Ghosts of the past

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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Better Quell Jorel on Sun Jun 22, 2014 1:46 pm

So, bad grammar and awkward sentence structures aside, I actually liked this story.

Also, while reading, I arrived at a conclusion I had not considered before.

1. Apparently, I enjoy writing stories about characters who reminisce over past experience, using that experience as the impetus to drive the present action of the story forward. I chose this approach when writing the latest exploit of Centauri the Centaur.

I suppose this is only natural since roleplaying is a linear/present form of storytelling; that is, a progression of story using events related to the normal flow of present time. Contrast this approach to fiction where the reader is fooled into a sense of present time with language written in the past tense.

I suppose this a rather technical way of saying that it appears natural to have a character back story with flashbacks linking past and present. After all, as a player writing in a GM's world creation, a character can only write of themselves and hope the act of copying and pasting their personal history will click with the rest of the grinding world wheels a GM sets into motion.
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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Casey on Thu Jun 26, 2014 1:30 pm

Alpha Centauri wrote:I had no idea your character had an idea for saving Adam's weird...silver mage guy. He certainly was one of the better characters Adam played. That I do admit.

It seems that you are guaranteed at least one character death in Eric's climactic duels. Never a party wipe, mind you. Just one character death. Sometimes an NPC and other times a PC but not more than that.  


Lester was Eric's NPC, part of the original team that spider-David had. He was grumpy, annoying, sometimes counter-productive, but he could usually get things done. And he had a car. I felt that the team was weakened enough by his death that he deserved to be brought back.
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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Casey on Thu Jun 26, 2014 1:32 pm

Alpha Centauri wrote:So, bad grammar and awkward sentence structures aside, I actually liked this story.

Also, while reading, I arrived at a conclusion I had not considered before.

1. Apparently, I enjoy writing stories about characters who reminisce over past experience, using that experience as the impetus to drive the present action of the story forward. I chose this approach when writing the latest exploit of Centauri the Centaur.

I suppose this is only natural since roleplaying is a linear/present form of storytelling; that is, a progression of story using events related to the normal flow of present time. Contrast this approach to fiction where the reader is fooled into a sense of present time with language written in the past tense.

I suppose this a rather technical way of saying that it appears natural to have a character back story with flashbacks linking past and present. After all, as a player writing in a GM's world creation, a character can only write of themselves and hope the act of copying and pasting their personal history will click with the rest of the grinding world wheels a GM sets into motion.

I remember this background journal of yours quite well. I may have subconsciously borrowed parts of it for Ghost's background journal. I feel that one of the most compelling parts of role-playing is to integrate one's character into the story and world the GM has created. This is realistic: people are part of the world they are in, and their story is a thread among thousands of others. Their lives are shaped by these other threads, just as their lives shape these other threads in turn.
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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Better Quell Jorel on Sat Jun 28, 2014 7:14 pm

I remember this background journal of yours quite well. I may have subconsciously borrowed parts of it for Ghost's background journal. I

If that's the case, I'm sure it's little wonder you remember that origin story so well. Don't worry though. I won't sue you for copyright infringement. Not that I'd get anywhere with a lawsuit mind you. A lack of copyright means no stacks of greenbacks high enough to build your own fort the size of Fort Knox.
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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Better Quell Jorel on Wed Jul 23, 2014 10:00 pm

Here is a story fragment I once intended to turn into a full-length novel. As it turned out, I disliked the stories direction and so abandoned the story soon afterward. But the first few pages survive here below. The story is based on a character I played in one of Adam Nieman's many failed attempts to start a D&D gaming world. Much like my own game mastering failures, we played a few games and stopped after a session or two or three.
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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Better Quell Jorel on Wed Jul 23, 2014 10:01 pm

Charmanelle:
A Woman of The Blood




Scents of the night, gentle in riding the clouds pushed from the high mountains that stretched the land from north to south glided teasing the trees to sway, rode the crests of the valleys and dimples of the highest hills and threw their potpouri of experience against the open window of the young ladies balcony that rested above the main courtyard of the small though stately manor house. Well in truth it’s construction lent more towards the style of a keep, built in the tradition of fine angular battlements, square stone, and high walls, but sometimes when the weather blew fair as it did today the drafty old place seemed to spark life of some other time, perhaps stolen from a far brighter far happier time than the times that faced it’s lone occupant.
The person, a girl of no more than the ripe age of seventeen or eighteen had paced the small walkway, that is until the wind caught her face and with its passage so too the signs of her concern dissapeared replaced by the same confidence which always donned her brow. The happy carefree breeze rusltled her red hair calm from its place below the shoulders, ruffled the nobleman’s red embroidered neck length gown she scorned, and forced her eyes the color of clear emeralds to blink first from the wind and then from the dry sensation it left. So she moved with the wind knowing it would give her the direction which would help her in this her hour of greatest need. She needed to find a course desperately otherwise the path of her life would be decided for her.
But the wind, the breezes from the Gods or perhaps the God which had heard her pleas answered the supplication with the wind itself and it alone gave her the answers she sought. If she was to uncertain as to which path in life she should take then indeed she should take on the example of the sign and become the wind itself, a free rolling breeze without worry and most of all without concern to wander across the lands as she would. That would be her course
There was not a moment to be lost. She turned from her veranda and rang for her servant, Manda, her servant, her dear friend and confidant, raised with her in the halls of the manorhouse, yes Manda would understand her above all else in the house. Above all.
In the space of a bell ring the other young girl came beckoned by her mistress and stood, a plain slim girl with terse playful lips and raven black hair cut to a modest length of the back dressed in the simple black tunic of the house. Bowing, the maid came to full attention and heard in a quick sentance the plan which her better planned for her diversion this evening.
“Manda, I must leave here tonight. I can’t stand another brawl with him agani tonight or ever for a long time. I need you to get my horse pack my armor and provisions and bring it to my window immeadiately. If anyone asks tell them you are preparing the horses of the Lord for a journey in the morning, understand?”
The maid heard her mistress’ command, Manda’s usual ready to serve veil dissolved to confusion and then to horror as the full impact of what her lady wanted dawned upon her vague at first and then hard and fast like a falling mountain.
“What, to leave her tonight, miss? And I’m to bring the horse to your window? But how are ye to get out? The master’s been rather anxious bout you miss, but mark my words if you slip out now that, well, now that he’s got plans for you and all. Now of all times, I dont’ think it’s a good idea is all miss and I don’t wants to see you in trouble with him mum.”
“Manda,” the noblewoman said grinning understanding acoss the marble thresing and gripping her friend’s hand. “How many times must I remind that you are to address me as Charmanelle, you know charming Charm, not this miss and mum business. It is it always will be Charmanelle to you and no one else and don’t worry about the Lord or what he might have in store. No woman of the true blood shall ever bend to a whim she first does not seem agreeable.” Moving closer she stepped she gripped both hands and with a smile of absolute confidence squeezed her wayward friend to her side.
“The Gods have ordained this night that I might come to a knowledge of what I must do and that is to flee as hard as I can and seek my own way if I have to. Please try to understand Manda.”
The lost condidence lightned the maid girl’s features to their original sparkle. “Yes, mumm, uh Charm, yes I could never doubt you and you’ll be back once this mess is done so don’t you worry bout nothing dear. I’ll be down and out with your things ready to go, just say the word and I’ll be there.”
“Thank-you for agreeing with me. Now it seems you are my only real friend. Thank0you for believing. Now go, quickly before they have time to notice.”
So the girl made for the door, slipped between its ajar crack and left the woman, Charmanelle of the blood alone with mere moments to pack her precious materials and conceive of a way to escape from the oppresion which beset her.
First things first, the clothes. She made quick word snatching the confing dress she wore to a shift and paced the lenght of her room to the massive oak pole bed and felt between the dual matresses of straw and feathers she pulled the clothes taken from the servants quarters and stowed here meant for her romps with Manda and as her father forbade from a garment other than finery, but she would need to blend. She couldn’t go around in dresses, that was for sure as she donned the loose riding breeches and white and brown laced shirt which also ended up a size or so too big for her, but a bit of carousing and the clothes were made to fit snugly against her frame perfection in the female buxom of hip complimented by a full bosom which even in the loose shirt could not fully be concealed, a thing of budded beauty.
So the bloomed fire flower roused her decent pack from the wall and then to her drawers began to pack the things most needed by a lady on the move, her mirror, soap which smelled of lilac, a fine tooth comb with flowers and doves entertwined on the edges and briush to match, a spare gown for the formal occasions as would befit a girl of her class, a bag of monies sufficent to her needs for quite some time, and last of all reaching to a concealed drawer pulled from it a pair of knife sheaves from the backs and took to concealing the weapons to her person. Important to be armed for the dangers of course.
Seeing all in order she bound the leather thong of the pack in place, swung it to her shoulders and moved for the final item which rested upon the fireplace, an ornate object which she would take with her which she had found one day long ago while exploring the cellars of her house. It had been in the forgotten corner in a forgotten place and yet she in her manner found the thing bound by string in rough cloth. Eager she had unloosed the string and looked in awe s the the cloth fell and let the naked gleaming thing come to full view, a sword, almost two times her size taking all the poor light of the cellar and magnifying the it to brillance into the eyes of the young child. Handling the weapons with a reverance of a child’s ritual, she had unsheathed it, allowing the blade to run free into her hands. On it were emblanzoned a phrease in a language forgotten though she could only barely begin to understand thanks to years of schooling.
The script read thus:
When all flee and fall,
One Stands Fast

Rapt beyond attentions, young Charmanelle had wrapped the parcel into its wrapping and stole the item into her room and when of age the object appeared over the mantle of her fireplace as the gift of “relative,” an item her father never investigated.
Yet now wielding the blade for the first time she felft the same thrill of reverance and respect for those words those simple words burned into the hilt were her words as well. They were the lines she vowed to live by no mattter the cost. And that was part of the reason why she committed to running from home and her father. Smiling at a myriad of feelings for the sword and her path to come, she swaddled the fine sword of a length of cloth, tied it tight, and swung what remained of the twine over her shoulder for and easy reach. All lay in order and stood ready at her command. The time to stand fast had arrived.
Gathering the insuging thrill at command she walked to the balcony which overlooked the grounds of the manorhouse to see if any idle servants of guards were about this time of night which was unlikely, but security never did hurt a soul. She could not see a soul. She climbed the stone railing and balancing on the narrow free fell forward. Lighting faith her strong hands cupped the roots of an old vine which lay across the veranda, the means of her escape many times from the high bedroom. The ivy creaked and swayed at the new weight but settled and happy the plant still could bear her, scaled the three stories of stone to ground, to the earth, to freedom. So soon as she got a horse.
As she had condsidered making her way on foot but thought against it as her scret escape relied on distance and she admitted she did not know enough of the countryside to evade her father on foot versus his light calvary, so she opted to take her gelding from the stables and make the escape in that fashion riding as far and fast as she could clingning to her mount.
She did not travel to reach them, they lay around the corner of the manor inside a picketed line of timber used to coral and train the beasts as needs arose to walk or break a young buck.
About to round the corner of the entrance, the gap in the posts, she heard the sound of voices coming form the other side of the fence and instinvely backed up to the fence flat to it os as not to rouse the suspicions. Straning to find out what she could she heard the unmistakeable sound of many breathing though there only a few voices spoke.
One, a young though commanding voice rang above the rest. “So it’s all settled. We go the stables, post a few to watch the outside and then take our pick of the livery to sell to the highest bidder.” Confident beyond reason he concluded, “Easy as tak’in coins from a blind man’s bluff. Nothing to it.”
Another voice roused from group, slower and even less comprehending than the first. “Well sure it sounds easy, but taking stuff from Lord Davendor, I mean if we’re caught, what’ll we do?”
To this the first voice raised a sigh of disbelief to the heavens or whatever Gods of mischief might be listening. “Look, we’re barely able to put food into our mouths as it is. I mean we slave away scrubing, cleaning and raking dung all day for the great high Lord and what does he give us back?”
A pause racked the brains of the rest and a young sqeaking voice replied, “Well like Dusty said we get food and a place to stay-”
The high pitched whine might have said more, but was shorne in mid sentance by the ringleader. “No, you sons kobolds, it’s dung, that’s what we get for our sweat and blood, it’s the dung of the filthy animals we have to feed and I say it’s time we took a stand to let people know that’s what we’re all about!”
“But won’t we get caught if we say what we’re doing?,” the slower voice challenging in a non-challenging tone.
“Yes and that’s the best part of my plan. Now get closer so I can explain to all of you.
Indeed, thought the eavesdropping girl with ironic interest. Do tell the whole of the master plan/
“You see it’s all simple. What we do is we rob the livery blind, but we take a few small item, like say the bridle and we sneak them into the servants quarters, you know with some one not even with us. So when word gets out and the place is searched, the crook’s found and that’s the end of that.”
“But we’re all servants Daven what if comes back to us?,” said the low slow talker again.
“Yeah, but look around you Dusty boy. Do you see any girls in this group?” To which the another pause made for an the rhetorical no.
“Right so, the furthest from us if the girl’s quarters we put the stuff in there and there ain’t a prayer in Corvan that the trail can get back to us, cause like we go nothing to do with those scullions, lest of course we got needs ta’ fill. Fact I’ve been doing some thinking and that little mudrat what’s her name? ehhhhh, ah yeah Manda, you know the pet of the prim princess? Yeah, I got a bone to pick with that dustmop, all I wanted was a little kiss behind the shutters and what did she give me for it? A red hand on my face and swim in the bucket water that’s what. Think I’m gonna give that little scull what she’s due for. An oust’in that’s what.”
“So what’s it gonna be gents? We gonna live like squallor for the rest of time or are we gonna take action and get some money in our pockets and who knows? In time we might get so good at it we might be able to pilfer that old fart of a Lord out of house, home, and daughter,” he said putting a sweet top to the words. Quaint on top of a number of vain promises and insults they had added her to the list. The sweet naive innocent cherry on top of throne of deceits. Well this cherry would not be so picked and eaten with the ease these young brutes thought and to think of poor Manda, that she was to be the brunt of if all if it even succedded, but the ringleader sounded confident, so it might be so that even his plans might come about. And that would mean trouble for her childhood friend.
And plans they were for the whole group, about a dozen voices she roughly counted hailed agreement to the plan as shallow as it sounded was practical and might even work. Which was why she would stop it then and there. Stand fast and stand strong.
“So, the boys here’s the order. Mills and Benadict watch the front and me Mouse and Dusty’ll go, search the place, and do it.”
It was then that she turned the corner and revealed herself saying, “I am sorry boys, but stealing is wrong and so are you for following it. I heard your plans, so you can just stop where you are, go back to your jobs, and forget about it.”
Most of the boys turned and jumped at her quick entrance and words some screaming ghost only to turn and see her and a raggy bunch they were all dressed in the simple clothes of the lower servants and though young the group had dark hard faces for their age with hands large from years of work and the muscle to prove it. They were a group of toughs true, but they had eaned their name reputatin in looks alone though not for the origin.
The leader seemed frightened but when their sqealing pigeon turned into a girl with a pack not much older than himself and not an adult, any doubt on his face was replaced by a broad grin of defiance. He looked the simple girl once over, harumphed his disapproval, and said, “Yeah and what are you gonna do you little louse? I guess even the Lord’s got to have trouble paying the troops if he got sculls guard’n his gates. So what you gonna do girl, gonna beat us with yer fancy stick there,” he said pointing to the bundled sword, “and send us all crying to the Lord sorry and on our knees begging for mercy?”
As if by silent pleas, the riff raff took their leader’s confidence into their own and surrounded the girl in a semicircle at the stable entrance, a odd seven to her one. They all grinned a bit, flexed their arms, and a few cracked their knuckles waiting the command for their leader’s word to finish an easy job before going on to the real work that night, all convinced she was the appetizer for the main feast. Well no one said about serving the main meal a little early did they?
“So the way I see it you got two choices. You can put that pack and stick down and let us have our way or you can try your best and run out that door and hope none of us can catch you fore you get that pretty rump of yours round the bend and away. Personally I hope we get you either way,” he said eyeing her fully. “Got to admit you some nice curves on you for a scull, think I’ll take my turn for that scull that did me wrong. So what do think of it doll? You wanna fight us all or are will you just let us do what we want to you?”
“I think that tonight you’ll learn that scullion maids are tougher to menace than you might think sir. I’ll stand my ground for I’ve grown to like this spot very much,” she said dropping her pack sending a puff of dust and hay wisps into the air. Gripping she brought her stick to bear wielding it with two hands like a club, not releasing the strings. No need for this group of rabble.
“Fine with me scull, you got your grave get ready to sleep in it.” Snapping the grinning boys flanked her sides closing the circle to a few feet all triumphant and confident in their ablity to subdue the girl.
“Now don’t mess her up too bad now boys. You’ll want her nice and pretty when we take her out back and,” he paused suddenly agitated, “well you want me to do all the thinking for you? Get her!”
Then they rushed her and time slowed to mere seconds and human movement fast and blurring became as easy to read as a book.
The brutes to her side were the first to reach her and so they were hit first. Starting spun her “stick” a few times to gain momentum and sent it smashing the right boy’s outstretched hand to which he stop his charge and yelped in pain. This gave her ample time to stop swinging on a pin and thrust the pommel of the bundled weapon into the left boys belly who surprised at the speed of the attack doubled sideways and collapsed. The left boy began to blow his red hand and glanced as a complientary blow caught him square in the fast spinning him round hard and fast to the ground.
One misguided youth in front she caught in the foot with her blade nimbly throwing his leg in the air. The boy screamed as he fell, hit the dirt full of his bottom, and then took a quick jab of the stick to the face smashing his nose and propelling him the rest of the way into the dirt. So far, she had not moved a step, but had shifted her weight and position.
Another boy came in hard as she tripped the former and avoiding her defenses at the expense of his partner in crime. He punched wide and far hoping to catch her off balance, but shifting her weight to the back she easily dodged the blow and came round with an attack of her own slamming the brunt of the blade into boy’s chin. He choked gurlgling in his throat, and his eyes glazed over toppling hard to the dirt.
So three stood before her now including the leader and they seeing their companions dropped with ease in seconds stopped their charge.
“Your charge was made in poor taste. Now let’s think about going to the Lord and-”
“We got her, we got you now!,” cried the boy to the side see hit in the stomach who wriggling had her ankle in a strong grip. Grinning looked and saw the other belted in the face had followed suite and had her other ankle. “Let’s see what you do just standing there you witch. Won’t be so smooth now will you?,” he said again trimuphant.
Perhaps they didn’t see that she had not moved a step since the fight began. Well challenge and learn as her master had taught and the lesson would be fierce.
The three in front of her advanced again and this time she played and waited until the right moment though feigning helplessness, waiting for the right moment to strike.
After a few motley steps they entered her range and it began again.
With little or no effort she poised, gahtered strength, muttered a quick prayer to Corvan for strength and kicked sending her leg and a now flying assailant into one of the three attackers catching him neatly in the stomach collapsing the pair in tandem. Next she lifted her other captive leg which broke loose and setting it upon the youth slid him across the ground where he tripped up the other attacker causing him to fall hard on his earthbound companion. Neither stirred and all was silent. All that remained were her and the leader.
The leader now shocked became angry beyond reason. Screaming he drew from behind a knife, dull and ugly, though rather large. The menace in his eyes though was unmistakeable. He would have her blood one way or another.
“You filghty witch, I’ll cut your eyes and heart right out!,” became the battlcry as he charged blade extended to finish the parlay.
He lunged forward then swung backhand to take her across the face, but she parried the blow pushing the arm out of harm’s way and using the momentum spun the leader once over and piovoted one foot as she brought the other up and swung him to the side and back and let loose letting the lad slam face first into the wood paneling of the fence bending some of the boards and cracking a few others. She finsihed the by manuevering and placing her foot where it had been. She had not moved a step for the entire fitght.
The leader however was not knocked into oblivion by the blow, but he stood heaving for air and rattled, “How, how can a scull have so much strenght. Why Dusty could have weighted as mucha s a cow and she lifts him up with ease. I”m telling you you’re a demon with powers from the Under that’s what you are.”
Turning she faced him, “Well you may be surprised to hear this but perhaps it was the strength of the righteous, which shall always prevail, that allowed me to win. Of course I don’t expect you to understand so I guess you’ll have to learn again,” she said raising her weapon to finish the boy off.
She raised the weapon and ready to swing when an arm braced hers and said in a low voice to bring down the mountains, “Now Charm, I think you’ve shown these boys the ground enough for one night wouldn’t you say”


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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Better Quell Jorel on Wed Jul 23, 2014 10:42 pm

Eh, not too bad of a story. Sure the grammar and spelling typos abounded, but this was only a rough draft. I sort of liked the beginning of the tale. It's only the direction I had it going that displeased me. In the end, the story I had in mind eventually turned into a pale imitation of Minas Tirith's siege. Too lame and too cryptofacist. That's what I say.

Who knows? Maybe I'll scheme up another way for the story unfold. Storytelling is not a prison with bars and straight unalterable corridors. Writing novels is like a house that's always under construction. Even when you have a structure, you can knock out the walls and tear out the foundation if the thought tickles your fancy.
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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Casey on Sun Sep 28, 2014 12:25 am

This is a short story I recently discovered on my computer. I haven't looked at this file in years, and frankly barely remember writing it. The file registry says that it was created in 2007. It's clearly an unfinished background story intended for a character in Alex's Star Wars game. I am (humbly) impressed by it, and was impressed by my own prose.




"The Republic is now approaching its second galactic crisis in a decade. For the second time in that span of time we are scrambling to face a force that threatens to destroy our civilization. Many here say that the Republic, and all the ideals for which it stands, is in good hands. They say that we have beaten one formidable force, and that we will be able to do it again. I am not one to deny neither the bravery nor the competence of our forces. However, the enemy that we face is a new enemy. We cannot rest upon the laurels of our victory in the Mandelorian Wars, and hope that what brought us victory then will bring us victory now.  This is not a new enemy. It is the eternal enemy of the Republic with a new face. They have taken that which is good and valued in our culture, turned it on its head, and now seek our destruction. They are already an evil empire, and they seek dominion all over the galaxy. Already in their blitzkrieg they have conquered three systems, overrunning and annihilating the defenses of those rim worlds. After the recent war we have sought rest, reprieve, and the hope of a new beginning. However, we must now steel ourselves to what will soon be a full onslaught of Sith battle fleets. Decimated as it was in the last war, our military is not ready to fight a full-scale war at this level. The entire structure of our thinking must change. We must use every slight advantage that we have, mobilize every resource, tap every tactical and strategic possibility."

Dr. Ned'le looked out at the bored audience. They see this as a series of small skirmishes on the rim, not as prelude to a war, he thought. They are too far removed from what is happening. He knew that most of these war generals only knew the Mandelorian War through AI produced war games and holovid projectors. Only one of the dozen men that sat before him in comfortable padded chairs knew the horrors of an actual battle.

"There exists in our society a certain socioeconomic stratum that is unrecognized in official circles. A stratum that we nevertheless all know exists. Below the shining edifices and the gleaming domes and the busy skyports of our great cities lies a literal underworld inhabited by the outcasts of social law. In normal times, this fringe causes only minor harm to the finances of a city and its inhabitants. In times of war, this segment has the potential to leach away time, effort, and manpower to the benefit of our enemies."

The generals shifted uncomfortably. Was this turning into another lecture on social morality? Perhaps this Twelik was suggesting a new method of law enforcement. But what did this have to do with these breakaway Jedi? Granted, the Doctor was gifted at drafting military policy, but he had only been a marginal engineer. His policy papers, while they generally made it out of Committee and usually were approved by the Council, were always full of rambling philosophical rubbish.

"However, we should resist the impulse to categorically label these citizens - for they are citizens of the Republic - as necessarily detrimental to our society. For these people have existed in a brutal environment that would soon destroy most of those in this room. Why should we call these people enemies when they are no less than a powerful, untapped resource?"

One of the generals yawned. These people will be the death of us all, Dr. Ned'le thought. He continued with his lecture, knowing that he was wasting his time.

II

The holographic projection of Ric's Cafe was shut off during the day. At night it would blink hypnotically, struggling against the other shop signs like a young tree stretching for light under a forest canopy. Dar lifted the greasy bowl of soup to his lips and sipped slowly. He was trying to conceal the tremble in his hands from the cocaine high he was coming off of. He wanted to know what this topsider had to say. He had been offered a meal on condition that he would "talk". Whether this meant meaningless conversation, a solicitation to be an informant, or something more sinister Dar didn't know. He peered at the Twelik over the bowl. Although he had dressed down to visit the ground, wearing a faded and dirty sweatshirt, nobody could have been fooled. He's probably wearing the best micropore monoweave money and influence he can buy. With his other hand Dar fingered the vibroknife he kept under his loose shirt. He didn't have any power cells for it, but it was still sharp enough to slice a man's throat. The Twelik was saying something.

"...so I figured that maybe I could come down here and that uh... maybe someone could fix it." An object was on the table, flat but small enough to be held easily by one hand. A datapad.

"And you want me to fix it?" asked Dar. Hoping that he had not lost too much of the conversation.

"Well, yes. Like I was explaining, I dropped it and then accidentally stepped on it, you know."

Dar looked at the pad. Outwardly it seemed fine, but when he tried to power it up nothing happened. He shrugged. "Fifty credits up front, and then another fifty when I'm done. Plus expenses. A hundred up front then. And I only take unregistered cred chips." The Twelik blinked. For some reason he seemed surprised, and Dar didn't think it was because he was asking for anonymous payment. Although not technically illegal, if a cop found someone dealing with anonymous chips it was a guaranteed ride down to the station for an "interview".

"Well. Uh. Very well. I guess we have a deal," the Twelik stammered. He dug into his pockets and pulled out a small silicon wafer. "This should take care of it. When do you expect that it will be done?"

"Come back tomorrow. It'll be done." Dar replied.

The Twelik got up, paid for the food (in registered creds), and left. He gave Dar one last backward glance as he went out.


III

Dar was sitting in an alley behind the cafe. The wall was pockmarked with half repaired holes from the fight a couple years back. The delicate balance of powers of the street had been broken and there had been a big fight, with big weapons. Big lasers, and explosives too. It lasted only seconds before nearly all the combatants were dead or too crippled to carry on. Marty, one of his friends, had been caught in the crossfire. The lower part of his body had been blown completely away. Dar shuddered. It had been a gruesome sight. He had made off nicely though with a heavy blaster rifle. He had had to disable its protective systems and remove its identifiers of course, but that only took a few hours' time. He made a lot of money off the sale, but more importantly he had earned the respect necessary to be a part of the underworld community.

The covers of the pad easily slid off when Dar pushed his magprobe against them. He poked around inside for a few minutes with his microview. He muttered to himself, "Nothing snapped. Nanoprocessor all banged up. But that couldn't happen by just stepping on it. Looks like someone jammed something in there and intentionally busted some stuff." He wore a perplexed expression on his face. *what's going on here?* He put the covers back on. "Glayne," he said aloud. "Glayne will know."

Although Glayne had started his life as a street punk in much the same manner that Dar had, he now owned a semilegal establishment that dealt in electronics. He still acted as a fence for data or stolen equipment or anything else. Although he shied away from anything too illegal or too dangerous, he had still contacts in more systems than Dar had ever even heard of. It was suspected that he had a working relationship with a cop or two, but that was fine because they rarely came down to ground level anyway.


IV


Dar pushed his thumb against the pad on the rear entrance. The door opened and he walked through. He found Glayne in the back of his shop, bent over the internal organs of some interactive entertainment device spilling over the workbench. Glayne seemed to be taking it apart one component at a time.

"Come to jack in and surf?" he asked without looking up.

"Nah. Maybe later. I got some biz. Need your gear. Something big."

"Fine," Glayne said. "Usual rates."

Dar settled himself down at one of the workbenches. Glayne had the best electronic diagnostic and repair equipment that could be found anywhere outside of a megacorp. He figured that there was at least fifteen million credits worth in this room alone. Dar put in his headphones and began to work.

It took Dar less than three hours to repair the cracked nanoprossesor chassis and rewire the switcher. “Now the real fun begins,” he thought. He jacked Glayne's Colossus III cyberdeck into the datapad, and then jacked himself into the cyberdeck. He switched it on, and instantly Dar’s view of the workroom disappeared, and was replaced by a steel grey sky with a red tinted horizon. Dar couldn’t tell if he was on the ground or floating above it, but that didn’t matter because in the sensory hallucination that was the interface, Dar didn’t even have a body. There were bright glowing globes all around him, the different files and programs visually delineated by color, size, intensity, and a host of other subtleties that an experienced decker could easily interpret at a glance. “These GUIs on datapads are always so dull,” Dar thought. “Oh well, it’s not like these were made to be interfaced with a deck anyway except by sysadmins. And hackers, of course.” He smiled wryly, or at least he thought it. Whether or not his near comatose body in the real world was smiling as well he didn’t know.
Dar exlored the datapad’s files for an hour, getting used to its capabilities and its general setup. He then moved towards the data registry files. He wanted to find out who this Twelik was, and why he wanted to hire a street kid to fix his datapad when it was probably still under warranty from the factory. As he grew closer to the light green globe, he noticed intracate symbols of an unknown language all around it, intertwining themselves with the wisps of vapor that seemed to hover over its surface. He tried to enter the globe and was denied. He tried a few standard cracks against it, but the globe stood steady as if he had done nothing.
Dar jacked out. He was frowning. What was going on here? This was no half-assed attempt by a computer rookie to hide a couple of pornographic images from his wife. This felt more like an encrypted datalock than a simple OS based password program.
“Hey Glayne, you got a skel program?” Dar asked.
Glayne looked up from the screen where he was now writing computer code. “A skeleton key? For a datapad? Are you sure that thing’s running a datalock?”
“No,” Dar replied, “but it feels like one. It’s similar to that datalock we hit when we made that pass on the Correlian Fleet’s server. Anyway your deck’s interpreting the data stream from it in a similar way.”
Glayne reached over to another deck, pulled out a cartridge from a slot and handed it to Dar. “Here you go, but if that’s a government datapad, it could be wired for remote communication if you trip any alarms. Have you checked for any wireless connection software it might have?”
“Yes, but I’ll check again. You might want to hit your broadband screamer just in case though.” Dar slotted the ROM into his cyberdeck and jacked back in. He had to find out what was going on.



V


Dar relaxed against the worn seat in Ric’s Cafe. He was high on some amphetamine he had just gotten from a prostitute down the street. He had traded her the account numbers and passwords of her pimp for the four hypos. He had warned her about using those data without the proper precautions, but she didn’t seem to care. He was smiling foolishly. Glayne sat across from him, eating something. The cafe was now full with hookers, drunks, smugglers, and other lowlifes. Dar tried to remember the word for whatever it was that Glayne was eating, but the thought couldn’t form in his tweaked brain. Dar laughed aloud at his own condition.
“You want some?” Dar slurred. “I’ve got plenty more. You can have one if you are a good boy.” Dar laughed again.
Glayne glared at him over his steak. “You know I don’t use anymore. You shouldn’t either. Prolonged use of any neurostimulant – or depressant, or narcotic, or whatever - eventually dulls the synapses and slows your brain’s processing of the net. That’ll slow you down by a factor of three or more in cyberspace. You’ve got far too much potential-”
Dar cut him off. “Not the “P” word again!” If he weren’t stoned, he might be angry at Glayne for giving him a lecture, however well intended. It was hard to be angry while stoned though. “Anyway, we need to go over the plan for tomorrow. I forgot what we’re doing.”
Glayne sighed. “Alright. I’ll explain again. And I’m sure I’ll explain it one more time tomorrow when you’ve come down off your high.
“Tomorrow you’ll take a cab and land on the Strategic Defence Council’s headquarters. You’ll walk in to the General Office lobby, hand the guard the security pass I made you, and tell him it’s not letting you in. He’ll ask you for your temporary access code. Thanks to your cracking ability and the stupidity of a Twelik to trust too much in a Datalock, you’ll give him what he wants. You’ll be granted entry in to the secured portion of the building. You have the schematics on the datapad, and you know exactly where the Twelik’s office is. You’ll go there and have a nice talk about you fixing his datapad, and ask him what he’s willing to pay for its "repair". He will obviously be somewhat more generous than the average customer at an electronics repair shop. Ask for fifty thousand. You probably won't get it, but you can haggle from there. You get the creds on an anonymous chip, and leave. I’ll be listening in on you with a hidden transmitter, and I’ll be standing by to hack the building’s systems if there are any problems. If there are, I’ll make everything go screwy, you’ll get out and get into a different cab that will be waiting for you. Easy op for easy money. Couldn’t be better than that.”
“But are you sure the transmitter you made won’t be detected?” Dar asked, now suffering slightly from drug-induced paranoid psychosis. “And remember, this is a government installation. What if they just decide to shoot me?”
“The transmitter is absolutely undetectable,” Glayne replied, “even by the positronic diffraction machine and nanoreceptors the building uses. And as for getting shot, well I guarantee that they’ll want to keep you alive for questioning just to make sure you didn’t make and distribute all that nice and juicy infomation you got off that pad.”
“Great. That means the bastards will torture me to get your name. Well, in that case you have nothing to worry about. I won’t tell them anything.” Dar grinned.
Glayne smiled. “Right.”

VI

The op went as planned. Dar went in smooth as a whore’s thigh, and came out even smoother. And richer too. He left a Twelik sweating profusely in his office, wondering if he had just succeeded or failed in his experiment.
“I hate it when I’m always right,” Dr. Nedle thought.
An hour later, Nedle was in the office of his the Clandestine Operations Supervisor, General Hind. Nedle walked in with a smile.
“You know that 50,000 credits you budgeted for my exploratory study in the feasability of the access to and harnessing of the subcriminal social stratum of our society?” he asked. “It’s already been spent. Well spent, I might add. We found Dar, the hacker we were looking for.”
The general looked up from his desk. “Who’s Dar?,” he asked. “I thought we were looking for a doctor named Neo Poso.”
“Dr. Neo Poso? Yes, the Federal Security Agency thought they were looking for him too. He’s the one that hacked into their cryptography site and answered some of their unanswered questions of probability physics. The hacker/mathematician signed his name as Dr. Neo Poso. Problem is, he doesn’t exist. Never has. The FSA found that there was a man by that name teaching at the Technical University of Northern Coruscant. After the FSA conducted a thourough search of the university, they decided that Dr. Neo Poso never even existed. Seems like his records were forged. And were not talking about someone hacking into the universitie's site and creating a false bio. We're talking records in literally hundreds of different places. Places where Dr. Neo Poso has lived, places he went to school, people he knew, papers he wrote, and so on. It was obvious that we were dealing with a very skilled hacker. That’s where I stepped in. Someone of the skill should be put to good use. So I used my street contacts, did some research. To make a very long story short, I found our genius living in a warehouse borrowed from an electronics dealer named Glayne Demori. At least I think this is our genius. He’s done better than I thought so far, but now I’m going to take him out to really test his abilities.”
The general frowned. "But a criminal with these abilities that you speak of, who can do all these things... Shouldn't we be more careful? Doesn't he belong locked up somewhere?"
"I don't think so," Dr. Nedle said. "That Dar is in fact a criminal I have no doubt. However, I don't think that his intentions are diabolical. On the contrary, I believe that although he is a troublemaker, generally he will be completely willing to help the Republic in our time of need. Maybe he won't do it for free, but if assinged a duty I think he will discharge it to the fullest of his abilities. Of course, he'll need to be tested first and examined by our doctors and the Jedi, but soon I think that we will wonder what we ever did without him."
“Explain,” the general said.
For the next five hours, Dr. Nedle explained his plan and how it would fit into the overall strategic goal of the Republic.


VII

Dar put his faded winter sweatshirt on top of the rest of his belongings and closed the suitcase. It was a nice case, provided to him for free by the government. It has an electronic lockpad on it and titanium maglocks. He guessed it was worth at least 5,000 credits, and the total value of what he was putting in there was probably worth less than 2,000. Dar thought it was ironic, but he wasn’t about to complain.
“You’re an idiot,” Glayne said for the hundredth time. “How can you possibly trust these people after you extorted money from them? And are you forgetting that they want to take you to a world that was assaulted by Sith forces? It’s crazy. It’s almost like you want to get killed.”
Dar grinned. He was high again. Or maybe still high. He didn’t know. “Aw come on. You’re getting boring in your old age. All I do is go there, hack into their mainframes, and leave. Just because the people who knew the code are dead doesn’t mean that all those data should remain hidden. Besides, the Sith have moved on, and you’re always saying that I should get out of here and do something with my life.”
"You're high again, Dar." Ok, I guess I am high again, Dar thought. He laughed out loud. Glayne gave him a strange look, but continued. "Listen to me. This government person wants you to go to a world that was destroyed by the Sith. We're not talking a little destruction here and there. The entire planet was bombed to practically total annihiliation. There won't be much left. It will be stressful, it will be dirty, it will be dangerous. This isn't anything like you've ever been through before. This isn't a net run, or a drug deal gone bad on the corner. There are probably the remnants of Sith soldiers on the planet, and they won't be very happy to see a Federation net jockey poking around. If they see you, they'll kill you. This is just a government attempt to use your talent."
Dar frowned. His mind had cleared somewhat. That was a bad sign. Although it meant that he could speak with Glanye in a more rational manner, it also meant his high was wearing off. "The higher the high, the lower you fall," Dar thought to himself grimly. He wondered how much Amphezine he still had in that prescription bottle he bought the day before. "Look Glayne. I realize that there will be dangers involved. However, there is an unimaginable amount of data stored on that planet that probably survived. And not just data of who was born when or who wrote what books. There will be records of Sith movements, Sith tactics, Sith equipment. Usefull data that will help the Republic win this war. It's not like the two of us have ever been bedfellows with the government, but if the Republic loses this war, then we're all screwed. Maybe I am being used, but so what? You always say that I ought to apply my talent to something useful, and if this isn't useful, what is? Net runs against megacorps to burn them of data? Going out on the street to get my next fix? Hanging around your place trying to figure out how to make my deck faster and more powerful? This will be my chance to do something to benefit everybody, not just me."
Glanye sighed, looking out the window. "No. The future of your life is not here on the streets. I just don't want your life to end at the muzzle of a rifle or with the flash of an explosion." Dar opened his mouth to say something, but Glayne cut him off. "Your mind is made up. Go with this Twelik. Do what he wants you to do, and help in the way you've been gifted. Best of luck to you."
They both stood and walked towards the door. They shook hands in a quick, awkward way. Dar turned around and walked out the building, headed towards the starport. It would be years before they would see each other again.




IX

The medical droid implanted the chip slowly, with mechanically perfect precision. Dar felt it connect with the trodes inside his implant, and the pain cascaded down his spine like liquid plasma, burning cold into his nerves and down to the tips of his capillaries. Dar tried to scream his anger and pain, but he felt a smile creep slowly onto his face.



X

Glayne opened the door to his shop and went inside. It had been a good day. Not only had his attorneys secured his patent for a new molybdenum substructural coating that allowed electrons to pass at a three percent faster rate than normal molybdenum, but he had also successfully penetrated into the core of Metrotech’s R&D division. Although he now made more money doing legitimate business, Glayne still enjoyed the occasional flirt with the more dangerous element of technology. It was purely for the thrill. He hadn’t even stolen any data from Metrotech, but instead had replaced most of the non-critical files with some dirty limericks. It was all very amusing.
As he walked up the stairs, one of Glayne’s implants automatically began running a security protocol. It accessed the buildings systems wirelessly, looking for anomalies. It found one: somebody had used a legitimate password to enter Glayne’s workshop, but the specific password used had somehow gone unlogged. Furthermore, the door to the workshop had only been opened once, which meant the intruder was still inside.
It took only microseconds for the program to work its boolean algebra and inform Glayne what it had found. Glayne froze. He accessed the live feed from his security cameras, looking from room to room to find the intruder. He found him in one of the back storage rooms, sitting on a crate, facing the wall. Glayne scanned him using x-ray, UV, IR, and chemical detectors. Finding nothing, Glayne continued on up the stairs, pulling a hood over his head and drawing a heavy blaster. Normally he would have his five-man security team confront this individual, but he was unarmed, and besides, it had been some time since Glayne had drawn a weapon. The handle of the holdout blaster pistol felt smooth and comfortable in his hand. He told the computer to place the building in an emergency condition. As soon as Glayne arrived at the top of the stairs he crouched low, and headed towards the storage room. The door was cracked open; a piece of scrap metal had been placed in the way of the closing mechanism. Glayne again looked at the intruder through the eyes of his security cameras; he had not moved at all. Glayne thought instructions to the building's computers to open the door. They sprung open so quickly it was as if they simply disappeared completely.  Glayne rushed in, aiming his weapon. The pistol electronicly superimposed the reticle onto the back of the intruder's head.
The intruder had not moved. It was as if he had not even heard Glayne's entrance.
"Get up, slowly," Glayne barked.
The intruder complied, getting to his feet in a slow mechanical manner and raising his hands. He was thin, wearing a dirty grey sweater and torn black pants. "Turn around, slowly," Glayne told him. Again, he did exactly as told, turning slowly. As he turned, Glayne felt a shock as he recognized who he was looking at. Dar was standing in front of him, grinning like an idiot.
"Hey bud," Dar said happily. "How you been?"
Glayne lowered his pistol only slightly. It looked like Dar, it sounded like Dar, but Glanye still felt as if there were something very wrong. He began to give his computer instructions to try to find out if this was actually Dar. Glayne didn't have time to give the computer any good ideas of exactly how that could be done. There were no camera angles to get a good shot of his retinas, and obviously Dar wasn't touching a DNA scanpad. The IA began to work on the problem.
"Good," Glayne eventually said. "How have you been?"
"Fine." There was a moment of awkward silence. With one eye Glayne was watching his AI's progress. It was sorting through input information, sifting through the data. With the other eye he was watching Dar. The reticle was now on Dar's leg.


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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Better Quell Jorel on Mon Sep 29, 2014 4:35 pm

This is a short story I recently discovered on my computer. I haven't looked at this file in years, and frankly barely remember writing it. The file registry says that it was created in 2007. It's clearly an unfinished background story intended for a character in Alex's Star Wars game. I am (humbly) impressed by it, and was impressed by my own prose.

I would agree. I think this is probably the best character bio you've written aside from the long ballad of Casey.
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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Casey on Wed Oct 01, 2014 9:23 pm

Thank you. That's quite a compliment coming from another writer. The style and content is something of a plagiarism of William Gibson, but I think it worked out quite well. I'm actually glad I never got a chance to play him.



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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Better Quell Jorel on Sat Oct 04, 2014 11:29 pm

And here is the origin story of everyone's favorite denizen of ultra heroism--the Masked Hammer of Justice.



Alexander Nemos, a man with no preivious experience to unusual fortune found his way into that inner circle of the extraordinary by these circumstances. As a young lad with four years of a stirctly liberal University education behind, young Alex began an uncertain hunt that would lead him to a career in which he like most young people had no clue how to accomplish. To pass the time until his decision he worked as a full time shoe salesman which earned him a meager ammount of savings so that he could go out and pile his apartment to the ceiling with comic books and Japanese Animation. One fateful evening however, a night of tubulent storms the likes of which had never been seen before, Alex sat at home reading the first issue of one of his old favorites, The Masked Avenger of Justice. As he absorbed the story of the making of the superhero’s powers, a freak bolt of lightning ripped through the sky and as luck would have it, right into the living room wherein Alex sat. In that breif instant, that strange otherwordly flash of light created a nexus between space and time whereupon young Nemos and his comic both were taken. Awaking a while afterward young Alex found himself on the strets in a world very dissimliar to his own, yet stikingly famliiar for some reason. As he walked down deserted roads trying to bear himself he heard a passerby shout something and melodramtically point at the sky. Shielding his eyes from the morning sun he saw coming out of the horizon a figure which turned out to be none other than his superhero and idol, The Masked Avenger of Justtice! For reasons unknown to either himself or human science, Alexander Nemos had bridged the veil of fantasy by being plummeted into the world of his favorite superhero.
From the moment of that realization onward, Nemos thought of a brilliant plan. It appeared that time in this strange reality pocket acted like a broken record, the surroundings would start and with the adventures of The Avenger and end in his triumph, yet at the point of the ending the cycle would loop to the beginning and start anew, everythiing that is except for Alex who retained his memory of the transtition perfectly.
Thusly the plan he thought was simple enough. Knowing that the making of his superhero would be by a alien blue gem found from the hulk of rotting spacecraft, Nemos set about to make that power his own. As the time loop continued from begining to end and back once more, Nemos pinpointed the exact place of the alien space crash and also the time neccesary to steal into it and steal its prize before anyone else, including his proto superhero, now normal human rival. Playing thusly young Alexander Nemos spent his time harnessing his new powers and with a little time and practice was able to play out the events of his comic world to the final end. On completion of the issue as it occured, though with him as the super of the day, the comic world ceased to be and Alex found himself once more sitting in his own apartment. On inspecting a nearby calender he found out that one and a half years had passed since his departure into the world of the comic realm!
Passing his long absense off as a solitary journey to cleanse his inner vessel, Nemos was once again able to work once more as a shoe salesman at Dillards with a new identity to hide and new surprises which entered into the spotlight of his life. The woman of his dreams, Nobuko Nizaki, an employee of the same department store, is the only one is seems who can make Alex’s dreams of romance come to fruitiion, yet such things not so easily gotten when she doesn’t even know he exists, coupled by the problem of a spunky though cute childhood friend, Naru Amano, whose every waking moment seems to be devoted to taunting him like a big brother or something. As if things could not already worsen, a certain fellow with a camera, a Skip Marsdon, came looking in the store insiting there was a superhero inside as he noticed a human fall from the sky and enter. To complicate things in asking questions the young investigator and photogpaher was able to charm his way into asking Ms. Nizaki out to dinner with him! The life of Alexander Nemos goes in such a fashion, underneath it all transforming in the blink of an eye from a harmless shoe salesman to the mighty Masked Hammer of Justice!

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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Casey on Mon Oct 06, 2014 6:36 pm

Hmmm... A shoe salesman with a 4 year liberal arts degree?


Semi-autobiographical?


Wink
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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Better Quell Jorel on Wed Oct 08, 2014 10:28 pm

Hmmm... A shoe salesman with a 4 year liberal arts degree?


Semi-autobiographical?

More than you will ever know.
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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Casey on Tue Nov 25, 2014 8:49 pm

A continuation of the last chapter's story:


The crashing and banging continued in the medical bay. Dr. Krinaytsyu was doing a good job making himself at home. He had removed all of the equipment in the bay that wasn't bolted down, and most of it that had been. He had been conversing with Lysander for over a day about the technical aspects of existing machines normally used for planetary expiditions that could be modified to detect sentient pathogenic life. Despite Casey's advanced degree in Xenobiology, almost all of the discussion was completely beyond his comprehension.

He sat in the lounge with Garreth and Lisa. They were reenacting their eternal and interminable discussion about what to do next.

"Every time I tell someone who I am they try to kill me," grumbled Lisa. "We should just go back to Capital, and come back with a few batrons of Tigresses and a couple hundred divisions of Marines."

Garreth sniffed the currents of air coming from the kitchen. Brother Trevor was cooking. Garreth's tail, with a mind of its own, started wagging. "Well, uh, if we did that then it'd be all over by the time we got back." Garreth said. "And besides, we'd probably never get there anyways. Something would go wrong, we'd probably misjump again and be back where we started."

The cigar Casey was smoking was absolutely wonderful, filling the lounge with a sweet smell. He had found a good dealer in the last star system they had been in, Mercury, and had bought three boxes. He exhaled a thick blue cloud of whirling fumes, watching the wisps curl over each other and rise to the ceiling.

"Delphine," he said. "The Duchess. She's our best bet. Maybe our only bet. Her loyalty to your uncle is unquestionable, if she hasn't been infected by the Phage, that is." Casey had helped Lisa in her exhaustive research on all the notable nobility on Mora. They had come to the tentative conclusion that the Duchess still operated on her own free will, and in the best interest of her people and that of the Imperium.

"Yes, but..." Lisa began, but was interrupted by a buzzer at the door. Everone's attention snapped to the monitor. Outside the ship stood a man wearing a uniform of some sort. The three of them exchanged worried glances. Visitors on the St. Francis – and previously, the Endeavor – had been troublesome too often in the past. That there was only one of them this time made no difference.

Eventually Casey sighed. "I guess I'll answer that," he mumbled. He was, after all, the ship's captain.


* * * * *



"Captian Casey Duquette?" the Agent inquired when the airlock opened.

"Yep," was the only response the Captain deigned to give. The agent could tell that this was probably not going to be a friendly visit.

"I am agent Yashiin, of the MSIS – that's the Mora Security Investigative Services," the man added in response to Casey's questioning eyebrow. There was a momentary silence. "I'd like to talk to you and your crew." Another silence. "About what happened the other day at the Holt residence."

Duquette shrugged. "Why don't you come aboard, Agent?"

Following the Captain up the elevator and into the cargo hold, the agent looked around. Instead of the bare utilitarian decking of a Scout ship, the floor was Argentian felt, with inlaid silver thread in geometrical motifs that vaguely resembled the coat of arms of the Imperial family. The ceiling had soft indirect lighting covered by translucent sheet gemstones. The Agent's observations of the ship's opulence were cut short by the appearance of a rather annoyed looking Droyne coming from one of the small side rooms.

"Boyeoyem darasho power requirements ibbigones darbeeyedeo new processor, and jeemisol!" he said to the Captain.

"Just tell Lysander about it, Doctor, and we'll put it on our shopping list." the captain said calmly. "As you can see, we have a guest," he said almost coldly.

Agent Yashiin continued on with Duquette up the tube shaft to the second deck, where he was led into what looked like the crew's area. A small table was set up with some chairs. A sophisticated area holoprojector made the room into a reproduction of a veranda from an ancient Egyptian mansion overlooking the Nile. Down in the fertile fields, farmers gathered crops, children played with animals, and the erudite wandered the flowering gardens and spoke of antediluvian secrets. Agent Yashiin could even feel and smell the dank, musty breeze from the river, and could feel the cool warmth from the sun as it set over the Great Pyramids. If he didn't know he was inside a quite small ship, he would swear this was all real.

The Captain was speaking; Agent Yashiin tore himself away from the grand spectacle. "And I expect you also already know Lisa, as well as the infamous Garreth," he was saying.

"Yes," the agent replied. "Not personally of course, but I do have dossiers on all of you." Duquette indicated a chair to him, and they both sat down.

Agent Yashiin opened a data pad. "I am here, of course, about the catastrophic gravitic failure at the Holt Estate," he began. "Although there were a few who survived, all were already on the landing pad and in their vehicles when the platform went down. All of them, except for you." He looked at the three of them in turn. "I need to find out the details of your visit to Holt's floating isle, why you were there, what you did there, who you talked to, and so on."

"That's all very simple," said Captain Duquette. "We were there simply as for strategic business networking purposes. We spoke to a few business owners, had some hors devours, and then heard the alert that the gravity was about to fail. I was able to call Garreth, my pilot, who was already in our rented limousine, and pulled Lisa and myself outside. Garreth located us, and was able to bring us in safely. That's all there was too it, Agent."

Agent Yashiin frowned. "That's it, as you say. That's quite the incredible tale, the Vargr prepositioned and the two of you ready to jump ship, if I could use that term, at a moment's notice?"

Duquette was staring at the Agent in the most unsettling way. Agent Yashiin remembered that the Captain and the Vargr had murdered tens of thousands of people, and suddenly wondered why he had turned down other agents' offers to assist. He looked nervously at the side arms that all three of them openly carried.

Captain Duquette looked at the Agent icily. "If you have my dossier, you know that I am former S-3, correct? Good. And then you must know that the extensive training in free fall combat techniques makes a falling mansion looking like a walk in the park. And you also know that Garreth is an Expert certified combat pilot who was previously on loan to the Navy to teach them how to fly their ships correctly. The only incredible thing about this tale is why you're here, since you already know so much, it hardly seems possible that we could provide any illumination on the subject."

The Captain sat back in his chair in a seeming act of finality. Behind him the palm trees swayed in the evening breeze. A harpist in the streets sang melodically while a few passers by dropped coins at his feet. Lights from oil lamps were starting to appear in the windows of some of the homes in the village. An Egyptian warrior in full battle dress walked past as he patrolled the quieting streets.

"I, ah, I had hoped to interview you all individually here," the Agent said, almost meekly.

"Impossible," retorted Duquette. "I have given you my statement. My crew has nothing further to add."

Agent Yashiin looked again at the three of them; all were now staring back at him, almost with open hostility. He rose to his feet.

"Captain Duquette," he began, trying to regain his bravery, "unless and until you cooperate with the investigative authority of the MSIS, I have no choice but to put a hold on your ship. You can either willingly assist us with the inquiry into dozens of deaths, or you can assist unwillingly. The choice is yours."

Casey leaned towards the agent,. "I'm very familiar with Mora's methodology of information gathering," he said. "And I assure you, the lesson had been very painfully learned. Let me show you the way out."
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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Better Quell Jorel on Tue Nov 25, 2014 9:56 pm

Down in the fertile fields, farmers gathered crops, children played with animals, and the erudite wandered the flowering gardens and spoke of antediluvian secrets.

Oh, those crazy erudites. Wandering through verdant fields with nothing better to do than speak forbidden secrets and annoy small children with puppies.

That's the life.
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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Better Quell Jorel on Tue Nov 25, 2014 10:04 pm

Here is a character bio for one of Alex's fantasy games. His master plan was to have all the players in the group make characters that he would use as our arch rivals or something. I guess Alex must have had a change of heart because these characters never came into play. The character may be long gone, but the character's origin story survives.


Once in the great world on small island to the north there lived a small girl that shared the island’s name and trial........
Her name was Kyddra and she unlike most children was one who found herself without knowing the origins of her family. What she did know was that she once lived on a small farm of orphans on the outskirts of the holy city of Renlos during a time when that part of the land had known nothing but peace for centuries. Those times on the farm with no one but her fellows to play with running through fields and forests with the winds at their backs were the only times left untarnished by worry in the girl’s mind. It was during that time that she was truly herself without the burden of reality. So the better part of her childhood passed away.
Yet there was talk among the grown ups of new nightmares besides those told to the little ones to scare them into bed. Talk of real shadow began as simple whisperings and grew to alarming intensity in the girl’s ears, yet she took no real heed of their warning for they were only stories and shadows after all, weren’t they?
The shadows of darkness though took their time to form and shape themselves, but they did come and that changed the young girl’s course forever. During a night in which she peacefully slept, the sounds of death and fire suddenly shot forth from the night’s sky, and in the instants of slowing reality, fire leapt through windows and life became mere silhouettes played against a raging sea of fire. As the frightened girl ran through the streets those black figures fell prey to creatures of darker pitch and twisted in agony as they were destroyed and taken. Carried on the breezes that sustained her in happier days, she managed to slip unnoticed to the outside, perhaps the only small survivor of that holocaust that happened in a flash of fire and was silenced as quickly.
She did not know for how long she ran, only that it drained her to the soul until there was nothing left to call upon. There was a road which lead to a larger city called Renlos, but in her rush she did not know whether it was to Renlos that she ran. Exhausted the young girl fell at the footstep of a small house and fell into death’s sleep.
But death did not entirely take her that day. She awoke in a place that seemed warmer and further from the ravages her small mind endured and suffered. As providence sometimes plays it’s merciful hand in one’s favor, Kyddra the young girl found herself in the house of a lone man and merchant who named himself Edmundy Ashtears. It was he that had found the young girl on the doorstep of his abode and had taken her in. He listened to the girl’s tale and decided that he would take the child under his own wing as his daughter though he had never married. Secretly his soul cried that one young and pretty as she should not be allowed to suffer so. Thus it came to be that Kyddra took on the name of Ashtears to her own.
Edmundy took the child to his own bosom as if she were his own daughter. He taught her everything he knew from his business in the mercantile industry to how he managed his domestic affairs and a secret that none knew save himself. Apparently before his life as merchant Edmundy had indulged in the craft of thievery, having belonged to and ranked among the top of the secret guild he belonged to. Yet a conflict of conscious had convinced the man otherwise concerning of the pursuits of life, so he left that old life to try the life of a simple merchant. Thus he impressed upon the young girl all of his know-how and knowledge which included the a few tricks in the arts of magery which met with avid approval on the part of young Kyddra. She was taught to never use such skills unless they would help her to survive the black holocaust that was sure to come to Renlos in its time. Years past and the young bud began to bloom amid the past trials of life having never forgot nobility.
There was another trial for the red flower though. On a given day Edmundy had her sent away while he settled all accounts for that year. It was given that she would stay at a given place in the city and from there would receive word that he had done his work as happened every year. Kyddra was sent to her abode and she waited diligently for a reply, yet no reply came even when the account was used up and she could no longer stay. Fearing the worst she came down from the city proper walking all night in finery to the front door step of the place that she called her own. It no longer stood, the house of Ashtears had been burned to the ground on account of those dark shadows that had followed her it seemed even here. Standing in the midst of a hulk that no longer breathed domestic air she took the name of her benefactor and swore her vengeance even as the tears of her face dropped down in no uncertain amounts and mixed into the blackened ash of the estate now leveled to the ground.
But the poor tale of the starfated girl has only now begun.........

Kyddra Ashtears is a young girl of about sixteen years of age with a fair, nearly pinkish skin complexion. She sports a beautiful visage of an oval face trophied by a long mane of glittering gold blond hair and crystal clear blue eyes. She stands below average height. As far as skill she has been trained briefly in a few of the arts of fire magery and possesses a great deal of thievery skills, though she does not account herself a thief in its understood sense. She would much rather utilize her skills to further her own causes than for any guild of thievery. Her goals are first and foremost to destroy the horrid armies of darkness that killed her only two families in life and set their painful memories in life to rest. But the ghosts of the past do not die so easily as she is hunted by something that would see her join the fate she had escaped two times before............
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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Better Quell Jorel on Tue Nov 25, 2014 10:15 pm

But the ghosts of the past do not die so easily as she is hunted by something that would see her join the fate she had escaped two times before............

Ohhh. Ghosts and shadows hunt me wherever I go. I must have made this story on the fly for it adheres to nearly every bad fantasy cliche in the book. And old merchants finding young girls lying in the road and raising them in the absence of a wife or mother figure? That's creepy stuff. Twisted Evil affraid
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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Casey on Wed Nov 26, 2014 6:02 pm

Alpha Centauri wrote:But the ghosts of the past do not die so easily....


Ok, raise your hand if you think it's creepy that you used a phrase in a character background written years ago that I've never read in a campaign that I never played, and then posted that story in a thread titled with that same phrase that I began years later.

affraid



So anyway, who was it that was chasing her and why?
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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Better Quell Jorel on Wed Nov 26, 2014 10:47 pm

So anyway, who was it that was chasing her and why?

You know, the details of that are kind of vague. There was some dark force of evil we unleashed on the land and Alex teased us about how it was only part of a far greater army. Of course, we never really ran into this army. But the phantom army is what I based that character story on.
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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Casey on Sat Nov 29, 2014 1:34 pm

Sir Malcolm de Lesselyn's background story


“And so it can be seen, that with the application of a little mystic power, common water can undergo an amazing transmutation, and as often seen in the winter, the water element will coalesce, and take upon itself characteristics commonly found in the earth element, that is, stone.”

The man touched the water in the glass vessel and spoke quietly. The container shattered with a clash, and ice and broken glass clattered to the floor. There was a muttering of approval in the lecture hall. One of the more flamboyant students on the front row leaned forwards and grabbed a chunk of ice and held it aloft, a symbolic and literal prize on such a hot day.

“Behold the power of the Ebon Hand!” the man exclaimed. “Although some might say that calling forth the winter in the heat of summer shows terrifying dominion over the elements, such minor ability is but a trifle compared to the hidden depths of knowledge held by the Order!”

The mage was interrupted by someone speaking in the back of the auditorium. “Master Adept, if ice is but a transmutation of earth and water, as you say, then why doesn't the spell require any knowledge at all about the earth college of magic?”

The instructor looked at the questioner. He was a young man of perhaps twenty years, slouched forward in his seat. If he was at all impressed by the magical demonstration, he did not exhibit it. Rather, he looked rather bored and somewhat disenchanted with the lecture. The mage hoped that he didn't have someone with magical experience in the classroom. He had been chosen for this lecture not because of his thaumaturgical knowledge, but for his theatrical speaking ability.

“Magical properties do not always follow a pattern that can be easily deciphered by the untrained mind,” the Adept replied, trying to be vague. He tried to look at the young man's house crest to see how much he could put him down in front of everyone, but the back of the hall was too dimly lit. The mage decided that with unknown standing, diplomacy was the best bet. “Looking at prerequisite charts and spell tables will not unlock the secrets of the unknowable, just as looking at the ocean will not make a sailor.”

“Jacque d'Anjou seems to think otherwise,” the young man said. “What do you think of his theory that says that instead of water reacting with the essence of earth to make ice, and fire to make steam, that instead waters transmutation is only a measure of itself, and only assisted incidentally by other elemental colleges?”

The mage flushed. He had not bothered to read any of d'Anjou's voluminous books, but he could not lose face in front of these nobles' sons who had come to the city for a day seeking diversion and light education. “And you would trust the blathering words of an idiotic national enemy?” An ad hominem attack was perfect. “The only good thing that has ever gone through a Tucsonite's brain is Icatian steel!”

That comment caused laughter to erupt in the hall, and the Adept knew that he had proven his point, at least to the satisfaction of his audience. The young man, annoyed, stood up and left the hall.

* * * * *

Sir Malcolm walked out of the College of the Ebon Hand, obviously agitated. The scowl on his face replaced its usual genial softness, and his blue eyes flashed angrily.

“Fools,” he said as his servant, Damien, walked towards him. “Ignorant fools. Taking in future nobles and trying to steal their mind is not only repugnant, it's immoral. Unless one was cognizant of general magic theory, that demonstration would seem to be miraculous and not the farce that it is.”

Damien of course, did not know what tomfoolery had happened in there, but that it must have been serious to upset his master's youngest son. “Master Malcolm,” he began, “if Ebon Hand propaganda is not to your liking, remember that you have been invited to a luncheon hosted by the Marquess MacNeacail, of whom...”

Damien's suggestion was rudely cut short by Malcolm. “I just want to be alone right now. I'm going for a walk.”

“Of course, Sir,” was Damien's polite reply. He waited a few moments as he watched Sir Malcolm walk off through the wide boulevard's of the city. He then started following him, leading Malcolm's horse Percival. Although he had been ordered by Malcolm's father, Viscount Bartolf de Lesselyn, to allow Malcolm his autonomy, he had also been ordered to be sure that his son came home safe. With as many cutthroats and “opportunists” as there were in this city, Damien would be sure that he would at least follow the Viscount's second, if not his first, order.

Sir Malcolm calmed down as he strolled among the tree and flower lined streets in the Noble's Quarters. He had heard of the devious nature of the Ebon Hand during his stay in Tuscon, but being told about it seeing it first had were quite different experiences. Still, this section of the city was beautiful, with nobles' urban homes, gardens, and ornamental orchards lining either side of the plaza.

If it were not for the Duke's intervention, Malcolm doubted that his father would have let him continue his Thaumatological education. “Foolish nonsense” and “wasteful squandering” he had told him. However, after the Duke's visit, his father had provided him with every resource necessary to learn more about magic, and had encouraged him in his studies. He continued to share knowledge and information with his counterparts in Tucson.

When Malcolm came out of his reverie, he was in a different part of town. Given the market atmosphere, he figured it was probably the merchant's quarters. A kind of excitement seemed to grow through the crowd, and groups of people seemed to be heading towards the quays, chattering amongst themselves.

“You sir,” Sir Malcolm said to a passing gentleman. “Pray tell me what this to-do is?”

The gentleman bowed his head slightly, acknowledging Malcolm's statement. “My lord, the Princess has arrived at the docks, and will be taken from thence to the Palace. This is why the folk are in a rush.”

“Thank you sir.” Malcolm's heart beat quickly. The Princess! Here in the city? Malcolm thought that she was visiting lands in Stormwind. He wondered what happened to bring her back to the capital so quickly. He hastened his pace to the docks, becoming part of the merry crowd trying to catch at least a glimpse of the Royal Carriage.

As the throngs pressed towards the path that led from the piers to the palace, people stood ten and twelve deep against the road. Whitecloaks were moving up and down the road, making sure it was clear for a rapid passage of the carriage.

Sir Malcolm tried to jostle his way to the front of the line, but apparently none of the excited commoners noticed his badge and colors on his cloak, and he could not pass through. He looked around at a way to get to the front, but as far as he could see there was nothing but a mass of people. Malcolm then spied a tall building, three stories up, next to the road, and he got an idea.

Slipping away from the crowd, he took to the nearly empty back streets, keeping the tall building in sight. When he got there, he opened the rear door and went inside. It seemed to be some sort of warehouse, filled with large barrels. The barrels were leaking some sort of foul smelling liquid at the seams. Gradually he realized that the stench was of naphtha and pitch, combined with some other, alchemical type smell. As Sir Malcolm raced up the stairs, he noticed that every room was crammed full with the same type of barrels.

Malcolm burst through a room facing the street at the top level. He was surprised by the presence of three people in the room. One was clearly a nobleman, well dressed and clean but conspicuously missing his family crest. The others were large men, and as they were moving more of these barrels about they could be mistaken for porters but for the weapons at their side.

The men looked at Malcolm for a fraction of a second. “Who are you?” the nobleman demanded. Malcolm did not answer immediately, and stood motionless for a moment, processing the information. Barrels pitch and naphtha. Alchemy. Princess. The route to the palace.

Malcolm understood. He spoke. “My name is Sir Malcolm, son of the Viscount de Lesselyn. You are under arrest for high treason. Drop your weapons and accompany me to the nearest constable. If you resist I will destroy you.”

The nobleman gave a snort of contempt. “Kill him.”

The two goons moved towards Malcolm. One drew a cudgel, the other a longsword. Before Malcolm could do more than draw his rapier, both men were on him. Malcolm was able to deflect the blow from the cudgel, but was not quick enough to also parry the longsword. Malcolm felt a searing pain tear through his chest, and he fell to the ground. His rapier clattered harmlessly from his grip.

“Finish him,” the nobleman said. As the goon raised his sword, Sir Malcolm remembered the words of the famous Arch-Mage d'Silvus. When asked by a student what magic really was, d'Silvus replied “un mot et un geste” - a word and a gesture.

Malcolm gestured with his bloody hand and spoke a word. White hot flame sprung from his outstretched hand, licking at the liquid leaking from the barrels. The nobleman had only time for a desperate shout.

There was a tremendous explosion.

* * * * *

Malcolm woke. He was lying in a bed somewhere, and had distant memories of pain. There was someone in the room, but his vision was blurry. Malcolm struggled to stand.

The person spoke. “You've been magically healed. However, to be honest with you there was not much to work with, and it took a few days to get you back to normal. You'll need to lie down for some time and regain your strength. You don't mind if I stand though, do you?”

Malcolm's vision cleared. He saw that he was in a white room. He was lying in a corner on a goose down bed. The rest of the room was filled with a large centaur.

“We need to talk,” the centaur said. His voice was stern, and somewhat unpleasant. “Let's begin with what you were doing in that building.”
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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Better Quell Jorel on Sun Nov 30, 2014 10:25 pm

Malcolm's heart beat quickly. The Princess! Here in the city?

The Princess? Here? What's going on? Or is it that the Mayburn sisters are in trouble for the upteenth time?

Malcolm's vision cleared. He saw that he was in a white room. He was lying in a corner on a goose down bed. The rest of the room was filled with a large centaur.

“We need to talk,” the centaur said. His voice was stern, and somewhat unpleasant. “Let's begin with what you were doing in that building.”

"We need to talk," the centaur Centauri began. "The life you think you've lead is a lie. It is because as the other inhabitants of this planet, you have been born into bondage, born within a prison you cannot see or hear. It is a prison for your mind."

And Malcom's mind was officially blown.
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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Casey on Tue Dec 02, 2014 9:16 pm

Here's an out-of-game mostly finished short story written in Eric's dystopian game. I rather like it


The door to the rusty cell creaked open. It had been days, I think, since anyone had bothered to actually open it. Usually they just shoved the nameless slop through the grates, not caring whether or not it touched the floor covered with my own filth.

I had long since ceased to care as well. Had there been a forgetful pleasure in the food, even if it meant a hallucinatory illness, I would have happily eaten it, no matter its origin or condition. But eating only reminded me where I was, and that even in my most Pollyannaish fantasies there was no hope for me.

I had held out as long as I could, but that must have been only a few hours. I could only endure so long against magic spells that made the very nerve cells feel as if hot bamboo slivers were being shoved into them. Hopefully I was silent long enough for the others to get away, to conceal their movements, to take appropriate defensive action. That was how I was taught as a member of the Special Infiltration Group. If any of your comrades are captured alive they will eventually tell their captors everything they know. The only questions you can ask yourself are “How long will he last?” and “Will I be long gone by then?”

I don’t know if David knew the proper protocols. I don’t think I ever told him, and even if I had it would have run out one ear as soon as it had entered the other. Surely Artemis would know. Lester should know them as well, as should Daniel.

I suddenly wondered why I was thinking such gloomy thoughts about other people’s fate. If I was to worry about anyone, I should worry about myself. The door finished swinging open, and I saw a nameless Goon wearing a fine Italian spider silk tuxedo. His artificially augmented limbs were massive, too big for reality. It was as if he were the caricature of the Strong Man who stepped right out of his role as the cartoon sidekick and into my cell.

Another Goon stepped through the door, identical enough to the first for me to mentally dub him Goon Number Two. These were different than my usual visitors: in polite society they would be called Doctors, Physicians, Psychologists, Chemists, and Masters of the Ancient Art. However, as they peeled off my skin and flesh with their torturous spells and chemicals, so was the veneer of respectability covering their true selves stripped away to show the psychopathic and depraved creatures they really were.

“Get up,” Goon Number Two told me in a gravelly voice preprogrammed to inspire fear. No intimidation was necessary, as weeks of behavior modification had removed all ambition of resistance in me. I stood, slowly, as best as my mangled body could obey my equally crippled mind.

Goon Number One placed handcuffs on my swollen wrists, and I felt my already tenuous link with Mana slipping away. I already knew what was going to happen. Although I had stayed as far away from wet work as I could when I worked for Takashima, I had of course heard the stories and was familiar with how they all ended.

“The docks, or the woods?” I whispered, referring to my soon-to-be final resting place. The air rasped on my parched throat like sandpaper on moldy steel.

“The docks,” one of them said.

Emotion washed over me, and to my numbed senses what I felt mostly was relief. Relief that it was over, that soon I would be free of pain. I knew fully well, just as the Goons did, that the DrainCuffs were a superfluity, a solemn prop in a ceremony long played out by the undersides of the whitewashed Corps. There was to be no escape. There could be no escape. Even if they were to release me I couldn’t make it more than a few feet before collapsing. It is said that hope springs eternal, but the well feeding my hope dried up long ago, and I was about to find a new meaning of the word Eternity.

The Goons half carried, half dragged me through the bitter darkness to a waiting car. There was another car there, loaded, presumably, with more Goons. I was non-ceremoniously dumped into its trunk, and moments later the car was moving. It wasn’t long to the docks. They would put a bullet through my brain and shove me into the bay, and I would become just one more statistic on the list of Corporate victims, sacrificed as some sort of scapegoat to appease a faceless exec in a mirrored office.

The car stopped. I didn’t need to prepare myself for the moment. I had done that long ago. Like a child playing chess with a supercomputer, I had known what the end game would be like ever since they moved their first pawn. I was the pawn here, and although I was about to be removed from the game permanently, the game would go on for countless years with nothing but graveyards full of suffering to show for it.

I was again taken out of the car. I could smell the stench of mechanic’s oil mix with the faint freshness of what used to be a pure body of water, now defiled by years of apathy and misuse. The other car full of Goons had already disgorged its occupants, and three of them stood there, looking unnecessarily menacing towards some imaginary threat. There was also an Autobot, smaller then the men at about 4 feet in height, but much broader and loaded with weapons and armor. As I was moved around I saw its swivel, the turret continually pointing at me. It must have been programmed to destroy me should anything happen. I heard a weapon being readied, the dry slide racked as the shrill rails begged to be lubricated, and I was pushed towards the end of the pier.

As I took my first step onto the Permawood plank, my mind was penetrated, like a feather pushing its way into a puddle mixed with blood and dirt.

“Hello Dave,” it said slowly, impersonally. “Don’t worry. Everything will be all right.” The voice was calm, as a young father might sooth and console a child who has just fallen and hurt himself. I should have been annoyed at the banality of what it had to say, given my present circumstances, yet I had ceased to care about my feelings long before I ceased to care about my life.

“Huh?” I grunted philosophically, the Thrasymachus of the Platonic discussion.

“Do not speak aloud,” the voice told me, too calm to be any sort of warning of the obvious danger. “I can hear you well, without speech. Do as your captors bid, for now, yet be ready to do as I tell you.”

Artemis Sendant. Dammit, it has to be Artemis inside my head. Somehow they had assembled an operation to get me. I mentally recoiled at the thought. Fear, for so long banished as a luxury in which I could not afford to indulge, gripped me. I had tantalized myself with this moment of release, hoped for it, waited for it, and to have it snatched from me now in the moment of completion was almost too much for me. I was still walking on the empty pier towards the end of the dock. I looked at the black waters, and wondered if I could slip into them undetected by my friends, and uncaringly by the Goons, and leave everything behind.

“No, Dave, that’s not what you want,” the voice intoned. “You are going to live. The past is over. You are a survivor. We need you. We can’t let you die. All you need to do is help us to help you.”

The simplicity and logic of The Voice were undeniable, and it dug into my soul, inching its way towards the man that I had been. The words found something inside of me. Not much really, nothing that could be called Hope, but something that was almost Defiance. I was still going to die, but maybe some of these bastards were going to go with me.

A semblance of tactical thinking crept into my brain, and I looked around, scanning the environment for weapons, escape routes, everything. There were no boats docked on this pier, which extended about 200 feet into the bay. The closest buildings were in the dockyards, office high-rises and hulking warehouses, black and mysterious in the darkness. The goons had not chosen this place for privacy. They did not really care who saw. They chose it because there was no likely place for an ambush.

I looked down at the water again. Shit, I though. I hate getting wet. I never was a good swimmer.

We had reached the end of the pier. “Kneel down,” Goon Number Two grunted. I complied, yet faced towards him rather than away. A morbid sense of curiosity had overcome me, and I wanted to see what happened. The two Goons were now in front of me. To my left, I saw an enormous crane. Used to load and unload massive cargo, it was a four legged contraption so large it could only be moved around on rails.

I smiled. I had figured it out. It was so simple yet so brilliant it had to work. Except of course I still knew that it wouldn’t, that somehow I would die. But maybe, just maybe, some of my friends would live. I visualized Sergei somewhere on the crane. He must have climbed up there hours ago, perhaps even days ago, carefully selecting his camouflage for this most difficult assignment, stevedores and sailors unaware of his presence as he patiently waited, waited for the opportunity, the one shot that he must be ready for, must be alert for, at all costs.

“Be ready.” My own personal HAL 9000 was back in my head. “Be ready for what comes. Relax. Soon you will be free.” The voice was so certain, so assured, yet even as my fears were calmed I still did not believe that I would be alive ten minutes from now.

Goon Number One racked his weapon again. This was for show, a continuation of the melodrama, as the weapon was already loaded, and an unspent cartridge flew out and made a soft splish as it struck the water.

“Got any last words, bitch?” the Goon asked.

“Yes, I do,” I replied. My voice was still hoarse, but steady. I saw a brief, small flash from the crane.  “Goodbye, motherfucker.”

I closed my eyes. Although nothing would give me more pleasure than to watch a 520 grain .50 caliber bullet work its magic on this asshole, I was too close. There was no need to get blinded by blood and bone fragments.

I felt the impact before I heard it. There were so many sounds packed into such a short time. The thuk of the bullet strike, followed by the ripping apart of the body, and then the whoosh of the bullet. I wasn’t wrong about the gory effects, and I felt as if I were suddenly pummeled by a dozen paintballs, striking my skin with stinging force and then splattering on impact.

I could feel the tingling sensation of a spell being cast on me. It was none too soon. I opened my eyes. Goon Number Two was standing there with wide eyes, but not for long. The whir of the Autobot’s minigun was followed Pavlovianly by a shattered wall of lead cascading over the pier. The Goon was instantly transformed into liquid sprays of gelatin, and the pier shredded into slivers. The Missile Shield that had been cast on me created an eye in the maelstrom, yet my footing disintegrated out from under me, and I fell into the bay.

My normally pathetic swimming was additionally hampered by my handcuffs, but I did not flail about for long before I was grabbed and pulled underneath the water. A short tube was inserted into my mouth, and I began to breathe easily, despite being underwater. An Aqualung, how brilliant. An ExtaHear was then pushed into my ear, and I immediately heard a cacophony of voices.

“Yes yes I got ‘im, but ya gotta do som’in ‘bout that bloody ‘bot!” Lester’s voice screeched in my ears. “It’s gonna figga’ out that we’re in the water and it’s gonna fucking start to dump bloody grenades in after us!”

Sergei’s voice came on next. “Comrade, I have had to change position. I think it best to fire not so many rounds from same spot. I currently exfiltrate to new location. I suggest you do likewise.”

Then Ethereal spoke. “Fortunately for us, this ‘bot uses a multithread wireless comsys for remote piloting. Although its firing controls are located at a higher assembling level, the targeting systems are much less secure  because the firing loop has to be kept at a…”

“Stow it. Just ‘ack the bloody thing already!” Lester again, obviously. Lester begin to place me in some sort of a belt or harness. I assisted him as best I could, cursing that I didn’t stay long enough with Takashima to make it to the underwater training. My limbs felt leaden, and I could see nothing under the water. I felt an explosion nearby.

“I’ve done it!” cried Ethereal. “I’ve inserted an extra protocol measure into its I/O stream. Its targeting system will lag real time events. Just keep moving and you should be fine. Unless, of course, it learns to lead you, or just sprays the area.”

“Bloody ‘ell!” shouted Lester. He was finished with the harness. “Hold on Dave, you’re going for a ride!”
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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Better Quell Jorel on Tue Dec 02, 2014 10:09 pm

The car stopped. I didn’t need to prepare myself for the moment. I had done that long ago. Like a child playing chess with a supercomputer, I had known what the end game would be like ever since they moved their first pawn. I was the pawn here, and although I was about to be removed from the game permanently, the game would go on for countless years with nothing but graveyards full of suffering to show for it.

The ironic thing about this statement is that when you wrote it years ago you were the pawn child playing the game. Now you are the supercomputer.

There was also an Autobot, smaller then the men at about 4 feet in height, but much broader and loaded with weapons and armor. As I was moved around I saw its swivel, the turret continually pointing at me.

Bumblebee was there? Excellent!

“Yes, I do,” I replied. My voice was still hoarse, but steady. I saw a brief, small flash from the crane. “Goodbye, motherfucker.”

Oh, this back story may not be suitable for young viewers. So, make sure your parents are out of the room before you start reading. If you hear them in the hallway, just shout out and say, "I'm wrapping presents!"
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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Casey on Wed Dec 03, 2014 9:17 pm

Alpha Centauri wrote:
The car stopped. I didn’t need to prepare myself for the moment. I had done that long ago. Like a child playing chess with a supercomputer, I had known what the end game would be like ever since they moved their first pawn. I was the pawn here, and although I was about to be removed from the game permanently, the game would go on for countless years with nothing but graveyards full of suffering to show for it.

The ironic thing about this statement is that when you wrote it years ago you were the pawn child playing the game. Now you are the supercomputer.

Fairly true. In the past I used to use chess metaphors. Now that I understand the game so much better I use those metaphors less, it seems.

Alpha Centauri wrote:
There was also an Autobot, smaller then the men at about 4 feet in height, but much broader and loaded with weapons and armor. As I was moved around I saw its swivel, the turret continually pointing at me.

Bumblebee was there? Excellent!

Okay it took me a second to get that Wink  I never was much into Transformers. But, I think the term I used was the one Eric used in his game for combat robots. Or maybe not.

Alpha Centauri wrote:
“Yes, I do,” I replied. My voice was still hoarse, but steady. I saw a brief, small flash from the crane.  “Goodbye, motherfucker.”

Oh, this back story may not be suitable for young viewers. So, make sure your parents are out of the room before you start reading. If you hear them in the hallway, just shout out and say, "I'm wrapping presents!"


Yeah there's some language in this story. Razz However, this paragraph is my favorite. At this point, I can actually feel what Dave felt, see his environment, taste the metallic taste of fear and hope and revenge, his knowing that Sergei must make that shot, would make that shot, because he's never missed before. This paragraph is the link in the chain between living corpse Dave and living hope Dave, not daring to believe in salvation but starting to care. The humility in recognizing that he is not alone, and has never been alone, that everyone in the group must have been working for weeks to make this moment possible, with their only motive that he is one of them, that when they should have left him for dead, they did not, even though they all might pay the ultimate price for this act of defiance against the faceless god that is the unnamed corporation. To me, there is a dignity in Dave's statement, as if he is saying You might win. I might be dead in mere seconds. But I am not you. I am better than you. I lived for what I believed. I dared to try. I regret nothing. For in the moment of my death I died surrounded by true friends. To know this is to live that freedom I sought.
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Re: Ghosts of the past

Post by Better Quell Jorel on Tue Jan 13, 2015 10:23 pm

Here's a story I wrote in the wake of a Champion's game Tom ran a number of years ago. I don't recall why I wrote this. I think I had the kernal of an idea while the game was being played but didn't get around to writing it until after the fact. I showed it to Tom in the hope that it might spark another chapter in the game's play. Tom, however, didn't think much of it. He didn't shoot the idea down directly, but he changed the subject and started talking about something else, which in Tom speak usually meant he didn't want to pursue that game any longer. I mean we only decimated all the villains from the back of the book including the entire Viper organization. How would he not want to run the game anymore?

So, yes, in a tradition that can only belong to Tom, the story's main characters happen to be two young girls. One was an ageless PC our heroes hung out with. The other was the DNPC ward of the character I played. I think by the end of the game she was being turned into a vampire or something by the ageless PC. So, yes, a Tom game through and through.

Anywho, here it goes with comments to follow...





Accessing the personal records of Vico-Ka..........
Accessing............
Found. Loading file #9907-A70010101....
Loading........
File date: 9079-Z12 of the galactic calender; 5113 A.D. of the Sol System Earth Year. Command?..........
Access simutaneous: thought and voice records.......
Acess complete. Download complete. Record ready for replay at Sol Earth Date: June 22; Time 11:55:42 A.M.........

I am alone, adrift amid a sea of stars on a course bound for an unknown country. I search for a place to call my own far from the conflict of present affairs, greed which may put my life in jepardy. Thus my island craft, host, myself, and my menagerie take to the blackest void in hopes that one day it may be filled with more stars and perhaps even places for us to settle and live in peaceful coextistence. If it takes all the time in the universe is of little concern to me. I have lived for 3,500 years and hope to see 10,000 more before my life too is extinguished. I have time to wait and ponder in the meantime.
I refered to my extra passengers as a menagerie, yet as I reflect upon the word I realize it was a poor choice. These things, these lifeforms I keep are more than mere keepsakes, they are the culmination of that which I have observed as the worhtiest lifeforms I associated with in a time not long distant in my mind’s eye. In their day they gave all they had to save their people from complete annilhlation, yet in the end as my people they were destroyed and forgotten, a speicies lost to the flame of its own creative prowess. In an ironic twist of fate their tragedy is also my own, my people after having attained their zenith in terms of biological progression destroyed themselves leaving me, their sole survivor to contemplate their failure to control nature. Ultimately the story of their speicies is mine and following suite I took it upon myself to see that they share, or will share, in the green pastures of paradise when at last they are found.
Of course they have long since died, but through the devices left to me by my people I exceled in the process known among the Earthmen as cloning. With this knowledge I have made copies of their bodies and consciouses along with the complete D.N.A. sequences to every living being I encountered in my brief stay upon their planet. For now they rest in my S-tubes until the day that they may rest with me for the refuge I seek out among the stars.
Their names and deeds are faint, but familiar with the passing of time. Let me think, there was Compact, a man at war with his own capacity for extreme violence in some cases balanced by a greater need for looking after others who suffer. After him came an unfortunate case, Norander, a traveling brush merchant and light swordsman. I confess I never did know much about him other than that he was constantly in a state of needing money. Next came Arc, a human made in the half image of metal, whose quirks orgininated from a combination of the two, but remained a brave dashing soul to the end. Nighthawk, he like Norander never revealed his inner workings to me, yet his silver toungue and quick demenor were always the first to enter frays of discordance. Blast was a man difficult to forget: dressed in home spun suit of bluish crystal, his family were his greatest treasures, that is until the organazation Viper destroyed them and scarred his heart for all time with the ravages of pain and vengance. Lastly, Megan, a female mentalist, appeared concerned with living fast and on the edge, yet in many instances she proved the prime support to which the others clung in times of greatest need.
Never again will I see a group so diversifeid in character and person, but never will I see such diversity put to such unfied good. They through much trial and error found within the will to forge a cause to protect those who could not themselves. That diachomtomy of diversity and working towards a common goal is the essence of the human being. This is probably what intruiges me the most about their peculair species, the tendancy to live with two extremes. My people were conditioned to believe in following only one such extreme and use the other in only rare circumstances, yet they managed to do so on a purely instinctual basis. For that reason alone I envy them as a race and one will emulate that and the other things which make one human. I have encountered many intelligent speicies in my travels, yet none have left such an impression upon me than these and as such they will share in my paradise when I arrive at its shores.
But now I am called to the surface of my island on an urgent matter. According to what my physical self has mentioned, she was in the mood for fish and so sent Teresa53 down to the lake in order to catch themselves lunch and dinner. The fish don’t want to bite today though so Teresa53 has asked me to do her job as I can grab the fish of the lake easily in the grips of my spiritual energy. Teresa, the remains of the only friend my physical form had while on Earth, she through various stages has come to an near immortal status upon the island and shall never die so long as the grass of my island waxes green and fragerant. So long as there are fish to catch and nature with which to commune, then Teresa will live on forever with my other until the time comes for she to wax old and waste away. But that time is far distant yet and we still have many centuries of travel to put behind us.
I only hope we may break from this galaxy before it is realized that I am gone. If anyone of the galactic community were to know about my sudden departure then the conseqences for me would.......
“Why yes, Teresa I would be happy to fish for you.
“Yes I know, some days they bite and on others they swim instead of eat. Don’t worry, tonight I promise that both you and I will dine handsomely on a feast of fish.”
I should get started on the task at hand. Ending this entry........


End of transmission..............




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