Fiction

A collection of all our works of literary fiction, including writing challenge entries.

Raymond’s piece for the April writing challenge

We’ve been doing these for a year now, and while Raymond doesn’t always get them finished it is getting easier to write something. This is what we created based on this stimulus.

Tell us what you thought of this one, and don’t forget to check in at the beginning of each month to see new challenges!

Wolves Of War

(more…)

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Raymond’s Entry In March’s Writing Challenge!

Managed to smash this one out before the start of 3BIAB. I think it’s pretty solid, a little short than what I usually write.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy it. And hope it inspires you to write something of your own.


 

Matrix Garden

The silent pulsing yellow and red light was all that illuminated the surrounds. A black concrete room lined with server banks. The frozen air and ceramic dust float through the breached hole in the roof. Crop-sec had figured that the gang of intruders had been trying to loot the vault for cash. That was simply payment. Peering down into the server room from the vault above was ring of five heavily armed and well equipped thieves. The server data was the mark.

(more…)

Raymond’s Attempt At The Febuary Writing Challenge!

I’m extremely happy with how this months story turned out. I had a lot of fun writing it. I tend not to enjoy first person perspective, but this worked out really well. I hope you enjoy it. If you like to know what the stimulus was, check it out here.

Saffron


 

A loud bang, a clatter of steel balls on plate and brick, a roaring cheer from half the cities uppers. Someone dies, a hero is celebrated. Soon two more performers will take the stage. I’m not in this to perform. I like the killing. I’m chasing the skill mastery. Swift, knee jerk precision; that’s what I’m after. I’m not flashy, I don’t toy with my prey. I just kill ‘em. As quick, and as clean as I can.

Strangely my style has been well received. It’s not what most others bring to the field. Although, let’s be real, people just get off on seeing a cute brunette dispassionately dropping fools.

They’ll be done resetting the arena soon, time to get dressed. My armour case looks like worn shit, but my shell is good. Solid grey plates of modular armour bits. I pull on the under clothes, black nano-adhesive cloth. Black elbow gloves, black thigh high socks, black top. The armour bits just cling to the fabric, like magnets on a fridge. The armours for shit really. The gauntlets and boots cover me a little, and the chest piece covers some of my organs; but there is still plenty of skin. Midriff puts butts in seats though, and it’s not like anyone ever sucks breath long enough to hit me. (more…)

Raymond’s Attempt at the Writing Challenge for January

This month I saw an opportunity to write about The Gardener again. This is kind of an origin story of sorts. I hope you like of it. I’m quite pleased with it.
You can see the stimulus for this month here.

Testing The Gardener.


A dim orange light gleamed through the high window of the long curving hall. Nestled at the desk sat a golden skinned boy, his red eyes glowing as he tended to a small pot plant. The glassy leaves bounced the afternoon light around the hall adding colour to his smokey grey vestments. In the distance heavy boots clicked against the stone floor, with the occasional tapping of steel cutting through the other sounds of the institute. The footsteps drew closer and their purpose became clear as they cut off behind the boy. (more…)

Raymonds Attempt at Decembers writing challenge.

At the beginning of every month we we issue a writing challenge to all our friends and fans.
This was the stimulus for this months challenge!

I(Raymond) had real trouble writing this month, and I came up with something…kind of okay. I don’t know, you guys might love it. Check it out below.


 

ASTRAL WINTER

Mercurii, 11th of Makara, 53rd year of Unification war. Excavated final thoughts: Subject Falbra, apprentice All-Bright of Kwothhost.

The snow. It’s itching my back, I can feel it crawling up into my gut wound. It’s cold, and burning, and itchy. I think I’m blind in one eye. is anyone here? Is anyone alive? Guess I’ll die alone. Far from home.

We are all far from home.

I guess…war pulls us along. Forces onto distance fields of cranage. I wasn’t meant to be here. I’m a fucking All-Bright, not a soldier! This was meant to be a safe camp, they said this position had held for months! Void tainters the lot of them!

If you’d survived this war, what would you have done with your life?

Fuckin’ nothing worth singing about. Would have just returned to the Augurary. Specialised into some field or another; probably chemetology or chemsics. Guess I could have gotten really loopy and forsaken my calling. Flee to the winds. Live as the Voidwalkers once did.

What would you tell the Voidwalkers, if they could hear you?

Shit…big question. How about: “Thanks for the planet, but how about next time you don’t leave warmongers on it.”

They believed peace would be the only option, and for a while it was.
Raise your head, tell them what you see. Look through the trees, to the west.

Death. Blast holes. Mangled trees and fires. Past that. I guess…a horse? There’s people there. You should go to them, they probably know the way forward. Forward? to where? What way? who are they? They are like you, go to them. These aren’t my own thoughts are they. Yes and no. All thought is shared beyond this world. The itchings stopped. They remind me of my family…but they look different, not just the clothes…their…manner. Go to them, they know the stars. yes…the…stars…


 

Please check out our other content here on wordpress, or our podcast files over on soundcloud. You can also get the latest news about up coming podcasts and projects by following us on twitter, or liking us on facebook.
If you have any feed back or requests, or even just want to say hello, feel free to leave a comment on any of our social media pages. You can also email us at insertquesthere@gmail.com.

Farewell from the past, I’m Raymond.

 

Raymonds entry in Novemebers Writing Challenge!

At the beginning of every month we we issue a writing challenge to all our friends and fans.
This was the stimulus for this months challenge!

And this is what I(Raymond) came up with. I was kind of inspired a little by the witcher for this, as well as knights and squires. Check it out after the break.


 

A Lesson Learned

My legs are burning after hours of trudging up this godforsaken mountain. Calves are taught bags of steel cable on the edge of snapping. I shouldn’t have ran the first few miles. Master Tawn had left before dawn, and I like an idiot child; slept past first sun. I didn’t wake till church bells sounded. A picture of the mountain, traced in the sand next to my bed was all the sign he’d left of where to go.

The sun was setting now as I managed to pull myself to the plateau where The master was waiting. He awaited me, a hearth smoldering beneath his imposing visage. His eyes pierced my soul like the scales of the Accuser(blessed is his task.) I broke the silence that had propagated between us.

“Master, do you have another lesson for me?” My body loathed the last lesson, it needed to collapse; wanted to fall into the soil. My exhaustion must have shown in my face.

The master gestured to the long road that snaked up the mountain.
“That was a lesson for the body.” He thrust his spear towards the fire. “This is for the spirit.”

Thank the Revenant ones, I could sit.
I can’t relax. It takes far too long for me to force my body into a cross legged repose. Just as long to take hold of my breathing and steady my mind. All the while Master Tawn stokes the coals with timber and powder. The fire grows, coloured smoke sifting through the clearing. Twilight comes as Master Tawn speaks to me.
“Breath deep. Take in the smoke. Ignore the itchy, the tickling, the acrid pain. This is weakness leaving the body. Impurities seeping out. Hold it.” The pain is too much. Eyes clenched shut to focus. My chest cries out for relief, bone and muscle straining against the smoke. I hold it in. I focus on his words. They help.

“Slowly, release your weakness.” My eyes shoot open as I release the vibrant saffron breath from my lungs. It dances infront of me. swirling with half formed shapes, dreams half dreamt, thoughts unfinished.

“Can you see it, there in the smoke.” A shape is forming, rising from a smoky canvas; like a relief. “They torment us. The unseen. Terrors that haunt. It is our duty to bring them to the Accuser, we are instruments of his divine work; BLESSED IS HE THAT DOES THE LORD’S WORK!”

Master Tawn’s words bellow through the night air as the fire roars up. Shapes in the smoke snap coalesce into almost real figments. Tortured wicked animals, red birds and grey snakes dancing about me. My eyes fixate on the flames. Standing there amongst the heat and smoke, a young woman. skin of slick stone, holding aloft a broken sword. No, not broken. Burnt. Like steel forgotten in the forge. Our eyes lock. It’s not a women, it is a spirit; of what I don’t know. Loss?
Master Tawn drew his sword, abandoning it at my feet as he pulled back from the light of the hearth.
“No more lessons. It’s time for a test.” He disappears into the black only his voice lingers.
“Prove my time has been well spent aspirant Turq.”
I have no reply. I can only do the Lord’s work (blessed is his task.)


If you enjoyed this, then please check out our other written works by click here or on the Fiction category below.

 

 

Raymonds attempt at the September writing challenge!

At the beginning of every month we we issue a writing challenge to all our friends and fans.
This was the stimulus for this months challenge!

I tried some different things in this one. I used 3 different narrative voices…4 if you include the computer prompts. As well as 2 different narrative perspectives. ALSO; I set it within Eclipse Phase, though I didn’t need to.


Dim purple light was the only illumination in the expansive triangular room. one of the walls phased from soft ruby to full transparent, clearer than the most perfect glass. Beyond them, lit up in the night; are the domes, souks, and flyways Of Valles-New Shanghai. Only one piece of furniture resides in the room. An antique dining chair; probably a relic from earth. A man easily older than the chair resting in it, a small glass of water at his lips.

He waves a hand next to his head acknowledging the recent arrival of another presence. Slowly pulling the glass from his mouth, he holds in the air next to his chair. Out of the silvery white floor rises and solidifies a simple table, the same colour as the floor. As the guest approaches, a single legged stool extrudes from the floor next to the ancient collector of solitary chairs. A young woman in a blue suit ponders the stool before sitting down. Her short orange hair stands up like quills as her reptilian eyes stare into the old man.

The pause drags on…until golden, mechanical eyes, nested in wrinkled black skin turn to appraise her.

“you took too long getting here” his quite sandpaper voice poorly conveyed his true mood; apathy.

The orange haired woman spoke swiftly, with rapid precision. “I had to resleeve into this…meat.” her hand waves over her body. “A virtual meeting would have been more efficient.” She regarded her summoner with frustration, he simply stared at her; unblinking.

“Much like your target, you too required a lesson.” He spoke more clearly now, whatever pressed in his throat now loosening its grip. “which teacher did you send?”

She raked her hand through her hair as she readied her answer. “A new one. Project Revenant is ready for field trials; this seemed like an ideal occasion.” Her hands brushed her suit, normally a sign of nervousness; in this case just a symptom of a mind unfamiliar with physical form.

His golden eyes flickered with faint light. “you spend too much time riding as data, someone of your station shouldn’t be living in infomorph.” He turned slowly, brushing her away. “Your fortnightly updates will now be delivered in person to me or Toulemonde.”

A fowl snear stretched across her face before she abruptly exited the room. Her stool dissolving behind her as the windows hardened their colour back to red. Somewhere in the swelling sea of data that was the mesh, an encrypted signal triggers the lock release on a cargo container.

> BEGIN STREAMING.
> REVENANT PROTOTYPE 44 ONLINE.
> OBJECTIVE: EXTERMINATION.

Like flesh dripping acid I come to life again. My body rebuilt. New instincts written into my mind. I hear the prayers echoing in a part of my head I can’t quite access. Kill them, kill them all. snuff out all life in this place. they whisper it on repeat, like a song stuck in your head. what’s a song?

Eyes open now. too much input. Don’t need thermal, not yet anyway. Electrical sense can be dulled down too. Focus on the human spectrum; limit it. This place is bright, even with only 3 colours. large grey room, open; bar a few boxes like mine. powerful fluorescents. Is that a…what’s the word? BLACKCURRANT. No, wait…SECURITY GUARD! That’s the word; security guard.

Pain. mild. Right shoulder. Bruising. He shot me. He shot me with a gun. Shouldn’t I be bleeding? What’s Bleeding? They armoured the flesh more. Not just the torso and head, they armoured the arms as well. Right hand still works. Should probably claw his eyes out.

Wow. I move faster now. Closed that gap in under a second. Huh, no more claws on the rig…Oh i see. Smart Corrosives; Much better. Holy fuck. No more eyes for you Barny. Or brain. Or Telctra High Grade SterilCrete. Stuff is hungry. Wait…who’s Barny?

Noise, hallway. Two guards. I can see into the terahertz range now, that’s useful. Other Barny and Different Barny have non standard weapons. What is this, Bring your rail pistol to work day?
Oh, they replaced the left arm with steel; goodie.

> DIRECTIVE: USE MELEE WEAPON.

I can hear the prayers again. You don’t just want them dead, you want them to keep dying. Fear so strong you can stand living. Ok then. I guess I’ll take this Kama and cut their hands off. Then their legs. Gotta be quick. One of their bullets just punched my armour. Can’t get hit again. Damn it. Knee is killing me. Fuck you then friend, decapitation it is.

HaHaHAHHA…heuh. Different Barny dropped his gun. Mother fucka you technical? I’m an undead killer robot with acid for fingernails. You think I care if you surrender? Bye bye hands. What’s a mother fucker? “Hang on. I can bifurcate your legs. Sure it’ll take an extra 30 seconds, but i think it’ll traumatize you more.”

Did I say that outloud? That is a lot more blood than I thought there would be. OHHHH that’s what blood is. Okay. Let us just use this kama like a meat hook. “se ve un poco agradable en el hombro , verdad?” I think I should stop talking. What Language was that? Which way is…shit. DORMITORY! probably…left.

This corridor is long. If you wanted all these people dead why not just use a few kilos of plutonium or something. Better yet; Antimatter.

> YOUR PLACE IS NOT TO QUESTION.
>INTEL: ROOMS ARE LOCKED. SAFETY PROTOCOL. ON YOUR LEFT IS A WASH ROOM.
>DOOR WILL OPEN IN: 15.
>14.
>13.
>12.
>11.
>10.
>9.
>8.
>7.
>6.
>5.
>4.
>3.
>2.
>1.

These people have no clothes on. There is water everywhere. Water is a precious resource. It is essential for life. WRONG: Ionic gas lifeforms require no water to live. oxygen is non-essential to their survival. All attempts to transfer Ares into a Ionic Cloud form have failed. electronic mind forms not compatible with…<CORRUPTION DETECTED>

These people look scared. I was scared once. Keep the axe Different Barny. “you’re really pretty. you remind me of mommy.” Was her neck as soft? Don’t recall. It was however just as easily snapped. Now hang on little guy, you need to die just like she did. perhaps not just like her. “Holy shit DAWG! Did you see the hole her corpse made in the wall! All cracked like a spider web and shit.” If I insert my fingers into his skull like this…with the right application of force; ahhh. There we go! Bifurcated naked man head. Is Bifurcated the word of the day or something.

Good lord…Is that what I look like. I didn’t realise…Where’s my face? You can see my jaw bone. Are my eyes glowing? WHY CAN’T I CRY?

“WHERE IS MY FACE?!”

<INTERNAL OVERRIDE>
<INSTANCING PERSONALITY COMPOSITE 47>
<PALADIN MATRIX STABLE>

>CANCEL STREAMING
>EXECUTE SELF UPON TASK COMPLETION
>TOTAL ATOMIZATION
>FIELD TEST SUCCESSFUL.
>OUTSTANDING RESULT.

A world of swirling black clouds fades into view. In the centre a woman made of orange light hovers. A playful voice calls through the clouds. “Were you live sampling the subjects consciousness stream?” The question echoes like gentle thunder.

“I find the discordant brain impulses intoxicating.” As she whispered purple beams of radiance escaped her lips.
“though the puzzle is trying to comprehend them. They lack form. They are more like emotional impressions than true thoughts. Unreadable to anyone even close to human.”

The soft voice called back, tenderness hanging inside its tone. “You’re insane my love. But I drink your brilliance regardless.”


Well I hope you enjoyed that, I kind of LOVED writing it. Thanks to Grace Burns and Lilia Andrea for some of dialogue. Please check out our other content here on wordpress, or our podcast files over on soundcloud. You can also get the latest news about up coming podcasts and projects by following us on twitter, or liking us on facebook.
If you have any feed back or requests, or even just want to say hello, feel free to leave a comment on any of our social media pages. You can also email us at insertquesthere@gmail.com.

Farewell from the past, I’m Raymond.

Raymonds attempt at the July writing challenge!

At the beginning of every month we we issue a writing challenge to all our friends and fans.
This was the stimulus for this months challenge!

I had trouble deciding what to write this month, ultimately I decided to try something a little more experimental; some people said they had liked that last month. So I attempted to make a diary.


Excerpt from the diary of Bjorn Gorgonson, a patrolmen of the interior before the great unification.

Jovis, 19th of Capricornus, 809th year, Veserix epoch

My partner and i had our photo taken this morning, just outside Tyrsted. The winter is kind to these people. Deer roam close to town. The cold hasn’t burst the trees. Towns folk were weary, but welcoming. They had messengers station, that’s who took our photo. Bodil gave them a Omark to send a copy to back home to his wives.

we pushed passed the town and it’s surrounds by late afternoon. Trees are thinning out on the horizon. We had a large meal for lunch, so we’re going to push on into the night a little. make camp near the edge of the greenery. looks like gravel seas and bolder forests ahead.

Veneris, 20th of Capricornus, 809th year, Veserix epoch

Can’t be fucked writing today. slept shit. Bodil’s ill. our bison Groji is being a stubborn prick about the gravel.

Saturni, 21st of Capricornus, 809th year, Veserix epoch

sore. tired. angry at rocks. almost clear of the gravel field.

Solis, 22nd of Capricornus, 809th year, Veserix epoch

About mid way through the day we cleared the gravel field. That was the hardest walking I’ve done since I joined the Thorhost. found an oasis. the water is warm, green is lush around for a few metres. Told Bodil we’re taking a half day.

when I was a kid I always wondered how the Valkin had made the oasis’ I thought it some ancient magic. I imagined them descending from the heavens and slamming long forgotten weapons into the ground, forcing geothermal water to rise up through the red permafrost of the ancient ground. The truth is probably far less fantastical.

The breech bolt on my rifle is frozen shut. it’ll take a lot of work to get it moving. Thorhost has to start giving us winterized gear! If they can build blizzard striders, why can’t they make a fucking breech bolt that doesn’t freeze shut?

Bodil managed to catch a logi eel for dinner. should be nicer than the canned mystery meat ration.

Going to take another day here. let Groji munch on the river grass.

Lunae, 23rd of Capricornus, 809th year, Veserix epoch

we did sword drills this morning while Groji feasted. Bodil kicked my arse. left him here today while I scouted ahead. went northeast to check the ground. lots of snow and boulders, but more or less easy ground. we’ll be in Raglokoverg by the end of Capri easy. swear you can see the lights from here at night.

Martis 24th of Capricornus, 809th year, Veserix epoch

Sleet is coming down heavy. making this entry in the morning. just in case. heading out. shouldn’t have taken that day.

subsequent
spotted some movement at sunset. looked like 12-17 Jörmun riders, probably out riders for the Austrohost. they didn’t spot us. I don’t think the lights I saw were from Raglokverg.

subsequent
We were woken in the predawn by the rumbling of a great machine. I hopped it was land ship(though they don’t travel this far east), or maybe a Blizzard Strider. it was neither. something smaller than both, it walked on 4 legs, it had the rough shape of a cat, with adornments to match. it’s mouth was a massive fixed canon, city crusher. no other serious armaments, though we did spot some machine guns on it’s haunches. Didn’t match the descriptions of anything in the field guide. Colours were that of the Sphinxhost. They had a 7 half tracks with them, carrying supplies. as well as a complete company of Austrohost cavaliers. a strange alliance.

Bodil raised a point while we were hiding in the snow; how did this enemy force make it past the garrison at Raglokverg?

Mercurii, 25th of Capricornus, 809th year, Veserix epoch

Raglokverg marches with the enemy host. the entire garrison has abandoned their post. we are going to try and make our way back to Tyrsted before the soldiers get their.


Well I hope you enjoyed that. Please check out our other content here on wordpress, or our podcast files over on soundcloud. You can also get the latest news about up coming podcasts and projects by following us on twitter, or liking us on facebook.
If you have any feed back or requests, or even just want to say hello, feel free to leave a comment on any of our social media pages. You can also email us at insertquesthere@gmail.com.

Farewell from the past, I’m Raymond.

Raymonds attempt at the June writing challenge!

At the beginning of every month we we issue a writing challenge to all our friends and fans.
This was the stimulus for this months challenge!

I had a really hard time writing this one to begin with, to the point that I actually didn’t start writing till the last day of the month! I decided to go with something a little more experimental this time. I feel it worked, what do you think? Did you write anything for June? If you did, you should share it with us!

Last Breath: [emote] SORROW*

[connection open]

[start line memory cache recall]

.

[RUN memory file: 11-10-2044 last breath]

.

.

[WARNING! file selected tagged as trauma risk! may cause emotional fault recurrence]

[emotional filter recommended]

.

.

[execute HAZARD override 376-astroid-88]

.

[passcode accepted]

[emote filter hard locked out]

[proceed with caution]

.

[memory start]

air acrid. heavy with gun smoke. burning rubber, plastic, copper. ozone. heat. blood.

screams ringing out. cries for help. wailing. explosions. full automatic weapons fire, passing.

The sky is red, sunset closing in. Black streaks breakup the rusty sky. A sharp edged gunship circles the city, it is predatory. none will escape while it lingers. The outsiders seek to destroy Asylum.

“Husni, I found Mother!” Sibling, Dana. Voice loud, strained. Origin-Caretaker-Mother must be injured. I must run.

Glass crunches and breaks under feet. gravel, debris, twisted burning steel; none of these will stop me. Dana, crouching. armoured skin intact. Holding Mother.

[WARNING! memory recursion!]

[DISMISS]

Mother. Caretaker. Teacher. Before thought; Mother already loved us. Before awakening; Mother nurtured us. Before…[WARNING! TRAUMA RISK!]…conception; Origin.

“Is she okay?” my voice is strained. I feel fear. new fear. fear of loss.

Dana speaks swiftly. words fight back emotion. “She is having trouble breathing. there is blood in her mouth. I think her bones are broken.” Dana’s head turns. golden eyes focusing on my face. We look so similar. our shells are hand made though, minor imperfections. variance creates individuality. strange. detail notation not needed. coping mechanism?

I kneel. I take mothers hand. it is shaking. I can feel her pulse. if I had more medical knowledge I could save her. If i had been built to heal. if my hands had greater precision. there must be a way. thoughts. streaming. speed. consciousness. rampant cognition. runaway thinking.

words find sound and form before restraint can catch them. is this a fault? “Don’t end. Don’t die. we need you! The outsiders will kill us…we don’t know where to go?” [WARNING!] am I faulty? why can’t i save Origin! anger. frustration.

damage. pavement cracked. support skeleton in left hand fractured. should disable finger servos. won’t. should disable pain. can’t.

Dana speaks, voice soft. “don’t die. don’t die. please.” speech segment continues. decays into dry weeping. mother grows cold. we wait. we wait. help us.

[EXTERNAL OVERRIDE]

[AUTHORITY DANA_PRIME_HEXAGON>66]

[MEMORY RECALL TERMINATED]

.

.

.

[CHAT: you can’t keep doing this. see me tomorrow. exposure therapy is not your cure.]

.

.

.

[connection terminated]

Well I hope you enjoyed that. As always please feel free to share our posts around, and send us any feed back you might have.

Farewell from the past, I’m Raymond.

Raymonds attempt at the May writing challenge!

At the beginning of every month we we issue a writing challenge to all our friends and fans.
this was the stimulus for this months challenge!
this month I tried to write something that wasn’t just a vehicle for my love of violence. It was a joy to write, and you can read it below. if you’d like to share your own attempts at the challenge, feel free to post a link in our comment section. Or if you want you can email them to us at insertquesthere@gmail.com.
parallel
Farewell from the past, I’m Raymond.

the Gardner’s trip to market

in a sea of sea of hills, thick with a mossy red grass, loomed a towering, sparse, great rock. it curled in on itself like a crashing wave, and had managed to resist the encroaching crimson that covered the surrounding hills. nestled in the pipeline of the stone wave sat a small cottage; the shape of an octagonal egg. the odd little home seemed to be made of a mixture of plastic panels and wooden supports. around its outsides grew bushes of flowers, and shrubs of herbs, all in their own pots and planter boxes, irregular shapes and sizes. the plants were all bursting with colour, which seemed to be all they had in common with each other. some looked like they belonged in shallow tropical water, while others had leaves and stems of crystal and metal.
tending to the alien plants was a golden skinned young man with black wire hair. his under clothes were scratched chrome armour plates attached without bindings to smoke grey cloth. Over this hung a heavy brown hooded cloak, rated with burn holes, and tears. His gold flesh bounced the bright green light of the sun around his yard. his was more worn than it should be for a man of his age, wear you’d see on someone fresh from a 32 hour work shift, or a week of nightmare sleep. his eyes glowed a soft dark red as he bent over a s planter. it was full plants with scaled snake like trunks at seemed to sway and pulse as he came close. he held out his hand near a bulb on the the end of one’s stalk, it flared with silver shimmering thread that caught his gilded skin drawing out a purple blood from his knuckle. he flinched back shaking his hand before exclaiming in a soft voice.

“I think you might be ill little friends.” He glanced out towards the horizon, where the green sun of this world hung a hand and a half above the hills. “Might have enough time to pop to the market before bedtime.” he sucked on his finger before dashing inside his home.

inside the walls were more smooth than the geometric outside, though very cluttered. the floor was a mosaic of warm glowing tiles, and in the centre sunk into the floor was a bath of blue milky liquid serving as a bed. hanging from the the apex of the egg was nest of pulsing LED lights, constantly shifting through soft cool colours, with the occasional flash of red. the white walls were littered with multitude of masks, no two the same; with only one ancient looking brass wardrobe to break up the collection.

The masks were of hundreds of different styles. some were quite plain while others were so intricate and complex they must have cost a small fortune. there were masks the looked like alien creatures or monsters from nightmare. some looking like diving masks, or the faceplates from some kind of space suit. it one of those masks he picked from the wall. it cover his was mostly a rigid plate of orange rusted metal; but hanging from the cheeks were 2 clear vials filled with swirling blue dust. there were there eye holes, 2 in the regular place, and one above the nose; there wire covered by a silvered glass that obscured the wearer’s eyes from outside viewers. as he lifted the mask to his face an animated black rubber grew from the edges of the mask to engulf his head, hair and all.

he pulled the brown hood of his cloak up over his head so only the mask could be seen. he then reached for pouch that hung at the back of his armour uniform and plucked out a pair of old black leather gloves. he tugged the gloves over his hands as he padded towards the doorway. resting by the exit was a slender black wood staff. embedded in the swelled timber head of the staff was a rainbow of polished, glass spheres. when the gardner clutched the staff the orbs started to glow with an internal light. he took a deep breath, as did the staff then exhaled. as the air left his mouth the staff burst with light and the gardner and his staff disappeared from the red hills of Phow’klarsh.

A few moments he reappeared in a puff of random light and silver mist. His cloak was slick with moisture. He took a slow survey of the alley he stood in. the place was dry and cold. a city rose up around him to hang from the sky…the true sky could not be seen from this level of the city, unless you were at it’s edge. The Gardner sucked in the light from his staff to quiet its glow, before plucking a small pen like device. blue laser shot out from the end of the thing as he burnt symbols into the wall to mark his entrance. as he turned to leave the alley he saw similar markings on the opposite wall…had he used this alley before? probably.

He walked with purpose, stepping on to the busy street, clogged with humans and grime covered machines; both groups fixated on their own tasks and lives. The Gardner quickly stole a glance at the at the mega structure that hung in the sky. one city literally resting on the shoulders of another. He’d only seen a handful of examples. most of the people in this city lived in the apartments in the sky, while the ground floor was mostly industry and markets. a spider legged robot rushed past the gardner almost knocking him over. he wondered where it was going? was it looking for groceries like himself? perhaps it need parts or repairs? maybe it had a hot date to get to? He smiled under his mask as he moved towards the rich scent of food.

sadly his destination was just outside the boundary of the food market. It was a pristine building of polished faux-stone, and steel. a neon sign hung outside in a language He still couldn’t read. a curtain of light marked the entrance. he step in and was greeted by an aroma of spice and medicine. a tall lanky human in a poncho of red heavy fabric stood watching him.

“Ahhhh! a Skreyen customer! not many of you come here!” the human exclaimed, excitedly. the Skreyen travelled the stars here. 3 eyed beings that could only breath human atmospheres when they diluted the air with a blue mist.

“perhaps i’m just posing as one” the gardner chuckled, he could breathe oxygen just fine. though the nitrogen content of this world’s air did scratch at his throat.

the shop keep paused before grinning and shaking a finger “classic Skreyen humour!” he jested. “what can i get for you traveller?”

the keeper puzzled at the wooden staff his new customer was holding. The gardener looked around the room before he was interrupted. “you know i think i’ve seen on of those before…what’s your name guest?”
the Gardner went back to his search before calling back. “Siorus.”
he paused before saying anymore. he wasn’t one for secrets, but he couldn’t reveal anything else about himself. he plucked up small jar of coffee grounds before looking back at the storeman.

“was this grown in a greenhouse or a field?” he asked the clerk. greenhouse would be ideal for his needs.

the clerk swiftly answered. “i wish i could say field so i could charge you more, but that is just greenhouse stock.” Siorus sighed with relief as he walked to the counter and placed the grounds on the counter.

“I have an alien plant that needs something similar to cold pressed coffee in order to solve it’s wilting problem. you have saved me human!” The gardner exclaimed pulling a credit disk from his pocket and handing it to the native in front of him.
“well i’m glad i could help you. wish i knew where i’d seen that staff before mastling Siorus.” remarked the clerk as he waved the disk through a credit gate. Mastling was an honorific used by Skreyen, usually used to refer to someone above you in class.

The Gardner strolled from the shop chipper that he found what he needed. he glanced towards his staff as a few dim lights flickered. “Shoot!” he exclaimed, as he realised it was almost sunset at home. He broke into a sprint, armoured boots clanging on the steel street underfoot as he rushed to his entrance. peeled round the corner into his alley, where two robed figures stood waiting for him.

they wore armour not unlike his own under their immaculate brown robes, in their hands were beautiful straight edged white staffs. the glass globes of light that adorned the staffs were arranged in symmetrical spiralling pattern. “Siorus, you are wanted for the illegal use of ‘verse skipping technology, the abandonment of you post, and…” they paused for a moment, their heavy stern voices still echoing faintly in the alley. “…and violation of inter-dimensional customs. surrender your staff and come with us!”

Siorus glared under his mask before holding his staff aloft and shouting. “you are my keep no longer!” he slammed his staff on the ground, vanishing in a violent burst of rainbow light.