Claimings 4 has officially entered production. I have the first set of edits back from Sue (looking good) and I was looking forward to working on it, only I had the audacity to put my car in the path of an idiot who uses his accelerator without checking out his front windshield first. Long story short—I got t-boned. I’m aching, but I don’t have anything more serious that whiplash, pulled muscled and a totaled car. Shoot me. Shoot me now. Dealing with insurance people is worse than the whiplash.
But Claimings is slowly moving forward. To celebrate that fact, you can for a limited time get Rownt inspired goodies. Have you ever wanted a custom t-shirt, mug or tote bag to celebrate your love of all things Rownt? You’re in luck. Until next Wednesday Sept 5th (US time), you can order Rownt merchandise at Teespring (https://teespring.com/rownt-wisdom#pid=2&cid=2122&sid=front). After Wednesday, the goodies go bye bye. See the pretty graphic…
Aberrant Magic 6 just broke even (and the crowd goes wild). This means I can promise you an Aberrant Magic 7. The Assistant Director’s plan to bring in new people and create two teams is going to leave grumpy Kavon even grumpier, but with the honeymoon over, Darren is going to have to decide how he wants to live the rest of his life and how much he’s going to let Kavon get away with. Meanwhile, the first of the returning evil ifrit is sniffing around the spirit plane.
September should be a month of endings—reaching the end of Saddled and The Witness Wore a Puppy Tail. With the boards clear, I want to start Earth Fathers are Weird, Maya: a non-romantic love story between a girl, a boy, an insane AI and a semi-parasitic species, and Aberrant Magic 6. That middle one is set in the Claimings verse, but Maya has always lived in the colonies. So she sees the war a little differently, not that Liam ever paid attention to or understood the politics of the war he fought in.
And finally, who would like a little snippet. I mentioned that the first of the evil ifrit has returned. Let’s see if anyone knows mythology well enough to recognize this bad boy.
Zach sighted down his weapon and took a deep breath. His range scores were fine, but he would never be one of the guys who could brag about them. Art said it didn’t matter since most of the hotshot with perfect scores also got far too excitable in the field. Art hated the type of cop that got so excited by an incident that they stood around watching the drama. It offended Art. Zach took his first shot, and Pochi appeared halfway down the shooting alley, hovering a few feet off the ground and whirling madly in search of an enemy. Zach’s second shot went wild.
Zach glared at his annoying guide, but Pochi didn’t seem to care much. He darted around the space, investigating every corner. Zach and Art were the only ones shooting, for which Zach was infinitely grateful. While it wouldn’t hurt Pochi if a bullet went through him, Zach hated the idea.
Art leaned back so he could see around the barrier that separated the shooting lanes and pulled off his ear protection. “What’s he doing?” Art asked once Zach had removed his own.
Art shook his head. “It’ll do you good to practice shooting with a distraction, only try to hit the target.”
“Fuck you,” Zach suggested.
Art smirked, and while he didn’t make an indecent comment, he thought it so loudly that Zach could practically read the thought bubble over his head. Then Art went back to his lane.
Zach put the ear protection back on and breathed out while doing his best to broadcast the thought “practice, practice, practice.” Maybe Pochi would understand the concept, maybe not. Pochi darted toward Zach and hovered an inch in front of his nose.
“Dude. Personal space,” Zach said. But since Pochi seemed interested, Zach did his best to project the idea of practice. Shoot now. Shoot better later.
Pochi stilled. Even though he had stopped moving his wings, he still floated in the air right in front of Zach. Zach’s vision grayed out, and a shadowy figure appeared superimposed over the shooting range. It was a bird—a huge one. But as the details became clearer, Zach realized it wasn’t a real one. It had huge wings and a thick neck, but the back of the body appeared almost mammalian. It was as if a scrawny donkey butt had been grafted onto a deformed bird and then someone replaced the back legs with two enormous vulture legs with too many joints. The front legs were short with three short fingers and a longer thumb. It was almost like a lion’s paw and a T-rex leg got blended.
The figure slowly became more solid, the feathers turning tawny yellow around the head and then slowly turning darker toward the backend of the animal where it had a short, black fanlike tail.
The bird turned to look at Zach. Huge teardrop shaped black eyes were set under upright ears that looked like a lion’s. The most disturbing part was the mouth. It had a beak of sorts, but it looked like cadaver teeth sticking out from a skull. It took Zach a second to realize that the creature had some sort of face armor around those razor-sharp teeth. With a scream, Bennu appeared in all his six feet of glory, but he was a third the size of this new bird. For a second, Bennu hovered and projected uncertainty, and then the new creature dissolved into smoke and Zach saw the target at the end of his shooting alley again.
Past. Past. Past. The belief that the huge bird was part of the past slammed into Zach. Given that the bird mutant was clearly gone now, the memory of it still left Pochi aggressive. After a second, Bennu vanished, and Zach wondered if Darren Oberton’s guide had actually been in El Paso at all or if Pochi was remembering some fight between the two ifrit.
Determination. Practice. Practice. Kill. Pochi projected the emotions with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer before he streaked toward the practice target.
“Weird bird,” Zach muttered before he breathed out slowly and took aim. Pochi whistled sharply and then trilled as he touched the center of the target and then flew to the left. He repeated the gesture several times.
Frowning, Zach eased his weapon to the left a tiny fraction. Pochi’s chirping trill just sounded happier. Zach squeezed the trigger and the target quivered. Zach couldn’t see where his shot landed from his spot on the firing line, but Pochi hovered near the center and just a little to the right. Zach took aim again, intentionally aiming high this time.
Pochi’s whistle was nearly deafening, and Zach lowered his sights. Pochi hovered to the right and below the target. Zach adjusted his aim.
At the end of the shooting session, Zach and Art both took their targets to the sergeant in charge of the range. When Zach laid his out for scoring, Art’s eyebrows rose.
The sergeant took one look at the tightly clustered shots and whistled admiringly.
“That’s a good score,” Art said.
“Better than usual, you mean,” Zach said.
Art grunted. No doubt he wanted to ask what had happened, but in the two weeks since Zach had inherited a guide, he had discovered Art was reluctant to discuss him or anything related to him. Sometimes Art needed a little time to wrap his head around change. Zach could give him a little space to adjust, and in the meantime, Zach looked forward to much better scores at the shooting range.