Legal Theft: Imperial Beginnings

The training ground was quiet under the midday heat. In a few hours students would stream forth to pit themselves against the obstacle courses, the track, and the Sergeant’s endless drills. For now it was abandoned save for a single figure staked out in the middle of the yard. He had been stripped down to his underwear and strapped spread eagle to a narrow wooden x. Kirt closed his eyes against the glare and the ache of the light careful not to adjust his back too much against the wooden support. He could feel the buildup of salt on his forehead as sweat beaded and dried. He open his eyes as the sound of feet crossing the gravel path reached him.

“You could have waited until dark fell,” it felt as if his mouth was coated in sand. “He probably won’t actually kill me until after dinner.”

“This is barbaric.” The hard sharp words, or maybe it was the rage in them, felt like rain drops against Kirt’s face.

“Edan-”

“No, you played a prank last week and this week you questioned the First Captain’s authority by asking sensible questions. It doesn’t make sense to send in our infantry unless they want a slaughter, which they might if you take the famine into account. They are going to kill you for that, Kirt. It’s insane.” Kirt didn’t even try to lift his head as he listened to his best friend’s tight tirade.

“To be fair that prank was dying the Sergeant bright blue,” Kirt coughed, the heat stinging his throat. Edan growled and stepped up close to the X. A water bottle was held to Kirt’s mouth and he took small quick sips careful not to spill the precious water.  

“You’ll have permanent damage from this even if the First Captain decides to be lenient and take a hand instead-you’ll never be able to serve. This ends you. I’m not standing for it.” Kirt could see Edan’s eyes burn and felt a chill sweep over him.

“They won’t let you get away with defying the First Captain. Not now. Your father hasn’t acknowledged you. Edan, there won’t be any turning back from this.” It was easier to speak with the water in his throat, but his head was also working better. It still took him a long moment to understand why his friend had stepped close. Kirt’s body sagged off the X as the restraints holding his left arm went limp.

“Good, I don’t intend to.” Edan’s voice was harder than Kirt had ever heard it. Instead of rising panic, a laugh bubbled out of his throat.

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I’ve been robbed, maybe-probably-definitely, read Machete Diplomacy’s work Momo and Bek’s Good, Bad Plan The legal thieves had to use the line “He probably won’t actually kill me until after dinner.” somewhere in their story.

Legal Theft- The god of Torture and Truth

He was not an innocent man. He reveled in the fact, Adrastos could see that easily enough. The little tricks of cunning and deceit left their mark on a man, and this man was riddled with the trails. The dark haired man said something causing his compatriots to laugh. Adrastos watched the little scene. It was common. Craftiness and skill with guile lead to easy superiority and arrogance. Adrastos smiled to himself as he crossed the street. The only problem with that came when humans started believing their own lies, and this man? He had forgotten who he was beneath the masks and the games. His friends went silent as Adrastos approached. The god slit a smile at them and they scattered. Adrastos mark straightened.

“Who the hell are you?” his dark hair was swept back from his forehead in a coiffure that signaled power. Adrastos looked down on him pityingly.

“What men like you always forget is that the innocent fall outside my purview.”

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I am a thief. I stole the first line from the amazing Machete Diplomacy. Go check out her original story!

Legal Theft: Icewater

He laughed around the panic clogging his throat, but his gun never wavered from its target. Emir pulled the trigger three times in quick succession before dropping the gun on the shelf of the shooting range. He gripped his left wrist rubbing a thumb over the inside of his arm as he worked on corralling his emotions. The panic had ebbed, but confusion and disgust splashed through him like icewater. The target moved forward on its automated track, and Emir took in the results with flat eyes. One hole in the left shoulder and one in the right thigh. Of the third bullet there was no trace.

“Not so bad.” The words made Emir jump, and he was only thankful that fire did not spill from his fingers as he faced Jean. A rueful smile twisted her lips as Emir dutifully removed his ear protection.

“Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you. This your first time at the range?” Jean didn’t have a gun in her hand, but her pair of ear protectors were looped around her neck like a pair of headphones.

“Yeah, I-I didn’t know you came here.” If he did he wouldn’t have come.

“I just started coming. After Philly…well it seemed a good idea to know another weapon.” Jean’s expression turned somber and she jerked herself back to the present. Emir  “Is this a new skill for you or practicing an old one?”

Emir grimaced unconsciously rubbing his arm, “Neither really. They didn’t teach me-I wasn’t allowed to handle weapons.” Even assisting in making the specialized equipment could get him in trouble. Touching a gun would have landed him in the Kennel’s Cold room if not worse.

“You hurt yourself?” Jean moved closer concern drawing her eyebrows down over her forehead. Emir followed her gaze and jerked his hand away from his wrist.

“No-I’m fine.” The urge to laugh was building again, and Emir pushed it down with rigid control. Jean didn’t saying anything for a long moment.

“You want to get out of here? Usually when your brother starts looking like that he needs to blow off some steam-if you know what I mean.” Emir did laugh at that. He could easily imagine Zack throwing off a fireball large enough to cause problems when he was upset.

“I’m good, at control at least. I won’t hurt anybody. I just-I wanted to see if I could do it. Shoot the gun-I mean. I can, but I’m no good. I’d have to practice more than I want to.” He tried a quick smile gone before he let it get flimsy. “You don’t have to interrupt your practice.” Jean ignored his last comment.

“Well, I guess you did what you wanted then, proved you could shoot it. So that’s a good thing, right?” She was still scanning his face looking for answers, but Emir was a harder read than his brother.

“Yeah,” he agreed, “but I’m going to head home. Maybe see you later this evening?” A good thing, when he felt like throwing up? When touching the barrel made him brace for the sharp prick of a needle entering his skin followed by the sweeping cold of unconsciousness? Was that what good looked like?  

“Sure, I’ll see you later.”

Emir nodded and steeled himself to pick up the gun and take it to the checkout section.

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Thieves had stolen my first line. Go see what the thieves have done with it at the Legal Theft blog.

Legal Theft- Odd

She blinked. Terrin paused just past the open door in the hall and considered her options. She could continue down the hall to her office where grants, bills, and enrollment forms waited for her. It was tedious work, but she could pretend she hadn’t seen anything odd in the just passed room. Should could turn around peer awkwardly around the door and try to discover if the stone troll had actually just killed the ram spirit. It shouldn’t been possible for one species to attack another inside the halfway house, but the spells could have failed. Of course if she was right and he had Terrin herself could be in a bit of trouble. If she looked and he hadn’t she could be intruding on some cultural norm that was completely outside her experience as a human running the only shelter for Boston’s cryptid population.

Nodding to herself Terrin inched backwards and tilted her head around the door. Cyphas, the stone troll, was standing over the prone body of the ram spirit. The ram spirit looked mostly human except for the wide curling horns around his ears and surplus of body hair. After a tense moment which Terrin spent trying to find her voice the ram spirit groaned and sat up.

“Did break?” the stone troll asked curiously. The ram spirit felt the crown of his head gingerly.

“Naw, looks like even a stone troll can’t crack my horns. I always knew it!” He beamed up at the stone troll who nodded and crouched beside the prone spirit. Terrin sighed a breath of relief. Of course now there was still all the paperwork, but she didn’t have to address a dead body or the paperwork that would bring.

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I am a thief! I stole the first line from More than 1/2 Mad. Go see what the entire ring of thieves has cooked up over at the Legal Theft Project.

Legal Theft: Paired Dancing

A perfect punch was equal parts precision and force. Michael could appreciate the form of the moving appendage, the tightening of the main muscles in the arm, the graceful arch of the wrist, and the curve of tendons over bone in the hand. He still hated punching, and even more, being punched. Bell stopped her fist a hairsbreadth from his shoulder a frown pulling at her pale eyebrows.

“I thought you were supposed to practice?” In another the words would have been a gibe, but Bell was halfway between curious and confused.

“Sorry. I am, but you’re much better at this than me. I want to draw it.” Michael had a series of sketches of her fighting, not as many as he had sketches of ships in and out of the harbor, but close. Human movement was a new a tricky subject. Capturing the energy and force of that movement was still outside his grasp, but he was getting better. At art, he wasn’t improving much on actually learning the moves himself. His friend stepped back. Platinum blond hair tied back in a simple ponytail as she eyed him. You still don’t like hurting people? The mental thought was pointed at him and Michael mirrored her by falling out of his loose stance. I don’t like it. If I hit someone then my fist hurts and so do they. Well, not really, but it isn’t pleasant. If they hit me then I really hurt.

Then dodge. The thought was just a little faster than Bell’s movement, and Michael just scrambled out of the way. His best friend came at him again. Her leg sweeping to take his legs out from under him, but Michael was deeply enough into her mind he sidestepped again. He dodged twice more feeling the first rush of adrenaline that he knew his friend found so pleasant. Michael tried to scope further into her mind reading her movements before she thought them. He twisted as she turned, ducked as she lunged, and spun when she reached. At the end of a half hour Michael’s back was slick with sweat and a smile was firmly planted on his face.

“This we have to try again.”

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Well… I stole the first line from the thief Lord, and the character Bell from Machete Diplomacy. They are both awesome. I will link to the thief lord when her story is published.

Legal Theft: Should Have Known Better

Careful so the guard wouldn’t notice, he tossed his handkerchief over the side of the cart, someone would find it. In fact someone finding it with his deliberate initials monographed in the corner was part of the requirement. What fun was a hazing ritual if the poor idiot performing it didn’t get caught? Kirt pulled his hand back inside the cart, well, properly it was a CART, Central Army Ranged Truck. Each vehicle had armaments mounted for easy deployment serving as half transportation and half heavily armored weapon. They were pricey and well protected but messing with them wouldn’t get anyone court marshaled which made them perfect objects for hazing the new guy.

Kirt smiled in the darkness of the bed of the truck. His new bunk mates expect him to get caught. They were probably hiding nearby with bottles of alcohol and cameras to record the moment of his humiliation as he was dragged off to their superiors. The truck came to a stop, and Kirt readied himself to move quickly. Before the CART was left the contents it was carrying, ammunition mostly from what Kirt could identify of the boxes, would have to be unpacked and stored. There was no way that could happen without the soldiers discovering Kirt and him being subsequently dragged off. There was no way he could pull off stealing the CART once it was secured either, not without small explosions and somewhat significant property damage, neither of which Kirt was willing to risk. He breathed deep and waited.

The first high pitched alarm started screaming into the night and the two soldiers in charge of driving and unloading the CART started yelling. Protocol was a lovely thing. As the two soldiers scrambled away from the CART and into the nearby army base Kirt slipped out of the back and into the cab. He kept low, his face covered with a gas mask. Kirt chortled as a second alarm began screaming in concert with the first and smoke bombs exploded covering the yard. He didn’t waste time. The CART was out of the gates and down the main compound road in minutes. Sure, it would take a little luck, but before the night was over the CART would be before the First Lieutenant’s House with a polite apology taped to the steering wheel.

Kirt’s bunk mates should have taken into account that he always had backup. His sister’s part in the evening was more dangerous, as being caught messing with the alarms and detonating the smoke bombs could bear black marks on the beginning of her record, but Kirt knew they didn’t have a chance in catching her. As for the handkerchief with his initials so clear? Well, someone was obviously trying to frame him, right? He didn’t even own a damn handkerchief.

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It is time for more legal theft shenanigans. I stole the first line from Machete Diplomacy. Go read her story and see all the other stories with this first line at the Legal Theft Project.

Legal Theft: Storms and Lightning

His magic had never failed him before, and a boy was dead. Edan pushed past the haze of magic exhaustion culminating in horror. The storm shook the galley even as steam rose from eight points on the ship where he’d placed his runes. The lightning strike had dazed many even as it blew off the crow’s nest. A strike of that strength should have shattered the main mast if not the entire ship. The magic pulsing through his sigils and his medallion had enabled Edan to keep both ship and mast whole, but he could do nothing for the small boy in the crow’s nest. Edan stumbled to the side of the ship. A storm rough wave slapped over the deck, and he had to cling hard to a line to stop himself going over the edge.

“Get out of the way, landborn!” the sailor’s cry was half torn away by the furious wind of the late summer storm.

“Michael was in the crow’s nest!” Edan hollered back. The boy loved to climb away from the men and women and nap in the sun. The summer storm had rolled in too fast, and Edan had not had time to retrieve the boy through the high winds. Michael’s magic may have protected him from the blast of lightning, but he was lost overboard.

“Deep Lady guard him,” the woman called back. The sailor’s hair was tied back in traditional Kin braids, and her face was set with the Kin’s pragmatic rule. She could spare no sympathy for weakness culled by a storm. Cole pulled his way along the ropes to Edan’s side.

“Was Michael-he made it to the cabin, right?” The lanky teen hadn’t grown into his build yet. His brown hair was plastered against his skull and his brown eyes were tight with worry. Edan shook his head trying to force his muzzled mind to work. Michael was overboard. If Edan had something of the boy’s clothes and a treated rope he might be able to send it after the body. Edan gazed out over the dark water almost indistinguishable from the bruised sky and tried to make his magic twitch. He was spent, and he had no treated rope nor a scrap of Michael’s clothes.

“Go to the cabin, keep watch over Akira.” Edan was suddenly glad the girl had worked herself to exhaustion earlier that day. “I’m going to watch for-I’m going to watch. I may see him yet.” Edan couldn’t read Cole’s expression and any muttered words were lost to the wind. Edan clung to the line and watched the water, but he knew as he’d known the second lightning touched the mast. His student was gone.

 

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More thieves. Read everyone else’s work over at the Legal Theft Blog.