Spring Ceramic DM™: WINNER POSTED! - Page 48
  1. #471
    I just wanted to share this inner dialog with all my fellow writers:

    Zhaneel: Okay, the pictures are up. Hey Muse, where are you, we had an appiontment, remember?
    *Zhaneel's muse is silent and hiding*
    *Zhaneel stalks off stage and comes back dragging her Muse behind her*
    Zhaneel: Alright, the pictures are up. Help me out here.
    Zhaneel's Muse: Nope. Ain't happening. I'm on strike.
    Zhaneel: You can't be on strike. Says so right here in your contract. During Ceramic DM you promised to be there for the 72 hours after the pictures were posted.
    *Zhaneel's Muse starts buffing her nails*
    Zhaneel: Fine... sleep on it.

    [Next Morning]
    Zhaneel: Alright, what have you got for me?
    Zhaneel's Muse: Boy, you're tiresome. Fine, here.
    *Zhaneel's Muse tosses a short, thin thread causually*
    *Zhaneel examines the thread*
    Zhaneel: WTF is this?
    Zhaneel's Muse: It is the thread for your story. It uses all five pictures.
    Zhaneel: It's a poor outline of a story that takes place in a country & culture that I know almost nothing about, told in a perspective you know I hate, with no clear end. This isn't what you're supposed to give me.
    Zhaneel's Muse: Tough luck. S'all I've got. Later!
    *Zhaneel's Muse fades into nothingness*

    Zhaneel: Why I outta... *grumblegrumble*

    Not like I wanted to win anyways.

    ----------------------

    Zhaneel

  2. #472
    Writing TimeWatch!
    A 1e title so awesome it's not in the book (Lvl 21)

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    Betcha a nickle she descends upon you full force, battering you with ideas from eleven different directions, roughly fifteen minutes after you sit down to try and write. Or in the shower; my muse always shows up while I'm in the shower when I never have anything to scribble notes on. I think she finds it funny.

  3. #473
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    I Defended The Walls!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Piratecat
    Or in the shower; my muse always shows up while I'm in the shower when I never have anything to scribble notes on.
    You clearly need some better writing tools.
    Last edited by Piratecat; Friday, 23rd April, 2004 at 11:22 PM. Reason: fixed bad url - cool link!

  4. #474
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    Let me give you some of my internal dialog

    Pictures posted, I log in, check out the pictures...

    David - Hey Muse, check it out, whatcha think?
    Muse - Whoa, that looks like a lot of red chili.
    David - Yeah, it does.
    Muse - Hey, do we have any salsa left?
    David - Nope, I finished that last night. What's that blue bowl thing going to be?
    Muse - We should make some salsa.
    David - Yeah, we should...
    Muse - Some fresh tomatoes, garlic, cilantro, onion ...
    David - Yeah, that would be good. About these pictures...
    Muse - Man, that would be tasty. We should grow some tomatoes this year. And tomatillos, I wonder how hard those are to grow.
    David - I have no idea. But yeah, we have thought about the salsa garden thing before. That's an old idea, I need something for the story here.
    Muse - Hey, doesn't that ball thing look familiar? I think I've seen a picture like that before.
    David - Yeah it does, so, what are going to do with that?
    Muse - *shrug* No idea.
    David - Ummm, what about the monkeys?
    Muse - Hey! Aren't those that one type of monkey that likes to jump in hot springs?
    David - Umm, yeah, that was what I was kinda thinking. But, it doesn't seem to inspire a story, or does it?
    Muse - One of these has gotta be a pic by Sialia, open up the rest. Oh yeah, that looks like it might be hers!
    David - OK, there are all the pictures. So, whatcha think?
    Muse - I think your screwed. I'm gonna go get some salsa.

    Next morning

    David - So Muse, you around?
    Muse - Yeah, got any salsa?
    David - enough with the salsa already!
    Muse - I thought you liked salsa, you eat enough of it.
    David - I do, but I need some inspiration.
    Muse - So, whatcha talking to me for?
    David - 'Cause your my muse.
    Muse - Nah, not this week. I'm on vacation. Catch you later.
    David - Hey, you can't do this to me.
    Muse- You got what, 2 1/2 days, maybe more? Figure it out yourself.
    David - No, I work and I have stuff planned. I want to finish this tonight.
    Muse - And I want salsa, tough luck. We can't always get what we want.
    David - What? Your a Muse though, help me out here. Hey, where you going?
    David's Muse fades away humming Rolling Stones songs.

    So, here I am. Banged my head on the table for a few hours all Wednesday night/Thursday morning. I took off early from work because I was on call last week. I have almost 6 hours left and I have the flimsiest excuse for a story that I can come up with. I wonder if I can make it?

  5. #475
    Quote Originally Posted by Piratecat
    Betcha a nickle she descends upon you full force, battering you with ideas from eleven different directions, roughly fifteen minutes after you sit down to try and write. Or in the shower; my muse always shows up while I'm in the shower when I never have anything to scribble notes on. I think she finds it funny.
    Oh, my muse, such as she is, is much lazier and sneakier than that.

    She slams a quick image into my head, something usually at least 7+ pages into a story that I'm trying to write, that I cannot resist and then she disappears altogether.

    I sit and try to write something, and she is never there, usually all I hear from her is the crinkling of chips and slurping of drinks and a television with a reality TV show on in the background.

    So I try to go on without her, and bemoan my lack of inspiration and skills as I try to painfully drudge my way to that one scene that I can't pry loose from the back of my mind until I find myself writing and writing just to try to get there.

    Then, all of a sudden, I realize that somewhere along the way she has stepped in with a little push or pull one way or another and reading it over I like what has come out. Those realizations are usually triggered by me glancing at a clock and it being 2-3 hours later than I thought it was.

    So she is there all along, but she prefers that I do most of the hard work, only occasionally providing me with a flash of insight and whatnot on occasion, then returning her lazy butt to recline gracefully on my mental couch and take a cheeto dust-smeared nap.

    I envy those of you with good relationships with their muse.

    Maybe I should give my muse something, like jewelry or a pretty flower.

    Hmmm... chocolate. That might do...

  6. #476
    Quote Originally Posted by Piratecat
    Betcha a nickle she descends upon you full force, battering you with ideas from eleven different directions, roughly fifteen minutes after you sit down to try and write. Or in the shower; my muse always shows up while I'm in the shower when I never have anything to scribble notes on. I think she finds it funny.
    That would have been last night. When she encouraged me to bang my head against a wall after I eeked out a paragraph.

    I'm kinda doubting her input on this one.

    She was great for the first round. Basically handed me the story fully written about 10 minutes after I looked at the pictures. Of course I was half-asleep when I looked. And I changed the ending 'cause I thought hers was cliche (Karen would have won). I think she's pissed at me for that.

    Zhaneel

  7. #477
    Quote Originally Posted by Zhaneel
    That would have been last night. When she encouraged me to bang my head against a wall after I eeked out a paragraph.

    I'm kinda doubting her input on this one.

    She was great for the first round. Basically handed me the story fully written about 10 minutes after I looked at the pictures. Of course I was half-asleep when I looked. And I changed the ending 'cause I thought hers was cliche (Karen would have won). I think she's pissed at me for that.

    Zhaneel
    You were wise. It was a good ending, just the way you wrote it.

    The little snarky voice that told you that it needed to be done that way--that is one of your muses, too.

    Listen to it.

    Often the very best moment comes at the instant that you know what is wrong with your best work.

    If only there's enough time left to do something with the dreadful knowledge.

  8. #478
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    Round 2, NiTessine vs. BardStephenFox

    From the Other Side

    Assembled in the dingy room were not the best, the brightest, or the most competent operatives of the agency. They were not prodigies or exemplars. They were, however, good at what they did. They were proficient enough to get their job done, and devoted enough to carry it through.

    They numbered four, the standard size for an agency operatives group.

    There was always one leader, an absolute authority. He was a tall man, dark-haired and strongly built. He wore a black trenchcoat. It was well-made – the gun holsters under his arms did not show. Neither did the ones at his ankle, hip, and wrists, for that matter.

    Next to the leader stood a rather more diminutive man. Thin, blonde, pale, and short, he almost seemed to blend in the background, fading from view. He was dressed in the standard black suit and white shirt that marked him down as an FBI agent a mile away. Of course, he was not, which was precisely why he wore them. Though he did not limp, he carried a sturdy cane of black, lacquered wood, with a silver handle.

    There was also a woman, Caucasian, with long, flowing hair the colour of gold, tied in the back with a green ribbon. Her dress was featureless white cotton, with a silken sash. She was unarmed, and kneeling near the wall, examining something.

    A third man paced about the room. He was bald and heavyset, with a broken nose and a strong jaw. His feet were encased in the black leather of army boots, and his outfit was bulky around the torso in a way that suggested the existence of heavy body armour under the layer of black clothes. His grey eyes flickered from corner to corner, every now and then glancing into the corridor outside the room, or through the window. He seemed to avoid looking at the item near the wall.

    The object of their attention was a small painting of sorts, residing rather low on the wall. There was a basket, a large eggshell and some lavender flowers around it, but the painting was the only thing of consequence. It depicted a ghostly figure, clad in robes, emanating a luminescent green light. It was moving. (3)

    “Yeah, it’s a strong one,” the woman commented. “Definitely a bound spirit. Dormant for the moment, but I don’t want to take any risks and wake it up.”
    “Can you neutralise it, Annah?” the leader asked.
    “Yeah, but it’s the last of the potions I have. Been a busy week. Why are all of these undead popping up now, Chief?” she replied, rummaging around in a leather backpack. A moment later, she came up with a blue jar. She peered at it apprehensively for a while, (2) and then removed the cork. Standing up and stepping back, she flung the contents of the jar over the painting.

    The effect was immediate and dramatic. With a hiss, dark vapour rose from the green figure, which began to run like wet paint, its outlines becoming smeared and blurry. A small, unearthly scream pierced the air, making shivers run down the agents’ backs, but they’d seen it too many times to be rattled anymore.
    “Wish I knew,” the Chief replied, his eyes locked on the display. “Wish I knew.”

    The house they were in was condemned, an old, wooden building run through with dry rot and not fit to house even the termites that infested it. It was located on a beach, in a less-developed part of the city. The sensors of the agency had picked up something from the Great Beyond in the house, and the team had been dispatched to take care of it. It was the twelfth such occurrence within the last month. Usually, they got that many in six months. Something was afoot. Something big.

    “Sir, I am picking up a disturbance,” the pale man suddenly said, holding a finger to his left temple. His eyes were focused to a point far beyond the walls of the house. “It is near... Outside. In the water.” The eyes came back, focusing at the chief. “Now!” he said, in a hoarse whisper, and hurried to the door. The others followed him, having long since learned to trust the clairvoyant’s visions.

    Outside, they were met with a peculiar sight. There were two baboons in the water, rising slowly up the beach towards the agents. A grey cast over their eyes told they were either blind or dead. (4) The agents had been in their line of work long enough to realise the latter was more likely. The first zombie ape leaped up, and was met with a hail of .357 bullets from the two semiautomatic pistols Chief had pulled out. It fell to the ground heavily, but soon jumped up again. The other one tried a flanking manoeuvre, but the pale clairvoyant drew a long, thin blade from his cane and took the classical en garde stance.

    He lunged, thrust, cut, parried, and even slashed with the blade, scoring a dozen small wounds on the undead beast. It felt no pain, however, and the small blade could do little real damage to it. Then, strong, thick hands grabbed the creature by one arm and yanked hard. The bald man with the body armour ripped the baboon’s arm straight off its socket. Off-balance, the creature could not defend itself when he next grasped its skull and twisted. An unpleasant crunch and some leaking of fluids ensued, and baboon fell in three parts.

    Chief returned his guns to their holsters, peering at the other undead creature, now lying on the beach, its form riddled with bullet holes. It’d been a tough one. Not many things can take ten consecrated silver bullets. This one had taken twenty. That would mean its master was nearby, or it was commanded by an exceptionally powerful necromancer. His eyes were suddenly scanning the slate-grey sea that opened in front of them as a vast expanse. The baboons had come from there, so their master would probably be there as well... There! A small motorboat was making its way towards the city central, going well above the naval speed limit of the harbour area.

    “To the cars!” he shouted, already running towards them. Fortunately, the road from the beach to the city harbour ran along the beach, allowing them a view of their prey. As the speedboat neared to harbour, it slowed down noticeably. Another advantage to the agents.

    They burned rubber and broke every traffic rule and regulation in the books trying to get to the harbour, but they did, in the record time of only five minutes. Seeing their prey trying to tie alongside a pier, Chief steered his car on it, parking it diagonally across the way, blocking the way from ordinary pedestrians. He rose out and pointed a gun at the man in the speedboat.

    The moment he locked gazes with his foe, he knew the man for a sorcerer. Purple eyes and a grin far too wide for a human being were good clues. Its disguise spells had fallen during the chase.
    “Freeze,” Chief shouted, in vain. The sorcerer wove a quick spell, and an orb of force formed around him, deflecting the agent’s shots. Then, to Chief’s surprise, he jumped in, no, on the water, running inside the floating orb to get away from him. (1)

    He would have given chase, were it not for the sorcerer’s next spell. The speedboat warped and melded, its form running like molten wax, assembling itself into a new shape and configuration. Wings. Horns. Claws the size of baseball bats. It shifted itself into the form of a classical devil, while retaining the garish coloration of the speedboat.
    “Chaos demon. Crap,” were his thoughts when he jumped backwards to avoid being disembowelled. His twin pistols were already out and spitting large-calibre bullets at the fiend. It roared when they hit, but did not slow down. Pseudopods formed from its flesh to strike at the other members of the team who closed in to do battle. One of them was promptly sliced off by a well-placed slash of the sword cane. Sirens of police cars could be heard in the distance.

    Chief threw away his empty pistols and reached for the second pair, jumping up and twisting in the air to avoid a claw. He took aim at its head, and fired. His target parted in the middle before the bullet, letting it pass before melding back into its bestial visage. Chaos daemons’ bodies were as fickle as their minds. The barrage of bullets was taking its toll on the fiend, that much could be seen. It moved slower. For a moment, one of its pseudopods flickered into the shape of the ship’s propeller. Of course... if it had trouble retaining its form, sooner or later, the gas tank would materialise. Chief ran to the trunk of his car and shot the lock open. No time for keys now. He dropped his guns inside and took out the red steel canister filled with gas. He uncorked it and ran to the demon.

    “Cover me,” he shouted to the others, while he sprayed the creature liberally with the flammable liquid. Then, with one of its giant claws, the fiend split the canister and gashed deep across his arm. Pain overwhelmed him as the chemical found its way into the wound. Purple blots obscured his vision. He kicked out with both his legs, hurling himself into the water. The next moment, a shot caused the gas on the demon to catch fire. The moment after that, it exploded.

    A wave of force rippled over the harbour. The inherently magical creature’s death resulted in a powerful backlash, and in the case of a creature of chaos, the results could be quite unpredictable.

    “I don’t believe it,” the clairvoyant said as he looked over the changed harbour.
    “Who’da thunk it?” the burly man said, next to him. His shoulder had been dislocated.
    “Should we help Chief out of there?” Annah asked.
    “Nah. He can make it out himself. Especially now,” the clairvoyant replied. “The colour is really quite nice.”
    “Damn your hides, help me out!” came the exasperated cry of their leader. “I hate chilli peppers!” (5)

    * post roll count doesn't match database

  9. #479
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    Rojo

    NiTessine vs BardStephenFox AKA David Moore

    Gwenneth Straylight slapped a third storage module into the AT-300 humming away in the hotel room. She flicked the transmit button on her bodycomp and ran through a test sequence. She studied the AT-300’s readout for a moment. Then, satisfied that transmissions were working correctly, she flicked on the ‘Encrypt’ button. From here on out, her bodycomp would encrypt the data being beamed back to the AT-300. Internal Affairs auditing was a pain at times, but it never even entered Gwenneth’s mind to conveniently ‘forget’ to start the recording. Picking up the omnoculars sitting on the window sill, she made sure that the data cable was plugged into her bodycomp. She raised them to her eyes and began her running monologue.

    “Star Law Ranger Gwenneth Straylight: Subjects are currently relaxing in a hot spring. Two Yazarians, Male and Female. Markings on fur consistent with suspects known as Kenchar Hilo and Marhina Mato. Other occupants of the pool include a Dralasite that hotel records show is an independent clothing sales representative. Kdikit local police have been very cooperative and have formed a cordon around the hotel. As well, they have provided two officers to assist with the arrest. We are waiting for the innocent to vacate the area before we move in as the suspects are known to be violent.”

    Gwenneth continued her observation of the two Yazarians while checking in with the officers assigned to assist her. She had briefed all of them the night before on Kenchar and Marhina. Ken and M&M were both former employees of MerCo before being dismissed for excessive violence. Now, the lovers were allegedly the head of the local Rojo trade. Gwenneth had worked for months with a dealer turned informant to create an airtight case against the two Yazarians. Two weeks ago, the informant had sent Gwenneth a tight-band, encrypted message telling her that Ken and M&M were fronts for something bigger, much bigger. The next day, the informant had disappeared, only to reappear three days later. He was partially cooked from repeated Maser fire, one of Ken’s favored methods of disposing of competition, and turncoats.

    Finally, the Dralasite appeared to have enough of the hot water. Pulling itself from the water, it extruded two legs and a third arm. Drying itself off, it was walking again. Gwenneth unplugged the omnoculars and switched over to her helmet. Activating the Dis-Viz progit, she continued recording. “All units, it’s a go. We are moving in now..” She was out the patio door and drawing her Rafflur M-3 as the Kdikit agents assigned to assist with the arrest flanked her. She tried to forget that Ken and M&M were well trained, violent mercenaries that had moved on to the drug trade. This was just another bust. Rounding corner, the Rafflur came up and she braced it in both hands while leveling it at the two Yazarians. “Freeze, Star Law!”

    The two Yazarians were seated in the hot spring, steam rose up from the water around them. [steam.jpg] They regarded her with contempt and Gwenneth tensed. If they decided to fight … The sound of distant thunder and then the water in the pool leapt into the air. Gwenneth was thrown to the ground as blood and water rained down on her.

    Hours later the preliminary results were back from the Kdikit police forensics team. Somebody had left a few grenades at the bottom of the pool, with a remote trigger. Whoever triggered the explosion was nearby at the time. Somebody wanted Ken and M&M dead. It was quite a coincidence that the explosion happened just before Gwenneth was able to arrest them. Gwenneth never believed in coincidence.

    Back in the hotel room, she slapped more storage modules into the AT-300 and pulled up the hotel registry. In a few moments, she had the room number of the Dralasite. Surprisingly enough, he hadn’t checked out. Of course, a good assassin wouldn’t do anything that obvious. Gwenneth grabbed the Forensic-CAS from the case at the foot of her bed. She was trained on how to use it to quickly analyze an area, but any serious analysis would have to be deferred to one of the Sci-Techs. She slung the CAS over her shoulder and checked to make sure the bodycomp was still transmitting.

    Gwenneth took the stairs up the twelve stories to the Dralasite’s room. Reaching the door to the room, she paused and listened. She could hear a faint hissing noise. Pulling a sealed envelope from a zipper pocket on her leg, she broke the seal and pulled out a master room key for the hotel. Holding the key in her left hand, she drew a small needler from a hidden holster at the small of her back. At 45 cm long, the Rafflur M-3 was a very good long pistol, but it was a poor choice for close quarter fighting. Besides, the needler was much quieter. She slid the key in the door, heard the beep as the lock disengaged, and rushed through the doorway.

    She crouched with the needler held up as she scanned the room. The window was open and the drapes were waving in the night air. The round table in the corner held a microtape player and a blue bowl, turned upside down. The whirring sound was coming from the microtape player as it was speed erasing the tape. With an expletive, Gwenneth jumped across the room and turned the microtape player off. A large, low box in the corner caught her eye. On the side, she could see the Streel logo for a floater disk. Leaning out the window, she saw a dark form on the ground run around the corner of the building. With another expletive, she kicked the box. If she had only been a little faster … Still, it was an amazing coincidence that whoever was in this room decided to leave just as she arrived.

    No, it wasn’t coincidence. The person had left in a hurry, otherwise the microtape wouldn’t be here. Somehow, the person knew she was coming. A quick examination of the rest of the room revealed a mess in the bathtub. The Forensic-CAS indicated that it had once been a body suit to masquerade as a Dralasite. The ceramic cone for the plastid was still sitting in the mess of goo.

    Gwenneth paced the room, thinking. Whoever she was looking for had been in a hurry. So, they likely left some evidence behind. The floater disk box was one start, but how many floater disks did Streel sell in a year? Millions? Still, it was a place to start. The body suit in the tub might have something the Sci-Techs could pull out, but the Forensic-CAS had indicated that the plastid had done a thorough job. What about the plastid? Gwenneth returned to the bathroom, put on some gloves and picked up the ceramic cone. Inside, she could see the MerCo logo. Perhaps the assassin was somebody with affiliations with MerCo? That would be bad. Even MerCo was good about ignoring former employees. If MerCo were still interested in Ken and M&M, then perhaps they still had some corporate ties. No, Mega-Corp ties. After the Corporate Wars, MerCo was a legitimate Mega Corporation. Gwenneth thought back to the classes she had at Star Law Academy. MerCo was closely allied with Streel. They sometimes shared research and there were numerous accounts of them sharing resources. Gwenneth eyed the floater disk box.

    Returning to the table she reached for the microtape player, then paused. Why did the supposed assassin leave it here? It was portable and wouldn’t have been a problem on a floater board. She brought up the Forensic-CSA and scanned the player. She watched the results scroll up the screen. Somebody had very recently wiped it down with a cleaning solution. But, there was also the chemical signature for Tornadium D-19. The microtape player was rigged to blow up. Very carefully, Clarice slid the player into a hip pouch. Keying on the com-link, she requested a forensic team to come examine the room. The local police would collect up the goo in the tub and run the usual checks on the floater disk box. The microtape player was the best chance to get something useful as far as evidence was concerned.

    Just before she walked out the door, she stopped. Turning back to the table, she looked at the upside down bowl. Somebody had been holding that recently. Striding across the room quickly, she picked up the bowl and ran the Forensic-CSA over it and watched the screen. Human DNA. Holding the bowl up, a smile tugged at her lips. [bowl.jpg] Whoever was in here forgot to wipe down the bowl.

    Gwenneth made a trip downtown to drop off the microtape player with a tech she knew, Morris loved to take things apart and put them together, and he had a little demolition experience from a stint in the military. He was tired, but intrigued and told her to come back in the morning.

    Gwenneth shot off the DNA information and requested a match out of the main database. Maybe she would get lucky and come back with some perp info. As she settled onto the hotel bed, she heard the insistent beeping on an incoming call. With a sigh, she answered it.

    “Ranger Straylight, I was just reading the reports from last night. It looks like your thugs got themselves blown up. I’m wondering why you haven’t closed the case and returned to the office.” Commissioner Culp could be a bit of a hardass, and he often forgot that some of his agents might be operating half a planet away.

    “Yes sir, the Yazarians appear to have been assassinated. But, my informant led me to believe that they were merely working for a larger organization. I’m trying to ascertain the veracity of that claim.”

    “Are you sure you aren’t taking this too personally Ranger?”

    “No sir, but I am tired. Perhaps in the morning I will re-evaluate my thoughts.”

    Commissioner Culp blinked. “Oh yes, it is still nighttime on your side of the planet. My apologies Ranger Straylight, thank you for your early report and I will look for your analysis when you wake.”

    “Thank you sir.” Gwenneth turned off the videophone and collapsed on the bed. It had been a long day. Just as she drifted off to sleep, she tried to remember when she had time to make a report.

    She dreamt of Rojo. Wide fields of red fruit. She knew that it had been banned nearly 40 years earlier when it was found to make a powerful psychotropic drug. The drug was worse than any other drug on the streets, and it affected almost every sentient race. It was extremely addictive and was a drug pushers dream. Oddly enough, the green variety of the same plant could not be turned into a drug. At the academy, somebody had once tried to explain how the difference in the color made this possible, but she didn’t understand the chemistry. Just after graduation, she had taken part in a Rojo raid on Corpco in the New Streel system. She remembered descending on the farm. The family was quite accommodating. They didn’t realize it was illegal to grow red chili plants. She still remembered the sad look on the boys face as he helped load the chilis into a truck to be incinerated. [wade.jpg]

    In the morning, Gwenneth refreshed her memory of Corpco. It was founded by Streel a few decades back in an attempt to enter the agriculture market. Right around the time that red chili was banned because of Rojo. It was shortly after this that Streel profits really accelerated. Was it coincidence? Gwenneth didn’t believe in coincidence.

    Morris called mid-morning. He looked like he had been up all night. “Gwenneth, I gotcher tape. Man, yer should see this work. It’s bee-uterful. It was rigged ter blow if yer hit play or eject. It’s a good thing yer a smart girl. Umm, yer want me to get rid of the Tornadium or do yer want it?”

    “Morning Morris, yeah, I am a smart girl. Smart enough to make you promise not to sell explosives on the street. You got that Morris? If I hear you sold that stuff, I will personally come down on you. I’ll come get the tape this afternoon. I have a few things to check first.” Gwenneth hung up before Morris could argue. Ideas were forming in her head and she wanted to access the Star Law library, but not from her room.

    She visited Mick. Mick was a former Star Law Marshal. He had worked the Rim worlds for years before he got caught in a firefight with a Rojo gang. He lived, and the doctors had fixed a lot of the damage, but it made Mick feel old, so he retired.

    “What you have here Gwenneth is a classic setup. You are right, it sounds like your assassin knew you were on your way upstairs. Somehow, somebody has you tapped. The question is, how?”

    Gwenneth studied Mick for a few minutes. “I have a theory on that. Tell me, why do we have such serious security audits?”
    “Oh Gwenneth, that is history. People start to feel a little nervous when you have a bunch of well trained gunslingers running around that can impose martial law on a planet. They want to have accountability for those folks. Especially a few years back when you had one guy go bad. Surely you learned all that at the Academy.”

    “Yeah, Bjorn Dremott. I remember looking up his biography. He had close ties to the agriculture board for Streel. I think he might be our assassin.”

    “What makes you say that? He was discharged from Star Law and almost faced prison time.”

    Mick shook his head. “Yes, but he didn’t go to prison. Afterwards, he kind of just faded away.”

    “That’s my point Mick, a Star Law Ranger gone bad doesn’t just fade away. Tell me, what does the AT-300 designate?”

    Mick leaned back. “The Audit Trail series of minicomps uses cutting edge encryption to provide a constant data stream of the actions of a Star Law agent in the field. You know the marketing as well as I do.”

    Gwenneth leaned forward. “Yes, but I don’t know who makes them. Tell me Mick, would you be interested in running a query on that computer in the back room? I know you are only semi-retired.”

    Mick looked intrigued. He stood and gestured for Gwenneth to help him walk back through the house. It took them a few tries to dig up the names of the relevant companies. In the end, they knew that the AT-300 was manufactured by SecureCo, a subsidiary of MerCo, with a heavy investment of the Greater Vrusk Mutual Prosperity Institution, a subsidiary of Streel. Further digging finally pulled up the information that Vlad Dremott sat on the Board of Directors for SecureCo.

    “Mick, do me a favor and see if you can find any property that is owned by anybody in the Dremott family here. I have a hunch that I can blow this latest Rojo ring open if I can anything like that.”

    “Sure thing Gwenneth. If there is a chance to get more Rojo off the street …”

    “I know Mick.”

    Gwenneth picked up the microtape at Morris’. She found a quiet little hill outside of town to listen to it. Somehow, she ‘forgot’ to turn on the encryption and recording of her bodycomp. Most of the tape was erased, except for the end. Ken was talking.

    “Yah boss, we took care of the snitch. He had some microtape with a whole bunch’a company history. It’s cool though, we stashed the tape back at the beach house. The egg is the key” Ken laughed that harsh laugh that all Yazarians seem to have.

    “Well Ken, I think that about takes care of everything. I’ll talk to you and M&M later.”

    “Yah boss, later.”

    Mick called a few hours later, “Gwenneth, I think I have a property of interest for you. Oddly enough, it is located near one of Star Law’s hidden transmission stations. Quite a coincidence don’t you think?”

    “Let me guess, it’s a beach house right?”

    “Hmm, good guess Gwenneth. Another coincidence?”

    “You know I don’t believe in coincidence Mick. What’s the address?”

    Gwenneth had to break a window to get into the beach house. Yazarian hair was all over the furniture. She looked around for all the normal hiding places. More beeping and she answered her com. “Ranger Straylight.”

    The technician on the other end was calm. “Yes Ranger, we have a match on that DNA you sent over last night. Are you at a place where you can receive it?”

    Gwenneth thought about the nearby transmission station. Time was running out. “Yes, go ahead.”

    “We have a visual identification as well. Subject is Bjorn Dremott. Visual transmitting now.”

    Gwenneth stared at the picture hanging from the wall. Below it was a decorative egg, open. [secret3.jpg] Dremott had already found the microtape. Looking out the window she saw a man walking down the beach with a hat pulled low over his eyes. He looked a lot like the picture of Bjorn Dremott.

    Rushing out onto the beach, she saw him start running. Suddenly, he jumped into the water, a globe encircling him. He was running on the water, trying to make his way across the bay. [plod.jpg] Stopping on the beach, Gwenneth raised the Rafflur M-3. Her finger rested on the trigger, ready to unleash a tight beam of accelerated protons. “Freeze, Star Law!”

    Dremott turned and flipped her off, he kept going. She pulled the trigger. A bright white flash hit the globe and caused it to glow. Dremott was shielded! With a grin, Gwenneth pulled out the needler. She pulled the trigger. *pop* “I said freeze Dremott.”

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    Bleh - Squeezed it in. This one needed more of a lot of things. But, the time limit is part of the competition.

    So, NiTessine, now we just need to wait. Best of luck to us both.

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