First thing’s first: I’ve been published in the smashwords forum anthology. The piece in it is Paper, so if you’ve already enjoyed it then you’re not missing much from me. There are tons of other great stories by other authors in it, however, so consider giving it a gander. Please enjoy!
Oh yes, and N.L.#4’s rough draft is all done. Expect it to emerge very soon for $0.00-0.99 depending on where you are and where you buy it. Here’s a slight teaser:
Elsewhere, Luisoix and the two ladies are knee-deep in glowing, whispering sewer waste. “Uh, right,” a surface-calm Luisoix says, leading the two through a crossroads. Their pace is fast- as quick as one could go in water that begs you to wait around awhile and enjoy the smells.
“So, eh,” Colette coughs. She’s enjoying this much less than she expected. “Why is the water talking?”
“You don’t want to know,” Luisoix says.
Colette frowns. “And why do we need to move so fast. The people chasing us, right?”
“You don’t want to know,” he says again.
“Well… you’re tough, right?”
Luisoix shakes his head as he rounds a corner. “Not even remotely… shit.” Luisoix stops, causing Colette to nearly trip into the shifting green waste. “Just relax- don’t turn around.” he says.
“Wh-what’s up?” She asks.
“Quiet.” Luisoix’s staring down the new hall with wide, horrified, focused eyes. Very slowly he reaches into his coat and pulls out a jar of salt. “Now back up with me. Keep staring forward.” As Grancis makes way for Colette, who makes way for Luisoix, he undoes the cap to the jar and starts spreading the salt in front of him as he steps back in time with the other two.
“Uh, what the hell are you doi-”
“Shut up, jobber.”
Colette mutters something under her breath in a mix of discomfort, anger, and bewilderment as they three step all the way back to the intersection.
Luisoix sighs in enormous relief. “Thank the gods. That wouldn’t been it if I didn’t have any salt on me.” Colette just stares on in some form of disbelief and looks over to Grancis, who shrugs. “Alright, we’ll take a detour. This way.” He leads the two along down another path through the sewers.
Colette taps his shoulder. “Hey.”
Luisoix sighs again, this time in annoyance. “Yes?”
“What the hell was that back there?”
“I’m not joking- you really would regret it if I told yo-”
“THE FLESH OF THE GLINT! WE HUNGER FOR THE SKULLS OF MAN!” A mildly imposing voice exclaims. By “mildly imposing”, of course I mean “terrible beyond a common soul’s wildest reckonings.”
“What was that?” Colette asks.
Luisoix, eyes again wide with terror, starts running forward as he take out his jar of salt. “Impossible… Im-possible! This is…” He tastes some of the white crystals in the jar. “This is sugar!”
“What does that mean?” Colette asks as she and Grancis pick up the rear.
Luisoix is fervent, almost foaming at the mouth. “BORIS, YOU LOBSTER-ASS MOTHER FU-”
“THE FLESH OF THE GLINT! OPEN FOR CORRUPTION AND ABANDON YOUR HOPES!” The something screams as it rounds the corner to their hall.
“NOT LIKE THIS!” Luisoix screams and runs down through the sewage like a madman.
“What is i-” Colette was foolish enough to peek behind them. A force of long, pulsing, tooth-covered tentacles, claws and snake-like arms, slithering toward them as they convulse in murderous excitement. “Yeah,” is all she says before she enters a full sprint. The trio storms down the hall, rounding only a few corners until the abomination is upon them.
Now, onto the main event: The Relic, Chapter 2! As usual read, enjoy, and give me your comments and suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org or in the comments section below. Let me know what you think!
CHAPTER 2 – A GROUP OF PEACEFUL SIMPLETONS ARE BRUTALLY ASSAULTED BY A GANG OF BANDITS
An angry, eye-patched man at the front of the dozen horsemen points his crossbow straight for Asegai. “You easterners?” he asks this with a strong accented drawl as he dismounts his horse and approaches.
“How exciting!” Sun turns to Asegai, “First contact! I bet they’ve never encountered off-worlders before!” She says animatedly as she reaches into her little macaroon synthesizer and pulls out a pretty pink one. “Hello, we come in peace!” She says, presenting the man with the small, sweet pastry.
He slaps it out of her hand. “Answer me, knave!”
Sun looks over to Asegai. “Perhaps this is the typical greeting?” he says.
Sun nods and smacks the crossbow out of the man’s hand. “No, we’re not, knave!” She says in a tone of diplomacy and friendliness.
The men on horseback certainly did not appreciate this gesture and one particularly angsty lad fires a bolt straight into Sun’s face, only to break and curl harmlessly like the first.
A-95 places a hand upon its anti-material Ywnron rifle, hung around its side by a strap. “Query, bemused- Shall I deliver a statement in kind.”
Asegai raises his hand, stopping A-95 from taking up the gun. “Let’s just see how it goes.”
The man at the front of the group draws a dagger from his side and pushes it into Sun’s face. “I’ll call you what I want! Whatever the case, you look suspicious. I think you’re going to have to persuade us of your innocence with a… traveler’s fee.” The group of men (and perhaps by coincidence, one of the horses) chuckle and laugh mostly in the way one would expect a group of dirty bandits to chuckle and laugh when they’re robbing someone- but this guffaw is twinged with uncertainty, a sort of dread that they don’t quite know what they’re dealing with.
Sun stares at the blade and then looks up. “What’s that?”
The men (and the very same horse, by the name of Whinnyfred) laugh again as the leader responds. “Money, lass. Give it over or this day’ll be your last.”
Sun looks looks over to Asegai. “Uh, I think he wants gold.”
Asegai stands to the side professionally and nods. “Give him more macaroons.”
“Query, exclamation- What.” A-95 would say it in complete disbelief if he were capable of doing so.
“O-okay…” She fabricates another delicious macaroon from her pocket- this one’s pink and flavored like strawberries. “We offer you these.”
The raider lord shoots Sun right through her offered macaroon, and the bolt smashes into a heap against her reinforced chassis. “Enchanted armor…” the leader jumps back. “Use the piercing bolts!” he orders. The raiders unload a special satchel of glowing, humming bolts. Asegai looks upon the ammunition with particular interest.
“Yeah, that’s magic alright.” He says.
“Fire!” The leader shouts. A hail of magic bolts soar at the three, but the effect is the same. All the bolts break against the trio as if assailed by blunt toothpicks.
A-95 raises its rifle. “Query- Can I please shoot them.”
Asegai raises up his hand to stop A-95 and he looks to Sun.
“Give them more macaroons,” he says with dramatic emphasis.
“Oh? How many more?”
“Way more,” Asegai says.
Sun pauses in surprise, as if Asegai had just ordered to do “the thing”. She nods in understanding. “You got it.” From her side satchel emerges hundreds, and then thousands of fabricated macaroons, containing at least a hundred different flavors and colors. The bandits have prepared for many contingencies, but “crushing wave of delicious French delicacies” was not on their list. The bandits are piled under hundreds of delicious treats, and the three machines can hear screams of witchery and magic. As soon as they dig their way out, the bandits and their horses dash off in every direction.
Asegai nods and shrugs in an over-animated gesture. “It appears we’ve sweet talked our way out of this one,” he says, winning a quick giggle from Sun.
A beeping sound comes from A-95. “Statement, blunt- I will kill you if you make puns, sir. You dishonor all robot kind with such an action.”
“Oh come on. You love them,” Asegai says.
“Statement- I absolutely do not, and this liberal use of Sun’s organic fabricator has wasted enough volts to put us back hours of repairs.”
“Not so sure about that one. Sun,” Asegai says.
“How about you whip us up some solar panels?”
Sun fires off a peppy salute. “You got it!” She raises her right arm, the hand of which has a hole about the size of a grapefruit in it. With a quick flick of the wrist and a flash of light, a perfect solar panel complete with output port is manifested out of the atomic collision occurring in her elemental fabricator, the most expensive use of the group’s funds from recovering that stranded O.E.L. flagship. The panel is flung to the grass and she enters a rhythm of making panel after panel, materializing them out of thin air with her hand, and then tossing them aside.
“Ai,” Asegai addresses.
The ship drones with life “INPUT ORDER.”
“Connect the new devices.”
The ship extends a long connector cable, plugging into the hundred-plus panels and positioning them for maximum sunlight.
Asegai nods. “Good job. Now with this plus the ship’s panels we should be back on our feet to reinstall the H.C.C. in just a few days.”
“Statement, irritated- A few days. I suppose you intend us to stay on this useless rock for more than an hour.”
Asegai shrugs. “Might take a while to get it, considering the thing we were using to track lost objects kind of got lost. We know the direction though, don’t we?”
Sun nods. “We certainly do, the trajectory should be a few kilometers,” she points into the wood to the northwest. “That way.”
Asegai pats Sun on the shoulder. “Nice, then that’s where we’ll start our search. If we can get there before the O.E.L. find us all the better.”
“Statement, irritated- This won’t be a long quest. If they caught our comm tag at any time during the crash they’ll be on our ship in minutes, and on us in minutes after that.”
Asegai looks to the sky and sees nothing of alarm. “You’re right. That is troublesome, and we don’t have too much in the form of weapons with the exception of your rifle and the ship’s guns. We’ll need your range-finder.”
“Query, insulting- The one that was destroyed because of your ingenious buying decisions?”
Asegai laughs. “Sun, please make Agonist here a new head… and a voice chip from our age, please.”
Sun giggles. “Right away.” In a flash, she fabricates complex metals and circuitry in such a sequence that a precise copy of A-95’s old head is created. She hands it to it.
“Statement- this is acceptable, no chip will be—” It stops the moment Sun makes the chip as well and hands it over.
“We’d appreciate it, Agonist,” Asegai says, his helmet gleaming in the sunlight.
Birds chirp peacefully in the distance.
“Statement, begrudging- As you wish, sir.” Agonist takes up the head, shears off the rest of the old one to detach it, and implants the new head.
A satisfying *Vrrr* sound drones out as Agonist’s new visor takes light for the very first time. It then opens a small slot in its wrist and inserts the chip. A second of silence passes, and a cheerful *ping* leaps out to say that the installation was a success. Agonist tosses the chip aside to the grass.
“Feel any different?” Sun asks.
Agonist looks about. “Not by much, though I feel like I’m betraying my own kind,” Agonist says, now in a deep, strong voice.
Asegai laughs. “Well, you are feeling, aren’t you?”
Agonist sighs dismissively. “Of all the things you could’ve had her waste energy on, a voice. Truly this is what the kind of humanity I’m fated to embrace as well.”
“Yeah well we’ll have lots of time to talk about it, won’t we? Let’s get to walking and see if we can’t find ourselves a village of some sort- perhaps if we found an astronomer he could tell us where our H.C.C. fell.
Agonist hulks the sizable rifle over his shoulder. “It’ll be a long shot. I would just have Sun make us some more guns so we can fight off the O.E.L. once they come.”
Sun hums. “I have five percent battery left. All those macaroons emptied me pretty quickly,” she says with a kind of peppy embarrassment.
“So efficient,” Agonist says blandly as the group puts the ship into parameter defense mode and steps off through a long pile of macaroons and into the woods.