Monthly Archives: January 2016

Sleeping Mountain: Lydia’s Road

A cold morning brought news of her husband’s death, and she hit the road.  Rage and revenge carried her every step.

Lydia showed no reaction when Endeni came that night, bearing the news with heavy solemnity.  He would have urged her to be calm, if she’d betrayed a hint of what was next.

Her son was pretending to be asleep at the time, and she could not bear to push through his pretense, for once.  She would bring back a Koton’s grisly head before bringing news that he was now fatherless.  Any Koton would do.

Her bow and arrow in hand, her boots crunched on the dirt below.  The sun was barely up, but in the mist it barely seemed to matter.

Her son would be behind her soon.  The boy was stubborn, and there was no sense trying to stop him.  Endeni would take Edsar under his wing now.  For the best.  Ai-dus would have wanted that. And what do I want?  Lydia thought.

A road.  A direction.  A chance to fight back.

A future for her son.

She had brought her short sword and dirk as well as a full quiver of arrows.  She was plenty strong–her late husband often said so admiringly, and it was true, she knew–but a long sword would slow her down.  The Kotons were fast.  There was no settling for fast enough when the shadow of a thirty-foot wingspan appeared.  You had to move, and you had to go for the throat.

Two hundred thousand warriors were not fast enough on that dread day, when war had bled the Mountain of most of its best men and women.  But not her.

The peace hard-won by those brave souls had now been breached by the filth.  The reasons why didn’t matter.  It wasn’t as though a peace treaty could be forged with unthinking mongrels.

Now was the time of war.  And swords and arrows were the tools available now.  There were other ways to wage war, ancient ways rife with riddle and superstition.  And at the other end, ways modern and fierce, and for her, unknowable–well south of here, in the hands of more prosperous folk beyond her land.

North was the library city of Tcej, the repository of the local sages’ knowledge.  It was almost certain her son was going that way.  She would scout ahead for him, and if possible, clear the area of Koton hunting flights.

Kotons hunted in flights of four or five, with a very wide hunting ground chosen.  Often there appeared to be only one because the others would cleverly cover their approach.  They could walk, but more like apes than men.  Stealthily, like the mountain lions she had read of in ancient lore.  Villages kept watch out of fear that a hunting flight might engage in a nighttime incursion.  Kotons were not nocturnal, but then Lydia had not met every variety.  The sages recorded what they could spare time to record during the war, and there were enough varieties of Koton to fill a library–or a city of libraries.

Each step filled her with a growing dread.  Times were changing.  The Sleeping Mountain grew cold, a dread cold like the freshly dead.  There had to be a reason.

She couldn’t allow herself to feel afraid, any more than she could allow herself to grieve.  She had to act now, keep moving, or she would fall apart.

The barest echo of a scream.  Beastly, hungry.  A howl, a screech.  A guttural roar.  Five.

Too far away.  Too far.

She would lose Edsar.  She would lose her only son, the last of Ai-dus she had left.

Her boots were already crushing grass and pebble as she charged back the way she came.  So they took the Hard Road.  On a Koton ranging, that would have made sense, but even then, no fool would venture forth with one sword and a mere boy.  My boy.

The Koton screams sounded closer.  They had spotted their prey.  Lydia stopped, aiming her arrow in a circle around herself.

Too close by.  Too close.

She realized her mistake.  The Kotons may have been animals, but they had an intelligence that was all too human.

One pretended to be far away, and the others played along.  The Kotons weren’t hunting her son.  They’re hunting me.

How?

She had only time to fall to the ground, twisting her body and loosing an arrow at the Koton frighteningly close above her.  It groaned, snatched the arrow from its midsection with a claw five feet wide, then soared into the air, hoisting the arrow as a primal warrior might a spear.

She got to her feet and kept running, not even sparing a look at the sky.  The old training came back to her like a buried memory, unbidden and horrible to hold, yet familiar.

She was too far out in the open; a treeline was just ahead, a few more moments…

And they were before her, blocking her path, four of them grabbing the ground hard enough to make fat mounds of dirt and grass.  They shook their heads at odd angles and fixed leathery gray eyes on her, another collective low rumble breathing mist into the air.

She was done.  Four of them, and one still in the air, holding my arrow.

Lydia folded her bow and drew her short sword in one fluid motion.  She lunged and dropped into a roll, her sword slashing as two Kotons leaped at where she once was.  She opened one from throat to belly.  Its bulk dropped before she could get clear, trapping her ankle beneath it.

Lydia drew her dirk and stabbed wildly, catching another Koton in the face.  She sat up and barely avoided another set of snapping jaws, hacking at them with her sword.

Suddenly the fourth Koton gurgled disgustingly in front of her, and Lydia hurled her short sword, catching it square in the maw.  The blade melted and hissed–and the Koton’s face did the same.  She scrambled to her feet at last as it fell before her.

An arrow whizzed by, forcing her to lurch to her right, though not fast enough to avoid the massive wing that swooped down and slapped her.  She flew several feet and rolled several more, then slammed into a tree hard enough to knock the wind out of her.

She groaned in agony.  Still struggling to take a breath, she got both hands out in front of herself.  She raised her head, watching as a Koton looped around quickly and hovered above her, its shadow interrupting the light.

A grotesque smirk did not help its gray, detestably misshapen head, its face a sick mockery of a man’s face, its eyes large, bloody, a sickly yellow-red.

It spoke with a rumbling sneer, a deep mockery.  “A human female.  Rare among the warriors.  You must be strong indeed.  The strong die more slowly.  But the strong still die.”  It paced around her as she got to her feet. “You show no fear, female warrior.  Your valor has earned you your life today.”

“Filth,” Lydia groaned.  Despite the pain she felt, her training took over, blending with rage and adrenaline.  In a fast motion her bow shot open and she sent an arrow through its throat.  She watched it gasp, then fall over.  She watched its life leak away with a sense of both relief and revulsion.

“You do not know what is to come,” it said, taking a shuddering breath, its claws grasping weakly at the arrow that would prove fatal.  “The plague that will fall upon all of your kind…it…will eclipse…your light…for all time…”

Hatred and doubt warred within her as its final gasps escaped into the air.  There was nothing more to be done.  Their presence made evident what the beast had uttered.

A new war was due to begin.  And extinction awaited the losing side.

Raps of the Christopherian Realm #26 (A Sci-Fi Rap, Continued…)

When everyone got home to Planet C
A ceremony
Honoring the dead was held
With much testimony
Of all the brave men and women
Now in linen
Some had children
And some had no descendants
“So many beloved
Here reduced to nothing.
But they believed the struggle
Was much worth the trouble of it.
And although here
We bury our friends,
We can rest safely knowing
Our fight is at an end.
So let us mourn the loss
Of those who gave us
Their lives in the stars–
Let us honor all our brave ones.”

And so the Kingdom’s flag
Was then changed
The lightning bolt through its center
Would remain
But on top of it
They placed a star
To remember where the soldiers before
Proved what they are
“And what they are
Is living–
Through us they will live
In the freedom we’ve been given.
Now before you lies
A great decision,
So remember as you pick one,
Our fallen brothers’ wisdom.
To just elect someone
Is not enough.
You have to choose a leader for yourselves
That you can love.”

And so Congress
And all the people promised
To search for a leader
Who was truly good and honest
But all their eyes
Could see was her
Only Corporal Thea
Could ever be a proper leader
But some of them felt
It wasn’t quite clear
Should they choose her
Because of love, or out of fear?
And Queen Christina
Was the foremost among them:
“We should never choose
A leader because they’re strongest.
Power alone is all in vain
If beneath all the power
No conscience yet remains.
But your decision
Is yet to be seen,
And whoever you choose,
I will yield to as your Queen.”

She didn’t quite believe it
As she said it
But she knew that to Thea
Even she was indebted
And quietly she was
Amassing an army
Of those who believed
Thea’s power was alarming
To be sure,
She was lovely and charming
But if put to the test
She could do some major harming
So the debates raged on
Quite a contest
Until an intermission
Was declared for the process
Christina got a message and
Stepped outside to check it
Little did she know
Of the danger unexpected
Once she was gone
Someone hid a bomb
Inside the very heart
Of Congressional Hall
Their plan was clear
And without hesitation
The hall was destroyed
By a massive detonation…

He couldn’t hear
There was ringing in his ears
King Christopher had
Somehow been thrown clear
And there was blood
Running down from his ear
And people screaming out
Not knowing what it was about
And then he saw the bodies
That were missing
Various limbs–most of them
Were not living
Thea approached and said,
“Are you alright?
Can you hear me?
We have to get you out of sight!
Somewhere among us
Is an unknown villain–
Someone is using terror
As their method of killing.
Until we locate
The person perpetrating
It’s best for you to go
To a place that may be safest.”
And then Christina slowly
Walked through the smoke
She was so shaken up
At this blow to their hope
And then the King
Pointed at her and spoke,
“Strange that you had
Gone outside ‘fore the explosion!”
Thea said, “Let’s not
Start accusing.
We have to find the truth–
Only facts will be soothing.
For now, Your Highness,
We should be moving.
Your Majesty, My Queen–
That’s what we should be doing.
We don’t know if
The target was one of us
Or if it was in fact
An attack on public trust.”

And other questions
Remained to be asked–
Did the perpetrator
Also die in the blast?
Was someone out to sabotage
The election?
Was another force at work,
As yet unconnected?
The regiments were tracking
Remnants of forces
That in the past retreated
Were they now more important?
A lack of answers
Became as if a cancer
Eating away at their now
Dwindling chances
The war was fought
So that there would be peace
But the truth is,
War begets war, it seems
But deep beneath
All the horror and grief
One can only hope the people
Won’t give up on their dreams…

The Dregs

I took a couple steps down
In the middle class
‘Cause a family of four
Scrapes by on a little cash
So broke that
The neighborhood Dollar Tree
Has become a part
Of my grocery shopping policy
So, the good thing is
I still manage to eat
But the PBJ has now
Replaced the lunch meat
My brunch thing
Is a Pop Tart if I’m lucky
It’s not even the brand name–
Toast-‘Ems or something
Redbox and Netflix
For movies
But can’t even chill with my wife
‘Cause of disputing
And it’s stupid
Sometimes I feel lucid
But most of the time I’m around,
I feel useless
And the future is fruitless
I’ve only got one life
And yet about to lose it
Come to grips
With my own mortality
And haven’t even figured out
A sense of morality
It’s the dregs

Dregs got me
Dragging me down
Not going to beg
Got to scrape on the ground
It’s the dregs
Dregs got me
Dragging me down
Not going to bed
‘Cause there’s more to do now
It’s the dregs

“One day,”
My wife said, “I’ll be gone,
And it’ll be just
You and your stuff to look upon.
You won’t have to deal with
None of my complaining
When I want to go to bed
And you’re still up gaming.”
Wanted to think it was
An idle threat
Until she said it once more
When we were washing at the laundromat
And then I’m nervous
When I see her texting
Is she talking to someone
That she wants to go get with?
Man, forget this
Shouldn’t have bought that cheap necklace
It was poor taste
And didn’t belong on the checklist
But when you’re broke,
What else can you do?
You try to get a gift
But your wallet only hurts you
Like freshly cut hair
On your shirts do
Or desserts do
When your diabetic thirst is due
And the first crew
Is looking at you like your shirt’s due
It’s worse, too
When you have to keep a curfew
And bed bugs ain’t
Letting you sleep
Alcohol rubs at ninety percent
To kill them creeps
It’s the dregs

Dregs got me
Dragging me down
Not going to beg
Got to scrape on the ground
It’s the dregs
Dregs got me
Dragging me down
Not going to bed
‘Cause there’s more to do now
It’s the dregs

Can’t get upset
‘Cause life isn’t done yet
Crammed on the bus asking
Are we having fun yet?
I’ve got more mice at work
Than at home
But on those quiet nights at least
I won’t be alone
Seeing mouse droppings
All across my desktop
Maybe I should catch ’em
And open up a pet shop–
Ew! Never mind,
That’s disgusting
They set up some traps
But the traps do nothing
Anyway, the pain is different
Every day
Pain in my feet and my back
Won’t go away
And that’s apart from the pain
In my soul
From the places that I’ve been
And the people being cold
And then I’m seeing
My parents are getting old
I don’t know how to deal with it
When they have to go
And I can’t even chat
With my bro
He’s been shunning me for years since
I left out of the cult
And all my yearning
Is poured into my journal
The loves and the hates
And the thoughts that’d disturb ’em
All those people I don’t call
I hurt ’em
But there’s nothing else left to do
I don’t deserve ’em
In the dregs

Dregs got me
Dragging me down
Not going to beg
Got to scrape on the ground
It’s the dregs
Dregs got me
Dragging me down
Not going to bed
‘Cause there’s more to do now
It’s the dregs
Dregs got me
Dragging me down
Not going to beg
Got to scrape on the ground
It’s the dregs
Dregs got me
Dragging me down
And what in the heck
Am I going to do now?
It’s the dregs

Summer Sun

Held a cup of your Kool-Aid
That reminds me of your school days
I know you’ll be moving away soon
And I know I’ll be going, too
I hope a long time before you
As parents are often wont to do
Though it’s not what we want to do

Remember all your favorite things
The crazy things you’d say to me
The playful innocence preserved in youth
The sound of bare feet running
That would tell me you’re a-comin’
How empty life will be without you

And have I given enough time,
Enough of wisdom from my mind
To get you to the place you need to be?
I may not live to see it, but
I know I can believe it, ’cause
I’ve felt it whenever you look at me

As you’re riding on your toy car I know
That with your dreams, you’ll go far, so
Every step my love will be with you
From nowhere it became apparent
All the depth of love I’m carrying
Like hands upon your shoulders
To see you through

Our time is temporary
Soon everyone is buried
But your tomorrow’s what
I’ll leave behind
Maybe your load will be lighter
And your hopes a little brighter
‘Cause you’re the summer sun
That makes me shine
And I’m really awful glad
That you are mine

Raps of the Christopherian Realm #25 (A Sci-Fi Rap, Continued…)

So what happened
During the few months
That Christopher was missing?
Well, it’s really something
So let us return
To the winter
The aftermath of
The MCI Center
There was a massive amount
Of space debris
And recovery shuttles
Were bringing some to the fleet
And most often
The shuttles were like coffins
There was little good news
And the blows could not be softened
But one hopeful thing
Actually happened–
They recovered a ship still intact–
The Space Captain
And though a hole had been blown
In the cockpit
The charred remains
Were still approached with caution

Warhammer,
It looks pretty bad,
But the robot here
Is only missing a right hand.
Request permission
To return him to the fleet
There might be a chance
Get Tough is not deceased.”
“Permission granted, shuttle–”
“Belay that order!
This is Corporal Thea
So don’t end up in hot water.
Even if he is in
Good condition
We can’t be sure it’s safe
To bring him to this position.”
“Excuse me!”
Queen Christina then replied,
“You are not in a command position!
Step aside!”
“I apologize if I
Stepped on your pride,
But I wonder if your grief
Might be clouding your mind.”
“I advise you to
Keep this channel clear.
There are only two people
In command status here.”
“I am well aware
Of your command.
King Christopher authorized me
To countermand.”
“Your Highness, is this
Really true?”
“It is,” the King said,
“So do as you’re told to.
Take only what we need
From those folks,
But we must return home–
Congress still has to vote.
And with Chris missing,
Maybe gone,
A new star has risen
For us to gaze upon.”
“So you’ve achieved your ambition.
You’ve stacked the deck
For yourself, in this decision.
Very well,
I will humble myself.
It is the will of the people
Above all to be upheld.”

Then Christina pulled a phone
And clicked it
It sent a transmission out
Completely encrypted
“Rescue Shuttle 1,
Is this a secure line?”
“Go secure, Your Highness.
What did you have in mind?”
“My orders are to
Return as instructed.
Your shuttle’s ill-equipped,
So return home with nothing.”
“By your command–”
“And discuss this with no one.
I’m not entirely sure
The government can go on.
Something here
Is about to change.
Do not approach Concourse One
Stay out of range.”

And then the Queen
Took a moment to sit
She had to follow orders
Or be declared as unfit
She prepped orders
For some special commandos
A classified mission
Only they could handle
They would maintain stealth
In this region
And when the time was right
Find a way for retrieving
It was possible
That Chris still lived
And if they abandoned him
He would never forgive them
“All commands:
Request we form up.
Titan’s Bellow, ready–
Let’s get back to normal.”
“I agree,” the King said,
“It’s time to leave.
I believe we achieved
Our goal of being free.
Our sacrifice was not in vain,
My friends.
I am now convinced
That our war is at an end.”

Eventually, all the
Salvaging was done
And Warhammer, Christopher Star
And Concourse One
Reunited underneath
The shellship
And left as it protected them
Just like a helmet
And the thing that scared
Christina most was
They passed by
The other battle stations like a ghost does
Nothing fired
And nobody pursued them
She wondered if they really knew
What they were doing
What if Thea never really
Came back,
Or she made some kind of pact
So they wouldn’t be attacked?
It was a pointless debate
Without facts
No reason to ask
While debating in a vacuum
She wondered if
She could get some relief
If perhaps Corporal Thea
Would submit to debriefing
She did assure them
That she would explain
Maybe they could trust her
Maybe they were safe
The Queen could only hope so
Or pray–
But to whom, with the knowledge
That they now had a goddess?
And so Christina
Silently made a promise
That she would keep an eye out
For anything dishonest…

Raps of the Christopherian Realm #24 (A Sci-Fi Rap, Continued…)

After the sounds of
Such extreme violence
The residents of Fort GHOAT
Could only hear silence
“What has happened?
Should we check outside?
Surely Chris would come back in
If he’s alive.”
“I hope, my friend,
That you are right,
Because if not, I suspect
That none of us survive.”

A small band of survivors
Was off-planet
Keeping low profile
Surveying the damage
They had little
By way of armor and ammo
But standard issue body armor
And green camo
And they were sleeping
And creeping in tall grass
But anything they met
Would be breathing its last
They were the best of the best
And hard core
The last best hope of ever
Ending the war
But what could they do
Against gods?
Best they could use
Was everything they’d been taught
Resistance Regiment
Had special forces tactics
Specially trained by
The late Agent Tack and
Would step forward
When others would move back and
You could say these soldiers
Could hold the total package
The time was past
For straight battles
Assassination had to
Free them of their shackles
And there was only
One target clear:
To save the Realm
They had to take down Thea
Or if not,
They could disappear
And show up like fire
When their presence was required
But they had watched
The fight on Planet C
And knew that the people
In Fort GHOAT would need them
So that became
Their primary mission
To save whoever’s left
Is not even a decision…

Thea returned to talk
To King Christopher
Consumed by desire,
He attempted to kiss her
She pushed him back
And said, “Perhaps instead,
You should listen to the words
Of my lips: his reign is dead.
And now our Realm
Is nearly secured.
But we have to kill Christina
And the rest to be sure.
We have to stop them
From sneaking off-planet
But their fort cannot be destroyed
Even by cannon.
We could leave them there
Until they starve
But I’m not really sure
They would come to any harm.
Despite our fight,
Chris still didn’t die.
So what is the source
Of his power to survive?
I’ve tried to find it
But it feels like I’m blinded
I never learned all his secrets
From my assignments.
And this darkness only
Grants me power.
It doesn’t give me knowledge
To open Chris’ tower.
So for now, my love,
I must go,
Until the Realm’s completely
Under my control…”

“And so it goes
When they want control,”
Scepter said, “With the race of
Women, ever so.
I have watched
As their power has grown
And the cowards among us
Have lost their backbone.
They may as well be
Living back home,
With a woman in a muumuu
Telling them what they should do.
Instead of seeing
What needs to be done,
They load up the clips
And hand women their guns.
But that was then–
That era is at an end.
When a scepter goes through your spine,
You can’t defend.
And at last,
Chris is now at his weakest.
Without Christoph’s interference,
I can beat him.
And the future will no longer
Be relevant,
For only he who rules the past
Can really tell of it…”

Queen Christina
Was wondering what to do
When her tech expert
Returned from the computer
He’d just decrypted
A chip most terrific
Some top secret data
That before had been missing
A new schematic
A blueprint for Fort GHOAT
Some new information
They didn’t know before, though
It was embedded in
Starlit’s hard drive
“With help like that
It feels like she’s still alive.
Everyone, it’s time
For us to leave.
I’ve found a secret exit
So we can get free.”
Further still, Chris
Kept a lot of secrets
Even from the King and Thea,
It would seem
There was data
But it was incomplete
About a special crystal
Buried deep beneath
The Colonel’s Bureau
On Planet CBP
And Queen Christina figured,
“That’s where we need to be.”
She told her people,
“Gather up your supplies.
We’ll be going on a trip
That will last a long time.
And if all goes well,
Then we will find
A tool that will save us all
From Thea’s lies.”

And so they went forth
In search of answers
And Empress Thea
Tracked them quietly, like a panther
She figured they must have
Been ecstatic
To find an escape route
That wasn’t on schematics
And given that Chris
Hadn’t revealed it
She figured that the tunnels
Must be heavily shielded
She could tear them out
And throw them into space
But the people still loved her–
She had to keep their faith
Despite the fact that
She shouldn’t have known it,
In truth, she knew exactly where
Christina was going
She would go straight there
To intercept her
And prove to her once and for all
Who was better…