Botanists fight dirty.

[One of my first Story on Demand offerings. I have to fess up, I totally ripped the style and tone completely from Bill Watterson/Calvin & Hobbes for the style and tone. This is a female Tracer Bullet, completely.]

Her overcoat was stiff with congealed agar and the shattered glass of a dozen Erlenmeyer flasks. She slid her battered arms into the sleeves, and tried to ignore the bullet wound in her leg.  A pair of pipettes were still lodged in the right sleeve of the jacket, as well as some tissue cultures from the family Malvaceae.  The battered gumshoe shook the detritus from her coat sleeve, and reached into her pockets — finding her two best friends right where they belonged.

A pair of ugly Colt revolvers, with worn pearl handles.  Watson and Crick — the only partners she’d ever needed in this dirty job.

It had been quite a dust-up in the back offices of ECO-RICH, the multi-national botany conglomerate. She’d been called in on the case, when a pair of their top researchers had turned to whistleblowers–setting up interviews with dozens of prominent science and home gardening blogs. Then they’d turned up dead. Both researchers had simultaneous heart-attacks during a purported sex romp in a jury-rigged jacuzzi powered by eighteen Bunsen burners.

But then the autopsy reports had come back: Baby carrots.

Baby carrots lodged in their aortas.

A contact on the force, Overstreet, had sent her the tip — and she’d made her way down to the offices of ECO-RICH to do a little snooping.

A brace of white-coat goons had been working late, and before she could spool up an alibi — things had gotten frisky.

An ethno-biologist with arms like a steel trap got the drop on her, grabbing her from behind and pinning her arms to the side. Without hesitation she kicked off hard from the face of an approaching zoologist, propelling  her captor into a nearby Spectrograph. A weasely ginger had pulled a snub-nose out of his pocket protector and gotten a shot off, grazing her leg — while the other researchers tossed Petri dishes and glassware like a tipsy housewife when she finds a collar with the wrong lipstick in the wash.

Crossing through the test tube hailstorm, she’d headbutted the ginger sap — the sound of his nasal cartilage snapping was sweet music, and a pair of electron microscopes ripped off a nearby table helped her finish the symphony on the rest of the jolly green thugs.

The gumshoe reached down, and riffled through the pockets of the closest researcher.  She pulled open their Twitter account, and banged out a warning.

— Just got the chloroform forcibly removed from my cell wall’s chloroplasts by a punitive ass-kicking. #ECO-RICH #MURDER #SCIENCE SLEUTH #WATCHOUT

She tossed the device aside, and walked back out into the late night rain.

She was on the case, and had a very promising beginning to the data field required for the x-axis of her perspective bar graph.

A bar graph of justice, and a chart of pain.

[For Jargon Journalist. Take some time and go fondle her comment section.]

Advertisements

Simon Garamonde and the Lady Forechance I

The black halls of Iax stretched on out of view, sunflower torches seeming to absorb more light then they cast.  Simon pressed himself hard against a column, and waited for the quiet footfalls of the patrol to pass him by.

He breathed shallowly, and tried to ignore the condensation sliding down the inside of his goggles. Their

Realm of the Forest King by `lone-momo

tourmaline lenses magnified the ambient light, allowing him to move easily in the near-abyss of Iax – but the leather strap was itchy, the sweat pouring down his forehead abominable. Simon desperately wanted to rip them off, wipe the lenses and mop his forehead with a free sleeve – but the movement would instantly alert the Tyr-Elves of the passing patrol. Their eyes glowed a clammy blue in the distance. He leaned his head back against the pillar, and felt the sharp edges of the stone.

Then he thought of her.

Really, Simon? Now? You are four miles below the earth, tangling with Shadow elves –show some decorum.

Simon grinned. A magic grin with a broken piece in it.

He turned his head slowly away from the patrol, so they wouldn’t see the shine of his teeth, or the light in his eyes.

 

Botanists fight dirty.

Her overcoat was stiff with congealed agar and the shattered glass of a dozen Erlenmeyer flasks. She slid her battered arms into the sleeves, and tried to ignore the bullet wound in her leg.  A pair of pipettes were still lodged in the right sleeve of the jacket, as well as some tissue cultures from the family Malvaceae.  The battered gumshoe shook the detritus from her coat sleeve, and reached into her pockets — finding her two best friends right where they belonged.

A pair of ugly Colt revolvers, with worn pearl handles.  Watson and Crick — the only partners she’d ever needed in this dirty job.

It had been quite a dust-up in the back offices of ECO-RICH, the multi-national botany conglomerate. She’d been called in on the case, when a pair of their top researchers had turned to whistleblowers–setting up interviews with dozens of prominent science and home gardening blogs. Then they’d turned up dead. Both researchers had simultaneous heart-attacks during a purported sex romp in a jury-rigged jacuzzi powered by eighteen Bunsen burners.

But then the autopsy reports had come back: Baby carrots.

Baby carrots lodged in their aortas.

A contact on the force, Overstreet, had sent her the tip — and she’d made her way down to the offices of ECO-RICH to do a little snooping.

A brace of white-coat goons had been working late, and before she could spool up an alibi — things had gotten frisky.

An ethno-biologist with arms like a steel trap got the drop on her, grabbing her from behind and pinning her arms to the side. Without hesitation she kicked off hard from the face of an approaching zoologist, propelling  her captor into a nearby Spectrograph. A weasely ginger had pulled a snub-nose out of his pocket protector and gotten a shot off, grazing her leg — while the other researchers tossed Petri dishes and glassware like a tipsy housewife when she finds a collar with the wrong lipstick in the wash.

Crossing through the test tube hailstorm, she’d headbutted the ginger sap — the sound of his nasal cartilage snapping was sweet music, and a pair of electron microscopes ripped off a nearby table helped her finish the symphony on the rest of the jolly green thugs.

The gumshoe reached down, and riffled through the pockets of the closest researcher.  She pulled open their Twitter account, and banged out a warning.

— Just got the chloroform forcibly removed from my cell wall’s chloroplasts by a punitive ass-kicking. #ECO-RICH #MURDER #SCIENCE SLEUTH #WATCHOUT

She tossed the device aside, and walked back out into the late night rain.

She was on the case, and had a very promising beginning to the data field required for the x-axis of her perspective bar graph.

A bar graph of justice, and a chart of pain.

[For Jargon Journalist. Take some time and go fondle her comment section.]

 

 

Arm’s Reach

“It was…necessary.” he replied. “Many strange paths, many dark days — all for necessity.”

The Browncloak coughed fiercely, sending more purple phlegm across his chest. At the end it turned into weak laughter.

“Listen to me, getting a little maudlin and drippy. I always get a little choked up when I talk about child-murder. Ah, so many happy memories….” the villain leered at the paladin.

“Ah, Gentle Sir Knight, with your wide cow-eyes. I think you will soon understand a tiny part of what I mean — about necessity. Because now the great game truly begins.” Izus flopped a wounded hand off his chest onto the floor between he and the others. With battered fingers, he slowly began to draw crude figures in the strange ichor that was his blood.

“The board, Kythera.” he drew a wide oval. “The pieces – a key, a shield, and a girl.”

Three crude drawings slowly appeared inside the oval.

“Now the key has been removed, but the game still moves on.” Izus wiped away the crude picture of the Crimson Key. “And the girl is also out of your hands.”

He smudged out the picture of Talitha. The Browncloak was beginning to pant with exertion.

“The only piece that remains is the Shield — and whatever knowledge you’ve brought with you, or can discover in the Unbroken City.” he concluded.

The villain laid his palm flat on the floor, covering the picture of the shield.

“Ah….but you don’t control the Shield. I do. ” his voice became thin with exertion. ” And if I die, you’ll never find it.

Izus coughed again, regaining some strength to his voice.

“That’s what I mean about necessity, Sir. If I die, you’ll never save her — you have to keep me alive to give yourself any chance at all. Keep me alive, knowing what I am.” Izus leered again, the flesh of his face cracking horribly. ” Keep me alive, knowing that I’ll kill the girl as soon as I have her in arm’s reach.”

Ring of Silver

Material Plane/Lodestar

“Look!” Alice interrupts with a hushed whisper, pointing towards a gash on the Browncloak’s leg.

At the edges of the wound, the flesh was beginning to blacken like the charred edges of a fireplace log.

The princess immediately resumed binding his wounds with scraps of fabric, tying quick knots with a spool of twine. The black corruption was obvious on several of his other wounds. She spoke hurriedly as she worked.

“I’m not familiar with the energy of the floatstone — but my magic is aligned to the plane of Light. I’m afraid that any similar energy will only harm this….person? Demon?”

Her hands stopped moving momentarily, and she looked across Izus’ body at the assembled crew.

“Should we really be trying to save him, then?” she said stricken.

Spirit World/Lodestar

Careful — careful! Don’t you think we should return to the World of the Living now, pet? The Ianu stone whispered.

Echo ignored the stone’s pleas and pushed towards the shining man. She felt the heat on her face, and smelled sulfur in the back of her nose.

At the center of the man was a hole. The golden light radiated from the opening, glowing white-hot at the center — like a ring of candle-flame.

The druid leaned forward, and peered down into the chasm.

She saw a ring. A silver ring, pitted and worn — no more than a handspan across.

Bound to the ring, with cords of gold were five black hearts.

Five black flames.

The ring spun slowly, as the black flames pulled and fought. Sometimes at each other, sometimes at their bonds — always straining against the circle of silver.

There was something more. Something in the center of the ring, but the erratic spinning of the ring made it impossible to make out.

Time to go, pet. Leave that alone.

The Cost X

Izus Torossian walked through the empty streets, with a bundle in his arms. The raw sound of a baby crying battered at the air.

The dark things – the once-men stayed far away from him, he strode across the wet cobblestones unopposed.

Izus wished something would attack. Something he could fight.

The inside of him felt wide and vast, as if he had stumbled through a door in his house and discovered a vast concert hall; the orchestra tuning their instruments and waiting for the maestro’s baton.

He was smarter, faster, more. He was more.

Izus looked down at last to the crying child in his arms. The rain had slowed, but a few drops still fell on the babe’s unprotected face. He pulled the edge of his cloak up, and covered her carefully.

“Shhhh, little one. Everything’s going to be okay.”

The child stopped crying at the sound of his voice, and dropped off into an uneasy sleep — rocked by the motion of his strides.

“Everything’s going to be okay.” he said again, and found no comfort in the words.

 

The Cost IX

He felt his ribs shatter, leaving his heart exposed. A breath of cool air on his beating heart.

“Ah, yes – plenty of room. Room for five.” Fairchild purred.

Blood poured out of the squire’s empty eyes and his fingers slid along the stone. His body arched backward, and there was pain.

There was so much pain.

Then he saw them.

A hound with blue eyes.

A snake with green scales.

A knight with brown armor.

A lady in white.

A crow with yellow talons.

They were gone, but they weren’t.

Fairchild slid a long green hand down his chest, and the wound closed. A jet of purple and green fire cauterized the wound, and left the flesh smooth and unbroken. The green creature cocked his head, and laid an appraising finger aside of his pursed lips. He nodded with satisfaction.

” There…we’re done! Now get up.” he stood and moved back towards the throne. “You have lots and lots of work to do.”

The man stood up. He realized that his hands were clenched in the folds of his brown cloak. The fingers slowly released, and he saw they were coated thick with blood. On the floor surrounding him was a wide pool of blood.

It’s mine. The thought seemed to echo inside the wide cavern of his mind, like a marble dropped in a basin. The last blood that I will ever shed.

“And now — the name!” Fairchild clapped his hands like a stage magician. “It has waited for you here — for so long. Hovering at the end of your road, waiting for you to wear it like a crown. The name whispered in the dark. The name promised. Oh…you don’t seem very excited…”

The creature actually managed to sound petulant. The man said nothing.

“Very well, then. You are Izus Torossian. Take your payment and go.”