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Story #2

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For those that have not read the first one, I would encourage you to do so.
Many of the characters that will be involved have already been introduced and some of the events from the first portion might be/will be referenced in this as well.

EDIT: The original story can be found here  viewtopic.php?f=10&t=1323

Riley realized that Abigail’s breathing had fallen into the slow and deep pattern that characterized her sleep.  Her little arm was across his abdomen and her head was resting in the crook of his arm.  He gently extricated himself, careful not to rouse the sleeping 6 year old. He slipped the stuffed animal into her arm as she curled into a fetal position – the little toy dog hugged to her chest.  At one time, it had resembled a yellow lab, but now, it was a tattered bundle closer to a chocolate lab in color.  Before he stood, he gently kissed the top of her head.

He needed to make a to-do list.  There were things he needed to get done in the next couple days.  The burn had absolved him of at least one concern – he didn’t have to worry about finding winter gear for himself or his niece.  He shook his head with an ironic chuckle.

In his mind, he flew back in time.  He had played lacrosse and cricket in school.  Well enough that the jocks left him alone, but not well enough to be popular.  He had fallen in with a group who stood around outside school and smoked.  A bunch that he knew, even then, would never really accomplish anything.  All in all, they were a pathetic bunch, but they took solace in their mutual misery by acting as though they had it figured out and nobody else had a clue about anything.  They talked dismissively about the pathetic lives the teachers had.  “Oh, look how successful THEY have been.  Yeah, like they can teach me anything useful.”  Riley would laugh with them.  Their families?  They just didn’t get it and it wasn’t worth their time to try to explain things – besides, their families wouldn’t understand anyway.  When the group would get together and smoke dope, Riley would sometimes take part.  He really didn’t like it that much, but, he felt compelled to by the group.

He knew he was bright, but he really didn’t know how bright he was.  Truth was, he lacked the self-discipline and drive to apply himself and find his limits, preferring to slide by on his natural aptitude, so any thoughts of advanced courses was out of the question.  When he went off to university, he decided to pursue a degree in political science.  The Prince by Machiavelli was one of the few things he had read in school that he had cared for.  It promoted almost a ruthless approach to acquiring and maintaining power.  It had led to a curiosity about Thomas Hobbes.  Riley had read a little about Hobbes’ view of nature and human nature, his perspective on society and civilization, but couldn’t bring himself to actually read something like The Leviathon – too large, too slow, too dense.  When Riley got to university he was quickly awash in a mass of required reading for classes in which he had little interest.  Like his previous school experience, he didn’t put forth a lot of effort.  He didn’t skip class – too much – but outside of class, his time was spent on mindless things: drinking, hanging out, movies and generally doing as little as possible.  In that first year and a half at university, he had developed a keen sense of isolation.  He had completely allowed his relationship with his family to deteriorate over the previous 4 or 5 years.  Now, while he had a large group of people with whom he could pass the time, there was no one with whom he felt connected.  No one with whom he could really talk to about things on his mind.  No one to turn to when stress was getting to him.  The very isolation and insulation from people that he had cultivated had become something of a prison for him.  Visits home during university breaks were painful.  Conversation with family was stilted.  He was ashamed at his own lack of effort at school.  He was not doing anything productive with his time in which he could take pride.  He couldn’t even share amusing anecdotes about his friends at school, because usually the stories all involved alcohol and stupid things they had done.

It was during the spring term of his second year when the demon invasion happened.  He heard rumors of something going on while he was getting ready to head home for the break, but he didn’t read the papers or watch the news – blech, boring.  His family’s house was in the outskirts of London.  As he neared the township where he lived, he had seen the smoke rising from downtown London and finally realized that something big was really going on.  He had ejected the CD from the player and tuned the radio so see what he could find.

It had made no sense and everyone was reporting conflicting things.  At home, his family ran to his car when he got there, happy that he was safe.  His parents, his mother’s mother, his sister with her husband and daughter as well as Riley’s two brothers were all there.  Eight people under one roof, but it was not cramped – his father was a rather successful man and the family’s house reflected it.

He had never made it back to university.
By the time 8 weeks had passed, he had either seen or confirmed that everyone in his family was dead except for his 5 year old niece and himself.
Sandra stopped her work on her helmet.  She set in on the table, straightened up in her chair and slowly turned to look at Claudia.
In a slow, measured cadence she said, “Could you repeat that?”
“I don’t think I can,” said Claudia.
‘I mean-“
“No, don’t tell me what you meant.  Repeat what you said.”
“OK, fine.  I said, ‘He makes me feel girly.’”

Sandra regarded her a second longer, nodded her head once, then turned back to the table before she cracked a smirk.  To herself, she muttered, “Unbelievable.”  
‘Girly’ is not a word that she would have ever used to describe Claudia.  Self-assured.  Statuesque.  Athletic.  Skilled.  Combat hardened.  And according to myriad Templar, sexy and desirable.  Sandra simply couldn’t wrap her mind around ‘girly.’

As though they had just been discussing the weather, Sandra sked, “What are your thoughts on Josh in recent weeks?”
Claudia was looking at Sandra’s back, so she had no clue what expression was on her face.  Was she mocking her?  Was she uncomfortable with the subject?  Unable to answer those, she chose to answer the question asked.
“It took him far longer to forge his new armor than it should have.  Even though he is young, he should have been able to forge and reforge his suit in the time it took him.  I suspect that he might have been more affected by…his…departure.

Sandra turned back around.  “You can use Gideon’s name.  I don’t think he’d mind.”
Both women were very careful with what they said.  There was no telling what surveillance equipment was recording at any given moment and the group had given their word to never reveal what had happened or who Gideon was.
Claudia nodded her head a little and as a smile crossed her face, he head dropped.  “I suppose you are right.  I don’t think he would hold it against us.”

Sandra prompted her, “You were saying about Josh?”
The boy has completely altered his training regimen.  Before, you could see that he was driven to become a great swordsman.  While the natural talent was lacking, I had little doubt that he would become very, very good.  Like a violinist who saws away several hours a day, a great level of skill would be developed, but would be limited to a lesser level than someone who had a natural aptitude.”
Sandra nodded her head at the analogy.  “That’s a good comparison.  Much like a musical instrument or studying mathematics, sword work is a skill that can be developed to a great level, but ultimately we will never be able to exceed a certain ceiling that varies from person to person….  Anyway, about his training?”
“Yes.  He still trains diligently, but he is working with the guys who regularly carry shields.  His physical training has also shifted.  The short version is that I think he is trying to remake himself to take on Gideon’s role, as though he owes it to Gideon to take his place.”

A full minute passed in silence.
Sandra stood, picked up her gear and tools from the table and headed for the door.  “Time for dinner” she said as she headed out the door.
When Brody walked in, he saw Nigel and another guy huddled over a disassembled volt rifle and deep in discussion.
“The problem is not just that the heat produced could cause the operator to get burned, but we need to remain well below the Curie temperature too.  Protecting the operator from the temperatures is not enough, we have to keep the temps lower altogether.”
“Hmph.  So much for that idea.”
Nigel straightened up and arched his back, stretching.  He caught sight of Brody by the door.
“Oh. Sorry.  Didn’t know you were here.”
“No problem, doc.  I came by to check on that minelayer you had mentioned.”
“Sure, sure.  I simply must tell you, the technology that the Templar have is amazing.  They have energy sources that are at least a generation beyond what was currently being investigated.  That is part of what we were just discussing.  We are still working on further refinements to those electric rifles.  We can lighten the rifles a lot by removing the traditional battery packs and replacing them with the energy production units that the Templar have developed.. But a host of other limits crop up when we try to make use of all that energy.  We’ll get it sorted and reach a compromise and in time, things will get even better, but for now, we are still experimenting and learning.”

Cool, your back to the story....your a good writer, I've been enjoying it

Thanks, Wild.  I appreciate the compliment.

Were the copyright ordeals not around,I'd bet you could get your stories published when you had something more of a world or more autonomous stories,just some more material anyway.Been through hell and back on this subject and I can tell you're above what many publishers consider acceptable.

Been enjoying it so far,don't know why I never dropped a line,either of encouragement or plain anything.It really is interesting the way you develop your characters,don't know if writing's been your hobby or an out-of-the-blue spark but you're good at it either way.Hope you keep it up.

You have a typo btw,5th paragraph 3rd line."litved",thought I'd point it out.


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