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Algonkian Pre-event Narrative Enhancement Guide - Opening Hook


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Part of the first chapter – After a quick introduction to the protagonist and a brief world building, this section includes an insight into the protagonists, interaction between characters, and background to support the antagonist’s motivation.

Acalia knew it would be awhile before Charra was cleaned of Gaia’s clae. Bonded ones brought back the essence of Gaia as an offering to Mother Moon. The matched Etherwolves collect heavy essences from their bonded ones and their travels on Mother Moon’s larger sister Gaia. To the land walkers, Sister Gaia was called Mother Earth as they were made from her flesh. The sharing of the energies of the clae and moonbeams kept the Sisters connected.

Charra leaped into the Vortex Siphon. The astral gusts whipped through her red, gossamer form. It gathered all of Gaia’s soils and offered it up to the Moon Goddess to feed the Sisters’ symbiotic relationship. Acalia sighed as she remember the sensation of release when the clae was blown through her floating fur.

She glanced around. She noticed her fellow Etherwolves waiting for their loved ones to visit through the gate. A twinge of sympathy went through her as she noticed Arnou stood off to the side by himself. His light gray form hung low and lacked his normal luster. Its been over twelve full moons since Kiba had visited through the gate. Acalia went over to him.

“Don’t worry Arnou. I’m sure Kiba will visit soon. You know how easy it is to get caught up in your match’s life and lose track of time down there.”

“I know. I just didn’t expect her to forget her mate when she found a match.”

‘There are so many more of us then opportunities for a match. I’m sure she will come to her senses soon and visit.,” she said.

“At first, I was mad at her. Now, I just miss her.”

She rubbed her side against his for comfort allowing their aerial fur to mingle.“She’ll have to return with a clae offering soon. She can only hold so much before it gets painful. Then you can have a good long talk,” she replied.

She leaned harder against him. Her alabaster fur intermixing with his light smokey colored fur. Just as he was relaxing into her care she felt his energy tense up. She looked up to see a large, dark slate colored Etherwolf heading for them. His dappled fur a swirl of gray colors often reflecting his churlish mood. His mood when it came to them anyways.

She asked, “What does Diak want now?”

“The same thing he always wants, trouble.,” he replied.

Diak stopped a few inches from Arnou and looked down on him. Diak’s head was a good foot above his.

“Why do you wast your time Arnou? Kiba has probably found a land bound mate. Your acting like an Earth dog waiting moon after moon for someone who doesn’t care anymore. Your whining offends me. Go from here and wait out of my sight.”

Acalia heard a low growl start from Arnou. As much as she would like to see someone wipe the ground with Diak she knew Arnou was no match for him. At least undying obedience to a pack leader was only a land magic requirement. Etherwolves did have a hierarchy of dominance and Diak was pretty high. That made him dangerous, but not in charge.

She step between them and said, “I’m surprise to see you without your little lackeys. Did they get tired of you bossing them around?”

“I’m surprise to see you hanging around a loser. Did you want a lap dog?”

“You keep referring to dogs as if you’ve seen one. You haven’t though have you. You haven’t had a Soul Match yet. Your clan brothers, but not you.,” she replied.

Diak loomed even larger as he filled with anger. He stepped closer.

“Your lucky your chieftain was shaman tonight and your clan is moon honored or I would show you where your place is.”

She wasn’t sure her clans standing was going to be enough to dissuade Diak from beating Arnou down, but she was hoping as she stepped between them.

“Your place is in a dog house.,” Arnou snarled back at Diak.

She inwardly groaned as she had just defused the situation enough to send Diak on his way. He knocked her aside and leaped for Arnou.

“I’m going to beat you like a ..”

Before Diak could finish his threat a huge, dark form darted through the gate crashing directly into him, somersaulting him six feet past them.

“Hey clan brother. Where you waiting up to greet me?”

Durrak’s excited mass of shadow and fur easily pinned Diak’s. Every time he tried to respond Durrak would shake his fur hitting him in the mouth with a chunk of clae.

“What’s the matter little brother, got dirt in your mouth? Aren’t you going to great me?”

Durrak’s smoky tail thread waved with each shake of his fur.

“Get off me you big, smelly goof. Quit breathing on me. You have dog breath.”

“Is that anyway to great a clan brother?”

Durrak allowed him to push him off. He sat on his haunches with a big toothy grin. Diak forgot all about Arnou’s comment as he and his clan brother pushed and nipped at each other on their way to the Vortex Siphon.

“Good to remember there is always someone bigger than Diak.,” she said.

Arnou replied, “How can we get him to fly out of nowhere to tackle Diak whenever we need him to?”

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Opening scene - introduces protagonist - establishes primary conflict - hints at secondary conflict - reveals major settings - leads with action and suspense

FRAUD JUNGLE: The Belize Case

CHAPTER 1

The bullets whizzed past Ian MacCallister’s head as he sped down the zip line toward the wooden platform built around the trunk and into the canopy limbs of a huge Ceiba tree in the jungle of Belize.  He dangled 150 feet above the mountain stream running through the canyon below as he shot the length of the 2,300-foot span.  Because he locked the cable barrier into place at the treetop station behind him and then tossed the key, no one would be zipping after him any time soon, thus assuring his getaway.  The escape route seemed like a good idea to put some distance between himself and the three men who were out to kill him.  The spray of bullets, as he hung like a sitting duck, suggested it was not such a bright idea after all.

Leaning back as far as possible to increase his speed, Ian flew like the wind down the cable.  The horizontal position of his body also meant that the grip of his handgun in its side holster began pointing ever downward until the weapon finally loosened and fell.  MacCallister swore under his breath as he watched it plunge and disappear into the canyon below.

Fortunately, his pursuers were local types who were lousy shots, rather than skilled marksmen.  A hail of lead peppered the edges of the wooden platform as he took cover behind the massive tree trunk and climbed down the wooden steps to the forest floor below.  As a fraud investigator, MacCallister had been in plenty of dangerous situations before, but he had not anticipated that the government would put out a hit on him as he closed in on solving this case.

A run-down maintenance truck for the Bocawina National Park provided the needed transportation for MacCallister to make his escape from the trio of assailants.  A cloud of dust billowed up behind as he raced past the reddish-brown mahogany trees and clusters of bamboo.  Upon reaching the Southern Highway, he headed north and stopped the truck at the junction where the Hummingbird Highway would lead him west to Belmopan, the capital of the Central American country of Belize.  But first, an urgent phone call to the States.  And then get a gun.

The truck lurched and sputtered to a halt at the gas station near the highway junction.  Ian purchased a cheap international calling card and talked the clerk into letting him use his store phone.  The static-ridden telephone connection made it difficult for MacCallister to hear Tyrone Hillman on the other end of the line.

“Ian, are you all right?  Where are you?”

“I’m fine.  Making my way from a jungle hideout in the interior of Belize.  The fraudsters hired some local thugs who are hot on my trail.  Ty, I need you to check on Anni and make sure she is safe.  If these people connect the dots, she will be in serious danger.”

“Okay, but Anni doesn’t know who I am.”

“Yeah, well she doesn’t know me either and I’m her husband.  Get ahold of Greg and make sure he has his best security detail on constant watch over her.  I have this case pretty well sorted out, but it’s going to be messy bringing it to a head.  Nice of you to involve me in this financial circus.  I will call you again when I can.  Thanks Ty.”  Hillman heard an abrupt click as Ian hung up the phone.

MacCallister turned his attention to obtaining a handgun.  And he knew right where to get one.  He headed east to Dangriga to find the Turtle Man.

CHAPTER 2

10 DAYS EARLIER

Tyrone Hillman was in Switzerland performing contract auditing on a US company with business dealings in the landlocked country of the Alps.  The company sought a commercial loan from a financial institution that required certain accounting assurances before handing over the proceeds.  The financial institution engaged the internal audit firm owned by Tyrone to provide part of the assurance.  Ian MacCallister, known by his close friends as Mac, was the perfect person to assist him.

“Mac, I need your help on something,” he said to his laptop screen showing Ian’s face coming from the other end of the digital conversation.

“Of course.  Name it.”

“My team is poring over this company’s financial records to make sure everything is legit.  But something doesn’t smell right.  Most of these people over here speak English, but you speak their native Swiss language and it would be helpful if you could join the team for the last segment of this review.”

“Sure, I’m in.  When do you want me there?”

“As soon as you can get here.  We may have a crime on our hands.”

 

The town of Kloten, located ten kilometers north of Zürich, is the home of Flughafen Zürich AG, the largest international airport in Switzerland.  The flight into Kloten arrived precisely on time, just like everything else in Switzerland.  Ian knew the letters AG next to a Swiss business name stand for Aktien Gesellschaft, which is roughly the equivalent of a corporation in America.  He would likely be dealing with several AGs based on Tyrone’s explanation.

While the Swiss are not impressed by much of anything Americans say or do, understanding and speaking their native language, especially with a decent accent, will garner their admiration.  Ian learned to speak both German and Swiss while residing in Switzerland as a university foreign exchange student.  He fell within the rare category of an American who could actually sound like a German.  For those who are good at it, the ability comes almost naturally.  For the rest, it takes a lot of practice and twisting one’s mouth in ways not ordinarily done.  Ian’s came naturally.

“What brings you to Switzerland?” asked the customs agent in a heavy Swiss accent as he perused Ian’s passport.

“Geschäftigkeit.”  (‘Business’ in German.)

“Ach, Sie können Deutsch.”  (So, you speak German.)

“Es bitsli.”  (‘A little bit’ in Swiss)

“Und Schwyzertüütsch.”  (And Swiss German.) The agent was mildly impressed.

Ian offered a congenial closed mouth smile.

“What kind of business?”

“Some bankers are wondering whether an American company is cheating.” Ian said matter-of-factly knowing the Swiss appreciate direct, honest answers.

“Then you will have plenty to look at.”  The answer conveyed how the Swiss population feels about Americans doing business in Switzerland.  “Auf wiedersehen.”

 

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Assignment Part III -- Opening Scene: Introduces a setting and the secondary characters, the protagonists' daughters, who have been shielded from the abuse their mother is suffering. 

Annie hurried down the steep, Saltillo-tiled steps across the yard and through the Iron Gate. Her pigtails flying, she was in a rush to begin her favorite activity. With her red sandals tightly fastened, she carefully negotiated each step as she began her descent down the steep, grassy embankment.

The island sun had not yet taken its place directly overhead, and with the morning dew still on the ground, one slip would send her six year old body tumbling down the well-worn path toward the pen where her grandmother kept her prized hogs and sows.

Today, Annie was hoping for more than a glance at the sow’s newborn piglets.  She eased herself down the embankment ever so slowly, arching her back so she could use her hands for support. When she reached the bottom of the little hill, she stood on her toes, but at 3 feet 4 inches tall, Annie could not see over the enclosure. So she climbed onto a cement block to get a better view. And there they were. The most adorable little things she had ever seen. Their mother was preoccupied, off to the side, eating some sort of mush the helpers brought, so all six piglets were in plain sight.

Annie swung one leg over, straddled the concrete wall and jumped down into the pen, all while keeping a watchful eye on the mother sow. She tiptoed toward the little pink piglets and when she finally got close, she leaned forward to touch them. “Wow!” she thought. Their skin was as soft and fuzzy as she had imagined. Just like the velvet dress she wore last Christmas.  

But Annie had no time to linger and enjoy her tactile moment. Sensing an intruder, the sow lifted her head and snorted twice when she saw Annie. The warning sent her scurrying toward the wall, which unfortunately, she was too short to scale. Glancing around, she zeroed in on a couple of makeshift steps the helper’s son made to get out of the pen after he fed the pigs. The sow was coming, so Annie made a beeline toward them. In a flash, she stepped up, hoisted herself over the wall and seconds later, she was up and out.   

She sat on a grassy area a few feet from the pigpen to catch her breath and relish her feat. Giggling with delight, all she could think about was that she had actually done what she had been dreaming about. She’d watched the piglets from a distance for several days, wondering how it would feel to touch them. And now here she was, taking it all in. It was exhilarating.

Annie could sit on the grass all day, lost in her thoughts and no one would miss her. At six years old, she was the youngest and smallest of the lot visiting their grandparents in the quiet, picturesque village of James Hill on the island of St. Michael. She often bore the brunt of the teasing, but Annie didn’t care. She had a round, button nose and they had taken to chanting “Annie button, good for nothin.”  Her sister, Marge, who was four years older, would often hang about with the older cousins. That was just fine with Annie. She loved exploring on her own, doing her own thing.   

Annie stood up, stretched her legs, and brushed the copper-colored dirt off her floral short pants. There were smudges on her t-shirt too, but she would worry about that later. Following a path through the banana trees, she set off toward the stream. As she moseyed along, a drumming noise drew her attention. There in the distance, a red headed bird was pecking away on the bark of a coconut tree.  She stopped to observe, then continued on until she heard the sound of trickling water from the stream nearby.

Annie sat on a large, smooth rock on the edge of the stream, leaned over and peered in. She could see tadpoles and crawfish, red things with hard shells and claws, swimming about.  When she gazed at her reflection, her brown eyes stared back, noticing a white barrette was missing from the end of one pigtail. Her grandmother, who was always busy, wouldn’t notice, but maybe one of her tattletale cousins would. In the reflection, she could see black and yellow butterflies dancing above her head, enjoying the morning sun. Annie dipped her hand in, and flicked the cool water on her face. The sun was getting hotter and the water felt good. A few minutes more, then she would head toward the house to see what the others were doing.   

On the trek back, Annie neared the pigpens and as she passed by, she decided to take one last look. But the piglets were nursing. There was no chance she could get as close as she had earlier so she climbed up the hill and through the gate toward the house. She paused for moment to catch her breath, sweat glistening on her caramel-colored skin. After a short respite, Annie trudged to the side of the house toward the chicken coop.    

When she was finally reached, she peered through the silver wire to see if she could spot the baby chicks that looked like fuzzy yellow balls. Grandma was in there collecting fresh eggs and her sister Marge was hanging at her frock as she often did. Annie pushed the door open and went in. The chicks weren’t as interesting as the piglets, but checking in on them was part of her daily routine.

Marge turned toward her as soon as Annie entered the coop.

“Annie, where have you been and how did your clothes get soiled?” she asked.

“I went to see the baby pigs, then I went down by the stream,” Annie said.

“You shouldn’t go down there by yourself,” Marge said.  “You’re too little and something might happen to you. Then what would we tell mum?”

“Well, nothing happened to me, so there,” Annie said.   

“This time,” Marge said. “It’s almost lunchtime so go in the house and get washed up.” 

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Part of the first chapter - introduction to the protagonist, some world building, and background to support the antagonist's motivation.

Acalia flashed her canines at the amber Etherwolf trying to push past her. Fueled by anger, her ethereal white fur bristling up to give her more height to intimidate with. “The nerve. Trying to muscle through. Not even from my clan.” She widened to a more aggressive stance on the hard, rocky ground. The harsh terrain only broken up by impact craters of various sizes as far as the eye could see. The minerals in the stagnant dirt glinted shocks of white among the gray boulders on her home in the Moon Goddess given dimension of Etherluna. Above flowed ribbons of colors ebbing in the celestial winds filling the area with a spectrum light show of blends of greens, reds and blues. The colorful prisms were powered by the Goddess’ energy surfing on waves of colliding gases creating wondrous belts of iridescent hues. An opalescent veil dividing them from the low hanging, starry heavens. The Moon Goddess had created a home for Her children across Her celestial body.

Acalia caught a fierce smile from her friend, Bethena, in acknowledgment that she showed that interloper who the more dominant one was. A flash of red cut to the side knocking Bethena out of the way. Acalia spun around and did a hard shoulder check into the trespasser and knocked her off all four of her paws. Acalia was very protective of her friends.

With her translucent, sandy brown fur raised up to full height in irritation, Bethena was still one of the smallest Etherwolves. Even some from their own clan tried to take advantage of her size and push her around. One of those incidents was when their friendship was cemented. Acalia came across two of the more dominant clan brothers demanding someone make way through a tight, constricted, cutout passageway. Their southern clan territory was carved out by deep, dry, lava sculpted, river beds and closed in craters with high, rippled ridges. The small, tawny Etherwolf had stood her ground. Her short, flaxen, wispy fur stood straight, barely giving an extra couple of inches of height. Acalia admired the small bundle of fierceness and joined her side of the blockade. After the two more dominant Etherwolves mopped the floor with them they had laid on the ground laughing and crying together over their shared pain and stubbornness. This feisty bundle of sandy fur and her have been close friends ever since.

The crimson form cowered on the ground with all her translucent fur flattened and ears pinned back. She raised her snout in one finale defiant attempt. Your lot always think your better than everyone else. Leaving scraps behind for us to fight over.”

Acalia pulled her lips back and gave a small growl showing some teeth at the pushy, whiny, insubordinate ball of fur.

She gave up her bluster and showed her throat as all thoughts of taking advantage of Acalia and her friend given up in the face of a more powerful Etherwolf.

Satisfied her friend was safe, Acalia made a point of dismissively turning her back on the downed would be gatecrasher. She returned her friend’s smile with a mischievous one knowing giving her backside gave insult to injury to the defeated intruder.I might not be the most dominant, but I’m not going to let anyone push my friends around.” She gave a quick look out of the corner of her eye just in case she was going to have to get more violent, then she wiped her back paws at the properly cowed Etherwolf.

The rest of the Etherwolves jockeyed for the best position to receive the full moon’s gift when Acalia’s clan’s shaman channeled the Goddesses’ blessing.Her clan created the inner circle around him. His own semitransparent, pale fur flowed in the cosmic currents as the magic began to build. It was their turn to lead the blessed ceremony that rejuvenated the Etherwolves on Etherluna and the others with their matches on Gaia. The ones on Gaia will raise their devoted snouts and bask in the mystical energy sent down the brimming beams of the full moon.

The shaman threw his nose to the bright stars and let loose a loud howl from deep in his throat. The chorus grew louder as each voice joined in. The encompassing melody reverberated through space pounding against her demanding she throw hers into the mix. Their cries older than time telling her she belonged and that they were one. This was what it meant to be clan. She felt her own howl build from deep within herself. A fleeting memory of other times she howled during the full moon surfaced long enough to make her pause. A flash of a time when she was corporal. Of another life before she was returned to Etherluna. It quickly faded as the clan pulled her back in. It was a full moon. A time when their spirits called down to their brothers and sisters that were fortunate enough to have claimed a joining. A time the Moon Goddess shared her full face with her children down on Gaia.

Acalia leaped and danced among the glowing moon beams. She felt the ardor of the light caress her airy wolf form. Her white, opaque fur waved in the empyreal breezes. She threw her head back and laughed while dodging between her brethren. Their joyous yips joining hers. She looked down the moon beams to Gaia’s surface, a window to those that had found their soul matches. Their souls glowed as they filled with the power of Etherluna, with the magic of the Goddess. The brightness blurred the flesh coating of their bonded ones. Their connection with the land beings older than time.

A soft blond figure brushed up against her. Acalia, watch out. You almost ran across dark space. It hides in the shadows of the crater ridges and mountain ranges.

“Thanks Bethena. Your turn to save me.”

“Us clan sisters have to watch out for each other.”

“Speaking of clan sisters, I was looking down for Charra. She’s been gone for so long.,” Acalia replied.

“Looks like she doesn’t wish to shorten her time with her soul match.,” answered Bethena.

“I don’t begrudge her the match. I just miss her. I also miss a connection to my own match. I have flashes of my life with my land being and feel the loss of it.,” Acalia said.

Bethena lowered her snout and rubbed against her cheek in sympathy, “They come so far and few for us. Is it no wonder we fight for one.”

The glow of the white beams intensified as the moon’s fullness reached its peak changing the usual gray surface of the moon into a giant, reflective, source of power. The clan paused and looked center. Acalia’s thoughts fill with pride as her chieftain stood at the axis of the clan. Etherluna’s chosen shaman as the full moon cast down on one of Sister Gaia’s northern continents, the one the landers call America. His fur more silver than white mirrored the moon’s intense glow. She watched as his now fluid essence swirled in and out gathering the celestial energies filling until he was a glowing orb. Just as he became too bright to bear witness he flung the bursting power out from him and through the waiting clan. The force of clan magic broke through the barrier to reach those on Gaia. Acalia swelled with the enhanced energies. The familiar metallic taste signaled the intense power passing through her to share with those waiting below. The land locked had changed into their Moon Mother honoring forms of wolves in preparation to receive the life giving force from Etherluna. The howls of enriched gratitude rose up from the blue world below and lasted for hours into the long night. Acalia watched as the soul matched went off into pack groups to sleep off their empowering night of re-energized libation from the Goddess’ blessing.

“Come Acalia. We only have a short time with Charra before her match has need of her.”

“Coming.”, Acalia replied. Swiftly falling in line with Bethena’s lead as they padded towards the Entra Soul Gate.

The gate is made of the same depthless dark matter that Acalia almost carelessly stepped in. Condensed arches of obsidian, negative space swirled in its own confounding energies. A dark force effecting universal changes with its own set of alien rules. Any accidental contact with the dark matter can easily vacuum slivers of life force into the oblivion. With one misstep parts of the ethereal form could be abruptly sliced away into the blackness severed forever. The Entra Soul Gate is one of two dark matter gates. Both the Entra Soul Gate and the Ounto Soul Gate out date any memory of their origins or any that anyone will admit to. It is taught “The only thing older than the gates is Mother Moon herself.” Acalia believes the gates were Mother Moon’s birth gifts to her Ethereal children. The gifted gates are the only known access to find their soul matches in the corporeal dimension. The second gate is used by Etherwolves bonding with their soul match. Entra Soul Gate is used by those who have already sealed their match. Though the bonded can use different celestial energy to return home most prefer to use the full moon.

Charra’s bonded one is susceptible to the energies of the full moon and would usually find a safe spot to sleep it off. They have been a werewolf for a very long time and are feeling the weight of their age and the changes in the centuries. Charra didn’t like to leave her match to her own waking thoughts for long.

The Entra Gate perch firmly on the edge of a large, flat bottom crater and with one side facing the larger Sister celestial being below. The center of the dark arches teased with a reflective shimmer of the moon’s glow. Acalia always felt a tingle run across her shoulders when she was near the magic that kept the gate in place and powered the door. Streams of pigmentation spilled above either side of the entrance to the welcoming crater bowl as if the darkness of the gate kept the Goddess’ ribbons of color at bay. Acalia walked through the entrance into the basin of the greeting crater.

They arrived at the gate just in time to see Charra sail through. Her crimson, areal form floated down to the smooth surface of the bowl. She threw Acalia a quick smile before running off to the Vortex Siphon. Charra’s red tail thread extended back down through the receiving gate linking her to her chosen one. You always knew where a bonded one was as they were given away by their tail thread weaving its way through Etherluna maintaining their mental bond to their match down on Sister Gaia.

Acalia knew it would be awhile before Charra was cleaned of Gaia’s clae. Bonded ones brought back the essence of Gaia as an offering to Mother Moon. The matched Etherwolves collect heavy essences from their bonded ones and their travels on Mother Moon’s larger sister Gaia. To the land walkers, Sister Gaia was called Mother Earth as they were made from her flesh. The sharing of the energies of the clae and moonbeams kept the Sisters connected. Charra leaped into the Vortex Siphon. The astral gusts whipped through her red, gossamer form. It gathered all of Gaia’s soils and offered it up to the Moon Goddess to feed the Sisters’ symbiotic relationship. Acalia sighed as she remember the sensation of release as the clae was blown through her floating fur. She glanced around. She noticed her fellow Etherwolves waiting for their loved ones to visit through the gate. A twinge of sympathy went through her as she noticed Arnou stood off to the side by himself. His light gray form hung low and lacked his normal luster. It has been over five full moons since Kiba had visited through the gate. Acalia went over to him.

“Don’t worry Arnou. I’m sure Kiba will visit soon. You know how easy it is to get caught up in your match’s life and lose track of time down there.”

“I know. I just didn’t expect her to forget her mate when she found a match.”

‘There are so many more of us than opportunities for a match. I’m sure she will come to her senses soon and visit.,” she said.

“At first, I was mad at her. Now, I just miss her.”

She rubbed her side against his for comfort allowing their aerial fur to mingle.“She’ll have to return with a clae offering soon. She can only hold so much before it gets painful. Then you can have a good long talk,” she replied.

She leaned harder against him. Her alabaster fur intermixing with his light smokey colored fur. Just as he was relaxing into her care she felt his energy tense up. She looked up to see a large, dark slate colored Etherwolf heading for them. His dappled fur a swirl of gray colors often reflecting his churlish mood. His mood when it came to them anyways.

She asked, “What does Diak want now?”

“The same thing he always wants, trouble.,” he replied.

Diak stopped a few inches from Arnou and looked down on him. Diak’s head was a good foot above his.

“Why do you wast your time Arnou? Kiba has probably found a land bound mate. Your acting like an Earth dog waiting moon after moon for someone who doesn’t care anymore. Your whining offends me. Go from here and wait out of my sight.”

Acalia heard a low growl start from Arnou. As much as she would like to see someone wipe the ground with Diak she knew Arnou was no match for him. At least undying obedience to a pack leader was only a land magic requirement. Etherwolves did have a hierarchy of dominance and Diak was pretty high. That made him dangerous, but not in charge.

She step between them and said, “I’m surprise to see you without your little lackeys. Did they get tired of you bossing them around?”

“I’m surprise to see you hanging around a loser. Did you want a lap dog?”

“You keep referring to dogs as if you’ve seen one. You haven’t though have you. You haven’t had a Soul Match yet. Your clan brothers, but not you.,” she replied.

Diak loomed even larger as he filled with anger. He stepped closer.

“Your lucky your chieftain was shaman tonight and your clan is moon honored or I would show you where your place is.”

She wasn’t sure her clans standing was going to be enough to dissuade Diak from beating Arnou down, but she was hoping as she stepped between them.

“Your place is in a dog house.,” Arnou snarled back at Diak.

She inwardly groaned as she had just defused the situation enough to send Diak on his way. He knocked her aside and leaped for Arnou.

“I’m going to beat you like a ..”

Before Diak could finish his threat a huge, dark form darted through the gate crashing directly into him, somersaulting him six feet past them.

“Hey clan brother. Where you waiting up to greet me?”

Durrak’s excited mass of shadow and fur easily pinned Diak’s. Every time he tried to respond Durrak would shake his fur hitting him in the mouth with a chunk of clae.

“What’s the matter little brother, got dirt in your mouth? Aren’t you going to great me?”

Durrak’s smoky tail thread waved with each shake of his fur.

“Get off me you big, smelly goof. Quit breathing on me. You have dog breath.”

“Is that anyway to great a clan brother?”

Durrak allowed him to push him off. He sat on his haunches with a big toothy grin. He forgot all about Arnou’s comment as he and his clan brother pushed and nipped at each other on their way to the Vortex Siphon.

“Good to remember there is always someone bigger than Diak.,” she said.

Arnou replied, “How can we get him to fly out of nowhere to tackle Diak whenever we need him to?”

They leaned into each other and began to laugh, more from relief than humor.

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Opening scene which introduces the main conflict, without providing too many details, as well as introduces the main character and provides some hints to her personality:

 

There’s a quote that’s been lingering in the back of my mind, after everything that’s happened. It’s cliche to start off a letter with a quote, I know, especially one that anyone whose been following my career has heard. But it’s worth repeating, given who I am and what I do. 

 “There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.” It’s from Aldous Huxley, he was a British writer back in the early 20th century. It’s echoed in everything I’ve done, since witnessing the dangers of an idea. How it can take the likeness of a drop, touch oceans of history and culture in a community, and spreads until it has become the tides themselves.

It’s the ten-year anniversary of when the world lost its gods. If you’re American, then you probably only saw how it impacted America. You saw the economy go down, the celebrities and politicians commenting either in support or opposition. As I watched the recent coverage of the damage done, during that time, it occurred to me just how much of the reporting illustrated the broader story of the TX12 and everything that resulted from it. The big stories and the big numbers, that scared or inspired readers, were told. But the smaller tales, the ones with elements that are too sharp to be crafted into entertainment and too dull to be cautionary tales, those weren’t. And they probably never will be.

That’s how news that needs to be sold works. That’s why I’m writing this, in the hope that someone who was impacted by what happened reads it and feels that however, it affected them mattered. I know that my story is one of the millions that only thousands may relate to but I’d rather reach someone while failing to reach everyone. This is how it happened and hopefully, someone will read this and sees enough of their story in my experience.

Behind a scattered collection of gray colds, sunlight bled through every part of the sky that they didn’t cover. Light rain dropped silently crashed into the neighborhood, without a sound and barely visible, the only proof that they landed in the puddles that they congregate into. 

Though mildly entertained, I looked at myself in my car, checking every detail on my newly braided hair,  makeup that complimented my dark skin, and my near-perfect lips except for the little bit of skin hanging off, an annoying reminder of the habit but a more annoying reminder that I’ll keep doing it.  

If I saw this face on another woman, I’d probably think she was pretty. 

I looked out my foggy window and see that gray clouds were gone along with the wind. The sun was now out, without any hindrance; its light reflected in the leftover rain, making the neighborhood a little too bright to look at.

I watched crowds of people, whose various black, brown, and amber shades were organized together into a moving color palette, strolling down the street. Black people, with streaks of white in their hair and pauses before their step, walked side by side as the red doors to the church opened. Some of them held the hands of black children, who moved uncomfortably in suits and dresses and yawned without covering their mouths. A blast of an organ erupted from the building, while the line moved steadily with people eagerly moving inside.

As I watched them enter, a few random thoughts, apathetic of my feelings, across my mind and found themselves at its forefront. This is going to go wrong, you don’t know how but it will. You’re already about to fired and soon and you’ll probably take Marc down with you. A few more, just as loud and honest, followed their trail. I wonder how you’ll pay your bill without a job. I closed my eyes.

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