This is from the Weekly Writer’s Prompt from Writer’s Digest: Hiring A New Villain, originally posted April 27, 2017. 500 words.
I crossed my left leg over my right as the monstrosity settled down into the chair on the other side of my dark wood desk.
“So, Mardock,” I began.
He immediately corrected me, his voice booming from behind the scarred metal helm that covered most of his face. “MOR-dock. Not MAR-dock. Mordock the Blood Drinker.”
As Mordock spoke, the sense of something just behind the veil of reality chattering and barking filled the room.
“Right,” I said, making note of it on my yellow writing pad.
I met Mordock’s hellish gaze. His eyes were red hot coals burning within his helmet. As Mordock shifted in seat the veins in his tree trunk of a neck and boulder-sized shoulders rippled – almost as if the tentacles of some creature resided under his skin rather than veins.
“So, Mordock, tell me a bit about yourself, and what would make you the best candidate for the villain of my next novel.”
“I began life as a slave in one of the tribes on the plains of Hruntnor,” Mordock began, his voice almost a shout. “My mother was a concubine of the tribe’s chief, and though I was his son he treated me lower than the livestock. As a young man I was thrown into the fighting pits, and quickly earned a reputation as a brutal killer.”
I scribbled notes as he spoke.
“It was the night of the blood moon that I discovered my destiny,” he continued. “I and fourteen other slaves fell into a sinkhole. I was the only one to survive. Within was a cave, and there the dark gods offered me power, taking the deaths of the thirteen other slaves as a satisfactory offering.”
Though I couldn’t see Mordock’s smile, I could hear it in his voice and see it in the flare of his fiery eyes.
“I climbed from that cave and killed my father, taking control of the tribe. I subjugated the surrounding tribes, leaving offerings of death to my fell patrons in my wake.”
I nodded approvingly. I liked what I heard.
There was just one more question I had.
“This all sounds excellent,” I said. “But can you do sneaky and underhanded?”
Mordock stopped and froze in place, his blazing eyes cooled for a moment.
“Uh. . .I, uh. . .I can kill.”
“Right, I gathered that. But can you craft and hatch maniacal plans?”
“Well. . .” I could see his red eyes narrowed in a frown. “I can. . .I can launch campaigns. . .and slaughter thousands. . .did I mention I can kill?”
“Yes, you did mention that.”
“Good, good,” he said, helmeted head bobbing. “Yes, I can definitely kill.”
“Well, thank you, Mordock,” I said, standing up. “I will be in contact.”
Mordock shook my hand, and I could tell he was a little dejected. He opened the door to my office, and I could see the long line of villain applicants had increased since the beginning of Mordock’s interview.
“Next!” I yelled.
Marcus Brown sat at xyrs desk in the open office area. Xe sat, and xe worked. Today, work was staring at a blank word document on xyrs computer screen. Xe swiveled back and forth in xyrs black rolling chair with the ergonomic back support, and then xe rolled forward and back. Every once in a while xe would click the mouse to keep xyrs screen from going dark.
“Hello, Marcus,” said a sweet voice from behind Marcus.
Marcus turned to see the soft, white face and long, straightened brown hair of xyrs supervisor, Maureen.
“Hello, Maureen,” Marcus said.
I don’t want to talk to you right now, Marcus thought.
“How’s work coming along?” Maureen asked.
I don’t want to do any work, Marcus thought.
“You know,” Marcus began, “I just. . .things have been hard lately, and I feel stressed and unsure about life. I just haven’t had a lot of time for work.”
As if Marcus had choreographed everything beforehand, Maureen’s eyes widened and her mouth opened, her hand going to her mouth to add to the effect.
“I’m so sorry to hear that,” Maureen said, and Marcus knew she actually meant it. “If you want you can go talk to the floor counselor. Xe can help you talk it out.”
Marcus gave xyrs best sheepish smile. “Thanks, Maureen. I think I just need to go home for now. I can come in tomorrow, refreshed.”
“Not a problem Marcus, take as much time as you need.”
Marcus thanked Maureen as xe stood, then walked down the lines of desks topped with large screened computer monitors. Many of the desks were empty. Other employees had required time off for their feelings, too. As Marcus strode through the office, xe passed two employees who were “taking a break” with table tennis. One employee in their early forties zipped by on a scooter – and Marcus immediately felt bad for having age-ist thoughts. Walking past the counselor’s office, Marcus heard the whimpers and sobs of Jessica, an employee who usually sat next to Marcus, unless xyrs energy didn’t want xem to.
“Xe said I wasn’t getting enough done,” Jessica said, sobbing into xyrs hands, tears running down xyrs face.
“Perhaps xe didn’t realize your perspective,” the counselor, Bob, said, attempting to console Jessica.
Marcus exited the office building and strode out into the warm summer day. Xe picked xyrs way across the broken, pitted road – still unrepaired since the peaceful protests a month ago – and squeezed between two burnt out cars. Across the street, at a coffee shop Marcus frequented, the owner swept up glass and broken equipment off the sidewalk from the previous night’s demonstrations. Marcus was surprised to see the city had already cited the coffee shop owner for littering.
Strolling through downtown Marcus passed a long line of people leading up to a building that had once housed a line of stores, the people all looking the same in their ragged clothes. Now, government officials handed out welfare checks – extra for the “repressed”, less for the “privileged”. Posters in the windows of the building espoused the benefit of universal incomes and how it was benefitting the country. Marcus had already cashed xyrs check this month – a lot less since xe was extra privileged with xyrs skin color and a job.
One individual in the welfare line stood out from the rest. Xyrs clothes were newer and cleaner. Just by looking at xem Marcus knew they would receive a larger check.
“I can’t to get my check and get another pair of new shoes,” the individual said.
Some of the people in line grumbled about just needing enough food to last the month, maybe new shoes for their growing children. Marcus shrugged. The check was that individual’s right, these other people shouldn’t shame them.
At last, Marcus reached xyrs apartment building. There had been a peaceful protest here a few weeks ago – Marcus had been part of it – and the door to the building was missing. It was fitting, Marcus thought, since no one should be kept out, right?
Marcus took the rickety elevator up to xyrs floor. Before Marcus reached xyrs apartment, two individuals walked into the hallway.
“Hey,” one of them said. “Where’s your check? You owe it to me.”
Marcus had never seen these individuals before, but xe immediately noticed they both had guns.
“Guns are illegal,” Marcus said, freezing.
“Sure they are,” the other individual said. “Now give us your check.”
Marcus darted down the hallway to his apartment before either individual could level their gun at him, and immediately xe heard the heavy footfalls of the two individuals behind xym.
Reaching xyrs apartment, Marcus unlocked it, zipped in, and then quickly closed the door and locked the three deadbolts.
“Damn man,” Marcus heard one of the individuals who pursued xym say.
“We’ll get the next one,” the other individual said from the other side of the door.
Marcus didn’t move until xe heard their footsteps fade down the hall.
Turning, Marcus looked at his small apartment. A ratty futon decorated the floor, topped with a few blankets and a pillow. The toilet sat in the far corner of the room, yet still too close to the bend. Opposite the toilet was the refrigerator, the pantry, and the stove. Mounted to the wall was a brand new government provided TV.
By programmed action, Marcus picked up the TV remote off the floor and turned on the TV.
“Another demonstration against capitalism and hate,” the news anchor said as the TV screen flicked on.
The image on the screen was of people burning cars and smashing windows while holding up “Love Trumps Hate”, “Hands off my pussy”, and “Black Lives Matter” signs.
“Legislators offered their support for these demonstrations,” the anchor continued.
The image on the screen switched to an elderly, balding individual with a warm smile on their face.
“We support these peaceful protests,” the legislator, whose name was Chelsea Lanning, said. “Their feelings on these subjects are valid and fighting hate is always a noble cause.”
Marcus nodded along with Lanning’s words.
“These people are supporting freedom and democracy,” Lanning continued.
“Yes,” Marcus said, pumping his fist in the air.
Lanning spread his hands, as if offering something to xyrs viewers. “And because of the efforts of the people, we are free.”
“We are free,” Marcus repeated with zealous rapture.
I don’t normally back Kickstarters. My money tends to go to a specific amount of gaming each paycheck. Like recently, one paycheck went to purchase Saber Heavy Grav Tanks and Razorworms for my Scourge force for Dropzone Commander. Another paycheck went to purchase a Gekko Squadron for my Infinity Nomads. Having a family reduces miniature wargame spend significantly.
So when I do back a Kickstarter it is a special occasion.
To begin, let me ask you a few questions.
Do you like Firefly?
Do you like Wild West Exodus?
Do you like Chibis?
If you answered yes to all (or at least one) of those questions, then Rail Raiders Infinite is for you.
Rail Raiders Infinite is a table top miniature game from Soda Pop Miniatures and Ninja Division where you and your friends play as chibi raiders in a sci-fi western universe and attempt to rob a space train. (Right? Sure.) But beware! Law bots and marshals fill the train and will attempt to stop you. Do you have what it takes?
All salesmanship aside, this game looks like a blast. I am told Soda Pop Miniatures and Ninja Division put out some great games. I love the look and feel of this game. It is very Firefly-esque. And the law bots are something right out of Wild West Exodus. It looks fun and funny and I can’t wait to play it. (Maybe in October 2016? Sure. I’ll believe them…for now. Let’s just hope they’re not like Drake II…)
Even some of the raiders are hilarious. Stretch goal “Canton Cobb” is an ode to Jayne Cobb from Firefly, and “The Typhoon” is Vash the Stampede.
The train itself is a series of tiles. Instead of normal dice, the face of the dice are card faces (10, Jack, King, Queen, and Joker). And there are coins. Coins make every game better, right? Right.
It makes me smile. 🙂
Don’t believe me that this is a great game? (Or looks like a great game!?) Head over to Kickstarter and check it out now!
And give them $50.
Until next time!…
Before last Wednesday (February 17th) I had never played a Tabletop RPG.
I had played plenty of video game RPGs. The Final Fantasy series. Skyrim. Balder’s Gate. World of Warcraft. Warhammer Online. Just to name a few.
And of course I’m a tabletop game player. Battletech, Warmachine, and Infinity are just some of my favorites. I’ve played Star Trek: Attack Wing, and the Star Wars fighter game. And I love board games like Takenoko.
But tabletop RPGs never attracted my attention. Maybe some of this was the stigma of the people who played tabletop RPGs – then again that same stigma is attached (or at least used to be) those who play miniature war-games. For whatever reason I was just never interested in getting into tabletop RPGs.
That changed recently – and by recently I mean GenCon 2014. I decided I’d try to get RPG’ing a shot and went to a Shadowrun character creation seminar at GenCon ’14. It was interesting but I really should have gone to a RPG session seminar. While waiting to start the seminar I was talking to three guys that had just wrapped up playing some D&D 5th edition. At that time 5th edition was relatively new and they were ecstatic about it. On top of that, they broke the tabletop-RPG’er-mold. They looked like normal bros doing bro stuff. And if they were down for D&D, then I could be down, too.
Fast forward a little over 18 months later and my gaming group has been disbanded for a while. I was being a bad member myself and, though I paid my dues, I was not attending with any regularity. Other members were going regularly – but not paying dues. And overall the group had shrunk and money in the war chest wasn’t matching rent for the store front. The gaming group closed, and I was left flapping in the wind, tabletop game-wise.
Within the last two weeks I had begun to adamantly look for a new gaming venue. I need tabletop gaming like some people need to watch their favorite shows weekly. It’s both an escape, and a mental exercise that keeps my mentally sharp. Previewing the events at the local game shop (called The Game Shoppe) here in Bellevue, NE I saw there were D&D demo games every Wednesday. After about a year and a half, I was ready to try a tabletop RPG.
My wife lovingly gave me a lot of crap for it. 🙂
And so, February the 17th I ventured into the cold Nebraskan night to try Dungeons and Dragons.
Overall it was fun. I created a human barbarian named Lothar (of the Hill People) and played with two other people who had low-level characters. Our DM was asked by his group at the last minute to be the DM for the newer, lower level players, and so he was unprepared and had trouble reading the quest notes on the tablet he was using. But we killed some wild dogs and saved a tiefling adolescent, and killed some red-furred goats. I got 100XP out of the whole ordeal. The other players seemed like good guys and we quested decently together.
The group was very inviting and helpful. They offered assistance and resources (like miniatures and pencils) freely and made sure I generally felt welcomed.
I plan to go back this coming Wednesday in order to get more experience. Hopefully things are a little more organized and our DM a little more prepared, or at least ready to DM on the fly. If not, I can watch the group play and see how they play.
Next I may get into Battletech: A Time of War RPG. Who knows?
And if you’re in the Bellevue, NE area and want to game let me know!
Until next time!…
Okay, so this is late, but I’ve been busy (read: drunk).
Over the Labor Day weekend I headed to Atlanta for 48 hours of insanity at Dragon*Con. There I met my friend Lesley, and met some new friends, and we proceeded to romp around downtown Atlanta. Here are images from that weekend.
So great weekend. Wish I had stayed longer. Next year I shall! Will I cosplay?…eeehh probably not. But I’ll party harder, fo sho. 🙂
Until next time . . .