Monday, April 17, 2017

Book Review: Mistborn By Brandon Sanderson

Image result for mistborn
Dear reader(s?) if you have been following me you will have noticed an absence of entries from me. This is for three main reasons 1. I am changing the direction of One World, 2. I did not like how the second chapter of  The Shading turned out, and 3. I am working on a short story to share. So I figured a book review of one of the best books I have ever read will be enough to hold you (all?) over.  

This is going to read a little differently than my other book reviews. This is due to the simple fact that I think Mistborn: The Final Empire (Available at Amazon here) is one of the most complete and compelling stories I have ever come across. As of now, there are 3 books in the original trilogy, plus three more novels set a couple hundred years after the original trilogy, not to mention the novellas and short stories that are pretty easy to find for a great price. If you haven't read Sanderson, this will be an amazing treat. he can take magic and turn it scientific without losing the fantasy and wonder desired from a fantasy novel. The characters are well-developed, and the plot is exciting as it is unpredictable. I really can't imagine a group that shouldn't read this book. I guess I would say it is more challenging than Harry Potter, though not by much. There is plenty of action, which includes some wonderfully brutal scenes, so just be aware of that.

Brandon Sanderson has become my favorite author, and Mistborn is to thank for that. I wish this entry could be longer, but I am going to start getting sappy with compliments, and I don't have anything to say, so goodbye.

If you are interested just click here and enjoy.
Also for the whole original trilogy, you can go here.
If you are looking for the second trilogy, you can find the first one here

NOTE: I didn't even say anything about Sanderson's Cosmere, just google that word and prepare to be blown away.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

One World: Iron Corpse Chapter 2

Welcome back to One World. I decided to go with another chapter with this over The Shading because that is more of an epic and I need more time. Also I am looking for some cover/ concept art so if you feel inspired by any of these scenes contact me and lets see if we can work something out. Don't be afraid to like or share!

Walter’s Watering Hole
Sam considered herself level headed, but she was pretty sure two officers were dead and that a man had resisted her magic. Developing a counterspell wasn’t unheard, but that meant that one would have to learn how to repel an exact spell from an exact person (even two people who had the same ability produced the magic in different ways, so they had to be dealt with differently) and Samson had rejected two of hers, meaning he wasted two whole spells just to fight off one teenage girl. As dramatic as it sounded Sam thought it was more logical that there was someone out there that was immune to magic. A witch with one spell was impressive, two spells were powerful, three masterful, and four, well there was a reason the government was still after Sam.  
“What the hell is going on,” Sam said. Her voice was shaky, like a child that was about to cry. Her breaths were short, having used gravity to fly for a few blocks, then running another ten or so. She would have flown more, but flying with gravity was dangerous. It was like falling off a cliff, constantly picking up speed until reaching terminal velocity. Terminal being the most important word there.
Looking around Sam knew where she was, and a slight feeling of recognizing melted the tension in her shoulders. The roads-turned-parks were all empty, and most of the benches were covered in offensive graffiti. This was one of the most dangerous parts of town, meaning people who were running from the law were much more welcome. Sam walked down a deserted strip of park, out in the open. Most would think it wise to stay hidden, but Sam knew that being in the open meant that people following her would also be in the open, and with her abilities it would be that much easier to escape.   
After a few minutes Sam was heard the familiar buzz of a flickering neon sign, dimly glowing in the late afternoon sun, flashing the words “Walter’s Watering Hole” in bright red, with the phrase “Humans Kill Aliens Here” flash in green. Sam guessed that the murder threat was sarcastic, but it drew a very specific crowd, the kind of crowd that chased away officers of the law with baseball bats and chains just because they infringed on a little girl’s right to take a walk during the day. Sam didn’t agree with their blood thirst, but there was a definite mutual disdain for all things extraterrestrial.
She pushed open the authentic wooden door with a heave, noting several burns that had been added since her last visit as she stepped into the waiting room. A man roughly the size of  a president on Mount Rushmore stood guard over the curtain that led into the bar. He looked at Sam and snarled, though Sam was sure that was supposed to be a smile, because he pulled back the curtain to let her through.
“Kid’s here,” he yelled. The music changed from some grungy rock to an old western twang. Sam figured a show must have just ended because she saw a lady running off the back of the stage, a lady that seemed very exposed. Walter always found new people to perform at his bar, and it seemed like this new lady must have a very strange talent, seeing as there was a tall brass pole right in the middle of the stage.
Most of the guys in the place gave her a smile as she walked by, everyone but those closest to the stage. They just seemed disappointed, almost sad, to see her.
Sam got to the bar and pulled up a stool, slapping the counter to get the bartender’s attention. Walter looked right over and smiled. He was the kind of guy that could murder people before lunch and spend the afternoon volunteering at an old folks home. The teardrop tattoos on his face and the depiction of Jesus on his arms was a great example of his duality. He was also unbelievably hairy.  
“Usual?” Walter said, his voice much too cheerful for his bulging biceps and sun dried skin..
“Yeah but stir it real good this time, I am tired of powder settling to the bottom,” Sam said. The other guys at the bar laughed, Sam knew if any of them talked like that they would probably bleed, but Walter had a soft spot for young women, in a nice way.
“Yes ma’am,” Walter said. He pulled a bottle of milk from the fridge and grabbed the chocolate powder from the shelf above all the hard liquor. “SAM” was written in black marker a few times on the container and lid.
“That dogman still after you?” Walter asked, sliding the chocolate milk down the bar.
“I think he is dead,” Sam did her best to sound cool.
“You earn your teardrops?” Walter said, pulling a laugh from a few of the patrons, though Walter looked more than a little concerned.
“Wasn’t me,” Sam said, after gulping her drink “Some guy that I couldn’t use my magic on choked him, picked him up by the throat with one hand.”
A few of the more grizzly men cheered a little at that, Walter seemed to understand Sam’s worry.
“None of your magic worked?” he said, setting down the cup he was polishing.
“I only tried two, but that seemed like enough. Two counterspells for one girl?”
Walter didn’t have a good answer and just grunted and shrugged. Most of the patrons seemed disinterested, though a few were perking up. One man with fire red hair, Sam didn’t know his name so she called him Lucifer, stood up and sat next to her. This was the kind of guy that looked, and smelled, like he lived in a bar.
“You should be dead,” he said. When he saw Sam’s face he chuckled to himself, “Maybe he isn’t all bad, sounds like he is ok with dropping off-worlders, too bad you got involved.”
“He said he came for me.” Sam said. She really wanted to look tough in front of these guys, but her courage wasn’t shining at the moment.  
“I doubt that,” the man said, “He probably is a traditionalist. Lots of religious groups stirring to violence nowadays.”  
Walter nodded in approval.
“He seemed spiritual,” Sam said, “he said he was ordained to clean out my plague,”
The man scoffed, taking a sip of his dark brown ale.
“Could’ve just meant women,” the man said. Those listening gave a rowdy cheer, as if women had collectively wronged all of them in some way.
Sam wanted to counter with a witty comment about the number of naked women the men in the room displayed in their tattoos, and how that might affect their ability to find a nice lady, but she needed information, or at the very least advice.
“Maybe, but he specifically called me out,” Sam said.
“And he countered to your magic?” Walter said. “Could just be a private bounty hunter who didn’t want to lose his payday.”
Sam thought that was a logical conclusion, Though she still had a hard time believing someone would counter two of her spells. Why would someone waste so much brain power on just her?
Walter read her expression, “You work your way higher and higher on the LS priority list. Who knows what tools they are hiding from us.”
LS. Landed Species. The government body that stood against everything that Sam stood for. She wouldn’t put it past a group of bureaucrats to spend so much on the pursuit of a truant, granted probably the most decorated truant ever.  
“They will need more than one giant ass hole,” Sam said, “especially for a guy so willing to murder people he should be working with. More freedom for me.”
Walter rolled his eyes as a few men cheered. They had a warm connection, not quite father-daughter, but along those lines. Living on her own, there wasn’t too many people Sam could depend on, but Walter was, as cliche as it sounds, a rock. Even with his violent ink and steel wire beard Walter could have the kindest eyes.
“I get groups that come in here wanting to stir up fights all the time.  LS has everyone wound tight.”
Sam frowned and looked into her chocolate milk.  
“I’ll keep you safe,” he said, then added a wink and a smile.
Sam did feel better. Walter never admitted to it, but he knew too much about magic to not be a wizard. Part of the courtesy of being undocumented is not forcing other people in her same situation to admit to having secrets.
“You can stay upstairs with me,” a woman said.
Sam turned to see a woman walking to the bar wearing a long, black, skin tight, over coat that buttoned down the front, though at the top there must have been something keeping it from sliding off her boobs, and with each step Sam grew more certain that the slit in the front would open enough to see all her good parts. The lady looked Sam in the eyes and gave a seductive smile, raising an eyebrow as if she was curious. Her long blonde hair curled like a smooth fountain of the most unholy sin.
Sam was not a lesbian, but this woman had enough sexuality in one fingernail to turn anyone on.  
“What?” Sam asked. It was actually harder to stay cool in front of this woman than it was in front of all the drunk old men.
“Lie low for a while,” she said, taking Lucifer’s drink, “get some rest. Maybe we could put on a show together.” She gave Sam a wink that sent uncomfortable shivers down her spine.
“Not for a few more years,” Walter said.
The woman laughed and stroked Walter’s arm gently.
“My name is Star,” the lady said, holding out her hand, the sexuality leaving her face, replaced with sincerity, “let’s have a little girl talk.”
Sam gave her name and took Star’s hand, the woman bent over and kissed Sam on the cheek, sending waves of really irritating emotions reverberating throughout her body. Sam really isn’t gay, Star  just knows how to use her sexuality. Star went backstage and Sam knew she had to follow, though she refused to think about anything but the possibility of learning more about Samson, the giant from the frat house. Downing the rest of her milk Sam smiled at Walter and followed Star through a door that was hanging a little crooked leading behind the stage.
There wasn’t much light, though there didn’t seem to be very much to light up. Star was sitting at a vanity mirror with most of the bulbs burnt out, and oddly enough she was actually buttoning up her dress a little more, though it still was a little revealing.
“Lots of scumbags out there,” Star said, though it wasn’t the Star that lead Sam backstage. This voice came from a woman that looked like Star, though toned down a level or two, and wearing a hoodie. The new Star got up from her recliner and walked over. The other Star, the sexy one, vanished. Sam couldn’t help but smile, could one ever get used to seeing spells like that?
“I don’t feel as gross if it isn’t actually me out there, you know?” Star said.
“Yeah,” Sam said, though she did not understand that at all.
Star opened a bag of chips and began munching, offering some to share. Sam took a handful, anything over socks.     
“In my line of work,” Star said, wiping greasy finger on her sweatpants,“ you get a lot of guys to talk, even officers of the law need to let loose sometimes.”
Sam felt something click in her head, “You get naked and men pay to see you,” Sam said.
Star laughed, completely unabashed, “Well that is the basic jist of things, yes. Though I’m not as pathetic as you might think.”
This was one of the strangest days. First the attempted murder, now she was actually face to face with a real stripper. With some of the extraterrestrial peace treaties a few human traditions became extinct. Things like roads, gross tasting unhealthy food, and people using sex to earn money (that included stripping, prostitution, and pornography). The Angels were to blame for that, their religion strictly forbade any such practice and most humans became infatuated with their new found sense of morality, adapting to the aliens wishes. After a few decades all the inappropriate practices simply disappeared. It warmed Sam’s heart to see that there were still threads of humanity tied to their roots, even though she didn’t exactly support the idea of people using nudity as a job, she liked that there were still humans out there. Dirty, disgusting humans.
“Sorry, I don’t mean to be so lame,” Sam said.
“I get it a lot, but I’m not embarrassed. I like keeping the human race tied to it’s past a little. Plus, that really isn’t me out there, learned to make a few improvements”
Sam thought that didn’t seem much better, but actually was proud that Star found a way to use magic in her life.
“How many other spells do you know?” Sam asked, curiosity peaked.
Star stopped, and Sam swore, realizing she crossed a line, never ever ask an undocumented witch or wizard about their spells. It was like asking to see a normal person’s naked body. Sam really needed to get used to being around a stripper.
“What were you saying about cops?’ Sam said, changing the subject
Star was taken aback by the invasion of privacy, but recovered well, “I get some asking for private visits, they are always willing to talk when they are alone like that. There is word that they have been having trouble with a guy that was hard to kill.”
“You got a cop to tell you that?”
Even though Sam hated cops, she felt like telling a stripper something like that broke a lot of laws. Star must have understood the irony too because she laughed and shrugged.
“Listen,” Star said, abandoning the conversation thread for a minute, “men want one thing. Everything they do is an attempt to get that thing.”
“I don’t follow,” Sam said.
Star looked like she was about to eat a rotten sandwich.
“Men pay me to do this,” Star said, creating a nearly naked version of herself, “the longer it takes me to get naked the more money, or other payment, I get. So long as they think everything will eventually come off. Do I need to go further?”
Sam thought she was starting to get it, and shook her head no.
“So what do you want?” Star asked.
Sam thought about that. She wanted to know more about Samson, she did not want to go back to the Academy, she wanted all the aliens to leave earth, she didn’t want to eat laundry anymore.
“Judging by how long it took you to answer you are a true woman and you want quite a few things. Well, you can use what men want to get them to give you what you want. Make sense?”
Sam considered the trade of getting naked for every man to convince them to kick out the aliens, especially the Angels and Shadows. She felt dirty and decided to force the conversation forward.
“What are you trying to say?”
“You need to keep your head down. I don’t know much, but I know there is something stirring out there,” Star said. She had an intensity in her eyes that, even for the short time Sam had known her (like five minutes), seemed out of character. A deep feeling of seriousness settled between the two. They held eye contact for a moment, and Sam decided she was going to trust Star. She was a classic human and seemed to have Sam’s best interest at heart. Out on the run a girl has to follow her gut.
Understanding Sam’s facial expressions Star broke the silence, “People like us have to stick together.”
Sam didn’t know if she meant girls, wizards or some other bizarre connection.. Star didn’t seem to care enough to explain and began talking fast. Not the type of fast when someone is scared or in a hurry, more like friends talking. Sam didn’t have friends. Still, for some reason this didn’t bother her at all.
As Star talked she began to show her true age little by little. Out in the bar Sam thought the woman was in her late twenties, but now Star didn’t seem too much older than Sam. She still had a young girl’s charm, and this thirst for life that Sam realized she had lost some time ago. That being said Star did have stories that could make your hair stand on end. She told stories of grumpy old men trying to take advantage of her, and the amazing ways she put them in her place. Stories that most young women would tell in group therapy sessions, Star paraded like they were funny jokes, or a light hearted coincidence.
Sam let her mind wander for a moment. Star didn’t need to work at a bar showing her body, albeit her fake body, to strangers. Sam wanted a friend on the road, someone to travel with. Star wasn’t the exact person she imagined her companion to be, but hey, a friend is a friend.
“Let’s leave,” Sam said, cutting Star off right in the middle of a story.
Star looked confused for a moment, than flattered.
“Soon.” Star smiled like she knew something really important.
That was the first thing that went through his head, his first complete thought, the offensive nickname the girl had given him. Hound. Around that same time a dull pain radiated from his K9 teeth, his two sharpest fangs. It was the sensation he got when his body recognized danger before his brain could. Eyes still shut, he tried lifting his head, which sent a shock of pain down his spine. Trying to cry out Hound opened his mouth to scream, but all that escaped was a pathetic scratching whisper, like the sound of someone ripping thick cardboard, followed by a series of rasping, painful coughs.
Damn that girl.
Turning to the side Hound tried to open his eyes. Draped over a chair next to him he saw his uniform. It was pressed, but there was still a few specks of blood visible, along with four small holes where his badge should have been pinned to his breast pocket.
This made his teeth throb all the more. Something was wrong. Activating his senses, especially his hearing and scent, Hound heard the faint slap of flesh against metal, the distant tapping of expensive dress shoes on the linoleum floors, and the distinct stench of over priced cologne coupled with a freshly tailored suit. Two colognes. One was much cheaper, the kind you bought at a supermarket. Listening closer Hound heard the softer sound of rubber shoes squeaking as well. Most of his human counterparts at the station would mock him for recognizing the smell of a freshly tailored suit, but being a Mutt held distinct advantages.
As the sounds and smells amplified Hound locked his eyes on his door, which seemed to have been freshly painted with a gray, lead based paint. Hound would have liked to stand from his bed, ready to meet his intruder face to face, but he knew that his body would not allow that. Settling for a vicious display of his teeth Hound waited.
Barely a moment passed before two men came through the door. One dressed in a very formal suit, the other in a cheaply made black suit, the kind you buy to try and look fancy. The cheaper of the two was tall, dark skinned, and built like he knew how to kill. He was bald, but had a thick, well trimmed beard. The fancier, who was clearly in charge, had some sort of sash draped across his chest, under his blazer that signified his military accomplishments. Judging by the quality of his cufflinks, shoes, and tie, this man had enough money to pay someone to shave him while he slept.
Hound wanted to speak, but his voice betrayed him again, giving way to another fit of painful coughs.
“Save your breath,” the military man said.
He had a slight accent, but Hound still didn’t have all the earthly speaking habits memorized. The bald man sat in the chair opposite of the one that held his suit, and flashed Hound’s badge.
“You are probably looking for this,” he said, same accent.
Hound made a move but the man in charge spoke up, diffusing the tension.
“Before you ruin this, let me explain. I work for the LS, my name is General Tanner, this is my colleague Shade. You have been attacked by a man that should not exist. I took your badge because I suspect you will want to leave your job and come work for me, track this bastard down and help all of the Landed Species sleep better knowing a killer that no one can explain is behind bars.”
Hound struggled to think, and let his face show his confusion.
“Don’t think too much. You won’t remember a lot. Samson did a number on you, starting with a bit of brain damage resulting in memory loss.”
Hound barely remembered his partner, let alone the faces of any of the men, women, or aliens he worked with. He remembered Sam, and he could feel flashes of recollection, but nothing substantial. Nothing substantial outside of Sam.
“What do you say?” Tanner said, “Let’s catch this guy. You can trust me, Hound.”
Tanner put a hand on Hound’s arm and gave him a sincere, encouraging look.
Hound nodded, not flinching at what seemed to be his name now, no matter how offensive it was meant to be. His teeth still ached, but not nearly as bad. He would team up with shade, that seemed like a logical step to fill all the voids in Shade’s story, but no matter how much he repeated it Hound was never going to trust him.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Book Review Angelfall By Susan Ee

This is really a fun book that pulls you through the plot. It is a cool combination of dystopian literature, sci-fi, and religion. Essentially angels take over the earth, are real jerks, and our dear protagonist has to team up with one. This really has a new feel to it, a really fun read, and shockingly inexpensive (you can buy the whole trilogy for around $25). Click here to buy the book.

What I loved: There isn’t down time. Ee does a fantastic job at weaving exposition, flashbacks, and intense action. The success and failures that the protagonist experiences actually make sense, which is a dangerous thing to say. One of my biggest issues with stories in any format is when a character has huge, impossible roadblocks, and all hope is lost, and there is some sneaky little loophole that saves the day. THIS BOOK DOES NOT DO THAT! Plenty of humor. Lots of action. This book balances between a male and female audience.

What I Wanted: Answers. This reads kind of like the Maze Runner series where you are constantly wanting to know just a little more. The mystery is fantastic and you do end the first novel on a satisfying note, it’s just... I get frustrated when I don’t know answers and I have to not read for a few days. So that is me being selfish. 

This is a great option for if you are looking to mix up a really popular genre. I highly recommend this, less than ten dollars and it's available on Amazon Prime (as are the other two in the series), so it is a good deal. If you find yourself thinking that you may be interested follow this link to buy the book now and you will be addicted by the weekend.

Also Amazon is doing a deal on a lot of Young Adult novels check this out if you are in the market, or if you are addicted to buying books.

Also Also you can buy Kindle books through all the links, if that is your thing.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

One World: The Iron Corpse

This is a really fun story I have been working on for some time. Inspired by X-Men, X-files, and the dystopian craze I wanted to do something along the lines of alien VS wizards (which was the working title for some time). One World all takes place in the future, but I'm not sure how far so I'll leave that vague for now. I do know that it's far enough in the future that no one currently alive would be alive for the drama, yet not so far that our current society is forgotten. My goal is to weave a few seemingly unrelated stories together so they can work on their own, for the most part, yet can play off each other nicely. Today's publication is two sections, a prologue and chapter one. Read and enjoy, and please share/follow/tell people about my writing. if you like what you see here, you can find chapter 2 also on this blog.


“To put it simply Mr. President,” General Tanner said, “ you are no longer in power.”
The room was silent for a moment, but anxious whisper sprouted about like brush fires. While no one seemed particularly pleased with that idea, it was also difficult to find any objection. Tanner smiled to himself. There was no doubt that his face right this moment was the exact reason that interns called him arrogant, to hell with them, this is what he built his career for.
The president raised his hand, and the room hushed, a cheap parlor trick from a man that had undermined every defense that the United States once held dear, all under thunderous applause.
“If I am not in charge then who is?” President Anderson said.
Tanner calculated his words with precision. He couldn’t be too bold, but if his words weren’t definite enough there was a chance he could lose his foothold. Like boiling a frog, he needed to be subtle, but absolute.
“Peace,” pause for effect, “Peace is bossing every world leader around like our mother left it in charge. You have let this idea of peace rob you, rob the government, of every ounce of power. Now we are tracking the biggest threat to date and there is nothing you can do about it.”
The president raised his right eyebrow. It was the same look he gave Tanner the day they made contact with the LS, the day they destroyed the collection of nukes, and the day the president announced his divorce. Something had to be cooking in his head.
“I assume you have a solution then,” Anderson said. He was too calm, Tanner needed to stir the pot, he needed to put a lid on the pot and let the bastards boil.
“100 Soldiers,” he said.
“You want to start a war?” The question came from the back of the room. Tanner didn’t look to see who.
The President met Tanner’s gaze. His undivided attention always felt like standing too close to a fire, pulling the General back to their college years.
“I assume you think that they are willing to listen to you?” the President said. A silent confusion stirred in the room.
“I controlled armies for years,”
“Not this one,”
Pride would do no good now.
“I believe that this country and what it stands for will be enough.”
“You are starting a war?” the same person said.
The President smiled, then broke into a laugh. he stood up and walked around the desk, shaking his head and laughing. A rumble from outside made the room jump, but the President kept up with his mocking charade until he was nose to nose with the general, his laugh now sounding more like a growling bear.
“Not starting one,” Anderson said, “preventing one.”
Scoffs around the room made it clear that not many of the cabinet believed the claim. Not many Americans believed the idea that the LS were there for any reason except establishing and maintaining peace.
“This country ruined their lives.” The President said. His face fell into a frozen scowl, burdened with shame, “They hate us.”
Tanner felt defeated, guilty even, but Anderson was right where he needed him.
“Bruce,” he said as if his voice was peaking out from under the covers, “would you rather be hated or dead?”
“In this case, I don’t see much of a difference.”
A tightly wound male secretary from the back of the room, probably the one who had spoken up before decided he didn’t like being excluded from such an important conversation.
“I think the room deserves to know what you are talking about,” the man said. His tone thick with entitlement.
Without looking up the president pulled a gun out of his blazer and pointed it at the man.
“I don’t think you work here any more,”
Loud questions and objections exploded from the small group. Many pushed their chairs against the wall, ducking in cover.
“You all heard the General, We are no longer in charge. Is our goal power, or freedom? Is that freedom for us, or for the people we were asked to protect,”He swung the gun around the room, stopping at random people, smiling as they flinched in fear, “Believe it or not, we have failed. Now we must turn to animals that cannot be tamed, merely locked in cages.”
That same look of shame leaked onto his face. He dropped his arm and looked at the gun in his hands.
“Since we failed, we don’t deserve to try again,” he looked at Tanner and gave him the gun, “They won’t follow me. But maybe they will follow the man that set them free, the man who overthrew the government.”
Feeling a sense of duty Tanner took the gun and pointed it right between the President’s eyes.
“I’ll tell the truth, once it is all over,”
The President shrugged and smiled, closing his eyes. The shot echoed in the small room and sprayed blood across the back wall. The rest of the people in the room cried out, some prayed, a few retched. Tanner held his emotions down, he needed to do a lot worse. Pulling a lever below the trigger Tanner dropped the clip to count the bullets. Two per person in the room.
It had been fifteen years since he fired a gun, but the training was hard to forget. Bodies fell to the floor, no one had the instinct to fight, of course not, and targets heading towards a singular location- like a door- with their backs turned made for easy targets. Security was a joke these days, more like a group of mercenaries than trained killers. The two that were asked to stand guard accepted a small salary to stay outside, no matter what.
One man stirred, the Press Secretary, and Tanner leveled his gun. A brief moment of realization gave him pause.
“You still want a job?” Tanner said.
The man nodded, holding his wound. The shot wasn’t fatal, especially if he received a little medical attention.
“This didn’t happen. Not yet.” Tanner said.
The Secretary looked confused.
“We need to cook the LS, open the people’s eyes. Until then I am a general, and Bruce is the president.”
The man hardened his features, then nodded. “Until then?” he said, voice hoarse and weak.
“We uncage the animals”

Avoiding Responsibility
Confidence was the key to breaking any rule. So long as you acted like being there was as normal as a sunrise, rarely did anyone say anything. Sam did so now, with all the professionalism of a pediatrician with a nervous child, she walked down the sidewalk of the neighborhood with houses that were too big for anyone to really get full use out of. The road looked like it had just recently been transformed into a park, now that ground level transportation was all but useless it seemed the smart thing to do. Her outfit wasn’t perfect for blending in, but what she lacked in style she made up for with cheerful smiles and pleasant hellos to all the bored housewives she saw on the street. Some burglars would tell you that you should avoid any type of contact, to not be remembered, and maybe they were on to something, but Sam always heard police asking questions like “did you see anything unusual?” or, “was anything out of place that morning?” and a kind young woman saying hello never really seemed out of place.
Plus in the off chance that she was remembered she could just use magic for a quick escape.
Sam wasn’t the most powerful of witches, but she was very cunning and she had a distinct advantage that no one knew she had learned magic. As a girl, her parents forced her to go to one of those academies that helped young ones to open their minds and see with their third eye and all that bull. The whole process was just too much fluff. There was no trick to magic, this was just a result of science. Humans had evolved as far as they could naturally and now learned how to evolve themselves. Her teachers at The Academy for Evolving Arts thought her ideas were radical, most of them belonging to The Church of the Mind, and threatened to kick her out. Well, Sam cut out the middleman and left.
That was two years ago. Living on her own she learned four spells, one more than she was promised at the Academy. Gravity, Senses (she sometimes called that one drugs because of the far-out way it switched her senses), Bullet, and Food. They weren’t too complicated, but they were all bred from her lifestyle and had proven extremely useful. Gravity allowed her to manipulate gravitational pull on herself or outward objects. It was hard to control, and potentially deadly, but helped in life-threatening situations, a quick blink and she could send a mugger falling backward like his gravity pulled horizontally across the earth. Senses switched her senses so that she could see sound or hear smell and so on when used properly no one was sneaky enough to catch her off guard. Bullet essentially turned gaseous air into a solid, and launch said projectile at varying degrees of lethality, much like a bullet. Food allowed her to eat anything. Once the object touched her tongue it would turn into whatever type of nutrients she needed most. The taste was hard to get right, but she was doing better.
So she spent her days walking around using her spells to sneak into empty houses, rest, eat meaningless objects, and fly away when the owners returned. Rich neighborhoods either had very busy houses or houses that remained empty most of the day. She just needed a place to sleep and a few socks to eat (everyone blamed the dryer for that) and she would be gone before quitting time.
“It’s a little hot for a jacket,” a sweet voice said. Sam looked and a tiny old lady in a flower nightgown was watering her flowers looking at her. She was pale and looked rather ill.
“I don’t mind,” Sam said, “I’m almost there.” Sam gestured, though not towards any house in particular. From inside the house, she heard a deep growl and a scratching at the door. She thought about commenting on how big that dog sounded but didn’t want to create a distinct memory for this shriveled woman, even if the old hag probably didn't remember why she had come outside in the first place.
Sam looked at her feet as she walked and noticed the dress and jacket she took from a few roads over were fit for more late autumn rather than the actual early spring, and her dark colors didn’t make her seem like the happiest person. Sam planned to be in the busiest part of the city today, but the second most important rule to fitting in is never having too strict of a plan. The excess violence downtown lead to a higher police presence and those were the people she was trying to avoid. Damn off-worlders ruined everything.
She knew that she needed to find some different clothes, which was risky. Most people had clothes that they kept around that they never used. The trick was figuring out which was which when you didn’t know the person at all.
Figuring now was as good a time as any, Sam took a deep breath and switched her hearing and seeing. The world transformed into a psychedelic flowing picture of waves. Hearing as sight is difficult to describe, everything made a soft sound that grew louder the closer it got, The louder the noise the brighter the object appeared. If an object was totally silent she could only see a black outline of the thing, and only if she looked directly at it. Sure it was hard to get used to at first, but now Sam felt like a pro. She slowed her walking just a little bit, pretending to look around and take in the nice day. She paid very close attention to each house as she passed by, looking for any sign of sound. It was surprising how much you actually heard, though noise is hard to separate. While Sam could see sound there was no sound that she missed. Walls may dim the noise, but a room would have to be completely sound proof for her to not see the sound.
Thinking about the logic of all this started to make Sam’s head hurt, she just knew that it worked and that was good enough.  
Across the street, maybe three house down from the old lady with the large sounding dog, seemed empty enough. Not a single wave of color. She fixed her senses and walked straight towards the door, this is when confidence was most important. If Sam looked like she shouldn't be there people would get suspicious for sure. Once on the red cement twisting sidewalk trail that led to an oak door with an oval glass window, Sam turned her attention to the lock. She reached in with her gravity and started pushing on the small levers inside the door. With nearly two years of practice, she was able to pick the lock before her hand touched the door, and she was able to walk in without any pause.
“Damn,” Sam said to herself. The room looked like a dream home for a single man. This must be bachelor pad central, maybe the type of place that rich Frat boys would stay, not that she knew very much about that. The entrance way was simple enough; a large spiral staircase outlined the room and where there should have been some type a chandelier hung several inflatable animals. To her right seemed to be a game room. Besides dozens of bean bags, there were a few ping-pong, a foosball, and pool tables scattered around the room. There was a TV large enough to be a bed on the wall and a fancy gaudy style stand stood underneath. Walking past she grabbed a ping-pong ball and ate it, wondering what type of video games and movies they would have hidden away here, but she didn't have time for that.
She ran upstairs, taking them two at a time, which was probably her weirdest habit other than eating strangers socks. Walking up a single stair at a time was a huge waste of life. Americans alone wasted nearly six months of their lives walking up stairs, and that is with the majority of the population taking the elevators.
Ok so that might have been a made up fact, but she reached the top floor faster than most people would have been.
Each room was decorated with classic boy decor. Things like sports teams and action movies or posters, one room had women of all races dressed in basically nothing at all. At least he was diversified. Sam avoided organized rooms, seeing as there was a greater chance that a missing sock or two would be noticed. The last door in the hallway was propped open with a pair of dark washed jeans poking through the crack.
“Jackpot,” Sam said, letting her hunger come to the forefront of her mind. She pushed open the door and started grabbing at clothes on the ground. She draped a couple of socks across her arm, along with some of those strange bracelets made of twine and cheap plastic beads. Even though she could change the taste and nutritional value of everything she ate, eating different looking things made her feel more healthy.
Sam noticed that the walls had an inappropriate amount of bright colored of pop art on the walls, and after a deep breath, she could smell a faint trace of weed poking through the stench of dirty laundry. She really hit the mother load. Not only did the guy who lived here seem to be small enough to own clothes that Sam would probably find something to wear, she was sure that he would never notice something missing from this mess. After scouring through the closet she did, in fact, find a few tee shirts and a pair of really stretchy jeans, a trend she assumed died a decade ago. Leave it to druggies to bring back useful retro fashion.
She flopped onto the bed and took a bite of a sock, staring at the ceiling. She noticed a blank poster and felt a slight chill roll down her spine. She had seen that poster before. Locking her eyes to the white square, and sliding off the bed she pulled the blinds closed and shut the door. All the other posters darkened with the room, but that one blossomed into a beautiful detailed drawing of a flower. She wasn’t sure what the flower was actually called, but she knew what it represented. That Flower had been brought by the Angels when they first landed as a sort of peace offering. Initially, they gave actual flowers to every human that showed them kindness, when the flowers died they started giving out these drawings, meaning that Pothead personally knew, associated with, and was kind to aliens.
“Damn you, sir,” Sam said, “Damn you to hell.”
Angels were one of the four breeds of aliens that the first Wizards had contacted. Turns out that brain waves, when forced from the body, can travel up to several thousand times the speed of light. Angels were the first to understand the waves and discovered a way to ride them back down to earth. Shadows were next, though few stayed on earth. Mutts and Eunuchs had already made contact with each other, so they came together and colonized nearby all of the bigger cities.
Angels inserted themselves into society, acting as if they had always been there. Apparently, their home planet worshiped light, which wasn’t a common thing there, and so the fact that Earth got a full blast of sunlight every day made the planet very inviting. Staying out of the sun like they did make them so transparent that Angels were difficult to see during the day.
Sam hated them all.
Only Shadows seemed to be any sort of immediate threat, but each species, in their own way, helped convince the human government to gather and enslave Wizards and Witches. Slavery might be a strong word, but they developed strict regulations, things that bordered privacy invasion, like registering spells, and really boring brainwash schools.
Blood boiled in Sam’s ears. She never did well living inside of boundaries set by other people, meaning becoming a slave (essentially) was difficult enough. Still, that wasn’t what pushed her out of society. The day she was taken to the academy Mom looked the way most moms do when their kids leave for a sleepover, and Dad looked like he was aggravated that he wasn’t reading the paper. Sam tried her best not to put all the blame on her parents. It was the aliens that convinced the government, and the government that convinced her parents. When lies have been filtered by so many trusting layers they became near impossible to discredit.
But Sam knew. Sam saw right through all the bullshit and lies. No species could coexist without demanding some sort of payment. In the animal kingdom, even peaceful animals were either similar enough to breed, or relied on each other for support, like the birds that hung out on the backs of hippos. Protection for a place to stay. Mankind's relationship with these aliens was too friendly, too kind. Something had to give.
Piano playing from the bottom floor pulled Sam out of her trance. She was not a music buff, but the classical tune sounded perfect, too perfect to be played in a man cave like this. She felt some ideas connecting in the back of her mind, she knew something was very wrong, but she couldn't put her finger on it. Thinking she heard voices she switched her sight and hearing again. Sure enough, mixed in with the beautiful waves coming from the piano were two other sources of sound, a jagged brown wave that looked like a toddler trying to draw mountains, and another that looked like the air was french braiding itself.
Even though she wasn’t able to understand any speaking when her senses were switched, she was able to recognize the difference in vibrations between languages, and she was not hearing (seeing?) human English. The french braid was probably a Eunuch, which meant that the jagged brown waves had to be a Mutt. A pairing like that was all too common when chasing after wizards. Mutts were physical wonders, able to hear and smell things beyond human comprehension. That, along with their heightened endurance and lean bodies, reminded people of dogs… thus Mutt. Eunuch’s were more patient and didn't have sex to distract them from life so they could interpret what the Mutts found. The pairing was deadly for a runaway.
The good news was no aliens had yet learned Magic, giving Sam a distinct, even unfair, advantage. Keeping her senses switched Sam jumped in the air and pulled herself towards the ceiling. Now down was up and up was down for her, She crept out of the room and down the hall. It was a bit of a jump to grab onto the railing at the stairs, but Sam was able to swing herself onto the first-floor ceiling. The front door was ahead of her, all she needed to do was position herself perfectly and drop through the oval glass window. A few cuts wouldn’t slow her down much and the officers wouldn’t know what hit them.
San took a deep breath and switched her senses back to normal.
“Beethoven sounds like a child playing nursery hymns,” a growling voice said. It was the officer she called Hound.
A deep feminine voice sighed and said, “Yes, but at least they have some sort of art.”
Sam shook her head and smiled. So much for a dynamic duo. Pulling gravity away from the door Sam stood opposite the front door so the eye shaped window looked like a skylight to her. She debated using bullet to break the glass but decided that it would be all too likely that the two officers had some sort of trap set, plus bullet was a little unpredictable. She jumped, did a half flip in the air and pulled her gravity right towards the door. Her plan was to shoot through the door, continue “falling” (to everyone else it would look like flying) and angle her descent into a run. Sam guessed she would probably trip and have to do a skillful roll, but that was within the realm of acceptability.
Her heels slammed into the glass, but there was no shatter. Sharp pains zapped through her shins- damn shin splints- and she slumped onto the door.
“Step off the door sweetheart,” the Eunuch said. The thing was slender and long, all Eunuchs had arms that went past their knees and two elbows just to make them extra creepy. Its face was calm and more masculine than the voice it produced. It wore a blue truancy uniform with a useless golden badge pinned to the front pocket.The body shape alone was enough to make Sam shiver, add the taser, one of the new ones that stopped external brainwaves, and this was a very frightening situation.
Add on top of that a white curly wig tucked into the things pants. This was the old lady pulling weeds. Her big dog in the house must have been the Mutt reacting to Sam’s smell.
“Damn you,” Sam said. She wanted to sound tough, but her legs really hurt.
“I know, but we need to take you in,” Eunuch said.
“We have been following you for a while,” Mutt said, coming around the corner, ‘We just want you to be safe.”
Sam knew this one. This particular officer has worked Sam’s case for quite a while now. He is the only officer to actually arrest Sam, though she was able to escape before she was taken back to the Academy. Imagine a hairless dog with human quality skin wrapped in the same boring uniform and you have Hound.
Sam gathered her thoughts, rose to her feet, and stepped onto the normal ground.
“You don’t understand,” Sam said, gathering air in her fist like a ball, “you are not going to get me to go back.”
The aliens exchanged looks, giving Sam a chance to launch her air bullets towards them. Hound dodged in time but had to roll out of the way. Eunuchs aren’t as fast and the thing took the non-lethal air bullet right to the chest. Sam flipped onto the railing, switching her gravity again, and ran around up the stairs. Remembering a window down the hall from the pot head room, dove at the banister and swung on the railing to change direction. Hound ran behind her, panting. Just as Sam went to jump to escape the Mutt grabbed her ankle and pulled her onto the ground, the struggle forced Sam to return to normal gravity and focus on the fight.
Sam built her entire life on avoiding hand to hand combat. Sure she could hold her own against punks in the park, but a trained officer, who also happened to be a Mutt, was an impossible task even for a skilled fighter. It didn’t take long before she was pinned against the floor with Officer Hound on top of her trying to cover her mouth.
“Shut it, human,” he said. He no longer looked like a playful puppy, his features sharpened like a predator on the hunt, or a wolf defending its territory. Sam froze, but let out a disgruntled noise. The human-sized hound crouched right over her and growled as if Sam had just insulted his family’s honor.
“One more peep and I will let him kill you,” Hound said through clenched jagged teeth.
Sam thought about responding but a creak on the stairs changed her mind. Hound pulled her into a corner and crouched defensively, pulling his real gun from its holster.
Footsteps tapped up the stairs. Whoever it was, did not seem rushed or worried. The taps came rhythmically, patient like a threat ready to be delivered. Sam gathered air in her hand, ready to attack if needed. Mutt noticed and stepped to the side, giving her space to throw, something that must have broken several officer codes.
The newcomer crested the final stairs. He wore a black button-down shirt tucked into finely pressed slacks. Huge pectoral muscles threatened to rip the buttons free. His arms looked more like tree branches than human limbs, even under his long sleeves. He was bald and his face was scarred on one side, though a shadow made it hard to see. He looked up and smiled, and Sam thought she noticed a hint of blue around the edges of his lips and eyes. Nothing about this man wasn’t intimidating.
“Please put that away, you know why I am here,” his voice was clear but rugged.
“I have my orders. One more step and I will fire,” Hound said. His voice broke a little and Sam lost total faith in the weapon.
“Kill me then,” the man said, stepping towards them, “death would be welcome now.”
Hound hesitated for a second, maybe pleading for another option, then he emptied his clip into the man’s face. Eight gunshots echoed through the air accompanied by eight ripples across the giant's face and chest. His shirt ripped but Sam couldn’t see any blood as if he had absorbed the shots. The giant just laughed and ripped the shirt free revealing his bare chest. Small metal disks fell to the ground, the bullets. Sam noticed the welts. Bullet proof skin was the earliest form of magic, used by ancient monks, but this was different. The man didn’t need to focus or breath, it didn’t seem like magic, more it was just who he was.
Hound made a grab for a knife hidden at his ankle but the giant was too quick and grabbed the officer by the throat, showing the same slight shade of blue around the edges of his fingernails, holding him completely off the ground. The giant grabbed Hound’s knife and stabbed it against his throat, shattering the blade.
Sam screamed and shot her bullet at the giant's face. He stepped backwards, clearly hit, though he seemed more surprised than injured.  
“Wizard,” he said. His voice now tense with anger. He dropped Mutt who crumpled to the floor like a broken doll, “I came for you. I am Samson Reincarnate, ordained to free the people from your plague.”
He stepped forward, still with that same patient pace, into the light from the window. His eyes were electric blue contrasted against pale skin, with a smile that put him right on the edge of sanity.
“How smart do you think the officers were?” Sam said, hoping her plan would work.
Playing along Samson responded, “Kept you in, didn’t they?”
“True, but they don’t seem too thorough,” she tried to throw Samon’s gravity towards the window, but the man didn’t budge. Sam tried a second time but she already knew the outcome. Somehow Samson was immune to magic.
Samson’s laughed sounded like the giant lost control of his body, sending shocks of terror through Sam’s body.
“Through my obedience I will be blessed to rule,” Samson said, sounding like he was saying something even bums on the street should know, “Your witchcraft has no place here.”
Samson sauntered towards her, stepping over the Mutts crumpled corpse. Sam backed away from him and again was intimidated by his patience, he seemed to be certain that Sam would never be able to get away. Her ability to survive seemed to be linked with the length of the hall, which was very limited. Once her back hit the wall just below the window she felt every ounce of hope melt away, replaced by impending doom. She looked up at the window and smiled.
A small black X, probably written with a fine point marker, was right in the middle of the window. Without thinking Sam gathered air and slammed it against the window, and sure enough it shattered like an athlete’s dreams after he breaks an ankle. Using gravity Sam flipped through the window and let her momentum carry her down the street. Allowing herself a victorious glance backwards Sam saw the giant looking at her. He didn’t seem angry, disappointed, or beaten. Samson just smiled out of the corner of his mouth, patient.