Honest Work (and an excerpt)

I’m moonlighting with a great team at one of NZ’s premier government departments. They’re good people, doing excellent work, and made me feel right at home (despite my transitory nature and hobo stubble).

I’ve kept the writing up a couple days this week too. Can I keep up the target of 5,000 words/day on the days I’m not at a Real Job™? I’m there three days a week, leaving two for lying writing. It turns out, yes.

  • Yesterday, I minted over 5,600 words, and
  • Today’s allotment was just under 4,900.

I’d like to try writing during the Real Work™ days too, but things are too busy right now. Let’s see if that’s achievable once things settle down some.

Since you’re here, how about a small excerpt? Here’s Chad and Saveria, at a megaplex in San Francisco. No idea if this stays in the final draft … and this isn’t edited, so don’t feel you need to point out all the errors.

Breaking out of prison was pretty simple. You needed to jimmy a few locks, smile at the right people, pay off the wrong, and knock out a guard or two. Chad’s view was Earth was basically the same, but done at a higher resolution.

Saveria padded at his side, a new cap pulled low. It’d been a gift from Hope, and was done in surprisingly good taste despite being from an Engineer. It was black, with a wide brim. Saveria’s ponytail slipped out of the back.

They hurried through the megaplex, making for an express elevator a half klick away. The elevator would take them to an underground carpark, where an auto taxi waited for them. People took little notice of them as they hurried along, just two more souls in a world gone mad.

No one waited for the elevator. People were generally oblivious to what was going on, shopping at stores with meager post-war stock or drinking better coffee than Big Tony Benedicto sold. Chad spied a man in a cassock marking their movements. He touched Saveria’s elbow. She glanced at the cassock, nodded, and picked up speed.

Shoring up at the elevator, Chad palmed the control. The panel chimed, showing the car was expected in a handful of seconds. He bounced from foot to foot. “I’m a spy. I spy on things. This is about to turn frontline.”

Saveria hunched, cap dipping like a bird’s beak. “We’re in the elevator, down some floors, and out. We’ll be fine.”

The elevator chimed, the doors opening with a hiss. Chad glanced up, taking in a car filled with Church-cassocked cock thistles. The moment held as Chad realized they were here for him, and they realized Chad was right there.

One at the front, a big Friar Tuck-sized asshole, roared, “Get him!”

CHAD This only happens when I’m with you

SAVERIA Don’t be angry at me because your timing’s off

CHAD This is going in your performance review

Saveria drew her sidearm, pointing it at the elevator car’s ceiling. She fired, blue-white plasma fzzzt-cracking like a banshee’s fury. Burning panels rained into the car. It gave a lurch, then dropped from view in a screech of metal.

Chad peered into the elevator shaft. Above, a severed cable’s molten end glowed orange. Below, the car waited a floor below, emergency brakes holding it from certain doom. He unholstered his own sidearm, firing into the shaft. He placed his shots carefully, aiming for the visible anchors. Six shots did the trick, plasma lighting the shaft like a strobe.

Metal groaned as the car dropped away, gathering speed as it went. Chad turned back to Saveria, in time to see a Church woman tackle her. Both fell into the shaft. Chad would have followed, but he had his own problems. A stocky man wearing a terrible mustard-colored shirt rushed him, brandishing a short piece of metal that might once have been the handle of a mop. No Church cassock, but maybe he’s on a break.

Chad drew his sword with a hiss of steel, blocking the man’s panicked swing. His rapier chimed, the hilt shivering in his hand. The man swung again like he was possessed by demons. The rapier needled his torso, red spots blooming through the terrible yellow dawn of his shirt. It didn’t slow him at all, the mop handle trying to find an opening. Chad backed up until his heel found the edge of the shaft. Air whistled at his rear.

Fuck all this. Chad flourished his steel, disarmed the man in a flash of metal, then kicked him in the groin as the mop handle clanged to the tiled floor. The man curled around his pain. Chad helped him on by slugging him across the jaw with his rapier’s finger guard, dropping him to an ugly yellow and red pile.

“That’s a tragic shirt to die in.” Saveria walked from behind Chad. Her cap was missing but she was otherwise intact.

“That’s what I thought.” Chad looked from her to the shaft, then back to her. “You good?”

“I’m good. Landed on a strut and jumped back up here. Don’t know what happened to my attacker.” She straightened her jacket.

“This guy,” Chad nudged the body at his feet, “isn’t wearing Church colors.”

“Maybe he’s on a break.”

“That’s what I thought too, but I think it’s more likely he’s under remote control.” Chad turned the body over, checking the wrists. “No anti-esper bracelet.”

“He made a lot of bad choices this morning, then.” Saveria scanned the crowd forming in front of them. “We should get moving.”

“We can’t go down.” Chad eyed the ceiling. “I don’t like the idea of the roof. No way out.”

“We could call Kohl and Algernon.”

“No.” Chad shook his head. “We’re rescuing them. If they rescue us, Kohl will never stop let us live it down.”

“Let you live it down, you mean. I’m still in training.” Saveria shrugged. “The other option is we cut our way out of here, killing hundreds of innocents. I’m done with that.” She looked away.

Chad nodded. “Me too. Let’s get Algernon back on the line while we get to higher ground. Moving will stop us being brutally murdered quite so soon.”

“This isn’t much of a prison break.”

“Wrong. This is an epic prison break. C’mon.” Chad shared a smile with her. He’d never been one for trust back in the day. Kazuo kept them at each other’s throats. Turns out all he needed was a person as damaged as him. Half human, half machine, Saveria was the partner in crime he didn’t know he needed. “How about we do some spying for a change?”

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