Future Flops

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In the course of writing stories that take place in the future, I pay attention to the trends and predictions of what life could be like years or decades from now.  I also compare the present to my childhood to estimate how quickly changes really did take place.

For instance, I’m still waiting for flying cars….

It’s also fun to peek into the past and see what their predictions were for today.  Some of them had a good handle on what they were talking about, and some of them, well….

During my stint as a school secretary years ago, the computer teacher passed around a photo that had been taken, oh geez, in like the 1920s.  It represented how people would have home computers one day.  I was impressed they believed folks would own those.  And like the old business computers back in the 1960s, the home version took up a whole room.

Instead of walls filled with reel-to-reel installations, however, there were various other accoutrements in the room, like cabinets with levers and gears.  The gentleman modeling the computer stood in front of a steering wheel.

I guess that was for operating the hard drive….

Lots of predictions have been made that haven’t happened yet.  We aren’t picnicking in domed enclosures on the moon; our appliances aren’t running on self-contained nuclear power; Y2K didn’t send us back into the Stone Age; and (well, it is closer than it was yesterday) the end of the world is still only near.

On a side note, I did a quick surf on the web to help jar my memory about future predictions that went wrong.  The search engine threw up some ads in conjunction with my inquiry.  Guess what?  The ads were touting horoscopes and tarot cards.

You mean there really can be truth in advertising?

So when I’m flying around in my car someday, with a steering wheel used only to operate the hard drive, I’ll think about the future and smile … until I nearly hit some jerk in a jet pack!

By Design

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“What you’re proposing is unnatural.”

That might have qualified as one of the funniest claims IMP17 ever heard if he wasn’t negotiating for his life.  He turned to fully face the panel of six persons, such as they were.  True representatives of the Elite, they were a mixture of men and women carved and grafted and interfaced, and sat in an elevated row behind a wall that separated them from the meeting-room pit he stood in.

IMP17 made himself smile.  What he was about to say flirted with blasphemy in their opinion, but even the Elite couldn’t totally deny reality.  They admitted not yet attaining complete control of this world and its inhabitants.

“Biological components are all that’s left when digital technology fails.”  Their expressions betrayed how aghast they were, urging him to continue.  “Any strategy that doesn’t account for such a possibility is no strategy at all.”

“You say that because you still haven’t accepted enhancement.”  The second person in the row, someone whose face, and possibly body, shone like the gold it was supposed to mimic, frowned at him.

It was a good thing IMP17 had been created to utilize strategy, because that was the only thing that could keep him preserved from their improvements.  “I haven’t accepted yet because as an integrated individual my role as investigator and instructor would be compromised.  Maintaining my organic faculties is paramount to drilling warriors how to use theirs.”

“One, your neurobiology is modified beyond theirs.  Two, you are a failure.”

He couldn’t deny either charge.  Decades ago, before the Elite rose to power, their progenitors expressed a more laissez-faire attitude toward reticent groups that refused to embrace progress.  After all, through applications of science and technology, humanity was going to expand their mental capabilities and extend life spans.  So let the troglodytes die out naturally.

But then the progenitors discovered that death still waited at the end of a long life, and they’d lost the ability to replenish their ranks without laboratory intervention.  To make it worse, the rabble were rude enough to keep reproducing.  As the number of traditionalists began to overtake the progressives, the magistrates decided encouraging parents to improve their offspring was no longer good enough.  Biotechnological modification became mandatory.

An uprising resulted.  Believers of an antiquated ideology broke away from the prevalent society.  Unwilling to integrate with technology, they had no problem using it otherwise, and demolished the android armies sent to subdue them.

So the Elite tried using fully organic but physically improved clones.  Engineered to have only enough intelligence to follow orders, they were supposed to infiltrate the rabble and bring them down.  Unable to improvise when that darned reality struck again, they also failed.

Despite reservations, the Elite were desperate enough to design an Intellectual Militant Prototype, known as IMPs, who could blend in with the rabble and make their own decisions under duress.  The administration was cautious enough to order only twenty-four products.

IMP17 was not just a clone of some long-dead soldier.  Although his biology matched, his neurology was configured to match that of their opponents.  The Elite wanted intelligence, but not enough for any IMPs to successfully stage their own revolution.

When some IMPs turned out to be independent thinkers, they were swiftly executed.  Others died on the field of battle, sometimes while fighting alongside the rabble.  IMP17 was one of a mere handful left, and he knew that was only because the Elite hadn’t discovered his true thoughts.

The IMP program was declared a failure like its predecessors, and the survivors were invited to accept modifications that included integration with the core data system.

The other four were fully indoctrinated to their purpose, but IMP17 had reserved doubts that grew in strength over the years.  Supplementation with a neural implant connected to the system created a sort of virtual telepathy.  His private thoughts could be uncovered.  And he had too many unsanctioned ideas to risk that.

The Elite would take no chances.  They would order his prompt execution, and another pitfall of being linked to the core meant there was no chance of escape.

That left him only one option.

“The mark of a true soldier is to wrest success from failure.”  His gaze slid across each face on the row.  “The cyborg troops you’re going to try next will be partially organic.  Mechanical limbs can still splinter.  Mechanized weapons can still malfunction.  Allow me to work with them, teach them how to use their organic components to your favor.  Otherwise you might as well just send in androids all over again.”

He could tell the panel was discussing the matter because individuals would occasionally blurt out words or phrases to accentuate the thoughts they were sharing.  He wondered how much of their humanity was left, and how much had been shanghaied by the artificial intelligence they embraced.

He also wondered how much humanity he could legitimately claim.  If his plan succeeded, he would need every shred of it when he faced the rabble again.

“It has been decided.”  Number two regarded him with cold eyes and pinched mouth.  “We will give you a trial run with a team of cyborgs.  If you please us with your training, we will retain your services.  If they prove to be obsolete, then you will report for modification posthaste.”

IMP17 bowed low before them, extending his arms to the front.  “Thank you, my Lords.  I will endeavor to serve you with all that I have, for you have given me all that there is.”

As he stepped through the exit of the pit, the relief that flooded through him ebbed with consideration of how many steps were left before his plan would be complete.  After what he’d done to the rabble over the past few years, he knew they wouldn’t welcome him.  But his chances with rustics were still better than they would ever be with the Elite.

###

Well, it finally happened.  This month the prompt word for #BlogBattle was clone, and that put me in mind of a certain backstory.  Because the series of events would be ancient history to the characters in an upcoming novel, I decided to go ahead and do a serialization of that timeframe.  It will be interesting to arrange a bunch of stories into an arc … does that make me a glutton for punishment?  And check in on what the other stories are this month.  It’s a blast!

The Mind’s Ear

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A long time ago in a galaxy far away (Well, it was in this galaxy, but the Ozark Hills be be a world of their own), I was around six or seven years old when I wrote a story that somehow involved a chest of drawers.  With pencil poised above the paper (remember those days?), I asked my mom “Do you spell chester in chester drawers as one word, or is it actually two?”

According to the dialect around me, that was how you pronounced chest of drawers.  The use of dialect in fictional conversations used to be fairly common.  When Harold Bell Wright wrote The Shepherd of the Hills, it became a bestseller despite dialogue that would mystify readers today.

Thanks to modern technology, regional peculiarities in speech are fading (to our loss, I believe).  Likewise modern writing tries to avoid dialect when characters speak.  Trying to decipher “She tuck tuther road outen town to see the jedge’s arse” can bring the reading process to a halt.

(Note: The translation is “She took the other road out of town to see the judge’s iris.”)

But dialect doesn’t have to be avoided like the plague.  If you have a character that’s a good ol’ country boy, it won’t hurt to have him say “That feller is no more than a possum-farmer.”  It alludes to his way of speaking without confusing the reader.

(Note: A possum-farmer is someone who lives on a farm, but is more devoted to hunting than agriculture.)

While we’re on the subject of hillbilly dialect, don’t assume our forebears were just butchering English.  Folks who have devoted a part of their lives to studying this stuff have discovered what appear to be survivals of early English.  Again, these usages are passing into history, but you might be interested to know:

Et, the pronunciation for ate, has also been common among educated Englishmen.  Our proclivity for droppin’ the G in gerunds was well known to Elizabethans.  And some peculiar past tense forms, such as rid for rode or riz for rose, are found in many English writings from the eighteenth century and earlier.

Although that prolific writer Anonymous penned the following poem, one has to wonder if his hillbilly roots are showing:

I sneezed a sneeze into the air;

It fell to ground I know not where

But hard and cold were the looks of those

In whose vicinity I snoze.

Y’all come back now, you hear?

In Spellcheck We (Don’t) Trust

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A new monk entered a monastery where manuscripts were copied.  He watched the scribes at work and noticed they were transcribing from editions that were copies themselves.  So he went to the Father Abbot’s office and expressed his concern that mistakes could become established in all the manuscripts they produced.

“I suppose that is possible,” Father Abbot replied.  “We keep the originals in the basement.  I’ll take a copy down there and compare them.”

He was gone for hours.  After night fell, some of the monks began to worry about him.  They went down the stairs and discovered him slumped over the table, with hands on top of his head.

“Father Abbot!” they cried as they rushed over to him.  “Are you okay?”

He slowly sat up and stared at them.  “The word,” he said, “is Celebrate!”

There are some misspellings that even modern technology won’t be able to catch.  All it takes is one or two added, dropped, switched or substituted letters, and not only do you have a whole new word, it can entirely change the meaning of your message.

While the above passage is just an opening joke, the following examples are actual incidents involving family and friends.  Their names are withheld to protect their innocence:

During production of a fishing episode about striped bass (nickname: stripers), the editor informed a manager in an email that “the video you requested on the strippers will be available soon.”

(Let’s see him explain that to his supervisor.)

A coworker once informed another employee that he needed to “deliver the plague to the winner.”

(Geez, I hate to think what they did to the loser.)

While reviewing notices that were going to be posted in the church bulletin, a secretary caught the announcement that “the choir will be sinning Friday night.”

(At least they’re honest about it.)

And then there’s the poor guy who sent out the memo on parking lots, pointing out there was “the need to improve pubic access.”

(I’m not touching that one….)

So the lesson here is don’t trust technology.  When it comes to reviewing what you’ve written, you’re probably your own best fiend!

 

Problems with the Hereafter

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Two old women were visiting.  “Do you believe in the Hereafter?” one asked.

“You bet I do,” the other replied.  “Usually when I get to the bottom of the stairs, I think Now what did I come down here after?

My memory isn’t what it used to be, and Hubby says it’s because I spend more time thinking about characters and plots than reality.  And he’s probably right (shh, don’t tell him I said that).  Often when I get to the bottom of the stairs, I run back up because: A) I just figured out the perfect wording for a sentence and must get it down before it slips away, or B) I hope returning to my point of origin will remind me why I left the office in the first place.

At least a bad memory gives me an aerobic workout.

Back when I was in high school and taking every English class they had to offer, the teacher was aware of my writing aspirations.  During our study of various authors, we noticed a trend:  It seemed they were all alcoholics, adulterers, or wound up committing suicide.  She wryly observed, “It’s looking like writers have mental problems!”

(Or she said something to that effect.  I don’t remember the exact words….)

So while you don’t have to be a boozehound skipping out on your spouse and contemplating how to end it all, a little mental irregularity probably does help with being a writer.  If I’m forgetful because I’m trying to wrap my head around how magnetoplasmadynamic (that’s a real word, folks) thrusters work, so be it.

So now that I’ve posted this blog I’ve almost forgot about, it’s time to go downstairs and … do something….

Now what did I come down here after?

Beneath the Surface

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“Where are you going?” Rejali spoke in a hushed voice as she sat up in bed.

Dim light entered the room as illuminated ripples through a broad sea-view window in one wall.  Respiring visitors to the ocean-covered planet of Loluloon enjoyed gazing into the fathomless depths, and the aquatic inhabitants accommodated this desire by providing ambient lighting around the perimeter of the underwater complex.

That allowed her to see Colmac hesitate in the open doorway.  As he drew in a long, slow breath, she noted his tan and olive travel clothes and the knapsack over his shoulder, and her stomach clenched.

“You’re supposed to be asleep.”  His voice was calm and quiet.

“After four years of marriage, you should know how lightly I sleep.”  But she doubted that was what awakened her.  Colmac’s very life depended on a lifetime of avoiding detection, and she knew he wouldn’t have made any noise to betray his intended departure.

But why would he leave like this?  For the past five days since they’d fled here, he’d never left her side while she recovered from the trajector wound on her upper left chest.  The body armor she wore absorbed the worst of its effects, but at the point of impact her flesh had still been ripped and charred.

“I thought the medication would help.”  He remained in the doorway, which only stoked her agitation.

“I skipped the medication tonight.”  Rejali swung her feet over so she could sit on the side of the bed.  “Come in here and close that door.”

This time she watched his long, slow exhalation as Colmac stepped back and the portal barrier slipped into place as silently as its earlier retreat.  He slid the knapsack off his shoulder and held it clasped before him.  But he didn’t turn toward her, and she continued to gaze at his profile while her insides writhed.

“Now answer my question.”

His attention remained on the satchel.  “I’m trying to keep you alive.”

“By doing what?”  Her sensation switched to a tightening in her chest.  “You’ve already helped me heal through the worst of my injury.  How does leaving me alone in the middle of the night benefit me at all?”

“Because then you’d be away from me.”  His gaze rose to the shut doorway.  “You’d no longer need to act like a shield between me and the Voratene, taking the shots aimed at me.  The only reason you’re alive now is because you were wearing your breastplate.”

“That’s why we wear out breastplates.”

“Exactly.”  He turned to face her.  “I had mine on, too, but you still decided to take the shot.  This isn’t how a marriage is supposed to work.  Four years ago I thought it sounded like a grand idea, but now that I’m older and wiser … the body count surrounding me is already too high.  I don’t want you added to that number.”

The tightness rose to her jaw.  “You weren’t about to go do something stupid, were you?”

She recognized that flash of a smirk before he replied, “That depends on what level of stupidity you want to assign to me this time.”

His words settled on her chest with a weight that pressed an ache from her wound.  Yes, she had to admit that had been the pattern of their relationship.  Although she didn’t entirely dismiss his lifetime of experience, she did place more value on her near-lifetime of formal tactical training.  She was the warrior.  He was just hunted because of some asinine prophecy that he threatened the continuation of the Voratene Dominion.

But when the blast from the trajector compromised both her physical and mental capabilities, she still managed to notice how effectively Colmac took charge.  He got them to Loluloon and nursed her through recovery without her contribution.  Except now that she was healed enough to take care of herself, he seemed to decide that was too much responsibility.

Her muscles tensed as Rejali growled, “Your solution was to slip away into the night.”

“It’s my only choice.  Your sense of duty will never allow you to agree with this.”

“And it was my choice to be at your side.  You’re bound to the same duty.  But you’re ready to break it because you got shaken up over my injury?”

“No.”  Colmac held his gaze steady with hers.  “I just want to keep you alive.”

She stared back at him, his undaunted composure throwing her response off track.  They had been warned that marital bliss would not spontaneously emerge, especially if their pattern of interaction was focused on avoiding or evading the Voratene.  She barked orders and he obeyed.  Their system worked.

Yes, she had a duty to fulfill … but it wasn’t sense of duty that swept over her now.

She had misread his action.  Colmac hadn’t tried to leave because of their shortcomings or reality becoming too tough.  He wasn’t trying to spare himself of whatever anguish or inconvenience her demise could bring.

Even though walking away from her meant losing companionship and security, even though striking out alone placed his life at greater risk, it was a sacrifice he was willing to make if it kept her alive.  The hunted was becoming a warrior.

His action was still wrong, but Rejali also realized that it could only have been grace that awakened her to stop his leaving.  Normally she would point out his mistakes in order for him to not repeat them.  But this wasn’t time for instruction.  This was an opportunity to allow that grace to cover them now.

All tension evaporated as she got to her feet and stepped over to him to place her hands on his shoulders and gaze into his face.  Their system might have worked before, but it had become apparent how much it needed improvement.

“Please, let’s sit down together.”  The tremulous rays appeared to dance in defiance of the surrounding darkness.  “I’d like for us to talk.”

###

So here is this month’s submission to #BlogBattle, and this time the prompt word is Shield.  Ooh … great word!  All kinds of possibilities with playing around with some deeper (pun somewhat intended) symbolism.  Be sure to check out the other Blog Battler stories!

If you’re wondering, this story is a long-afterwards sequel to Delivered, which you can check into if you haven’t read it already.

Whack! and Other Fighting Words

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Well, okay, when writing a fight scene in a story or novel, you wouldn’t add sound-effect words like they did in the old Batman TV series, but you get my point.

The fact remains that writing about fighting is a whole different exercise in word usage than describing the inner turmoil of your character’s mind and soul.

Or is it?

One thing you don’t want to do in a fight scene is render a blow-by-blow account of the action.  Otherwise the description comes across more like a technical manual (otherwise known as bedtime reading).

The goal is to keep readers up because they’re totally engrossed in discovering the outcome (now if you’re into horror, the goal is to keep readers too scared to turn off the lights, but that’s another matter).  So writers need to put themselves (and therefore the readers) into the fight.

That doesn’t mean you need to go insult a crank and take notes on the sensory experience that follows (I’ve been locked in the trunk of a car in the name of research, but even I draw a line somewhere).  You can recall the effects of pain everybody can identify with (finger slammed in door, foreign object in the eye, stunned by a phaser … wait, not that last one?).

Research can get you acquainted with the particulars.  Read books about fighting techniques.  Watch fights on TV and the internet.  If you’re really gung-ho, take classes (it will help pry you away from the keyboard).

But the key is to make the fight as personal to the reader as it is to the character.  What motivated him to get in a scrapple (subdue the villain, or just get out alive)?  What are the conditions where the ruckus is taking place (city street or murky swamp)?  How skilled are the combatants (dependent on size and strength, or ninjas fear her)?

Of course your character will need to suffer at least one injury, even if he wins.  Otherwise readers won’t worry about him.  And the turmoil on his body will have an effect on his mind and soul.  Think about how he gets hurt, and work back from there.  Think about the repercussions of the tangle, and move forward.

And if it adds color, you might even want to throw in a good Whack! or even a Pow!….

Nobody is Prefect

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Spelling is hazardous (and I’m not talking about magical spells).  Even people who are good spellers can run across problems if they ever become unwary.  Knowing where your failings lurk might help, but sometimes contrary words can still slip in.

The rules of spelling always have exceptions, and the tricky words don’t help.  Does I come before E and why the (bleep!) does C have any say in it?  Pleez reed this thru tonite and tell me if it’s rite.  Did he want to have dessert in the desert or is that the other way around?

Never fear, spell check is here … but it also has its limitations.  For one thing, it has absolutely no clue that canon law doesn’t mean he who has the biggest gun gets to make the rules.  Modern technology does help with some of the spelling issues, but double-checking any word you question is a good practice.

For instance, compound words give me fits.  I just did a double check if that example is supposed to be hyphenated (depends on if it’s used as a verb or a noun).  And if I ever wanted to become a ghostwriter I’d need to remember I’m neither ghost-writing nor ghost writing.

There’s always the dreaded homophones, which sound just alike but mean different things:  If you reek to the core, the corps may wreak havoc on you.  Then you might want to rein in their reign when the rain falls.

Tangled fingers can get you in a mess.  In the curse of your writhing you discover how many woods can chance into a dorm you lever meat.  All it rakes is dripping, aiding or witching only a netter or tow.  Sometimes I wander if it’s a Freudian snip.

Proofreading is essential.  And my apologies to all you prefects out there.  Yes, I know you really do exist….

 

To-may-to or To-mah-to: How to Pronounce Missouri

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For those of you who don’t know, there is disagreement on how the name of the boot-heel state is supposed to be pronounced.  Even people living within the region are divided on how they say it.  Some claim it’s Missouree.  Others assert it’s Missourah.

There is the camp who calls it Misery, but that’s another matter.

Hubby belongs to the first group of believers, who in general tend to be younger and/or more urban.  And while we grew up less than an hour’s travel apart, he does hail from the city.  If you didn’t see this coming, I belong to the second group.  We tend to be older and/or more rural.

Hmm, disregard the age reference….

For those of you who don’t know, Missouri is a Native American word.  It seemed the best way to settle the matter was discover how the name of that tribe was originally pronounced.

This was not as easy as you might think.  For one thing, white explorers typically got the name for a tribe they were about to visit from the tribe they were currently with.  And that name was not what those people called themselves.  Both Navajo and Cherokee are names other tribes gave them.  They call themselves Dine and Ani-Yun Wiya (there’s some accent marks I can’t render here).

The word came down through a French filter, and other settlers would speak it using their own language characteristics.  In other words, it was looking like I might have to find a Tardis and convince Dr. Who-ever-it-is-at-the-time to take me on a trip.

It turned out a car was good enough and Hubby was my pilot.  We were traveling through Oklahoma.  For those of you who don’t know, that state was originally known as “Indian Territory” because during one part of our history the benevolent government decided the best way to handle the “Indian problem” was to dump them all in one location.

Did my sarcasm drip enough here?

We stopped at a park where there was a display listing the names of tribes in this country … and how they were pronounced!  At long last, I was going to settle the matter on  how my home state should be said.

And that was when I discovered that Missouri is pronounced:  Mih – zur – ee – ah.

What?  Really?

Hubby came to his conclusion naturally.  “Well, that settles it.  You just drop the last syllable, and you have Missouree.”

My gracious response was “Not so fast, bub.  You can’t assume the last syllable gets dropped.”

My discovery only muddied the water, which I suppose is appropriate.  On a side note, it used to be claimed that the translation of Missouri was muddy water.  I think this idea was inspired by the Missouri River, which has historically been described as “too thick to drink and too thin to plow.”

I suppose I could be stiff-necked and go around saying Mih-zur-ee-ah, but people who know me already have the local looney bin on speed dial.  Those who don’t know me would only back away slowly.

So when it comes to how to pronounce Missouri … we’re all wrong.  But now you know!

Arrested Development

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He never liked taking prisoners, but this particular mission unsettled Reuben more than usual.

Earlier today he received orders to lead his section into the mountain range and intercept a citizen hiking to an enemy post.  Their scout, a local who lead them here, was also the one who provided the intel that their quarry was going to betray details about the squadron.

The captive, a “business partner” of their informant, sat on the ground, hands cuffed behind him.  His arthritic knees had kept his pace slowed, compensating for the hour head start he got on them.  And unlike the military combatants Reuben and his team usually tangled with, this resident practically surrendered once they caught up.

His mouth, however, was not so cooperative.

Perhaps it was because Keegan was the youngest of the team – all of them were well under thirty, for war’s appetite is insatiable for the blood of youth – that the forty-ish prisoner launched tirades at him about how all of them were going to pay for this affront.

“And you!”  He stared at the young man with confident arrogance.  “I’ll see to it that they give me your head on a platter!”

“You want fries with that?”  Keegan was standing nearby and appeared distracted with scanning through a confiscated data terminal.  Tyrone and Candice stood guard over the prisoner.  Their guide, Perkins, paced around the clearing while they waited for the remainder of the section to return from surveilling ahead on the trail they would soon abandon.

Reuben did loath capturing civilians.  Considering the propaganda the citizenry was deluged with, there were bound to be some individuals who believed the resistance movement was counterproductive to their prosperity … as anemic as it was.  Others preferred to hedge their bets with the established authoritarians who wielded the power of enforcement.

Before their captive could launch into another berating, Lorenzo and Tamika returned from reconnaissance.  The wispy woman that people tended to underestimate nodded in affirmation to Reuben as they approached.

“All’s clear in the perimeter ahead,” she reported.  “Nobody is waiting there to follow us back.”

Perkins, who wasn’t quite as old as the prisoner, smiled at her news.  “Excellent, then!  Let’s head on to the pass.”

The five people in his section looked to Reuben, who felt his gut clench upon hearing Perkins’s words.

Although they hadn’t needed a guide to follow the well-established trail their quarry took, Perkins was going to lead them on an alternate route going back.  It was standard procedure to avoid any routine the enemy could exploit to trace them.

And maybe that was the final, elusive clue that justified how Reuben’s enteric nervous system started twitching when he received these orders.

Perkins had been able to provide both information and interpretation.  They caught and collared their prisoner without a fight.  This mission couldn’t go any more smoothly….

It was his experience that life didn’t cooperate to this extent.

And there was something a little too cocky in their captive’s aggression.  Reuben decided it was time to shake things up and see how the pieces landed.

“Yeah … but we’re gonna go ahead and take the trail to get back.”

Perkins stared at him as though he just claimed to spy Bigfoot roasting skewered aliens over a campfire.  “That’s suicide.  We have much better concealment in the pass I’m taking you to.”

“The pass is a longer route.  We know this trail is clear because if our opponents were gonna outflank us, they would’ve done it already.”

“That’s not the point.”  Perkins shook his head.  “You know the best way to avoid detection is to alter your movements.  Changing that protocol would be stupid.”

He noticed, but made no acknowledgment, that Tyrone, Lorenzo, and Tamika started strolling into a circular formation around the scout.  “My enemy wouldn’t expect me to change protocol, and it’s my job to keep them confounded.  Therefore, we’re taking the trail.”

While their mouthy prisoner looked less confident, Perkins’s face reddened a shade as he pressed his lips together.  Then he released an audible breath.

“I still say it’s an idiotic idea, but I don’t have to follow your orders like these poor chumps.  I’m taking the safer route through the pass and hope to find you at the trailhead.”

If his thriving suspicion proved to be correct, it would be folly to let this fellow out of their sight.  “You may not be under my command, Mr. Perkins, but I would be derelict in my duty to keep you safe if I allowed you to leave alone.  You will come with us.”

His face reddened by another shade.  “I have the right to go where I want!”

Reuben locked his gaze on the man’s eyes.  “It seems to me you doth protest too much.”

Perkins stared back for a few seconds, and then spun around and bolted.

Tyrone and Lorenzo had already flanked him.  The first man tackled Perkins, and Lorenzo leaped into the fray a second later.  The struggle lasted only a few seconds before they hauled Perkins back to his feet, each serviceman holding his arms twisted behind him.

“You crazy hypocrite!” Perkins spat as Reuben stepped closer to them.  “You’ll be sorry for this!”

“Is that because your cronies waiting for us at the pass will get offended when we don’t show up?”

Their informant glared back in silence.

Tamika approached to slap cuffs on him, but glanced toward Reuben.  “I’d like to know how you figured that out.”

“We aren’t out of the woods yet.  They may yet come after us, so everybody need to stay sharp.”  He surveyed his team with the pride he felt in them.  “In other words, keep up the good work.”

As Keegan assisted Candice with pulling the first prisoner up from the ground, he smirked at Reuben.  “So for your next trick, are you going to make him believe he’s a pigeon?”

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With this month’s prompt word for #BlogBattle being intercept, I was immediately put into a military frame of mind again.  Consider this episode to be something of a prequel to the entry I submitted last month. And be sure to follow the Blog Battler link where you’re bound to discover other stories to enjoy!