Seren Plentyn and the Secret of Hokulua Station – Chapter 1


Chapter 1


Chapter 1: All kinds of leaks

The stars were in different places, they always were, but with a little concentration Seren could map out their location. The universe was impossibly large, but her and her people had spent time untold sailing the stars.

Hokulua was a generational exploration and protection space station. Most GEPS were crawling with scientists, soldiers, and their children. Hokulua was quiet but it wouldn’t be for very long. There were a ten million souls on their way to the station and it would be the flagship of the Starchild Family.

“State-of-the-art my ass!” shouted Mr. Plentyn as he paced around the living quarters, angrily tapping at his tablet. “More like experimental and unstable!”

“Did Hoku refuse to give you your coffee again?” Seren’s large smile lit up her face making her skin seem to glow. Her bright green eyes were questioning as well as teasing.

“No, Hokulua Station didn’t refuse to give me coffee… more than once. It’s this blasted power drain. I can’t seem to stop it. The station is using twice as much power as it should and every time I patch a hole a new one opens up.”

“Have you asked Hoku?”

“Dear child. Why would I bother asking a glorified entertainment AI something I know it can’t answer?”

“So you asked and it gave you one of those weird phrases again?”

It was Aern’s turn to smile at his daughter, he shared her dark brown skin and reddish hair but he had light amber eyes. “Yes it said, ‘Plasma Beasts are at the gates’; whatever that means.”

“Wish I could help,” she said and meant it.

Walking over to the wall and the food dispenser, she asked, “Hoku, can I have some orange juice and a breakfast number four please.”

The soft deep voice of the station’s AI replied, “That will take forty percent of your daily recommended rations food intake. Are you sure you want to proceed?”

“I’m doing a space-walk today and will need the extra energy. Please proceed.”

The food appeared in the food slot and she could have sworn she heard Hoku say, “Good luck.”

She ate in silence, watching the stars. It was the way she ate most mornings. Her father was up and fed hours before her and she liked the quiet.

“I’m here to make sure you don’t miss your first shift,” Jan stood at the door in their uniform. Their blonde, almost white, hair and nearly translucent skin glowed slightly in the dim light of the living quarters.

Seren made a rude noise and drank the last of her juice.

“Jan you know that you don’t need to wear your uniform right?”

“Just because the rest of the military isn’t here doesn’t mean I can slack off. Might as well get used to it.” Jan was officially known as Private Jan Ng, they’d graduated and passed military training a week ago. Seren hadn’t applied for the military but instead tested and passed the tests for both the engineering corps and her real passion, the archeological civilian branch. She wanted to follow her passions but didn’t want to leave her father. He’d had too many people leave him already.

“Well I’m not wearing a uniform until I have to.” Instead, Seren wore a deep red button up shirt with a pair of snug kaki pants, with her comfy dark brown boots.

“I love you, Dad. I’m off to find out where our air is disappearing to.”

Barely looking up, he replied, “Love you too. Be careful.”

“Dad! I’m eighteen!”

“The vacuum of space doesn’t care how old you are.”

She kissed his cheek and headed out.

“So, Private, are you excited for everyone to show up?” Jan’s parents were part of the advance team with Seren’s father that were sent ahead to prepare stations or sent in to repair old stations.

“Mother-of-Stars, yes! This quiet is painful; I’m so glad I won’t have to do this again.”

They headed to the nearest transportation pod. A small train-like transportation controlled by the AI. It would seat twenty when the station was fully manned.

Each pod could move along one of the arms of the station. Like all Starchild Stations, Hokulua was built with a micro-star in the centre of four large rings. Each ring touches at least touches the other rings and has four bridges connecting to the micro-star engine and power station.

Each ring is given a designation, Alpha, Beta, Charlie, and Delta. Each quadrant of each disk is given a letter, A, B, C, and D. Finally each quadrant of each ring had a hundred floors. Each of the floors was roughly six hundred square metres.

“So we need to walk the entire alpha-ring today?” asked Jan.

“No just the top of A quadrant,” Seren said and then added, “That’s still four kilometres.” They had been hired to inspect the outside hull of the station and make sure that there were no air leaks. If there was an air leak, even a small one, it would glow a florescent orange when it hit the cold of space.

The transport pod stopped at the spaceport and they reported for duty. There were five of them that had been hired but only four had shown up.

“Just like Annie to be late or forget to come to work,” joked one of the others.

They were given their sections and assigned space suits. Seren went over to hers and something wasn’t quite right. The suit wasn’t hanging like the others, but was put together and leaning in the locker storage.

The visor was oddly tinted dark brown. She was about to disconnect it when Jan grabbed her hand. With a tremor in their voice, they said, “Your suit is leaking blood.”

Read Chapter 2 (Coming in February)


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Serial Story 2019 – Results

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

You voted and this year’s serial story will be an Adventure Mystery, written in the third person, with 2 regular human main characters in an original setting.

That turned out to be pretty vague and I decided a few things.

  1. I want to write a classic YA style mystery
  2. I want it to be on a space station
  3. The Welsh words for Star Child translates into the perfect name for a YA mystery.

So without further ado I give you the description of this year’s serial story:

Seren Plentyn and the Secret of Hokulua Station

Hokulua Station is the newest in generational exploration and protection space stations. Brand new and not quite working right.

Seren’s dad is the head or engineering for the new station and in charge of getting all the bugs worked out before the rest of the colonists arrive. That leaves her with plenty of time to explore. Something isn’t quite right though; weird noises, things going missing, and power drains that no one can explain.

Seren and her best friend Jan are going to do their best to figure out what is going on before someone gets hurt.

This should be an interesting and fun year.

Later Days,

Éric

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Last Day to Vote – Serial Story 2019

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

VOTE! You have until tonight at midnight. Get your opinion heard and your story told.

What should be the primary genre of the 2019 Serial Story?

  • Adventure (36%, 4 Votes)
  • Supernatural (27%, 3 Votes)
  • Fantasy (18%, 2 Votes)
  • Detective (9%, 1 Votes)
  • Science Fiction (9%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 11

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What should be the secondary genre of the 2019 Serial Story?

  • Mystery (55%, 6 Votes)
  • Comedy (18%, 2 Votes)
  • Urban (18%, 2 Votes)
  • Romance (9%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 11

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What should the point of view be?

  • Third Person (55%, 6 Votes)
  • First Person (45%, 5 Votes)

Total Voters: 11

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How many protagonists should there be?

  • 2 (73%, 8 Votes)
  • 3 (27%, 3 Votes)
  • 1 (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 11

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What should the main character(s) be?

  • Normal Human (64%, 7 Votes)
  • Personification of a Concept (Death, Liberty, etc) (18%, 2 Votes)
  • Special Human (Super Hero, Chosen One, Magic user, etc) (9%, 1 Votes)
  • Anthropomorphized Animal (Human looking fox) (9%, 1 Votes)
  • Non-Human (Alien, Elf, Dwarf, etc) (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 11

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What should the setting be?

  • Original Alien / Fantasy (36%, 4 Votes)
  • Alternate Modern (27%, 3 Votes)
  • Future (18%, 2 Votes)
  • Aether-verse (Elizabeth Novels) (9%, 1 Votes)
  • Past (9%, 1 Votes)
  • Everdome (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 11

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If you have any other comments or suggestions please feel free to let me know.

Éric

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Devices of Desire (Serial Story) Chapter 13 Conclusion

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12 | Chapter 13


Chapter 13: Fighters and lovers

Artemis

The natural reaction to an eight armed, monolithic demon should be terror. Artemis felt nothing but excitement.

“I’ve got this!” she exclaimed and ran out of the airship hanger.

Smaller than the demon’s smallest toe, she stood no chance in defeating it. She didn’t believe that; she knew she could do it. Standing on the end of the airstrip looking at the demon’s knees and down she stopped and concentrated on her breathing. Reaching the same, preternatural state of self-knowledge as she had fighting the lord commander of the Demon Hordes of Aldroy.

Every part of her being vibrated with excitement. She stood up, unsheathed her swords and jumped towards the demon.

It’s feet were just starting to touch the soil when she hit it in the chest with her shoulder. They both tumbled into the sea and stood up at the same time. She looked the demon in the eye and smiled. She was now the same size.

Eight blades fought against her two and she made sure to step backwards to avoid fighting too close to the island. The demon wasn’t just a great swordsman, they were also used to fighting with eight arms. She did her best and managed to lop off one arm but the demon cut her side with one of its serrated blades. The sea turned red and green from their blood, like some sort of holiday dessert gone terribly wrong.

Death had never scared her but she wished she’d had more time with Diana and Ezekiel. She wanted to explore what they had together. Unfortunately, she was getting weak from blood loss and as she was being beaten with blows from the seven remaining swords, she worried it was her last few moments.

A cannonball hit the demon in the forehead and exploded into a shower of caustic smelling liquid. The demon screamed and swatted at the airship. She took the opening and its head fell into the ocean, a silent scream still on its lips.

Diana

“She needs help,” Diana said.

“I don’t think there’s anything we can do,” Fred sighed.

“What is he doing? Wait… She?” Ezekiel asked.

Diana closed her eyes and felt terrible. It wasn’t her place to out anyone. She’d come to the conclusion at the monastery but it really didn’t make a difference, Arty or whatever her name was, was a true hero. And damn attractive. “Yes, please don’t freak out.”

Eyes wide and mouth dropping open, Ezekiel looked terrified and amazed at the same time. It was a stronger reaction than she’d expected. Turning to look at Arty, she saw that the reaction was for the woman growing to match the gargantuan demon and not for the reveal of her sex.

“Did you know she could do that?” asked Diana to both men.

“No but I’m not surprised, she’s quite impressive and extremely well trained in mystical combat and martial arts.” Fred sounded impatient.

“No, but I look forward to discovering what else she can do.” Ezekiel sounded smitten.

“Your highness, the ships are ready and loaded. How are we to disperse the venom?” One of the captains asked.

“Have the Serenity ready to make it rain as if we were misting crops. Have the venom in the Raza brought to the gun decks.” Turning to Fred she said, “I’m on the Raza, make sure the city is properly rained.”

The Raza’s gun decks were impressive even by military standards. She took a moment to admire the nearly two hundred guns. The deck was crowded by barrels of Gabon venom.

It took some improvising, but she was able to combine the venom and cannonballs into a perfect demon killing weapon. After she’d combined the first ammunition box she turned to see Ezekiel playing an upbeat melody and she knew he was helping to bolster her magic.

“Sister, Sister, Sister. Why do you still struggle.” Paul, the lost prince, stood behind her with his sword at the ready. “Let’s finish this!” He swung his sword at lightning speeds, showing off its deadly serrated edge.

He surely meant to intimidate her and it wasn’t working. “Go back to hell, Paul!” She pulled out her pistol and shot him. Her paralysis dart hit him in the chest and he fell to the ground.

Turning to the inter-deck communicating tube, she bellowed, “Let’s get into the air and help our champion.” She turned back to her brother and saw him open a portal and start dragging himself into it. “Paul, don’t! You can’t sustain the portal! You’ll…”

The portal closed on him as he was crawling halfway in. His head to his waist made it through but his hips and below slopped onto the deck.

Ezekial

Once the colossal demon was defeated, the lost prince lost again, and the city was sprayed with Gabon venom, things quickly got better for the island of Cillian.

In some ways, things were forever changed. Artemis had earned the title of Master and the Monks of Dumas vowed to accept anyone into their ranks.

In other ways, nothing had changed. Ezekiel sat behind his desk dreaming of music and writing bits of songs on a piece of paper that might once have been an invoice.

“Well don’t you look content,” the Oracle said walking in.

“How can I help you?” He was being as diplomatic as possible.

“Can you deliver a message to your lover?”

Blushing, Ezekiel said, “I can certainly bring a message to Master Artemis, Princess’s Champion.” After everything had settled down, Artemis wanted to get to know both the Princess and Ezekiel better. It had turned into open relationships that left all three of them happy and fulfilled.

“You don’t like me?” The Oracle said bluntly with a smirk. He shook his head and she broke into a full smile. “Why?”

“You made a fool of yourself and us before my concert.” It sounded silly when he said it aloud.

“Yes but I made sure you were all in the right place.”

“What? Everything you said was wrong.”

Laughing she replied, “Oh sweet child. What I did ensured Artemis went to you after the concert. That made sure the Princess went to the monastery the next day. And it made sure you were too lovesick and tired to leave your bed.”

“But we didn’t listen to you.”

“No one listens to me but gossips and historians.”

Could she have really pushed them towards what happened? Ezekiel wasn’t convinced but the idea scared him. “What’s the message?”

“Tell your lover and her lover to help the white furred dog-girl* when she falls from the sky. She sees more than I would ever want.”

Ezekiel sighed. Another vague prophesy could mean nothing but trouble. At least for the moment everything had ended happily.

Vote in 2019’s Serial Story


*Authors Note: This is referencing Aleenia from Ciamon of Chymar and Battlemage Taika.


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Serial Story 2019 – You Vote, I Write

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

With Devices of Desire coming to an end on the 1st of January, it’s time to turn our thoughts to 2019’s serial story.

For the past five years I’ve written a monthly short story. The idea is to challenge myself and give you an interesting story every month. I don’t plan it in advance and I don’t edit past chapters unless I screw up a name or important fact.

Polls will be up until January 22nd at Midnight.

What should be the primary genre of the 2019 Serial Story?

  • Adventure (36%, 4 Votes)
  • Supernatural (27%, 3 Votes)
  • Fantasy (18%, 2 Votes)
  • Detective (9%, 1 Votes)
  • Science Fiction (9%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 11

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What should be the secondary genre of the 2019 Serial Story?

  • Mystery (55%, 6 Votes)
  • Comedy (18%, 2 Votes)
  • Urban (18%, 2 Votes)
  • Romance (9%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 11

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What should the point of view be?

  • Third Person (55%, 6 Votes)
  • First Person (45%, 5 Votes)

Total Voters: 11

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How many protagonists should there be?

  • 2 (73%, 8 Votes)
  • 3 (27%, 3 Votes)
  • 1 (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 11

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What should the main character(s) be?

  • Normal Human (64%, 7 Votes)
  • Personification of a Concept (Death, Liberty, etc) (18%, 2 Votes)
  • Special Human (Super Hero, Chosen One, Magic user, etc) (9%, 1 Votes)
  • Anthropomorphized Animal (Human looking fox) (9%, 1 Votes)
  • Non-Human (Alien, Elf, Dwarf, etc) (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 11

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What should the setting be?

  • Original Alien / Fantasy (36%, 4 Votes)
  • Alternate Modern (27%, 3 Votes)
  • Future (18%, 2 Votes)
  • Aether-verse (Elizabeth Novels) (9%, 1 Votes)
  • Past (9%, 1 Votes)
  • Everdome (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 11

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Those are your choices for this year. Once I get the final vote I’ll start coming up with an idea. 

Happy voting!

Éric

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Devices of Desire (Serial Story) Chapter 12

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12 | Chapter 13


Authors Note: Apparently I had more story to tell and it didn’t all fit in this chapter. That means there will be an extra “New Year’s Day Special” also known at Chapter 13.


Chapter 12: Have bard will travel

Ezekiel stood outside the Princess’s room in borrowed pants. He’d always dreamt of going to her bedroom and now she just dismissed him.

Why wouldn’t she? They were in the middle of an emergency situation. She wasn’t some shrinking violet who needed saving. She didn’t need someone to take care of her.

What did she need? He sighed to himself and headed back to the courtyard. His parents had probably mobilized the Apollo guards to help protect people, but they’d been at home. He could mobilize the guards at the shipping yards and maybe get an airship into the fight.

Hurrying down the stairs, he rushed from the castle. As he was leaving, the gates started to close. “Why are you closing the gates? What if there are more injured?” he asked a guard.

“Princess’s orders. The castle will be sealed to defend their royal highnesses.”

“What? That’s not like her.”

“I agree, but I also have orders.”

This was odd; what was she thinking, he wondered. He sighed again and headed towards the shipyards. The streets were filled with demons and he had no weapons; he did his best to avoid them but the shipyards were on the other side of the city.

He managed to get most of the way when all of the demons collapsed and started screeching. It was more war cry mixed with anger than pain, so he doubled his pace.

A large portal opened and someone came out of it. It looked like Didi. He ran towards the opening, only to run into a circle of very angry demons. In the middle of the circle seemed to be Didi, Arty, and the royal physician. Picking up a discarded sword he prepared to go in and save his friend. He knew Arty could take care of himself, but the physician and Didi were sitting ducks.

The sword was larger than the epee he’d been trained with and he wasn’t sure he could do anything but swing it wildly. He was about to charge in when the closest demons exploded, others froze in place, and even more fell to the double blades Arty was holding.

Didi stood with both pistols out and smirking, her eyes scanned for more opponents. When she saw him she smiled and said, “Mr. Apollo. Glad you survived the attack in my workshop.” Why was she wearing the same thing as the princess?

“Didi, what are you talking about?”

“Oh for the goddess’s sake, Ezekiel. I’m Princess Diana of the house of Cillian. I also go by Didi.”

It shook him to the core that the princess he’d lusted after and his nerdy best friend were the same person. More than that, he felt like a fool that he’d escorted an imposter into the castle.

“I went after you and I found you, or someone who looked like you. Oh Goddess, I’m sorry. If I hadn’t been so blind…” He trailed off and dropped the sword.

“That was my brother’s plan? To impersonate me? I sure hope he tries to access my weapons. He’ll get a surprise.” Turning to Ezekiel, she added, “I’ve been stockpiling Gabon venom in case of an airship war. We’re headed to the airfield. You coming with us?”

“Absolutely your highness,” he bowed low.

“Cut it out Zeke. Oh yeah. I’ve been working on this. Try it out.” She reached into her pocket and pulled out a small guitar case, the size of a fork. As she gave it to him it grew until it was full sized. Inside was an electric guitar.

“What?” he asked.

“It’s self-powered and the amp is built into the body. It’ll convert your playing into magical effects. Mostly it should create a sonic attack but I’m not trained enough to test it.”

The guitar felt right in his hand, like it was made for him, which he supposed it was. He felt extremely fond of Didi at that moment; but as a friend, not romantically.

They walked on in silence, it didn’t take long for another demon attack. He played a power cord and all his rage poured out into a single blast of energy that threw a demon into a wall. If it wasn’t for the royal physician they would have died from acid burns really quickly. If it wasn’t for Didi the princess, still sounded weird, they wouldn’t have had the firepower to kill the demons fast enough.

They made it to the airfield with little trouble; Ezekiel was enjoying his new weapon/guitar too much to notice how easy it was. “This has been too easy,” Arty said.

“What do you have planned, brother?” whispered Didi.

“Wouldn’t you like to know…” The false princess was waiting for them inside the royal hangar. She was flanked by a hundred royal guards. “I’m so disappointed that you three have thrown in with this pretender.” The false princess looked smug.

“You know what? I’m not even angry, just annoyed. Who’s the ranking officer here?” No one reacted. They stood at attention staring blankly ahead.

“They belong to me, Sister. You’re out of luck.” With that he melted back into his real form.

Looking at Ezekiel, Didi said, “Help them.” He was going to argue but instead he started to play a rousing ballad. He improvised words dealing with fighting for one’s mind. It worked and the soldiers’ eyes sparked with self-determination.

“I need two airship crews ready in ten minutes. The rest of you get to the city and protect the people.” The soldiers may have their freewill back but they were still conditioned to listen to their superiors.

“You think this matters to me, Sister? I will rule Cillian or I will destroy it.” He laughed as he walked into a portal and disappeared.

The airfield was close to water and they could see through the hangar windows that the sea was churning and purple.

Screams echoed through the hangar as those closest to the windows saw the monstrosity outside. It looked like the demons, but was over a hundred meters tall. It had eight arms, each armed with a sword.

“Looks like he’s leaning towards destroy,” snarked the royal physician.

To be concluded


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Devices of Desire (Serial Story) Chapter 11

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12 | Chapter 13


Chapter 11: Self-Rescuing Princess

Her brother walked through the doorway spell, cocky and smug as usual. “Hello Sister, I knew you couldn’t resist opening my present.”

“Still copying my work I see.” She wanted to scream and yell but that would be exactly what he wanted.

“Why mess with genius? Come now, big sis. Your work has paved the way for a whole new world.” He waved at the portal behind him.

Diana was about to answer but her brother turned to Ezekiel and yelled, “KNEEL BEFORE YOUR BETTERS FOOL.” There was a spelled command in his yelling. Ezekiel fell to one knee and stayed there frozen. Seeing her anger he said, “Come now, sister. It’ll fade after we leave.”

“Is this where you ask me to join you?” she asked half sarcastically.

“Yes. Join me and we can rule all the worlds together!”

“No! Go back to hell, you power craving, megalomaniac plagiarist.”

He smirked and said, “Plagiarist? Is that the worst thing you can think of? Fine, glad we got that out of the way.” He then said something in a language that sounded like grinding rocks and two large demons came out of the portal and approached her.

“I don’t need you. I just need your mind and that I can extract.” He walked back into the portal.

The problem with the lost prince was his lack of foresight, she thought. She grabbed her sword and started to defend herself. The Demons healed from every cut but as she was fighting them she was also analyzing everything she knew. The spell that made her airships heal had been destroyed by the Gabon Snake venom and it looked like the healing spell was exactly the same.

She’d discovered how to synthesise the venom and mass produce it. The design of the spell and the airships was shared with all of her neighbours. Having a counter that would destroy attacking ships only made sense. At least that’s what she’d thought.

There were three bottles in the cabinet demon was tipping it over. A quick levitation spell got her two bottles and she smashed one on her sword.

The first demon she ran through looked surprised. The next two didn’t, but despite breaking the second bottle she couldn’t stop the blow and one of them bashed her in the head. Her brother wanted her alive and that’s the only reason she lived.

Darkness transitioned to grayness, to soft light filtering through a wooden door. She was in a small closet. She’d have called it a cell but those tended to have bars.

The wooden door was spelled. She stood in front of it and felt the magic. “You’re either an idiot or your demons don’t have great initiative.” She reached into her apron and pulled out a small hammer. The first time she hit the door with it the floor shook, the second time the door flew out and exploded into a hail of splinters. The demon who was standing outside was perfectly perforated.

His blood ate the wood and his spelled healing took seconds to fix the damage.

“Get back inside the cell.”

“What? No please?”

“I don’t recognise your rule.”

“Princess or pauper, it’s just polite.”

The demon grunted and pointed at the closet, now a nook.

“Just a hint for the future. If you’re holding a spell caster or a tinker, make sure to take everything away from them and leave them naked.” She put her hand into her pockets.

“What could you be hiding in those-” he never finished the statement. She took her pistols out from the extradimensional space in her pockets and fired a shot through his head. He fell to the ground and dissolved. The healing spell couldn’t deal with massive head trauma… that was good to know. She hadn’t used the pistols in her lab; too many explosives.

“Never trust a woman with pockets. You never know what we’re hiding.” She reloaded her pistol and started to wonder how she was going to get home.

The easiest way was to open a portal to her world but without an anchor, there was no way of knowing where she’d end up and travelling across the world would take too long.

The demon blood sizzled. Who knows what they were like before her brother had warped and corrupted them?

“Blood!” The demon blood. These creatures were not native to her world. Which meant that they were all in the same place.

She picked up a little blood with a spelled beaker and concentrated on the spell she needed. Pulling out ingredients she only had a little time to wonder why no one had come to check on her yet.

When the mixture with the blood was ready she threw it at the wall and jumped through, praying to the goddess that she was right.

She landed in a crouch and looked around. She was surrounded by angry screaming demons.

From behind her she heard Fred, the royal healer, “I think we pissed them off.”

And Arty’s voice, “Maybe, or it could be a coincidence.”

“The two of you look like you could use some help,” Diana said smirking at Arty.

“Aren’t you supposed to be figuring out how to get rid of these things?” Fred didn’t miss a beat.

“Gabon Venom, Paul’s leading them, and he’s using my spells. Oh, and I had to escape being captured.”

Nodding, Fred said, “So we need to get to the royal airship and the Gabon stores?” When she nodded, he added, “I think it’s going to rain.”

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Devices of Desire (Serial Story) Chapter 10

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12 | Chapter 13


Chapter 10: A Monk, a Physician, and the Demon Hordes of Aldroy

The royal Physician was formidable in combat. Artemis couldn’t help but be impressed by this short, rotund, dark skinned man, with a greying beard. He looked like he should be serving his grandkids soup for lunch, not battling a hoard of angry demons.

With one hand he healed the soldiers and civilians and with the other he wielded a blade made of magic and fire.

Artemis had picked up two of the smaller swords that the demons were using and she was getting the hang of slicing off heads.

“I thought monks didn’t like to use weapons?” the Physician asked.

“I thought healers didn’t like using attack magic,” she replied, ducking a broad sword swing from a very naked demon and lunging at his head with her swords crossed like scissors.

“We all need our hobbies.” He smirked as the head fell to the ground. He neutralized the poison with a wave of his hand and the body dissolved.

“Some people pick up crotchet or cooking.” She liked verbally sparing with him. It had a soothing quality. The fact that he knew that she was a woman helped. She felt more at ease with him than she had with anyone since she arrived on the island.

“Do you cook or crotchet not-yet-a-master-monk?” He swung his sword up and it turned into a umbrella, shielding the civilians under him from flaming arrows. A demon at the end of the street had a cannon that shot arrows at an alarming speed. Their tech was very similar to Cillian tech. Artemis didn’t like the implications of that.

Throwing her sword at the demon and catching him in the neck she said, “No. I fight with weapons.” She heard the guffaw from the Physician as she launched herself at the demon with her sword in its throat. Once again she was glad the demons treated their blades against their own acid blood.

As she finished off the demon, his neck exploded in green acidic blood. Artemis felt the acid fly into her face and chest. She lost grip on one of her swords and felt the pain that came with it the acidic blood followed by a stabbing pain in her chest.

Instinct took over and she spun into a round house kick. She connected with something big and broke a few of what felt like ribs. She’d been trained to fight blind by the masters and her other previous teachers. The fact that her kick hit the thing’s chest and not its head meant it was well above seven feet high.

Not wasting any time, she went low and kicked at the things legs as a distraction as she launched into a complicated set of thrusts and slashes. She wasn’t trying to kill the, hopefully, demon, but get it off balance enough to stun it until Fred, the Physician, could heal her wounds.

She sliced and kicked the demon and prepared for a massive blow to its head but never made it. The demon grunted and hit the weapon in her chest and she fell back. The pain was almost more than her training could handle and she couldn’t get up.

“I leave you alone for ten seconds.” Fred’s voice and magic warmed her when she didn’t even know she was cold.

The magic was fast and powerful. She felt the sword pushed from her chest and she grabbed it as it came out. Standing, she assumed a defensive posture and opened her eyes.

She had two swords again and looked fierce but next to the behemoth in front of her she looked puny. He was stark naked and obviously aroused, he had multiple slashes and bruises, and his for hands held three weapons. Behind him, glowing ominously, was a swirling portal.

“Four arms? And eight feet tall? What magic made you?” Her quips were a little weak. She was still a little disoriented. She felt Fred’s hand on her neck and suddenly she felt like she’d drank eight coffees.

“I am the lLor Commander of the Demon Hordes of Aldroy. I command ten thousand and will squash you like the tiny human boy you are.”

Rolling her eyes, Artemis said, “I’ve wanted to say this for months. I am no boy.”

The fight lasted longer than it should have. Despite his size and strength, he was clumsy. Fighting with two short swords and a six foot two handed sword meant he was limited in his movements.

She took her time learning his movements and then pushed him hard and fast. Every hit she blocked felt like a hammer on her arms but every third hit of hers landed. At first his cuts didn’t seem to slow him down but eventually he showed the effects of his wounds.

Just as she was getting confident in her movements and ready to go for the death blow he laughed and tripled his speed. He’d been toying with her the whole time. His hits that were hard and slow suddenly became powerful, quick, and calculated.

To become a master, a Monk of Dumas needed to pass a test and a ceremony but most importantly they needed to do an act of heroism. Artemis had expected that to mean a great feat or strength or something impressive. In that moment, Artemis realized that it was more than that, the monks needed to reach a state of complete control and inner peace.

As she parried the blows all her training disappeared from her mind and was replaced with calm thoughts. She fell into a trained rhythm and concentrated on her breathing and her body. As she did, she called on everything she’d ever learnt and it all fell into place like a giant puzzle.

The world slowed and she moved at an inhuman speed. In the amount of time it took the demon to swing his two handed sword, she cut his head off and kicked it across the street.

Every demon stopped, fell to their knees, and let out a hideous howl of rage and pain.

Portals appeared all around them and the Demon Hordes of Aldroy stepped out into the city.

“I think we pissed them off,” Fred said, eyes wide.

“Maybe, or it could be a coincidence.”

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Devices of Desire (Serial Story) Chapter 9

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8


Chapter 9: Royals, Snakes, and an Easy Rescue

The lost Prince walked through the doorway spell and with a cocky smirk said, “Hello Sister, I knew you couldn’t resist opening my present.”

“Still copying my work I see.” The Princess seemed completely unimpressed or did a great job of faking it.

“Why mess with genius? Come now, big sis. Your work has paved the way for a whole new world.” He waved at the portal behind him.

She looked like she was going to reply but before she had the chance the Prince whipped his head towards Ezekiel and screamed, “KNEEL BEFORE YOUR BETTERS, FOOL.”

Ezekiel didn’t remember falling to his knees but suddenly they hurt and he was looking down. If felt like his mind was being squeezed by a pillow. Similar to the time he had too much to drink after a gig and woke up semi-naked in an alley.

The two royals talked about something, but Ezekiel couldn’t hear anything other than a thrumming in his ears. He concentrated on getting control of his mind and body. He struggled and forced all he could, but the more he fought the more the spell tightened.

Knowing that he couldn’t fight it he gave up and let the spell take hold. He concentrated on being as calm and relaxed as possible. After a while he could feel the slimy tendrils of the spell slipping around him. The spell was designed to constrict but when it was faced with relaxation and acceptance it just slipped off.

Singing a song in his mind, he imagined it as water that would wash away the slime. It worked and he was able to move.

Things had changed. The room had been turned upside down. All the science and magic tools had been tossed around like a tornado had passed through. Both the Princess and the Prince were gone and there was a half dozen demon bodies strewn around the, still open, magical doorway. The Princess’s long single bladed sword was sticking out of one of the demons.

There was no sound, but Ezekiel ran to the workbench to see if the Princess was on the other side. She wasn’t, but there was a piece of paper with blood on it and a word. The word was Gaboon.

“What does that have to do with anything?”

About a year previous Didi had finished upgrading all the Apollo ships with the self-repairing balloons. A large shipment of Gaboon snakes collided with another ship. It should have only destroyed one but it destroyed both. He’d read the reports and it turned out that the snake’s venom had anticoagulant properties which caused the balloons to stop being able to heal themselves. He guessed that the Princess must have read the same report.

The Princess talked a lot as she worked and Ezekiel had found himself falling into the same half-listening habit he’d developed with Didi. There was so much technical jargon and babbling that he only half listened. One thing he did hear was that the blood in the demons healed like the airships. Which meant the Gaboon venom would stop their healing. Too bad there weren’t any snakes in the lab.

Looking around he saw a large glass cabinet that had been turned over. When he lifted it he saw that it was filled with vials of different chemicals. He grabbed a pair of heavy gloves and sorted through them. He found three bottles that were marked Gaboon one through three. Unfortunately one and two had smashed when the cabinet fell.

He took the last bottle and grabbed the Princess’s sword and ran through the portal.

He’d expected a hell scape, desert, or something horrible but it was just a stone room. The room had thirteen walls and a throne in the centre. Each of the walls had a doorway like the one he’d come through except for one that seemed to go into a corridor.

“Hello?” he said tentatively. He didn’t want to attract attention but he needed to find the Princess.

“Help me!” he heard a cry from the hallway and ran towards it.

Laying under a giant hulking demon the princess struggled to get free. Ezekial did his best to move the mountain of green muscle but it was much too large. As he pushed he saw the wounds closing and the demon rolled off the Princess.

“Let’s get out of here, Mr. Apollo, before he awakens,” she said standing up and wobbling. “My leg… it think it’s broken. Can you help me walk?”

Putting his arm under hers he helped her get to the doorway. Once through the gate, she waved her hand and cast a spell to close the door. He was impressed that she’d worked out the spell so quickly, but everyone always said she was a genius.

She leaned heavily on him and he saw her hair was matted with blood. “We should get you to a healer,” he said expecting her to argue.

“Take me to my chambers, we’ll ask someone to get a healer on the way.”

They didn’t talk much on the way, other to ask someone to get a healer. He was in pain; even though she wasn’t heavy, the way she leaned on him put a lot of pressure on his artificial leg. Even with the impressive prosthetic that Didi had made for him he still was putting a lot of weight on his stump.

They reached her chambers at the same time as a healer and the Princess pushed him out of the room and said, “Thank you, Mr. Apollo. I’m sure you’re very busy goodbye.”

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Devices of Desire (Serial Story) Chapter 8

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7


Chapter 8: Meetings and SCIENCE!

“Your Highness, Ezekiel of house Apollo is here to see you.”

“Tell him to come back later,” Diana had arrived at the castle and promptly summoned her Grandfather and the council of elders. They needed to prepare for this threat and mobilize to stop the current invasion.

“He insists it’s important.”

“I don’t care. Unless it’s about the current demon invasion, it can wait.”

Pushing his way past the courtier and into the war room, Ezekiel said, “Yes, it does.” He stood there red with frustration wearing a shirt and underwear but not pants or shoes. He had nice legs.

“Come in then. Can we get him some pants?” She smirked as his anger turned into a blush.

The six council members and the King all looked at him with expressions that varied from scandalized to annoyed. “I was visited in bed. Which is why I have no pants. From a demon. He told me to give this to the Champion of Light and Life.” He lifted a small box no bigger than a shoebox.

“And who is this champion?” asked the King sounding exhausted.

“It said the princess would know who it is.” Ezekiel sighed.

One of the council members suggested, “Must be the King’s Champion” only to be laughed at by the rest of the council. The King’s Champion, Eldric the Elder, had just celebrated his one hundredth birthday and only fought at tourneys. And even then people mostly yielded before there was a fight.

“Let the Princess and her alchemists take care of the box and let’s finish this battle strategy.” The meeting went on for another half hour as they argued. Finally they finalized plans and sent out the troops.

It seemed like they had forgotten about Ezekiel but as he tried to sneak out, Diana ordered, “You. Meet me in my lab. The courtier will direct you. And for the goddess’s sake please put on some pants.”

She hated that the soldiers, monks, and civilians were out fighting, what she thought, was her war. She felt she should be out there with her devices of war, helping people. Unfortunately with Fred helping the citizens, the only person she trusted to find a poison to stop the demons’s healing was herself.

She changed into more casual clothing but didn’t disarm. She made sure her explosive pistols were loaded and that her sword was on her side. Everything else was soft, easy to move in, and comfortable. She didn’t look like a princess, she looked like a scientist.

In the lab, someone had finally gotten Ezekiel pants. As she walked in and said, “See that chest made of stone and metal? Put the box in there.”

“Why?” he asked, obviously confused by both her orders and appearance.

“The box is made of stone and metal but the inside is lined by a crystal so hard it had to be grown in the chest. It’s also spelled against all magic.”

“But I thought we had to give it to the champion?”

“Right. I’m going to hand an unopened box given by the enemy to our best hope to defeat them.”

Ezekiel blushed, “Oh. Right.” To his credit he accepted his mistake and moved on instead of arguing the way most men did when she corrected them.

“I need your help. I can’t deal with this thing alone. Follow my orders exactly and we might be able to save the city. Maybe the world.” She put him to work draining the blood from the demon and putting it into beakers while she experimented on it. She was convinced that the secret to the demons’ regeneration powers were in their blood.

Periodically soldiers came in to tell her how the fighting was going. It seemed the demons were holding back and mostly causing havoc. They were also avoiding the castle.

After a long frustrated time, she agreed to stopping for lunch.

“Have you found the magic that causes them to heal?” Ezekiel asked between bites of chicken and cucumber.

“Why do you think it’s magic?”

“It reminds me of the self-healing hydrogen balloons that my friend Didi designed, and she said she had used a magic that encouraged them to heal themselves. I didn’t understand.”

Diana looked at him, marvelling at the fact that despite her not wearing glasses, she wore nearly exactly what she would as Didi but he still didn’t recognize her. She was starting to think that his disinterest in magic and confusion wasn’t an act but that he was genuinely not that bright. However his idea was a good one. Maybe she should be looking for something mystical and not biological.

Looking at the blood under a spelled microscope she saw the structure of the spell. It was simple and beautiful and it wasn’t just similar to the spell she designed for the airships; it was the same design. There was only one other person who could have known her spell so intimately.

“I have to see what’s in that box,” she said with such vehemence that Ezekiel took a few steps back and didn’t react when she recklessly opened the chest and pulled out the box.

Opening it let out the spell it contained. A doorway spell. A beautiful blue and green light formed a doorway of magic and through it stepped a man with the same dark brown skin as hers and the same jet black hair. He wore a royal formal suit with a sword on one hip and a gun on the other. On his head he wore a crown made of warped and malformed bones. Behind him was a massive army of demons.

“Hello Sister,” he said smirking smugly. “I knew you couldn’t resist opening my present.”

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