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.”

Interviewing the Father of ‘Building Baby Brother’ part 2

Here is the second half of my interview with Steven Radecki, the author of ‘Building Baby Brother’.

Here’s a question about choosing a topic to write about. Do you feel that a story needs to have relevance in society?

I think that having some kind of social relevance helps to deepen a story. The trick, though, is to do it in such a way that it doesn’t feel preachy or pedantic to the reader. That can turn them off to the message (and story!) very quickly.

Comics are used at times to offer controversial subjects in stories. In ‘Civil War’, the idea of registration comes up. Do you feel ‘Building Baby Brother’ has touched a subject that could become more important as robotics and Artificial Intelligence become more sophisticated?

I think it raises the point that we probably need to re-examine our preconceptions about AI, much of which is driven by popular science fiction films, television, and literature.

It’s been said that all great stories like BBB are built on previous works the writer had read. In that vein, who, influenced your vision of the story?

There are several influences to this story, some of which are even subtly referenced during the course of the story. One of the inspirations that kept coming to my mind as I wrote and edited it was David Gerrold’s When Harlie was One. (I still prefer the original edition. Sorry, David.) Other conscious influences were the movie A.I. and, of course, Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation. I’m certain that there were many, many unconscious influences as well, such as Mycroft Holmes from The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, but none I specifically set out to emulate.

Were there any books that helped solidify your idea, or an author you enjoyed reading that might have given you ideas on style and presentation?

As mentioned in my answer to your previous question, I think David Gerrold with When Harlie was One was a major influence, both thematically and stylistically. Finding the right voice for this story was definitely a challenge—and one of the reasons that I very rarely tell a story from a first-person point-of-view. I felt that this story, though, demanded a first-person narrative perspective. Other than that, I can’t say that any specific storytelling style influenced the one used in this story. I’m not saying that it isn’t there, just like that I don’t recall using any other author’s particular style as an inspiration or template.

Interviewing the Father of ‘Building Baby Brother’

Hello all!

I’m J Dark, author of ‘Best Intentions’, book one of a series I’ve come to call ‘Glass Bottles’.

I’m here to interview the author of a story I really have wanted to see in print since I first critiqued it. That story is ‘Building Baby Brother’ ( BBB ), by Steven Radecki. What we’re going to do today is a little Q&A about his story.  This is a two-part series, with the second portion tomorrow.

I’m really honored to be the one to do this interview. So to jump right in, thank you Steven for sharing your time with the readers.


My first question is probably the one all authors get at least once every time your promoting a book. That question is: Where did you get the idea for BBB?

To be honest, I don’t remember where the actual idea for the plot came from. The story itself started as part of an exercise that, well, kind of got out hand. My son’s charter had planned to sponsor an event to help foster reading and writing skills by asking students and willing family members to write a short story and then read it out loud at this event. Always willing to write, particularly for a good cause such as that one, I started pondering possible story ideas. I knew I wanted something kind of “Twilight Zone”-ish—something short, entertaining, but with a fun twist at the end. From there, the basic concept of the story was born.

Every author develops their stories differently. In your case, did you create an outline first, or just choose a direction, or something else?

I rarely work from an outline for a short story. They are usually based on some concept I want to explore and I kind of see where the characters involved take it. In case, since it was originally only supposed to be 2,000 words, I felt a full-fledged outline might be overkill. As a result, though, the last third or so of the story went a direction that surprised even me.

No story ever flows smoothly as it’s created. What parts, or scenes were the hardest to develop?

I always have trouble with the middle. They say that maintaining the story and pace in the second book of a trilogy is often difficult, and I think the same thing is true about the middle of any story. I usually know how to start my stories and have a pretty good idea how it will end either when I start it or before I get a quarter of the way through it. In this story, probably the most difficult scene was scene with the police because I needed something that would transition the story from its setup to exploring the implications of the actions performed in its first half. I had a really tough time coming up with a scene that would work that would get me to where I wanted the story to go.

Another question I’m sure authors get asked all the time is, what made you decide to be a writer? With all the professions around, why get into writing?

Why not? I’ve always wanted to create—whether it be writing or filmmaking. There’s immensely satisfying about “putting on a show” and presenting it to an audience. With writing, perhaps even more than with filmmaking, you can have full control over your production: all the way from set design, costuming, and casting. Of course, when you sell the movie rights, you tend to lose those.

My last question for this series is, where and when do you like to write? I know that David Weber has said that he prefers the evenings, as it allows him to relax and concentrate. What are your favorite conditions for writing?

Peace and quiet—and good luck getting that! My preferred writing environment is where were I’m unlikely to be interrupted. I prefer to be able to get mentally lost in the world that I’m writing about. I find that the characters tend to be more vivid in my mind and are more to behave as they should so that mostly all I have to do is transcribe as they take whatever action the story requires of them. I’ve written in a lot of places: home, work, coffee shops, libraries, airports, hotel rooms…I’m pretty good at tuning out external distractions. Still, a quiet environment is my preference. Also, I don’t write with music on in the background; I find it too distracting.

How fast things can change

A fiery crash ended a life today, one that had such promise.
Drugs, rebellion, and anger tore it from that path.
The woman stole a car, then tried to run away.
The police didn’t let her go, and neither did her despair.
The wreck killed her quickly, her body crushed beyond hope.
The promise in young eyes is gone.
The promise of youth is wasted.
The future is gone, and the memories are oil spattered dust
on a faceless road where no one will remember what was taken
by the choices, and the cost of them.