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Enchanted Hat
Aug 18, 2013

Defeated in Diplomacy under suspicious circumstances
in as well, villains are fun

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Enchanted Hat
Aug 18, 2013

Defeated in Diplomacy under suspicious circumstances
The Jewel of Kazaar
1,544 words

"Captain, she is coming into view!"

I looked through the periscope, and sure enough, our prize had just broken through the mist. The RLS Intrepid of the Republic League navy was an unassuming vessel, a freighter brought into service for the war effort, but it carried what might be the very thing that had the power to sink the League and win the war: the legendary Jewel of Kazaar.

"You are right, lieutenant", I said.

"This is excellent news", said my lieutenant. "With the Jewel of Kazaar in our hands, we will surely crush the League and bring final victory to the Empire!"

"Yes indeed", I said. "Alert the men, we are taking her down."

The lieutenant saluted and scurried down the lenght of the submarine. I had always hated that man. He was a fool, an idealist. Only a mind as miniscule as his could not realise how much bigger the Jewel of Kazaar was than either the Empire or the League. A smile crept across my lips. Once the jewel was in my grasp, I would rule the world.

The Intrepid approached steadily, oblivious to what was about to befall her. The moment was perfect. She was on shallow waters just off the coast of the jungle, and we were hundreds of miles from the nearest League outpost.

"Fire", I commanded.

There was a satisfying clatter of machinery, and soon a torpedo rushed out of its tube. Whether the crew of the Intrepid noticed the torpedo trail heading inexorably towards their feeble ship, or whether they were unaware until the last, I do not know. But I do knowthat when the torpedo crashed into the side of the ship, blasting a vast hole in its side below the waterline, it spelled the death of the Intrepid.

"Take us in close, they're going to try to escape with the jewel and their lives", I said.

The hum of propellers spread throughout the submarine, and we sailed slowly towards the dying Intrepid. The ship had turned, and it appeared that its crew was trying to beach the flaming hull before it could sink. As we surfaced, I climbed up the hatch just in time to see the Intrepid tip over as it ground to a halt on a sand bank near the coast. The desperate shouts of its crew still trying to put out the fires were carried through the dense mist.

I climbed back down. "I'm not taking any chances, they might have weapons on board", I told my lieutenant. "Get a man on the turret, and if you see so much as dart gun, you are permitted to mow down every man, woman and child on that ship."

It turned out that we were not going to be challenged as we approached the beached Intrepid. When they saw us, a crewman on the ship frantically started waving a pillowcase that could charitably be recognised as a white flag at us. The rest of them continued to fight the fires raging onboard. Incredibly, with the stability gained from beaching the ship, it appeared that they were just managing to bring the flames under control, and as they died down, my men started boarding the ship.

Once I had word that the Intrepid had been pacified, I climbed aboard it only to find myself in a very unexpected reunion.

"Captain Lucette", the captain of the Intrepid said dryly, held in place by two of my men as several others watched him with machine guns at the ready.

"Captain Smashing", I replied, a broad smirk on my face. "This is indeed a pleasure."

"It's all yours, I assure you", he said. "Taking out small civilian merchant vessels? This is a new low for you, Lucette."

"You know as well as I do why I have come for this miserable little ship", I said. "Where is the Jewel of Kazaar?"

His eyes flickered. "Why would you think that the jewel is aboard this ship? Command would only ship that with a giant armed convoy, losing it could spell the end of the Republic League."

"Don't play dumb with me!", I said.

"Captain!", one of my men interrupted. "We found this in the captain's quarters."

In his hands, he held a small, matt black box, completely innocuous except for the League seal imprinted on top of it. Opening it, he revealed the blinding sparkle of what could be nothing other than what I had come here for. The Jewel of Kazaar.

"No!", Captain Smashing cried out. His despair only made it all the sweeter as I took the jewel out of its box and held it in my hands. My palms started to sweat, and radiant light from its myriad reflections danced across my face. The jewel was absolutely unmistakable.

"You'll never get away with this, Lucette!", Captain Smashing said hopelessly.

"Oh, I think I will", I said. "And don't think you'll be able to get it back from me later, Captain Smashing, this is the last time you're going to be able to meddle in my plans. You'll hang from the side of this ship before nightfall."

Before he could reply, the deep sound of a distant fog horn cut the conversation short. I turned around, but there was nothing visible in the mists.

"What is going on, Smashing?", I asked, but he didn't reply. He peered out into the mists as well, apparently just as unaware of what was going on as I was.

Another fog horn rang through the air, this one coming from the other side of the ship. As the mists started clearing up, the bow of a large ship appeared on starboard side. Then dozens of heavy cannons. Machine guns. Radar antennae. As the ship's tower came into view, my heart stopped at the sight of the flag flying over it. This was an enormous League battleship.

"Looks like the cavalry has just arrived!", said Captain Smashing, struggling with the men holding him to get a better look at the ship.

I nearly broke my fist as I slammed it into his smug face. "What the hell is this!", I yelled. "You tell me right God damned now what that ship is doing here!"

Turning back, I saw that the ship was not alone. It was now surrounded by a legion of smaller ships, destroyers and torpedo boats, and appearing from the thinning mist were now additional battleships and even a couple of aircraft carriers. This was not just a League battleship, this was the entire League fleet.

I squeezed the Jewel of Kazaar hard in my hand. Its sharp edges dug into my palm, and the jewel started turning crimson. On port side, more ships appeared, big and small. Not only was the entire League fleet here, it was much bigger than I had ever imagined it to be!

Except...

Looking closely, the port-side ships were subtly different from the starboard ones. The higher profiles, the larger guns, the familiar colours fluttering above them.

"Ha, haha, hahahahaha!"

Manic laughter consumed me. This was no vast second League fleet. This was the imperial navy!

"You lose, Captain Smashing!", I shouted. "The imperial fleet will crush you like insects! We will yet rule the world!"

Captain Smashing had grown silent. In the distance, the fleets were maneuvering into position, but no shots were fired yet. The calm before the storm was deafening. One wing of the imperial fleet sailed towards us, a massive battleship flanked by cruisers and destroyers. It was the INS Empress, the imperial flagship, and to my astonishment, right there, aboard the ship, stood the empress herself.

Imperial marines came and brought us to the deck of the giant battleship. I had only just managed to shove the Jewel of Kazaar down into my pocket along with my bloody hand before I was presented to her. I bowed deeply.

"Your Majesty, I am honoured", I said, my voice overflowing with insincere gratitude. "As you can see, I have managed to subdue Captain Smashing."

The empress nodded. "Yes. And secured the Jewel of Kazaar, no doubt."

I suppressed a grimace. I had planned to withhold the jewel for now, this was a problem. "Yes, your Majesty", I said.

She nodded. "Well done, captain. Now that you have the jewel, I am sure you wish to proceed with your plan to overthrow me and take over my empire, do you not?"

"Your... your Majesty, I would never!", I stammered.

"It's no use, captain Lucette, we know all about your little schemes", she said.

"But how?", I protested.

"It is all thanks to your lieutenant: Captain Smashing!", she said. I turned to see my lieutenant grab hold of his own face and tear it off, revealing none other than Captain Smashing behind a rubber mask!

"Impossible!", I cried. "How can there be two captains Smashing?"

"Take her away!", said the empress.

A marine unceremoniously stripped me of the Jewel of Kazaar, and as I was being dragged away, a League helicopter landed on the battleship. The last thing I saw before being stuffed in the hold was the republican president stepping out of the helicopter and shaking the empress' hand, sealing both my fate and the peace of all the world, forever.

Enchanted Hat
Aug 18, 2013

Defeated in Diplomacy under suspicious circumstances

Sitting Here posted:

:siren: WEEK 146 JUDGEMENT :siren:

I regret nothing! Also in. Do the stories this week have to be in iambic pentameter?

Enchanted Hat
Aug 18, 2013

Defeated in Diplomacy under suspicious circumstances

Tyrannosaurus posted:

"Two sets of twins turn the town upside down."

The Monster of Adelphia
1,495 words


The agora of the ancient city of Adelphia is abuzz with the important news. While working in the fields, a farmer's son claims to have seen a terrifying monster land in the nearby forest.

"Giant teeth!", says a boy as he climbs on top of an apple crate. "Filled with venom enough to slay ten men!"

"No, no!", says a man in the crowd. "But it had wings the size of houses, and its breath was the fires of Hell!"

The city mayor steps forward to attempt to calm the crowd.

"Friends, friends!", he says. "Let us not let speculation tear our city apart! If the news is true, the beast itself will surely try to do it for us."

He presents two men to the crowd, their handsome faces like two sides of a mirror.

"Omilitos, you are the wisest and kindest in the city. And you, Polemistos, are the strongest and bravest of us all. How do you propose to save this city from the beast?"

While Omilitos withdraws to silent contemplation, Polemistos steps forward.

"This creature is a danger to us all!", he shouts. "It will surely devour us and destroy the city if we let it. I say we take up arms and kill it before it can kill us!"

An uncertain murmur spreads through the assembly. No one has forgotten the story of how dreadful the creature was when the boy saw it, and each time the story is retold the creature becomes deadlier.

"You are truly brave, Polemistos, but do you really think we can defeat this monster?", says the mayor.

"If we do not attack it, the creature will come to us. Even if we defeat it here, our city may be destroyed in the process", says Polemistos. "We must march out and attack it in its lair! If we take it by surprise, we can defeat it and save Adelphia."

The silent brother, Omilitos, steps forward. "Brother, you assume that this creature wishes us ill and that it intends to destroy our city. But an animal will only fight a man when it has no option or when the man threatens its lair. The bee may sting you, but leave it alone and it is a peaceful beast. Let it live, and it may give you its honey. I say we should study this creature and learn whether it wishes to fight us, before we force it to do so by a show of arms."

A hum of agreement flows through the crowd. Omilitos' proposal has the potential to avoid a dangerous battle, and best of all, it involves sending someone else out to face the beast.

"Three cheers for Omilitos!" sounds a voice from the crowd.

"Hail Omilitos, the wisest of us all!", cries another.

Polemistos turns on his heel and leaves the agora, but all the others join to celebrate the decision. It is decided that Omilitos must go out the next morning to look for the beast and see if it poses a threat.

The following night, the door to Omilitos' bedroom is smashed off its hinges. A group of men rush through the doorway and pull Omilitos off the bed. They throw him down the stairs to the hall, sending him tumbling down the steps until he lands on the hard stone floor. Other hands then pick him up and drag him out in the cold night air, where he is faced with an angry mob led by Polemistos.

"Brother, what is the meaning of this!", Omilitos cries.

"I have no brother who would betray our city and let monsters eat its people!", said Polemistos. "I have told the citizens of your treachery. You will be exiled from the city, and I alone will defeat the beast of the forest!"

"Polemistos, no! The beast may kill you if you fight it alone!", says Omilitos, but he is ignored. The mob drags Omilitos to the city gates, and they throw him into the mud outside, shutting the door behind him.

"Do not return, brother, or we shall kill you on the spot!", Omilitos hears his brother shout through the gates. He pushes himself off the ground, and fumblingly he staggers into the darkness outside the city. Omilitos walks for an hour until he reaches the nearby forest. Tired and weak, he falls asleep against the side of a fallen log, sorrow and cold air gnawing at him throughout the night.

As Omilitos opens his eyes the next morning, he discovers that he had been sleeping lying against the body of a giant dragon. Its body is covered in hard red scales, and sinister dagger-like fangs stick out of its closed mouth.

Omilitos gives a cry of surprise. The huge beast yawns and ponderously pushes itself to its feet. It slowly looks around, and when it spots Omilitos, it locks eyes with him and growls menacingly. It bares its teeth, an endless row of deadly razors, but Omilitos musters his courage and looks back into the eyes of the beast.

Omilitos then notices something odd. In the corner of the dragon's eye, he sees a small stick which must have somehow gotten stuck under the lid. He reaches out and quickly yanks the stick out of the dragon's eye. The dragon howls with pain and pushes itself off the ground, flapping its wings and crashing through the canopy. The great beast flees into the distance, far away from the forest and the city.

With the dragon defeated, Omilitos returns to Adelphia. When he reaches the city, however, the gates are broken down and a sea of flames rises from the rooftops. A loud roar draws Omilitos' eyes to the sky, where he sees the dragon from the forest, breathing fire down upon the city.

Desperately, Omilitos rushes through the fire and the flames to reach the agora. At that same moment, the dragon lands, crashing down on top of two merchant's stalls which shatter under its feet.

"Stop, beast!" cries a voice. "You will not best me!"

Omilitos looks and sees his brother, Polemistos, as he leaps through the air and thrusts his spear at the dragon. The tip merely glances off the dragon's tough scales, and the dragon roars, breathing out a stream of flames at Polemistos.

Polemistos draws his heavy shield and hides behind it. The dragon starts to snap its dagger-like teeth at Polemistos, who is still cowering behind his shield. Its teeth scrape across Polemistos' shoulder, but he nimbly leaps away and pulls up his shield again. However, the dragon soon manages to lock its jaws around the edge of the shield, and it easily crushes the shield between its teeth. The dragon rears up and prepares to unleash another breath of fire at the defenseless Polemistos.

Omilitos closes his eyes, fearful of what they would show him. Soon the sound of an agonising scream pierces through his body. He reopens his eyes and sees the dragon howling and shrieking in pain, its throat locked between terrifying jaws of a second giant dragon.

The first dragon howls and snaps at the second one, trying to break free of its bite, but the second dragon does not let go. The first dragon thrashes around and rends a clawed hand through the second's wings, and the second dragon roars with fury and pain, letting go of the first's neck.

The first dragon breathes a jet of flame at the other, and the other one takes off, flying up into the air. The first dragon follows, and for a while they dance through the sky, a dreadful ballet of fire and death. Eventually they crash into each other, and together they hurtle down into the sea outside Adelphia.

Omilitos watches and waits, but neither dragon reappears. Then he hears a groan and rushes over to his brother, lying bleeding on the stones of the agora.

"Brother!", says Omilitos. "Hold on, I will find you some medicine!"

"No", says Polemistos, his one hand clutched against his shoulder. "No, I am slain. The dragon's poison has infected me, and I am not long for this world."

Polemistos' eyes well up with tears, and he says "Brother, I am sorry for how I have wronged you. I always hated you for your popularity and wisdom, but now my foolishness has cost me my own life. I only hope I can have your forgiveness before I leave this world and join the great darkness beyond."

"You are forgiven, brother", says Omilitos. "Rest in peace."

With those words, Polemistos dies. Hours later, the fires of Adelphia begin to die as well, and the work of rebuilding the city begins. The wise Omilitos is crowned the king of the city, and his first act as king is to erect two statues in the middle of the agora. One is of Polemistos, his brother, the other is of a kind, nameless dragon which had likewise given its life to save Adelphia.

Enchanted Hat
Aug 18, 2013

Defeated in Diplomacy under suspicious circumstances

Fuschia tude posted:

Enchanted Hat - The Monster of Adelphia

Thanks for the crit! Also in for this week

Enchanted Hat
Aug 18, 2013

Defeated in Diplomacy under suspicious circumstances
The last deal
1,444 words

"You're full of poo poo, Travis."

"I am not! I guarantee you that it'll work, Rob." Travis took another swig from the bottle. "Listen, just give me a couple of minutes, I'll set it up right now."

"You're not going to do it", said Rob, rolling his eyes.

"How much do you want to bet?"

"Fiver."

"You're on", said Travis. He immediately started working his machine, and after a few minutes the deed was done.

"All right, Rob, start following GENS."

Rob looked up the ticker symbol, and soon General Synthetics Corporation popped up on his screen. For a moment, everything looked normal, but then the screen became a sea of red. Graphs collapsed, trading volume exploded. The share price had gone down 20% and was still falling.

"Jesus Christ, Travis, what did you do!"

"I burned down their factory. Let me just close out my position."

Travis started setting up a trade that would let him cash out on his original bet. "God drat it, these keys are too loving small."

"Did you actually do it?" said Rob, wide-eyed.

"Hell yeah I did!"

"How much did you make?"

"40K", said Travis. "Pretty good for three minutes of work."

"That's sick."

"I know, right? Hang on, I'll send you her details. You pick one this time."

Travis sent Rob an instant message with Jessie's log in details. Jessie was a journalist at Finance Daily, the world's most famous business paper, and she ran a regular investment blog on their site. Until the previous Friday, she had been Travis' girlfriend. She was also one of those people who used the same password for everything.

"I can't do that!" said Rob. "What if we get caught?"

"Rob, don't be a bitch" said Travis. He looked at his empty bottle and said "listen, I'll go and get some more drinks, you pick something in the meantime."

Rob scoffed and turned back to his laptop as Travis went to get drinks. He closed down the General Synthetics charts and opened his own portfolio. He sighed. Lots of small movements, but nothing really noteworthy had happened since he last checked it. He looked at the total net movement for the month.

+3,224

The sun shone through the small office window, bathing Travis' laptop in a ray of light. Rob glanced at the door to the office. It was closed. He then leaned over to look at Travis' computer. Sure enough, there was a new closed trade for General Synethetics. He looked at the green number to the right of the trade

+41,117.

He got back to his own laptop just as Travis walked through the door.

"Pick one yet?" said Travis, handing Rob a glass.

"Yeah", said Rob. "Hey, why don't we up the stakes?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, you clearly won the first bet, so why don't we make it double or nothing? We keep making trades, and whoever has made the most by close of play wins."

"Sure, that works for me", said Travis.

"And he also gets to be the undisputed top trader for the rest of this month."

"All right, tough guy, let's see you make a play first."

Rob took a sip from his drink as he checked his portfolio. "Got one", he said.

Travis looked over Rob's shoulder as he typed up an article. "You're not gonna make much money if you just talk up your existing holdings, man."

"Hold on, hold on."

With the article finished, Rob put in a massive buy order for Western Electric, the company that would, in a few minutes, discover cold fusion.

"Holy poo poo, I hope you can offload that", said Travis.

"Just watch me."

Rob posted the miraculous news on Finance Daily. Moments later, Western Electric surged and big green numbers appeared on Rob's screen.

"A hundred K!" said Travis. "Quick, close it before it reverses."

"Give it a moment."

An instant message popped up on Rob's screen.

"What's that?" said Travis.

"It's from Carl. He's linking me the fake blog I just wrote."

Travis laughed. "That's loving great. Do you think we should tell him what's going on?"

"Nah, I have a better idea", said Rob. He sent off a reply and said "I just told him to buy as much as he can ASAP."

"Wow. If he does that, he's going to be so deep in the red when it reverses."

"Yeah, but now he's going to pass it along and drive the price up even further."

"You should probably close out before people catch on."

Rob nodded and looked at his screen. The shares now stood at a gain of over five hundred thousand. He set up a sale which was immediately pounced on by a horde of ravenous investors.

"drat", said Travis.

"Looks like I win", said Rob. He leaned back in his chair, taking another sip from his glass.

"Oh yeah? Just you wait!" said Travis. He rushed over to his computer and started typing. "I'll need your help with this next one. When I post it, I want you to spread it around. Send the link to Carl and the others, tweet it, send it to your mother, whatever."

"Yeah, sure. What do you have in mind."

"Shorting Nikkei."

"What, you're betting against the Japanese stock market? How are you going to drag down the entire index?" asked Rob. "If you're writing a Godzilla story, I'm not sharing it."

"Nope", said Travis. He pushed his laptop over to Rob, who read the headline of the newest article:

BREAKING: China lands tanks on Japanese mainland, bombs Kyoto

"God drat", said Rob. "There's no way anyone's gonna fall for that!"

"Investors are retarded, this is totally gonna work. Just start sharing the article!"

Rob copied the link and sent it to Carl, asking him if he knew what was going on. "You're right", said Rob. "You're totally right. Carl says that he's getting rid of all of his Japanese investments right now."

A huge number appeared on Travis' screen. "I'm leveraged like crazy right now, so even a small change is going to give me a ridiculous profit on this."

Rob burst into laughter.

"What's the matter?" said Travis.

"The boss read your article. She's sent out a mass email with a lot of capital letters telling everyone to get out of the Japanese market."

"Yes!" Travis exclaimed. "I am top trader!"

Rob poured himself another glass. "Oh yeah? I bet I can top that!"

"Not gonna happen."

Rob thought for a moment, then started typing out another article.

"What have you got?" said Travis.

"Not telling yet."

"Ha! I bet you don't have anything."

Rob scrolled through a list of thoroughly unpleasant search results. "Hey, do you know how you embed pictures and stuff?"

"Not a clue"

"That's fine, I'll find it myself."

Travis leaned back in his seat, finishing his drink as he waited for Rob's article. "Hey, what are you investing in for this?"

"Credit default insurance, I'm betting that the risk of debt default will go higher."

"Oh, good call, that should be nice and volatile. Corporate debt default?"

"Government", said Rob. He pushed the button, launching the article across the net. "All right, your turn, start spreading this."

Travis opened up the link that Rob sent him. "Wow. Talk about upping the ante."

"Hey, sometimes you've got to shoot for the stars."

"Yeah, only this time you missed them and hit Berlin instead."

The story spread like wildfire. In minutes, dozens of websites were parroting the original article, and Rob and Travis' inboxes were flooded with panicked messages from wide and far. The two high fived.

"A fake Russian surprise nuclear strike!" said Travis. "I'm totally giving it to you, Rob, you win! I'm conceding."

Rob grinned. "Yeah, nuclear war should increase default risk a tiny bit!"

"I can't believe everyone's falling for this, it's amazing. Look at all the comments, these guys are demanding a retaliation!"

"Some people will just believe anything they read", said Rob. He followed a link and said "look at this article, it says that NATO has started firing back, and that China is getting involved on the Russian side. The author must be playing along with our hoax."

Travis got up from his chair and went to give Rob a pat on the back. "Well done, man! This trade of yours is going to go down in history."

Rob nodded. He got up and stretched, then walked to the window of the tiny office. It was a beautiful day outside, and as he stood there, he basked in the glow of victory, the radiant sun and a three megaton nuclear explosion.

Enchanted Hat
Aug 18, 2013

Defeated in Diplomacy under suspicious circumstances
In and I'd like a flash rule, please!

Enchanted Hat
Aug 18, 2013

Defeated in Diplomacy under suspicious circumstances
U.S.G.P.
1,495 words

The official solemnly put down the phone. He turned to the president and said "Miami's been sacked."

"drat it!" said the president, furrowing his brow. "There's no time to waste. Get Priest on the phone, he's moving out tonight."

"Yes sir", said the official, who started dialling the number. "Do you think he'll be awake at this time of night?"

"He will. Priest doesn't sleep. He's a machine. The ultimate weapon. He has one purpose on this earth, and he is going to fulfil it tonight. He's the only man who can stop these ghost pirates."

Thirty minutes later, John Priest was on a stealth plane circling over the Caribbean. Through a hatch, he could see the blackness of the night being pierced by rapid-fire explosions going off around a large 17th century frigate.

"Are you sure you wanna drop down there on your own?" shouted one of the plane's crew, struggling to be heard over the roar of the plane and the wind outside.

John took a drag on his cigarette, then tossed it out the hatch. "You'd only get in the way. This is something I've gotta do on my own." It was true, of course. There was no way to fight a ghost with normal means. Even the barrage down below was mostly for show. Ghosts were selectively corporeal, and damned hard to get rid of if they didn't want to leave this earth. If John brought along a squad of soldiers, they'd be putting their lives at risk for nothing.

"All right, John. Shall I radio in and ask them to stop bombardment?"

"No, I need the explosions there to light up the landing zone."

"But that's crazy, you'll be landing in an inferno! You're gonna die!"

John ignored the crewman and leapt out the hatch, deploying his parachute to slowly float down towards the hellfire below. John wasn't afraid of death. He'd faced him before, and he hadn't been too impressed.

John landed in the crow's nest at the top of one of the frigate's high masts. Below him, the crew of the ship was running around, loading the cannons with ghostly cannonballs for another broadside. Occasionally a missile would rush through the night at blinding speed and explode on the ship's deck, not even phasing the crew.

"Fire!" a voice cried out. The sound of a 20-gun battery rang in John's ears as the pirates fired their cannons into the darkness. The man who had given the order stomped across the deck, a giant with a huge red beard and an elaborate gold-trimmed coat, shouting encouragement at the crew as his boots slammed against the ship. "Reload those cannons, you scurvy dogs! The king in Spain won't know what hit him!"

John jumped down from the mast, landing right in front of the startled captain. "You boys look like you've had a few too many bottles of rum! It's time to send you to Davy Jones' locker." John tossed a small bottle of tap water at the pirate. "With this holy water, I absolve you of your sins! Go to Heaven in peace!"

All eyes turned on the ship. The captain looked down on his stained coat, stunned into silence. Then he let out a loud guffaw, joined by his boisterous crew. "Nice try there, matey! But you're not getting rid of us that easily."

John grimaced. This had never happened before. Usually spirits only stayed behind out of desperation, eager to be released into the next life, and their exploits were quickly covered up by the government. "Why are you here, pirates? The age of sail is long gone, you have no business left in this world."

"Yarr, but we do! Our black hearts still crave plunder, and we'll keep raiding and pillaging forever, matey. The only way you're getting rid of us is with cold steel!"

"Then I'll use steel!"

The pirate captain let out an amused snort. "Ha, very well! Someone throw this landlubber a sword!"

One of the pirates pulled out a long cutlass and tossed it handle-first at John. John held out his hand to catch it, but the sword merely floated through his hand, clattering against the deck of the ghost ship.

The ship broke into laughter again. "You might have a bit of trouble with the weapons on board, matey! The only thing that'll hurt us is ghost steel, and that's a little tricky for mortals to use!"

John smirked and bent over to pick up the sword, this time firmly grabbing it. He gave it a flourish and said "I think I can get the hang of it."

Anger flashed across the pirate captain's face. He drew a flintlock pistol from his belt and fired it at John, who dove behind a stack of barrels on the deck. John crouched behind the barrels as he heard the crack of another pistol, splintering a barrel inches away from his head.

"Yarr, let's have at him!" John heard a pirate say.

"Yeah, let's skin him alive!" another replied.

"No!" said the captain. "I'll deal with him myself. Come out, landlubber, so we can cross swords!"

John pushed over the stack of barrels, leaping over them while swinging his cutlass. The captain stepped back, parrying the swing as he kicked aside one of the barrels, spilling a torrent of ghostly rum across the deck.

"Who are you, matey?" said the captain as he swung out at John.

"I'm John Priest, Ghost Police. I'm here to take you down!"

"I admire your spirit, Mr Priest. But you're not getting out of this one alive!"

John nimbly dodged one of the captain's swipes by climbing up the netting on one of the masts. "Nor are you, captain! You're already dead. Why do you stay in the mortal realm?"

The captain swung himself onto the netting. "Yarr, it's a lot of fun, matey!"

"Don't give me that!" said John. "Back in the day, you could have gone to Tortuga with your plunder and revelled for days. Now all you have left is killing and pillaging. There's no fun in that, even for a pirate like you."

"You know that there is, Mr Priest, or you wouldn't be here either!"

"Not true" said John, balancing precariously on the yardarm of the mast as he parried the captain's swings. "I will pass on once I have done penance for what I did during my lifetime."

"And what is it that keeps you here?"

John grew silent. It had been so long, he scarcely remembered. But it had to be a good reason, otherwise he wouldn't be here. "Mind your own business, pirate!" he shouted, lunging at the captain. The captain veered off-balance, but grabbed a rope to stop his fall, sliding back down to the deck. John followed him, but the battle was taking its toll on him. As a ghost, he could not grow tired, but the captain was the better fencer, and John's position was getting worse and worse. He dodged a blow by climbing onto the ship's railing, and then down onto a plank sticking out over the side of the ship.

"Yarr, a fitting end for you, to die on the plank like so many others", said the captain, leaping onto the plank himself. Desperately, John unleashed a flurry of blows, but the captain blocked him, then knocked the cutlass out of John's hands and into the water. "You fought gallantly, Mr Priest. I would have been glad to have you on my crew, but enough is enough! It is time to end this!"

The captain sheathed his sword. "Let us offer each other absolution."

John was confused. "What? You're willing to go?"

"Yarr, we have both outstayed our welcome on this world. You were right, Mr Priest, my crew and I won't be satisfied fighting without purpose until the end of days. And you don't even know what you're fighting for anymore, matey. No matter how many souls you put to rest, the only one you really need to see absolved now is your own."

The captain held out his hand, and John took it. They climbed aboard the ship, and the captain said "Mr Priest, will you absolve this wicked crew of their misdeeds, their evil and their treachery?"

"I will."

"Yarr, and I absolve you, Mr Priest. It is time for you to leave this place."

John started to feel weak. He looked at his hands, and they were dissipating before his eyes. He looked back up at the captain, who was slowly turning into a wisp of smoke along with the other pirates. Before he disappeared completely, the captain said "If you ever want to cross swords again in the next world, matey, then come find me, and I'll give you another thrashing!"

John smiled. If there was another world, he wondered what he'd do in it, now that he had been absolved of his debts. Perhaps he'd become a pirate.

Enchanted Hat
Aug 18, 2013

Defeated in Diplomacy under suspicious circumstances
In, I need something to do while I'm ignoring Voidmart customers

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Enchanted Hat
Aug 18, 2013

Defeated in Diplomacy under suspicious circumstances

Sitting Here posted:

Your character works in Guns, Ammo, and Liquor. One stop shopping!

Forever Voidmart
1,281 words

"Would you look at this beauty, Travis!" said Dayton, pulling a rifle out of its crate.

"Yeah, looks great", I said. I didn't turn to look, but I doubt he noticed. Dayton loved it when we got new stock. In fact, he would probably live in the guns and ammo department if he could.

"Real American craftsmanship! They don't make 'em like this anymore."

"Well, except that one", I said. "They did make that."

"Nowadays they make everything China or Africa or some other country full of godless communists", said Dayton, not listening to a word I said. I had been here too long to be offended by Dayton, the guy was probably senile anyway. Besides, as soon as I'd made a few more paycheques I'd be out of this place.

A customer walked into the department. I gave him a small wave, but he didn't seem to notice, and he wandered off to the liquor section.

Dayton came over and tugged at my sleeve. "Look, there's one of them now. One of those orientals. You think he's up to something?"

"I think he might have a devious plot to buy booze", I said.

"Can't trust them, you know. You think I should call security?"

"gently caress no! You know what Voidmart security is like", I said. I thought back to the last time the old fart had called in security. We had to close shop for days to scrape off the blood.

The customer came up to the counter and paid for a couple of bottles while Dayton gave him the evil eye. When he left, Dayton ran behind one of the stalls and surreptitiously watched him wander off into the Voidmart crowd.

"He's gone. I think we're safe", Dayton said.

"Thank God, he might have stayed and bought an ammo pouch. Then we'd really be in trouble."

"Well, don't worry. I always keep some of the guns behind the counter loaded in case of emergency."

Before I could tell him that that was a really bad idea, another customer walked in. It was an old guy wearing a civil war cap. Talking to customers like that always gave me a headache, so I asked Dayton to take over the counter while I took a break.

I wandered out to the parking lot for a smoke. As soon as I stepped out of the store, I felt a heavy cloud lifting from me. I guess it might just be relief from getting to leave work for a while, but I still felt as if there was a weird sensation specifically tied to being inside Voidmark.The customers were all assholes, and all the staff were either depressed, cynical or mad. It was as if the place was sucking away your will to live and drawing out all that was worst about you.

I took a drag on my cigarette. Just a couple of months. I'd spend a few more months in there and build up a cash reserve, then I'd finally be able to quit and do what I really wanted to do. Come to think of it, what was it that I really wanted to do? I thought back to when I took the job. I had a clear plan for what I wanted to do afterwards, but it was all hazy now. It was as if someoe had pried open my skull and scrubbed that part of it with a cheap erasor, leaving behind smudges of memory but nothing more. I'd figure it out, though. It wasn't as if I would have to spend the rest of my life there.

I stubbed the cigarette against the wall. I figured I had better get back before the old coot did something stupid and got us both in trouble. I took a deep breath and went back into Voidmart. I had to wade through a throng of shoppers trying to leave the store. Couldn't blame them, I thought. I'd quite like to leave as well. When I got through, Voidmart was actually pretty quiet. Usually it was a swarming beehive of grease and obesity, but now most of the aisles were empty. I squinted and saw that there were at least some people in guns and ammo.

A thunderclap rang out through the store as one of the stalls in guns and ammo splintered into a million pieces. The guys in the department turned out to be store security, and they crouched behind cover as another shot was fired off, cutting in half a cardboard cutout of a grinning cowboy.
"Jesus gently caress!" I cried as I ran to the department.

A member of store security said "halt!" and raised his gun, carefully watching me through his futuristic orange visor. "We have a beta-four staff management situation, this area is off-limits!"

"No, hold on, I work at guns and ammo", I said, my hands in the air. "Let me talk to him, I can make him calm down!"

Two of the store security guys exchanged glances, then one said "okay, kid, he's all yours."

"Any of you want some more, you come right up!" I heard Dayton shout from behind the stalls.

"Dayton, you bastard, stop this craziness!" I yelled back.

"Oh hey, Travis!" he called out. "Be careful, there are some dangerous people out there, they're besieging the store!"

"Look, can I come over?"

"Yeah, come quick! But no tricks, you hear me?"

I walked down one of the aisles towards the counter. On the ground, I saw a guy with a pair of Crocs and no head lying splayed out, bloodspatter painting the displays around him. When I turned the corner, I saw Dayton and the civil war guy from earlier peering out from over the counter, shotguns pointed at me.

"Dayton, what the gently caress are you doing?" I said.

"The evil forces of the communist government have taken over the store, it's every man for himself now!" said Dayton. "Quick, grab a gun and help us out, will you?"

"Look, you need to put the gun down right now and surrender to security. I'll even help you fill out the paperwork for HR."

"Surrender? Oh please, this is nothing, I faced much worse in the war! Have I told you about when I..."

"Of course you loving have!" I interrupted.

"Hey Dayton, you sure we can trust this guy?" said the customer from earlier.

"Sure, this is Travis. He helps me in the store."

"Yeah, but he might have been brainwashed. You know, the way the commies used to do."

"Hmm, yeah" said Dayton. He cocked his shotgun and said "how do we know you're not brainwashed?"

"You know I'm not brainwashed because that's loving stupid. Put down the gun!"

"No, you put down your gun!" the customer yelled back.

"I don't have a gun!"

"Don't fall for it, Dayton, it's one of his tricks!"

"Yeah, I won't fall for that!" said Dayton, still aiming his shotgun at me.

"What, you want me to drop my gun even though I don't have one?" I looked to my left and saw a rack of handguns. "All right, I'll take one of these guns, then drop it."

I reached out for a gun, then the customer cried "look out, Dayton, he's got a gun!"

"I knew it! Lousy traitor!"

I tried to protest, by no words came out. My ears started ringing, and my knees were shaking. I looked down at my hand, but all I could see was red. Then my vision fogged over and I slumped to the ground.

As I lay there dying and my mind faded away, there was only one thought in my mind:

Voidmart

Voidmart

Voidmart

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