You know I’m teasing you with the title, bestest Twin-o-mine, right? I apologize in advance for any what-the-hecks that have wiggled their way into the story, but let us simply state that strong pain medications added to pills with a strong sedative affect make for an (I hope) interestingly “woogie” writer. Okies…so. Most of you know this, but for those of you left behind, I’ve been playing in someone elses playground for a while, writing one chapter of a story, doing whatever I want with the story and plot, and handing it on to the next player…lucky them. >.<
At this time we are considerably up-and-down with the whole thing. Up, when it comes to words…approx. 700-1000 word chapters, 53 of them, equals quite a lot of words. Down, when it comes to writers. Of the original fantastically wonderful writers, only the originator, TRG (aka Boss, aka The Reclining Gentleman) is left. Joanne Best and I were relatively late-comers to the dark corners of the playground, but it’s been a lot of fun. (Can’t speak for Joanne (loveya, twin!) but I think she’s had fun too.) We miss all the original architects, who I am far too lazy to list (and afraid that in my woogie tangent I’ll miss one, and then I’ll cry) so I’ll just have to send you over to the Homepage of this weirdness called the Fiction Relay (cause we can’t title it till we see how it comes out, sillies!) to see for yourselves. (I recommend it…and then check out their pages, cause you won’t be dissappointed…their greatness is sorely missed) That all taken care of, let the curtains part (can’t tell that I’ve been reading Tommy and Tuppence novels, can’ya?) and gaze upon the glory of this, our Chapter 53! (for reals, this time)
Unfortunately for Jose/Elijah, no matter how careful the ninja, gravel under sneakers makes a distinctive sound…so Blue and Spence were ready almost as quickly as he reached them; which was good, as so was Raj. With a whining snarl that echoed through the lonely dark, he abandoned the mystery of the box and jumped at the approaching form, snapping and pawing to get loose when Melissa grabbed him around the neck and held him tightly. Blue and Spencer wrestled Elijah to the ground and kept him there. By this time even the slower members of the team had become aware of the scene, and turned with various statements of dismay or anger in their voices.
Meagan, still acting as the clear center of the group, carefully closed Ephraims hand around the little (glowing, humming, throbbing) box, and winked to him, before turning to the trouble. “Hello, Elijah…or do you prefer Jose, now? I know -I- do…after all the trouble you caused us, and all the trouble you bring with you, why should we welcome you now? Why shouldn’t we just let Raj go, let him tear you to shreds, as he so obviously wants to?” She gestured, toward the snarling, snapping full-grown coyote…with his sons eyes.
“Raj? No…no! You’re just trying to trick me…just like these two, with the smell of the mountain! And you, changing places with her!” He gestured with his chin toward Melissa. “I’m on to you! I saw, in the mountain! I saw Her give THE CUP to you! She promised! She promised to pass it to US, not to you…” His voice trailed off as his head fell back, and his eyes closed. With a grin for Blue, Spencer lowered him, unconscious, to the gravel.
*Nice one, babe! Vulcan Neck Pinch for the win!* *Don’t call it that! You know I hate that…* *Yup* *Smug bastard…* *Yup*
With a quick glare at Spence, Blue sat back on her heels, looking up at the adults. “Sorry, Mom. He was talking too much…not getting us anywhere.” Her glance included the whole group, even Raj, who had calmed down as Melissa squatted beside him, still holding him. “I love you, but right now you’re…you -all- are…thinking like civilians. Like you still have all the time in the world for earth-shattering revelations, and clever power plays. You don’t. What you do have is a war to fight. A war that Sanderson…or whoever he is…has been fighting and training and planning for…for a very long time. And that’s where we need to meet him. A war on the level of Mountains, and Gods, and Spirits…we can’t win. But a war with people (alright, and coyotes) we can find a way to handle.”
She stopped, with a quick smile up at Spence as he moved to stand behind her, hand on her shoulder. “She’s right. Before you all panic and start spouting about Gods and Mountains and Epic Quests, think about this. Sanderson has been training an army. Thousands of young men and women, chosen for their strength and intelligence, and manipulated into almost fanatical loyalty…and that’s not even counting the outsiders, the witches, to maintain the Coyote forms…why? If he’s such an all-powerful Spirit, God, whatever…what use can he have for an army? Why spend all that time and effort, if he could just magic-it-up, as Blue would say?”
At first, watching Blue and Spencer shift from “grumpy-chick and her boyfriend” mode, into “calm and in charge soldier” mode, what Meagan mostly felt was sorrow. Sorrow for her little girl, who she had left so long ago. Sorrow for the boy, grown up so fast, and so lost. Sorrow for -all- the children lost to soldiers, and now thrown into a fight with elements they could -not- defeat. But as she listened, sorrow changed to anger. Anger born of fear, of anxiety and overwhelming concern for her loved ones. Anger shared, she realized, as she glanced around the members of -her- army. Her soldiers. “Yes, Sammy and Spencer are correct…in essence. The presence of the army, of the footsoldiers and commanders, however magical, cannot be ignored. However, neither should we turn and ignore…well…that!” All eyes turned toward Ephraim, as she gestured, and she heard a collective gasp.
Ephraim heard, but felt nothing but confused. Glancing down at the hand that held the glowing box, he blinked. In his hand, floating above the box, was a tiny golden…or was it bronze?…cup, or goblet. Or maybe cauldron…or box? The object shifted restlessly on the top of his closed fist, the image or whatever it was moving to stay on top and rightside up at all times.
He slowly opened his fingers, palm up, and the image stayed, pulsing above the now quiescent box, rainbow shards splitting the night. His voice was soft and almost reverent as he spoke… “What…is that?”
An answer to which will hopefully be upcoming, as the now much the worse for wear baton is passed to the Boss of FR, TRG himself! (At least I hope he’s himself..sometimes he’s not, and then sometimes he’s someone else entirely, and it all ends up in a dreadful tangle once the two of him get home. So here’s hoping!)
Your Woogieness, signing off…
And here it is again, the wonderful web of words, woven by writers who…nah, never mind. ;p It’s Fiction Relay time! Time once again for me to take up the spindle and weave us a tale, hopefully one that will inspire more and more to come! In case you haven’t read the previous weavings (all 46 of them, wow!) then you should follow this link to find links to all…or this one, to read the summary so far. I’m betting that you’ll like it, that you’ll have a good time, and hopefully come back for more!
They had taken 5 steps into the room, long enough for Ephraims pronouncement…when suddenly they found themselves in the hall again. An eerie green glow, the exact strength of Jose’s fizzled out light stick, barely illuminated the room. Any attempt to enter the room resulted in the same response, and finally they stopped trying, “milling around in the hallway like a pack of puppies” was the image that came to Jose.
Jose could feel his “part” in the legends approaching, and clutched his medicine pouch even tighter. Thanks to the stories he’d fed on all his life, and his simple knowledge as a mechanic, he knew that things were about to get -very- bad.
“Just give me a second here, guys…I wanna try something.”
As Jose moved further into the room, Sam could “feel” the resistance, almost a heat, that surrounded him. He pushed on, muttering something under his breath, something less like speech, more like…a chant? Whatever it was, it was working, as Jose -slowly- pushed his way into the room. Sams hand reached for Meaghans, for comfort…and then, because he could, here…he put the arm around her slim shoulders and pulled her to him.
Smiling in the dark, Meaghan curled against Sam, feeling the comfort of his large frame, and smelling/feeling that special scent that always meant “Sam”. “Missed you…love you…” Her murmured words were meant to comfort, but also to distract. His thought were too much on the room, on Ephraims “sight”, and honestly…it got in her way.
As she tucked Sam…and love…and Sammy…and love…away again in one tiny corner of her mind, the power surged forward again, as if she’d released some holding tank, and now it was free. She’d begun feeling it a while back, but kept quiet as it slowly worked its way into her brain. After all, that was what it wanted…and she wanted to give it what it wanted.
Ephraim shuddered, as Jose pushed his way into the room. Jose’s muttered words might as well have been english, for he understood every one. Watching Jose move into the room, he listened, closely, to the chant.
“Anansi! Come, bringer-of-tales, speaker to gods, come! I bring a story, untold! I, your birthed child, come bearing gifts! Gifts that will let you put down he who walks not in beauty, he who claims what is not his, or ever will be! I do not beg, but ask, as is my right as your birthed child…come, Anansi, come!
And with the last word, something seemed to flare around Jose…Ephraim saw, and Sam Saw, and Meaghan…or the power within…saw, and screamed! Screamed not in fear, but in challenge, her form seeming to swell for that moment, going from woman…to Woman…then back to Meaghan. The scream startled them enough to almost forget the form of the great huge Spider that had encircled Jose…and whose brightly glowing web he stood within…inside the room.
“It’s safe now…you can come in. The Widow holds us in her arms.” As they began to file cautiously inside, Sam still holding the now stiff with anger Meaghan in his arm, they could feel the web stretch, then part to let them in. As Meaghan approached, Jose bowed deeply to her, head to the floor at her feet. “Mother-of-us-all, be welcome here, here in Your space, here in Your body, and forgive us our small intrusion? We enter only to remove that One who wishes to control even You, in his impudence…”
Meaghan could feel the power within…relax, and seem to…forgive. She shrugged one shoulder, and chuckled. When the Voice came from her throat, they all started, except Jose, still on the floor. It seemed to fill the room…no, it was the room…no, it was the Mountain, speaking to them.
“Come, Anansi, come, little spider…you are not welcome here, but as you enter on a mission I greatly wish culminated…”
Suddenly, the Voice broke off, as she turned toward the front of the cave. “They come! The witches come! In their hundreds they come! My Children will stop them, for a while…but you must hurry, little spider. Whatever your plan is, whatever Trickery you have planned…you must hurry!”
Blue stared into the things eyes for a moment, too shocked to think…then her new-found power seemed to take over, for just a moment…and she ported, finding herself next to her beloved Bike, staring at the four Walls who stared into the distance, their eyes glowing the exact same red as the Not-Spence.
As she backed slowly toward the bike, one groping hand touched its saddle…and she gasped, as instead of the normal worn leather, its color matching her turquoise riding leathers…she held, instead, a huge lump of turquoise stone, its presence feeling comforting in her hand. A feeling, a prescence, came over her…so strong and somehow…familiar, that her normal cynicism was over-ridden, and she relaxed into it.
“My Daughter…you must come home. The witches come, in their hundreds, and you must Fight. Your Brother will come soon…he was delayed upon his way…but he will come, and in that moment, you will join together in Beauty, and defeat the witches. So it is said, so it is done.”
Blue “felt” her power come over her, her aspect pour through her veins, the turquoise chill within her. Inside, somewhere, a tiny Blue curled up within a turquoise room, a smile on her face as she waited for her Brother, her Love, her other half, to join her.
Well, there it is for now…now it’s up to Dawn, writer of Mouse-tails and Fiction Relays of the finest kind…let’s see what we get!
Okies, here we go again…it’s Fiction Relay time once more! If it seems as if it’s coming to me more often (is anyone complaining?) you’re right, but hopefully only temporarily. We’ve had a few sad departures, due to increased pressure from that horrible beast known as “Real Life”…and a few are just taking a quick break, but will be back with us shortly. But never fear, we are keeping the torch passing, keeping the light in the window, and all that sort of thing…so with no further babble, here is part (I think) 42!
Trotting after the three strange ones through the halls of the Club, Jose kept his fingers curled protectively around the tiny leather pouch in his jacket pocket. Feeling the butter-softness of the ancient medicine bag against his rough palm seemed to keep him grounded, keep him walking in beauty amongst the witches.
He knew it was necessary, for him to be here…had known it ever since the touch of the woman’s quick fingers on his wallet had burned through to his skin, cold as the breath of the Mountain itself. He had known that it was time, finally, and he had known pride that his generation would fulfill the promise…but it had taken all his strength not to turn and run, to leave this place and hightail it home, back among the People.
Until yesterday he had believed the stories, of course. As you believed all the stories. Of course they were true. Why would they not be? But true now…in this world…to suddenly be told that you are a messenger, and that your time is -now-…he took a deep breath, fingers once more caressing the tiny bag as they hurried out into the deepening dusk.
Alone again, the man known as Sanderson hopped back up into his favorite position, cross-legged on the marble-slab conference table, looking out into the coming night. As always, when unobserved, he faced the Mountain.
Beneath the layers, shorn of (most) pretence, he was much closer to the young man of Ephraims vision…the craggy cheekbones and deep-set eyes of ice-water blue under that waterfall of white hair gave him a startling resemblance to the Mountain that he tried to keep hidden.
Of course, he liked to believe that the Mountain had come to resemble him in some ways, as well. In order to keep him out, it had needed to let a bit of him in. To become more…flexible, less rigid. And in doing so, although it had taken him an eternity to prepare, to sacrifice…it had become its own undoing.
And now the tools were at hand. And now the first sally had been sent. And soon it would be seen if the arrows he had labored so long to create would make their mark…or break against its stony hide.
Melissa dreamed. And Raj was ready. He had been mustering his “strength” for this little exercise for a while now, and he was finally ready. Carefully, warily, he widened his area of focus, pushing his awareness out into the room around him a bit at a time, until finally “he” stood away from his motionless body. Gritting his teeth, he pushed through the disgusting layer of sweaty-grimy-dirty-slime that was the psychic residue of thousands of weary travelers over the years, and made his way gingerly across the space that separated him from his sleeping target.
Halfway there, he received a rather nasty shock that set him back a bit…the coyote “statue” suddenly turned its glowing eyes in his direction, pinning him in place in a most literal fashion as he felt it heedlessly rummage through “him”. Whatever it was looking for, he must have passed, however, because the eyes dimmed again and the tension was released.
The incident shook him, but nothing would stay Raj from his goal, at this point. He’d been waiting far too long to let some little…totem, guardian, low rank ancestral spirit, whatever…get in his way. Ignoring the sound of quiet snickering, he pushed on until “he” stood staring down at Melissa’s sleeping form.
For a moment he simply stood, telling himself that it was necessary to gather energy before the final push…but knowing that he wanted to savor the moment, his final triumph against the murderous bitch who had tried to stop him. Staring down at her, he reached out an ephemeral “hand”, and traced the lines of her face…from this side, it was easy to see what the waking world could not. To see behind the semi-permanent illusion she wore, to the biggest secret she held.
Although their faces weren’t -exactly- identical…Meagan’s chin had a bit more point, while Melissa’s cheekbones were a touch stronger, for instance…the resemblance was crystal clear, and the relationship undeniable, to those who could see. How had it felt, he wondered, to give that up? To know that your closest relation…the closest relationship it was possible to have…wouldn’t recognize you? Wouldn’t even remember you? Was it worth it, in the end? Was the extra power worth the loss? Was that why she had never changed her name, trying to hold on to even that weak link to her twin? He shrugged, impatiently. Whatever. Time to play.
With a sound half laugh, half snarl, he moved to kneel over her on the bed, phantom hands on either side of her face. At the contact, she moaned, thrashing a bit on the bed, but didn’t wake. Gathering himself…literally…Raj brought his face down until his ephemeral lips touched hers. Her thrashing worsened, but her head was held still…and Raj grinned against her mouth, swallowing her increasingly desperate moans like fine wine. “Time to wake up, little one…wake up, and kiss me goodbye!”
An impatient snarl fell from his lips as her eyelids flickered, but didn’t open. Attempting to strengthen his hold on her, drag her up from her nightmares by brute force if necessary, he was distracted for just long enough. “Bitch! Wake your ass up, little whore! Wake uhhh…”
Gasping desperately for air, Melissa sat straight up in the nasty hotel bed, the remains of the dream still echoing in her mind. Shuddering, she curled into a ball on the cheap sheets, tears pouring down her cheeks, unheeded. Raj had been her first and greatest love…and her worst enemy, so far…but even he hadn’t deserved the fate served to him in her nightmare. The sound of his screams as the pack of wild…dogs? wolves? somethings had torn him apart would likely echo in her mind forever.
After a quick glance to make sure that the not-quite-a-corpse still sat in the lounge chair next to the bed, that its position of slumped, sheet-covered gloom hadn’t shifted…that it wasn’t, in point of fact, torn and shredded, bloody scraps all over the room…she curled into herself, all dignity gone, all restraint lost, and sobbed herself into an uneasy sleep once more.
And on the dresser, the eyes of the statue flickered. The shadows played around its muzzle, giving the impression, almost, of movement…if one were fanciful, one could even imagine it…laughed.
Whoops. Missed an important part of the game…passing the stick. Here y’go, Dawn!
This is part 35 of the Fiction Relay serial story, following the adventures and misadventures of Suzi and those she impacts. To read the rest of the story, or just see a summary so far, go here. To see who is crazy enough to play this game, and see how you might join the insanity, go here.
One quick look back…and then to the road once more. Somewhere behind her, red and blue lights painted their rude graffiti onto the red rock walls of the canyon, but all she saw was a pair of haunting (and a bit haunted) blue eyes. Eyes that could tease and taunt, freeze and burn…eyes that had seared themselves into her almost as long as she could remember.
Since she “joined” the Club, at 8 yrs. old, there had been Spencer. Ten yrs. old, the directors son, and a boy…all things calculated to be sure that their paths never met, at pain of mortal embarrassment and peer humiliation. But like her, Spence had never been a rule follower. Unlike her, however, he didn’t necessarily -break- rules…he just made new ones, that only applied as he saw fit.
For instance, the rule was that Blue (or Sammy, at the time) belonged to him. Her cadet training, her fire-arms qualification, and eventually the discovery and training of her many talents (all that she admitted to, anyway) were all under close supervision and scrutiny, watched over by those eyes. And after-hours, as well. It was Spence who taught her how to drive, practicing with her side-by-side on the back lot from age 12 until she left on the search for her mother. It was Spence who teased her hidden talents from her, one by one, pulling them out and helping her practice those, as well. By that time, he was 16 to her 14, and discretion became the rule.
Especially once the friendship began to deepen. Especially once the Mentor/Student dynamic began to slip, in new and exciting ways. Discretion. Discretion among her peers, discretion among her trainers/teachers…and most of all, discretion among the higher-ups. The new rule was that Blue was Spence’s reluctant assistant, working hard to stretch her “leash” by volunteering for outside missions, and solo missions, almost exclusively. The truth…known solely to the two of them…was that their “connection” had strengthened, over the years. Whatever the…thing…they had between them, it was now so strong that it didn’t matter how far away she was from him, if he chose he could see through her eyes, feel with her hands…or her heart.
The fact that he knew how afraid she was of being “taken over”, of losing control, and chose to respect that, chose to give -her- the power of choice, of reaching out to him or not…for that, if for nothing else, she felt for him. This most recent meeting? It needed pondering. It needed thought, to reach past the emotion, past the pleasure/pain, past the mysterious words…thought that could best be done off the road, and perhaps over a drink.
Besides, the urgency of the chase had begun to calm a bit, the closer she got to “home”…to the Club. It was fairly obvious, now, where her mother would end up…which gave her a chance for a short break. Some breathing room, a chance to sort through this new thing. Spotting a familiar symbol on the next exit sign, she grinned, and slowed to make the turn.
The man known as Sanderson moved to sit at the long table, his stride strong and confident, and his smile quick and sure. As he approached, Sam tried to get a better look at him…for one moment, he thought he might have caught a glimpse…then in the next, he knew better. In that moment, with a sly wink, the “man” let himself be seen. The aura lifted, and Sam shuddered, almost falling to his knees from the force of the personality that stood in front of him. A child staring bare-eyed into the eclipse, he knew his mistake, knew his limits, and quickly slammed his eyes (both sets) closed. Cautiously opening his eyes as the confident steps moved away, toward Meagan and her new friend, Jose, he breathed in, seeing only the man once more, aura and all. A quick mischievous grin flashed where only he could see let him know that his relief had not gone unnoticed…and a quick glance to his friends showed that they were unaware of his distress, or of any pause in “Sanderson”‘s advance. Resolving to tighten his supervision, Sam mentally shook himself, and settled into guard mode.
Ephraims law-trained skills of observation coupled with the habits of a lifetime spent hiding the effects of his “talents” from others were all that kept the shock from his face as the creature calling itself “Sanderson” passed between Sam and the table. The visions were one thing. He’d had them all his life, and by now they were almost familiar. Annoying, sometimes painful, and escalating, recently, for some reason…but known. When he’d been in the orphanage, and realized that the pills were supposed to change him, give him what it gave the others…it had been a huge relief to just pretend that it had worked, that the visions were just starting, and oh-my-gosh what’s all this then?
But this…he took another long look as “Sanderson” moved to sit at the table. On the surface, he saw what everyone saw…an old man, still strong and confident, in charge, with a mysterious aura that seemed to cause different reactions in each of them. But underneath…literally… well, start with the face. The long grey-furred muzzle, shading into grizzled tan as it neared the mischievous grey-blue eyes, then back to grey to the tips of the tall pointed ears that stuck up through “Sandersons” mane of white hair like reeds from a pond. Add a long furry tail, shaded similarly, and what Ephraim could only term a “cowboy outfit”…faded blue workshirt, worn jeans, dusty and very well lived-in boots…and a gun in a holster that seemed almost to shimmer, as if it fit in both worlds. He mentally shook his head, but the view didn’t change…and the look on the humanoid coyotes face as it glanced at him…and winked…he took a deep breath, and tried to look alert as he and Sam were motioned to take a seat at the table as well.
The naughty little donkey that symbolized “Bad Ass Coffee” almost seemed to grin as Blue pulled into the lot, parking next to a long line of other bikes of all sizes and shapes. Sniffing appreciatively at the smell of good coffee, frying bread, and locally brewed…well, brew…she pushed her way through the doors. Not what the average person would picture as the typical biker bar, Bad Ass nonetheless endeared itself to the locals, wherever the franchise went. As far as she was concerned, the coffee and food were enough, but the safety and protection she felt in the company of other bikers was a pretty hefty chunk of frosting on that cake.
She grabbed a table, literally, scooping up one of the tiny two person tables and carrying it to a chosen spot, with a view out the window at the road, and her bike. Swinging a chair around to sit backward on it, arms leaning on the chair back, she grinned up at the waiter as he approached. “Hey! I didn’t know the coffee came with eye candy…” He winked at her, flipping his hair over his shoulder so that she could see the rainbow stud in his ear. “Look all you want…looking doesn’t hurt. So what can I get for you today?”
She grinned, and opened her mouth to speak…but all that came out was a whistling scream, as something hit her hard enough to knock the wind out of her lungs. Desperately trying to draw in a breath, eyes blurring, she looked to the waiter…and stumbled to her feet, kicking the chair in front of her, as he scrambled toward her. His face was set in a terrifying snarl, showcasing almost all of his sharp pointed fangs, and his eyes were pools of flame. Wheezing, she kept stumbling backward, kicking chairs and pulling tables over to slow him down. Snarling and snapping he climbed the obstacles, clearing the distance between them almost obscenely quickly. As her back hit the wall, he howled, triumphantly, and charged her, fangs and claws at the ready…but the moment they touched her skin, she blinked…and slumped, closing her mouth, finding herself still on her original seat, and the waiter and half the bar staring wide-eyed at her.
“Umm…are you ok, Miss? Is there anything I can do? Get you?” She just shook her head, mutely, a shiver starting in the small of her back. “I…I’m fine…just a…a thing. S-sorry..” The shiver grew into a full-body shudder, and her hands clenched on the back of the seat, white-knuckled. “Sorry, I…I have to…” Her teeth chattered with the force of the chills that shook her, and her head spun dizzily as she tried to stand.
The waiter moved to steady her, frowning as she jerked back from him, eyes wide with panic… “Hey, now…maybe you better sit back down, ok? Get you some water?” She shook her head, frantically, and took a step back from him…and crumpled to the floor of the bar, unconscious.