Author Archives: theWriter

Chapter 76

Alex

 

When we rounded the next corner, we found about a dozen more ‘cubi, engaged in battle against a handful of angels.

Lilly ran over to lend some help, but I stayed back. Breathing fire would be kind of a give-away that I’m a dragon. Lighting myself on fire would also be a pretty strange tactic for an angel, and wouldn’t be very effective against anyone who isn’t soaked in kerosene, unless I maintain contact with them for a long time.

Which just left me with my talons, beak, and that knife Lilly gave me. Not very well-trained with any of that.

I saw an angel fall to her knees, clutching her blood-covered side

I make a good medic, though. I rushed over to help her. “Want me to heal that for you?”

She looked up, tried to speak, but just coughed up blood.

“I’ll take that as a ‘yes’.”

“I’ll cover you,” Lilly said, moving in closer.

“Thanks.” I pulled the wounded angel’s shirt up and took a look at her wound. Judging by how shallow her breathing was, it seemed to have ruptured an air sac or two. Not good. But I’d dealt with worse.

I placed my hand on her wound. Closed my eyes and channeled healing energy into her, helping the wound to close itself up. After about a minute, I stopped. The bleeding had stopped, her air sacs weren’t leaking. She’d live. There were sure to be others who’d need my help, so I had to make sure not to tire myself out.

“Better?”

“Yeah. Thanks.” Her breathing was still shallow and irregular. “Time to… get some… revenge.” She tried to stand up.

“That’s really not a good idea.” I put my arm out to stop her. “You’re in no condition to fight.”

“I have to fight. I have to… kill these ‘cubi scum.” Another attempt to stand up, and a wince of pain when it didn’t work too well.

“You can’t even stand on your own.” I stood up myself and then helped her to her feet. “If you go back in there, they’ll kill you. I’ll take you somewhere safe where you can lie down.”

“I… I need to…” She kept protesting, but allowed me to guide her into a room nearby. The crowd made way for us, either because they recognized I was a medic, or because they realized if they didn’t get out of the way, Lilly would put a knife through their heart. Hard to tell, but either way, I was grateful.

(And so very glad that Lilly’s on my side, not trying to slay me. Because she has some serious skills with those knives.)

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Chapter 75

Alex

 

“Lilly!” I rushed over to her, ignoring the ‘cubi that had just barged in.

“Lilly!? Are you–” I realized she was unconscious. But alive. So that was–

I felt a knife rip through my wings.

I spun around to face my attacker, letting out a loud growl. In the blink of an eye, I was blazing like a bonfire.

“Whoa!” All three ‘cubi jumped back.

“You picked the wrong room to barge in on.” I let loose a jet of flame.

But it only managed to set one of them alight, and they had the sense to flee.

Another growl as I dropped to all fours and pursued them through the hallway.

I leapt at the closest one, also letting out another burst of fire. I didn’t manage to knock them down, but I could tell by the screams that their blood was beginning to boil from the flames.

One down, two to go. I’d make them pay for hurting Lilly.

“Holy shit!” One of them screamed.

“Is that a fucking dragon?!,” the other yelled.

Within 32 seconds, they were all burning alive.

“Uh… Alex?”

I turned around, saw Lilly staring at me with a mixture of horror and awe.

I quickly extinguished myself and stood up.

“For a pacifist, you seem oddly proficient at fighting.”

“Uh…” was all I could manage.

“Remind me never to cross you.” She smiled and patted me on the back. “Nice work.”

“I–ah…” I looked at the body of one of the ‘cubi. Burnt to a crisp. I’d totally lost control there.

“They were trying to kill us, Alex. Don’t worry about it.”

“They were fleeing, though.”

“Yeah. Okay. You… probably could’ve just let them go. But… I have no right to judge you for that.”

I nodded. “Right.”

“Wait a moment…” Lilly frowned, crouched down and took a closer look at the ‘cubus’ body. “Is that… a collar?”

I crouched next to her, looked at the chunk of metal and leather around the ‘cubus’ neck. “Yeah. Looks like a collar.”

“Why would they–”

“Um… well, some people… like that kind of thing… sexually.” I blushed slightly.

We looked at each other awkwardly.

“‘Cubi thrive on sexual energy,” I said, “I read once that almost all of them try BDSM at some point.”

“Right. Let’s… let’s go.”

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Chapter 74

Lilly

 

The silence was finally broken by a loud siren.

I jumped to my feet and grabbed my bag of hunting supplies from the other room.

After grabbing the bag, I noticed Alex hadn’t moved from the couch. “Huh? What–what’s going on?” he asked.

“An attack! Didn’t you–” I realized that he probably hadn’t ever been through a ‘cubi attack drill. “‘Cubi are attacking the Academy. Those who can fight are supposed to grab weapons and protect those who can’t.”

“Oh. Gotcha.” He glanced at my bag. “I take it you come prepared?”

I brought the bag over to him and opened it up, revealing knives, a crossbow, poisons, and various other dragon-slaying tools.

“Nice collection.”

I grabbed the crossbow and a few knives. “Take whatever you want.”

“Hmmm….”

Quickly.” I strapped a knife to my arm.

“Sorry. Not much of a weapons guy. I usually just light people on fire.”

“Right. Use your fire.” I handed him a knife. “But take this, anyway. Might come in handy.” I closed up the bag and hurried to the door.

Alex didn’t follow.

“Alex? Come on, we need to protect the–”

“Yeah, about that… uh… I’m a lover, not a fighter, so…”

“Oh, come on! We’re under attack, Alex! It doesn’t matter what you–”

“Not everyone likes murder!”

“…!”

“…” He looked away.

“…” I sighed.

BOOM!! The door broke down, knocking me down with it.

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It’s coming

Didn’t quite finish this weeks chapter yesterday, so I figured I’d do it today when I got home for spring break. And then my computer booted into emergency mode because it couldn’t mount my home partition (due to filesystem errors). So I’ve spent the last four hours fixing that, basically. All systems are functional now, though, and I’ll get back to work on the chapter right after a nice hot bath and a glass of wine. I will finish it before I go to sleep.

And I have a better plan for where things are going now, so hopefully I’ll be able to update more reliably from now on.

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theWriter sucks

I’m probably going to be late with this week’s chapter. Sorry.

The main problem is that I just don’t know what happens next. I’ve been figuring it out chapter-by-chapter (for the most part), which turns out to be a horrible to do this. So I need to sit down and try to plan out the rest of the arc a little better, so I at least know where I’m trying to lead the story. That’s the main thing that makes it hard to write a chapter every week: knowing what to write. Actually writing it only takes a few hours, but deciding what to write… that takes a lot longer, and tends to rely on inspiration hitting me when I’m in the shower. So hopefully, once I have a better plan, I’ll be able to do this a bit more reliably.

(Also, I had a meeting about a summer job today, I have a required guest lecture tonight and a response to it due tomorrow for one of my classes, and the site crashed today and I had to figure out how to fix it.)

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Don’t Be Patchman

A friend of mine just launched a Kickstarter campaign for his game, Don’t Be Patchman, which will be available for Linux, OS X, Windows, Android, and iOS. It looks awesome, but it’s not getting enough attention. Kickstarter’s “magic” sorting algorithm still places it behind a bunch of utter crap (e.g. Girlcraft, “Minecraft for girls”, which, besides perpetuating the concept of gender predetermining interests, is a piece of crap with no information, no gameplay footage, no prior history of making games, and no chance in hell of making $50,000 in the next 9 days when it hasn’t received a single cent), which is unfair and infuriating. So he needs all the exposure he can get. Even if it’s just on an uber-unknown web serial site like this.

“The Sheeple are in trouble – they’ve been enslaved by the Drones – and it’s all Patchman’s fault! Now it’s up to you to redeem Patchman, rescue the Sheeple, and uncover the awful secret behind the Drone army. Stay out of sight, wear clever disguises, search the forest for seeds, grow fruits and plants, tear down propaganda, awaken the Sheeple to break the control scheme, and power down those nasty robots! All that and more awaits in Don’t Be Patchman, a sneak-and-grow action/adventure game.”

TL;DR: Donate, unless you want Lucifer to eat your soul deep-fried in peanut butter, basted with chocolate, and lightly drizzled in caramel.

P.S. Also, there is a new chapter today. Click here, after you debate whether or not you should be Patchman, and whether or not it’s really possible to deep-fry things in peanut butter. Does it only work with oil, or can you use any liquid food item? I don’t know. But Lucifer does, and trust me, he will not hesitate to deep-fry your soul in peanut butter, provided that’s physically possible.

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Chapter 73

Lilly

 

About an hour later, Alex sat down on the couch next to me.

“Sleep well?” I closed my book.

“Uh… not really. To be honest–” He glanced at my arm. “Wait, what happened to your arm?”

I looked down at the bloody bandage on my forearm. “Guess you weren’t awake enough to remember that.”

“Oh. Did I do that?” He blushed. “Sorry, I… uh…”

I sighed. “My fault for trying to wake you. I… should have known better, especially after…”

“No. I… let me heal it for you, okay? I…it’s the least I can do.”

I nodded.

He unwrapped the bandages and looked at the cuts his beak made. “I–I didn’t mean to–”

“I deserved a lot worse. I’ve been… killing your own kind. And–” I shook my head. “You have every reason to distrust me.”

“Wha–no. I–” He stopped. “Okay… I guess there may be a little part of me that… isn’t entirely comfortable around a dragon slayer. But I do trust you. It’s just…”

“But it wasn’t enough to stop you from lying awake last night, wondering if I was going to kill you in your sleep.”

“Uh… pretty much… Yeah…” He let go of my arm. “There. Should heal a lot faster now.”

“Thanks.” I tried to force a smile, without much success.

We sat in silence for a while.

Finally, the silence was just too awkward and depressing, and I had to do something to change the mood. “Um… so… I was wondering… when this is all over, and we leave the Academy… you think The Lab would be willing to take me in? Because… I mean, I can’t go back to living with my dad. I–I need to…”

“Of course. You’re a mortal god in need of a place to stay. The Lab would love to have you.”

“As long as I’m worth researching, huh?”

“The Lab isn’t just about research. It’s a safe haven for people like us. A place to learn to control your powers. They offer… a second chance. A chance to belong. If all they cared about was research… they wouldn’t be keeping me around anymore. There’s nothing left to research. But… they know that there’s no other place for me to go. Most people would kick out you after you send them to the burn ward a few times. The Lab just… installs more sprinklers and fire blankets.” Alex paused. Stared at me with an odd look.

“It sounds nice.”

He gave me a weak smile. “Anyway, after all they did for me, I’m going to try to do the same for you, okay? Help you get past all this murder stuff. I have a feeling it’s not going to be easy, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you end up killing me at least once, but I’m here for you, okay? And… just because I’m afraid… it doesn’t mean I don’t trust you. I just know it’s not that easy to change who you are.”

“Thanks.”

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Essays suck

Sorry, no update this week. Or at least not on time.

I’ve spent pretty much all my time this week working on an essay about how banking has come to integrate computers and what that says about the broader progress of computers witnessed in society. It’s giving me a lot more trouble than I expected it to. Very hard to force myself to write something that I’m not really interested in, especially when I know it’s going to turn out horrible. Plus there was a bit of a setback when I realized my original topic (programming languages) didn’t actually fit the prompt, despite the fact the professor had already okayed it in class. (He made it sound like we were supposed to write about an area of computing that’s changed, when we’re actually supposed to talk about an area changed by computers)

Anyway, first draft is due tommorrow, and I’m still working on it, so I don’t think I’ll have time to write a chapter today. Sorry.

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Chapter 72: not is_morning_person(Alex)

Lilly

 

I looked down at Alex, who was still asleep. And looking more like a dragon than an angel.

So this is what he really looks like. Alex gave me a brief explanation last night. About phoenixes. How they can use magic to project a sort of false image into people’s minds, so that they seem like a regular dragon or angel if you don’t look too hard. Coupled with some rudimentary shapeshifting, it was enough to fool even me, despite all my training.

But all along, he was more of a dragon than an angel. His scales were a mottled mix of browns, blacks, and reds, not the lighter, human-like skin tone I was used to seeing on him–and every angel. His neck was longer. His face was pointed, aerodynamically-shaped, with no false lips covering his beak. None of the features angels evolved to resemble humans.

He was right to hide it. If anyone at the Academy had seen him like this… he wouldn’t have lasted long. I… I probably would have killed him the first time I saw him if I had seen him like this.

I reached down and stroked one of his wings, ignoring the part of my mind that wanted to grab the nearest knife and–

I shook my head.

Those days are over now. I’m an ex-dragon-slayer. I won’t go back home. Best to cut all ties to my old life. And… then what? Where could I go? And what would I do? Slaying dragons was the only job I’d ever thought about. My only skill. Maybe I could work as a security guard or something? Maybe–maybe for The Lab. They’d probably like to have me. If not to work, then to study. So they can find out more about gods.

I sighed. I was getting ahead of myself. First I had to get through the Academy in one piece. No. First, I had to wake Alex. And then grab some lunch together or something. Try to get over the awkwardness of last night’s revelations, try to get used to seeing him without his mental projection.

“Alex.” I nudged him gently. “Wake up.”

“Nnnnngh.” He turned away from me. “Just… just three more hours.”

“No, uh–Alex.” It felt weird to call him that when he looks so different. “It’s already past noon. I was thinking about making some lunch and–”

“Nnnnnngh. No want wake up. Want stay in bed. Bed is comfy.” He burrowed his head into his pillows.

I smiled. Still the same old Alex.

“Come on.” I tried to nudge his head out from under the pillows.

He growled and resisted a little, but I managed to turn his head to face me.

At which point, he bit down on my arm. Hard.

“Hey!” I cried. “Let go!”

He eased up, but only to let loose a jet of fire right at me.

Instinctively, I jumped back and reached for the place by my side where I usually kept my knife on hunts.

I caught myself, remembering that this was Alex. And realizing that my shirt was quickly burning up. I pulled it off and stamped out the flames.

Then stared at Alex in silence. He was turned away from me again, burrowed back into the pillows, with the covers pulled up over him.

“Okay.” I sighed. “Best to let sleeping dragons lie.”

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Chapter 71

Lilly

 

“Bless me Father, for I have sinned,” I said, “It’s been…” I thought back. “A month since my last confession.”

I took a deep breath. “I… I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I just…” I sighed. “I’ve killed people. In cold blood. And–and I… I enjoyed it. What–what does that say about me? That–that I could ever… take pleasure in that.”

“Who did you kill?” came the reply from the other side of the confession booth. Jack‘s voice.

Jack! What the heck are you doing here?”

“Taking confessions. Figured I’d lend the priests a hand.” He paused. “The real question is what are you doing here? You’re a prophet, so you can just confess to God directly. You don’t need an intermediary.”

“Oh. Right.” I blushed. “Old habits, I guess.”

“Well, since you’re here… killing isn’t a sin. Not on its own, at least. Angels were originally created to be warriors. Killers. Answering prayers, spreading the Word of God… that’s all secondary. Tasks created to keep us busy when there was nobody to kill.”

I shook my head. “That’s wrong. We’re not meant to be killers. We’re meant to keep order in the world, to–”

“And we keep order by striking down the wicked. By showing people the power of God, so that they may bow down in worship.”

“We’re not ‘striking down the wicked’; we’re committing genocide, trying to wipe out an entire species! If anyone is wicked, it’s us. What have the ‘cubi done to deserve death? Why would God ever want us to kill them?”

Jack sighed. “We’re soldiers. We’re not meant to question orders. Just to obey. God has His reasons.”

“And that’s enough? We’re meant to wipe out an entire species on pure faith? How–how do we even know it’s really God telling us this? And not the Devil?”

A long pause.

A quick glance at Jack’s mind told me that he had his doubts, too.

Finally, he spoke. “Someone tried to stop the execution yesterday. Took control of people’s minds, made them drop their weapons. But God intervened. He cast out the intruder in an instant. That’s how we know that God is with us: because God won’t let us fail.”

“So what we’re doing is right, as long as we’re winning?”

“That’s… one way of looking at it.”

We both sighed.

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