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Fiction: Team (518 words)

“I do not like you.” Amelia was quick to make sure that he knew where he was in her opinion right from the start. She didn’t want there to be any confusion that her agreement to here and to help had at all changed her thoughts about him.

Evan nodded like he had expected as much, with that condescending look that set Amelia’s hair on edge and brought out the worst of her temper.  “You don’t have to like me. To be honest, I’m not a big fan of you. But Lindsey wanted us to work together. Because of that, our dislike for each other has to stay between us.”

“I know,” Amelia snapped at him quickly, before taking a deep breath. She continued in a much more civil tone, biting down on her temper as hard as she could. “I mean, I know. We have to act as a united front for Donald. It’s what Lindsey would have wanted.”

Almost subconsciously, they both turned just slightly to look at the silver urn on the fireplace, carved with a rose, next to a picture of the most important woman in both of their lives, Amelia’s sister and Evan’s wife.  Amelia felt the temper drain right out of her. Lindsey would hate to see her like this. She really had to work on that whole being the person my sister would want me to be promise she had made herself at Lindsey’s funeral.

“We are all he has now,” Evan said quietly. “We can’t pull him apart by trying to turn him against each other. That’s not fair.”

“I promise,” Amelia said quickly. When Lindsey had been alive, Amelia had never hesitated to make her distain for Lindsey’s husband known. Evan had always treated her civilly, even kindly, in spite of how Amelia acted to him. If he ever spoke bad of her it was in private. If anyone had to make the commitment to change, it was going to be here. “I promise, that from here on out any complaints I have of you will only be made in private to my friends when Donald is not with me, or to you directly if it is a concern with our—working relationship for a lack of a better word—when we can discuss it civilly with Donald being aware.”

For a second, Evan looked like he was sucking on a lemon, but his face returned to a neutral expression as he nodded. “Okay. I will promise the same. From here on out, we are a team.”

Only by thinking of Lindsey watching her, could Amelia stomach the thought of being on a team with him. Only by focusing on her love for her little nephew, Amelia swallowed down the bitter taste in her mouth and repeated back. “From here on out, we are a team.”

“Good,” Evan nodded, even managing to smile at her. “So. Let’s discuss the weekly schedule, shall we?”

Evan pulled a cleanly printed booklet out of his bag, labeled “Donald’s Weekly School/Play Schedule” on the front, and Amelia tried very hard not to scream.

 
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Posted by on June 14, 2017 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Team (127 words)

Emily knew that her mother was always on her team.  Even when she hated her mother. Even when Emily broke the rules and broke her mother’s heart and did everything that she could to separate the two of them in what she could only describe as “Teenage Rage,” She knew that above all, her mother was always on her team.

It didn’t matter if Nancy disagreed or was disappointed or anything else, those would be discussions for when they were home alone together, when no one was there to witness them.  In public, they were always on the same side.  And really, there was very little more that Emily could ask for.  For all her faults, Emily was very, very lucky to have Nancy as her mother.

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2016 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Awe (374 words)

Colin watched Mara almost unabashedly, and could only come to one conclusion.  No one knew what she and her brother got up to.  In the past two days—he’d seen a fair amount of other girls with their hair braided low over one eye.  You never would have guessed that it started with Mara. It seemed so casual an adaptation that it wasn’t sheep following the fashion of one woman, but the gentle shift of fashion.  No one would expect that it was all to cover eight stitches because Mara let her fight get a little sloppy.

He couldn’t believe it, watching Mara and Andy interact with people like nothing was going on.  Did none of their friends realize what was going on? Could no one pick up what they were doing behind the scenes? No one had a clue?

But then again—Colin had been their best friend since they were all six years old—and he didn’t have a clue what they were doing behind the scenes.  How could someone else figure it out if he couldn’t?

He’d been so lost in thought that when Mara dropped into chair on the other side of the lunch table that he gave a little start.  “People are going to talk,” she smiled, leaning across the table to whisper.

“Talk? About what?” Colin was genuinely befuddled.

“Well—if you keep looking at me like you can’t believe I let you see me naked, people are going to assume that I actually let you see me naked.” Mara teased.

Colin sputtered for a moment in embarrassment, before deciding his best decision was to just not respond to that one, and opted for the safe “How’s your head?”

“Fine. Hurts, but it will remind me to keep my guard up next time, won’t it?  Serious though, Col—“Mara fixed him with a serious look, and he actually sat up a little straighter under her glare, “Ask to see me naked, or stop staring. Dealer’s choice.”

Colin gaped at her as she stole a french fry off his late and walked away with a swing in her step.  Now he not only had to figure out how Andy and Mara kept this a secret for so long—but also was that a joke or not?

 
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Posted by on June 11, 2014 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Time to Be Badass (356 words)

It was the code word she hadn’t realized that she was waiting for.  They had worked their magic so well last time, and for the past two years she had practically forgotten all that she had been trained to do.  All of the things that she had done.

But with three small syllables, it all came rushing back to her, hitting her like a cool breeze.  She stood up a bit straighter and rolled her shoulders in a stretch.  She felt good. She felt tall.  She felt strong.  For the first time in years, she felt free.

She blinked a couple of times and scanned the room.  It was a very crowded mall food court.  There were easily a hundred people in the immediate area.  But her eyes were drawn to him.  There was nothing particularly special about him, not in the way he looked, but to her it was almost like he was standing in a spotlight.

She gave up all pretense of trying to act mature or normal, and all but ran towards him, easily avoiding everyone in-between them.  He caught her quickly by the waist, swinging her in a small circle before putting her back on her feet and holding her tightly.  She leaned back in his grip so that she could study his face property.  He was one of those completely beautiful men; dark hair, bright blue eyes behind black rimmed glasses, nice cheekbones, and when he smiled everything on his face lit up and women took notice.  Even now, out of the corner of her eye, she could see women checking him out rather bluntly.

But that didn’t really matter because he was smiling just for her.  “Oh, I’ve missed you.” He whispered.  Oh that’s right. He had an accent.  Be still her beating heart.

“I’ve missed you too.  Is it time to be bad ass?”

“I don’t know. Let’s go find out.” And just when she thought he never would, he leaned down and kissed her, hard and quick and it sent a shiver right up her spine.  They broke apart, and headed hand in hand out of the mall.

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2014 in Stories

 

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Fiction: Ixi Agency (Part 3)

–Joey–

Joey rested his head on the edge of the conference room table. He was about twenty minutes early, but he knew that if he went back to his bunk, he’d be asleep in a second, and no one would be able to wake him up for god only knows how long.  The phone message he’d received from Brian, Agent Two, was rather cryptic, and Joey could only hope that he had misunderstood the message, or else life was about to get very, very dire.

Still, he had been told to get there for an eight o’clock meeting this morning, so he travelled through the night to do so.  He heard the conference room door open and started to mumble complaints about the interruption of his nap, but then he heard. “Now, now, Joey, is that anyway to speak to your partner after not seeing her for nearly half a cycle?” The voice was sweet, dripping with fake condescendence, and he smiled automatically at the first word.  When he looked up, he was thrilled to see a smiling petite red-headed twenty something grinning up at him from the door way.

“Willow.” The name was like a breath of fresh air. He stood and circumvented the table in four steps.  Willow met him half way between the table and the door, and he pulled her into a hug. “I’m both very glad and very disappointed to see you.  You think that Laurel will let us reschedule our down time?”

“I sure hope so,” Willow sighed, pulling out of the hug. “We must have the worst luck.  On call and on duty for what? A hundred continuous cycles—“

“Fifteen,” Joey corrected good-naturedly.

“—and our one downtime cycle,” Willow continued as if she didn’t hear Joey at all,” and the most powerful object in the agency’s collection get taken.” She ran her hand through her hair.  “The worst luck.” She muttered again, this time almost to herself.

“So, it really is the marbles then?” Joey asked, “A full team recall?”

“I don’t know. What did Laurel say to you when she called you in?”

“She didn’t tell me anything. I got a coded call from Brian, and even after running it through the decryption it was still pretty cryptic.  I thought I’d better come to the meeting and see what’s actually happening here.”

“You mean to say—“ Willow pointed a very dangerous finger in Joey’s face, “—That Laurel didn’t break into your house while you weren’t there, scare you almost to death, and drink your tea before demanding you come back to work?”

Joey raised an eyebrow. “No?” he replied cautiously.

“Oo. I am going to kill her.” Willow crossed her arms over her chest.

“That’s physically impossible.” Joey commented casually.

“A girl can dream, can’t she?” Their conversation cut off rather quickly after that.  Other agents were starting to come into the room, and since there were a few that they barely knew, Joey decided that joking about killing should probably be kept to a minimum.

Joey returned to his seat at the table, the place with the ornate ‘IV’ carved into the wood.  Willow was two seats over, beside the carved ‘VI.’

Other agents took their seats as well. Some, Joey recognized—Brian, Agent two, Hank, Agent Ten, and Maria, Agent Nine.  But there were a couple that Joey barely knew, such as Agent Eleven and Agent Three, and some he had never met at all in his current memories, such as Agent Seven and Eight. They all sat in silence, and Joey started to feel the tension in the room. The table had never been this full, and that was starting to send home just how important this all was.  By the time Laurel finally came into the room, Joey was almost starting to feel sick from the stress of it all.

“Good morning,” Laurel said curtly as she came into the room, and without any further ado, plunged directly into the briefing.  “As all of you have heard, I am here to confirm that the Marbles have in fact been stolen.” A couple of people shifted uncomfortably in their seats, but no one dared make a sound. “Now, I know you are all very aware of just how dangerous this is, however, it has been a long time since any of you have had direct work with the Marbles, if any contact with them at all, so you will oblige me by being quiet and attentive through this refresher course.” She pressed a couple of buttons on a remote in her hand, and the lights dimmed and a projection shown on the wall behind the head of the table.

The image was of two orbs, both appeared to be made of colored glass, one red, and one blue, both with some sort of clouding in the center.  A ruler in the image showed they measured at only about an inch in diameter.  Joey looked at his palm and could just imagine that they would both fit into his hand with no difficulty at all.  It was hard to imagine that something so small would have so much power.  That something so small would—

“These are the Gralur Kugseer, or as they are more commonly known, The Marbles. They are one of the very, very few items in the collection that have a Class Eleven rating, meaning they are extraordinarily dangerous. Through the brief experiments that we were able to conduct, we have learned that their abilities, when paired with a properly trained and motivated user, are nearly infinite. We have witnessed them influence people’s perception of history, of nature, and of physics on a massive scale, on that could potentially become a global influence. Luckily for us, these Marbles are so strong in themselves that the average user has very little influence on them, if any at all. Only top-tier users would even be able to approach the potential they contain.

“Also luckily for us, there are only six top-tier users on the planet right now.  Fortunately, we have files on all six.  Unfortunately for us, our updates on them would not occur until next year, so all our files are currently four years out dated.  Since we were in control of all the most powerful items, we did not consider it a top priority to have real-time tracking on them.  Our top priority at the moment is not necessarily recovering the Marbles, but finding and bringing in these six users until we are able to find a hot lead on the Marbles.  We should act as if all of their lives are being threatened, because if the team that stole the Marbles was able to penetrate our facilities, then they would be able to easily take any one of these uses from their daily lives.  Once we have all of the users in protective custody, then we will have the freedom of extra time and maneuvering room in the locating of the marbles.”

Laurel paused and leaned forward on the table, taking a second to look each of them in the eye. Even though Joey knew they were about evenly matched, and in actual practice he was probably stronger and more powerful that Laurel, he still felt like he shrank a few inches under her glare.  That is her superpower, he thought to himself, only half as a joke.

“I cannot stress enough just how important this is,” Laurel’s voice was grave. “You must realize that, because in the thousands of years since this table was first built, not once have all even spots been filled at the same time.  We cannot fail.  It is not an option.” She rose again to her full height, her voice returning to that of a normal briefing, as if they were just about to go on an everyday kind of mission.  “I am hereby recalling all of you to active duty, and reinstating the responsibilities and privileges thereof.”

Laurel placed her hand on the ‘I’ insignia at the head of the table, and a drawer popped open in front of joey.  Inside, there was a simple leather cord, with a black circular charm, maybe an inch and half in diameter.  On the charm was a silver ‘IV.’ He slipped the cord over his head and tucked the charm down the front of his shirt.  Even though it had been nearly eleven years since he wore it last, the charm still felt warm against his skin.

All around the table, other people were putting on their own necklaces.  There were a variety of chains and cords, but all of the charms were the same black circles, baring only different silver numbers painted on their fronts.

The only people who didn’t move were Agent Two (Brian), Agent Five (Darryl), Agent Seven (Frankie) and Agent Eleven (Natalie).  Joey figured they must have been the agents on duty at the time.  Joey felt his heart go out to them.  He had things taken on his watch before, and he knew just how stressful it could be.  He couldn’t even begin to imagine just how stressful having the Marbles gone felt to them.

“Due to their particular skill sets, Agents Four and Six will be spearheading this mission.  I have not had the time to brief them individually on the matter yet, so you will all have to bear with us as we formulate a plan.  Now there are our top-tier users with their last known locations.” With another click on the Laurel’s remote, the image of the two marbles disappeared, and images of six faces, each with a number and location underneath them appeared on the screen instead.  “These are—Yes, Agent Six?”

Joey turned to see Willow already on her feet. Her face revealed that sweet little Willow was turned off at the moment, and her get shit done Agent Six mindset was taking over.  “Agent Four and I will leave immediately in order to recover Top Tier Number Three.  Agent Eleven can spearhead the process to locate the other Top Tier Users until our return.” She said quickly.  Joey turned to look back at the picture labeled ‘No 3’. It looked like a photo from an identification card, shoulders up, face on.  It was a girl, maybe 17 or 18, with bright blue eyes and black hair so long it fell out of frame.  She appeared to not be smiling due to instruction, because the corners of her lips were still slightly turned up, and her eyes seemed bright.   Joey though she looked like a nice girl, but had no idea why she was causing such a reaction in Willow.

“Are you saying that you already know the location of Top Tier User Number three?” Laurel asked swiftly. “I’m sure that you can give Agent Nine or Ten her location sufficiently, and they can retrieve her. I think you are best used remaining here.”

“All due respect, Ma’am, but no. I will retrieve number three.  Her name is Marcy Jenkins, and she has been my best friend for the past ten years.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, Agent four and I will be leaving immediately.”  Willow walked out of the room without another word, leaving a stunned group in her wake, and giving Joey no choice but to get up and follow her out.

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2014 in Ixi Agency

 

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