All words presented in this blog are purely opinion, not fact - unless specifically stated otherwise in the post.

Monday 23 June 2014

Dresden Files... Review... ish... thing?

First of all: I apologise for not posting last week, especially after that post about posting.

So just to re-cap I did a very short piece on the Dresden files as a part of the 'of 52' series that I started and totally intended to finish but never got around to. It was under 'Jim Butcher' since I really like the Codex Alera books as well.
But I really love the Harry Dresden books, more and more every subsequent book I read... or listen to.

This is what I wrote before on the Dresden Files:
"The Dresden files are about Harry Copperfield Blackstone Dresden. A wizard in Chicago who advertises in the business section. He mostly specialises in murders, but he helps out with other things as well.
I like to describe the Dresden Files as 'Harry Potter, if Harry was a homicide cop' but since he doesn't work specifically for the police in the books it’s a little inaccurate.
The first book is your average detective story (but with magic). It's good, really good even, but they get great as you keep reading. The first one is a standalone book but the rest have continuing plots, in the background at least. Events unfolding that are related to previous books and future events. It's really cool and you have to pay attention. I consider myself good at figuring out plots but a lot of the time I've not managed to figure out what's going on. Sometimes I do, but I prefer not guessing."

Now all of this is true but I'd like to Elaborate on it.
First of all; The Dresden Verse
The whole series is set in it's own little world of magic, with it's own little rules and laws. It draws from a lot of different sources. From legends, myths and folk tales to rumors, real world events and history. It uses these sources to create a fantastical yet believable world of fae, men, monsters, gods and a ton of courts of everything in between. Among them are some well known faces such as Hades, the billy goats gruff, Cat Sith, A merlin, Angels and demons, Valkyries, Odin and even Santa Claus- the latter two of those by the way turn out to be the same person.
The books use an assortment of different nasties ranging from Vampires and were wolfs to much less mainstream creatures like Naagloshii which is a shapechanger from native American culture (or something Jim Butcher did a real good job making up to sound like it was from native American culture.
But more than just being interesting; its believable. Okay, no I don't read it and think there are genuinely fae and wizards and fallen angels running around the world just out of sight where we don't see them... mostly.
What I mean is that if all of this was real this is a very realistic way that it would work. this is a very realistic portrayal of how a world that had all these things would govern, how it would have to govern.

And there's Harry Dresden stood in the middle of it all.
Harry Dresden had a crap life up to the point we meet him. His mother died in childbirth, his father died later. He grew up in an orphanage until he was adopted by the dark wizard Justine DuMorne. Justin trained Harry in the ways of magic with brutal and often cruel methods, playing on Harry's sense of loneliness and uncertainty to keep him in check.
It isn't until Dumourne turns Harrys long time best friend and girlfriend into a thrall and tries to do the same to him that he finally breaks free and goes on the run, eventually finding himself in a stand off with his former master.
Of course Harry wins the battle, kills Justin and is taken before the White council of wizards, who fun the wizarding world, and Harry didn't even know existed. He was almost executed then, as a child because he killed someone with magic, but he was spared as he was defending himself against the man.
Ever since then he'd been dogged by the policing arm of the council, the Wardens. Just waiting for him to slip up and prove that he should be executed.
And that's where we meet him.
Even before the first story starts Harry has already been through a hell of a lot and he's only going to start going through a lot more. One of the things I like about Harry is that he goes up and down, he goes through hell and heaven but he never loses sight of what's right. He might think he has. He might worry about whether he's doing the right thing... but he always stands true to his convictions.

Harry is amazing but he's nothing without the people around him. Throughout the books -at this point there have been sixteen and I think the story is about half done -Harry meets a myriad of different people and beings that become his friend and help him out. From the no-nonsense cop Karrin Murphy to the teen wolf William Borden. From the spirit of intellect 'Bob' the skull to the free fae toot toot.
There are a ton of amazing characters, so many that I'd either not do any of them justice or I'd be writing forever, so I'm just going to list them so that you can Google them yourself.
Molly Carpenter, Michael Carpenter, Uriel, The Archive, Waldo Butters, Kincaid, Lash, Anastasia Luccio, Marcone, Gard, McAnally, Ebenezer McCoy, Thomas Wraith, Donnar Vadderung, Susan Rodriguez and Carlos Ramirez. That's only naming cool characters that appear in multiple books And failing to mention a handful of characters because their existence is spoileriffic.

But I think one of the reasons I love this series so much is because it's the only book series I read or have ever read as an audiobook. So not read as the case may be.
The Dresden Files audiobooks are read- no, read is too pedestrian a word. They are performed almost exclusively by James Marsters.
I mean he doesn't just read Harry Dresden, he becomes Harry. It works so well. The books are written in first person so it feels like its the character explaining what happened. It feels so nice, and works so well. In my mind Harry Dresden is James Marsters. He looks like him, sounds like him and acts like him. When I've been stuck with reading a copy of a book instead of listening (only twice, now I just wait for the audiobook) I hear James Marsters voice in my head.

I recommend anyone who likes either fantasy or detective novels to read these nooks, and I recommend anyone who has access to it to listen to the audio books.
And also I recommend never ever, ever, ever watching the tv series. Ever.

- James

P.S. I think I'm going to have to go back and listen to them all again now.

Friday 13 June 2014


So I think one of the reasons I haven't been blogging as much as I'd like lately is that I don't really know what to blog about. I used to have a lot of things going on, a lot of things to talk about but over the last few months they've slowly diminished. I used to write a lot, most days I'd target to get at least a thousand words and often come up with five times as many, but lately I only have time to write once or twice a week.
That's nobodies fault but my own of course. After all I could substitute Wildstar for writing, or do it in my lunch hour at wo- okay so I really should be doing it in my lunch hour at work (On days I'm not blogging) but the point is I don't have any writing to just drop on your screens, and to be honest even if I was writing more I'd be writing stories I couldn't show you because of where I am in them.

I also think that the main reason I don't have as much to talk about is the belief (likely true for 90% of the world) that nobody cares what I have to say. I mean really; who gives a crap what some random blogger from London thinks about any given subject, he's no expert, why should you care?
So maybe from now on I should focus on things that I do know a lot about. Things like writing, but turn it towards other peoples. Things like games and the games industry, of which I am a member. Things like movies and television... for no particular reason.

I've really enjoyed this blog over the last two years - oh hey we're coming up to the 2 year anniversary! OMG - and I want to keep it up and try to post more. I know I've said this before. I've pledged to post a certain amount before, but it never works out.
This time I'm not going to promise. I'm not going to pledge. I'm just going to say I want to.

Next week I will start with a write up of Jim Butcher's Dresden Files book series and we'll go from there.

- James

Thursday 12 June 2014

Hunter book one, a little extra

So since I don't really have anything to talk about today I figured I'd throw up a couple of extra chapters to On the Hunt, the first James Hunter novel.
But its been a while since I posted the first couple of chapters so you've probably forgotten all about it. I did then briefly consider just re-posting them and acting like its new but... well... I'm mean but I'm not that mean, so here's a link to the old post:
Hunting the Elements - 14 August 2012

And here's a couple of extra chapters:


Tues. 06/05/2014 20:18
Hunter’s Alduain Square Apartment

“But how do you know?” Amy asks, expressing her frustration with arm flaring. I push the door to our apartment building open and nod a hello to our doorman, Oliver. He smiles back and bows his head a little.
His eyes linger a little too long on Amy, but I choose to ignore it.
For now.
I laugh at Amy’s question and shake my head in amusement. “I tell you how to spot a person lying then you can learn to be better when deceiving me. I was a teenager once as well.” I remind her. “You really think I’m that stupid?”
“Kind of hoped you were.” She admits, making me laugh as we step into the elevator. Our apartment’s on the sixth floor. Before her mother- before she died we lived in a house, a pretty thing in the suburbs. White picket fence, a nice big garden for Amy and- for Amy to play in. But afterwards I… I just couldn’t stay there. Everything reminded me of her, of what happened… Besides, I needed to be closer to work. Or so I told myself.
The elevator dings and opens on the sixth floor. I wave for Amy to go first and she complies, walking in and turning down the hall.
I follow behind her, fondling my pockets for my keys, but I can’t find them. I frown and pull my bag off my back.
“Dad.” Amy calls from down the hallway, concern in her voice. I look up to find her standing in front of our home, looking at the door. It’s slightly ajar. I frown and hand her my bag and the newspaper, reaching into my coat and pulling out my gun. “What-”
“Just wait here until I tell you its ok.” I say. She nods and I raise my gun, pushing the door open with my shoulder as I make my way in.
The lights are all on; whoever opened the place up has no issue with costing me a fortune in electricity. I walk straight across the hall to the kitchen where the door has been left open.
The draws are all pulled out and the fridge is slightly ajar. Whoever was here was looking for something. Either that or they just really like yogurt. Whoever it was didn’t know me very well though; I keep all my valuables in the office.
I raise the gun again and return to the hallway, moving up stairs to the bedrooms. I do a quick sweep of my room, Amy’s room, the guest room and the bathroom before returning to the front of the house.
I pause, frowning. I hear something; a muffled speaking pattern coming from the living room.
Amy’s just visible outside the front door carrying my bag. I place my hand on the living room handle, raise my gun and turn. I push the door open and step into the room.
My eyes sweep the area quickly, finding three things out of the ordinary; my television is on, a man is sat on the sofa opposite the TV and he’s eating one of my bio yogurts.
I pause and lower my gun, flicking the lights on with the barrel. “Dammit, Jim, could’a warned me before you did that.” He says, shielding his eyes.
He’s shorter than me, maybe five-ten, in his mid-twenties. He’s got ear length, wavy brown hair, obscuring a little of his slightly effeminate jaw and grey eyes. The yellow flecks in them tell me he’s got noble blood.
His skin is fair and he’s got the body of an aristocrat, in good shape, but not really a fighter. He’s wearing black trousers and a black shirt with the sleeves rolled up, revealing a scar running up the back of his left forearm.
I sigh and step back into the hallway. “It’s ok hun, just Will being an ass.”
She lets out an audible sigh of relief and steps inside, closing the door behind her. She drops my bag on the floor before crossing to hand me my newspaper and climbing the staircase up to her bedroom.
“Hey ‘Melia.” Will calls from the living room.
“Hey.” She responds, idly as she disappears from sight.
I go back to the kitchen and close all the draws and the fridge before I return to the living room and throw my gun down onto the coffee table – safety on. I pull off my coat and throw it over the back of an arm chair, raising a hand. “Keys.” I say. He grins, pulling a set of keys from his pocket and throwing them to me.
“You know I wouldn’t have to pick your pocket every time I want your attention if you just gave me a set.” He points out.
“Most people manage just fine.” I argue. “This new-fangled thing called e-mail, maybe a phone call… text messaging works as well.”
“Eh, too conventional. I like to keep you on your toes.” He smiles.
“You don’t even have a phone do you?” I ask.
“I-” he frowns, coming up with an appropriate story. “I’m in a transitional period; between having a phone and having another phone.”
“Reason?” I ask.
“I was consulting and got made, Big Sis says hi.” He tells me.
Will is a former con-artist. He used to swindle the Lords of the great houses for thousands of Crowns, but then I caught him. He was being tortured by a Lord’s personal aide when I found him, hence the scar on his arm. I put the aide away for a while and Will was sentenced to twenty-five years with no chance of parole until after six, but I liked him; he was funny, joking around, you don’t get that a lot with crooks who’ve been caught.
First thing he did when I caught him was confess, admitted it, laughing. ‘You caught me fair and square’ he’d told me.
I went to visit him in prison and he helped me out with a case. With his consultation I was able to find the criminal and on that basis I convinced the Special Investigations Service- S.I.S. or Big Sis to the conspiracy theorists -to get him released. I’d tried to get him released into my custody, or to one of the other, less seedy security agencies, but I was too convincing; the S.I.S. saw his value and made him work for them.
I still think that it was a ploy to get back at me. They want me. Have done for years. Being common born I can get places they can’t, I understand things they don’t, but I won’t work for them, not since- No. I won’t work for them. They’re a government organisation made up of Noblemen and so can’t be trusted. All they care about is the Nobility and keeping them afloat.
They’re still pissed a lowly commoner like me turned them down. Told me it was an honour for me to have even been given the offer. I told them they could take the offer and shove it some place uncomfortable.
“So you’re off duty?” I ask. He nods “How long?”
“Couple weeks.” He says, running a hand across the back of his neck. He’s lying.
“Unless something distant turns up?”
“Yeah.” He smiles. I notice the tinges of regret and frustration. He’s a con-man not a spy, but he lives with it so that he doesn’t have to rot in a jail cell for the next one to twenty years.
I shake my head and move on. My stomach rumbles and I realise that I haven’t eaten since lunch, unless you count the stale donut at the station.
I don’t.
“You hungry? We haven’t eaten yet.”
“Sounds great,” Will admits, standing up and crossing to my drinks cabinet where he pulls open a draw and retrieves my restaurant menus. I raise an eyebrow but don‘t question it. I really can’t be bothered to cook.
“Pizza? Kalodian? Phai?” he asks, flicking through the menus.
“Hang on.” I get up and step out to the staircase. “Amy!” I call up the stairs. “Phai or Kalodian?” there’s a moment’s pause and then footsteps announce her rush to her bedroom door. “Phai or Kalodian?” I repeat.
“Kalodian.” She responds appearing at the top of the stairs, silhouetted by the back light from the landing. “Can I get a plain rice, some narim bread and a chicken dorim?”
I nod. “I’ll call you when it gets here.” I see her head nod and she returns to her room, long blonde hair swinging behind her as she goes.
I cross back into the living room and pick up the house phone, dialling he number. “So what did those spooks have you doing this time?” I ask as it rings.
“Classified.” He grins. He treats the work like a game, but I can’t really blame him. Whatever helps him cope.
The restaurant answers, calling me by name and asks for my order, they’ve already got my address. It’s a little depressing that I’ve ordered from them that many times. I subconsciously tap my stomach to make sure I’m not getting fat.
“Two plain rice, two narim breads, a chicken dorim, a lamb kimish-” I move the mouth piece away from my face. “What do you want?”
Will looks up from the menu. “narim bread, half your rice and a chicken harren.”
“Make that three narim breads.” I correct myself, moving the phone back in place. “And a chicken harren.” She asks how I’ll pay. “Cash.” She tells me that it’ll arrive in the next forty minutes and hangs up.
“So what you doing here?” I ask, looking up at Will, though I already know the answer.
“I- ugh…” he strokes his hand through his hair. “I hate to do this to you-” he does hate it, I can see it on his features, but he doesn’t have a choice either. “-you mind if I stay for a couple days?”
“I didn’t see your bags, they already in the closet?” He nods his head to the side and raises an eyebrow slightly. “You’re welcome to stay.” I tell him. “Stop leaving the fridge and draws open though.”
He grins.
I throw my newspaper onto the coffee table and sit down in the armchair to relax; sighing gratefully. “So what you been working on?” Will asks, flicking off the television.
“Classified.” I respond, joking without looking at him.
“Bullshit.” He laughs, sitting forward.
“Oh, so you can call classified on your work but I can’t do the same.”
“You can when you work for the government and sign the Formal Secrets Act.” Will points out.
I chuckle and look sideways at him. “You read about Lord Dominic Ferron’s death?” He nods. “The head of the family hired me to find out who did it.”
“That why the house heir’s doing perp walks on all the news channels?” Will asks, grabbing the tv remote and throwing it to me.
I frown and turn the tv on with the remote. “So quickly?” I ask, flicking it onto the Geladar news network.
“Pass your newspaper.” He says and I hand it to him without paying much attention. My eyes are fixed to the screen as two beat cops man handle the elder Ferron son into a police car on the nightly news.
“-Was the scene earlier today when young Alexander Ferron was taken into police custody under suspicion of murdering his brother, the recently deceased Dominic Ferron.” A young news anchor explained briefly, playing with the papers on her desk. “Rumor has it that this breakthrough in the case did not come about through the efforts of Xelaren’s finest, but through the work of an unnamed private detective who not only discovered the motive and killer, but brought Lord Alex- who is known to be a water element –in himself.”
I wonder idly how they found out about my involvement, but don’t dwell too much on it as the story changes to the picture of a young girl who had been murdered. “You hear about that?” Will asks, looking up at the screen.
“Girl goes missing a month ago, reappears a week later suffocated to death but no evidence of what caused it.” I recite, looking across at Will. I find it hard to look at things like that with Amy just upstairs. After what happened to her mother… I just can’t bear to consider it.
“No, this happened last Friday. Found the body Saturday morning in a warehouse off Broadway and Rise, by the docks.” Will responds. I frown and look up at the picture on the screen. I’m sure it’s the same girl. Will opens up the newspaper and flicks through until he finds a page right at the back. “Here, this is what you’re talking about.” He hands me the paper, and I look at the article:
Murderer of Sarah Jenkins, mother of two, remains elusive after four weeks of searching. The South Quadrant University Alumni was last seen alive leaving the office at which she worked on April Third of this year.
Her suffocated body was found a week later in an abandoned warehouse-
Similar drop location. It could be the same killer. There’s a picture of Miss Winters next to the article. She has long blonde hair, green eyes and a dimpled smile. I look up at the screen; the new girl could be her sister. Almost definitely the same killer. They’re substitutes for – female victims usually mean male killer, her age usually means between twenty and forty, but suffocation… that’s a more feminine kill method, could be either.
“These the only two?” I ask, looking back at the page.
“Drop it Jim, this isn’t your hunt.” Will tells me. I look up at him and frown. “You’re not getting paid for this, I’m sure the police-”
“If the police had realised the two kills were related the Marshalls would be on it.” I point out. The Marshalls were like the police, but Kingdom-wide. The police focused on local cases while the Marshalls took on cases at a federal level: Multi-quadrant investigations, crimes against government buildings and workers, financial crimes over a certain amount and serial killers.
When I was a kid I’d wanted to be one. They have a rich and noble history of defending the kingdom all the way back to King Alduain the first, when he was known as the Black Prince of Galledar.
Of course back then they were known as the Inforcers, King Alduains personal force of men who he used to root out terrorists trying to destroy the King. The irony, of course, being that Alduain eventually discovered that his father was not the King, but the rebel leader the King had killed twenty years earlier. When he discovered the fact Alduain turned on the King and succeeded where all the terrorists had failed, killing him and taking his place.
Not the point.
“We both know the cops are going to drag it out as long as possible before they call in the Marshalls, they don’t like feds interfering in their districts.” He reminds me. He pauses and adds; “and on the off chance it’s one of the cops we’ve worked with; send them the tipoff. You have better things to do.”
“Like what? I just finished my last case, not got any others lined up.” I ask, challenging him to find something I should be doing. “Well... a cheating husband, but I would like to think those days are behind me.”
“Don’t judge the cheating wife jobs, you met me on one of them.” He reminds me. I smile. The Common born wife of a Nobleman had hired Hunter to watch her husband. She had believed him cheating. He wasn’t. He was embezzling money from his company with Will’s assisstance. “Besides, don’t you have an assistant to hire?”
I frown and nod, glaring at him. He’s right of course. The murders are none of my business.
Still… I’m intrigued.


Wed. 07/05/2014 11:24 am
Hunter’s Upper West Office

“Can you please hire me to do something other than this?” I beg, looking over at Will. He’s sat on my sofa, idly flipping through today’s newspaper having just said goodbye to the twelfth office assistant candidate.
She hadn’t been too bad. 100 words per minute, 98% accuracy, good phone manner, perfect on paper, but… very formal, strict, I felt like a kid in her class trying to talk his way out of a scolding.
“Sorry, Jim, you lost the last one, you have to get a new one.” He smiled, throwing the newspaper aside. “how’re you going to learn responsibility if I don’t go through with the punishment?”
“No, you lost my last one; she cited your sexual harassment for her reason to leave.” I respond, standing up and stretching.
“Speaking of which that last one was too old for me.”
“I’m not hiring solely based on your dating life.” I frown, walking around my desk.
“Not solely, just keep an eye out for my type.”
I roll my eyes and walk across to the door, pulling it open. “Amy-”
“Seriously dad, press the little black button on the intercom and speak.” She says, sighing and turning to me. “It’s not going to bite.”
“I like walking over.” I say, defensively. “Send the next applicant in.”
“Next ones a client not an applicant.” I smile, a little too obviously, and nod. “Ok, give me a sec.”
Grinning I return to the office and move behind the desk. I find that people show more respect to you if the first time they see you is sat behind a desk.
“That’s precious,” Will notes, standing beside the door with his arms crossed, grinning at me as my face falls at his intrusion. “You look like a little kid about to get a birthday present.”
I raise an eyebrow. “Only thing that could make it better would be a little peace and quiet.” I tell him. “You want to leave?” He rolls his eyes and moves to take the main door. “Wait, take the side door, wouldn’t want them to see you and make any sort of lasting connection with me.”
He rolls his eyes and crosses back around the sofa to the side door, leaving.
I pick up my phone and stare at the controls for a second, figuring out the intercom button as Amy had explained it. I press the black button and hold the ear piece to my head.
“Amy, send in the client.” I say.
“Miss Clarkson.” Amy says, answering my unasked question. “Yes dad.” She hangs up and a moment later the door opens to reveal a stunning young woman. She looks to be in her mid-twenties, black hair, blue eyes, perfectly formed body with curves in all the right places.
She wears a knee length black and grey skirt suit with a matching handbag slung carefully over her shoulder. She cradles the bag subtly as if protective of it.
I stand as she closes the door and moves into the room with a bearing that makes it obvious that she’s a noblewoman, or at least had tutelage on how to act like one. I rarely get female noblewomen asking for my services, so I find this a rare opportunity for observation. I smile at the oddity of it, but make it look more welcoming than opportunistic and move on, motioning towards the chair opposite me. The woman nods stiffly and moves to sit down.
“Hi, Miss Clarkson. I’m James Hunter, call me James, please. Can I get you anything? Cup of tea, coffee, something stronger?” I ask, motioning towards the bar across the room.
“Little early isn’t it?” She asks, looking towards the alcohol.
“For me, yes, but sometimes my clients need something to take the edge off and I don’t judge.” I smile, sitting back down.
“I’m fine, thank you.”
I nod, smiling empathically. “How can I help you Miss Clarkson.” She reaches into her purse, expression calm and stern.
Something’s wrong.
Nobody is that calm while meeting a P.I. for the first time. Even socially. When meeting someone like me professionally they look worried, upset, angry, emotions that pertain to their reason for being here. When they meet me socially they look guilty, worried; there’s always a lot of distrust. Suspicion that I’ll go snooping around them for no reason.
This woman wasn’t showing any signs of either.
I frown and furrow my brow as she pulls out a folder. It’s unmarked brown card with a few pages within. It’s all very neat and organised, most likely alphabetically.
She lays it on the table and places a card on top of it.
Top right corner of the card is my reason for being suspicious. It’s a government logo, nothing specific, just a general one that’s used by all of the different agencies and departments to get them through checkpoints.
“S.I.S.?” I ask. My eye twitches at the realisation. She looks up at me and smiles ever so slightly. Her pupil’s contract and eyes widen. She was surprised I managed to guess on the card alone, but glad, which meant-
“You’re perfect.” She smiles, crossing her legs. “Sovereign said you were good.” Sovereign. I’m sure if the girl in front of me can read expressions she’ll be reading the disgust, anger and contempt like a book. “We have a job for you. You’d be paid as an outside contractor which, I promise you, is considerable. As you know, the S.I.S. are not technically allowed to operate within Galledar, we’re foreign intelligence, not internal. That’s what the Marshalls are for. We can’t been seen to be working here so we need you-”
“Not interested.” I say. My smile is long gone at this point.
She raises her eyebrows in surprise and then chuckles, shaking her head slightly. “He failed to mention that you have a sense of humour.”
“Did he happen to mention that I’ve never worked for him, and the last time he tried to get my help I drew a gun on him?” I ask, sitting back in my chair and, as subtly as I can manage, cross my arms so that my fingertips are stroking the handle of my nine millimetre.
“He mentioned something of the sort.” She admitted. “However I believe that you simply weren’t given the right motivation.”
I raise an eyebrow.
She leans forward and picks up her card, sliding it towards me and flipping open the file. My eyes fall on a picture of my daughter and my former farther in law. A copy of his appeal for guardianship partially obscured beneath.
“What is this?” I ask. “I haven’t even been served with this yet.”
“We’re the S.I.S. We can get pretty much anything we need. We have a lot of pull with the social services, if you do this one job for us, not only will you get paid handsomely but we’ll help you out with the problems with your father in law.”
I feel rage bubbling inside me, but I keep my expression straight, hoping that she can’t read me. “So.” I say. “Ten years ago you, the S.I.S., kill my wife and son-” She opens her mouth to object but I continue over her, “-and now you’re threatening to take my daughter away from me?” I stare her down for a moment. “Where I was born something like that gets you shot.”
“Detective Hunter.” I correct her. “And I think you’d better leave.”
She looks at me for a moment before nodding. “Keep the card, in case you change your mind.” She says, standing and walking to the door. Despite myself, I can’t help but watch her body sway as she leaves.
The phrase ‘ass that don’t quit’ comes to mind.
She turns back to me and I cover the embarrassment of being caught looking by picking up the waste paper basket and throwing the card very obviously into it.
She smiles to herself as she leaves. A smile of a person who has another plan. A smile of a person unaware that, no matter what they try, they won’t be able to recruit me.
The door shuts and the side door opens, letting Will back in, a look of annoyance on his face as he empathises with my plight. “Good thing you kicked me out really.” He says, watching the door. “I haven’t had the pleasure of working with Agent Clarkson, but I’ve heard of her. Supposed to be a good agent.” He sighed and moved to the seat in front of my desk.
“As far as I’m concerned there’s no such thing as a good S.I.S. Agent.” I respond dropping down into my chair and allowing the anger to spill away.
“Thanks.” He laughs, mock offended.
I look up at him and raise my eyebrows. “You’re not an agent, you’re an outside consultant.” I tell him. “An agent wouldn’t be avoiding the S.I.S. so that they can have some time off their indentured servitude. And they certainly wouldn’t be sat here in my office all morning without a gun to their head or even the slightest indication of restraints.”
He smiles at my distinctions as if I don’t know how crazy I sound.
“Your intercoms blinking.” He points out, nodding to my phone.
I pick up the phone and press the black button again. “Yes Amy.” I say.
“Do you have a job then?” she asks. “Miss Clarkson wasn’t in there very long.”
“She was S.I.S. honey.” I sigh.
Amy remains quiet for a moment. She knows how I feel about the S.I.S. and shares my lack of love for the service. “Shall I send in the next applicant?” She asks.
I nod, and then remember she can’t see me. “Please.”


Wed. 07/05/2014 18:39
Alduain Square Apartment

“Looks like legal doc’s.” Will says, passing into the living room as I flip the letter over. It was on my doormat when we got home.
“Probably written notification of Leonidas’ appeal for guardianship.” I note. Amy passes, giving me a quick, comforting hug before disappearing up to her room. I smile and wonder whether or not she’d be better off living with her grandfather. He loves her as much as I do, she’d have more space, she’d go to the best schools, have all the best treatment…
“Don’t do that to yourself man.” Will says, eying me from the door to the living room. “She loves you, she’d do anything to stay with you.”
I look up at him and nod. He’s right. I can’t think that way. I’ve beat him before. I’ll do it again. I won’t give her up without a fight.
I tear the letter open and walk through to the kitchen; can’t have takeaway again, I can afford it but it’s not good for me.
Leaning against the side I read through the letter. It’s mostly just a formal notice- the one Clarkson showed me earlier -that her grandfather- Leonidas Shaw of the Great Shaw family -was appealing for Custody of Amy, citing a dangerous living environment.
Ass Hole.
There’s a second letter slipped in explaining that a social services representative will be coming to my home to meet with me the following Sunday at midday.
“That should be fun… better make sure I’ve got some beers for him.” I sigh, walking to the fridge and pulling it open. Not much to work with, haven’t had a chance to go shopping since before the Ferron job. “You ok with pasta and chicken?” I call to Will as I pull the chicken and leftover vegetables – AKA sauce ingredients – from the fridge and place them on the side.
“Whatever, man; I’m easy.” He responds, pushing open the shutters from the living room. He flips on the TV, straight to the news channel. When he first got out of prison he’d always put on comedies. He’d explained that he had enough drama and action in his life, but now it was the news; working with S.I.S. had changed him. I hope for the better, but knowing Big Sis I probably have to watch my back around him now.
“Anything interesting?” I ask, cutting open the chicken’s plastic wrap and dumping it onto a chopping board. Each piece of the chicken has to be cut just right. Cut them too differently and they need to be cooked for different times, cook one just right and the rest is either overcooked or undercooked.
“More about that girl who was found in a warehouse.” Will called. “If the cops didn’t know that there was a connection they do now. The news has it with a third victim from halfway between the two dates. They’ve dubbed him the ‘Lady Killer’”
I pause as I cut the chicken and look through the open shutters at the TV. “Same M.O.?”
“You’re not getting paid for this, Jim.” Will reminds me.
“Will…” I scold, going back to cutting the chicken.
He sighs. “Similar. Same drop location, suffocated without any obvious method, but victim is different.”
I slide the chicken onto a plate and put it aside, dragging over the vegetables; tomatoes, peppers, some herbs and spices. “Different how?”
“Dark hair, Noble born, same age range though.”
“A girl?” I ask, slicing through the vegetables and sliding them into a glass bowl.
I wonder what the victims have in common. It’s not their look, and I doubt that their age is the factor I’m looking for. Find out what they have in common and you find out the killers motive. Often that leads back to the killer.
If I can get a hold of their records-
“You’re not working this case.” Will reminds me, now standing at the kitchen door. “You found a new secretary yet?”
“No…” I sigh, like a kid being derailed from his favourite past time with homework. Pouring water and pasta into a pot I light the stove and set it to simmer. “They were all so… Bleh.” I respond, popping open the blender and pouring in oil and the vegetable ingredients.
“Maybe instead of fantasising about a case you’re not on you should go through the notes on your applications.” Will offers, grabbing a tomato I didn’t use and juggling it with one hand.
I take the blended vegetables and add herbs, salt and pepper before pouring them into a saucepan to cook on a low heat until I’m ready. Next I put oil in a wok and heat it up. “Maybe.” I admit. “Still, you’d think that someone living with me rent free and following me to work every day would be more helpful with my obsessions.”
“I prefer to keep you on track; it’s what a good friend does.” Will responds, biting into the tomato. “Better for you in the long run.”
I grunt; he’s right but I prefer not to admit such things. The oil in the wok starts to bubble and I throw in the chicken pieces. I turn the sauce heat up and use a wooden spoon to stir the pasta, move the chicken around and then stir the sauce.
“Get a new secretary and Leonidas’ appeal has no backing.” Will smiles.
Ten more minutes pass and the chicken finishes cooking. I throw all the pieces into the sauce and stir it for a few minutes while my imagination runs through what I know about the case.
“Pasta seems ready.” Will points out, lifting up a piece with fork and tasting it.
“Colander’s in the cupboard under the microwave.” I respond, lifting up a little of the sauce on the wooden spoon to taste. It could do with more oregano, maybe some salt, but it’ll do, not like I’m serving up for real guests.
“Do me a favour and call Amy down while I plate all this up.” I ask, turning off the stove, retrieving three plates and cutlery from the dishwasher to put on the breakfast bar in the middle of the room.
I lift the pot of sauced chicken and the recently drained pasta and put them on a pair of heat resistant mats with serving utensils as I hear Will call ‘Melia’ up the stairs. He’s a weird one. Her name’s Amelia. I call her Amy, her mother’s family call her Amelia, but only Will calls her ‘Melia’.
I hear running down the stairs as Will returns and takes a chair, quickly followed by Amy.
“Dig in.” I tell them as Amy throws herself into a chair.

Hope you all enjoyed that. some of the previous post might have been updated and edited since it was written, but you all get the jist.

- James

Tuesday 3 June 2014

Wild Star Post Launch impressions

So wildstar head start started on Saturday and I played it. A lot.
It came out officially today and I'm playing it. A lot.
Playing on the beta was different from the full game, not a lot, but there were some things that I didn't notice or that changed between beta and release, so I figured I'd give you my opinions post-launch. Both new points and some things I've been thinking the whole time that I had hoped would be fixed by launch.

First of all I want to point out that I really love this game. Gameplay wise and world wise it's fantastic compared to any other MMO I've ever played. the world looks amazing, the gameplay is fun and exciting. It's the first MMO I've played in a long time that I think I might max my character out as a solo player.
Seriously, I can't stress enough how much fun I'm having.

But there are a couple of things that are bugging me, or that they could have done better.
The first of which is getting into PVP as a solo player.
Now I'm not usually one to indulge in the PVP madness, but this game was different, it felt like something I'd really get into, and at level 6 it tells you that you have access to a battleground. But it doesn't show you how to get into it. before you ask, yes theres a group finder, but its not intuitive. I didn't understand at all what it was showing me because it was offering me things that I wasn't high enough level to use yet, and the things I thought I was allowed to use were greyed out. or at least that's what it seemed like to me.
I'd love to tell you that when I got into the PVP it was better, but I never got into a game. I THINK I queued for one, but an hour later I had to leave and hadn't got in so I'm thinking that I was in the wrong queue.

The second thing is that the free mounts that the player gets for playing the beta or buying the deluxe version are not accessible until level twenty-five. I know this isn't a big deal, you still get the mounts, you just have to wait an extra ten levels. But I feel like; if the player pays extra for mounts then they should be allowed to use them as soon as they can use mounts.
If the developers wanted to make sure they player had to spend all of their money at level fifteen then they should have added a mount skill of some kind. But to make the player pay for a mount when they were given one by the company seems a bit sucky.

Third thing, and I think this is the most important one, is that the missions are not epic. They've spent a lot of time making the game seem awesome. Like; fireworks and huge metal characters for levelling up awesome. Like the biggest, baddest raids I've ever seen awesome. Like the voice over whenever you die, teleport or level up being freaking hilarious awesome.
But then the missions are just pieces of text. Just little speech bubbles that feel a little... meh. its like we're back in the beginning of MMOs and its the only way we can show it.
Look at TOR, look at TSW, theres no reason to use speech bubbles- un-VOd speech bubbles. if they added that, made it so that the missions felt more epic, if they gave me a reason to read them, put me in a cut scene maybe, it would be perfect, but right now? meh I'll just click and skip the flavour text.

Still amazingly fun though, the crafting is so in depth, the gameplay is amazing, grouping up is hella fun. I'm loving it. but I'd like it if they fixed the above stuff... and put in a pet system and/or a class that could tame the wild animals of Nexus.