Attacking Trees and Hams

Kyle stood in a small patch of woods attacking trees and salt cured hams.

It had been pretty simple for him to get away from the bounty hunter; streets had been easy to cross because traffic wasn’t moving in the lightless area or, as it turned out, outside of it. Kyle had completely snarled the city’s traffic network. His spell had caught both lanes of the old highway, at least one other major road, and several surface streets. Autodrive cars had non-visual sensors: gps, proximity detectors, RFID embedded in the roads, but they still wouldn’t drive with no input from their cameras. Cars had backed up all around the cloud and further complicated problems. The eventual gridlock had required several hours to clear.

Once he was clear of the bounty hunters he did what any reasonable person would and called the cops.

At that point, he didn’t know if he had a warrant out for his arrest or not. He still thought it would be hard for Thomas to come up with evidence of an entire conspiracy. However, now that he understood the man’s motivation, he wasn’t willing to say there was no possibility, and he wasn’t sure how to check. He thought it would be bad form to call 911 and say, “Pardon me, but am I a fugitive from Justice? No? That’s great! In that case I’d really like to file a police report.”

Instead, he hailed a taxi and called once they were in motion. Once he’d explained what happened, the dispatcher pulled his location from his phone’s GPS then argued with him for about five minutes about pulling over and letting a patrol car come to him. That discussion only ended when he assured the woman, falsely, that he was headed to a safe location and the instant he arrived he’d give her the address. That out of the way, she’d been willing to pass him off to someone who could take a kidnapping report.

That had started well, Kyle had described the man he’d seen, and told them what happened. Things had only gotten bad when Kyle had said he thought he knew who was behind the kidnapping and explained that it was probably Thomas the Illusionist. Doubt had filled the police officer’s voice at that point, and he’d lost all his urgency. It had apparently sounded just about as reasonable as Kyle claiming Abe Lincoln was behind the kidnapping. They disconnected, and Kyle had perfect confidence no official help could be obtained. At least not in time.

For a bit, he considered using tekhnikos lux to get official attention. It wouldn’t take long to build an apparatus that would generate new forms of darkness every minute, and the power required to cover the city should be manageable. The problem was, Kyle was fairly certain his idea was exactly what the villain had done in a lousy early 90s movie called “Eternal Darkness”. He’d watched it as a kid, and though it wasn’t good enough to really remember clearly, there had certainly been one scene where a cackling man in a black satin robe had stood on the top of some skyscraper summoning black fog in the streets below while people ran in terror.

Probably a guy like that wasn’t a good role model.

But if official help wasn’t likely to be forthcoming Kyle’s only options were running or trying to fight Thomas on his own. He didn’t want to run. He wasn’t convinced it would work, and it would mean leaving Jessie. She didn’t deserve that. There was a pretty good chance she was going to get fired, but she didn’t deserve whatever Thomas was going to do to her. Instead he decided to follow the plan Jessie had half proposed. Proving Thomas was neck deep in illegal magic. That would get the cops’ attention.

The only problem was they’d been subjected to a paramilitary attack before Jessie had told him the details of where Thomas’s operation was located. Kyle knew Jessie had occasionally checked her email on her work computer. Assuming she hadn’t changed her habits he could probably go back to the office and get access to her accounts. Plus, there was one other thing he wanted still stored there.

It would have been pure idiocy to assume that the storefront wasn’t watched. Thomas had known the instant he discovered the tekhnikos, he’d known everywhere Kyle had tried to sell it. Kyle’s first, and only, employee had been a spy. Finally, it was worth remembering, Thomas had known the details of “Kyle’s groundbreaking spell” centuries before he “invented” it. Kyle decided, it was probably safe to assume Thomas had one of those flexible surgical cameras jammed up in his guts somewhere and was watching a live stream of his stomach over producing acid as he tried to come up with a plan.

All of that meant Kyle needed weaponry. The one advantage he had, and it was an advantage over the average man on the street not his centuries old adversary, was he could use magic. Still, Raven’s Gift had let him down twice; he needed something better. It hadn’t escaped his notice that lux could be dangerous. Even a cursory consideration of the properties of the technique suggested possibilities for weaponizing it. He could come up with a way to make the light coherent for a laser beam, tune the spell for high energy radiation, or possibly find an electricity spell.

After a little more thought, he’d realized that was all overkill. He’d had the same cab that he’d used to call the cops take him to a grocery store then drop him off in a patch of forest outside of the city limits. There he began to practice the idea he’d actually implemented.

For something like the sixtieth time he barked, “Flash,” while flipping his hand open as though rapidly revealing something held in its palm. That was the trigger he’d bound to a light spell invented by tekhnikos lux about two hours before. It was as quick and simple as he could make it. He was fairly sure he could perform it even if he was bound; though he hoped he wouldn’t get the chance to test that.

In the gathering twilight, the small ball of light that appeared over his hand seemed quite bright. He jumped to the side, ran several steps, and then spun on one foot. He moved the spell with his mind so it tracked him throwing out sharp black shadows in the grass. When he spun, the corner of the plastic wrap of his last ham was just visible behind a tree about two dozen yards away.

He shot the spell off at it. Though, technically, “shot” wasn’t the right word. The location of the spell never left his mental control. As such, he was able to bend its path around the tree. The light left a trail in his vision that looked like a continuous beam of energy. Then it intersected the ham, and he dumped power into it. With the light spell located inside of the ham, mundane physics left no option but that all of its energy be absorbed by the processed meat product. The water inside it, some of it natural to the pig, some of it added during the curing process, reached boiling almost instantly. The meat exploded.

Kyle grinned, the expression was broad and toothy. He spun, called, “flash,” again, and shot a ball of light into a tree limb somewhat wider around than his thigh. Being both drier and tougher than ham it lasted slightly longer, perhaps a couple of seconds. Then there was a tremendous crack, the limb split, and it fell smoldering to the ground.

Kyle’s grin broadened. He needed one last thing and he thought he knew where to get it.

Help Arrives
Path of the Sage

For some reason I cannot adequately explain, even to myself, I'm trying to write and to write better. So if you like my story let me know. All feedback is appreciated.

Posted in The Beginners Guide to Magical Site Licensing Tagged with: ,
18 comments on “Attacking Trees and Hams
  1. AvidFan says:

    Flare?
    More like the lil-ball-o-fiery-death.

  2. randomanon says:

    Darn, what a misleading title, I was hoping to read about Kyle getting attacked by trees and hams.

    • Thaumaturgical_Support says:

      lol –> Maybe I should do a rewrite….

      Say, you ended up in the spam filter somehow. You haven’t had your comments go missing have you? If they’ve been getting filtered routinely I don’t think anyone would have ever noticed because there’s such a high volume of spam.

  3. Thaumaturgical_Support says:

    So last weekend was a big one for The Beginner’s Guide: I scheduled the last update to this volume. On May 29 the last update to this story will go live. Even if I die you’ll get to read the whole thing. Um, not that I’m feeling poorly or anything. I’m quite healthy actually, and I don’t lead a dangerous life.

    It was just a thought, let’s move on.

    The question. Of course, becomes “what should I do next?” I could continue to write in this setting. If I do, I’d call the next “book” “Fundamentals of Magical Semiconductors” it would focus on the tekhnikos, the archmagi, classic, and natural magic. I’ve got the beginnings of a plot, but I want to avoid spoilers for the current arch.

    Alternately, I could move to a new setting. I have an idea I’m rather enamored of for a hard sci-fi novel. In it, humans are a insignificant part of a stunningly vast galactic empire. The main character would be a girl, maybe teenage, maybe prepubescent, who’s parents managed to take her far enough from humanity’s normal stomping grounds that most of the local sentients haven’t even heard of us. Then they died. The aliens raised her as one of their own. This, of course, resulted in sever mental problems. So they did what anyone (well anyone who was utterly alien) would do, and created an AI using the brain scans of her deceased parents then implanted it in her head.

    Surprisingly, it manages to act as a confidant and pull her out of her depression. The story follows her as she leaves her adopted home world and attempts to make her way in the worlds. She doesn’t have superpowers or a sparkly boyfriend. For this story I’d be trying to build up some very alien aliens and subvert the usual usual tropes of human alien interaction. I.E. we definitely won’t A) be mighty warriors, B) mouse-like weaklings, or C) at the head of a vast and shinning space democracy.

    There are some advantages to both projects. I might have more fun writing in a new setting, and it would give me more time to edit what I’ve already written. However I wouldn’t be compelled to really work my plotting skills, and I’d probably loose readers. That, of course, is why I bring this up. Is there anyone who’s *more* interested in the second project than the first? Anyone who’s pretty certain they wouldn’t read that second story?

    • DeNarr says:

      I rather like this setting, and while I would probably still read the other story, I think I would be disappointed if it took the place of Magical Site.

      • Thaumaturgical_Support says:

        Thanks for the feedback. I’m now leaning against moving to another setting. It *would* be good for me to focus on plot; it’s my biggest weakness.

  4. Tucson Jerry says:

    I really prefer the first story continuing on in some form. Aliens just don’t hold my interest.

    • Thaumaturgical_Support says:

      Thanks for the feedback. I figure a lot of people are going to feel that way. Well – not aliens specifically but more along the lines of “keep doing what’s working.”

      • Rai says:

        Eh, for me, I would be cool with a new setting, just that I’m not a pure sci-fi person–so it is aliens specifically. (Sci-fi fantasy fusions are cool though.)

        • Thaumaturgical_Support says:

          Thanks!

          Two votes against aliens, huh? That makes me less likely to do it here, but makes me more interested in doing aliens right.

          I’m not surprised people don’t like aliens much. Aliens, in fiction, seem to fall into three camps:
          * The Monolith Builders
          – They won’t talk to you
          – They’re inscrutable
          – They build big dumb objects
          – They’re probably long dead, or ascended, or forgot to pay the rent on the milky way got evicted and had to move to the much less nice Andromeda galaxy.
          * The Zerg Rush
          – They won’t talk to you
          – They want to kill you
          – They won’t negotiate with you
          – They will eat your planet
          – They won’t tell you why
          – They have the tactical know-how of a boiled turnip which turns out to be *slightly* lower than that of the average sci-fi author. This allows a sci-fi author’s character to spot the hole in their strategy that a first year military cadet would have learned to avoid by studying thousand year old military history on day two of their training.
          * The rubber forehead alien
          – They’re human
          – I mean not totally, they’ve got *at* *least* one quirky custom and those strange lumps on their face.
          – But, yeah, they’re totally just humans with some makeup. Strangely, they look to humans for leadership, inspiration, and the construction of a galactic federation. You’ve got to wonder why they didn’t do it themselves since they seem to be exactly like humans.
          – Sometimes we can learn how much we all have in common from these guys.

          Someday I’ll try to write a book that doesn’t have *any* of these characters. 😉

  5. Rai says:

    Clearly, the best option for Kyle is to become a supervillain like darkness dude. Those guys never die.

    • kgy121 says:

      It’s what I always plan on doing if I discover something that puts me at a higher power level than established power structures, that’s for sure.

  6. Bogdan says:

    A bit late maybe, but here’s another vote. I rather like the sound of the aliens story, and I’d probably read it if/when you write it, but I would prefer to see more of this one even more.

    • Thaumaturgical_Support says:

      I decided to go with more of this one in the end, and I’m glad I did. It’s been nice not setting up a new setting. I’ve been able to focus on plot and that’s something I needed to practice.

  7. irrevenant says:

    “That would get the cop’s attention.” cops’.

    As to your next story, you’re probably already working on it by now, but I’d vote for whichever idea interests you most. That’s the one you’ll do most justice to.

    • Warren Peace says:

      Yes, this! That said, I’m disappointed that I’m not going to get a kid with an AI in her brain. That sounds so promising!

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