Hack the Future Part 15 (Steven Schaufler & J Dark )

They’re of no consequence for what you’re being hired for.” She paused to make sure TJ and Blade were paying attention. “Your job will be to kidnap one Damero Edkos, better know as Darkos Edge. He’s a ..” TJ cut her off. “Darkos Edge?! The guitarist for Cannibal Lighthouse?!” Blade watched TJ’s face. His features had taken on almost a reverence, if such a word could ever be used in a sentence about TJ.

“He has possession a particular item that does not belong to him. I am asking you to kidnap him, retrieve the article from it’s hiding place, and return the item to me. I will pay your normal fee, plus a bonus, incremental to the number of days before next Sunday that you present me with the item.” “So the faster you get it the more we get as a bonus. Nice incentive.” TJ entwined his fingers and rested them on a knee. “What’s the item?”

Irelle glanced at Blade again, who tried to make herself look small. The sorceress smiled then turned back to TJ. “A bell, about the size of your two hands together.” She raised her right hand languidly. “A small straight rod about as long as a index finger, should also be with the bell. And before you say that’s two pieces, it is not. That is the clapper for the bell.” She reached to her waist, and pulled out a small pouch. She dropped a series of data sticks on the table. “Your fee, plus ten percent for travel expenses. Prove to me you’re as good as your arrogance attempts to imply. Bring me the bell, in total, by Sunday next.”

Irelle smiled, then looked over at Blade. “Be careful, he’s a Humanity First sympathizer. His security team is made up of their members.” TJ gave a curt nod to Blade as the sorceress glided out of the room, the missile mages following her. The door floated off the ground, then settled in the doorway, the doorknob, locks, and hinges still lying on the wood floor. Blade got up from the couch, and stalked into her small room. She stepped to the tool kit, and shifted her shoulder. The cables flicked forward grabbing a flat blade screwdriver and a Phillip’s head.

She walked back into the main room, her feet moving in tense, measured steps until she reached the door. Her right hand reached out, grabbing the hole that the doorknob assembly fit, and yanked. The door shifted, then fell flat with a loud bang. Blade savagely grabbed the hinges, her metal limbs working to straighten the bent plates and screw them back onto the door. Her metal appendage stretched out, cables writhing like the heads on a hydra, grabbing the doorknob, disassembling it then threading the two pieces back onto the door, and screwing it in place. Her left arm grabbed the dead-bolt, steel tentacles scrabbling on the metal and the screwdriver removing the screws. It was slammed into position and screwed into place. TJ watched all of this with silence, letting Blade work out her fear and anger on the door.

Blade worked fast and viciously, and the door was soon back in place, with a few new gouges in the wood from flailing screwdrivers and cybernetic cables. She rounded on TJ, then stomped back over to the far end of the couch, and sat down. A shaking hand pulled out a cigarette pack. She tore the foil open and shook the pack, a cable with a small grasper snagged the paper and tobacco tube, and held it to her lips. A small pocket lighter appeared from her pocket. She clicked the electric striker, and a green flame stretched an inch upwards. Blade leaned back and drew deeply. Her head tilted back as twin clouds of smoke issued from her nostrils.

Hack the Future part 14 (Steven Schaufler & J Dark)

The little apartment was quiet, but for the sounds of five people breathing and, he thought, he could almost hear everybody thinking. The silence seemed to drag on for several seconds. He risked a quick glance towards his partner who looked at him as if he had lost his mind, but who was also covertly preparing herself in case their guests chose option one. His eyes snapped back to the pale, slender elf. Irelle rose to her feet. Slowly. Gracefully. She didn’t even look at him, as she crossed towards the shelf on the far side of the room. Her thin, alabaster-like fingers wrapped around the cube they’d ‘acquired’ from the Dayner vault and she nodded, as if to herself. Only then did she turn to face Blade and himself. She hefted the cube as if to gauge its weight, even as she continued speaking „But if you ever insult me again, I will not leave enough of you to fill something as small as this!“

Irelle drew back her arm before throwing the cube at him rather forcefully. Despite his reflexes he only barely managed to snatch it out of the air before it hit his head. He glared at her and she flashed him a cold smile. Coincidentally, the contents of that folder and the real Phylactery are related in ways even I do not fully understand…yet. So you see, we do have quite a bit to discuss.“

Blade let the breath she had been holding out slowly. She noticed the mages did also. We dodged a bullet. They don’t want to throw down, but there were ready to. I really don’t want to do that again. She shook her head, flipping her long hair back like a black fan. TJ smirked as if to say, was there any doubt, kid? Her hands clenched into fists as she visualized punching him in the mouth. She blinked as Irelle began to talk. Irelle had regained her poise, though Blade knew that TJ’s little power play had lessened her in the eyes of the mages. There’d be a very dangerous reckoning for that stunt after they were no longer useful.

Irelle strode back to the table, the cube still in hand. She stood there, a gash of white contrasted by the brown wood, the green mages, and the dark grey of the walls. She set the cube on the table. She started to lift her hand away from the cube when she stopped. Turning her full attention to the cube, and ignoring the puzzled looks of the other four in the room, she picked it up again, and concentrated. She turned to TJ. “Where did you find this.” It was obviously not a question.

Blade looked down as TJ answered the sorceress. “At Dayner Heavy Industries.” He didn’t try to bait or goad Irelle, for which Blade was thankful. Now that both sides had postured, they both agreed to at least be respectful, if not civil. “Dayner”, Irelle whispered to herself. She raised her head, and smiled. “They tend to have things others pay money for”, TJ smirked. “Indeed, and if this was the prize, I would expect you may have been in a race to procure it.”

Blade’s head snapped to stare at Irelle. TJ’s face became guarded. “I wouldn’t have been surprised by it either” he said in a careful tone. “When people want things, they tend to have rivals that want the same thing.” Irelle nodded, her eyes watching every twitch and movement of TJ’s face. TJ returned the stare. “It says how much stock a person puts in things, is represented by the people that they hire.” “Indeed it does” Irelle agreed. She stared a moment longer, then yawned, moving a hand in front of her mouth. She lowered it then shifted topics.

Hack the Future part 12 ( Steven Schaufler & J Dark )

“It would be a shame to discover that Humanity First found out about her. Rabid humans like them could make both your lives very short.”

“What do you want, bitch.” TJ was glowering at the sorceress who blinked in surprise that a ‘mere’ human would dare to insult her. The two wands shifted to aim at TJ. Blade tensed, shifting forward on the sofa, and the nearest mage to her swung back at the motion to cover her.

“You are impertinent, even for a human. We have shared wine and hospitality.” She didn’t turn to look at the two mages. “Put the weapons away. We’re not here to kill them.” The mages hesitated, then reluctantly, slid the wands back into the belt sheaths.

“You got some nerve yourself. First you toast us, then threaten. Then you do an about face and go back to toasting. You gonna threaten again so we all start shooting?” He looked at Irelle, his hand resting on the kitchen floor, mere centimeters from the butt of the revolver. “Your call Lady.” He waited, coiled like a snake waiting to strike. Blade felt herself tense up as the two mages looked to the sorceress for their instructions. Irelle watched TJ through narrowed eyes, then looked down. Runes glowed and her wine glass floated to her. She raised the glass to TJ, and then perfunctorily to Blade, and drank.

“The job would be to kidnap someone. They’re an active member of Humanity First.” She waved her hand, and a thick manila folder popped into existence just above the coffee table, and dropped with a solid slap of paper on glass. She looked at TJ, then Blade. “You complicate many things, half-breed.”

– – – –

Taking a slow, deep breath, TJ let his gaze drift briefly towards his partner. He’d known she had her secrets, as did he, but for the most part, they didn’t have the potential to fuck things up for them as badly as her being a half-breed did. This wasn’t the time to worry about it however. The arrogant clucker and her proposal were the matters at hand, and they intruded rather suddenly into his thoughts again, with the sound of a heavy folder slapping onto the table.

Irelle’s golden eyes locked onto his with what could only be described as a challenge, and he met it head on. Holding her gaze without so much as blinking, he stepped close enough to the slender elf to brush against her as he reached for the folder, and it was her eyes that blinked in surprise. Not only because a mere human dared to get this close, but that it was done with such a casual nonchalance, feigned or not. It was almost amusing to her, and she watched him curiously as he began to peruse the folder’s contents. Then he looked at her again, and there was nothing amusing in that steely gaze.

„Go for it“ he told her in a quiet, conversational tone. His index finger marking a page in the closed folder, as he turned his back to her to rummage through the drawer of one of the endtables. As such, he couldn’t see the surprised blink, or how she cocked her head to the side as she asked „Excuse me?“

Hack the Future Part 11 ( Steven Schaufler & J Dark )

He flung himself towards his gun skidding along the linoleum floor into the kitchen. He looked back trying to determine which target he needed to focus on first. His hand stopped mere millimeters from Blade’s revolver. The sorceress’s runes blazed in white light, as she gazed at her two companions. The missile mages froze solid, wands half drawn from the holding sleeves on their belts. Except for the glow of the runes, he hadn’t even seen her hand or lips move at all. How the fuck did she pull that off? These elves just keep getting weirder every time I meet one. Irelle looked at the two then glared at Blade with eyes that blazed like golden fire. Turning to face TJ, her gaze seemed to say ‘This is all her fault!’. Her shoulders tensed, much like he’d seen the mages do just before they’d tried to draw their weapons.

Eventually, she blinked her eyes, as if to clear away what just happened. Her hand stretched out again, as she floated her glass to her. After taking several long draughts, she let her eyes travel back and forth between the two mercenaries. Taking a deep breath, her eyes moved to linger speculatively on Blade before she intoned, „It seems the job has just become a tad more complicated.“

Blade listened intently. Irelle had not yet released the two mages. Glancing back over to them, both men still wore the snarls that were on their faces when They started pulling their wands. Their bodies weren’t straining at the spell. They knew that they would be released eventually. They’d reacted to Irelle’s reaction. She’d stopped them. That should be the end of the problem. But, Blade knew it wasn’t. Being healed by Irelle had laid bare everything that she was trying to hide. Her heritage, the magic. Irelle had felt it all.

Healing is so intimate. Whether you want to or not, you always get a sense of the real person. What they are. Everything of what they are. She covered it as she always had, with attitude and a hard reserve that said ‘don’t mess with me’. Her gaze hardened as she looked at the two paralyzed mages, and her eyes narrowed further as they shifted to Irelle. You want to condemn my blood? Bring it, bitch. I’m badder than you, I’m meaner. Tattoos don’t mean a thing. Not against a gun, and a brain. So come on, throw down and see who loses. Big hint, it won’t be me.

Her heart raced. She felt that thrill of fear and anticipation just before a fight. She watched Irelle, who stared back at her with a razor-edged smile that promised ‘game on’ any time she wanted. Blade broke the stare down first. She was way too keyed up after the healing. Irelle chuckled softly, rankling Blade’s nerves further. She looked back over at TJ, who was staring at the sorceress. “Going to explain the complications, or are we done here?” He folded his arms across his chest and straightened up, squaring his body at Irelle. He’s decided things aren’t going to change as we are right now. He’s going to force it. Irelle beat him to it.

Her runes flashed, and both mages finished their draw, pointing the rune-carved sticks at Blade. “The complication is that your half-breed pet would get you both condemned and killed where I’m going to send you. TJ blinked. “Half? Blade? She could see things click in place behind his eyes. The lucky coincidences. The strange times she chose to hesitate or rush headlong. He knows I could sense them. Dammit, why now!? He’ll never trust me again! She gritted her teeth and glared frustrated anger and shame at Irelle.

She outed me. If she tells the Purists, I’m going to be a walking target. Hell, she could tell Humanity First and forget the Purists. Elves have nothing on humans. They shoot their own kind without a second thought. Elves prefer banishment. They’ll kill too, but that’s usually not vindictive enough. They like to make their targets suffer. It makes for nastier psychology.

A Last Good Day Part 1 ( J Dark )

(( This is a possible idea for another story ))

“Do you tshink that’s deep enough?” the boy running the white and red backhoe shouted. His tousled brown hair ruffled in the breeze as his brown eyes glanced over at his father. His son, Dirk was so similar to him that people had teased him about being cloned. The boy, at twelve, was only a few centimeters short of his father’s height, and his large, lean frame hinted at the bulk his father carried.

Dirk scratched his nose as Harlan Zachary ambled over next to the rumbling machine, and looked down at the gash dug in the ground. “Lemme check it”, he yelled over the noise of the engine. He pulled out a yellow tape measure, and drew out four feet of tape. He lowered the bare end down into the narrow pit. His own red-blonde hair curled like he’d stuck his finger in an electrical socket, and didn’t pull it out. It peeked out from under his Tim Horton’s hat in fuzzy glory. His weathered features at odds with the babylike curls.

He carefully tapped the bottom of the trench, he turned the tape towards the sun, and squinted at the reading. “Thirty eight inches.” He turned to his son, and gave him a thumbs up. “That’s perfect. Now, widen it by one trench on either side of this, and have it two feet short of the back fence. I’ll paint out the parking and storage areas. Then we can save your mom some cookin’ and get a burger and some fries.”

Dirk’s eyes lit up. “I’ll besha a larsh drink I get the tsresenches dug before you get the shpots painted!” Harlan gazed fondly at his son. “You’re on, Dirk.” Harlan’s eyes glinted mischeviously. “Readysetgo!” He dashed to the small house, and was through the door just as the backhoe’s engine revved up. Harlan ran to the utility room, snapping the fluorescent light on as he flipped the switch by the door with learned instinct. The paint and compressed air brush was where he’d set them by the door. He grinned and grabbed them, spinning on his heel as his elbow flipped the softly humming fluorescent lights back off. Harlan trotted back out to the back yard, and slowed to watch his son handle the rented backhoe.

The sun was starting to settle in the west, giving a gold and pinks glow to the few overhead clouds. The breeze carried the scent of saltwater and fish from the Atlantic Ocean as he watched Dirk drop another load of dirt on the pile.

Dirk dropped the scoop next to the trench, then dug into the dark earth. The edge of the trench crumbled as the scoop hooked up a load of earth. The scoop curled under the arm, like an elephant’s trunk. Dirk lifted the hoe up then rotated to center the scoop over the pile of earth next to the backhoe. The scoop uncoiled, dumping the earth. He rotated the scoop back, leaning out the side window to gauge where to set the scoop for the next bite of earth. His blonde hair ruffled in the light breeze as he slowly dropped the scoop just in front of the previous gash. Harlan heard light footsteps behind him.

He looked back over his shoulder as his daughter stepped next to him. Willow Zachary stood as tall as her father, at one-point-nine meters. Her hair was mouse brown with red highlights in the sun. Willow might have conjured visions of a thin, tall woman, but she was almost as stocky as her father. She bore the weight well as she competed in girl’s soccer, rugby, and hockey at the Halifax Western High School. Willow just gotten home from her job at Henri’s auto repair. She was one of the student mechanics there, earning credits for a trade school position after graduation.

“Hey, I thought I was going to get a chance to run that.” Willow’s lower lip stuck out in a cute pout as Harlan glanced over at her. She’s got her mother’s delicate features, and my big ol’ body. Harlan let himself drift back through the years, to when he’d greeted her just after her mom’s labor. I could hold you in one hand you were so small. Now look at you, big as me and twice as smart. How did I get so lucky? Lord knows it can’t have been clean living. He turned his attention back to the backhoe, lest his daughter caught him daydreaming. The tw watched Dirk finish the second cut. “I’m gonna beash you da!” Harlan blinked. Oh yeah, the ‘race’! That’s what I get for daydreaming. He hustled out to the back yard, dragging the paint sprayer and carrying the white paint. “Willow! Come help me set up, your brother got a head start!” Laughing over her brother’s protests, Willow joined her father in marking out the parking area and driveway as Dirk chewed at the yard with the backhoe.

Harlan beeped the horn twice. The yowling beep of the horn was punctuated by Dirk’s shout. “Cfome on Mom! Weefe are waiting!” Ruth Zachary came gliding out the back door of the house, and glided to the passenger side door of the well cared for Chevrolet S-10. Barely one and a half meters tall and forty-five kilos fully clothed, she looked like a dainty Chihuahua next to a bunch of burly Rottweilers. But like the old saying, she was a small woman with a BIG attitude.

“What kept you?”, Harlan queried as she sat down and reached for the seat belt. “There was something about a disaster in California on the radio. The news said it was big, but there were no details about what happened.” “Huh.” Harlan backed the S-10 up and out onto the paved road. “California’s got earthquakes, maybe that big one all those scientists have been predicting happened.” He dropped the transmission into drive, and drove down the street towards downtown Halifax.

Hack the Future part 10 ( Steven Schaufler & J Dark )

„I am Irelle.“she continued, as if nothing out of the ordinary had just happened. Then she turned briefly to her companions and addressed them as well. „Remember, don’t harm them! We are here to enter into a contract with them.“ The two elves simply nodded, and raised their glasses towards TJ and Blade. Waiting.

„As I said earlier, I wish to discuss a job with you, should you be interested.“ she looked directly at TJ. Her golden, cat-like eyes locking on his – which no longer seemed to be the dark, thunderclouds they’d been just moments ago, but had reverted to his usual bluish-gray, and holding them in an eerie, unblinking stare. She raised her glass to his. Watched. Waited. He was still angry but, more than that, he was curious. He almost seemed confused. Irelle’s lip twitched slightly in what might’ve been amusement.

„If you raise your glass and drink, we’ll negotiate. If you set the glass on the table, we will leave in peace. No harm will come to you through me or mine.“ She finished that last sentence with a smile that showed her teeth. If anything, that smile only made her look even more dangerous.

TJ had been unfazed by her intent stare, though as she finished speaking, he sighed softly. There was the briefest moment where he glanced towards Blade, then he closed his eyes and pinched the bridge of his nose between his thumb and index finger. He almost wished his partner weren’t here. Almost. Oh well, he couldn’t keep all of his secrets forever, and if there was ever a time to spill this particular one, it was now. „In peace, you say?“ he muttered softly. But if he wanted an answer, he didn’t wait for it, for even as Irelle nodded, he muttered even more softly „Very well…“ Dropping his hand from his nose, he slid it under the glass. Letting the container rest on his palm, while he steadied it with his other hand. He raised it to the elven woman and nodded, then turned the glass by one hundred and eighty degrees, before he intoned formally „Vala zhi; Vala zhi’rha; hla zhi, zhi’rha Vala!“ before flashing Irelle a wide, insolent grin.

The four surprised gasps that assaulted his ears in unison were like music, the incredulous stares from Blade and Irelle’s gophers washed over him like a gentle breeze, and seeing sorceress’s aloof poise shatter, if only for an instant, brought a self-satisfied smile to his lips. He brought the glass to his lips and took a long, deep drink, then sighed softly as he savoured the taste of the rich, amber liquid. Damn! It’s been ages since I had this stuff… Never one to let opportunities slip by, TJ reached down and lightly patted Irelle’s foot, just before he gingerly pinched the sole of her shoe at its open-toed tip not unlike he’d pinched his nose just a moment ago, and moved her dangerously positioned leg aside. „Serrahn, and not a recent vintage either“; he mused aloud after swallowing the heady fruit wine. „Someone came prepared, it seems.“

„Not prepared enough, evidently“ Irelle replied, her eyes meeting his. Watching him curiously and carefully, as the moment of surprise finally faded. Her guards glared daggers at him and, from the corner of his eye he could see Blade looking at him with an expression that seemed a perplexed amalgam of ‘What the fuck?’ and ‘We need to talk!’ Still, he couldn’t quite get that smug grin off his face, so he merely shrugged and addressed the blonde elf. Who, he noted pleasantly, had also taken a drink, just as her helpers did. „Twice now, you mentioned a job. So why don’t you be a dear and kindly elaborate on the nature of said job?“

If Irelle was irritated, she hid it well. Once again, she made sure her hair didn’t cover her runes, then she took another sip of wine before setting the glass on the table and slowly standing with as much grace as she showed when sitting down. „I will of course get to that“; she said in that soft soprano of hers. „Though as we’ve reached an accord, there is something I must do before then.”

And so she did. Once again she held his gaze, as if to convince him that she really didn’t mean him any harm, as she reached out her hand and slipped it under the collar of his shirt.

Those long, slender fingers felt cool against his skin and, though he knew it wasn’t the case, it was as if she was caressing him. That impression was brief, however, because he suddenly felt her nails dig into the flesh of his shoulder, just around the angry wound the bullet had left earlier today. The pain was much the same, if not worse, and it was only the fact she held his gaze that he didn’t flinch. He wouldn’t give her the satisfaction. So he simply sat there with gritted teeth and clenched fists, as her elven magic knitted his flesh and skin back the way it was before that Dayner fucker shot him.

It took all of ten or fifteen seconds before his shoulder looked and felt like new. After Irelle had withdrawn her hand, he rolled it a few times just to be sure but, it didn’t even feel sore anymore. The blonde elf smirked. „And you’re back to one hundred percent!“ With that she turned to face Blade, and slowly dropped down onto one knee, and even as TJ muttered „So I am, much obliged.“

The elf’s sharp nails dug into his partner’s damaged leg. He smiled as he watched the process. Having just gone through it himself, over a much smaller area, he could only imagine the pain Blade must be feeling right about now. As such, that she only sucked in a sharp breath through her teeth showed she was as tough -or as stubborn- as he was. Nodding encouragement at her, he reached over and clamped a hand over her shoulder in support.

Fixing Blade’s leg had taken decidedly longer, though how much longer he couldn’t say. And he took another mental note of how all this healing magic didn’t seem to wear Irelle out in the slightest. On the contrary, he’d watched the elf, and halfway through the process, she had suddenly blinked, then grinned almost wickedly as she cast a sidelong glance up at him. Standing slowly after she was done, Irelle still wore that wicked, secretive grin, and she trailed her long fingers along Blade’s natural arm, then along her shoulder and neck. When she leaned in, TJ almost thought the sorceress might plant a kiss on his partner but, she merely gazed at her as her fingers brushed along one of Blade’s ears.

Irelle frowned. TJ quirked his brow at Blade in an unspoken question but she didn’t meet his eyes. Instead, he heard Irelle laugh, and wished he hadn’t. As musical as it sounded, it was a decidedly eerie laugh, which stopped as suddenly as it begun. The runes on the side of her head flashed white hot, and she spun towards the mages just as TJ saw them both reach for their wands. So much for peace!

Hack the Future part 9 ( Steven Schaufler & J Dark )

The elf priestess, took one glass, then stepped around the table towards TJ. Blade glanced down at the elf’s feet to avoid making eye contact. Her eyes widened as she saw the woman’s shoes. The stiletto heeled shoes were open toed, and strapped like a roman sandal. The back heel was actually a sheath, with a four inch double-edged blade held in place by the long straps. A button above the guard of the blade held it in place, and a simple pull would free it. She set the glass on the table, then walked back around, and levitated the second glass to the edge of the table in front of Blade. Blade saw this as hopeful. That she took the time to personally place the glass in front of TJ meant she was not here to kill anyone, and that she did truly want to discuss something as equals, not as master to servant.

She motioned the two men forward, then levitated glasses up to hover in front of them. The two mages placed their wands into small sheathes on their belts, and slowly plucked the glasses out of the air. The runes on the side of her half-shaven head glowed, and TJ gasped as the spell was canceled. The sorceress purred in a soft soprano, “The show was to get your attention.” She gestured and a folding chair floated out of the corner, unfolded and set itself down behind her. She lowered gracefully to the seat, somehow making the movements remind Blade of a stalking predator. The woman ignored Blade, instead leaning towards TJ, her white dress outlining her curves.

She smiled then used a hand to push her blonde hair away from the runes. “I will offer wine, as a token of respect, and to prove my intentions, while flamboyant, are not intended to cause you harm, nor disrespect.” She looked back at the broken pieces of the once-solid oak door. A gesture swept the pieces into a spinning maelstrom that quickly reassembled into a wood door once more. The door floated, then settled back to the ground. The metal pieces remained where they fell. The elven lady looked to the mages.

Fae magic. It can’t affect anything with iron. But she used her hands to touch the guns. She’s not a normal elf. Unlike a full elf, she wasn’t injured by contact with ferrous items like nails, doorknobs, or door hinges. Iron was like silver to werewolves, a potent poison for long as they were contacted by it. The iron would act like salt on a garden slug, eating its way through the body and corroding the flesh it touched.

“I am Irelle”, she continued in her soft soprano. She turned to gaze at the two mages. “Rremember, We are here to offer them a contract. D do not attack them” They nodded politely, and held their drinks out towards TJ and Blade.

“As I said earlier I have a job for you, if you are interested.” She looked TJ in the eyes, her golden cat eyes meeting his dark brown ones in an unblinking stare. She raised her drink, and waited. TJ seemed angry, and confused. “If you raise your glass, we’ll negotiate, if you place the glass on the table, we will leave politely.” Irelle smiled, showing her teeth. Blade felt like she was looking at a opened straight razor. It was all on TJ. She shut her eyes and remained absolutely still, hoping to avoid any attention. Teej, this feels way to formal for ‘just some job’. WAY too formal. I hope you pick up on that.

– – –

This day just keeps getting and better! TJ thought to himself as he watched the elven intruder’s every move. After everything that had happened today, he had a strong urge to hurt somebody and vent his anger and frustration. This ‘visitor’ would do. Granted, he couldn’t move but, if looks could kill, that elf wouldn’t have managed to finish her last sentence. But she did. And somewhere beneath his roiling anger he felt a faint hint of curiosity bubble to the surface.

He was only peripherally aware of the guards and Blade, who was being uncharacteristically quiet for some reason.  His eyes followed the slender blonde’s every move and gesture.  As such, his lips quirked in annoyance when he couldn’t figure out just where she suddenly got that bottle from. There was no way he could’ve missed her reaching into her cloak, so the only explanation was some sort of silent conjuration. That, of course, meant she was even more dangerous than he’d initially assumed. Not a pleasant thought but, one reinforced by the way the coffee table slid back as if on its own accord, followed by several glasses drifting over from the now open cupboard. By the time the elf upended the green bottle and filled all five glasses at once, he was more irritated than surprised. Damn, this one loves to show off, doesn’t she?

When her guards stepped into the room after a nearly imperceptible motion of her fingers, he realized his first impression was slightly off. They weren’t dressed in brown, so much as they were just… drab. Some tan here, some olive drab there, several washed out shades of grey and green tossed into the mix to break up the monotony when seen up close. At a distance however, they would blend into any environment. He recognized them for what they were by the implements they had tucked about their person, and while he was confident he could take on one in a fight, two of them would be a challenge, even without their soft-spoken handler. Two of the filled glasses hovered towards them, and after tucking their wands almost reluctantly into their belts, they took them almost in unison.

The mysterious blonde smiled faintly as a nearby fold out chair hovered towards her, unfolding and lowering to the ground between the coffee table and the couch. Her blood-red robe fell open to reveal a white dress which clung to her like a second skin, emphasizing what curves she did have on that slender form of hers, as much or more so, than the plunging yet narrow neckline did. And she was seated with an almost cat-like grace the moment the chair touched the ground.

The runes on the side of her head glowed faintly, even as she raised one of her slender legs to casually rest it on the couch. TJ gasped. Not just because of the sudden end of the compulsion but, because of the literal stiletto heel that was resting almost absently between his legs, just a few millimeters from his crotch. One wrong move and he’d be a eunuch. Or worse. He glowered at the elf, and his fists clenched so hard that his knuckles turned as white as the elf’s dress.

The sorceress smiled as she brushed back some of her hair which had fallen across her runes. She had leaned forward, presenting one of the filled glasses to TJ. „I will offer wine, as a token of respect“ Keeping her leaned forward position, she glanced back over her shoulder and gave subtle flick of her fingers, only for the disintegrated door to swirl in a cloud of splinters and slowly but surely reform itself. Showing off again! He thought to himself. I wonder if that view down your dress you’re offering is part of your ‘intentions’ as well… Hearing her hiss softly, he looked up to see the door settle gently onto the carpet. Only the metal hinges remained where they had landed in the explosion. Huh… so she is affected by iron. I wonder why touching our guns bare handed didn’t seem to faze her…

Hack the Future Part 8 ( Steven Schaufler & J Dark )

A near fifteen centimeter long ear, curving upward and out, tapering to a needle like point. He tried eyeing Blade again, just in time to see one of those pale hands grip his partner’s, and as her father’s old S&W was almost gently pried from her fist, his own P7 was pried from his. Her face twitched in discomfort as her hands held the steel weapons. She tossed them underhanded into the kitchen. „We have to take the children’s toys from them, lest they hurt someone.“ She glanced at the two then intoned, „I have come, to discuss with you a job.“

Blade sat as still as she could. The magic was a mental command, one that she’d practiced herself when her mother was still alive. She knew the spell, and had mentally focused on its brittle link, and taken it down a few seconds after she was hit. The problem was not the mage, but the two other elves behind her. They were dressed in military style fatigues, with olive drab shirts and pants. Their black boots worked halfway up their shins, and the green belt had knives and bottles hanging in small web-like pouches. Each carried a stick that was about thumb-sized in thickness, and as long as her forearm. Each wand was graven with runes for energy and flight. Missile mages.

Missile mages were the magic world’s answer to guns and bullets. The wands had to be carefully made, using the caster’s own life force. The wand would not work for anyone other than its creator. One of her mother’s extended family had been a missile mage for an infamous kingpin back in Belfast. Blade thought she remembered that he’d been killed in a shootout with local police during a riot in the slums where most elves had been relegated to.

Her throat began to itch. Blade kept herself as still as possible. The mages were alert, and primed to fire. She had no doubt that any movement would get her lungs blown out of her chest and through the sofa to decorate whatever would be left of it after the mage blew her to smithereens. Her heart was hammering in her chest as she did her best to appear trapped by the spell. If any looked at her with mage sight, it’d be all over.

Elves loathed half-breeds, seeing them as an affront to their racial purity. She was a half breed that could cast spells, which was doubly reprehensible. The elves valued their magic as their religion, and that a half-breed could wield it would go against all the talk of elven superiority. Half breeds were not supposed to do magic, their blood was too mongrel for magic to exist in them. That was what the elves had told the world.

The elf priestess gestured, and a dark green bottle appeared in her right hand. The low coffee table slid back a half step from the sofa where Blade and TJ were currently sitting. Five glasses of different sizes and colors floated free from a small cupboard in the open kitchen by the wrecked doorway, then dropped soundlessly onto the coffee table. The woman upended the bottle, and five streams fell from the mouth, and filled each glass precisely. It was an amazing display of control to Blade. She risked a glance over at TJ, whose eyes stared at the woman like she was simply a target. She’d have to watch him to make sure nothing happened when the priestess dropped the compulsion.

Despite his mild paunch and unkempt appearance, she knew he was a lot faster than his looks might imply. She knew about his Mettinger reflex upgrade. Twice the reaction speed of a human, half again faster than an elf. She was certain there was more to TJ beyond that, but he’d been very closemouthed about anything to do with upgrades. Her cybernetics were easy to see. A nest of cables for a left hand that were used for system hacking and charging. Her left arm and shoulder had been fully replaced with cybernetics with a open lug roughly where her wrist used to be to mount a pistol.

Hack the Future Part 7 (Steven Schaufler & J Dark)

Even at home, Blade went about her business with uncharacteristic silence, and it was only after she came back into the living room, with traces of the same substance he was applying to his wound visible on her lips, that he cursed himself for a fool. She probably can’t talk after that crazy spell of hers… he thought. He also knew that she wasn’t just smart when it came to hacking into things. It wouldn’t surprise him in the least if her mind were treading a few of the same avenues as his; trying to figure out how something as straight forward as this particular job could get so horribly FUBARd.

He shook his head slightly and sucked in a thoughtful breath through his teeth -something that looked almost comical with that old fashioned and silver streaked Van Dyke he chose to adorn his face with- then he chuckled „Hell of a mess. Wonder how our patron’s gonna take all this?“

Blade grinned at him and shrugged, then opened her mouth to respond but, whatever she said was lost in an explosion of splinters, as the door to their flat disintegrated not unlike the one at Dayner had. However, even as both he and his partner went for their weapons, what came walking -no, not walking, more like sashaying through the erstwhile door wasn’t a Vampire. Though he couldn’t quite be sure what it was, either. Well, aside from the fact it was clearly female. And a good head or two taller than even his 185 cm.

„Sit!“ She said in a voice that sent shivers down his spine. …and not in a good way.

This person hadn’t meant it as a suggestion. That one word was uttered as a command. A command spoken with the same casual, if not contemptuous annoyance one might use for an over-eager puppy. Still, even while his mind tried to come to terms with what just happened, his body simply /obeyed/, and he found himself sitting on the couch next to Blade, both of them still with their guns pointed at the hooded intruder. It was only once they were seated, that he noticed two more hooded figures standing just outside the ruined door. Though where the two -guards, obviously?- wore simple brown, the woman who stood before them wore a robe of such a dark red that it almost appeared to be black.

He tried to turn his head to see if Blade might be faring better than him but, the only thing he could move were his eyes, and from the grimace on his partner’s face, she was in the same situation.

„Good!“; their uninvited guest all but crooned. „Now that I have your undivided attention, we may begin. But first…“ The woman paused and two bone-white hands reached up to pull back her hood, and he was pretty damned sure Blade’s strangled gasp was even louder than his own. Long, blonde hair spilled down from one side of her head, while the other side was shaved so short as to almost be bald. And he was pretty sure he had ascertained why, for there were several runes adorning the side of her head; both tattooed and branded, with even more, smaller tattoos along her high, angular cheekbone. He knew runes, but he had never seen any like these. Not that he really paid much attention to anything else, after he noticed the most distinguishing feature. What was hidden by hair on one side, was blatantly presented on the other.

Hack the Future Part 3 (Steven Schaufler & J Dark )

Blade watched as TJ lurched sideways, spinning in a grotesque pirouette as the bullet took him high in the shoulder. “SHITASS IDIOTIC DUMBJIZZ ASSHAT!” She dropped to her back, and aimed her heel at the shooter. He stood partially covered behind a cream-colored Cadillac. The high powered rifle nestled against his shoulder in a classic upright stance. He saw her movement and dropped behind the car, rolling away as fast as he could. Blade pulled a break dance move, swiveling up and back to her feet. She ran as fast as her bare foot and booted one would let her.

Three seconds was all it took to reach him. He was prone, eyes glassy from shock. Blood pumped a bright scarlet rope from his shoulder, arcing to land three feet away in a splash of crimson under the harsh fluorescent landscape. Oh god the blood, his artery got cut. He’s bleeding out! What do I do? I can’t stop this. I can’t… She tore off a strip of cloth, and viciously poked it into the wound. He gasped like a fish out of water, weakly flailing at her hands as she gritted her teeth and pushed more of the ragged strip of cloth into the open wound. I gotta stop it, pack it so tight the bleeding slows. I

“We surrender! We surrender! Help me! He’s bleeding out!” she held up one hand as the used the other to keep pushing the cloth into the wound. The gush of blood had stopped on this side. The exit wound still bled, but sluggishly. She’d pushed her metal finger full length into the wound to pack the cloth in. He wouldn’t bleed to death soon, but he would bleed out without some kind of help, and soon. She couldn’t leave him behind, and she couldn’t carry him out. He was the one who’d made the deal, and hired her to do the hack. “We surrender! Help us! Help him, please!”

The guards slowly advanced, weapons out. The nearest one had a nameplate Blade could barely make out. ‘Hanson’ was spelled out in white against the black of the badge. The huge four limbed star that made up the Dayner logo on his left chest below the badge. She held one hand up, the other resting firmly on the bleeding gunshot wound of her partner.

“On the ground, face down. Spread your arms and legs wide.” ‘Hanson’ punctuated his commands with an aggressive pointing of his rifle at Blade. She lowered herself slowly to the ground spreading her limbs out as the guard asked. One of the other guards stepped forward and put a heavy knee between her shoulder blades. He pulled both arms back, and placed a zip strip around her wrists, locking her arms behind her. Another guard flipped her partner over with a boot. He groaned painfully as he was rolled to his stomach, his long brown trench coat spattered and soaked with blood.

“Some professionals. First sign of blood and they quit. Spuds.” The speaker laughed harshly and another voice Blade could hear joined in. What’s next? Will we be turned over, or tortured and killed, or just killed? I don’t like the odds, but keeping him alive was more important. We were screwed the minute he got shot. They were waiting for us. To get in place they had to have advance warning we were coming, or we got spotted right off the get-go. I didn’t see any spotters, my sniffers didn’t spot any active surveillance. I didn’t miss anything. We had to be set up. Why though? Why us?

Blade kept quiet, unwilling to be subjected to any kind of abuse. She was close to panic. Her hands were restrained and she had no way to free herself. The helplessness threatened to overwhelm her mind. “So, we shoot ’em now, or find out what they’re doing here?” Blade’s mouth was dry. She tried to swallow, then tried to roll over. The man’s foot pressed down harder as she shifted. “Uh uh uh, no moving. Not unless you want to get hurt.” She froze in place, her breathing shallow and rapid. “Looks bad. I think the artery got nicked. Lookit how far he shot blood.” She heard shuffling behind her near TJ. “Can you clean him up a little, Hash?” A few more shuffles. She could see him walking slowly around TJ, sizing him up. “Yeah, not a big problem. I can’t do anything about the blood loss. He’ll be out for a day or two.”