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.'