Wife

read the previous section first: Sintam’s Tale

She knew he was desperate when he agreed to allow the Crintarians to attempt to repair his primary intelligence enhancement. Now she would have to ensure they did everything they could. It was going to cost her a lot of favors to get the people she would need.

She could see that something was missing in his eyes when they made forbidden contact. She liked forbidden things. As she walked to her transport, she heaved against a spike tree to knock it down for food later. No need to tell Biped they are also forbidden fruit. She loved them as much as she loved him. Hopefully he would continue to buy her act.
Her personal transport was directly ahead. In stark contrast to her it was completely black. Slightly taller than her and shaped like a spike, it began to open as she approached. One door hinged at the top of the spike and two doors hinged on the bottom, each shaped equally as triangles, opened quickly. The transport was completely bare of any controls. The entire thing was controlled by Wife’s enhancements. Complements of Biped.

She was not unique among the Crintarians in accepting what Biped offered in trade for a stay on their planet. The ability to be mentally in complete control of the technology that is intended to support you is a gift so great that a stay on this lowly planet is not a fair trade. It would not have been difficult for Biped to simply take his stay here had he chosen to do so. He is weak when it comes to trades.

—–

Sintam watched as Wife’s transport lifted and zoomed away to the mainland. In the distance he could see the towering buildings that made up the skyline of the planet capital city. The monstrous structures were mostly pyramid shapes. The pull of the tri-suns made it difficult to keep narrow tall buildings standing as the core shifted and caused tremors above. The Crintarians had estimated that less than a million years were left before their suns would begin the irreversible dance of mutual death. With his help, they had managed to come up with a plan to move to a neighboring solar system. The details escaped him at the moment but he recalls thinking it was a good plan. As he thought longer about it, he wasn’t even sure where they were going. He decided to continue his meditation while his memories were archived.

His shivering brought him around and out of meditation. It was the brief period of dark this planet received. His auxiliary intelligence had kicked in and finally took over controls of his body. He was also able to think more clearly. The memory archival was done and he was thirsty. He decided to go find his inducer. Packing up his archival unit and slinging the pack over his back he began walking in the direction he believed it to be. Activating his locator he saw a ping a few hundred yards away. He activated his cruise control and temperature control and retreated into his innermost thoughts.

—–

Wife landed safely after a brief journey to the mainland. In her three thousand years of life, she had never felt she had a task this important. The lives of her people were at a new pinnacle because of the generosity of an outsider. The death of her people was at the whim of that same outsider. The scientists of her land had predicted their planet’s demise many millennia ago. Since then they had worked furiously to get her people into space. Sadly, moving to another planet in their system wasn’t an option.

She stepped out of her transport into a vast landing bay. The bay opening above her closing as she began to walk. In front of her were a few hundred transports. None of them were a match for hers. She had the only transport in the fleet built by Biped. It was the only one in the fleet that also had defensive and offensive capabilities. That last part was a secret.

The building she began walking through was massive. It was a hangar bay for spaceships being worked on. Large empty spaces with fifteen research offices spaced throughout. She would need to take over at least two of those offices and halt work on the critical ships. It was going to be difficult to convince even one person to help her, let alone thirty.

Nearly ten thousand Crintarians had already left in ships headed for various systems. Their travels would take most of their lives. Their lives dictated by a strict schedule, including mating. The absurdness of it all made her blush in frustration, her whole face darkening to a slight pink. To force a schedule on the entire life of any sentient being was a crime in her eyes. She knew it was for the greater good and the survival of her species. She also knew that they now had a better way.

Biped told her they could simply “jump” to another planet of their choosing. The risk would be the lives of the first to try. Once successful, there would no longer be a need to risk life. He even claimed there was a 98% chance of success on the first try. Biped called it a “halt” station. They would erect the station on the destination planet and the “jump” station, on this planet, would connect to it, giving them a perfect jump each time. He said no more about it as he went blank and fell over. She caught him mid fall and was careful in laying him down. This wasn’t the first time he had lost time. She was glad he finally discovered what was causing the problem. He meant so much to her. Not to mention he was also their salvation.

Wife walked briskly, the six points at the ends of her legs causing very little sound. Although she was capable of forcing them to hard points, the twelve two inch long tendrils at the ends of each of her legs were currently spread out to allow her to move about quietly. Though, from a distance, they still looked like sharpened points. Many of the greatest scientists were hard at work on the next spaceship enhancements. She had not told them of what Biped had suggested was a better route. She needed more information and a small amount of proof before she would interrupt their work. Before that was possible, they would need to help repair the higher order functions of the Bipeds mind.

If they could accomplish this feat, it would require all of the technology help Biped had given them, and their innate ingenuity. She knew they could not match Biped but she felt he had given up. He would not even try and instead would wither and die in the bliss of their holy island. She would have to convince the scientists to help without giving away too much information. After asking for their help, she would contact Biped and convince him to share his methods to expedite the repair attempts. The most difficult part would be convincing the scientists that they should even try.

Wife was nearly halfway through the typical lifespan of a Crintarian. With the enhancements provided by Biped so far, she could no longer easily estimate her death. She would more likely choose a time to die than die of any other cause. It was a different feeling. Each choice became more important. Every action seemed to be weighed down by indecision. She could somewhat understand the reasons that some of her people had for refusing Biped. She was glad no wars broke out and no hard feelings on either side have been shared.

Those who chose to forgo any enhancements, have decided to leave on the next ship for the most distant planet we have found yet. The lives of those on that ship would end long before they reached their destination. Their children not knowing the feel of ground beneath their tentacles. Such a sad thing to have happen. If instead, we could jump to it…. Wife beamed with the thought and hurried her pace into a trot.

She soon reached the central research office. The fifteen lead scientists for each of the offices were here. She knew them very well at this point and they all enjoyed her company. She would often bring them great news or new technology Biped had shared a story about. She would explain it to them, they would be so excited as to sometimes nearly make eye contact, and she would call Biped to tell them how to make it. He would be confused as to why they hadn’t made it yet and help them along. His genius was difficult to get past sometimes. The scientists would often feel ashamed at not knowing what he was talking about.

The room fell silent and turned to her as she walked in. Fifteen Crintari men stood evenly spread through the room. Each at least twice her height with various stripes of bright colors swirling their bodies. The men of her planet were an array of colors that matched the tendrils of their holy trees. A man with a bright blue strip of color going from his left front leg, wrapping around his waist, and ending at a point below his chest, spoke first.

“Aneada, so great to see you.” His gaze rose to her lips and was the highest gaze any of these men would give her. He was ambitious.

“You as well, Gaudric, as well as the rest of you. Sadly, I’m here with very bad news.” They gathered in a half circle around her and silently waited for her to speak.

“Sintam”, it felt as odd saying his real name as it was hearing her title, “has determined the cause of his illness. It is a brutal blow to some plans he and I have been discussing. Plans that could completely alter the path of our species’ salvation to one of complete unification and guaranteed safety.”

There were small gasps in the room and some of them men seemed to baulk at the possibility. The gasps were her focus. She only needed two of their teams. She was excited that some of them were interested and she hoped she could convince more as to give her a selection.

She opened her palm to reveal the enhancement. “This is his primary intelligence.” Every man in that room eyed it greedily. They all knew what it was capable of and they all wanted their hands on it. “It has begun to fail.” The disappointment was clear in every face. “He has allowed us to investigate the cause and attempt a repair. I will require two teams for as long as it takes. Either we say convincingly that we can and explain the route to Sintam or we admit failure and return the faulty device.”

The reality of the situation began to dawn on the men in the room. This was no simple gift. Again, Gaudric spoke.

“To stop two teams would mean we would not meet our deadline for the next ship. The safety of our species is far more important than the salvation of one being. Especially one that is an outsider.”

“I agree with you. Which is why I am not commanding it. I am requesting volunteers. Before his enhancement failed, we were discussing a new method of traveling to planets that would not require ships. Wi–”

Gaudric interrupted, “That’s ridiculous. Travelling through space requires protecti–”

Wife returned the favor, “Do not interrupt me. Additionally, I did not say anything about travelling through space. As I was saying. We would still require much of the fuel to power this new method but none of the time in designing and building massive interstellar ships. Additionally, the method would provide a 100% success rate and would be instantaneous.” Murmurs began to fill the room. “I cannot provide additional details as I do not have them. What I can say is that Bip–, Excuse me, Sintam has never lied and has always provided the technology he has discussed with me.”

The men in the room were acutely aware that some of that technology never reached their eyes. They also understood that this would not be one of those technologies. The team of scientists before her all deferred to Gaudric and minutes passed as they awaited his response.

Saender broke the silence, “I will volunteer my team to assist.” Saender was in the back of the group and was a very young man. He had a brilliant green stripe extending from hand to hand, going across his shoulders and wrapping his neck. The room turned to face him, some in open shock that he spoke out of turn. “I would also propose that we start with one team and determine if another is needed after an initial investigation.”

As Gaudric began to speak, Wife interrupted, “Agreed. Thank you Saender. Your ambition will not be forgotten.” She knew he would not have helped if he had to work with another group. His proposal was final but she did not mind. She quickly realized that no others in that room would openly oppose Gaudric. She welcomed a fresh mind.

“Get to work immediately.” She handed him the device and turned to walk out.

“You can’t be serious! This is a waste of time! Saender’s team is working on propulsions and without his team we will have a ship that cannot fly!” Gaudric was obviously just embarrassed to have lost favor with her.

Without turning around, she responded, “With his help, you won’t need that ship at all.” She walked out of their office and started back to her transport. She would need the help of a few more of her citizens. Her personal team of researchers would be tasked with helping Saender in any way they could. He may be too young to deal with being around the beautiful women she was sending his way but he would have to learn to lead them. Now is as good a time as any.

Sintam’s Tale

Crintari

Sintam sat breaking his fast waiting for his body to respond to the food. It had been a long time since he had actually used his mouth and primitive intestines for eating. He was certain that his solar inducer had produced sufficient nutrients for at least one hundred years and yet here he was, shoveling food into his mouth. Either his memory core was starting to fault or he hadn’t had a reason for formal eating in at least that long. He would have to retrace his steps to retrieve the inducer, it couldn’t be far.

The heavily wooded area around him was filled with a species of trees known only to this small island. They grew exceptionally fast and the strain of their growth caused the equivalent of stretch marks to scar the bright white trunks in an array of shades of gray. At less than ten feet apart, the trunks ended sharply with what looked like tendrils reaching to the sky trying to drink in the light. The tendrils were in high contrast to the trunk, colored anywhere from bright pink to dark chocolate. The colors correlated to the varying types of nutrients they absorbed from the air and unseen light spectrums. This was one of Sintam’s favorite places. With his choice of nutritional supplement so easily found it was also a place he could likely survive indefinitely. “Fuck you, earth”, he formally greeted as he stood. His old Earth English was rusty but he did his best to utilize his ancient memories regularly, lest they decay.

His ritual morning tasks were nearly completed. Eating alone was a bit embarrassing. Hopefully no one would read his memory in the near future. He might have to remove their neural compartment to ensure long term recovery wasn’t possible. He considered if he should then stick the removed head on a pike as warning for other telepaths.

As the thoughts bounced back and forth and his ancient mind actually activated, the fear that coursed through him was absolute. He would need to remove his ancillary intelligence processor. He would need to purge his memory core. Thoughts so primal were evidence enough that it was failing.

He whispered “Sec to tas”, roughly translated to “passion and beauty to you”, to greet his favorite planet properly. After nearly a millennium of traveling, he knew he would eventually die. His subprocessors realized the failure in his ancillary intelligence processing unit and activated his human brain. Murderous thoughts were not tolerated in his culture. It was irrelevant to him that he had not seen another human in over three hundred years. He would adhere to his moral compass until his ancient mind also failed.

Opening the component locking controls on his arm was so foreign to him in his old age. As a young man he would regularly upgrade and swap various parts of his cybernetic enhancements. By age two hundred he had fully upgraded himself at least a dozen times. His life as a nomad was forced at the hand of his home planet’s collapse. However, he looked fondly on the lifetimes he’d spent discovering new species of people and, in the end, new friends.

The panel was triangular with an impenetrable casing about half the size of his hand. Located in his left forearm three finger widths from his wrist, it creaked as it opened. The newer model component locking mechanisms were all controlled by the brain but he liked the sturdy construction of his. They don’t make ‘em like they used to. He thought. He would never upgrade his oldest tech. It’d be like upgrading your pet. No one upgrades their best friend.

Tapping a few controls he unlocked his ancillary intelligence processing unit. He immediately began to feel … less. His senses dulled and thinking clearly felt impossible. It is necessary, he reminded himself. The ANC INT unit was located immediately below his heart. He lifted his shirt as it began to eject. It locked halfway out and he grabbed the silver capped orange cylinder to remove it completely. A slight tug and it was free. At about the length of his pinky toe and width of his thumb, it was a wonder it was able to do so much. Well, now that it was removed it was a wonder. He invented the technology. The version now in his hand was his latest beta product, produced nearly sixteen hundred years ago. He was almost proud that it lasted this long.

Looking into his open arm, he was amazed at how smoothly organic material connected to man made terminals. His mind raced as he tried to comprehend how it was possible that his body could interact so freely with an implant in his arm. The implant required removing the bones and much of the tissue in that area, replacing and reinforcing with man made versions. He was stunned to remember that he created the technology.

His original ANC INT unit was as tall as he was. At seven foot eleven inches high and about as wide, he would connect to it each night before he slept allowing it to process his daily activities. He was quickly able to iterate the ANC INT line of products with the assistance of the product itself. If he ever wanted to leave this planet, he would have to build another ANC INT. His ship was one of a kind and too complicated for any unassisted human brain to control.

Before the collapse of Earth every embryo had ANC INT ports genetically installed. The latest versions allowed adjustments to provide various specializations, lowering enhancements in one area to boost them in another. The one in his hand was a few iterations away from the same feat. Now, that was just a dream. Unfortunately, Sintam’s ports did not allow for adjustments and every improvement needed to be handcrafted to uniquely fit his specifications. I’m far too high maintenance to be a nomad.

He took a few steps around his rock lined fire pit to grab his black parts bag. Lifting up the bag and rummaging inside he pulled out an external archival storage device to keep his life of memories intact before he dumped his memory core. Transferring his life would take almost a day. He activated the transfer and continued his homage to his original planet. Grabbing his plate and fork he continued eating the closest thing he could find to a pineapple, his favorite fruit. His year of foresting, in honor of Earth, was about half done. He may have to admit defeat and head back to Crintari’s mainland. It would be easier to build a replacement, albeit significantly reduced, ANC INT with the assistance of the natives. That’s if he decided he wanted to leave this planet. I’m too old to fight.

As he finished his fruit, he knelt down, butt-to-feet, clasped his hands and began meditating, awaiting the completion of the data transfer. His bare chest glistened in the tri-sun light bathing the tentacle trees.

A large thud to his right brought him out of his meditation. Several hours had passed. “Hello, Wife” he said without looking up.
“I’m not your wife and my name isn’t Wife”, she retorted lazily as if she’d said the same thing a thousand times over.
“One day you’ll tire enough of it and tell me your name.”
“You wouldn’t be able to say it, Biped.”

She had dropped a large bundle of tentacles she gathered from the surrounding area. She would eat most of them.
“When are we leaving? This food bores me.”

Finally looking up at her, a squat six legged native of the planet. About one quarter of his height, she was still shorter than he as he kneeled. Her skin, white as the tree bark should be, was covered in short thick hairs about two inches long. The hairs drew curved lines across her torso accentuating her physique with negative space in key areas. Her arms, as muscled as Sintam had ever seen, almost dragging on the ground, gave her the appearance of having eight legs instead of six. Until one of those arms punched you. Never anger a Crintarian. You won’t live to tell the tale. All limbs bent in three places providing for quite extreme flexibility as far as Sintam was concerned. Two forward legs, one leg to either side, and two legs behind all equally spaced, provided for quite some speed and agility.

She was beautiful to Sintam. Eyes of bright red would shy to a pink upon seeing him stare at her. Direct eye contact was an intimate adventure for the natives of Crintari. A petite nose seemed misplaced on a face filled with overly emphasized features. Two large fangs, which somehow seemed feminine as they protruded her beautifully full and shapely lips, hung just below her round chin. A smile filled with large sharp teeth forming perfect quarter circles in her mouth.

Crintarians were a close genetic match to humans. Close as far as any alien from a different planet could be “close”. Sintam hypothesized that Crintari and Earth were both hit by parts of an asteroid that contained genetic material from a common ancestor. The proof was … escaping him for the moment. You can’t have her you fool. You’re too old to start a family anyway.

She finally noticed he was looking at her. As he predicted, her eyes shyed to pink as they locked gazes.

“You can’t have me, you fool. Besides, you’ve told me you’re too old to start a family. Not by my measure, but that doesn’t change that you simply don’t have the parts I need. Well, want.”

Blinking a few times he noticed the world had gone sideways. Gaining his bearings was difficult but he realized he was laying on his side.

“You also can’t take a punch.” Came in a bit garbled as his translator was still recovering from the blow he took. She laughed a hearty laugh that warmed Sintam’s dizzy heart. “Luckily, you are not easily injured.”

His personal shield had activated and absorbed the blow. It drained a lot of his energy and he felt very hungry again. He really needed to get that inducer. As he climbed back to his knees, he considered throwing a punch to show his affection but worried he couldn’t survive any potential retaliation. “I’m definitely getting old. My intelligence enhancement has finally failed. It’s unlikely I can match your wit.”
“What’s new?” Sintam just smiled in return. “Can you fix it, Biped?”
“No.” His smile fading.
“Give it to me. I’ll have my people fix it.”
He considered and reluctantly said “Okay.” He was sure that it was not repairable but would never discount the persistence and brightness of the Crintarians. Especially not Wife.

——

continued: Wife

Guardians

The sun shone down brightly through a break in the heavy spring clouds. A pair of broken spectacles in the dirt helped bring the light to a pinpoint, lighting an ant on fire as it walked past the enhanced beam. The few trees scattered in the area gave little reprieve of the new found sunshine. The heat continued to grow as what little liquid was left was pulled from the ground into the air. A slight wind pushed a lone daffodil aside revealing an abandoned and boarded up structure in the distance.

A large boot stepped on the already broken spectacles, crushing the burning ant and cracking the glass. Sound seemed foreign as the broken glass reverberated. The boot belonged to an impressive man. The world seemed to bend around him. His sharp green eyes seemed to catch all movement. His stature was only dwarfed by his overwhelming physique. There was an air of experience that his bare chest demonstrated with scar after scar. A slash across the left side of his neck seemed to laugh at death. Nothing would ever want to be the focus of his attention.

His sights were set on the structure ahead.

As the man moved forward the earth seemed to reach out for his steps. A bubble of clarity surrounded the man bringing life to his immediate area. As he moved away from the daffodil it quivered and died.

He stopped and breathed in deeply, voiding the already barren area of life. He had an understanding of the world that few other men would ever have. He raised his arms to shoulder height, palms up. His eyes shone brightly as he breathed out. A wave of energy began to flow in front of him, stopping a few feet away and building up. A white mist began outlining the energy. The energy seemed to reach out towards the structure ahead as if it were aware of something and leading the man. Lowering his arms, the man began following as the energy moved forward.

——————

A small boy stirred in the arms of his mother. She felt colder since he woke up. He felt compelled to leave her side. It was obvious that he was weakened as he struggled to stand and walk.

His clothes were worn and ragged and his blond hair dark with dirt. His blue eyes surrounded by sunken sockets echoed the struggles of his movement. The wooden floor creaked as he moved out of his mother’s bedroom.

The boarded up windows meant the walk was done in darkness. Candles were a luxury that was abandoned long ago. The wasteland surrounding the child’s house was once rich farmland for his parents.

His father had been gone for almost two years. Since then the crops stopped growing. With no crops, the horses had no food. The choice to use their meat was a hard one that his mother waited as long as she could to make. With no game in the area and no horses to travel on it was only a matter of time. She only hoped that her husband would return before then.

As his mother lay lifeless the child stumbled towards their front door. He only recently learned the trick to the doors lock. As he fumbled with the lock he felt a surge of strength and heard a click as he turned the deadbolt.

——————-

The man knew this would be his last stop. His body was blessed by the Ancients and it would never fail. His long life through the ages was too much, however, for his fragile mind to bear. As a child, his ancestors would tell him of the day that he would need to lay himself down. It would be a necessary precaution to prevent the devastation of his surroundings. That day had long come and gone.

His age is not tracked and thought of as irrelevant. His wisdom is shown by the earth’s reaction to his presence. If he’d only been able to harness that wisdom before his breaking. His focus dangles by a thread as he moves forward. The earth trembles as he pulls what little energy is left from her in this area. He begs her to assist him in the final leg of his journey. If only he had the courage to beg for assistance before his breaking.

His hands begin to shake. He looks down at them and realizes he is covered in blood. He looks up and finds himself in the center of a battle. He realizes he’s being hunted and his body begins to flow into defensive stances. As he moves from one position to the next, guarding the different possible attack points, he checks for the danger. Finding none that he would need to defend against, he lowers his defenses and channels his energy to begin his offensive. His voice begins without his permission, “No one hunts me. No one hunts my kind. We are the Guardians. You will fail.”

As his Caitan grows he begins to feel alive again. He remembers that his worth is understood and appreciated by his family. His wife’s beautiful dark hair would flow like a river in the wind of his homeland. They were devastated when they were unable to conceive. He remembers his father proudly giving him the burden of his staff as he took the last walk. His father was wise and brave and would be ashamed of the depth of his son’s Break.

As the memory of his Break emerges, he snaps back into the present time. In his lack of focus, he has built enough energy to destroy a small army. He will not be able to hold it much longer. Somehow he has reached the structure that was in the distance. There is a small child in front of him. He knows that face. It’s haunted him for several seasons. It’s very young and sickly but he can see the traits a father passes to a son. He killed this boy’s father. Tears begin to stream down the mans face. He’s elated that he reached the boy in time. He is thankful that the earth brought him here. As he falls to his knees, he realizes that he is about to kill this boy. He can not hold the energy and there is no place to release it. His last task, to save this boy, will have failed.

He closes his eyes and searches his mind for an outlet. Anything to help him succeed. Without a success he will continue to live. Without a success he will continue to devastate. He feels a slight touch on his hand. The boy has reached through the energy and grabbed the man’s hand. The man snaps open his eyes in time to see the energy begin to escape. The explosion will be powerful enough to destroy the structure in front of him. The trees will be ridden of their branches.

As the energy excites in a sphere around the man, it also seems to be creating a sphere around the boy. The explosion was abrupt and expected.

The man is relieved to be lucid. He looks down to see the boy crying. There is no sound, but the boy is surely crying. He is alive. He is standing and still holding the man’s hand. The boy looks up and asks the man an inaudible question. The man instinctively takes dried meat from the pouch around his waist and gives it to the boy. As the child ate, the man dug into his draw pack to find a suitable Guardian. The boy is too young to understand the quest so he will need to discover it on his own as he ages. When the aging stops he will be pulled into searching for answers.

“I am the last of my kind, boy. In my pride, I have killed the rest.” The mans face is stern as he speaks. The man points to his chest,
“These scars were made by the army of Guardians, my own kind, that attacked me. ” The sorrow is painted by the mist around them.
“You will grow and learn your own path. There will be nothing that can harm you as long as you wear your armor. Do not be prideful. Lay yourself to rest when the time is right.”

The man takes a deep breath and begins to focus his energy.

“I don’t have much time, child, so listen carefully. There is a secret to the earth. She knows you. You can speak to her like your father could.” The mans eyes begin to brighten.

“Because of this, I have chosen your blood line to be the next Guardians.” The man beams with pride as he speaks.

“Your abilities will be unique and different than mine. I will simply awaken them. Traditionally, you must pass the quest of understanding before you are allowed your awakening.” The child begins to speak but the man continues his actions. The man hands the boy a dark chunk of roots.

The man channels the focused energy into the roots being held by the boy. The roots seem to thirst as it soaks in the energy. As the glow of energy vanishes, the man instructs the boy to eat the roots.

Hesitantly, the boy does as he’s told. The boy looks around at the devastation that the man just caused. His house is gone and his favorite tree in the distance is knocked over. The boy doesn’t understand how he’s still alive or what just happened.

——————-

James awakens from his long night of sleep in a cold sweat. He seems to have that dream every now and again. He hates remembering the death of his mother in that way. He takes a moment to sit and speak with the earth. He focuses his energy and hardens his shirt around his body. He continues to focus and forces it to grow around his head and arms, down to his hands. The hardening is fully flexible and has not been damaged by anything that he’s tried. He’s been able to draw the focus of a crowd’s anger towards him and come out unscathed. He’s very thankful for that man’s gift.

He’s 23 years old today. It’s been 20 years since he’s been awakened. His ability to focus his energy is getting better and better every day. He’s been able to sense his surroundings in unusual ways recently. That sense has given him new ideas of what to do with his energy.

James still has the draw pack the man gave him before he wandered off. He has never looked inside but he doesn’t need to. He knows it contains the needed material to pass along what needs to be passed along. One day, he will need to ask the earth for help in finding someone she knows. One day, he will need awaken a suitable Guardian to eventually take his place.

Until that day, James has a different task…

——————-

Lisa

Legs that went to heaven’s gates walked in red high heels and a short black skirt after a long night of dancing. A few drinks too many had eventually led to a spill on the low cut shirt. Decision making not at its finest, the shirt came off and a small thin jacket revealed much of the firmly pushed up breasts. Flowing red hair bouncing as those magnificent legs turned down an alleyway to get home quickly. A minute later, red painted lips separated in surprise as a hugely muscular man rounded a hidden corner, slamming an open hand against an overflowing breast.

“Whoa! I’m so sorry!” a deep, surprised, and reassuring voice was a relief to hear.

“That’s okay.” in response, shyly.

“Lady, you shouldn’t be walking this area at this time of night. I’m not going to cause any trouble. If you let me walk with you until you hit a busy street I’ll make sure you get there okay and I’ll be on my way.”

“That would be nice, thank you.” suspicious and on guard

The chill in the air started to bite and a shiver caused notice.

“Here, take my coat.” as he slipped off his coat and placed it on her shoulders.
“You’re too kind. I appreciate it.”

A few blocks of walking together with awkward conversation and it was clear he wasn’t going to get anywhere with her. She was super model caliber and he was, at best, a common thug. The bouncing walk made her notice a few heavy items in the coat. Deduction was quick and easy. Top left inside pocket was slowly hitting against the underside of her left breast and seemed to contained a large heavy wallet. Bottom right outside pocket was heavier and coming back to hit her upper thigh with a slight thud, contained a gun. Seems he’s not that smart either.

She noticed the street was empty and, nervously, she mentioned that she thought a gun was in his coat. “Could you get it? I don’t want to get in trouble. I’m sorry to worry.”

“Oh, yea. uh. hmm. No problem. I .. uh, have a permit and a conceal carried license. I’ll get it.” Conceal carried license? Jesus. He might as well have just told her he bought the gun from a baby. Equally believable.

As they walked, he reached into the pocket to fulfill her request but the pocket was empty. A quick movement caught his eye as the butt of his gun came crashing down against his temple. Out cold.

It seemed as though she didn’t even break stride as he fell. He was likely a seasoned head trauma victim so she suspected he’d be up shortly. She sped up, grabbed his wallet, took off his coat and left the gun with it on the ground.

In quick order, she found the third alleyway to her right and took it. Placing the wallet on the inside of her tiny jacket, under her supple right breast causing a slightly larger bulge. They’re not always the same size, right? Shouldn’t be noticed. She heard a loud shout and heavy footfalls going away from her. She slowed to help muffle her heel clicks. She rounded the alley into a slightly more populated street continuing to walk towards a main street.

In a cab on the way home she felt a little bad that she hit him. She reasoned that he was used to it and let it go.

In her bedroom, as she sifted through the large wallet, she got worried. After counting out six thousand dollars in hundreds, twelve fake IDs, and three odd looking electronic items, she started thinking she may have stolen from the wrong guy.

With the IDs in the garbage and the money in her safe, she began looking over the small electronic cards. Well, they looked like cards. Two of them were credit card sized with four LEDs on one side. A strip similar to a credit card on the other side. Looked like some sort of key maybe. The other card was in a sealed black plastic case. It had a little weight to it and a micro usb port on one of the short sides.

She lost curiosity quickly and just set the cards in her night stand. She was starting to feel hung over and needed to sleep. After a quick shower she laid down for the night and sleep quickly reined her in.

Some rustling woke her up early in the morning. A group of five men stood against her wall and a very well dressed man sat in the only chair in her bedroom off to her right. A swollen eye on one of the men brought about recognition.

“Hi.”

“Don’t ‘Hi’ me young lady!” the well dressed man angrily retorted. “You realize a blow to the temple can be deadly? Jimmy is a good man. He meant you no harm and was being true to his word.”

“I didn’t know he worked for you.”

“That’s no excuse! And for you to be walking around mostly naked at two in the morning? What is wrong with you?! If Jimmy didn’t have such a good heart you could’ve gotten hurt!”

“Dad, stop. I’m a grown woman. You need to stop spying on me!”

“I didn’t.”

“How did you know it was me?”

“We tracked you. I came here intending to kill the beautiful woman that stole from my well meaning employee. His wallet had a GPS. It’s too bad it turned out to be you. I was looking forward to a simple murder.”

Lesson learned. She had nothing to say to that. She messed up this time and got caught.

“Now listen. Since I won’t let Jimmy hurt you, he wants an apology.”

“Sorry Jimmy.”

“Ha. If only it were that simple. You’ll go on three dates with him and show him off at any major event we attend for the next year. In that time, you won’t date anyone else. You get me?”

“That’s ridiculous. You can’t force me to date someone, Dad. I’m not going to let you push me around like I’m your puppet.”

“Alright, no problem. We’ll just get you locked up for assault with a deadly weapon. We got your prints and the crooked cops to say what we tell them. You need to learn a lesson somehow. Be embarrassed that you have to do what I tell you or be embarrassed that you have a felony on your record.”

“You are impossible sometimes, Dad! Oh my god. Fine. I’ll date your employee like I’m a prostitute. That’s what you want? Fine. I know how much you like the word of your people. You have my word, I’ll be his prostitute for you.”

“You’re always a drama queen. Let’s go boys. Jimmy and my daughter have some making up to do. Maybe he can keep her out of trouble. God knows I can’t.”

Jimmy didn’t quite like the idea of being forced to date someone but she was damn hot. If even he only got to second base he would have something to brag about for years. He knew she would at least be a friend to him for a year so that was better than nothing. He wasn’t going to force her to go on a date with him but it would be nice to have a lady on his arm for those big family events. In the mean time, he just wanted his stuff back. He waited for the boys to leave before talking.

“Listen. I just want my wallet, money, cards, and IDs back. I’m not going to make you go on any dates with me if you don’t want to so don’t worry.”

As she got up out of bed to get his things, she said “I’m sorry I hit you Jimmy, you seem nice. I was a little drunk and got carried away. I have a tendency to look for excitement when I probably shouldn’t. About the dates. My dad said that we have to go on three so we’ll do that. I gave him my word. Plus you’re cute enough anyway.” She winked.

To say Jimmy wasn’t excited would be a lie. It’s not easy getting dates in his line of work. To have the boss’s blessing is a huge benefit.

Over the next three weeks they went on five dates. They hit it off on the second date and Jimmy was surprised at how laid back she could be. She dressed to perfection on every date in little black and red dresses, slimming and accentuating. She was extremely down to earth and seemed genuinely interested to hear about Jimmy. The boss didn’t really let anyone know he had a daughter so it was refreshing to be left alone by others in the business when they saw Jimmy with her. It was nice to be seen in public with a woman that really wanted to be around him, too. His typical escorts were vapid and severely distant.

He found that she especially liked his jokes. He loved her laugh so it worked out very well. He would always try and mix in some wit into any stories he told to keep her smiling. Deep green eyes fixed on him kept him on his toes when he spoke. He tended to put effort into the composition of his sentences to keep her focus. He worked on not sounding dull and keeping excitement in his voice. In all his effort he was realizing that he was truly falling for the girl.

Boss calls up one day and lets him know that there’s a family event. His instructions are to call the daughter and inform her that she’s to be Jimmy’s date. No one is to know that she’s the boss’s daughter.

Instead of just informing her, Jimmy goes over to her place with flowers and invites her to the party. He’s never been so nervous. She was very flattered at the gesture. She had to say yes because she gave her word. But she also said yes because she wanted to. She loved the big goof. Well, not loved. Maybe loved? Whatever. She kissed him.

The day of the event had Jimmy jumping with excitement. So many people are going to see that he has a better half and is now a better whole. All those times he gave up meeting someone so he could keep working had paid off. He waited and found someone that made him feel happy. He wasn’t worried about her either since she could hold her own. She was very honest to the people she held dear and he was proud to call her his girlfriend. Long term. Hopefully.

He picked her up at seven and they talked the whole drive. They seemed to be able to hold conversations no matter what it was about. He kept her smiling and laughing and she kept the conversations flowing. When they arrived, he got a lot of looks when he opened the door for her. Her stunning blue dress was cut above the knees and hugged all of her curves. The neckline dropped just enough to show a couple inches of smooshed breasts. Sleeveless with a small purse for her various womanly equipment, including her gun. Jimmy was a tad bit too excited as she got out of the car.

“Jimmy, your excitement is showing” as she looked at bulge in his pants.

“Don’t worry, people will be busy looking at you.” he smiled at her.

They mingled for a bit and it seemed like all the people that never talked to Jimmy came over to introduce themselves to the two of them. Jimmy kept her smiling and laughing and surprised himself with how calm he kept at some of the awful attempts to pull her away from him. They were jealous of him. This is a first for him. He wasn’t exactly liking their jealousy. But he was liking the fact that he finally had something in his life that gave people reason to be jealous.

After about an hour of various introductions and short conversations, the music came on and people started dancing. With the dancing came out some booze. The favorite drink of the event, however, was the punch. Well, spiked punch. Jimmy served some to his new found love and she thought it was delicious. He drank some himself and it helped loosen up his legs. He wasn’t much of a dancer but he sure loved to dance when he was drinking. She loved to dance regardless of her intoxication levels and was an intoxicating sight.

As the DJ played a slow song, the boss called Jimmy over, interrupting their dance.

“Jimmy, you two seem to be getting along way better than I anticipated.”

“Yea, boss, you got a great daughter.”

“Keep your voice down! She’s a great girl. That’s it. Got it? I trust that you’ve been treating her well.”

“Of course.” He paused and mustered some courage. “With your blessing, I’d like to keep on dating her. She seems to like me and I’m starting to fall for her.”

“She hit you over the head that hard, Jimmy?” He looks around and finds his daughter getting some more spiked punch. “She’s my only family left, Jimmy. You have my blessing but you are dead if you hurt her.”

“Understood, boss.”

As they’re talking there’s some commotion at the driveway. The boss can’t believe the nerve of the crew of cars that just pulled up. Six cars belonging to the boss from competing turf. He knows those cars. Panic strikes him. He knows why they are here. The crew starts opening their doors with guns already drawn. It’s all happening in slow motion. He won’t be able to get to his daughter. He needs to buy her some time. He looks at Jimmy and Jimmy knows.

“Jimmy, you have one task.” he says rushed and panicked. “Get to the punch line!”

The End.

SDL Maze!

I wrote some more maze code. This time in C++ using SDL for rendering. To be honest, I started this out by writing an extension for SDL in PHP. I may still finish that and write a blog about it. It was fun but the performance was reaaaally bad so I need to do some work on making it more high level. I was just doing a one to one for the SDL API (except in classes) and then writing the PHP code for DFS and rendering. So yea, as you can imagine, it was slow. Here’s a gist of what it was looking like.

Anyway, I was thinking of using emscripten on the SDL stuff I wrote so I could post a working version here. You’ll have to be satisfied with a short video and link to the code.

My favorite part of writing this in C++ was the part I did in C. I wrote a tweet about it. I really did spend time figuring out a circle fill algorithm instead of just drawing a circle in a paint application. It was more fun. You can see the simple (and poorly commented) code here.

The full code is available: github. There is some refactoring I had considered doing before posting but since it’s been a week and I haven’t touched it, it’s unlikely I will.

Unlike the other versions, I don’t render the path finding efforts in this version. Just the results. I also added the ability to simply move the little dot around using the arrow keys. Just playing around. Have a look.

MOAI Maze!

I created my maze “hello, world” in MOAI. I really enjoyed using MOAI and rather like much of the reasoning behind architectural decisions (primarily that there actually are reasons).

The code for this one is a bit rough since I was also re-familiarizing myself with Lua while learning the MOAI framework.

It’s here, nonetheless: MOAI Maze

I’m exploring a bit more into this framework. I’ve started writing a widget framework for it and will also be writing an actual game with it.

The following requires Chrome and Native Client enabled. I removed the embed since it would just show as an ugly box for 99% of people visiting the site.

Crafty Maze!

I’ve been looking at various game framework/libraries/engines for a long time now. I started my endeavor in 2006 with Torque Game Engine and have continuously been looking at technologies as they come out.

I posted something a while back about building a Maze in Objective-C. I used cocos2d then. Since then, I’ve been using very similar maze code as my “hello, world” of game frameworks.

Recently I looked at Craftyjs . It’s pretty sweet. Here’s my hello, world (bugs and all). There are some performance issues that I could likely optimize out and various other tweaks that I could make. Overall, I don’t really care. My “hello, world” is strictly to get a feel for the framework. I got a feel for it and would recommend it. It’s very much what I’ve wanted from the component entity pattern in a game framework.

The code: https://github.com/wlejon/crafty-maze


Mac Wildcard DNS & apache subdomain vhosts

Instructions for when I need to do this again and get frustrated with the python DNS server.

First, we setup our local DNS server.

sudo rndc-confgen -a -c /etc/rndc.key 
sudo vi /var/named/dev.local

Populate contents of dev.local with:

dev.local. 7200    IN       SOA     dev.local. root.dev.local. (
                     2008031801 ;    Serial
                     15      ; Refresh every 15 minutes
                     3600    ; Retry every hour
                     3000000 ; Expire after a month+
                     86400 ) ; Minimum ttl of 1 day 
dev.local. IN      NS      dev.local. 
dev.local. IN      MX      10 dev.local. 
dev.local. IN      A       {DESTINATION_IP} 
*.dev.local.    IN      A       {DESTINATION_IP}

No, {DESTINATION_IP} is not a variable. Replace it with the IP of your apache server. 127.0.0.1 if local.

sudo vi /etc/named.conf

Add

zone "dev.local" IN {
         type master;
         file "dev.local";
};

If there are errors presented by either of these commands, follow the logical instructions on resolving the errors

sudo named-checkconf /etc/named.conf 
sudo named-checkzone dev.local /var/named/dev.local

Add the org.isc.named daemon to startup and flush your dns cache

sudo launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/org.isc.named.plist 
sudo dscacheutil -flushcache

Add 127.0.0.1 to the DNS entries in the System Preferences Advanced adapter config (any adapters used)

Test the setup works:

dig subdomain.dev.local

The ->>HEADER<<- line should read:

;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 9635

If there is an error, it’ll read something like:

;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: SERVFAIL, id: 21136

When troubleshooting what the error might be, be sure to bounce the org.isc.named daemon if editing the various configuration files.

sudo launchctl stop org.isc.named 
sudo launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/org.isc.named.plist 
sudo launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/org.isc.named.plist 
sudo launchctl start org.isc.named

Once that is completed, on the apache server (ubuntu for me)

sudo a2enmod vhost_alias

Next, modify your vhost

<VirtualHost *:80>
    ServerName dev.local
    ServerAlias *.dev.local
    ServerAdmin webmaster@localhost
    VirtualDocumentRoot /path/to/site/directories/%1
    <Directory /path/to/site/directories>
        Options Indexes FollowSymLinks
        AllowOverride All
        Order allow,deny
        Allow from all
    </Directory>
</Virtualhost>
Sources:
http://renebakx.nl/7/running-a-local-wildcard-dns-server-on-your-mac/
http://geoffhankerson.com/node/108
http://hints.macworld.com/article.php?story=2005110220352084

Db_NoRecordExists and RedBean

When initializing RedBean, I realized that I could simply utilize the Zend_Db resource configured in the application.ini to setup the connection.

require_once APPLICATION_PATH . "/../library/RedBean/redbean.inc.php";
$this->bootstrap("db");
$dbAdapter = Zend_Db_Table::getDefaultAdapter();
R::setup($dbAdapter->getConnection());

This means that I am able to utilize the built in form validation that utilizes the db (Db_NoRecordExists, for example). With one caveat: When there are no tables (cause that’s how RedBean works), attempting to submit a form that persists will cause a SQL exception. I’ll likely export the table structure when I’m pushing to production and won’t have this problem there. It’s merely an annoyance during development.

I’ve enjoyed not writing SQL and simply adding elements to my forms that are then automatically persisted. I’ll obviously need to optimize the table structure once I’ve completed the prototype but that’s an easy thing to do in comparison.

Cocos2d – Tiled

I have learned that the tiled importer in Cocos2D should not be used as is for complex layer based maps. I have ran into odd display issues (lines between layers) and odd limitations (one tilesheet per layer).

The work around I am going to attempt is to load strictly the data that I need using the TMX loader and build a map based on that data. Basically, the Tiled map editor will turn into a placeholder creator.

Once that work is complete, I may look into updating the TMX loader to be a bit more robust, given that I’ll be deep in its bowels soon.