Posted by: lordkyler | April 18, 2015

Insight – Short Story Week

Rain pounded against the windshield of my car, distorting the glow of the neon signs across from me. “Madame Zandoori’s Psychic Readings,” the sign proclaimed in cherry-red letters, and a smaller, unlit sign underneath explained that they also did palmistry and tarot cards. It was a small place, wedged between a Lebanese restaurant and a laundromat.

It seemed banal and incredibly clichéd, but that was what I was looking for. I checked my phone, stalling against the moment I would have to get out of the car, and saw I had missed six calls. That was enough to get me moving.

I nearly pulled on my gloves out of habit, but I caught myself and stuffed them in my pocket. I needed to learn as much as I could, as fast as I could, that meant I couldn’t have my blinders on, however uncomfortable the experience might be.

I stepped out of the car and walked up to the door. The air was thick with smells despite the rain, cigarette smoke, spilled gasoline, the enticing aroma of cooking meat. My stomach growled, but I had to ignore it. I had a hard time eating at restaurants. Some things cannot be un-learned.

It felt as though the rain had a personal grudge against me, and was intent on bringing me down. Despite this, I paused in front of the door, and reconsidered. The open sign beckoned luridly, but the dark interior of the building seemed like a trap of some kind.

I almost laughed. You wouldn’t think a psychic would have these kind of problems. Unfortunately, I cannot see the future. Read More…

Posted by: lordkyler | April 17, 2015

The Overview Effect – Short Story Week

Invictus stood quietly and alone, watching the multitude of displays that surrounded him. He did not focus on any particular screen, instead drinking in the whole, processing every piece of information and assimilating it into a single picture. His video feeds showed that seemingly every Empowered, gifted and specially talented individual in the world was assembling at the Nexus, his base on the summit of K2. Newsfeeds confirmed that they were here to kill him for his supposed atrocities.

Everything was proceeding according to plan.

He dismissed most of his displays and stepped up to one of the transparent panels that formed the geodesic sphere perched atop the mountain like the all-seeing eye atop a pyramid. From here, he could see them coming, a line of tiny specks converging at the base of the mountain.

“Zoom,” he commanded, and a display appeared with an enhanced image. He scanned slowly over the line, taking note of who had come. There was Hellfire, burning like a comet as he streaked across the sky. Silver-haired Lancelot with his shimmering cape trailing behind him. Architekt surrounded by his technological minions, dark-eyed Aurora, bathed in green light. Coming up the western slope were the Tokyo Guard, Torrent, Champion, the Jade Twins, Dervish. And those helicopters would be the Delta Squad, in from Moscow.

The longer he looked, the more it seemed it was true. They were all here. Tech wizards and brainless bashers, solo artists and power teams, do-gooders and ne’er-do-wells, people from every nation, race, and creed, all united to kill him. All in one place.

Everything was proceeding according to plan. Read More…

Posted by: lordkyler | April 16, 2015

Frames of Reference – Short Story Week

“Enough games. Why don’t you tell us who – or what –  you really are?”

“I’m afraid I am the most selfish being in the universe.”

•••

The midnight sun cast a harsh glare on the endless white plains, nearly blinding him. An insidious wind tossed fingers of snow into the air like streams of diamond dust. He was chilled to the bone, but he could not stop, could not rest. He was so close.

Behind him, barely audible above the whispering wind, the staccato thump of helicopters came nearer.

•••

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

“Ah, meaning. The eternal quest of sentient life. An amusing thought, now.”

•••

His energy levels were high. That was good. These humans of earth were more advanced than most races he had encountered. Their technology was certainly less sophisticated than his own, but dangerous nonetheless. It would be a good fight.

•••

“I once thought I understood everything I needed to know. I had a good life, not unlike your own. A bond-group, a life’s work, joy and sorrow. That was before Oblivion arrived.”

•••

There were planes as well, fat-bellied carriers no doubt loaded with troops and artillery. At first there had just been a few, but now the horizon was thick with approaching aircraft. They were quicker than he had expected. But, after all, their world was at stake. Read More…

Posted by: lordkyler | April 15, 2015

The Curse – Short Story Week

Music, lights, and laughter filled the great hall at Castel de Montresse, rising to the majestic, vaulted ceiling and spilling out the massive stained-glass windows. Everyone in the kingdom had been invited to the celebration. Everyone, perhaps, save for the black-cowled figure brooding at the castle gates.

His robes flowed from his shoulders like spun midnight, rippling in the cold night wind like a nightmare’s shadow. Beneath the inky velvet folds of the cloak were robes of the deepest purple, yet they shimmered like starlight and bore arcane sigils of eye-dazzling complexity.

In one hand the shadow clutched a gnarled ebony staff, on the other, a raven perched. The bird stirred impatiently, causing the dread figure to tear his malevolent yellow eyes away from the great hall.

“Not yet, Grôthe,” said the stranger, in a voice like one dead. “We will wait for midnight.”

Nevertheless, he began to approach the castle, seeming to glide weightlessly, an apparition of the night.

The streets were empty. The king had been generous in his good fortune. Baron and beggar alike had been invited to feast at the King’s table this momentous day. After so many years, the Queen had finally given birth to an heir, a healthful and robust daughter, the future queen Auroure. Today was her christening.

The streets were filled with banners and ribbons in all colors, but in the gloom of night, they hung pale and restless, like wraiths. The steady tapping of the stranger’s staff against the cobbles rang hollow among the empty buildings, a lifeless beat to accompany the tuneless sighing of the wind.

The midnight bell began to toll, a bold, joyful sound that carried over the barren city with all the levity of a man laughing at a funeral. Judging from the raucous noises that made it past the wind, few of those inside would pay the bells much heed. That would change shortly.

At the first chime, the walking shadow crossed the drawbridge into the fortress. At the second, the gates swung open for him. For three more, he passed through the detritus of merriment strewn around the great courtyard. At the sixth, he passed a slumbering guard, but the man did not wake. Four more times the bell pealed as he climbed the broad stone steps to the great hall. At the eleventh stroke, he reached the door, and gathered himself, cloak pooling around him like liquid shadow.

At the moment of the twelfth ring, he raised his staff and spoke.

“Now.” Read More…

Posted by: lordkyler | April 14, 2015

Railroaded – Short Story Week

I couldn’t believe my luck. Of all the idiots in the world, tourists are the dumbest, and this guy was obviously a tourist. He tried not to look like one, but his wide eyes and nervous watch-checking gave him away. He might as well have been wearing a fanny pack and snapping pictures of the place.

I had been watching the crowd from the balcony, pretending to text, but actually using my phone’s camera to search for a target. Grand Central Station was an anthill at rush hour, but when I saw this guy, it was clear who I was going to go after. He had a backpack –worn over both shoulders – which bulged with corners. That meant electronics, and that meant easy money.

I try to practice my art on rich guys, the ones that can afford to lose a few hundred. This guy wasn’t rich, but he had looked well enough off. And it looked so easy that my excitement had outweighed any guilt.

It only got better when he headed for the bathrooms. It was the perfect setup. No cameras, pants around the ankles, backpack off. I had thought that I would have to do a little scamming, maybe pick a pocket. But no, the guy entered a stall and then set his backpack on the ground next to him.

What a moron. A toddler could have taken his pack. Hell, he barely noticed the pack was missing until I was halfway out the door. I wanted to laugh, but I had to look normal. I did my best to stay inconspicuous. My record was miraculously still clean, and I meant to keep it that way. Crime only doesn’t pay if you suck. Read More…

Posted by: lordkyler | April 13, 2015

Damsel in Distress – Short Story Week

Renauld stopped for a short rest, his warm breath steaming in the cold mountain air. He looked with despair at the trail ahead. It had taken him three days to get this far up the mountain, and he still had no idea how much further he would have to go. Only the thought of Annea kept him going.

Sighing, he pulled a small piece of smoked fish from his pouch, and tried to make it last. He didn’t have much left. The wind gusted fitfully, bringing with it shards of ice. Renauld shuddered and wrapped himself closer in his leathers. He wished that he was old enough for the gift of flame.

But he wasn’t, so he had to make do. He forced himself to get up and keep moving. If he stopped for too long without proper shelter, he wouldn’t get moving again. He hurried onward, hoping to find a cave or crevice of some sort in which he could wait out the coming night.

This whole venture was ill-advised, he knew that. He had only the most meager of food and supplies, his old and poorly-fitted scale armor, and his fresh, unhardened leathers. He didn’t even have his second gift yet, just a rusty sharp-blade and a battered hard-shield from some ancestor years ago. But when the monster had come and snatched up Annea in its terrible grasp, Renauld was the only one that had volunteered to save her. So here he was on the side of a mountain, freezing to death.

A red light flickered up ahead, barely visible through the swirling snowfall. Renauld squinted, but could not make out what it was. He crouched low and made sure his sharp-blade was well in hand, then crept forward. As he grew closer, he heard conversation in the wild tongue, the curiously smooth and rhythmic speech shared by the most dangerous monsters. It was strange to hear such nearly-musical sound from such ugly and awkward beasts.

There were three of them, huddled around a fire. They were similar in appearance to the great black beast that had stolen Annea, but smaller and wingless. Where the black beast had been totally covered in an impenetrable hide, these monsters were less mature, and their armor had not yet covered their fleshy, brutish faces or their stunted fingers.

Renauld stared longingly at the fire and dreamed of being warm again. It was foolishness to attack the red beasts, of course. He didn’t have the gift of stone for protection, or the gift of fire for attack… a sudden thought came to him. He hadn’t yet been given the gift of wind, but even without it, his leathers were built for gliding. It would be a risk, but it might be worth it.

He looked once more at the crackling fire, and saw a haunch of meat roasting on a spit above it. That decided it. Moving softly, Renauld circled to the right, and when he judged he was in a good position, he stood tall and bellowed at the top of his lungs. Read More…

Posted by: lordkyler | April 12, 2015

Short Story Week 2015

Today is my birthday! I’m [redacted] years old today, and I’ve had another year of experience since last year. I don’t know if that will lead to any major improvements or not, but I’m hoping.

In any case, I’m back again. I’ll be releasing a new short story every day this week. Some of them are ideas I’ve had for a long time, and I’m happy to finally bring them to life. All of these are essentially going to be first-draft rough editions, but I think you will enjoy them anyway. Please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.

I’d also like to take a moment to look back on last year’s stories and see how I feel about them now. If you haven’t read any of them, this would be a good time. :)

  • In Space: This was originally going to be more of a humorous piece, with the Gulliver’s Travels ending, but it ended up as something quite different, but better, I think. I think I set the mood of the piece fairly well, even if there isn’t a whole lot of characterization. But that’s okay for a short story. I couldn’t resist tacking on the silly alternate ending afterward, though. 
  • Chosen: This is one I liked well enough to write a sequel short story, The Essence of Time.
  • He Who Speaks With Birds: This is another concept I really love. I do think that the opening exposition isn’t that great, and is kind of a clunky way to introduce things. This is one that could have benefited from a little more thought and time. However, I think things improved a lot in the second half, and I’m pretty pleased with my writing there. 
  • Cavern: One that spawned a small series, and for good reason. This is my favorite story to come from this run.  It started out as sort of an attempt for a horror story opening, and turned into something totally different in the numerous sequels: Nightfall, A New Age, and Clouded. I really like Dustin and Eliza, and I am very pleased with the dialogue. 
  • Nightfall: (Linked above) While I like some of the opening exposition, it is kind of a blatant infodump, and I wish I had handled it a little smoother. The dialogue is also a little less natural this time around, but both of these people are undergoing some significant changes, so I think that’s somewhat understandable. I hope Dustin didn’t come off as a jerk. I am also fond of the ending of this one.
  • Gunslanger: The final story of the week. This one was a lot of fun. I kind of wish I had a bit more technical jargon to throw in, but it turned out well enough. I like this one a lot. 

Well, that’s all I have for today. Look out for the first short story tomorrow!

Posted by: lordkyler | February 14, 2015

Avatar Sports: Part Three

This is the last installment of my Avatar (The Last Airbender) sports trilogy. Part one is here, and part two is here. In this post, we’ll look mostly at water bending sports. Some of these are my favorites. Read More…

Posted by: lordkyler | January 31, 2015

Avatar Sports: Part Two

In the last post of this series, I covered my ideas for sports that might emerge in the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender. In that post, I discussed a few ideas for airbending sports. In this entry, I’ll present some firebending and earthbending sports (and a combination of the two,) and in the final post, I’ll cover mostly waterbending sports.

Let’s get on with it! Read More…

Posted by: lordkyler | January 17, 2015

Avatar Sports: Part One

So, I am a fan of Avatar. Not the blue people Avatar. That was alright. But I much prefer Avatar: The Last Airbender and it’s sequel series, The Legend of Korra. 

During the Legend of Korra, we were introduced to Pro-Bending, a fast-paced professional sport that used three of the four elements. This wasn’t our first introduction to bending sports, either. With such unique powers, I realized that bending sports could present some very interesting sports concepts, and I was hit with a mild obsession.

That led to the following sports ideas. Some of them might need to take place in a more modern time with more advanced materials, but most could be played in the time period of the Legend of Korra or even ancient times. I thought up the basic system for the game, created a Sketchup model of an example court for each idea, and made a logo for the sport.

This is part one of a small series. I hope you find these ideas as interesting as I do. Now if only we could find a way to get someone to animate these… Read More…

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