Monday, January 29, 2007

Joshua and Quentin

This excerpt covers how Joshua came by the facilities he's been using in previous posts, as well as introducing the minor character Quentin O'Riely. I don't like to use Quentin very often, because he's a very Deus Ex Machina character by virtue of how wealthy and, digitally, powerful he is. As I stated before, Quentin came from a story I started earlier, specifically my sophomore year of high school. His story, though very different, is the spiritual precursor to Joshua's. Anyway, on to Joshua and Quentin's meeting.

"Take this, Joshua. Do not lose it." Quentin handed him a small slip of paper. "That is who you are according to that bank. All of my dealings with them have been through the internet and representatives. If you lose that, you lose the money."

Joshua nodded and read the number to himself. He tucked the paper into his wallet, then looked at Quentin.

"But don't you have another copy somewhere?"

Quentin shook his head. "It's yours now, not mine. You know I don't keep redundant information. Besides," he grinned, tapping the side of his head. "It's all up here. If you lose that, I'll take it as my cue to resume control of those funds. Half a million dollars is not a small amount of money. I expect you to be responsible with it."

"I understand. Thank you for helping us out, Quent. I don't think I'll ever be able to make it up to you."

Quentin waved a hand dismissively. "It's no trouble. I've got the money to spare. 'A friend in need,' right? All I ask is that you don't involve me in this any more than you have to. You're in some pretty big stuff and I need to lay low for the time being. I did find a place for your little operation, as well."

Joshua looked at Quentin both puzzled and embarrassed. "You've already done so much, Quentin. You really don't have to get us a whole building as well."

Quentin shook his head. "It's fine. See, Tendall Corp. has just acquired a small internet venture called Falling Down Sober Industries that was based in the building that Tendall will be donating to your worthy cause, Cressman. And it's perfect, trust me."

Joshua looked at his friend uneasily. "What is so perfect about it?"

Quentin grinned again. "Well, for one, it's a modest office building. Perfect for the little business front you're running. But there's a bonus, too. In the early sixties, a man named Harold Baumrigger started a cult. He was ridiculously paranoid, convinced that nuclear holocaust was imminent. He built himself a huge multi-story fallout shelter. Harold taught his followers that only he could keep them safe from the rapidly approaching destruction of the Earth. After it was revealed he was involved in sexual harassment of some of his disciples, the operation was shut down. But the bunker is still there. Beneath that building."

Quentin looked at Joshua, who in turn nodded appreciatively. Quentin's characteristic grin returned. "A few years ago, just before Falling Down Sober invested in the building, someone went and deleted all mention of the bunker. I mean, no one had looked at the listing in years, so no one remembered any way. A certain hacker just made sure they stayed forgetful. I happen to have the last remaining blueprint of the fallout shelter."

Joshua was impressed, and it showed. A new thought occurred to him which prompted a question. "But if you bought it, does that mean you were going to--"

Quentin raised a hand, cutting him off. "Jesse and I occasionally used it for an office. And you don't get far in my profession without a little paranoia. What I mean is that if I think there's going to be a nuclear winter sometime soon, I'll be stopping by."


I don't normally do this, but I'm just going to type a little background about a character who is going to be appearing in the next post I do. His name is subject to various spellings, but for now call him Quentin O'Riely. He is the twin brother of the previously encountered Brigit and best friend of Jesse Rasnick. Quentin is the main character of the story I started involving those three characters. Okay, here's a pseudo-encyclopedic listing of Quentin.

Quentin O'Riely: Male, mortal. No supernatural powers. Instinctive expert on computers and related systems. More famous for his exploits as the hacker known as Imhotep. Does most of his hacking in the true sense, only occasionally participating in the "phreaking" that has made Imhotep famous. Always attempts to create a sort of "Robin Hood" image for Imhotep, robbing only large corporations that he, Quentin, views as corrupt. Normally does very hard-to-catch items, such as siphoning off a portion of a target company's revenue into an overseas bank account of his own. A huge fan of the proverbial Swiss bank account, Quentin has quite a few and is a multi-millionaire, though he does not make that known. At all. He also runs several legitimate online businesses, contributing to his income. Part of his success as Imhotep comes from the fact that he has custom programmed every piece of software he uses. This includes his operating system, which he continually tweaks and upgrades. He went to high school with Joshua Cressman, who eventually became trusted enough to learn some of Quentin's secrets, including the fact that he had much more money than anyone knew, but not including how he got it or who, as a hacker, he is.

There we go, now you know the scoop on Quentin. I'll keep a few secrets to myself though.

Preview time!
The following is somehow related to Joshua (props if you figure out what it is. You have to click to see it because of the transparency.):
Added a second, non-transparent, bigger version:
Frustration! The bigger version does not have all of the information! Curses! No matter, I will get this fixed. Accept this temporary solution for now.

Update: It doesn't look like I'm going to get the full string at a readable size, so please accept the above as a minor preview of what it would look like at a readable size.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Say It With Me: "Intrigue"

Joshua Cressman
Sleep Deprivation
Joshua, Meet Chris

(In that order, probably.)

This is a fun little event that I dreamed up over the last few days. The nice part about it is that that it 1)reveals a little bit more about the differences between Iris and Chris and 2)will enable me to do another scene later without having to answer some awkward questions. I haven't gotten up the nerve to write aforementioned later scene yet. There will still be awkward questions when I post it, just not "WTF is going on and why is Chris where she is?" Anyway, on to what I actually have written.

Current Music: Utada Hikaru selected songs:
1. About Me
2. Devil Inside
3. Fly Me to the Moon (In Other Words)
4. Exodus
5. Usomitaina I Love You
6. The Workout
7. Simple and Clean
8. Kremlin Dusk
9. Easy Breezy
10. Animato
11. Let Me Give You My Love
12. Simple and Clean [Planet 9 Remix]

This playlist is on random and repeat, so the order of these songs is constantly shifting, but these are the songs.
-The Drewcifer

Joshua finished up the last of his desk work for the day. In the two weeks since Chris had shown up, she had proven just as useful as her twin, if not moreso. Joshua walked and was met by Adam at the door to his office. They had important matters to discuss, but not just yet. They struck up a conversation typical of best friends. It wound from topic to topic, sometimes a logical progression, sometimes flowing from one idea to the next, usually jumping unpredictably. As they turned a corner and were just settling into serious discussion, Chris was there.

"Hello!" she said, energetically. Her voice still had the lilting quality that had caught Joshua's attention in the first place. She stared blankly at the air for a moment, the spoke again. "Mind if I walk with you?"

Joshua shrugged. "I don't see why not, but the conversation is about to get pretty boring."

"That's okay, I just want to be with people right now," explained Chris.

Joshua almost asked what she meant, then thought better of it. Chris was just a little more like Iris than he had originally thought upon first meeting her.

So the three of them walked, Joshua and Adam discussing a range of rather boring, if vital, logistics topics, Chris trailing a few steps behind them.

Suddenly, Chris snatched Adam's gun from its holster, spun around very quickly, and put three holes into the ceiling. As she was squeezing the trigger on the second shot, her free hand shot out to the side, catching Joshua's wrist, preventing he progress of his knife to her shoulder.

"What the Hell are you--" Joshua began yelling but stopped when blood began to drip from the holes in the ceiling.

Adam spoke up, somewhat perturbed. "As the only normal mortal currently present, I'd like to know what, exactly, just happened." He paused for a beat, then held out his hand to Chris. "Furthermore, being a lowly mortal, I'd like my gun back."

Chris nodded at Adam and returned the firearm. She looked at Joshua and spoke.

"I'm going to let go of your wrist and you're going to put that away," she said, gesturing towards the knife held in his currently trapped hand. "Nothing needs to be cut right now, Nemesis. Next, I'm going to explain. Understood?" The lilting quality was completely gone from her voice, in fact, it had an almost icy quality to it now. The complete split-second transformation caught Joshua off-guard. He nodded dumbly and Chris let go of his wrist. He put the knife away and fought the urge to rub his wrist. The girl had quite a grip.

Chris was satisfied, so she nodded as if she was agreeing with herself. The motion reminded Joshua of Iris. Not surprising, he supposed. After all, they were twins.

Chris began to explain. "The men in the vents were spies from Shane Gaspar. They were recruited from one of the street gangs in the area that are under Shane's control. It's one you've had previous run-ins with, so you should be able to recognize the tattoos that mark them. The first one has his mark on his back, the second's is on his arm, the third's is on his chest. I suggest you go retrieve and dispose of those bodies now." Chris turned and walked away.

Joshua looked at Adam, sighed, and got on the intercom. "I'm going to need a few boys for some rather unpleasant duct work," he said over the loudspeaker.


Chris walked into the broom closet just as the man was replacing the cover on the vent. "Well done," she said quietly. The man started, then turned around, fumbling for his weapon.

"You won't need that, Nate. Don't make me regret letting you live back there."

The man stopped trying to get his gun into his hands and left it as it was. He stared at Chris, thoughts racing through his head at a rapid pace. How does she know my name? Is hers the voice that told me to go, how to get here right before the others were shot? She's definitely the one who shot them, I know that. But how? How did she do it and why am I so sure it was her?

The man stared down Chris for a few moments, then found his voice. "Why?" he inquired weakly.

Chris shook her head. "I had to. You idiots tattoo everyone and their markings were far too obvious. I'd almost lost hope but then I realized that they were at least smart enough to have you grow your hair out before they sent you. That means the tattoo on your scalp wasn't going to be recognized, at least not easily. Now listen, in order to avoid interpreter detection, you're going to need my help."

Nate looked at her, still visibly shaken. How did she know so much? "What do you want?" he stammered.

Chris smiled. It was a predatory thing, with none of the music and grace she had displayed when Joshua first met her. "Tell me where to find Shane Gaspar."

Footnote: Shane Gaspar is the main bad guy. He's the man in the red suit Joshua fought in the dream in the post "Joshua Cressman." And yes, Chris is basically agreeing to help and enemy spy. Funny that. I think this maybe the longest bit of literature I've managed to write set in this world. I hope you enjoyed it.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Story for Morgan

This one is for Morgan. She's a friend of mine whom I love very dearly. Okay, here's to hoping it doesn't suck.
-The Drewcifer

Melissa splashed cold water on her face and looked up to view herself in the mirror. Pull it together, Mel. You're gonna be fine. She tried on a smile, but it looked somewhat strained an awkward on her face at the moment, so she decided to go back to a more neutral expression. It's just a boy. Just a date. Calm down. Consciously, she slowed her breathing and kept that constant until her heart rate settled down to a much more normal range.
Much better, she thought, a smile coming unbidden to her face. When natural and smooth, it looked fantastic on her. Don't force the smile, she said to herself. But don't hold it back either. Okay. Good advice from me to me.
Melissa exited the bathroom and set about getting herself for this evening. Her date was arriving in half an hour and she wanted to look good.
Half an hour later, the doorbell rang. When she opened the door, her date's face told her that she had succeeded in her efforts earlier. Damn, she thought. Judging from that expression, must be lookin' fine.
Her date stuttered for a second after she opened the door. And who wouldn't? It was a slinky black dress, showing not a small amount of cleavage. Bright blue eyes looked out at him, framed by beautiful, wavy red hair.
Finally, he found his voice. "Um," he coughed. "So, are you ready to go?"
Melissa grinned. "Absolutely."
As they walked to the car, the boy knew that this was one girl he was going to be glad to be seen with tonight.

"Write me a story involving a blanket, a tiara, and a picture frame. Go!"

This story is dedicated to Jennybean.

You can learn a lot about a person from the things they treasure. In Iris Christine Wynter's bedroom, there are three treasures. Said treasures are a blanket, a tiara, and a picture frame. Let us start with the last and work our way back to the first.

The picture frame.

The picture frame holds in it a picture of a man that few, if any of Iris's current friends would recognize if they saw. This man was, at one point, Iris Wynter's fiancé. She loved him, or at least thought she did. Who can say for sure? But when the Seer awakened, when Christine became more than just a second name, Iris could no longer stay with him. The heartache has yet to completely abate, but Iris both knew that she was destined for other things, and feared for the safety of this man. His name is Anthony Joseph Fiocco. He and Iris were together for four years. They were three months from their wedding when Iris called it off and vanished.

The tiara.

The tiara is a gift from Gideon Irby, the Sage. It she values for a very practical reason. The tiara blocks out her second sight when she wears it. Sometimes, even the Seer needs a break. Even the Seer must restrict herself to this reality. And during those few brief intervals that she can afford to wear the tiara, Iris Wynter knows peace that has been all too rare since she Woke.

The blanket.

The blanket is the last of the treasures. It is also the most treasured. The blanket is technically a quilt. It was made by Iris's mother. The scent of her father's pipe tobacco permeates it, mingled with the soft smell of her mother's perfume. It brings comfort to Iris whenever she is near it. Her father died when she was midway through college, just after she met Anthony. Her mother she has not contacted since she Woke, since she broke ties with Anthony. It is the last piece of Home that she has left.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Let's Have a Break from Narcom, Shall We?

Okay, so yeah. I've had this kinda romance-novel type scene in my head since early last semester. It comes back to me every time a girl I care about talks about how she's chasing a boy who doesn't even seem to care about her. I've resisted putting it into words, but I think I need to. As I write this, Christian Rap is blasting in my ears. Blame TobyMac for anything strange that happens in this little snippet. Also, these names are pretty much meaningless. Any gender-appropriate name can be substituted for another. The names are not the important part of this.

"It's not fair!" exclaimed Bethany. There were tears in her eyes, her head rested on Mark's chest. It was a warm spring night and her tears were hot as they bled through his shirt after escaping her eyes. Awkwardly, he moved a hand up to stroke her hair in what he hoped was a comforting gesture.

"Why? Why?" she continued, sniffing to mark her punctuation. "I mean, no matter how much I tried, I wasn't good enough for him. All he could do was compare me to that tramp, even when we were dating."

Mark thought for a moment. Apprehension gripped him down to the very bone. Was he really about to speak his mind to this girl? It seemed so, because his mouth was moving before his brain could say "Hey, wait! The committee does not have a quorum, we can't even vote yet!"

But speaking he was, and the words flowed out before he could even think of what he was saying. "Maybe the problem is this. You've been focused on someone who can't stop talking about how beautiful his ex is. Someone who can't stop thinking about what he had long enough to see what he has. What you need is not someone who compares you to someone else, but someone who doesn't just think, but knows that you are the most precious and beautiful person he's ever seen."

Suddenly, both of them became very aware of the manner in which they were standing. Bethany had pressed herself into Mark. Mark, in turn, had his arms around Bethany, for his embrace had always comforted her. She looked up into his eyes, astonished. After three and a half seconds that seemed like three and a half eternities, she spoke to him in a whisper.

"Know anyone like that, Mark?"
"I might," he replied, equally soft in tone.

And then they kissed.

And that was that.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Narcom Locke's Monologue

Narcom Locke: Generic Sci-Fi character. Narcom has been and done so many things over the years. Now he's a MACRA pilot. What's a MACRA, you ask. Read and find out.

The joysticks feel good in my hands, even after all these years. I run my hands over the controls, checking each dial. There have been some changes made to a cockpit during my hiatus. The one big improvement I see is a clear plastic sleeve, just about the right size for a picture. And that's what it's for, a picture. That way, the pilot can stick a picture of his girl or his family or his dog or whatever he's got to come home to there instead of covering up one of the more important meters, indicators, or dials. That's a damned good idea. I once had a friend die because his overheat indicator was obscured by the picture of his grandma he kept clipped to his control panel.

As for me, I leave the sleeve empty.

My name is Narcom Locke. I'm a MACRA pilot. That's Mechanized Anthropoid Combat Resolution Apparatus. It's mecha, for you Japanophiles out there. And no one's bothered to capitalize the letters in macra in about ten years. That's who I am, or was, at least. I got out two years ago. Honorable discharge from the Army of Independent Peoples. Valor and Bravery in the Face of Almost Certain Death. I got three medals, and accepted five more on behalf of fallen comrades. I was, and still am, one of the best. But I wanted out.

The problem was, I no longer cared about what I was fighting for. The Independents' Army had been a dream come true for me at first. I helped develop most of the technology current macras use. My father had even been on the committee that had come up with that ridiculous name. Conflict Resolution Apparatus. That sounds so much more peaceable, so much more comforting than Death Machine, Massacre Engine, Child Slayer. My personal macra, Avalon, had been, to me, as beautiful as her namesake. By the end of my tour, between repairs and upgrades, none of her original parts were still with her. But she was still the same machine. Still my Avalon.

My call sign was--is--"Brightghost." I never was quite clear on where it came from, but I wore it proudly nonetheless.

I lost a lot of good friends over the course of the war. Especially after the Hegemony started producing their own macras. Suddenly, everyone had the same maneuverability that we had. Our edge was lost, and their numbers began to have a more pronounced effect on us. Oh we still had far superior macras, but when they had the material and the manpower to field four macras to our every one, the balance tipped their way quite a bit.

I saw things on the frontline. Things I will never forget no matter how much I want to. Somewhere along the line, I lost my purpose. I lost the burning passion that said "Never! You cannot ever take my freedom! Not while I still draw breath!" That fire was doused by the blood of many friends and more enemies. So two years ago, after I realized I was becoming a soulless shell of a man, I told Command I couldn't handle it anymore. They tried to talk me out of it, but in the end they gave me my pat on the back and sent me on my way. The war was still raging, but I moved away from the battlegrounds. Moved inward, where the fighting hadn't come yet. I swore never to fight again.

Yet here I am, in the cockpit of Avalon II, one of the finest pieces of equipment I've ever touched. Here I am, about to go out and kill again. Where the Hell did this all go wrong?

There's more to Narcom's tale. I'm just really tired, so it's not getting told tonight!