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howard brace Feb 2012

     Inconspicuous, his presence noted only by the obscurity and the ever growing number of spent cigarette stubs that littered the ground.  It had been a long day and the rain, relentless in its tenacity had little intention of stopping, baleful clouds still  hung heavy, dominating the lateness of the afternoon sky, a rain laden skyline broken only by smoke filled chimney pots and the tangled snarl of corroded television aerials.

     The once busy street was fast emptying now, the lure of shop windows no longer enticed the casual browser as local traders closed their premises to the oncoming night, solitary lampposts curved hazily into the distance, casting little more than insipid pools mirrored in the gutter below, only the occasional stranger scurrying home on a bleak, rain swept afternoon, the hurried slap of wet leather soles on the pavement, the sightless umbrellas, the infrequent rumble of a half filled bus, hell-bent on its way to oblivion.

     In the near distance as the working day ended, a sudden emergence of factory workers told Beamish it was 5-o'clock, most would be hurrying home to a hot meal, while others, for a quick drink perhaps before making the same old sorry excuse... for Jack, the greasy spoon would be closing about now, denying him the comfort of a badly needed cuppa' and stale cheese sandwich.  A subtle legacy of lunchtime fish and chips still lingered in the air, Jack's stomach rumbled, there was little chance of a fish supper for Beamish tonight, it protested again... louder.

     From beneath the eaves of the building opposite several pigeons broke cover, startled by the rattle as a shopkeeper struggled to close the canvas awning above his shop window.  Narrowly missing Beamish they flew anxiously over the rooftops, memories of the blitz sprang to mind as Jack stepped smartly to one side, he stamped his feet... it dashed a little of the weather from his raincoat, just as the rain dashed a little of the pigeons' anxiety from the pavement... the day couldn't get much worse if it tried.  Shielding his face, Jack struck the Ronson one more time and cupped the freshly lit cigarette between his hands, it was the only source of heat to be had that day... and still it rained.

     'By Appointment to Certain Personages...' the letter heading rang out loudly... 'Jack Beamish ~ Private Investigator...' a throat choking mouthful by any stretch of the imagination, thought Jack and shot every vestige of credulity plummeting straight through the office window and amidst a fanfare of trumpet voluntary, nominate itself for a prodigious award in the New Year Honours list.   Having formally served in a professional capacity for a well known purveyor of pickled condiments, who  incidentally, brandished the same patronage emblazoned upon their extensive range of relish as the one Jack had more recently purloined from them... a paid commission no less, which by Jack's certain understanding had made him, albeit fleeting in nature, a professional consultant of said company... and consequently, if they could flaunt the auspicious emblem, then according to Jack's infallible logic, so could Jack.  

     The recently appropriated letterhead possessed certain distinction... in much the same way, Jack reasoned, that a blank piece of paper did not... and whereas correspondence bearing the heading 'By Appointment' may not exactly strike terror into the hearts of man... unlike a really strong pickled onion, it nevertheless made people think twice before playing him for the fool, which sadly, Jack had to concede, they still invariably did... and he would often catch them wagging an accusing finger or two in his direction with such platitudes as... "watch where you put your foot", they'd whisper, "that Jack's a right Shamus...", and when you'd misplaced your footing as many times as Jack had, then he reasoned, that by default the celebrated Shamus must have landed himself in more piles of indiscretion than he would readily care to admit, but that wouldn't be quite accurate either, in Jack's line of work it was the malefactor that actually dropped him in them more often than not.

     A cold shiver suddenly ran down his spine, another quickly followed as a spurt of icy water from a broken rain spout spattered across the back of his neck, he grimaced... Jack's expression spoke volumes as he took one final pull from his half soaked cigarette and flicked it, amid an eruption of sparks against the adjacent brick wall.  Sinking further into the shadow he tipped his fedora against the oncoming rain, then, digging both hands deep within his pockets, he huddled behind the upturned collar of his gabardine... watching.

     It was times such as these when Jack's mind would slip back, in much the same way you might slip back on a discarded banana peel, when a matter of some consequence, or in particular this case the pavement, would suddenly leap up from behind and give the back of Jack's head a resoundingly good slapping and tell him to "stop loafing around in office hours... or else", then drag him, albeit kicking and screaming back into the 20th century.  This intellectual assault and battery re-focused Jack's mind wonderfully as he whiled away the long weary hours until his next cigarette; cup of tea, or the last bus home, his capacity to endure such mind boggling tedium called for nothing less than sheer bloody-mindedness and very little else... Beamish had long suspected that he possessed all the necessary qualifications.  

     Jack had come a long way since the early days, it had been a long haul but he'd finally arrived there in the end... and managed to pick up quite a few dirty looks along the way.  Whilst he was with the Police Constabulary... and it was only fair to stress the word 'with', as opposed to the word 'in'... although the more Jack considered, he had been 'with' the arresting officer, held 'in' the local Bridewell... detained at Her Majesties pleasure while assisting the boys in blue with their enquiries over a minor infringement of some local by-law that currently had quite slipped his mind at that moment.  Throughout this enforced leisure period he'd managed to read the entire abridged editions of Kilroy and other expansive works of graffiti exhibited in what passed locally as the next best thing to the Tate Gallery, whereupon it hadn't taken Jack very long to realise that it was always a good place to start if you wanted free breakfast, in fact the weeks bill of fare was tastefully displayed in vivid, polychromatic colour on the wall opposite... you just had to be au-fait with braille.
                            
     No matter how industrious Beamish laboured to rake the dirt there always appeared to be a dire shortage of gullible clients for Jack to squeeze, what would roughly translate as an honest crust out of, and although his financial retainer was highly competitive he understood that potential clients found it bewildering when grappling with the unplumbed depths of his monthly expense account, which would tend to fluctuate with the same unpredictability as the British weather, the rest of Jack's agenda revolved around a little shady moonlighting... in fact he'd happily consider anything to offset the remotest possibility of financial delinquency... short of extortion... which by the strangest twist was the very word prospective clients would cry while Jack beavered around the office with dust-pan and brush sweeping any concerns they may have had frantically under the carpet regarding all culpability of his extra-curricular monthly stipend... and they should remain assured at all times... as they dug deep and fished for their cheque books, and simply look upon it as kneading dough, which eerily enough was exactly the thick wedge of buttered granary that Jack had every intention of carving.

     Were there ever the slightest possibility that a day could be so utterly wretched, then today was that day, Jack felt a certain empathy as he merged with his surroundings... at one with nature as it were.  The rain, a timpani on the metal dustbin lids, by the side of which Beamish had taken up vigil, also taking up vigil and in search of a morsel was the stray mongrel, this was the third time now that he'd returned, the same apprehensive wag, yet still the same hopeful look of expectation in his eyes, a brief but friendly companion who paid more attention to Jack's left trouser leg than anything that could be had from nosing around the dustbins that day... some days you're the dog, scowled Beamish as he shook his trouser leg... and some days the lamppost, Jack's foot swung out playfully, keeping his new friend's incontinence at a safe distance, feigning indignance  the scruffy mongrel shook himself defiantly from nose to tail, a distinct odour of wet dog filled the air as an abundance of spent rainwater flew in all directions.   Pricking one ear he looked accusingly at Jack before turning and snuffled off, his nose resolutely to the pavement and diligently, picking out the few diluted scents still remaining, the poor little stalwart renewed its search for scraps, or making his way perhaps to some dry seclusion known only to itself.
  
     Two hours later and... SPLOSH, a puddle poured itself through the front door of the nearest Public House... SPLOSH, the puddle squelched over to the payphone... SPLOSH, then, fumbling for small change dialled and pressed button 'A'..., then button 'B'... then started all over again amid a flurry of precipitation... SPLASH.  The puddle floundered to the bar and ordered itself a drink, then ebbed back to the payphone again... the local taxi company doggedly refused to answer... finally, wallowing over to the window the puddle drifted up against a warm radiator amidst a cloud of humidity and came to rest... flotsam, cast upon the shore of contentment, the puddle sighed contentedly... the Landlady watched this anomaly... suspiciously.

     The puddle's finely tuned perception soon got to grips with the unhurried banter and muffled gossip drifting along the bar, having little else to loose, other than what could still be wrung from his clothing... Beamish, working on the principle that a little eavesdropping was his stock-in-trade engaged instinct into overdrive and casually rippled in their general direction...  They were clearly regulars by the way one of them belched in a well rehearsed, taken-a-back sort of way as Jack took stock of the situation and was now at some pains to ingratiate himself into their exclusive midst and attempt several friendly, yet relevant questions pertinent to his enquiries... all of which were skillfully deflected with more than friendly, yet totally irrelevant answers pertinent to theirs'... and would Jack care for a game of dominoes', they enquired... if so, would he be good enough to pay the refundable deposit, as by common consent it just so happened to be his turn...  Jack graciously declined this generous offer, as the obliging Landlady, just as graciously, cancelled the one shilling returnable deposit from the cash register, such was the flow of light conversation that evening... they didn't call him Lucky Jack for nothing... discouraged, Beamish turned back to the bar and reached for his glass... to which one of his recent companions, and yet again just as graciously, had taken the trouble to drink for him... the Landlady gave Jack a knowing look, Beamish returned the heartfelt sentiment and ordered one more pint.

     From the licenced premises opposite, a myriad of jostling customers plied through the door, business was picking up... the sudden influx of punters rapidly persuaded Beamish to retire from the bar and find a vacant table.  Sitting, he removed several discarded crisp packets from the centre of the table only to discover a freshly vacated ashtray below... by sleight of hand Jack's Ronson appeared... as he lit the cigarette the fragile smoke curled blue as it rose... influenced by subtle caprice, it joined others and formed a horizontal curtain dividing the room, a delicate, undulating layer held between two conflicting forces.

     The possibility of a free drink soon attracted the attention of a local bar fly, who, hovering in the near vicinity promptly landed in Jack's beer, Beamish declined this generous offer as being far too nutritious and with the corner of yesterdays beer mat, flipped the offending organism from the top of his glass, carefully inspecting his drink for debris as he did so.

     A sudden draught and clip of stiletto heels as the side door opened caused Beamish to turn as a double shadow slipped discreetly into the friendly Snug... a little adulterous intimacy on an otherwise cheerless evening.  The faceless man, concealed beneath a fedora and the upturned collar of his overcoat, the surreptitious lady friend, decked out in damp cony, cheap perfume and a surfeit of bling proclaimed a not too infrequent assignation, he'd seen it all before... the over attentive manner and the band of white, Sun-starved skin recently hidden behind a now absent wedding token, ordinarily it was the sort of assignment Jack didn't much care for... the discreet tail, the candid snapshot through half drawn curtains... and the all too familiar steak tartare... for the all too familiar black eye.

     To the untrained eye, the prospect of Jack's long anticipated supper was rapidly dwindling, when it suddenly focused with renewed vigour upon the contents of a pickled egg jar he'd observed earlier that evening, lurking on the back counter, his enthusiasm swiftly diminished however as the belching customer procured the final two specimens from the jar and proceeded to demolish them.  Who, Jack reflected, after being stood out in the rain all day, had egg all over his face now... and who, he reflected deeper, still had an empty stomach.  Disillusioned, Jack tipped back his glass and considered a further sortie with the taxicab company.

     "FIVE-BOB"!!! Jack screamed... you could have shredded the air with a cheese grater... hurtling into the kerb like a fairground attraction came flying past the chequered flag at a record breaking 99 in Jack's top 100 most not wanted list of things to do that day... and that the cabby should think himself fortunate they weren't both stretched flat on a marble slab, "exploding tyres" Jack spluttered, dribbling down his chin, were enough to give anyone a coronary... further broadsides of neurotic ambiance filled the cab as the driver, miffed at the prospect of missing snooker night out with the lads, considered charging extra for the additional space Jack's profanity was taking...

     And what part of 'Drive-Carefully', fumed Beamish, did the cabby simply not understand, that pavements were there to be bypassed, 'Nay Circumvented', preferably on the left... and not veered into, wildly on the front axle... an eerie premonition of 'jemais-vu' perched and ready to strike like a disembodied Jiminy Cricket on Jack's left shoulder, looking to stick its own two-penny worth in at the 'Standing-Room-Only' arrangements in the overcrowded cab... and at what further point, Jack shrieked, eyes leaping from his head as he lurched forward, shaking his fist through the sliding glass partition, had the cabbie failed to grasp the importance of the word 'Steering-Wheel...' someone wanted horse whipping, and as far as Beamish was concerned the sole contender was the cab driver...

     In having a somewhat sedate and unruffled disposition it had fallen to Beamish... as befalls all great leaders in times of adversity, to single handedly take the bull by the horns, so to speak and at great personal cost, alert the unwary passing motorist...  Waving his arms about like a man possessed whilst performing acrobatic evolutions in the centre of the road as the cabby changed the wheel came whizzing around the corner at a back breaking 98 on Jack's ever growing list... and why, Jack puzzled, why had they all lowered their side windows and gestured back at him in semaphore..?  Rallying to its aid, Jack's head and shoulders now joined his shaking fist through the sliding glass partition and into the cabby's face, "Who" Beamish screeched with renewed vigour ,"Who Was The Man", Jack wanted to know... "and Who-o..." by this time the cabby considered his passenger was asking far too many questions for his own good but said little as he left the meter clocking up the additional fare... "Who-o risked his neck for brother man...", before eventually flagging down a breakdown patrol motorcyclist... only to discover that the cab company wasn't a member, "Who's Fault Was That", screamed Beamish... and that he had choice words to say if ever he crossed that mobile mechanic again, that definitely was not the regulation salute he was required to give, anyway Jack had no intention of paying the cab fare and said as much... and as for a gratuity, No-ooo... that didn't bare thinking about, he'd sooner have his leg chewed off by a rabid Aardvark, no... it was the taxicab company who should be doling out danger money... and plenty of it...  

     With an air of indignation Jack dislodged himself from the glass partition... stormed out of the cab and up the garden path... then stormed back down again, leaving the bemused cabby in no uncertain doubt that he'd by no means finished before storming back, only this time up his own garden path, leaving the red faced driver spluttering in sheer bewilderment.

     Fumbling for his keys Jack let himself in through the front door and promptly stumbled over several weeks mail and the undisputed title-holder of the 'Spiteful Cat Championship Cup' who, having taken a shine to basking on the summit several days earlier was incensed by this sudden intrusion and flew lickety-split full across the hallway, then, recoiling off the hat-stand, hurtled straight back, a malicious ball of thrashing barbs and razor wire.  In attempting to fend off, with only minor mutilation his second contender of the evening Jack noticed his slipper... the other he recalled was still on the kitchen floor where he'd abandoned it earlier that morning, it being worn at the time by a bluebottle, the troublesome insect had been bouncing against the window pane so frenziedly, presumably wishing to let itself out and take the morning air, that it cracked ... oddly enough, so did the fly, at the precise instant Jack's size 9 ceased hurtling through the kitchen void.  Cheerfully, Jack retrieved his slipper and scraped the deceased blowfly into the peddle-bin, 'Game, Set and Match'.

     He'd had a restless night, insomnia didn't help, neither did the persistent monotony of the bedside alarm clock... now any suggestion that it grow wings and take flight would have appealed to Jack at that precise moment as he pictured it touching down on its first solo flight against a distant wall... or should evolving wings be too millennial at such short notice, then Beamish would be only too happy to lend a helping hand and accommodate its transition in achieving the dizzying heights of being at oneness with the bedroom decor... opposite.

     Laying there Jack took stock of the previous day, he recalled the rain sodden fedora weighing heavily upon his mind, he remembered it giving him headache, he recalled the friendly mongrel, he remembered his left trouser leg.  Jack had been down on his luck more times than he could care to remember of late... yesterday had been no exception... sure, he'd had differences of opinion with cabbies before now, disparaging ones, but last night had really taken the biscuit... and that Jack would be giving the cab company a tasty mouthful of it later that morning...  As the rain finally took a well earned breather, so the incessant chatter of the dawn chorus began, Jack screamed... so did the alarm clock... a new day began.

     It would be a little unfair to say the day had started out on the wrong foot... it was nowhere near that lucky... but rather stepped on an upturned thumb tack instead, and witnessed a very exasperated Beamish hopping mad and wrangling on the telephone, being harangued as it happened by a taxicab manager... not 'the' taxicab manager you may have anticipated, whose company logo he'd completely forgotten to take note of, but the 'wrong' taxicab manager, the local business who directory enquires utterly failed to locate for the most obvious of reasons, Jack didn't have its name...  The long suffering switchboard operator patiently enquired as to whether Jack was inviting her to participate in some new game of deduction she had previously been in deficit of, or did Beamish believe her to have the gift of second sight... in which case, should she manage to locate her crystal ball then she would be only too delighted to return Jack's call with the ethereal telephone number, or perhaps he would prefer telepathy instead and that the choice was his...  Beamish thanked her for her professional sarcasm and suggested she might consider a change of career upon more distant shores, Jack then spent the following hour trawling through the subscriber listings before drawing up a short-list, and as painstakingly methodical as ever, he ducked.

     "Yes... yes... no, well maybe not, no ... n-no, well don't let it happen again then ... Good-Day". Beamish replaced the handset, badly trapping his fingers in the process... wrong number.   Gingerly, dusting off the palms of his hands Jack studied the list once again, then took one last stab at pinning the tail firmly back on the donkey... who promptly lashed back and kicked him full in the face.  In the distance, a rumble of thunder foretold the day bode anything but well.

     That afternoon discovered Beamish back in the same dining establishment he hadn't quite managed to be in the day before... Never to be mistaken for a 'More~Tea~Vicar' tearoom, with gingham tablecloths, pretty maids in severe black skirt and matching top uniforms... with white pinafore, bob-caps and Irish lace accessories, but rather a 'sugar yer own tea with a spoon on a chain, screwed permanently to the counter with a 6 inch nail...' Pit-Stop... with complimentary cigarette ash bobbing cheekily on top.  Beamish felt thoroughly at home, it added a certain flamboyance, he determined, to the locale...

     A distinct lack of ashtrays, the absence of which invited the casual smoker to exploit the threadbare linoleum to its utmost possible advantage and lent a certain minimalist feel to the joint, cosy, yet austere... exhibiting great artistic indifference and real back breaking restraint in the petty cash department.  The various mostly empty condiments and communal sugar bowl, stuck firmly to the counter with generous remains of yesterdays 'All-Day-Breakfast' further added to its dash of individuality, it crossed Jack's mind that the outdoor washing facilities were just as individual, giving off the robust and invigorating odour of carbolic San-Izal and a non too subtle hint that having finished whatever it was that you were doing there in the first place, the customer shouldn't loiter.  

     The unshaven proprietor glanced briefly up at the clock, a nondescript grunt emerged from some uncharted region whose geography Jack surmised... as a further contribution of cigarette ash took the plunge and joined its siblings skinny-dipping in the murky depths of the recently unwashed frying pan below, was best left to those with a good working knowledge of Cartography.  Of indeterminate age, he was a man of relatively ample and oily circumference, the few hairs still remaining appeared hastily groomed with some questionable residue you might possibly unearth in the greasier, more remote recesses of the kitchen peddle-bin.  Still in bedroom slippers, his outgoing distinctiveness was further marked by a deficiency of soap powder and the jaunty demeanour of his string vest,  it was his lower extremities however, festooned in snappy, a-la-mode dog-tooth check that finally brought the stunning ensemble to a breath taking conclusion.

     While Jack queued in line to be ignored at, and then have his order casually brushed aside with a...  "if it ain't up on the board chum, then we ain't gorrit..."  then have a tired sandwich, not necessarily of his own choosing, thrown at him by way of compromise, he considered the previous mornings bluebottle would really have hit the big time here, what you might call 'Cabaret au' Slipper' and with all the ambiance of a smoke filled jazz cellar, the venue would've caused eruptions within the Industrial North's show-biz circles.  As the jukebox thumped out loudly in the background... "Papa's got a brand new bag..." "Awww", Jack was rather of the opinion that the now otherworldly fly was striking some new and exclusive rites-of-passage with 'The Almighty' and could be launching its latest debut appearance in the Performing Arts as early as a week next Tuesday, or as long as gestation, or reincarnation would allow, Jack speculated as to whether it would need a road manager or not, one who was worldly in ways of the 'slipper...'

     The day, pretty much as any other trudged wearily on from one sodden rain cloud to the next... Rained off and sat in the same Public House as the previous evening, Jack ordered a pie and a pint while he carefully peeled the racing pages apart from the newspaper he'd purchased earlier for that weeks events at the local racetrack.  The previous evenings taxicab number, once prominently displayed by the payphone was now, strangely enough only to be noted by its absence... whereabouts unknown... and despite all Jack's efforts to the contrary, had little intention of reappearing anytime soon.  The business cards mysterious departure deeply troubled Jack's finely honed powers of deduction as it bore many similarities to his own long overdue expenses, which apparently had little intention of appearing anytime soon either, presumably choosing to 'bunk-off' and go steeplechasing instead.  

     Whilst other far flung people cruised in the cabriolet of a much sunnier clime, unhurried England having nowhere in particular to go, bumbled along in the slow lane, beneath what could only be described as a whirlpool of depression you would normally associate with the BBC shipping forecast for coastal areas... Viking, Rockall and Cromarty, today was one such maelstrom which to its credit was taking squarely on the chin every weather-beaten punch the sky could possibly throw at it... from a refreshing, 'quick morning spar in the bathroom washbasin', to a more exhilarating ,'brisk and vigorous workout under a mid-afternoon shower', then at the final bell, an out for the count 'three coins in the fountain' bath night.

     The three day racing event had witnessed the worst turnout since records began, the outside camera crews, refusing to leave the warm... yet more importantly, dry interior of the mobile studio and put in an appearance, threatened work-to-rule, with menaces and not too dissimilar to the weather... lightening strikes... opting to play Five's and Three's instead over toasted crumpets and a steaming mug of Bovril.  The going had been soft-to-poor the previous day, then rallying its forces throughout the night to become what could very easily be mistaken for  quagmire-to-quicksand... now this should have spurred the promoters to throw in the towel at their earliest convenience and abandon the race meeting outright, but the event, not wishing to be eclipsed by the latest weather front was fast developing into an out-take of the Oxford boat race and had every intention of storming to victory, crossing the finishing line by nothing less than three lengths.

     The final event of the day was coming under starters orders, having made one breathtaking loss after the other, Jack, casting all caution to the wind... in much the same way it seemed as his latest client, was now going all out for broke...  'Aweeeee-screeech'... wailed the commentary box loudspeakers "Aand-they're-off..."  "its-Captain-Clueless-coming-up-on-th­e-i­nsi­de and..." "Oh...  "aand-he's-fallen-at-the-first-fence..." "what-a-spectacular humiliation..." and so it continued...  It had been a fun packed day, Jack fumed, as he clenched a handful of betting slips in his fist and brandished them skywards... simply one great whopping success story after the other, Jack felt certain the same heartfelt sentiments would be leaping through the jockey's mind as the stretcher bearers carted him off towards the St. John's Ambulance  first aid tent.  Captain Clueless meanwhile, playing to the crowd and his newly acquired fan base gambolled off in a frolicsome, catch-me-if-you-can sort of way and in the general direction of a brisk rub down and well earned nosebag... his handlers sliding in hot pursuit.  Jack tore up his betting slips... Jack tore them up some more and littered the visitors paddock, as the confetti floated downstream you could almost catch them gurgling a cheerful little tune to themselves... someone, Jack thought, had to keep the ground stewards employed...

     No... barter was definitely out and as far as bad debts went, accepting a clients moped in lieu of payment was no exception, and yet it had seemed quite pointless to offer a continued service when Jack's unerring instinct once again informed him that to unearth the cause of his clients mysterious insolvency would be to discover something to Jack's distinct financial disadvantage.  Having finally worked free from the hysterics and the desperation with which the impoverished client had clutched at Jack's shirt collar, Beamish wished him bonne-chance and for him to remain assured throughout these troubled times, that should Jack be of further assistance in shouldering any further burden his former client may encounter, then he should be sure to seize the moment with both hands... not too dissimilar to  Jack's crumpled shirt collar... and accept his personal card as an insignificant token of their continued association... they parted company.  Although Jack found his former sponsors death-rattle touching, he considered the fervour in which he displayed it a little excessive, when a simple handshake would have served the same purpose in relieving him of his wristwatch... business, after all, was business.

     A positive outlook in all things, Jack reassured himself for the third time that day since his latest cash-cow had abruptly dried up... and in looking upon every fat pocketbook that fell by the wayside as a potential source of unearned income, a good Samaritan, Jack reasoned, would be offering no disservice in taking upon his own shoulders the straw that was breaking the poor, unfortunate creature's back... and give the poor defenceless animal a helping shove, so to speak, head first through the eye of the proverbial needle... and straight into Jack's superannuated pension scheme... "hallelujah".

     Whereas a pessimist would behold a glass half empty set before them... an optimist, one that was brimming half full, then Beamish would feast his eyes upon a foaming tankard, one filled to capacity with every fermented delight that Jack's indulgent taste-buds could ever be prevailed upon to imbibe.  Of all the plum pies that Jack had his thumbs stuck into... up to the elbows in fact... was one five-star hors-d'oeuvre that would ordinarily send your average County Court Judgement diving for cover in last week's wastepaper basket, then, while the bailiff's were running around like headless chickens, pointing accusing fingers at anyone but themselves as to who'd forgotten to get the legality notarised, then Jack would simply roll his sleaves up and get stuck in, sending all future incriminating disbursements scurrying in the opposite direction, straight into Jack's Cayman-islands tax haven account...

     Were it not for Jack's keen sense of business acumen and a very strong sense of British fair play then Beamish could almost feel sorry for his clients, so sorry in fact that for a mere bagatelle, currently running at five per-cent above inflation... plus commission, Beamish would bring full weight to bear, and for a further modest monthly consideration, make the problem disappear permanently... for a further modest month.  Jack didn't particularly see this as skimming cream from the top of the churn, but rather as breaking into the dairy farming industry and in direct competition with the Milk Marketing Board.

     "Hit the road Jack, Hit the road Jack and don't you come back..." Shut-Up!   Shut-Up!!  Shut-Up!!!  Shut-Up!!!!  screamed Beamish, that jingle was just begging for trouble as the lyrics chirruped on... "no more,  no more,  no more,  no more..." it harmoniously re-joined, limbering up for the next prophetic verse.   Now barking his ankle on the kick-start had been comparatively simple, if not painful compared to the mind numbing complexity of vaulting on or off without tripping the ejector seat, which was also mind numbingly painful and "Hit the road Jack and..."after ripping the seat out of his second pair of trousers that morning, "...don't you come back no mo-o-o-ore" it wailed, seemingly without a care in Creation... and badly needed screwing down, "what you say..?", the song further enquired... badly needed screwing down.  One hour, and an entirely different song later, having explored the extensive array of oil leaks which had apparently resolved any rust problems the moped may have had were also at odds with Jack's willingness to remit blood money to the Petro-Chemical Industry's prodigious profit margins.

     She'd been popping in and out of Jack's mind for sometime now, in much the same way that a friendly neighbour might pop around to borrow a bowl of sugar... well, she could have kept the sugar bowl... and the china tea service that accompanied it just so long as Jack got an invitation to coffee mornings... when, out of the corner of one eye she stood, as though in a golden haze waiting to cross the road, arms folded, a look of pure contempt waxed lyrical, her dainty foot tapping out a military tattoo... quick time when SMACK...  also with utter contempt, only on this occasion for the Highway Code, a speeding wasp slammed straight into the corner of Jack's other eye.  

     Having had just about all  the excitement they could take for one day the now unfettered handlebars finally took matters into their own hands as the moped lurched wildly from one side to the other... and with it lent a whole new sequence of choreography to the expression 'do the Bossa-Nova...' just where were the emergency services when you needed them, Jack's panic stricken senses demanded... he would definitely be pressing charges, then it occured that no, he definitely would not, he didn't hold a motorcycle licence for one thing... which came limping around the corner with a Doctor's sick note third from last in Jack's top 100 most wanted as the jitterbugging moped, frantically looking for someone to mark its dance card struggled to Trip the Light Fantastic solo... nor was he Road Taxed, now that he came to think about it, or Insured for that matter... but it was most certainly a Hit and Run.

     As a matter of some interest, and so as not to get too bogged down over the finer points of where to lay the blame, Jack had absolutely no control whatsoever over the teeth rattling chain of events that were currently raining down about his ears that afternoon, nor did he feel anything other than sheer, abject terror as the moped continued pitching wildly from side to side before plunging into the nearest pothole, thereby performing the nasal vasectomy that brought far more than tears to Jack's bloodshot eyes as it propelled him... "Aaaargh..." over the front mudguard... nor indeed the prodigious feats of derring-do as he selflessly placed the welfare of his underwear above life and limb... but it was Jack's unrehearsed double axel as he cartwheeled unrehearsed through the air in a majestic spiral of arms and legs that finally swept her, the object of Jack's undying infatuation, albeit head on, completely off her feet, after all... how could a girl possibly refuse.  

     The Panel awarded best overall score to the moped, receiving an impressive  5-5,  5-6,  5-6  for Freestyle Jive and amid a standing ovation at first curtain call performed double back somersaults down the road as encore... the aerobic wasp, looking to catapult itself onto prime time television and certain stardom took a well deserved Second for creative interpretation and its extravagant use of the pirouette... while Beamish, for whom the Judges' 'to-a-man' were of one accord over Jack's imaginative application of the English language and with unanimous nods of resentment promptly disqualified him...  If nothing else, Jack surmised, it would certainly be a talking point, something to while away the long Winter evenings together, time would simply fly by...  

     With her foot tapping the same military two-step as earlier, the object of Jack's undying affection glared down at him and began opening her mouth, then thought better of it and simply sneered instead... "Dello", a nasally challenged Beamish sniffled as he peeled himself from the asphalt, "wodda lubly subrize... vancy meedin ooo agaid do dood", Jack squeezed a gelatinous blob of hemoglobin from his neck-tie by way of an impromptu chat up line before dabbing his nose once more with the congealing strip of fabric... thinking it far more judicious to use the softly-softly approach rather than slap her on the back and invite her out for a pint... that would come later, "do ooo um ere ovden" he rambled on unabashed, fumbling with the sodden item of neckwear as in a last ditch attempt to impress, Jack was going all out to kick the scattered remains of his former mode of embarrassment discreetly under the tarmac.

     YES!!!  he'd finally struck gold... it wasn't quite the cosy 'Mills and Boon' coffee morning Jack might have wished for... true, nor even a romantic 'Allison and Busby' bag of chips to go... shared between two no hopers on a balmy Summer's evening, but nonetheless it was a date, of sorts...  9.30 for 10 a.m. sharp, so the Summons read, at the Magistrate's Sessions in the County Court Assizes.  Jack arrived quite early that morning, clean shaven and sporting a fresh elastoplast in anticipation of an amicable tete'-a-tete' with the Plaintiff, before an equally amicable head-to-head with the Magistrate.   Opting to conduct his own defence, the Court Usher finally summoned Jack,  who was led under caution to the dock and... thirty minutes later... "Harrumph" the Justice cleared his throat for the final onslaught...

     And what part of 'Drive-Carefully' the Magistrate spluttered, did Beamish not understand... that potholes were there to be bypassed, 'Nay Circumvented' preferably either side... and not pitched into, wildly on the nose...  the disembodied shadow of deja-vu sat unconcernedly with its feet crossed upon Jack's left shoulder, munching away at a cheese and pickle on rye whilst it warmed to the idea of sticking the boot in this time, rather than use piddling small change... meanwhile, sitting at a neighbouring table the bewildered Stenographer broke into her second mid-life crisis that morning, giving rise to further withering glares from the Clerk-to-the-Court as to where the precipitous mountain of bread crumbs, inexplicably cascading over the Courtroom Proceedings were coming from... And at what further point, the Magistrate shrieked, his eyes leaping from his head as he lurched forward brandishing the gavel over the Bench and straight into Jack's face, had Beamish failed to grasp the importance of the word 'Highway Code...', someone was about to get the book thrown at them and as far as the Magistrate was concerned, the sole malcontent was Beamish.

     Subsequent to the Magistrates final ruling Beamish was awarded a £15 endorsable fine, suspended until such time as Jack actually possessed a motorcycle licence of his own... and no, a television licence would not do, plus a further £15 for contempt of court... and the penalties mounted... £15 for failure to display valid road tax... £15 for non compliance of mandatory motor vehicle indemnity... and that the Defendant should think himself lucky that the Petitioner did not wish to pursue the matter further... and it didn't stop there, he wasn't the registered keeper and he should have been, £15... driving without due care, £15... and for lack of attention... yet an additional £15, Jack wished the Magistrate would stop stuttering and call an early recess for lunch as the gavel struck the block one last time... "SOLD", shouted Jack, to the gentleman with the rosy nos... "and another £15" screamed the red faced Beak as he tipped backwards in his chair...

     The barometer continued to plummet at breakneck speed and had been doing so single-handedly since well before dawn, which Jack, after an arduous day took to be a leisurely 11 a.m. going on noon and Beamish was doing what Beamish apparently did best... he was stood in the rain... Jack then called upon the local theatrical costumier before visiting a well known High Street retailer masquerading as the Gas meter reader and with an HB pencil stuck behind his ear, how could Jack's infallible plan possibly fail...  

     Clawing his way back through the vast, cobweb infested labyrinth of cellars and musty passageways, only to re-emerge into the cheerless light of day under the pretence of having just read the gas meter, a heavily begrimed Beamish who, still incognito, could now be found queuing in the staff canteen for his complimentary cup of tea, when... "oh" she said, "it's you again... I didn't know you worked for the Gas Board, I thought you were an assassin..." and ",why are you covered in cobwebs... is it camouflage?" and that was it, the ice had been broken... her name it transpired was Jenny Bartleby, so the insignia on her pinafore explained and that she'd obviously been playing Jack at his own game for some time, now they could presumably go at it hammer and tongs from that moment on... and would she care for lunch... Jack's off-the-cuff invitation was hardly the offer of a lifetime, yet sprang straight into action nonetheless... and it had to be better than a Smokey Joe's stale cheese sandwich of former acquaintance... whilst Jack was offering a freshly grated cheese and pickle sandwich with fries, the fact that she'd be making it herself, Jack concluded, was neither here nor there... If, she persisted, if he really wanted to show a girl a good time then that was just fine by her... but he was going about it entirely the wrong way if... if he insisted on being such a cheapskate... then turning her attention to the back counter she started grating cheese.

     "There's a vacant table in the corner" she said, "over by the window" gesturing vaguely with her tray "we can sit there if you like", but there again if he didn't like, then that was equally fine by her... he could simply leave and no doubt bump into her at some future date, should he still fancy his chances involving her in a second near fatal incident... in which case her uncle, Magistrate and eminent top criminal advocate of 'Bartleby, Belladonna & Bromide', Barristers-at-Law, to whom Beamish, she was pleased to recall, had been formally introduced during their previous skirmish would be at no uncertain pains to ensure that he made every aspect of Jack's life from that moment on a pure living nightmare as he systematically set about stripping Beamish of every last brass farthing he possessed... Jack's undisclosed Cayman-islands bank account being no exception.  Her uncle's predisposition for judicial larceny, she firmly assured him, knew no bounds within the precedents of legal jurisprudence... and that she was currently employed, if he really must know, choking back a giggle as she cleared her throat, by the local Municipal Constabulary... she dunked into a dollop of ketchup and nibbled thoughtfully on a fried chip, "working undercover" she explained... having the time of her life... "in the staff canteen as a freelance Sous-Chef operative," and that it was all very hush-hush stuff and would probably breach the Official Secrets Act were she to say more... and that if Beamish continued to break her cover as he had been doing of late... and dipped his nose any further into matters that didn't concern him, then Jack's already traumatised nasal membrane would shortly be submitting weekly time-sheets... which as luck would have it came tearing across the finishing line and took a triumphant, champagne popping first in Jack's personal top 100 most wanted... and that yes, leaning over and giving Jack a quick peck on the cheek, she would accept a drink after work... if Jack was paying.

                                         ...   ...   ...
©
    
7117 ish.

Jenay Jarvis  Oct 2012
Beginning
Jenay Jarvis Oct 2012

I like you.

I like the gold in your eyes,
The solidity behind your stare,
Soft, but knowing,
I like every strand of hair.

I like that you play banjo,
I like your sentences, phrases and words,
I like how you string them together so delicately,
Like a melody waiting to be heard.

I like our small talk,
Even if it’s cheap,
I like our conversations on the phone,
And the frequent lack of sleep.

I love your voice,
How say my name like a dream,
I love all of your truths,
And every smile in between.

So take all of my likes,
Put them in the palm of your hands,
Let’s spread them out-
Let us make a plan:

I can’t promise you much,
But I can promise you this,
I won’t try to steal away a heart,
But I might steal a kiss.

For Dillon
Styles  Apr 2016
Naughty
Styles Apr 2016

Picture us happy, you and me; K-I-S-S-I-N-G
Making love together, pleasing you to please me; F-U-C-K-I-N-G
Picture us naked, you all over me; K-I-S-S-I-N-G
Getting deep into each other, like we were meant to be; F-U-C-K-I-N-G

you gave me your treasure,
I plan I want to keep forever
That night I will
I’ always remember
us overlooking the lake
Eating dinner, candle light,dinner
listening to the band play
The view was dynamite
Our lipstick perfect
Your dress was fitting tight
Looking deep in your eyes;
Glistening in the candle light
Started feeding you off my plate
Laughing as we enjoyed the night
our lips meeting their fate
Our bodies kneading each other right
Holding each other tight
Wanting each other more by the second
Our clothes putting on a fight
Your Dress falling to the floor, panties second
Pleasing your body right
Teaching your body a lesson
Using my hands to please you
While using my tongue as a weapon
your body so beautiful
I melt in your hands
Just from smelling your essence
I can't wait to be in your presen

Marcus Lane Mar 2011

I fear the way you love me:
That tender-touching kiss
Seducing me to nightly
Sink deep in your abyss.

Those smooth caresses take me
To places that I dread,
Your cunning fingers rouse me
To plan such lies ahead.

But while we writhe and tumble
In lust's hypnotic hold,
I fear the final stumble
That will see the truth unfold.

© Marcus Lane 2010

The spider, dropping down from twig,
Unfolds a plan of her devising,
A thin premeditated rig
To use in rising.

And all that journey down through space,
In cool descent and loyal hearted,
She spins a ladder to the place
From where she started.

Thus I, gone forth as spiders do
In spider's web a truth discerning,
Attach one silken thread to you
For my returning.

Autumn May 2014

Man has been gifted a great prize
Although they never assumed it would be their demise
Centuries ago the technology produced
Relied upon humans for a little boost
However now it seems every thought by a man
Requires for technology to come up with the plan
It seems man's intelligence has began to backtrack
Similar to being subdued in a flashback
All the knowledge they've acquired
Is something that cannot not be admired
Their lives are corrupted by the media
They get information from the Internet- not by encyclopedia
There is still a chance for them to turn it all around
And use these faults to help with the rebound
However if they continue on as shown
Their advancements will soon be marked with a headstone.

Ashley Williams Jul 2014

The Dazzling Divas
Have an elaborate plan in place,
Brimming with absurdity and scandal.
Their hopes far too high,
They traipse home rejectedly,
Despair and disappointment
Plastered on their heads and in their hearts.

For Vanequa. <3
Shin  Jan 2014
Video Games
Shin Jan 2014

I look into this never-ending sun
Left, right, right, left, the score climbing higher.
Then, suddenly the sun ends its cold fun,
and we look at our life it seems so dire.

Days and weeks slaughtered by the LED.
No love life, no friends, no freedom.
Just a window, what the screen lets me see.
I live in a poorly crafted kingdom.

Look before you, at this husk of a man.
He had such potential, he had a plan.

Jordan Farelli  Apr 2012
Thoughts
Jordan Farelli Apr 2012

Many would say
That I'm a fool
If I laid awake at night
And only thought of you

But what if these thoughts
Were not of love
And they were hate filled and murderous
Precisely planned, with a fitting glove

Would it be a waste
To plan such a thing
When it would take you away
Along with my pain and grief

So as I think of you now
The feelings come even stronger
I've seen the way it unfolds
And for you, it won't be much longer

Journal of Darkness: Assassin and Deceptress


Nov 21, 2011, 8:17:32 PM by ~OmegaWolfOfWinter
Journals / Personal




(description of storyline: all characters in this work are dragons, with the ability to change into a human form. they live in present day society, but have a base in the middle of the desert. there is a library with the history of the world, which is operated by stacra, an organization to preserve the peace in the world. there is a rival organization, the dracra, who wish to take it over. the dracra is led by a dragon named Darkheart, a dragon who has haunted the Scar line for millenia.)
"... sahsa...."
what was that mumbled sasha, a small town girl in modern day USA. she was nearly asleep when the voice called to her.
sasha was usually described as a freak. she was a dragon fanatic, and she carried her favorite books wherever she went, Brink of Insanity: journal of the Wild and the Broken; and its companion, Blood curse:  journal of the Destroyer and the Savage. they told of dragons living in new york who had to bear a family curse and sought a way to release it. the author was only known as "Lucian".
"....sasha...."
i'm sure i heard it that time...
"....come to me sasha...."
she didnt know why but she felt as if she absolutely had to find the source. she was barely clothed but quietly snuck out, leaving small footprints in the snow.
"....sasha!...."
she felt panicked. as the voice grew louder so did her heart, beating quickly in her ears. some sort of animal instinct took over and she somehow Managed to run on all fours. her whole body began tingling, her skin writhing. she looked back and nearly choked: wings and a tail... had grown from her body. her whole body turned white as scales etched their way into life over her skin. her body began elongating and enlarging, becoming streamlined and lizardlike. she was transforming...
"...yes!... just as you said, master...."
"...quiet, kovu..."
sashas vision went dark as she stumbled, barrelling through the snow. when she looked up, she saw an enormous dragon, with scars just like the ones in her book. "she will be a fine student."
sasha was dumbfounded as she saw her parents walk up behind them. "greetings, master Lucian, kovu." said her father.
"and you, rydon."
"y-you...know...?" stammered sasha.
"all will be explained in the morning, sasha," replied her mother.
sasha felt tired and her eyes shut as the ground came up to meet her.
sasha sat alone at the picnic table, surrounded by lucian, her father rydon, her mother sophia, and kovu. "so... you're all.... dragons.... like in my books..." she gestured to the two books.
lucian stepped forward and placed a hand on the books. his hand glowed and the glossy books turned to worn, leather journals. "yes, we are dragons. sasha. and you have done well guarding my journals."
"your... journals? but i thought that these were best-selling novels..."
lucian chuckled, "no no. young one, there are only two other copies of each of these in existence."
"wow..."
her father spoke up now, "so what are you here for, master? is it time for her to leave us?"
"leave?! what do you mean leave?!"
rydon looked worriedly at lucian and then at sasha,"you are dragon, and it is tradition for you to be trained."
"but what if i dont want to leave?!"
her father began to become angry,"its not your choice!"
"then whose-"
lucian's eyes glowed red in anger, "rydon, haven't you taught your daughter respect? surely you would know of my ways by now."
rydon nodded, "i- i'm sorry, master. i don't know whats come over her."
sasha ran, shifting to her new dragon form and flying away. darkheart had warned her of this, that lucian was a dictatoria leader. she asked herself, "why had her father taken his side? why did this have to happen so suddenly? and most of all, what was she going to do next?"
darkheart had given her directions to meet her after lucian made contact. sasha flew, tired as she was not used to the extra limbs.
once she reached the spot that darkheart had told her, she waited and thought things through.
once darkheart arrived, she spoke, "i want to join you. i beleive everything you've said."
darkheart chuckled, "i knew you would dear girl, lucian is the same as his grandfather, they both hounded me and tortured me, for their own twisted ways. i've tried to keep as many as possible from falling into their cluthces. i wasn't able to kill scarheart, as he captured me and forced me into his own body as an energy slave. he tortured me even there, and after he died, lucian, his grandson, got me. he too tortured me."
sasha looked at her in sock, "thats terrible. i didnt know..."
"you couldnt have, darling. those evil dragons keep everything from those who should know."
sasha stood, "i want to be trained. by you."
"really? i warn you, it is quite tough. not all survive. you must be willing to do whatever it takes to stop those vile dragons."
     *     * 3 years later
sasha was 20 years old, and it was time for her to take on her first big mission: infiltrate lucian's schol and learn everything she could.
sasha had already talked to lucian, apologizing for her behavior so long ago. lucian had seemed hesitant but allowed her in. *foolish old bat.
she thought. she had been at the compund for a year and a half now and had become familiar with their ways.  sasha would often wonder why she was doing this, and she remembered, darkheart had said that lucian killed sashs's father. she always looked at him with scorn and wished to kill him. but she restrained herself and kept on the facade.
today she felt especially hating towards every master she came in contact with. she passed tsai, lucian's right hand dragon, as he went to talk with the master. she tried to eavesdrop but they were speaking in an ancient, coded language. she growled and her white scales flashed in the sun.


"Lucian, somethings not right about that youngling sasha... she's always watching us, like she's gathering information."
"yes, tsai, i know. i know exactly what she is."
"what?" tsai looked skeptical.
"she's an agent, an informant. for darkheart."
tsai stared, incredulous."wha?! how do you know?!"
"ive been under the influence of darkheart before, as have you. something about sasha is of darkheart's doing."
tsai nodded "even still, is she possessed by her or under orders?"
lucian thought for a moment "i beleive under orders..."
both stared as lucian's son, kovu, walked up to sasha.
       *        
"sasha! hi!" kovu had taken a liking to sasha since his father took her as an apprentice.
"oh, um. hi. kovu..." i cant let my emotions get in the way of my mission! "how have you been?" sasha felt herself blush under the gaze of the drake. he wasnt half-bad to look at, and she often caught herself watching him.
"i'm doing great, training with tsai is always fun. what about you and master lucian?"
her eyes darted to her master, her target, then back at kovu. "you mean you're... dad?"
"yeah... my dad... but we students can only call them by their designation. even master scaleweaver calls some elders master."
sasha's ears pricked up as she heard scaleweaver's name. she was assigned to gather information on all of the masters. i must make madame darkheart proud... i am worthy... she must see that...
"is... something wrong, sasha?"
she caught herself, "n-no i'm just tired is all... just tired..."
her master lucian came toward her what a fool, he doesnt even know about me... "sasha, i need to speak with you.... alone."
kovu difpped his head and backed away respectfully.
"sasha, come."
she swallowed her pride and said, "yes... master..." and followed him.
once they were outside, lucian turned to her and said, "i know, sasha. i know that darkheart sent u here to gather information on us."
sasha's eyes widened and her mouth dropped. she thought hard how?! how does he know?! this cant be possible....
"i-i dont know what youre talking about, master..."
lucian turned on her with a peircing gaze, and made her wince as he studied her. "there are better ways to lie, youngling... but not to me. ive known for quite some time now."
sasha felt her legs give out beneath her. she sat, looking into the dust, listening incredulously at lucian. "how... how do you know?!?!"
sasha ran forward, clawing at lucian's throat. she was instantly frozen in place, an immensely strong spell holding her legs in place.  "let me go, lucian!"
"its master to you, youngling. and why would i let you go? you just tried to kill me." sasha struggled helplessly against her bonds. she saw lucian mutter something and felt her legs grow suddenly cold. she looked and gasped as ice started to creep up her haunches.
"lucia-master, please let me go... i was only under orders."
lucian chuckled, "how did darkheart get to you?"
"i can't tell you..."
"oh? then let me guess; theres another informant, a higher up in stacra, who told darkheart about you and she arrived, possibly a week before us? she fed you a story of stacra destroying the world and trying to take over the one that they created. she told you that she was only trying to help restore order. am i close?"
sasha felt naked under the gaze of the elder, who saw straight through her act and through her commander's plan. it made her heart quicken and her scales writhe. she felt a sharp pain as the ice crept up and chilled her thighs, creeping steadily upwards. "how... how can you know these things?! darkheart said you wouldnt be able to know... she said that you held her prisoner... that you tortured her... she said that you- you killed my father."
lucian shook his head and wiped something from his face, revealing gruesome scars. "she altered her face to look like mine... look, and know the truth." he placed a claw on her forehead and she gasped as a flood of memories flooded her, darkheart inside lucian's mind, taking over him, taunting him, and forcing him to do terrible things. she heard lucian say, "she tortured me, she held me captive. its true that stacra destroyed the world, but look also;" she saw the corrupt government of old, and their wretched attrocities. "they brought about their own destruction. we created the world you know, but dont wish it to be taken over, we merely want peace...We act as peacekeepers. darkheart seeks to enslave all to do her bidding. and your father died at darkheart's talons, not mine." sasha saw a gruesome scene as lucian tried to save her father.
she felt him withdraw, and felt the magic and ice withdraw from her, the ice's touch fading from her rump. she shivered and crouched low, warming her body.
"sasha, darkheart is a liar... she's been at it for thousands of years." he watched her shiver and said. "come, sit around the fire."
sasha noddded and followed close behind lucian, hiding her vulnerable state.
"i'm sorry, master."
"all will be okay, sasha... all will be fine.."
lucian brought sasha into his study under his wing. he had her sit down in front of the fire and draped a blanket over her. he sat down behind her, looking over the latest reports, waiting for her to speak. after a few minutes she sighed and looked back at lucian, tears forming in her eyes. "is everything you said true? Is darkheart nothing but a deceptionist?"
lucian looked up at her and nodded. "all of it was true. I'm sorry, sasha. darkheart is a gifted deceptionist and many of us have fallen for her tricks.  including me."
sasha turned back and looked into the fire with sad eyes, tears rolling down her cheek. she shuddered and took a shaky breath. lucian came up beside her and placed a comforting paw on her shoulder.
"darkheart forced me to kill my best friend... a she-drake named Clia... in front of her other followers to show that we must be able to turn on anyone to fulfill the mission..."
lucian nodded, "so I had heard... darkheart has become more cruel than ever."
"l-lucian, what can i do to make her pay?"
lucian thought for a while and then shook his head. "let me think more on this, sasha. for now, let no one know that you are an affiliate of darkheart, it could have deadly consequence. you may remain in here if you wish, or you may return to your own quarters. i have some things to attend to."
sasha nodded to him and gasped as everything went still and dimmed, even the fire seemed grey and frozen.
"wha-"
"sasha... you must tell me now, will you work with me?"
she was stunned. "where are you? what do you mean?"
"you want to get back at her, i know how to. but you must tell me if you will work with me."
"i-i will, lucian. but whhy ask now, and in this way?"
"because, there is someone here, that is going to try to kill you. he was listening to us and is going to attack you with magic. ive cast a spell that will give an apearance of death. just let the magic do its stuff and u'll do fine">
"but wait!"
"you must trust me, sasha."
all of a sudden, everything went back to normal, and lucian was gone, she could hear his fading footsteps.
what was that abou- wait! the killer... she kept facing the fire and listened as she had been taught to the clawsteps of the incoming dragon.
"is it true? you're one of them?!"
sasha turned and gasped, flashing him a shocked, innocent look over her shoulder. "what are you talking about, kovu?"
he was angry, and she was struck with fear. "i overheard you and lucian talking. i heard everything."
sasha turned to face him."y-you, heard everything..."
"then you are one of them! i cant beleive it... i cant beleive i trusted you."
kovu stepped forward and sasha's eyes shifted, trying to find a way out. "kovu, i- i can explain."
"you're nothing but a trickster, a deceptress! dont try to talk me out of this."
her heartbeat quickened, stricken with dread. "out of... out of what, kovu?"
he said nothing but uttered the death spell.
          
sasha let herself go, remembering lucian's spell. but as she did so, she thought about why she was doing this. *to make darkheart suffer...
she heard lucian in her mind. "you'll be going to death-sleep for a while, a few days to make it beleivable. now sleep, sasha... sleep and i will awaken you soon."
"o-okay, master lucian..."
"there is no need to call me master anymore, sasha. from now on, you no longer exist. which is why darkheart will never see you coming. its time... dont worry."
the death-sleep overcame her and she fell to darkness.
   * *
lucian ran downstairs and saw kovu standing over sasha's body. he put on a facade of dread and said, "kovu.... what have you done?!"
kovu looked at lucian angrily. "you were going to harbor a killer... i took care of the problem."
lucian became angry now, "no, you made more problems. you didnt think... you didnt listen. she was willing to help."
kovu snarled at lucian, "i did what needed to be done. I killed her for you, father."
lucian responded quietly, "you killed a helpless dragoness in cold blood. i have no choice but to arrest you for murder, my son." he muttered a binding spell and blocked kovu's magic. he watched kovu struggle for a moment then went to pick up sasha's seemingly lifeless body. he contacted her mentally, saying, "i'm taking your body in to the infirmary, i'll oversee your examination. in 2 days, i will wake you, when i do, be very quiet."
"yes, sir."
sasha's new appearance was stunning, quite different from the black color of her original scales, she now looked like each scale was a glittering saphire, and her horns and underside were now a shimmering silver. sasha was astonished by what lucian had done, he had also changed her voice and form, making her more slender and agile, he altered her voice in such a way that it seemed that she could charm the heart out of a rock. even lucian who had a mate of his own had to keep himself composed. but he was undoubtedly pleased that things were turning out well. lucian had to change everything about her, her eyes now a deep green, her draconic fingerprint being her tail-tip and spine, were changed to furry mane and a slender diamond tip.
she looked at herself in amirror and remarked how mature she looked.
"you may have to be put in certain situations which may have you exploit some... erm... feminine charms."
"so i'll have to...."
"only if you let it go that far. it depends on you. you said that you'd  do anything to get back at darkheart. these matters are up to your own discretion."
she thought long about this. "i want to get back at darkheart... but i also want to keep myself until i'm ready."
lucian thought this over and finally had a eureka moment, "i can make it so that you can remain as you are but still fulfill what is required."
lucian explained that he could put a barrier inside her to keep her cover but still remain pure. sasha nodded, this was a good plan. "this is a bit... different... but you can also seduce your target into a game of blindfold and make him think that such acts were taking place."
sasha smiled but then frowned as she said, "but what if he were to refuse?"
lucian chuckled and said, "as you are now, you should have no problem seducing him." sasha was feeling more confident about her new missions as lucian encouraged her. she felt a bit embarrassed as she exposed herself to lucian as he placed the barrier, but Remembered why she was doing this: to destroy darkheart. "you are no longer sasha. that dragon has died. from now on, you are akira. it is your new name, a clean slate, make it what you want it to be."
lucian gave akira a pack that only she could see, it contained a garment that looked exactly like her scales, but added a bit more to her lower regions, housing an area for a male member.
akira surprised lucian by embracing him. "thank you, for giving me a chance. any others would have killed me. but you saw that i was different and gave me an opportunity."
"there's no need to thank me, akira. everyone deserves a chance. now, theres a secret chamber in my study, inside you'll find your new quarters. theres a door to the outside. use that when you're on  an assignment."
"alright lucian, i'll do my best."
"i know you will, akira. i know you will."
Akira took to a new name and a new lifestyle, she was then called sasha. she took on a quiet lifestyle of study and peace around the stacra. around lucian, she felt more confident, and when he invited her to his study for an assignment, always asked how she was taking to her new tasks. she was completely open with him and often told him the extent of her feelings. he listened and commented every once in a while, but let her do most storytelling. lucian acted as therapist, friend, and father to akira. lucian often sent her to his grandfather's library, where the elder stacra were studying. she went to meditate and to train privately in the ways of the assassin and seductress.
she often saw kovu, scarheart's son and her "killer" around the stacra headquarters. he bore scars on his back and his wings, no doubt as punishment for killing her. she avoided him as much as possible. but couldnt keep away for long.
"sasha, how are you?"
she tried not to use too much of her skills on him, but did her best to play it cool.
"oh, hey kovu. i was just on my way to master lucian's study for a book."
she could see kovu's immediate change as he heard her voice. his tongue lolled and his eyelids drooped slightly. a shiver ran down his body and his wings shuffled. His tail twitched with anticipation. akira played along for a bit, she needed all the practice she could get. "where are you going, kovu?" she said slyly. she walked around him, brushing the tip of her tail against his chin and down his neck. kovu was like clay in her hands. "i-i'm not going a-anywhere sssasha..."
she flashed him a teasing look "oh really?"
someone called her name. "sasha. you're late for your lesson." it was lucian. he wore an unreadable look and waited.
"c-coming master lucian. goodbye kovu." and she ran to lucian's side, following him to the study.
"what were you doing, akira?"
she felt like a little girl doing something wrong, caught by her father. "i-i was
Just practicing, master."
lucian's voice was emanating urgency. "practicing? you practice on targets, not your fellow drakes. i understand wanting to hone your skills, but there is a time for that." he sighed and continued, "just dont let me catch you at it again."
akira looked down at her feet in shame. she snapped back up when lucian chuckled. "good job though, you had him in your claws."
akira smiled and asked, "what's the latest? you didnt call me for a study."
"you're right, i didnt. you're next target: a lieutenant named jackal. he knows about darkheart's inner defenses. do what you can. get as much intel as you can. but be safe. trust no one."
"yes, sir, lucian."
"get some rest, meditate, check your equipment. i dont want you to get hurt."
akira nodded, lucian was being careful, as always. it had been a month since her last assignment and she was nervous. she was always nervous. but lucian gave her strength.
The young sapphire dragoness lay on her back on her bedpad, practicing her best lines and poses. she double and even triple checked her weapons and equipment, cleaning and inspecting every inch. after that she meditated as tsai had shown her. tsai was the combat master and headed the technology division of stacra. he had designed her mating garment, allowing her to remain pure and still complete the mission.
after meditating for a few hours she passed into a calm state, subconsciously going over her assignment: seduce the target and retriece the information. seducing usually meant she had to feign sexual acts. she did so using the mating garment.
akira couldnt fall asleep, something had been buzzing at the back of her mind. she wondered if lucian was awake. she decided it would be best to check. akira tiptoed down the staircase and into the study, where she often heard lucian cry out in frustration at the reports.
Tonight was another of those nights, she could hear lucian 's fire breathing, a way of relaxing for him.
she quietly asked, "lucian? can we... talk?"
he set down a roll of parchment, a report. "of course, akira. come, i'll make tea."
akira sat in front of the small fire and took a small cup of steaming tea. "thanks. somethingss been bothering me, master."
lucian looked inrigued. "oh?"
"yeah... i ...i like kovu..."
"really? i had noticed some things going on, but hadnt been sure. So youve taken a liking to my son."
"yes... but...."
"but what?"
"he killed me...."
"hmmm yes thats right... i see your problem. youre afraid that he'll find out."
"exactly..." akira stared into her tea. "what should i do, lucian?"
"wait. wait for the right moment, then come out with the truth." akira nodded and yawned. she lay down on the floor in front of the fire, letting the fire warm her scales. she soon fell asleep. lucian covered her with a blanket and left, attending to his other duties.
Akira's dreams turned to nightmares. she saw a corridor painted obscurely with blood, and a dark doorway beyond it. behind her was a cliffside, and an abyss below it. it was deep night and only the full moon splayed its eerie light over the dragoness. dark thunderclouds often eclipsed the moon, leaving her to darkness. it began to rain, an unnatural rain, with loud, booming thunderclaps and blinding lightning strikes. something was approaching from the abyss, a dark winged form flew low and fast. akira ran down the bloody corridor, her claws stained crimson. she found the doorway and slammed the door closed as the form smashed into it. akira panted heavily. she couldnt see anything, but could tell that there were windows in the room. akira took a step forward, her claws tapping sharply on the stone. she stopped when she stepped in something warm and wet: blood. a pool of it. a single
bolt of lightning lit the room for a second, but the after-image told enough. it was kovu, and lucian,
Both were dying, blood gushing from numerous wounds. she ran to where they were laying, but found nothing there, only a pool of blood. "k-kovu... lucian..."
she heard a whisper behind her and she whirled around to find Darkheart standing in front of her.
"i see you've been cavorting with the enemy, akira. youve been a naughty dragon."
"no! you are a liar!" akira slashed at her throat, only to have darkheart dissipate into smoke. lightning struck again and she turned back to see darkheart slashing at a falling lucian. kovu came behind them and caught the tip of darkheart's needle pointed tail in his chest, protruding out of his back. he fell next to lucian. the blood began to pool and the 2 dragons coughed up more. they convulsed and fell quiet. "kovu!! lucian!!"
     *
lucian sat next to akira, apparently having a nightmare, she was shaking, and her face was contorted with fear and she whimpered every once in a while. lucian began to shake her awake when she began sweating through
Scales. after a moment, she jumped back and knocked over a stack of books. she was shaking uncontrollably. lucian stepped toward her, "akira, are you okay?" he placed a comforting claw on her shoulder.
she was tense. lucian extended a wing over her and ushered her closer. "come on. tell me what happened."
she explained to him what happened in her dream, towards the end she was crying on lucian's shoulder.
lucian comforted her and said, "the assignment's off. you need a break. you need some time to yourself."
"b-but what about the target?"
"there will be more targets, more opportunities."
akira nodded. they stood there for a while, and akira began to doze off. lucian escorted her up the stairs and into her quarters. he waited for her to fall asleep before leaving.
Akira woke up around noon, after a long dreamless sleep. she stretched her cat-like body and shuffled her wings, feeling a dull throb on her back from her collision with the books. when she looked out the window, she realized how late it was and tiptoed downstairs. lucian sometimes held a class in the study and she waited, listening first before entering. when she heard no noise, she entered the sun-lit room. akira jumped back when she saw tsai waiting for her.
"morning, akira." she looked at tsai, stunned that he knew her real name. she prepared herself for a magical and physical battle. only lucian ever called her by her real name. "don't worry, lucian asked me to accompany you to the waterfalls, he told me it was your favorite spot."
"but why?"
"he's giving you a fortnight to relax. he wants you to take time off. you may go wherever you want, wether here, the library, or the meditation island, lucian has granted permission to all."
akira smiled and nodded. lucian as always was looki
ng out for her. Akira looked out the open window and heard the waterfall calling to her. she inhaled deeply and said, "i'd like some time at the waterfalls."
"to the waterfalls it is."
        
akira was half submerged in magically heated water, the waterfalls rushing waters creating a massaging vibe around her. she lay her head on the warm banks, content to be massaged by the falls. Tsai had gone back to the base, leaving akira to herself for a while. she let her mind drift and her muscles relax, snoozing the day away. She slowly awoke to a rustling in the bushes near her. she raised sleepy eyes to find a grey wolf sitting in front of her. "hello, brother wolf."
to her surprise the wolf dipped its head in greeting. "you understand me?"
the wolf nodded. akira climbed onto the bank and shook the water from her scales. "come closer, brother wolf." the wolf did as it was asked, stopping a few feet from her. she noticed a rune on the wolf's shoulder. "you... youve been marked!">
The wolf nodded. "by who?"
the wolf raised a claw to the left side of his face, covering the eye. "elder scar?"
the wolf shook its head.
"master.... lucian?"
the wolf nodded, obviously happy. "is that why you're here?"
the wolf nodded again. he tapped the side of his head. "you want me to contact him?"
the wolf dipped his head. akira probed the area for lucian's presence. when she finally found him, she told him what was happening. "he said he'll be here soon."
the wolf nodded and lay down. akira stepped back into the water, warming it with magic. she dozed again until she heard the tell-tale wingbeats of lucian's coming.
Akira looked up and saw both lucian and tsai. Lucian regarded the wolf first, "Atlas, how have you been, old friend?"
the wolf made a series of gestures. lucian nodded. "akira, i see you are enjoying the time off."
she nodded and gave a small smile. "thanks for everything, lucian. it means a lot."
"i know. now rest up, akira. theres plenty of time for talking later."
akira nodded again and closed her eyes. she listened to lucian and tsai's quiet talking as she dozed off, listening to the waterfall.
        
tsai looked at akira. "she's asleep again."
"good... i dont like keeping things from her but its best for this to be between us. Atlas, your pack-dragons have news about her father, rydon?"
atlas growled an affirmative. lucian sighed, "i wish you could speak directly with us. is he alive?"
atlas growled again. "that is good. do you know where?"
atlas shook his head. tsai spoke, "so all this time, akira's been under the impression that her father is dead?"
"yes.... she wouldve
Try to go off on her own. she'd get killed. i dont know if i could bear it."
+      +          +
Akira slowly woke up when lucian tapped her horn. "its about time to head back."
she nodded and climbed onto the bank, shaking her scales free of water. they flew from the waterfall to the headquarters just as the sun set. akira felt very awake and asked lucian what she could do til morning. lucian responded, "you can do whatever you wish. feel free to look through my library."
akira spent a few hours reading, various texts about the history of dragons. lucian had late meetings elsewhere and left akira to do whatever she pleased. she soon grew tired of reading and climbed the secret stairway. it linked to her "quarters", the room used only for appearances. her quarters above lucian's study were her personal ones. she looked out the window and into the starlit sky. she opened the hatch to the platform she used for her missions. the night air was cool and welcoming as she took a deep breath. the stars twinkled, beckoning for her to gaze.
Akira accepted, climbing out and lying on her back with her wings spread across the platform, gaze directed toward the billions of shimmering lights above and beyond her. she was surprised by how many voices she heard on the dock below her. it seeemed about twenty or thirty drakes and she-drakes were working. she listened for a moment then returned to her stargazing. she felt calm, at peace when she saw a shadow flying in a jagged line toward the plateau. she sat up, realizing it was a dragon. she contacted tsai mentally, as lucian was off somewhere else. /theres a dragon flying in from the east, he's coming in fast/
no response came but she saw lucian's best friend run onto the platform and wait for the dragon to land. to akira's surprise, it was lucian. he flew right over her, drops of dark crimson hitting her, landing on her wings, her tail, her muzzle. he landed with a loud crash.
she was about to dive after him, but remembered she was supposed to be in her quarters._
She ran down the staircase and into her public room. she heard others in the hallway and ran out, toward the platform. she was stopped by some of the watchguards but tsai allowed her to come. "he's unconscious. he has multiple cuts and it appears that he was shot by a dragonbow."
"a dragonbow?!" the dragonbows were ancient weapons that was mounted to a dragon's tail and required expert marksmanship to use. "where was he going?"
tsai gave her a coded look, "i can't tell you." meaning he would tell her when they were alone. Medics came and took lucian to the infirmary.
tsai said for all youngers to return to their quarters. he gestured for akira to meet him in the study. she dipped her head and returned to the study through her public room. "how is he? where was he going?"
"one question at a time, akira." he sighed, "sit down, this may take a while. lucian as of now is unconscious, but the medics are healing him now. as to where he was going, he went to scout darkheart's location."
"He went where?!"
"he went to find darkheart. apparently he found something. he was conscious enough earlier to tell me we were safe."
a medic came in, a red cross tattooed on her shoulder. "he's going to be fine. he's conscious and will be back on his feet in a few days."
the two breathed a sigh of releif. tsai looked at the medic and asked, "may we see him?"
"of course. follow me." she stepped outside and led the tense dragons to the infirmary.
the were led to a massive chamber where lucian lay curled on a dias. he raised his head slightly before wincing and lying back down.
"lucian."
"master!"
"welcome both of you. akira, you know you dont need to call me master anymore."
akira remarked at how calm lucian was. he seemed almost giddy, but that was probably an effect of the pain spells.
"lucian, what happened?"
His clouded eye darkened, and akira thought she saw a faint glow in his scars.
"i found an abandoned fortress... i explored it a bit and triggered some traps. thats all.">
"i'm glad nothing else happened." said akira.
"as am i. akira once i have recovered, there will be another mission for you."
"as you wish, lucian. ive had enough time off."
"i figured as much. itll be a few days, but still, be ready."
Akira flew long and hard, her next mission across the globe in north egypt. it was far from the south american rainforests and waterfalls. she spent the past two days practicing her egyptian, sharpening her blades, and examining her equipment. She stopped only once to sleep and releive herself. she breathed a sigh of releif when she saw the tell-tale pyramids of egypt. "i can finally rest."
lucian's intel said that the target usually hung around a dragon tavern called the Silver Ankh. She landed on the outskirts of  town, placing the charm of concealment given to all dragons at birth to hide their true forms from humans. she walked toward the tavern, keeping an eye out for the target. when she saw nothing, she looked up and saw an ankh painted silver with a dragons scale in the middle. there was no door visible to humans. but was clearly visible to her. she stepped inside, and immediately felt every eye lock onto her, gazing at the slender form and seductive curves.>
She stepped up to the bar, a few spots away from the target. in her most vulnerable tone, she asked, "do you have any spare change for a weary traveler?" she touched his tail-tip with hers, beckoning him closer. this tactic made the target feel powerful over a "helpless" sasha.
"how can i help you, darling?" his eyes met hers and she leaned closer, stroking the soft scales of his neck with the back of her claw.
"could you give a lonely girl a good time and a place to stay?" she put her claw on his chest and felt his heart beating rapidly.
"i beleive those can be arranged. you can stay at my place, its not far."
she brushed his cheek with the tip of her muzzle, "then what are we waiting for?" they began their walk to his house, and akira began gathering information.
"what's your name?" akira asked dangerously.
"i'm called nicholas. and whats your name, my devilishly stunning vixen?"
"i'm called sasha. ive traveled a long way from home, i'm sooo tired, but i reeaaly wantt a good time
Tonight. think you can help me out with that?"
nicholas chuckled and replied, "i beleive i can help with that." the dragons engaged in a game, chasing each other around the house. when akira caught nicholas, she blindfolded him, moving quickly and quietly to put on the mating garment. she got into position and let the target have it. though she felt nothing, nicholas was having the time of his life. Akira found that in the moment of a male's ecstacy, his mind and body were most vulnerable. that was usually when she probed the drake's mind for information. she felt his member through the garment, felt how close he was to succumbing to her touch. his body tensed and she thrust one more time, crying out in fake ecstacy. she froze time with a spell and for a breif moment gathered the information from his subconscious. when the spell lost its effect, akira lay on top of nicholas, both of them panting. she looked back to the garment, the
artificial scales slick with sweat and nicholas' seed.
Akira was exhausted. she got up, nicholas' semi-erect member sliding smoothly out of the garment. though they were both about to sleep, she kept the garment on, for as she had found out, her targets often liked morning sex as well. she always felt awkward sleeping with it on, but it was for the mission, so she did anyway. she stumbled forward a few steps, collapsing on the floor next to nicholas. the time spell always took a heavy toll from her. Before she fell asleep, she contacted lucian, "i have the information, target will be terminated in the morning."
"good, theres a side objective if you are willing."
"oh?" lucian's side objectives were always... interesting. usually odd supply runs or contacts.
"I'll explain in the morning. you need to rest."
akira mumbled something and fell into deep sleep.
      *
the bright egyptian sunrise awoke akira, still in the garment. nicholas was still asleep, which made things easier for akira. a quick stab through the heart was all it would take.
She took out the dagger hidden in the garment and stepped toward the target. the dagger's blade shimmered in the morning sunlight. akira placed the tip of the knife over his heart and took a deep breath before plunging it deep into his chest. nicholas' eyes opened and he stared at her incredulously and reached shakily for the dagger. he was a moment from death and akira gave the dying dragon a slight kiss and "i'm sorry it had to be this way."
nicholas whispered, "thank... you..." the dragon went limp and his eyes closed. his last breath was shaky, sickening, pleading. finally, he died and akira removed the dagger. his last words intrigued her, but she pushed it away and contacted lucian.
/lucian, the target has been eliminated. what was the side objective you wanted me to take care of?/
/if you're willing, you need to find someone. her name is Sophia. You'll find her in the tallest building in cairo. when you find her, tell her that the black scale has turned red.>
she'll probably follow you back here. thats fine, just make sure she speaks to me directly./
/can do, lucian. be back in a few days/
akira turned, facing north towards cairo. it would be a five hour flight to the city. she sighed, "more flying... i hope i get a little while to rest once i get back."
"hopefully, yes." akira spun around to face the dragon. to her surprise, it was a handsome looking drake, with dark orange colored scales and muscular physique. he also had a tiger stripe design all over his body.
"who... who are you?"
"i'm an old friend of lucian's, he taught me a few years ago. can we talk on the way? akira isnt it?" she was stupefied. she readied herself for a battle, but the dragon said, "its okay, akira. lucian asked me to find you and follow you back to HQ."
akira contacted lucian. /theres a tiger scaled dragon here... he knows a lot about us. he even knows my name!/
/i see youve met sebastian. though most call him "Tiger"/
"you're called tiger? but your real name is>
Sebastian, isnt it?"
sebastian chickled, "quite right. We should get to cairo. sophia won't be there long."
"who exactly is sophia?"
he grinned and asked, "you don't know?" she shook her head. "then i'll let you find out for yourself."
she pestered him about it all the way out of the city. after that, they told each other how they met lucian. akira was hesitant to reveal her lifestyle, so she kept it to herself. they reached cairo and went to the tallest building, but found no one there. they waited until the sun began to set.
"you think we should head to base, akira? lucian is expecting us in a few days."
akira thought for a moment, then decided, "let's wait a little longer, lucian said she'd be here."
they were startled by a dragoness's voice behind them. "so, its time? has the black scale turned red?"
"sophia? yes the scale has turned."
the dragoness stepped into the light and revealed herself to be a sapphire blue noble from the old families.
sophia chuckled, "we better get>
Moving, i havent seen my mate in a long time."
"you're lucian's... mate?"
"mhm. let's get moving, shall we?"
      *
Akira, sebastian and sophia flew back to the jungles of south america, they were met by 2 medium sized dragons who escorted them straight to lucian's study. lucian looked rough and ecstatic at the same time.
lucian stepped toward sophia and kissed her lovingly, as if they hadnt seen each other in a long time.
sebastian looked at akira with a raised eyebrow and a lopsided grin. akira giggled a little, "whatch yourself, tiger boy. this kitten flirts back."
sebastian chuckled, "so i've heard, but does this kitten have a mate?" his voice sent a warm tingle through her body. he played at her level, at her game. he had immense will and restraint and could read her like only lucian could.
"no. but i'm always looking." she touched him with her tail, "what about you, does the big bad tiger have a mate?"
he purred a little, "why no i don't, but like you, i am always looking." he looked her in the eyes and akira felt a weakness in her tingling muscles. lucian and sophia were watching things play out and he whispered to her, "he's the only dragon i know that can play her game as well as she can. look how her wings are shaking, she likes him, but doesnt want him to know... yet... she'll try to play her way out and try to get him in her clutches."
sure enough, she did. now sebastian was feeling as she was, weak and tingly. he fumbled a little and akira smiled, and sebastian followed with a week grin. he looked nervous, then surprised as akira kissed him. she had surprised all of them. sebastian's wings fell to his side and his eyes closed as he kissed her back letting his long tongue wrap around hers playfully. sophia looked from them to lucian, who had a soft smile on his face. "i'm just as surprised as you. they only met a few days ago." sophia grinned and whispered something into lucian's ear. he grinned and blinked a few times, "i definitely wasnt expecting that."
akira and sebastian pulled away slowly, enjoying the touch of the other's tongues on their own. to each of them, they knew that the other was their soulmate. they had completely forgotten about lucian and sophia.
akira and sebastian looked nervously at the masters.
lucian spoke to akira mentally, "is he the one for you?" she nodded.
sophia asked the same to sebastian and he nodded.
lucian said, "well, sebastian, i was going to give you a room to yourself. but it looks like youve found your own. akira, don't be too rough with him."
the couple grinned and lucian dismissed them, turning to his own mate as they left. "to the room, my dear?"
sophia closed the door with magic and tackled lucian pinning him to the floor. he looked up at her and she said, "how about right here?"
lucian leaned up and kissed her, blowing out the lights.
      *
Akira led sebastian up the spiral staircase to her private quarters, the lovers moon shining white through the skylight. he nipped at her tail and she batted at him playfully. sebastian caught her and layed her down on her back with a deep kiss. she gasped as she felt something touch her nether regions. she looked and saw sebastian's ready member poised and waiting. her heart was racing along with his and he wrapped his wings over her. their tails intertwined and she nodded. sebastian kissed her again and she gasped as she found her mate.
      *
sophia lay on top of lucian, his member still inside her. they kissed passionately and lucian felt an urge come over him. sophia gasped and asked, "again?"
he spoke in old draconic, "i have missed you my love, and the lovers moon is high."
she growled softly, "so it is, my dear."
      *
akira woke up wrapped in sebastian's arms, his wings draped over her. she tapped him awake and they went down to the study where they found lucian and sophia asleep,
Wrapped in a warm embrace. lucian woke lucian while akira woke sophia. the masters blushed as they realized they were exposed.
lucian asked, "then you are mated?"
they both nodded. "we are."
the masters dipped their heads, "congradulations. would you like to make a public announcement?"
the couple talked it over, considering pros and cons, and decided to make an announcement.
it was decided to perform the ritual after the couple had bathed and prepared. akira and sebastian flew to the waterfall and bathed in magically warmed water. the masters arrived and split into pairs, lucian with sebastian and sophia with akira. sophia lavished akira with perfumes and putting flowers in her mane. lucian helped sebastian polish his scales, bringing out the deep black of the stripes. both akira and sebastian got their horns and teeth cleaned, and were given a gold and onyx ring to exchange. the rings were made to be placed on the others horn.
there was an hour until the ceremony was to begin and
The masters were giving advice to the couple as well as telling them the proceedings for the ceremony. when the pairs finally saw each other, sebastian's jaw dropped. "a-akira you look stunning..."
"you look so handsome..."
they stood there for a second, looking intently into each other's eyes.
tsai came up to them and said, "its time." he had become the preacher for the headquarters and presided over funerals and the proclomations of marriage. there was an altar set up at the front of the ceremonial hall, where all of the dragons had been summoned. akira and sebastian stood on opposite sides of tsai, looking out at the crowd. on que, the harpist began playing and the two stepped forward and faced each other.
sebastian asked, "are you ready?"
"oh yes. my dear."
tsai began: "dragons all, we are gathered here this morning to witness the becoming of one soul by two entities in a binding marriage.
        
As tsai finished and the rings were placed, lucian felt a dark energy from the crowd. there was a strong evil being born in the heart of one of the gathered. lucian could not pinpoint just yet who was turning, but as the crowd rose and started cheering, he looked for the one that glared at the couple in hatred: kovu, lucian's son. kovu muttered something and then froze, captured by something. from the rear of the hall came a large red dragon; it was scar, he had come all this way to see these two wed. the collective crowd turned and gasped, taking their seats and watching. kovu was the only one still up. "down boy." and kovu was forced to sit. scar continued up the aisle and stood in front of the newlyweds. he raised a claw and touched it to akira's neck where a silver necklace appeared. he did the same to sebastian and a black necklace appeared. "these are enchanted, they will protect
you from most magics and weapons."
both dipped their heads in thanks. finally he touched both of them on their left forearm where identical bands appeared. "these can hold enormous stores of energy, and can also link you to your mate at even extreme distances."
"thank you, grandmaster."
he turned and a shower of flower petals rained down on all of them signaling that the wedding was done. everyone but kovu cheered and the couple ran down the aisle followed by lucian and sophia. "its time for the lovers flight. circle around the compound twice and then return to my study."
the dragons flew, chasing each other in a game of tag, swooping upwrds and diving backwards, pulling out and hovering onto the landing bay. they walked back to lucian's study and found the masters waiting, all of them; tsai, ulrich, lucian, scar and others. lucian looked at his grandfather and sighed, "akira, sebastian, theres bad news. it seems youve made an enemy."
the couple looked at them oddly. "what do you mean?"
"kovu has disappeared. he was angered that you two became mates. no doubtedly he had feelings for you akira. and now it seems he has a personal vendetta against you, sebastian."
sebastian sat down, trying to take all of this in. "i- i don't even know him. i've never met him. apparently he's important but who is he? you guys obviously know who he is."
the masters collectively looked at lucian, who looked solemn. "kovu.... kovu is my son. he was sophia and my firstborn."
"your... your son?"
"yes... he's always been somewhat troubled... he was quick tempered and hot-headed. he was under the impression that he killed your mate. he has the scar's from his punishment, but it was for the greater good. we had to make it seem like akira was dead so she could fullfil her missions wuithout darkheart getting suspicious. i had to change everything about her. the woman you love isn't who she used to be."
sebastian turned to akira, "is this true? this is't the real you?"
akira placed a tender claw to sebastian's cheek. "this is me, this is who i am. the dragon i once wasis gone, and i'm glad. i was lost and confused. i tried to kill lucian... i killed for darkheart and i enjoyed it. that's not who i am anymore. i'm sorry that ive gotten you into this. dear, but we can overcome this... together."
sebastian placed his claw on her cheek, "i know we can. we can get through anything."
lucian and the other masters gathered around the couple and placed gave their blessings to the newlyweds, echantments, spells, advice.  finally, once each had given their blessing, the masters left, leaving only akira, sebastian, lucian, sophia and tsai.

2 days later

akira arched her neck as a breeze blew softly through the room, bringing sebastian's warm, musky scent to her. her whole body shivered in delight and  nuzzled him gently. "you smell wonderful, sebastian."
his body tingled as the same breeze brought him the sweet perfumed smell of his mate. he rolled over on the bed, putting him nose to nose with her. he scratched the soft scales under her chin and she purred. she kissed him for a while until lucian knocked on their door. the couple sat up and called him in. he looked tired, ragged, distant. he had looked this way since kovu disappeared. the new mates had been sympathetic to lucian and helped in any way they could. "any luck, lucian?"
lucian sighed and leaned against the wall. "none. he's gone. most likely to darkheart." in his tiredness, lucian looked young, it showed that he was vulnerable and worried. he was in a weakened state and could hardly stand. "lucian, you need to rest. be with your mate, relax a little."
lucian nodded, "yeah
i do need some rest. sophia has been getting after me to do so. i'm going to take her to the waterfalls and then rest up for a day or two. until then, you guys take over my class with sophia. she'll take you through it."
"sounds good."
lucian left with a tired goodbye and the couple returned to their romancing. they engaged in a game, the blindfold game that akira usually used on her targets. akira had a few seconds to hide and sebastian had to find her in 3 minutes. his reward if he found her: she would please him however he wished. but if he did not find her, he would please her. akira's heart raced and a sly grin crept across her face as sebastian crept closer and closer to her, she held her breath as he crept less than a foot from her tail. he was less than an inch away from her belly and she backed against the wall. her mate sniffed once and licked her, sending a tingle down her spine. "i have found you, dear akira. and its time for my reward."
akira untied the blindfold and
kissed him, leading him backwards to the bed. once they felt the padded bed behind them, they lay down and akira rewarded sebastian. sweat covered their scales, both panted and rewarded

1 hour later

The couple lay panting, covered in sweat and sebastian's seed. even as they panted, the reward had not yet been fulfilled. even as he thrust his shaft inside the cleft of her body, she countered with thrusts of her own, sending agonizingly pleasing jolts of energy into both of their bodies. with each thrust, a moan of ecstasy escaped akira's open maw and a low growl from sebastian. akira felt her body begin to tense as the climax came, just before sebastian's body arched and his muscles tensed. the release was so great that akira cried out in delight. she felt the seed overflowing inside her and spilling onto her mate and the bed. it made a soft squishing noise as they pressed together. akira thought that it was over, but to her surprise, sebastian kept thrusting. this caught her off guard and she came again, more energetic than the last. the electrifying spasms pulsed inside her for a
few moments, spilling more of her juices which mixed with his. sebastian wasnt finished. he thrust,
Again and again, building his own climax. she felt both of them tense, both of them rigid and waiting for the final thrust. when it came, both cried out amorously and stained the bed with their juices, which had long since overflowed. both lay quivering against each other, sebastian's semi erect shaft still throbbing inside akira's ventrality. akira collapsed on top of sebastian, exhausted from the climaxes. once she regained some strength, she lifted herself up, letting his shaft slide out. she dripped more liquids, both of them still very wet. she looked down at the heaving body of her lover and the puddle wet sheets he lay on. still panting, she said, "we're going to need neew sheets."
he laughed weakly, "no kidding. that was one hell of a reward."
the room smelled of sex and sweat.

The couple was getting up as sophia knocked. akira turned to sebastian who still had his member out, "put that away, hun." he used his will and forced it back into his body.
he looked under her tail and chuckled, "and what about you, dear? youre still out." he teased her by licking the exposed flesh once. she jumped, giggling, "not now, sebastian!" she forced herself to close, her parts away from sebastian's teasing tongue.
sophia was waiting patiently at the door. she smelled what had transpired and said, "quite a wild time i see, well, its customary for the newlyweds to go on honeymoon right about now, but with lucian out on leave, it looks like it'll have to wait."
"thats fine, sophia. we'll be glad to fill in for master lucian." sebastian filled in for lucian's flight class as substitute master.

the dragons had free reign over the skies since the humans went underground. some dragons went along with them to keep tabs on them and usually reported every month or so. sebastian's
Job was to take thee recon class and gather the reports. it would take 3 days to gather them from the posts. akira and sophia were training the fighters and the quards. akira and sebastian hated to leave each other, but had a duty to fulfill. when they got back together, they immediately went on honeymoon, traveling to the sandy beaches of former venezuela.
Kovu pounded furiously on the door of darkheart's citadel. it had been built into the side of a mountain and at this time of year, the blizzards were blinding and disorienting. kovu's deep red scales stood out among the white and his sight was fading as the hypothermia started kicking in. he never noticed the 3 white sentries following him. they let him suffer as they were warmed by the furs they wore. they watched him shiver and let him collapse unconscious before dragging him inside. the sentries were female, like most of darkheart's students. they had been deprived of male contact and set about searching him, probing him and exploring his body. they went about this for a while until darkheart appeared from a wiff of smoke. she wore dark black furs and purple silks. the sentries were off duty and went to their quarters, murmuring about this handsome young drake they found. darkheart
called her advisor to her side and the two set to waking the unconscious dragon.
His eyes fluttered open after a spell murmured from the advisor. he stood at attention, only to crouch in embarrasment as he realized that his member was in plain view. darkheart said, "do not worry, young dragon. it was those naughty sentries that woke your sleeping member." kovu stood again as the 2 examined him. they noted his muscular physique and his strong wings. "your name is kovu, you are dear lucian's firstborn."
kovu stared at his claws, "i-i am. i left his compound because... because..."
darkheart leaned forward and whispered, "because of a dragoness, am i right?"
Kovu stuttered, "y-yes. i loved her.. but apparently she didnt love me the same way; she mated and is now wed. there is nothing left for me there."
darkheart was intrigued, "really? and you think we can reform the poisoned mind of one of lucian's teachings?"
kovu was willing to go through anything. "i have dispatched one of your own in the past. a spy named sasha."
darkheart turned on him, razor sharp claws at his
Throat. "you! you killed her! the pride of the citadel... killed by a mere apprentice. no doubt you used strong magics."
"aye. i did. though they were afterwards wiped from my memory and i was whipped a total of two hundred times."
darkheart did not seem impressed. "if you had been in my citadel, you'd have been whipped a thousand times. each scale would have born dozens of scars, if you had any left. we will reform you. but i warn you, i will be twice as punishing to you as you are lucian's only male heir and because of the death of mine finest student. your first test: find your own quarters. i care not whom you are quartered with, so long as any misdoings solve themselves. if you can manage to find room, then we will train you. you must work hard to find a male quarter, but you must work harder to aquire a female's quartering."
"female?"
"i care not what transpires. if anything were to happen, either you have fought well, or she has allowed you. now go, you have one day."
Kovu spent the next few hours in the cold corridors asking for room. most wouldnt open up, but some listened, though unwilling to give up part of the room. toward nightfall, the corridors began to gather ice. kovu found it harder to move and even stay awake. he knocked lightly on the last door and fell at the dragoness's feet. she looked at him with sympathy "and who might you be?"
weakly, he replied, "i'm... kovu... i'm... looking for a place to stay..."
this dragoness was sympathetic and brought him in, covering him with a blanket. "thank you..."
"i'm leiks, you're the drake that the 3 Whites found. they say you've got quite a body."
kovu's heart raced and he backed against the wall as he realized where she was going. "well, i-ive..." he was cut off as she kissed him.
"show me, please." she rubbed against him softly, tingles going through his body. he felt compelled to give himself to her, and did. on that night, he mated with his new companion. though darkheart did not care for it Kovu felt that he and leiks should be wed. the next day, they were. it wasnt much of a wedding, but it was a wedding nonetheless. only darkheart and her advisor were present.
from then on, he and leiks would train together, live together, fight together.
"kovu, what did darkheart want?" leiks lay seductively on the bed, waiting for kovu. he smiled and lay down next to her.
"we have a mission. we need to see the advisor before we leave. we are to gather information on an assassin. we don't know who he is or what he looks like. so we have to be on our guard."
leiks nodded and got on top of kovu. "when do we leave?"



Akira woke up in a cold sweat. she had seen kovu with a she-drake, interrogating one of her contacts. her contact was on the brink of death, and she still said nothing. akira had seen the contact die for her. "hun, whats wrong?"
akira got up, "its kovu. he's killed one of my contacts."
sebastian got up after her, "how do you know?"
akira looked over her shoulder at him, a tear in her eye. "i saw it in a dream... he tortured her."
sebastian embraced her as she cried. the contact had been one of her closest friends. "we'll find him."

Kovu struggled to stand as darkheart's advisor wiped the blood from her whip. "you were only to interrogate her, not kill her. be thankful Her Mistress finds your skills worthy, otherwise you would not be standing at all!" she turned to leiks who was being held back by the 3 whites. "your turn, dear leiks. let her loose."
the 3 whites pushed her into the circle. the advisor raised her whip and swung once. kovu wiped the blood from his eyes and grabbed the whip. "stop. take it out on me."
the advisor growled and raised the whip again. "wait, keha. lets take him up on that offer. leiks, you will deliver the punishment."
keha glared but handed over the whip. "how-how many?"
darkheart smirked and replied, "two hundred and fifty lashes."

leiks carried kovu to their quarters, blood trailing behind them. leiks was crying as she set kovu on the bed. "kovu... kovu..."
"leiks... i- i can't move leiks..."
"you don't have much energy left, my sweet. and you lost a lot of blood."
leiks tended to
Her mate's wounds, saying, "please, we can't keep going through this. lets go to your father."
"no! i can't go back... my father... he won't accept me..."
leiks looked him in the eyes and said, "yes he will, kovu. just give him a chance."
kovu looked tenderly at his wife, "alright... next chance we get, we're leaving."
leiks smiled, "thank you, kovu."
kovu could barely fly, and leiks had to guide him. they flew for a whole day and night, until they saw the rainforest cliffside of the stacra. they were met by a few guardians who recognized kovu and beckoned him in. the first to see the two was lucian and sophia. "son! you've come back!"
"i-i am, father." leiks stayed at the back of the study, keeping quiet until all had gathered. the last to arrive was akira and sebastian. "brother, it has been a while."

this is a book i'm still writing.

Motivated by the light
I sit in the darkness and plan my escape,
the lighter reminds me of the sun.
I drift off to a faraway land,
it is always sunny here.

Ember Evanescent Nov 2014

"DEAR BLANK CHALLENGE" PLEASE PLEASE READ THIS AND REPOST TRY TO KEEP IT GOING:  HELLOPOETRY "DEAR BLANK" CHALLENGE SECRET SANTA POEMS EXCEPT NOT SECRET AND NOT SANTA RANDOM ACT/POEM OF KINDNESS STRANGER POETRY APPRECIATION

I thought it might be nice to do like a secret santa thingy on hellopoetry only not secret and not santa… what I mean is, find a random stranger you literally have never met and do NOT know at all whose poetry you like and spend actual time genuinely reading their work, picking out your favorite lines and responding to them, pondering them, etc. Write something positive to them and post it as a poem with their name in the title. The “DEAR BLANK” challenge only you put their name instead of “blank”. I think we could all use a little recognition that we exist and are worth something since everyone seems a little depressed on here (including myself) which is fine, it’s a great outlet but it would be nice for people to just spontaneously find that a random stranger spent time in their life just to recognize you and care about your poetry. To write a kind poem/letter to them responding to lines in their poetry. If you need an example I just posted DEAR IMALRIGHT which was exactly what I meant. Check out imalright's poetry btw it is amazing.
I plan on doing for more than one person and I'd love for you to do the same. Spread a little kindness, we could all use a little.
Also message me if you are going to do the challenge and message the stranger you do the DEAR BLANK challenge for so they know to look for and read your poem.
I just thought that Imalright who was a perfect stranger to me seemed like a wonderful poet and a wonderful person based on her poetry so I chose her.
You do that too if you accept the DEAR BLANK challenge.
INCLUDE DEARBLANKCHALLENGE AS A HASHTAG IF YOU DO THE CHALLENGE SO EVERYONE CAN FIND THEM
please repost this over and over so we can get as many people involved as possible and try and make a difference in a couple people's lives because I just want to make everyone feel loved but I'm just one girl, I can't do it alone. Please help me with this and join me in the DEAR BLANK challenge. Take time out of your day to properly appreciate someone's poetry who you do not know.

PLEASE REPOST LET'S GET EVERYONE INVOLVED!!! ;D
THANKS!

-EMBER EVANESCENT

DEAR BLANK CHALLENGE
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