Archive | January 2011

Under the Milky Way – part 3

A spot of light grew, wobbled and cleared. Ralph’s homely face filled it, his four hundred pound body invisible below the level of the camera. A pleasant smile wreathed his coarse featured face.

“Where’s my girl?” He spotted Storm, still standing behind the head table. “There you are! Any problems?”

“None so far, Uncle Ralph.” She smiled. “Everything is ready for you to do the honors.”

“Thanks, baby.” He smiled again, glancing around the room. “I want to thank y’all for coming. It pleases me to see that so many of you have come to join in our celebration. Now, without further ado, the main event of tonight’s proceedings. I proudly present the next stage of human transportation. Live and in person from planet Earth!”

A blue-white glow filled the center of the room between the lower tables and the buffet. There was a platform, concealed by a heavy curtain. The curtain dropped as the machinery hummed and thrummed.

The form of a man appeared, silhouetted by the light, his body nearly transparent. A moment later, he stood, fully formed, in the center of the teleporter pad, grinning happily. He held a bottle of the Shine Clan’s famous beverage in his hand. Stepping off the pad, he smiled, waving at the assembled corporate heads and their wives.

“Howdy! Y’all wanna try it?” Taking a swig from the bottle, he invited them to hop on.

Everyone stared at him with mixed emotions. Those corporate officers who worked for transportation companies glowered at Storm, blaming her for the incident. One by one, they and their wives left in silent anger, furious that their most lucrative contract, space transportation, was about to be terminated.

“Hm, seems we upset some folks,” Sophie murmured.

“We knew it was bound to happen,” Storm answered just as quietly. “They don’t matter. The only ones who matter are the folks who intend to use the teleporter service.”

Sophie tossed her long, dark hair over her shoulder, smiling at the assembled crowd. “And those that want Mama’s moonshine will come to me.” Waving at the younger businessmen, she walked over to meet them, flirting shamelessly.

Storm envied her cousin’s ability to make men swoon and grovel at her feet. Her own talents were of a different nature. She was the Shine Clan’s fixer. She negotiated deals and drew up contracts. It was an important job, one she’d trained and hoped for the last three years. Now that she had it, she felt somewhat overwhelmed.

Movement caught her eye. The man in the beige suit walked forward, standing in front of them. He bowed formally.

“Mr. Boone,” he said in a soft Southern accent, “it appears as if some of your guests had a mind to leave early.”

“Boone grinned. “More dessert for the rest of us, eh? And you are?”

“My name’s Lukas Houston of Texas. I have a proposition, sir.”

“What could you possibly offer, young man?”

“Well, that teleporter is a mighty fine piece of equipment. But I reckon that since you need a sending pad and a receiving pad, someone’s got to take those pads to the location to set ’em up. And since they need a mighty big power supply, that’s gonna need transport too. Those fellas that left, they ain’t lookin’ at the big picture.”

“And you are?”

“Yep. I figure you’re gonna be setting up those pads and could use a man like me to do it. I also figure that if something goes wrong with those pads after installation, you’re gonna need transportation for techs and parts. Am I right?”

“You’re certainly a man of more vision than your colleagues,” Boone grinned. “Is that what you needed to talk to me about?”

“Well sir, right now, I was figuring that you’re not the person to speak to about all this. With all due respect, I think I’d rather talk to her.” He pointed at Storm.

Feeling all eyes on her, Storm blushed. Sorry she was still standing, she felt lightheaded as if the gravity had just gone off again.

Boone laughed, tossing his napkin on the table. “Boy, you’ve got cojones the size of Texas! Storm, go talk to that man, see what he has to say.”

“Yes, sir,” she mumbled, trying not to trip over her skirt as she walked toward the exit.

Under the Milky Way – part 2

Storm Westlake is beginning to wonder if she’s in over her head. She’s just been given the promotion of a lifetime and is THE fixer for the legendary Shine Clan. Late for her first major event, she takes her place at the head table.

Storm realized that one of the lesser businessmen was staring at her, sizing her up. He wore a simple beige suit. His brown hair was cut neatly over his ears, his green eyes penetrating.

A small shiver ran up and down her spine as her eyes met his. This was a man to contend with, a real player, despite his lesser status. Her professional eye examined him automatically, failing to categorize him as quickly as she could the others.

He worked hard for a living. She could see the lines of stress and worry on his face. He wasn’t rich, but he had ambition or he wouldn’t be here. He carried himself like a fighter, but had the manners of a corporate head. A bit rough around the edges, perhaps, though certainly well mannered.

Feeling her eyes on him, he regarded her calmly, a slight smile playing at the corners of his full lips. His eyes held a message she didn’t dare interpret. Danger lurked behind those green eyes and that smile. She’d have to be careful, he could read her as well as she read him, perhaps better.

“Storm, what’s up with you?” Sophie yanked at her arm. “It’s almost time. Pay attention! You have to introduce him!”

“Who?”

“Your boss! The man who pays you.”

“Sorry.” She stood awkwardly, smoothing her dress, her fingers gliding over the shiny surface.

A spotlight found her, holding her entranced for a moment as she collected her thoughts. She had a speech ready in order to introduce Ralph, the man who had financed this entire operation. His face, as yet unknown by most of the people in this room, was about to cross outer space between Earth and the Crystal Palace space station.

The orbiting space station was now home to his newest enterprise, fronted by Boone, run by the Shine Clan. And she, Storm Westlake, was to be Ralph’s voice.

“Ladies and gentlemen, it is my great pleasure to introduce the man who made all this possible. Most of you know him only by reputation, a few by name. Fewer still have the honor of knowing him personally. Of those, only a handful have the privilege of calling him a friend. And only two of us here are able to call him family. I now present to you, my employer, clansman and friend, Ralph of the Shine Clan.”

She started the applause. Most clapped politely, but those at the head table clapped with loud, happy enthusiasm. The spotlight winked out, leaving her sun dazzled in the gathering darkness. While she spoke, curtains parted across from her, revealing an eight by ten foot screen.

Under the Milky Way – part 1

This is another sci-fi short story that I wrote a couple years ago. It’s not connected to the “Lone Wolf” universe, this one is in the cyberpunk-ish world of “Fiddlestix” and “Among the Shine Clan”, stories I’ve already shared.

Storm Westlake works for the Shine Clan as their corporate fixer. She negotiates deals, draws up contracts and makes a lot of money for the Clan. Recently promoted, she now resides on the Crystal Palace space station where she and her cousin Sophie now represent the Clan.

Storm Westlake strutted down the corridor, her dark blue evening dress glittering in the artificial lights like a lighting storm at twilight. She felt naked without her weapons, but the men at the banquet room doors would divest her of armament anyway, might as well not start out with it. Stumbling as she hit a spot of low gravity, she cursed softly, wishing the technicians could find the problems in the gravity generator in this part of the wheel. She was tired of losing her footing at inopportune times. She’d had a similar incident in her quarters while she was dressing, which was why she wasn’t on time.

At the door, the solo in charge seemed disinclined to let her in. “You’re late,” he growled.

“I had technical difficulties. Do I need to call my employer? It’s going to make him extremely unhappy to be bothered at dinner.” She whipped out her cellphone, glad that her boss was footing the bill for the space station to Earth call.

“Look, lady, I don’t make the rules. And your name isn’t on the list.”

“It says ‘Representative of the Shine Clan’, doesn’t it?” She tossed her long, platinum hair over her well tanned shoulder.

He looked the list over once more, mumbling into his sub-dermal microphone. “She isn’t on the list, boss. She said something about the Shine Clan? All it says here is ‘representative’.” He paused, looking her over carefully. “I got no verification that you’re who you say.”

“Boone himself can give me a reference. As can Jade, Tradewind and….”

“Okay, okay. You’ve made your point. I’ll contact Mr. Boone. If he’s willing to vouch for you, you’re in.”

“Thank you.” She looked at her watch, tapping her foot impatiently.

She heard voices on the other side of the door. “She’s expected, you idiot. Let her in!”

The door opened and Boone stood in the doorway. “Storm! What kept you?”

“Little gravity accident in my quarters. Not serious, just inconvenient. I couldn’t get down for nearly half an hour.”

“Come in! Come in! We’ve been waiting for you. Sophie is already here.”

She followed the short, stocky Mexican man into the banquet hall, amused to see that he still sported his duster. Though this one was tailored to fit and had a velvet collar, it still dragged on the floor behind him, attracting every mote of dust in the place.

At the head table, she sat next to Boone’s wife, Jade. On her left was her cousin, Sophie. Storm felt all eyes on her as she walked to her place. Boone had indeed held the banquet for her.

“What kept you?” Sophie asked as the steward helped her sit.

“Gravity malfunction. I was hanging in my room, upside down, nearly thirty minutes without panties and my dress over my head.”

“Oh, ew!”

As the first course was served, Storm spotted the heads of each major, international corporation. Unfortunately, some of the lesser ones, she didn’t recognize. Deciding she should know the players, she leaned toward Jade, covering her mouth with her napkin. Pretending to blot her lips, she asked the older woman for information on those she didn’t know.

Jade dropped her head slightly to hide her words. She went on to identify each person, giving a short rundown of each.

Storing the information for later use, Storm thanked her hostess. Considering her newly elevated position, she needed to know who the competition was. She let her mind and eyes wander over the crowd of lesser business people clustered around the buffet table on the far side of the room. These folk would never rate an invitation to the head table, but they had managed to pay the exorbitant fees associated with attendance. Word was that a place in this room for someone of their status, started a hundred thousand Euro.

Sophie leaned over, whispering excitedly. “Is it true?”

“What?”

“The main event?”

“Depends on what you’ve heard.”

“Come on, Storm. You can tell me!”

“Soph, if I tell you anything before time, Ralph will skin me.”

“You’re so no fun!”

A Little White Lie – Conclusion

Wil’s puzzled look remained frozen as she touched his temple and he remembered. The day they had been brought to the lab for the first procedures, there had been a medical technician with a special instrument.

“They put a chip in your head, so a signal can be sent out, killing you instantly.” They had made it sound like it was for protection, his as well as others. Why had he forgotten?

“He hasn’t any chip.”

“But all us super soldiers got that, didn’t we?”

“I’m not exactly like one of you,” Emory said, sidling into the room. Penny nodded at him as he sat on a chair near the bed. “I’m a special case.”

“Why?” Wil found it almost infuriating that this little, weasely man was special, somehow superior to him.

“I’m the chaff,” he said softly, his face clouding.

“He doesn’t know, Randy,” Penny said gently, putting a hand on his shoulder.

“They did some more experiments, stuff you guys don’t know about. When they had you under, they took samples of sperm and ova.” A glance up at Penny got an encouraging nod. “I’m the by product of one of their in vitro experiments. They wanted to make super soldiers from scratch. I was a failed experiment. I’m what’s left when super heroes mate!”

He was angry, hurt. A life of being shoved aside and told he wasn’t good enough had left him bitter.

“But it’s saved your life, Randy.” Penny interrupted him before he got too carried away. “That’s why he’s survived all these missions and everyone else died. She couldn’t control him. But he couldn’t hurt her until now.”

“Why not?”

“There was a program, subliminal, running through her. As long as she was conscious, it made it impossible for him to protect us. But Ishanti knocked her out as they were getting in the car. Once she was unconscious, Emory could act. I about gave him a black eye though, until he explained.

Emory chuckled quietly, relaxing for the first time since Wil had met him. “I had to talk faster than I ever have in my life. Thought I was going to lose an eyeball or something.”

“Well, a ball of some kind, but I doubt it would have been your eye.” Wil looked up at Penny, his old smile back on his face. “Mind explaining that whole knee in the groin?”

“I had to get your attention, it seemed the best way.”

“Kind of harsh!”

“It worked, didn’t it?” Her tone softened, her eyes held his for a long moment.

Clearing his throat, Emory looked embarrassed and excused himself.

“Hey,” Wil called after him. “Thank you. I owe you my life, kid.”

Emory turned around and faced him, a soft smile playing at his lips. “And I owe mine to you.” In a rush he was gone.

Wil watched after him in puzzled silence, wondering what on earth he meant.

“Greyling has some explaining to do,” he sighed as he kissed Penny deeply, inhaling the fresh, clean smell of her hair and the spicy scent of her cologne.

“Don’t be hard on her,” Penny said, unbuttoning his shirt as she pushed him on the bed. “She tried to protect us.”

“I’ll take your word for it,” he kissed her. “But right now, I don’t want to talk.”

“Neither do I.”

“You know, Penny, I could fall hard for a girl like you.”

“Good.” She smiled, kissing him passionately as she shoved him down on the bed.

THE END

A Little White Lie – Part 23

Wil woke feeling as if he’d been hit by a tank. His mouth was dry, his eyes hurt and his head felt swollen. The ringing in his ears had been replaced by a pounding like a pile driver.

As soon as he struggled to sit up, Penny was beside him, giving him a supporting hand. Her eyes held concern, not just on a professional level. She flung herself at his chest, grabbing him tightly as if her life depended upon this one embrace. Wil lost his balance, collapsing on the bed once more.

“Penny,” he said thickly. “What?”

“Oh, Wil, I was so worried! Don’t ever do that again!”

“Whadidido?” He could barely enunciate.

“That woman.”

“Rashima?” His head was clearing. “What about her, where is she?”

He felt a burning in his loins, uncomfortable and evocative.

“She’s dead.”

He sat up, pushing her roughly aside. “What? Who?” His movements were erratic, dangerous, as he swung his arms around wildly.

“She was shot, Wil.”

There was a long pause as Wil worked through this information. “Dead.” His voice sounded flat and emotionless.

“Yes. Wil, she was a siren.”

“Whazzat?” Blinking fast, he tried again to clear his wooly head.

The name conjured up an image, a definition began to take form in his mind. Smacking dry lips, he shook his head, trying to clear his eyes, but only made himself dizzier.

“Fuck me,” he groaned as he lay back down.

A glass pressed against his lips. He drank automatically, spilling a good bit on the bed. The pounding faded to a buzz like barber’s clippers. His mind was clearing gradually.

“Penny, start over, all I remember is this – Oh God! This woman, she was so beautiful, exotic.” He felt a burning sensation in his loins again. “Ow! Why do I hurt?”

“Wil, look at me.”

He focused on her face with difficulty. “Penny?”

“Wil, if you don’t focus for me, I’m going to hit you.”

He blinked slowly, tried to clear his head again and failed. “Feel like shit,” he mumbled. “There was this girl.” He mused again, rolling over, hoping to sleep and dream of the woman in white.

Smack! A sharp slap clipped him on the left cheek, snapping his head sideways. He caught her hand before she could get him with the back swing.

“What the hell was that for? Penny?”

She grinned at him, kissing his smarting cheek. “You’re back! Oh, thank God! What do you remember?”

“Lots of explosions, Aurialonus, and some woman. There was something about her.” His eyes glazed over again and Penny slapped him sharply once more. “Will you please stop doing that?”

“Not until you snap out of this!” She popped him again, but less hard. “She was a siren, Wil. Do you know what that is?”

“One of those women, Greek mythology, sang and lured sailors to their deaths?”

“Something like that, only this one is a telepath who lures men to her, controlling them, making them her tools. I thought she had you for awhile.” Her voice drifted off. “She’s been the problem, all along. She was sent to kill us.”

“But Emory?”

“In all these other operations, she’s turned the men against one another. Only Emory kept his head.”

“Why? What makes him special?”

“No chip.”