RajWorld Scene

Marmolines are a bit like a cross between a marmot, a squirrel, and a raccoon – furry, cute when they are asleep, and thoroughly nasty marsupials that will destroy anything not made of concrete and steel, or so it seems. There is a shield around the army camp that is supposed to keep them, and larger creatures, out.

Kor and Tomás both made those gestures that she’d learned translated, “We really do not want to speak about this matter so we will pretend it has not been mentioned so that it will go away.” Her father did something similar, and Rigi added it to her list of multi-species-applicable indicators of male-ness. Rigi tipped her head back, resting it on the chair, and studied the interior ceiling of the shelter tent. The hanging lamp cast shadows in the corners and she wondered if she ought to check for webs and dust the next day. One of the shadows moved. Rigi focused on it. It moved again, and she caught a glimpse of eye shine. “Dear, Makana, I hesitate to say anything for fear of interrupting an otherwise lovely evening, but it appears that a marmoline or something similar has gotten in. There in the corner of the ceiling, above the wash-stand and water tap.” She stood and eased out of the way. “I believe I will step outside for some fresh air. Come Martinus.” Continue reading

New Release: Clawing Back from Chaos: Excerpt

Book is Live!

Chapter One: Wintertide Respite

“Consider it the Graf-General’s farewell tour,” Captain Maria de Alba suggested as she looked over the list of things they were supposed to have had done already. In early December General Joschka Graf von Hohen-Drachenburg would be making an “informal inspection” of the 58th Regiment of Foot, better known as the Global Defense Force’s British branch, forcing everyone to catch up on all those things they hadn’t had time to do because they’d been too busy doing what they were supposed to do.

The adjutant shook his head, “No, if it were a farewell tour there’d already be t-shirts for sale, and I haven’t seen an order form for the commemorative DVD.” The rest of the staff officers and their advisor groaned at the Israeli’s abysmal joke. Even Commander “Rachel Na Gael” managed a laugh and Moshe grinned even more broadly. He liked the one-eyed alien and he missed hearing her laughter and her wise-ass comments. Ever since the regiment’s return from Germany, she’d been growing quieter and quieter, and Captain Moshe ben David worried about her.

“Actually, this is his way of settling bets, since there was a large chunk of the pool that wagered he’d just fossilize behind his desk and get rolled out for meetings and receptions like Jeremy Bentham,” Colonel Tadeus Przilas, the executive officer, confided to the others, drawing another round of chuckles. He switched topics. “Commander, what’s this I hear about no Christmas crackers?” It had been a hard few months and everyone was looking forward to the Christmas holidays, even the non-Christians.

She snorted. “Utter codswallop, as usual. Someone decided that,” she mimicked the logistics officer’s tone, “‘out of concern for those suffering from PTS,’ we would only have crackers that did not make a popping sound. Which, of course, do not exist. Thus no crackers.” She leaned forward conspiratorially, whispering “or so Oatmeal thinks.” Captain Edward O’Neil, now branded “Oatmeal” because of his behavior during the Harz campaign, had earned the disgust of the rest of the officers, and they made no effort to hide their unprofessional snickers. Then the conference room door opened and Regimental Sergeant Major Sheldon Smith, Captain O’Neil, Father Mikael Farudi and Major General James McKendrick joined them. Continue reading

Tuesday Tale

An excerpt from one of the North American Power stories, featuring Leigh Kendall, geologist and trouble-shooter.

Jake Nutter, the driller in charge of the John Marshall # 5, started pulling the bit as soon as he heard the sound and felt the vibration in the platform change, but he was too late. The heavy steel pipe dropped almost out of sight and all the available drilling mud vanished down the hole, pulled into a void that should not have been there. “Damn and blast it,” Jake swore. Once everything had slowed and the drill bit stopped, the roughnecks on the rig floor started pulling the pipe up enough to add additional sections, while the mud man worked to keep the critical fluid moving into the hole so it didn’t try and collapse. This was the fourth time in a week that something had gone wrong with this well, and although he wasn’t superstitious, Jake started to wonder.

He took a moment to climb down from the drilling platform. A hot summer Texas sun glared down on the crew and Jake pulled a clean-ish bandana out of his back pocket and wiped the sweat from under his hardhat. Typical August, and not as bad as some places he’d worked, Jake grimaced. I’ll go work in the Amazon before you get me back in Saudi he promised yet again. In Brazil you only had the environment working against you, not the environment and people too. The driller kicked a rock, making a puff of reddish dust as he walked over to where the geologist and the mud man were looking at the rig readings. “Not supposed to be a hole,” Jake stated.

Amos McKenna, the geologist, spread his hands in a “don’t look a me” gesture. “Here’s the seismograph, and here’s, well, something that’s not supposed to be there.”

“There’s nothing there.”

“Nothing’s not supposed to be there,” Amos growled. “We’re past the gippy layers and now that we’re under the Rodrick shale, we shouldn’t be hitting anything but sandstone until we reach the Lipscomb granite.” He pointed to the log from the John Marshall #4 mounted on the side of the trailer. Continue reading

Tuesday Tale: Second Editions

No matter the genre, or if it is non-fiction, authors need to triple check the final proof of their manuscript before it is published. Why? Well . . .

The crystal ball beside her desk began wiggling on its stand. Morgana reached over absentmindedly, patted the top to stop the vibration and waited for the incoming text. It was from Dolores.

“Hey, thanks for the thunderstorm you’re throwing my way! Better than fire or dust!”

Morgana frowned, rotated in her seat and typed on the magic-only keyboard, “Thppppth. That was supposed to stay up here. Mutter, mutter no more bargain bin eye of newt.” It really had been commanded to stay locally, but Waldo had muffed the winds aloft forecast.

“…and the voice in the back of my head says ‘lines you’d see in chat with an evil overlord’s friends… Um, was that eye of newt or Aya’s snoot?”

“Eye of newt. Gotta use water creatures to get water elementals.” Didn’t Dolores remember that? Oh wait, no, Morgana remembered, Dolores specialized in automata and mechanical charms, not the traditional elemental spells.

“Ah! No wonder the hellbender is going extinct; people keep mistaking it for a non-water creature!

“You got it. There was a terrible typo in ‘Summoners’ Monthly’ a few years ago, and…”

“Was it a typo, or a conspiracy of editors? Must we keep the blue pencil of evil back in the vault? Don’t they know not to mess with eldritch artifacts?”

“I’d let my subscription lapse by then so I don’t know. I heard that they started outsourcing their editors and that never ends well. Especially with spell casting. You’d have thought the disaster at Necromancy Digest would have been enough of a warning!” Continue reading

Friday Fragment

The beginning of an urban fantasy story. Sometimes the Devil really is in the details . . .

“ . . . and you really need more emphasis on the role of women and other marginalized groups, Ms. DeHahn. Look in the lacunae in the sources,” Dr. Eyrinie sniffed. “I’m certain that you can find material other, less objective, researchers have ignored, if not actively set aside.”

“Yes, Dr. Eyrinie.”

What she could see of her research proposal appeared to have been attacked by birds that had waded through orange juice. The professor used anything but red. “Red is too oppressive and negative,” the department chair had intoned. “We need to uplift and encourage students, not criticize them.” Melissa DeHahn thought that red, green, or purple plaid didn’t make much difference. Anything Dr. Eyrinie returned looked as if it had been bled upon. And that was if she liked you. She’d returned Robert’s paper in pieces, having changed, corrected, or marked every other word, then torn it in half. He switched advisors that afternoon. Melissa thought once more that he was the smart one.

“You see what I want?”

“Yes, Dr. Eyrinie.”

“Good. This has real potential if you can bring in non-traditional individuals and methodologies, Ms. DeHahn. And don’t forget theoretical and epistemological materials. Re-read Zhing L’clar’s article on post-Feminist structural critiques of Medieval sources, as well as Foucoult and Fanon.”

I’d rather walk over burning coals wearing magnesium socks. “Yes, Dr. Eyrinie.” She dutifully underlined that bit in her notes.

“Good. I won’t keep you any longer.”

Melissa did not flee, but she felt like it. Neither did she stand in the hall practicing her primal scream. Screaming made the secretary nervous, and poor Mrs. Whittier did not deserve any additional stress. Instead Melissa walked up two flights of stairs to the graduate student work area and faculty “Siberia,” cleared a space on the big, heavy conference table that someone had shoehorned into the room, and attacked it with the stress pillow. A long-ago grad student advisor of blessed sense and understanding had made a half-full pillow out of heavy canvas and sacking to be used when the urge to scream, break furniture, or throw things at faculty became overwhelming. Melissa would have preferred to go to the range for some recoil therapy, but not until she calmed down. Continue reading