Monday, February 18, 2019

Through the Breach Campaign Document part 2: Characters

There are a few people who help maintain the house. I think these should be fun people who are sources of support and help but could also function as red herrings.
Mrs. Galling: Housekeeper. She’s a stern older woman who’s been employed by Doctor Beaufort for a short time; a few months at the best. She takes her job seriously. Does excellent work. Leaves every day by 6PM, just after finishing dinner. She’s used to Doctor Beaufort, and has gotten to know him better than even he understands. That said, she’s very loyal to her employer and won’t speak a cross word against him. She also won’t reveal any of his secrets.
James Mason: Driver. James has worked for Doctor Beaufort for the last few weeks. He’s anxious to do a good job. He’s a former Guild Guard who got shot during a mine uprising. His leg never healed right, but he’s still formidable. Large and stocky he moves with a slow uneven gate. He keeps the coach in excellent condition and takes pride in how the chrome and bronze shine as the coach rolls down the road. He also takes care of the two horses that pull the coach; Church and Mimsey. James doesn’t live on the property but is close enough that he can arrive in around five minutes should his services be needed. James has a reasonable understanding of who Doctor Beaufort is though he doesn’t know much about him. Being the driver he’s rarely in a position to speak with the doctor. He does know everywhere the doctor frequents should the players need to track him down.
Thatcher: Groundskeeper. Thatcher came with the house. He’s been here since before the doctor owned the property. Thatcher keeps the grounds well. The grass is green and the plants are healthy. He purposely keeps the shrubs ringing the property looking unkempt and forgotten. He is quiet, seems to pop up when no one expects it, and gets angry if anything happens to one of the many plants and topiaries one the grounds. Thatcher has spent some time speaking with Doctor Beaufort and has a good opinion of the doctor. If asked he won’t discuss the specifics of any conversation willingly but will indicate they talked about the house and grounds with specific attention paid to the hedge maze and the possibility of a greenhouse. Thatcher lives on the grounds. He has a hut located inside the hedge maze. It’s possible to find but requires finding two separate hidden levers that cause sections of the maze to open.
Thatcher may be a member of the Neverborn.
The good Doctor: Doctor Beaufort is a dogged researcher with a strong sense of civic responsibility. Finding several patterns of disturbing behavior cropping up around the city he’s tried and failed to get the Governor and the Guild involved. Since then he has taken steps to insert himself into these matters. Beaufort has always been a skilled physician, but a crippling illness has taken his once steady hands and made it impossible for him to perform any of the form surgeries he was once capable of. Still wanting to help, he recently discovered a series of disappearances that were plaguing parts of the city. While researching these matters, he’s discovered far more irregularities. With the Guild rebuking his efforts he’s decided to find outside assistance.
He will be absent during the first session, a puzzle map has been stolen from the entry way of the house. He’s gone to retrieve it from the thieves. By the end of the first adventure the puzzle will return via courier. When Doctor Beaufort returns? I’m not sure right now. He will eventually be back at the manor house, but it may be a few sessions.
Possible Characters:
Abigail Mason: Sister to Jake Tanner, Abigail is invited into the home by Doctor Beaufort. She may be encountered by the party while investigating Jake’s suicide. Abigail is a seamstress who’s struggling to make ends meet in Malifaux since her husband died in a mine “accident”. Abagail and her son Benjamin are innocents in this. If introduced they will be a source of character development and people to protect.
Benjamin Mason: Benjamin is a normal ten year old. He moves into the house with his mother. He will mostly be included as a red herring since my players will probably assume I’m going with the possessed child bit. I will play into this. He will probably spend time in the play room talking with his uncle.
The ghost of Jake Tanner: Jake is the man who stole the puzzle board. He was put up to it, sort of. He was actually there to hide an amulet on the property but was discovered by Mrs. Galling as he was leaving after hiding the amulet. When she found him he grabbed the puzzle board as a distraction from his real purpose. He thought he had made his escape but Doctor Beaufort cornered him. With fear of revealing who hired him and endangering his family, Jake took his own life. Unfortunately, his spirt became bound to his wedding ring. Beaufort took the ring, an engraved pocket watch, and a photo of Jake’s family for further investigation. Jake bears no ill will to the Doctor and depending on how the party treats him and his sister and nephew he could function as a sort of ally.
Outside NPC’s
Sargent Percy: Elizabeth Percy is a Guild officer. She’s one of the few street level soldiers responsible for dealing with crime. She exhausted with Beaufort. He’s tried to bring the disappearances to her attention and she has ignored him. Ultimately, she just doesn’t care. She once believed in the law and trying to help but Malifaux has worn her down. She no longer cares about the little people from the slums. In her experience they’re always killing each other, stealing, and running away. She’s given up on these small cases of trying to figure out who went missing. It no longer matters to her. Is it possible to recruit/redeem her? Maybe. The group would have to put in a nearly titanic effort to do so.
Fa Ping, The Velvet Crane: Ping was born with a frail constitution. His body had betrayed him. However, he was smart, and looked innocent, this gave him an air of being above suspicion. A trait the Ten Thunders enjoy. He was recruited to the criminal organization as a look out and a courier. He spent several years as a child working his way around the organization and getting to know people. Eventually he began to overhear things that people needed. Then he started introducing people to others who needed their aid. Soon he started incurring favors. People owed him. Ping, is the man who gets things done. He knows someone or can find someone who needs help and gets them to do what you need. When you owe the Velvet Crane a favor you keep your end of the bargain. The shadows whisper the stories of those who failed or betrayed him, the ends are never pretty.
In truth, the reputation is only slightly earned. Few people have ever failed Ping and he’s usually very understanding about such things. He forgives you but you will repay the debt. Betrayal is a different matter. A few people have turned against him or the Ten Thunders and he’s called in favors to have them dealt with. Favors from very dangerous people. While he would prefer to not get so bloody, a message must be sent to those who betray the organization, and he does so with a heavy heart. He’s the one who sent Jake turner into the Beaufort Manor. It was an attempt to dissuade the Doctor’s investigation. It’s also the reason Jake killed himself to escape capture. Having heard the stories he was afraid for his family.

I should take a moment to talk about the Guild here since I’ve mentioned them a couple of times. The guild are the law in Malifaux. They control the production of Soul Stone and use that to keep people in line. They also control the Breach and the train that leads between Malifaux and Earthside. The Guild are corrupt beyond all reason. They’ve outlawed the use of magic, replacing body parts with machinery, or investigating any on the long lost technologies that were discovered on Malifaux when the first explorers came through the Breach. To do this they employ, magic users, people with body replacements, and lost technologies. The only thing they’ve made illegal but don’t employ themselves is necromancy.
It is of note that they’re really bad at their job. The lead forensic investigator and the city’s grave keeper are both leaders of the necromancer movement. There are many other examples of this. The Guild is corrupt and dangerous. They use some old world tactics to keep people in line. The only legal currency in Malifaux is Guild Script, actual money is illegal.
That said, they do have some heroic figures working for them who are trying to make Malifaux safer. Lady Justice is a Guild Officer who hunts the forces of the roaming undead and protects the citizens of the city. The Ortega family are a group of demon hunters who live in the wilds keep the land safe from attack.
Basically, the Guild as an organization is corrupt but many of its members are not.

I think that’s good for today. I’ll come back and post some more later. Next time I’ll talk about the house.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Through the Breach Campaign Document part 1

I’ve decide I want to run a campaign for Through the Breach. For those of you unfamiliar with TtB, it is an RPG based in the Malifaux world. Malifaux is a parallel world found by passing through a giant hole in the fabric of reality. Thematically, it’s a fantasy, western, Victorian, gothic, steampunk, wuxia, Lovecraftian, comedy, horror. I know that’s a lot, but it’s pretty accurate. Basically, the world is filled with necromancers, magic users, cowboys, inventors, gremlins, and unspeakable nightmares all vying for control of the world and a resource called Soul Stones.
That’s as much as I’ll describe the world. I will give brief descriptions of things as I come across them. For the most part, it’s a nice hodgepodge of all these wonderful genres that meld in a beautifully fun and unique way.

For my campaign I’ve been playing with a couple of different ideas. I’ve decided that my group will be brought together by a Doctor Anton Beaufort. Each member of the team will be summoned by a letter that will indicate some personal detail that may hint to a useful exchange. They message will also include a train ticket from Earth through the Breach and into Malifaux.
As the campaign continues the group will be guests in Beaufort Manor. From there they will investigate various events that and mysteries that occur around Malifaux City. Each mystery will be connected to an overarching plot. What that plot is and what the players will need to do to reach the end of the puzzle will be the key thrust of the story.
Immediate mysteries: Several people have been disappearing from the streets of Malifaux city. Every sixth night at exactly midnight a person goes missing. The person who vanishes lives two streets over from the person who previously vanished. The path is making a direct route across Malifaux City. Beaufort is the only one paying attention right now. However, if the pattern continues it will enter the wealthier district of Malifaux City in three or four kidnappings. What Beaufort doesn’t know is there are actually a kidnapping every third night. There are two lines moving across the city from different direction. In eleven kidnappings the lines will intersect.
Someone broke into the manor house to steal a puzzle board. It’s not even a particularly valuable board. They ignored everything else to try and steal the board. Beaufort will retrieve it quickly but why steal it and who did the thief work for. The thief threw himself into the way of a large wagon when cornered and was crushed under the hooves of the two massive steam powered horses pulling the wagon. Beaufort managed to retrieve a locket and a picture from the man’s remains. Where do they lead?
Beaufort has been tracking a series of magic power flares through the city. There’s no pattern he can detect but they are becoming more and more frequent.
As a sub-plot the Beaufort Manor will hold a few puzzles for the party to solve. Over the course of the campaign they’ll find some of these puzzles. I intend for them to find a couple in the first session.
1: There will be a diary that refers to rooms that aren’t in the manor house.
2: A Puzzle board that hangs in the grand foyer has been stolen and will return by the end of the first adventure.
3: A riddle inscribed in the wall in the wine cellar leads to a lost passage.
4: A set of keys that fit no lock in the house.
5: A door in the attic that’s been boarded up.
6: An antique Mirror that’s been covered in a tarp, locked in an iron cage with a sturdy lock, and hidden in the back of a large wardrobe.
7: A broken jewelry box that holds a locket with a torn picture.
8: A wind up ballerina statue that only/always dances at midnight.
9: A painting that shows a room in the house that doesn’t exist.
Some of these should appear in the player’s rooms. I like the diary, mirror, ballerina statue, and painting for this. I may come up with more. I don’t really have any idea what these lead to yet. I may use some, none, or all of them. Also, they probably won’t come across some of these right away. I can see missing the attic and cellar items for a few games. The key ring would probably be in a study desk and could be grabbed in hopes of helping them get around the house.

That's what I have for now. I'll drop some more here later. I think I'll start writing up stuff on the characters. If you have any input, ideas, or places I can go for cool puzzles O'd love to hear.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Holiday Advent Story 23

You don’t expect a case on Christmas Eve but there she was. She walked into my dad’s garage with a cross look on her face. She was angry about something and that was clear. What she wanted, I couldn’t have guessed at that. All I know is she was about to deliver the weirdest case I’d ever received in my twelve years on this earth.
“I hear you solve mysteries,” she said.
“I dabble,” I told her.
“I need someone with a keen eye to check into something,” she said. “You got the time?”
“It’s Christmas Eve,” I said. “I got time, but it’s in short supply.”
“It’s a rush job,” she said. “But it needs doing.”
“You tell me the case, I’ll tell you if I got the time.”
“I need you to prove to my dad my stepmom’s no good.”
It was a time honored tale. Younger kids tend to get fed on the dream fed by fairy tales and cartoons. Stepmom is evil and not living up to standards. Now I’m pulled into the middle of it. There were a couple of quick questions to ask.
“Have you told your real mom?”
“She’s gone,” she said and in a way that said it was the long gone sort of way you don’t come back from.
“Have you talked to your pops?”
“I tried,” she said. “He wouldn’t have none it.”
“What makes you so sure she’s up to no good?”
“Saw her with my own eyes,” she said. “She was getting’ close to the jolly man himself.”
“Santa?” I asked. “You sure.”
“Yeah I’m sure.”
“All right,” I said. “What do you want me to do?”
“I need proof to show my dad,” she said. “I need him to back off.”
“I ain’t got long,” I said. “It’s Christmas Eve and were doing the family thing in three hours. I need to be in my seat with a button shirt, face and hands clean before the knife hits to turkey or there’ll be heck to pay. But, I think I can give it a look.”
“Good,” she said dropping a fin on my table. She knew my rates. She did her research. She also dropped a page with her address and digits on it. “That’s my house and phone number. Call me when you got it.”
“I’ll need a name,” I said. “I don’t work for nameless any more. Had a bad experience once.”
“Linda.” She turned and walked out and I had a case. I grabbed my kit, put on my jacket and scarf, and hopped on my bike.
I’ll be honest, I should have passed. These domestic cases are nothing but trouble, but this one had a wrinkle I was intrigued by. Santa. Sure I knew the big guy. Saw him once a year at the mall, wrote him letter, I even left out cookies. From what I saw he was a nice guy; jolly old salt. His involvement was a bit rough. Looking back, I’m pretty sure I took it to prove her wrong more than anything. But sometimes a case takes a weird turn.
I reached her house and parked my bike around the side. It was early and the folks would be inside getting ready for the evening. I needed a quick look around before things go to weird. If the big man had been there I needed to look at the scene of the arrival and escape.
It had snowed a few days ago and it still clung to the roofs of houses. Linda’s house was no different. Her old man had a shed and I ducked out to it and checked the door. Unlocked. He’d probably forgotten when he did the lights this year.
I slipped inside and grabbed his step ladder. Hauled it to the side of the house and climbed to the roof. I looked around, clean untouched snow. Then didn’t have a proper chimney, just a bit of venting for the dryer. Maybe he hadn’t come this way? I slid down and checked the yard. I’d seen the front on the way up. Other than a snowman and the associated divots there was no sign of a sleigh and eight to nine reindeer. The back yard was clear as well.
I rounded the house to the far side just to be sure. Clear again. If Santa had been here, he didn’t bring the sleigh. Maybe he used Uber? I don’t know how he gets around the rest of the year. No sleigh tracks didn’t rule him out, but it made it harder.
I walked to the front door. I needed to see the scene. I knocked. The door opened. It was the stepmom.
She looked nice enough. Smiled easy, twinkled her eyes. She wore one of those sweaters with the reindeer and trees. She had on an apron dusted with flower. She looked down on me and said, “Hello.”
“Hi, ma’am,” I said, cause I got manners. “Is Linda home? I wanted to wish her a Merry Christmas.” It was a lie, but you don’t get in this business to see the better side of people.
“Of course,” she said then she hollered for Linda. “Come in. Would you like a cookie?”
There was a plate near the door. All decorated with bright colors. I thanked her and took one; a snowman. Sugar with royal icing. Nice. They were good and I said as much.
Linda walked into the room. She had that cross look on her face. The one that says, why are you here eating her cookies?
Stepmom left the room and headed back to the kitchen.
Linda turned on me, “Why are you here?” she asked. “And eating her cookie.”
“I need to see the scene of the crime. Only way in was you. As for the cookie, it’s best not to raise suspicions just yet.”
“She’s gone and you’re still eating it.”
“It’s still good,” I said. “Shame to waste a fine snowman like this.”
She sighed. I have that effect on girls.
“It’s in the family room.” She walked away leading me deeper into the house.
It was a nice place. Warm colors, comfortable furniture, and lots of phots. There was love here. At least until I did my job.
The family room was gigantic. All done up for Christmas. The tree was well done with twinkle lights and tinsel. Candy canes hanging all over it.
Linda pointed at a spot by the tree. “It was right there. I saw them kissing, right there.”
“Has your step vacuumed since then?”
I pulled out my magnifying glass and checked the area. Not sure what I was looking for but there was a distinct lack of it. No fireplace soot, coal dust, or reindeer hair. Not even a stray white beard hair.
There was one more place to look. It was dangerous but I had to take a chance.
“If anyone asks I’m using your bathroom,” I told Linda and headed for the back of the house.
I crept down the hallway listening for footfalls of the parents but I could hear them talking in the kitchen.
I reached the door to their bedroom and let myself in. I’d only have a couple of minutes but I had to look. Maybe find a memento, letter, or photo of stepmom with Santa.
I dug through drawers, shelves, and even checked under the bed. Finally, I braved the closets. That’s when I found it. The one piece of evidence that wrapped the whole case up. I nodded, closed the closet door, and walked back to the family room.
“Show me,” I told Linda.
She stood and walked with me towards the door. “Did you find it?”
“I got your answers,” I said. “Not the ones you’re looking for but pretty good ones.”
“What do you mean?” she asked. “Can you prove she kissed him?”
“I searched your folk’s room,” I said. “It was in your dad’s closet. The proof. There were a pile of gifts, a bag of candy canes, and a Santa suit.”
“What do you mean?”
“I saw your family photos,” I said. “Your dad’s a big fella. Nice beard. Has suit, resents, and candy canes in the closet. Your stepmom kissed Santa Claus. Of course she did. Your dad is Santa Claus. All the proof is there.”
“That can’t be,” she said. “I would know.”
“Would you?” I asked. “They wouldn’t tell you because they still want to be as excited as everyone else. I’m sure in few years when you’re older they’ll run you up to the pole and show you the workshop.”
“Why wouldn’t we just live there?”
“No schools,” I said. “No other kids to be friends with. You’d be alone, cut off from everyone else. They moved here because they love you kid.”
She looked at me for a long moment. A smile crept across her face. She reached into her pocket and pulled out the rest of my fee.
I told her to keep it. Not sure why. Just felt like the Christmas thing to do.

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Holiday Advent Story 22

Location: the backyard.
Time hours to Christmas Eve.
A dapper dog named Daisy, a beagle of the highest caliber was sniffing around her back yard. When suddenly, a figure appears from the darkness.
Who could this shadowed figure be? Why none other than Keith the Christmas Werewolf. What could prompt this noble defender of the human and animal peace accord be doing here on this particular night?
“Daisy,” said Keith. “I’m afraid I’m going to have to call on your services this evening. Without your help, Christmas will be ruined. Can I count on your aid?”
“Heck Keith, you sure can,” said Daisy.
*Note* It should be noted at this point that the conversations held by this pair will be translated from Caninus into English so that you will be able to follow along on this adventure.
“We don’t have long,” said Keith. “I’ll have to explain on the way.”
The pair ran into the woods. Keith’s dark blue trench coat and Daisy’s bright yellow Christmas scarf billowing behind them.
“What’s the matter Keith?” asked Daisy.
“It seems one of my old enemies, that vile villain, Dexter Scrooge has struck again.” Keith took a deep breath, as if the words themselves hurt to say. “He’s kidnapped one of Santa’s reindeer.”
“No,” said Daisy. “Doesn’t he realize that with even just one of the reindeer missing that Santa can’t possibly make it to every house on earth tonight?”
“All too well my friend,” said Keith. “In fact, he’s counting on it.”
“But that could destroy Christmas,” said Daisy. “Why would he do that?”
“It’s a sad tale old chum,” said Keith. “You see Dexter Scrooge hates Christmas. He’s always hated. Some say it’s because of his family name, others believe it’s the result of teasing when he was a child, and some say it’s a curse set on the family by Charles Dickens, a well know holiday warlock.”
“What do you think?” asked Daisy.
“I’m not usually one to say it,” said Keith. “In this case I believe Dexter was just born naughty. Some people, just want to see the world get coal.”
They ran on in silence until Keith signaled for Daisy to stop. “This is the place. This is why I needed you.”
“What can I do?” asked Daisy.
“While my detective skills are amongst the best in the world, I don’t have your nose. This is the last place the Reindeer’s locator went off. I was hoping you could track them from here.”
Without a word Daisy set to work sniffing the ground. She carefully worked her way back and forth across the clearing. She checked every path, trail, and footstep until she was certain she knew what had happened.
“It’s pretty messy,” said Daisy. “There were six of them. Five tough men smelling of rifle oil and another smelling of ink, money, and hatred.”
“I didn’t realize hatred had a smell.”
“It does,” said Daisy. “Like rotten candy canes on radiator.” Daisy turned back to the clearing. They came at the reindeer from all sides. The deer tried to make a run for it but they got him. Drug him down and tied a leash on him. Then they…” Daisy paused a snarl at eth edge of her mouth. “They muzzled him.”
“The fiends!” cried Keith. “We need to move fast. Do you know which way they went?”
“I do.”
“Lead the way old chum.”
At that moment across the magical forest a young near-do-well sat upon a throne of second hand wood.
“Boss,” said Tank, the lead henchman. “The boys were wondering if we could up the heat a bit.”
“No,” said Dexter Scrooge. “Heat costs money.”
Dexter stood. He was an old soul, even at fourteen. Dexter dressed in the style of a business man much older than he was. His long trench coat hung near the ground, its collar raised against the chill in the room. He walked with a cane, though he didn’t need it. He never smiled even when things were going according to plan. The very weight of his vile person made the world feel titled twenty degrees.
His hideout was a dark affair, lit by a single candle nestled on an old silver holder. The furniture was a collection of thrift store antiques and hand me downs that would have once been nice. Around the room were stacks and stacks of crates.
Dexter paced the length of the large room. “Has our guest arrived?”
“Not yet sir,” said Tank. “Are you sure he’s coming.”
“He’s never disappointed me in the past. Why would he fail now?”
Meanwhile, outside.
Keith and Daisy stood a few feet from the hideout, hidden in the bushes.
“That’s the place,” said Daisy.
“An abandoned gold mine,” said Keith. “Very clever. No one would think to look here.”
“What should we do?” asked Daisy.
“We have the element of surprise. However, that doesn’t mean we should be careless.” Keith pulled a long rope from his pocket. “Do you mind?”
“Not at all.”
Keith lifted Daisy and slid her into one of the long pockets of his jacket. Keith then hurled the end of the rope up and used it to scale the outside of the mine office.
Arriving at the top Keith moved across the roof towards the skylight. Reaching the side of the skylight Keith took a moment to look through the window. Below was a large empty room with a huge shape under a larger tarp. Suddenly the roof gave way beneath him dropping him several feet into a waiting net. The Net constricted around Keith and Daisy holding them in place.
Keith and Daisy struggled against the net in vain.
“Struggle on my friend,” said Dexter Scrooge.
The light of a single candle flared slightly illuminating the darkness. Dexter stood with his henchmen around him. “It seems not only Santa finds his way to the roof tops of children.”
“You’re no child,” said Keith. “You’re a monster.”
“Biting words,” said Dexter. “You’re too late. You might as well give up. My plan is already a success. I’ve captured one of Santa’s reindeer. He’ll never get to every house on his list.”
“He’ll still get to some,” said Daisy.
“Exactly,” said Dexter. “And some is all I need. While some children will have been visited by Santa others will not. Parents desperate to make their children feel better after having been snubbed will need to run out at the nearest opportunity and purchase gifts. Where will they go? The largest toy store has closed its doors and there’s a massive toy shortage. They have nothing they can do. That’s where my own brand of hand carved wooden nutcrackers comes in. With a three hundred percent mark-up I’ll make a tidy profit.”
“That’s just crazy enough to work,” said Daisy.
“You’ll never get away with it Dexter,” said Keith.
“Of course you two won’t be around to see it,” said Dexter flipping a lever on the wall. The net began to lower towards the object under the tarp.
Tank walked over, grabbed the tarp and pulled it away revealing a giant nut cracker.
“Once you’ve reached its mouth it will close destroying you both.” Dexter turned and walked from the room. “Come, we must prepare to ship the orders.”
“Holy Christmas Cracker Wolfman,” said Daisy. “What can we do?”
Is this the end of our heroes? Will they be able to escape the crushing cracker before it breaks their shells? Is Christmas doomed?
“Don’t worry Daisy,” said Keith. “If I can just reach my pocket I might be able to save us.” Keith struggled against the net to move his hand to get into one of the inside pockets. “It’s no use. My fingers aren’t long enough.”
“I might be able to reach,” said Daisy. She began twisting and shoving herself forward. “It’s not working. I can’t reach it. I’ve let you down.”
“No,” said Keith. “That’s not true. You’re a very good dog.”
Suddenly the net loosened just a little bit and then stopped. Keith twisted his head to look down. “Your tail Daisy.”
“What about it?”
“It just might be our ticket out because you’re a good dog.”
Daisy’s tail began to wag.
“A very good dog.”
Daisy’s tail moved faster the motion of it began to saw through the net.
“Are you a good dog? I’ll bet you’re a good dog. Who’s a good dog?”
With each intonation the tail moved faster and faster, cutting through more and more of the ropes. Soon the net began to loosen and finally it gave way dropping our heroes. Keith grabbed Daisy as they fell and timed it so that he could push off of the nutcracker a hairs breadth before it crushed them.
They landed on the ground. Keith put Daisy down.
“Thank you,” said Keith.
“It’s my pleasure,” said Daisy.
“Let’s go save Christmas,” said Keith.
Our two heroes ran into the next room and faced off with Dexter and his minions. WHAM! The fight was brutal. POW! Each of Dexter’s men leaping to his defense. ZAP! No quarter was asked for or given. BITE! However the heroes were in the business of justice. BLAMMO! Business was good. SNAP!
Dexter and his men finally fell to the ground. There was no way for them to resist our heroes. The fight had been beaten out of them. Keith walked to the too small cage and slid the door open. He reached inside and removed the leash and muzzle from the reindeer inhabitant.
The reindeer’s nose glowed red in thanks.
“If you want to thank us,” said Keith. “Get back to the North Pole as fast as you can. Help make this a Merry Christmas.”
The reindeer looked to the large clock on the wall. It was almost time.
“It might be late,” said Daisy. “But I believe you can do it. You’ll have to run faster than you ever have but I know you can get there.”
The reindeer nodded and ran for the door. It stopped just past the entrance and its nose glowed again. Then it was gone.
With Christmas saved and all the world’s children protected from the forces of evil our heroes retire to their respective homes. Though should dark forces ever again threaten the holidays you can bet that the Dognamic Duo will be there. In the end nothing stops the forces of justice or the might of Wolfman and Daisy.

Run Run Rodolph

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Holiday Advent Story 21

The Christmas concert had been going on for nearly an hour. She’d been in Greenwich for a few days preparing for the show; the event. It had been planned meticulously and they were about to hit the moment this had all been for.
Katy finished her song and waited for the crowd to finish applauding.
“Thank you all,” said Katy. “We’re almost to midnight and we need to start getting ready.”
The crowd roared.
A series of fifteen foot monitors that had been set around the stage that had been showing background images chanced. First one monitor flickered to another view, then a second, third, and so forth until all of them showed different bands and crowds.
“Tonight is special,” said Katy. “We’ve gathered forty-seven musical acts at thirty-three concerts in sixteen countries across twenty-four time zones. How’s everyone doing tonight?”
Voices boomed over the sound system from the different groups. “We’re ready,” “Fine,” “Thrilled to be here,” and such sentiments were uttered.
Crowds in every area roared.
Katy was proud of the people gathered tonight. There were pop artist, country singers, rappers, opera singers, folk bands, a parody singer, a few tween singers, some J pop, and several other genres. She’d even gotten death metal band Pain Wagon to pitch in.
“If we’re all ready,” said Katy. “Assuming we all know the words.”
People here and abroad laughed.
“It’s just a few seconds to mignight,” said Katy. “In 5…4…3…2…1.”
The singers and the crowds burst into song.
Jingle Bells…Jingle Bells…
Everyone belted out the lyrics. Each person joining along in time to the rest.
oh what fun…
Katy waved her arm as everyone sang with her; with each other.
…through the snow…
Katy turned to the monitors to see other musicians holding hands and swaying to the music.
A sleighing song tonight.
They went through the chorus again.
Then one more time.
Then it was done.
There was a long pause and everyone grew quiet. Someone on one of the monitors, she wasn’t sure who, began to sing Silent Night. After a few seconds more and more voices joined in.
When done someone else started Deck the Hall, then Frosty, Rudolph, and Santa joined.
With each new song the crowds joined in. People held up their phones to light the areas. She watched her own crowd. They held hands, hugged the people around them, and wrapped their arms around each other’s shoulders.
It went on. Katy wasn’t sure how long it kept going. She’d lost track of the songs. How many and which ones they had sung. In the end, a lone voice caught the night and sang Auld Lang Syne.
Katy turned to see one of the J pop kids. He reached the chorus and people joined in. They sang along until the song ended. Quiet gripped everything. No one sang, spoke, or yelled. Katy steadied herself and turned to face the crowd.
She wanted to shout it out but couldn’t muster the voice. She simply whispered into her mic, “Happy Holidays.”
The crowds roared.

Teach the World to Sing

Friday, December 21, 2018

Holiday Advent Story 20

Petty Officer Carter moved through the darkened research station. They’d been stationed at the Artic research center for three months without incident and now this. All of the six man crew were in the mess sharing a typical Christmas dinner of MRE’s and dry rations when the proximity sensors went off. Something was outside the station. It wasn’t unusual because of the animal in the area would often set the blasted things off.
They ignored it and kept eating. Carter was sick of looking at bears through the glass anyway. Then the door alarm went off. Something had gotten inside the center. A quick check had shown the door opened from the outside and then resealed from within.
They checked the logs to see if they were supposed to get new crew or a delivery; nothing. Then internal sensors started showing movement. Carter grabbed his side arm and went to investigate.
It wasn’t long after that the power went out and they lost the lights. The backup generator kicked but it only fed to the security system, coms, and internal temperature. Basically, they could see what was out there, talk to one another, and wouldn’t freeze.
Carter walked through the long halls listening to the thump of his footfalls echo back towards him. He hated the dark, and knowing that someone was in here with him made it worse. He kept his side arm ready but pointed towards the floor to avoid any accidents.
Weaver came over his comm. “We have movement in the biotech lab.”
“Thanks,” whispered Carter adjusting his path to head towards biotech. It made sense, if someone was going to break in up here they’d be headed to one of the labs and biotech was a good choice. They’d been working with some pretty high end tech over there.
Carter came to an intersection in a hall that led biotech, organics, and first aid depending on which way you went. He listened before looking around to see what was ahead of him. He couldn’t hear anything. He inched forward and glanced around the corner towards biotech. No lights. No movement.
“It looks empty,” said Carter. “I’ll get closer to see if anything is there.”
Carter rounded the corner and crept forward. He inched through the darkness watching for any sign of movement.
“I’m just picking you up on sensors right now,” said Weaver over comm.
Carter gently slid the door open into the lab. He paused a second holding his breath and listening to what lay beyond the door. After a few seconds he let himself breathe and moved into the room.
The lab was quiet and dark shadows filled the corners of his vision. A couple of experiments with independent power supplies hummed along. Carter scanned the desk and lockers as quick as he safely could. Nothing seemed to be missing or moved. Though he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to tell.
He might have interrupted them. Maybe they hadn’t the time to steal anything. They might have heard him coming and left for a different lab.
Something fell over in the back of the room.
Maybe they’re still here. Carter moved towards the noise. Quickly, but as carefully as he could be in the semi darkness. He moved around a series of tables and found a mop lying on the floor next to its bucket.
“We have movement in medical,” said Weaver over comm.
Carter moved quicker this time. He wanted to get to where they were. Medical was just a few doors away. He moved out into the hall and jogged down towards medical.
The door was already open when he arrived. He listened and moved into the room. He might take them unaware this time.
“They’re in the barracks,” said Weaver over comm.
Damnit. Carter turned and ran. Technically the barracks were adjacent to medical but there was no door connecting them. He was going to have to run around an entire section to get to barracks and the intruder.
Carter was coming up on barracks and starting to slow his movements. The barracks only had one way in that Carter knew of. Whoever was in there had found a second way in.
“It’s in the mess,” said Weaver.
Carter turned. The mess was closer but it would still mean having to run. How could they be moving through the station that quickly? Carter was running down the corridor in an attempt to get to the mess before the intruder was gone.
Carter got to the door of the mess and burst in. He stood for a moment in the doorway before remembering himself and quickly ducking to the side. He looked around the room and forced his breathing to slow. He tried to watch the large open room where the entire crew had just been.
Something was off. The room felt different. There were shapes in the shadows that didn’t seem to belong. He tried to make out the shape of a person in the darkness. There was nothing. Had they escaped again?
“Sorry about the surprise,” came a voice from the shadows. “Just trying to be a good neighbor.”
“I’m detecting them in the room,” said Weaver over Comm. “They should be to your right.”
Carter started to inch around the outside of the room. Moving to be closer to the unfamiliar voice.
He saw a shape in the darkness. Large and imposing. It stood, tall and proud in the far corner of the room.
Carter raised his sidearm at the form. Whoever it was, they were huge. They hadn’t moved Carter thought he’d surprised them. He placed his finger on the trigger and began to squeeze.
“They’re right behind you,” yelled Weaver of the Comm.
He felt hot breath on his neck. “Ho. Ho. Ho. See you next year.”
Suddenly the lights of the station flared to life. Carter spun trying to bring his sidearm to bear. He dropped to one knee his eyes fighting against the now bright lights to make out anything behind him.
Carter was alone. There was no one in the room.
The room had changed though. It was filled with flickering colored lights. Streamers and decorations hung from every wall and surface. The large form Carter had seen in the darkness was a huge fir tree covered in ornaments, lights, and candy canes.
The table that had been covered in MRE’s and dry rations now held a huge turkey, potatoes, stuffing, and every item Carter could think of for a holiday feast.

Zat you Santa Claus

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Holiday Advent Story 19

Hudson was standing on his back porch when Stephen the gnome came running from the woods. Stephen stood knee-high to Hudson and was forcing his way through six inches of snow. He took of his colorful hat with the fancy feather stuck in the side and waved it at Hudson.
“Good news,” said Stephen. “Today is the day.”
“What day?” asked Hudson.
“Exactly one day a year the clouds part and the storms pass on Thunderdeath Mountain,” said Stephen. “Today is the day.”
“That’s nice,” said Hudson not really getting what the cause for excitement was.
“It’s great,” said Stephen. “Let’s go. This will only last a few hours.”
“Where are we going?” asked Hudson.
“I just told,” said Stephen. “Thunderdeath Mountain. “The storms have cleared. We get to ride sleds down its slopes.”
Hudson enjoyed sledding so thought this could be a lot of fun. “Is it far?”
“Distance is not a problem,” said Stephen. “I’ve come prepared.” Stephen held up a small silver whistle. Stephen smiled and then blew the whistle. There was no sound.
After a moment Hudson heard a jingling sound from the forest. A huge red sleigh pulled by great shaggy dogs bound out of the forest and came to a stop in front of Hudson. It was a great sleigh; covered in furs, blankets, and pillows.
Stephen thanked the dogs and climbed into the sleigh. He turned and motioned to Hudson to follow.
Hudson took hold of thick iron handles and pulled himself up into the sleigh. He sat down on the large pile of pillows and sank in.
When Hudson was situated Stephen called out to the dogs. “We’re ready whenever you are.” He then glanced at Hudson. “You’ll want to hold on.”
The dogs barked and the sleigh lurched forward. As Hudson watched the world pass by outside the Sleigh he noticed that everything was moving so quickly. Far quicker than Hudson had ever traveled in any car. The scenery began to move so fast everything blurred into a a solid mass of colors.
Then, as soon as it had begun, the trip was over.
Hudson marveled at the area around their destination. They were on top of a great mountain. The area was covered with mounds of snow. There were signs pointing in every direction; each calling out the name of a slope: the Titan, Lucky Fred, Murder Valley, Dusty Rabbit, and several others.
Hudson recognized a few people walking around the mountain top. He spotted a couple of elves he’d met at the North Pole, Virgil the Dwarf King was about to launch down Titan on a sled that had a sculpted rams head on the front. He held a frothy mug of coco, drained it in one drink and then tossed the mug to one side to signal the ride begin. A few seconds later a hug troll shoved the sled off the side of the mountain. The only thing left of Virgil after that was a squeal of joy.
Stephen walked over to a stack of sleds, shields, snowboards, and skis. “Do you have a preference?”
“No,” said Hudson, but then a shape caught his eye. On one of the shields was the silhouette of a rams head with a set of great horns aiming forward. “Actually, I like that one quite a bit.”
“A shield ride,” said Stephen. “Want to try a Legolas.” Stephen grabbed the shield and took it towards the trails.
Hudson hurried to follow his friend.
“We’ll start you on the easiest route,” said Stephen passing a sign that read Murder Valley.
“That doesn’t sound very easy.” Said Hudson. “What about Dusky Rabbit? That sounds safe.”
“That’s one of the most dangerous runs here,” said Stephen. “The really tough ones are named after the first person to successfully reach the bottom. I once tried Dusky Rabbit. It took six months to relearn how to use the letter L again. I’ll never be able to figure out how that bunny did it.”
Stephen dropped the sled at the edge of the hill and plopped himself down in the center.
Hudson hesitated for a moment then sat down as well. “Should I push us off the edge?” asked Hudson.
“Nope, we got folks for that,” said Stephen. “GRIK!”
A large tree near the path stood up and walked to the sled. “Hello Stephen,” said the tree.
“Hey Grik,” said Stephen. “Can you give us a push?”
“Sure,” said Grik. “Fast or slow?”
“This is my first time,” said Hudson. “Maybe we could go a bit slow?”
“Got it,” said Grik as he positioned himself behind the sled.
“Never tell them it’s your first…” Stephen was interrupted when the shield launched forward and off the mountain.
For a few seconds the shield seemed to hover in midair before falling straight down. Stephen held his hands above his head and laughed.
The sled eventually tapped the snow again but seemed to bounce of a little but before settling back on the ground and hurtling down hill.
The area around them was covered in fir trees and the path wove back and forth as it narrowly missed trees, shrubs, wild flowers, and an astonished Moose. They roared down the hill so fast Hudson was convince they must have destroyed some amount of wildlife.
Before Him the path opened up and revealed a large ice tunnel. Carved from a mountain of solid ice the sled entered and was suddenly reflected back at them from every possible direction. Stephen look immensely happy while Hudson looked mildly terrified. The shield roared through the tunnel chipping off bits of ice and throwing up a long trail of snow behind them.
After the tunnel was a slalom through a series of boulders. The skipped over a frozen lake, and finally they came to a long thin trail.
“Here it comes,” yelled Stephen.
“What,” called Hudson?
“The Jump,” said Stephen pointing ahead of them.
Hudson looked at the path. A very short distance and coming closer was a white snow packed ramp. He didn’t have time to react before they hit the ramp and were air born.
The pair tumbled over and over before slamming into a mass of piled snow. The snow cushioned their fall and Hudson and Stephen were quiet again for a long time.
“Well,” said Stephen. “What do you think?”
“That was fun,” said Hudson.
“Want to try again?”
“Sure but it’ll take forever to reach the top on the mountain. “
Stephen smiled. “I told you; I prepared.” He held up a familiar looking silver whistle.”

Sleigh Ride