured, stagger backwards, one hole in his stomach and one in the middle of his chest. He looks at me through his helmet’s visor and collapses to the floor, blood staining the carpet. There’s a rather effeminate scream that emanates from the target, a wiry man in a business suit. He runs into the bathroom and a second armoured figure raises a sub-machine gun and fires on full auto. I manage to avoid most of the bullets, but a sharp pain digs into my side as one wings me. Fuckers are using armour piercing ammo too.

I place a hand over the wound, blood seeping into my suit and staining my white shirt. I swing around the corner as his shooting ceases; full auto fire isn’t sustainable and I catch him reloading. I raise my pistol and fire. One bullet, straight through the visor and out the back of his head, the contents of his skull spraying against the far wall. I’m about to finish the job when I hear footsteps behind me.

“Security! Drop your weapon!” I hear from behind me. I calmly turn, hold my hands out with a friendly smile.

“I’m with the corp. They want this guy iced.”

The bastards don’t ask again. I see fingers moving for the triggers so I dart to the side, running down the corridor.

“Don’t let her escape!” I hear from behind me, a hail of gunshots forcing me to turn another corner. Fortunately, the stairs are not far and I start a rapid descent. Fortunately, these security are a different wing to our own. These guys are the amateur league by comparison.

I shoot my way through the lobby and get back to my bike. It doesn’t take long to start her up and get out of there. Someone’s after my position, or doesn’t want me taking theirs. The whole thing stinks of set-up. I need to get home. I need to tell my fiancé. We need to get the fuck out of here.

I get home and bust through the door, gun out and ready. I walk into the living room to a scene of horror. My fiancé. His corpse lies face down in a pool of blood, a gaping whole in the side of his head. I am transfixed by the scene, horror etched into my features. I notice a hand in the corner of my eye. I swing around, gun towards this new threat. Too late. My gun flies from my grip and a powerful blow connects with my arm as I block the attack. Crude. Clubs. I grab my attacker’s leading arm and pull him in closer, my knee slamming into his nose with a squelching sound. I flip him over and turn to the next threat. This one has a sword, a freakin’ monokatana. I dodge out of the way of the woman’s swings. She’s fast, but not fast enough. I am about to counter attack when my left arm is grabbed. I swing my fist into the man’s face, sending him reeling backwards, but it’s too late.

The monokatana slices clean through my left arm, severing it just below the shoulder. I scream in pain and stagger backwards. A signal goes out over the net. Trauma Team. Like it will make a difference. I feel another sharp pain as the woman shoves the monokatana through my abdomen. Everything seems to fade. The pain of the solid impacts from the clubs fade to nothing. The woman removes her monokatana from my stomach and I fall to the floor.

Nobody is safe.

I wake up to a faint beeping. My vision is blurry, but I’m in a white room. There is no pain. Am I dead? No. Hospital. The smell of medical drugs is thick in the air. I try to move. I feel groggy. A nurse walks in.

“What happened?” I manage to ask her.

“We pulled you from your house. The left arm is a replacement job; woman around your size came in for cybernetics about a week ago and sold us her original arm to help cover the costs. You’ll have to train it a little, but we think your body should adapt and accept it within a few days.

She pauses. “We managed to save you, but we couldn’t save the other.”

“My fiancé?”

She shook her head. “He was dead long before we got there. No, I mean…”

She looks me in the eyes. The situation doesn’t need words. Not any more. I had a feeling, but… Fuck it. Fuck it all…

I need to get out of here.

I wait for the nurse to leave before I stumble from my hospital bed and manage to sneak my way to the elevator. I almost fall on top of an older man in the elevator as I slam the garage button. He looks at me, though his features are all a blur to me. He gets out at the ground floor. I descend further. The parking garage is largely empty, but I look around for a cheap looking car. With my current condition I don’t think I could break into or hotwire a more expensive model. I settle on a slightly rusting sedan. I get in. I start to drive as the blurriness subsides, albeit only partially. I drive back to my house to find it taped off. Corporate investigation. I avoid driving too close. My bike is parked around the corner. I crack the locking mechanism, a subtle trick I installed for situations like this. I grab my belongings, my phone, a couple thousand in cash, some basic cosmetics, a small holdout pistol. An emergency stash I kept under my bike seat.

I hop back in the car and make my way towards a small medical clinic on the outskirts of the city. Outside of major corporate influence. I walk in and go to the receptionist.

“I need you to set me up with some cyberware and I want it off the record. I’ve got the money. Cash.”

“Please, take a seat and someone will be with you,” the receptionist replies. I nod and take a seat.

A few days of living in the shadows, surviving in the streets of the outskirts of Paris later and I’m on a smuggler ship. I’m headed to America. My former employers do not have as much pull over there as they do in Europe. Then again…

Nobody is safe.

All Roads Lead – Prologue

I said to myself that I’d write more now that I have more free time, and reading through my current projects I decided that this one is one that grabbed my attention, possibly due to the fact that I’m also a member of a Pathfinder group, so traditional fantasy is more prevalent in my brain than it usually is (come on, I’m totally a sci-fi nut. Swords and sorcery isn’t my usual style). I’m going to work on this story and try to actually finish it, though it will take a while as I believe it will be the length of a full novel. If you read it and see things that just don’t sound right or have any suggestions, let me know as I will be compiling it all at the end and it’ll help on the editing if things are nipped in the bud now.


The human city of Cymeria was the jewel of Cymer. The Adalen family had ruled over the lands of Cymer from their keep in the northern section of the city, adjacent to the knights quarter and the cathedral. Cymer’s climate was temperate, far more agreeable than the majority of human lands, but nowhere near as pleasant as the Elven Empire to the east, a land imbued with pure magic energy that allowed the elven wizards and sorceresses to manipulate the very weather. Relations between the Imperial elves and the rest of the world had drastically worsened since the elves ceased trade with the rest of the world and abandoned any of their race who still dwelt on the other continent, and all out war was only prevented by the great ocean that lay between the elves and the rest of the world.

A gentle breeze sailed through the marketplace in Cymeria’s trade district, the mid morning sun casting a warm glow over the stalls and merchants peddling their wares. The trade district was full of life, commoners and nobility perusing what the market had to offer, a mix of simple clothing, gaudy and outlandish outfits worn by the nobility, tabards of the knights and the armoured forms of guards, sellswords and adventurers all roaming about the same roads. The most recent ruler of Cymer, Lord Rein Adalen, was more liberal than most other human lords and it rubbed off on his people. Over the past two decades, the Cymerian nobility had become far more accepting of the commoners, the Cymerian culture taking a more co-operative approach to the traditional human class system. There were still limitations by class, but at least the nobility did not step on the people below them.

“Oh, that’s wonderful. Is that… Dwarven craftsmanship?” a woman in leather armour asked one of the vendors as she pointed to an emerald pendant on his stall, her voice well-spoken and almost elegant, rolling off the tongue with ease; she had to be nobility, or at least have taken speaking lessons. The vendor was foreign, that much was apparent in the way he dressed, favouring the heavier clothing from the northern settlements, but also his skin tone was paler than most in the city. He looked like he was about to keel over in the heat, his clothing too thick for the Cymerian climate.

“That it is, m’lady. Made by my buddy, Rolan Ironhammer. Real quality Dwarven smithing went into that beauty.” The merchant smiled, picking up the pendant and extending it to the woman. “Would the lady like to try it on?”

The woman raised her hand with a smile. “No, thank you. I am not seeking purchase today, though I wish to commend your friend’s workmanship. It is a true work of art.” The woman was not joking; the pendant outshone most of the wares in the entire marketplace, gold surrounding a modest emerald. It was simple, but it held a simplistic beauty that escaped the more common, gaudy items.

The merchant’s expression dropped momentarily, but he persevered. “Are you sure. It would look beautiful on one such as yourself, m’lady. For you, because the most beautiful jewel in the market belongs with the most beautiful jewel, I will give you a special price. Only seventy gold mers.”

The woman shook her head. “You haven’t even seen my face, so how can you make such a claim, merchant?” she replied as her lips curled into a grin, though her lips were all that was visible underneath her hood. Her features were well hidden, though this style of attire was not too uncommon amongst travellers and mercenaries. It was strange, but not so out of place that it would raise suspicions. “Your words are most kind, but necklaces such as this would put me at a disadvantage in combat. I am a sellsword, after all, and would have no real reason to wear such a thing.”

The merchant seemed surprised, but ultimately admitted defeat; the woman raised a valid point. “Very well m’lady. If you ever change your mind,” he answered before turning his attention to another potential customer, eager to make his day’s profits. The woman turned and continued on her way through the marketplace, casually observing the bustle as she kept watch for the items she needed to buy. Food, mostly, but also various medicinal herbs not native to the Cymerian climate. What she stumbled upon, however, was not what she wished.

“Genuine leather armour. Boots, bags, coinpurses; we’ve got everything.”

The woman’s eyes darted to the leather stand, examining the goods for a moment before her eyes widened with realisation. There was a stark difference between elf leather goods and elven leather goods. The elves that lived in the human lands were viewed as nothing more than animals, perhaps the only point where Imperial elves and humans agreed. The elven clans on the great western continent were viewed as savage beasts, often hunted for sport by the humans that inhabited the lands, both civilised and hill clans, or the savage orcish tribes. If any elf managed to get to the eastern Elven Empire, across the sea that separated the two continents and to one of the many merchant ports, they would be executed or enslaved on sight; their fates were often not pleasant. That being said, creating leather goods from an elf’s skin was not commonly practised, the similarities between the races prevalent enough to largely prevent it.

The woman covered her mouth, holding back the desire to vomit and turning away from the stall, colliding with a fruit stand and drawing the attention of everyone around as she stabilised herself against a wall and acquiesced to her body’s wishes, bringing up the contents of her stomach into the gutter.

“Hey! What’s the problem here?” came the voice of one of the guards as two barged their way through the crowd that surrounded the hooded woman. Her eyes darted to the guards, vibrant violet eyes quickly moving, assessing as she wiped her mouth.

“That woman barged into my stall and then threw up in the gutter,” the fruit merchant called out, pointing a finger at the hooded woman.

“Look, I’m sorry…” she started, though the leather merchant cut her off, pointing his finger at her.

“She’s a spy! An elf come to take our secrets back to the Empire!” he yelled in an accusatory way, “I got a glimpse under that hood, she’s got ears pointy as daggers!”

“You don’t honestly believe that the Imperial elves care about a market, right?” the woman replied, venom dripping from her words but the words had already been spoken. Now the guards were suspicious.

“Lady. Hood down. Show us your face,” the first asserted, putting one hand on his sword. The other already had his crossbow trained on her.

A silence filled the marketplace for the first time since the early morning.

“Lady. I will not ask again. Show us your face,” he ordered for the second time, drawing his sword and walking towards her. The woman’s eyes were darting all around now, panicking, searching for a way out like a trapped animal.

The only thing that kept her resolve strong was the knowledge that this was how these humans would view her; a trapped, savage, wild animal. She intended to prove them wrong. If she was an animal, she would prove that she was a superior animal to them. She looked up, her eyes locking with theirs. “That’s not a good idea.”

She darted to the side, narrowly avoiding a crossbow bolt that flew past her head. Had she stayed where she was standing, she would not have been standing any longer. She darted through the crowd with unmatched speed as hands grabbed where she had been a split second before. She heard the guards calling after her, but she didn’t listen, her focus on her escape plan. She leapt upon a weapon stall, dodging the swing of the merchant as he brought his axe arcing around. She could hear more people getting riled up now, this was nothing more than a mid morning hunt to them. They were either hunting a wild animal or a spy, either was reason enough for everyone who owned a weapon to grab them. She sprung from the market stall, grabbing onto the wall that separated the trade district from the knight’s quarter. Knights and their squires were typically not suited to pursue a quarry such as her, and it was a better bet than making her way around to the keep and the town guard barracks.

“Stop that elf! She’s a spy for the Empire!” one guard yelled, loosing another crossbow bolt at her. His aim was off by a few degrees, but the woman did not stick around to risk any more shots, dropping off the wall and into the streets below. The guards had not mobilised completely yet, she still had time to follow her escape plan. She darted through back alleys, pulling her sword from its sheathe and ducking beneath another sword swing. The man wore a chain vest, cloth trousers and, most noticeably, a tabard of one of the Cymerian knights.

“If you come peacefully, you won’t be harmed,” he said as she passed by, though she wasn’t listening, darting past with a speed that she knew he wouldn’t be able to match. She broke out into the street and made her way for the guard tower at the opposite corner of the knight’s quarter, a risky move, but if the whole city was up in arms she would never make it to the sewers from where she currently was. She could hear them behind her, a mix of regular, armoured, and even hoofed steps. She burst into the guard tower, blocking a pre-emptive strike that was aimed for her neck.

“Going to make a trophy of your ears, elf,” the guard said, his face close enough to hers that his words were somewhat less threatening than his breath, the stench of last night’s ale still lingering stale in his mouth. The elf didn’t say anything, opting to artfully spin his sword from his hand and barging past. He ran after her, grabbing his sword from the floor but she was already putting distance between them. Most of the guards had already left the tower to look for her, so she met almost no resistance on her way up, breaking out onto the balcony that overlooked this particular area of town and overlooking the plains beyond Cymeria’s walls. She leapt over the edge, dropping down outside the city limits. She landed lightly, rolling as she made impact with the ground and breaking back into run. The humans wouldn’t let her go, fearing that she may be a spy for the Empire. Foolish, she thought to herself, harbouring no love for the Elven Empire in the east. As she reached the forests, she climbed upwards into the tree canopy, the familiar branches offering her cover and concealment from her trackers, as well as eliminating any footprints she might leave.

She dashed through the treetops, leaping from branch to branch as she put the city of Cymeria behind her.

The sickness spreads. We cannot hold it back.

The words played through her mind, weak, as if spoken by a dying man. She did not have time to ponder on their implications before the branch she landed on snapped and gave way, sending her tumbling through the canopy and landing with a thump on the dirt below.

“I heard something that way,” she heard someone announce in the distance. The ground rumbled lightly as her hunters closed on her position, the humans able to cover far more ground on horseback than she was able to leaping from tree to tree. Head spinning, she clambered to her feet.

Run, child!

A sharp pain shot up from her leg and she crumpled back to the ground, a crossbow bolt finally finding its mark, tearing through muscle and rendering her leg completely useless. She heard the clip-clop of horses draw closer, rolling on the ground as blood started to pool beneath her leg. Four individuals on horseback approached, wearing a mix of chain shirts and regular tunics; they all, however, wore tabards of the Cymerian knights.

A silent chuckle escaped her lips as consciousness slipped from her. At least it took the human ‘elite’ to finish me off.

Work Never Ends (Very Short Story)

The music of the club thumps through my ears; heavy, bass-ridden beats pound against my chest like an external heartbeat. Rhythmic. Powerful. I’m dancing amidst a mess of bodies, enslaved by the beat of the music. The air is stale, the smell of synthetic tobacco mingling with sweat, perfume and, if one had a sharp enough sense of smell, a mild mix of chemicals and pheromones. 2084 in the London night life and not much had changed; the reasons, the approaches, these were all the same, but the only thing that had changed were the methods.

The atmosphere is intoxicating. Literally intoxicating. The owners of the club had spared no expense in appealing to every sense. Chemicals course through my body, emphasising every sense, whilst my brain is re-wired to feel nothing but enjoyment. Nothing but pleasure. Even with my implants filtering out the chemicals it’s noticeable. I can feel myself letting go. I can feel the current lifting me, taking me on a sensual journey; I can feel it fuelling the ignorance.

I need to get this done, I think to myself. I am here to work. If I was not on a job I would not even be here. The excess is truly disgusting. I scan through the club, one of the few people wearing such mirror-shades indoors, in the dark, strobe laced night club. My target is employee number seven-three-oh-five-four-two of MatsuTech. An accountant, I believe. My employers were very specific in their instruction.

I lock onto his bio-signature. An eighty seven percent match, which increases to ninety eight once I filter out the chemicals in his system. It’s him.

I move in closer, navigating my way through the mass of intoxicated shells. The chemicals will work wonderfully if I can get this done without succumbing myself.

My heart rate has quickened. The ball has started rolling.

I move behind him, one hand wrapping under his arm and onto his chest with a gentle caress. I can feel his heart rate now. He’s completely gone. Perfect. I move to the music with him whilst I pull out my cyberdeck. A compact TyrCorp, model number three-seven-four-two, that attaches nicely to my forearm. Not the most powerful of decks, but the one of the most concealable. With a slight flick of the wrist I lock the deck onto my forearm and move my free hand up. The jack is in my hand. I can see the data port on the back of his neck.

Natural. All natural, I muse as I plug the data jack into the port on the back of his neck and deliberately move my hand down his back and onto his side as we continue swaying to the music together. I take a brief look around. Security has no idea.

I flick a switch and I’m in. The club melts around me, the people disappear and are replaced with the grey expanse of the systems in my target’s head. My avatar in this world is much the same as my outer shell. I have no qualms about my appearance.

The implant is a standard MatsuTech employee level storage device. Inferior to my own, but it follows the same basic architecture so I effortlessly glide to the data storage nodes, my avatar floating through cyberspace like a fish through water. The node itself is encrypted, but the protection is our own software. Software that I was trained to use; trained to crack.

It’s a simple task, overloading such a device. There are specific ports, specific data points to flood to cause the encryption to crash. A minute flaw in the system and a closely guarded secret. No doubt there are street hackers who also know this, but our employees tend not to store anything valuable in their implant, so the risk is minimal. Also, this is what happens when they do store important data. Data they should not store in personal storage implants.

So I’m in without breaking a virtual sweat. At this point it’s routine for me; firstly I need to ensure that there have been no attempts to access the files prior to my intrusion. I can quickly discern that he has accessed the files himself, but only for personal viewing. There are no traces of file transfers. In fact, he has not performed any transfers of any kind since he lifted this data. Smart, but obviously he’s not smart enough. Next I take the files and put them onto my own implant, a short transfer normally but such a file is protected. Whilst I am confident in my abilities to simply overpower any security systems that may respond, I am a professional agent, not some hot-headed street hacker. I stream the transfer between my own implant and his, exchanging data packets almost instantaneously, replacing the stolen MatsuTech files with non-essential reports and excessive paperwork, all laced with a dormant virus. Either his contacts that he was likely planning to sell this information to will detect the virus and off him, or they won’t and there’s wonderful potential for sabotage at the corporate or street level, either would serve our interests.

The transfer finishes and a security switch trips. I did everything perfectly, to the letter, handling a device that I know like the back of my hand; this should not have happened. I do not know why or what has tripped, but something has; things are changing subtly. Regardless, my work is done, there is no point in dwelling on it. I jack out.

No more than two seconds have passed in realspace by the time I am returned to my body. I quickly unplug from the back of his neck and slide my deck from my arm and into my pocket, a fluid motion as to not attract attention of surrounding clubbers or security staff.

Folly, really, considering the man turns to face me, a look of horror in his eyes visible even through his chemical-laced haze. Of course he recognises who I am, or rather what I am, and of course he recognises what I have done. He opens his mouth and starts screaming and pointing, fearfully pushing his way through the crowd. I am not about to start a fight in the middle of a nightclub in Neo-London. Not even a MatsuTech security agent can get away with that. Nightclubs are hives of street soldiers, hackers, roboticists and other lowlife scum. I am the outsider here. I am the one in danger.

I barge through the crowd towards the fire escape as I notice security starting to mobilise. By the time I reach the door there are no doubts and an automatic firearm opens up, spraying the side of the door with bullets. I shove down the bar to open it and ram it open, rounding the corner onto the fire escape as another burst escapes the door. Whilst the lowlife types inside would not openly start shooting, the security staff had no such qualms; especially knowing that I’m a corp.

I leap over the railing, dropping two stories onto the back of a truck with a heavy thud, cybernetics in my legs absorbing a lot of the impact. Regardless, I roll as I land and drop off the side of the truck. Another burst of gunfire is heard overhead, raking up my back and sending me stumbling forwards. At this range however, 9mm will not get through my under-armour, let alone both my coat, which is constructed to be resistant to pistol calibres up to fifteen metres away, and my under-armour which, when combined with the coat, can stop smaller rifle calibres at thirty metres. I run the numbers in my head and there’s no way they’re getting through.

Nevertheless, I do not stop. Whilst I may be fine if they hit my body or maybe my legs, my head remains totally exposed. I run towards the road behind the club, either they will have to exit through the fire escape as I did, or exit through the main entrance and make their way around. This should at least buy me enough time to do what I need to.

As I reach the road I slow into a calm, yet brisk walk. I make my way around the corner and onto the adjacent street, walking straight up to a taxi rank. I walk up to the front taxi, the driver casually chatting to another, though as he recognises that I require his services he makes his way over to the car and motions me towards the passenger side before getting in the driver’s side himself. I tell him my destination, which he makes a snide comment to on the basis that it is an expensive area, and sink into the chair. When we arrive I simply place my hand over the small payment terminal on the dashboard and transfer the fare through my identity implant in my hand. I make no comment about the loose change that I noticed hidden beneath the driver’s seat and get out with a smile and a thank you. If this man sympathised with lowlifers, he would likely not take too kindly to ferrying a corporate agent to her doorstep. Well, near enough; I directed him a few blocks away just in case and walked the rest of the way. Neo-London was cold at this time of the year and I place my hands in my pockets as I walk, my breath coalescing into small clouds as I walk down the quiet, residential streets.

I reach my front door and walk in to the dull, muffled sound of music and television mixing into one unpleasant sound. I remove my boots by the front door and hang my coat on the hat stand, grimacing as I notice the holes and impacts across the back, and walk into the living room where John, my husband, sits with his computer on his lap and the television on, Sky News providing ambient noise as he fervently types at his keyboard.

“Evening,” I greet hopefully.

“Evening,” he replies with a bored, slightly apathetic tone. I guess that is better than what I was expecting, considering we were meant to be meeting another couple for dinner tonight and I had to cancel literally four hours before we were meant to be there. “I put the children to bed, but Izzy is being Izzy.”

“I’ll go talk to her,” I reply in English this time, back-pedalling slowly out of the room and making my way up the stairs, following the sounds of electronic music. I knock.

“Yeah?” Isabelle answers through the door.

“Can I come in?”

She opens the door and wheels her chair back to her desk. I walk in and sit on the end of the bed.

“So, you’re still up and it’s a school night,” I muse, looking at the back of her head.

“You were out clubbing and it’s a work night.”

I sometimes hate the fact that anyone could see from a mile away that Isabelle is my daughter. Her investigatory skills are impressive. I chuckle. “Point taken, but I was out clubbing for work reasons.”

“And I’m still awake for work reasons,” she gestures at the screen of her computer. Financial data, trends, theories. “I’ll be up and ready for school in six hours, don’t worry.”

“I’m your mother, worrying about you is my job.” I usher her over and she wheels her chair towards where I sit. She has my face and hair, but her father’s eyes for sure, little emeralds amidst her fair skin tone. I shift over and pat the bed next to me. She rolls her eyes and moves from her chair to the position next to me and I wrap her in a tight hug. “Listen, I know yo-…”

I get mid sentence when all the lights go out. Her computer goes dead. I reach for my gun, still holstered under my arm. Work never ends. I have yet to explain this to the children.


This is the story that I submitted to the BBC, but alas it was not chosen. Onto the next submission, I guess!

Only 24 Hours Until I Hear…

If you remember way back when, I submitted a short story to the BBC for their radio show, Opening Lines. I have heard nothing back so far, but upon visiting their website I find the sentence: “We will announce the 2015 longlist on Friday 15th of May at 1200 . . .”

I have to admit that I didn’t even feel this nervous getting my GCSE, A-level or even degree results. I expected the results that I got, although I underperformed at GCSE and had largely given up on everything by the time I reached my A-levels and degree; I expected my results to be roughly what they turned out to be and was confident in my powers of prediction. I expected my grades, more or less. For this, I have no idea what to expect. This is my first foray into the world of getting things published. Have I been chosen? Have I been discarded? Am I one of the lucky three? Am I at least good enough to be put on the website, if I am not to have my short story read out on the radio? There is only 24 hours until I will know (well, 23 hours and 22 minutes) and I can’t stand the waiting. Furthermore, I will not know as I will be at school, helping students pass their GCSEs until the afternoon.

However, come around 3pm I will know. If I am not chosen, I will put my submitted short story up here anyway, but it would mean so much to me to actually be chosen. I am nervous, but excited at the same time.

Wish me luck?