Stages of Mystery: The Secret Garden Nightclub

I like fighting games, even if I suck at them. And one of the things I like about fighting games are the stages themselves, even if the majority of the time, they’re either city streets, some cack-handed caricature of a specific culture or a secret underground base.

Still, sometimes music can give me ideas for stages I would like to see in a fighting game, but aren’t going to happen because 1) I have no means to give them form outside of crap prose, on account of being no game designer while also being a shitty artist and 2) No studio in the world is going to give a toss about the random ideas of some random nobody. It’s an unfortunate reality with basis in both common sense and intellectual property law. And I’m not about to be one of those dicks that go around requesting a free commission either, for reasons that should be obvious.

So what are my options? One, really. I blog them, and I hope they prove some form of entertaining read that keeps me feeding this blog with something other than music and rants. And I might not restrict myself to fighting game stages, either. Just don’t expect any attempts at actual game or level design, because that’s not a set of skills I have under my belt. These are purely descriptions of visual themes, along with a link to the music that inspired it, and in some cases I’ve pulled characters from some of my past NaNoWriMo efforts, because I like to think these characters wouldn’t look out of place in a fighting game.

So, to start, here’s one stage, a forested area sitting atop a nightclub:

High above the smoggy streets of coastal Suncaster, the Secret Garden nightclub lives up to its name, for atop this towering venue rests a small oasis of nature, standing out amongst the concrete jungle below. Though a high steel fence circles the garden protects visitors from an untimely fall, considerable efforts have been made to cover it up though the clever placement of plantlife, trees and vines. Efforts to great success, many would say, as it has been proven time and again that it is incredibly difficult, if not completely impossible to spot the artifical barrier.

A large pond resides in the middle of this rooftop realm, with a low island formed at its centre, adorned with grass of a more vibrant shade of green than has been seen out in the wild. Questions have been asked as to the “authenticity” of this grass — is it real? Who knows, but not a single visitor has denied that it feels real. Up above, the midnight sky is clear, and the ancient light of distant stars glitters among stars not seen before nor identified by astronomers. These stars are only ever seen within the confines of the Secret Garden, and appear to hang directly above this place, rather than countless light years away. In fact, some of these stars seem to have been caught in the very trees that circle the island.

To the north of the lake is what can best be described as a throne, formed and twisted from untraceable roots bursting from the ground to form a central seat for the club’s propietor, a diminuitive and young-looking redhead in a formal knee-length party dress adorned with a mixture of emerald and sapphire sequins, its low-cut back providing room for her to spread her colourful, butterfly-like wings as she sips her champagne and watches the crowd form on both sides of her. The people that form this crowd are similarly dressed and armed with a glass of some alcoholic beverage, though each one lacks any features as distinguishing as that of the fairy on the throne. For all anyone can tell, the entirety of this crowd is human, and as much as they are dressed for a formal party, it appears they are also here for a fight.

A fight that is about to occur in the centre of the island ahead. From the night sky above, an object falls, striking one end of the island with the apparent force of a small meteorite and throwing a cloud of dust into the air. The cloud soon fades, and in the resulting tiny crater, a young woman draws her fist from the point of impact and pulls herself into a commanding stance. Though expected to dress in stark contrast to the partywear around her, the girl’s blue t-shirt, black pleated miniskirt and baggy socks that only just reached below the knee seems a far cry from the protective gear one would expect when entering any kind of battle.

“Ladies, Gentlemen!” the fairy calls out as the girl dusts herself off and straightens her silver pigtails. The winged woman’s voice, though high in pitch and dainty even by human standards, booms across the garden by way of undetermined means. “Taking a little time out from fighting the crime that plagues this fine city, the centennial teen, the immortal vigilante, the one and only… Party Crasher!”

The crowd bursts into an almighty roar of cheers and supportive whistles, a positive cry that travels beyond the confines of the garden. At the other end of the island, a man in a long black trenchcoat marches forward, his head shaved completely clear of any hair while at the same time exhibiting a neatly-trimmed beard that extends just beyond his neck, the only thing that serves as any indication of his natural hair colour. As he approaches an equidistant point opposite the white-haired girl, the greatsword that hangs from his back hisses from its scabbard as he casually draws it over his head and brings it down before him in one smooth slice, planting it firmly into the ground by his feet.

“And tonight,” the fairy on the throne declares. “She’ll be facing the calm that brings the storm… Ragequit!”

Another roar arises from the expensively-dressed crowd. The Party Crasher raises her fists while Ragequit takes a moment to crack his neck both ways, along with his knuckles.

“Hope ya enjoy gettin’ yer head stoved under the ground.” the immortal girl calls out to Ragequit, who simply shakes his head as he pulls his sword from the ground.

“Round one, people?” the fairy announces, both as a declaration and a question to draw the crowd’s attention. “Are you all ready? FIGHT!”

Short Story: Monarchy

The first ones, the monarchs, got the better end of the stick: eternal life and power that could destroy a small militia with a flick of a wrist, but they still required forces of their own to assure their dominance over us mundanes. To that end, they infected others, not through force but instead by the choice of the infectee, playing on the human desire for power to sway their decision. The ones that resisted temptation were slain or were doomed to worse fates without a second chance. Those that accepted were given the first tier of infection. The “knight” tier, they called it. A small amount of power, sufficient to serve their master in the capacities expected of them.

Alone, a knight was only on marginally better footing than a well-equipped mundane and could be taken down by any mundane with a good head on their shoulders, but small squads were practically invincible, and most of the time, if you saw one knight, it was safe to assume they brought friends. Outside of a few anomalies, knights are never long for this world. Without the immortality granted by higher tiers of infection, their powers would get the better of them in a matter of years. Most don’t seem to care, seeing little point in fading away when they can burn out among friends amid the “fun” of their never-ending parties and drunken orgies.

Those that served their masters in some exceptional form or another were often promoted to lords and ladies. They were infected a second time, granting them the eternal life of their masters as well as a significant boost to their powers to a midpoint of sorts, between the strength of a knight and that of a monarch. They were given command over a number of knights, plus any new additions under their tenure.

Procreation was still possible between the infected, and encouraged. The children were born without infection, but their parents would gladly leave them in the hands of their mundane slaves to raise until such time that they were deemed old enough to convert. Some of the slaves initially got a little… wise, if you can call it that, and took the children’s lives in one way or another, but they soon became an example to the other slaves, and that was not pretty at all. Effective, of course. It brought the slaves back in line without fail, but mere thought of their final fates is sickening.

In time, the nation fell, and then the world, to vast factions of beings with superior power coursing through their veins. Former humans wielding the full force of their chosen elements. I dare any fool to tell me that we didn’t put up a fight and I will show you proof otherwise. All you have to do is look toward the flooded Thames Crater or the Northumbrian Wasteland, or any of the other scars we ourselves inflicted on this land in the hopes of stemming the tide of the monarchs. We put up the best damn fight we had, and it still wasn’t enough.

I’ve lived this hell for so long, I can no longer remember when it started, but I still remember how. The world as I once knew it ended not with nuclear fire or the effects of climate change or even an asteroid impact. Some would blame this end on a vengeful god growing tired of our increasingly sinful ways, but the gods that have pushed us to the brink of extinction were not the ones they had expected. They were gods of my own making, brought into being with a single word, entered onto a black screen:


The name of my only daughter, cursed by terminal illness with no known cure. In my efforts to develop a nanomachine solution to a biological problem, I instead created what many have come to call the Kingmaker virus, the fools failing to realise that it first made a queen. And now I realise I must accept responsibility for this mess, and clean it up once and for all.

From the diary of Dr. Elizabeth King, written c.54NM (New Monarchy)
Discovered 29/02/6PD (Post Dethronement)
Successfully restored 25/12/10PD

Author’s note: I’m bored of zombies now. It’s all I see left right and centre these days. Several marginally different takes on what is essentially the same shit most of Hollywood and the games industry has fallen back on for the past ten years. Fast zombies, man-made zombies, fungal zombies, zombies that puke and explode, etc. You name it. It’s probably been done a million times before. The zombie apocalypse, I feel, has gotten old, and has done far too long ago. What if, for once in fiction, the last remnants of humanity weren’t pushed to the brink of extinction by mindless walking dead, but instead by gods of humanity’s own creation, with intellects to rival those of the finest minds on Earth, but so drunk on their new-found power they’ve gone Full Zod alongside many of their kind? That sounds like more of a threat than masses of corpses that can barely stay upright, doesn’t it?

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Short Story: A4L-STARS


The club struck the ball with meteoric force and sent it rocketing from the tee into the sky, where it disappeared almost instantly.

“Christ, Agatha.” A voice whispered like a ghost from behind the golfer, who was by that point a little too busy putting out the small flame that kindled atop the tee with her coffee to pay her any mind. The Russian accent, something she considered a little stereotypical in her opinion, was a little difficult to ignore. “You might have overshot just an itty bit with that one.”

“Don’t jinx it, Alisa!” another woman hissed. Agatha looked away from her smoking tee just in time to catch her snatching a pair of binoculars from a blonde woman. “We can’t afford a bogey on this course.”

The blonde reiterated her partner’s words with a mockingly high pitch. The Russian accent continued to leak through. “Just saying it how I see it. God…”

“Cut it out, you two.” Agatha commanded. Alisa rolled her eyes while the other woman continued peering through her newly-aqcuired scopes. “Asuka, as soon as that ball lands, batter up.”

“You got it.” she answered, patting the bat that dangled from her belt as she watched on.

Agatha nodded. “Get your dancing shoes on too, Alisa.”

“Already wearing ’em.” the blonde confirmed, gently testing the steel toe cap of her left boot against the ground.

“Good. Now, as soon as Athena gets here, remind her that’s a big crest behind me that she’ll be driving over.” The very moment she jerked her thumb toward the cliff that led into the Berlin Crater, the Tower At The Beginning Of The End erupted like a newly-awoken volcano. “Also, Birdie.”

Agatha positioned herself alongside Alisa and Asuka, her club slung over her shoulder in a manner resembling the popular image of the ronin carrying his katana. Ahead, a frenzied chittering arose and grew louder by the second. Behind them, a larger beast unleashed its mechanical roar, closely followed by a car horn’s rendition of God Save The Queen.

“Prepare yourselves, girls!” Agatha called out at the top of her lungs just as Athena’s tank rolled out of the forest behind the trio and lined itself up alongside their leader. “The End is coming, and they are pissed.”

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Short Story: Shortest. Job. Ever.

Tina rifled through the photographs in her hand, all of the same person: a young girl, couldn’t have been older than fifteen. Not what many societies would consider pretty, but the residents of Windermere had learned to discard such bullshit long before they’d found the system of verdant moons that came to be dubbed the Lake District.

“My fee is three hundred crowns daily.” Tina finally said, breaking the few minutes of silence that pervaded as she memorised each photo carefully. She looked up to her client, an elderly man with three prongs of neatly trimmed and shaped facial hair that wouldn’t have looked out of place in Earth’s Old West.

The man, resting his chin against interlocked hands, arched one brow. “Three hundred daily? I’ve had cheaper offers.”

“I could have sworn you said my reputation preceded me just a few minutes ago.” she sighed. “And if that’s true, Mr. Clark, you’d know that I get the job done quicker than most of the cut-price slackers that call themselves hunters in this system.”

Clark nodded, a silent sign that he conceded that point. “Very well. Three hundred crowns daily. Plus expenses. Deal?”

Tina smirked, and the two shook hands. “Deal. And it just so happens that I’ve already found your daughter.”

“What?” Clark barked. He tried to pull his hand away, but to call the newly-hired hunter’s grip iron was the ultimate understatement. It was titanium. Behind her, the door swung open, lashing out at a decorative table playing host to a vase of false daffodils. The vase became the first casualty of the job. “What’s the meaning of this?”

Tina glanced behind her, offering a curt nod to her partner as she stepped through the open doorway. Molly Clark, the girl in the photos, wrapped her arms around the other hunter’s neck as if letting go would be the last mistake of her life, all the while staring the sharpest of daggers at her father.

“Basement, Bette?” she asked.

Bette smirked. “Just like you said, boss. A bit distraught, but otherwise unharmed.”

Tina returned her attention to Mr. Clark and tightened her augmented grip on the man’s arm. Though he didn’t scream, his agony was written all over his face.

“Well, this might just be the shortest job I’ve ever taken.” the hunter grinned as her eyes began to glow a demonic red. “But sending me on a wild goose chase, which I’m assuming was a plot to tarnish my reputation, is also going to prove your most costly mistake.”

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Short Story: Wild Ride

Ride like the wind, your Highness!

Those words cycled in her mind, overpowering the thunder of her steed’s hooves as she rushed toward her destination.

Ride like the wind, your Highness! Save yourself, so that the other kingdoms may know of the approaching darkness.

Princess Annette, of the Kingdom of Landfall, knew she was on borrowed time and it wouldn’t be long before the Shadows caught up to collect their debt. It was an inevitability that nothing she could do could stop. Only an hour ago had they wiped out an entire nation, felling its army in one fell swoop. What possible chance could Landfall’s sole survivor have against them?

Annette’s horse seemed to understand the gravity of the situation as well as she did, and didn’t slow in its ongoing sprint toward the neighbouring land of Blackcliffe. Not a single hoof went wrong, even as both steed and rider were being lashed by wayward twigs and branches on either side of the autumn-paved road. The princess afforded herself a glance behind her. All seemed clear. At first.

The distant wail was the first warning, and the only one she needed. Within seconds, two forms advanced on her, and by no means was it a gradual approach.

It was as if they had appeared behind her in a puff of smoke: two black steeds, if they could even be called that. Annette only had a quick glance, but she recognised their form all too well. These beasts possessed no visible means of ambulation or flight, yet somehow, they hovered effortlessly just a few feet above the ground, their approach one continuous, unhindered motion. Their bodies didn’t seem natural at all. What should have been flesh seemed to be more metallic in nature, its armour bearing a gloss that she couldn’t identify.

Riding them were the monsters that had destroyed her realm and slain her family, her friends, her people. Creatures clad in black leather armour and strange helms as glossy as the plates adorning their steeds. The obsidian visors masked their faces, masking any sign of life or humanity. The Shadows were no humans, Annette decided long before their approach. No human could be capable of the evils committed on her soil.

The Shadows are approaching fast. It would be an hour before she reached Blackcliffe, but they would be upon her in seconds. She reached for one of the two muskets she had managed to pick up before her escape and drew it toward the closest of her pursuers. A thunderous crack conquered all other sound and the pistol erupted with the force of a volcano in miniature. When the smoke cleared, however, the Shadows were still closing in, unaffected by the blast. She’d missed her shot. Annette was determined to slow their advance and reached for the second musket. Another deafening explosion, but it was no good.

The Shadows took their turn and responded in kind. Beams of green light, something that Annette could only describe as magical, streamed from the nostrils of their war beasts. The ground erupted wherever they struck, leaving the princess powerless to do anything but hold onto her steed as tightly as possible until she could hold on no longer. The final shot struck the horse and, in its final throes, tossed Annette to the ground. Though her landing was painful, she was quick to find herself grateful to the leather armour that prevented a moment of back pain from receiving a twig into her spine.

Annette recovered quickly and scrambled to her feet. The Shadows had left their own beasts behind to finish the job they started by hand. The princess drew her own longsword, ready to make a final stand, but soon realised that she was not very long for this world when her assailants drew their own weapons. They were black as coal and had no blades, but she could tell from the lights adorning them and the manner in which the Shadows raised them toward her that they didn’t need blades.

“Get it over with.” Annette sighed, resigning herself to fate. The princess dropped her sword to the ground and held her arms out. “And may the gods, and my people, forgive my failure.”

It was then that the wind changed direction. No, Annette realised, it was moving of its own accord, it seemed, circling both herself and each of the Shadows, throwing leaves around one another like nature’s confetti. Then came another roar. A beastly, unnatural, guttural roar that tore through the air, making that of the Shadows’ own steeds seem pitiful in comparison. A roar accompanied by an wail, no two… no! The same wail, alternating between the two notes of its personal battle cry. The noise distracted the Shadows long enough for Annette to make her escape into some nearby bushes, though she did not flee any further.

Instead, the princess watched as both roar and wail grew louder, heralding the arrival of something she could only hope was her saviour and what she feared could be a greater threat than the shadows, both in equal measure. Eventually, the source of the war cry appeared out of nowhere, fading onto the road as if it had rolled in from another world. This was no beast, but instead appeared to be more of a large chariot without any horses to pull it. The black chariot roared toward the Shadows and without warning, swung itself into a sideways slide as it reached their war beasts, which bore no signs of concern at the abomination that had stopped just short of a few inches from them.

The chariot was covered overhead and seemed to have doors to either side, each a contrasting white against the rest of the vehicle. The door facing Annette’s pursuers opened, revealing low seats made of leather, and its rider, a woman with shoulder-length blonde locks and clad in unusual clothing, stepped out onto the road.

No! Annette wanted to scream, but fear for her own life had kept her silent. The woman slammed the door without a care and sauntered over toward the Shadows with an air of confidence not seen in anyone who would, in their right minds, be aware of the danger before her. Run away, now! FLEE!

“Hi there!” the woman cheerfully waved toward the Shadows as if greeting friends. Annette wondered if this woman was in fact in allegiance with these monsters. “I seem to be a bit lost, I wanted to be somewhere near, ooh, Blackcliffe, I think. You know how it is. The GPS is awful around here. Someone want to point me in the right direction?”

The woman’s words were lost on the princess, and from the confrontational reaction of the Shadows, who raised their weapons on her instead, it was lost on them as well. They opened fire, green light erupting rapidly from their strange muskets that never seemed to require reloading. However, they seemed to have no effect on their target, who merely crossed her arms, leaned to one side and let out a somewhat unimpressed yawn. When the Shadows were done, she bore no wounds and remained still, as if either oblivious or uncaring of the volley unleashed upon her.

“Okay.” She uttered calmly. “That’s how it’s going to be, then.”

The Shadows looked to one another, puzzled by the woman’s reaction. Before they could open fire again, though, a thunderclap erupted before them and knocked the pistol from one of the monster’s hands sending it airborne towards the princess’ hiding spot. The woman fired her own pistol once again, an impeccable silver piece of weaponry almost as small as her own hand, piercing a hole in the disarmed Shadow’s leg and sending him crashing to the ground with a scream not unlike that of a dragon. Another shot disarmed the second Shadow, another struck its helm, doing little more than disorient it momentarily. The woman stepped forward as she unleashed a few more shots, all without reloading, and each shot glancing her foe’s helm. The Shadow stumbled, unable to recover before the woman was upon it, and lifting the creature from the ground with one arm.

“That wasn’t very nice, now, was it?” she asked the Shadow as it struggled against her unbelievable strength. “And that was silly of me. Of course, you can’t talk, you can’t answer that. But you can tell your masters this: whatever it is you’re up to, now might be a good time to abandon those plans and skedaddle on out of here. You know who I am. You know that this realm is under my protection. You know what to do. Got that?”

The Shadow gave not even the slightest of gestures, but it seemed clear enough to the woman that it understood everything. She lowered it to the ground and gave a curt nod toward their war beasts, watching the Shadows with care as the wounded one was carried over to its steed. When they turned back the way they came and fled, she directed her attention, with great precision, toward the princess.

“You can come out now.” She smiled, slipping her strange silver musket into a leather holster hanging from her belt.

Annette crept out of the bush, her hands held high. “How did you know I was here?” The woman silently pointed to her fallen steed. “Oh.”

The woman smiled as she turned to approach her chariot. “Well, the Shadows had to be here for some reason, after all. It’s not in their nature to stand around in the middle of nowhere for no reason. Princess Annette of Landfall, right? Sorry, Queen Annette, now.”

“I’m the queen of nothing.” Annette mumbled.

“And I’ve met many great leaders who’ve managed to make something out of nothing.”

A furious princess stormed over and grabbed the woman by the wrist as she was halfway back into her leather seat. “How dare you! I’ve just lost my family, my friends… my entire kingdom has been reduced to ash, yet you speak as if it’s little more than spilled milk!”

“No, I speak as if it’s not the end of your world. Well, not yet, anyway.” The woman yanked her hand from Annette’s grasp. “You’re the last of your kingdom, but you don’t have to be forever. Don’t squander what you have left and let the destruction of all you’ve held dear be in vain. Don’t surrender to extinction. Now, are you getting in, or what?”

“Where would you take me?”

“Well,” the woman smiled. “I was trying to reach Blackcliffe, and I figured you might be heading there too, given the direction the Shadows ran off to and its proximity to Landfall. Don’t forget to buckle up.”

Annette blinked as she worked her way around the horseless carriage. “Sorry, buckle up?”

“Yeah, use the seatbelt.” The woman pulled out a strap that seemed to clip securely into a socket near the base of the seat. “This is going to be a wild ride.”

Annette slipped into the passenger-side seat and fastened the seatbelt into place. Only then did the chariot roar into motion again, wailing toward the Kingdom of Blackcliffe.

Author’s note: Someone linked me to The Timelords/KLF’s ageless “Doctorin’ the Tardis” and, in watching the vid, thought the idea of someone driving an old US police car, sirens blaring, between universes would be pretty badass. Not quite as badass as traversing space and time in a police box that’s bigger on the inside and saving the universe while wearing a bow tie, but still badass in my book.

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Short Story: LFG

|ir0nbard has entered the channel
Prince4lyfe: Sup ir0n
ir0nbard: the sky
ir0nbard: srsly tho theres another dragon about u guys wanna come slay it with me
Prince4lyfe: Not really, no.
ir0nbard: …no?
ir0nbard: what do u mean no?
DeirdreMasters: You need this explaining iron? After the last time?
ir0nbard: guys we slayed that last dragon without a hitch
DeirdreMasters: Without a hitch? That dragon only went down because of your leggings.
ir0nbard: that wasn’t a hitch
ir0nbard: guys
Prince4lyfe: Those leggings were effective for one reason and one reason only…
|ir0nbard has been kicked by PKbot – reason: no need to shout!
|ir0nbard has entered the channel
ir0nbard: it worked Five dammit
DeirdreMasters: Heard you the first time.
DeirdreMasters: Well. Read you.
Prince4lyfe: In any case, no. In fact, we’d rather you’d leave this one to professionals
|imawizardmary has entered the channel
Prince4lyfe: Preferably ones with single-purpose weaponry, too
imawizardmary: see were back to bitching about ir0ns guitar-rifle again?
|Prince4lyfe sighs
Prince4lyfe: Yes. Yes we are.
ir0nbard: whats wrong with my guitar-rifle?
ir0nbard: guys
ironbard: WHATS WRONG WIT IT>>
|ir0nbard has been kicked by PKbot – reason: no need to shout!
|ir0nbard has entered the channel
imawizardmary: ir0n
imawizardmary: chill
ir0nbard: what
ir0nbard: oh
imawizardmary: seriously though, your axecannon or whatevers fine
imawizardmary: just needs some enchanting is all
Prince4lyfe: Wiz…
ir0nbard: i dont want it enchanting
Prince4lyfe: Aren’t you forgetting something?
ir0nbard: enchantings for cowards
imawizardmary: am i?
|ir0nbard has been kicked by Prince4lyfe – reason: We don’t call people cowards, ir0n
Prince4lyfe: Yes. Yes you are.
|ir0nbard has entered the channel
|Prince4lyfe glares at wiz
imawizardmary: oh
imawizardmary: oh yeah
imawizardmary: what happened with that anyway?
Prince4lyfe: Had to shell out for a new rifle, thank you very gods damned much.
DeirdreMasters: The warranty didn’t cover modification damage, basically.
DeirdreMasters: Including magic-based.
imawizardmary: oh
imawizardmary: sorry
imawizardmary: ill pay you back for it i swear
|Prince4lyfe rolls his eyes
imawizardmary: what?
Prince4lyfe: Nothing.
Prince4lyfe: Just see to it that you do.
DeirdreMasters: Daddy’s pissed.
Prince4lyfe: …Thanks, Dee.
DeirdreMasters: Welcome!
ir0nbard: wiz
imawizardmary: what?
ir0nbard: u wanna help me slay a dragon
ir0nbard: use the reward to pay for Prince’s gun
imawizardmary: i dont know…
imawizardmary: ooh good idea iron
Prince4lyfe: Woah, hey, wiz. I’d prefer it if you lived long enough to pay me back, yeah?
imawizardmary: ill be fine.
DeirdreMasters: You, wiz, who manages to blow the wrong things up, and incontinence bard…
DeirdreMasters: Against a dragon.
imawizardmary: ill be fine!!
DeirdreMasters: That’ll end well, I’m sure.
|Prince4lyfe sighs
DeirdreMasters: Stop abusing the emote command, brother.
Prince4lyfe: Stop telling me how to use MY channel, sister.
|DeirdreMasters pouts
Prince4lyfe: Okay, fine. I’ll come with you, ir0n.
ir0nbard: woot
Prince4lyfe: But I’m bringing some backup this time.
ir0nbard: srsly
ir0nbard: we dont need backup
Prince4lyfe: And I don’t need to be greeting the gods soaked in your fear-pee.
ir0nbard: fine
Prince4lyfe: Good.
Prince4lyfe: Now that that’s clear, I want as good a description of the dragon we’re about to going up against.
ir0nbard: why
Prince4lyfe: Description, ir0n.
Prince4lyfe: Now.
ir0nbard: all i know is that its big it flies and its red
DeirdreMasters: Uh…
Prince4lyfe: Last sighting?
ir0nbard: what
Prince4lyfe: Where was it last sighted, ir0n?
ir0nbard: north of jaunty rock
ir0nbard: greenhawk mountains
ir0nbard: i think
imawizardmary: joining dee in uh-ing here.
Prince4lyfe: Yeah, okay.
ir0nbard: lets go kill it already
Prince4lyfe: Just one thing, ir0n.
ir0nbard: what
Prince4lyfe: We can’t kill this dragon.
ir0nbard: why not
Prince4lyfe: WE JUST CAN’T!
|Prince4lyfe has been kicked by PKbot – reason: no need to shout!
|Prince4lyfe has entered the channel
|Prince4lyfe has disabled PKbot rule: noshout
Prince4lyfe: That didn’t happen.
DeirdreMasters: Yes it did.
|DeirdreMasters has been kicked by Prince4lyfe – reason: It didn’t.
|DeirdreMasters has entered the channel
DeirdreMasters: Hey!
ir0nbard: why cant we slay the dragon
Prince4lyfe: We have an understanding.
ir0nbard: what
imawizardmary: hes a cool guy ir0n
ir0nbard: hes a dragon
ir0nbard: dragons are bad
ir0nbard: remember
DeirdreMasters: Yeah, that’s like saying all humans are bad because a few of them turn out to be bloodythirsty serial killers.
DeirdreMasters: See where I’m going with this?
|Switchfyre has entered the channel
Switchfyre: I came online at a bad time, didn’t I?
Prince4lyfe: Five preserve me…
Prince4lyfe: Don’t mind ir0n, Switch. He’s a little…
Prince4lyfe: …well…
DeirdreMasters: Dense?
Prince4lyfe: Dee!
Switchfyre: This got awkward fast.
ir0nbard: wtf
ir0nbard: the dragons here
imawizardmary: ir0n…
ir0nbard: the dragons here on this channel right now wtf what is wrong with you
Prince4lyfe: ir0n, calm… down.
Prince4lyfe: ir0n…
|ir0nbard has left the channel – reason: screw you guys i’ll go slay him myself
Switchfyre: Guess he’s after me, then.
Prince4lyfe: Yep.
Switchfyre: You really need to choose your friends more carefully.
Prince4lyfe: Yep.
Switchfyre: And correct him on my gender and all when he gets back.
Prince4lyfe: Yep.
imawizardmary: wait.
imawizardmary: youre female?
Prince4lyfe: Yep.
Switchfyre: Yep.
imawizardmary: that i did not know.
|imawizardmary changed their name to imanidiotmary
imanidiotmary: also how are you even typing?
imanidiotmary: your arms are your wings.
Switchfyre: Speech dick taters.
imanidiotmary: 0_0
Switchfyre: Five donut.
Switchfyre: Five damn it.
Switchfyre: Speech dictation.


Author’s note: What? Those fantasy realms aren’t going to remain on the same level of technology for the rest of their existence, are they?

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Short Story: Inventory

The moment the back of his head connected with the floor, Mikul’s world went red. Blindingly red, as the pain had instantly forced his eyes shut and sent his hands around to the point of impact in no time. For a moment, he rolled around helplessly before his agony eventually subsided enough to let him open his eyes once more.

He wished he hadn’t, after finding himself in a warehouse that seemed to disappear into every horizon. North and South, East, West, it mattered not. He couldn’t see a wall in any direction. Mikul decided not to pay it any mind and instead looked around at what he could see, and found himself no less bewildered at the equally endless number of glass display cases with immaculate marble bases surrounding him, all arranged in a grid-like fashion. Each one played host to a different weapon: Shotguns, pistols, even swords of various shapes and sizes. Some of them seemed impossible to lift without mechanical aid.

“Mikul!” a voice called out from above. He looked up to a zippered hole above him, hanging unaided in the air. On the other side was the mid-afternoon sky hanging above the suburban road he remembered standing on just minutes ago. “Is everything alright down there?”

Mikul rubbed the back of his head where some of the pain persisted. “Aside from a bit of a headache, I’m fine. Speaking of headaches, Jo, you want to explain this?”

“Long story.” the unseen Jo answered back. “I’ll tell you later. Erm, there should be a combat shotgun nearby. Silver stock and pump, can’t miss it. Toss it up, will you?”

He glanced around, and just as promised, found the shotgun in no time. Silver stock. Silver pump. Without delay, he opened the front of the case, extracted the gun and tossed it up to the gap in space. “Dare I ask why?” A hand reached out to snatch the gun from the air.

“It works best against VAMPIRES!” Jo squealed before a single blast drowned her screams out. Silence followed, and Mikul’s heart shot throatward. Eventually, the smoking shotgun fell back through the hole. Just as Mikul rushed to catch it, Jo called back “Thanks!”

Mikul exhaled in relief that both his partner in crime was fine and that he would not be the next to use the weapon in his hand. He placed it back in its case and awaited the rope that descended from the hole to offer him escape. He couldn’t wait to hear the story of how Jo managed to cram an infinite armoury into a handbag the size of the average hardback novel, though he suspected she would only tell him that a wizard did it, same as all the other long stories.

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Short Story: Pulling a Fast One

He was getting tired now. The fighter’s strength was diminishing by the second, and he could feel the drain on every swing of his greatsword. His self-healing abilities were all used up and too far away from fully recharging in time to save him. In spite of this, however, he pressed on, hacking away at the small army of critters that had surrounded him at all sides, determined to end this increasingly hopeless battle in his favour. There were only a few left, he noted. Victory was fast becoming within reach.

The fighter hefted his weapon high above his head and brought it down upon the crab-like monster before him, splitting the accursed thing in half like a hot knife through butter. A second crab charged him with alarming haste, only to run straight into the heel of his tarnished steel boot, a blow which knocked it back onto a nearby fire that had been kindled some time before the hero’s arrival. He turned to the third monster, realising all too late that it had crept up on him unchecked. Obsidian pincers snapped at the mail protecting his lower torso and tore it apart like wet parchment, as it did the flesh beneath. Undeterred by the new wound, even as his once-silvery leggings turned a glistening red, the fighter hopped back to bring himself alongside the greatsword he had embedded in his first foe and, grabbing the hilt, yanked it from the corpse and lifted it above his head again.

Just as he was about to strike, however, a blue flash caught his eye. Both man and monster halted on the spot to observe another human, draped in muddied robes befitting a field mage, fleeing with the speed of a cheetah. Soon they both discovered what he was running from: another herd of crab-like creatures rushing by in hot pursuit before finally giving up the chase. They turned, as if ready to return to the natural routine they observed before the wizard had disturbed them, but soon laid what passed for eyes upon the fighter. Man and monster alike watched one another for a brief moment before the grim realisation of his situation finally dawned upon the hero: he wasn’t getting out of this alive.

The hero respawned at a nearby checkpoint, just at the mouth of the cave where he met his demise. He took a moment to check his equipment, which sustained a little damage in his fall and, as a result, had lost some of its effectiveness. Determining that the loss was no reason to return to town for repairs, he headed back into its deep dark depths again. The mage rushed by him once more, followed by yet another group of infuriated crabs.

She was getting tired now. The fighter’s strength was diminishing by the second, and she could feel the drain on every swing of her axe. Her self-healing abilities were all used up and too far away from fully recharging in time to save her. In spite of this, however, she pressed on, hacking away at the small army of critters that had surrounded her at all sides, determined to end this increasingly hopeless battle in her favour. There were only a few left, she noted. Victory was fast becoming within reach.

The fighter lifted her axe above her head, but before she could bring it down upon the crab-like monster before her, a voice from the distant darkness unleashed an almighty string of profane language that echoed across the cavern, distracting the hero just long enough for her foes to strike before she could realise the fatal error.

Whoever that bastard was, she thought to herself as she returned to the respawn point, he was so getting the repair bill.

Author’s note: Just something that’s been sitting in my head after a few daft experiences in Guild Wars 2. It’s probably better suited to a webcomic, but I barely have the patience to draw a sloppy bar chart these days.

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Short Story: Clubbed

By the time she was done, the bodies littered the dancefloor, the tables and the barstools, a mass grave of all who dared to try and stop her. All but one, a single skinhead brought to his knees with the barrel of her pistol pressed against his forehead, at her mercy for as long as she could keep her finger away from the trigger.

She glanced around. The DJ had long since fled, though the last song he played before his sharp exit, a ten-minute number that sounded like it should have been left back in the seventies, still belted out of the speakers. Most of the serving staff had done a runner too, not that she could blame them. She’d probably run too if she found herself at risk of becoming collateral damage to one of her… “brawls”. Taking a bullet to the head just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time was never a good way to die, was it now? Of those that remained visible, only the skinhead and a solitary bartender that dared to peek over his work surface could be seen. Everyone else had fled, hidden or died.

“Hey, Double-oh-Seven!” she called out to the young man behind the bar, every bit the dead ringer for the fictional secret agent right down to the black bow tie that formed part of his uniform. All he was lacking was the tux.

The bartender, understandably fearing for his dear insignificant life, stammered out something resembling a “Yes?”

“I’ll have that vodka and coke now.” she requested, before raising her voice to the top of her lungs: “Unless ANYONE ELSE HAS A PROBLEM WITH ME HAVING A DRINK IN PEACE!!”

The skinhead joined his voice with those from behind all available cover to answer in unison: “HELL NO!”

Author’s Note:

I had a lot of wine in my system the other night. This is what resulted. I’m not even sure why I bothered trying to clean it up, to be honest.

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Short Story: Playtime

The first jolt sent Molly flying out of her bed and into the wall ahead, almost comically slipping down shortly after the impact until she touched back down onto the floor head first. Her legs remained propped upright against the wall as the skirt of her dress did the exact opposite, depriving the girl of what little dignity was left in her these days.

The jolts always meant one thing: playtime. Whenever her master demanded entertainment the whole house would shake as if were suddenly moved to one side, not enough to completely relocate the place but just enough to draw attention. That was signal enough. Molly hated playtime, but she needed to heed that one call with haste regardless lest she suffer painful consequences. There was something different about this particular jolt though, almost as if something of greater import demanded her attention. The clue was in its ferocity. Never before, not even once, had she been thrown across the room like that. Was her master angry? Had Molly upset her somehow?

As the young woman pondered this from her awkward position, a second jolt struck the house with equal force and sent her toppling face down to the floor. Something was definitely out of order, she realised. Ever fearing that her tardiness would someday be punishable by death, the girl scrambled to her feet, brushed her frock down with her bare hands and took a moment to hoist the strapless bodice back up to an acceptable position before making for the bedroom door with haste.

Another jolt would have sent her tumbling down the darkened stairs were it not for the years of her life spent in the house eventually teaching her to be prepared at all times. After the fourth she couldn’t decide whether to count herself lucky that a bookshelf narrowly avoided falling onto her. On one hand, Molly could have been put out of her own misery once and for all, but on the other, there was always the chance of rescue some day.

Approaching the front door, beyond which her master would await, another jolt struck. One that differed from the others prior. One accompanied by the gleeful giggling of a little girl. The sign of a happy master. Perhaps Molly wasn’t in trouble after all. That thought alone dulled her reluctance to open the door for a moment before she recalled that master might be in one of her more malicious moods today.

Nevertheless, Molly reminded herself that when she was called, it was an order that could not be refused, and with that in mind she twisted the handle and stepped outside, where she was greeted not by her master, but instead a gigantic bloodied hand that slammed down in front of her with such force it was all she could do to stumble back into the doorway behind and cling onto the frame for support. Following the monstrous limb to its source, Molly looked on as its owner, a gargantuan man who had seen better days, primarily those that didn’t see him beaten badly and coughing up blood, letting it drip all over his shirt and the shadow black body armour that covered it, struggled to stay on his own feet.

Another giggle drew Molly’s attention ahead of the titan before her, toward his foe: another giant that stepped, no, skipped out of the shadows. This one, pink of pigtailed hair and clad in a similar dress to Molly’s strapless number, albeit with full sleeves, appeared to be much shorter than the man yet she was still at least twentyfold her own size. Meanwhile, the man reached for something beside the house. A pistol large enough that Molly could have easily used it for a seat and could have easily knocked her into the air had the barrel not narrowly missed her legs as the giant dragged it across the surface and swung it straight toward the ‘little’ girl.

“You inhuman fiend…” the man spluttered, pulling back the hammer. A brief pause was spent spitting out the blood that had filled his mouth before continuing. “You have… no power over m-”

Molly watched in horror as the man’s proclamation was reduced to gagging, one bloodied hand hopelessly squeezing an ineffective trigger while the other groped at the unseen force that seemed to have wrapped itself around his neck. In less than a minute he was brought to his knees, his struggle for air raging on as he toppled over. And finally he stopped moving, then stopped breathing and ultimately stopped living.

The girl adopted a defiant pose and let out another proud giggle. “I have power over everyone and when I say nobody can have my toys that means not even you!”

Peering over the edge of the table, Molly took one last look at fallen giant and the armour that had failed him in his hour of need. One of the smarter ones, she realised, and judging from the soft golden aura around its edges, one with the sense to have it enchanted beforehand. But it seemed all the preparation this man could and may have done beforehand would have been little defence against the dark magicks that ultimately spelt his doom. She would have to wait longer for someone to rescue her.

Before she had even finished mourning yet another would-be saviour, her master plucked her from the table, the titan’s unusually careful index finger and thumb holding her by the waist. Now it was playtime. Molly hated playtime.

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