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  1. Tiranis is a world of humans and furries, of super science and super powers, of ordinary people and extraordinary ones. Stories of the Past is a series of stories exploring the history of the city of Tiranis, as well as the world it exists in or sometimes people of importance in it. This is excerpt is about 1000 word of a 4,700 word chapter. You can read the full story, as well as other stories set in the world of Tiranis by joining my Patreon at the 1$ level https://www.patreon.com/posts/22815934 A story of the past "My designation is VDK, of the First Speci-" "I don't care." "I am a representative of the US military," Vee said. "We're on our way to-" "I said I don't give a damn who you are. Maybe you missed the message, but there isn't a United States anymore. It's every city for itself now, and as far as I'm concerned, your kind is the reason for it. You're not natural, if they hadn't made the lot of you, we wouldn't be in this mess." Vee ground his teeth. "My kind has been fighting wars for your kind for over five hundred years. We've served our human officers without questions. We've died for your kind." "Yeah," the man sounded bored, "Unless you're looking to join all the others who've died for us, you're going to put your weapons and packs down. You're going to leave your carts and walk around the wall and continue on your way." El looked at where the ground gave way and the sound of water hitting it came. He could sense further that the water extended under the road, making the pylons supporting it, also the only thing supporting the wall there. The man followed the lynx's gaze. "You can swim if you want. I don't care. I just want you out of here." "We're not leaving you our supplies, but we're willing to trade you some of our weapons and tanned hides for food, then we'll leave." The man raised his bow and let an arrow loose. El had expected something like this and had been focusing on the surrounding air. With a muttered "No" under his breath he had the wind divert the arrow so it hit the ground a few meters before them. He kept focusing and closed his hands into fists to keep them from shaking. "We don't want to fight you," Vee said as if he hadn't been shot at. "But if you attack us again, I will designate you an enemy combatant and respond in kind." He took the bow off his back and strung it. Those behind them did the same. "El, how long can you keep their arrows off us?" "I can agitate the air between them and us for a while, but I don't have the precision I used to. I can't promise I won't knock your arrows off too." Vee notched an arrow, but kept it pointed at the ground. "I repeat, we are only looking to trade and pass through. Do not force my hand." "You think we're scared of you?" the man had another arrow in his bow, and the others on the wall were ready to shoot. "That was a warning shot. The next one goes through your heart." "Soldiers!" Vee called. "If they attack, respond with wounding shots only! You are to avoid enemy casualties whenever possible, as misguided as they are they are still American citizens, is that understood!" "Yes, Sir!" They responded as one. Arrows came at them before the air was done reverberating. With a mental push the air exploded, sending them tumbling. "Fire!" Vee ordered while the men reached for another arrow. And the arrows the soldiers let loose found their targets. For a moment there was no one standing on the wall, then more came to replace the fallen men. El wasn't able to keep all enemy arrows from reaching them, and a few times he disrupted his side's arrows, but with Vee there to heal their injuries almost as soon as they occurred they remained standing, while the men on the wall kept falling, until fewer and fewer of them came, and eventually a white flag was waved. Vee motioned, and the soldiers lowered their bows, keeping the arrows notched. "Please stop," a woman called. "Show yourself." She stood, holding the flag. She was older, her hair gray, her face wrinkled. "Do you surrender?" Vee asked. "Promise me you won't hurt anyone else." She kept her fear under control, her voice barely trembling. "You have my word that we won't fire on anyone who doesn't attack us first." After a slight hesitation she nodded. "We surrender." "Open your gate and let us in. Anyone holding a weapon when we enter will be considered hostile and treated accordingly. I tried being friendly, your people opened the hostility. I will not take any chances, is that understood?" "We have-" "No." Vee tone was hard. "Anyone holding any kind of weapons will be considered an enemy. If you need time to ensure everyone is disarmed, I'll give you until sunset. But take heed, if you use the time to try to mount a surprise attack, I will raze this city to the ground with everyone in it. Am I making myself clear?" She nodded, then said, "yes sir. The gates will open before the sun sets." She disappeared behind the wall. Vee turned. "Mary get as many people as you need and collect the arrows. Don't worry about them being broken, we'll go through them later. Stay on your guard, I don't trust them. El, how-?" "I have about three hundred meters in range. No fine control, but I can keep anything off us." Vee smiled. "I was going to ask how are you holding up?" "It's way more tiring than it used to. Moving this little air feels like I'm trying to shift the entire state's air pattern." The statement got him surprised looks from the others as they passed to get the arrows. "I can't keep focused on you, so if they attack again and you need me to take away the exhaustion call out." "I will, don't worry." "Sidney! When the gate opens, I want four guards on it. It doesn't close until everyone and the carts are inside. Anyone trying to close them before that is to be considered hostile." "Yes Sir." They'd collected all the arrows, and the sun wasn't quite touching the horizon when the gate opened. The woman, holding the white flag, stepped out.
  2. Going Home is a series that Explores the city of Tiranis through the eyes of Eric Clarkson, a returning veteran, who finds that the city has changed more than he expected in his absences. Each section of the series will focus on a different part of the city while Eric gets pulled into problems typical to that area, or sometimes not so typical. This is about 1000 words of the 9,100 words chapter. You can read the full story, as well as other stories set in the world of Tiranis by joining my Patreon at the 1$ level: ttps://www.patreon.com/posts/20705840 Going home: Strongburgh, Part 3 of 4 “Excuse me,” he asked the man walking up the stairs “Where is Glamboro Hall?” the man shrugged. Eric asked the next person, a human woman. She gave him direction and he thanked her. “There!” He spun and at the top of the stairs a student was pointing at him while looking at her phone. She showed it to the students around her and they nodded. So much them not having a picture of him. Or not running. He took off. Glamboro Hall was three blocks down. The old library, the woman had said. Renovated to hold the science department. She’d apologized for not being able to tell him more, but she was late for her class. When he wasn’t busy being chased by mind-controlled students, he’d look up the building’s history. At least he was in better shape than his pursuers. He glanced over his shoulder and only two were still after him. And one looked like he was about to give up. Far behind them he could see more students, hand on their knees, panting hard. He ran through the pedestrians and streets, grateful no one drove here. All the cars were in the lots at the entrance of what had been downtown Strongburgh years ago. Some of the people looked at him, but none of them showed alarm. They probably thought he was running late for something. He considered calling the police, but immediately dismissed the thought. What could he say? Sure, it was true that she was mind-controlling them, but could he prove it? Could he convince them to x-ray their necks? He’d have to find another Builder who could see diagrams like he could, and how likely was that? The students would say whatever she wanted them to. And if convincing them wasn’t enough, they’d ask for his ID. He’d been lucky twice already. The first time because Doctor Reignheart had known the officer, and then because Peek had made the officer think everything was already fine. But now? He didn’t have anyone to vouch for him. Isabel would, but he doubted she was on first name bases with any officer who would show up. He didn’t think the professor would call the police either. She had to worry that someone might believe Eric’s story. If anyone examined her students, what she’d done would be revealed. He glanced over his shoulder and cursed. The girl was still after him. Not gaining, but not giving up either. At least she was human. If she’d been a cheetah, or any large cat really, she’d have caught him already. He saw the building, wide, three stories, with a clock at the peek over the double door entrance. Seven minutes to noon. That couldn’t be right, it was way past that. Broken then. A look at the diagram told him one of the gear was missing, deep inside. They’d have to take the clock out just to figure out what needed to be replaced. He grabbed the gardener’s rake that was leaning against the stair’s railing. Inside he pushed the door closed and shoved the rake through both handles and he was running again. Goal. The word popped up as he opened his ability wide. His mind knew his plans were changing. He needed to incapacitate the students after him, there were too many of them he couldn’t fight them all. The diagram formed before him from components he was seeing all around him. The hunger to create something grand hovered at the back of his mind, but it wasn’t insistent. Good, he didn’t have time to deal with that on top of everything else. The item took shape before him, but it was too large. He needed something portable. With the change in criteria it altered and became something palm-sized. Now he needed to find all the parts to make it. He heard the rake break. Ideally find them someplace where they students wouldn’t find him in return. He went up the stairs. He saw the rows after rows of electronic parts before he reached the top of the stairs. A storeroom. Perfect. The door had an electronic lock, but it was the same as on Professor Amirel’s office door. So it easy to get the right numbers for it. He entered and carefully closed the door behind him. He grabbed the items he needed still panting. He couldn’t slow down. At least the door didn’t have a window so the students couldn’t see the light, or the shadow he cast as he moved about. He took out his took and began assembling his…what was he going to call it? It needed a name, inventions always had to be named. Disruptor, that was a good name for it. The Disruptor took shape. Its form meant it would fit comfortably in his hand. He could add a strap so he wouldn’t have to worry about it falling out. The most impressive thing, to him, was how powerful and small the batteries had become in sixty years. By his calculation, the battery he put in the disruptor, barely the size of his thumb had enough power to short most electronics. He’d have to recharge it after each use, so ultimately he couldn’t use that to stop Amirel, but it would let him deal with the students chasing him. So long as they came at him one at a time. Yeah, really not the final solution. Once the disruptor was done, he plugged it in. He’d also build a charger for it. Something better than what he’d seen. In two minutes the disruptor was fully charged. He placed an ear to the door. The downside of now having a window was that he couldn’t look outside until he opened it. With a chuckle he rested his head on it. He didn’t need to open the door. For his purpose he could actually see through it or walls. He looked for the diagrams. He saw one on this floor, further down the hallway, two on the floor above and five below, with more approaching the building.
  3. Going Home is a series that Explores the city of Tiranis through the eyes of Eric Clarkson, a returning veteran, who finds that the city has changed more than he expected in his absences. Each section of the series will focus on a different part of the city while Eric gets pulled into problems typical to that area, or sometimes not so typical. This is about 1000 words of the 7,800 words chapter. You can read the full story, as well as other stories set in the world of Tiranis by joining my Patreon at the 1$ level Going home: Strongburgh, Part 2 of 4 “Builder Division.” She frowned. “You told me you barely had any Builder Aptitude.” Eric tried to give her a rueful smile, but it faltered. He sighed. “Yeah, I sort of lied about that, but no one knew. I was trying to avoid getting noticed and drafted so I downplayed it.” “I didn’t think you could do that. I’ve interacted with my share of Teckers here, and they seem to have a drive that pushed them to create. The more powerful the ability, the stronger the drive. Most of what they do in Tecker classes is teach them control over that drive.” Eric shrugged. “I can’t comment about other Build—Teckers. I’ve done my best to stay away from them, avoid temptation.” “Then how did the Builder Division find out about you?” “I told you about the attack while my unit was on patrol, right?” She smiled. “That was a long time ago for me. I don’t remember everything you’ve told me.” He nodded. “Gist of it is that we got pinned down. Two of the three transport got shot to pieces and the third was in real bad shape. We knew it was just a question of time before the Hismerite soldiers got reinforcement so we were dead if we didn’t get out of there. I wasn’t going to let my unit die, so I fixed the transport. I didn’t go mad doing it, but I came close. When I was done we all packed in. Trust me, a unit’s worth in one transport, I know how your spinach feels.” She chuckled. “We got back to base and I put it out of my mind. We had our second date that evening.” He sighed. “Someone must have talked, because the next morning someone from Builder Division was there to talk to me. I did my best to downplay it, make it sound like it took longer for me to fix it than the others thought because of the stressful situation. That the transport wasn’t in that bad of a shape, but I’d screwed myself over. I’d been so focused on the work I never noticed the improvements I made to the transport.” He unfolded the napkin. “I’m sure you heard stories. Builder Division won’t let anyone go unless they are certain you can’t contribute to the war. They had me under guards while escorting me. I thought about running, about deserting. I knew what was waiting for me.” “But you didn’t.” There was no doubt in her voice, and that made him smile, a little. “Turns out I’m not a deserter. I must have known on some level that it was just a question of time before I was found out. I didn’t want to leave you wondering, so I asked them to give you the letter, but I guess they didn’t. I took some comfort in the knowledge that as part of the Division, my madness would be used constructively.” He sighed, folded the napkin and pushed it aside. “Long story short. They drove me insane and I built for them. I have no idea how long I did it. Time doesn’t mean much once you’re crazy. What I did know is that I built ever more destructive weapons.” He shrugged. “I don’t know why I’m surprised about that. It was war, of course it was going be weapons and not something constructive. But I didn’t care, all I wanted was to build.” Isabel opened her mouth, but the server returned with their food. Eric had a seared steak, boneless, with potatoes, carrots and beets. It smelled good, but his appetite wasn’t there anymore. “If it helps,” she said once the server left, “it was a year and a half from the moment you disappeared to when the camp was destroyed.” She had a large salad with many colorful vegetables. “Really? When I think back on it only feels like a couple of months.” “No, a year and a half.” “Anyway, I don’t know how familiar you are with Buil—Teckers, but we’re goal-oriented, and we don’t really care about what *you* want. It’s all about us. Our creations. If you need something specific, you need to give us all the details, because we’re going to take every inch of leeway available to make it our own. He poked at the beets with his forks, then forced himself to eat one. It was good. It was drizzled with a dressing that was just spicy enough to balance their sweetness. “The officer in charge told us to build something to end the war. He wanted something decisive, final. He wanted the Hismerites to have no other option but surrendering when confronted with it.” He cut the steak. “I set to work. I have no idea where the idea came from. Most of the time, the seed of the idea is something around me, but I don’t remember anything about the initial thought. I borrowed and stole the parts I needed. I took over more and more of the space assigned to us. What I was building was big. At some point they moved the other Builders to another tent.” He chewed. The meat was tender, the slightly burned crust had a sweetness to it that went well with the other spices. “I don’t remember sleeping or eating. I was consumed with making this.” He smiled. “When it was done, it was magnificent. Of course, at that point there was only one sensible thing left to do. I pressed the big red button I’d put on it.” Isabel’s fork was to her mouth, green leafy vegetables stabbed through along with red and orange ones. “You pressed it? Shouldn’t you have waited for instructions?” Eric gave her a sad smile. “I wasn’t sane, remember? Another thing to remember. Never leave a mad Builder unattended. We want to use what we create. We want to see what it will do, if it will behave the way we know it should. A friend of mine who studies here mentioned weekly explosions.” The bovine smiled as she chewed.
  4. Going Home is a series that Explores the city of Tiranis through the eyes of Eric Clarkson, a returning veteran, who finds that the city has changed more than he expected in his absences. Each section of the series will focus on a different part of the city while Eric gets pulled into problems typical to that area, or sometimes not so typical. This is about 1000 words of the 8,300 words chapter. You can read the full story, as well as other stories set in the world of Tiranis by joining my Patreon at the 1$ level: https://www.patreon.com/posts/19348192 Going home: Strongburgh, Part 1 of 4 "I have enough of dealing with advanced technology here, I'm trying to keep my life simple." "You're right there, it doesn't come more simple than that. Now go." Milton hunched back over the radio. Eric put the phone away. "If you're certain." Milton growled and Eric hurried out. When Eric had asked for some time off two weeks before, he'd said he had friends from out of town visiting. He hadn't wanted to tell him he was going to spend his time with the Children of the Wind. Instead of just giving him the time off, Milton had reworked how he paid Eric, switching from an hourly waged to a per item one. He based it on long Natalie would have taken on average, and with this method, Eric could earn his week's pay in a couple of hours. He'd only come in three times in the two weeks he'd spent with Listens to the Wind. And now he'd probably have a few days before there was enough to make it worth coming in. Instead of heading back to his room, he walked to Evermore Street and made a left. He passed small convenience stores, a pharmacy and a neighborhood grocery before reaching Connected Coffee, an Internet Cafe. He was more comfortable using computers now, but not enough he wanted one in his room. He was worried about what having something this technologically advanced around him all the time would do to him. And it wasn't like he did much with them. Catching up with the times was about it, or today, trying to see if anyone from his past was still around. He bought a plain coffee and sat at the first available computer. The previous user had left it on and still on a search page, 'Eureka!' The last time he'd done a search it had been 'Gotcha.' He had no idea if one was better than the other, so he didn't bother changing it. He started with his family. As he'd expected, his parents were dead. As were one of his brothers and his two sisters. Francis was still alive. He'd been three years his junior and he was in an assister living home now. The picture by his name on the FindMe site had him looking happy, but his profile indicated he wasn't mobile anymore, that his hearing was almost completely gone and his eyesight also on the way out. While it seemed that in the sixty years he'd missed, no one had found a cure to getting old. They had made progress with postponing the onset of old age, If he'd seen this picture of his brother before being deployed, he would have guessed the man was in his sixties, not eighties. Eric found he had many nephews and nieces, and most of them also had children. How would any of them react to finding out he was not only still alive, but around the same age as their children? Would they even believe he was their uncle? Did he want to meet them if it was going to be so problematic? He did, but now at this time. He wasn't ready to confront them and have to explain what had happened to him. After an hour looking at his relatives' lives, he looked for some of his childhood friends. The people who came up with the names he entered were either the wrong species, too young, or dead. The Swamp wasn't a neighborhood that was kind to the kids who stayed there. He entered the names of the people he'd known in the army, and names after names came up dead. Most of them had died in Hismer, in an unexplained explosion. Eric had to fight against throwing up. It was one thing to know his invention had killed soldiers on his side of the war, but to get the confirmation that he'd known some of them was almost too much. He went outside for some fresh air and distance himself from the information. It took him ten minutes to settle his stomach and come back. A young wolf was standing behind the unoccupied chair, reading the screen, but moved on when he saw Eric come back. He thought about closing the search engine, finishing what was left of his coffee and leaving, but he reminded himself that doing this another day wasn't going to change how he felt about what he'd caused. He might as well deal with this now and get it over with. It would hurt, but then so did cauterizing a wound, and it was something what was needed. The list of his victims was long, and barely a handful of the men and women he'd known had managed to not be at the base when he'd destroyed it. Those had died of old age. And he was down to the last name. The one he kept finding excuses not to look up, because he knew he wouldn't be able to handle knowing he'd killed her. He looked at the search bar for a long time and finally, his hands shaking, entered her name, Isabel Isaac. His hand hesitated over the enter key. He remembered her the sound of her laughter. The bovine had had a deep and hearty laugh. She'd been funny and smart, a hefty woman of great spirit. He pulled his hand away. He's almost convinced himself to hit enter when he noticed the 'advanced' options. He read through them, berating himself for procrastinating, but he found out he could exclude terms from the search. He put 'explosion' there. He didn't want to see anything that might confirm he'd killed her. The first result was an entry for the Strongburgh Faculty. He clicked it and found himself looking into sparkling brown eyes he'd never through he'd see again. She was much older in the picture, around the same age as his still living brother, by the look of her. He searched the page to find out when the picture had been taken, was this a memorial? No, it was a schedule, for this year. Isabel was still alive, and she taught history.
  5. The Lord Tiranis, An Origin, Part 3 (1st third) (an excerpt) Tiranis is a world of humans and furries, of super science and super powers, of ordinary people and extraordinary ones. Stories of the Past is a series of stories exploring the history of the city of Tiranis, as well as the world it exist in or sometimes people of importance in it. This is excerpt is about 1000 word of a 7,500 word chapter. You can read the full story, as well as other stories set in the world of Tiranis by joining my Patreon at the 1$ level: https://www.patreon.com/posts/17449797 A story of the past He was toward the back of the camp when there was a flash of light accompanied with an explosion. Something came at him. He only saw it from the lamp light reflecting off it and raised a column of earth to intercept it. It thudded against it with enough strength to embedded itself in. He walked around to see what kind of projectile it had been. It was a large cooking pot. It was dented and scuffed in place. He looked at the tent, he could see lights in it, hear people talking, he sensed five of them, one of whom was heading for the tent's flap. She was human, shoulder length blond hair, although it was wild around her head at the moment. She wore a lab coat over a bright red shirt and yellow pants. The coat had holes in it in places and burned spots. Like he did with every human he met, he classified her. She fell squarely in the 'not having sex with her' category. He couldn't tell if it was her crazy color sense, or the slightly mad look in her eyes, but he was going to stay as far from her bed as he could. "Good, good," she said, sounding like she was a gun instructor approving of a good shot placement. She stopped in front of him, but her eyes were fixed on the pot. "Nice thing you did there. I don't have to chase this thing to the other end of this place this time around." She grabbed the handles and with a grunt pulled it out, stumbling back a few steps. "No new damage, that's progress at least." Without taking her eyes off the pot she offered her hand to the lynx. "I'm Jenn, you can call me that, or Jenny, or Jennifer. Just don't call me late for breakfast." She turned and headed back to the tent before El could shake her hand. He watched until she was inside the tent, then followed her in. "Stevenson," she called, as El entered. "What was that? You almost killed one of the soldiers. You're lucky there was a hill there to catch the projectile, or you have another black mark on your record." The inside was brightly lit, a dozen powerful lamps hung from the ceiling, and each of the six tables had two more on them, among the.... El wasn't sure what to call what was on the tables. Garbage was the only word that came to him. Another human, a man this time, Glanced at her. He had short black hair and soot on his face, as well as the lab coat he was wearing over a black shirt with some sort of design on it El couldn't make out. "It worked, didn't it?" He was working on...something. El couldn't tell what it was, other than it seemed to be composed of the same kind of garbage that was strewed on the table. He could see a dented oxygen bottle, but with the regularization cap removed. There was also a computer screen, a portable radio; not a communication unit, but one to listen to music, and a blender mixed in with far more items he couldn't identify. The human, Stevenson, made an adjustment to the blender. "That's obvious, but the plans called for it to be a multi directional explosion, not directed. If it had worked the was the plans said, you would have taken out the entire tent." The man looked at her. "What plan?" She pointed to a paper on the table. "That plan." Stevenson looked at the paper. "who did this stupid thing?" "You did. That's the plan you submitted for the weapon you're building." "No it isn't. That thing's all wrong. And I have the plan for this in my head. Why would I bother drawing it? It's a wasted of paper." "You know it's protocol. Every design has to be submitted to me and approved before being built." "Really?" the man seemed surprised by that. He looked at the table, and El noticed that some of the garbage were actually connected to each other, possibly other items the man had built. "Are you sure? Because I don't think I submitted any plans for these either." She sighed. "Stevenson, I keep telling you, you need to submit plans before you build anything. This is the army, not your basement. There are procedures to follow." "Why?" "Because I need to understand what you are building so I can explain it to the brass." The man scoffed. "You couldn't understand what I'm making even with the plans." "Are you saying I'm too dumb to understand your work?" The man took the paper and handed it to her. "There you go, have fun trying to understand it." She took it. "See, that wasn't so hard." She turned and headed to another table with yet more garbage on it. El looked from on to the other. Hadn't he just handed her the paper that wasn't the plan for what he wasn't making? The man didn't act like he had pull one over her. He was back to work, using a welder on-was that a sink? He looked away and around the tent. Two other women and a man, all human, were working on their own things, and showed no signs they had been aware of the discussion between Jennifer and Stevenson. The women looked to be anywhere between twenty-five and thirty-five, just like Jennifer, one was dark skinned, the other's skin tone made El think she was from the Mediterranean area, at least when he'd fought in Greece, he'd seen a lot of people with that same tone. Both had a similarly odd color sense, on was dressed in green and copper, the other in black and bronze. The man was older, and his lab coat pockets had wrenches and screwdrivers in them. He was bent over some sort of...? El had no idea what that could be.
  6. Going Home: Great Oaks, Part 1 (an Excerpt) Going Home is a series that Explores the city of Tiranis through the eyes of Eric Clarkson, a returning veteran, who finds that he city has changed more than he expected in his absences. Each section of the series will focus on a different part of the city while Eric gets pulled into problems typical to that area, or sometime not so typical. This is about 1000 words of the 15,700 words chapter. You can read the full story here: https://www.patreon.com/posts/16302947 , as well as other stories set in the world of Tiranis by joining my Patreon at the 1$ level Going home: Great Oaks, Part 1 It was a loop. One of the logical conundrum one of the sergeants liked to recite. He could break the window, that would cut the loop, but it would attract attention. He widened the diagram to include the entire door and saw there was a gap at the base of the window. Very narrow and covered by a rubber strip. He didn’t have anything thin enough to slip in. And a quick look around didn’t show him anything he could use. An empty can had possibility, but it was too flimsy. He ran for the businesses, the one directly in front of him had a sign reading ‘Reignheart Medical Clinic.’ There was a hair and fur stylist on the left and a pharmacy on the right. He entered the clinic and looked around for something to use. “Can I help you?” The woman seated behind the counter looked at him expectantly. She was human, older, in her fifties; his mother’s age, the thought came unbidden, when he left for the army. With it came the reminder that she was now dead and he felt a pang of sorrow. Only he couldn’t deal with that right now. There was something more important. There had to be something here that would let him open the door. A lion in a doctor’s smock opened a door and let an older lemur out. He froze. “Eric?” Eric forced himself to look at him, then was surprised to recognize him. “Mister Reignheart?” How was it that of everyone in the city, he’d run into him for a second time? The lion smiled. “Do you need assistance with anything?” Eric began shaking his head, then stopped. He opened the door and pointed to the minivan. “Do you know who owns that?” Walter came to him and peered across the lot. “I’m afraid I don’t.” He looked at the older woman. “Jennifer?” She joined them. “No. It was there when I got here this morning. It must belong to one of the other people in the plaza. Eric nodded and ignored Walter’s questioning expression. He couldn’t waste time going around looking for the owner. It might explode during that time. Once he’d disarm it he could work on figuring out who the target was. He looked over the counter at what was on the desk, hoping the receptionist had one of those thin metal rulers that had been popular with his classmates, but there was nothing like that. Not even papers or a pencil. All there was on the counter was a computer, a phone and a tablet. Maybe someone in the waiting room might have something? Many of the women had large purses and they looked like they could contain anything they needed. His mother’s purse had certainly seemed like it contained whatever she needed, no matter how strange. But it wouldn’t be polite to just rummage through them. He stepped forward to ask them to look for something and a small plant with thin reflective leaves became visible at the back of the room, next or one of the office doors. Reflective? What plant had metallic leaves? And then the object resolved itself. It wasn’t a plant. It was a short pole with thin metal bands jutting off, curling at the end, it gave the illusion of a very crude fern. If it was an art piece, Eric thought as he stepped to it, he didn’t see the appeal. Walter called after him, as did a woman as she opened her office door, but he ignored them. The ‘leaves’ were thin enough, and there was enough of a straight length for what he needed. He broke one off, the weld easily giving out, and headed out. “I need to borrow this.” Walter and the others stood there, watching him leave. He cut the jagged end where the welding had been done and then made a notch in the side, to use and catch the mechanism. He slipped it in, having to force it past the rubber and then it scraped down the inside of the door. After that it was guesswork, moving the strip and trying to get the notch to grab onto the rod so he could pull it up. He could see the lock mechanism easily enough, but the metal strip he was using wasn’t technological. Twice he thought he’d gotten it, only for nothing to happen when he pulled. The second time he pulled hard in frustration and it came out. He forced himself to calm, he wouldn’t accomplish anything by getting angry. He pushed it back in and tried again. Steps caught his attention, regular, firm, approaching from the sidewalk, not the shops. A police officer had to have noticed him and came to investigate. Hopefully he could explain about the bomb without having to say too much about when he could do. As the steps came closer, he could make out three sets of them. When he looked in the window, expecting to see the blue and yellow of the Tiranis Police Department, he saw people dressed in black and wearing face-covering masks. He reacted without thinking on seeing the arm reach for him. He turned and shoved it aside, then brought up his in a defensive pose. The person before him studied him, a man, Eric thought, which was confirmed when he spoke. “You’re meddling in things that don’t concern you.” Eric couldn’t tell if they were humans or furries. Their masks all had muzzles, but they also had bumps where human ears would be, and their head covering would keep furry ears out of sight. It was a simple, and clever disguise. The one thing Eric could tell about them was that they had training. They stood relaxed, but they all had a hand near the knife each had at their belt, and they were ready to act. He couldn’t see guns, so that was good. Eric smiled. “I like to think that bombs concern everyone, don’t you?”
  7. The Lord Tiranis, An Origin, Part 1 A story of the past The next two weeks proved to be great. If not for all the test the scientist put him through it would be amazing, but the sex made it all worthwhile. He got to experience it with all but two of his barrack mates, and each one brought him pleasure in slightly different ways. They taught him what they liked and he did his best to ensure they enjoyed it as much as he did. His first dinner had exposed him to food that was nothing like the slop he'd been fed before, and the following meals just widened that experience. His friends laughed when he piled on different plates and tasted everything. He couldn't get enough of the tastes he had access to now. He realized that they weren't undisciplined, like he'd first thought. Even though no one forced them to, they all went out every day to run two kilometers. Then they did an hour of weight training, and then sparred. Through out that some would be taken to practice their powers under supervision. LRK was taken for tests. Many tests that didn't seem to amount to anything. That wasn't going well. None of the tests had revealed what he could do. They had him fight, meditate. They'd hooked him up to machines that shocked him. He'd spent hours in a freezer, then more time in a room so hot he thought he'd burst into flame, but nothing happened there either. The others tried to comfort him by explaining the scientist didn't know what they were doing. They were just putting him through the methods that had worked to reveal one of their abilities. They did their best to help him, by explaining how they use them, what they did to improve their control. LRK did his best not to let the lack of result get to him, but today he'd heard the word defect mentioned again. He didn't want to be defective, that meant being recycled. He didn't even want to be normal, that meant he'd be sent to one of the infantry division, away from his friends. That had been another word he hadn't had when he'd arrived; 'friends.' Peek, the house cat who heard minds had explained its meaning, and LRK held it dear. He didn't want to lose that. He would leave, if ordered to, he was a soldier, but he hoped he wouldn't have to. Something else this facility had was a pool. And his friends liked spending time around it. They played with large balls around it. Some lied on towels, letting the sun warm them. LRK enjoyed that, but there were other things he preferred doing if he was lying down, and he'd been warned the scientist didn't appreciate when they did that in public. He'd come today because his friends had insisted. He hadn't felt like doing anything. The fear he was normal or defective was sapping most of his energy, but they'd said being in the sun would do him good, so he'd followed them out and to the back of the research building, where the pool was located. Unlike them he hadn't changed out of his fatigue into bathing suits. Once there he just took off his boots and sat at the edge of the pool, putting his feet in the water. As with the previous days, Rhine was the only one of them in the pool. Unlike LRK and the others, the otter loved the water. LRK didn't mind getting wet, but the idea of being waterlogged in three or four meters of water scared him. He could feel how heavier he was when his fur was wet. He'd sink right to the bottom. Rhine had tried to convince him otherwise, but LRK was a cat. Cats didn't belong in water, his reading had confirmed that. So it was just Rhine and some of the humans swimming about. After ten minutes LRK stood and shook his feet. He'd had enough of the sun and the water. Further back, CM, VeeDee, Bear and Copper, a vixen who could start fires, were laughing as they threw a beach ball at each other, dodging and then running after it. Bear waved for him to join them, but he shook his head. He realized that he should spend more time with them, if he was going to be sent away, either to be recycled or to join the infantry units, he should cherish every minute he was with them. Only, instead of making him feel better, when he was with them it was a reminder of what he'd miss when he was gone.

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