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 6 ( Steven Schaufler & J Dark )

“He’s gone, we’d better get scarce too.” Blade nodded, and focused on the alcohol. Her burned lips and tongue mumbled out the spell once more. The plastic bottle started softening in her hand and she immediately threw it at the glass. She and TJ darted back to the other side of the narrow room, barely avoiding getting splashed. The window, made of Lexan, melted quickly, but for Blade, it was a glacial process. TJ took the time to re-store the plastique, and the detonator back in the hollow heels for later. He grabbed the chair he’d sat in and a hard yank tore the corroded legs in half. Hefting it, he threw it with all his might and the window splattered outwards, giving them a gaping hole to dive through.

TJ was already more than just a little irate about how this job had gone down but, as they both barely managed to not get splashed by Blade’s acid projectile, watching his jacket melt away was the icing of today’s cake. It pissed him off so much that he threw the chair with such force that Blade’s acid might’ve been superfluous. However, after a quick once over of the killed guard, they’d managed to not only retrieve their guns from his corpse but, surprisingly, he’d also had the polished aluminum cube tucked in one of his pockets. „Not a total loss…“; he muttered to Blade over the blaring alarms.

They both cleared the hole cleanly, and managed to avoid any of the melted spatter. The alarms blared their shrieking warning through the whole facility. They grabbed their weapons, and then headed down to the garage. Miraculously finding their vehicle still parked and unmolested, they drove quickly away, the alarm still blaring behind them. The garage security door had been torn off its mountings and thrown aside, leaving them a clean exit, which they took.

As uneventful as their way to the garage was, he couldn’t help but wonder if the alarms were going crazy over them leaving, or that damned Vampire running amok somewhere in the building. And if it was the latter, what the hell was that thing doing here? Something, he decided, that they’d have to think about when they got home. As the black 1980 Quattro sped out of the garage, he smirked a bit; Vampires have /some/ uses, it seems. Racing away from Dayner like a bat out of hell, albeit to a different song blaring over the speakers, he had to eventually blend in to normal traffic. At least until they made it out of Spandau and hit the A 10. Then all bets were off, and coaxed every last bit out his old Audi.

…and it was also time to at least try and lighten the mood a bit after this fiasco. Leaning over to open the glove box and stow their hard earned prize, he got the first good look at the sad state Blade’s leg was in. He knew all about her ‘special upgrade’ but, he’d never actually seen the hefty price that came with using it. „Remind me never to ask you for a footjob.“; he muttered with an insolent grin on his face. But when he didn’t get a response, he shrugged and concentrated on putting as much distance between himself and the Dayner building as fast as possible.

TJ drove like a madman on the A10, slowing only enough to match traffic and avoid any attention. It was a long, tension-filled trip back to their flat in downtown Oranienburg. Once there, Blade ran to the bathroom and grabbed the bentonite clay suspension, swallowing a mouthful as she focused on a healing spell. The agony in her mouth slowly subsided as the clay absorbed the remaining acid, and healed the burned tissues. She walked back into the small living room as TJ poured some bentonite on his burn. The whole job had gone pear-shaped. Depending on their employer, they might have a contract on them by tomorrow if he, she, or it decided they were a loose end.


Hack the Future part 5 (Steven Schaufler & J Dark)

Some parts were still fuzzy, though much of the things he wasn’t even consciously aware of after being hit in the shoulder, came back with surprising clarity. He still had questions, of course but, for now, he was all business. Had anybody watched him move about the room, they might have believed he was ignoring his partner. They would’ve been mistaken. Every little snippet of information Blade gave him was stored away in his brain, either to recall or to cross reference with observations he made himself, as he took stock of their situation. It wasn’t /all/ bad. Their guns were gone, sure, but the morons who tied them up were seemingly of the arrogant or overconfident variety, if not both. So not only did he still have his trusty semtex to work with, but the idiots had locked them in a room with what could only be called a treasure trove.

“No audio, no video. Guess they wanted it quiet for us. Sorry TJ, it was the only thing I could think of.” TJ glared at the half-elf, the hitched up his pants around his paunch. He looked over at the guard who was suddenly on alert as a red light flashed silently outside of the security room. “They’re going to be busy, methinks. What kind of door is it?” He nodded his chin at the metal door at the end of the room.

“No security pegs like a bank vault. I only saw one lock, but there are two others attached to the handle that fit into place. I think the window’s our best bet.” Her voice was raw and hoarse from the acid. TJ sat down, removing his heels, and rolling the plastique into a long thin line. “How thick you think it is?” Blade looked at the guard, who for some grace or luck, hadn’t turned to look at them. “Thick enough I barely heard him bump his head on the glass.”

TJ scanned the room, then slowly move to the locked wall cabinets. He grabbed his jacket, gingerly maneuvering the still active spit and carefully wiped it on the lock, which began hissing. “What the almighty hell did you conjure up?” Hydrofluoric acid. Burns anything except quartz. The lock parted, and TJ flipped it off the cabinet, and opened them. Various pliers, wire-cutters, alcohol bottles, what looked like kinky ball gags, and a surgical kit lay on the shelves. Blade saw the bottle, and said “Bottle, gimme.”

TJ tossed it to her, sparing a quick glance out to where the guard was. The man had shifted, raising his weapon, and gaping at the pair. Then the door blew in. The guard spun in a crouch and fired at the open door as a reddish grey mist rolled into the room. “Oh Christ!” TJ grabbed the wire cutters and snipped Blade free. They both dropped to the floor as a faint thump sounded on the glass. Blade’s heart was racing. A vampire! They were dead if it found them. They had no way out of the room. “Fucking bloodsucker”, TJ growled. His eyes were wide and he was panting. He still had the plastique in his hand. The detonator was back on the shelf under the cabinet. “Wish you was a priestess right now”, he muttered.

Blade stayed silent as both of them hugged the wall under the glass. There were a few more thumps, barely heard, against the glass, then silence. TJ did a slow count to thirty and raised his head to barely peek over the edge of the glass. The vampire was nowhere to be seen. He raised his head a little further and saw that the room had been torn apart in a fast frantic search. The body of the guard lay in the middle of the floor, his throat nearly chewed in half by the vampire’s attack.

Hack the Future part 4 ( Steven Schaufler & J Dark )

“Well” ‘Hanson’ said thoughtfully, “Do it. We can always flatline ’em later.” Blade looked down as strong hands slid along her arms and knees. She didn’t struggle as she was lifted by three men. The front two held her by the armpits, while the one wrapped a metal limb around her knees. As they turned, she caught a glimpse of TJ. Her captors felt her stiffen.

“No squirming, or we change our minds and flatline you here.” She felt the press of a muzzle between her shoulder blades. “You two”, ‘Hanson’ growled, “Get that meat sack up and to security.” TJ was picked up like a sack of wet cement, and carried between the two men, leaving two unencumbered and armed.

They were moved to a security office, then zip-stripped by the elbows and ankles to a metal chair bolted to the floor. TJ, while pale looking, didn’t have the death-warmed-over caste to his face that she’d seen when he’d been shot. The door to the security room closed with a heavy thud. She saw one guard through the near one-way glass. He was leaning against the glass wall, weapon hanging from a shoulder sling. He reached into his pocket, pulling a thin stick-like tube that he brought to his lips and inhaled. He leaned his head back against the glass, blowing a waft of vapor into the air.

She tried focusing her own abilities. Her ears were normal human, because they had been sculpted that way to hide her in human society. A half-elf was generally spurned by both races. She leaned forward, letting her long hair form a curtain around her face as she focused on her power. She aimed her intent at the zip tie on her left arm. The spell wafted out, then recoiled away. The backlash created a stabbing pain between her eyes. She closed them, and waited a few moments before opening them again. The dim light stabbed at her eyes like icepicks, and she closed them hurriedly.

After a few minutes she felt centered enough to risk opening her eyes once more. The room swayed as she fought to focus, and slowly came back to normal. She looked over at TJ. His brown duster was splashed with blood from the shoulder wound. His black Tee shirt and dark blue body armor under the trench coat had a similar dark blotch of blood on them. Their weapons were outside of the security room, leaning against the far wall.

“TJ? Can you hear me?” she whispered. She focused again, shutting her eyes. She built the spell in her mind, felt it form, settling in place, making her eyes itch. She slowly opened them, and gazed slowly around the small room. Her gaze returned to TJ. His head was still tilted forward, his body trying to follow his head, hunching over only to be stopped by the tight zip ties at his elbows. She could see his noise amplifier in his right pocket, the holdout pistol up the heavy leather sleeve of the duster, the spring knives in each boot, the small blob of plastique in his hollow left heel, and the electronic detonator and control in the hollow right heel. Satisfied the spell was working she slowly scanned everything she could, finding two tiny cameras, one over the door, the other atop the wall shelves to her right. Neither had the bright glow of an active unit, meaning they could be passive, becoming active if sounds rose above a certain level.

Focusing on the one over the door, she said in a normal speaking voice, “Teej, you awake?” The dull color never changed. She rocked back and forth as much as the restraints would allow. No color change. The unit was turned off. She closed her eyes, and let the spell fade as she focused on a new one. TJ hadn’t twitched since they been trussed up in the security room. If they were going to get out, TJ had to be awake. She bit her lip nervously and nearly lost the spell. Regaining her focus, she nervously gathered saliva in her mouth, then activated the spell, spitting quickly. Her mouth burned from the burn of the acid. The spittle arced through the air, landing on TJ’s coat just above the zip tie on his right arm. The leather began smoking immediately, and the spittle ate through the coat, then attacked the plastic as it ate its way down the leather.

Teej, you awake?“; came Blade’s barely audible whisper. He wasn’t. Not quite yet. Besides, he was curious just how far his partner would take her current teasing. Up until now it had always been strictly verbal; more often than not related to his near non-existant lovelife. So why /she/ would suddenly try to wake him up by nibbling on his arm was beyond him.

 Did we go out and get drunk last night? No, that couldn’t be it. They’d gotten bloody well wasted before, and managed to get home to their own, albeit spinning, beds. What the hell did we do? As he tried to remember, her biting became more insistent, painful even. Opening his eyes just as he jerked his arm away, he started to growl „Damnit! That hur…“; then memory -and awareness- kicked in. TJ started to growl, then jerked again at the restraining tie, and parted it. He flexed his arm, getting his holdout knife  to hand as the pain acted as incentive, and worked at sawing the other zip tie in twain. He gritted his teeth against the pain as the acid continued to eat away at the coat and his skin. Blade kept an eye on the guard, who hadn’t turned around yet. Once free TJ tore his coat off, wiping frantically at the dime-sized ulcer in his skin.

Blade kept spitting at the floor as her saliva continued to shift to acid. She finally managed to cancel the spell after receiving painful burns in her mouth.

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.”