Previously: Danger Zone
Themesong: Candyman by Christina Aguilera
The second I stepped through the Pillars of Time back into the Warehouse, I noticed that the new VMoD had finally been installed. It was very fancy… and looked like a pizza making machine. There was a slip of paper attached to the surface. There were also a number of animals flying, running, and lounging around. They looked familiar, but it took me a moment to realize they were our collective Strike Familiars. Ziggy looked like he was freaking out from sensation overload. Two foxes, five dogs, two cats, two birds, a sheep, and a beaver were making themselves at home in the normally quiet warehouse. Joy’s horse, Sorrow, was flicking an ear and looking annoyed as the smaller animals ran round and round. Fliagor, the oldest of the pets, was resigned to all this and didn’t bother getting up from his patch of grass. Of course, aside from Sorrow and Fliagor who were horses and Ziggy who was a Mon, the others were familiars and thus mostly sentient.
I’d seen the ears and tails of those creatures many times over the last decade, but never seen most of them manifest. My own Alegra, an italian red fox who was white (not albino, white… yes that happens) was poking Ziggy as the two of them tried to establish dominance… or rather, the fox did and Ziggy yawned hugely. Alegra was smarter and magical… Ziggy was a Mon and a ferretoid at that. A full grown male ferret can bring down a full grown male fox seven falls out of ten… Ziggy could take Alegra, but he wouldn’t hurt her. He’s a good boy. The others, though, might be a problem.
I eyed the massive bald eagle, then wandered over and very pointedly told the Eagle “They aren’t prey.” The eagle just flared his wings and fluttered. I hate birds. But that was for later. I wandered over to the machines and snatched the note.
“Sorry for the delay. On thinking about it, Have decided to change my mind. An exchange is acceptable. Therefore, we have refunded your purchase of Flawless Awareness and replaced it with something you’ll enjoy more. Please press the change return button to receive your refund.”
I quirked my eyebrow “What? Wait! I like Flawless Awareness! It’s useful!” but no one answered. I pulled the coin return and two thunks echoed from the dispenser unit. I fished around in the slot and found a pair of wristbands with a computerized display. Hmmm. The tag Identified them as Universal Locator Beacon Bracelets. The display on each was a list of names. I blinked… those names were the names of everyone I’d met in the last world! I scrolled down the list, then selected Francesca. “Francesca Lucchini, confirm?” I mmmm’d, then hit yes. Lucchini, looking exactly the same as she looked at the party not ten minutes earlier, appeared, looking around “Whaaa?”
I held up a hand. “Hold on, let me just…” I hit confirm on the second and Mini McGonagall appeared, 20 years old and gorgeous and equally confused. Explaining took… a few days. Getting them over the culture shock would be an ongoing thing… but first, I had to boot up the new VMoD and find out what the next Jump was going to be. Turns out it was Gargoyles.
I recognized the font but it took sifting through tons of millennia old memories to remember that that was the name of a Disney cartoon show about some winged monsters who turned into stone during the day and fought some guy named Xanatos. I’d seen maybe a third of an episode and only knew about Xanatos because of an old trope called a Xanatos Gambit… i.e. the American version of “Just as Planned!”
I knew nothing about the story, except that there was a love story triangle between the head Gargoyle “Goliath” and some human cop lady and a crazy evil female gargoyle… and that Commander William Riker played Xanatos. The blurb was pretty much the same info; “The world of Gargoyles is mostly just like your own. Mostly. Scattered around the globe are a few clans of winged humanoids called gargoyles, technology is significantly more advanced for those who can afford it, and the Children of Oberon occasionally meddle with human affairs. Magic and aliens are real, but rare enough that most people don’t know they exist yet. The year is 1994 and the Manhattan Clan have just woken from their millennium long slumber.”
I really had no interest in any of this, not being a fan of the show, but the 1990s in the US was an interesting time and I could use a bit of a vacation in a world that wasn’t in the midst of post-war reconstruction. The wheels of age and location gave me 23 years old and NYC. I could cope with both, so I started with the companion import options and drawbacks.
Importing 8 was [-400/600/1000] and gave each of them a race, an origin, and 400 to spend. Not bad. Could get it half price if I was a drop in but I really didn’t see any particular advantage to that.
Crash Artist [+100/700/1100] made it so that any non-CP vehicle I built or acquired would go up in flames within a day. New York City, home of the Taxi and Subway. I didn’t think I’d have to worry. Friendly Enemies [+200/900/1300] made it so all my enemies would team up with each other, creating a snowball of enmity… so I just had to avoid making enemies.
But then I hit a snag. There were three things total I… wanted is a hard phrase to use… could use? No, that’s not right either. There were two things I felt like paying CP for on the perks and items list. Undiscounted, they were 400 points. That left 900… and I wasn’t feeling it. And I wasn’t feeling like being a “Super Snooper”, “Business Man”, or “Warrior” either. Screw it. I took Drop-In, which changed my total to [1100/1300]. Then I pressed Import Companions option again. “Error, option already selected.”
“I’m aware. I’d like to import 8 more companions.”
“That is the way things are done.”
“Still, that is the way things are done.”
“Awww… come on… I’m willing to pay the CP cost. Just let me have 16. You dropped a Neuroi version of my Assault Shuttle on me and cloaked a Neuroi Hive just to give me a hard time last time.”
“So, that’s not a denial?”
“I might have… nudged the scenario. Slightly.”
“I also gave you Mini. Twice.” I could swear the words were almost plaintive.
“This is a point. How about this… I promise not to use any of my companions in combat during this jump.”
“You’re not planning on getting into combat this jump!”
“Seee! There you go! No combat, No group beatdown.”
“You think you’re clever.”
“I am clever.”
“Give me one good reason I should bend the rules for this.”
“It’ll be amusing.”
“SJ’s crew does New York City? How could it not be?”
“I… hmmm… Why can’t they just swap in and out like normal?”
“Parties. Plays. Shopping. Ice Skating at Rockafeller. Hanging out in Central Park, playing football.”
“Doesn’t seem like a great reason.”
“No. It’s not. It’s a terrible reason… Of course, I could just move to Idaho and play farmville for a decade. I’m certain it would be riveting.”
“Could send you home.”
“And how would that be entertaining?”
“Look. Just spend the CP, you obnoxious blonde!”
“Ooooo… is the big bad Quasi-omnipotent being getting grumpy?”
“Would it help if I said please?”
“Your entire argument hinges on the “But, I wanna!” defense!”
“Yes it does!”
“It also hinges on the I’m bored defense!”
“Oh, that’s sooo much better!”
“It’s your reason for doing all this, as far as I can tell… unless you’re selling viewing rights to other bored QOBs.”
“Oh, right… fine… this once… just… just don’t do it again.”
I pressed the button again. It pinged in a most satisfactory fashion. [-200/900/1300]. Then I pressed it again.
“You don’t have 24 companions!”
“I wanna give my companions 400 extra CP.”
There was a noise very much like a QOB banging their head against a desk.
“Is that a no?”
“Why would you think that?” The Banker’s voice dripped sarcasm all over my floor… so that’s what it looked like… eww.
“I have a meeting-”
“What good does making a please pretty do?”
“Dunno. I’ll wear Ziggy as a hat?”
“You do that anyway.”
“Come on… what could it hurt?”
“They’d be able to buy things they normally couldn’t, for one.”
“Only Grey Goo, Eye of Odin, and The Arcanum Grimoire. Everything else that costs over 400 has a discount and could, in theory, be acquired if they picked the right background. So how about if they can’t get anything they normally couldn’t with 400?”
“I suppose… wait, you’re trying to trick me into saying that that’s okay.”
“You just did.”
“I did not.”
I kept poking the button. For 19 hours.
“You’re going to keep doing that until I say yes, aren’t you.”
“I might take a nap eventually. I’m very patient. Something about spending 12,300 years as God-King of the Magi… Something I haven’t abused nearly enough.”
“What do you mean?”
“My Magi were a star spanning hyper advanced empire, ones who I bootstrapped to Star Trek / Mass Effect Level tech in under 3000 years and who only got more advanced from there. I should be able to find their ruins in every jump, right? I could go looking for lost Magi artifacts.”
“Err… their artifacts?”
“Dude… were you sleeping while Trelane was tormenting me? It was a 12,000 year old culture that had a functioning star empire 3300 years in. 9,000 years is a damned long time to build stuff. On thousands of worlds.”
“Oh… well, right…”
“I could go find lost Magi colonies… make an empire… invade earth and outlaw pizza.”
“You’re not taking this jump seriously.”
“It’s a Disney TV cartoon about talking rocks and a bad guy named Xanatos. What’s to take seriously? It’s only slightly less goofy than Gummy Bears. Ooo! Can I do that instead?”
“How about Kim Possible. I would make sooo much better a supervillain than Draken… ooo… oo… I could totally get Kimmie and Shego to-”
“You’re a KiGo Shipper?” The horror was palpable.
“Ayup. You didn’t read the contents of my drive before handing it over, did you? I have dozens of KiGo fanfics there. Hell, I spent a year or so animating one of them during my imprisonment just because.”
“What? Where? I don’t remember that!”
“Memory Palace. I don’t need to have copies of anything I’ve ever read or seen. And I don’t need a computer to animate things in my head. Hell… I’ve got like fifteen seasons of The Lesbian Adventures of Korra and Asami, plus an additional 12 seasons of Ranma in my head. Also World War Smurf. And the Aliens Musical. And Carehammer 40k-”
“What is Carehammer?”
“Warhammer, except the Space Marines and the Emperor were all Carebears. They attack with Carebear Stare out of their tummy plates.”
“Dude, you’re just figuring this out now?”
“Fine. Just… Hold on.” A machine appeared in front of me. It looked suspiciously like the dream recorder from Red Dwarf.
“Memory Capture device.”
“How’s it work?”
“Bring up a memory, focus on it, run it through as sharply as you can. It will record it.”
“Oh. Cool… If I do this?”
“Yeah, sure, whatever. No extra CP or anything, but I’ll bend the rules. Give.”
So I traded nearly 60 years of animated daydreams for a bending of the rules. I’d have to build myself one of those… or go to Red Dwarf and steal one. Hummm… how hard could it be?
Fifteen hours later I finished uploading the first season of The KiGo Chronicles to the Banker’s server… I know he’d be horrified… but he hadn’t specified what he wanted, thus leaving the upload order to me.
Of course, that means I’d spent 800 of my 1300 on the minions. 500 left for me… hmmm… now I actually had to spend them. I considered buying the Grimorum Arcanorum, which claimed it contained almost every spell a human mage has ever created and the energy to cast it… but it didn’t say it would update… and that was a dealbreaker.
Instead, I snagged Pragmatic [-100/400/1300] which would give me a supposedly accurate idea of when someone could be useful in the future, as well a similar sense of when it was time to cut my losses. Know when to hold ’em, when to fold ’em, and when to run. It guaranteed I’d pretty much never show more of my hand than necessary for a plot to succeed. It was manipulative, but it wasn’t like that was anything new for me. A small boost to my instincts, one that didn’t rely on mind reading, couldn’t be blocked by shielding… it wasn’t nothing.
Add to that Suspicious [-300/100/1300], a sense of when someone is lying to me or being manipulative… even if it’s my most trusted friend or partner, I’d recognize the tell-tale signs that someone wasn’t being forthright with me… and it worked even if the creature wasn’t human… or even sentient. How cool is that? AI’s are insidious. Even a technopath isn’t going to know if one is lying most of the time. Demons likewise. Reading non-humans is not easy. I know from experience.
And finally, Machinist [-100/0/1300], a general boost to my practical engineering and toolwork skillset. Rebuild and improve a helicopter in half a day or build a functional motorcycle from spare parts. If honed, should let me make nearly anything from incredibly advanced robots to nanite swarms in only a few months time. It wasn’t a beat down boost to my tech skills, but it was one, and for the price it was right.
And, though I nearly missed it, as a Human, in this world I got Tech-Adapting for [Free] which meant that a few moments examining a machine would allow me to figure out its most basic functions and how they worked, and the longer I spent studying a device, the greater my understanding would grow, obviously… but even so, it promised I’d be able to pilot craft I’d never been in before or operate alien computers with relative ease.
Now the problem was deciding who got to come with. It wasn’t an easy thing to say to someone that they couldn’t join in the fun and games. Well, I could say it to Kagetane, who I still hadn’t bothered letting out of the egg. And I could say it to Dyna, who wouldn’t care. Ditto the often aloof Rayray, could tell Cirno she couldn’t come… in fact, keeping the monumentally foolish fairy locked in the warehouse seemed the best idea I’d had in ages. So she wasn’t coming. Kohina too. Stability wasn’t her strong point in any way shape or form.
Wow… I was considering taking a Vord Queen to NYC over a highly unstable… borderline psychotic… young woman. Say what you want, but Kohina did not play nice with others. Reggy at least understood the concept of restraint… and was, astoundingly, more human and more humane. She could use more time socializing, though I knew I was taking a risk. It was either her or Rayray… I flipped a coin… Reggy won… for certain values of the term won.
While I meditated on the Dream Machine, one by one my chosen companions filed through, though I had to help Reggy, Mini, and Lucchini figure it out, and do the picking for Senior von Squirm.
Zane opted to be a Human Businessman, then bought The Phoenix Gate (a medallion that allows a bubble 3 yards in diameter to be projected back in time to create a stable time loop where the past could not be changed)… it wasn’t the best time machine, but it could be invaluable for observing past events.), a Personal Assistant (stone-faced, serious, loyal, practical, well rounded, might be a secret fairy/demigod), and pocketed the $400,000 that came with his background. In the perk arena, he snagged Pragmatism and Tech-Adapting for free, then picked up the troperiffic Xanatos Gambit (i.e. master planner and detailed contingency anticipation) and Machinist. He named his PA “Sabrina”… I instantly didn’t trust her.
Gaius also went to Human Businessman school, getting the Personal Assistant, Pragmatic, Tech-Adapting, and $400k… heh, should have been 401k… He also plunked down the CP for Teamwork (a kind of sixth sense team flow perk) and Doing Machiavelli Proud (a manipulation and scheming perk) even though he really didn’t need the second and the first he was spectacularly unlikely to use. He named his PA “Juno”… I looked back and forth between Gaius and Zane and glowered “Ha… frickin… Ha.” They pretended to be innocent, but I didn’t need mind reading or suspicions to see through their little show.
Joy, importing herself, followed in their footsteps, which bagged her all the same freebies and brought our spending cash to $1.2 million.
On the flipside of the racial divide, Velma and Ahab went to Our Lady of Stone Business School for the Gargoyly inclined. They traded Tech-Adapting for Durable (a toughness boost that turned their skin to leather armor, but guaranteed it was suede soft. Which was nice. Smoooooth.) $2 million dollars. It was a drop in the ocean of our ever expanding Bank Account at First Warehouse, even before we sold the gold and gems we had in shipping crate safety deposit boxes stacked 6 high. Velma too got the Gambit of Xanatos and the Prouding of Machiavelli, but tossed in Gargoyle Strength (Toss cars), Well Read (versed in all the classics of fiction and philosophy), and CEO (ownership of a largely self-running company, and the business acumen and luck to keep a business chugging along and progressing, complete with bonuses… Often. And it applied to any business she acquires or builds in the future.)
Francine, Toph, and Reggy all went to The Academy of Human Super Snoopers, nabbing 9mm Glock 19 Pistols, Lucky Badges (which was a defensive perk against small objects like bullets, darts, & throwing stars), and of course Tech Adapting. Francine and Reggy picked up Mad Biologist, a mastery of genetic engineering… Francine to study the biology of Mon… Reggy to figure out how to modify her own genome so her Daughter Queens wouldn’t keep trying to kill her and also to figure out her own origins. It was almost painfully cute to see her try and hide that information from me, as if I’d be angry and she was a child to be spanked. Of course, since she pretty much never aged, she still looked like she was 12. Toph and Francine both plucked up Quick Thinking (the ability to find a solution to any emergency, even if it’s suboptimal) and Illuminated (Membership in this world’s Illuminati, and the Illuminati of all future worlds.). Francine got Pragmatism. Toph got Undercover (mastery of simple but effective disguise skills), Unstoppable Guardian (A willpower boost, eyeglow, intimidation boost… especially when defending something), and Suspicious. Reggy bought Maneuverability (a boost to ground and flight maneuverability), Detective (a deductive reasoning boost), Undercover, and Well Read… to better understand both the human condition and the nature of her own existence.
Petra was their Gargoyle counterpart. Detective, Gargoyle Strength, Durable, Lucky Badge, Quick Thinking, Well Read, the Glock… She supplemented it all with Warrior’s Instincts (an immunity to feints and over-reach in combat) and Lucky Sleeper (A general aura of “don’t attack me when I’m unawares/asleep.”)
Uriel, Bao, Kendra, Mini, and Yoiko all went Drop-In for various reason, though Yoiko was the only Gargoyle, though I suspected her brother had talked her into that, since she didn’t seem particularly thrilled by it. Thus everyone besides her got Tech Adapting and she got Durable. The number one reason to go Drop-In was, to my way of thinking, the ability to pick up Fae-Blooded (increased lifespan and rhyming word magic) and Yoiko, Bao, and Mini all had.
Uriel was a Quick Thinking, Machinist, Mad Biologist… with a specialty in Technosorcery (Combining Magic and Tech). Bao was a Maneuverable CEO. Kendra was a Well Read, Suspicious… Mutant (someone named Anton Sevarius had Mutated her so that she could stun people with short bursts of electricity, had wings, and looked like a jungle catwoman.) She also picked up Advanced Gliding (expert flyer) to better use the wings. Mini and Yoiko were both Cyborgs (metal tentacles out to 15 feet, ability to have additional tech installed at a cybernetics machine shop). Mini was also an Unstoppable Guardian, a Machinist, and a Clan-Sister (an allied Gargoyle Clan, and increased luck in finding and working with non-humans of any sort in future jumps). Yoiko was the same, except without Machinist and with Gargoyle Strength and Warrior Instincts.
And that brought us to the Warriors 3 and a half: Francesca, AJ, Ryoga, and Ziggy von Ziggster. Of them, only Frankie was human… though Ziggy was a Gargbeast (a gargoyle version of a dog that looks like a dragon was humped by a bulldog, and still not sapient). All of them got Warrior’s Instincts free and all of them were durable (though Frankie had to pay for it). Of course, that’s because she got Tech Adapting for free. All four of them also got an authentic and still sharp Viking Sword… except for Ziggy, who got a preternaturally durable and loud squeaky toy (the Banker had delivered it early and Ziggy was annoying everyone with it… except me, because I am the soul of calm… and I think it’s funny). Frankie, AJ, and Ziggy got Teamwork and One Man Army (a boost when facing multiple enemies, keeping them from being too distracted by the crowd to dodge or defend themselves, with situational awareness enough to know of someone’s vanished in the middle of combat). Frankie & Ryoga got Maneuverability & Masterful Tactician (Natural leadership and combat tactician, with an inherent sense of how to use all perks and abilities to get out of any current situation). Ziggy was an Unstoppable Guardian and Lucky Sleeper. AJ added Well Read, Gargoyle Strength, Advanced Gliding, and Weaponsmaster (Proficient with most common and many uncommon weapons) with Frankie picking that last as well, never forget that for all her goofiness, she’s a warrior maiden… well… for some definitions of maiden. And Ryoga got Quick Thinking as well as “My Home is a Castle” (the ability to find the most defensible position or safest hideaway in any area, to set up patrols that are perfectly timed, and perfectly laid out traps. Supernatural methods of infiltration and assault won’t escape his notice, up to and including the Illuminati.)
===INSERTION NEW YORK===
Cue Vacation Montage. No. Seriously. I was in New York City! I had friends, cash to burn, and nothing to worry about. I mean, what the hell was I going to do? Fight Crime? Stop whatever fiendish plot Xanatos was up to? I stopped by his office once. A little megalomaniacal, a bit of a criminal. Not a psychopath. I toned down his desire to win at all costs, smoothed some of the more “I will dispose of them once they’ve served their purpose.” tendencies, then went back to the second half of Les Mis on Broadway.
If there was a world ending threat in the offing, I didn’t know about it. If someone was planning mayhem, I didn’t know about it. 9-11 was, if it still was coming, 7 years off. I knew nothing about the timeline, had plenty of funds, and had friends who wanted nothing more out of life than to live it up. Sex & the City, FRIENDS, Home Alone 2… we did it all. There’s no story here.
Any time a threat appeared, we defused it, got people to make nice, had a party. Demona was a bitch. Ran into her while she was shapeshifted into one of the main business tycoons of the city (you move in those circles when you have friends like mine… and a VI powerful enough to influence the stock exchange… seriously, they need better protections. I made millions off of micro fluctuations, but then I was cheating… but never enough to hurt anyone who’d even notice.) Read serious badjuju in that mind of hers. As in kill all the humans bad juju. I tossed an egg at her and then told her to behave herself. Oh, and I hung up a shingle as a top notch shrink, under a different identity, and made her come see me once a week.
Her and several others in fact. Dr Saj, Therapist to the rich and deranged. Meanwhile, I entertained myself in weekdays by traveling around the world, Shinigami’ing drug barons, human traffickers, and the occasional terror cell leader. They all died of natural causes, or turned state’s evidence, or had changes of heart. Not trying to help where I could wouldn’t have been very nice, and no one on earth was beyond my reach. Making enemies is hard when none of them survive.
Of course, it all caught up to me arround the 7 year mark when it turned out that someone I’d arranged the death of wasn’t exactly human and that their kinfolk had looked into the matter, then somehow backtraced and sicced several highly unstable and vindictive individuals on me.
They started by kidnapping the “weakest” of my cadre, the diminutive Reggy. I got a call from her asking if she was allowed to kill them. I asked where she was, then picked her up and sent her for ice cream while I examined their memories, then edited them to remove all knowledge of me, my friends, or anything other than having come to New York to see Cats and Chorus Line, then healed them up and sent them on their way.
After ice cream and soothing the angry Vord Queen’s wrath with soothing words, hugs, and a new teddy bear and a promise to take her to laser tag on the weekend, I backtracked through their layers, clearing each one of people they’d told, people who had a vested interest in bugging me. Seven layers up the layer cake, I ran into him, a member of the Third Race, the Fair Folk.
He smirked like a smirking smirker when I walked into his presence chamber, tucked away in a small Himalayan nation. A chinese kingpin of a non-chinese nation, a usurper, psychopath, and murderer. Apparently I’d eliminated one of his allies and thus brought me to his attention. He offered me some crab rangoon.
“Thanks. I’ll pass. You know why I’m here.”
“I do! You’re here to kill me!”
“Naw. If I was here for that, you’d be dead already.”
“Haha. I’m sure! You’ve killed several hundred people in my line of work already… of course, I’m a little harder to kill than your other victims.”
I chuckled. “You really think you’re the shit, don’t you? Oberon’s Children, Mab’s Children… you’re a fake little godling, a trickster, a sham of fairy pretending to be a pagan god. Just like you’re pretending that your hair is really blond or you’re just a human. But… here’s the thing. I’m not human either.”
“You’re not? That’s funny! I agree. You’re really… a tree!” I felt the magic trying to transform me, but I flowed my form into that of a tree before the magic could do it. I’d tested the limits and power of Fae magics long before this encounter.
He laughed and laughed, capering around me, snake-skin shoes sliding in a scuffing little dance around me… then he gacked as one of my branches wrapped around his neck and, squeezing tight, lifted him off the ground, legs flailing, his shoes flying off in two different directions.
“You aren’t in my league, little man. You aren’t in the league of most of my followers. You’re a small, petty, vicious little fae who thinks he’s a god simply because he can do a few magic tricks. You don’t know the real meaning of power. But I’m feeling generous, since you provided at least a few days worth of challenge to spice up my vacation. I’m slumming, you see, relaxing, enjoying the shopping and food. New York’s got great food. Great theatre, great museums, great people. President Gore’s doing a fine, if wooden job, and global terror and crime are both down. The people of North Korea are experiencing freedom from tyranny for the first time in decades. And so, in the spirit of generosity, I’m going to let you live. Don’t worry… you’ll like being a ferret.”
I found him a nice 8 year old girl as an owner, got him a three level cage and a bunch of tubes to play in. Best thing about the ferret form curse… no ability to speak at all. Of course, it wasn’t the only thing keeping him in that form, but this jump had reinforced to me that I needed to find a way to increase my magical power. But only after buying a copy of every game in the known universe. Shame the golden age of boardgaming was another decade off in this world. Still, at least I had every M:tG card ever printed in this world and card game night was getting seriously competitive.
I know, I know, having 4 different game nights a week (Cards, Boards, Vidya, Tabletop) wasn’t the definition of enthralling, but vacations are serious things, and Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday are dead for the most part, socially speaking. Thursday was Theater night, Friday date night, and Saturday clubs, parties, or more Theater. Days were spent training, shopping, working (some work can be fun), building things, or just hanging out and talking… or often, playing more games or writing. Nights were exactly what you’d expect them to be, stalking the night, drinking, eating, and more than a little snuggling.
All the gaming was also causing me to prioritize future planning, making lists of perks to look for in future jumps. I needed more magical defenses, more magical variety, emotional manipulation and editing abilities, more charisma, more tech… And something, somehow, to remodel the Warehouse. My makeshift Holodeck tech had allowed me to make the walls and ceilings look, sound, and even smell like the outside, but it wasn’t terribly convincing and had considerable room for improvement. I really needed a paddock and a couple of acres of runabout space for the animals as well.
Still, by the end of the decade, just as Gore was running for his second term, we were getting pretty anxious to get back on the road, to see what was next in store for us. We threw an end of decade bash, as usual, but without serious challenges, it lacked… pizzaz. This was the second time we’d vacationed, the first was carribean, the second hyper urban… Have to do something really special for the third one… but it was probably a century or more out. I goosed Frankie and Mini as we passed through the Pillars of Time.
“Well? How’d you enjoy your first world jump?”
Mini responded, “The Future was so bright, I had to wear shades.”
I laughed. “You’ve been waiting to use that one, haven’t you.”
She just grinned at me.
Next: World 44 – Meddling Fool
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