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6 hrs ago
Current God damn it work.
1 day ago
For all that I write some truly excellent stuff, I do write some uninspired trash :P
2 likes
1 day ago
Look, if you are sad and lonely on Valentine's Day just repeated to yourself that its all made up by the card companies or whatever mantra you use to make yourself feel better.
3 likes
2 days ago
Two people anonymously left roses in my office. Also I have access to the security feeds! *Puts on her deerstalker*
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4 days ago
Haha!

Bio

Early 30's. I know just enough about everything to be dangerous.

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Looking for someone to write an awesome pulp adventure ala Indiana Jones, Atlantis, Call of Cthulhu.

All other details are negotiable!
Trollocs? Here? Mave’s horse whickered and neighed as she drove her heels into its ribs forcing it at a gallop. The former peddlers nag was no warhorse but the animal’s atavistic fear of the trollocs was more than sufficient to give speed to its flight. Ali took the lead, guiding his horse downhill towards a water course that afforded at least some clearance from the encroaching trees. She focused on weaving casting bars of air at thigh level that tripped and confused the monsters.

“Can’t you call up fire or something?” Ali yelled as the raced down the loamy bank of the stream, branches catching at them as the went. Mave nodded her head though he couldn’t see the guesture.

“I could but the point is to be chased remember? We are trying to lure them away from your home,” she yelled.

“Ware ahead!” Ali shouted and she turned in time to see a half dozen trollocs leaping from concealment, apparently having been waiting in ambush. Two of them errupted into greasy flames of burning flesh as Mave took Ali’s advice. The others shied back and Ali brained one with a blow of his staff and broke the arm of a second. Hands grasped for Mave but she was moving to quickly and they were through the ambush and racing down the stream bed. The Mule, still tied to ALi’s horse was blowing hard trying to keep up.

After five minutes of galloping they slowed to a brick walk. There was no sign of the trollocs behind them, save for the slight stink of burning flesh which clung to them. Mave glanced around, completely lost and the horses rapidly approaching exhaustion. She lay her hand on top of her own steed and wove an intricate mesh of water and spirit. The beast perked up immediately as she washed away its fatigue, before repeating the process with the other animals.

“They can go on aways,” she said quietly.

“Though they have not truely rested, if we keep pushing them…. Well… Its a long walk to Illian.”
Junebugs stomach lurched the way it always did right before things really dropped in the pot. A number of possible scenarios ran through her mind at once, none of them good. She quickly finished pulling on the outfit that she found in the chambers she had been assigned. A gauzy band of gossamer silk, that wrapped around her chest, and a knee length skirt of similar material that was girdled by a belt of woven gold thread clenched with a ruby. The garments didn’t provide much in the way of modesty but they at least provided the psychological comfort that clothing of any kind affords.

“Taya can you reach Sven on any net you have set up?” she asked.

“Break. Neil better gear me up.” Across the street Neil unlimbered an awkward looking plastic tube. He hefted it to his shoulder and pushed the rude trigger switch that he had installed earlier. There was an audible chuff of compressed air as it launched its payload across the street, arcing only a little faster than a man could through to land in the courtyard where it bounced end over end before coming to rest against a decorative wall. Junebug scooped it up and tore the packing tape that secured it, inside was a towel in which had been wrapped a small pistol, a datapad and some rudimentary intrusion kit. She tucked the small pistol into the girdle bought the datapad live, adding its visual capacity.

“No… ummm I mean negative, I can’t reach him,” Taya responded a moment later.

“I cant find him anywhere,” she said a moment later.

“Oh we know where he is,” Junebug responded.

“Break. Neil, unless I’m very much mistaken Sven is about to launch a coup…” It was also possible that it was a robbery, though very much of the smash first grab later variety, that didn’t really seem like Sven’s style. It hardly mattered at the moment. An automatic weapon opened up as one of the guards Sven hadn’t managed to bribe opened fire. A moment later the gauss cannons on the air cars ripped the night with a sleet of iridium pellets, blowing apart men in the watchtowers and tearing guards of the parapet in showers of bloody gristle.

Screaming harem girls rushed from the courtyard in various states of undress. Junebug had a moment to contemplate that most of them were younger and softer than she was before a grenade bounced into the courtyard. Junebug kicked the small golf ball sized bomb into one of the empty rooms and shoved the nearest girl to the floor a second before the glass fiber shrapnel blasted from the room, though robbed of its lethal force several women screamed. A moment later a door burst open and a pair of armored mercenaries with assault rifles rushed into the mass of women. Sayeeda’s little pistol cracked twice snapping the lead gunman’s head back in a spray of blood and brains. The second man, lucky but good also, dived behind one of the carven wooden panels. Junebug spat a sulfurous oath and fired into the heavy teak but succeeded only in spraying splinters with the small calibre gun. The wood cratered inward and the man behind it flopped bonelessly to the ground as Neil took him out from his elevated position, the report of the heavy weapon lost in the din. Sayeeda blew a lock of hair out of her face.

“Taya, seal the ship,” she commanded, pressing the release stud to drop the half empty clip to the mosaic floor and replacing it with her one and only reload.

“You got it,” came back along with the sound of the Highlanders emergency hatches slamming shut. Hopefully that wasn’t necessary but taking unnecessary chances was a good way to get your people killed. She belated wondered if Saxon were on the ship and what role, if any, he was playing in all this. It was too late to worry about it and probably beyond Taya’s power to eject the Hex from the ship if it became an issue

She was alone in the courtyard now, the rest of the harem having scattered back to the dubious safety of their quarters. Blood ran down an incline not apparent to the naked eye from the merc Neil’s shot had all but decapitated. Sven’s men, if that was what was going on, weren’t necessarily their enemies, but experience taught Junebug that you shot first and asked questions only if you absolutely had to when you were writing the after action report. The fact that Sven had not tried to hire them was suggestive, as was the fact he had obviously gone to some length to be incommunicado but that could just be a determination not to let Neil fuck up his latest venture. What was important now was that she get to the library and get the data the needed before the whole place went up in proverbial, and perhaps literal, flames.

“This is going to get really messy Junebug,” Neil said, his transmission stepping on something Taya had been about to say by virtue of his seniority. Sayeeda scooped up the fallen mercenaries weapon and thrust the pistol into the girdle before taking a bandolier of reload and looping it over her shoulder.

“You are telling me,” she agreed, imagining how she appeared in the silks with the brutal looking rifle and the bandolier.

“I already look completely ridiculous.”
Calliope followed the servant into the courtyard where Prince Achmed waited. Gone was the unwashed captive she had rescued from the corsair galley. Instead Achmed stood in shining white silks. A vest of sky blue cotton was slashed by a brilliant crimson sash, generously embroidered with gold thread. A turban of pure white silk was bound around his head and gold and jewels seemed to drip from him. Each finger contained a different ring and a chain of gold links hung from his neck. He was immaculately clean and groomed and a jewel encrusted scimitar hung from the sash. It didn’t look to Calliope like it was anything more than an ornament.

“You look absolutely stunning,” Achmed said and held out his hand. Calliope was unsure whether she was supposed to kiss it or take it but she opted for the latter and the prince gave no objection.

“Let us to dinner,” he declared.

The dining room, like every other room Calliope had seen, was luxuriously appointed. A long table ran most of the length of the room and the walls were covered with mosaic scenes. Calliope wasn’t familiar enough with Arad art to recognise the scenes depicted but they seemed to be of a religious nature. Numerous plants grew in shallow troughs by the walls, giving the room a greenery which was a luxury in this barren place and filling the room with the odors of their various flowers. The pollen tickled Calliope’s sinuses but she resisted the urge to sneeze. Somewhere out of sight a harp played, filling the room with gentle music. People stood as they entered and each bowed from the waist as the prince passed by. They were the great and the good of Dalib Sahara, come to eat with the Sultan.

At the end of the hall was a raised dais where the Sultan sat in resplendent glory on a throne draped with gorgeous leopard pelts behind which a hundred peacock feathers rose to form a spectacular fringe. Four guards stood sentinel like about the ruler of Dalib Sahara each holding a large round shield of polishes silver in which a palm tree was embossed in gold. Though they wore helmets, their faces were smooth and perfect. Calliope wondered whether they were real soldiers or merely ornamentation.

To Calliope’s considerable surprise Markus sat at the Sultan’s right hand in a place of honor that normally would have been reserved for the Prince. Achmed also noticed this and tensed in anger, though nothing showed on his face or in his gait. From the look of satisfaction on the Sultan’s face she wasn’t the only one who noticed the reaction. The Sultan was clearly using Markus to deliver a none to0 subtle lesson to the prince about who ruled in Dalib Sahara.

The reached the step of the dais and Achmed prostrated himself before the throne. Calliope was fairly certain she was supposed to do something similar but, trusting to her supposed ignorance, settled for a slight curtsey instead.

“Father, by the grace of Hayashim, praised be his name, I have returned to serve you,” Achmed said formally. The Sultan waited several long heart beats before speaking.

“Rise my Son and take the place to my left, the city rejoices in your safe return, and in the gallantry of your ‘allies’ who secured your freedom.”

“Well I suppose they shall have to write some stories about us,” Mave said. With Emond’s Field and Deven’s Ride behind them the road had faded away to almost nothing. The map showed that it continued south into Gheldan but that was either a relic of an earlier time or merely wishful thinking. Where the Westwood had been a tranquil place, the Forest of Shadows had a dark unwholesome look. Great oaks towered into the darkening sky and vines strung between aged and decaying trunks made passage difficult.

“To that end…” Mave took a leather wrapped bundle from her saddle and handed it to Ali. He took it curiously and unwrapped it. Inside was a bow of sturdy yew almost five a half feet long along with a pair of coiled and waxed bow strings and two dozen long feathered arrows. It seemed to Mave to be ridiculously large compared to the short cavalry bows she had seen in Arad Doman but the fletcher had assured her that was what the locals used.

“I know its not a staff, but I saw some of the locals using them at Beltane and I thought you would probably know the basics,” she went on, curiously embarrassed and anxious at the gift.
Shes a bit older than he usually likes them,” the slavemaster grumbled as Canek’s mercenary, an affable man named Alverez handed Junebug through the wrought iron gate. The slavemaster was a fat man and years of drink and dissipation had left his nose red and crinkled with spider veins. The decision not to send Taya had been a tough one. The girl had been willing enough and her youth and coloration as well as her technical skill made her better suited for the deception. Taya had been more than willing but Junebug had shut her down, not because she herself was a glory hog, but because she knew in her heart of hearts, that Taya wasn’t really an operator the way she and Neil were. It wasn’t a matter of being willing in your mind, you needed to be able to do it in your gut, put the knife in without mercy. Junebug suspected it wasn’t a good comment on her mental health that she didn’t feel you could really trust someone until they could kill without compunction, but she had survived over a decade in a business that didn’t give many second chances.

“Yeah well, if his nibs doesn't go for her then you can sell her yourself right? Alverez prompted and the slave master grunted. He passed a pouch to the mercenary that jingled significantly. Junebug made a mental note to get the money off Alverez when this was over. She was dressed for the occasion in the dark grey cloth that the locals wore, the garments covering her almost completely though they hugged her figure sufficiently as to leave no doubt to her gender. Taya had spent most of the afternoon carefully concealing Junebug’s tattoos and scars with cosmetics. The effect wasn’t perfect but hopefully she wouldn’t need to pass close inspection. It was late evening now, and the business of the palace was done for the day. Canek believed that she would be stored in the harem wing tonight and presented to the Pasha in the morning. If not, well thats what Neil was across the way for.

“Fine,” the Slavemaster said looking her up and down with approval.

“Looks like she has some fight in her, the Pasha likes that sometimes,” he noted, earning himself no points in Sayeeda’s book. The Slavemaster took out a scanner from his robes and passed it over Sayeeda’s body though for what purpose she wasn’t exactly sure. Perhaps it was merely a check for weapons and other contraband. Satisfied he took her by the arm and closed the door on Alvarez, leading her back into the palace.

The Harem was a lushly appointed series of chamber arranged around a central courtyard of intricately designed mosaic tiles. Sayeeda thought it might have been meant to represent a lemon tree light by two moons but it was difficult to appreciate it from so close. Dozens of small chambers appended to the courtyard, each sectioned off by latices of artfully rendedred carved wood that had been poished till it shined. The slave master half lead half dragged her to the center where a severe looking woman with grey hair was waiting.

“You may go Haseem,” she directed the slavemaster curtly. The man growled but departed without incident. The woman stepped forward and matter of factly stripped Sayeeda naked with a couple of quick practiced jerks. She shivered in the moonlight and tried to lean forward slighty in order to conceal her abdominal muscules. Junebug had always been fit, but since her encounter with the Terran bio enhancements her musculature had become more prominent. Even leaning forward the ghost of her stomach muscles was visible. The woman sucked a breath in through her teeth.

“Well you aren’t the usual are you,” she mused, slapping Sayeeda experimentally on one dusky hip.

“Fit arent you, a bit on the heavy side” she went on, circling Sayeeda like a hawk. Junebug said nothing, uncertain of if there was an appropriate response.

“Well I suppose we will see what the Pasha think in the morning,” she said decisevely and gestured towards a room. Junebug snatched up her clothing and awkwardly made her way to it.

“Status?” Neil’s voice buzzed in her ear. Junebug sighed philisopically.

“Well I’m apparently too heavy and too old for a harem,” she responded wrly, “but so far, so good.:


Mave folded her arms beneath her breasts, appearing calm though she had already embraced the source. She wasn’t sure exactly what the gleeman was playing at but he clearly new more than he should. Could he have deduced her identity from some sign she hadn’t noticed? Was this all just some elaborate bluff?

“I think you may have mistaken us for one of your tales master gleeman,” Mave said after a moment.

“I’m sure it sounds a good story to talk of Aes Sedai and Ta’veren but really. It was bad enough that everyone assumed I was some foreign chit here to steal away Ali,” she scoffed. The Gleeman shrugged as though unconcerned with this defense.

“Stolen him you have, it would seem to me, won’t young Evelyn be devastated,” he went on with a theatrical sigh.

“Our business is our own master gleeman and we do not care to share the road with you.” She channeled a thin wisp of air, just enough to cut the tether that held his horse in place. Then she switched the beast gently on the flank and it started off at a brisk trot. The gleeman turned and glared at the departing horse.

“Fair well sir, I hope we wont meet again,” Mave said placidly as Ali swung awkwardly up into his saddle.

“Aes Sedai! The Eyes of the Dragon see much! We can help you!” the gleeman called as the turned and cantered away northward. As soon as they were out of sight Mave drew her horse into a trot.

“Im not sure what is going on, but we need to get as far south as we can by nightfall, we should make for Jehanna.” Ali nodded and led them off the road, circling back south.

“Are you sure there isn’t anything you need to tell me?” she asked after a moment.
Although Calliope congratulated herself that she had been right about Achmed, she also kicked herself for not having anticipated the need for more formal clothing. Nothing irritated her more than being underdressed. Fortunately the prince was in much the same position as her, dressed as he was in a set of clothing scrounged from Markus. One of the servants who accompanied the elephant quickly dressed the prince in a silk robe, draping it over the simple pirate clothing before winding a turban around his forehead and fastening it with a ruby the size of a thumbnail, set into a gold band.

They moved through the city with considerable fanfare. Ahead of them the guards moved in an armored wedge, beating aside those who moved too slowly for their liking. The trumpets blared as they moved into a great open air bazzar where men and women of a dozen races bartered and traded. Every imaginable good appeared to be for sale. Fruit, carpets, brass, wonderous instruments, maps, swords and armor, arcana, perfume and a thousand other things beside. They were crammed into booths of canvas or wood, or simply piled in squares marked out by the flagstones. Smoke rose from brazzers where meat was being roasted, pungent spices assailed her from small eateries and cook shops. Suddenly she wanted very badly to be down amongst it all, exploring, but instead she sat beside Achmed as his elephant swayed its way up the slight hill towards the great arabesque encrusted gate which marked the entrance to the Pasha’s palace.

They passed through into a large paved courtyard which was surrounded ornately maintained gardens. Water ran in tiled channels to fill elegant fountains which were fringed with lilies or large sinuous lotus blossoms that filled the courtyard with a subtle perfume which banished the dust. Dates and palms curled from the walls towards the sunlit center creating covered walkways that were shaded from the sun. In the center of the courtyard a large tamaron tree stood majestically, greyish brown seed pods hanging from its branches in neat manicured clumps. A long set of steps lead up towards the palace itself. Rose petals had already been strewn along the sand stone steps and at each level a guard stood with a spear held at a perfect vertical.

“Ahhh My Lady Calliope,” Achmed said extending her a hand which she took.

“Allow me to repay your hospitality.”

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