Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Spirit of the Season: Part Three

            The precautions were really very simple though would prove effective if necessary. Raven and Leopold would be the two to meet with the employer. Raven would go because she was taking the lead on this job and was responsible for large scale planning. Leopold would also attend the meeting. This decision had been difficult mainly because if the meeting was a trap, he was the one person who would be most useful in springing the others from whatever jail cell they might end up in. In the end, it was decided that he would also meet with the employer because he would actually be doing the job. If there were any questions that should be asked at this meeting, he was the one who would know what they were.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Spirit of the Season: Part Two

            "So now are you going to tell us who we're supposed to kill?" Midas asked when they were finally settled in their room.
            "We don't know that the job is to kill someone," Leopold argued. "I'm still willing to put money on that wager if you want."
            "It's an assassination job," Midas argued. "Daniel all but said so."
            "I'll give you odds of one hundred to one," Leopold tried to entice his brother. "Just think how much money you could make if I'm wrong."
            "Enough already with the betting," Raven cut in. "People's lives are nothing to wager money on. It's not a game."
            "Ha! 'People's lives.'" Midas said. "I told you we were killing someone."

Monday, December 16, 2013

Spirit of the Season: Part One

            The snow was falling as the group entered the outskirts of town. They had traveled most of the way on foot catching a ride on a merchant's wagon for only the last few miles. The ride was a welcome rest for Leopold's feet, but it was certainly a trade off. Now that he wasn't moving, the bitter cold of the place seeped into his bones. He had on multiple layers which served to break the wind, but everywhere his skin was exposed had gone numb long ago.
            "Why did we have to come here of all places?" Midas complained. "It's so cold I can't feel myself think."

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Spirit of the Season: Introduction

Spirit of the Season is the third story in the series about The Group. It is a Christmas themed story. This is a new idea for me, trying to work the Christmas spirit into a story that is not based entirely around the season. As always, I hope that you enjoy this latest offering of creativity and welcome any feedback that you might have (good or bad!).

-Peter Last

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

The Poker Table

            "I'm not so sure that this is a good idea," John Peter said.
            "Come on, Bulldog," Killjoy urged his friend, using his nickname. "This thing is a sure bet. Well, as sure as you can get while you're gambling."
            "That's exactly what I'm worried about," John said. "Gambling, by definition, isn't a sure thing. That's why it's called gambling."
            "I know that, but I always win," Killjoy said. "It's like taking candy from babies for me. Every time that I have ever walked into a casino or sat down at a game of cards, I have always walked away a richer man."
            "So what do you need me for, then?" John asked. He carried a blaster from the table where he had been cleaning it and hung it in the armory. "Take your money, win enough to pay yourself back and buy the core, and we're good to go."
            "I can't get into a game with high enough stakes for that," Killjoy said, "not with the pittance that I have. But I know that you have a fair amount stashed away. Your money could get me into the right game."
            "I do have some put away," John agreed, and a hell of a lot of good it's done me, he added to himself. "I have that because I saved it and didn't take it to the gambling tables."
            "I promise that I can double your money and get a new core for the Safe Haven," Killjoy said. "I just need enough money to get into the game."
            "If you're so all firing good at gambling, why do you only have 'a pittance'?” John asked as he retrieved a large weapon from the weapon vault and took it out to the armory's repair benches. His best guess was that this hunk of metal was a prototype of a heavy weapon, but he had yet to see it work. Maybe today would be the day that he figured out how to fix it.
            "Don't really remember," Killjoy answered honestly. "I guess I probably spent all of it as quickly as I could win it."
            "And what's to say that you won't spend my money as well as your winnings?" John asked. He had already decided to help out Killjoy but quite frankly enjoyed making him beg.
            "You'll be there," Killjoy answered. "Besides, I'm going to be playing for a new core for the ship. It's hard to spend that."
            "I'll help you," John finally said without even putting aside his tools. With a quick head motion, he flipped his magnifying visor down. "I do have one question, though."
            "What is it?" Killjoy asked mid-fist pump. He was so thrilled to finally have financial backing for his plan that he was willing to answer almost anything.
            "How is it that you're so good at winning?" John asked. "Do you cheat? Because as a member of the Space Corps, I'm not allowed to tolerate cheating."
            "In that case, I don't cheat," Killjoy answered. "And nobody will be able to prove otherwise."
            "Well, you know what they say," John said. "It's only cheating if you get caught. I don't subscribe to that theory, but people who gamble are just begging to have their money stolen by cheaters."
            "We also need it a lot more than they do," Killjoy said. "With the stakes that we'll be playing for, our opponents could probably lose an entire planet in a bet and not have it affect their pocket book."
            "Yeah right," John said. "People don't actually bet planets."
            "Yes they do," Killjoy disagreed. "Don't be surprised if you see a few of them changing hands tonight."
            "No joke?" John asked, still focused intently on the weapon in front of him. "After everything that I've seen, that will be a new one for me."
            "Not me," Killjoy said. He grabbed a rifle from the weapon vault and sat down at the repair bench across from John. "I actually owned one for a short while. Three hands, to be exact."
            "Three hands?" John asked, looking at his friend momentarily. "I thought you always walked away richer."
            "What's it tell you that I lost a planet and was still richer than when I started?" Killjoy shot back.
            "Either you had very little to begin with or it was a pretty crappy planet," John answered immediately.
            "A little of both, actually," Killjoy said.
            "So, when are we starting this ill-conceived plan?" John asked. He had faith in Killjoy to deliver but was still ever the pessimist, at least in speech.
            "Well, the high stakes won't start until later," Killjoy said. "By later, I mean midnight or later. I do want to hit up a few low stake games early on, though, just to dust off my skills."
            "So nine o'clock?" John asked. "We can tell Cap that we're going out to look for discount equipment for the armory."
            "I have been meaning to pick up some spare charge mags for the laser rifles," Killjoy agreed. "The blaster we have enough for but not the rifles."
            "Nine it is, then," John said. "I hear that all of the best dealers open shop then."
            "Agreed," Killjoy said, but they were not thinking about the same dealers.

Monday, December 02, 2013

The Black Market

            Abner Mitchell bent his knees for the landing and tucked into a roll on impact. He was instantly back on his feet and running. Something was lodged in his left boot and was digging into his instep, but he continued forward through the pain. At least it pretty much balanced out the pain of the laser burn across his right shoulder.
            Today was not a good day for him or his ship, the Safe Haven. The signs were in abundance, but he had ignored them. When he woke up and flipped on the lights only to have them flare briefly and burn out, he should have rolled over and went back to sleep. As perseverant (a.k.a. stubborn) as he was, he should have taken the signal when his breakfast burned, but he didn't. Then he ripped a giant hole in the seat of his pants when he was entering the ship's land vehicle, a standard skiff. He went to change, but found that all of his laundry was dirty. He ended up going out with dirty pants. If only he had remembered his mother saying when he was young, "Abner, you should always wear clean pants when you go out in public. Nothing good ever came of people wearing dirty pants in public." But he hadn't remembered and he had continued with the day's schedule, oblivious to the warnings the universe had tried to give him.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Castle Rajikline

            A dark silhouette stood on the broken down guard tower and starred across the moat at the castle. In terms of castles, it was not very big, but it was one of the best built and most heavily defended in the whole realm. Covering just a quarter mile square of ground, it had more than 200 soldiers to patrol its walls and guard it. To assault the castle with an army would have been suicide. A moat prevented access to the wall, meaning that the army would be trapped across the water with nothing to do except be hit by javelins and rocks flung by the siege machinery on the walls as well as the arrows from the archers stationed in the castle towers. If, by some miracle, the army was able to cross the moat, they would be rained down upon by caldrons of boiling oil and large boulders, a very effective defense indeed. There was a reason that the devices that allowed for this direct assault form above were called 'murder holes.'

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Marsh Madness

            "You have the whole world to choose from and this is the job that you pick?" Leopold asked, looking out over the swamp that stretched before him. It was thick with trees and swamp plants but not so thick as to hide the sticky, squelchy mud underneath. The smell was horrible but every so often a large bubble would rise to the surface of the mud and burst, releasing a foul odor that, as Midas was fond of saying, would knock a buzzard off a manure wagon. A dull sucking sound indicated that this had happened again, and Leopold's nostrils were assaulted by the awful stink.
            "Holy cow!" Midas said. "That's strong enough to knock a buzzard off a manure wagon!"
            "I didn't have the 'whole world' to chose from, as you would put it," Daniel responded to Leopold's earlier question. "This was the only job that was even worth doing. It was either this or kill stray dogs that were killing some poor fool's chickens. I mean seriously, why doesn't he just get a dog of his own and have it chase off the strays?"
            "Because then the domestic dog would eat the chickens," Raven countered.
            "Teach the stupid thing not to eat them," Daniel said. "It is possible to train a dog."
            "So instead of killing stray dogs we're in a swamp," Leopold grumbled. "We'd better be getting paid a lot more to be in this filth."

Friday, November 29, 2013

Marsh Madness: Part Eight

Leopold used Midas’ knife to carefully slice through the slimy substance that encased Raven and tore it open, revealing her face. Her eyes were closed and her skin was pale and clammy, but at least she was breathing. He continued to remove the substance until the girl was completely free of it.
“I still don’t get it,” Midas said. He gestured to several other mucus covered forms lying on the ground. Opening these cocoons had revealed several swamp creatures and even a deer. Leopold wondered absently how a deer had made it this far from its natural habitat.
“It’s like a spider,” Leopold explained to his brother. “You carry Raven and I’ll explain on the way back to camp.”
“You can find the way?” Daniel asked. “Even out here?”
“Tracking an animal may be difficult in a swamp, but I can always backtrack, no matter where I am,” Leopold answered. “I can most certainly find the way back.”
“Well, what are we waiting for?” Midas asked. He threw the limp form of Raven over his shoulder. “Which way do we go?”

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Marsh Madness: Part Seven

Midas, and Daniel stood frozen for a few moments, the weight of Leopold’s words still handing in the air. All three scanned the trees surrounding them. The shadows seemed a little darker than before, and everything was a potential threat.
“What exactly are we looking for?” Daniel asked.
“I don’t exactly know,” Leopold responded in a low voice. “I have no idea what we’re even following or how big it is.”
“Just look for anything out of the ordinary,” Midas hissed.
“Out of the ordinary?” Daniel asked. “In a swamp? How familiar do you think I am with stinking wet-land environments?”
“Shut up,” Leopold hissed. He lifted his nose slightly and sniffed experimentally. “Do you smell that?”
Before anyone could answer, a deafening roar shook the swamp. The sound accosted them from behind, accompanied by a roiling gust of warm, moist air. Midas tried to spin on his heels, but his feet stuck in the mud and he fell to the ground. Leopold twisted at the waist to see what was happening but only saw what looked like a tree trunk rushing toward him. At contact he knew it was no tree; the texture was too scaly for that. The force of the blow knocked him fifteen feet through the air and out of his boots which were still stuck in the mud. He landed on his back but immediately righted himself, thankful that none of the foul smelling mud had gotten into his eyes. He looked to where he had been standing only moments ago and gaped slack-jawed at what he saw.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Marsh Madness: Part Six (forgotten)


Below is the back end to Part Six of Marsh Madness. Somehow I managed to not upload it last time. The original post is updated with it as well. So here it is...enjoy.

            “There’s no way in heck that I’m doing that,” Midas snarled. “Leopold, tell him he’s being ridiculous.”
            “You’re both being ridiculous for making so much noise while we’re tracking a monster,” Leopold shot back. “It probably already knows that we’re here thanks to you.”
            “Another reason to not risk our lives on a futile mission,” Daniel said.
            “Wrong,” Leopold countered in a quiet voice. “Raven isn’t dead as far as I can tell. I can get us back to camp, so we aren’t in any danger at the moment as long as you to shut up. We’re going to continue.”
            “You’re not thinking,” Daniel argued. “Raven has been captured by a beast of significant size and will be dead soon if she isn’t already. Even if we find the thing, we won’t be able to anything to it. You saw the destruction that it wreaked; we’ll be like gnats to it.”
            “If you want to go back, be my guest,” Leopold said sharply. “Take your amazing tracking skills and find your own way back to the camp. Take our stedillion, take our contract fee, but take it away from here.”
            “You know that I can’t find my way back,” Daniel complained. “You’ve gotten us so lost and turned around I don’t know which way is north.”
            “Well I do, which means that you have two options,” Leopold said. “Either leave right now or stay, but if you stay, you had better keep your mouth shut or I will shut it for you.”
            The harsh statement from the younger boy caught Daniel off guard.
            “We really are close, aren’t we?” he asked.
            “Yes we are, and unless you want to end up dead, you need to be quiet.”

Monday, October 21, 2013

Marsh Madness: Part Six



            "What the heck was this thing?" Midas asked again, looking at the massive trail of destruction cut through the trees.
            "Where do you think it went?" Daniel asked. "Raven's living on borrowed time right now."
            "If anyone can track it, Leo can," Midas said, looking toward his brother.
            "It's going to be tough at best," Leopold commented, looking down at the mud. The tracks left by the creature, large as they were to begin with, were now gone.
            "Come on, don't screw around," Midas said. "I've seen you track things a lot smaller than this."
            "But that wasn't in a marsh," Leopold countered. He scanned the surrounding area for something, anything that would allow him to track the beast. Footprints were only a small weapon in the arsenal of an accomplished tracker.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Marsh Madness: Part Five

            Leopold watched as Raven walked away. With her nose in the air as it was, she was unable to see where she was going and stepped into two holes. It would have almost been funny had she not been mad at him. What it was that he had done, he still didn't know. He'd have to ask his brother when he got the chance. Midas seemed to have a better grasp on what other people thought; maybe he would be able to explain it.
            Leopold drew his knife and slashed at a strand of swamp grass. The razor sharp blade severed the plant easily, and for the first time, Leopold realized that he was angry with Raven. He certainly had the right to be angry, he told himself. She had latched onto something that he had said and blown it incredibly out of proportion. The least that she could have done would have been to explain what it was that he had done that was so bad. Instead, she had held it against him for four days. This was utterly ridiculous.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Marsh Madness: Part Four

            "Can I sit here?" Leopold asked.
            Raven looked up from her lunch and stared at him for a few long moments. To him they felt like eternity. Finally she swallowed the food that she was chewing and made a sweeping gesture with her hand to the rock that she was sitting on.
            "Be my guest." The tone was less than sincere. "I thought that I was so small as to escape your notice." She clearly didn't want him to sit, but he did anyway.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Marsh Madness: Part Three

            The sun was up again and shining through the trees, and the mosquitoes and gnats were out in full vengeance. Leopold led The Group out into the marsh, heading toward a large patch of stedillion. Daniel had suggested that he lead the party since he was the youngest and had made some lame excuse out of that fact. Leopold knew that it was just an excuse; he could tell that Daniel was scared of this swamp. The wizard simply didn't want to be in the front in case there were ghosts or something of the sort lurking about. Leopold certainly didn't put any stock in stories of the sort; the worst thing that they had to contend with would be the plants that they were gathering and the bugs that continued to bite them. A snake might happen along or perhaps something a bit larger, but it was sure to be nothing that they couldn't handle. He looked back at his brother. The older boy had brought an axe today, ostensibly to aid in the plant gathering, but more likely it was to fight with should that become necessary. Even Raven seemed ready for a skirmish. Though she was dressed as lightly as the previous day, her hand rested on the hilt of her dagger, always ready to  use it at a moment's notice.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Marsh Madness: Part Two

            "You and your stupid contracts are going to get us killed one day, Daniel," Midas groaned. He waved his swollen hands in the air. "What am I supposed to do about this?"
            "Suck it up and be a man," the wizard suggested. "Everyone else has the same problem."
            Raven and Leopold nodded in agreement as they looked over their swollen bodies. No matter how much care they had given, the thorns of the stedillion always seemed to find and pierce their skin. They had taken on so much of the poison that their hands and arms were swollen almost beyond use. One side of Leopold's face was also swollen due to an unfortunate accident with one plant.
            The biggest problem with the plants was their stems. Though they were tough enough to require a knife to cut them, they were also extremely flexible. Trying to slash through their stems simply resulted in them bending over and not breaking. It was necessary to hold the plant with one hand while cutting through it with a knife. In other words, there was no good way to do it.
            "I don't get it," Raven said suddenly. The Group had stopped gathering a half hour ago and were now waiting on their dinner to cook.
            "What don't you get?" Leopold asked. He was using his knife, as well as he could given his swollen hands, to sharpen a stick.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Marsh Madness: Part One

            "You have the whole world to choose from and this is the job that you pick?" Leopold asked, looking out over the swamp that stretched before him. It was thick with trees and swamp plants but not so thick as to hide the sticky, squelchy mud underneath. The smell was horrible but every so often a large bubble would rise to the surface of the mud and burst, releasing a foul odor that, as Midas was fond of saying, would knock a buzzard off a manure wagon. A dull sucking sound indicated that this had happened again, and Leopold's nostrils were assaulted by the awful stink.

Friday, August 09, 2013

The Poker Table: Part Seven



            "Holly cow, did you see me!" Killjoy exclaimed when they were several blocks away from the Free For All. "The Safe Haven being worth two or three million! I can't believe that I pulled that one off with a straight face."
            "Your ship?" John asked. The tone of voice was stern, but there was a smile on his face. "Since when did you own that ship? You could have lost it, you know."
            "So what?" Killjoy asked. "If I lost it, we'd be out the biggest piece of crap in the entire world. I'd be a lot more worried about what Jacobs would have done when he actually saw the ship. Two or three mil indeed!"
            "You sure played the situation well," Angie offered. Though the look on her face during the whole ordeal had been one of terror, she had regained her confident attitude. "You play poker a lot?"
            "Hardly at all, any more," Killjoy said. " The salary of a Space Corp Chief doesn't pay well enough for me to be able to afford it. Besides, don't have the time anymore."

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Marsh Madness: Introduction

Marsh Madness is the second short story in my series that chronicles the adventures of some soldiers-for-hire who call themselves The Group. Part 1 of Marsh Madness will be posted on 13 August 2013 with new parts every two days or so.

As always, enjoy the story and if you have any comments, please share them in the section after the story. Also, if you like what you're reading, suggest my blog to others. Thanks!

-Peter Last

The Poker Table: Part Six



            "We have to do something," John said. His face showed no expression, but this was as worked up as Killjoy had ever seen him.
            "Do something about what?" Killjoy asked. What his friend was so worried about he couldn't tell.
            "Angie," John got out. "She's been bet on that stupid poker game. That thug just came and dragged her off."
            "She's a slave, Bulldog," Killjoy said. "There's not a lot that we can do."
            "Go buy her," John offered.
            Form Mr. Jacobs?" Killjoy asked with a humorless laugh. "Not a chance! That man has so much money you couldn't tempt him with the world. He'd refuse to sell just for the fun of it."
            "Then we kidnap her," John said. "She doesn't deserve this. She's no slave."
            "Don't be an idiot," Killjoy said. "There's no way that we could kidnap her. Jacobs has a dozen guards with him."
            "Then gamble him for her," John said, motioning to the duffle bag on Killjoy's shoulder.
            "That's money for the ship," Killjoy said. "We can't afford to lose it."
            "You said that you could win," John countered. Killjoy sighed.
            "Yes, I did say that."
            "Then win," John said. "You win, and we all walk away from here with the money that you've already won for the ship."
            "Fine," Killjoy said after several long moments, "but we're going to do this my way.

Monday, August 05, 2013

The Poker Table: Part Five



            "I don't have the money to stay in," Andrew said, looking at the empty table in front of him.
            "And you don't gamble more than you can afford," Killjoy said. "I suppose that means that you're going to have to fold."
            "Now hold on a second," Andrew said. "I can afford to lose a little bit more, yet. I have full stock back at the store. What about a shield generator? I've got the Mark VII in stock."
            "Mark VII?" Killjoy said with some surprise. "That's supposed to be the latest and greatest. How much do those things retail for?"
            "Around two hundred thousand," Andrew answered matter-of-factly.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

The Poker Table: Part Four



            Killjoy glanced at his cards and then at his watch. It was 12:30; most of the big rollers would have arrived by now. He had more than enough money now to get into one of their games, so this would be his last round at this table. It would be increasing his pool of cash a little more, he didn't even have to see Bulldog's signals to know that. Four of a kind will win just about any game of poker, particularly one of five card draw. He continued to pump money into the pot, walking the line between too much and too little. Too little and the game wouldn't hardly be worth playing; too much and he would scare off the other players. The bid was called and the cards were down. Killjoy raked in the pot and began to organize the coins and bills.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

The Poker Table: Part Three



            Midnight was approaching, and John's pocketbook had never looked better. Angie was a fantastic pool player and clearly not a new comer to the sport of gaming people out of their money. She threw the right shots, even the lower stakes games, to keep up the charade that she and John were just another couple looking to gamble a few dollars on a friendly game of pool. John appreciated the fact, knowing that he would have to fly below the radar to make the next part of Killjoy's plan to work. He didn't want to make a name for himself lest he be recognized, snooping around the poker tables later.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

New Story Posts

So what has happened to my posts (again)? I had to take a break from writing stories to do some revisions on my book. Of course, my primary job right now is getting that thing read to print so bear with me for a few days until I can get some more of my stories written.

My goal is to have the revisions done in the next day or so and to continue with The Poker Table and another story of The Group after that. Hope you enjoy what I have up now and will tune back in for more of my stories. Hopefully you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them.

-Peter Last

Castle Rajikline: Part Eight

            In reality, someone like Leo was likely to stay single for a very long time, but that thought was the furthest from his mind at the moment. He hung, suspended from the mounting braces of an arched ceiling, waiting for a guard on patrol to pass beneath him. The man was taking his sweet time about it, though, and Leopold's arms were beginning to cramp. Despite the discomfort, he was not about to let go. It had taken too much to get this far for him to fail now.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Castle Rajikline: Part Seven

            Raven stood near the entrance to the broken down guard tower that The Group had taken for their base of operations. She looked out over the fields  to where Castle Rajikline rose into the sky, the moon silhouetting it perfectly. This was what she and Leo had been looking at the last time they had talked and somehow that comforted her a little. Leo was a resourceful boy; she was certain that he would come out of this safely with whoever it was that he was supposed to be rescuing.

The Poker Table: Part Two

            The tavern that Killjoy had selected was a rundown joint that John mistrusted as soon as he saw it. This was the type of place where you would be overcharged for your watered-down drinks and probably catch some awful disease from the nonexistent sanitation. The only reason that it stayed in business was because of pseudo-legal gambling hall. While gambling was not illegal per-se, it was frowned upon, and many things were illegal to wager in games. In this tavern, appropriately named the Free For All, everything was legal to play for as long as the cops didn't catch you. Planets, ship parts, illegal drugs, even people regularly traded hands on the premises. The owner only sold drinks as a cover, making most of his money from his two sons and one daughter-in-law, all of whom were professional poker players. With their skills, they were able to make a significant amount of money for their patriarch, either by winning credits straight up or by selling the goods that they won.

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Poker Table: Part One

            "I'm not so sure that this is a good idea," John Peter said.
            "Come on, Bulldog," Killjoy urged his friend, using his nickname. "This thing is a sure bet. Well, as sure as you can get while you're gambling."
            "That's exactly what I'm worried about," John said. "Gambling, by definition, isn't a sure thing. That's why it's called gambling."
            "I know that, but I always win," Killjoy said. "It's like taking candy from babies for me. Every time that I have ever walked into a casino or sat down at a game of cards, I have always walked away a richer man."
            "So what do you need me for, then?" John asked. He carried a blaster from the table where he had been cleaning it and hung it in the armory. "Take your money, win enough to pay yourself back and buy the core, and we're good to go."
            "I can't get into a game with high enough stakes for that," Killjoy said., "not with the pittance that I have. But I know that you have a fair amount stashed away. Your money could get me into the right game."
            "I do have some put away," John agreed, and a hell of a lot of good it's done me, he added to himself. "I have that because I saved it and didn't take it to the gambling tables."
            "I promise that I can double your money and get a new core for the Safe Haven," Killjoy said. "I just need enough money to get into the game."
            "If you're so all firing good at gambling, why do you only have 'a pittance?'" John asked as he retrieved a large weapon from the weapon vault and took it out to the armory's repair benches. His best guess was that this hunk of metal was a prototype of a heavy weapon, but he had yet to see it work. Maybe today would be the say that he figured out how to fix it.
            "Don't really remember," Killjoy answered honestly. "I guess I probably spent all of it as quickly as I could win it."
            "And what's to say that you won't spend my money as well as your winnings?" John asked. He had already decided to help out Killjoy but quite frankly enjoyed making him beg.
            "You'll be there," Killjoy answered. "Besides, I'm going to be playing for a new core for the ship. It's hard to spend that."
            "I'll help you," John finally said without even putting aside his tools. With a quick head motion, he flipped his magnifying visor down. "I do have one question, though."
            "What is it?" Killjoy asked mid-fist pump. He was so thrilled to finally have financial backing for his plan that he was willing to answer almost anything.
            "How is it that you're so good at winning?" John asked. "Do you cheat? Because as a member of the Space Corps, I'm not allowed to tolerate cheating."
            "In that case, I don't cheat," Killjoy answered. "And nobody will be able to prove otherwise."
            "Well, you know what they say," John said. "It's only cheating if you get caught. I don't subscribe to that theory, but people who gamble are just begging to have their money stolen by cheaters."
            "We also need it a lot more than they do," Killjoy said. "With the stakes that we'll be playing for, our opponents could probably lose an entire planet in a bet and not have it affect their pocket book."
            "Yeah right," John said. "People don't actually bet planets."
            "Yes they do," Killjoy disagreed. "Don't be surprised if you see a few of them changing hands tonight."
            "No joke?" John asked, still focused intently on the weapon in front of him. "After everything that I've seen, that will be a new one for me."
            "Not me," Killjoy said. He grabbed a rifle from the weapon vault and sat down at the repair bench across from John. "I actually owned one for a short while. Three hands, to be exact."
            "Three hands?" John asked, looking at his friend momentarily. "I thought you always walked away richer."
            "What's it tell you that I lost a planet and was still richer than when I started?" Killjoy shot back.
            "Either you had very little to begin with or it was a pretty crappy planet," John answered immediately.
            "A little of both, actually," Killjoy said.
            "So, when are we starting this ill-conceived plan?" John asked. He had faith in Killjoy to deliver but was still ever the pessimist, at least in speech.
            "Well, the high stakes won't start until later," Killjoy said. "By later, I mean midnight or later. I do want to hit up a few low stake games early on, though, just to dust off my skills."
            "So nine o'clock?" John asked. "We can tell Cap that we're going out to look for discount equipment for the armory."
            "I have been meaning to pick up some spare charge mags for the laser rifles," Killjoy agreed. "The blaster we have enough for but not the rifles."
            "Nine it is, then," John said. "I hear that all of the best dealers open shop then."

            "Agreed," Killjoy said, but they were not thinking about the same dealers.

The Poker Table: Introduction

This story is the immediate follow-up to 'The Black Market.' If you haven't read the first story, I would recommend doing so before starting this one. It is a stand alone, however, and is understandable with no background.

As always, enjoy the story and if you have any comments or suggestions, leave them for me in the comments section. Thanks.

-Peter Last

Castle Rajikline: Part Six

            Leopold listened carefully for any indication of a person nearby. Not hearing any, he pushed one final time with his legs, forcing his body through the hole at the top of the pipe and into the room above. Rising to his feet, he scraped some of the muddy sludge off of his clothes and slung it back through the hole he had just come through. By now all thoughts of what he had just done were gone. After the mission, he would probably have to bathe twenty times before he felt clean again, but for now he was immune to it. The only thought on his mind was completing the mission.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

SM 184: Safe Haven

The SM 184: Safe Haven is a space ship in a book that I am currently working on writing. The setting of the narrative is in the future when space travel is common place and when laser and plasma based weapons have been invented. The story follows the eight crew members of the Safe Haven and their exploits on the SM class frigate.

I will be posting several short stories concerning the crew of the Safe Haven. These stories fit in the middle of the book that I am currently writing but provide some good insight into the characters themselves and what they are like. Plus, they are fun and exciting (though some more so than others). If you are a sci-fi fan or just like a good story, please check them out.

As always, if you have any comments or suggestions for me, please post them in the comment section. Thanks.
-Peter Last

Castle Rajikline: Part Five

            Leopold woke suddenly but did not move. In his line of work, such a movement could give away your position almost as fast as standing up and shouting and would negate the past forty-eight hours of work. He had known that approaching the castle unnoticed would be hard since he had to bound across open field while dodging the prying spotlights and eyes looking from the castle walls. Even nature was against him; the moon was full the night that he started. Needless to say, the job was boring and stressful at the same time. Sliding forward on his belly an inch at a time, stopping whenever a spotlight came close was the slowest form of movement ever. He had managed to cross close to half of the field by the end of the first night and took refuge in a conveniently placed haystack where he had waited out the day, sleeping when he could and making sparing use of the supplies that he had brought with him. When night had fallen the second day, he started to move again. The terrain here was better suited to his purpose, and he was able to move slightly faster than before. He reached the bank of the moat about an hour before sunrise and spent about half of the remaining time searching for an appropriate spot to wait out the day. He found what he hoped was an abandoned dugout about a dozen yards from the water. It looked like the water had at one time risen all of the way to the dugout, but had receded since then. Tall grass hung across the indention's opening, masking its interior from sight, and Leopold decided that it would make a good hiding spot.

The Black Market: Part Five

            "Well, I hate to be the one to say it, but that was a miserable failure," Killjoy said as the three compatriots stepped into the crew room. It was completely deserted except for themselves.
            "Then you shouldn't have said it," Abner retorted. It was clear that he was very upset with the results of the morning. "This is your fault," he said, turning on Santa.
            "This was your idea," the mechanic reminded him. "I told you about the dangers of dealing on the black market and you decided to go ahead with it anyway."
            "That's because you talked about how you could get great deals on the market," Abner said. "'We can get a new core for a song' were your exact words."
            "Yes, if you are willing to put up with some acceptable losses," Santa said. "I told you that winning on the market was a rich man's game."
            "Let's not lose our minds over this," Killjoy said. Santa and Abner looked at him in surprise. Killjoy wasn't exactly the person that you would expect to keep tempers down in a room. "At least we still have the money that we went there with so we're no worse off than we were this morning."

Monday, July 22, 2013

Castle Rajikline: Part Four

            "So, are you nervous, Leo?" Midas asked.
            Leopold was sitting on top of the ruined tower again, looking out over the fields at Castle Rajikline. Compared to him, Midas climbed like a drunken ogre, and he had known that the older boy was coming almost as soon as he touched the old, decaying stones. Leopold looked at Midas who sat down beside the younger boy. The two boys had become fast friends since they had met three years ago. They had shared many dangerous and even death defying experiences and had come to depend on each other. In the absence of real families, they had come to look on each other as brothers.
            "It actually kind of surprises me, but no, I'm not nervous," Leopold said. "This is the most dangerous thing that I have ever done and here I am feeling perfectly fine, not even butterflies."
            "Nothing, huh?" Midas asked.
            "Nope," Leopold answered. "It's like the day that we met, you remember right? I was there in the market getting beat up by those rich boys. I'm not sure when exactly I saw you, but suddenly you were there, throwing them off of me and beating them until they had had enough. Well, I was scared before you arrived, but as soon as I saw you, I knew that you were going to take care of me. It's like that now except that I don't know who is going to take care of me."

The Black Market: Part Four

            Jessica Jenson (a.k.a. Saber) was standing on a cat walk welding as the skiff pulled into the Safe Haven's cargo bay. Welding was something that she was good at, despite her background in security. It was a skill that had come in handy when she had been assigned to the Safe Haven as its Loading and Cargo Master. Though it had taken here a while to learn the ropes of the new job, she was now comfortable in the position and was fixing up the cargo bay more to her liking. And that meant a lot of welding.
            As the ship's skiff entered the bay, Jessica turned off her welding torch and flipped up her mask. She waited for the skiff to come to a stop and the passengers to disembark before asking any questions. She would have to yell at them anyway as she was most of the way across the cargo bay.
            "How did it go?" she called. The Captain, Santa, and Killjoy ignored her completely and made a beeline for the door into the rest of the ship. Grady was the only one who paid her question any heed.
            "I don't know exactly," he called from the ground, looking up to where Jessica was perched. "I do know that we don't have a new core, so it couldn't have gone too well. Also, they wouldn't say anything on the way back, so I think they must have screwed up big time."

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Castle Rajikline: Part Three

            Leopold continued to stare at the castle in front of him. The moon was setting and hung behind the castle, highlighting the details of the towers and walls. The silhouette of the structure was certainly less than impressive to look at, though he had heard all of the stories of people trying to breach the walls. Never before in history had that task been successfully accomplished. Only once had the structure switched hands and that was with the help of a famine and a plague. Dying as his people were, the baron who had originally owned the castle had given it up gladly in return for food and medicine. Now, with the current owner on firm economic and political footing, breaching the walls and gaining access to the keep seemed like a dream at best.

The Black Market: Part Three

            It had been half an hour since they had first entered the ally, and the sounds of the search had faded away. Abner walked to the main street and looked both ways. Finally he motioned for Killjoy and Santa to join him.
            "No one in sight," he said.
            "Except for all of the vendors," Killjoy said.
            "It's a figure of speech," Abner said, shaking his head. "It means that the people looking for us aren't in sight."
            "Want me to get Grady on the comm?" Santa asked. "They shouldn't be able to recognize our skiff even if they are still out looking."
            "Yeah, get him over here to pick us up," Abner said as he gingerly touched the still-raw wound on his shoulder. "I've had enough of this mess for one day."
            Santa stepped back into the ally while Killjoy and Abner kept watch. A few minutes later, Santa rejoined them.
            "Grady's on his way," the mechanic said. "He should be here in five minutes give or take for traffic."
            "The sooner the better," Abner said. "I never thought that I'd say this, but I can't wait to get back to the Safe Have. I've had enough of getting shot at for one day."
            "Agree to disagree," Killjoy said, checking the charge on his weapons. "I could stand for a bit more excitement."

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Castle Rajikline: Part Two

            If Castle Rajikline could not be breached with an army, then the only way to overcome it would be with stealth. Logically this made sense, but a stealthy approach on the structure would not be easy by any stretch of the imagination. Forest bordered the moat relatively closely on two sides of the castle while the other two looked out over expansive fields. Of the two sides closest to the trees, the west wall would be the easiest to get to without detection, but easiest did not mean easy or even possible. A good hundred yards of flat land lay between the moat and the trees, and a larger number of lookouts were stationed on the west wall. Without an accomplice on the inside, the castle could not be breached by stealth during the day.

The Black Market: Part Two

            "You still have your contacts, right?" Abner asked Santa. Given that the purpose of this trip was to acquire a new core for the ship, the mechanic would likely have been along, but today his importance was double. Contacts with the black market were a powerful thing when trying to rebuild and refurbish an old, beaten up space frigate.
            "Assuming that everything is the same as when I left this game," Santa answered.
            "You say that like it's been a long time," Grady Sanderson said from the skiff's driver seat. He was the designated driver for today's excursion, mainly because he had nothing to do on the ship right now.
            "Not a long time in normal people's lives," Santa agreed, "but the black market is changing all of the time. Who knows what will have changed after just a few months out of the game."
            "I have no doubt that you'll get us where we need to go," Abner said. "You know better than anyone how much we need this new core."
            "Yeah, which reminds me," Santa said. "We do have the money for the thing, right? The last thing we need to do is get there, try to buy the thing, and not have any money for it. Market men tend to be a bit vindictive of people wasting their time."

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Black Market: Part One

            Abner Mitchell bent his knees for the landing and tucked into a roll on impact. He was instantly back on his feet and running. Something was lodged in his left boot and was digging into his instep, but he continued forward through the pain. At least it pretty much balanced out the pain of the laser burn across his right shoulder.
            Today was not a good day for him or his ship, the Safe Haven. The signs were in abundance, but he had ignored them. When he woke up and flipped on the lights only to have them flare briefly and burn out, he should have rolled over and went back to sleep. As perseverant (a.k.a. stubborn) as he was, he should have taken the signal when his breakfast burned, but he didn't. Then he ripped a giant hole in the seat of his pants when he was entering the ship's land vehicle, a standard skiff. He went to change, but found that all of his laundry was dirty. He ended up going out with dirty pants. If only he had remembered his mother saying when he was young, "Abner, you should always wear clean pants when you go out in public. Nothing good ever came of people wearing dirty pants in public." But he hadn't remembered and he had continued with the day's schedule, oblivious to the warnings the universe had tried to give him.

Castle Rajikline: Part One

            A dark silhouette stood on the broken down guard tower and starred across the moat at the castle. In terms of castles, it was not very big, but it was one of the best built and most heavily defended in the whole realm. Covering just a quarter mile square of ground, it had more than 200 soldiers to patrol its walls and guard it. To assault the castle with an army would have been suicide. A moat prevented access to the wall, meaning that the army would be trapped across the water with nothing to do except be hit by javelins and rocks flung by the siege machinery on the walls as well as the arrows from the archers stationed in the castle towers. If, by some miracle, the army was able to cross the moat, they would be rained down upon by caldrons of boiling oil and large boulders, a very effective defense indeed. There was a reason that the devices that allowed for this direct assault form above were called 'murder holes.'

Castle Rajikline: Introduction

This is the first in a series of short stories that are going to follow a group of people called, well, The Group. These stories are going to be fantasy based, not necessarily with dragons and such (I haven't decided that yet) but they will be medieval in nature with bows and arrows and swords and such. This particular story will some in a series of installments and will be the first in a series of short stories. You can think of it like a television show in writing. The installments of the story are the episodes and the stories are the seasons. That's actually a horrible way to think of it, but if it makes you happy, you can think of it that way or any way you want. Anyway, hope that you enjoy this story and as always, please send any feedback my way.

-Peter Last

P.S. As a head's up, the first two installments of this story will be descriptions, after which the actual story will commence, so hang tight!

The Black Market: Introduction

This is a sci-fi story that comes from the world of a book that I am currently in the middle of writing. By sci-fi, I mean that it deals with space, spaceships, lasers, and such. There are no dragons or knights. Actually, truth be told, I never intended on writing a sci-fi story until my little brother got into the genre and said that I should do it. I told him I'd try my hand at it, so here is my first shot, a short story named The Black Market. Since this is my first try in this area, feel free to give any feedback that you have, nice or not.

Also, as a disclaimer, the actions of this story are not legal in the strictest sense of the word. I do not condone said actions (officially) nor do I partake in them (officially). After those two statements, I am totally on a government watch list (unofficially). Anyway, the events of the story are just a portrayal of desperate people in desperate times and not a model for your life, unless of course, you should find yourself in desperate times!

-Peter Last

Monday, July 08, 2013

Blog Post Revival (Glory Be!)

Greetings loyal blog followers,

If you are not a loyal blog follower, don't worry because I'm not the best at being consistent with my writing!

This is to inform anyone who sees this that I will be starting to post short stories and such on my blog, at least until school starts. Soooooooooo, if you enjoy fantasy, space based sci-fi, or just plain fiction, I might (emphasis on 'might') have something for you.

I am currently working on some short stories that are fantasy and sci-fi based and should be posting them in the not-to-distant future. Stay posted for updates.

-Peter Last

Monday, January 14, 2013

Resolutions


It's that time of year again (actually it's slightly past now) to talk about New Year's Resolutions. Actually it's more like January 14th resolutions, but what the heck. So what was your resolution? Was it like mine to be more prompt (heaven knows I could use it with these blog posts!)? Or are you like millions of other people that pushed "eating healthy and exercising regularly" to the top of the list for 2013? Whatever your own resolutions may have been, sit back and let me take you through the most common ones overall. I'll skip a few since, frankly they are boring and don't provide me with fodder for mocking. I hope this list doesn't impact your resolutions That's the kind of conformist thinking that ruins society.