A while back I came across some old stories I’d written and mostly forgotten about. I remembered them immediately, like old friends you’d thought long lost. In the world of nostalgia and memory, they were beautiful. Then you look at them and you realize how ugly they are, and misshapen, and your very soul cringes and hopes no one ever sees them.
Then you do like I do, say fuck it, and throw them up on your blog.
This is the eleventh chapter of this story, which is at least five more than I expected there to be. If you want to read the others first, or if you’d like to read them in random order, here are the other chapter links. If, like everyone else, you have no desire to read this, by all means do whatever else it is you do on the internet.
I tried to be as casual as possible leaving the bar through the back door. I’m sure I failed miserably. Something about being out in the open when I knew a group of heavily-armed ex-military types were looking specifically for me and had already marked the place I was leaving had my usual equanimity buried under a thick layer of well-earned paranoia. The noodle place Severa was sending me wasn’t far but it wasn’t close either. I would have felt less naked in a skinsuit on stage working for tips. I didn’t want to risk the transit service but walking all the way to the meet-up in the open had my nerves on fire. I didn’t make it a tenth of the way before I headed towards the skycar traffic. I decided I’d rather get shot at the depot and get it over with instead of spending an entire three-kilometer walk waiting for the bullet.
This is the tenth chapter of this story, in case the title didn’t give it away. If you want to read the others first, or if you’d like to read them in random order (hey, I don’t judge), here are the other chapter links:
The universe had other plans for me besides a stiff drink or seven. It always did. “Before you pickle yourself,” Severa said, “I need you to ring my contact. You’ll want to be sober for the meeting.”
I grabbed some filtered Earth water instead with a scowl. The label made it look like Earth was a pastoral wonderland and the water therein was hand-filtered by nymphs. I grew up there and knew it probably came out of a rusty spigot in some filthy bottling plant. I drank it anyway in a misguided show of solidarity for my species. “What’s the name?”
“Don’t worry about that,” she responded, clicking on her omni. Mine buzzed silently as she sent me a message. Just a number with no information. “You have encryption on your piece of terracrap?” She was recovering quickly.
This is the ninth chapter in what is continuing to insist on being told for no particularly good reason. God knows if anyone is reading this, but just in case, here’s the one’s that came before:
The fake C-Sec officers snapped up their guns and sighted us down in a figurative explosion of movement. The literal explosion happened at the end of the bar, where the three going to the back were standing. It sounded like a grenade, so I assumed it was. My estimation of Tomyra’s paranoia level deepened, along with my respect and fear. It made me wonder where else she had explosive devices planted for just-in-case purposes. It also helped explain how she might be on a first name basis with murderous mercenaries.
This is the eighth chapter in what was originally going to be a short intro to the characters and has turned into a much longer story than the original story I planned on telling. Sometimes that’s just what happens. If you’re crazy enough to read it in order, you can find the other chapters here:
It took us a while to get to where I was taking them. I wanted to stick to alleys and back ways and avoid eyes as much as possible. I also didn’t head directly to the destination. Instead we meandered, sometimes doubled back, occasionally stayed put in a hiding spot while Severa got some rest. Lorelei was looking fresher and wanted to talk but the turian wouldn’t let her ask questions, always putting her off for later when we weren’t being actively hunted. I didn’t bring up the fact that we’d be in that situation until we managed to wipe out a large criminal organization that had infiltrated an unknown number of C-Sec operatives. I didn’t want to put a damper on anyone’s chipper mood.
All in all, it was the most effort I ever put into going to a bar, and that’s saying something.
This is the seventh chapter in what was originally going to be a short intro to the characters and has turned into a much longer story than the original story I planned on telling. Sometimes that’s just what happens. If you’re crazy enough to read it in order, you can find the other chapters here:
There was no talking for the next couple of minutes, unless you count swearing. I did plenty of that for all of us. I leaned out whenever there was a gap in the gunfire and fired as many rounds as I could, but the pistol was heating up fast. I had all the ammo I needed, what with each shot being tiny, but the immense speed they were fired built up a lot of heat. Too much and the automatic failsafe would kick in, leaving it inoperable until it cooled down again. Five seconds without a working firearm was a lifetime in a firefight.
This is the short story I wrote for my wife for Valentine’s Day. As I’ve said previously, it’s the first story I wrote after 4 years or so, and it was the first thing I needed to write in a very long time. She inspires me every day, and I wanted to share with her a little glimpse of how she is in my imagination. This is a small part of her, and since people asked to see it and she said it was okay, I’m sharing it here.
Also, the drawing is a sketch I made of Spaniel Day Lewis for the Valentine’s Day before this one, and since he also graces this story, I thought I’d share it, too. I’d illustrate the whole thing if I could, but I sadly lack that talent.
Once there was a girl who lived in a house that was down a hill and up a hill away from the woods. The girl loved the woods very much, and was often found there, exploring the hidden places and listening to the music of the trees. She was very bright and imaginative and kind and clever, and a million other wonderful things besides, but most of all she was brave. She felt no fear under the boughs and amidst the brush, even when the shadows lengthened, because she loved the forest near her home. There were always adventures to be had there, and she would run or skip or stalk or sit quietly, however the mood struck her, as a branch became a wizard’s staff or a wind-borne blossom sprouted fairy wings or all the birds gathered to sing her a lullaby.
This is Chapter 4 of my sci-fi detective noir short story. If you’re one of those weirdos who likes to start from the beginning, choose something earlier below:
On the bright side, I hadn’t been arrested. They drove me to their local station, took my pistol for safe-keeping, and had me cool my heels in a spare office. The small room made Madeline’s look ostentatious. I wondered if decorations were against the rules. The place was doing a brisk business, with a bunch of drunk and disorderlies along with some busted brawlers. It reminded me fondly of my military career.
This is Chapter 3 of A Serpent in the Citadel, a pulp noir detective story set in the Mass Effect universe. I try very hard to make it unnecessary to have played the games to enjoy the story. Let me know how poorly I’ve done so in the comments.
The bar was called Tranquility but Surly would’ve described it better. I’d envisioned asari dancing girls and a lively crowd of villainy, but the place wasn’t a wretched hive. It was barely a disheveled nest. The place wasn’t small, with tables and secluded booths in a large open area that looked like it could seat a hundred with more on the spacious elevated dance floor. It was, however, nearly empty. There was an asari but she wasn’t dancing. Instead she wiped a spot on the bar with a towel and seemed intent about it. A krogan sat on the right side of the bar, in heavy armor that looked beat to hell and halfway back, nursing a drink. On the left was a lone turian, female, dressed like a merc looking to get in a company. Ragged was too kind a term. A quartet of salarians sat at one table and a pair of quarians were at another, their environmental suits dusty and worn. The bar was quiet, except for a vague electronic dance tune that sounded like it was on a loop and the whispered conversations from the tables that stopped when I got there.
This is part 2 of my sci-fi detective story. Part 1 is here. Enjoy. If you want, I mean. I’m not your boss.
It took me longer to get to my apartment once I was on the Citadel than it did to travel the millions of miles from Arcturus to the giant station. Customs was no problem. A scan of my new agent license made them ignore my firearm and I got waved in like I was reputable. Citadel security was slipping. Past security was the no-man’s-land between the Presidium and the Wards. The Presidium was where the people who were a big deal hung out, diplomats and councilors and their hangers-on. The five Wards jutted off the central ring of the Presidium and was where the real action was. Each was a city unto themselves, full of noise and light and the crammed masses of a half-dozen species gawking and wandering. The place was a great equalizer among all us aliens – none of us built it, we were all in awe of it, and being there instantly made every visitor a tourist for at least a little while.
I decided to walk a lot of the way down the long arm of Tayseri Ward, packed in among the milling masses. I could have flagged a shuttle or a ground car, but something about the crazy bustle of the crowd appealed to me. It reminded me of home, the sprawling slum on Earth, only Tayseri was a lot cleaner and I didn’t get mugged every fifth step. There was a buzz to the Citadel, something I could appreciate. Quiet places got to me after a while. Elysium was quiet until the Blitz. Now quiet just meant I was waiting for the explosions and screams.