Stolen Peace

Theme Thursday – A New World

“Traversing,” an electronic female voice said. The lights in the small room dimmed for several seconds. Paz held her breath in the dark but released it when the lights brightened to normal again. The 14-year-old girl tightened her dark brown pony-tail, then she cracked her knuckles. She gathered her nerves and walked around command console to the closed metal door.

[There yet? -Jasmn] Paz jumped when the unexpected Whisper tickled her inner ear. She felt like the only one of her friends that minded the way nanos vibrated her eardrum. She closed her eyes to concentrate on her reply.

[Just got here. -Paz]

[Stay in touch. -Jasmn] Jasmine suggested.

[K. -Paz] Paz took a deep breath then opened her eyes. She leaned forward and pushed the green glowing button on the side of the door. The large, barn-style door made a whooshing sound as it rolled open.

She stared out at the bleak, jagged landscape and saw her destination in the distance. A mountain range glowed red against the dark purple sky. Jagged Obsidian spikes jutted out of the stone ground between Paz and the mountain range.

That princess better be worth it,” Paz thought to herself. Finally, she made up her mind with a solid head nod and stepped through the doorway. Heavy, full-plate armor formed around her body as she crossed the threshold. She emerged on the other side of the door wearing silver armor. She smirked and clenched her fists in the metal gauntlets.

[It’s a stupid retro server! -Paz] she complained to the only person she could.

[You can hit Frank later. -Jasmn] Paz smiled to herself as she shifted in her armor to get used to its weight again. Then, once she felt ready, Paz started the journey forward across the stone wasteland. The jagged towers slowed her progress, but after several hours the rocky, uneven ground ended. An amber wheat field danced in the wind at the foot of the red luminescent mountains.

She took one step into the field then stopped; a sudden high pitched clicking sound filled the air. Red glowing nanos filled the air above the wheat. The swarm condensed into a red glowing hourglass shape that hovered in mid-air. A flash of purple lightning arced across the sky, its violet light illuminated a giant black spider attached to the red hourglass. Paz smiled and equipped her weapon. A swarm of nanos formed a black, double-bladed battle axe in Paz’s hands. The spider charged at Paz, but the girl smiled and lifted her axe high.

“Stone Splitter!” she yelled. The spider charged at her, but Paz slammed her axe into the ground using all her strength. The weapon made a metal clink against the black stone ground and chipped out a small crack. Her expected skill did not activate. “What?” She had a moment to wonder before the spider lifted her off the ground between its mandibles. Her axe remained embedded in the ground while the spider carried her away.

Forgotten Princess

“Guys, I need help with a quest,” Frank said. The 14-year-old boy sat on a metal picnic table in the school’s courtyard with his friends. Dozens of other students sat in their own groups enjoying their lunch hour.

“What quest?” Jasmine, a girl with long dark hair, asked before stuffing half a burger in her mouth.

“It’s on Oren’s server. We have to rescue a princess from a goblin cave,” Frank explained. Jasmine could not reply with her mouth full of half-chewed food and she pointed at another girl named Paz. Paz nodded and pulled her node out. She swiped at the small, clear rectangle until she found the reviews; then, she made a face that was half disgust and half annoyance. Her dark brown eyes narrowed in Frank’s direction, then she turned towards Jasmine.

“It’s a lowbie quest on a retro server. It’s easy, but,” she held up her node, “no one thinks the loot is worth it.” Paz shrugged as she reported her findings to Jasmine. Then, she turned towards Frank, “Levels don’t even matter anymore, anyone can solo it. What do you need help with?” She asked him.

“The princess that needs rescuing…,” Frank paused and looked around. He did not really know any of his friends yet. He was still a freshman and only met them that year. He guessed Jasmine and Paz would believe him. Hector, a short, sturdy teenager, might. Hector’s friend Ricky definitely wouldn’t, and Alanna hardly ever talked. Worst case two of them wouldn’t believe him. He decided he could live with that. “I talked to her. I think she’s real. A Unique.”

“Is she pretty?” Ricky sat up attentively. Hector slugged Ricky in the arm.

“Why do you think that?” Jasmine asked, then took another bite.

“She talked to me. I mean, she talked to ME,” Frank brought his hand to his chest and patted his green t-shirt. “Off script. She asked me for help.”

“Probably just a follow-up quest,” Paz suggested. Frank shook his head.

“I’ve been going back pretty regularly, she remembers me every time. If you guys meet her, you’ll see what I mean.”

“I’ll go,” Ricky offered.

“Me too,” Hector said. Jasmine and Paz also agreed to go.

“I can’t. Tutoring with Dirge,” Alanna shook her head. “But let me know what you find out,” she asked Jasmine. The girl replied with a thumbs up gesture, Alanna did not know if the girl had food in her mouth still or again.

After school, the five of them met in front of a dark cave as a group of adventurers. Frank was a monk clad in green robes embellished with gold thread. Ricky wore black necromancer robes, Hector was a bard in leather armor. Paz a plate wearing knight with a large battle axe strapped to her back. Jasmine wore a long-bow over her shoulder and leather armor in greens and browns.  Paz placed a heavy gauntlet on Frank’s shoulder and locked eyes with him.

“I want you to know I hate retro servers,” she shifted uncomfortably in her armor. “If it is just a follow-up quest, I’m gonna hit you. Hard.” Frank chuckled, but he caught sight of Jasmine nodding.

“She will,” Jasmine said.

“Trust me. C’mon,” Frank led the way into the cave. “There’s no monsters on the way in, but we’ll be ambushed on the way out,” he explained. He led them deep into the cave to a giant cage made from what appeared to be bones. The group saw a dark-haired princess standing patiently.

“She’s really pretty,” Ricky commented.

“Focus,” Frank said. He rushed to the cage and unlocked it. The princess stepped out and looked at the group.

“Thank you for rescuing me. Please guide me to the entrance of the cave. From there I can journey safely to my home,” she said.

“Can I hit him now?” Paz asked Jasmine.

“It’s okay,” Frank told the princess. “They’re here to help me. They know.”  The princess’ body relaxed from its tense posture and her eyes sparkled to life.

“Really? THANK YOU!” she stepped forward to hug Frank. Frank glanced at Paz and pointed at the woman hugging him as if to say, “see?”

“What do you know about yourself?” Jasmine asked the princess. The woman shrugged.

“Nothing,” she shook her head. “This stupid quest is all I can remember, but I feel like there’s more for me if I could leave the cave.”

“How long have you been here?” Paz asked.

“I don’t know. I don’t even think I was conscious until I met Frank,” she replied.

“Hmmm,” Paz’s iron gauntlet on her right hand disintegrated into white dust and formed her node. She began navigating it with her thumb.

“Oren’s server is about 900 years old,” Paz said. “If you’ve been here since then…”

“What?” The princess asked with wide eyes. She grabbed Paz’s metal shoulders and shook her. “What did you say??” Jasmine placed a hand on the woman’s shoulder to try and calm her down.

“900 years is a long time, but we’ll help yo-“

“NO!! The name!”

“Oren?” Frank asked.

A quivering smile grew on the princess’ face. Her crystal blue eyes began to water.

“I know that name!” she shook her head. “I can’t remember anything, but I know that name!!! Bring him! Please, can you bring Oren here???” Jasmine squeezed the princess’ shoulder and shook her head.

“No one knows where he is,” she apologized.

“I do,” Paz said quietly.  “Jenny made me promise not to tell anyone… but if I go alone, then I didn’t tell anyone, right?” Jasmine nodded.

“Is it something quick?” she asked. Paz shook her head.

“Not even a little bit.”

Sharp Response

[WP] You are an assassin with a strict moral code. You’re the best there is but you assess each job very carefully and if you believe the target does not deserve to die, you go after the one who employed you. [Link to post.]

Alan Crane sat on the park bench to go over the target’s file. He ignored the picture of an innocent face, pictures were easy lies. He read through the information then chuckled himself when he read an included note that mentioned the reward.

“100% of your asking price up front. We will pay double if you complete the job, but the good faith money is yours to keep regardless.” Alan shook his head. His reputation was well-established, and contractors often tried to buy their way out of, if they felt they were in the wrong. He laughed when he realized every time someone tried it, they thought they were the first ones. Because most others that tried it were either innocent enough or dead already. Alan collected the file and the cash-heavy envelope then left the park with his decision made.

He drove to a tall glass office building in the heart of the city where his chosen mark worked. Normally he needed to do more reconnaissance, but chance lined things up perfectly for him today. He knew the target personally, though he’d never call the man a friend. A part of him actually disliked the man enough to look forward to killing him. He smiled inwardly as he rode the elevator to the top floor. He did not even have to change, he happened to be wearing a navy blue business suit that blended in perfectly with everyone else moving through the office.

“Sleepy, you’re up.” Alan spoke aloud in the empty elevator. He felt a familiar tickle on his back. Tiny needle legs crawled up his back, shoulder, then neck. A small purple scorpion crawled out of the tight collar, then down the front of his shirt. “Knock out the receptionist and anyone else that’s not Lauro,” Alan said. The scorpion chitted back an acknowledgment as it crawled down his pant leg. Once the elevator reached the top floor the ding sounded, and the doors slid open. Alan stepped out of the elevator while Sleepy skittered along the floor towards the receptionist’s desk. No one else seemed to be on the floor.

“Hi, how can I-?” Her head hit the desk in front of her with a heavy *thonk*.  Alan chuckled. Sleepy’s potency never failed to amuse him. He turned to the office and saw the purple scorpion crawling towards the same door.

“Thanks, Sleepy. You’re the best.” The scorpion went under the door, and Alan let it get a head start before he walked in.  A large man sitting behind a bulky cherry-wood desk. He recognized Alan and gave a smile.

“Alan! Great to see you, friend.” Instead of standing up to greet Alan, the man behind the desk reached into a drawer and pulled out another bulging envelope of money. “I knew you were good, but I didn’t think you were that fast.”  Alan sat in a chair across from the man. As he sat, he shook his arm, pointing the sleeve downward. A small black scorpion fell out of his cuff. It began a steady march towards Lauro, under his desk, while Alan nodded at the man.

“I haven’t done it yet, I needed some more information.” Drops of sweat beaded on Lauro’s brow the moment he heard Alan say the job was incomplete. He tried to play it off with a shrug.

“You know what, forget it. We’re friends, I shouldn’t have asked you. Keep the money as a gift. You can take this too,” he pointed at the envelope on his desk. Alan shook his head.

“Why does a 14-year-old girl have to die?” Alan asked. Kids weren’t strictly off limits for him, he’s seen some wicked ones over the years; but, he was always extra lenient with kids. Lauro sighed.

“It’s complicated, let’s just forget it.” Alan shook his head again, then looked at his watch. “I’m leaving this office in two minutes. Un-complicate it, or call up your wife and say goodbye. Obviously, if I don’t do the job, you’ll get someone else to.” Lauro burst into laughter, despite the danger he knew he was in.

“There IS no one else. You’re literally the last option. Hell, we went through a pedophile before we got to you. You’re lucky number 13. The first 11 are dead, killed by the girl. The 12th seems to have had a mental breakdown or something. He’s staying in an asylum at the moment.” Alan took in the information.

“She’s strong, that’s good. But why does she need to die?” He asked again.

“Because she’s company property. We created her in a lab, and we’ve learned all we can from her. She’s a beta product that isn’t ready to be out in the world yet. You don’t know how dangerous she is,” Lauro said. After he said it out loud, his eyes went wide. “I should have called home,” he added when he realized how flimsy the pretense was.

“You shouldn’t have hired me,” Alan said. He stood, but Lauro put his hands up.

“WAIT WAIT! That’s it! I didn’t hire you! I mean, fine, I did. BUT, I know you, and I know your reputation. I’m not stupid enough to hire you, but I was forced to!” Tears flowed down the rotund man’s face. “We created her in a partnership with another company. And part of the contract covered ‘disposal’. ” Lauro used air quotes, but grimaced at the use of the word “disposal”. He pointed at the envelope. “I just paid you twice, and 12 guys before you. You think I keep that kind of money laying around in drawers? They’re paying for it. I’m just the middle-man. The facilitator. You’re not going to shoot the messenger, are you?” He clasped his hands to begin begging.

“Who?” Alan asked.

“Dana Sharp,” he said. “Earth 1.”  Alan sighed. He stepped forward, took the money from the desk, then turned towards the door. “C’mon Sleepy, Stabby. Let’s go see what another universe looks like.”  Lauro saw two scorpions, a purple and black one, crawling up Alan’s back as he walked out of the door.

Soldier of Peace (2-19-18)


[WP] You pull the rusty knife out of your chest and watch you skin pull itself back together, “Hey not bad,” you say, “the last guy trying to win the bounty didn’t make it through the front door.” [Link to post.]

Paz stood at the sink washing her dish when a sudden loud crash startled her. She whirled around to find the door on the ground and two people standing in the doorway staring at her. A young woman older than Paz herself along with an even older, but short man. The man’s blue mohawk gave him some extra height, but he still appeared shorter than the woman next to him. He wore several gold chains around his neck and the gaudiest white and gold suit Paz ever saw in her young life. His white snakeskin boots only added to the tackiness. The woman wore a purple and gold hoodie, with the hood pulled down behind her head. Her short spiked hair glowed with bright blue light. Her hands were covered with black and gold gloves. Without a word the young woman’s hands moved in a golden blur, then Paz felt pressure on her chest. She looked down to see a purple, metallic knife handle sticking out of her chest. Paz pulled the knife out, and the two strangers watched through the hole in her shirt as her skin pulled itself together to seal the wound. She tossed the knife over her shoulder and it made several hollow clangs as it bounced around in the sink.


“Hey not bad. The last guy trying to get the bounty didn’t even make it through the door.” Paz smirked, and her dark brown eyes sparkled in the dim light of the kitchen. Paz clenched her fists and charged at the blue haired woman. She let her first swing miss the woman’s smiling face. Paz knew the strangers would underestimate her because of her age. Despite being only 14 Paz was a supernaturally gifted fighter.


The woman gripped Paz’s extended arm by the wrist and crouched. She turned in place to face out the door and yanked Paz onto her back. Then, she extended her legs heaving Paz over her shoulder to launch her out through the doorway. Outside the setting sun lit up the sky with orange and purple clouds.


Paz landed on her back in her front yard and admired the colorful sky for a second. The grass did little to soften her landing, but she felt no pain. She rolled to her right and jumped to her feet, ready for more.  


“Okay,” the woman said. Her smile grew broader and her hair glowed brighter. She unzipped the purple and gold hoodie to take it off, then tossed it to her short friend. The woman wore a purple t-shirt with a golden sun on it. After that she pulled her gloves off and tossed them on top of the hoodie. What Paz thought were gold and black gloves was a pair of black fingerless gloves. Now that her arms were exposed Paz saw that the stranger’s pale arms became gold at the elbow. Her forearms and hands appeared to be made of solid gold metal. She moved toward Paz and raised her hands to a fighting stance when she stood in range. They sparkled in the fading sunlight.


Paz saw the stranger’s weight begin to shift, and she managed to brace herself in time. The woman twisted her hips and landed a powerful kick on Paz’s right side. Paz blocked, but the force of the kick sent her flying again. This time she landed on her left side in the driveway. Paz’s arm left several layers of skin and a streak of red on the concrete. She jumped up again ready to fight. The strangers watched her arm heal itself. The young girl realized she underestimated the woman and decided to stop taking it easy on her.


Paz charged at the stranger again, faster than before. She punched empty air four times as the woman dodged every single attack Paz made. After the fourth punch missed Paz grabbed a handful of blue spikes on the woman’s head as she pulled her hand back. This surprised the woman, Paz saw her purple eyes widen. Paz pulled the woman’s head down hard, and lifted her knee in the same motion. Paz could not feel pain, but she felt the pressure of the woman’s skull against her knee.


“owww.” The woman grumbled. She yanked her head upward, free of Paz’s grip, but the young girl expected this. While the stranger moved backward Paz ran around behind her and wrapped her arms around the woman’s waist. She used the stranger’s momentum against her and hefted upward. Paz arched her back and pulled with all her might to smash the woman’s head into the driveway with a suplex. Paz released her and rolled away to jump to her feet again, ready to take on the short man.


“OWWwwwwwwah!” The woman yelled. The voice startled Paz, she assumed the woman was knocked out, or possibly dead. The young girl turned her attention back toward the woman and saw her standing up rubbing the back of her head. The blue glow disappeared completely leaving only dark black spikes. Her guard completely lowered. Instead of looking at Paz she glared at her partner.


VEGAS! NO FAIR!” The woman yelled while stomping toward the blue mohawk. Paz looked to the man to see him put his hands up in a shrug.


“Wasn’t me, Jen. Kid’s good,” he said. “You’re the one foolin’ around.” The woman stopped in her tracks and turned to face Paz again.


“Really?” She asked softly. Behind her Vegas nodded.


“Yep,” he said. Jenny’s bright smile appeared again.


“Awesome.” Jenny grabbed her hoodie from Vegas and slipped it on. “Okay, Paz. Let’s chat.” She waved the young girl over, but Paz did not lower her guard.


“Relax, we’re not here to hurt you,” Jenny said. Paz gave a loud scoff.


” ‘Tcha. Says the woman that introduced herself with a knife to my chest.” Paz did not move. Jenny giggled.


“Well? Did it hurt?” She asked.


“Uh, no. But you didn’t know that,” Paz retorted. Jenny nodded.


“Sure I did, that’s why we’re here. You’re special.” She walked forward while putting her gloves back on. She reached Paz and stuck out her hand in greeting.


“Hi, I’m Jenny.” Paz finally lowered her guard and shook the woman’s hand with a confused look on her face.


“You mean you’re not here for the bounty?” Jenny turned to look at Vegas. He shrugged, then she turned back to Paz.


“What bounty?” Jenny asked.