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Mongrel: Zebe, Hearing Neil's News

A scene from Zebe's point of view in which she hears what happened to her twin, Xanthe and she meets Tardi and Shad. 
Zebe dithered in the corridor. 

Her wrist deck pulsed. Call waiting. Not just one pulse, but five or six. Impatient caller. Had she enough reception in the corridor for talk? “Hey Neil, what’s up?” 

Her brother-in-law-to-be sobbed. 

Oh shit. 

“I’m a broken man, Zebe. Broken. She’s gone. My Valkyrie.”

“What are you saying?” Zebe shouted over his grief. “Are you talking about Xanthe?” She had to make sure. “Where did she go?”
“Nowhere. Didn’t run away.”

Awful feeling that she knew. Was told. Cele.

One of the fire-doors opened further. The Stormy. Already crying, she turned her back. “Where did she go, Neil?” 

“The cleaning crew told me because they knew about us.”

Zebe shouted to shut him up. “Tell me about Xanthe!”  

 “The fucking ladies took her, didn’t they? The aliens. The monster. And the EMBers have embargoed the event.” 

“What happened?” she repeated. “What happened?” 

“I’v…

Mongrel: Connecting One Disaster with the Next

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A hand grasped Tardi's shirt collar. Jerked him up. 
He bit down on a scream. The monster jounced in him as turgidly as a water-filled balloon. 
“Fuck it Tar, don’t make me have to kill myself as well,” Shad said, hauling Tardi up. 
The football slowly deflated. 
You saved me, my best-beloved shadow.
“I know I know,” Shad said. “It’s what I signed up for. To die when you die. But shit! I didn’t expect to have to when we’ve only barely left home.” 
Tardi licked his teeth. “Spit or swallow?” he said. 
Shad shrugged. Wiped mud from Tardi’s face. “You lost the chair, I expect,” Shad said. “You should come out, anyway. Have a shower. The old lady is packing her gear. She aims to paddle a kayak? There’s no accounting for what a sapient will do. Meaning the sea-doors?”
Ah. Shad stressed about the sea coming in. Tardi spat. 
After helping Tardi clamber from the tank, Shad led him into the shower cubicle. “You want me to take a knife to your clothes? Get them off you that way?”
“I’ve got no spares,”…

Mongrel: Callum's Passing

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The monster enables/forces Tardi to experience Callum's last actions ...
Tardi sat in the mud. Wither-wondering. Hope Shad can think of a way to take some mud with us. Wonder if the monster is entertaining Callum and or Trinnet with my doings?  Errant thoughts. 

The black-haired brow overhung his own, or in other words, he looked through Callum’s eyes. He heard Trinnet excusing himself by way of Callum’s ears.

“Don’t need to look at me so blackly, young one. I did it for the best. A load shared is a load halved, is what we Stormies say. Ace halved Tardi’s load. An elder halving a youth’s load, there’s a topsy turvy in there somewhere, if you get my meaning?” Trinnet stopped, maybe expecting an answer. 
Callum said nothing but continued to stare. 

Trinnet continued. “Topsy-turves are my favourite corrections. The Great Bastard is a heavy load to bear and youths are famously the stronger. You’re a youth and I’m the one that were put upon with the load. Bastard rarely sleeps and I aim to k…

Mongrel: Tardi living Callum

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Bit of chopping and changing among stories happening due to time constraints. 
Tardi walked around while Shad cut up vegetables. The monster was doing a time lapse thing in him, it felt like. Trinnet and Callum sat opposite sides of a camp fire the monster showed Tardi, first looking from one set of eyes then the other. 
Trinnet talked a kilometre a minute. Tardi shut his mind to Trinnet. The man burbled out everything Tardi already heard.
The monster apparently also heard it all before. It transferred its own and Tardi’s awareness to the calm in Callum. The silence in the young one’s head. 
“If only we’d known,” Tardi said. 
“Known what?” Shad said. He filled a pan with water, set that to boil. He smiled at the stove. “Who’d have thought Ionic Exchange is just another name for a battery operated cooking thingie.” “Young one being so calm, so resolved. He’s made his mind up to do something and he’s going to carry it through. I don’t know what,” Tardi said. 
“That’s good, isn’t it?” Shad said…

This is Not a Werewolf Story: 3. Maliced Genes

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The reins slap down onto the oxen. They lurch into motion. The traffic stops entirely to allow them their way. 

“Don’t let that surprise you, “ says the accountant. “It’s that nobody wants a contact-incident. The beasts and the wagon are the only solid transport around.”

I wish the man would tell us his call name. I’m not a fan of titling a person ad infinitum.  At the end of the street the wagon rolls onto a track slithering up a slope. A stunted forest takes us onto a remnant of the plateau. 

“About my business,” says Esse. “Will you tell me your secret name?”

Will he or won’t he when he’s doubtful already about his call name?

The accountant whispers near the Esse’s ear. 

He doesn’t allow any part of himself to touch her. He is well informed. 

The young chief frowns. “So it is to be a secret business,” she says. “I expected action. Fireworks. Fighting.” 

The accountant rolls his eyes. 

The girl, for that is what she still is, faces forward abruptly. Her face and neck flame red. She pulls at t…

This is Not a Werewolf Story: The Wherefores

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Even a seat-of-the-pants writer such as I am, needs every so often to fix a few landmarks in her story-world. This tale (of ten or so instalments) is my attempt to explain the origin of the jinkers, a strange wizard-kind, at the heart of both The Half Shaman and the Monster-Moored Series. 
The Esse and I don’t hug. I may not even hold her hand lest I set her magic free before it can be known. Way oh way, my Esse. My heart mought burst into my belly I am so warm that you picked me.  Ancients walk fore and aft of us, but untidily, to portray a friend-group out welcoming their oldest lady, though, in fact, under her scarves she looks quite young, I’m disturbed to see. She chatters, as I predicted. She’ll make a friend of anyone. Local grandpa waves till-we-meet-again.  I wave tell-you-then. Rope might’ve said a negative thing had she known our acquaintance, Rope’s expression says.  “Be easy, young woman,” says the Esse.  “Why would Monk ask us to bring our accountant?” Rope says, attempting to …

This is Not a Werewolf Story: Loup

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Part 1: Loup
I am a ramshackle man, old and grey and barely holding it together, is what I read on the Naif faces surrounding us.  I’m sitting at a table in the fucking middle of the only cafe in a town where Naifs outnumber everyone else three to one. Three Naifs to one Local or one African or one Ancient. Even when the Ancients are us. My minders don’t notice the staring. They’re agog in their own way for being lumped with me, a figure from their ancient mythologies.  I do resemble a wolf somewhat.  Or I did when I looked into a window at the jail, at my reflection. I’m long, lean and rangy. I lope no matter how I adjust my pace. My eyes, beetling under my grey man-brow, are wide-spaced and often red-sparking. I dress to cover the fringing on my heels and elbows.  Be on the fucking bus, Esse. I do not want to be a wolf in a shooters’ paradise and my living days gone before the work. “Fucking Monk,” says Rope. “What does he think we can do with you?” I call her Rope due to the way she wears …

Mongrel: Zebe Arrives

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A Zebe point-of-view section. Cele drops three hints. Is Zebe on the ball enough to understand what she is being told? 
Mr Boatman-and-boat, as named by Callum, dropped Zebe off at the Reefarium jetty on the Monday. Cele tied off the ropes thrown toward the bollards, looking livelier about it than many youthful crew.  Look at her. Rosy cheeks framed by fly-away grey-silver hair. Brown eyes. Hardly a wrinkle despite living outdoors more than in. Cele’s maths, her years at the Reefarium, and how old she was on arrival never made any sense to Zebe. 

They waved off Mr Boatman and picked up Zebe’s innocent bags. The dust in a sachet in her bra, a sweaty square against her breast. 

They walked measuredly, their backs to the PoleWatchers. Everywhere there was a pole carrying communication transmitters, and there were at least two in sight of the Reefarium, there would be a spy camera attended by sneaky technicians, in the pay of the EMBers more often than not. 

The jetty was long enough to meet, …

Mongrel: Shad Tattoos Tardi

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If you've readThe Half Shaman,you'll know that some of the details of Jeb's story mentioned in this installment have not been written in yet. Read, or refresh your memory by clicking on the link. 


Shad gave things into Tardi’s hands and hitched his shirt-tail ends up over his shoulders. Draped himself face down over the slab table of the picnic setting. “I found the greaseproof paper that time I made the coffee. And I made the rosemary charcoal sticks then too. You trace the designs on my back.”

Tardi chortled. “No wonder the coffee was so ugh.” 

 “Talk me through it. It’ll help me see your tracings better.”

“What do I see?” Tardi began. “Over your left butt bone is a star system with a yellow star and a red star. Both have a planet. The fucking Procyon System? Why?”

“Moving along,” Shad said. “In the middle?”

“A broken staff of some kind, the pieces crossing. Not the kind of staff for fighting with, I think. A setting at the top with nothing in it,” Tardi said. 

“Half of Shaman …

Mongrel: Tardi Refuses to be Distracted ...

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Shad distracts Tardi from his worries generated by the monster, by interesting him in the Stormy tattoos. 
Today, Tardi explored an area of the island not overseen by windows. North-facing, the whole quadrant of the building remained shuttered for storms and every time between them. Not enough people to run the place, probably. Tardi hadn’t met Cele this morning and Shad was glum. 

Serves him right. Shad should be suffering indigestion on top of the guilt. Tardi’s problem was the monster. When he so blithely stepped into Callum’s mud bath, the monster pulled back so sharply that Tardi felt every aspect of the disengagement. But when Trinnet on board the boat grew sea-sick, and then vomited, the monster hijacked all of Trinnet’s sensations and Tardi also grew sea-sick and then vomited.
Tardi began his study on the lower of the two decks encircling the whole building. The sandy-bottomed shallows adjacent to a narrow sliver of sand troubled with the purest reef blue water he ever saw, and i…