#SongLyricSunday ♫ “Last Man Standing” – Graffiti Ghosts

LuciferSoundtrackCover

Almost missed this again for 2 weekends in a row, but remembered at the last minute. I’d feel worse about it, if it wasn’t because I’ve been plugging away in my writing cave getting the final few chapters done for my next book! I’m really having a blast with these characters, too – and since they belong to my Hell on Earth series, it just ties in really nicely with my song choice for today’s prompt – or maybe that’s why I thought of it. 😉 Make sure to click on the theme link below to check out Helen’s blog, This Thing Called Life One Word at a Time, and all the other song picks for today!

This week’s theme is: Last

For my pick, I’ve chosen a song off the Lucifer soundtrack, because like the show, it’s bad ass. Still waiting for Netflix to release Season 4 and am super happy they picked it up after it was cancelled by the network (man, are you guys dumb) – now a Netflix Original, I can’t wait to see which direction the show takes without all the restrictions it had before. 😀

Couldn’t find a video for this one, but I don’t think fans of the graphic novel: Last Man Standing: Killbook of a Bounty Hunter by Daniel LuVisi will mind the static shot.

Your trigger finger better think about your future
You’re getting twisted thinking I don’t want to shoot ya
I’ve been waiting for a long time
and I’m coming back to get what’s mine

Sick of living with your little double faces
I’m getting itchy and so livid I can taste it
I’ve been waiting for a long time
and I’m swinging til I get what’s mine
but I’m not going down
I’m not going down

I’ll be the last man standing
The last man standing
You know I never bend I never break
I’m the heavyweight with all the answers

I’m the last man standing
I’m the last man standing
I drew a line into the sand cuz I only plan to be the last man
the last man standing

You’re hesitating wasting days I didn’t give you
And it’s too late to pray or say you didn’t think through
We’re toe to toe you better make a move
Cuz I’m standing right in front of you
but I’m not going down
I’m not going down

I’ll be the last man standing
The last man standing
You know I never bend I never break
I’m the heavyweight with all the answers

I’m the last man standing
I’m the last man standing
I drew line into the sand cuz I only plan to be the last man
the last man standing

I’ll be the last man standing
The last man standing
You know I never bend I never break
I’m the heavyweight with all the answers

I’m the last man standing
I’m the last man standing
I drew line into the sand cuz I only plan to be the last man
the last man standing

♫♪♫♪

Songwriters: Written By Lawrence Katz/C. Todd Nielsen
Published By Mixed Metaphor Music
Lyrics found: Courtesy Of Position Music

I do not own any rights to this song, lyrics or video. All rights remain with the artists and their respective agents. No copyright infringement intended.

SongLyricSunday

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Sensual Sentient ♥ Episode 7

NortokShip

image source: I.F. 221C by Andree Wallin on Deviantart

Know Thy Enemy

The echo of Sida’s screams followed Blake and the others over the valley, as the Meylosian cruiser rushed them toward their fate.

“Commander?”

The familiar, muffled voice came from the other side of the black wall of Non-Terrestrial squished against Blake’s right side. “Johansen?”

“Yes, sir,” she answered.

“Who else?” he asked.

“Lupo, sir.” Engineering Junior Grade, Torance Lupo, replied.

“And Kass, sir.”

Ensign Baron Kass was a medical officer Blake had never seen outside of the infirmary before and he prayed he wasn’t the only one Sida had ordered to join the field team. The thought of her and the rest of the crew being stranded on an unknown planet without a medic didn’t help his already foul mood. Especially,  when he knew they’d most likely sustained injuries in all that chaos with the other patrol cruisers. Of course, that would only be a problem if the NT’s didn’t decide to cook them up for dinner. Fuck!

Blake ground his teeth in frustration, but he wasn’t completely irate. He would get captured a thousand times over if it meant his captain was free with a fighting chance of survival, and hopefully a rescue plan.

“Okay crew, as you’ve probably noticed, we’re dealing with the Meylos, who are supposed to be non-hostile neutrals. Filthy bleeding liars,” Blake swore, despite his lungs going numb from lack of space. “Just stay calm and I’ll get us out of this somehow. I doubt the opportunistic vultures want to go to war with Earth.”

The hot air that rushed over them wasn’t all natural, but enhanced by the cruiser’s energy field and proton net. The only thing Blake was grateful for was that he was facing the underbelly of the ship, rather than the valley far below. That would certainly make it difficult to think clearly. The trek over the jungle grew a little cooler as they passed over the large lake that followed. In no time, they were in the city that he and Sida had spied from the ridge, yet his limbs had still managed to turn into pin-prickling uselessness from lack of circulation. Noise assaulted them from every direction, but it was recognizable; the din of a bustling urban center.

The ship’s descent was somewhat nauseating and by the time it came to a hovering stop, a million different scenarios had already raced through Blake’s mind. A thousand logical steps to take. His adrenaline was still churning, while he tried to capture every new invasion to his senses. The net was slowly lowered and only a few seconds ticked by, before he felt solid ground beneath his back.

“Well, well, what do we have here?” The unmistakable nasal curl of a Meylosian’s voice questioned from somewhere nearby.

It was a male, though higher pitched than the average human male range. The Meylos accent was unique, sounding equally Austrian and British without any distinction between the two, yet warped into some kind of dual inflection.

“When I heard there were Earthlings running about the jungles, I just had to come see it for myself,” the speaker continued.

As the Meylos started his speech, the net was released and Blake’s lungs immediately inflated with the additional room, causing him to suck in huge, audible breaths. The relief from the weight and renewed circulation made his skin tingle painfully. He couldn’t even attempt to sit up while the feeling slowly returned to all his limbs. It didn’t seem to be an issue for the NT, though, who released a snarling battle cry and lunged off the tarmac. The Meylosian soldiers standing by merely cocooned him in his own personal proton net and watched him topple over onto the ground.

“Imagine my surprise in this moment to see that it’s not only true, but we have in our company, officers from Earth’s Galactic Navy, itself. To include its Commander,” the Meylos continued.

Blake and his team were lifted off the ground by the soldiers and their commentator finally came into view, stopping directly in front of Blake. His long, spindly finger ended in a talon and flicked the insignia embedded into the material of Blake’s AABV. It took a considerable amount of restraint not to deck the thing right in its ugly little face. Meylosians were supposed to be neutral diplomats, mediators and negotiators that helped set up mutually beneficial trade business between planetary systems. Blake had always found them to be an extremely pretentious race, but altogether harmless. They were the yuppies of the universe.

Blake towered over him, for the Meylos were quite petite in stature. They made up for it with the long, broad feathers that grew out of their narrow, oval scalps and curved backward like a headdress. This alone was their only distinguishing feature, each style, color and pattern unique to the individual or a genetic marker of their bloodline. Otherwise, they all looked the same. Pale coral skin, their noses nothing more than a thin spine down the center of their faces that ended in two small slits. Their mouths were small and scaled like a lizards, their eyes round and eerily identical to those of a baby Caiman’s. They were like the missing evolutionary link no one ever wanted to find.

“Last I heard, GINESS was welcome in the Meylos System,” Blake stated.

“But of course,” the Meylosian gestured grandly to their surroundings. “You, I’m afraid, will not be seeing the Meylos System anytime soon, Commander. Toss them on the transleigh.”

Blake didn’t fight when those orders were followed out by the soldiers. He and his crew watched as the NT was lifted onto his own separate sleigh, still trapped in a net. Cargo sleighs were designed to hold up to five tons without losing altitude, which was only about three and a half feet off the ground. The Meylos leader lounged across the buffer ledge at the front of their sleigh, staring down from his mild perch at Blake and his three unfortunate crewmates. Pretentious bastard. The sleighs started moving, heading off the brightly lit tarmac and into one of the large hangars that were open at both ends.

“You and I both know you didn’t come here by ship, Commander,” their captor spoke, as if there had been no lapse in the conversation.

The nice thing about dealing with narcissists was they enjoyed the sound of their own voices so much, they tended to reveal pertinent information in their outpouring of bullshit, with next to no prodding. The truths were typically springboards for their embellishments, easily transliterated into vital details by applying sheer common sense. Blake didn’t know which was more pathetic, that they were so transparent or that they actually believed they weren’t?

“We are on a planet in the most remote outer reaches of space, that with Earth’s rudimentary jumping technology, would take generations for your people to reach by ship, without any detours or delays.”

Blake looked down at the sleigh beneath him and then around the large hangar full of cargo. “So, the natives here trade with their imaginary friends?”

Okay, perhaps he was a little cranky and too sore to muster the pretense of civility. He’d just spent the better part of three weeks on a dust-filled planet with little oxygen, a slight hangover and a nagging libido he hadn’t been able to slake, only to end up on a potentially volcanic planet full of spear-wielding NT’s and not so non-hostile Meylosians. He wasn’t a frigging android. The unexpected jab served its purpose, at any rate, causing Mr. Arrogant to pause in the middle of his “I’m an evil villain” monologue and lean right into Blake’s face.

Blake leaned back just as slowly, to keep the distance between them the same at all times and never broke eye-contact. Johansen was directly behind him, so Blake used the exaggerated motion to distract the birdbrain from the fact that he was grabbing the fixall laser tool out of Johansen’s AABV. He shoved it up his sleeve, because he knew they’d be stripped of their vests once they got to wherever they were going. He wasn’t about to get imprisoned without a Plan B.

“Your kind has always been so crude, so unrefined. It’s a cosmic wonder you ever made it out of your caves, let alone your planet’s atmosphere,” the Meylosian sneered. Maybe. It was really hard to tell.

“At least we don’t look like we still belong in them,” Blake remarked.

“If you must know, the beings that trade in this region of space are so far beyond your scope of perceived intellect and grandeur, that the chance of your kind ever meeting them redefines the meaning of ‘worst odds’,” he continued, talking right over Blake’s insult. “Elite races from these most advanced civilizations would never bother making contact with any of the insignificant star-systems you know of.”

“I know of yours,” Blake smiled coolly. “And I’d like to see how you plan to explain this to the United Federation of Earth’s Intergalactic Alliance.”

“I won’t be explaining anything to anyone,” the Meylos answered. “I’ve never met you or any of your crew and my people know nothing of this planet or what happens here. We are a neutral race with no ties to any alliance or their laws.”

Make that pretentious underhanded bastards!

That was fine, though. They had plenty of those on Earth and Blake knew exactly how to handle them. He’d never had much patience for the sport of manipulation. He’d earned his stripes by being the best without having to kiss anyone’s ass in the process, because both GINESS and the Galactic Bureau of Exploration and Scientific Research liked his results far more than they hated his attitude. That and they knew he could just as easily ditch the regulations and protocol and make a killing on the Galactic Black Market running his own Starblood smuggling operation.

The only reason he didn’t, was because then his crew would be made up of untrustworthy mercs carrying around their own shitty attitudes and a pension for mutiny, while competing with the universe’s worst mobsters. None of which gave a lick about the lives, ecosystems or general planetary stability of other worlds. Blake could be a dick, he even wore the badge with pride most days, but he wasn’t into mass genocide for profit.

“Now, Commander, why don’t you tell me who else you have here on Pralldex with you. Your Captain, undoubtedly,” the Meylosian picked up again. “It’s only a matter of time before we find and capture them all. My cruisers never return empty.”

Blake nearly pointed out that two of his cruisers hadn’t returned at all, but that would only confirm the Meylosian’s suspicions, which he wasn’t about to voluntarily do.

“I’m afraid you caught me on my first solo mission that our captain entrusted me to lead.” He scowled grimly for affect. “Just a small group of scientists trying to find more alien bugs to add to our collection.”

The Meylosian glanced over his shoulder toward the end of the hangar they were rapidly approaching and came very close to smiling, when he looked back to Blake.

“I have a feeling your answer is about to change, Commander,” he said confidently.

Blake spread his hands in an innocent gesture, retaining his bluff. Then the sleigh veered left out of the hangar and right into a docking station full of Nortokian Class B fighter ships. Dread didn’t even begin to cover the sinking weight in the pit of Blake’s gut, because as far as the universe’s worst mobsters went, Nortoks made them all look like fucking amateurs.

©A.C. Melody

Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for more of this SciFi serial, or if you like a little more fantasy in your alternate worlds, check out Thief of Dragons under The Wicked Web on the menu bar. There’s already 25 episodes available and counting! 🙂

Sensual Sentient ♥ Episode 6

Contact

image source: Roleplayer guild

Contact

Blake was right behind her, when Sida shoved off the ground and raced back down the ferny slope toward camp. They could hear Ketha’s voice cutting through the melee, shouting orders in between shots fired. Night abruptly turned into day when the patrol cruiser crested the ridge right behind them, forcing them to hit the ground again. Sida lost her footing in the process and slid downhill on her ass, before tumbling into somersaults. Mid-roll, Blake lifted her from the ground and tossed her further ahead. With a startled, winded grunt, she glanced over her shoulder to see a proton net hit the ground where she’d just been and disperse.

“Thanks.” She managed, when he grabbed her hand and pulled her back into the race beside him. Her head was spinning from the continuous momentum, but her vision was clear as ever. “That’s a Meylosian cruiser!”

“Noticed,” he shouted over the propulsion system and thrusters hitting the jungle with the force of a tropical storm. Leaves and vines thrashed all around them, kicking up tiny whirlwinds of debris. “I thought they were neutral?”

“So did I!” she hollered back, as they dodged another net. They both saw something big and dark race through the underbrush up ahead. “What was that?”

“Not a Meylosian.”

“It looked humanoid,” Sida observed.

“Less science, more running for your life!” Blake shot, tossing her earlier command back in her face.

Two more creatures passed them, running in the opposite direction, surefooted and extraordinarily fast through the jungle. Right toward the cruiser. Their leaping grace could’ve belonged to a gazelle or jungle cat, but they were definitely humanoid.

“DUCK!”

Sida was tackled to the ground, as Blake covered her and another net flew right over their bodies to disperse on a tree.

“Sonofabitch!” she snarled, lunging to her feet as soon as she was able, and forcing her legs to work even faster than before.

Another creature charged out of the trees right before them. That close, there was no mistaking the long poleaxe in its hand; just as black as the rest of it and glinting as menacingly as its red, reflective eyes. The NT appeared male and had to be no less than seven-feet tall, wearing some kind of head-to-toe body armor that looked more like a second skin. At the sight of them, its lips peeled back in a dangerous growl. Sida lifted her rifle, but it merely darted around them like an agile deer. In the next instant, they witnessed all of the NTs use the trees to ricochet jump high into the air and land atop the cruiser in a matter of seconds. Their saber-tipped spears cut right through the hull of the ship like it was made out of paper.

“Sida, run!” Blake yelled in panic, when the cruiser tilted drastically and headed into a nosedive right toward the forest floor. The thickness of the treetops and vines kept it from impacting as explosively as they’d both been fearing, but it still shook the entire planet it seemed. “Don’t stop, I think there’s more!”

Without the one to slow them down, it was only a matter of seconds before Sida finally surged through the last bit of jungle and into their small camp. She nearly collided with another NT and three of her own people trying to run out of the camp–and by the time she realized why, it was too late. A neon blue net was flying right for them and she’d put herself directly in its path. Strong hands shoved her sideways from behind, sending her flying to the ground so hard, she skidded on her stomach. Sucking in a sharp breath, she rolled onto her side and scrambled off the ground to stop what was about to happen, only to watch the net wrap around the entire group all at once–including the one who’d just saved her ass.

“BLAKE!” she screamed in horror to see him and three more of her crew getting hauled away in the net. She ran after them, screaming like it would change anything. “Blake! Johansen! No, no, NO!”

There was a third cruiser that both her team and the NTs were working together on battling, but Sida dodged them, still chasing the one carrying a net full of her people away. Switching her rifle to max reserves, she was racing on pure adrenaline. The multitude of injuries and fiery burn of exertion in her muscles were numbed by it. When she finally had a clear shot, she stopped, aimed and curled her finger over the trigger. The cruiser cleared the ledge, soaring over the valley and putting the captives at immediate risk of death from the fall if she took the shot.

“Dammit, DAMMIT!” she raged.

Sida watched helplessly as her people grew more and more distant through the scope of her rifle, and the guilt that instantly swamped her was intense. One of the NTs leaped right in front of her like a solid wall of black. He growled threateningly, because one of his own was also in the net and he obviously believed she was still planning to take the shot. Sida gave two shits about his reasons. Frustrated, fighting tears and racked with guilt, she growled in outrage right back at him. The alien jerked upright and its animal-like eyes widened as if startled.

“Captain!”

Keeping her weapon aimed at the NT, Sida slowly backed away from it, toward Ketha’s voice.

“Are you hurt?” she asked the Lieutenant.

“My leg,” Ketha admitted, limping to her. “I think I fractured it. Why are the Meylos attacking?”

“I don’t know, but–”

Sida’s words faltered when the NT she’d just had a growling match with started advancing on them and as he did, the black armor that covered him began to disappear. Underneath was a very humanoid male with dark golden skin, slightly pointed ears and long hair of jet black wearing nothing more than a dark, calf-length sarong. The only thing that didn’t change were his eyes, remaining the same orange-red hue that reflected the light like a felines. In that moment, Sida may have believed that Egyptian gods were real, because she was staring right at one.

“Captain.” Another familiar voice called out.

Sida pivoted to see Ensigns Darling and McConnell being led into the area at the spear points of more NTs who were still covered in all black. It had to be some kind of bio-armor encoded in their DNA, a natural defense triggered by a chemical reaction whenever they sensed danger or fear. A sort of retractable exoskeleton possibly made out of a form of keratin. But where did it retract to, their pores? The scientist in her was practically frothing at the mouth.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a fourth NT stalk around the others and head right for the unarmored one. He asked Goldy a question and the fact that Sida’s translator didn’t kick on, meant it was an alien language Earth hadn’t discovered yet. Goldy answered while gesturing at Sida and Ketha, so the other stepped toward them, his armor also receding to reveal the flesh underneath. Sida wished she could watch the process under a high-powered microscope. Her eyes tried so hard to narrow in on the action, but it was too damn dark. Then she peered into his face and immediately took a step back, lifting her rifle again, because he was more. So much more than the other one.

His features were ten times more delicious, his mouth alone triggered an insane amount of fantasies to race through her mind. Desires she’d never even been aware of, and Sida Marx was not a bashful girl! Without pause, he grabbed the barrel of her rifle and lifted it before she could even hope to get a shot off, holding it upright between them as he towered over her. His eyes drank in every minute detail of her face, as if she were the most fascinating thing he’d ever seen. Then, he reached out and caressed the wild strands of her hair, which had been whipped free of her braid. She’d lost her hat somewhere between dodging nets and NTs, apparently. Even as she jerked her head out of his reach, an enticing musk filled all of Sida’s senses. Her stomach gurgled in hunger and her throat dried from thirst, despite the saliva forming along her tongue with craving.

“De-etto,” he ordered, his voice an aphrodisiac to her ears.

Sida shook her head, not only because she didn’t understand him, but to dislodge the drugging effect he had over her mind.

“De-etto,” he repeated, but this time he touched his fingers to her throat.

Electricity crackled through her, instantly weakening her muscles. Pure, unadulterated lust speared right through her core to flood her thighs. As her entire body heated and grew lax, her brain continued to cloud over, going under a blanket of sensations thicker than the humidity. Her reaction had the NT’s eyes flashing wide and his musk intensified, smothering her. Sida was wrapped up in his strong arm and pulled into his hard body. Need surged through her veins, and she was certain her arousal scented the air, because the NT inhaled deeply as if he could smell it.

Whatever neurons in her brain that were meant to trigger embarrassment, outrage, survival instincts–something–appeared to be malfunctioning, because all she wanted to do was let this alien have his way with her until she forgot her own damn name. But the bastard was doing it on purpose. Using it as a weapon against her. Sida had too much training in psychic and cognitive psychological warfare not to recognize it when it was hitting her full force. Knowing that made it easier for reason to break through the fog and remind her of the very real and frightening situation she was in. Like the fact that part of her crew had just been abducted by Meylosians and the others were either injured or in possible danger from the natives. Sida grabbed onto the insult of his deliberate attack, added it to the frustration, panic and guilt, and prepared to do as much damage as possible.

Fuck diplomacy.

The NT’s eyes swam with the promise of death by pleasure, vowing to give her more than she’d ever dreamed possible and when his gaze dropped to her mouth, she couldn’t escape the full-body shiver. That’s when she swung. He was too humanoid. Too gloriously male and sensually potent. His lush mouth moved closer to hers, their breaths mingling and the sensation went somewhere deeper than it should have. She fought with teeth gritting determination, but her vision still went hazy, even as her knuckles connected with his jaw. The second point of physical contact was like shooting herself with a proton pistol. It fried her brain completely, even while pleasure rippled all the way to her toes.

©A.C. Melody

Hope you enjoyed this new episode and thanks for reading! Again, you can find all episodes of my two current serials under “The Wicked Web” link on the menu above. Stay tuned…

Sensual Sentient ♥ Episode 5

Infared

Some Like It Hot

Satisfied that Barnes’s grunts would have their camp up and running in no time, Sida led her crew into the jungle surrounding the World Opening.

“Shouldn’t take long to find running water in this environment,” Blake noted.

That was always their first objective. It was the fastest way to find civilization, especially if they were dealing with a primitive planet, as the lack of pollutants would suggest. Of course, it was just as likely they were dealing with a highly advanced race that had stopped emitting pollution a long time ago.

Forty minutes into their trek, Blake smacked another mosquito-like insect off his neck. “It’s like walking through the damn Amazon around here. Even with weapons, you can’t help feeling extremely low on the food chain.”

“Humans haven’t been at the top of the food chain since we decided to be smartasses and leave our own solar system,” Sida remarked. “Insolent children that we are.”

“Wow, Captain, that only missed the enlightening mark by this–”

Blake cut himself off when Sida stopped abruptly and signaled for her team to do the same. Pointing to her eyes first, she then pointed through a gap in the broad leaves straight ahead and started unfastening the binoculars from her belt. Blake leaned in to get a line on her visual.

“Is that smoke?” he questioned, pulling the binoculars from her hands and using them, rather than digging out his own.

Sida squinted at the distant pillars of something white rising up into the sky. Some were narrow and nearly transparent, others were so dense they looked more like stretched, vertical clouds.

“Well?” she prompted.

“I’m thinking steam,” Blake replied. “No embers, ash, or discoloration that would indicate burning. Of course, that means we could be looking at volcanic activity after all.”

“Any signs of life?”

“No, just the steam.”

“Try thermal,” she suggested.

Blake adjusted the binoculars and immediately jerked them away from his face with a seething hiss. “Well, that was insightful, everything’s red!” he griped, rubbing at his eyes, before adjusting the binoculars more and trying again. “Yep, red, yellow and orange. Even the vegetation has body heat, as if everything’s abnormally hot.”

“Hot springs, of course!” Isiah swore, obviously disappointed he hadn’t thought of that sooner. “They must be feeding all the vegetation, which is why there’s a higher concentration of minerals and sulfur in the air.”

Sida removed her glove and placed her palm on the nearest tree. “It does feel warmer than it should,” she confirmed. “Close to the same temperature as the air, though, nothing extreme.”

“They seem elevated from our position, but could still be exposed pools, or geysers,” Isiah noted, as he took his own turn with the binoculars.

If it was the former, natives could still be situated nearby in order to utilize them, but if was the latter… “That puts us right back in danger of seismic activity,” she said, chewing on the debate running through her mind on how to proceed.

“Hey, you know what we could do in a hot spring?” Blake wagged his brows at her.

His libido was so predictable, it was amusing. “You go right ahead and keep that image in your mind, Commander, because that’s the closest you’re getting to hot tub sex right now,” she smirked.

“Well yeah, because we have to get there first,” he scoffed.

She merely shook her head at his optimism. Secretly, the idea of sinking into hot mineral pools sounded like paradise to her, sex would merely be a bonus. She didn’t have to tell him that, though.

“That’s our new destination, team. Let’s gain as much ground as we can.”

Countless hours passed, as they trudged through underbrush half the size of the trees, which was still three times the size of them, and didn’t appear any closer to the steam stacks than when they’d started. Yet, they could still see them, playing peekaboo through a somewhat steady range of gaps in the the canopy and foliage.

“I’m not sure I care for how much this feels like a trail,” Sida remarked.

Blake glanced at the spongy, moss covered ground. “It’s not worn by anything living,” he pointed out. “Something under the surface is blocking the root systems here.”

“You always make me feel so much better in potentially dangerous situations, Yarring,” she grumbled.

“Potentially dangerous situations is exactly why I asked to join your crew, Captain,” Blake deadpanned. “No matter what you tell those cadets at NASE, you live for this kind of shit, same as I do.”

Sida couldn’t argue with him completely. She thrived on the various thrills that came with danger and discovery, but she was also responsible for a lot of lives and there was nothing exciting about that. Another hour passed with no change, so when they came upon the first decent clearing, she called it.

“Alright crew, we make camp here for the rest of the night–or day, whichever,” she announced. “Three hour shifts. Yarring, Minnows and I will take first watch.”

No one argued, as gear packs were dropped and rifled through for camp materials. Everyone was hungry, thirsty and exhausted. The temperature never altered a single degree, heavy with humidity and no wind for relief. If anything, it felt warmer the closer they got to the steam stacks. As Sida started walking a perimeter around the site, circling further out with each pass, she worried about the pressure that could be building in trapped veins right below the surface of where her crew was getting ready to sleep.

“You ever hear of safety in numbers?” Blake scolded, coming up beside her a little while later.

“Mmm, only when it comes with coffee,” she grinned, accepting the steaming cup he offered. “Thanks.”

“Self-preservation,” he admitted, taking a sip of his own. “I know how charming you get without your regular caffeine fixes.”

Sida chuckled, too tired to argue.

“Unless, of course, you had a different kind of fix in mind?”

She opened her mouth to answer and then went on full alert at the somewhat distant sound of thrashing leaves. She knew Blake hadn’t heard it, but he instantly followed her cue, because they knew each other too well for skepticism. Their coffee was quietly abandoned, as they drew their weapons, tuning all their senses into the world around them. Sida signaled that she’d heard something and then pointed in the direction she was intending to go. Blake nodded and moved with her.

It was as natural as breathing, the way they fell into sync, creeping silently through leaves and vines. Their gazes swept opposing hemispheres, so all angles were covered. It didn’t take long to notice they were going up a gradual incline of thick, fern-like ground coverage. Sida heard the same noise again, and this time, so did Blake. It sounded like someone was running very swiftly through the jungle, without fear of being heard, yet it was still distant. It grew louder, the higher up the small hill they went.

They crouched into a crawl for the last several feet, until the land rounded into a natural ledge and that’s where the scenery hit them all at once. The hill topped a dramatic drop-off that led into a dark valley where the canopy of more jungle kept the real distance to the ground hidden from view. The mouth of a river was just visible beyond the far-off forest end, snaking out to feed a large body of water between it and a sprawling, modern metropolis glowing with lights nestled into the base of a giant mountain range. It wasn’t a neon city filled with cloud breaching skyscrapers, but it was far from primitive.

Sida studied the red glow of a large moon offset by two smaller moons that were farther away. They were illuminated in varying shades of pale pink to the same bright white that Earth’s natural satellite reflected. That confirmed their suspicions; a Red Dwarf was definitely present, but so was a Yellow Dwarf, which would account for the temperature and lush vegetation. Sida held up two fingers and Blake nodded in agreement. The planet had two stars. Daytime cycles were gonna suck.

Blake dropped and shoved Sida’s head down into the ferns, when a patrol cruiser broke through the treetops in the valley far below, its spotlights shining in all directions, to include theirs.

Sida parted the ferns between them and found their noses nearly touching. “It’s looking for whoever we heard running,” she whispered.

“Did you recognize it?”

“I didn’t get a good enough look. That blasted red moon isn’t penetrating even the weakest of shadows.”

They heard the thrashing of underbrush again and Blake pulled his binoculars out to try to lock onto the position of their runner.

“I think there’s more than one–”

The sound of multiple shots being fired split the air from behind them and to the right, turning Sida’s blood into ice and physically jarring Blake.

“That was camp!” She panicked.

©A.C. Melody

Thanks for reading! If you’re just joining in, you can find the first 4 episodes under the menu link “The Wicked Web” – There you will find 25 episodes of another serial titled Thief of Dragons, which combines SciFi with Fantasy. Stay tuned for new episodes coming soon!

#RocktoberMusicFest ♫ “Mouth” – American Werewolf In Paris Soundtrack

Yesterday’s post got me thinking about Werewolves and my Wolf Shifter novels, which of course led me to this song, because I snuck it into my book as one of the obscure references I love weaving into my tales. Plus it’s Gavin Rossdale, I shouldn’t even need an explanation. 😉

I know, I already droned on about my obsession with Gavin Rossdale in my other Bush post this month when I shared my favorite guitar song by them “Warm Machine.” But for anyone who’s ever watched and secretly loved the movie, American Werewolf in Paris, this is usually the first song that comes to mind.

The movie American Werewolf in Paris managed to be both absurdly corny and freaky as hell, which should be impossible, but they did it and found a way to twist a love story into it, as well. If you’ve never seen it, I can’t honestly say you’re missing out on anything – except that it may be considered a cult classic now. Anyway, it’s Halloween week, so what better time to broaden your horror film horizons? Enjoy!

I do not own any rights to this song, lyrics or video. All rights remain with the artists and their respective agents. No copyright infringement intended.

♫♪ Rocktober Musicfest is hosted by Mary B. at Jingle, Jangle, Jungle. Check out her website if you’d like to join the event. There’s no restriction against joining after October 1st or limit/requirement to how many times you have to post for the month. It’s really easy and fun! ♪♫

Rocktober (600)

Click below to check out all of the other songs for today!

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#SongLyricSunday ♫ “Real Life” – 3 Doors Down

3_Doors_Down

Hi all, it’s been awhile, and what a perfect week to get back into the swing of things. Helen explained that she really couldn’t give much detail about this week’s theme, but that’s okay, I think we usually find our own ways to connect with the themes, and mine was immediate with this one.

When the Seventeen Days album first came out, I listened to it constantly, I’ve been a fan of 3 Doors Down since Kryptonite hit the airwaves, I mean…who hasn’t? Anyway, I was writing this amazing story at the time, hopping back and forth between my computer and my typewriter, without realizing how much this one song, Real Life, was influencing the plot and even my characters.

But by the end, I had these two protagonists brought together while hiding or running from their problems; one desperate for change, the other terrified of it, but they’re both searching for a better version of their lives and themselves. So, I’ve chosen “Real Life” for this week’s challenge, because it may not have the theme word anywhere in the song, but it’s definitely about the search. I also wanted to thank Helen for reminding me of this book, I should really get to rewriting it. (I lost a lot of it to a computer virus about 10 years ago, but that’s another story!)

In case you haven’t guessed, this week’s theme is: Search

Please head over to Helen’s blog, This Thing Called Life One Word at a Time to join in the fun or check out all the other great songs for the week. Enjoy!

I wanted to find somewhere to hide
And I opened up and let those fears inside
And I wanted to be anyone else
Only to find that there was no one there but me

But I woke up to the real life
And I realized it’s not worth running from anymore
When there was nowhere left to hide I found out
That nothing’s real here but I won’t stop now
Until I find a better part of me

I let those hard days get me down
And all the things I hate got in my way
I could’ve screamed without a sound
I found myself silenced by those things they say

But I woke up to the real life
And I realized it’s not worth running from anymore
When there was nowhere left to hide I found out
That nothing’s real here but I won’t stop now
Until I find a better part of me

That’s out there somewhere
And it can’t be that far away
That’s where I’ll find myself
And I’ll find my way out

That’s where I’ll find out

But I woke up to the real life
And I realized it’s not worth running from anymore
When there was nowhere left to hide I found out
That nothing’s real here but I won’t stop now
Until I find a better part of me

♪♫♪♫

Songwriters: Bradley Kirk Arnold / Christopher Lee Henderson / Matthew Darrick Roberts / Robert Todd Harrell
Lyrics found on Google
The Real Life lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

I do not own any rights to this song, lyrics or video. All rights remain with the artists and their respective agents. No copyright infringement intended.

SongLyricSunday

Dragons: How to Train Your Human

Like the title? Two purposes, 1: no getting sued by DreamWorks and 2: It really turns out to be this way.  I know, what is she going on about? Allow me to explain…

Some of you already know that my long absence has been due to what I thought was Tendinitis in both my hands. Turns out, I only have that in my left hand. The problem with my right hand is carpel tunnel…yay, I’m an overachiever. 😐 Okay, so after moping around for way longer than necessary awhile and getting completely abandoned by my muse, I broke down and bought the Dragon NaturallySpeaking software. And I don’t love it…no, I really don’t.

However, it has enabled me to keep my day job and after finally realizing that my Dragon has been training me all this time and not the other way around, my muse has actually decided to return (though, now that I’ve outed her, she might just take off again, because that’s the kind of floozy she is). Anyway, for any of you who’ve ever considered trying the Dragon software or wondered how it works exactly, I’m here to give you a not-so-quick rundown…awww, you know you missed me.

Warning: Personal Opinion Ahead

It sucks. Don’t waste your money. If your hands aren’t broken, use them. Dragon should only be a “desperate times call for desperate measures” option. The only way Dragon will ever be more efficient and faster than typing, is if you can speak as clearly and enunciate as precisely as Siri 100% of the time and never fluctuate in tone, pronunciation, or especially background noise. In fact, don’t even turn that fan on, I don’t care if you’re dripping sweat, it will make Dragon dictate as if you’re talking with a mouthful of cheesey-puffs. Oh, and I hope you have a totally stocked gaming computer that runs everything at lightning speeds and glitch-free.

On a more technical note…

Dragon is designed to be completely personalized to an individual. After each time you use it, the software updates your “profile” before shutting down completely, which enables it to remember the way you speak, so it can be more efficient and accurate the next time you use it. I’ll admit, it does eventually begin to show signs of adaption. Just whatever you do, don’t leave the program running over night to save time the next day – I know it takes forever to open and wake up and actually respond – but the longer it runs, even while not being used, the glitchier and boggier it gets. Also, you have to conduct a microphone adjustment every time you fire that bad boy up, even if you’re going to be using it in the same room, with the same background noise, every single day.

In the software’s defense, because I am not completely unreasonable, the above glitchy, boggy issues could also just be my laptop and the fact that it’s not exactly new…or even remotely recent.

Wait, why doesn’t this post have any photos? One purpose: Not getting sued by Nuance Communications

Who’s Training Who?

This is the tricky part. At first, you think that you’re training your Dragon to learn how you speak; your pace, your cadence, etc. which means you have to be careful to try to speak the same way all the time. You can’t approach it with “before coffee speech” one day and then the next day be like “I just snorted a pound of cocaine” speech. (Note: Neither this site nor its author encourages, endorses or engages in the act of snorting cocaine…or ever trying to speak before consuming coffee. Just say no.)

In truth, Dragon is like that kid who sleeps through half their classes, all the while turning you into a person who speaks punctuation marks out loud as if it’s normal. In order to get Dragon to type this exact sentence: “See Dick run. See Jane point and laugh! Did you see Spot pee on the neighbor’s leg?” you have to literally say:

Open quote see Dick run period see Jane point and laugh exclamation mark did you see Spot pee on the neighbor’s leg question mark close quote capitalize dick capitalize spot

The hardest punctuation mark of all time to remember to say aloud is “comma” – oh and hyphen. But tell me, authors: when you’re completely submerged in your own world and dictating what’s happening in any given scene between your characters, are you honestly going to remember to say COMMA? No, you’re just going to naturally pause in speech, the way you would if you were on stage. Nothing yanks you out of your creative flow faster than having to remember to talk punctuation marks! Open parenthesis, close parenthesis, semicolon, colon, oh shit how the hell do I explain an em-dash without it actually typing M dash?

And I get it, these are things you can always correct in editing. The first draft is always a heaping pile of “wtf was I thinking?” anyway – Soooo, I tried to keep that in mind and just go with the flow, only to find out that if I talk at even my normal pace, which is slightly closer to the lack of coffee than OD’ng on coke, Dragon will only type the last portion of my sentence. Or maybe the first two words and then the last part – regardless, it misses entire sections of my sentences.

I spend more time either correcting what Dragon thought I said or waiting for the words to finally appear on the document, so I can make sure Dragon caught it all. And just FYI, Dragon does not like curse words–AT ALL–no matter how many times you use the same one, on the same page, or in Zoe’s case, in the same run of dialogue, these are the handful of words it will never actually “save” with your profile. You cannot teach your Dragon to swear the way you taught your parrot…you know who you are.

Hands-Free Editing

There are built-in verbal commands you can give Dragon, which are supposed to enable you to make corrections without having to type. If you notice it dictated the wrong word, let’s say “Buck” for instance, you can say “Select buck” and it will pop open a box of word options you might have meant, which are numbered. You would then say “Choose one” or whichever number offers the correct option. I promise you, none of the options for “buck” will ever start with an F. So, if you don’t see your choice, then you would say “Spell that” at which time a different box opens that allows you to spell out the word you really wanted to say.

Here’s where I run into more problems. If I want the word capitalized, I’m supposed to be able to say “Captial F” then spell out the rest of the word. It’s always about a 70/30 chance that it’s going to add an L or an O to the beginning of my word, because it’s picking up those sounds from the word ‘capital’ no matter how fast or slow I say it – also, on most days, the “choose” feature never works in this particular box, so I have to select my choice with the mouse and hit enter, otherwise it tries to add numbers like ‘201’ to the end of the word I spelled out, rather than accepting the command “choose one”, rendering it a not so hands-free feature.

Get What You Pay For

When I started shopping around for the software, I reviewed the different options and decided to pass on the cheaper “basic” version for the newest “premium” edition, because it comes with a feature that allows you to add your own words to the software’s vocabulary. Ideal for an author, right? Well, along with the program, I also bought a recommended book written by a supposed Dragon expert, and I’ll admit, it did help me with my initial introduction to the software and getting it all set up – BUT – according to the author, I wasted my money for this “personalized vocabulary” feature, because Dragon will still never get it. In fact, they suggest that authors supplement their character’s names with simpler ones like “Dick and Jane” and then just do a “Find and Replace” during editing, because apparently they’ve never written fiction, or understand the whole concept of creative flow and the many things that can throw a wrench in it, like having to call your character by a name that is not theirs…

Thanks for looking out, hindsight dude who will never be useful in any situation beyond a “getting started” tutorial.

Then, after about a month of fighting with this newer, better version I stupidly paid extra money for – I started it up one day, and a notice popped up on my screen stating that Nuance was discontinuing the Premium 13 edition of Dragon NaturallySpeaking and that I had to act soon in order to get the newest (15) version for only $99. Eff you, man, I just paid that much for the 13! Like just – and now you’re telling me that you’re no longer going to be offering any updates or customer support for it? WTF?

Bottom Line

If you don’t already have and absolutely love Dragon NaturallySpeaking, you can either refer back to my personal opinion (which, I sincerely recommend) or buy it anyway, but definitely not the Premium 13 edition – and, you know – try it out. I hope you have absolutely no problems with it, and you leave that in the comments below and brag about how much time it saves you, how much your daily word count has increased and that you really do think I just need a new laptop and possibly a better headset.

(No, seriously, I’ll take any excuse to buy a new laptop). 😉

It’s Hexed (Hell on Earth 4). That’s what my muse returned for. I wasn’t going to mention being back to work on a WIP and then not tell you which one, honest. 😀 And if all goes as great as it has been, I hope to have it off to the editor before the end of the year.

Dragon be willin’ and the creek don’t rise…

Tootles!