Legal Theft Project: The Tipping Point

She shut the computer with a furious snap. Then, unsatisfied, picked up a throw pillow and hurled it across the room with a scream. One deep breath later and she felt better. In the scheme of things, it didn’t matter who got the credit. The press can laud the jock as often as they want to and cast her as the socialite girlfriend if they felt so inclined. She’d come away with something much more valuable than a headline. “Local Teen Rescues Friends from Homicidal Lunatic” trivialized what they’d been through. What they’d done. What she’d done.

A slow smile crossed her face and the reflection in her Victorian era mirror shivered. She tucked her laptop carefully away in its cubby on her rosewood desk and picked up a small dark iron key ring from a glass bowl. The keys dangled from her fingers as she stepped quickly past the elegant four poster and into her closet. Ignoring racks of shoes and dresses as she clicked open the secret door in the back wall. She listened to make sure her parents were still entertaining friends in the downstairs parlor before placing a key in the hidden lock and sliding the panel door to the side to look at her collection.

Her breath caught for a moment. The shelves held an assortment of beautiful, wicked things. A dark black bottle that seemed to writhe in the light on the top shelf next to an ancient silver amulet. Gems were inlaid around the edges of the amulet, surrounding an inscription in some unknown ancient language. The shelf below held a rabbit’s foot charm and a dagger. The dagger was made of crystal and steel with needles and tubes in a dangerous array both toward the blade and a few curving back toward the hilt. She ran a finger down the blade. It served her well in that place. Even if it made her feel cold inside. Even if her wrist still had faint scars from needles and blades. The third shelf held a battered ring, the inscription incomprehensible, and a crystal ball with hazy images spinning indistinctly through the glass. This was true wealth. This was real. Let the world say what they wanted about the past events. A slow smile crept over her face, and she passed her hand over the crystal ball. It would probably help her in the future. There had to be more. Such beautiful complicated things did not spring up in defiance of all known practices alone. They were wrought, forged, imbued, or cursed.

Maybe she should plan another group trip. Somewhere foreign. Somewhere…. Her eyes drifted back up to the dagger. Somewhere dangerous. Maybe she’d invite her friends.

She closed and locked her cabinet. Sliding the panel back into place, she couldn’t shake the smile. She’d give it a few weeks. This time she wanted to know what she was getting into.


I stole this first line from that diplomatic machete wielder’s “Small Gifts.” Shhhh. Don’t tell, I don’t think the theft has been noticed yet.

Legal Theft Project: The Proper Lighting

Outside the open apartment gate, a small pack of children threw rocks at passing cars. Fen ignored them and got a closer look at the shattered window and colorful graffiti that circled it. He got a few decent shots, playing with the afternoon light and saturation. He’d gained a small audience by the time he lowered the lens. Apparently he was more interesting than automobiles. He didn’t blame them. If he’d been out on the trail he would have had something for them. Something to light up the day and let them remember him. But … he simply lived here. So he stowed his camera and walked off, long legged strides leaving the curiosity and palpable pressure of boredom at his heels. A block later and he broke into a run. Tightened his camera bag strap so it wouldn’t fly off, and raced down the streets. Stares, whispers, and swears followed him. When he nearly tripped over a man leaving a shop and was treated to an improbable account of his ancestry, he finally slowed. He checked the sun and grudgingly turned his feet toward home, he still had homework to do.

His father was busy with the evening rush and his sister was off with her friends preparing for some school event. He understood glitter and poster board were involved. He managed not to shudder. Slogged through about a quarter of his assigned homework. Took a break by writing his required sentences for Spanish as a villanelle and then gave up entirely. Formulaic, cohesive, unimaginative crap. He put on the CD of traditional guitar he’d gotten when he last visited Spain and pulled up his pictures from the day. He studied the broken window, played with light levels and sharpness. Flipped back to earlier in the day, a blurred shot of a crosswalk, an electrical box so covered in tattered paper you could barely tell what its intended purpose was, the stark contrast of the new bakery next to the abandoned lot with the rusting car. He played with mood, making some stark, some bright, more false… but nothing worked. Frustrated he went downstairs and dug into the cookie jar. His sister must have been experimenting as his cookie contained both chocolate chips and butterscotch and the texture was delightfully crispy. He left her a note and headed back up the stairs.

It was the music that was wrong. Nothing about the pictures he’d taken felt like Spanish guitars. He flipped through his collection and made a list of modern, mostly eerie music and settled down in front of his computer screen. This time through, the broken glass was opportunity wasted, the electrical box showed time and carelessness, and the bakery seemed illogical in its place on that corner. Here, with the ability to manipulate moods, light, and blur, the world he was trapped in took on other properties. Transforming from desperate to mysterious, from abandoned to ancient. From mundane to magical. They became places he was willing to spend time. They just needed proper shading.


I stole this first line from a machete wielding diplomat. Well, at least it gave us something to do.

Legal Theft Project: Self Image and Ski Chalets

Somehow he managed not to throw his hands in the air. Admitting defeat was accomplished by a gritting of the teeth and the flutter of panic in his chest. “I’ll look at the brochures, okay?” Carefully, he collected the glossy destination brochures from the table. Snow covered mountains, impossibly green grounds, and weathered brick and wood buildings all glowed upon the expensive custom print paper.

“We truly think it would be best for you, Aaron. There have been enough disruptions this year, we want to ensure you have the best foundation possible.” His mother leaned back and sipped on her vodka stinger and attempted a sympathetic smile.

He nodded and returned the polite fiction of upturned corners of the mouth. “Of course mother.” It has nothing to do with a lingering sense of guilt and a terror of all things new and sharp. He made it to his door and a tiny bolt of lightning arced from his hand to the metal handle. His temper, visible, and lively. He wrenched the door open and sent the brochures flying onto his desk. Before they could skid off, he swept out his hand and commanded the air to keep them in place. The brochures fluttered, but remained on the desk. One of them fell open to a picture of a charming ski lodge that was actually a dormitory. He had a sudden image of himself in a suit, holding yet another mixed drink and slowly calcifying into his parents.

His keys leapt to his hand and he raced down the stairs, out the side door, and slid into his convertible. Revving the engine, he tore into town and skidded into a parking spot. Got out, closed the door, locked his car and began hunting down the streets for some kind of answer, some form of additional immunity to turning into some pickled alcoholic specimen of his parents. He stopped in front of a tattoo parlor. It would be perfect, but he doubted they’d overlook his age. But a piercing…. He grinned.

It took him two hours. He went to every piercing shop in town, laid down fifty dollars and said that he paid for however many people it covered. Two thirds of the way through, he sat down in a chair, told them his parents had approved it, tipped the person in question an extra hundred dollars, and got a ring wrapped around the very top of his right ear. A stainless steel band etched with a wave pattern, it hurt like hell, and he grinned right through it. They told him how to keep  the piercing clean, warned him it might be sore. He waved them off and sauntered out. Oh sure, he’d have problems with it, short as his hair was, but right now. Well. It just felt right.


I challenged some thieves to run away with a dormitory and an earring. They did. Clever thieves.

Legal Theft Project: Solitary Hunters

His sister did not look worried, which meant absolutely nothing. He’d learned the art of composure from her and she still managed to best him at it often. Their own personal game of chess. She was searching him for clues just as sincerely, he was sure. And he was just as sure she wasn’t going to mention what bothered her unless prompted. He opened his hand  and brushed it aside, inviting her thoughts and recognizing that they may not be as well constructed as was their usual want.

“You’ve made a lot of changes,” she said, placing her teacup back on the saucer. Only a half step, a knight jumping two over and one forward.

“I got attached,” he said simply. Tilting his head slightly as he attempted to read exactly what it was that had his sister… subliminally twitchy.

A faint bit of surprise crossed her face, followed swiftly by an automatic calculation. “Attached?”

He bit his tongue in order to not roll his eyes. “You don’t trust me to keep tabs on a teenager?”

She caught the wry tone. “It’s not you I don’t trust.”

He raised his eyebrow at her continued dismissal of his abilities. She rolled her eyes.

He poured himself another cup of tea and she took a sip of hers. Letting it cool slightly, he quoted one of their mutual favorite war philosophers, “There are no foxes in the bathhouse.”

She looked at him expectantly.

“I am assuming he isn’t the only one you’re concerned about.” Brandon picked up his cup and cradled it.

“You have a pattern of late,” she said.

“A rather deliberate one,” he returned.

She accepted that. Not that she understood what he was after, but the idea that he was pursuing something and going where the target was bound to be, at least appealed to her professional nature. It was as close as he could come. They were similar, almost too similar, and he wasn’t quite ready to admit to his sister that he was lonely and had been lonely and not known it for some time. He was quite concerned that if he did she would quickly have to deal with the fact that she was as well. And she did not have a protege, a ward, or a team to fall back on. Content, he sipped his tea and changed the subject.


I stole the truth “There are no foxes in the bathhouse” from that other thief with a machete. It took awhile to find out where those dang foxes were.

Legal Theft Project: The Little Things

He was allowed to ask for things; asking meant he was getting better. When he requested some herbs in order to improve the scent of his soap, his wardens positively beamed. So he asked for small constructive things for months. Requesting a different shade of curtain, a different dinner partner, a few more walks in the garden. More plants. A light mobile for the window. He took a full six before he began peppering his requests with little useful additions. Could he have some cedar shavings for a sachet to go with the lilac? Would they allow him a small amount of cleaning chemical to take care of the stains on his desk? No, he’d rather do it himself. He caused the mess, he should clean it up. When his caseworker informed him that he had made great progress, he created a bomb. A very small bomb. And two weeks later, he took his small bomb and placed it very carefully, and made a small hole in a beam. And that beam cracked and made an enormous mess of the entire west facade. He took his packed bag with a few of the extraneous ingredients and a set of clothes, and walked calmly through the chaos to the storage lockers. The terrified staff and confused patients paid him no mind. He retrieved his personal effects, glad to see that they had not been tampered with. Items secured, he meandered over to a port to the system mainframe. It was usually manned, but what with the threat of the entire building collapsing… well, he understood the lapse. They were only human.

He made his way through the files erasing everything he could find. His files, other files. Creating as much chaos as possible from the single port. Satisfied, he jammed a magnet from the back of a fridge magnet into the casing and hoped that would cover his tracks well enough. Nasty things computers.  He didn’t want another visit from well meaning citizens for a long time. It was a good thing he’d finished. The floor was starting to shake in a menacing manner. He navigated his way to the exit and across the street. He walked steadily away, looking back for a moment when the tremendous crunch of the collapsing building slammed over the street.

He allowed himself a small satisfied smile. An irritating but altogether not worthless half a year. Now if he could just get back to his tower, the mortals should leave him alone for about a decade or so.


I stole this first line from TheGateintheWood. It took awhile before anyone claimed it.

Legal Theft Project: Redecorating

She ripped down the curtain disguising the featureless bulkhead. It fluttered gracefully to the floor before she grabbed it and tore it into shreds. Decorative pillows were thrown off the bed and the sheets were militarily straightened. She paused looking at the ruined fabric. This wouldn’t do. She left and returned hauling a box and a large trash bag. She stuffed the fabric into the bag and put the pillows into the box. The lamp was thrown in the trash bag. It made a satisfying crunch when it landed. The handful of trinkets was tossed into the box. The more delicate ones actually getting placed instead of thrown. The rug she picked up and methodically tore into strips before tossing the ribbons into the trash. Posters and prints were ripped and trashed. The result was a smooth grey capsule of a room. All individuality washed out as if it had never been. Just the curved alien lines of a ship that was not her home. No matter what she’d done. No matter what she changed. This wasn’t her place. She’d been in too many places like it.

She sank onto the bunk and wrapped her arms around her knees as the similarity to the facility sank in. When the hot tears came she didn’t fight them, she lowered her head to the top of her knees and let herself weep. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t fair.

Hours later, she took out the trash bag. When she returned, she packed up the box, grabbed her running bag, and walked out of the room. She couldn’t be done with the place. She needed the resources and the safety. But it was more than time to move out.


I stole an unsettling room from a machete wielding diplomat. Keep an eye out for other thefts.

Legal Theft Project: Storm’s Heart

The city’s scintillating towers and reflective edifices became somber and dark in the downpour. Rell settled himself on the narrow ledge and let the rain soak down to his skin. The rain wavered and shifted, allowing glimpses of the world spread out below. He ignored it and turned his face up into the rain. He could see the city from the height any time he wanted, but it was rare he found his way into this pure a storm. Letting it wash over him … well, he wasn’t one for meditation or spirituality, but this was pretty close. Connected to the natural world. Simply. So he basked.

Then with a long sigh, he let go of the peace and the quiet and let the storm inside him run loose. He breathed in and felt the air, felt the clouds, the rain, and the electric hum in the air. It had been raining for days, ceaselessly, naturally. It wasn’t someone like him. But … it wasn’t the season either. He couldn’t get a good reading from this building. He grinned into the wind and vaulted off the ledge. He allowed himself the fun of freefall for a few exhilarating heartbeats, before calling himself a wind and riding it into the sky. He coasted, following the odd drift of air and cloud. There weren’t nearly enough, not for this drenching. There was a significant discrepancy in the air quality over by the pier. He wavered over calling back up when he saw a familiar figure down below. He set down on the room in a swirl of wind and rain. “Been awhile Iron Sword. Looking for something to do?”

“I’d appreciate a change in the weather. You able to do something about that.” Iron Sword grinned and added, “Stormlord.”

“I was considering it, care to lend a hand?” Stormlord, Rell, grinned back.

“Thought you’d never ask.”


I stole this first line from someone with a machete.… and may have grabbed one of her characters as well. Hope she doesn’t mind. 

Legal Theft Project: Fight and Flight

There were worse people to have at your back. Considering how much they didn’t like each other, she expected it was a bit of a revelation to both of them. Cole hit one of their opponents and got them a little breathing room. Enough for her take stock of their situation. They’d been herded to the top platform of the arena. The floor was a long way down, assuming you didn’t hit any of the metal spikes, crossbars, or other platforms if you fell. Cole favored his left leg and was breathing hard. They’d both taken a few hits. Their opponents, she didn’t know what to call the six-limbed mantis like aliens, had taken a few, but their exoskeletons seemed to be up to it.

Breathing room gone. The years of training took over. She was glad they both had military tactics. It wouldn’t surprise her if she and Cole had shared a trainer or two. Even if his style was nothing like hers. It didn’t take too many blows and blocks for Lore to realize Cole was hurt worse than he let her see. She dodged and took two steps back. The calculated training pointed out that she was holding back, not using her abilities. It could get them both killed. But she wasn’t about to let Cole see what she could do. He had enough hints already.

But it wouldn’t matter if they both died.

She could let him die. It would solve her problem. More probably. And rage boiled up inside of her. No. She wasn’t going to be that person. She’d been made into a killer. A soldier. Someone’s tool, and she was done. So she knew what she had to do.

She tossed Cole a shield and started edging toward the back of the platform. The footing got tricky as the floor wasn’t more than a metal lattice on cross beams. She lunged at her opponent and missed, damaging the mesh. She made three more strikes on the floor, then kicked her opponent down. The thing shrieked and one of its legs plunged through the weakened floor. She lunged in for a headshot. She’d forgotten the other arms. And twin punches sent her flying back. Too far back. Cole screamed in denial.

She scrabbled for purchase but couldn’t stop herself from flying off the edge. It took all of her concentration to control her fall and she still hit half the obstacles on the way down. But she picked herself up once she’d hit. She’d hurt her left arm. Probably broken some ribs. Pulled more muscles than she could count. But she was still standing.

She couldn’t tell what was going on up top. But she knew what Cole would think happened to her. It was a terrible thing to let him believe.

She took stock of where she was. Across the field from her, there was an access vent. A way out. She looked up toward the top of the arena. A good person would go back. A good person would let her erstwhile partner know she wasn’t dead.

Lore made her way to the access vent and busted it open. She didn’t look back as she left the arena, but inside, she felt cold.


I stole a tough decision from Bek this week. I think it may be more than one…. I know at least one other thief stole one