August 29, 2010

Billie's Journal - Aurora's message

Hello Billy,

The tripswitch I left on the tracer paid off. Your hunch was right. Someone did run a check on Seattle Children's Hospital's records. And whoever was doing the sniffing was good. He found the trace and report, tripped it on purpose and then waited around to see if anyone would come to have a look...cocky bastard. I watched the whole scene unfold in stealth mode. The decker that showed up was good, but the snooper was better.

I only realised the 'snooper' had mirrored himself when the new arrival tried to ambush and crash him, only to find too late that he shredded a decoy while leaving himself open to a counterattack. It was over really before it began. The snooper crashed our guy and then went and checked where his signal came from.

I waited for a short while and then went and checked myself.

Anyway, the guy that was paid to keep an eye on the hospital files is Yoshi Takemura aka 'the green ronin'. He's a cocky and elitist SOB. He calls himself an 'independent' data specialist but almost all his work involves the Yakuza.

The address the hack originated from is Pacific Heights Road N° 22 in Bellevue. Posh condoplex in a real nice neighbourhood. Top notch security. Also, Bellevue is a stronghold for the Yakuza.

I figured your case wouldn't be unique, so I also ran a few pattern recognition and data mining programs on the hospital records looking for data gaps. I found quite a few. Looks like the hospital's got some skin traders inside. Unfortunately no name to link the gaps together, but when I ran a search and analysis on a couple of variables such as accidents and patients brought into Seattle's Childrens and crosslinked that to records of missing girls around the suspected year of your abduction, I came up with a long list of girls that vanished without a trace.

Details on each of the girls are in the attached files. I also attached the search parameters I used in case your decker friend wants to do some further snooping, but one case is interesting: Felicity Berman, daughter of then Senator of NY Eckhart Berman. The case raised a pretty big stink when it broke, because Lone Star completely bungled it. When the father got a court order to have the case transferred to the FBI, LS had to admit they had lost all forensic material which could have led an FBI mage to the girl. There were strong suspicions at the time that LS bungled the case deliberately because the Senator was one of the people that got LS taken off the NY city contract.

The girl disappeared about 9 months before we got you out, while she was visiting Seattle. She was involved in a minor traffic accident and taken to...drum roll: Seattle's Children. After that nothing. Once the Feds got involved they checked what they could, but there were no records of her in the hospital's system, no sighitng of her on sec camera's and the pediatrician on duty at the emergeny ward when she would have been brought in swore he'd never even seen the girl.

A couple of possible sources worth checking further are LS's databases, but good luck with that. Hospital staff records of the last 6 years may be interesting as well - amazing how easy those were to access and copy. Privacy just ain't what it used to be ;).

Good luck hunting.


Attached files:
Dora Craig, elf
Flower Tuci, elf
Esmeralda Bennet, elf
Wilhelmina McCullough, elf [this girl looks a bit like you]
Jane Summers, human
Felicity Berman, human [the senator's daughter]
Jade Goodall, human
Yuan Yi, human, chinese
Mai Ling, human, chinese
Myatsuko Yoko, human, japanese
Iris [no family name], elf
Finella Laurelin, tir tairngire citizen
Mira Wallcot, elf
Jain Zar, elf
Leila Haraldson, elf
Star Haraldson, elf [Leila and Star are twins]
Torrun Hallmaren, elf
Maria Hindmarsh, elf
Search algorithms
Personnel records [folder]
Berman case articles [folder]

Billie's Journal

Seattle, day 1
It's been a couple of months since I last posted. We've been keeping a low profile and I barely heard from any of the others for the first month after we escaped from that house.

Not that we haven't been busy. We have been looking for a new place to call home. Zero narrowed the possibilities down to two places and we took a look. First place was an old fire station down in the Barrens. On the plus side that meant we wouldn't have to worry about the cavalry raining on our parade, just the locals. But it was in pretty bad condition and would need a lot of work to be habitable.

The second place was an empty garage in the commercial district down by the docks. Lone Star does come by now and then but that does mean it's safer. Also as most of the places are businesses there's not too many people just wandering around, and most of them go home of an evening. There were also some appartments above the garage that we could use and the clincher, the rent was cheap.

Which is a good thing as I'm broke. Replacing my lost gear wasn't cheap but getting my arm fixed and upgraded really emptied my savings. Hang on let me go back a bit. Last time we all got together Finlay asked me how I managed to get out of that chair. He had tried himself and he's pretty darned strong. I told him that is was like in Edinburgh when I took ill, but this time I let it out and was able to break free.

"Like ze Hulk" chirped Zero with that cute little frenchie accent of hers. I didn't know what she meant so she showed me a clip of some cartoon character that turns green and gets strong when he's angry. I told her that was what it kinda felt like, except the turning green part. She laughed at that and it made me smile too. There ain't enough smiles in this crazy world.

About this time, the padre who had been quietly nursing his drink looks at me and says, "You are awakened. Not a mage, but an adept of some sort."

I ask him if he means like Finlay and he replies "Yes." Well that sure kills the conversation. Later I ask him about magic and cyberware. He tells me that my arm and other enhancements will only limit my magical abilities, not stop them from working. He tells me that he thinks I can boost my strength, ignore pain to some extent, and that my affinity for handguns may be more than just 'natural' talent.

Well, if I can boost my strength with magic it sure explains how I managed to damage my cyberarm. I ask around about getting it upgraded and finally Sheriff comes through with a contact. Frag, I owe that man so much and now I owe him more.

The new arm is a little bulkier and heavier and cost me pretty much all my remaining cred. I had just enough to cover my share of the rent for the new place. Now I need a job.

Checking my mail, I find a message from Aurora. I've pasted it here so I won't lose it.

Aurora's message

Well I was out of the door and halfway to Bellevue before good sense got the better of rage. I managed to pull off the road into a back alley, before collapsing over the bike's handlebars in tears. A couple of hours later, with my tail between my legs, I drove back to the garage.

Seems I had left my mail onscreen 'cause the whole team were sitting up waiting up for me. Zero gave me a friendly hug and Finlay handed me a scotch, the real stuff too. Then we sat down and had a long talk.

I told them how since finding out some of my past in Scotland, I had been doing some digging. Well, Aurora had been doing some digging and had made the link to the hospital here in Seattle and found the trace in their system. I told them that after our last run went bad, I had asked her to keep watch for someone else digging into my past and maybe triggering that trace program. Someone had.

"So what now," Finlay asked, ever practical.

"I could use some help," I whispered in reply.

Seattle, day 3
Zero has spent the last couple of days digging into the hospital database, building on the data Aurora sent through. She did some cross-referencing and found that a doctor still working there had been on duty in E.R. every time a girl had gone missing.

I also did some digging myself, looking at the pictures of all the girls to see if any struck a memory. Only one did. Wilhemina McCullough. An elf, thin and with blonde hair like mine. Her face is younger and a slightly a different shape, but I feel like I'm looking in a mirror when I look at her image.

Zero hacks into the doc's personal files then his home computer. She digs up some dirt: details of an offshore account in the Cayman Islands. Doc Lyman just made prime suspect.

Seattle, day 4
I don't like the plan but it's the best we got. Zero has gotten hold of a nurse's and a nun's outfit and I get to be the nun. We go in separately, Zero as a nurse, Finlay as a visitor and me and the padre as religious support. It mostly works as nobody really bothers us until Finlay runs afoul of the doc's secretary. Only some fast talking and remembering that the doc has a golfing afternoon planned later in the week, convinces her he is on the level.

Finlay and Zero extract the doc, and we load him into the van. The padre casts a spell on him to make him tell the truth and I keep him covered with one of the Kimbers. He spills but its not what we want. He knows nothing about missing girls but has been sending samples of fetal matter from abortions to a bunch of interested parties before destroying them.

Frag, is everyone in Seattle on the take. Seems like it is as the padre then puts the squeeze on the doc for a share of his ill-gotten gains. I had hoped to use him as my man on the inside, but this surprise move blows any chance of that out of the water. When did the padre get so greedy. I know he uses most of it to care for his 'flock', but this guy coulda been useful to me. We drop the doc off and return to the garage.

Seattle, day 5
Combing through the files for any clues, I realise that a lot of the articles on the senator's missing daughter were written by the same guy, Danny Kincaid. I look him up, but my computer skills ain't too good and have to ask Zero for help. She turns up an address quicker than I can draw my piece.

I call the reporter but get reception. I leave my real name, if that is what it is, and tell them its about the senator's daughter. Later I get a call from the man himself. I handle it badly and he tells me he gets a lot of crank calls and asks for some proof, physical proof. I offer to send him the data but he just laughs. He wants hard copy.

I get Zero to print out some of the info for me and swing past his office to drop it off personally.

Seattle, day 6
Seems to have worked. He calls back for a meet. A coffee place near his office. He is an older guy, who still wears suspenders to keep his pants up. His hair is greying and he carries too much weight from working a desk job. He wants to know what my story is. I tell him some, but not all. He seems unwilling to provide me with anything I can use. He still seems to think that I am a loon, either that or a gold-digger after the reward money. And while that money sure would be nice, I am just out for revenge.

Well, only one more lead to go. Green Ronin.

August 21, 2010

Karnak the Killer

Chapter 2 - The trouble with Elves

Karnak arrived at the market early. Too early. The sun was just creeping over the roof of the merchant’s guild building on the East of the main market square, casting long shadows over the teamsters unhitching horses and leading them away to the stables of the nearby inns.

Merchants were only just starting to set up there canvas tents; here a spice merchant, there a silk trader. Unfortunately they were not selling yet. Karnak ground his teeth and approached one of the merchants, a trader in arms and armor.

“Good day, sir,” he smiled. “I was hoping to purchase a new sword but I see you are late in setting up today. Trouble on the road?”

Short, even for a dwarf, the merchant looked up at Karnak with a snort that was half frustration and half laughter.

“No troubles my tall friend,” grinned the dwarf. “At least none beyond getting a pile of rocks twice your height moving of a morning.”

The merchant nodded towards the north end of the market and Karnak’s eyes went wide as he spotted the tall figure of an obsidiman. At least a head taller than Karnak, the large figure was standing in the middle of the thoroughfare, its head swinging slowly left and right, taking in the all the sound and chaos of the merchants as they rushed around setting up their stalls.

“Now that is something you don’t see every day.” said Karnak, a glint in his eye. “If you will excuse me, sir, I will return later in the day to examine your wares.”

Without waiting for the dwarf’s response, Karnak set off at a brisk pace towards the obsidiman.

“Good morrow, stone brother,” called Karnak as he stepped up to large slate coloured individual. The obsidiman was an impressive figure, His dark skin rippled with strength and was covered with living bark armour. A massive shield was strapped to his left arm and at his waist hung a massive spiked mace.

“Hello friend ork,” rumbled the large figure, its gaze settling on Karnak.

Before Karnak could say another word, a slim figure appeared from behind the Obsidiman. “Another beggar, Carrick?”

Karnak gave an involuntary hiss as he spotted the long pointed ears of an elf. Although on a further look, the ears belonged to a rather pretty young elf girl with long purple hair and emerald green eyes. From her simple attire and the spiky fernweave armor she wore, she certainly wasn’t from Riddleport.

Recovering quickly, Karnak put on his best smile and launched into his spiel.

“Milady, I did not see you there behind your large friend. I am no beggar as you can see. I am but a humble citizen of this fine city. I can direct you to merchants that offer the finest of goods at the fairest of prices, inns serving the best food and ale, and with beds free of bugs. All my knowledge of what this city has to offer is yours for the cost of only a few silver pieces. So, how can I be of help to you?”

The obsidiman seemed on the point of answering, but the elf answered first.

“We are going to the Tower of the Magi. And we already have directions, so thank you for your kind offer but your assistance is not required. Come, Carrick. Let us be on our way.”

And with that, she turned on her heel and with the Obsidian lumbering after her headed off in exactly the opposite direction to the Tower.

Karnak shrugged and after spending a few more minutes circling the market to check out what the various merchants had on offer, he swung past a local fish merchant and picked up a still warm eel pie. With a tune on his lips and his mouth full of eel pie he ambled off in the direction of the Fool’s market.


When he arrived at the Fool’s market, Karnak was surprised to spot a pair of familiar figures.

“Stone brother, milady elf. Was your visit to the Mage‘s Tower a success?”

“We have still to make our way there,” snapped Juniper.

“Well, should you need my assistance you can usually find me in the Sea Serpent of an evening. Although it is not one of the places I would normally recommend for such as you.”

“I thought there would be more people,” interrupted Carrick suddenly.

Karnak looked around, the hairs on his neck rising as he realised they were alone in the square. By this hour, it should be filling up with hawkers, con-artists, snake oil salesmen and other disreputable traders. But the square was empty, not even a city guard to be seen.

“Trouble.” muttered Karnak, unstrapping his shield and loosening his sword in its scabbard. “I hope you can use that mace my stone friend. And milady, do you have any magics that can help us?”

“Well I…but not in my matrices. I would need to…” stammered Juniper.

“Then do it” grunted Karnak.


Aardaal was really worried now. He had been forced to change direction three times since leaving home. Every route he had taken towards Qet’chiqan’s house had been blocked by gutter thugs. He had spotted the first two easily, too easily he now suspected.

The second pair had been lurking in a narrow alley and he had only spotted them at the last moment when he caught a reflection off a drawn blade. The third pair had simply been standing in the middle of the road, clearly waiting for him.

All six of them were following him now. He realised they were herding him and needed to lose them. He hoped that cutting through the Fool’s Market would give him that chance. But as he turned into the square, he realised this was exactly where they wanted him. Apart from an unusual trio of an elf, dwarf and an Obsidiman, the square was empty.

Aardaal hesitated only an instant then headed towards the threesome. The goons following were mainly local thugs. It seemed unlikely that these three were in league with them. He was halfway across the square to them when he caught a movement from the corner of his eye.

Another two goons stepped out from an alley. The first was a large ork, the second a weasel-faced human holding a loaded crossbow. Aardaal hissed out his breath. Behind him, he could hear heavy footfalls as the other six goons entered the square. He closed his eyes for a second to focus his thoughts and then with brisk effective movements, drew his dagger and charged towards the two goons.

It almost worked. The human loosed the crossbow in surprise, the shot going wide. Then Aardaal performed a forward handspring that took him clean over the head of the human. But he landed slightly off-balance and the ork was quicker than he looked. He swung a heavy club at Aardaal’s head. Aardaal twisted, avoiding getting his skull crushed, but the club clipped the side of the head and he tumbled to the ground.

‘Passions‘ thought Karnak. ‘Why is it always elves?’

Clearing his throat, he took a step towards the goons. One of them was a large gap-toothed ork with silver capped tusks.

“Hoi tusker,” called Karnak. “You been hanging around these breeders so long you need six to one odds to take down one scrawny elf?”

The big ork turned with a grunt, “Hey, dey are wit him. Get em too!” The cap-toothed ork and three of the other goons turned away from the elf and started moving towards Karnak.

Karnak drew his sword and prepared to fight. But before he could act, Carrick moved. The Obsidiman seemed to glide across the ground at a pace much faster than Karnak believed such a large humanoid could move.

Carrick braced his heavy full shield as he charged the lead ork. There was a crunch as the two collided. Carrick stopped, but the ork was flung back several feet and landed on his back unconscious.

Then the other three were on them. Blades clashed as they thrust and parried. Karnak drove his blade towards one of the thugs but overextended. As he tried to recover, the thug thrust his shortsword into his side finding a weak spot in his armor. Karnak tumbled to the ground with a groan, feeling hot blood running down his side.

Behind him, Juniper yelped as one of the other thug’s blades nicked her arm. She focused through the pain and drew together the threads of her spell. The earth at her feet writhed and a dart of stone surged up, slicing open the face of the thug attacking her.

Aaardaal flipped back up to his feet and shook his head. The big ork grinned and swung his club back and forth in lazy arcs. Aardaal feinted then thrust, his dagger scraping the ork’s armor but failing to penetrate. The ork grunted and took a wide swing, which Aardaal easily dodged. Aardaal’s blade darted forward again scoring another hit but again failing to do any real damage.

Carrick turned his attention to the thug standing over Karnak. His spiked mace crashed into the thug’s side knocking the breath out of him and forcing him back several steps, allowing Karnak to get back on his feet.

Seeing the carnage that the Obsidiman was wreaking, Aardaal performed another flip ending up near the flat out ork. He scooped up the ork’s shortsword and tumbled forward, slicing one of the other grunts as he passed. Together the four quickly dispatched the remaining thugs, but not before one of them scored another hit on Karnak.

“My thanks”, whispered Aardaal. “But perhaps it would be best if you accompany me to my destination. It is not far from here.”

“He needs urgent care” said Juniper kneeling next to the bleeding Karnak.

With a smooth motion, Carrick scooped up the bleeding ork despite his feeble protestations. They crossed the Fool’s market and entered the King’s Way. After a few minutes hurrying along the street, they turned down a short alley and Aaardaal knocked at a heavy wooden door.

After a brief wait, the door opened. A look of relief came over the craggy face of a worried-looking obsidiman, which immediately turned to concern when it spotted the bleeding ork.

“Bring him in. Quick.” rumbled the obsidiman. The four hustled through the door and the obsidiman closed and barred it behind them. He led them across a tidy courtyard and up a sturdy wooden staircase to a narrow balcony.

“Put him in here” directed the Obsidiman. “I will fetch water and medicines.”

Carrick eased Karnak down onto the bed and helped him out of his armor. Underneath, his fine shirt was stained with blood.

“Give me room, Carrick” ordered Juniper pushing the obsidiman out of the way. She cut away Karnak’s shirt and wadded up the bloody rags into a compress to stop the bleeding. Qet’chiqan returned with water and bandages. She cleaned the ork’s wounds, sewed the cuts and bandaged him up. Throughout it all the big ork made no complaints, beyond an occasional hiss of pain through gritted teeth. When she was finished, he looked deep into her emerald eyes and whispered a soft thank you.

Juniper felt her cheeks colour. “No thanks necessary. But perhaps you should be more careful about whom you pick fights with in the future.”

Karnak gave a weak grin at that. ‘Elves’ he thought to himself. ‘Nothing but trouble.’


Fortunately no-one else had more than minor cuts and bruises. Still Juniper made sure that everyone’s injuries were properly cleaned and bandaged, including her own. The group then spent the next few days at Qet’chiqan’s house while Karnak recovered from his wounds. In any case, Qet’chiqan warned them that it would be unwise to leave the house until he was able to find out why the thugs had attacked Aardaal.

Aardaal and Carrick spent most of their time practising with their weapons and sparring in the courtyard. The package that Aardaal had brought to Qet’chiqan had turned out to be his father’s swords, which had only made him even more concerned. Qet’chiqan had given the blades back to Aardaal, saying that he should have them. The obsidiman also seemed worried by the blades.

The news, when it came, hit Aardaal like a hammer blow. His home had been burned to the ground. Neither of his parents had escaped the flames. Qet’chiqan could not stop him from visiting the burned out remains, but both obsidimen went with him to keep him safe. The house was a charred ruin. The roof timbers had given way and all that was left was charred wood and cracked tiles. The houses on either side were also badly damaged but the fire had been contained from spreading further. Aardaal stood there rigid for a long time, with silent tears running down his face until Qet’chiqan led him away.

Aardaal retired to his room and spent the next days coming to terms with his loss. Karnak recovered quickly, helped by Juniper’s chirurgery skill and a healing potion from Qet’chiqan. He was soon able to sit up and asked for his lute. He strummed lightly on the chords and hummed a few tunes. Juniper and Qet‘chiqan told him about Aardaal’s parents fate and Qet’chiqan gave him a small bag of silver coins for saving Aardaal from his attackers.

Juniper spent most of her time talking with plants in Qet’chiqan’s garden. The obsidiman took good care of them, for the most part. But he could not talk to the plants, so there were a few plants that needed some extra care.

After a few days, Qet’chiqan told them it should be safe to leave his home again. Carrick escorted Juniper to the Tower of the Magi. This time, with directions from the obsidiman, they reached their destination quickly.

The mages at the tower were a snooty bunch. They informed her she needed to take a test of initiation before they would allow her access to the tower’s library and teachings. She was permitted assistance from her companions, as the trial could be dangerous, they warned. But should they succeed, only she would gain access to the tower’s facilities. She explained this to the others when she returned to Qet’chiqan’s house.

Aardaal spoke first, “I owe you my life, you have my blade.”

Karnak gave her a broad grin. “And you tended my wounds. Plus it is not every day that one gets a chance to see inside the mages tower. So I would have come with you regardless.”

“They said it could be dangerous,” repeated Juniper.

“Then all the more reason for us to come with you,” rumbled Carrick. The others nodded in assent.

August 13, 2010

Karnak the Killer

Riddleport Blues
Karnak sighed, blowing air out through his tusks. Being a musician in Riddleport was tough. Being an ork musician, doubly so. Most taverns simply turned him away, leaving only the dives down by the docks that tailored to the manual laborers who worked long back-breaking hours for a few coppers.

More worrisome was that most of the workers in the Basking Shark seemed more interested in their ales than in his tunes. Even the bawdier songs that he had learned as a youth in taverns just like this had provoked little response. It seemed that the strange haze that had muted the sun’s rays for the last few days had put a damper on everyone’s mood.

‘One last try’ thought Karnak to himself, plucking softly at the strings of his lute. He launched into an old ballad, one of love and betrayal, of revenge and loss. He drew deeply on his own experiences; his deep bass voice filling the tavern with such anguish and woe that even the most drunken of patrons lifted their heads to listen.

When he finished, there was but a moment of silence. Then tearful patrons began cheering and banging their dented tankards on the scratched and worn wooden tables. He even spied one of the barmaids clapping loudly, her eyes damp but a broad smile on her face. She had that worn beauty that comes from a hard life as a tavern wench. He gave her a saucy wink and was rewarded with a blush and a wry grin.

The audience was his, and when they quieted down he began his tale.

“Once upon a time there was a brave, yet foolhardy young man. One day while out walking he came across an elven gentleman. The gent was having a disagreement with two particularly burly orkish dockworkers. The disagreement eventually came to blows, but the elven gent was clearly no match for the two angry dockworkers. So, without a thought to the consequences young man stepped in to help him.

“Together, they managed to overcome the orks, who fled to nearest tavern to lick their wounds and drown their sorrows. The elf was grateful to the young man. A bard and historian, he had little coin to spare, but he offered to teach the young man what he knew as payment instead. The young man agreed and for the next year, the elf was true to his word.

“He taught the young man how to sing and play the lute. He taught him about the history of Barsaive and of the mighty weapons used by its heroes. He even taught him his own language, Sperethiel, the tongue of the elves. The young man drank in all that knowledge like a fine wine. He dreamed of one day being one of those heroes of lore, of wielding one of those mighty weapons.

“Then one day, the elf came to the young man distraught. He had been employed by Boss Kroat, a powerful ork and not one to be crossed, to discover the history of a particular weapon. However, it seemed that the weapon was a fake and the elf feared what would happen when Boss Kroat found out. He asked the young man to speak to Boss Kroat on his behalf.

“While the young man was also afeared of Boss Kroat, he agreed to the task for he now felt indebted to the elf for all he had taught him. He took the weapon back to Boss Kroat and explained that it was a fake. Boss Kroat was angry. He claimed that the weapon the young man had returned was not the one he had given to the elf. He accused the young man of trying to steal his magical weapon and did beat him sorely.

“The young man lay abed many a day recovering from his injuries. In all that time the elf never once came to see him. When he was again well enough to leave his bed, he went to inn where the elf had been staying, but he was long gone. All that the young man had left was a few scars and debts, broken dreams and a worn lute. And that is the truth.”

Karnak bowed his head as he finished the tale. A few of the patrons banged their tankards again, but most only muttered back, “And that is the truth.”

Karnak passed amongst them with his cup and even though they earned little, most of the patrons added a copper or two to his cup. He then found a space at the end of a table and waited until he caught the eye of the pretty barmaid. She swayed over to him with a practiced grace and leaned forward giving him a good view of heavy breasts straining against her low cut bodice.

“Might that young man have been yourself?” she asked with a sultry voice, filled with smoke and promise.

Karnak raised an eyebrow. “Both wise and beautiful,” he quipped. “Might I have a tankard of your finest ale and a room for the night?”

“Our finest ale is watered piss and all our rooms are full,” she laughed. “But for three silver pieces, you can share my bed. Just as long as you don’t try to take advantage of me while I sleep.”

“And what if I am unable to resist your womanly wiles, my lady?” he asked.

She smiled again and he found that he liked her smile. “Well then, that would cost you an extra five silvers.”


Carrick stood up to his knees in the stream, contemplating the texture of the cold water as it flowed past his legs. For the last three days of their journey the weather had been pleasant, with clear skies and no rain. So, although the air was still cool in the first light of dawn, he knew it would become warmer as the sun rose higher.

He became aware of a melodic voice calling his name and opened his eyes to see Juniper coming down the hill towards him. She was lithe and tall, like most elves, with long violet hair that hung in twin braids down her back and sparkling eyes the colour of emeralds.

“The caravan is ready to leave,” she scolded. “Everyone is waiting for you.”

Slowly, Carrick plodded out of the stream. Standing next to the young elf girl, he was more than a head taller than her. And he was perhaps three times as broad. His dark muscled skin was the texture of slate, covered with the dark brown of his living bark armour. Juniper had told him that when she had first seen him, she thought he must be an earth elemental. He had found that amusing, the first time he had felt that particular emotion.

“It will be warm again today and it has been several days since I had an opportunity to tend to my armour,” he explained. “It was beginning to look rather wilted.”

Juniper leaned close to him, examing the living bark. She made a few complex gestures and muttered under her breath.

“Well, it’s fine now,” she said after a moment. “It has drunk enough to last a few days at least and we will be in Riddleport in just a few hours.”

“Did your magic tell you that,” asked Carrick, intrigued by the young elementalist’s ability.

“No, silly,” she laughed in reply. “Your armor told me. The spell just let me talk to it.”


Aardel’s father was worried. And that worried Aardel. His father was a blademaster, an adept skilled in the art of combat. So what could possibly worry him?

“Son,” said his father. “I need you to deliver a package. It is rather urgent, so you will need to leave as soon as you finish your breakfast.”

“What is it?” asked Aardel, his mind still focused on what was worrying his father.

His father gave a weak smile. “It’s for Qet’chiqan. And the contents are for his eyes only, so I don’t want you sneaking a look. Now finish your breakfast, while I go and get it ready.”

The package was large and rather heavy. His father had fashioned a sling so Aardel could carry it over his shoulder, leaving his hands free. As he left, Aardel tried one last time to find out what was worrying his father, but the older elf just frowned impatiently.

“The only thing that’s bothering me is that Qet’chiqan is waiting for that package, while you dither around here asking foolish questions. Now get going and keep your wits about you.”

Riddleport was still quiet at this early hour. Aardel passed only a few people as he strode purposefully across town. Qet’chiqan lived on the other end of the town and it was going to take Aardel the best part of an hour to get there.

He set a brisk pace. Tall and lean, Aardel was all angles and sharp features. His long legs, toned from weapon practice with his father, covered the ground quickly. While the day looked like it was going to be fine and sunny, his father’s nervousness had infected him, and he kept a wary eye around him as he walked.

And lucky for him that he did. For as he crossed a quiet square, he noticed a couple of rough-looking humans loitering at the entrance to street he needed to go down. They also spotted him, and with a nod to each other started towards him.

Aardel changed direction and picked up his pace, trying not to be too obvious about it. He quickly thought out an alternative route in his head, while checking if the two men were following him. They were. So, as he turned the next corner, he also surreptitiously checked the dagger at his waist, loosening it in its hilt.


Was I dreaming or was that the best movie of the year. Watched it down in Hasselt and they put in a break in the middle. I hate breaks in the middle but it's a long movie so I appreciate the loo break.

Don't want to tell you too much as I may give it away, but the story is compelling, the acting spot on and the effects stunning. The tension towards the end is real edge of the seat stuff.

Definitely one to see on the big screen and a solid 4 out of 5.

August 4, 2010

Billie's jounal


I'm lying on a lumpy but relativly clean bed in a cheap motel that rents rooms by the hour, day or week. After escaping from the house in Fort Lewis, we made a quick stop at the downtown apartment to clean up and clean out.

Finlay arranged for Jamal, our fake jamaican taxi driver, to come by with a van and we loaded most of our gear into it. He has a garage where he can stash it for a while.

We then contacted Sandie, the lady with the metal teeth, to let her know the run was a bust. Finlay managed to negotiate partial payment for at least getting in and running the code. He also contacted Martha to let her know she might be compromised.

After that we exchanged numbers for our new phones and went our separate ways. I contacted Sharif to let him know what had happened. I don't think they asked me about him, but better safe than sorry. I also dropped a message to Aurora, the decker, to let her know that someone might try do some digging on me and to keep an eye on the hospital database to see if anyone triggered the trace.

I got my arm patched up by a street doc who had fixed me up before. She wanted to know how I had managed to overload the arm's servos as they are rated to 100 kilos, which is way more than I can lift with one arm. I told her I didn't really know and she didn't push it.

Then I went to ground. I have been stuck in this motel room for the last few days with only Jack Daniels for company while things blow over. Zero is currently arranging new IDs for us through an independent 'data broker'. Which is good, because my current one was pretty much worthless even before this run went down the drekker.

I'll eventually need to replace my Cavalier Deputy, duster and the other gear I had on me when we were captured but that can wait for now. Looks like this run is going to cost us more than we made, both in cred and rep. But then again, I guess we are lucky to be alive.