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Thursday, 16 April 2015

The Sayers :: Consolidation (One)


This is the latest instalment of my first long-form piece, The Sayers. You can find links to every chapter of the Novel at the dedicated blog page. If you notice any grammatical errors I have overlooked, or you have any observations to make on this piece, please feel free to leave them in the comments below.

For the previous part of the story, Click Here.
For the next part of the story, Click Here.



The trio are finally forced to rest, at the site of a gutted farmhouse.

This is one of many areas in the Prefecture Daniel travelled between before the Military had purged the land, systematically gutting sympathiser buildings as they did. It sits between the river and the rough edge of marshland they will need to cover to reach Wakering Hall, but Hilltop senses Alexa’s fatigue is more pressing. His lover is close to exhausted: even the briefest of respites will be of greater benefit than pushing to their destination. She is already off her horse, limbs heavy, dragging panniers up the overgrown garden that now almost obscures the front of the property. Max has silently taken care of the horses, already in the process of stowing tack from prying eyes.

The cartographer had hugged both with enthusiasm after liberation, relief all too apparent. His reticence to interact with Alexa however is a concern: getting her to rest will give them a chance to talk. Daniel watches the woman almost shuffle to the back of the house, sensing a mind on the verge of shutdown. He assists but doesn't crowd, ensuring the softest of bags doubles as support for her head. Squatting as she settles, sensing consciousness almost gone he wraps reassurance around the tired body, safety in his care. She stares upward with the weakest of smiles, history reminding of too many nights on the run. After encounters like this, he always wanted to let her sleep forever.

Once her mind settles into the depth of non-dream sleep, Daniel returns outside to locate Max.

He is absolutely in his element: bright and infectious, checking saddles with the care and attention of someone clearly well versed with their handling. Hilltop feels some rest would help him too: without a thought he hands the cartographer a pistol.

‘I trust you’ll know how to use this if the need arises?’

‘I have handled firearms in my time, I may not have killed but I know where to aim. I won’t need any rest either, been far too long locked up. I fully intend to make the most of every waking moment.’

‘I didn’t want to assume anything, I had no idea how capable you’d be.’

‘Rudge may be playing for the Sisters, but did a decent fist of ensuring I was drug free. I suspect I’d like the man if he wasn't allied where he is.’

‘His sympathy has never lain with Korrina’s faction, that much I know. I’d heard rumours that Anastasia still lived-‘

‘-and she does. Rudge’s memories were provided to me as as context, her influence is all over everything. Every motive screams of self-preservation, as has always been the case. Attempting to manipulate us to further her own ambitions is going to be met with considerable resistance.’

It doesn't come as a surprise to Hilltop that the old guard are responsible for their combined manipulation, need to forge them into an effective unit as quickly as possible a pressing priority. That means knowing why Max only spoke to him as they travelled, seeming to ignore Alexa’s presence completely.

‘Larger plans aside, we need to talk-‘

‘-about Greengrass, I know. I can’t let her distract me, the task at hand is beyond considerable. It took two months to create the original plan of the Palace, I doubt we’ll have even close to that timescale before it’s impossible to even get near the Capitol. The diversion the Green Men pulled to get me out’s only going to make matters worse in the short term.’

‘You’re aware of what she’s seen of our futures?’

‘I know where this is heading. For all of us. I thank you again for keeping your word and seeking me out when so many others were happy to just leave me to rot. Your integrity’s never been an issue. I am aware Alexa’s also uncertain of me in the flesh, but when she Directs-‘

‘That’s a different story, and why I was compelled to seek her out when I knew revolution was inevitable… it isn't just protection. What she is capable of inside a willing mind-’

‘I admit being envious of your history, just the briefest of exposure is enough to make her-‘

‘Addictive. That’s the word you’re looking for, and yes, that I can certainly attest to.’

There is tension building, not generated by jealousy. Daniel can taste Max’s arousal, unmistakably placed between him and the woman who now sleeps. There is a moment of disbelief, confusion at the split of focus: the three of them together isn't something he’d even considered until now. This could end up as the best of both worlds. He’d assumed that they would come to some arrangement, but Max’s mind presents a possibility that renders him temporarily stunned. To exist within her simultaneously-

‘I also sense you are torn. You no longer find me attractive?’

Then the assassin has to laugh, full and hard, relief genuine for the first time in many days. Instinct pulls them both to a hug without overture: making the moment reassurance and nothing more. Here is a joint understanding of the Earth they will tread, plus acceptance of responsibility they hold for Greengrass. She binds them both, each to the other: her welfare more significant than either is yet prepared to vocalise. As he releases Wright, their bond is sealed.

‘Then I will distract you from your task no longer. I took the liberty of travelling with supplies to help you begin your project. Wake us at dawn, we will travel to Wakering Hall with the rising sun.’

Charcoal sticks and notepad are pulled from his jacket and handed to Max: the man is already thinking ahead, planning how to translate the Palace from head to page. Fatigue makes Daniel’s shoulders ache as he drags himself away to where Alexa lies: settling beside her an arm wraps automatically around her waist. It is as if five summers were a heartbeat, a blink: meaningless separation easily forgotten.

He is unconscious in less than a minute.


Max dives into the unknown, comfortable and without fear.

The cold of the river is sudden and glorious, instant exhilaration: he takes a moment to re-orientate beneath, recalling sensations loved as a child. The water here is tidal, salty darkness: current a constant reminder he cannot remain stationary for long. Striking back upward he breaks the surface and swims towards land: dragging a suddenly tired body to the bank a laugh starts somewhere beneath his breastbone. He flips onto his back, giggling uncontrollably, amazed at this spontaneous bout of stupidity. He’s now muddier than he was before deciding an early morning swim was an excellent idea. This will never do.

A stretch of moss and bullrushes a little way upstream finally affords a place to hang his sodden undergarments, plus a place to lie and watch the last moments of twilight. The dawn chorus has begun in earnest, sky to the east rapidly lightening: the thrill of existence flowing through Max undimmed, adrenaline and enthusiasm for the day ahead. Naked he lies, staring upwards, waiting for what remains reassuringly unchanging. The thrilling constant of a new day, raft of possibilities it will inevitably present.

His first morning as a free man begins with the most glorious of sunrises.

Dawn creeps inexorably across misty sky, paleness becoming light, remains of low-density cloud quickly evaporating. Max moves to sit cross-legged, grinning in silent and incredible wonder. It has been many years since such beauty was his to behold, yet the moment is tinged with the realisation of his future: responsibility he now willingly shoulders. He could still take a horse, keep riding, run away and not look back… as Alexa did so many years before. She had been unable to escape her destiny. The only way to ensure their future is confrontation of the consequences.

The Palace outline is already planned, pages of details reproduced until his hand ached and cheap parchment used. Everything he requires exists within, simply the task remains of transcribing memory to reality. Yet all he can think of is her, ardour barely cooled by the freezing water: finally he understands why the Sisters kept his libido so tightly in check. How he balances the task in hand and her immediate presence is cause for some concern, that he could so easily allow himself to be distracted completely…

She is standing at the shore, downstream, watching him.

His nakedness should concern but doesn’t: neither does hers: it is the most natural thing in the world. Max can’t breathe, stuck as he stares: fascinated with the way the early light illuminates her body, paths of damage across skin he is desperate to begin mapping. Each scar to taste, feeling of raised flesh under a hungry mouth, every separate story to trace and memorise…

No distractions.

When she dives it is with a grace already revealed at the moment their minds joined, hitting the water with the smallest of splashes, vanishing with a speed that cannot fail to impress. Her Direction understands what is at stake: she won’t deflect him, knowing a myriad of consequences if she does. His regard of her as she stood is both noted and appreciated, but she pulls herself away, intimacy deliberately hidden. Her calm remains a lie, water hiding nothing from him.

Consciousness reacts, quickly soothing fear without thinking, quiet insistence at the understanding of what must be done, that what they will be is inevitable. The future seeded inside both minds already germinates, delicate shoots of a tentative connection: he stops thinking with images, instead focusing on feelings that bind them both. The joy of mental freedom she’d demonstrated: his quick study of Alexa’s actions to imitate and support. Minds meshing, seamless combination of everything in a breath: belief and reinforcement, they are stronger when joined. Holding him within, exhaling her fear: both together, indivisible from the sun rising.

I’ll wait.

Their Direction interchanges: combined promise not to interfere, clear definition of two roles, movement of water and wave as the tide changes. Destiny shifts, moving back down the river to the Capitol. Unexpectedly she appears at his feet, pulling herself to the bank, dye from her hair leeching out into the water. Both are transformed by the moment as she passes, walking away back to the Farmhouse. He doesn’t need to watch any more: her body lives in his mind, waiting for the moment when annotation can be completed at leisure.

Yet he is drawn to the mark across her stomach: the injury that rendered her barren, impotent, a joke to the Sisters who prized fertility above intelligence. Deliberate castration, punishment for a misdemeanour she never committed. These women were dangerous and unpredictable, moved by beliefs that were no longer relevant. They will not fashion a future from his lovers, he who was and she who will be. Nobody would stand between them and the bond they would now cement.

Max’s metamorphosis within them both had already begun.


For the previous part of the story, Click Here.
For the next part of the story, Click Here.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Best Laid Plans

My response to Writer's Block ^^

No, I haven't forgotten about 'The Sayers.'

I have a plan today to clear up the chapters we have so far and repost tomorrow the last part of proceedings as an exercise in refreshing everyone's memories. Then you'll get NEW FICTION ON WEDNESDAY (yes I promise) after which we will return to your reguarly scheduled Mondays of Awesome.

I'll grant you, the last couple of weeks have been hard going on the old brain-pan.

The World has not been kind.

I've struggled over Easter, I'll be honest. Still haven't finished my sodding Podcast Documentary Project (sadface) and have had to deal with some quite staggering examples of 100% Pure Stupid on the Internets. My mental health's been helped by the arrival of a new Blog (you'll need to work out for yourself where that resides) and I suspect it's been a combination of shifting my brain to another place that's mucked up my writing processes. It doesn't help that TWO other projects have appeared in the intervening period, and what I'm trying to do now is not start anything else until I can actually get something finished.

I really am trying to sort myself out.

Staring at trains.

So, if you're waiting for fiction, the next bit will be along shortly.

Mind the Gap.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Delicate Sound of Thunder

It's all about context, dahlink ^^

Yesterday, I learnt a salutary lesson in timing.

With the benefit of a night's sleep, I realise that I have probably reached the stage in this journey where it is time to remove my personal life from the public equation altogether. Having two distinct 'paths' was something I thought was unnecessary, but I can now see the overriding benefit of separating the two. The reality of doing so is hardly complex, but I can already hear people complaining that 'you never talk about yourself any more.'

The thing is, you can't have everything both ways.

Choose your Weapon.

This means that this place is likely to get more use. It also forces me to start working on being clearer and more concise in what I choose to communicate with, which frankly is no bad thing.

In fact, I feel this is a challenge to be both grasped and embraced, and so I shall do both.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Pump Up the Volume

YouTube now does summat that annoys the fuck out of me. It decides that once I've played one video, I'm clearly going to want another in the same vein and so it Autoplays just that [*]. Except I have no desire to hear another song, I just picked that one for a reason. Of course, YouTube isn't smart enough to know this, because it will assume all I want is the same type of music until I tell it to stop, or I throw the PC out of the window.

Dealing with people in the Social Media Age is not unlike this situation, except for a crucial point: there is no immediate on/off option. I can't choose who I listen to if I decide to have a 'public' life, everyone ends up speaking at once and, inevitably, some people get ignored. That's all well and good if these people are reasonable human beings, but there are those who crave attention in a manner pretty much akin to a five year old wanting the sweets you won't buy them because they already had enough. You're then forced to filter out the undesirable elements based on a set of variables that, for many, end up with you having to actually restrict access to your spaces because the rest of the World can't be trusted. We've spoken about this before. Curating Social Media is a thing more people need to do as a matter of necessity.

This is Anne Pontegnie. She is a Curator.

Because, lets be honest, your average slice of humanity posses too many variables to easily grasp. I want to pick one as we continue as a point to make in relation to the issue of personal control:

Passive-aggressive behaviour is the indirect expression of hostility, such as through procrastination, stubbornness, sullenness, or deliberate or repeated failure to accomplish requested tasks for which one is (often explicitly) responsible. 

You meet these kinds of people a lot in Gaming, truth be told. Some have decided I'm clearly and obviously P-A, which always makes me laugh, because I just suffer from Depression: my hostility is VERY obvious when it happens. I'm also quietly determined to ensure that if I do get angry in future, nobody online ever gets to see it. That's not what the Internet is for. Anger is destructive and pointless and does no-one any good, and is for private spaces and very-selectively curated groups where trust is in your hands. That's the thing about disposable relationships: there is no consistency. You possess no real basis for trust and respect, and however hard you try, once you lose what little ability you held to believe someone's genuine, there's no point. You can get as annoyed and passively aggressive as you like, but if someone closes the door to you, maybe there's a reason. And more importantly, maybe you don't get to know.

If that's a problem for you, that's just tough. You don't get access to what's in my head. I choose who I give the information to, and if that's not you? Sorry.

There's too much noise in my life already. I don't need to have you making any more.


[*] I know I can turn it off. That's the point of this post.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Not Going Out.

Boom today. Boom tomorrow as well.

Those of you who have been tuning in for your weekly fix of Fiction will notice a lack of content this week, for which I apologise. This is due to several things, but is only temporary, and you can expect to see NEW FICTION in the same spot on the 6th.

I'll be taking this opportunity to clean up links and shizzle on the Official Page in anticipation of the new content.

I'll return you now you your regularly scheduled navel contemplation.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Yesterday, I tried to stay up late to catch the SPECTRE trailer launch but singuarly failed. However, that's what the Internet is for.

Here you go, watch away:

One frame leapt out at me in watching this, and that's part of the 'personal effects' Bond gets handed from Skyfall. Particularly relevant? This frame:

So here's a Certificate of Temporary Guardianship with Bond's name on it (and he's 14 at the time) and that picture? I'd assumed that the head 'missing' was his mother, but I know it isn't. That's another boy.

That's actually the Bonds' real son.

Brain's been doing somersaults over this since I saw it, and I suspect I'll need a bit of time to digest all the possibilities. I'd like to postulate at this point the following:

  • Craig's character is not the Bonds' biological son. This will allow the writers a gimme out of the big mistake I and many other fans feel they made in Skyfall when it was pretty much stuck in canon that he was the original owner of the name. This also frees them up for when they cast a new Bond (and they will because that's how this franchise works) to give that person the 'name' and the number without consequence.

  • Christopher Wentz' character is in fact the Bonds' biological son. If he was presumed dead and lost with his parents in the accident that befell them (and I'm going to guess that has a link to the cabin we see Bond confront Mr White in, as that picture was clearly taken by Bond's mother in the Alps) he's gonna have some SERIOUS issues about his 'brother' being where he is. That's probably the best 'Motivations to become a Supervillain' I've seen for some time.

I'm REALLY hoping this is what happens, because I've always wanted the number and name to simply be an identifier, and Skyfall was a MASSIVE disappointment in this regard.

Needless to say, Bloefeld and Bond are brothers. Because that's just too perfect not to have happen :D

Monday, 23 March 2015

The Sayers :: During


This is the latest instalment of my first long-form piece, The Sayers. You can find links to every chapter of the Novel at the dedicated blog page. If you notice any grammatical errors I have overlooked, or you have any observations to make on this piece, please feel free to leave them in the comments below.

For the previous part of the story, Click Here.
For the next part of the story, Click Here.



She hurls the goblet across the room with a force that defies her age.

Rudge stands impassive, waiting for the True High’s Sister’s rage to subside. Too much of their intelligence had been fatally flawed: the unnatural relationship between Seed and Assassin hidden so well from everyone, a cornerstone of their plan to control the three independently shattered before Wright was out of the Palace. Greengrass’ anger had been vital as a means to subvert her relationship with Hiltop, but the Physician’s own ignorance had undermined her placement: she had disguised herself too well. He had no idea of her identity until it was too late.

Anastasia’s anger slowly ebbs away, shaking her head at the man she had put so much trust in, that her greatness had been reduced to the reliance on yet another unreliable conduit. These risks had always existed, knowing the need for security and understanding the brilliance of the minds she wished to influence. Sometimes it was necessary to allow circumstance a greater hand in affairs than her predecessors would have considered wise. What she knows remains unexplored is what will form the basis of her next move: all three are aware of the power they wield alone. As long as they remained ignorant of potential combined, there was still a chance for intervention.

She is confident Alexa’s fear of Conflagration will be her undoing. Wright’s Destruction was dormant, untouched, and Hilltop remained an afterthought, another useless man who preferred desire to any overwhelming demonstration of power. These things sat proud and confident in her head: the Earth would know how to combine their weaknesses to her strength. When she did, her army would be unstoppable.

The future will be the Sisters’ to direct, and it is time to make their most damning move.

The samurai stand outside, armed and ready, Forty women, each one’s fealty assured to their cause. The first of many waves of willing, able forces to counter the might of the Junta. Not simply armed and capable, but with minds that could be moved and directed, made to serve a single task.

Their purpose.

This situation can yet be salvaged. Destiny can most definitely be realigned.

The future as a result is very much in flux.


For the previous part of the story, Click Here.
For the next part of the story, Click Here.

The Sayers :: The Sides, Gathered (Five)

Major stuff coming soon.

This is the latest instalment of my first long-form piece, The Sayers. You can find links to every chapter of the Novel at the dedicated blog page. If you notice any grammatical errors I have overlooked, or you have any observations to make on this piece, please feel free to leave them in the comments below.

For the previous part of the story, Click Here.
For the next part of the story, Click Here.


Moonlight illuminates the carnage she has created: Daniel’s task is to remain silent and hidden.

Marion finally emerges from the bushes she was projected into when the Carrier upended, both horses gracefully falling to Alexa’s targeted attack. Consciousness is both alert and seething, anger Woodgrove does nothing to suppress: the woman staggers to the container, checking her prisoner remains incarcerated. Hilltop is neutral, invisible to her ire, only concern the woman who appears from the ditch, launching Mid Lands Steel to within a breath of Marion’s head. This was never a weapon meant to maim, simply to attract attention.

‘I don’t know how you managed this, but don’t expect me to be impressed.’

Woodgrove is suitably defiant: Daniel notes the knife she’ll throw from her boot before running for the gun lying unattended on the road, her own displaced from its holster. Alexa understands, is ready for injury if required, to ensure the woman is where he wants her for a clear shot. His partner’s blowpipe is already primed and ready, Hilltop’s skill on any moving target remaining without equal. Relishing the opportunity to wield his partner’s weapon, waiting was never a problem.

‘The future is not ignorance and firepower, Assassin Woodgrove. It never was.’

‘You didn’t come back from the dead to lecture me, that much I am entirely sure of. You’ll not have the Seed while I still draw breath.’

‘So be it.’

Alexa’s already ducking as the knife flies past her head, Marion away and up to the side of the container: picking up the snub-nosed pistol, firing wildly back over her shoulder. Alexa immediately vanishes: a moment of disorientation that forces movement into range.

The paralytic dart flies silent and deadly, impacting Woodgrove’s exposed neck: she crumples with a scream of pure incandescent rage. Only then does he emerge from the trees, strangely sanguine at what he knows approaches. They cannot leave her here, too dangerous with Direction to accompany them. This time, however, it will not be Alexa who is forced to kill. He will do this deed if only to ensure the narrative the Sisters has attempted to control is shattered, destroyed through exertion of free will.

The now-wakening horses are being released, Alexa purposefully removing restricting harnesses, ensuring there will be minimal delay once their job is complete. Daniel is impassiveness personified, dropping the blowpipe to the ground, kneeling immediately to remove his dart. Marion’s anger has evaporated, fear all encompassing, confidence utterly destroyed by the oldest skill the Assassins taught.

‘You never put much faith in the blowpipe, did you Mistress Woodgrove? Why exactly did you join the Guild again? Did you believe it a suitable profession for a woman?”

Tears stream down the felled assassin's dirt-streaked face: she will be counting the seconds, knowing how long before paralysis is total and potentially irreversible.

‘I have nothing to say to you. You are scum, worthless, enemy of the people.’

‘Ah, but Mistress Woodgrove you are mistaken, I am simply an enemy of the Military. They are not people, but monsters, concerned only with their own desires and aims, as indeed were you. I should hate first for what was conferred to Silas Darkworth, but instead I decide to forgive all your sins, for I understand the lure the florin can have on the narrow-minded.’

Finally, defiant Direction tries to pull him close, so she’ll spit or concentrate energy to try and move a limb: instead he pushes the mind away with a force that surprises with its indifference. He had thought her beautiful once, been distracted until he understood her true preference would never be with him. Her only desire had been Alexa, and she would not lie with her own sex by choice.

‘I will not die at your hands, you bastard.’

‘You’re absolutely right you won’t.’

The shot is a surprise, sudden and decisive, Marion’s Colonial pistol in Alexa’s hand. Daniel stares amazed: he had been prepared to shoulder the guilt, but there is no emotion in his lover’s heart, removal of the disgust she’d felt at Woodgrove’s actions before. This is new from her, at first concerning but then incredible. Her anger is reined, held close and tight, bound purposefully to a heart that focusses solely on the task in hand.

‘I do not remember you, or your name, you are less than nothing. You deserve no honour or recall in this life or any other. In fact, your only benefit is to return to the Earth as quickly as you left.’

Gravel shifts beneath the body, warping of earth then air: sulphur burn and ignition inescapable as the point where the bullet is lodged inside’s Woodgrove’s chest bursts into flames. In seconds her entire corpse is alight, heat enough to make Daniel retreat, inferno raging yet surprisingly contained. When Alexa had fled this ability was untrained, unpredictable: immediate fear that a burst of anger could hurt someone unintentionally. This was anything but. The pyre builds fiercely, body already beginning to disintegrate, Earth itself fuelling rapid decomposition.

Hilltop is immediately chastened: he had urged his lover to seek help, even suggested they find an Apoth for control with drugs, but the fear of anyone knowing what she was turning into made Alexa panic. They had argued, he had pushed her enough to start a fire in their joint quarters… and that had broken them completely. She’d begged to be allowed to escape everything, including his concern.

‘It wasn’t you. Never has been. Always my fear I’m not good enough. Always my lack of confidence. Never your fault’

He can see her, alone in the house she misses so much, learning how to set a fire in her stove. Every morning, without fail: more control, less unpredictability over time. Time shifts: tears streaming down her face, him in her mind as the thatch, furniture within is torched, destroying the sanctity of a home she had preserved long before the Sisters created their plan. Her own life destroyed because of him, as concern within was only for his safety. Their love was the fuel for so much, and not simply before. Devotion held close, indivisible from herself. Unbreakable.

Daniel has to embrace the woman who now shakes with the knowledge of her actions and won’t let go, can’t divide himself from what they are, despite the fact he knows the man they have rescued is destined to live with greater prominence in mind and body. Yet she slips inside his heart, beating simultaneously, promising they are inseparable until his last breath. Both protector and guardian…with this understanding she looks up to him and smiles, assent to his assertion. The mind’s relief is marked, despite the gravity of the moment.

She understands finally what is at play.

Alexa doesn’t release from their embrace, instead shifts briefly before indicating the container, herself and them him.

‘Sight, Light and Might. Now I grasp the reality of the Sister’s plan. They hope to recreate the Triumvirate with us. It might have been more sensible to have asked first. If they genuinely believe that we’re going to usher in a new golden age, I think they are beyond delusional.’

Daniel knows her deduction is correct, and can’t help but smile in response.

‘I’m not sure we need a Holy Crusade at this point, but if the Sisters are attempting to motivate their followers to arms, there are worse ways to do so. I’m pretty certain they’ve not factored in the appetites of their figureheads either. That’s going to take some explaining.’

‘Well, if you will subjugate your prophet using the power of his root, what do you expect?’

‘An unhealthy obsession with desire?’

The response from within the container makes them both laugh, tension of the interception leeching away. Daniel’s mind touches Max, thanks for his assistance at the Crossroads, and feels the man smiling in the darkness, not simply relief that finally he is in safe hands and with people he can trust.

Now the task of rescue is complete, all three can vanish.


For the previous part of the story, Click Here.
For the next part of the story, Click Here.

Monday, 16 March 2015

The Sayers :: The Sides, Gathered (Four)

Major stuff coming soon.

This is the latest instalment of my first long-form piece, The Sayers. You can find links to every chapter of the Novel at the dedicated blog page. If you notice any grammatical errors I have overlooked, or you have any observations to make on this piece, please feel free to leave them in the comments below.

For the previous part of the story, Click Here.
For the next part of the story, Click Here.


Max stretches, hands above head and admires the fruits of his handiwork.

The small grey paper horse is not perfect, but it will do. He turns the creation over, examining folds, trying to remember any steps that might have been missed in construction, but is satisfied the method remains solid. This task has allowed an opportunity to reconstruct vague areas of missing memory: accepted to the Cartographer's Guild a year after Yuki had disappeared, he was one of the last allowed to study overseas before the Imperial Government outlawed the practice. Travelling on horseback into Europa, he shifted slowly from east to west over one glorious summer. The long rides and countryside between locations made him smile, but not as much as the girl who tasted of apple pastry, sitting on his lap that first night in the mountains...

His evening meal is long-since finished: roasted beef and potatoes, vegetables and chutney, plus a glass of red wine that has made him more than a little unfocussed. Three origami animals have been constructed since and he can sense it will not be long: nerves tickling since dinner was bought refusing to subside. He craves Alexa in his head, amazed at how her presence is missed after such short exposure. Even the thought in his mind increases the heart rate, moves body to arousal. Her brilliance was unlike anything he’d experienced: exposed passion, enthusiasm for the task of inevitable liberation. Max’s interest however lies in the hidden recesses of her consciousness. Anger is buried he understands only too well, dark and dangerous temper that calls for control, restraint…

Paper ignites, shift of Earth that shatters glass and buckles wood, fire burning out of control. The reason why she had run, that made Hilltop pronounce her dead. Not fear of command, but of herself.

Max knows his Directed anger is capable of shattering objects: one of the reasons the Sisters chose to drug him. Hilltop had trained him to focus, destroying several wine glasses, encouraging yet containing during their brief time together. His skill is movement, Alexa’s conflagration, ability remaining rare enough to hide. Prevalent simply by chance, peculiar combination of family lines, and only in later years after the mind had been given time to mature…

Moving from table to the bed, lying to stare at the ceiling, awareness blossoms of a moment in his head, uncovered since her time inside him. Not a memory, but something else. Their possibility. Within the permutations shuffle and divide, infinite outcomes of different pairings: the future being written every second. Hands go to eyes, searching a mind only now fully cognisant: chasing, hunting down factors to provide the final conclusion.

A pen pushes into pliant flesh, ink bleeding through pale, scarred skin.

She rides him slowly, delicate care making every hair stand on end. With each rise and fall of her lower body his mind gives, consciousness awakening the depth of feeling so long suppressed. Every mark on her is a story: cut and scar testament to life spent in a lie. Never meant to be an Assassin, her path was with the Sisters, but their life scared her. What she fought for, then and now, was freedom. No-one had been capable of providing a release. Until him.

His mind was her salvation.

Max breathes, becoming the vision, letting the room morph and disintegrate, naked beneath and hard inside her body. In an exhale he wills himself to release everything, dispense with the Earth completely. The room shimmers, evaporating as they do, breaking down to motes of dust that drift and shift in late afternoon sun. One word, drawn in the air, understanding that good things come, but much must alter before their consummation.


The Palace lies below, elegantly drawn by his own hand. Countless weaknesses are exposed, deliberately built, ways and means to enter unseen, many long forgotten. Lucius holds his keys. Max can show him the doors, entrances and egresses, to gain entry to a place now fortified beyond measure. This is his true worth to the Resistance. Nobody cares about destiny any more, all that matters is freedom.


Max sits bolt upright, revelation sudden and damning. The last words Lucius uttered before they’d spirited him from the Palace ring in ears only now capable of hearing the truth.

‘Your mind is the most important weapon we have. Keep it safe, my friend.’

Consciousness tickles, brief warp of air making nerves tense, and there is a noise downstairs, clatter of cutlery and crockery that suddenly puts Max’s whole body on edge. Then Alexa appears, brief yet glorious in his head, with a confidence that surprises him.

Stay in the Carrier.

Greengrass vanishes in a breath, leaving only Direction in her wake.

His prison is suddenly open: Marion standing and shaking in clear agitation, large line of blood across the white silk of her blouse.

'The other two are dead, we're not safe here. We need to move. Get your uniform on.'

Then she is gone, door left open, and Max stares at the empty space in disbelief. Alexa is not close, she waits for them in a pre-arranged spot. He remains the only other living person in the building.

The horror of Marion’s immediate actions on being discovered makes him ill.

Dressing in grim silence, Courier uniform an afterthought, Max angers at the deception that won’t work any more, now he grasps the truth of what has transpired. Moving downstairs, holdall strapped to his back, he finds Woodgrove pouring herself into leathers that are clearly Military issue. He’d observed the new Assassins in the last days before he’d been drugged to oblivion: it is no surprise she counts herself as one of their number.

As he stares the woman’s eyes harden and darken, any remaining affinity she may have had long since dispensed. His question to her comes with a confidence that is a surprise.

'You killed those two men yourself. There was no need to do so. Why?’

'Because I chose to. I can still kill you and justify it with perfect ease. Don't give me a reason.’

‘Tell me what I must do.’

‘Nothing stupid and exactly as you are told. Outside, now.’

She shadows him into the moonlight, towards the stables, where a black Military Carrier waits currently without horses. Marion is edgy, moving in clear concern as she guides Max to the back: her hand is on his arm, pushing hard and deliberately into the wooden door. He is is fairly sure this grip could break the bone if she chose to.

'You and I are going back to the Capitol. I would enjoy your brief taste of freedom, there'll be so many drugs in your system tomorrow you'll never stand up again. I will make sure that you are milked with no pleasure, suffering from multiple hands. Thanks to you I am potentially forced into failure. This does not make me happy.'

He stands supplicant as arm is released and container is opened, moving inside without a word. Shrouded in darkness he listens: preparation of the two horses, briefly comforted by the sounds of tack being shifted and mares first saddled then placed in position. She is planning ahead incase they need to abandon the carrier, he decides, and only because he feels no sensation of Alexa.

Suddenly she appears, inhale inside him, instant blink of orientation.

‘Get out of my head you fucking BITCH!’

Marion screams into the darkness, anger incandescent, Max knowing she doesn’t grasp how far away the woman is and that this distance will be her undoing. Alexa is stretching Earth and back: he wraps himself to the thread she creates, further strengthening the bond. In a moment the carrier is moving, Max thrown to the back, desperately scrabbling for stability. A junction lies ahead, key decision and without thinking he knows they must turn right, heading away from the Capitol and towards the inevitable.

Max closes eyes and acts from instinct, shifting mind outside the Carrier: placing an illusion on the road, duplicating her image as disguise. Alexa’s presence is sudden and seemingly real, forcing Marion’s progress eastwards.

The Carrier immediately lurches, sudden and rapid movement, quickly picking up speed, and Max is tense, aware now of Marion’s panic she’s heading the wrong way, that Greengrass has forced a diversion from her plan. The horses are whipped to his dismay, vehicle going far faster than was either safe or sensible: he wonders how far she can go before the road becomes a hindrance to progress. Inside his head Alexa shows the spool, silk ties in scarlet, two darts loaded to be manipulated by her own mind in flight, just as he had projected the air to look solid and real moments before. She grasped the response, watching through his mind with amazement. Her admiration is considerable, and despite the potential danger he’s in, Max is grinning at her regard.

Brace yourself.

Now there is understanding of what will come and he stretches, hands pressed into each side of the container, waiting for the inevitable. The blowpipe is armed, her mind as one with the darts and silk. An explosion of compressed gas takes everything into slow motion, deceleration decreasing and then stopped, removal of horsepower from the equation that pulls the container past the now unconscious mares and flips the entire carriage onto its side. There is the break of the reins and the box keeps sliding, screech of metal on stone until finally, blissfully, there is nothing.

Max shakes, breathing laboured, understanding prediction has become history.


For the previous part of the story, Click Here.
For the next part of the story, Click Here.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Feed Me Seymour

In a revelation to me this morning, but not so much to Science, I realised my brain is, more or less, a gigantic filtration system. To demonstrate, I have borrowed this graphic that somebody else made and relabelled it for myself:

This means that I take in a ton of stuff from various sources (where news is a constant and the reactions can be derived from a large number of sources) and then react to it. The time stuff stays in my filtration unit is directly relateable to the complexity of the issue. Currently my brain is processing an issue for The Other Blog, and I'm finding a lot of stuff floating to the surface of my tank as a result. There's the Cult of Personality, for instance: that bloke that lots of people seem to like who had his TV show pulled because he's allegedly hit a producer. 350,000 people have signed a petition based, I would hope, on the full and detailed explanation of the circumstances behind his suspension to each and every one of them. Nah, didn't think so. You see, thinking is dangerous. In this immediate world, it takes far too long. Also, if you're thinking about it you can't be a part of the spontaneity of Real Life.

That's like reading, and we know NOBODY does that any more.

Thank you to @SingingPaladin for this :D

Words are hard. That's why people are more and more predisposed to go for the visual, to capitalise on the moment, because the attention span of the average person is now so short...


Aaaaaand you get the point.

That's why I wonder why I bother, with a story written weekly that no more than a handful of people will ever read. Except, that doesn't matter. It isn't about making other people happy: if that happens, then its a fabulous, wonderful bonus, that will make me smile and do the baby fistpump. This is about MY HAPPINESS, and that pretty much crucially centres around the ability I have to become a better writer. I don't frankly care if  most of the world would prefer me on a camera, or talking instead of typing. To become a better person a LOT of stuff needs to make it into the filtration tank and be dealt with. My means to do this is via these here letters and words, and as long as that remains the case the argument for blogging remains unerringly compelling. Seriously, I used a word last week in a podcast script and my Editor pronounces he's confident he's never seen this used by anybody else. That's just WRONG.

Education, at some point, will involve everyone just sitting down and listening. There will inevitably be some reading involved too. Maybe, when these happen, instead of just tuning out, you could try paying attention.

You never know what you might learn if you do.