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.

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.

Objective-C++

I ran into objective-c++ when attempting to complete my simple stacker clone. It turned out to be a way bigger pain than I had drive to complete the game. So, it currently sits with some compiler warnings about C++ inclusions in an objective-c file. After switching over all the files in the project to .mm, i’m still running into the issue. Then I realized that I have several (rather large) included objective-c libraries as well that may also need switching…

So, it sits.

Maze!

I recently created a maze generator and solver using the Depth-First search algorithm. Primarily, I was bored. However, I chose the “maze” topic because my son likes mazes.

Here’s a video of the solver:

Here’s the generation code in objective-c:
**Update**: I removed the code from here since I’ve added the repo to github. https://github.com/wlejon/cocos2d-maze

Next up, I’ll be creating a “stacker” clone. Something like: this. I should have that done by next week around this time (a level, of course, not a whole game).