Greater Good – Part 2

Hello all! This week’s post is the second half of the Greater Good story from last week. If you haven’t read that yet, please do so here. As always, please feel free to post comments and critiques below! I hope you enjoy reading this story as much as I enjoyed writing it! And Merry Christmas to you all! May you be filled with cheer as we enter into 2020!

26 “Are you feeling…ok?” he asked hesitantly.  She nodded, looking around at the garage they were in.  Technically it was a side room within a larger garage, but it obviously belonged to a mechanic.  She doubted this kid was the main mechanic, though. He looked much too young, even for an irregular world such as Elysium City.  Then, Rainbow remembered something important. Very important. She had not yet introduced herself, and she had no idea what this kid’s name was, either.

27 “I’m Rainbow Moon,” she said, hoping he’d get the hint and respond with his own name.  Unfortunately he didn’t. He simply nodded, once again rubbing his hand through his hair.  She waited for a minute, and when he stayed silent she probed him gently with a question: “Who are you?”

28 The kid seemingly snapped to attention, blushing slightly.  “Felix,” he said quickly, “Felix Hobson.” Rainbow held back a chuckle.  Even though she knew his slowness was caused by the Orations, she couldn’t help thinking it made him look like a sweet dork.

29 “Do you live here?  Alone?” Rainbow asked, scanning his face with her perceptive blue eyes.  Felix nodded and then shook his head. He explained that he lived here with Baz Parrish.  He was the mechanic who owned the shop. However, Baz never had any customers, so he pretty much just spent his time working on an old car he had found.  When Rainbow asked to see the car, Felix didn’t hesitate long.

30 “Are you feeling ok enough to get up, though?” Felix asked, standing up.  Rainbow assured him she was fine, and took his hand that he held out to her.  He helped her up off the ground, and she brushed the dust off herself. Smiling once more, Felix led the way through a door to their right into the large main room of the garage.

31 A medium-sized car was positioned in the center of the room, its front wheels raised higher up with ramps.  The car had no roof, not even one that could go up and down. It looked almost like a boat, with a short steeply angled windshield in front, and nothing of the sort on the back.  The seats were tan leather, and both were benches. There was no space in between the seats, even in front, making it able to carry six people comfortably. The sides were quite dented, so it was impossible to open the doors.  But despite its ramshackle appearance, it was clean, and looked like it could actually go somewhere.

32 “Wow,” Rainbow said breathlessly.  She had never seen a car that looked so nice.  “Does it actually run? Like, can you drive it places?”  Felix shook his head again, but explained that he and Baz nearly had it completely fixed.  So it wouldn’t be long before it was able to drive. When Rainbow asked, Felix confirmed her thoughts that Felix was somewhat Baz’s student.

33 “Yeah,” Felix said.  “He lets me live here just so long as I help him with whatever he needs.  Right now, the thing he needs is to get this car going. He only really likes to work on one big project at a time, and I’m more than happy to help.  Working on the car…it’s fun, I guess.”

34 “Fun?” Rainbow asked.  As far as she remembered, people under the influence of the Orations had no concept of fun.  They simply didn’t know what it was. Felix laughed, and the mist on his eyes very nearly vanished.  Rainbow could almost see their true green color.

35 “That’s what Baz calls it, anyway.  And I have to say I agree with him,” Felix said, almost sounding proud of himself and Baz.  Rainbow smiled to herself. Maybe, just maybe, she could get at least Felix, if not Baz as well, off the Orations completely.  It’d be nice to have some help with her quest.

36 “So,” Rainbow began.  “Where is Baz?” She was surprised to hear Felix say Baz was just in the other room. The room Felix went towards wasn’t the room the two of them were just in, but another side room.  “Felix, are you sure he’s ok me being in here?”

37 “Oh, sure, yeah,” Felix said, shrugging.  “Do you want to meet him?” Rainbow nodded nervously, not sure what to expect.  Felix led the way again, around the car to the other side of the room and though a door there.  When they entered Rainbow saw a small room with a workbench that was littered with tools and odd machine parts.  A somewhat old man with wrinkled skin and gray hair streaked white was standing in front of it, putting something together.

38 “Hello, Felix,” Baz said in a gravelly voice.  His steel-blue eyes turned cold when he turned around.  “Who is this?” Rainbow was relieved to see his eyes weren’t misty, but his tone scared her.  She shoved her hands in her pockets, lightly touching her guns for comfort.

39 “Baz Parrish may I present to you Rainbow Moon, the loveliest lass of Elysium City!” Felix announced, exaggerating his tone of voice ridiculously.  Rainbow blushed, managing to speak only a little squeak of a “hi.” Felix looked at her teasingly, eyes mist-free, like she had just ruined the moment.

40 “Pleasure,” Baz said, holding out his hand.  Rainbow shook it shyly, trying her best to avoid Felix’s gaze.  “Don’t mind Felix,” he continued. “I don’t think he’s ever properly met a girl before, so he’s a bit, shall we say, awkward.”

41 “So are you two not as affected by the Orations?” she asked, looking from one to the other.  They explained that they did the Orations properly and often, same as everyone else. No explanation of why they worked differently on them could be supplied.

42 About two weeks later, Rainbow had been pretty much adopted by the two mechanics.  They asked her quite a few questions, especially when they noticed that she didn’t chant the Orations.  When asked why, Rainbow explained what the Orations did to people. She told them how they were created to be addictive, and to make people think everything was fine with the world, and that GGI was a “normal” government.  Baz especially took this skeptically, but Felix was certain Rainbow was telling the truth. In her explanation, Rainbow had told them how her parents had died, and Felix knew exactly how she felt.

43 As time went on, Rainbow gradually convinced the two to believe her, and she mostly got them to stop chanting the Orations.  Every so often they, especially Felix, went into spasms that couldn’t be calmed by anything except the Orations. Even music didn’t do anything when they were in that situation.  But about six months after adopting Rainbow, the trio was ready with a plan to storm GGI and expose it for what it really was; a government that had no care for the well-being of its people.  It would be dangerous, especially since Rainbow had the only two guns. They tried finding and making others, but neither were successful.

44 Late at night, near the end of September, the trio hopped into the car, all three in the front with Baz driving.  GGI headquarters were about ten miles northeast of Elysium City, so the car, which they named Forsaken Death, was their best travel option.  Once they were outside Ely City, Rainbow turned on the radio which she had fixed and connected to her iPod. She turned the volume up loud, singing along with all her might, hair flying behind her.  Felix joined in, despite the fact that he was dreadfully off-key. Baz smiled, and pushed the gas pedal a bit harder, making Rainbow’s hair whip even more.

45 When they were about a mile from GGI HQ, Baz stopped the car and turned off the radio.  “You kids ready?” he asked, hopping out onto the dirt, avoiding the stiff sagebrush. Rainbow and Felix nodded, and Rainbow took off her baggy coat, revealing a close-cut black bodysuit with blue highlights.  Around her waist were two belts; one had a gun fastened to each hip, and the other contained shotgun shell-shaped glass vials which contained light purple liquid. She handed one gun and about five vials to Felix, who shoved both into his pockets.  Baz’s plan was to steal the gun from the first guard they took out. Once they were ready, they set off on foot towards the looming building, Baz hanging behind.

46 They crept slowly, relying on the moonlight to see where they were going.  If one of them stepped on and snapped a stick, all three froze for about ten seconds to make sure the noise hadn’t given them away.  Back at Forsaken Death they agreed that there would be no talking during their mission, relying on visuals to tell each other what to do.  Despite the fact that Baz was the oldest of their company, Rainbow led the way and gave most of the signals.

47 When they reached a side door leading into the building Rainbow waved the other two behind her and blasted the lock.  The ray gun didn’t make a lot of noise, but they waited a full minute to make sure they hadn’t been detected. If GGI knew they were there, they weren’t making any moves.  Rainbow flung the door open, catching it right before it banged against the wall. The room in front of them was mostly dark and looked like a storage unit. Once the trio was inside and had closed the door behind them, five guards leapt out from behind the boxes, pointing their guns and shooting with near-perfect accuracy.  Rainbow and Felix fired a few shots, taking out two of the guards as they ducked down. The rest of the fight was like a deadly whack-a-mole game with people popping up from behind the boxes to fire while trying to avoid getting hit themselves. A blast went through Rainbow’s hair, but fortunately the guards were the only ones who got injured.  When the firing ceased, the trio gagged the guards who were still alive and they took four of the guns, two for Felix and two for Baz. Rainbow was glad to have both of her own guns back; it was more security than just one.

48 The trio moved more cautiously after that, pointing guns in rooms before entering them, but they didn’t do much of that either since most doors they came upon were closed.  Rainbow assumed the guards were posted inside as they had been for the storage room. Eventually, they came upon a staircase and an elevator leading up to something hopefully more official.  They opted to take the stairs since unexpected elevator noise could alert more than five guards to their presence; if the whole of GGI didn’t already know they were here. At the top, they got more than they were hoping for.

49 The room was bristling with guards, as well as computers and other promising equipment.  A handful of people in suits were sitting at a table in the center, with Alex Carlyle sitting at the head.  The moment of shock didn’t last long before they screamed at the guards to act, which they did promptly. The trio formed a human triangle, backs facing each other.  They spun slowly, firing and dodging as necessary. It was difficult to shoot accurately, with the volume of noise and the need to make quick movements. Before they knew it, Felix was down.  Rainbow looked at him, afraid at what she would find, but he was simply curled on the ground, shaking. Orations. He was spazzing out and needed the Orations. Rainbow dropped down, keeping an eye out for shots fired in her direction.  She hefted Felix into a sitting position, and helped him start the chant. Once he was fully into it she stood up again, and she and Baz circled him while he recovered.

50 The amount of guards slowly diminished, collapsing as they were either killed or wounded.  The situation began to look promising, just for a minute. Just as she was thinking they were going to be fine, Rainbow shrieked as a strong arm pulled her aside, causing her to drop one of her guns.  When she twisted around, Alex’s face was right next to hers, and his eyes bled with fury. With another shriek, Rainbow elbowed his face and tried to scramble away, but he was too strong. He slammed her face-down onto the table with her arms bent behind her and tried to take her gun.  Rainbow pulled the trigger, not knowing what direction it was pointing. Apparently the shot hit home, because she heard a scream of pain and the pressure on her body was instantly gone. Without looking at the prostrate body, Rainbow straightened herself and turned around, firing at the computers until they were almost hidden by sprays of sparks and plumes of smoke.  When she turned to face her companions she saw a change in positions with Baz on the ground clutching his arm and a dazed Felix attempting to fire in a straight line. She leapt for them, pulling them towards the door of the elevator. Within a minute, they were inside, breathing heavily, trying to recover. But as the doors opened, they were met by another group of guards.  Rainbow yelled to run through, so that’s what they did, firing blindly as they went. They ran as quickly as they could, not stopping even after slamming through the door to the outside. As quickly as they could they made a run for the car, shots sometimes grazing their limbs. Once they reached Forsaken Death, Rainbow hopped in the driver’s seat, and the others jumped in next to her.  As they drove away, Rainbow pressed her foot all the way down on the pedal and turned the radio at full blast. She wouldn’t be going back to Elysium City, but the damage at GGI was done. It would take time for them to recover, giving her enough time to make her own base and hatch a new, better plan to Eliminate GGI completely.

Greater Good

Hello all! I apologize for it being nearly a whole month since my last post! Things have been very crazy lately with Christmas coming up in a few days, and I haven’t had a lot of free time. In apology for being late in posting and in celebration of Christmas (even though this is not Christmas related…) today’s post is the first half of a short story that took me quite some time to complete. It’s one that I did for a competition, but unfortunately I didn’t win anything. However, despite that, I’m still super glad I did the competition! The parameters were that it had to be 50 paragraphs long exactly, each paragraph had to be a minimum of 40 words each, and dialogue was allowed but could only be put in a 40+ word-long paragraph (no stand-alone dialogue). The host of the competition, which was Owl Canyon Press, also provided the first and twentieth paragraphs for me, and I could not edit those two at all. So as you can (hopefully) tell, this was a bit of a challenge! It really helped me grow as a writer, and Owl Canyon Press is having another competition (called a Hackathon) this spring, which I am super excited to start as soon as I can get the details! I will post the details here on my blog as well in case any of you would like to compete as well. The majority of my inspiration for this story came from Gerard Way’s graphic novel The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, as well as the My Chemical Romance (in which Gerard is the lead singer) album under basically the same name. I highly suggest checking out the graphic novel, and if you like rock music I think you’d like the album as well. I hope you all have a very merry and blessed Christmas! As always, please give me constructive criticism in the comments! I’d love to hear it, especially since I am planning on turning this short story into a full-length book.

1 Beyond the cracked sidewalk, and the telephone pole with layers of flyers in a rainbow of colors, and the patch of dry brown grass there stood a ten-foot high concrete block wall, caked with dozens of coats of paint. There was a small shrine at the foot of it, with burnt out candles and dead flowers and a few soggy teddy bears. One word of graffiti filled the wall, red letters on a gold background: Rejoice!

2 Rainbow Moon gazed at it, her ice blue eyes going back and forth as she read the single-word message over and over again.  A slight movement caught her attention out of the corner of her eye, and she sighed when she turned to look at it. It was just a flyer from the pole drifting in the wind.  That kind of poster wasn’t unusual to see. It was marked with a letter from the government, Greater Good Industries, preaching about how they were going to change the world and all we had to do was be patient.  Rainbow tilted her head ironically.  Of course. Patience. A praise worthy virtue, until it got you in trouble.  The graffiti wall gave the same message, even though it was just one word.  The shrine at its base was against GGI, but they didn’t dare to remove it.  If they did, there’d be a full-blown revolution against them.

3 The shrine was dedicated to those who died at the hands of the government.  That included anyone and everyone who said even the slightest word against them.  Rainbow had contributed a few flowers to it, for her parents were two of the Eliminated.  Gazing at the shrine, Rainbow whispered, “I miss you guys.” She was only seventeen, and her parents had been killed four years ago.  No one had bothered to take care of her. No one really bothered about anyone these days.

4 Rainbow’s hand strayed up to her neck, fingering her necklace.  It was a rainbow-colored crescent moon on a simple silver chain.  Her mother had made it for her, knowing it fit her name perfectly.  Rainbow never took it off, not even when she showered or slept. It was no longer shiny, but Rainbow didn’t mind.  It didn’t attract attention when it was dull, and attention was the last thing Rainbow wanted.

5 Rainbow turned away from the wall and walked down the narrow street that had been on her left.  Very few others were there, and they simply mumbled at Rainbow if she accidentally bumped into them.  They weren’t mumbled curses. In fact, they weren’t words at all. Just a mindless sound in faint acknowledgement of Rainbow’s touch.  Those she didn’t bump into simply shuffled along, heads raised high and pleasant expressions on their faces. They looked like they might be perfectly normal and fine, but their eyes were glazed over, making them seem like ghosts trapped inside mindless human bodies.

6 Scooting past them quickly, Rainbow turned down a few more streets before ducking past a hanging dirty blanket that served as a door.  Beyond it was her home. It wasn’t much, but it was all she had. A pile of random clothes and blankets made her bed, and she had broken pieces of billboard balanced on long-empty kegs as her table.  An overturned bucket was her chair, and an old lantern provided a tiny amount of dim light which only reached half the room. Her canned and freeze-dried food was kept in an old refrigerator that didn’t work.  She had a rusty can opener and some bent silverware as well as an old pie tin for opening and eating her food.

7 Rainbow smiled grimly.  This was more than anyone had, or at least, more than anyone appreciated.  Before sitting down, her eyes strayed to the left-hand wall of her room. She went over to it, sliding her hand along its surface.  Before long, she found the secret pressure point that caused a section of the wall to pop slightly out. Inside was her most prized possession, a small old wooden chest that her father had engraved vines and flowers on years ago, before she was even born, before the rules became too strict.  She unlocked it and carefully pulled out a notebook. Her parents had written in it, detailing all they knew about GGI. She opened to the first page which showed the GGI logo and what they assumed it meant. It was made up of two green G’s and a black I. The G’s were right next to each other and slightly overlapping, and the I was underneath the G’s, right against the place where they merged.  Her parents said it was a tree, and not just any tree. It was the Tree of Life. That made sense with a name like Greater Good Industries. Rainbow believed everything her parents wrote except for one small thing. They said GGI used to be good, but changed shortly before Rainbow was born. Although Rainbow knew it was impossible for her to have memories of that time, she still had a hard time believing it; the only experience she ever had with GGI was purely bad.  Not to mention how her parents had died.

8 Although Rainbow didn’t know it yet, GGI was in the process of experimentation.  It wasn’t just any kind of experimentation, either. GGI had a massive building about ten miles away from Elysium City, dedicated to making the perfect utopia for mankind.  To accompany this utopia, it was their goal to make humans immortal, allowing them to enjoy it forever. But of course, science costs money, something that doesn’t tend to appear out of nowhere.  GGI used the vast majority of its funds on the experiments, which could only be done on a certain number of the population. Elysium City, which contained the rest of the population, was therefore neglected, and the Orations were put into action to give people a false sense of security and happiness.  Rainbow’s parents had been able to figure out a few aspects of GGI, but not quite enough to give Rainbow anything extremely concrete.

9 Rainbow sighed, slipping the book back into place and closing the chest.  After a moment, she walked over to her bed, pulling out her iPod as she flopped down.  She also pulled out some earbuds. She couldn’t risk anyone hearing her music. It was banned by GGI.  Her parents couldn’t figure out why that was, and Rainbow was determined to find out herself. But for now, she simply put the earbuds on and hit “play” on her iPod.  She leaned back, absorbing the music as it flooded into her ears, thankful to her parents for protecting it. When GGI went bad they set off an EMP bomb which took out all technology; all except Rainbow’s iPod.  Her father had altered it, making it resistant to the bomb. Whether he did it just because or if he knew what was coming Rainbow didn’t know. But at the moment she didn’t care, either. She was just thankful.

10 As she lay on her bed listening to her music, Rainbow fell asleep, which wasn’t rare for her, even without dinner.  A loud commotion outside startled her awake. She shot up in bed, ripping her earbuds out, stuffing them and her iPod under the blankets.  She stood up, checking to make sure her gun and ammo belts were firmly secured and not visible underneath her baggy coat. Slipping her hands into her pockets, which were actually holes in her coat leading to the guns, Rainbow ducked under the makeshift door.  As she straightened up her eyes widened. Alex Carlyle, the president of GGI was standing on a slapped-together stage, machine-gun-wielding soldiers flanking him on each side. He was speaking loudly, projecting his voice to the gathering crowd incredibly well even without a microphone.

11. “Ladies and Gentlemen of Elysium City,” he began.  “Gather around and listen close, for I have the greatest of announcements.  I understand that you are all happy, but I could make you even happier if you aid me in one thing.  If you help my team and I in tearing down about half of the old buildings on Main Street, we shall build the greatest ride of your life.  It will be calm, it will be soothing, it will make you the happiest people on the planet! Eden’s Treasure will be the name, and trust me when I tell you you won’t need anything more than this.  It will enhance your Orations, leaving you with absolutely no troubles and no cares. It shall be paradise.”

12 Rainbow choked back a disbelieving snort as he finished.  She knew the truth about the Orations, and them getting enhanced was the last thing the people needed.  Ely City.  More like Helly City she thought to herself.  But everyone else around her had huge smiles on their faces.  They were too drugged by the Orations to whoop and holler their approval, but that was just how GGI wanted it.  They wanted a quiet people, oblivious to whatever they were doing wrong. Rainbow was sure there was something.

13 Alex looked around at the crowd, bright greed glinting in his eyes as he saw their unanimous approval.  He didn’t look twice at Rainbow, for she knew how to blend in, even if she didn’t approve of what she was doing.  Faking it was better than death. Alex handed out pickaxes, shovels, and other menial tools for people to use in the destruction of the buildings.  His employees got to use a wrecking ball. They smashed down the buildings, leaving the rubble cleanup for the people. Rainbow had no choice but to lend a hand, so she dragged wheelbarrows of broken bricks and concrete to the designated dump site and back again.

14 As she worked, Rainbow had to fight very hard not to get addicted to the Orations.  Everyone chanted them while they were working. Rainbow moved her mouth with the words, but never actually spoke them.  However, they did not need to be spoken to become addictive.

15 The days began to go by in a blur, merging together like it was just one continuous day rather than the regular progression of days and nights.  This was an effect of the Orations. Because of them Rainbow was becoming numb, more and more unaware of the dust and grime. Some nights she even forgot to listen to her music, sinking deeper into a drugged abyss.  She no longer minded hauling the wheelbarrows of debris to the dump, and her muscles no longer complained of the work. It wasn’t because they were getting used to it, they just had little to no feeling because of the Orations.

16 After about a month of work the building rubble had been cleared and the lot was now ready to be built on.  Rainbow watched with the others, still in a semi-drugged state. She managed to get back to her home and pull out her iPod, but the more she looked at it, the more unappealing it looked.  Rainbow stumbled over to her chest and opened it. The picture of her parents was the first thing her eyes found. When she saw it, she picked it up and pulled it out like it was some foreign object.  Then, all of a sudden, she clasped it to her chest and began sobbing. A flood of memories crashed upon Rainbow, screaming at her, cursing her for falling into GGI’s trap. She stood up suddenly, wiping tears off her face.  She put the picture on her table, propping it up against the wall so she could look at it properly. After staring at it for a few minutes, Rainbow nodded to them, vowing to shut out the Orations from now on. Grabbing her iPod, Rainbow plugged in the earbuds and pushed play, shoving the buds into hear ears.  She slumped on the bed, absorbing every note. As it played, she felt herself being released from the hold of the Orations. Her vision became more clear, and her mind opened up once more. She would not be fooled again.

17 The next day, the cleared street was full of commotion.  But Rainbow was the only one who noticed. Now that their task was done, the other citizens of Elysium City went about like they had before: mindless and foggy, paying no attention to anything or anyone else.  They simply walked along the streets, heads held high and faces pleasant. Rainbow ducked behind some old fifty-gallon drums, peeping through the cracks between them to spy on the building process. It was nothing spectacular.  There were no bright colors, no eye-catching mural to draw people in. It was gray concrete, just like everything else. But despite this, Rainbow knew that it would be a death trap once it was completed. Before the Orations got to her, she had been observant as she worked.  She managed to spy on some official papers. From what little she saw, Rainbow gathered that the ride would give the people the Orations on a whole other level. People would get into cars mounted on tracks, somewhat like a roller-coaster. But instead of going for a thrill ride the car would move slowly as speakers emitted the Orations loud enough to penetrate the soul without disrupting the spell it cast.  There would also be ambient lights and other soothing sounds to sink the people even further down than they already were. Rainbow shivered. If this Eden’s Treasure truly did become all that, Elysium City was doomed. She had had a close call with just the regular Orations. If she went in this monstrosity she might be lost forever. But just then, something caught her eye. It was a splash of color in the drab, gray world.  A young boy, perhaps around her own age, dressed in an old red Pizza Hut uniform, was standing not too far away, staring blankly at the construction. His eyes were foggy, but perhaps not quite as foggy as everyone else’s. He was holding a small box in his right hand, and he was rubbing his thumb over it thoughtfully. A minute later he turned and walked away, going towards an old garage, not looking back. Rainbow considered following him, but then decided against it.  It’d be suspicious for her to appear out of nowhere and go after him. The construction workers would be sure to see her. So instead she shuffled away, back to her home and her music.

18 A few months later, Eden’s Treasure was complete.  Alex Carlyle did not make an appearance again, but Rainbow noticed a slight change in the Orations as the people flocked to try out the new ride.  Alex didn’t need to come out and speak again; the Orations were commanding his subjects for him. But even though he wasn’t there, his guards were.  Rainbow got pushed along with the crowd, unable to slip away with the guards watching. She walked like they did, trying to match the blank pleasant expressions on their faces.  When she finally reached the entrance one of the guards bustled her onto a car, and other people were set down next to her. It took all her willpower not to look around at her new surroundings.  The others were looking forward, and forward only, so she had to mimic that no matter what. As the last person was squeezed in, the guard closed the door of the car and it moved forward, going slowly but gradually picking up speed.  It never exceeded ten miles per hour, though. But soon Rainbow didn’t seem to mind. The Orations thrummed in her ears, and the lights opened her eyes wide and held them like that, making it impossible to close them for more than the occasional blink.  Her head was fixed and refused to move. She nearly went mad at this, for the physical effects happened long before her mind began to go. But when it did go, she was gone for good. The lights, the sounds, the chants, they were all so soothing. Her mind slowly turned to mush once more, forgetting the sound of even the most simple of notes.

19 The ride ambled on, dragging Rainbow deeper and deeper into its depths of light and sound.  Eventually, the car slid into a slot, and was barred in so that it could not slide in any direction.  Normally, Rainbow would have panicked, but she was too drugged to do that now. The car lifted up, like it had become part of a gigantic ferris wheel, and indeed that’s what it was.  One last soothing motion before getting dumped back into reality. Well, as real as a drugged reality is. Right before going almost completely numb, Rainbow’s memory jogged and she saw the splash of color.  She fought the Orations fiercely, only causing her to slip into the cold blackness even faster.

20 When the ride ended, she was lifted again.  The kid slid her body onto a soft pile of clothing among the boxes in the garage.  He pulled an old coat over the top, creating a cave that emanated the sweetness of old ladies who frequently powdered themselves—a light rose motif that played ironically well in the deep recesses of Rainbow’s ancestral brain.  The pizza kid lifted her head to help her lap water from a hubcap. He broke bits of pepperoni and crust into bite-sized pieces and left them where her tongue could reach them. Much later, she heard him practicing his orations like songs.  Like monks chanting in the distance, they were a comfort.

21 After a few minutes of listening to the soothing sounds Rainbow forced her eyes open, staring at the pizza kid’s bright clothes.  They brought back memories of a singer she knew who had bright red hair, and she did her best to push the Orations out. 

22 “Hey,” she whispered hoarsely, unable to raise her voice any further, “stop.”  The kid looked over his shoulder at her, hesitating in his chant. Rainbow repeated her request, adding an urgent “please” at the end.  The kid cocked his head at her, not sure why she was making such a request. His Orations mumbled on, habit and addiction refusing to let him stop.

23 Rainbow pushed herself up slowly and awkwardly on her elbows, then managed to shove herself into a full sitting position.  She channeled the rest of her remaining strength into her voice, singing the first few words of a song she knew by heart. The song was “SING” by My Chemical Romance.  The kid stopped mid-word, the slightest spark of light shining through his misty eyes. It only lasted a second, but it was enough to give Rainbow hope for him, especially since he didn’t return to the Orations right away.

24 “What were those sounds you made?” he asked slowly, clueless that the simple word “music” even existed.  Rainbow took a few deep breaths, gradually regaining her strength as the Orations released their hold on her brain.  When she felt ready, she considered his blank face for a few moments before answering.

25 “It’s a song,” she explained, “not like the Orations.  I mean a proper song. Music. Joy and laughter and pain and sadness.  It reminds us of all the things that are human.” He nodded slowly, still not quite understanding, but the mist had receded from his eyes just the tiniest bit.  Rainbow smiled at him, and to her surprise, he smiled back. It was a sideways smile, but it lit up the pale, freckled skin of his face nicely. He ran an equally freckled hand through his ginger hair.

The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

Hello, all! Today I have a very unique post for you. If you are familiar with the poet Edgar Allan Poe, you know that his poem The Raven is probably his most famous work. And if you’re familiar with Google Translate, you’ll know it’s about as reliable as a square wheel on a cart. Perhaps you can see where this is going already. I took the words to Poe’s poem and put them through Google Translate a few times, translated them into a bunch of random languages, and then translated them back into English. If you haven’t read The Raven, or need a reminder, I put that down first and the translated version after. I recommend reading both out loud. Enjoy!

The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore—
    While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
“’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
            Only this and nothing more.”

    Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
    Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow
    From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
            Nameless here for evermore.

    And the silken, sad, uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
    So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
    “’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;—
            This it is and nothing more.”

    Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
“Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
    But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
    And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you”—here I opened wide the door;—
            Darkness there and nothing more.

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
    But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
    And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore?”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”—
            Merely this and nothing more.

    Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
    “Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;
      Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—
            ’Tis the wind and nothing more!”

    Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore;
    Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
    But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—
            Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
“Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore—
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;
    For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
    Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door—
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
            With such name as “Nevermore.”

    But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
    Nothing farther then he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered—
    Till I scarcely more than muttered “Other friends have flown before—
On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before.”
            Then the bird said “Nevermore.”

    Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store
    Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
    Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore—
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
            Of ‘Never—nevermore’.”

    But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
    Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
    Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore—
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
            Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

    This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
    This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
    On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose velvet-violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

    Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
    “Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent thee
    Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore;
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!—
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
    Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted—
    On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore—
Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us—by that God we both adore—
    Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
    It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    “Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting—
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
    Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
    Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
            Quoth the Raven “Nevermore.”

    And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
    And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
    And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
            Shall be lifted—nevermore!

The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe Translated into Oblivion

Midnight picture tired and weak
To many people, very interested and curious, I forgot the flowers …
After the guests almost made a sudden start when they closed,
Everyone who knocked softly knocked on my room.
“I’m a freak,” the stranger crashed off the camera.
It looks nothing.”

Oh, obviously I remember it being December’s fate,
The dead are members of the demonic world.
The next day, I always wait for a loan
Magically painful books, mourning the lost will of Linaura …
Clara is rare and is a virgin angel …
Here forever.

Whispers purple, silk and sadly confident
Those who were full before never become a huge force in me, fear,
Repeats all the heartbeat, so I am this way
“Guest enters my room door …
Then Jesus went to the stranger’s door for a while;
It’s something else.”

My mind got stronger; It is no longer in doubt
“Sir,” I ask for it, or fantasy, “Sorry
But it will be walking, and you will slowly walk around,
And Dee was killed by my camera at the door;
And it was too little, I’m sure you have the information” – when she opened the door,
In the dark and not otherwise.

Under the tracks in the dark, and I was afraid to say, I wonder who was there
Of course he did not dare to dream, he sees a creature, at first,
Peace and quiet must be described in detail
And there were many similar words: “Linor”
This ‘Linaura’ fire and silence varies in words –
It looks nothing.

My whole life has to do with the series the back of the room is burning in me,
One day you’ll hear about something terrible.
“That’s right,” I said, “they’re not my life;
Let’s see what the secret is to explore …
Time for secrets”
Spirits?

Look, he opened it, and with the windows he. started to flirt and rage a lot,
From ancient saint;
They stood for a while, adding a little disobedience he made her stand still;
But sir or some, my room was in the doorway.
A level image perfectly fits the door camera
What he used to say was enough to say.

Then, the sad and sad ebony is his plane draws
-House with wild beauty
“However, they must reduce the district,” he said,” I do not believe
Along with the wicked, today’s proposition is Sook Raven.
Tell me, what is your employer, Faltioniana, on the beach.”
The Crow Raven “No More.”

I was curious about how the school was transported
However, the smallest value and the answer is that the value is small;
Go to the living he cannot surrender
And the birds were the best at the door.
With an image of an animal at the entrance of the room;
“Never Again.”

However, sit alone with your hand over your head behind the bus
Who else is good at words.
Not far, so he – he took the pen –
Even if the peripheral has lost most of my “friend” talk.
The next day, my departure was as blasted as before.
The bird is said to be “motionless.”

Glad to say that Jesus silenced the broken disturbing moments
“No,” I said, “just stock and return the store
Some awful problems for the owner was found
Before her music she had no weight to go fast …
To the extent expected by nirabaltakaraja
“Never, never again.”

But my dear, who was also scared of laughter there,
They carved a picture of a bird in the river to punish fate;
For example, were all the silks bent over each other, and the one sitting at the table eating? But I’m in a couple
Imagine, he thinks, thinking about the dirty birds
Sad thing, dirty, scary and dirty birds
Seriously: “No more.”

When the forecasts were received, he put himself in a position, he could not say the letters
The bird’s eye with all the force on my chest
With other God with that I sat on my head
Candle holder and flash
Ultraviolet light from glowing lamps and lamps with velvet curtains
Davagi Oh, never!

Then the mythical and breathtaking threat will disappear
Banished by the Serfs

Shapeshifter Story Chapter 3

Hello, all! Today’s post is the last chapter I have written of my Shapeshifter Story. More is to come, of course, but I don’t know how soon. I am trying to focus more on writing/editing Warriors Unite, so perhaps that will be next week’s post. In the meantime, I hope you’ve been enjoying this story so far! As always, don’t be bashful about the comments section! Critiques and questions are most welcome!

The chill morning breeze and the sound of chirping birds gently carried Ivey out of her restless sleep.  She hated herself for telling the Blaike brothers her name, and her sleep had been full of images of them betraying her, both willingly and unknowingly.

She sat up and peered cautiously around.  The only creatures she saw or smelled were birds and a squirrel.  She climbed out from under the car, shaking her head to chase away her nightmares.  She stood there for a few minutes, not exactly sure what to do. She had slept late, so her usual food options were out.  There would be too many people there now, and she hated risks with a fierce passion.

Ivey looked around again.  Despite her misgivings, and everything she had told herself, she wanted to find those brothers.  Desperately. It was an emotion with no explanation, or a confusing mix of emotions. She wanted to see them, and didn’t want to see them at the same time.  She felt like she could trust them, but she had taught herself not to trust anyone.

She sat down to sort out her emotions and decide what to do.  She thought about her meeting with them, how they had treated her.  She recalled every detail perfectly, and unless they were wickedly good at hiding or changing emotions, if that was even possible, they had been sincere and honest.  She could smell it, and she could hear their steady heartbeats. Finally, after ten minutes of conflict, she decided to set out and find them.

Ivey swiftly jogged to where she had first seen them, then followed her nose to discover where they had come from.  She concentrated on her job, but was never not at full attention, ready to sprint at a moment’s notice. Her journey was uneventful, but that would never stop future precautions.

As the sun touched the edge of nine o’clock, Ivey peered closely at a massive gothic-victorian mansion from the cover of low, flower-filled bushes.  She stared at the mini-castle for three full minutes before she detected any movement. A man walked out of it and headed for a kennel. She didn’t recognize him.  He was significantly shorter than the brothers, and he wore the strangest clothes. He had on a pair of black skinny jeans, which were actually slightly loose around his legs, black knee-length lace-up boots, which also set off his, in her opinion, scrawny legs, a black leather vest, and a black tailed coat.  He also wore a chain with a large gold-trimmed cross pendant. On the backs of his hands, she could make out some tattoos, and guessed he had them all the way up his arms. His hair was bright, white blonde, black at the roots, was several inches long, and was sticking up all over the place. His skin was well-tanned, and she noticed a small goatee on his chin.  His jaw was quite defined, and his brilliant blue eyes accented them perfectly. She raised her left eyebrow as his strong British accent cut the crisp morning air.

“Mornin’ Bruce, mornin’ Sherry!” he called, addressing the dogs.  “How are ya, eh?” The dogs, Bruce and Sherry, barked their response.  They were German Shepherds, and their black backs gleamed in the mid-morning sun.  As she watched the skinny British man feed the dogs, Ivey thought she had found a house belonging to a friend of the brothers, instead of the house belonging to the brothers themselves.  Regardless, she settled down to watch. She couldn’t quite smell the man, partly because of the flowers, partly because of the wind direction. Her hair strayed to the left of her face as the wind played with it.

Her nose was so full of the scent of the flowers, and her attention was so focused on the Brit, she didn’t realize someone had snuck behind her, cleverly staying downwind as he did so.  She nearly screamed when she heard his voice.

“I was wondering if we’d see you again.”  She spun around, eyes wild. Malechi grinned at her.  The other three were standing behind him, also grinning.  She glared at them.

“Don’t do that,” she snapped, silently cursing herself for allowing someone so close to her go unnoticed, even if he was a potential friend.  Their grins just widened.

“Oi, Dad!” Kashmyr called, “you’ve been spied upon!”  Ivey spun back around, standing up as she did so.

“Dad?” she asked, “That skinny British guy is your Dad?”  She put emphasis on the last word, silently hoping no one would be offended.  “But, he’s half as tall as you!” This, of course, was an exaggeration, but her point was made. Ivey opened her mouth to speak again but Sebastian stopped her.

“I know,” he said, “we don’t have the slightest trace of an accent, but he really is our Dad.”  She had turned to face the brothers, but spun around again as the skinny Brit walked up. He was grinning ear to ear.

“Hullo, mate,” he said cheerily, “name’s Colt Blaike, proud father of these four brutes!”  He gestured toward the brothers, who hadn’t stopped grinning. She gave everyone a fierce glare.

“Fine,” she said, “so you’re their Dad.  I’m assuming they t0ld you my name?”

“Nope,” Colt said.

“What?” Ivey exclaimed, looking curiously at the brothers.

“Shape-Shifter’s Oath,” Malechi said.

“I,” Ivey stammered, “I thought you . . . you wouldn’t keep it!”

“Pshaw!” Colt laughed, “They’d never break an oath!”  The brothers nodded their agreement.

“You, however,” Ivey said, “are a crazy Brit who’s only two inches taller than me, minus the hair.  Can. I. Trust. You.”

“Yup,” the brothers chorused instantly.  Ivey glared at them.

“I wasn’t asking you,” she spat, then turned back to Colt, staring him dead in the eye.

“Well,” he began, “they’re right.”  Ivey rolled her eyes. This was proving to be a very unusual day.

“Ivey Lanscing,” she groaned.

“Fantastic!” Colt burst, making Ivey jump, “How about we all go inside, make some tea, and chat a bit, eh?”

“Whoa, Dad, slow down,” Silvestre said with a slight laugh, “I don’t think she’s one hundred percent comfortable with us yet.”

“Oh, alright then,” Colt said.  It was all too much for Ivey. For the third time, she sprinted away from the Blaike family, not looking back.

She dashed only far enough to be out of sight.  Despite her fear of them, she was still curious about the Blaike family.  She cocked her head to listen as she tried to catch her breath silently.

“Great, you scared her off,” Sebastian said, giving Colt a critical look.  Colt’s eyebrows and hands shot up.

“Sorry!” he said emphatically, “I didn’t know she was that jumpy!”

“I don’t blame her,” Malechi said.  “After all, she’s always tense when she’s around us.  Probably when she’s around anyone.”

“Good to know,” Colt replied, “but I don’t exactly have super senses like you.  I can’t figure that out the same way.”

“True,” Malechi nodded.

“She came back once when we didn’t expect her to,” Silvestre said hopefully, “maybe she’ll come back again?”

“Doubt it,” Kashmyr said.  “I don’t think she’ll be too keen on coming back if we’ve scared her away more than once.  She probably hasn’t forgiven us for catching her and forcing her name out yesterday. Sure, she knows our names too, but what good does it do her?”

“That’s a good point,” Malechi said.  “I don’t think she has any friends, so who would she tell about us?  On the other hand, we could blab her name around and get her into loads of trouble.  Since she’s so tense around people, I’m guessing she’s had some pretty terrible experiences with them.  Maybe someone wants her dead. It’s no wonder she’s so skittish and has trust issues.”

“Then why was she drawn back to you in the first place?” Colt asked.

“She probably wanted to make sure we weren’t a threat to her,” Kashmyr replied.  “You heard her say she wasn’t sure we’d keep our oath. I bet she wanted to make sure we did.”

“Yeah, then we had to go sneak up on her,” Silvestre said regretfully.  The other three brothers nodded.

“She didn’t deserve a scare like that,” Sebastian agreed.

After a short bit more of similar conversation, the Blaike family finished taking care of the dogs.  Once they were finished with that, they went inside. Maybe they were going to have tea without her. But Ivey didn’t care.  She trotted away, but it was difficult to do so without looking back. Perhaps after a few days she would go back. But she’d be sure to stay hidden while she was there.  She didn’t feel like getting scared again. She didn’t even want to be noticed, regardless of whether or not there was a scare involved. They didn’t need to know she came back.  Maybe if the Blaike family didn’t see her for a while they’d forget about her. At least if she was lucky they would.

Shapeshifter Story – Chapter 2

Hello all! I would like to sincerely apologize for not posting in a while! Life has been rather crazy, especially since I’m in my last year of high school. College decisions and what-not have been going on, plus I’m trying to keep up with the school I have now. It’s been…a time. My apologies again! Here is the second chapter of my Shapeshifter Story! It’s a bit short, so please leave critiques and comments below!

Instantly, Second released the pressure on Ivey’s shoulders, allowing her to scramble to her feet.

“Thank you,” she said.  She glared at him.

“Under the same oath,” Ivey began, her voice icy, “I will request you return the favor.”

“Names?” asked Third.

“Yes,” she said, still bitter.  They grinned, and gave her their names.  First was named Kashmyr, Second was named Malechi, Third was named Silvestre, and Fourth was named Sebastian.  Their last name was Blaike.  Apparently they had nicknames for each other, but she didn’t care.  As soon as she acquired the information she desired, Ivey dashed off again to her original destination: the car junk-heap.  Fortunately, the Blaike brothers didn’t pursue her this time.

She ran to the top of the cars as soon as she could, knowing the rusting metal would cover her scent.  Ivey quickly ducked under a car that was mostly upside-down, leaning on a sturdy tree.  It was there that she planned to spend the rest of the afternoon, and the whole night.

“I wonder if we’ll ever see her again,” Silvestre mused as he watched Ivey go.  His three brothers nodded, but didn’t say anything.  Silvestre shrugged, then turned towards home.

“Come on,” he said, “we can hunt some other day.”  The other three nodded again, and moved to follow their brother.

“What species of cat do you think she is?” Kashmyr asked.  Sebastian inclined his head, watching a bird fly to a new tree.

“Don’t know,” he said, “do you think she knows what species we are?”

“We might never find out,” Malechi said, a slight sadness from not knowing Ivey creeping into his heart.

The rest of the way home was silent.  They walked, not having the usual good cheer to run.  Their thoughts remained on the girl, Ivey.  She was a mystery to them.  They knew of every single Shape-Shifter, but still weren’t able to identify her.  They knew she was feline, but what species?  Why couldn’t they tell?

Shapeshifter Story Chapter 1

Hello all! Today’s post is a story I haven’t shared with many people yet. It doesn’t have an official title, but since it has a lot of shapeshifters I figured “Shapeshifter Story” worked for now. I would appreciate all critiques! If you find anything that needs work or would be better another way, please let me know in the comments!

A small groan escaped her lips.  Healing an impaled chest was no easy task, and had taken her at least twenty minutes to complete.  Maybe I’m losing my touch, she thought, allowing herself a sarcastic chuckle. She managed to keep herself silent as she sat up and pressed her memory for what had happened.  The fact that she had been the victim of a surprise attack she had no trouble remembering. Although she hadn’t seen them, she suspected it was the work of the Linwood brothers, Phoenix and Eògan, but how had they known her location?  Their sense of smell was extraordinary, but they still shouldn’t have been able to discover her most secret hiding spot . . . unless there had been someone working undercover.

She groaned again.  This was exactly why she didn’t trust anyone.  Suddenly, she heard the sound of a dry twig snapping underfoot.  After determining where the sound had com from, she darted up the nearest tree, and settled herself in the most concealed position.  Half a minute later, four tall men appeared, coming from the southwest. She studied them, keeping perfectly still. Their similar features brought her to the conclusion that they were brothers, but she made herself look at what they were carrying.

They each had their own massive recurve bow, a quiver of arrows, and a hunting knife.  There was an abundance of deer in the area, so the weapons made sense. Their idle chit-chat confirmed her thoughts.

“Do you think we’ll find a buck today?” one asked.  The brother to his right smiled.

“I hope so,” he said.

“Maybe we’ll get a fifteen-pointer!” said the third.

“Now that is a prize,” the fourth said, flashing a grin at the other three.  Their conversation was cut short by a shift in the wind. The girl instinctively crunched herself smaller, if such a feat was possible.

“Something’s off,” mumbled the third.

“No,” said the first, “someone’s here.”

“Someone like us,” the fourth began, “but not quite.”  Second peered into the branches of the tree in which the girl was hiding.

“Smells female,” he remarked, “and I think she’s up there.”  He gestured to the tree he was studying.

That was it.  She sprang out of the tree and dashed to the east.  There was a mess of abandoned cars in that direction, and she hoped to lose them in the thick smells of rusting metal.

Without thinking, the four men sprinted after her, slinging the bows across their shoulders.  Their long legs quickly closed the distance.

Fourth grabbed her ankles as Second pressed her shoulders firmly to the ground.  She fought savagely for a few seconds before accepting the fact that it was futile.  Third and First were crouched close by. She breathed heavily, staring Second in the face.  She saw no hatred, no glee, no malice. She only saw an innocent curiosity and wonder.

“Who are you?” he asked.  His tone was gentle, but it was obvious he expected an answer.

“No one,” she spat, “now get off me.”  Second didn’t flinch.

“I’m looking for a name,” he said, keeping his voice calm, “not a personal definition.”  She glared at him.

“Maybe that is my name,” she hissed.  Second just sighed.

“And if we promise not to tell?”

“I don’t trust strangers.”

“Of course not.”

“Get off.”

“Name.”

“No.”

“Please?”

“Heh.”  A pause.  “No.”

“Even under Shape-Shifter’s Oath?”  She hesitated.

“How do you know about that?” she asked, suspicion coating every word.

“Because we’re Shape-Shifters, same as you,” said First.

“How?” she asked, her voice weak with shock.

“Your scent betrays you,” Second explained.

“But it’s too subtle!” she exclaimed.

“One cat to another,” said Fourth.  The girl hesitated again.

“Shape-Shifter’s Oath?” she asked.

“Yes,” chorused the brothers.

“Fine,” she said, “my name is Ivey Lanscing.”

Warriors Unite Chapter 1 – edited

Hello all! Today’s post is Chapter 1 of Warriors Unite again, but this version has been seriously edited. I believe I have greatly improved the story, but if you disagree, or see something that could still use work, please let me know in the comments. If you haven’t read the previous version of this yet, I encourage you to do so so that you can compare and contrast the two. You can find the first version here.

The young Elf girl stood alone amongst a sea of bloodied bodies.  Her eyes let loose a flow of tears at the sight of the carnage and the sting of smoke.  She whimpered desperately, jerking her head left, then right in hopes of spotting her parents.  A soldier’s turning head caught her attention and she rushed towards him, letting out a cry of despair as she saw his face, once handsome, now gruesome.  She fell to her knees beside him, clumsily trying to stop the blood rushing out of his head. His eyes flickered open weakly.
“No,” he said.  “You must go.”

“I can’t,” she moaned.  “Alec, just tell me how to stop the bleeding.  Where’s Mum? Dad? Don’t die! Please!”

Her voice cracked on the last word, and her eyes became waterfalls.

“It’s too late,” Alec whispered hoarsely, barely able to draw breath.  “Get out of here. Run as fast as you can. They’ll be back, I know it.  Don’t let them find you. Just…run.” Alec’s voice faded into nothingness, dark blood oozing out of his mouth like half-melted wax.  The girl threw herself face-down on his chest, wailing in anguish.

She stayed there for hours, long after all traces of warmth had left his body.  Her face and abdomen hurt, weak from the near non-stop rush of tears and screams.  She sat up and pushed the water off her face, only to make room for more. Reason told her to follow Alec’s advice, but she couldn’t leave her people here unburied and uncared for.   She pushed herself to her feet, her eyes skittering across the mess to see if her intention was possible. The once-glorious fortress was now a huge open tomb, a disgrace for the afternoon sun to shine upon.

Her eyes froze, then widened immensely.  Someone…no, something, was standing up, only a short distance away.  Its disfigured face turned towards her slowly, and its hand jerked a bloody weapon out of someone else’s chest.  The creature brandished it expertly, then screeched a deafening note and charged. The girl turned on her heels immediately, running full-tilt across the ground.  She jumped over as many bodies as possible, wincing whenever she didn’t quite go far enough.

The creature caught up to her quickly, not caring where its feet were placed.  It smacked the girl in her ribs with the blunt side of the weapon, and she screamed as she tumbled down, limbs flailing.  Instinctively, she grabbed a loose spear and rolled onto her back, pointing it up in self-defense. The creature didn’t see it and lunged at her, impaling itself right through the heart.  She screamed again, dropping the spear and scrambling away as quickly as possible. She launched herself to her feet and continued running, fearful the creature had not come alone.

She ran as far as she could, collapsing maybe a quarter mile outside the battlefield.  Her legs burned with agony, and her lungs wheezed for breath. Desperate to get as far away from those creatures as possible, she  crawled on her hands and knees a few feet more before her small body could take no more. She slumped to the ground, curling her limbs to her body.  The evening was growing cold, and she still had her summer tunic on, with no coat or blanket to speak of. She pulled her jet-black hair down over her face, trying to protect herself from the chill as much as possible.  After a half hour of shivering, she finally fell into a restless sleep. Her dreams were dominated by horror, but she didn’t wake up for several hours. Those that found her, were surprised to find her alive.

= = =

“Sire,” began the scout.  “I have something to show you.”  Ashstar looked up from his book, his pale eyes depicting a question he need not ask out loud.

“There has been a massacre, Sire,” the scout continued hastily.  “It is only about twenty leagues south of us.”

“Shathore?” Ashstar asked, closing his book.  He put it back on the dusty table without looking.

“Yes, Sire.  The Elven fortress Shathore has been destroyed completely.”

“But who would do such a thing?  Serik, I thought the other Races left each other alone?”

“I can’t be certain, but I believe it was goblins who did it.  They don’t look much different from the ones we’re familiar with.”

“Goblins?  We haven’t seen those foul beasts since about three hundred thousand years ago.”

“That’s what concerns me, Sire.”

“With good reason.  I must see this for myself.”

“Yes, Sire.  I shall accompany you.”

Ashstar nodded and stood up, gesturing Serik to go first.  He nodded back and made his way through the maze of hallways to the outside, Ashstar following close behind.  Once in the open air, they situated themselves side by side, moving at an incredible speed, gliding over the ground with no need for horses or rest.

They took a more direct route then Serik did originally, and spotted a curled bundle near their destination.  Ashstar stopped short, Serik stopping a moment later.

“What is that?” Ashstar asked, approaching it slowly.  Serik was more bold, walking right up to it.

“I think it’s a girl,” he whispered.

“An Elf girl?  From Shathore?”

“Well, she looks like a human with pointed ears and no other Elves live near here so I’d say yes.”

“Mhm.  She’s still alive, yes?  I believe I saw her ribcage move but it might have been the grass in the wind.”

“Yes, Sire.  She’s alive, but just barely.”

“Good.  Maybe we can revive her.”  The girl didn’t even flinch as Ashstar’s cold arms lifted and cradled her body.

“Do you think that’s a good idea?” Serik asked.  “I mean, look at us. Maybe it’d be better to leave her at the door of one of the other Elven fortresses.”  As if to demonstrate his point, Serik waved his arm in the air and a wispy piece came off, dissolving into the air.

“Care from us is closer, and I don’t know how much time she has left in this state.  Perhaps if she really can’t stand us when she wakes up we can take her there. For now, though, we’re her best chance at survival.”

“That is true,” Serik said, gliding along back home, Ashstar by his side.  “Will she like our home, though? I mean, the Dead Labyrinth is kind of spooky.”

“I hope she’ll be able to appreciate at least something about it,” Ashstar replied.  “But again, we’ll see what happens.”

Serik nodded, and the rest of the journey was silent.  The girl made no sound or movement, and Ashstar checked regularly to make sure she was still breathing.  Even a tiny breath from her was a comfort.

Greater Good

Hello, all! I apologize for missing last week’s post, but I was super busy. I hope you can understand! This week is something special, though. For the past few months I’ve been working on a new short story for the Owl Canyon Press Hackathon #3, and I am happy to say it was submitted on the 29th of September. I, of course, don’t know if I’ll win, but writing this story was certainly a fantastic experience. It stretched my skills as a writer, and gave me more confidence in my work. Winners of the contest will be notified in December, so I have quite a long wait! One thing I can’t wait for, though, is sharing the story with you! For the contest, the story had to be 50 paragraphs long exactly, and each paragraph had to be a minimum of 40 words; that’s difficult when writing dialogue! Owl Canyon provided the 1st and 20th paragraphs for me, and I could not edit them at all. After that, the story was in my hands! I believe I’ve done a pretty good job with it, so here it is for your reading pleasure!

1 Beyond the cracked sidewalk, and the telephone pole with layers of flyers in a rainbow of colors, and the patch of dry brown grass there stood a ten-foot high concrete block wall, caked with dozens of coats of paint. There was a small shrine at the foot of it, with burnt out candles and dead flowers and a few soggy teddy bears. One word of graffiti filled the wall, red letters on a gold background: Rejoice!

2 Rainbow Moon gazed at it, her ice blue eyes going back and forth as she read the single-word message over and over again.  A slight movement caught her attention out of the corner of her eye, and she sighed when she turned to look at it. It was just a flyer from the pole drifting in the wind.  That kind of poster wasn’t unusual to see. It was marked with a letter from the government, Greater Good Industries, preaching about how they were going to change the world and all we had to do was be patient.  Rainbow tilted her head ironically.  Of course. Patience. A praise worthy virtue, until it got you in trouble.  The graffiti wall gave the same message, even though it was just one word.  The shrine at its base was against GGI, but they didn’t dare to remove it.  If they did, there’d be a full-blown revolution against them.

3 The shrine was dedicated to those who died at the hands of the government.  That included anyone and everyone who said even the slightest word against them.  Rainbow had contributed a few flowers to it, for her parents were two of the Eliminated.  Gazing at the shrine, Rainbow whispered, “I miss you guys.” She was only seventeen, and her parents had been killed four years ago.  No one had bothered to take care of her. No one really bothered about anyone these days.

4 Rainbow’s hand strayed up to her neck, fingering her necklace.  It was a rainbow-colored crescent moon on a simple silver chain.  Her mother had made it for her, knowing it fit her name perfectly.  Rainbow never took it off, not even when she showered or slept. It was no longer shiny, but Rainbow didn’t mind.  It didn’t attract attention when it was dull, and attention was the last thing Rainbow wanted.

5 Rainbow turned away from the wall and walked down the narrow street that had been on her left.  Very few others were there, and they simply mumbled at Rainbow if she accidentally bumped into them.  They weren’t mumbled curses. In fact, they weren’t words at all. Just a mindless sound in faint acknowledgement of Rainbow’s touch.  Those she didn’t bump into simply shuffled along, heads raised high and pleasant expressions on their faces. They looked like they might be perfectly normal and fine, but their eyes were glazed over, making them seem like ghosts trapped inside mindless human bodies.

6 Scooting past them quickly, Rainbow turned down a few more streets before ducking past a hanging dirty blanket that served as a door.  Beyond it was her home. It wasn’t much, but it was all she had. A pile of random clothes and blankets made her bed, and she had broken pieces of billboard balanced on long-empty kegs as her table.  An overturned bucket was her chair, and an old lantern provided a tiny amount of dim light which only reached half the room. Her canned and freeze-dried food was kept in an old refrigerator that didn’t work.  She had a rusty can opener and some bent silverware as well as an old pie tin for opening and eating her food.

7 Rainbow smiled grimly.  This was more than anyone had, or at least, more than anyone appreciated.  Before sitting down, her eyes strayed to the left-hand wall of her room. She went over to it, sliding her hand along its surface.  Before long, she found the secret pressure point that caused a section of the wall to pop slightly out. Inside was her most prized possession, a small old wooden chest that her father had engraved vines and flowers on years ago, before she was even born, before the rules became too strict.  She unlocked it and carefully pulled out a notebook. Her parents had written in it, detailing all they knew about GGI. She opened to the first page which showed the GGI logo and what they assumed it meant. It was made up of two green G’s and a black I. The G’s were right next to each other and slightly overlapping, and the I was underneath the G’s, right against the place where they merged.  Her parents said it was a tree, and not just any tree. It was the Tree of Life. That made sense with a name like Greater Good Industries. Rainbow believed everything her parents wrote except for one small thing. They said GGI used to be good, but changed shortly before Rainbow was born. Although Rainbow knew it was impossible for her to have memories of that time, she still had a hard time believing it; the only experience she ever had with GGI was purely bad.  Not to mention how her parents had died.

8 Although Rainbow didn’t know it yet, GGI was in the process of experimentation.  It wasn’t just any kind of experimentation, either. GGI had a massive building about ten miles away from Elysium City, dedicated to making the perfect utopia for mankind.  To accompany this utopia, it was their goal to make humans immortal, allowing them to enjoy it forever. But of course, science costs money, something that doesn’t tend to appear out of nowhere.  GGI used the vast majority of its funds on the experiments, which could only be done on a certain number of the population. Elysium City, which contained the rest of the population, was therefore neglected, and the Orations were put into action to give people a false sense of security and happiness.  Rainbow’s parents had been able to figure out a few aspects of GGI, but not quite enough to give Rainbow anything extremely concrete.

9 Rainbow sighed, slipping the book back into place and closing the chest.  After a moment, she walked over to her bed, pulling out her iPod as she flopped down.  She also pulled out some earbuds. She couldn’t risk anyone hearing her music. It was banned by GGI.  Her parents couldn’t figure out why that was, and Rainbow was determined to find out herself. But for now, she simply put the earbuds on and hit “play” on her iPod.  She leaned back, absorbing the music as it flooded into her ears, thankful to her parents for protecting it. When GGI went bad they set off an EMP bomb which took out all technology; all except Rainbow’s iPod.  Her father had altered it, making it resistant to the bomb. Whether he did it just because or if he knew what was coming Rainbow didn’t know. But at the moment she didn’t care, either. She was just thankful.

10 As she lay on her bed listening to her music, Rainbow fell asleep, which wasn’t rare for her, even without dinner.  A loud commotion outside startled her awake. She shot up in bed, ripping her earbuds out, stuffing them and her iPod under the blankets.  She stood up, checking to make sure her gun and ammo belts were firmly secured and not visible underneath her baggy coat. Slipping her hands into her pockets, which were actually holes in her coat leading to the guns, Rainbow ducked under the makeshift door.  As she straightened up her eyes widened. Alex Carlyle, the president of GGI was standing on a slapped-together stage, machine-gun-wielding soldiers flanking him on each side. He was speaking loudly, projecting his voice to the gathering crowd incredibly well even without a microphone.

11 “Ladies and Gentlemen of Elysium City,” he began.  “Gather around and listen close, for I have the greatest of announcements.  I understand that you are all happy, but I could make you even happier if you aid me in one thing.  If you help my team and I in tearing down about half of the old buildings on Main Street, we shall build the greatest ride of your life.  It will be calm, it will be soothing, it will make you the happiest people on the planet! Eden’s Treasure will be the name, and trust me when I tell you you won’t need anything more than this.  It will enhance your Orations, leaving you with absolutely no troubles and no cares. It shall be paradise.”

12 Rainbow choked back a disbelieving snort as he finished.  She knew the truth about the Orations, and them getting enhanced was the last thing the people needed.  Ely City.  More like Helly City she thought to herself.  But everyone else around her had huge smiles on their faces.  They were too drugged by the Orations to whoop and holler their approval, but that was just how GGI wanted it.  They wanted a quiet people, oblivious to whatever they were doing wrong. Rainbow was sure there was something.

13 Alex looked around at the crowd, bright greed glinting in his eyes as he saw their unanimous approval.  He didn’t look twice at Rainbow, for she knew how to blend in, even if she didn’t approve of what she was doing.  Faking it was better than death. Alex handed out pickaxes, shovels, and other menial tools for people to use in the destruction of the buildings.  His employees got to use a wrecking ball. They smashed down the buildings, leaving the rubble cleanup for the people. Rainbow had no choice but to lend a hand, so she dragged wheelbarrows of broken bricks and concrete to the designated dump site and back again.

14 As she worked, Rainbow had to fight very hard not to get addicted to the Orations.  Everyone chanted them while they were working. Rainbow moved her mouth with the words, but never actually spoke them.  However, they did not need to be spoken to become addictive.

15 The days began to go by in a blur, merging together like it was just one continuous day rather than the regular progression of days and nights.  This was an effect of the Orations. Because of them Rainbow was becoming numb, more and more unaware of the dust and grime. Some nights she even forgot to listen to her music, sinking deeper into a drugged abyss.  She no longer minded hauling the wheelbarrows of debris to the dump, and her muscles no longer complained of the work. It wasn’t because they were getting used to it, they just had little to no feeling because of the Orations.

16 After about a month of work the building rubble had been cleared and the lot was now ready to be built on.  Rainbow watched with the others, still in a semi-drugged state. She managed to get back to her home and pull out her iPod, but the more she looked at it, the more unappealing it looked.  Rainbow stumbled over to her chest and opened it. The picture of her parents was the first thing her eyes found. When she saw it, she picked it up and pulled it out like it was some foreign object.  Then, all of a sudden, she clasped it to her chest and began sobbing. A flood of memories crashed upon Rainbow, screaming at her, cursing her for falling into GGI’s trap. She stood up suddenly, wiping tears off her face.  She put the picture on her table, propping it up against the wall so she could look at it properly. After staring at it for a few minutes, Rainbow nodded to them, vowing to shut out the Orations from now on. Grabbing her iPod, Rainbow plugged in the earbuds and pushed play, shoving the buds into hear ears.  She slumped on the bed, absorbing every note. As it played, she felt herself being released from the hold of the Orations. Her vision became more clear, and her mind opened up once more. She would not be fooled again.

17 The next day, the cleared street was full of commotion.  But Rainbow was the only one who noticed. Now that their task was done, the other citizens of Elysium City went about like they had before: mindless and foggy, paying no attention to anything or anyone else.  They simply walked along the streets, heads held high and faces pleasant. Rainbow ducked behind some old fifty-gallon drums, peeping through the cracks between them to spy on the building process. It was nothing spectacular.  There were no bright colors, no eye-catching mural to draw people in. It was gray concrete, just like everything else. But despite this, Rainbow knew that it would be a death trap once it was completed. Before the Orations got to her, she had been observant as she worked.  She managed to spy on some official papers. From what little she saw, Rainbow gathered that the ride would give the people the Orations on a whole other level. People would get into cars mounted on tracks, somewhat like a roller-coaster. But instead of going for a thrill ride the car would move slowly as speakers emitted the Orations loud enough to penetrate the soul without disrupting the spell it cast.  There would also be ambient lights and other soothing sounds to sink the people even further down than they already were. Rainbow shivered. If this Eden’s Treasure truly did become all that, Elysium City was doomed. She had had a close call with just the regular Orations. If she went in this monstrosity she might be lost forever. But just then, something caught her eye. It was a splash of color in the drab, gray world.  A young boy, perhaps around her own age, dressed in an old red Pizza Hut uniform, was standing not too far away, staring blankly at the construction. His eyes were foggy, but perhaps not quite as foggy as everyone else’s. He was holding a small box in his right hand, and he was rubbing his thumb over it thoughtfully. A minute later he turned and walked away, going towards an old garage, not looking back. Rainbow considered following him, but then decided against it.  It’d be suspicious for her to appear out of nowhere and go after him. The construction workers would be sure to see her. So instead she shuffled away, back to her home and her music.

18 A few months later, Eden’s Treasure was complete.  Alex Carlyle did not make an appearance again, but Rainbow noticed a slight change in the Orations as the people flocked to try out the new ride.  Alex didn’t need to come out and speak again; the Orations were commanding his subjects for him. But even though he wasn’t there, his guards were.  Rainbow got pushed along with the crowd, unable to slip away with the guards watching. She walked like they did, trying to match the blank pleasant expressions on their faces.  When she finally reached the entrance one of the guards bustled her onto a car, and other people were set down next to her. It took all her willpower not to look around at her new surroundings.  The others were looking forward, and forward only, so she had to mimic that no matter what. As the last person was squeezed in, the guard closed the door of the car and it moved forward, going slowly but gradually picking up speed.  It never exceeded ten miles per hour, though. But soon Rainbow didn’t seem to mind. The Orations thrummed in her ears, and the lights opened her eyes wide and held them like that, making it impossible to close them for more than the occasional blink.  Her head was fixed and refused to move. She nearly went mad at this, for the physical effects happened long before her mind began to go. But when it did go, she was gone for good. The lights, the sounds, the chants, they were all so soothing. Her mind slowly turned to mush once more, forgetting the sound of even the most simple of notes.

19 The ride ambled on, dragging Rainbow deeper and deeper into its depths of light and sound.  Eventually, the car slid into a slot, and was barred in so that it could not slide in any direction.  Normally, Rainbow would have panicked, but she was too drugged to do that now. The car lifted up, like it had become part of a gigantic ferris wheel, and indeed that’s what it was.  One last soothing motion before getting dumped back into reality. Well, as real as a drugged reality is. Right before going almost completely numb, Rainbow’s memory jogged and she saw the splash of color.  She fought the Orations fiercely, only causing her to slip into the cold blackness even faster.

20 When the ride ended, she was lifted again.  The kid slid her body onto a soft pile of clothing among the boxes in the garage.  He pulled an old coat over the top, creating a cave that emanated the sweetness of old ladies who frequently powdered themselves—a light rose motif that played ironically well in the deep recesses of Rainbow’s ancestral brain.  The pizza kid lifted her head to help her lap water from a hubcap. He broke bits of pepperoni and crust into bite-sized pieces and left them where her tongue could reach them. Much later, she heard him practicing his orations like songs.  Like monks chanting in the distance, they were a comfort.

21 After a few minutes of listening to the soothing sounds Rainbow forced her eyes open, staring at the pizza kid’s bright clothes.  They brought back memories of a singer she knew who had bright red hair, and she did her best to push the Orations out. 

22 “Hey,” she whispered hoarsely, unable to raise her voice any further, “stop.”  The kid looked over his shoulder at her, hesitating in his chant. Rainbow repeated her request, adding an urgent “please” at the end.  The kid cocked his head at her, not sure why she was making such a request. His Orations mumbled on, habit and addiction refusing to let him stop.

23 Rainbow pushed herself up slowly and awkwardly on her elbows, then managed to shove herself into a full sitting position.  She channeled the rest of her remaining strength into her voice, singing the first few words of a song she knew by heart. The song was “SING” by My Chemical Romance.  The kid stopped mid-word, the slightest spark of light shining through his misty eyes. It only lasted a second, but it was enough to give Rainbow hope for him, especially since he didn’t return to the Orations right away.

24 “What were those sounds you made?” he asked slowly, clueless that the simple word “music” even existed.  Rainbow took a few deep breaths, gradually regaining her strength as the Orations released their hold on her brain.  When she felt ready, she considered his blank face for a few moments before answering.

25 “It’s a song,” she explained, “not like the Orations.  I mean a proper song. Music. Joy and laughter and pain and sadness.  It reminds us of all the things that are human.” He nodded slowly, still not quite understanding, but the mist had receded from his eyes just the tiniest bit.  Rainbow smiled at him, and to her surprise, he smiled back. It was a sideways smile, but it lit up the pale, freckled skin of his face nicely. He ran an equally freckled hand through his ginger hair.

26 “Are you feeling…ok?” he asked hesitantly.  She nodded, looking around at the garage they were in.  Technically it was a side room within a larger garage, but it obviously belonged to a mechanic.  She doubted this kid was the main mechanic, though. He looked much too young, even for an irregular world such as Elysium City.  Then, Rainbow remembered something important. Very important. She had not yet introduced herself, and she had no idea what this kid’s name was, either.

27 “I’m Rainbow Moon,” she said, hoping he’d get the hint and respond with his own name.  Unfortunately he didn’t. He simply nodded, once again rubbing his hand through his hair.  She waited for a minute, and when he stayed silent she probed him gently with a question: “Who are you?”

28 The kid seemingly snapped to attention, blushing slightly.  “Felix,” he said quickly, “Felix Hobson.” Rainbow held back a chuckle.  Even though she knew his slowness was caused by the Orations, she couldn’t help thinking it made him look like a sweet dork.

29 “Do you live here?  Alone?” Rainbow asked, scanning his face with her perceptive blue eyes.  Felix nodded and then shook his head. He explained that he lived here with Baz Parrish.  He was the mechanic who owned the shop. However, Baz never had any customers, so he pretty much just spent his time working on an old car he had found.  When Rainbow asked to see the car, Felix didn’t hesitate long.

30 “Are you feeling ok enough to get up, though?” Felix asked, standing up.  Rainbow assured him she was fine, and took his hand that he held out to her.  He helped her up off the ground, and she brushed the dust off herself. Smiling once more, Felix led the way through a door to their right into the large main room of the garage.

31 A medium-sized car was positioned in the center of the room, its front wheels raised higher up with ramps.  The car had no roof, not even one that could go up and down. It looked almost like a boat, with a short steeply angled windshield in front, and nothing of the sort on the back.  The seats were tan leather, and both were benches. There was no space in between the seats, even in front, making it able to carry six people comfortably. The sides were quite dented, so it was impossible to open the doors.  But despite its ramshackle appearance, it was clean, and looked like it could actually go somewhere.

32 “Wow,” Rainbow said breathlessly.  She had never seen a car that looked so nice.  “Does it actually run? Like, can you drive it places?”  Felix shook his head again, but explained that he and Baz nearly had it completely fixed.  So it wouldn’t be long before it was able to drive. When Rainbow asked, Felix confirmed her thoughts that Felix was somewhat Baz’s student.

33 “Yeah,” Felix said.  “He lets me live here just so long as I help him with whatever he needs.  Right now, the thing he needs is to get this car going. He only really likes to work on one big project at a time, and I’m more than happy to help.  Working on the car…it’s fun, I guess.”

34 “Fun?” Rainbow asked.  As far as she remembered, people under the influence of the Orations had no concept of fun.  They simply didn’t know what it was. Felix laughed, and the mist on his eyes very nearly vanished.  Rainbow could almost see their true green color.

35 “That’s what Baz calls it, anyway.  And I have to say I agree with him,” Felix said, almost sounding proud of himself and Baz.  Rainbow smiled to herself. Maybe, just maybe, she could get at least Felix, if not Baz as well, off the Orations completely.  It’d be nice to have some help with her quest.

36 “So,” Rainbow began.  “Where is Baz?” She was surprised to hear Felix say Baz was just in the other room. The room Felix went towards wasn’t the room the two of them were just in, but another side room.  “Felix, are you sure he’s ok me being in here?”

37 “Oh, sure, yeah,” Felix said, shrugging.  “Do you want to meet him?” Rainbow nodded nervously, not sure what to expect.  Felix led the way again, around the car to the other side of the room and though a door there.  When they entered Rainbow saw a small room with a workbench that was littered with tools and odd machine parts.  A somewhat old man with wrinkled skin and gray hair streaked white was standing in front of it, putting something together.

38 “Hello, Felix,” Baz said in a gravelly voice.  His steel-blue eyes turned cold when he turned around.  “Who is this?” Rainbow was relieved to see his eyes weren’t misty, but his tone scared her.  She shoved her hands in her pockets, lightly touching her guns for comfort.

39 “Baz Parrish may I present to you Rainbow Moon, the loveliest lass of Elysium City!” Felix announced, exaggerating his tone of voice ridiculously.  Rainbow blushed, managing to speak only a little squeak of a “hi.” Felix looked at her teasingly, eyes mist-free, like she had just ruined the moment.

40 “Pleasure,” Baz said, holding out his hand.  Rainbow shook it shyly, trying her best to avoid Felix’s gaze.  “Don’t mind Felix,” he continued. “I don’t think he’s ever properly met a girl before, so he’s a bit, shall we say, awkward.”

41 “So are you two not as affected by the Orations?” she asked, looking from one to the other.  They explained that they did the Orations properly and often, same as everyone else. No explanation of why they worked differently on them could be supplied.

42 About two weeks later, Rainbow had been pretty much adopted by the two mechanics.  They asked her quite a few questions, especially when they noticed that she didn’t chant the Orations.  When asked why, Rainbow explained what the Orations did to people. She told them how they were created to be addictive, and to make people think everything was fine with the world, and that GGI was a “normal” government.  Baz especially took this skeptically, but Felix was certain Rainbow was telling the truth. In her explanation, Rainbow had told them how her parents had died, and Felix knew exactly how she felt.

43 As time went on, Rainbow gradually convinced the two to believe her, and she mostly got them to stop chanting the Orations.  Every so often they, especially Felix, went into spasms that couldn’t be calmed by anything except the Orations. Even music didn’t do anything when they were in that situation.  But about six months after adopting Rainbow, the trio was ready with a plan to storm GGI and expose it for what it really was; a government that had no care for the well-being of its people.  It would be dangerous, especially since Rainbow had the only two guns. They tried finding and making others, but neither were successful.

44 Late at night, near the end of September, the trio hopped into the car, all three in the front with Baz driving.  GGI headquarters were about ten miles northeast of Elysium City, so the car, which they named Forsaken Death, was their best travel option.  Once they were outside Ely City, Rainbow turned on the radio which she had fixed and connected to her iPod. She turned the volume up loud, singing along with all her might, hair flying behind her.  Felix joined in, despite the fact that he was dreadfully off-key. Baz smiled, and pushed the gas pedal a bit harder, making Rainbow’s hair whip even more.

45 When they were about a mile from GGI HQ, Baz stopped the car and turned off the radio.  “You kids ready?” he asked, hopping out onto the dirt, avoiding the stiff sagebrush. Rainbow and Felix nodded, and Rainbow took off her baggy coat, revealing a close-cut black bodysuit with blue highlights.  Around her waist were two belts; one had a gun fastened to each hip, and the other contained shotgun shell-shaped glass vials which contained light purple liquid. She handed one gun and about five vials to Felix, who shoved both into his pockets.  Baz’s plan was to steal the gun from the first guard they took out. Once they were ready, they set off on foot towards the looming building, Baz hanging behind.

46 They crept slowly, relying on the moonlight to see where they were going.  If one of them stepped on and snapped a stick, all three froze for about ten seconds to make sure the noise hadn’t given them away.  Back at Forsaken Death they agreed that there would be no talking during their mission, relying on visuals to tell each other what to do.  Despite the fact that Baz was the oldest of their company, Rainbow led the way and gave most of the signals.

47 When they reached a side door leading into the building Rainbow waved the other two behind her and blasted the lock.  The ray gun didn’t make a lot of noise, but they waited a full minute to make sure they hadn’t been detected. If GGI knew they were there, they weren’t making any moves.  Rainbow flung the door open, catching it right before it banged against the wall. The room in front of them was mostly dark and looked like a storage unit. Once the trio was inside and had closed the door behind them, five guards leapt out from behind the boxes, pointing their guns and shooting with near-perfect accuracy.  Rainbow and Felix fired a few shots, taking out two of the guards as they ducked down. The rest of the fight was like a deadly whack-a-mole game with people popping up from behind the boxes to fire while trying to avoid getting hit themselves. A blast went through Rainbow’s hair, but fortunately the guards were the only ones who got injured.  When the firing ceased, the trio gagged the guards who were still alive and they took four of the guns, two for Felix and two for Baz. Rainbow was glad to have both of her own guns back; it was more security than just one.

48 The trio moved more cautiously after that, pointing guns in rooms before entering them, but they didn’t do much of that either since most doors they came upon were closed.  Rainbow assumed the guards were posted inside as they had been for the storage room. Eventually, they came upon a staircase and an elevator leading up to something hopefully more official.  They opted to take the stairs since unexpected elevator noise could alert more than five guards to their presence; if the whole of GGI didn’t already know they were here. At the top, they got more than they were hoping for.

49 The room was bristling with guards, as well as computers and other promising equipment.  A handful of people in suits were sitting at a table in the center, with Alex Carlyle sitting at the head.  The moment of shock didn’t last long before they screamed at the guards to act, which they did promptly. The trio formed a human triangle, backs facing each other.  They spun slowly, firing and dodging as necessary. It was difficult to shoot accurately, with the volume of noise and the need to make quick movements. Before they knew it, Felix was down.  Rainbow looked at him, afraid at what she would find, but he was simply curled on the ground, shaking. Orations. He was spazzing out and needed the Orations. Rainbow dropped down, keeping an eye out for shots fired in her direction.  She hefted Felix into a sitting position, and helped him start the chant. Once he was fully into it she stood up again, and she and Baz circled him while he recovered.

50 The amount of guards slowly diminished, collapsing as they were either killed or wounded.  The situation began to look promising, just for a minute. Just as she was thinking they were going to be fine, Rainbow shrieked as a strong arm pulled her aside, causing her to drop one of her guns.  When she twisted around, Alex’s face was right next to hers, and his eyes bled with fury. With another shriek, Rainbow elbowed his face and tried to scramble away, but he was too strong. He slammed her face-down onto the table with her arms bent behind her and tried to take her gun.  Rainbow pulled the trigger, not knowing what direction it was pointing. Apparently the shot hit home, because she heard a scream of pain and the pressure on her body was instantly gone. Without looking at the prostrate body, Rainbow straightened herself and turned around, firing at the computers until they were almost hidden by sprays of sparks and plumes of smoke.  When she turned to face her companions she saw a change in positions with Baz on the ground clutching his arm and a dazed Felix attempting to fire in a straight line. She leapt for them, pulling them towards the door of the elevator. Within a minute, they were inside, breathing heavily, trying to recover. But as the doors opened, they were met by another group of guards.  Rainbow yelled to run through, so that’s what they did, firing blindly as they went. They ran as quickly as they could, not stopping even after slamming through the door to the outside. As quickly as they could they made a run for the car, shots sometimes grazing their limbs. Once they reached Forsaken Death, Rainbow hopped in the driver’s seat, and the others jumped in next to her.  As they drove away, Rainbow pressed her foot all the way down on the pedal and turned the radio at full blast. She wouldn’t be going back to Elysium City, but the damage at GGI was done. It would take time for them to recover, giving her enough time to make her own base and hatch a new, better plan to Eliminate GGI completely.

Character Development

Hello all! Today’s post is all about developing characters, whether they are elves, humans, trolls, or anything else. I’m not an expert, but I have picked up a few tricks along my writing journey, so now I’d like to share those with you today!

First off, it’s helpful to know what your character looks like. For example, it must be decided if their skinny, fat, muscular, average, or anything in between. Height, eye and hair color, and the presence (or absence) of glasses, freckles, jewelry, and weapons. Going on Google or Pinterest to look for outfits is also extremely helpful. You can even look up hair types and eye colors for your character.Once you have your character’s look, the voice and personality come next. There’s no specific order for these two. Sometimes the voice is based on the personality, and sometimes the voice indicates things about the personality. Regardless of what order you go in, there are several great sources for figuring out your character’s personality. Taking personality tests online for your character is extremely helpful. https://www.16personalities.com is my favorite resource, but there are other websites for personality tests that are also good quality. It may take a minute for you to really feel like the answers are for your character, but the test doesn’t take a lot of time so it should be easy to take several until you know it’s all for your character rather than yourself.

Knowing your character’s personality is always a massive help in writing. It helps you to know what they would most likely do in a given situation. Even the basic knowledge of whether your character is an introvert or an extrovert is very valuable.

Speaking of different situations, one great exercise is to have a friend or family member give you a random situation for you to put your character in. The goal would be to have your character act, well, in character, for the scene in the form of a short story or flash fiction. You can scrap it afterwards, no need to perfect it, but it does help in discovering your character. Maybe in the exercise they got a mini dragon who became their constant companion, even though you didn’t have one before. Maybe you like that idea and he/she will have the dragon in their story, and maybe that was just a fun temporary thing that doesn’t carry over.

When writing fantasy, one of the beautiful things is that you can create your own rules, making the possibilities endless. While this may be daunting at first, there’s only so much that can properly go into a story without expanding it or making it seem too full. But this means your character is completely yours to create, with no restrictions except those you place yourself. No matter what your characters end up as, I hope it is always a fun process to create them! Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments of things I missed, or anything you’d like to expand on. Your own advice is also greatly appreciated! Happy creating!

Firebark Forest

Greetings, all! Today’s post is a descriptive essay I wrote for school in tenth grade. It describes one of the forests in one of my story ideas (not Warriors Unite). Please let me know how I can improve and expand on the forest in the comment section. Thank you and enjoy!

Imagine you’re in a forest with soaring trees, diverse ferns, and exotic animals as far as the eye can see. The sun filtering through the trees looks like it is from the heart of heaven itself. Now, imagine the same forest, but at night. Twin moons shine from a midnight blue sky, surrounded by countless shining stars. But that light does not dim the light immediately around you. The forest itself is pouring light out into the night. The Firebark Forest, known for its fascinating foliage, exotic inhabitants, and night-time glowing, is perhaps the most stunning forest around.

Massive trees soar thousands of feet up into the clear, crisp air. Their trunks are like an oak’s; dark, old-looking, and gnarly. The leaves can be small as a fingernail, or as large as an elephant’s ear. The dense undergrowth is mostly ferns, and they are quite similar to the leaves in size variation. Standing out, red and proud, are large, thick stalks wrapped in a spiral at the top. Flowers grow everywhere. They display hundreds of different colors, from black all the way to a stunning silver. One is big enough to sit in, and others are no bigger than a pin head. Vines crawl up every tree, even going from one tree to another. Some of the vies are thick enough to give a curious climber excellent hand- and foot-holds. The leather-skinned monkeys are especially fond of them.

Most animals that make their home in this beautiful habitat have six main legs. The “horses,” if they can even be called that, have scales on their legs and the undersides of their belly, neck, and head. The rest of their body is covered in dark grey fur and their manes and tails display a bright orange color. Vine-loving monkeys have blue and green leathery skin and no tail. Their front legs start off as one, then split into two at the elbow joint, giving them six hands. Birds can be seen in every shape and size, often showing off colorful reds, oranges, blues, greens, purples, and nearly every other color. The females, of course, are colored to blend in, but they are no less brilliant. The predators of the forest are mostly cat-like, some with scales and some with leathery skin. Very few have fur. When they snarl, their lips pull back so that every tooth and some gum is visible. Their claws are large and hooked; some even have barbed claws. But perhaps the most spectacular sight is at night.

When night arrives, twin moons shine brilliantly in the sky accompanied by countless stars. They are so close that one feels like they can reach out and touch them. All the craters and some more striking terrain on the moons can be seen, especially in the height of summer. However, the forest isn’t willing to let the moons make all the light. The entire forest glows, including the moss on the ground and the trunks of the trees. The main colors are blue and green, which cover the ground and most large foliage including the ferns and tree leaves. Gold sparkles adorn the tree trunks and some flowers. The smaller foliage and the flowers glow various shades of red, purple, orange, and silver. When anything that glows is touched, even lightly, it briefly pulses light according to the color. Not surprisingly, this forest is often considered the most beautiful of all.

Although this wonderful place can only be accessed by human imagination, it’s still a great travel destination. It’s your own little world, free from all outside influence. Make it yours. A whole new world awaits. When you have a moment, close your eyes, and explore the Firebark Forest.

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started