Legal Theft Project: New Beginnings and Old Friends

The camp was busy with people getting ready for dinner. Newly minted teenagers shrieked and clamored in the early summer air. Hugs were exchanged, plans were plotted and improved, goals were boasted, and comebacks flew spark quick. It was a beautiful portrait of a beginning, vital and chaotic as only the young could be. Chase smiled as he looked out over the grounds of the camp, his camp.

It was the first step, the hopeful one, before the realities of finding one’s place in the world sank in. Kona, his dark furred hound, let out a breath. Chase scratched Kona’s head and chuckled. “I hope you and I don’t have to rescue too many of them this year.”

The hound gave him a skeptical look.

“I know. I know. One can hope.”

The hound chuffed and leaned against his leg. Chase had befriended Kona almost two decades ago on his own journey. Others had been looking for companions who would assist them in earning prestige, dream jobs, flashy skills, or practical purposes. Chase had been looking for a friend and managed to find some of the other benefits along the way. “Well, I’m glad you took a chance on a dumb boy who didn’t know better than to wander into the deep woods without a flashlight or basic camping supplies. And even gladder that you don’t mind helping him pay it forward.”

Kona stood and shook himself, then licked Chase’s hand. The hound turned, walked into Chase’s cabin and emerged with a thick handled brush. He wagged his tail happily. Chase grinned. “Alright. You deserve to shine tonight. Come here.” Chase knelt down and Kona brought him the brush, wiggling happily as Chase took to the serious business of pets and grooming. New beginnings could wait.


I stole this first line off a camp table

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Legal Theft Project: Battlefield Mud

She blinked. The dead were not supposed to do that. She blinked again, but the corpse kept moving. She scrambled back, reaching for her fallen sword. Around her, more fallen were starting to stir. The dead from both sides of the battlefield were rising in jerky movements. The soldiers in her company drew together and backed away from the rising horror. Bad enough to be too hot, to be fighting until you dropped, to square off around your fallen friends, now they were rising, and they were turning on you. Regardless of side, the risen dead were turning on her people. The enemy seemed equally off balance, but the dead were not attacking them and so some brave souls pressed forward with them.

This meant a mage. It was hard to take controlled breaths and narrow her focus to battlefield necessities. She wouldn’t be the only one who would be trying to find them. She was just the one with the best chance of finding them. She hacked her way out of the battlefield to the outskirts of the engagement area. Some soldiers were fleeing, her side taking losses which then shuddered and rose to turn on their former allies. Thankfully they weren’t very good. But there were more of them all the time and slow and stupid could still kill you. She darted off down the path, circling round the edges of the enemy line. There were a few sentries, but most were distracted by the sounds and action on the battlefield and she slipped by. One of the benefits of leather armor over chain or plate. Less noise to give you away.

She saw the mage standing on a slight rise, before the sun, explaining why they hadn’t spotted him before. He was chanting as a score of prisoners knelt around him. All were bleeding from gashes in their left arms. She focused on narrowing her view again. No use raging, more use attacking. Unfortunately there wasn’t any cover which meant the handful of guards around the rise would see her coming. She had to stop the mage regardless. She shifted to get a better view and her foot slipped in the soft soil. She looked down at the dirt and gravel. There was more than one way to halt a spell.

She sheathed her sword and unclipped her waterskin. Twisting off the cap, she damped some of the earth around her feet. Putting the waterskin away, she knelt and gathered up loose gravel and damp earth. Mudball in hand, she scanned the surroundings, she would need to be a good shot.

She got as close as she dared and stood up, launching the mud ball at the mage and following it with a charge. The guards shouted and leaped to halt her progress and the mud ball sailed just off center of the mage’s mouth. Whether it was the impact or the unexpected taste of mud in his mouth, the mage faltered, and with that single hesitation, the spell shattered. The mage collapsed under the backlash of the sundered spell.

Job done, she turned and ran. The tide of battle would be turning and she needed to lead some of her squad back to that hill.


This first line has been stolen by opportunistic thieves. Keep an eye out for those blinkers!

Legal Theft Project: Lizard Brain

A perfect punch was equal parts precision and force. A balance that was difficult to achieve when the arm controlling the punch was moving in dramatically different circumstances from the arm that was, well, punching. Even with the resistance emitters cranked all the way up, Evelyn did not manage to correctly brace for the impact of the giant mecha arm completing a sloppy punch, and her harness caused her to topple ass over teakettle as the mecha she was controlling overbalanced. The simulation screen froze and the words “Mission Unsuccessful” flashed over the screen.

“And this, cadets, is why you are not in a multimillion dollar mecha right now,” said a dry voice over the intercom. The cadets on the training deck looked back toward the instructors in their observation room. “Cadet Roman, practice your footwork.”

Evelyn picked herself up off the floor and came to attention. “Yes sir.”

“You’re making good progress, everyone. We know this takes an adjustment period. Humans did not evolve to control constructs orders of magnitude greater than them in size. But, we can be taught.” The head instructor flashed a smile at the room. “Finish the rest of today’s simulations and come back tomorrow. We’ll get that lizard brain working for us in no time.”

A chorus of “Yes sirs” rose up from the floor as the head instructor left. The simulations started back up again and Evelyn reentered control one position. Her lizard brain didn’t seem to be the problem, but she didn’t want to mention that to the instructors. It looked like it was just that her mecha’s arms were substantially longer than hers. Which might be able to be calibrated for, but was more an adjustment of ratio and perspective than anything else. She took a breath and started the sim. Either way she could use the practice.


I am a thief who stole this first line from an apprentice, never a master….stay tuned to see what other punches resulted in on other blogs.

Legal Theft Project: Hope-kerchief

Careful so the guard wouldn’t notice, he tossed his handkerchief over the side of the cart, someone would find it. And someone did. Said someone was pleased with the high quality of the handkerchief and tucked it quite happily into their pocket, pleasantly ignorant of the meaning of the monogram and clueless about any potential kidnapping.

*****

Two weeks later the rescuers finally arrived and defeated the dastardly kidnappers. He was thrilled with the drama of it all and threw himself into the arms of his rescuer. His rescuer held him close, relieved her little brother was alright.

“You had us worried,” she murmured.

“I wasn’t,” he said. He looked up and smiled. “Though I would like my handkerchief back.”

She tilted her head. “Your handkerchief?”

“Of course, the one you used to track me.” He beamed up at his sister.

She closed her eyes for a brief moment. “You dropped your handkerchief while you were being kidnapped?”

One denial could be good fun, the second one was just mean, he rolled his eyes. “Yes. It was the green one with my name on it.”

“Ah.” His sister thought quickly. “Well, we did find that one, however it wasn’t how we tracked you – we – “

“What do you mean – I dropped it so you could find it! I want it back.” Tears were welling in his eyes.

His sister knelt so she was on his level. “I did find it. You were very clever in dropping it, however when I showed it to the bad people who kidnapped you they stole it away from me and it flew over the castle wall. I got really sad. However, I would much rather have you around than your handkerchief, okay? We will get you a new one, just in case, alright?”

Her brother wiped away his tears. “Promise?”

“I promise,” she said. Her little brother held out his arms and she picked him up and carried him to her horse. Making a mental note to buy him as many ‘safety’ handkerchiefs as he wanted.


I stole this first line from a diplomat with a machete. Go see who else found handkerchiefs and hope they had better luck.

Legal Theft Project: Worse Days Yet to Come…

His magic had never failed him before, and now a boy was dead. He’d been too late. His protection charm had failed. The protections writ in wood and iron had been no match for the ritual here. The fire burned higher at his back. The light showing the circle, the body of the boy, and the bodies of those who had sacrificed him. At least he’d done that much.

Thus he was dramatically silhouetted in front of the fire and behind the bodies when the guard finally responded to the reports of smoke.

“Drop the weapon! Get on the ground!”

The mage stared for a moment, awed by the universal truth that things could always get worse. Then he muttered a few words and vines burst from his staff to entangle the guards. Cries of “Mage!”, “Demon!”, and “MURDERER!” assaulted him as he wove through the guards to the exit. A few of them got blows through and some of his own blood joined the collection on his clothes. He held back. They were just doing their jobs. He knew what he looked like, and he certainly wasn’t the hero of the piece.

The mage staggered up the stairs to the main floor, across the hall, and out into the garden. Then he ran. Ran through the rows of flowers and hedges. Ran toward the forest beckoning on the other side of the hill. To shelter, to green and growing things, toward life. He got most of the way there and happened to glance back. A figure in gleaming armor with a large sword on his back stood on the garden wall watching him.

The mage gulped and turned back to the forest with all the extra speed he could muster. The day just got worse and worse. Magical reserves all but spent, he made it safely away from the burning house and the horrors and would be heroes it contained. It didn’t matter that he’d tried to stop it. He looked guilty as sin and that was enough. It was only later, holed up in the bole of a hollow tree and miles from any path a horse could walk, that he allowed himself to grieve for the child he’d failed to save.

*****

Hours later, in the room where the bodies had been laid after the search, and before graves could be dug for them. The dead boy sat up and smiled to himself. He hopped down off the table and helped himself to one of the cultists daggers. His smile sharpened and he sauntered from the room. Things were going better than he’d dare hoped.


I am a thief! I stole this first line because someone left a gate open and I couldn’t resist. No really, go see for yourself.

Legal Theft Project: Problems, Perception, and Plausible Deniability

Her problems faded out of sight in the rear-view mirror and she relished the roar of the highway wind. Two bags in the trunk, purse on the passenger seat, and a cola in the cup holder and she was set for hours. When the last of Sin City’s towers vanished in the distance, she let out a long breath and relaxed into her seat. Someone might follow her, but she was back in her element, one she hadn’t known she’d missed. Sun baking her sleek red car, alternate identities stashed in the driver’s side door, and miles and miles of open road in front of her.

Hours later she pulled off the highway to fill up her tank and her stomach. Shouldering her purse, she headed over to the convenience mart next to the pumps. Picking up a handful of granola bars, some fruit, and her favorite candy bar, she scoped for potential problems. Nothing in particular, but when she dug through her purse for loose change, the bracelet she’d left in her luggage gleamed at the bottom of her bag. She looked at it for a moment, certain she wouldn’t have put such a valuable piece in her purse. It would be safer in her luggage. Oh well. She’d probably forgotten.

It wasn’t until it started showing up in her view for the next three days. No matter where she’d left it before. That she started to think it might be odd. But that couldn’t be it. Finally, she just started wearing it. At least that way it couldn’t sneak up on her. It wasn’t like it was a problem.


I have been stolen from. Look for other the first line in other people’s purses, I mean pieces.

Legal Theft Project: Envy in Blue

Blue as skies in summer, pouring out exhaust, and attracting a small crowd, he’d never seen anything like it. He already wanted it gone. His garage didn’t have anything as would come close to those wheels and everyone knew it. The rest of the caravan wasn’t much to look at and the caravan master, Dixon, was the first to pop out of his battered van and head Allison’s way. For his part, Allison kept his arms folded and his face cold as Dixon tromped over.

“Allison.” Dixon bobbed his head respectfully to the man whose domain he’d entered. Allison didn’t acknowledge the greeting, keeping his eyes on the dapper wheels and the crowd swelling around it as the exhaust wisped away.

Dixon soldiered on. “Ah, Sammy’s girl. Elvira. Heck of a car. Heck of a lady.”

Allison turned his head slightly and raised his eyebrow a mere fraction. Dixon swallowed and nodded back toward the car. A mile of leg ending in denim cut offs and hello gorgeous, swung out of the driver side door like sugar in sweet. Her hip pushed the door closed and she leaned against it, pushing her sunglasses on top of her head. He hadn’t figured trouble in a blue jumpsuit into his plans. Oh he wanted her and her car out of his holding and back on the road something fierce. “You brought me trouble, Dixon,” Allison finally said.

Dixon looped his thumbs in his belt. “Got here fastest and safest I’ve ever done. Girl knows her wheels and don’t hesitate on the road. Brought plenty through.”

Allison unfolded his arms. “Any trouble she causes, you cause.”

“No no no. She’s good, but she ain’t mine.” Dixon shook his head. They looked at the woman by the car, answering some of the crowd’s questions, cool as snow in shade. “Sammy handles herself.”

Allison brushed the comment aside, letting Dixon shed the blame and accepting the tacit promise to stay out of the way. “Let’s see what else you brought.”


I’m a thief! I stole this first line from M.D. – take a look at other unique blues at the Legal Theft Project site.

Legal Theft Project: Loopholes

The most irritating aspect of coming back from the dead was that no one believed you hadn’t gone evil. There were other factors of course. Dying in the first place was a pain and a half, manner of resurrection, possible bargains, and loss of property due to being deceased were all difficult, but being attacked on sight because of disbelief and grief was grating. So what if you were in a binding bargain with a demonic power? You weren’t evil, it was just that you had limited options. There were ways out of that. There always were, I mean, demon deal was a loophole out of being dead. Forget other ideas of boundlessness, its loopholes and human stupidity. Though describing the universe as basically one giant loophole recursion into infinity wasn’t a bad way to think about it. But I digress from the point at hand. To sum up: been dead, got better, came back, got attacked, friends threatening to make me dead again.

Lying as bonelessly as possible in an attempt to convince all and sundry that I really did mean to be good and not be perforated with holes leading to a loss of vital fluids was only being so successful. “I swear it’s been hours. Can you at least let me sit up?”

This did not sway the friends who were still threatening me with pointy things.

Benny, who was sitting out all this weirdness with a book, didn’t even look up. “It’s been less than five minutes.” He lifted his head in thought, then looked back down. “I think you were dead longer than that.”

This sparked more conversation between those who were deciding my fate via lethal weapon. I would have sighed, but they may take it as a sign of aggression.


I stole this first line as part of the Legal Theft Project and am very curious to see how everyone else defined ‘dead’. If you are too, click here.

Legal Theft Project: Loopholes

The most irritating aspect of coming back from the dead was that no one believed you hadn’t gone evil. There were other factors of course. Dying in the first place was a pain and a half, manner of resurrection, possible bargains, and loss of property due to being deceased were all difficult, but being attacked on sight because of disbelief and grief was grating. So what if you were in a binding bargain with a demonic power? You weren’t evil, it was just that you had limited options. There were ways out of that. There always were, I mean, demon deal was a loophole out of being dead. Forget other ideas of boundlessness, its loopholes and human stupidity. Though describing the universe as basically one giant loophole recursion into infinity wasn’t a bad way to think about it. But I digress from the point at hand. To sum up: been dead, got better, came back, got attacked, friends threatening to make me dead again.

Lying as bonelessly as possible in an attempt to convince all and sundry that I really did mean to be good and not be perforated with holes leading to a loss of vital fluids was only being so successful. “I swear it’s been hours. Can you at least let me sit up?”

This did not sway the friends who were still threatening me with pointy things.

Benny, who was sitting out all this weirdness with a book, didn’t even look up. “It’s been less than five minutes.” He lifted his head in thought, then looked back down. “I think you were dead longer than that.”

This sparked more conversation between those who were deciding my fate via lethal weapon. I would have sighed, but they may take it as a sign of aggression.


I stole this first line as part of the Legal Theft Project and am very curious to see how everyone else defined ‘dead’. If you are too, click here.

Legal Theft Project: Drifting with Purpose

Aurora stormed back to her lodgings and slammed her door shut. Everything smelled like fish. She smelled like fish. She couldn’t not smell like fish, it was in her clothes, her bloody hair smelled like fish. She was halfway across the world. How did she end up here?

The room seemed to twist slightly, but it couldn’t be because she was sober, damn it. She didn’t conduct business drunk. She took two steps over to low table, yanked out a stick of incense, and fumbled the match to light it twice. Now her room would smell like incense and fish. She plopped down on the cushions that surrounded the table. Cushions in place of wingback chairs, a raised mat for sleeping, a narrow closet for her ever growing collection of clothes in bright silks and embroidered cranes. She looked over into the mirror. The woman in the mirror looked back, her dark eyes a bit wild. She couldn’t place her. Aristocratic bones, dark hair and eyes, tanned skin, eastern dress. No one back home would recognize her.

Here she was, halfway around the world, and for what? Following two men she’d known all of six months across the seas? Running from pirates. Becoming a pirate. What would her parents think?

What would her parents think. She took several deep breaths and managed not to choke on the incense. A bath would help. Several cool drinks of water, and a visit to the baths. She was becoming someone she’d never expected. She weighed the feeling as she shed her clothes. It wasn’t a bad one. It was the expectation of judgement that had her in a breathless panic. Which was ridiculous. She pulled on her bathing robe and belted it as she heard her two roommates return. Now was not the time to discuss her sudden internal crisis with her friends. She shook her head and let her hair hang loose. Friends. The best friends she had. Ever. People who knew her and liked her anyway. They themselves were an odd pair, and the three of them worked well all together. As she started down the back stairs to the bath house, she weighed her friends against the possible recriminations of home. And her friends won. It wasn’t no contest, but it was a very solid lead. She could figure the rest out later. Maybe write her parents. She made a face and shuddered. The dratted honesty of paper. Maybe she owed it to them. She’d think about it when she stopped smelling so much like fish.


I’ve been robbed! The line ‘Everything smelled like fish.’ was stolen and I’ve found it popping up in the lairs of Legal Thieves. Look! They’re right here.