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.

Legal Theft: Between the Mountains

When mountain ranges cut across the horizon before and behind her and the blue Toyota still hovered in her rearview mirror, Terrin’s better judgement gave way to curiosity. Terrin let her car coast to the edge of the wide shoulder and turned on her hazard lights. The land was flat and hard between the two mountain ranges, and it was easy to get far enough from the highway for safety. The blue Toyota came up quickly and for a moment Terrin wondered if she’d imagined the whole thing, but already the car was slowing. It pulled off the side of the road about twenty-five feet ahead of her.

Terrin’s heart started hammering as a young man opened the driver door and got out. He was of average height in tennis shoes, blue jeans, and a green tshirt. He started towards her car; his gaite unnaturally fluid in a way that pricked Terrin’s memory before she flurried into action double checking that all her car doors were locked and grabbing her phone. It was supposed to have been all in her head. Why hadn’t she done this in the city or better yet a police station? Half formed plans of darting back onto the nearly empty highway and putting the pedal to the metal all the way to the next town flashed into her head. He was at the side of her car now dark brown hair and an easy smile. She cracked the window.

“Hi there. You need some help?” His voice was melodic, calm.

“You’ve been following me since Albuquerque.” Terrin blurted it out as ill timed and ill thought as the whole pull-over-and-see-if-the-car-you-insanely-think-is-following-you-stops plan.

“Ah-” he ran a hand through his hair and didn’t call her crazy. His smile turned self depreciating, and his eyes crinkled inviting her to laugh at the joke with him. “It is a favor of sorts-for your dad. He doesn’t want anything happening to you.”

Terrin’s brain went blank for a moment as her heart took care of its own concerns. The short scene of the park ranger hat in hand. Her brain jumped into gear again suddenly connecting dots between the stranger’s movements and the tone of his voice.

“Might have picked a better story. My father died three years ago, lost in the mountains.” Not these mountains with their dry dusty sides, but others covered in thick undergrowth and slippery with the season’s first snowfall. The stranger sighed.

“Look, it’s complicated, and I’m not the one to explain it to you. I’m just supposed to look after you, on the trip and at school.” He blew out a breath, “I was planning to introduce myself there, but-” he waved, “hi, I’m Kirt.”  

“You’re going to my school?” Terrin half hissed. A silver Chrysler shifted lanes to avoid them as it sped down the road. Kirt shrugged his shoulders making even that gesture apologetic. Terrin gripped the steering wheel as facts crashed into each other in her head, and she tried to make sense of insanity.

“Long story short… your dad had to go home, and communication is tricky. He can’t come back yet, but he wanted someone to look after you-so here I am.”

“You’re on my Dad’s side of the family.” That make halfway sense, except that her father had hated all of them. Apparently that shocked him more than anything for he quickly waved away the insinuation.  

“No, well we’re distantly related maybe, but really distantly.” Kirt swallowed and he resettled his shoulders. “If you’re ok, why don’t you get back on the road. I’ll see you at school, and maybe I can explain more then.”

“Not bloody likely.” The vehemence surprised here, but Terrin pushed back the guilt and pinned Kirt with her best impersonation of her mother’s glare. “You’ll stay away from me. On the road and at school or I’ll slap you with a restraining order.” She jammed the button to roll up the window and turned off the hazards. Kirt jumped back from her car as if she might hit him. Terrin checked the sparse traffic and eased onto the road. She’d call her mom that evening. Not to tell her mother about the crazy person following her, no need to panic her, but for any information she had on Dad’s family.

Legal Theft: Turncoat

The most irritating aspect of coming back from the dead was that no one believed you hadn’t gone evil. Astoria could feel the weight of the many silenced conversations and suspicious glares as she walked across the yard with her security officer. That he was there at all was proof that the brass was suspicious of her. That he walked with the careful glide of a vet and looked at her with silent, assessing competence was uncomfortable evidence that Command might put her team before a firing squad. Turncoat, traitor, spy the words were palpable in the air, and Astoria had heard them whispered or spat a dozen times in the last day and a half.

Her security officer, jailer, stopped before the door and Astoria opened it as he slid into guard position outside the door. Astoria tried not to squint in the sudden shift in light. The room wasn’t interrogation dark, and Astoria drew comfort from that. Then she placed the neat man sitting across the table and fought down a groan.

“Captain Skye, please take a seat.”

Astoria complied, flicking a look across her companion’s grey suit and neatly trimmed nails. He followed her gaze and moved his mouth in a smile. “Would you like to see my credentials, Captain? I assure you they are valid without a military uniform.” Astoria met his gaze and didn’t blink.

“I’m sure the Section Chief has reviewed the credentials of any civilian entering his command. I’ve no doubt they are correct.” The man made a quick note on the pad before him, and Astoria felt a wave of exhaustion sweep over her. So it began.

“I am Doctor Samuel Waters, and I will be conducting an assessment of both your team and you personally, Captain.”

“It is protocol,” she replied when it was clear he was waiting for a response. Waters narrowed his eyes.

“Captain, your team was unresponsive for six months. Your families gave funerals for you months ago. You return in the dead of winter well fed and whole with no explanation except a groundless warning against the base and a claim of classified information. What, if anything, can you tell me to prove you weren’t AWOL or worse in league with Fenris?”

Astoria couldn’t stop a twitch of a smile, “Well at least you’re blunt. That’s better than most of the shrinks I’ve had to work with. Then again, they were actually trying to help me instead of prove guilt.”

“That isn’t an answer, Captain.” Waters replied sharply. He leaned forward on the table, and Astoria wondered briefly if he’d crease his suit.

“Dr. I could quote you my orders, but for simplicity my team was commanded to scout the northwestern quadrant of the Blue Wood, make a map of the area, and report. We were attacked before we could complete our mission, and it has taken us until now to return to base. If you want to call that AWOL you’re insane.” Her voice was level her gaze cool.

“Six months to return from the Blue Wood? I’m not that naive, Captain. I know how much ground a team like yours team can cover.” Water’s mouth wore the politician’s half smile.

“We were attacked, Dr., I’m sure you saw the medical report.” Astoria watched him place his hands on his papers, baby smooth, and she tightened her grip under the table. Whoever had engineered this meeting was doing a good job at pissing her off.

“Yes, the findings are…impressive. You yourself were slashed open shoulder to hip. The rate of healing and minimal scaring is-interesting.” Waters looked at Astoria and she looked back, “In point of fact they are downright impossible.”

Astoria showed her teeth then, “I was very lucky.”

“Captain-” Waters snapped and Astoria placed her own hands on the table fingers pressed hard enough against the metal for the tips to whiten.

“My team was attacked by a classified force, taken prisoner to a classified location and held there for nearly six months. I understand. We’re healthy, good nutrition, no torture residue, no stress markers from prison labor. It looks suspicious. If I’d been turned do you really think I’d be stupid enough to throw this much question on my team? If Fenris had managed to flip a Skye they’d take every precaution to ensure I came back a hero. The Brass wants to play mind games with me, fine, but the rest of my team sees a military psychologist. Someone who’s actually seen action beyond their basic training. Believe of me what you will, but my team has been under immense psychological pressure. Bell has been isolated, surviving the winter woods and the Fenris. I’m sure her medical records showed her poor nutrition. Kirt was under the impression his sister was dead for six months. I won’t have you interrogating them.” She deliberately looked past him to the blank glass along the side of the room, “this assessment is over. When Central Command classifies my team and operation I’ll be willing to perform a psych evaluation with military professional with clearance. Not before.”

She could feel Waters gaze on her, his demand for her attention, but he was just the visible portion of the gambit and she was done playing.

Legal Theft: Getting it Done

They never realized the danger of a plodder. Ghost considered their stupidity as he hung upside down outside the fortieth floor of the skyscraper. His fingers were numb and scraped as they went on autopilot popping open the back of the remote video/audio recorder and replacing the data chip and battery pack. People didn’t like the term plodder, if they had to use something like it they preferred meticulous or thorough, dedicated, even purposeful. This wasn’t any of those things. He swung three feet to the left, caught the handhold he’d left there and hauled himself up to the next window to repeat the process.

This was plodding. Repeating the same tasks day after day, month after month, year after year. The work was grinding, boring, repetitive, and difficult. Mostly it was the repetitive that got to people. Wasn’t there a saying, “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity,”, it was something like that. Ghost had considered the possibility that he was insane before and then put aside the topic. It didn’t really matter if he was insane or not. He had a job to do.

There were many different aspects to the job, spying, listing through hours of records looking for clues, breaking into the building and the safes, studying building plans and preparing armaments. He’d done each portion at least a dozen times but something always fell through. Once, an audio camera died just as it was getting the pertinent information. Another time a dog smelt his ammunition and it was removed. His break ins had been noticed and codes and locks were changed and updated, air vents and maintenance corridors had been bugged and closed. That was the difference between a plodder and the rest. A meticulous person could go through everything and either find one solution or nothing. A dedicated person might hold on long enough to get something done, but waste their energy on finding new and better paths. Ghost plodded.

He plodded through the next week as he noted codes and bought Semtex. He plodded as he slipped through a busted window and along an unused corridor. He plodded as he set the timers and the fuses at structural points. He’d gotten this far before. He ruthlessly pushed down the flutter of excitement in his chest. Excitement wouldn’t get the job. He pulled the fire alarm and waited as the hordes of workers and personnel left the building in orderly lines. He waited five minutes, then ten. Then he pushed the button.

The explosion shot fire into the air and masonry and rubble into the streets. Ghost’s heart jumped into his throat and sat hammering there as he watched with wide eyes. He slipped across another roof safe from the police cars blaring up the street as a smile slowly crept over his face. Only now did his stomach bob through his body like a balloon and satisfaction roll thick through his blood. Yes, they were stupid to ignore the plodders.  

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Peers around cautiously. I may have had my first line stolen. Or I may escape unscathed we shall see as we shall see.

Legal Theft: The First Switch

The Captain’s favorite detective had just staggered out of his office, demanded to speak to Organized Crime’s second most wanted, and declared his last name was Hawthorn. At least today wouldn’t be boring. Staci paused by her desk and watched the scene unfold. Cooper, or apparently Hawthorn, certainly didn’t look good. His hair was a mess, his clothes were rumpled, and his eyes were downright panicked. If Staci hadn’t known him she would have assumed he was on the verge of a meltdown, or on drugs, or both.

“Cooper,” the Captain’s voice cut through the confused questions and ribbings in the bullpen, and people began moving again to avoid her eye. Staci flipped open her report folder. If she timed it right she could deliver it just as the Captain got to the meat of her rant at Cooper. Someone had to actually grab Cooper’s shoulder and push him towards the Captain before he responded. He went easily enough once he, apparently, knew where he was supposed to go, and Staci heard the door to the Captain’s office close. She leaned across the aisle.

“Any idea what’s going on with that?” She jerked her chin towards the office and got a row of shrugs and shaken heads in response.

“He seemed fine when he got in this morning. I saw him at like six. Then five minutes ago the guy jerks like he’s having a seizure and starts having a panic attack. He wanted to know why he was under arrest and then demanded to use his phone call to call Casey Hawthorn. Can you believe it? If it was anyone else I’d say it was a dumb joke, but you know Cooper. Guy’s as straight laced, nose to the grindstone as they come.”

Staci nodded and resumed her work on the file. Two minutes later she approached the Captain’s door slowly picking up Cooper’s voice before she put her hand on the doorknob.

“I don’t know! I’ve told you and told you. My name is Edan Hawthorn, I’m a twenty-three year old college grad. I’m doing an internship at the docks on shipbuilding. I need to see my uncle. He’ll clear all this up.”

“You don’t have an uncle on file, Cooper, and you want to think long and hard before claiming a familial relationship with Casey Hawthorn. He’s Irish Mob, you should know this-” The Captain bit off a curse. “Do you know where you live at least?”

“I’m renting an apartment in Allston.” Cooper sounded less sure now and Staci opened the door.

“I’ve got those reports you wanted, Captain.” Cooper was slumped in a chair in front of the Captain’s desk. He didn’t look like the thirty year old detective with one of the highest arrest rates in the city. He looked like a scared kid in a thirty year old’s body. The Captain glanced briefly at Staci before coming to a snap decision.

“Right, Harlow, I want you to take Cooper here to the hospital. I want a full check-up done, x-rays, blood work, everything.”

“I’m not sick, and I need-”

“You’re mixed up in the head, Cooper, and I want to know why before throwing you to the Irish. Now I can’t stop you from contacting Casey Hawthorn, but I can damn well advise you strongly not to do it. Let Officer Harlow here take you to the hospital first, that’s all I’m asking.” The Captain stared him down, and Cooper nodded.

“Alright, but if they can’t figure anything else out. I’m contacting my- I’m calling Casey.” The decision made Staci nodded. Cooper stood, and the Captain threw out a final piece of advice.

“Stay sharp you two. I have more and more crazy stories about these “Mutants” filtering in through reports. It may have something to do with them, and I’ve heard they can get hands on with their projects.” Staci nodded feeling her blood cool and Cooper just looked more confused.

“Mutants?” He asked Staci who just sighed.

“Come on, I’ll explain on the way.” At least since she was the one taking him to the hospital she could continue to keep an eye on him, and spoil any blood samples that would reveal anything damning.

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I’ve been robbed! I think. Go check out the new Legal Theft Blog where we will be linking to all future Legal Theft Stories. You can find it here. Go see what other insanity is created today from Captain’s and detectives.

Legal Theft:Charity

The ashen clouds began to clear, letting sunlight stream into the twisted wrecks. The row of hovels could hardly be called anything else. The thatched roofs had rotted and fallen away while the wind and rain had destroyed the majority of the south facing bricks. Still, children clustered about the doors and Ariadne could just see adult shapes moving about inside the wrecks. She leaned away from the window a little as the carriage’s slow passage turned heads.

“Ms. Anderson why must we pass by the tenements? They smell,” Constance wrinkled her pert nose and tossed her head just enough so that her golden curls bounced. Ariadne usually found Meredith’s older sister’s constant whining to be irritating, but in this case she heartily agreed with her. The governess face was stern beneath her bonnet.

“Because, Constance, your mother thought it wise that you should see the conditions of those poor souls less fortunate than yourselfs. Such a sight should stir our pity for those with have lost everything in this world.” Constance leaned forward to the window and looked down her nose at the urchins watching their slow progression.

“Isn’t it true,” the blond girl asked with a sudden shift in tone, “that little girls whose parents die often end up in places like this?” her tone was sweet and Constance didn’t even look in Ariadne’s direction. Nevertheless, Ariadne felt herself go stiff as Ms. Anderson nodded sagely.

“It is true, those without anyone to look after them often come to such unfortunate ends. You must be continually grateful for your own parent’s good health.” Meredith rolled her eyes at her sister and squeezed Ariadne’s hand to show her own contempt for her sister’s words.

“I hadn’t realized how lucky we were.” Constance continued placing a white gloved hand to her cheek, “those poor orphans must be so grateful to those kind souls who take pity on them and look after them.” Constance’s eyes were fairly glowing with mischief and Ariadne turned her head to the window again so as to not give Constance the pleasure of the spots of color on her cheeks or the tightening of her lips.

“Gratitude is a holy virtue and is certainly required from those who have been saved from such a horrible fate by the goodness of friends.”

Constance’s pretty laugh made Ariadne’s stomach roll over and she stared out the window with hard eyes refusing to let the tears gather.

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I am a thief! I have stolen the first line of this story from the wonderful and dangerous MacheteDiplomacy. Take a look at her story.

Legal Theft: A Monster’s Mind

He wasn’t afraid the first time he touched the monster’s mind. Michael didn’t know what was happening. His thoughts spun throughout the city and beyond dipping into and out of the eternal stream of chatter and ideas only half aware of them as they flowed in their endless course. He sat at the table contemplating his sketching pad and enjoying the sun across his shoulders. So when he bumped into an odd mind his first thought hadn’t been fear or even shock but curiosity. The mind sat dark and amber like a jar of honey. Within the depths, Michael could see ideas and shapes moving sluggishly hidden by the amber flow.

Michael reached out for the two minds as familiar as his own. His sisters thoughts were a consistent hum. Kadie’s thoughts danced and dipped a homely alto steady and indefatigable. Kira’s mind darted, a pike striking through a river running scales and tripping along complicated sixteenth notes. He compared the two minds to the new one and frowned. His sisters thoughts were a little hazy, seen behind an amber pane and the new mind was coated thick in amber honey. Still the similarity made him tilt his head. Michael put down his charcoal and briefly tapped against Kadie’s mind telling her that he was going to go exploring and not to be concerned if he was a little unresponsive. Then he heard the screaming.

Michael felt his head jerk and his spine ache at the whiplash only dimly as his mind catapulted through the city and to the town half a day’s ride distant. He felt thin as he saw the scene from twelve different directions from minds flooded with fear and adrenaline. There were raiders on dark horses with blades outstretched, and fires jumped to thatched roofs.  Michael saw the monster’s face from the eyes of a woman impaled on his sword. Michael whimpered seeing the monster’s expression twist, satisfaction lighting his eyes before Michael’s vision went black as the woman died. There were others and Michael forced himself to focus to pull away from the general panic flooding his thoughts and to dive into the mind of the monster. It hurt- pressure built around his ears as Michael dove deeper looking for the reason the purpose-something.

He felt as though he were seeing another language. Meaning eluded him as snaps of thought and memory formed slowly into his understanding. This wasn’t the first raid, there wasn’t a purpose or meaning. This was death. An image suddenly filled his mind a knife cutting through flesh and Michael screamed. The sharp tang of dill and lavender under his nose along with the hand on his shoulder called him back. Michael blinked the tears from his eyes finally focusing on Kadie’s face only a matter of inches from his own.

“We need to leave. There is-he scares me.” Already Michael threw his mind out again and spoke with more force than he’d dared used before. Kira, come home. We have to leave. There are raider’s in Brookstone. They’re killing everyone, hurry.

“Michael,” Kadie’s hand was soothing and Michael leaned against her still shaking.

“We have to leave. Its too dangerous. They’re hurting people. He likes hurting people.” He felt Kadie’s acceptance even as her mind flashed with worry and then folded that into productivity. Some things needed to be packed others could be left behind. Her mind was a rushing inventory of packed blankets and tied parcels. Michael nodded and ran to his room gathering his artists supplies first and then the clothes. He didn’t want to understand that mind or what it meant. There could be nothing similar between his family’s minds and the monsters. There couldn’t.

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I’ve been robbed, but more than that I’ve borrowed some of my lovely friend’s characters. Kadie belongs to More than 1/2 Mad and Kira is Machete Diplomacy‘s character. Check out there awesome blogs.