A Darker Light #3

ADL

Skin hard as diamond pushed against Dagger’s throat.  The callouses on his neck kept the diamond texture from making brown flesh bleed green.  Delicate time spent training made sure all the vulnerable parts of his body were forged into something tougher.  Still, the unpleasant sensation did nothing about his breathing.  He tried to slow it, steady it, but the pace of the moment didn’t allow the necessary calm to come.

His feet lifted off the ground as his back pressed against the moldy wall.  The ferments of the organisms surviving off the city’s filth filled his nostrils.  A pungent odor only contributed to his difficulty breathing.  His hands pushed against the forearm of his attacker, but it did no good.  Normally, a push from Dagger knocked the average Maghandi through a couple of steel walls.  But he dealth with one of his own.  An Imbued.

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Slips #2

Slips

“Any law enforcement here?” Amina asked as they started to walk through the Elfin Forest Recreational Reserve.  She looked down at a mini-tablet in her hands.  It displayed a topographic map.  “Looks like The Tear is a mile ahead.”

“No police presence to speak of,” Azura said, his Iranian accent thick in each word.  “A relief for us all.”

Cyrus could only agree.  A black man, black trans woman, Puetro Rican and Persian walking around armed might as well be a neon sign for police saying “Please shoot me at your earliest convenience”.  The one white guy they had in Rowen wouldn’t be enough to stop that.  They’d need about two more to have any impact.  Cyrus felt a deep cynicism in saying those words, but leading the Dimensional Expedition Unit taught him far harsher realities required acceptance.

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A Darker Light #2

ADL

Selkina Spaceport Six

Planet: Sarabi

(20 years after The Maghandi Royal Displacement)

Kedis stepped through the spaceport scanner.  She hated the clunky machine, three models too old and making too much noise.  Everything in this spaceport needed upgrading and they had the money flowing through here to do it.  Careful eyes looked at other beings going through the scanners, handing the Nemtura guards bronze colored discs symbolizing the galactic currency.  Pay up enough and you could get anything through this security.

As red lights moved vertically and horizontally across her, she knew what they were checking for.  Unauthorized weapons, biological agents, outlawed surveillance equipment, stolen goods and most importantly a genetic’s check.  They wanted to make sure they weren’t opening a door wide open to a bunch of Imbued.  She held her hands above her head and tolerated the scan, knowing she carried none of those things.  And even if she did, a Maghandi got passes in this part of space.

The long-necked, reptilian customs agent waved her through with a twenty-digit hand.  It lived as one of the many genetically altered creatures employed by the Nemtura to do their menial work.  Kedis felt for the creatures made only to serve.  This particular spaceport, being as large, had thousands of them at work.  Some skittered up metal pillars chasing away flying pests while others kept to corners and along walls looking for the pests that burrowed.  They were the janitors for the Nemtura, created solely to maintain an old spaceport.  Kedis wondered how much it bothered them to know the meaning of the existence and to realize just how small it was.  What did it do to a sentient being to actually know the reason they existed?

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Slips #1

Slips

As Cyrus expected, Viola was pissed.  Amina didn’t look happy either, but that young woman always appeared to be two seconds away from cussing you out in a mixture of bristling Spanish and English.  Considering the types of things they dealt with, the two ladies having a “take no shit” attitude probably kept everyone on the team much safer.  Viola saved his life more times than he could count.  The same could be said of everyone on the team to one extent or another.

The red corvette that pulled up behind Viola’s black truck held the last two members of Cyrus’ squad.  Azura looked serious as always stepping out from the driver’s side.  In complete contrast, Rowen’s playful, boyish expression he came out the opposite end.  The five of them to handle a Level 2 Tear seemed a bit much, but these were holes to an infinite array of dimensions.  His organization’s arbitrary classifications could be proven wrong at any time.

Night crept up on them so it worked to their favor that they were only dealing with a lower tier Tear.  Anything higher and he would have to make some calls to contain the light show.  As it was, containing Viola’s anger might be hard enough.  She leaned against the hood of her truck, a black woman with long limbs knotted with muscle.  Her eyes, golden and cat-like, narrowed at his approach.

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A Darker Light #1

ADL

Planet: Kanta (Capital World of The Quisar Systems)

The purple sky choked, rank with the exhaust fumes of slender transport ships moving precious metals from the planet.  Aluminum, bauxite and nickel carried by the tons away from the atmosphere to larger vehicles that would take the materials far away from the gleaming, metallic cities of Kanta.  Vita looked up from her throne, adorned with black and silver spikes, at the fast moving ships.  Anything to keep her mind away from present events.

She grew tired of the long line of executions carried out in the Social Districts of Kanta’s metropolises, but the traitors had to be rooted out and cleansed like the sea scum that washed on the borders of her capital.  Those who stood against her could not be tolerated and the hundreds of Quisan gathered here wanted confirmation of that.  In so many ways she agreed with their sedition, but they did not know the trouble they would bring to their people if she allowed them to succeed.  So she found her middle point and watched each death out of respect for their noble intentions.  The least she could do for them.  Her close proximity to the executed worried her advisors, but a curt word kept them at bay.

As Malkia of The Quisar Systems many demands required her attention.  This swath of death came from darker voices that Vita could not choose to ignore. So she watched as three Tax Captains, resplendent in blue, each walked up to buzzing circular platforms.  Towers of iron, glass, and steel surrounded them, but not a single one looked up.  They knew the freedom that the sky provided and just a glimpse would be a terrible reminder of what they did not have.  Vita wanted so badly to give them what they desired, but it could not be.  She could not lose billions to save a few.   She could not preserve a finger and lose the entire body.

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A Darker Light #0

ADL

The door to the bunker closed behind Zari, sweat dripping down his brown skin.  Traversing two miles of forgotten underground sewers on foot took more effort than expected.  Thick, old air in the bunker didn’t go far to help his recovery either.

Standing in front of him as he wiped away fresh sweat were Wordshaper As’Dina and his two nieces, Jarisay and Kedis.  As’Dina’s deep, round brown eyes already knew the truth of what Zari couldn’t bring himself to say.

“They’re coming,” As’Dina said to a stifled nod from Zari.  The Wordshaper turned to his two nieces, five and three.  He bent down to look at them with a smile of necessary comfort.  Zari wondered how he could manage such expression when death wanted all of them.  Despite all the misfortune that befell them, the girls smiled with genuine happiness.

“So my beautiful Princesses, remember how I told you that you going for a ride?” As’Dina asked, his voice full of charm and kindness.  Zari fell in love with the kindness in that voice many times over.   By all the planets in the galaxy, he didn’t want this moment.  He didn’t want any of this.

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Slips #0

Slips

Cyrus twisted his silver wedding ring around his finger.  That symbol of commitment weighed heavy on him.  As a child in southwest Louisiana, better known as Acadiana to the locals, his Father always imparted on him the importance of follow through. With a gruff voice born from time in the Army, his Father would look down on him with blazing brown eyes and say, “Son, a man can be stripped butt naked, but he’ll still have his word.  It’s one of the few things in this world they can’t take from you.”  In the rural South anytime a black person said “they” you could be almost sure they were talking about white people.

Five years tomorrow and he had yet to buy a gift.  Cyrus could see his Father shaking his head in disappointment.  A happy wife made a happy life or in his case a happy husband.  Davone never placed his worth in a material good, but in this insistence the gesture held importance.  You had to make your partner feel like a priority and flat out forgetting to buy them a gift didn’t convey that.  Standing up from his swivel office chair, Cyrus closed the tan blinds.  “Dad, I wish I had your knack for this whole marriage business.”

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