Fantasy-Drake-Rider: Call-Up

Heart of Telmerath "Ever Loyal and Vigilant"

Drill-Master Varis bent over the map laid out on the table, blunt finger jabbing at lines denoting a hill overlooking a river. “If we can push them back and take this hill it will give us an advantage.”

Horse-Captain Gale frowned and shook his head. “The problem is they hold it, giving them the high ground. If the Drake-Knights were available to soften the Tremalaine defenses, I might consider it. As it stands now…”

Varis grimaced. The war had taken its toll on everyone, but the enemy’s new ballista system, designed to shoot multiple missiles and built in massive numbers, devastated Telmerath’s aerial guardians. Now some of the kingdom’s best warriors were relegated to courier missions and ineffectual high-altitude boulder drops. “Maybe a small group, under cover of darkness-”

Gale looked at him sharply. “Telmerathian soldiers do not skulk about like some back-alley mug-hunter, Drill-Master. Is that clear?”

Varis’ lips tightened at the rebuke, but he refrained from speaking. His Majesty’s Cavaliers, comprised of nobles, wouldn’t know how to sneak in anyway. Unless the sneaking consisted of backroom deals and visiting ladies of questionable virtue. He shook his head to drive out the unproductive musing and turned back to the map, eyes searching for some thrust that could set Tremalaine on the defensive.

The tent-flap furled and one of the guards, Leftenant Wexler, poked his head inside. “Sirs, Drake-Lord Miathes is here to see you.”

Gale straightened up and smoothed out his red tunic bearing the insignia of the Cavaliers, a purple shield bearing a rearing horse. “Show him in, Leftenant.”

A tall man with broad shoulders, clad in the sky-blue tunic and trousers that marked him as a Drake-Knight, but without the purple trim that would proclaim him Drake-Lord, strode past the sentry without fanfare, a grim look on his face. “Gale,” Miathes said without preamble. “I need to call up some of your Cavaliers for my unit.”

The horse-captain opened his mouth, but the larger man slapped down a rolled parchment made of vellum, bearing the Royal seal. “Here’s the King’s writ, in case you were thinking of protesting.”

Gale frowned and turned away from Miathes. The Drake-Lord let it go; he knew no officer worth their salt liked losing men, no matter the circumstance, but especially with a war on.

Varis snatched the parchment, broke the seal, and scanned the contents. “Ten?” He winced at the tone of his question, but plowed on. “Normally, it’s one or two. Ten will put a huge hole in our lines.”

Miathes nodded at the scroll. “That authorizes you to fill your losses by shuffling soldiers in from other Cavalier units.”

Gale turned back around, eyes blazing. “Why us? This will gut our effectiveness for at least two months! Transfers, training, integration…” He tossed his hands in the air. “Why?”

Miathes scowled. “His Majesty heard about the breakthrough led by two of your men. That, plus other successes, swayed the King to the idea his Drake Knights would be wise to draft from this unit.” The drake-lord held up his hands in a placating gesture. “I know this a hardship for you, but it is a great honor for those chosen. Would you deny them that?”

Gale deflated, rubbing the back of his neck in weary defeat. He flicked his head at Varis, who took up the conversation. “Milord, we have several long-time veterans-”

Miathes shook his head. “I’m breaking protocol on this recruitment. His Majesty’s Drake Knights have been stagnant, and we need to adapt. I want…need younger soldiers. Soldiers with fire and ideas. I’ll start with the two that broke through the Tremalaine lines.”

Gale tensed again at the thought of losing his cadre of youthful warriors, but Varis murmured, “Captain, it is well-known that Leftenents Damon Forester and Yallo WindFern dream to one day join the Drake Knights. They are good men, but we shouldn’t fight to deny their goals.”

Gale’s fists clenched. “Fine. Make a list and give it to him.” He gave Miathes a short, curt nod, and said, “If you’ll excuse me,” before storming out of the tent.

Varis watched his commander leave, a pained look on his face. “My apologies Lord-”

Miathes waved away the apology. “Don’t. I imagine I would react much the same way.”

“Still, etiquette and all that.” He managed a weak grin. “You really are getting two of our best. I had my doubts about Forester, but he’s proven to be a voracious learner and one hell of a Cavalier. And Yallo is the standard to which I hold a Cavalier in this unit.”

Miathes smile came more naturally. “Good. That just leaves eight more, eh?”

The two men huddled closer to the table, intent on their task. Neither noticed Wexler, third son of Pelias, Earl of WindFern, narrow his eyes in hatred at the praise heaped upon his elder brother.

***

For the rest of the story so far, click here or go to the sidebar and click Fantasy: Drake-Rider. For Yeah Write’s Moonshine Grid. Head over and check out some great writers!

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Welcome To The Family

Thursday 2:10 p.m.

Tony’s pencil drummed on his desk as the clock refused to move. He smacked his gum and blew a huge bubble, the snap from the pop drawing eyes from all over the room. His teacher, Mr. Franklin, glared at him, then went back to reading his paper with a slight shake of his head. Tony grinned and chewed louder. One more month and he could drop out of this place.

A soft knock on the door interrupted the wasting of time. Mr. Franklin hauled his carcass out his chair, put-out expression firmly affixed. Tony watched as Mr. Franklin spoke with the school secretary. He stiffened as he saw her mouth form “Abbatiello.”

Mr. Franklin turned back to his now-whispering students, and jerked his thumb at the door. “Abbatiello. Principal. Now.” A soft, “oooohhhh,” came from the bowl full of losers that made up the low-track.

Tony gathered his books and sauntered over to the door. “What’d I do, Mr. F. ?”

“Don’t know, don’t care. I’m sure you’ve done plenty. The question becomes which one did you get caught for?”

Tony frowned as the class laughed. Fat bastard. Better watch your back.

He straightened his shoulders and walked out of the classroom, head high.

Thursday 2:35 p.m.

Tony strolled, whistling, into Mr. Kroeger’s office. “You were supposed to be here twenty minutes ago! Where have you been?” the principal barked.

Tony shrugged. “Eh, I dropped my stuff off at my locker and hit the john. Emergency, ya know?”

Mr. Kroeger’s face turned an unhealthy shade of red. Before he could explode, a cultured voice from behind Tony said, “It is quite all right, Phillip. May we use your office?”

Mr. Kroeger licked his lips as beads of sweat formed on his forehead. “Of course, Mr. Fianchetti. Please give the Family my regards,” he said as he scurried out of the room.

Tony stayed frozen through the whole exchange. He recognized the voice. A tall, thin man with slightly gray temples and wearing a tailor-made Gucci suit stepped into his line of sight, confirming his fears. “Do you know who I am, young man?” Fianchetti said in a low, dangerous tone.

Tony shook his head. The guy couldn’t know he was the one.

Fianchetti grinned, and it reminded Tony of a cobra he’d seen at the Bronx Zoo. “Well, let me refresh your memory. I’m the man you used your little quick fingers on to steal my wallet.”

A beefy hand, attached to an even beefier arm, clapped on his shoulder and squeezed. Tony felt his knees buckle and he allowed the hand to guide him into a chair. Fianchetti studied his manicured nails. “Normally, I would have Bernardo here take you somewhere and ‘teach’ you a few facts of life.”

Tony’s neck craned back as he looked up at the unsmiling face of his captor. Bernardo grunted and flicked his head toward Fianchetti. Tony turned back as Fianchetti spoke again. “I’m sure you plan to protest your innocence, or you ‘not guiltiness’ as the case may be. Do not bother to waste my time doing so, or I may change my mind.”

Tony gulped and stammered out, “Ch-change y-your m-m-mind?”

“Yes. You will meet Bernardo here at Franco’s Bar, you’re familiar with it?” At Tony’s confirmation nod, Fianchetti continued. “You will meet him at precisely 8:00 tonight. Understood?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good.” Fianchetti nodded at Bernardo, and Tony felt the pressure release from his shoulder. “Don’t think about missing the appointment, Mr. Abatiello. Something…unfortunate may happen.”

Thursday 8:00 p.m.

Tony hunched his shoulders deeper under his jacket, hands firmly in his jean pockets. He jumped a little every time the door to Franco’s opened behind him. Keep it cool. They aren’t going to beat you down. Keep it cool.

A dark sedan pulled up to the curb, stopping right in front of Tony. The window rolled down and Bernardo’s florid face stared at him. Tony shuffled over and leaned down. Bernardo handed him a package, rolled the window up, and the sedan took off.

Tony’s hand shook as he tore the envelope taped to the plain brown wrapper. The note read:

Take this package to Wong’s Diner on 39th. Go to the alley entrance and ask for Bo Han. Open the package before he comes to the door.

Thursday 8:40 p.m.

Tony kept glancing over his shoulder as he eased down the alleyway. A cat screeched from behind the restaurant dumpster, sending Tony up against the filthy alley wall, heart racing. He gulped and forced himself to keep moving. He reached the doors, hearing sounds of kitchen-work coming through the thin metal.

He pounded on the door. A short Chinese man wearing a stained apron opened the door. “What do you want?”

“I-I h-have a package for a Mr. Bo Han.”

The man eyed Tony suspiciously for a moment before muttering, “Wait here.” The door slammed in his face.

Tony tore open the wrapper to reveal a plain brown box. He flipped the lid open, and a Browning Hi-Power nestled inside with a small note on top that simply said:

Kill him

The door opened back up. “I’m Bo Han. What do you want?”

Tony’s hand grabbed the grip and he fired. Bo Han and the box hit the ground at the same time.

***

This story comes from a request by lexborgia at Nerd On The Bridge. He liked the character of Tony Abbatiello and wanted more of his life. I figured where better to start than the beginning of his career. For the story of Tony’s demise click here. For his character sketch, click here.

Hope you enjoy, and if anyone else happens to like a character and wants to see more, please feel free to let me know.

Happy Reading and Writing!

J. Milburn

Federal Bureau of Superhuman Affairs: Power Profile #006-Ice Diamond

Beatrix Kalte aka Ice Diamond

Gender: Female

Power Classification: Machinist/Enhanced

Sub-Category: Elemental Gadgeteer

Power Level: C-Class

Location: Operates in the Midwest. Currently at-large.

Affiliations: Solo Operator

Powers: Various devices that allow for the creation of various cold-related phenomenon. Her main weapon is her “Ice Gun”.

Synopsis:

Ice Diamond (hereafter referred to as I.D.) is a 30-year-old former weapons researcher for BranTech Industries. Her area of expertise lay in using cold-based phenomena as a means to shape and control future battlefields. On her 26th birthday, her family surprised her in her lab. It is unclear exactly what happened, but footage shows that her youngest son, Jakob, went unsupervised long enough to mix some volatile chemicals.

Ten people died in the ensuing explosion, and I.D. fell into a coma. She awoke two months later with a marked shift in personality and physiology. The chemicals leached all pigment from her skin and left her with enhanced strength. When informed of her family’s and co-worker’s demise, she went on a rampage in the hospital, injuring several doctors, nurses and security before making her escape.

She appeared five months later with her current nom de guerre in an attack on a BranTech research facility. She attacked at night, as her skin is now pained by sunlight, and murdered whomever she found, mostly security and janitorial services. After that attack, she fashioned a suit that would protect her from the sun’s harmful effect.

I.D. directed her next attack BranTech corporate headquarters, located in Chicago. She was foiled in her attempt by the hero, Boost (see Power Profile: Boost). During her trial I.D. was found mentally incompetent and was sentenced to The Ravenswood Institution for the Criminally Insane, the maximum security mental institution for powereds.

I.D. recently escaped and her whereabouts are unknown. It is believed she is heading back to Chicago for a second attempt on BranTech Industries or a confrontation with Boost. Possibly both.

Relationships: Johann Kalte-husband (deceased), Katrina Kalte-daughter (deceased), Jakob Kalte-son (deceased), Karl Astor-father (not believed to be in contact), Hilda Astor-mother (not believed to be in contact)

Threat Level: Orange

I.D. is an active threat targeting research and industry vital to our military infrastructure. Her strength is formidable, but it is her engineering genius that serves as the biggest threat. All due caution should be exercised when trying to apprehend her. Powered backup is advised when possible.

The Perils of Piracy

“Mayday! Mayday! This is Captain Megan Hurley of the trade-ship Horizon Chaser. Pirates are attacking my vessel. Any Stellar Navy vessels, please respond!” 

Erin hit the starboard thrusters and the ship jolted as the inertial dampers struggled to keep up with her maneuvering. A beam of azure coherent light flit briefly through the view screen.

“Sammy, broadcast that distress call on a continuous loop,” Captain Hurley told the navigator. “Not that it’ll do us a damn bit of good.”

Beads of sweat dripped down Erin’s face. She had kept the pirates at a distance for a good twenty minutes now, but they steadily crept closer into point-blank range. Soon she wouldn’t be able to dodge the laser blasts aimed at their engines.

She was good, but nobody was that good.

A voice crackled over the comm. “Trade vessel, this is the free-ship Nebula Shark. Stop maneuvers, disengage engines and weapons, and prepare to be boarded. This doesn’t have to be…nasty.”

Captain Hurley swore at the name Nebula Shark. Erin looked at her. “What should I do, Captain?”

Hurley rubbed her face in frustration and moaned. “Better do what they say. We can’t outrun them, and if they cripple us, we’re dead. I just wish it wasn’t these guys.”

Erin felt confused. “What does it matter who is robbing us?”

“I’ve heard about these guys. They take cargo and any women they find. The lucky women are sold into slavery. The unlucky ones they…use. There are twenty crew on this ship, all women. They probably have a minimum of fifty. Understand?”

Erin’s face paled, but she complied with her Captain’s orders.

Hurley opened up the ship’s channel. “Attention, crew, this is the Captain. We are about to be boarded by hostile forces. I want all personnel not on duty to lock themselves in their bunks. I’m going to try to negotiate the situation to where they only take the cargo. Hurley out.”

Erin swiveled her pilot’s chair. “Captain, how many EVA suits do we have?”

“One per crewperson,” Hurley answered without thinking. “Why?”

“I have an idea, but I’ll need MA Gillian. And everyone needs to be armed.”

Captain Hurley listened and a predatory grin grew.

***

Five women floated through the distance between the two ships, an occasional burst from a thruster pack the only sign of their passing. They were too small to show up on the enemy’s sensors as anything other than minor space debris.

Erin followed Gillian’s lead. Two of Gillian’s best students and the first shift engineer floated along with them. Erin could see the docking tube extend from the Nebula Shark and connect with her ship.

One of the women, Alice, broke off and thrustered underneath the tube. She attached a cylindrical device to the tube and made haste back to the group.

Erin could see the aft airlock loom nearby. Gillian reached it and motioned for the engineer, Hayley. Hayley pulled out her torch and cut through the lock, opening the Nebula Shark up to them. Gillian climbed inside the lock and readied her rifle that she kept from her days as a Stellar Ranger. Alice and Kendra readied plasma rifles, while Erin and Hayley gripped their pistols.

The women burst through the door into the corridor. A pirate gaped in surprise until Gillian stroked her trigger. Surprise turned to confusion then blankness.

Alice and Kendra took the lead and headed aft toward engineering, Gillian and Erin covering the rear. Twice more shots echoed and pirates died.

The quintet reached engineering. Several men sat around a table playing cards. The stakes were who would get the first turn with their new plaything. Alice and Kendra settled the bet and their charred bodies smoked in the sanitized air.

Hayley moved around engineering, pressing some buttons and disconnecting systems, while the other four women watched. Erin found herself glad for her EVA helmet. The sight of the bodies sickened her. If she had to smell them, she thought she would lose it.

The ship’s alarm triggered just as Hayley gave the “all done” signal. Gillian activated her comm and said one word. “Now.”

An explosion rocked the Nebula Shark as Alice activated the bomb on the docking tube. Captain Hurley and the other women on the ship would be exiting their bunks and taking the fight to the boarding party.

“Contact!” Gillian yelled. She sighted and unleashed her full fury down the hallway. Alice and Kendra joined her at the entrance and added their fire to hers.

“Get to the airlock,” Gillian ordered.

She suited action to words and moved as she fired. Erin and Hayley crouched and followed behind Alice and Kendra.

Most of the pirates hadn’t expected any resistance and weren’t mentally prepared for the ferocity they faced. More and more of them retreated as they watched their fellows fall.

The five crew-mates made the airlock. Hayley went out first, propelling herself back to Horizon Chaser. Erin started to exit when she heard a scream. She whipped around to see Kendra on the ground, a blade in her back. A pirate playing possum had waited until their backs were to him.

He dove for Kendra’s rifle and Erin’s finger reflexively tightened. Her plasma blast caught him in the skull, making his death real.

She paled as nausea surged through her. Gillian grabbed her shoulder and pulled her out of her stupor. “MOVE!” Gillian shouted at her.

Erin jumped out of the airlock.

***

“Three casualties,” Captain Hurley said at the debriefing. “Ten captives and salvage claim on the Nebula Shark.

Erin sat quiet as the Captain spoke. Kendra’s face vied with the man Erin had killed for a place in her mind.

Gillian noticed Erin’s face and chucked her under the chin. “You did good, kid. You did good. Meet me later for a good drink.”

Erin nodded as her eyes moistened.

“Only fools believe tears are for the weak,” Gillian said.

Erin let them fall.

Federal Bureau of Superhuman Affairs: Power Profile #005-Boost

Tara Jean (TJ) Acevedo-Torres aka Boost

Gender:  Female

Power Classification: Innate

Sub-category: Speedster

Power Level: B-Class

Location: Chicago, Illinois

Affiliations: The Keepers of the Gateway (affiliate membership), Equality NOW

Powers: Super-speed. Boost has been clocked at speeds of up to 500 m.p.h.

Synopsis:

An 24-year-old Innate, Boost is one of the rare true speedsters in the world (speedster being defined as self-propelled movement of 250 m.p.h. or greater). She originally comes from Los Angeles, but her family moved to Chicago when Boost turned 12. Her powers manifested at age 14 during a robbery of a store she was shopping in.

Boost’s parents immediately enrolled her in the Academy, where she joined with the TeenTeam (see Power Profile: TeenTeam). She served with that team for three years and graduated from the Academy with Honors. She moved back to Chicago, where she acts as a solo hero.

With her speed she also serves with The Keepers of the Gateway (see Power Profile: K.O.G.), based out of St. Louis, as an affiliate member.

Boost also actively works with Equality NOW, an non-profit organization that deals with a variety of civil rights issues, but focuses mainly on LGBT issues.

Boost has made many contacts in her 10 years as a hero and is a respected member of the Powered community.

Relationships: Maria Acevedo-Wife, Reyna Acevedo-Daughter, Professor Quark-Leader of K.O.G., Rockslide-Member of K.O.G., FastTrack-Member of K.O.G., StormCell-Member of K.O.G., Flora-Member of K.O.G., Fauna-Member of K.O.G., numerous contacts with various heroes (see various Power Profiles for more analysis).

Threat Level: Yellow

Boost’s speed makes her a tactical planning nightmare. Her reflexes, heightened to a level able to deal with super-speed, make her almost impossible to hit. Her speed makes her almost impossible to defend against. Add in her activism and her contacts in the powered community, and her potential to cause trouble for the government is high.