Legal Theft Project: Lost in a Song

There were stories about her kind, stories old as islands and only slightly younger than the names of the stars. As she walked the shore, tide curling around her ankles, she sang. Pouring rippling waves of sound, draping the evening in an otherworldly cloth as her blue black dress clung to her sinuous curves. Stars began to dot the velvet dark of the sky and she made no attempt to disguise her nature. Her skin glinted with sharp edged scales, her teeth were too long and sharp in her aquiline face, and the perfect piercing notes she sang could never have come from a mortal throat.

In nearby villages and towns, doors closed, shutters latched, and parents made sure their children were safely inside. However no one felt the tug to go to the sea, for all the stories, there was no beckon in the siren’s voice, not that night. Hushed conversations around stoked fires wondered if she mourned, others said she was marking out a territory and hunts would begin in earnest later. Yet others posited that she was stood up by her love, her sisters had died, or she had been dealt a wrong by a man on the coast and she was calling him out in challenge.

None were correct, the siren herself barely knew why she’d come here, and why she was crying to the heavens. Unless for the sense of fruitless eternity that could sneak up on any immortal when you paid too much attention to time. So she wandered further and farther down the shore, the waves erasing her footsteps behind her.

I am a thief, a very greedy thief who held onto this line stolen from Gwen for a long time. Take a look at the other old stories here.


Legal Theft Project: Effects of a Frozen Heart

The last thread of humanity broke and he collapsed into the explosion of power. Not many people noticed the moment it happened. They only witnessed the aftermath of that last bit of warmth leaving his eyes. Inside, the cold expanded to fill his veins and it nearly sang with potential, now that the last limiter no longer applied. Outside, he walked calmly down the stairs to the meeting chamber. The dozen politicians and diplomats he’d been meeting with for the past three months, and debating the future of nations, rose as he entered. He walked to his place at the head of the table and stood in front of his chair. He waited. In a few moments the conversations stilled and all eyes turned to look at him. But the atmosphere in the room hadn’t shifted, the impatience, the self importance, and the combative spirit still bubbled around the edges. It would not do.

“We have been pushing around useless hot air for a quarter of a year. The only progress made has been minimal, pointless, and outside the scope of the work we announced we would be doing. The world does not have time for this speed of progress.” His clipped level voice had everyone’s attention. A few of the dignitaries who knew him a little better than the others had narrowed their eyes, trying to determine what had changed about him. He continued, hands clasped loosely at his waist, posture straight and formal, but not stiff. “In the next four hours we are going to change that. No one is going to like the document, but I no longer care about the posturing, bickering, and self entitlement from anyone in this room. We will create the treaty, and it will be binding.”

The silence hung for a moment before being broken by various expressions of disbelief. One of the more self involved dignitaries tried the door and found it locked. “What is the meaning of this?” the dignitary demanded.

The man at the front of the room sat down in his chair. “It means, dignitaries, that if in the next four hours you wish to leave with your heads still attached to your shoulders, we will come to an agreement.” He let the silence ring a minute. “Is that clear enough for you?” The slight uptick at the side of his mouth was not reassuring.

“I won’t stand for this madness.” One of the dignitaries in the room declared. “You are not my liege lord, and-”

The man at the head of the room turned to the side and said clearly, “Captain, fetch me my pistol. And have another brace standing by.” He turned back to the room to see the dignitary turning red and opening his mouth to bluster. Before he could blow out any hot air, the man continued, “If you impede the progress of this treaty for another minute, I will have you arrested. I am done with this circus.” He hadn’t raised his voice or risen from his chair and a number of the dignitaries were beginning to sink back into their seats, eyes stuck on him, but the cold in the man’s voice was finally dispensing their bluster and intransigence.

“If you insist on treating this conclave as a blustering posturing farce, then I will end it and emerge the victor. If you want to get work done, then cut the bullshit, put your cards on the table, and we can all negotiate from positions of honesty. Which is better for all of our nations, not to mention everyone’s personal health.” His eyes swept the table.  The last remaining blusterers sank into their seats and everyone looked at everyone else. Finally, one woman began to speak, laying out her country’s absolute necessities and possible concessions. Then another. Then another. And they all studiously ignored when the guard captain returned with the cold eyed man’s pistol.

I am a thief who stole this first line from Kid awhile back. Take a look at other explosions of power over here.

Legal Theft Project: What To Call a Girl

Sammy slipped out of the van, keeping the door from slamming so as not to wake her brother or father. The relative silence when the rainstorm stopped had woken her from sleep. As it was going to be morning relatively soon, she figured she’d see if anyone was willing to barter for help that morning in exchange for some breakfast. Eating the same fish bowl at every meal for a week was beyond boring. She made her way from their van at the edge of camp toward the central fire around which all the vehicles were arranged. Passed Echo and Lemon’s trailer, noting who had a lamp or a light on this early, and made her way to Code’s kitchen truck. Code’s assistant had skipped off at the last town and he was more than happy to have a hand with the morning prep. Sammy scrambled the eggs and passed completed bowls to Code so he could make them into burritos. She’d get three of her own and an offer to help with the lunch rush which she declined. The sun was peeking through the crowds as she gathered up her haul and headed off to the rain barrel. More people were out and about by now and Sammy nodded to those who greeted her. She washed her hands in the rain barrel and was picking up her breakfast when she noticed Echo and Lemon, walking by arm in arm, were looking at her. She kept a watch out of the corner of her eye.

“And girls who look like that–they are noticed.” Echo was keeping her voice low, but Sammy had good ears.

“Snicket’s paying attention to her, not serious or anything, but anyone could see. Not to mention Tommy and Yellow. Randa’s getting sour about it,” Lemon replied. Both of them nodded and glanced at Sammy as she walked past.

“Girl’s gonna be Trouble,” Echo declared.

Sammy hurried off, stomach soured. Troubles didn’t last long in caravan life. You needed to make friends, supply jingle, keep people happy to make it in the mobile life. Her dad may not have skills, but he wasn’t Trouble. Trouble’s caused fights, got too much attention, were a risk. She arrived back at her dad’s van and hesitated before she opened the door. They could handle it. She would handle it. She liked being Sammy, she didn’t want to be Trouble.

Stole the line, “And girls who look like that–they are noticed.”  from Beks awhile back. Finally got around to fencing my stolen goods.

Legal Theft Project: Maligned Intentions

He was not an innocent man. He’d been chased through mountains, across oceans, and through deserts. He traveled the world and inevitably, somewhere, somehow, one judgmental sword-bearer or another ran into him and swore to end or apprehend. Perhaps they’d started a social club. One where they could practice swordplay and update his list of crimes. Perhaps they competed … no that couldn’t be right, they were all too sure they were on the righteous side of things. Of course… they were… but it would be nice if they might look up from their blind pursuit of justice and look into the shadows right behind him.

It would have so many benefits. They might realize there was more to the situation. They might take a spare moment to consider that it would have been rather difficult to pull off some of the crimes he was accused of, alone. They might, well, live a little longer.

Or they might decide that he was obviously a murderous zealot who’d struck a deal with an ancient evil to cover the earth in darkness.

Really, could no one imagine complications anymore?

Then again… he had woken up ancient evil. Not on purpose…. so… Not innocent, but he was doing his best.

I thieved this first line away from that diplomat with a machete

Legal Theft Project: Boulevard of Broken Hearts

He laughed around the panic clogging his throat, but his gun never wavered from its target. Said target, the bastard sprawled on the couch, and the target’s two standing companions ignored him and continued bickering. This lasted for a few moments. Finally he couldn’t take it.

“Are you all nuts?” He managed to spit out. “I’m the one with the gun!”

His former lover, the bastard, rolled his eyes and didn’t bother to get up. The woman gave him an incredulous look and pressed a hand to her temple. The other asshole turned around and plucked the gun right out of his hand.

“And now you aren’t,” the asshole said and smoothly disassembled the gun.

The former gunman blinked. “What, how?” His face began to crumple and the asshole turned back to the bastard and the woman.

“Seriously,” the asshole said to the bastard, “Could you try to break up with people in a way where they don’t want to murder you afterward?”

“What would be the fun in that?” he drawled. The smirk that accompanied the response chilled the former gunman but merely seemed to exasperate the other two.

“You do tend to break your toys,” the woman muttered. She stepped up to the former gunman. “He’s not worth you ruining your life over.” She ignored the bastards mild objection and took a breath. “He really isn’t. You really don’t want to get involved with all of us, we’re not good people, which you probably already knew, but you probably don’t realize exactly how bad.” She was looking at him with a minor amount of sympathy, and a whole lot of confidence.

“That asshole,” he said slowly, “disassembled my gun.”

“Yes he did,” the woman said.

“I was just going to threaten that bastard.” The gunman confessed.

“With a loaded gun?” the asshole said dryly.

“He would be able to tell!” The gunman replied.

The bastard shrugged his shoulders in agreement. The woman looked over her shoulder, “You two are not helping.”

They shook their heads at her.

“Okay look,” she said, turning back to the bewildered gunman. “You have two reasonable choices.” She took out a business card. “You can take this card, go to the address, tell them you’ve had your life ruined by a smug snake, and enjoy the ensuing evening of drinking and commiseration….Or…” Her smile was the best expression of a threat. “Those two gentlemen behind me are going to make you disappear. You fucked that one, so…. You should know I’m not kidding.”

The gunman took the card. As he stumbled down the steps out of the building, he came to the conclusion that, perhaps, he had just dodged a major bullet.

I am a thief. I stole this first line from a Kid who really should not be holding a gun. Click to see how well other people handled firearms.

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

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.