Prompt Short Story: Touched – Promises, Promises

Jenkin twirled the bottle in her flesh hand, the magnetised slide that ran out from the wrist of the other simultaneously spinning the cocktail shaker. As she slid the bottle across the barback to its home position, she upended the shaker into the iced glass, pouring with a flourish before sliding it down the bar, to stop exactly in front of the customer who had ordered the drink.

The next few drinks were mundane, and the magnetic slide returned to its home position just inside her left wrist, ready for its next use – be that the next cocktail, ensuring her safety knife couldn’t be taken from her as she walked home, or, really, anything else that she might need not to drop. Like cooking tools. That was the main reason she’d looked at the implant to begin with – hard to cook when you’re so clumsy everything winds up on the floor.

The monofibre that ran through it could be adjusted to ensure a variety of items stuck, as required. She didn’t really get how it worked, but the settings were adjustable from the eyeware that took instruction from her brain synapses, somehow. It worked, was the main point, and she had gone from scrabbling for jobs to pay rent on a oneroom where everything – kitchen, bed, toilet and stand-up shower – were in one tiny space without any doors, and which was about 8 paces wall to wall, to this job which, between pay and tips for the fancy moves, paid for a proper threeroom, meaning a bedroom, bathroom, and living room/kitchenette, all separated with doors. It was no palace, but it was hers as long as the rent was paid on time.

Jenkin snapped her mind back to her job, as another cocktail order was called, this time from a slender, masc-looking person, wearing sunglasses and a fitted monosuit beneath a plain dark t-shirt. Jenkin wondered, as she gave them the show, just how much of them was flesh, and how much tech. The expensive stuff was getting harder and harder to tell, though she guessed their eyes were of the more advanced type that still made a person look dead. Sunglasses worn inside were generally a giveaway for that.

As her shift drew towards the end and the place began to empty after last call, letting her start to clean up, she realised Sunglasses was still here. They looked up as she approached, and removed the glasses.

She inwardly noted that she’d been correct. Their eyes were a solid, pulsing, golden colour, and she suppressed a nervous shiver as they turned her way.

“Hi Jenkin.”

Their voice was a soft alto, accentless – like most who had escaped a poor beginning and reached a better, or at least richer, life.

“Hey. I know you? I’m sorry, I get a lotta folk through here.”

Their golden eyes were cold and lifeless as they stared at her, “You have no idea who I am, do you?”

“Sorry, like I said, I get a lotta-“

They began to sing. Quiet enough that nobody else would hear, but loud enough for her. The song flooded her with memories. Days spent exploring the undercity, chatting to the folk who lived down in the disused tunnels. Being grounded for it, waiting out the time, then doing it again. An unshakeable bond, a promise to get out, and to never leave the other behind. The sense of loss, of betrayal, when they left to work their own way up the ladder.

“The fuck do you want?”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t think it would take this long. I know I left, and I know I ghosted you, but I did that so I could get into a position where I could bring you with me. I knew if they caught me with you they’d judge me, and I’d lose any chance I had at getting you out.”

“You’re pretty smart, Deniel. Pretty sure you coulda gotten me one single message. Ever. To explain that. Instead you disappear for a decade, get yourself all wired and teched up, then show up just as I’m doing ok, to, what? Make yourself feel better? “

“To offer you a job. I’m starting my own firm, and I want you with me. It’s gonna be hard, and they’re gonna be pissed,and i’m gonna have to pay a shitton in severance to keep some of these implants, but it’s the only way I can be sure the entire thing isn’t prejudiced from the top down, and you’re the only person I want at my side.” They shook their head, “I can’t apologise in any way that’s acceptable, but please understand, I did do this for us, for our promise.”

Jenkin stared at them. It was quite an offer. And she knew how these firms worked – pick a talented person from the poorer districts, make them cut contact as part of their working contract, and fill them with tech they’ll never be able to afford to buy out.

But some managed it. Some with the drive to stay rooted, and not get caught up with the luxury and temptations that surrounded them.

They would catch hell for the rest of their days for not getting a message to her – at least to explain and give her hope. But maybe they were on the level. Maybe they at least deserved a hearing, if only to fulfill her side of their promise.

“Alright. Here’s my place,” she skimmed across her address, “Lemme finish up here and I’ll hear you out.”

They smiled, showing the smallest hint of the person Jenkin remembered, underneath the implants, and swallowed their drink. They gave her a staggering tip, and left the bar for, presumably, her place.

Jenkin took her time finishing up, seeing no reason not to make them wait a little, then headed home, ready to hear them out.

I hope you enjoyed the story! I you can share the link, I’d appreciate it. You can also leave a comment or drop me a mesage, I’d love to hear from you. And if you can, a donation via Paypal or a sub via Patreon would be a great help towards future, and better, endeavours!

Writing prompt used:

Writing Prompt. His eyes were cold and lifelessas hebstared at me. “You have no idea who I am, domyou?”

Prompt Short Story: Touched – The Test

Tanice automatically checked the spare magazines as she slotted them into the holders at the sides of her belt. The rounds, etched with magic, glowed faintly red. Next, the guns. She tested the bolt slide, the firing action, the grip. She knew these guns as well as – perhaps even better than – the back of her own hand.  She could strip, oil, and assemble them with her eyes closed. And she did. Often. But today was too important for that. Today wasn’t a day for tricks and gimmicks. Today was her first mission.

She held still as she heard faint footsteps enter the room. She knew that step. “Mother.”

“Daughter,” came the reply.

Tanice turned, sliding her guns smoothly into their holsters, and looked into a face that was the spitting image of her own. Dark eyes, surrounded by smooth dark skin. A mouth, overfull, with the hint of a smile always in one corner. The biggest difference between them were the scars. Her mother held the results of many battles, including the raking claws of a shapeshifter across one sculpted cheekbone.

 Her mother sighed, and Tanice braced herself.

“How I wish we didn’t do this. You’re so young. Too young. You’re a child, still. Children shouldn’t play with guns.”

Tanice gritted her teeth,  “Who says I’m playing?”

Mother sighed, “I’m sorry, daughter, that wasn’t what I meant. I know you’re trained, and I know you’re good,and I know you believe in what we do here. I just… You’re still my little girl, and I worry for you. Going out in the field for the first time…no training matches it. You can never truly know if you’re capable of this until you get to that moment where you must kill, and even 100 missions in, you still run the risk. Better people than me or you have frozen at the wrong second and never come home again.”

Mother absently touched a deep, puckered scar that ran up her left arm and disappeared beneath her shirt.

Tanice debated for a moment. She had pulled together a slideshow of child soldiers in the human world, prepared herself to snark her way through this moment. But seeing the flash of memory, the vulnerability in her Mother’s eyes, she swallowed her pride and rested her hands on her Mother’s shoulders. 

“I know. I can never take away the pain of what happened to Father, and I know I can’t say anything to make this easier. But I’m coming home, ma. If only so I can tell you and your worries to suck it,” Tanice grinned.

 Mother snorted laughter and pulled her into a hug, “Alright, alright. You get home in one piece, and I might even let you without kicking your butt. Come on, I was told to bring you to the briefing.”

Tanice lit up, “Yes! Lemme just grab my sword and stuff…” she turned back to her rack and picked out the hilt she had carved her name into, years ago when she had begun her training, back in the days when she couldn’t even lift the blade when it emerged. She focused her will, and a blade formed, made of her own magical will, and etched in glowing red runes. For the millionth time she wondered how the magic worked – those lessons had always been more philosophy than action, and thus not her strong point – then defocused so the blade could dematerialise, leaving just her hilt to slot into its hip holster. After adding two dagger hilts to straps on her inner wrists, a magical lockpick, and a small book containing hand-drawn, ready-for-use spells, she was ready.

The briefing was no different to those she had sat in for her training, except that this time one of the participants named was herself. She would accompany two older practitioners, one a pure mage named Madrigal, the other a pure fighter named Ackson. This was the standard arrangement for this type of mission – a smash and kill, with a newbie in tow.

The plan was simple, at least. A den of lesser demonic creatures. Two ways in. Tanice and Madrigal, with her particular brand of mixed attack and defense magic, would guard one, wait until Ackson smashed their way through the other entrance, then kill anything that came their way.

As the three of them drove to the location, Tanice promised herself the older fighters would have no cause to wish they hadn’t been chosen to babysit. And also that she’d remember this feeling,  for when it was her turn to do so.

Parking a short distance away, she and Madrigal snuck around to a filthy back alley, on a street of old houses either deserted, or used as squats. Magic took them through a locked fence, then muffled their footsteps as they approached the backyard.

Tanice went to open the back gate and froze as Madrigal hissed at her.

“No. Wait.”

A small line of magic shot from her to the gate and she whispered in Tanice’s ear, “Quiet spell, stops any squeals or creaks.”

Tanice mentally kicked herself as she slid the gate open, the lack of even incidental sound slightly jarring.

 Madrigal performed the same quiet spell on the back door, and motioned to Tanice to pick the lock.

Tanice knew she was being tested. She knew Madrigal could open it with barely a thought. But it was her first teaching mission, and so she must be taught and tested.

She brought out her magical lockpick, a small black stick with a red rune etched into one flattened end, and pressed it against the lock, bending her will towards the tumblers.

With the silencing spell, on the door, she couldn’t hear the opening click she was used to, but she felt them move, and nodded to Madrigal. 

The mage held up her hands, signalling stillness. They would enter and guard the door the moment they heard Ackson burst in. He, meanwhile, awaited their ready signal.

Madrigal closed her eyes and created a slightly shimmering bubble of glamour around the house, ensuring nobody else on the street would see or hear the fighting.

Tanice pulled out her book of spells, and cast speed, night sight, and strength onto herself. To her own sight, she now glowed gently red, and would for the next few hours, but only those blessed with magic would see it.

Madrigal nodded her approval as she cast shields on them both, and prepared more spells to cast mid-fight.

 Both now prepared, Madrigal sent a silent Go signal to Ackson.

A moment later, they heard the front door splinter, as Ackson roared his way in.

Madrigal nodded for Tanice to enter, and she did, sword in her right hand, one of her guns in the left. She felt Madrigal just behind her, placed perfectly out of reach so Tanice had room to move.

Red magical light flashed as Madrigal set traps in the kitchen doorway and across the floor.

The first demon to escape flashed red once and disintegrated. 

The next two did likewise.

In the other room, there was nothing but the sound of growling, roaring and crashing.

Then everything went quiet for a moment, and Tanice had just enough time to see the traps blink out of existence, before a demon came racing towards her.

It was tall, but slender, wielding a bone blade in one hand. Its teeth gnashed as it came for her, and a pink tongue lashed out, hitting her face and leaving a burning pain behind.

Tanice raised her blade, focusing the demon on that, then shot three rounds into its chest, and one into its head.

It was dead before it even realised it had been tricked.

Tanice, panting heavily with adrenalin, turned to ask Madrigal what the fuck she was doing, letting the traps go, but stopped with her mouth wide open as she realised. She had to be given the chance to kill or her test was unfinished. She had followed orders, used magic to unlock and buff, and taken up her position correctly. But without a kill, the lesson remained incomplete, so they ensured a kill came her way.

Instead of her original words, Tanice bowed to both Madrigal and, as they entered, covered in demon ichor, Ackson, “Thank you for facilitating my test, and my first blood. Did I pass?”

Ackson shrugged, “I missed it all, can’t pass you.”

Madrigal rolled her eyes at him, “I did, can, and do. You’ll move to the next level of training and missions now. I have a whole report to fill out and give and you’ll be properly debriefed, but aside from the gate thing, you performed perfectly. And the gate thing is good, because I have to include something teachable, and it’s a minor error, so nothing to fret over. You picked the lock quickly, you chose your battle spells well, and that distraction trick, was, honestly, very fuckin funny.”

“And when we get back, we’ll have a drink with you,” Ackson nudged the dead demon with one foot, “But first, cleanup. Having a mage makes this easier. I know you’re using mostly fighting magic, but you could stand to learn these ones.”

Tanice nodded, “Cleanup spells. Will do.”

Madrigal smiled and closed her eyes, holding out her palms, facing each other, a few inches apart. As she focused, a ball of pulsing red magic formed, grew, and became concentrated. After a few minutes, she breathed a command word, and the ball exploded, disintegrating the demon, removing the blood, and cleansing the entire house of any hint of magical or demonic activity.

Sweating from the exertion, Madrigal nodded, “Done.”

“Then let’s go!” Ackson smiled, “We’ve got a newbie to get drunk!”

I hope you enjoyed the story! If you can share the link, I’d appreciate it. You can also leave a comment or drop me a message, I’d love to hear from you. And if you can, a donation via Paypal or a sub via Patreon would be a great help towards future, and better, endeavours!

Writing prompt used:

“Children shouldn’t play with guns.” “Who said I was playing?”

Prompt Short Story: Precognition

The scent of spice and flowers hit her as she wrenched open the door, “Will you quit bangin! Whaddya want?”

The elf bowed low, his tight tunic, and tighter trousers, almost creaking with the strain, “Madame Reval, such an honour to greet you. As my apology for disturbing you, please accept these tokens,” he thrust forward a bouquet of wildflowers, and a small tin of magically-enhanced cooking spice, his clothes shimmering in the twilight. “The spice is fully legal and of the non-addictive variety, I assure you, although I cannot promise no addiction to your cooking once sprinkled with it.”

Even the formidable Madame Reval was no match for the charm of the elf before her. She offered a clumsy curtsy, “You’re right kind, sir. May I ask yer name and yer business here?”

Continue reading “Prompt Short Story: Precognition”

Prompt Short Story: Touched – Chances

The mage sighed and ran her fingers back through her hair, “Helluvan ask you got here. Y’know most mages’d laugh you right out their rooms – those as wouldn’t just call the police on you fer askin.”

The clent nodded, “I know how big – and how dangerous, and illegal – this is. I heard you were the sort to hear a body out before making a decision. Hear me, and if you choose to kick me out or call the cops then I’ll accept it. But if you agree, I can pay more than you’d make in a lifetime of magicking.”

“That’s a fair bit, my services ain’t cheap,” the mage said, one eyebrow raised as she motioned around the richly appointed room.

Even if this was just the showroom, and she spent the rest of her time in a hovel, the money spent on the lush carpeting, the decoration, even the ceiling lights, was nothing to sneeze at.

Continue reading “Prompt Short Story: Touched – Chances”

Prompt Short Story: Touched – Cold

The assassin hooked their fingers around the windowsill, testing the strength of the treated synwood, their other fingers and bare toes pressed firmly into the smooth wall, attached by no more than a thin instaweld mesh.

Carefully they moved their weight up, calculations flying at light-speed through the tech in their head, transferring to their limbs faster than the speed of thought, as the second hand joined the first and shifted their body to the left of the window, balancing as they removed a toolkit from their belt.

They opened the kit with a quick tug of their teeth, letting it dangle from their mouth as their right hand reached in and removed a small, thin stick, topped by a chip barely visible to the naked eye.

The assassin pressed this against the window, on the exact spot where the magitech lock held the window closed on the inside.

Continue reading “Prompt Short Story: Touched – Cold”