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RUNNING WITH RATS

In the city of Isseran, everything is in its proper place. Society runs like a well-oiled machine… but the machine grinds unfortunates between its gears. Slaves and soldiers want more than their masters will give them; rebellion hangs in the air.

Alix Black-Eyes, a former slave with a dark secret, stumbles upon a small band of rebels called the Rat Runners. They hope to harness the endless power of dreamstuff to stop the cruel machine. Can Alix and her new friends build something better in its place, or will their differences tear their rebellion apart before it can truly begin?

Running with Rats is a dieselpunk dark fantasy webserial that posts biweekly (the second and fourth Friday of every month).

ARC ONE: THE MASTER’S DREAM

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9

ARC TWO: THE AERONAUT’S DREAM

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 |

NOT WHAT IT SEEMS (PATRON-ONLY SIDE STORY)

1 |


If you like Running with Rats, please consider supporting me on Patreon. Patreon’s like a virtual tip jar- it helps me keep writing the stories you love, and as if that wasn’t enough, you get cool stuff for becoming a patron, like side stories, maps, and early access to certain content!

Also, I’ve written other stuff. You can check it out here.

Thank you so much for reading.

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URL CHANGE (IMPORTANT)

Running with Rats has finally gotten its very own web hosting! From now on, Running with Rats updates will be posted at www.runningwithrats.com.

Will you still post here? 

I’ll make an effort, but I can’t promise anything. The new site looks better and is easier to navigate, though, so you should check it out!

 

The Aeronaut’s Dream: pt. 12

<< previous arc | first | previous next | last | newest arc  >>

They scattered like frightened rats. Alix heard Vashe bash into the door; Nvara ran for the window. She heard Svelen clattering in the next room over, and his voice cry “what’s going on?”

She knew the plan: get to the laundry chute. But that had been the plan when everything was going well; before she’d fucked everything up. If she tried it now, she’d probably get stuck behind Vashe.

Doors. There were three along the hallway. She grabbed the knob of the first- locked. Second- locked. Last one on the right opened, smooth as silk.

It was dark as sin and dusty as a tomb. She coughed, waved the dust out of her eyes. The room was full of long, flickering shadows and looming forms that turned out to be-

A crib?

No time for curiosity. There were two windows- one on each side of the crib. Her heart sank as she realized- both of them were barred.

Footsteps on the stairs. Three, four people, running. The static of radios, gabbled commands back and forth.

Vravesva. Security guards or police, it didn’t matter; she was doomed.

There was no closet. There was no window. There was nowhere to run.

Alix braced herself against the wall. If they didn’t have guns, maybe she could squirm between them. If they did- well, she was probably doomed anyway.

The door slammed open. Alix shoved forward. She heard a gunshot, distant, muffled as if through water.

Time slowed.

Between one breath and the next, she slid towards the floor. Her arms spasmed forward, turning into massive paws. Claws spiked out and skewered the floor. Her teeth jagged out of her mouth and a snarl tore its way out of her throat.

She looked down at the Vravesva. There were three of them- the one with the gun, the one with the gas mask, and the one with the radio. But she wasn’t scared. Compared to her, they were the size of kittens.

The one with the gun kept it pointed at her. His hands were shaking. The other two took a step back, back. The doorway was almost clear; if she could get them out of the way….

“Run,” Alix growled.

The one with the gun ran. The one with the radio followed close behind him; the radio clattered to the ground, spitting static.

The third Vravesva stared at Alix through their gas-masked eyes. Alix took a step back. Her hackles raised.

They pulled a small dark thing from one of the belts across their chest, flicked their finger, and threw. It clicked and rattled as it fell.

She barely realised it was a grenade before it exploded.

The ground beneath her gave way. Wood and concrete smashed against the polished tiles of the dance floor below. She caught herself on all fours.

A lady screamed. Glasses shattered against the floor, and a table crashed into the wall as the crowd struggled to get away.

The electric chandelier creaked crazily from one chain, groaning ominously as it swayed above the fleeing crowd.

And in the midst of it all, Alix stood, watching everything move around her, but doing nothing. She felt like time had started to flow again, leaving her frozen.

Everyone was looking at her. Everyone was afraid, and everyone was afraid of *her*. No, not afraid of her, afraid of what she was.

“Shapeshifter!”


Running With Rats updates biweekly on the second and fourth Friday of every month. 

If you liked this post, and want to support my writing, consider donating to my Patreon?   For the price of a cup of coffee, you can get bonus content, worldbuilding notes, and free books.

REMINDER: The Unicorn’s Beard, my latest short story, is available to buy now on Amazon and Smashwords!   

Sawbones, a wandering veterinarian, is forced into the service of the queen. They must use their knowledge of goat diseases to cure her sick unicorn- or it’s off with their head. Can they discover what’s wrong- and can they save the Queen’s pet from Her Majesty? 

Thanks for reading! 

The Aeronaut’s Dream: pt. 11

(I have special news this week- scroll down after the chapter to read it!) 

<< previous arc | first | previous next | last | newest arc  >>

Alix fell.

The light shards broke around her, tumbling over each other into the void, dissolving into dust. Without the arcs of jagged colour, everything around her was hued in dusty sepia- except the glowing lio.

She heard static, like a radio turned to a dead channel. Voices broke and scratched around her. The words gabbled meaninglessly, but she picked out a few, they all jumbled together.

“I’m sorry, your son- can’t help but wonder- spinal structure’s interesting-
WORLD RECORD, first man to- within the next year- is it really a- fly across the Wild Sea alo- doctor says it- faces change, people sta- we may have an artificial heart-”

She squinted, trying to block out the sound. The lio was yards away, and it only drew closer as she fell. If she didn’t grab it, she’d fall right past.

“Alix-”

It was her mother’s voice, in the gabble of static. Distorted, crackling, but it was her, clear as ice. Alix froze.

“Run. Don’t look back.”

It was the last thing she’d said to Alix before she — before–

The lio fell past Alix. It cast a long shadow as she tumbled down. Alix reached for it, too late- grasped at nothing.

“Nv-” she started.

Another spark of lio shone beneath her- in front of a thing which was and was not a person.

It was like the shards- flat as a pane of glass, cobbled together from shreds and patches of light. One eye sat slightly below the other, and its arms and legs stuck from its torso at strange angles.

Lio pulsed out from it in waves, and disappeared almost as fast- like lightning striking aimlessly, over and over again.  Alix’s eyes followed it.

The lio lit up ground beneath her. It was transparent- thin as black ice- but it looked solid. She braced herself.

“Alix-” Nvara said.

“Found the lio. Pull me out on my count,” Alix said.

She landed on all fours, and reached out for the lio.

The creature stared at her. Its eyes were glassy. She scrabbled back.

“Three.”

Its twisted hand grabbed for her face, long glass talons unsheathing from its knuckles.  The lio slipped between her fingers.

Alix dived away and landed, hard, on her elbows. Throbbing pain arced up her arm. She staggered to her feet, and grabbed again – lio dust coated her palms and forearms, glowing even through the goggles.

“Two-” she gasped.

The creature’s neck lengthened, curving around itself like a corkscrew. Its mouth opened, but its head was flat- it looked like its head was tearing apart at the side. It stretched to an impossible length, bending over Alix. Its jaws cast a long shadow- a shadow broken by many sharp teeth.

“One!”

The electrodes ripped from Alix’s head, ripping her hair. She tore the goggles off and gasped for breath. Specks of pale lio glowed on her gloves.

Blankets rustled. Alix flinched back towards the wall. A shadow rose from the bed.

Vashe shouted, “He’s awake! Run!”


Running With Rats updates biweekly on the second and fourth Friday of every month. 

If you liked this post, and want to support my writing, consider donating to my Patreon?   For the price of a cup of coffee, you can get bonus content, worldbuilding notes, and free books.

SPECIAL NEWS: The Unicorn’s Beard, my latest short story, is available for pre-order now on Amazon and Smashwords! It’ll be available for purchase on the 28th, and- of course- Patreon patrons will receive a free copy. 

Sawbones, a wandering veterinarian, is forced into the service of the queen. They must use their knowledge of goat diseases to cure her sick unicorn- or it’s off with their head. Can they discover what’s wrong- and can they save the Queen’s pet from Her Majesty? 

Thanks for reading! 

[ADMIN] Welp.

I made a major mistake- I posted chapter 14 when I meant to post chapter 11.  And I didn’t realise until just now, when I went to fix all the chapter links.

tumblr_orqawmtYpP1w3unueo1_540
(image from tumblr user googleplaysore)

SO. I just took down chapter 14. I’m going to post chapter 11 next week, and update as I normally would after that. Congratulations: you got a sneak peek.

Thank you all for your patience with my “posting schedule”. We’ll be back on track soon.

 

The Aeronaut’s Dream: pt. 10

<< previous arc | first | previous next | last | newest arc  >>

When she stepped through the door, Alix expected to see the front lobby of the Committee building.

She’d only been there in darkness, where it looked like a tomb. The Committee Building’s sharp, high ceilings and blocky Workers of the Future murals would have shown up in her own nightmares, if she’d ever had dreams of her own.

It would have hurt to step inside, but she’d steeled herself. She could have handled it.

But the door opened onto the same cloudy abyss that surrounded the building. The Committee Building was a shell made of wood, fake as a movie set.

Inside, the coloured light shone, hanging in the air like shards of a broken rainbow.

As she stared into the void, the committee building  started to fall.

It tumbled over itself like a leaf dropped into a hurricane. The platform dropped out from underneath Alix; the world spun and writhed around her.

Alix grabbed the doorframe. Her nails dug in sharp. It felt like she was clinging for dear life to the back of a giant animal that was trying to shake her off.

The glowing beams of light hardened to sharp angles of glass. They darted around her like crows mobbing an owl.

She shrugged her shoulders up, trying to shield her face without letting go. If you fell in a dream, you’d die when you hit the ground— everyone knew that. The building-shell hurtled through the air, picking up speed.

“Alix-” Nvara hissed in her ear.

“’M fine.” Her knuckles paled as she clung to the falling building. She felt her fingernails dig into the frame, and the wood splinter around them.

“Alix, I’m pulling you out.”

Alix felt something yank at the back of her head- the electrodes and goggles-strap tugging at her hair.

“No!” she said aloud. Glass stung the back of her hand. She tried to push herself back through the doorframe, flattening herself against the wall on the other side.

“Shhh!” Nvara’s grip tightened. “You’re vexin’ shaking.”

“I – I’m fine.” Alix said. “Give me the chance, ai?”

The shards of glass-light zipped back and forth like wasps.

“Chance? What chance?”

“I want to help. I’m not dead weight. Let me prove it.”

“You’re not proving anything if you wind up dead,” Nvara said.

Alix spotted something out of the corner of her eye- a faint glint, warmer and brigher than the glass-light. It fell through the air below her, tumbling over itself like a falling feather.

“Found the lio,” she muttered.

The glass-birds pulled back, flocking together. Glass scraped against glass, like nails on a chalkboard.

“Alix–” Nvara’s grip on her shoulder tightened.

“I’m gonna grab it. When I give the signal, pull me out,” she said.

“How long-” Nvara murmured.

“Five minutes. Maybe less.”

She heard Nvara sigh out. The tug on the back of her head loosened.

“Five minutes. Then I’m pulling you.”

The flock of glass shards rushed towards her– like a swarm of angry birds.

“I’m a rat runner,” Alix said, as much to herself as Nvara. “And I’l prove it. Let me run.”

She jumped.

Holiday Hiatus 12/18

Running with Rats is going on hiatus for the Winter Holiday Season.

Hope you enjoy your Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Solstice, Festivus, or whatever other holiday gets you through the cold and the dark.

EDIT TO ADD: I accidentally forgot to take The Aeronaut’s Dream pt. 10 out of the queue, so it can stay up.

Because of this, though, Running with Rats will pick back up on 2/1.