Tag Archive | adventuresting

Sting Marydel and the Cliffs of Anterior, Part 8

Part one: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1049125.html
Part two: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1049392.html
Part three: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1051270.html
Part four: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1054666.html
Part five: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1057725.html
Part six: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1064287.html
Part seven: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1067774.html


Sting shifted from foot to foot. He didn’t want to admit he was freaked out, but on the other hand, this was pretty weird.

Dr. Anjou – well, he assumed it was Dr. Anjou – was smiling brightly at him, as if she hadn’t just offered to laugh evilly for him, to set the mood.. Sting cleared his throat. “I don’t think I need the mood to be any weirder,” he admitted. “This is already way beyond normal.”

“Well, from the paperwork I’ve seen, so are you. Come, Mr. Marydel, let’s see exactly how unusual you are.”

“I really don’t want to spend the rest of my life being some sort of lab rat.”

“The rest of your life? How about the next two hours? It that acceptable?”

“You’re not very good at being reassuring, are you?”

“I’m not supposed to be.” She flashed him a much more natural smile. “I’m supposed to be the evil doctor here to experiment on you. And when I’m done with that, well…”

Sting swallowed at the pregnant pause.

“…well, then, we’ll let you see our toys, and decide for yourself if you mind being a lab rat once in a while, in return for playing with our best equipment.”

“You are seriously strange. You do know that, right?”

“Like I said, it’s in the job description. This way please, Mr. Marydel. We’ve got quite a bit of experimenting to get done and only a few hours to do it in.”

He followed her. He hadn’t come all this way just to back out at the last minute. Even if it did mean they were going to poke and prod at him, or stick needles into him, or…

Sting stopped dead on the far side of a door straight out of Star Trek. Laid out on a table, on a very long, big table, was something like a gingerbread-man cookie cutter…

…if the gingerbread man was the size of the world’s largest human.


I’ve just renewed all my domain names AND my paid Dreamwidth account… so here’s a cliffhanger and a tip jar. 😉
$5/300 words, and for every $15 I get I’ll throw in another 300 words!


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Sting Marydel and the Cliffs of Anterior, Part 7

Part one: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1049125.html
Part two: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1049392.html
Part three: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1051270.html
Part four: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1054666.html
Park five: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1057725.html
Part six: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1064287.html


If he’d been asked an hour earlier what he expected from NABU, Sting wouldn’t have been able to answer. Robots, maybe, scary labs, maybe, guys in blood-splattered white coats laughing manically, maybe?

Two seconds after stepping into the NABU office, he had an answer: Not this. Not what looked like a high-end doctor’s office, with soothing paint and a receptionist with an expensive updo and three designer data ports. The frosted glass behind her declared it to be NABU Offices, and her desk had the US Army coat of arms in the front, but other than that, Sting found himself expecting to hear “the doctor will be with you soon.”

“Sterling Marydel?” The receptionist smiled insincerely at him. “Dr. Anjou will be right with you.”

Sting swallowed. This was a level of weird beyond weird. This was like they were reading his mind.

No, of course not. Mind-reading didn’t exist, although some of the vey very best skimmers could do something that looked similar with unsecured data ports.

Sting locked down the security on his own data port – which itself was better than his parents knew it was, through a series of legal-if-questionable upgrades. You couldn’t play the good online games with standard brainware, not and win. And Sting liked playing to win.

“Ah. Mr. Marydel.” A woman in a white lab coat stepped out from behind the frosted glass. “You’ve enabled security, very good. We encourage a certain amount of healthy paranoia in our recruits; the tech that is available covertly is much more invasive and pervasive than the common market. Please come with me.” She gestured to indicate some place behind her that Sting couldn’t see. “I’m eager to get the testing started as soon as possible.”

“That’s not ominous at all,” Sting muttered.

“Well, I could add some evil laughter, if it helps? To properly set the mood?”

Next: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1075022.html

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Sting Marydel and the Cliffs of Anterior, Part 6

Part one: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1049125.html
Part two: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1049392.html
Part three: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1051270.html
Part four: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1054666.html
Park five: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1057725.html


Sting had lied to his parents, he’d lied to his friends, and he’s lied to his guild. It wasn’t raining, of course, so he’d had to come up with an excuse not to climb the cliffs; his parents wanted him to work on college applications, so he’d had to tell them he was going out with his friends. This was going to be a bust, and he didn’t want anyone knowing about it until it was over, done, and behind him for good.

The office of NABU was tiny and unimposing, a doorway in the corner of a strip mall and a stairway downwards into a sub-basement. Sting tried to keep that in mind as he descended. It was unimpressive, thus, he wasn’t actually impressed – or nervous. It ought to work that way.

The unnamed soldiers from the day before had been plenty impressive, though. And the things they’d known about him…

No. They’d taken a perfectly normal scary situation and made it sound like he’d done something strange.

They didn’t say anything at all, a helpful voice in his head reminded him. You already knew it was strange.

And that was the problem. Were they going to lock him up for government testing? The information he’d been able to find hadn’t said anything at all about NABU doing Roswell-like testing, but then again, it wouldn’t.

If this was a movie, when he was taken prisoner, Sting’s new power would manifest and he would burn out all those evil government people who were trying to hurt him. But this wasn’t a movie. This was his life. He swallowed his nerves.

He’d lied to everyone, but he had set up a dead-man switch post. If he didn’t show up for dinner, it would go out to his friends, his guild, his parents, and the police. Would any of them be able to help against a shady military organization?

Sting pushed open the NABU door.

Next: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1067774.html

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Sting Marydel and the Cliffs of Anterior, Part 5

Part one: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1049125.html
Part two: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1049392.html
Part three: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1051270.html
Part four: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1054666.html


These people just did not give up. “Look.” Spike tried to sound reasonable. “I’m not a team player. I’m not a joiner. I like climbing rocks, not chasing down jocks, and I spend more time on video games than hanging out with my friends.”

“And when David Cominsky slipped on a wet rock last week…?”

Sting shifted his weight onto his heels. How did she know about that? Dave wasn’t going to tell anyone, Cari hadn’t seen what had happened, and he sure as hell hadn’t told a soul.

“I saved him. He’s my friend.” He’d grabbed for Dave’s hand, and everything had been wet. He’d seen the second Dave’s fingers slipped out of his, and then he’d been holding Dave’s wrist. It had been impossible.

But the alternative was Dave in pieces at the bottom of the gorge, and Dave dying wasn’t an acceptable option.

The NABU woman had her eyebrows raised. Sting took a step backwards. “That doesn’t make me army material!”

“I told you, we don’t pull from the same pool as the Army. We’re interested in talented people who are bright, clever, and, frankly, not sure what to do with themselves, and we’re interested in people who sometimes have strange things happen around them.”

“This is just not happening.” He stepped backwards, shaking his head. “Look, you’ve got to be gone before my parents get home. I don’t want to explain a whole bunch of uniformed people on the doorstep.”

“We’ll leave when we have your agreement to come in for testing at the local base.” She smiled, not a pleasant expression. “I imagine by now we’re already the source of quite a bit of gossip.”

Sting sighed. “You’re not going to budge, are you?”

“I am, as a matter of fact, renowned for my lack of budging.”

He could agree and then not show up. Of course, then they’d probably just come bug him again. Or drag him off. “Tomorrow fine? It’s supposed to be raining.”

“Tomorrow at ten.” She handed him a brochure. “We’ll see you there.”


Next: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1064287.html

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Sting Marydel and the Cliffs of Anterior, Part 4

Part one: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1049125.html
Part two: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1049392.html
Part three: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1051270.html


Sting was fast with a door slam. He had practiced on ex-girlfriends, bullies, evangelists, and, once, the cops. But the woman from NABU was faster with her foot, at least when she was expecting it, which she clearly was.

“Mr. Marydel, it is very important that you listen to us.”

Her boot was not getting out of the door. Sting opened it again. “What, national security, safety of the world, that sort of thing?”

She smirked at him. “Very few teenagers are all that interested in saving the world these days. Even if we had a true emergency on our hands, we might be hard-pressed to recruit based on young people’s altruistic urges. No. I want to appeal to your vanity and sense of adventure, your desire to get out of your parents’ house, and your clear lack of interest in attending college. No submitted applications,” she answered before Sting could ask.
“And? Why me? I don’t like fighting, I tend to lose.” It wasn’t exactly true. He’d gotten a lot better at not losing in the last few years, but that was a far cry from winning. “I’m not Army material. I told the recruiter that at the booth, too.” Why wouldn’t she just go away? The rain was dripping down her head and down her team’s wires. That couldn’t be good for anyone.

“We don’t recruit from the same pool as the Army, and Army recruits are almost always unsuited to work for us. Tell me, how much do you know about NABU?”

“Enough to know you’re all experimental stuff. Nobody’s making mechs yet commercially, not even in prototype. And ‘unknown power source’ is just asking for trouble!”

“All of this is true. Now, tell me – how do you know all that?”

Shit. Sting swallowed. “Uh… web search?”

“Mmm-hrrm. And that, Mr. Marydel, is why we want you. It’s also why you’re going to end up signing up with us.”


Next:http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1057725.html

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Sting Marydel and the Cliffs of Anterior, Part 3

Part one: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1049125.html
Part two: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1049392.html

The woman from “NABU” was pounding on Sting’s door. NABU, NABU. He pulled up a search window and flipped around. Nothing. The pounding was getting louder.

NABU, secret. ARMY. Right, he didn’t want to do this on brainware. He fired up his old-tech machine, conscious of the fact that he was doing this with secret Army people right outside of his door. There wasn’t technically anything wrong with looking up information incognito, except that it meant you had something to hide.

There was something a little closer to wrong with using the backalley searches he was about to use, but they weren’t quite illegal. They could do bad stuff to your brainware if you didn’t know what you were doing – and maybe even if you did – but that was different than illegal. Technically.

He plugged in a password, a second password, his authentication, and the pounding was still going on. It was disturbingly rhythmic, like a heartbeat, knock-knock, knock-knock. He ran a couple searches, Army, NABU, secret organizations within the Army…

“Woah, shit.” It took him four tries to get anything at all. What he found, he was half-convinced was a hoax. Sure, tech had improved a lot in the last decade, but for NABU to already be recruiting, if they were… It had to be a hoax. Someone had taken screen shots of mechs from some video game he hadn’t seen yet.

It was almost tempting… He turned off the old-tech, unplugged it, and put it back in the closet. The woman was still knocking on the door. He unlocked it and opened it again. “No.”

Her fist stopped in mid-air and fell to her side. “No?”

“No, not interested. I know I just turned eighteen but the whole point of a draft card is not the army shows up at your door.”

“But you don’t know what we’re offering yet.”

He was pretty sure he did. “Still not interested. Good-bye.”

Part Four: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1054666.html

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Sting Marydel and the Cliffs of Anterior, Part 2

Part one: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1049125.html

“My test results.” Sting looked at the woman on the porch. The uniform was military, she was wearing at least two weapons, but he couldn’t see any insignia at all. “I know I kinda blew on the SATs, but I didn’t think I blew chunks. Ma’am.”

“You did better than you might think on the SATs, but we’re here about your PQR’s.”

“…the speed run? That wasn’t a test. That was just some online contest.” He looked at the shoulders of the soldiers with her. That was a very wide protected data cable running down their backs. If this was a hoax, it was the weirdest hoax ever.

“It was.” She nodded solemnly. “And you did quite well. In addition, you’ve scored quite well on several other assessments.”

She was standing out in the rain. Water was dripping down her face, plastering her short hair to her scalp, and she didn’t seem to mind at all. Sting looked back into the house – warm, dry, safe – and then back at them. “Uh. Do you have any ID? I mean, not to be rude, but…”

“Caution is acceptable.” She unfolded part of her belt to reveal a shield and photograph. NABU was written in big blue letters across the bottom of the photograph. She flipped it again to show a second ID reading ARMY. “We’re a secret branch of a secret organization within the US ARMY. We’ve been monitoring your progress for some time.” She had no expression at all.

“Me? What did I do?” Was she wired in? All her visible ports looked empty…

“You hit our radar when you joined the Boy Scouts.” Still no expression, not even a smirk.

“I was eight!

“Many people hit our radar. Very few of them last past their eighteenth birthday. You, Sterling Marydel, are one out of a thousand. And we need you to come with us.”

Sting slammed the door in her face and threw the deadbolt.

Part three: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1051270.html

This entry was originally posted at http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1049392.html. You can comment here or there.

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Practicing my cliffhangers….

It was supposed to be the first day of summer vacation, and it was pouring outside. Sting was playing Metal Commando IV instead of climbing the Anterior Cliff, which probably would make his mother happy if she knew but was a surprisingly lame substitute for actual air and hills.

Despite being lame, it was still engrossing, and the doorbell had probably rung three or four times before the sound got through his headphones. Grumbling and swearing – and secretly hoping it was Dave and Cari saying “screw the rain, let’s climb anyway,” Sting opened the door.

“Sterling Marydel.” There were three people on the porch, all looking quite annoyed to be standing in the rain, all wearing some sort of military uniform that Sting didn’t recognize. The woman in front had short-cropped grey hair and three visible data jacks in her hairline. “We’re here about your test results.”

Part 2: http://aldersprig.dreamwidth.org/1049392.html

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