Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Adept Tales 04 “Stardust”

Broc hated drug dealers. They creeped him out. But if Rand said this guy Tric had something they needed then he’d tough it out. After all, being tough was kind of his thing. The complex he lived in, nick named the Cinder Box for the amount of times it’s gone up in flames, looked to Broc to be just the sort of place a tweaked out dealer would live. Run down, off the main drag, and rarely frequented by cops or outsiders. The kind of hole Norm scum go to be forgotten. As they approached the door Broc had to stifle a shiver. He really did hate drug dealers. They tended to be jumpy. Especially if you weren’t expected, and Broc and Rand were not expected.

Rand went to the door first with Broc behind him in the standard tuff-guy pose; arms crossed over his chest, menacing scowl on his face. Rand, going for a cordial meeting, knocked politely on the door to a response of, “Fuck off!”

“So much for being polite,” Rand said turning to Broc with a mischievous smile on his face. “We’ll just have to knock harder.” Broc knew this to be his queue. He smiled a mirror of Rand’s, stepped forward as the other man slid behind him and slammed into the door with massive force. The door splintered inward revealing a stunned Tric and an even more stunned young woman.

Tric was sitting on a couch, pants around his ankles. She was kneeled in front of him, no doubt putting the finishing touches on an oral performance. Broc could see right away that the girl was way out of this dudes league. He looked exactly as he had imagined; skinny, frail, cracked out. But she was a bombshell. Blonde, nicely proportioned, perfect skin, beautiful eyes. Not the kind of chick you usually find bobbing the knob of some skeevy crank dealer. But there she was.

Rand walked in with his sadistic cool, “I think its time to go love.” The girl didn’t even hesitate. She simply scooped up her pride and ran. “Mind tucking that away there mate?” Tric scrambled to pull his pants up as the two headed further into the room. Broc filled the room with a menacing presence. Tric paled.

“What’s going on? Who are you guys?” Panic was playing across his face along with confusion, anger taking a back seat to caution.

“You’ve been a very naughty boy, Tric.” That sadistic cool laid thick as Rand moved closer to the frail man.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Nerves made the words come out in a stutter.

“Oh come now, you’re telling me that girl was here cause you're just that smooth?” Rand plopped down on the couch next to Tric and it was as if a switch was flipped; sadistic cool to best friend. “Don’t worry, we’re not here to bust you.” A glance at Broc told him to tone down the muscle bit. Tric suddenly found it was easier to breathe. The whole atmosphere in the room seemed to be more inviting. Tric visibly relaxed.

“If you’re not here to bust me then what do you want?”

“We just want to know how you did it.”

“What do you mean?”

“How did you get that girl in here without Sage banging down your door?”

“Oh, that.” Tric stood up and headed toward the kitchen, “Just a special concoction of mine.” It never ceased to amaze Broc the way people instantly took to Rand. Even having busted down his door and chased away his Norm slut, Tric was now treating them as if they were old friends. Rand had this affect on most people, and only part of it was Adept ability. Mostly it was just him. He had that kind of aura about him that drew people to him.

Rand got up and walked over to the standard issue apartment bar that overlooked into the kitchen. Broc followed close behind. Tric opened a cupboard and pulled out a jar of what looked like purple powder. He held the jar up, looking at it with a lustful gaze, “This is Stardust.”


“Yea, Stardust.” Tric shook himself out of whatever dark thoughts he was having holding the jar, and set it on the bar in front of Rand. “That’s just what I’m calling it. Has a nice ring doesn’t it?”

Rand picked up the jar and turned it in his hand, watching the purple crystals swim under the glass, “Sure, sure, but what’s it do?”

Tric hopped up so he was sitting on the counter directly across from Rand. “Ah, well, lots of things really. It gets you high as fuck. Well, not you. Norms. It only works on them. It’s highly addictive, but it has no physical symptoms. All mental shit, so no one goes all cracked out, but they keep coming back anyway. And they’ll do anything for another taste. Anything.”

“Like blowing a cracked out dirtball like you? No offence.” It sounded harsh, even to Broc, but he knew Tric wouldn’t take it that way. Another of Rand’s social gifts.

“Yea, like blowing a cracked out dirtball like me.” Broc mentally shook his head. Amazing.

“But that still doesn’t explain how you kept Sage out of your deal. You gotta be breaking several of their Guidelines.”

“Not really. The drug itself is real. The only manifested part in the whole deal is the equipment used to make it. Other then that it’s 100% genuine so it doesn’t leave an Adept imprint behind. It also has a detoxifying agent in it that cleanses the user of not only the chemical traces of Stardust, but also any other drug in the system. My personal favorite, this turns junkies hooked on smack into clean upstanding citizens hooked on Stardust instead. Which is untraceable. No one comes looking for a source of a drug that doesn’t exist.” Tric smiled brightly. He was certainly proud of his creation.

“You’re pretty smart for a tweaker.” Rand placed the jar on the counter and looked at the other man intently.

“Thanks…” Tric hesitated, not sure what to make of the look on Rand’s face.

Rand sighed and relaxed his stare, “Too smart to be hustling these low games.” This was it. This is why they were here. Rand slipped into his routine. The same kind of routine that made him popular to the neo-nazi youth he used to recruit before he manifested. Again, this was mostly him. His natural disposition inspired people to follow his lead.

Broc had heard it all before. Had even been taken in by it himself. Rand wove a verbal web of how Norms were less then they were. How Adepts were like gods and deserved to be treated as such. How Sage suppressed our freedom for the sake of lesser beings. All beautifully mocked up to be words of gospel to all that heard it. Tric was hooked. Broc could see it in his eyes, filled with open adoration for Rand.

“Shit, you’re right. I never thought of it that way.” Tric’s face held emotion like he’d finally found purpose.

Rand’s tone came dark and serious, “Then you’d be willing to use your gift to help your brethren?” Shadows formed around the apartment and Broc could feel their eagerness at hearing the answer.

Tric slid off the counter, falling to a ragged kneel. “Yes. Yes, I’ll do what ever you want.”

The shadows rejoiced and engulfed the room. Rand’s voice came out of the darkness, thick with jubilant malice, “Welcome to the Vendot.”


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Adept Tales 03 ~Shattered Dreams~ "The Morning After"

The world is often confusing when you first wake up. Shattered dreams blend into the day leaving traces of fantasy behind. It’s strange that I can still clearly remember the dream I was having that day. I was walking through a dark forest that wasn’t a forest. Everything bent and changed around me, forming into something new. Something that was somehow still surrounded by trees but on the edge of being something else. A figure began forming out of the darkness. I could almost make out the wavy face when the dream shattered.

“Wake up Joshua. It’s time.” At first I thought it was the dark figure who said it, and sometimes, looking back, I think it might have been. As the world began to refocus, I saw my father standing in my bedroom doorway. Whatever piece of the dream world that still had me washed away when I saw his face. His eyes where red and puffy like he’d been crying, but the expression on his face was emotionless.

“What is it? What’s wrong? Time for what?” I asked as I frantically got up from my bed.

“Just get dressed and meet me out back.” His voice held the same emotion his face did, none. In 11 years of life, I’d never heard my father talk that way. It frightened me in a way I’ve never experienced since. With that he turned and walked away, leaving me in my confusion and fear.

I got dressed as fast as I could, afraid to leave the man waiting too long. He had always been stern, but something about the way he was acting made me believe the consequences would be great if I wasn’t prompt. As I headed through the house to the back door I noticed Abigail’s door was open. She wasn’t in her room which, normally, wouldn’t be strange all on its own, but with our father acting like he was I began to wonder. I stopped in the hall and listened for signs of life. Our house was small enough and old enough that just about any movement made some sort of noise. I strained my ears, but there was nothing. As far as I could tell no one was home. Maybe she was outside too.

It’s strange now to remember that I wasn’t the least bit concerned about where Mom was. For some reason it didn’t seem out of place even though it was as well. My only thoughts were of Abigail and my father's strange mood. I hurried toward the backdoor with renewed apprehension. Maybe the answers were outside too.

Our house sat nearly hidden in what passed for a forest in the mountains of Southern Nevada. Our backyard wasn’t much more than a small clearing. As I emerged from the back door I nearly fell as I struggled to comprehend what I was seeing. My father stood in the middle of the clearing, head down, arms clutched behind his back. There was a circle of strange symbols burned into the ground around him forming a wide circle. I stopped, mouth gaping open. If I hadn’t been confused before, I was then.

When my eyes could finally stop to focus on one thing, what they chose was my father’s eyes. His head was still down, but his eyes were turned up to me, piercing me. His gaze was like a weight or maybe gravity. I suddenly felt separated from my body and I had a sense that I was taking a step forward. Even now I don’t know why I resisted it, but I did. In my mind I fought for my own control, and as if a fog lifted, my senses rushed back into my body. I took the step back, fear dancing through every inch of my nerves.

“Come to me Joshua.” I felt the sensation try at me again. It was like an invisible force was trying to push me aside. I braced myself, stood my metaphysical ground, and felt the force wash over me and recede. My father’s facial expression never changed, but he raised his head and gave a small nod, “Very good. Now, please, enter the circle and stand before me.”

Maybe it was the please, or that I was able to consciously resist the second wave, but I did as he asked. I slowly walked forward and crossed over the symbols etched in the earth. As soon as I was across I felt something break over me. A sensation unlike anything I’d ever felt before surged through me, and I felt within me a spark spread to meet the growing energy. When the initial rush faded I was left breathless, but I felt energized, like I could do anything. I could still feel the power, but I was riding with it instead of being ridden.

“This is a training circle and has been used for a thousand generations to hone the skills of our people. It is designed to amplify the Shine inside you.” He spoke as a lecturer does to his class. The words seemed official and bland, as if he’d said them a million times.

I knew I shouldn’t ask, but the words formed before I could stop them, “What’s the Shine?”

Anger flashed on his face for only the briefest of moments before returning to his emotionless mask, “The Shine is a powerful energy. It seeps into the cracks of reality and binds with it. It also flows through us, is one with us. We use the Shine to help us bend and shape reality. When you are skilled enough you will be able to use it to manifest your will.”

“Manifest my will?”

“Yes.” He seemed sad when he said it though his voice and expression hadn’t changed. I realized with a shock that I could actually feel his sorrow coming off him in waves.

“Father, where’s Abigail?” There, just for a flash, the sadness filled his eyes, then gone. I felt him draw back his emotions, felt a barrier crash into place blocking me out. His eyes went cold and distant, even more so then before.

“Abigail’s gone.” He continued on like the question was never asked or that the answer was sufficient, “You’ve already had a taste of the first lesson, but let’s explore further.” I felt his essence crash into me. I tried to resist, but it was stronger this time. “You must first learn to protect yourself. Block me out, push me aside!”

I felt my mind open to him, felt the walls that held me together crumble away. I knew, without knowing how or why, that he had me. Every thought I ever had was laid bare. I knew he could destroy my mind, or even rebuild it if he wished. I screamed wordlessly and fell to my knees gripping my head as if it would help. I felt everything wash away, and I was left floating in blackness. Then there was nothing and I was gone.

After what seemed like an eternity, I came back to myself. I was floating in blackness, surrounded by a strange web of purple energy. My father’s voice came out of the darkness, “This is the Spirit Web. It binds all things together.” As he spoke pieces of the world began forming in the web. Even now, I’m not sure how I knew, but I could tell that each partial of reality was attached to the web. I could see almost without seeing as the threads intertwined and connected the trees, our house, even me. “The Shine allows us to see the web,” and as he said it I could see the Shine as well.

The light of it seemed to fill every space on and between the web. The sheer magnitude of it was overwhelming. It filled me and seemed to burst from my pores. The feeling was too much. I screamed again, trying to push it all aside. Suddenly it was gone. I was left panting on the ground inside the training circle, the web and the Shine seemed to disappear, but I knew they were still there.

“Very good,” my father said with a strange smile on his face, “there may be hope for you yet.”


New Direction-ish

I've made a semi-official decision to play out "The" story through Adept Tales. In a way, that's how this whole thing started. When I first came up with the idea, I really wanted to do a comic book (I was 12, they were cool...still are actually, but that's not the point) but the only thing I can draw are stick figures. So I wrote them as stories, but in a comic book format with series numbers and such. Of course I didn't write many (see first post) but you get the idea. So, I'm just going to build off of that original idea.

There are going to be multiple story lines going on so from now on each Tale will have a tittle and possibly a 'Path' identifying which story line it's connected to. For example, a future one might be called Adept Tales 15 ~PitPat and the Past~ "Lets Play a Game".

Also, I really, really, really would like to make these stories illustrated. I've vetoed the comic idea, but I still would love to have a visual interpretation of my world. If you're an artist and are interested, sketch me something based one one of the stories already posted and email it to me.

So there you go. It seems like for the most part Adept Tales is taking over. Other random, non-adept related stories may pop up from time to time, but not often I suspect. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the series as much as I'm going to enjoy writing it. Feedback is always welcome as well, so please comment.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Adept Tales 02 "Hallowicked"

Halloween was going to be great this year. It had to be. He’d spent months planing, buying decorations, building props and sets, developing costume ideas…preparing. Halloween was the only holiday Brandon liked. It was the one time of year when the unnoticed could be noticed. When it was okay to be different because, on that night, everyone was. Ever since he was 8 years old, he’d dreamt of having the prefect Halloween. In truth, it had been since then that he’d been planning this night. This night. The thought sent a shiver through him. All this time, and it was finally here.

He had the entire thing planned to a tee. He’d designed the set in the front yard to not only be scary, but to also be easy to put together so it could mysteriously materialize minutes before sundown. His costumes too were a combination of street cloths and elaborate yet easily adorned accessories designed to allow for quick changes depending on the situation and candy customer. These things were the easy part. The part that Brandon’s parents had agreed to. The part they even helped fund. The real trick was the haunted house. The haunted house was the corner stone of the entire plan. The costumes and yard make over where just window dressing. The real attraction was always the haunted house. Unfortunately, Brandon’s parents were not cooperative. “Do what ever you want to the yard, but leave the inside alone!” He’d spent years trying to convince them otherwise to no avail, but this year gave him a unique opportunity.

Brandon’s parents weren’t into Halloween the way he was. Mom’s holiday was Christmas; Dad’s, Thanksgiving. But even those they approached with lackadaisical enthusiasm. What that meant for Brandon was that his parents had never in his life gone to a holiday party of any kind. This year though, Dad started a new job at some multi-million dollar IT company. He managed to land a position that was just low enough on the totem poll to not be overly stressful, but high enough to be noticed if you don’t attend a company event. And lucky for Brandon, J.W. Technologies threw a huge Halloween party every year. Guess who was going.

What may seem to you as a sliver of an opening was the Grand Canyon for Brandon. He knew his parents well. Well enough to know they’d stay at the party till next to ending. Dad was always overly conscious of appearances and would stay and appear to have a great time until they started cleaning up. And if he really wanted to impress someone, he’d help clean up. He really wanted to impress these guys. By all accounts it was a great place to work, and the benefits he got blew any other employer out of the water. Oh yea, he’d stay. Brandon knew this with a reasonable amount of surety.

That gave him the house, but how to get it all ready in time? The party started at 6 p.m. but Dad would want to get there early, say 5 or 5:30, which only left Brandon a half-hour, hour max to set up. He’d been very careful to not tip his hand to his parents. He hadn’t told anyone about the haunted house, relying on the scenery to draw customers on the day of. He hadn’t wrote or sketched any of the details the way he had the front yard. He hadn’t even bought most of the supplies he needed yet. He knew if his parents caught wind of it they might not go or make him go with, and he couldn’t have that. He worked very hard to keep his parents overly aware of that which he was allowed to do and oblivious to that which he wasn’t.

At 4:30 Brandon sat impatiently in his room waiting for his parents to leave. Every few seconds he’d look at his watch or bedside clock, agonizing over each moment in anticipation of the event. He’d already bribed some neighborhood kids into setting up the yard for him, so all he had to worry about was the house. If they left when he hoped they would, he’d have just over an hour to get to the store, grab what he needed, get back and set up the inside before sundown. It seemed feasible to him. He knew exactly what he needed at the store and had been scoping it out for weeks, strategically planning his route to increase expedition. Timed on several occasions, he could get to the store, through his route and back home in 20 minutes. If everything went to plan, he’d have 40 minutes to get the haunt in the house. He could do that. If his schedule got thrown off though, he might be pushing it. If the line at the store was long, if there was traffic, if his parents didn’t leave till later…What time is it? Looking at the clock again, 4:31.

By 5 Brandon is worked up near to frenzy. Why are they still here? Leave already! He watched painstakingly as the moments ticked away. At 5:02 he’s pacing. Come on, come on. If you go now I’ll have time. 5:03. Shit, shit. I should have had a plan B. Why didn’t I develop a plan B? 5:04 and Brandon’s near tears. I can still do it but I won’t be ready at sundown. It won’t be perfect. All that planning. And what if they don’t go at all? So close, I was so—“Brandon hunny, we’re leaving. Have a good time tonight.”

Relief washed over him as he ran to his bedroom window to watch them drive away. As soon as they were around the corner he sprinted down the stairs and out to his beat up orange VW Bug. Maybe next year he’d paint it like a pumpkin like he’d always wanted to, but now wasn’t about the car. It was about the house. He sped away, giving a wave and a nod to the neighborhood kids to make sure they hadn’t forgotten their duties. As he hit the main street, luck continued to be with him; traffic was light. He made it to the store in record time. I’m going to make it! Excitement building, bubbling ever closer to the inevitability of his triumph.

The store too was on his side. Someone was pulling out as he pulled in so he got a close parking space. Everything he wanted was in stock and when he got to the register there was no line. With his cart full and his wallet empty he sped out to the parking lot. He was so focused on his plan and so excited for it’s completion that he almost didn’t see Johnny Landaus and Paul Murphy on their collision course with him. Almost. He looked up from the 5th inventory he’d done on the bags since leaving the register just in time to see them come a bow to his cart.

Paul stopped the cart with the menace typical of every high school bully, “Whatcha got here, Blandon?”

“Huh, huh, Blandon. Good one Paul.” Blandon? Was that Johnny and Paul’s idea of wit? What the hell does that even mean? That he’s bland? Is that even an insult? If so it’s not a very good one.

“Hey, I’m talking to you space case.” The menace level turned up a notch. Paul didn’t need to be witty. He was violent and that trumped witty in a fight.

“Supplies. It’s supplies. I’m putting together a haunted house.”

“A haunted house? Cool.” Johnny didn’t have wit or violence, but he did whatever Paul said and that was dangerous in a whole different way.

“A haunted house, huh? What, you got some strobe lights and fake skeletons so you can lure dudes into your bedroom?” To this Johnny laughed hysterically. At least he thought Paul was funny.

Normally Brandon would be intimidated by this situation, but he was too close to let a couple bullies snare him for long. “Right. I’d invite you guys, but you already have each other, right?" Johnny didn’t get the joke, but Paul did. Brandon watched as his face turned several shades of red and purple. He could feel more than see Paul’s muscles bunch for a punch.

“Everything ok out here?” Saved by the rent-a-cop. Paul’s muscles relaxed, but his eyes pierced into Brandon with a merciless fury. “I said is everything ok?”

With a smirk Brandon just couldn’t help he said, “Yea, everything’s fine. These guys were just leaving.” His eyes never left Paul’s, and he couldn’t help but feel like he was in a movie. He couldn’t believe this was happening. That he’d stood up to Paul and his boy toy. He felt like he could do anything in that moment.

“Right. Let’s get a move on then. You’re loitering.”

Paul backed off the cart as Brandon nodded to the rent-a-cop and continued to his car. When he fired up the engine and saw the time he was amazed. 5:11. Even with that episode he was somehow ahead of schedule. He really was going to make it.

When he pulled in front of his house he was pleased to see the neighborhood kids diligently at work setting up the yard. He smiled and tossed a bag of candy to one of them. This was part of the bribe. When he got inside he immediately got to work. With expert speed and precision he plotted out the course of the haunted house. Elements flew into place as the atmosphere of his home changed into an eerie, creaky, dark abode of horror. By 5:36 every thing was ready. 5:36? I still have a half-hour before show time! Secretly this is what he’s hoped for all along.

Since he had to keep the haunted house secret from his parents he hadn’t been able to do any promoting. And while the front yard did look awesome (the neighborhood kids did an excellent job setting up) he wasn’t sure it would be enough to get people into the haunted house. But now that he had extra time, he could hit the streets and drum up business. He designed a costume specifically for this task. Like everything, it was easy to put on, incorporating his regular cloths. After less then a minute he was adorned in the perfect approximation of an undead sideshow caller. Off he went down the street, announcing along the way, “Haunted House at sundown! Don’t miss the spectacle that will leave you in terror for years to come. Come on down, all ages welcome. No charge and candy for the kiddies at the back door. Haunted House at sundown!”

Time and excitement got away from him. He found that many of his neighbors were very interested in his haunted house, expressing their intent to attend. Soon the whole tract was abuzz. Brandon was elated. All his expectations were not only coming true, but also being exceeded. Only now he found himself blocks away from home with mere minutes till sundown.

He ran full tilt back to his street, fueled by pride and anticipation. When he got to his house, panting from the exertion, his heart dropped. No. Even in his head the word was filled with defeat and depression. The yard was destroyed. Decorations were torn down. Caskets smashed to splinters. Fake webbing burned and smoldering on the lawn alongside ripped open trash bags and their intestines. No! This time more forceful, more defiant. Brandon ran inside, threw open the door, No, no, no, no. Destroyed. Like vandals they’d come through and laid havoc. Spray paint across the faux-walls declaring “Fags this way” and other colorful comments. Decorations were broken, lights smashed. He had a moment to realize they’d only touched the decorations and none of the actual house before the rage broke over him.

Brandon wasn’t normally an angry person. Of all his years of being a zero, none of the bullying got to him too much. So, when the rage broke, it broke hard. “Noooo!” Years of frustration and anger spilled into that word, as the house seemed to vibrate from its force. He fell hard to his knees, slouching down nearly defeated. No. He couldn’t let them win. He’d worked too hard, too long to let those assholes beat him. He began hitting the floor in a steadily growing cadence aligned in his mind with No…..no…no..no, Nooo!” He smashed his fist into the vinyl wood grain floor and something broke over him. But it wasn’t rage this time. No, it was something new.

It was as if he could see everything at once; the front yard, the house in disarray, even himself kneeled on the ground. Then, a light bulb illuminated above his mind; he knew how to fix it. He could put it all back. Without knowing how, he reached out with his mind. He saw the front yard flow back into it’s decorated state. No, not back. Into a new state, a better one. The decorations looked real. Not just cardboard headstones, but real marble. The bones of the dead seemed to have real rotting flesh on their bones, and Brandon couldn’t be sure, but did the wings on that Gargoyle statue just flex?

The inside was next. He stood now in the eye of the storm as the house itself bent and reshaped. Decorations vanished, forgotten, as the walls themselves became the scenery. Ghouls and goblins were released from his mind to wonder the halls, waiting for their prey. Each room was transformed into a different nightmare, each door leading to a new discovery of horror. This was how he really imagined it. Not the shell mock up he had done earlier, but this. Something so near to real that anyone would be convinced they had crossed into Hell. He marveled now at what he had done, still not sure how he had done it. A smile played on his face though, as he stood unafraid in the construct of this new power.

The doorbell chiming pulled him away from his amazement. Outside, just as the sun was setting was a line of people waiting to be let in. Many more were milling around the yard, amazed by the decorations. Brandon heard one of the neighborhood kids say, “We helped put it together. Cool huh?” Brandon had to smile at that. Really they hadn’t done any of this, but he’d let them have their moment. After all, they had done a great job before it was destroyed.

Just as he was about to let the first group in, Johnny and Paul came pushing through the crowd. “What the shit is this?” Paul did not look happy.

“I told you I was having a Haunted House. You didn’t believe me?”

“But we destr—err, I mean, oh yea. I forgot.” He must have noticed Officer Brown, the neighborhood cop. “So, you gonna let us in or what?”

“Sure. Right this way.” As the door closed the people outside could hear the boys’ scream, terrifying and thrilling them at the same time. Some even got out of line, but most stayed.

Soon after, Brandon returned and began taking more groups in. Each was treated to a haunting experience that seemed to vary greatly with each individual telling. Kids experienced an almost joyful tour that left them fearful but not crying. Couples were scared into each other’s arms. The kids from Brandon’s school walked through a maze of terror reminiscent of the kinds of horrors they’d come to expect from the movies of the day. No matter what they saw, each guest exited safely at the back of the house where the kids were treated to handfuls of candy. Adults too if they wanted. All exited except Johnny and Paul that is.

All through the night people claimed they could still hear the boys screaming. That they must have ran home after getting out. How embarrassing to scream like such a little girl when you act so big and bad. No one questioned where they were, but all laughed at how they must have pissed themselves to make a noise such as that. As the night wound down and people went home, Brandon too could hear the screams of Johnny and Paul. He smiled at their terror. I guess I’ll have to let them out soon. Darn.

There was a knock at the door. Brandon hadn’t expected any more people. Time was getting short. Mom and Dad would be home soonish, but he was game to let one more group through. Waiting on the other side of the door was a man and a woman. They were dressed up like old style detectives, except the woman was more Victorian, if that makes sense. “And what are you guys supposed to be?”

The man flashed a badge and said in a friendly tone, “We’re from Sage. I’m Agent Ham, this is Special Agent Fury.”

Um, ok. What’s Sage?” Paul screamed loud and long. The kind of scream that lets you know someone is being ripped open with a dull knife. Special Agent Fury became alert, looking past Brandon into the house, trying to see who had screamed. “Oh don’t worry about them. They’re fine. Nothing can hurt them in here. It’s only a haunted house after all.”

Agent Ham’s expression and tone never changed. “Fun’s over Brandon. Let em out. Then we have some things to discuss. Hurry too cause your parents are on their way home.” The two walked inside, pushing past Brandon, making themselves at home.

“Hey, how’d you know my name?” Brandon closed the door as the two strangers prepared to open one to a whole new world for him.


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Adept Tales 01 "Mission 1"

The wind swept deserts of Nevada could be very dangerous. The wind blew harder here sending shards of sand into Tash’s face. I must be close. She pulled out her trusty C69 Rail-Pistol and continued forward. Or at least that’s what she called it. It’s doubtful it’s ever been seen anywhere else. It was like that when you were an Adept. Everyone had their own little toy or creation. Everyone wrapped up in their own little world, and this chick really got herself wrapped up in a doozie.

Tash had been out of Sage’s training program for about 6 months now, but this was her first real assignment. That’s not too cliché. Should’ve brought Ensign Ricky to back me up. Nerves usually came out in sarcasm. Well, nerves and most emotions really. It’s not like she was green though. When she first manifested she became a vigilante of sorts in her city. That’s what drew Sage to her. At least that’s what they told her. But something about this girl she was after was different. She didn’t pop on any of the normal radar. The first Sage got wind of her at all was 3 months ago when a biker gang claimed to have come across a sand witch in the desert. The local authorities thought it was some kind of joke, but Sage makes a point of at least trying to look into any strange activity reported in Norm society, so they sent some feelers out. What they came back with is what gave Tash the wigs.

According to Sage Intel whoever was out in that dessert has never had any contact with other Adepts. It’s like some kind of Adept dead zone. Population density versus square miles or something. Tash didn’t really understand the math, but what it meant was there were no other Adepts to challenge her out here. It meant this chick, for god knows how long, has been living out in the desert, alone, with the ability to shape reality around her with no idea why she’s able to do it or anyone to mediate her. It meant Simple Sally probably has one hell of a god complex and an appetite for destruction. If the biker’s statements were any proof, this is one twisted sand bitch. Sage policy though is to at least try to rehabilitate. This was supposed to be strictly a snatch and grab operation, but somehow she doubted it.

The wind seemed to get more and more furious as she continued on. Sand slammed into her with surprising force, nearly knocking her to the ground. Fuck this. Tash activated the armor hidden under her cloths. Metal alloy of an unknown and technologically advanced origin surrounded her and left her looking like a futuristic super soldier. The sand and wind were no match. That was easy. Either she’s not that powerful or she wasn’t expecting to be resisted.

Her answer came thundering into her mind. She saw the sand grow dark and furious in front of her. A shape of a women barely on the outline moving in, then the gravel sound of sand slammed into her ears and into her mind, shouting with a voice of fury, “How dare you defy me!” Tash fell to her knees, hands to her head, C69 forgotten in the sand. The voice ripped her to shreds from the inside out. The fury of sand, shards of infant glass tearing at her soul.

In agony she managed to say in an almost inaudible whisper, “Activate sound filters.” The click and hum of advanced electronics manifested into her helmet, then silence. Free from the voice and the fury of the sand, Tash threw her self backwards, backpedaling on the ground away from the shape in the sand. It regarded her with eyes of darkness. ‘It’ now because Tash was no longer sure this was just some crazy girl. Something else was at play here. She could feel it. Almost as if the shadows heard her thoughts, the darkness began to swarm around her. Like a see of blackness it rose on all sides, blotting the desert sun already diminished from the sandstorm still in progress.

Training, reaction, finally kicked in. Flip kick back to her feet, a Turbine-X950 Super Shotgun in her hands. Click-click, Boom! A barrage of shrapnel flew into the sand figure, scattering particles of its makeshift body into the wind. Click-click, Boom! Another and another as she stepped closer and closer, each shot whittling the creature away.

Beneath the sand the shadow began to grow, filling the empty spaces with a solid void. As Tash gazed into that emptiness she began to slow. Click…Click……Boom. Her mind dissolved into that nothingness, floating toward the safety of oblivion. Just then a tiny little dot of light caught her eye and as she watched it, it grew. It began to shine brightly, illuminating the dark, and suddenly she found herself back starring at the sand-shadow beast, shotgun forgotten held loosely at her side. What happened? Oh yea! Re-energized, she blasts into the sand with renewed determination. Click-click, Boom! One after another, but this time a light surrounds each shot, shredding the darkness.

As Tash watched the darkness subside, she noticed the sandstorm begin to die down. More then that it seemed to be running from the dark. Perhaps rehabilitation isn’t out of the question. As the final shots chased away the shadows, the wind died down to a whisper, the sand parted and fell revealing a woman lying still on the ground. Tash moved cautiously forward, C69 back in her hands now instead of the sand shredder, eyes never wavering from the figure on the ground. She began to stir. ‘She’ again because whatever ‘it’ was, was gone. The face turned to Tash was sharp with dark features; sand worn and hard, but a weariness shown at the eyes. She had the look of the betrayed. Like one who was promised the world and failed to get delivery. Shocked, alone, afraid.

Gun still pointed Tash released the visor of her armor, revealing her own face. “I’m from Sage. I’m here to take you in. What’s your name?”

The woman looked up with sullen eyes, “Sandi. My name’s Sandi.”

“Will you come with me willingly Sandi?”

Sandi’s eyes began to drift up with watery abandon, face poised on the verge of collapse, but the floodgates held. She seemed to pull herself back from the edge, composed for the moment. Eyes still diverted though, looking somewhere up and to the right, but not really looking at all.

“Sandi. Will you come with me?”

Her eyes came back to Tash’s with a measuring look. In that moment Tash saw something she hadn’t expected. Intelligence, but more than that. Something on the edge of that look struck Tash as devious. As a calculated gesture of measuring the odds. Part of Sandi wanted to take the fight further. But in the end her eyes reflected their master’s surrender, “I will.”

With those two words Tash felt Sandi’s resistance slip away. It was over. The C69 went back to it’s home on her hip as she extended a hand to Sandi. As they headed back to Tash’s XJ-50 HoverCyke she began to feel better the further they got from the dead zone. Strange, because she hadn’t realized anything was wrong, but as they moved away from the scene of the battle, a sensation of dread she hadn’t realized she had began seeping away. She saw that Sandi seemed to perk up too, though she was still defeated, in more ways than one. She's going to need a lot of help, but that’s what Sage is for.

As they got to Tash’s HoverCyke the sun was just reaching the tips of the distant mountains. Well, as far as cliches go, riding off into the sunset ain’t bad. I even got the girl. Looks like mission 1 is a success. “Too bad Ensign Ricky didn’t make it.”


“Nothing Sandi, nothing.”


"The" Story, Manifestation, and Adept Tales.

Ever since I was about 12 years old I've been working on this one story. "The" story. My opus, my epic, my 'Dark Tower' series if you will. The details and characters have changed and grown over the years as new life experiences created new fodder for my world, ever expanding with a life of it's own. Of course, as stated in the previous post, since I lack focus, much of this story is not written down, but rather scattered through out my mind. Interestingly enough though, either because of my lacking focus or in spite of it, what was once a JR High kid's idea for a comic book has mutated into a franchise of fantasy...at least in my head. The actual implication and publication is a work in progress, this blog being one example of that.

Which brings me to the point. Of the random crap that may appear on this blog, there are two things that are certain to: Manifestation related info and my short story series Adept Tales. What are those you ask...well let me tell you.

Manifestation is a pen and paper RPG (Role-Playing Game) I created. The setting for the game is the same one as "The" story and they tie together. If you'd like to check out Manifestation you can view it here. It's only a beta version and needs more testing and some tweaking, but it's playable. The site it's hosted on can be a little screwy when trying to view. Sorry about that. Until recently you could download a .pdf version from savefile.com, but due to low activity, they took it down. When and if interest is peaked in it I'll look into hosting the .pdf again.

Adept Tales is an idea I have for a serial. It was born out of a need to create an identifiable society and culture not only for the Manifestation RPG but also for "The" story. In its present (and newly created) form it will be short stories and narratives highlighting life as a Manifest Adept. I'd like, at some point, to make them into comics or graphic novels (a hint to any artists interested). While some of the stories will intertwine and all will take place in the same 'world', each one will most likely be dramatically different from the others. Such is the nature of Adept life.

So there you have it, this blog's first official direction. I leave you now with an exert from Manifestation. This is the section that describes the basic setting and background of the world. Enjoy.

Manifest Your Reality…

All of reality in the world of Manifestation is bound together by a Spirit Web; from the smallest particle to the largest constructs. The number of possible Threads in the web is effectively infinite and a single person could be connected to millions at a time depending on their Path in life, although the average person is completely oblivious to their existence.

Saturated in and around the Spirit Web is a mysterious energy called the Shine. This powerful energy illuminates the web, allowing certain people to see the Threads connected to them. These Manifest Adepts, or just Adepts, are able to tap into those Threads, manipulate the Spirit Web, and manifest their own reality.

The Shine is not native to our world. Unbeknownst to most, our world is actually part of a Binary-Dimension; two parallel worlds interconnected. The Shine originates from our sister dimension, called Jar-Din; a world of wonder and power where people make their own destiny and create their own realities. All Adepts are descendents of these once great people. Unfortunately, where light shines, the shadow of evil lurks just below.

As there is the Shine, so is there the Shade. Locked away and forgotten about for millions of years, the Jar-Din knew next to nothing about it. When the Shade was released from its prison over 8000 years ago, it rained chaos upon both worlds. Seeking the power offered by the Shade, an Adept named Vorlok, along with his vicious Vendot minions, waged war to seize control of Jar-Din’s reality from The Body of Thorns and the Sovereign Rose. After a catastrophic war lasting thousands of years, the only way the Rose and his Thorns could devise to prevent his ascension and the destruction of both worlds was to seal the door between them, locking Vorlok and his Vendot away. Hundreds of thousands of refugees were forced to relocate to our realm.

One of those, a man named Saige, realized right away that he and his people could have a dramatic and possibly dangerous effect on the inhabitants of the Earth Realm. He, along with a small group, created the Order of the Saige as an informal police for Adepts. They quickly grew in power and influence, not only among Adepts, but also amongst the human population, as they easily infiltrated and pulled the strings of whatever ruling body was in power.

Over time, having been cut off from its source, the Shine dissipated until it was barely present in our realm at all. With its influence drained, Adepts where no longer able to see their Threads, preventing them from manipulating the Spirit Web. The Order of the Saige all but disappeared leaving only scattered remnants behind and most of the Jar-Din history was lost. Though the most powerful may have survived, most of the original refugees died off, passing their Lineage on, albeit unknown without the presence of the Shine.

Less than 100 years ago the Shine began flowing back into the Earth Realm through a small crack in the seal. Slowly the crack grew bigger and more and more of the powerful energy seeped into the world. As it did the long lost descendents of the Jar-Din began awakening to their power. A new age of Adepts was being born.

The scattered Order of the Saige quickly reinserted itself as the Adept Law. Calling themselves simply Sage, they infused their organization with that of the infrastructure of our society, masking themselves as a secret government agency. Burdened with not only monitoring Adept activity, Sage also tries to identify and contact new Adepts. They estimate that around 10% of the world’s population has some Adept Lineage, though most have so little Sage ignores them. These Low Lineage Adepts often have no idea they’re special, thinking themselves just lucky or of exceptional character. Others may believe they are psychic, practice witchcraft or even become spiritual leaders. Only about 1% of all Adepts have a Lineage high enough to fall under Sage’s jurisdiction.

The word ‘Lineage’ may seem to point to family lines, but ancestry has little to do with it. Instead Lineage is defined as an Adept's closeness to the Shine and their individual ability to see and manipulate the Threads connected to them. While it is true that some Adepts manifest their power with a high Lineage already and that it is often associated with a particular bloodline, even those that start as Low Lineage Adepts can grow to be very powerful. When Adepts manipulate the Spirit Web, even unconsciously, they grow closer to the Shine and their Lineage grows allowing them to see and manipulate the Spirit Web more easily. Over time and with enough practice, even the most pathetic of Adepts can rise to heights unknown.

Unfortunately, with the return of the Shine, the Shade has emerged as well. Even with Vorlok trapped until the gateway is fully opened, his disease of destruction and despair continues to spread with the reemergence of the terrifying Vendot. Lacking any real knowledge of the world they descend from or the enemy they face, Sage is worn thin battling this threat and is desperately trying to recruit new members. While the level of chaos continues to rise, rumors of a new Rose are beginning to emerge as well. Will this mythical figure be our salvation or our destruction? The lines are being drawn; all reality is at stake. Where will your Path take you and will you be strong enough to manifest your own reality?

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Welcome to my world...

I think I have the skill to be a great writer. I just lack the dedication and focus. But I figure it's like any muscle or skill; the more you do it, the stronger it becomes. So I've been making an effort to write more and I've created this blog as a place to dump some of the short stories and narratives that come out of that attempt. At this point I have no idea how much or what will actually make it on here, but it should be interesting none the less. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it. If you do, tell your friends. If not, my name's moog....