Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Memoires

OMFG - I worked for almost 5 hours on my novel tonight. And I want to do more. CURSE YOU, DAY JOB! Sooo tired.  I don't really have the mental focus right to post an excerpt so here are a few of the chapter headers for your reading pleasure.  If anyone actually reads this...XD

Headers...get it? Har Har Har.
IMG: http://www.zbrushcentral.com/printthread.php?t=46653&pp=40


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1: Three hundred years ago, human bodies were functional.  Adequate.  They were just as nature designed them. Boring. Then we came in with technology and made them remarkable. – Memoires of A. St. Claire

2: When that shark took my arm, I thought I would have to wear a hook and a curly wig while running around yelling, “Smee!” But, thanks to science, I am more robot than pirate.  Thank god for science.  Now I’m famous. – Donatello Fark, First Robot Comedian

3. The titan Prometheus stole fire from the gods to give to his creation; mankind, opening up new doors of thought, freedom and innovation which were once locked behind lightning bolts and denied.  Prometheus was bold in challenging his creators, and was brutally punished for his disobedience.  – Legends from Ancient Greece, Adapted for a Modern Time.  Micah Weaver


4. In the year 2036 Mirabel Industries invented the world’s first cybernetic arm.  It was a quantum leap that afforded new freedoms and thought. As the fire from Prometheus had delivered humankind from the world of shadows, cosmetic cybertechnology forged a people we know today. Consuming. Unfeeling. Mech. – Before the War: A Brief History of pre-WWIII America

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Tanks Don't Float

Another Excerpt from Insignia

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Almost floating in midair, Sam watched Mara land with a great splash, displacing a huge amount of water. Droplets shot out in a wide radius like daggers or homing missiles, with vicious intent. The sheets of water themselves reached their peak of inertia and curved downward, falling back into the canal like hundreds of diamonds. Sam inhaled a large breath and slipped into the water after Mara almost gracefully, the sharp spray stinging his face before he became submerged. The water was cool, but not nearly as cold as he expected, and very salty. He remembered reading about that in geography class.

Suddenly, fire slammed into his senses as the seawater assaulted his open eyes. He closed them in surprise, fighting his way up to the surface. The force of the waterfall pushed him downward again as he struggled through the deluge, finally breaking the surface. He gasped in air, kicking his legs against the current and scanning the spray for Mara. A commotion of splashing to the left drew his attention, though amidst it all he saw no sign of human anatomy.

Taking the clue, he ducked under the water quickly and slid his way toward it, forcing his eyes open even though they began to burn almost immediately. A black boot flew only inches in front of his face as he dove deeper into the canal. It was Mara, scrambling violently toward the surface, a trail of bubbles dancing up from her partially opened lips. She seemed to be making negative headway, sinking instead of rising, a look of terror on her distorted features.

Sam headed toward her, but was unable to get close enough to her flailing form to be of any assistance. Even using his Foresight, he couldn’t see a clear opportunity. Wondering if his skill was compromised by being underwater – Which doesn’t make any sense, he told himself – he decided to go for Mara anyway. Rushing forward and pushing the water away with both legs, he attempted to grab the collar of her jacket. The back of Mara’s flinging hand connected with Sam’s face; pain exploded stars across his vision as his head snapped to the side. His body went limp in surprise as he stopped fighting the current, trying to clear the clouds from mind. The water carried him, a trail of red following as he floated easily to the surface. More pain startled him from his lethargy as his head smacked against the concrete lined wall of the canal. Reaching upward, he groped for a handhold, fingernails scrabbling on the rough surface, and found one:  a narrow lip jutting out from the wall. He yanked himself partially out of the water and was greeted with a throbbing in his temple. With his other hand, he touched his face.

Yep, he thought as his hand came away bloody. Broken nose.

Looking around, he tried to orient himself. The sky was above him and the water below. Good, that’s all normal. He took a deep breath and noticed that he was about a hundred yards away from the waterfall. The current was not as strong here as it had been closer in and he was able to retain his grip on the wall relatively easily. He looked up. The wall was much higher than Sam would have guessed – maybe ten to twelve feet high – and smooth above the three-inch ledge onto which he was holding. This was going to make it near impossible for them to climb out.

Them… Sam looked around for Mara. She hadn’t surfaced yet. He swallowed hard, trying to relieve the pain in his cheekbones so he could try and find her. Suddenly, the world slowed and water flowed past him like molasses, ripples rising and falling languidly. The breeze became a static hum, filling his ears like cotton balls. Through the now stilled water, he could see Mara lying on her back with only a couple of bubbles left, their amoebic forms changing fluidly as they wobbled to the surface. She moved very little as her heels, the last to settle on the canal bottom, bounced gently several times. Her features had gone slack and her eyes were closed. She looked calm, relaxed even.

(Picture from: http://otakugangsta.com/image/43441031460)

Monday, September 14, 2015

Underground Tunnels and Gigantic Rats - Insignia - #5

A continuation of last night's post...

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Sam was almost doubled over, pointing at her with one hand, the other clamped over his mouth tightly in an attempt to restrain the laughter bubbling from within. She narrowed her eyes at him and shoved him roughly backwards. He allowed himself to fall, reaching out in a half-hearted attempt to grasp the side of a nearby ride car. Missing, he landed in a pile of twisted metal fencing and yelped briefly as one of the barbs caught his cheek.
A flood of guilt washed over Mara as she began helping him extract himself from the fencing. The barbs grabbed at his jacket and pants, a couple finding their way into his hands before he was finally back to standing upright. He scowled at Mara as she gingerly wiped blood from his cheek.
“You have no sense of humor,” he spat.
“I’m sorry,” she mumbled, pulling out a piece of gauze and handing it to him.
“That stuff is all rusted to hell!”  He complained, brushing dust from his pants. “Who knows what chemicals are in this?”
Mara wiped the cold sweat from her forehead, refusing to admit how nervous this mission was making her. Even this far south, the December wind was chilling. “Well I hope you’ve had all your vaccinations,” she continued, avoiding his accusatory stare.
“I can see why some of the rebels think you are a monster,” Sam muttered as they resumed their trek.
Mara spun around again, face flushed this time, “Who says that?”  She snapped.
Sam flinched, instinctively raising his hand in front of his face.
Her anger receded as quickly as it arose. It was true; she did have many reasons in her past to be called a monster. This should be no surprise to her. She placed her fingers gently on Sam’s arm and lowered it. “I’m sorry,” she said again.
“You’ve said that,” he replied dryly.
“But, really, I am,” she pressed, “Sometimes, I…I don’t know. Its instinct, I suppose.”
Sam shrugged at her, clearly hurt.
Mara huffed. They had to continue their mission. She let it go and the two completed their journey across the amusement park in silence.
When they arrived at the sewer grate, they found it half hidden by overgrowth and trash. The grate would lead them through the underground tunnels, directly into the Sea Wall where they would begin looking for the newest holobrick. This sewer had not been used in decades, probably longer. It would have been cleared of most of its waste by rainwater and the secret efforts of rebel prisoners. The bars of the grate were so rusted that they were hardly indistinguishable from one another. It was stuck fast to its latch and the hinges were barely discernible from the rest of the structure. These conditions didn’t deter Mara for long; for once she found a good handhold she ripped the fixture upward as hard as she could. The entire thing crumbled as if it were made out of sand. Red dust rained down into the dark hole it revealed.
Dripping water echoed in the tunnel and Mara could see the slight shimmer of water reflecting the bleak winter sky. Another shiver ran through her. She just stood and stared.
“Well,” Mara said, already tired, “Let’s get to it.”
Sam’s expression was grim as he stared into the blackness, his jaw clenched and face pale. Mara placed a hand on his shoulder and he relaxed almost imperceptibly, his previous grievance toward her set aside for this new task. She tried to give him a reassuring smile in the fading light, but he just nodded briefly.
Buckling her knees, she prepared herself mentally for the descent. There is water at the bottom…she thought. She balked, frozen in her space.
“What are you waiting for?”  Sam asked her, raising an eyebrow.
Mara shook her head.
“Wait…”  Sam continued, “Is this the water thing?”
She grudgingly acknowledged.
Sam snorted a short laugh then looked at her, with a mildly unsympathetic glare. “It’s okay,” he attempted reassurance, “It’s just water.”
Mara grunted.
“Look…” he started, “Whatever happens, I’ll keep an eye on you,” the boy smiled weakly, “I’m a pretty good swimmer. Back home…I swam in the quarry lake all the time.” 
She attempted a thankful nod, though thoroughly doubted that Sam could do much for her when she began to sink. Even though he was taller than her and already growing broad of shoulder, Mara had a difficult time seeing him as anything but a kid. Still, it was a nice gesture. She would try to remember it as she drowned. Mara gagged, cold sweat breaking out on her forehead again. The mission would fail if she couldn’t even make it into the sewer now. Taking a deep breath, she steeled her nerves.
Mara didn’t bother with the corroded ladder rungs, but instead just jumped the nine-or-so foot distance, landing with a thud and slight splash. The water was barely a trickle in this part of the sewer, though she could almost feel its minute tug as the tunnel sloped downward.
Sam followed, gingerly climbing down the rungs, slowly lowering each leg. Metal bits and sodium flakes floated downward, agitated by his passage. Halfway toward the bottom, one of the rungs under Sam’s new leg cracked sharply, startling the boy, who had only one hand on a higher rung. Mara’s hands shot out to catch Sam under the arms. She lowered him the rest of the way down, though he pulled away quickly. In the dull light from the opening above, she could barely make out his affronted expression. She just shrugged at him, trying to screw her face into a motherly mask of concern. Sam’s snort indicated to her that she had not succeeded. Nonetheless, a slight smile crept onto her lips and she winked at him before donning her night vision goggles.
As they sloshed cautiously forward, the tunnel swallowed them in its coal shroud. The entryway and slate-grey sky disappeared from view, and any light it provided became quickly snuffed as well. The water became deeper here, lapping over her toes. She could already feel the stray droplets soaking through the seams.
After a few more moments creeping through the darkness, a sharp squeal startled them as Sam, several feet behind Mara, cried out in disgust. Mara stopped cold. A scrabbling noise combined with light sloshing followed.
“Ugh!”  Sam groaned, “I totally just stepped on something soft. I think it ran in front of my foot.”
“Or swam,” Mara helped, nonchalantly. The water was over her ankles now, she noted, choking down the hard lump of panic in her throat. She waited for Sam to catch up.
“What the hell was it?”  Sam continued. Mara could feel him shaking violently.
She grabbed his clammy hand and squeezed it firmly. There was a lightly amused edge to her voice even though she tried to stifle it. “Probably a rat,” she explained as she saw a larger than anticipated heat signature dart past her periphery. These suckers were big. “Didn’t you see it?”  She asked Sam, referring to his Skill.
Sam grunted. “No…must not have posed a threat…Go ahead and laugh,” the teen said, defeated. “I probably deserve it.”
Mara allowed herself a huff, before squeezing Sam’s forearm. “I kind of hate rats too,” she commiserated.
Sam’s quavering finally stilled, and he looked at Mara, his goggles meeting hers. “Thanks,” he breathed. “And sorry for earlier,” his mumble continued.
She slapped his back once in an expression of sympathy, before gently guiding him forward by his arm. His other hand, she noticed, rested lightly on the pommel of the anlace, currently in rapier form.
After almost an hour of walking straight ahead in the darkness, the water rising over the tops of Mara’s boots, they came upon a crossroads of sorts. The tunnel opened up into a circular room with a drain in the middle, where dim lights flickered weakly. The ground gradually sloped upward toward the center of the room, and Mara noted the futility of the drain’s placement.
The remnants of a band of squatters, probably junkies, lay scattered across the floor. Mara scanned the area quickly searching for two things that could pose an immediate threat: living beings or dead bodies. The former could cause an unpredictable altercation and the latter would foreshadow the existence of an even more dangerous enemy. Luckily, she detected neither.
She placed her fingertips lightly on Sam’s shoulder. “Anything?”  She whispered.
He shook his head, his hair (which had almost grown back to its original length) wavering in the crimson haze.
Letting out an entrapped breath, she explored the place carefully. “Don’t touch anything!”  She warned Sam, noticing a pile of discarded needles in one corner. She kicked the pile, scattering them across the concrete floor.
“What is this place?”  Sam asked, nudging an overturn tin pot with his boot toe.
“A junkie commune,” Mara explained, “Of all the legal drugs of the world that you can purchase, even for cheap, there are still those who would prefer the candy of bygone ages: heroin, stardust and opium which are supposedly very close in formula to those that had been sold at the turn of the millennium. They have very dangerous side effects.
“But, it’s the ‘illegality’ of these drugs that makes them so desirable. These addicts somehow feel ‘above’ society, outside of the corporate fist. However,” Mara chuckled slightly here, “the CORPs manufacture all these drugs too. They hire dealers to ‘illegally’ sell the schwag and then pose fake ‘raids’ on the communes, holding the dealers long enough for the public to forget about the event. Then they are back on the streets to repeat the process.”
Sam shook his head, “I don’t understand why anyone would want to do drugs on purpose.”  He flinched at his own memories, studying a melted glass pipe overtop of a small, cold stove.
Mara shrugged. “Why does anyone do anything, these days?”
Sam didn’t have an answer for that.
They crossed the alcove and came upon a door in the far wall. It looked to be made of simple metal, but was strangely bright and new-looking, uncorrupted with the rust and sodium deposits of its neighbors. It was padlocked with several lopsided and antiquated key locks, the keys to which had long been lost to time, but Mara’s hand scanner told her there was an AI lock hidden in the door as well. This would be the entrance to the Sea Wall. She waved the scanner over the joint until a faint robotic gurgle issued forth.
“You ready, kiddo?”  Mara asked, turning to Sam.
He shrugged, loosening the anlace in its scabbard. “Let’s just get this over with.” 
Mara braced herself against the stone wall and tore the door free of its ancient locks. A puff of dust and mold hit them full in the face, and they both coughed spastically, thankful for the protection of their eyes by the goggles.
Stepping through the entryway, Mara closed the door behind them using the scanner to release the AI lock. Then she dropped the scanner on the dusty floor, it only had enough charge for one use. They would have to find another way out as this one was now closed to them.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Outside Old Anaheim - Insignia - #4






Trent dropped them off outside Old Anaheim, about ten miles from the California Sea Wall at what looked to be an abandoned amusement park. It was just before dawn and the rising sun cast a gloomy pallor on the ruins of roller coasters and decrepit buildings. Dark snake-like shapes of metal and wood twisted sinuously through the park, disappearing under piles of debris only to emerge again, almost eruptively, yards later. Overturned coaster cars spilled out dirt and rust ran down the hills in eerie rivulets, unsettlingly blood-like. Cherubic faces of cartoon characters stared down at Mara and Sam with hauntingly lifelike eyes, their faded smiles morphing into sadistic grins the longer Mara looked at them. She turned her eyes away with a tremor. What horrible place was this? She asked herself, feeling the inanimate gaze on the back of her neck like a crawling insect.


Gingerly she stepped over a life-sized statue, half-buried in the dirt, with only its vaguely mouse-like face peering up at her. The paint was chipping off the nose and eyes, giving it a maniacal glare. Suddenly it shifted under her foot and Mara jumped, getting tangled in metal wire and plant matter, before furiously wrenching herself free. Panting hard, she heard a low chuckle and turned around, wild-eyed.

 Sam was almost doubled over, pointing at her with one hand, the other clamped over his mouth tightly in an attempt to restrain the laughter bubbling from within. She narrowed her eyes at him and shoved him roughly backwards. He allowed himself to fall, reaching out in a half-hearted attempt to grasp the side of a nearby ride car. Missing, he landed in a pile of twisted metal fencing and yelped briefly as one of the barbs caught his cheek.