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Bloodlines #1 October 9, 2012

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Virgil wanted to spend the weekend with a grieving family about as much as he wanted his skin flayed off in one inch strips. He glanced over at the woman driving their car, sunglasses hiding the tears welling in her dark brown eyes. If anyone but Lares had asked him to attend a funeral he would have told them how far up their ass they could shove the idea. Forget all those actors playing psychics on TV; real psychics avoided the bereaved like the plague. He had already locked down his empathic sense to the point where it was giving him a headache.

He owed her, though. Their job at the Tactical Paranormal Response Unit was damned dangerous, and she had saved his bacon on more than one occasion. He just wished she had picked some other reason—any other reason—to call in the debt.

Lares guided the car off the highway onto a snow covered exit ramp. The sedan held gamely to the road despite a few icy patches, and they cruised along tree lined streets into a picturesque downtown.

“Aunt Honora’s house was always so pretty in winter time,” she said. “The wake will be held there instead of at a funeral home. She would have wanted it that way.”

Virgil hardened his psy-shields against the flood of emotions that those words had brought out in her. “Didn’t you say her place was haunted?” he said, trying to steer the conversation to a safer topic.

“Yes, but it’s nothing serious. Those ghosts are lightweights compared to the ones we work with.”

Virgil snorted in disbelief. “I’m sure they’re tame as kittens.”

Lares gave him a wan smile. “Ghosts I can handle. I’m more worried about the living. Normally I’d be the one who keeps things civil, but I may be a little distracted.”

“Don’t worry your pretty little head about it. The living I can deal with,” Virgil said, smiling to hide his dismay. Distracted didn’t cover what he was sensing from her. It was more like Issues, with a capital I. And that meant the rest of the family was going to be a disaster waiting to happen. But it was too late to back out now.

As they headed into the hills outside of town the trees leaned over the road, blocking the grey sky from view. Lares made a turn onto a steep, slushy road, and the tires spun as they worked to find traction. She turned into the skid, keeping the car from fishtailing too badly, and Virgil clamped down on his nervous thoughts to keep from projecting anything that might distract her. A few hairy minutes later they made another turn down a long driveway that only had one pair of tire tracks cut into the white blanket of snow.

The first thing Virgil noticed as they pulled up to the house was how oppressively quiet it was. Even with his psy-shields up he always heard the ever-present rush of people’s thoughts around him—thousands of them in a low, endless roar like an ocean tide. Not here. There were only a few faint whispers of thought from deep within the house. He popped open the car door, and the icy cold air hit his lungs in a frozen sucker punch. He wheezed and his breath came out in a white plume. The silence weighed down on everything—the snow laden branches of the pine trees bowed beneath it, and a thick layer of snow and ice sagged down over the eaves of the faded old Victorian, making the house seem to frown at him.

Lares took a deep breath and smiled. “Isn’t it lovely? It’s just like I remembered it.”

Virgil moved to get the bags from the trunk, firmly telling himself that the icicles over the porch did not look like teeth. “Sure, it’s a Hallmark moment waiting to happen.”

He wasn’t sure if Lares had missed the sarcasm or was ignoring it. “Wait till you see the inside,” she said, slinging her purse over her shoulder and heading up the stairs to the porch. “It’s an authentic painted lady, on the register of historic houses. It’s been in our family since the mid-1800s.” She rang the doorbell, and a set of chimes bonged slightly out of key.

“Are the original owners still here?” he asked, giving the brooding façade a wary look.

The door opened before she could answer him. The light that spilled out was cheerful enough, as was the motherly brunette who answered the door. She held it open and simultaneously pulled Lares into a one-armed hug. “Sophie, it’s so good to see you again! I only wish it was under better circumstances.”

Sophie? Virgil filed away that bit of info as he shuffled in after her. He knew that Lares wasn’t her real name, any more than Virgil was his. The Agency always used Greco-Roman code names for their operatives. He just hadn’t realized how little he knew about her, despite all the years they had worked together. He certainly hadn’t known she had any family besides her father, until the call came about her aunt’s death.

He looked over the group waiting for them in the hallway – the deceased’s side of the family was white. Lares took after her father, a soft-spoken southerner who taught foreign languages at a university in Georgia. The guarded looks Virgil got as he lugged their bags inside spoke volumes for how the family felt about Lares’ mixed heritage. He was beginning to see why she didn’t talk about them.

A burly man with a buzz-cut, dressed in fatigue pants and a white t-shirt pushed past a gaggle of kids. “You goin’ to introduce us to your ‘friend’, Soph?”

Virgil caught a quick burst of thoughts from him. ::scruffy blond boy-toy probably slacker/loser Sophie slumming again::

Oh yeah, Virgil thought. This was going to be a fun weekend.

Lares pasted on a false, bright smile. “I’m sorry, Alex, everyone, this is Virgil. He’s my business partner.”

Alex gave Virgil a handshake that was more of a vice-grip than a welcome. “You never did tell us what kind of business you were in.”

The motherly woman let out an exasperated sound. “Alex, we are all upset enough without your macho nonsense. Mother would be ashamed of you, acting like this toward a guest.” She gave Virgil a more polite handshake. “You are very welcome here, Virgil. I’m Linda, Sophie’s cousin. Honora was my and Alex’s mother. Desiree is in the kitchen. She’s Uncle Bryant’s daughter, and he’ll be here later tonight. The three boys there are Alex’s brood, Alex Jr., Danny, and Tommy.”

Virgil quickly memorized the family tree, a trick he had learned in his first career as an actor. He was always amused at how often that early PR training came in handy while working for the government. “Thank you, Linda,” he said, giving her his best Hollywood smile. “I appreciate you letting me stay here for the night, but I don’t want to intrude on your grief. Just show me where to put the bags and I’ll stay out from underfoot. You won’t even know I’m here.” Which was the literal truth. He planned on putting up a psychic no-fly zone around his room to keep the nosy relatives out.

Lares gave him a grateful look as he smoothed things over. “You said I’d have the ground floor bedroom, right, Linda? There’s room for a cot in there, and it won’t be the first time Virgil and I have had to bunk in the same room.”

Virgil sighed inwardly at the dirty look buzz-cut Alex gave him. He was tired, cold, and all he wanted was a freaking cigarette. He had no patience left for a prejudiced rube, and he sent out a telepathic suggestion to make Alex find something else to do.

The reaction was immediate, and not exactly what he had planned. The front door banged open and shut behind him, and shadows danced along the hallway just before the lights flickered and died. Alex cussed about the crappy fuse box and stomped off to find it. His boys whooped and ran into the depths of the house, crashing into things that sounded expensive.

Then again, maybe it wasn’t the boys smashing things. The shadows had not matched the people standing next to them…

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A Bit of Paranormal Fun – and a New Serial! October 9, 2012

Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
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Hey everyone!  Halloween is coming soon and, being a huge fan of all things ghostly, I have decided to celebrate my favorite time of year with a brand new serial! Woohoo!  Don’t worry, Nox and Grimm is not going anywhere, that will still post friday nights. 🙂  The new series will post on tuesdays as part of #tuesdayserial,  and will feature the characters from the paranormal espionage novel I’m working on. (Yes, more Virgil!)

So watch this space – Bloodlines #1 premiers tomorrow 🙂

-Angie

Flash Fiction – Retribution July 22, 2012

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The only way to sneak up on an Earth kindred is to never touch the ground.  Grimm flew in low over the mountain, taking advantage of every scrap of cover the broken terrain provided. An elemental casting shimmered around him, bending the air to refract the light and make him invisible.  Even with all these precautions though, there was still a chance they’d spot him. He had no doubt that his ex, Katya, was behind their attacks and she would surely have schooled them in fighting Air kin.

Grimm scowled in annoyance. It still rankled to think how easily he had been controlled by her. Never mind that her skin exuded an addictive toxin. He was a healer as wells as a Wind Knight – he should have known something was wrong.

The sound of voices nearby broke off his self-recriminations. He slowed down and floated silently from boulder to boulder, taking care to keep them between him and his quarry. He could smell a hint of smoke from the campfire he had spotted from overhead during his initial search. The Earth kin must have been feeling confident if they were willing to risk a fire out here in the open.

He risked a quick glance around the side of a boulder, and was rewarded with the sight of three stocky, brown-haired men in heavy chainmail gathered around the crackling flames. A few small animals had been skinned and spitted on a stick to roast. They dripped juices onto the coals, making a loud sizzle with each drop.

One of them poked at a rabbit with his knife, testing to see if it was cooked. “Dammit, what’s keeping Roland?  I told him not to go in there, but no, he just has to gloat.”

The second man was standing, leaning back against a tall finger of rock with his arms crossed over his broad chest. “Roald was his brother. Even if he and Roland didn’t always get along, that bastard Loki killed him. Can’t blame a man for wanting a little revenge.”

“His little bit of revenge has cost us a month of time, and for what? Roald was an idiot. He botched a job and died for it.”

The third man was hunkered down by the fire, turning the spit. “Richard’s got a point. Here we are doing all this work for no pay, just to cover a dead man’s debt to the Morning Lord. I don’t care if he was our cousin. We shouldn’t have to waste our time here.”

Richard jabbed his knife in the air to accentuate his words. “Damn right, Ryan. We should cut our losses and forget taking jobs from that fanatic. Him and his creepy woods-witch.”

From his hiding spot, Grimm’s hand slid to the hilt of his sword. They were working for Katya, all right, with the Morning Lord as her latest puppet. He held himself ready, waiting for the fourth and final member of their party to arrive.

He didn’t have to wait long. Roland stormed into the clearing and kicked dirt over the firepit. “Have you all gone mad?” he hissed.

Richard got up and shoved him. “Our first hot meal in a month and you wreck it? What is with you!”

Roland backhanded him hard enough to send him sprawling. “The House of Ice has an Air kin working for them, you idiot! Why don’t you just scream here we are and get it over with!”

Richard wiped the blood from his split lip and glared up at him. “We’d have been gone by now if you hadn’t insisted on toying with your kill. You had better have done the job.”

Roland smirked. “By the time my Earth casting wears off, Loki will wake up to find a lovely corpse beneath him.”

“You were supposed to kill him!”

“I want him to suffer!” Roland roared.

Grimm had heard enough. A quick check through the soul-bond with Nox told him that she was still alive. The best way to help her was to cut off their enchantments at the source. He drew his sword and his deep, rumbling voice echoed around the mountainside. “Harm the heirs to Ice and you seal your fate.”

He moved amongst them like a gale, swift, silent, invisible. Air castings picked them up and slammed them into the rocks, and then whirled them up twenty feet into the air before dropping them again.

Only Roland kept his head about him. As soon as he hit the ground he tossed up a ton of gritty soil into the air. It got caught in Grimm’s casting and filled the area. The only clear spot was where the knight hovered. “Get him!” Roland yelled.

Grimm changed his casting to a miniature tornado, just in time to catch all rocks the Earth kin flung at him. The rocks whirled around and got hurled back at a tremendous speed, flattening three of them.

Roland managed to shatter his with a jab from his fist. “Damn you! You’ll pay for this!”  He turned and ran back down the mountain, toward the cave where Nox and Loki were trapped.

Grimm rocketed after him, the wind howling in his wake.  Spires of rock thrust up out of the ground behind Roland, but the knight simply smashed them and kept going. He started to chant out an Air casting when a sharp pang in his chest brought him up short. He shook his head, and tried again, but this time it grew sharper.

Then he remembered the terms of Lucien’s enchantment – “if you get within 50 yards of my daughter, you will get a warning. Within thirty, you will change back into a hound. I will not let that sword you carry anywhere near her.”

Grimm growled. “No, not now!”  He put on a last burst of speed, reaching out to try and grab Roland…

…Then the change hit, and his angry, frustrated yell turned into a mournful howl as he hit the ground.

(to be continued!)


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This flashfic is part of an ongoing web serial, updated regularly as a part of #fridayflash on twitter.  If you are new to Nox and Grimm, you can Click Here to read from the beginning.

Flash Fiction – Get Smart November 4, 2011

Posted by techtigger in flash fiction.
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This week’s episode of Nox and Grimm is featured on the #amwriting blog!

“Face facts, girl,” Nox said to her reflection. “If you keep acting like a nervous little ninny when you’re alone with Loki, he’s going to move on to someone else.” She jabbed a finger at the mirror, and the ice melted. “It’s time to get smart on the whole dating thing.”

CLICK HERE to read the story 🙂

 


<–Previous   –Beginning–  Next->

This flashfic is part of an ongoing web serial, updated every week as a part of #fridayflash on twitter.  If you are new to Nox and Grimm, you can Click Here to read from the beginning.

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