Story

COLLISION – Chapter 5: Rescue

Read Chapter One

Heavy panting breaths. Long leaping strides. His ability to so quickly learn how to switch between his normal visual range and the telescopic sight, which the alien technology had granted him, enabled him to rush through the forest.

Whipping his scanner out, as he leaps to clear a thick root which has been forced out of the ground by the diagonal trunk of its tree, he can’t but think that this must be how his captain feels most days. A reckless adventurer, moving only on gut instinct and despite the danger to himself.

Chekov’s mustard yellow shirt is covered in dark soot and mud. His normally pristine shoes are slick with mud and his short blonde curls are damp with sweat.

Where is she? He wonders. Initially, he’d tried to use the moon overhead to retrace his steps, but with it being overhead, it didn’t provide much help. Thankfully, the optical upgrades had kicked in. Somehow sensing that he was looking to retrace his steps, his vision had become layered with a linked network of symbols in various hues of yellow. He assumed, and hopes, that it was leading him back where he came from.

Using this alien assistance, and his own survival skills, he was able to find and traverse his path back. A short while later, he’d covered much of the ground that his party had less than an hour ago.

The forest was quiet, his comrades a long way behind him now. Ahead, he could almost make out the sound of gunfire and the clang of metal on metal. Or was he just imagining it, hopeful he wasn’t too late. Not that Viridian needed his help. The warrior seemed far more capable of taking care of herself than he did. She’d sprung into action, firing with an accuracy and rapidity that could only come from a trained warrior, a soldier. But that wasn’t what bothered him. He sensed that her courage also came with a hard headed recklessness, he’d seen it before. She’d saved them from the ambush, but he had no intention of letting her die for them.

Meanwhile, not far ahead, Viridian was crouched high in the treetops. She’d been balancing between two of the thicker branches about three quarters of the way up one of the tallest trees.

Silently she thanked the crafters of her armour that they had managed to infuse such a lightweight material with the exceptional protective power they did. In the first volley of attacks, when the three Dragon Lord fighters had started their sudden assault of the party, she had been struck hard by one of the bullets. Luckily her movements had been swift and she’d been able to let the energy bolt glance off her chest plate.

It’d been several minutes since she’d sent the others on ahead. Having to protect the wounded woman would have only slowed her down. By now they should have reached Rex Mara and be safely cloaked by the mystics. What she didn’t know was where these assailants were.

“Do you have eyes?” a careless whisper from below alerts her to their presence. She can’t hear the received reply, even through the sound magnification of her helmet.

“Proceed north west” the voice continues. “She’s waiting for us I’ve no doubt. Shiv, get ahead and catch up to the intruders. Viser, you and I are sweeping this forest, line by line.”

Curses, Viridian thinks. If they can find the clearing, even if its protected, they may be able to trace the secret entranceway to the citadel. Three targets, one fighter, how is she going to get them all at once? Strategies and scenarios play in her mind and across her helmet screen.

The attacker below begins to continue moving. She can tell there are three attackers, one below her and one slightly ahead. Undoubtedly the third is also nearby, just out of range or hidden by the forest.

Watching them go, Viridian seeks out branches sturdy enough to move to. The interior of her helmet displays several lateral lines indicating safe branches, each line differs in thickness denoting the varying load bearing strengths. She leaps as quietly as possible, using one branch as a stepping stone to the next tree trunk, above her target.

“What?”

She stops.

“Where?… Hold position.”

Something has changed.

“I5. Low risk. Give me two clicks, will engage. Shiv belay previous order, lets take this one in.”

The branch creeks under Viridian. She scans the trees as far ahead as she can, catching a flash of black and yellow heading her way. Curses! She thinks again.

Chekov is almost out of breath. He’s sure he must be almost back to where they left Viridian. He comes to a sudden stop when he spies a seared tree trunk.

“She must be close” he says, touching the still warm burned bark. A trio of buzzing, shrill sounds causes he to turn into a living statue.

“Uh oh”

From ahead of him a white light almost blinds him. With the nightlight vision making the dark forest appear bright, the white is too powerful for his eyes. Clamping them shut, he opens them again to find they have adjusted, toning down the brightness so that it now appears to be night again.

Turning his head, watching for sudden movements, he finds an additional two bright white guns pointed at him from diagonally behind him on his left and right.

“Don’t shoot!” he exclaims, raising his hands.

The guns are raised higher, the buzzing increasing in volume as they charge. Then, the black armoured attacker in front of him begins to speak.

“You are now under the guard of the Dragon Lords. Invader 4, you are our cap-“

The words are cut short by an emerald slice of energy which knocks the speaker to the ground.

“Carmine!” yells one of the other attackers, the one to the left of Chekov. He rushes forward  as the other raises her weapon to the trees and lets off several short volleys.

“Viser, is he hurt?” asks Shiv, still pointing her weapon at the trees.

“I’m fine!” comes Carmine’s angry reply.

“Shiv, where is she?”

“I don’t know. Didn’t see her. Don’t think I made contact. Scanning for density shifts.”

Propping Carmine up, Viser cocks his weapon upward.

“And where is the…arrhh….target?” asks Carmine between groans.

Viser and Shiv look back to where Chekov had been standing and see nothing.

“WHERE IS HE?!” yells Carmine.

“Searching…found him, heading south. Targeting”

Viser guides his assault weapon, panning across to Chekov who is rushing away. As he begins to pull down the trigger a sharp shot strikes his helmet. With a hollow crack, he is slammed onto his back, knocking him out.

“Got her!” screams Shiv over the sound of her concussive shots. Each blast is a scattergun of bullets which tears up the tree line. There are dull thumps of contact, but not with armour, only the tree trunks. Carmine pulls himself up, hissing at pain in his abdomen. Shiv circles the nearest tree, readying further blasts.

“What are we going to do about Viser?” Shiv asks without looking at their fallen companion.

“Forget that idiot. Get the scum swordsman then we’ll chase down the target. He’s heading towards our rally troops so he won’t get far.”

“I think she’s gone. Or very still. I’m not seeing anything on scanners.”

Carmine raises his weapon. Using one hand, he spins the barrel. With a single smooth action the gun switches from a short-nosed pistol with elongated blades for its tip, into a long conical-ended gun with a burning core. In an instant the sun-like core is ignited, sending azure flames at the trees above. Instead of simply setting the treelike alight, the flames engulf and disintegrate the tops of the trees, destroying leaves, branches and parts of the tree trunks instantly. Moonlight bathes Carmine, Shiv and the unconscious Viser.

“Feel better?” Shiv asks. Carmine huffs in response.

“Set Viser’s tracker, one of the dragons can come pick him up.”

With that, Carmine runs off in the direction Chekov seems to have gone. Shiv reaches down to Viser, clicking a small switch under the lip at the back of his helmet.

“Good luck,” she says before pursuing Carmine, “hope it doesn’t eat you.”

Chekov is running fully pelt when his distance scan spies several enemy troops. Coming to a stop behind one of the trees, he searches for a new route back where he came but along a different path, sure that he’s being followed.

“Ay,” he exclaims to himself, “I have made a mistake.”

“Yes, you have” says Viridian’s annoyed voice from above him.

Dropping from above in a lithe motion, she lands in front of Chekov.

“What are you doing here? Where are the others?”

“They made it to your comrades. I came back to check on you as you had not followed”

“Not necessary, I was fine.”

“We cannot leave someone behind.”

“In this war, you are potentially more important than I am.”

“No-one is expendable,” he insists.

“Everyone is. In the right circumstances” is her cool response.

A brief and awkward pause follows. Chekov stares defiantly at Viridian’s helmet, her eyes staring back at him.

“You did provide a useful distraction however.”

“Thank you?”

“We need to move. They’ll be here soon and we’re quickly becoming trapped between two groups of their forces. We’ll need to travel that much further to avoid them. And fast.”

“Da, lead the way.” Chekov gives Viridian an assertive nod and she takes off, closely followed by her ally.

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COLLISION – Chapter Four: Nightlight

The mechanical walls begin to clunk, shutting behind them, the slates moving back into place. The exit sealed, the party of adventurers is on to their next stage, making their way to the rose-gold citadel on the mountain.

“Can you see in this darkness?” asks Belle, who is second in the line making its way through the forest. Moonlight is reflecting off Viridian’s armour as she leads them. The knight moves quickly, surefooted.

“Yes,” she responds.

“But how? Its almost pitch black and we’re all falling over ourselves!”

As if to make her point Belle slips on a patch of mud, catching herself before she hits the ground

Viridian stops, swivelling on her heels to face her trailing companions.

She reaches behind her armour and clips off a string of beads. Pulling two off at a time, she hands them to Belle.

“Put one into each eye. Tell the others.” Viridian states, turning back. She is careful in her movements, surveying ahead of them.

A pale light streams from behind Belle, who turns to see Jack close behind her, coming to a halt with Holtzmann just behind him. Chekov and Peggy arrive a moment later, the small, pale light from Peggy’s miniature pen-torch helping guide their steps.

“I’m not sure I can keep this up with my torch. The ground is covered in mud and roots which, I must say, have a rather bad habit of slowing me down.”

Peggy examines her heels which are now fairly caked in dirt. Her reluctance to remove them is entirely based around the questionable, alien environment around them, despite the impracticality.

“Here.” says Belle. She hands each of them a pair of beads. “Viridian says to…uh…put one into each eye.”

“I’m sorry, I must have misheard.” says Chekov. “Did you say, eyes?”

“I’ve put weirder things, stranger places” says Jack, pulling the beads apart before slamming them into his eyes.

“Wait!” Peggy says too late.

“Huh, well thats impressive. They have some phenomenal technology in this place.”

“What do you see Jack?” asks Belle, the others coming a little closer to look into Jack’s eyes.

“Its like…its the middle of the day. Everything just looks more visible.”

Viridian leans into the group.

“Hurry up! We should not stay still for long.”

Chekov is scanning the beads, seeing further strange readings flashing across his screen. He looks up to mention the biological elements he’s detecting as Peggy pushes them into her eyes. As she’s stood next to him with her torch also in her hand, he glimpses tiny tendrils seeping from the beads before they are absorbed into her pupils.

“Oh my.” Peggy exclaims. “This is extraordinary.”

Peggy switches off her pen-torch with a twist of the nib, sliding it into her interior coat pocket.

“Here goes nothing” says Holzmann, pushing them into her eyes. Belle follows suit. Both make oooh faces as they stare around at the now clear forest.

Chekov is last, nervously staring at the small beads. He rolls them between his fingers.

“Udachi” he murmers, placing each bead to his eye. They shoot, too fast for him to see, into his eyes and his vision disappears for a split second. When it returns, the shadowy outlines of the trees and the dim frames of his fellow travellers are now crystal clear. Looking up, he can see a bright sky, though its clear there is no sun making it so.

“Time to go, Chekov” says Jack, rousing him from his daze staring at the new world. With a broad grin on his face he adds, “like what ya see?”

“Da, this is exceptional. Every detail is very clear, but also strange. It is like an augmented layer to my own vision. Even the distance seems clearer, closer as I focus.”

“Not the time for flirting Jack, Viridian is on the move.” says Peggy, interrupting.

She waits for the last two, Holtzmann and Belle a short way ahead of them. With an effortless zoom, Chekov makes out his companions slipping in-between the trees.

“We are falling behind” he says to Jack, causing his smile to turn to a frown as he rushes past the taller man.

With their new vision in place, the team are able to negotiate the undergrowth much more easily. Viridian is silent and Ekta’s voice is gone, leaving them in an eerie quiet. Occasionally branches cracking underfoot and animal calls penetrate the bright night.

Belle and Holtzmann walk side by side, a few paces behind the knight who is leading them without a word.

“I’m not sure I’ll get used to this.” says Belle.

“What, travelling accidentally to an alien world and being chased by dragons?” asks Holtzmann.

“Uh, no.” she replies. “All this brightness at night. It looks wrong, unnatural.”

“I agree, it does perplex the mind.”

Holtzmann pulls her goggles down over her eyes, the school bus yellow lenses colouring her nightlight world.

“Well, that’s intriguing.” she remarks.

“What?”

“My goggles are yellow.”

“Yes, I can see that.” Belle responds, confused.

“But these optical doohickies seem to be reacting to it, making my eyes see without the yellow filter.”

Holtzmann is circling her head as though she was doing neck stretching exercises, crossing her eyes as she does.

A singing eeeeek pierces the quiet, followed instantly by a white spear of light that strikes Holtzmann in the back. She’s slammed forward onto the ground. Viridian whirls to face them, sword extending in her hand from its hilt.

“Get down!” she yells.

Belle crouches down next to Holtzmann, her face in the mud.

zzzzzingppptttt

Another shot is fired, hitting a tree next to Chekov as he drops to the ground. He begins to crawl towards Holtzmann, who is not moving, and Belle.

With a loud, crackling boom, Viridian lets of her own retaliation shots which rip through the branches and leaves. She is aiming in the direction of the first shot, behind and to the left of the team.

Jack and Peggy have stooped behind a tree each, pistols in hand.

“Can you see them?” Jack asks Peggy.

“Give me a moment” she responds.

A shot shoots past, towards where Viridian is firing a little ways ahead. With a quick glance, Peggy rolls across to a sheltering bush. She peaks her head over as the knight returns fire. She quints, feeling a strange tickle across her eyes. Her sight shifts, narrowing with brilliant clarity onto the attackers in the distance. 400m appears in the corner of her sight along with unfamiliar symbols overlayed onto the hiding places of the attackers. She rolls back to her first position just in time to avoid the shots fired into her hiding spot.

“Three attackers, 400 metres away.”

“Jillian’s been hit. We need to cover the others so they can help her.” Jack reports.

“Can you cover me?”

“3…2…1…”

She darts out at one as Jack leans from behind his tree and looses shots at the attackers. His accuracy is improved by the sniper vision, allowing him to strike the nearest attacker. Unfortunately, though his two bullets  hit the neck, armour hinders it from doing any visible damage.

“Damn” he says under is breath, spinning back into hiding.

He turns to look at his teammates. More white and green shots are exchanged. Scanning the forest, he’s able to make out Peggy who is staring directly at him; though in normal circumstances she wouldn’t be able to see him. She motions for him to join her.

As Viridian lets off another volley, Jack runs, bent over, to the team.

“How is she?” he asks when he reaches them.

“She’s just knocked out,” Belle tells him. “Looks like she’s wearing some kind of protection under that suit”

“I’ve done a scan, she does not appear to have broken any bones. We can move her.” says Chekov, holding out the tricorder which no-one can read.

Viridian moves nearer to them, sliding with impressive agility along the ground.

“We need to go.”

“Jack, give me a hand with her” says Belle. He moves to the other side of Holtzmann and the two begin to lift her, an arm over each of their shoulders.

“When I say go, you go.” Viridian says.

The shots stop. She leans her head out, rising slightly from her crouched position.

“They’re trying to flank us. GO!”

She points their direction, Peggy leading the charge, with Belle and Jack  dragging the unconscious Holtzmann with them.

“What about you?” Chekov asks.

“I’m coming! Go!” she says, shoving him in the right direction.

Wielding her sword with one hand, she twirls it quickly. It sparks briefly. An emerald glow emanates from it and the gun-sword splits along the middle where the shots came from. A metallic ting follows and the single weapon becomes two swords. Viridian grips the handles, blades crossed in front of her. She looks over her shoulder, scanning for the retreating members of her party. Seeing them racing in the right direction, she leaps up into the trees.

“Are we sure we’re going the right way?” grunts Jack.

His neck is bent down as he carries Holtzmann, tiredness beginning to set in.

“I’ve reason to believe we are.” Peggy assures him.

“And we’re not being followed.” says Chekov.

He stares back, desperately looking for a sign of Viridian. They’ve been running for who-knows how many minutes. All blaster sounds have stopped. Even in the nightlight, the endless trees are non-distinct.

“We’re here” says Peggy.

Belle and Jack use what little strength they can muster to straighten themselves up. They see Peggy round a massive rock. Following her, they are met by a wall of, what looks to Jack, like fireflies.

A huddled group of hooded figures are stood, short capes billowing behind them from a force they can’t feel.

“Where is Viridian?” says a neon pick, flecked, armoured man. He flits his gaze between the newly arrived people.

“Behind us” says Belle, leaning to place Holtzmann carefully on the ground.

“She pointed us in your direction. Then, we don’t know what happened” adds Jack.

“Come this way,” he says.

Another knight, this one in a terracotta orange suit of armour, helps him lift Holtzmann, hurriedly walking towards an opening in the rock cove. Jack and Belle are panting, catching their breath, but make slow steps to follow. Peggy begins to follow them but turns around with a realisation.

She asks, “Where’s Chekov?”

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COLLISION – Chapter 3: Citadel

As though gifted with foresight, each of the heroes sent flying converts their movements. With twists and curls they reach neat landing positions on the truck.

“Woah” says Jack

“I’ve never felt more like a cat” adds Holtzmann

“How did we do that?” asks Belle

Crashing sounds followed by electric hisses remind the shocked team that they are still in the middle of running for their lives.

Ekta whispers into their ears, “we have mages nearby. Using the senti-mites they were able to influence your bodies to land.”

“I honestly don’t know how to react to that.” continues Belle.

As they right themselves, crouched on the back of the hoverbus, the knight who had been defending them leaps to join them. Behind her the dragon can be seen spitting black venom at its attackers. The lift-room has resealed itself and there is little light in the area, save for the flashes of energy from the knights.

“Go!” yells the knight, presumably to an unseen drive, before saying to the team, “hold onto something.”

The hoverbus hoots into action, beginning a speedy exit away from the dragon. Although  they hear it let out a spluttering scream, the sound quickly fades as the hoverbus weaves through the trees, into the forest. With an unnatural darting side to side while facing forward, the vehicle is able to negotiate the dense tree line with relative ease.

“I’m definitely going to be sick” murmers Holtzmann before leaning her head over the side she’s gripping onto. Luckily for her fellow queasy passengers, any splatters or dry heaving is covered by the sound of the hoverbus’ engine.

“We’re two minutes out, is it contained? We can’t risk being followed” the knight says, speaking with someone the others can’t hear. She twists her armoured helmet round with surprising ease, looking in the direction from which they came. “Good. Let’s get underground. Now.”

At her utterance, the ground opens beneath the vehicle and they drop into darkness. In the blackness, its like heading down a water luge. Its mostly silent, smooth, with only the whooshing wind to suggest their direction of travel.

After an unknown number of minutes, long fluorescent lights pop on in the surrounding tunnel. The seemingly never ending lines head into the distance, with blue tubes above them, colours changing to green for the lower lights – though only Holtzmann can see these ones with her head still thrown over the side of the hoverbus.

“You’ll arrive shortly” Ekta assures the team.

With renewed calm and relaxing stability on board, Agent Carter settles back into the front corner the vehicle. Her back is nearest to the curved wall which likely has the driver behind it. It rises up slightly over her head like an awning. Glancing at her fellow adventurers, she seems Jack carefully checking his pockets opposite her, Chekov is next to him tapping away at his triquarter. Holtzmann is learnt over next to her, having pulled her head back into the vehicle. Belle meanwhile is nearest the knight. Her hand is still tentatively waiting above her dagger, though she’s slid it into its holster.

Peggy is carefully holding her gun raised, not assured enough they are out of danger to even consider concealing her weapon. Miraculously, she’s managed to keep her hat, though she is regretting her stylish yet somewhat impractical heels.

From her shoes to the knights, she begins to observe in detail their companion. While her initial impression, similar to her fellow travellers, was that she was some kind of medieval knight, there are clear inconsistencies. Unlike the classic suits of metal, this knight appears to have swapped layered metallic joints, for some kind of dark material with significantly more flexibility. The helmet too has the basic shape of a knight’s, but with a more beaklike shape, eyes hidden behind reflective guards. Overall the armour looks to be built for maximum movement, with hardened areas at core strike points. Not an inch of flesh can be seen beneath.

“We’re here” Ekta tells them.

With an upward gust, the hovers emerges into a square. Tall metallic walls are equidistant from the  vehicle on all sides, and no entrances or exist are visible.

The knight disembarks, flipping herself over the end of the hoverbus. Belle follows suit. Holtzmann and Chekov slide off the vehicle next. Jack offers an open palm, indicating for Peggy to go first, which she does. The knight doesn’t wait for them, instead jogging purposefully towards one side. Looking up, Peggy sees the high walls, jagged tops about ten stories high with classic castle shapes. Beyond the wall the knight is heading for is an enormous mountain with a glittering rose-gold building atop it.

“Guess that’s where we’re heading” Jack says to Peggy, joining her in marvelling at the structures.

“You must hurry!” yells Chekov in the distance. The knight is still not waiting up and he and Belle are already in pursuit.

Jack begins to follow but Peggy twists round.

“Where is Jillian?” she asks. Searching for Holtzmann.

“I’m here. I’m here.” says Holtzmann, who is lying on her back behind Peggy.

“Best get up now, or we’re going to be left behind. And I rather don’t like our chances of that knight waiting up. Are you well enough to walk by yourself?”

“Yup, yup, sure, no prob-“ she halts after sitting up suddenly, swallowing hard.

“Okay, I’m good. Sure, dimensional travel I’m fine with but a little car sickness is what gets me.”

Peggy helps her to her feet and the two race to catch up with the others, seeing the knight reaching her target wall.

Ekta’s voice now appears in their ears, “I’m sorry there was no time to tell you everything. The danger was too imminent. But, I will explain everything when you arrive. Follow Viridian and you’ll be safe. I have to  go now, but will rejoin you soon.”

There is a small crackle and a feeling of water leaking out of their ears, like when you’ve been swimming.

“Did you hear that too?” Peggy asks Holtzmann

“Oh yeah. I’m guess that means Viridian is our mysterious knight in shining armour.”

“C’mon, she’s not waiting around!” bellows Jack from a little ways ahead.

They quicken their pace, reaching the other three. The far wall has begun to open, spreading apart in segments which slide into one another.

“Viridian” says Belle, who is standing nearest the Knight.

No response.

“Viridian” she says again, more forcefully this time.

“Yes.” replies the knight, her fidgety movements indicating her uneasiness.

“Are you going to tell us what’s happening? How are we getting to the citadel?”

There’s short pause before the response.

“We intended to arrive nearer but the second passage has been closed, Dragon Lords have claimed the town. We’ll have to proceed on foot.”

“What about the, uh, hover-thingy we rode in on?” asks Holtzmann thumbing back at the vehicle they’re just left. “Not that I’m eager for another spin.”

“We can’t”, is her helpful reply.

“And why is that?” huffs Jack.

Viridian turns to face them, the last clunking sounds indicating the doors are now fully open.

“I appreciate that your arrival has been unexpected but time is short. We need to avoid being spotted entering the citadel, our routes are secret…for now.”

“Are you asking us to trust you?”

“Yes, Ms French. I suppose I am.”

“Luckily we’re in a trusting mood” says Peggy. “Not that we have much of a choice at this stage.”

Viridian turns towards the dark forest behind.

“Clear?” she says, turning her head to one side, another reply being conveyed to her alone.

“Look” she turns to face our heroes now. Her helmet begins to retract, revealing the stern face of a desperate soldier. Her dark hair appears pushed back inside her helmet. Golden flecked, almond shaped eyes plead out from her weary face. Her dark skin has a light sheen of sweat on it.

“I’m a warrior. I do what I’m told. We’re at war and I’m not the one who should be explaining the why. Ekta got you here, its my job to make sure you survive getting to her. If you trust me and do as I say, we will get there together. Alive.”

She looks to each of them, eyes locking on before she moves to the next. Jack looks to Peggy, who inclines her head with a nod. Exchanging quick glances, they ready themselves, pulling up their frames and pushing back their shoulders. Viridian mirrors this action, seeing this show of readiness and trust.

“Let’s go” she says, her armoured helmet sliding into place.

“Um, shouldn’t we get special helmets too?” asks Holtzmann as they head out of the square and into the forest.

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COLLISION – Chapter Two: Mission

Read Chapter 1 here

“I suppose that clears up…well, very little if I’m honest.”

“‘fraid so Agent Carter, you’re guess is as good as ours” Jack says.

“The woman’s voice, it must be coming from somewhere. We could try communicating with her.” Chekov offers, having finished his brief, but detailed, recap of the events  of the last few minutes.

“And how exactly would you suggest we do that?” Holtzmann queries, her tone equal parts genuine confusion and mockery.

“Hello, is anyone there?” Belle asks, looking up.

“Welcome Belle French.” responds the Delhi woman’s voice.

“Hmm” murmers Peggy, smiling at Belle. “That’d do it”

“Miss, can you tell us where we are?” she continues.

“You are in the block room, Agent Carter. Your team has been gathered for a mission of grave importance.” At the uttering of ‘grave importance’ the monotone voice becomes serious and pleading.

“Who are you?” asks Belle.

Chekov begins scanning the room again with his equipment, seeking out a source for the sounds.

“I am not of your concern, Ms French.” She sounds defeated, not imposing.

“I think you are, you brought us here. That is of our concern!”

“You are incorrect. I did not bring you here. I merely, amended your journeys.”

“Well, thats all very technical of you, but I don’t care all that much.” Jack snaps. “Are you going to be sending us back any time soon, I have a date to get to.”

The voice is silent.

The four lost individuals stare at one another, in a circle. Chekov emerges as though from far away, rapidly expanding in size as he nears them.

“What happened?” he asks somewhat oblivious.

“Jack yelled at her” Belle remarks, sheathing her dagger and folding her arms.

“I didn’t yell!” he yells.

“Excuse me, oh great voice in the sky” says Holtzmann.

Silence.

“Yeah, she’s pissed.”

“You should apologise” Peggy tells Jack, beginning to pace the white room.

“For what? For asking my kidnapper to send me home? Who’s side are you on?”

He looks to each of them, Belle turns away and Holtzmann rolls her eyes.

“I’ve been trying to scan for where she is speaking from and it is not clear, it seems to be everywhere. I’ve also walked far enough away that I could not see any of you and found no walls apart from that which we are seeming to stand on.”

“Meaning?” Peggy asks.

“Meaning, I do not think we can leave without her help.” Chekov tells her.

Jack huffs.

“So, you should probably try to apologise.” he tells Jack.

“Fine…fine.” Jack swishes open his coat, planting his hands on his hips.

“I’m sorry!” He bellows upwards.

“Thank you Captain.” the voice responds softly.

“Do you have a name?” asks Carter.

“Yes. Please call me Ekta.”

There is a collective sigh. Naming a thing does tend to make it less scary.

“Please gather.” As she says this, like on invisible conveyor belts the five people are shifted around the room until they are standing in a line, facing one side.

“We need your help.”

The space in front of them grows dark, the first time any part of the room has been anything other than bright white. As it fades to darkness, shades morph creating layers and shapes.

“Our world has been usurped. We have been attacked, killed. Few remain.”

A wave of heat pulses out at the five, causing them each to take a few steps back. Flames erupt from the darkness, along with the outlines of trees. In the distance, tall, grey buildings with curved walls and turrets shine.

“O boji!” shouts Chekov

“What is it?” Peggy responds.

“There, in the distance, behind the tree line. Children are running. On fire.” He turns his face away.

The others peer into the distance, Jack begins to run full pelt towards the fire to where Chekov was pointing. But as he runs, the view moves further away from them.

“You are not there.” Ekta says. “Not yet.”

The view spins away, like wet acrylic being smeared. Just as quickly it falls back into view. This time, they are nearer the tall buildings. They can feel warmth behind them, the flames. Now, in front of them is an icy coldness. Holtzmann pulls up her googles, which have begun to frost over and breathes out, white puffs appearing.

“The fire was to keep us in. While we froze”

“Who did this?” asks Belle, tears forming in her eyes.

“A monster. A man. He cracked our world, tearing it apart without purpose, save destruction. We were just in his way.”

Again, the image is wiped away, this time like dripping the image slides away. The ice covered walls of the building disappears and the metallic underside is revealed. Heat leaves the room, being replaced by a cool breeze.

BOOM! The air vibrates with a force unseen. BOOM! SMACK! The sound is like meat being used to shape metal. It stings the air. A sound like shattering glass follows a final BOOM!

As though appearing through a screen in front of them, a jagged black sigil appears. It looks like black Tetris pieces melted together. As they stare at the black mark ahead of them, an armoured claw-like hand pierces the darkness.

“Freedom” groans and deep voice, hints of hiss tinging the word.

“But he didn’t do this. He broke into our world, taking out our defences, leaving us open to assault from the Dragon Lords.

Deep breaths are heard among the company, rage building, fear rushing through their veins at the images in front of them.

The image fades to white again.

“We need you.”

“We need you to help save us.”

After a few moments of stunned silence, Agent Carter speaks.

“I have several questions. But first I have to say…I’m so sorry this happened to you. Though I feel quite out of my depth, I will do what I can to help.”

“Da” says Chekov. “I do not understand how this is possible, but I know what is right. If you require my assistance, I am ready.”

“Oh count me in. I’ve never been partial to the oppression of anyone. What do you need from us?”

“What the Captain said” Holtzmann says, nodding at Jack.

“Me too. I’m sorry Etka, for your people and your world. How can we help you save it?”

After muted sobs, she replies, “Thank you.”

A whirling portal of blackness with glowing white sparks, like stars, funnels into appearance in front of them.

“Walk through and I’ll explain everything” Etka says.

Belle and Peggy step forward first, followed by Chekov and Jack. Taking one last look around the block room, Holtzmann steps forward, remarking, “Once more unto the breach.”

Through yellow tinted frames, Holtzmann steps into a swirling mass of confusion. Well, those were her thoughts anyway. Like becoming play-doh for about three seconds, she emerges on the other side eye level with Belle’s thigh high dagger.

“This is certainly an improvement.” She says.

At this comment, Belle turns around and looks down at her.

“Hey! What are you doing down there? And why do you lunge everywhere?”

Standing up fully, she replies “Lunges are good for the glutes. I’m also very partial to a firm posterior and lunges are important for that. I think. Do you lunge?”

Belle turns away, unsure how to take her reply. She joins to huddled trio of Jack, Peggy and Chekov, who are staring out a wall to ceiling window. It’s evening and shooting stars illuminate the sky. They are several stories high.

“I haven’t been this high since I was in Rumple’s tower.” says Belle, reaching a gloved hand to the glass. As her fingers make contact with the glass, it flashes to life, a circuit board of lights appears on the window. It grows showing a map overlayed on the window, circles over distant buildings and rotating wheels twirling in the corners. She snaps her hand away in surprise.

“Amazing” Chekov says.

“Ekta?” Peggy calls.

“I am here Agent Carter” Ekta replies. Her voice sounds near, almost like the sound is buzzing into their ears directly instead of filling the space, like in the blank room.

“And where is that exactly?” asks Jack.

“Everywhere.”

“Uh-huh”

“My body is deep within the citadel, protected. But within this building I have a voice everywhere.”

“How is that possible?” asks Holtzmann, who is standing firmly erect and peering out the corners of her goggles suspiciously.

“Our homes, our buildings are interactive. We operate with sensory technology built into the air.”

“Like nanobots?” asks Jack

“Yes, Jack, similar” says Ekta. “Though our advancements differ to that of your Earth. In many ways, we use what is called magic, as well as technology. I am orchestrating some of the senti-mites into your bodies, this will allow me to communicate with you even outside the tower.”

“That’s great, or terrifying seeing as we still don’t know you very well, but what exactly are we supposed to do next?”

“Yes, I rather agree with the Captain. Ekta, are you telling us everything?”

“Ruuuuuuuuuunnnnn!!!” screams Holtzmann suddenly. A coarse, venomous screams following her alert.

“Go now, I’ll explain later!”

“Where?!” shouts Peggy.

“This way!” Jack bellows, pointing to the right side of the window which has lit up with fuchsia and saffron coloured arrows.

As Holtzmann races past, grabbing Chekov and pulling him with her, Ekta’s voice becomes quieter, speaking directly into each of their heads; or ears probably.

“Follow the lights, it’ll lead you towards a tunnel!”

Scraping and pounding grows loader as something begins to reach the team.  Peggy, Jack and Belle, briefly spot the looming shadow of something akin to a giant lizard, a forked tongue flitting out of great jaws.

Another screaming roar and the pace increases as they race after Holtzmann and Chekov.

“Faster! You must run faster!” Ekta warns.

Jack pulls his guns from their holsters under his jacket, reading to fire at the stampeding creature that is approaching them. They turn down the long corridor which appears to be made of markless grey metal, save for the glowing arrows.

“In here!” Chekov exclaims ahead of them, his head and shoulders appearing between two panels on an inside wall. Peggy and Belle change direction, heading for the opening. Jack turns back, the scaled face of a dragon nearing them. Firing a few blue bolt shots from a pistol, he sees them refract harmlessly off the creature.

Peggy reaches out from the room, grabbing Jack by his coat collar and into safety.

“Hey! Watch the coat!” Jack exclaims as the wall seals behind them and the thumping sound of the approaching create abruptly stops. “I’m really running out of these coats. Y’know they didn’t make a infinite supply and I keep getting stabbed while in them.”

“Oh I’m terrible sorry for stopping you from being mauled, Captain Harkness. I had some deluded idea that you might be of some use.”

“Thank you Agent, but I could have saved myself.”

Peggy squares up to Jack who is examining his coat collar for rips.

“You might be able to save yourself, but it didn’t look like you were going to do it.”

“What can I say, I’m fearless.”

“Idiotic more like”

“Hey guys, I think you should get over here” interrupts Belle.

Peggy and Jack both turn to face her. She is standing behind Chekov and Holtzmann who are frantically tapping on walls and screens on the other side of the room.

Taking in the room around them, they walk over to the others. The room is sparsely furnished, with tables and seating emerging whole from the walls, as though they have slid out fully formed. The back wall, where Holtzmann and Chekov are working is another floor to ceiling window. In the darkness outside, there are small torches. Like, the ones you’d find in old fairytale castles or at medieval festivals. The torches are slowly getting closer as, Jack and Peggy now realise, the room is descending.

“What’s happening?” Peggy asks.

“We’re trying to figure out where we’ve going” Holtzmann replies.

“The room activated itself when you got in.” adds Chekov. “these systems are fairly intuitive but there are references I don’t yet understand. We’re attempting to halt our decent.”

“Why?” asks Jack, “don’t we want to go down, get out of here?”

“I REALLY wouldn’t suggest that” Holtzmann says.

“Look” Belle tells them, gesturing to the woods below.

Huge bushes rustle and tall trees shake in the darkness. Although they can hear nothing outside the room, it quickly becomes apparent that more of the creatures they have just escaped from, can be found lurking below.

“Ekta, stop this!” Jack yells.

Silence

“EKTA!”

“This is the only way out. You have to trust me.” She speaks calmly.

“I don’t like this” murmurs Chekov.

“Ekta, this isn’t fair. We want to help you, but you need to tell us whats going on? Where are you sending us?” asks Belle.

“I’m sending you to join the survivors. They’ll meet you at the base of the building.”

“Too late to stop now” comments Holtzmann.

The room comes to a slow halt, the ground coming into clear view. On the other side of the window they can now see eight waiting figures, some cloaked, others in ornate armour in various hues. Coming to a full stop the window fades away and the cool night sky hits them.

Belle pulls out her knife, Carter her gun.

“Friend of foe?” asks Holtzmann as one of the armoured figures turns to them.

The knight speaks, a commanding voice, “you want to hurry up before we become a last meal?”

Looking to each other, they run towards her as they hear a crash from above.

“Run!” she yells, pointing her sword at the sky. Twisting the blade, she fires emerald fireballs out of its tip. Looking skyward, they see that the creature which was pursing them has smashed through a window on the upper floor and taken flight, circling in a speedy decent towards them.

As the team races to the knights, who fire at the soaring dragon heading for them, a metallic screech signals the arrival of a hovering vehicle.

“Get on!” yells the knight. She drops to one knee as the creature lands. It causes a small quake in the ground, the force of which knocks all five   of our time and space travellers onto the hoverbus.

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Story

COLLISION – Chapter 1: Arrival

Also available on medium from @nickawgomez

 

The block room, bright white with barely any features visible. Its like a green screen room, but y’know, white. Some faint edges, slightly curved, can be made out in places just out of the corner of your eye. Nothing is certain in the block room until it begins.

Zing! Pop! A midnight blue portal has opened on one side; if it can be called a side, of the block room. Anti light is spilling in, swirling shades of grey, navy blue and russet brown. Its as if someone is lengthening a telescope right in front of your eye, the image is dragged away from you as it grows. Within a minute, its complete. A man steps casually into the block room.

“Arrival One” comments a disembodied Delhi Indian woman’s voice. “Captain Jack Harkness, refugee of time.

“Well, that’s quite an entrance” Jack comments. He’s a tall man, broad shouldered, with a perpetually sly grin on his face. He slides his hands into the deep pockets of his military coat, the sturdy blue fabric has seen many times and time jumps. He considers the coat an essential part of his “look”.

“Now, where the hell am I? God, I hope I’m not about to meet my maker” he says to himself, flipping open his wrist watch-which is actually more of a time travelling aid but looks like a really chunky watch (think 80s phone version of an Apple Watch circa 2016). Secretly, a corner of his mind hopes he might be meeting his maker.

His brow furrows as he taps his device, it beeps several times before sparking. “Yowww!” he shouts, pulling frantically at the strap and throwing the thing towards the ground, or rather the white space in the block room that seems to be working as ground for Jack’s purposes.

“Okay, so you’re no help. Where am I? Should have jumped straight to Alonzo.” He begins to pace, peering at the space looking for any markings, doors, signs of interaction. “Hope he doesn’t get started before I figure out how I’m gonna get back. Oh the things that man can do…”

As he trails off a second Zing! Pop! reverberates in the room. This time,  the whirlpool of colour is silver, mustard yellow and what looks, to Jack, like technicolour glitter. “Nieeetttt!” yelps the young man who falls into the block room. His eyes widen and his arms flail out at his sides, like a flamingo about to dive (Not that flamingos do that, do they?).

“Arrival Two. Pavel Chekov, intergalactic explorer” chimes the voice again.

Jack leaps across the room with a great stride, his boots planting firmly   as his arms wrap around the man, pulling him away on from the floor and upright.

“Thank you” Chekov says politely, before gasping. “Wait! Where am I? Did the transporter not work?”

He begins to spin around. Jack smiles widely, assuming a power pose with his hands on his hips. “You’re guess is as good as mine.”

“Oh no, am I stuck inbetween transports?” the blonde man has short curly hair which he begins to start pulling through his fingers, examining each strand crosseyed. “Neit, I seem to have all of my particles.”

Jack grins at the young man, enjoying his erratic examination of the situation. “Captain Jack Harkness”, Jack reaches his hand out to his new companion in the mystery-verse.

“Oh, hello.” Chekov notices Jack fully now, tilting his head to one side.  “Chekov, sir” he replies, nodding emphatically at Jack. Jack beams back at him, gripping his hand firmly in a shake.

“Captain? May I ask sir, which vessel you are the Captain of?”

“No ship, time watch.” Jack gestures to the smoking watch on the ground a few feet away from them” “Formerly I suppose now, couldn’t get the damn thing to get a reading on our location before it blew up on me. Literally. Any bright ideas?”

“Hmm, yes!” He reaches into his back pocket, pulling out a triquarter and  a tablet-like device. He begins scanning and swiping, racing about the block room.

“So, what vessel are you from? You sound Russian. Come here often?” Jack asks Chekov, watching him work while trying to work his charm.

“I was aboard the USS Enterprise, or I was supposed to be. We were beaming off world after the Captain, Kirk, caused something of a…civil war…”

“Sounds like quite the adventure. Enterprise? What system is that from?”

“Sol. Planet Earth originally, but we’ve been travelling for a number of years, Captain.”

“Jack is fine”

“Yes, Captain, uh, Jack”

“Any luck with that thing?”

“Niet, all my readings indicate that we are in empty space, a vacuum. Yet, we can breathe. It makes no sense.”

Zing! Pop!

“What is zat?” Chekov exclaims, turning to a third swirling mass of dark browns and forest greens.

“New arrival” says Jack, also turning to see who is approaching. This time, as the figure coalesces into the room, a torrent of purple smoke pours in, placing a woman into the block room before speedily retreating.

“Ah!” the woman calls out, balancing herself as the smoke disappears.

“Where am I?” she says, with an Earth australian accent.

“Arrival Three. Belle French, multi-world librarian”

“I’m beginning to like this place” comments Jack, taking note of the beautiful woman before him. Belle is clad in rich red leather, including a tight jacket, boots and trousers; or pants as Jack would call them.

Narrowing her eyes, Belle turns into a combat stance, swiftly pulling a dagger from its sheath on her leg.

“Who are you? Why did you bring me here?” she demands, her eyes darting between the two men. Chekov turns to Jack, throwing his arms up in surrender.

“We did not bring you here!” He explains. “We are not even sure where we are.”

“The man speaks the truth miss, we’re as lost as you are. Sure, seems like someone knows who we are though.”

“Who?” Belle asks.

“No idea, but someone’s playing announcer.” replies Jack.

Zing! Pop! “Arrival Four. Jillian Holtzmann, paranormal engineer” says the disembodied voice.

“See” Jack turns away from Belle, who peers round him at the new vortex as a mishmash of blonde, iron grey and rusty orange appears.

“Oh my gawwwwwd!” Eeeks a voice from the swirling mass. Stepping with almost lunging steps from her portal, the goggled woman has a grin almost as large as Jack’s.

“I did it!” she exclaims. “Trans-dimensional travel through a prototype hyper gateway…or something.” She stares around the three waiting figures, as if unaware of their presence, moving her goggles onto her forehead with an elastic snap.

Belle steps forward, to one side of Jack, still keeping a careful amount of distance between them. She notices the strange jumpsuit attire the new arrival is wearing, trailing up from the thick black boots to the various gadgets attached to straps and belts, until she reaches her face and finds herself looking into sultry eyes.

“Hello lovely.” raised eyebrows waggle. “They call me Holtzmann”

Racing towards Belle, Holtzmann ignores Belle’s drawn blade, getting well within Belle’s personal space. She pulls back and goes into a low bow.

“M’lady”

“Um, hello.”

“Captain Jack Harkness” Jack interjects. Reaching a hand out to Holtzmann.

“Well well.” She says, looking Jack up and down. “From one beefcake to another. Holtzmann, scientist, engineer, trans-dimensional jumper…it seems.”

“Pleasure to meet you Holtzmann”

“And you are?” she swivels on her heels to address Belle.

“Belle”

“And I am Chekov” Chekov pipes up from behind Holtzmann, who leaps into the air in shock.

“Jeez little man! Where did you spring from?!”

“The USS Enterprise”

“O-o-okay”

“Where did you come from?” Jack asks her.

“Oh me, well, Earth, New York. The solar system. Why? Where am I now?”

“Did you not know where you were going? You were celebrating when you arrived here” comments Belle.

“Well, I know what I did.” She winks at Belle as she says this. “But I, uh, I’m not sure how I did it. Was working in the lab, trying to perfect our spectral collection packs when all of a sudden, and I really must say it was all. of. a. sudden. This big paint-down-a-plughole looking portal opens up next to me.”

“And it pulled you through?”

“Pulled? Nope. I walked. Technically sidled actually.”

“Hmm, interesting. You are something of an anomaly.” Chekov tells the group. “Belle, if I may ask, how did you arrive here?”

All eyes turn to Belle.

“Oh, uh, I was being transported back to Storybrooke from the Enchanted Forest.”

“Transported how?” demands Jack in his most authoritative voice.

“Magic. A spell.”

“I’m sorry, what?” All three reply in their own distinct intonations.

“Magic? There was a curse and I was being transported by a saviour to avoid it’s effects.” Her every statement is tinged with uncertainty, but then that might also be because of her accent.

“M’am are you suffering from some sort of hallucinogenic episode?” Holtzmann asks Belle.

“No”

“Because I’m pretty sure there is no such thing as magic.” she scoffs. “Although, I do hunt ghosts for a living…”

“Ghosts?” asks Chekov.

“Are you sure they aren’t aliens?” enquires Jack.

“Aliens?!” exclaims Belle.

“Okay, let’s take a moment!” Holtzmann yells

Zing! Pop!

“Arrival 5.”

“Who is that?” asks Holtzmann

The disembodied voice continues, “Agent Margaret Carter, worlds-class hero”.

In streaks of vibrant red and bright blue, in runs Agent Carter.

“Ah. I seem to have taken a wrong turn.” she comments.

“Hello” says Chekov with a small wave.

“Hello”

“Pleasure to meet you, despite the circumstances. Captain Jack Harkness”

“And you Captain. Though exactly what circumstances are these?”

“Where did you come from?” Holtzmann asks her, peering at her with enlarged eyes as she pulls her goggles down off her forehead.

“Oh, my. Uh, London, England. How specific do you need me to get?”

“Are you a hipster?” Holtzmann uses air quotes around the word: hipster. “Because if you are, that is the best outfit I’ve ever seen!”

“She’s not a hipster. I believe, Miss Carter-“

“-Agent.” she corrects. “Agent Peggy Carter”

“Apologies, Agent Carter here is, if I’m correct, from the 40s, 50s perhaps?”

“You are correct Captain, though I’m not sure why you’re referring to it like a time period gone by. Or rather, I’m concerned by it.”

“Afraid so, Peggy. May I call you Peggy?”

“Let’s start with Agent Carter for now.”

“Agent Carter. You’ve likely time travelled.”

“And trans-dimensionally relocated.” pipes up Holtzmann.

“That sounds rather like the sort of thing Howard would say.”

“Perhaps I could offer a recap? Before anyone else arrives” offers Chekov.

“Please” replies Peggy.

“I think that’d be a good idea, as I’m not really sure what any of you are talking about any more.” says Belle.

“Didn’t you say you came from an enchanted forest?” whispers Holtzmann to Belle.

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Life, Opinion

Bad Books Are So Good

Have you ever read a book that was so bad, it became good? The more you read, the more you find books that make you wonder how anyone approved them for publishing. And as an aspiring novelist that fills me with SO MUCH hope.

Most recently, I’ve been listening to, the now hugely popular, My Dad Wrote A Porno podcast. If you haven’t listened to it, you should. Each 30 minute episode features a dramatic reading of a chapter of Belinda Blinked, an erotic novella by the dad of one of the hosts. Through a combination of the book being self-published, by the aforementioned parent, and the co-hosts giving great commentary during the reading, you end up being completely enthralled by the somewhat nonsensical and hugely entertaining book.

Part of the addiction, as the hosts and fans have pointed out, is that the book is so good at being bad. Or rather, it’s so good at not adhering to your expectations for a story. Elements like: plot, character’s names (which have been known to change mid-chapter) and choice of details, skews from the obscure to the mundane and then to the sexually graphic within a few lines.

The familiar feeling of loving and hating a book in equal measure is something I’m certainly familiar with and rather enjoy. There is a Google Hangouts/ Goodreads book club called Vaginal Fantasy which I absolutely love. It’s a romance-fantasy/genre monthly book club, featuring novellas and novels with (mostly) female leads and some element of romance or sex. In one particular month, when I was reading along, we got to read a novel called: Hunter’s Claim. Now, I fully expected the story to be about this rugged, dominant male figure who sweeps/ravishes the female lead. Oh, were it that simple.

Hunter’s Claim features an alien hunter called…Hunter, who is part of an alien invasion that has taken over earth. He ends up being captured by some angry humans who want to kill him – reasonable really when their planet has been taken over – but is freed by a kindly woman (our lead). Conceptually it has potential, right? Yes. But oh the execution is so weird. Apart from the fact that its written with a questionably limited vocabulary, this lead woman, Jesse, fairly instantaneously become’s Hunter’s wife without, it seems, much input from her. Especially when the choices are: he owns her now, or dies. Its all a bit creepy really.

Also he’s part cat. Alien cat. Yeah.

Suffice to say there were two choices when reading this book. Either decide that it was terrible and hate read the rest, OR, what many readers did, read along for sheer joy of whatever randomness was going to happen next.

A common thread between Belinda Blinked and Hunter’s Claim is that both writers seem to have strange feelings/understandings of female anatomy. In the former, there is far too much (by which I mean any) cervix grabbing, and in the latter, if I recall correctly, when having sex, Hunter had a habit of prodding her ‘vaginal walls’ with his penis – which we all hoped was not too cat-like, as cat peni(plural?) are barbed.

Now, it must be said that these books don’t have clear feminist tones or characters, and thats an issue. But that in a way is a problematic trope of much romance literature like this. Another common trait is that even when these books are poorly written, grammatically or in terms of literary style, we readers are far more accepting. Why is that?

My theory; and its a very loose theory, is that erotica, like fan fiction, is purely based in fun. Its whimsical and so we don’t have to take it very seriously in order to enjoy it. If you ever really need proof of this then think about 50 Shades. Goodness knows thats badly written, and started life as fan fiction, but it was hugely successful. Why? Because it wasn’t serious. As someone who studied english literature at university, there is something comforting about reading a book that you don’t have to learn from. Romance-fantasy books are just meant to be enjoyable, easy reading.

To be fair to the community, it is a broad category in which there are superior texts with careful world building and detailed storylines. But there’s also the absolute trash thats almost as good to read as it is to laugh at. And isn’t laugher what we all need more of in our lives?

I leave you with that thought and the recommendation to start listening to My Dad Wrote A Porno, and watching/joining the Vaginal Fantasy book club.

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LGBT, Life

I want to always remember this feeling.

Please be aware: this post is about the Orlando shootings of Christina Grimmie & The Pulse

I want to say something. But even typing the words is … unexpected. I don’t know what the right this to say is, if there is a right thing. There are tears, of course, which come whenever I switch back to the news, social media. My heart breaks for the people, what they went through, what they are still going through and what their families are dealing with now.

Mass shootings in America have become common place. Horrid and tragic but not totally unexpected. How many more do you think there will be this year?

What feels so personal about this, what strikes the longest and most reverberating chord, is that it was queer/LGBTQI people who were targeted. It was a gay bar. We don’t have many left in London any more. We don’t think we need them, some of us at least. More don’t think we, the queers, need them, that it only segregates us. But they’re supposed to be the safe places for us. The havens from the rest of the world where we aren’t equal, where we require explanation and discussion. They’re where we can just…be.

There were messages from those captives inside The Pulse, some in their last moments. In tragedy we always look to the last words or messages as a sign of something. We grip onto the last point at which we could understand, connect, to normality.

I keep reading the posts, seeing the stories shared. It’s all I’ve done today, apart from when I’ve reddened my eyes too much and I have to look away. I want to understand, I want the outcome to change, for it not to be real.

It feels like there is nothing else we should be talking about. This is what hurts right now. Yet, only a day ago, the news of Christina Grimmie being shot at her concert. Another murder. One of too many. She wanted to be a light in the world, to bring music into peoples lives, into her life. She performed and brought happiness. Not any more, not in the same way.

Christina’s death was shocking and cruel, it felt like the worst thing that was going to happen, an isolated incident. And then the very next day, we have Orlando, FL, again in the news. At current count, 50 dead. 50 people from an LGBT fucking gay bar brutally shot down. Why?!

Because we have allowed people to own their hate, and worst to arm it. They have voices and guns. The guns do the talking for them when there is no logic in their words. BANG. You can’t argue any more.

Its meant to cause fear. And it does. It will. How many are already questioning, in Pride month, if they’ll attend their local event. Will they go? Is it safe? Will they be too afraid of the “if” to go out and be themselves?

I’m afraid, and I’m so angry. I’m sending my love and whatever strength I have to the people around the world who need it. Whoever they are. We’re in mourning as a queer community for the attack we feel, the people we’ve lost. But every day we are losing innocent people, from around the world, for reasons we invented.

There are no answers, no clear solutions, because we’re more complicated than that. We have too many things to do, places to be, things to achieve. We won’t stop and check in on who we, as the human race, have become.

I want to always remember this feeling. It will challenge me every day to make a change. To be a change. I want to show the unmistakeable love and pride I have for ALL queer people, my belief in goodness regardless of what Guide you need, I will be a light to anyone who needs it. We are equal when we believe and act for equality.

If they want hate, we’ll spread love. But if they want a fight, we’ll give it to them.

 

 

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