B13.11 Call of the Sleeper


Previous | Next

Basil looked warily at the goblet in front of him. It’s probably not a good idea to refuse his hospitality; if he wanted to hurt us, he wouldn’t need to play games like this, anyway, he thought to himself, and picked the goblet up with his right hand, keeping the left one free in case he needed to throw up a force-field quickly.

“Water,” he said to the goblet without hesitation, and it filled up instantly. A twitch of his eyes caused the lower half of his helmet to fold back onto his cheeks, freeing his mouth, and he took a sip.

Just water.

That broke the spell for the others, and everyone else picked their goblets up as well, some ordering instantly – various kinds of sodas for most of them, grape juice for Osore; and Tyche…

“Triple chocolate milkshake with ground almonds and cream.”

When the cream-and-almonds topped shake appeared in her goblet, a real smile appeared on her face for the first time since she’d run into this Immanuel.

A sigh drew his attention away from her. Emyr was looking… chargrined.

“You just ruined my joke,” he said, his voice flat, but a slight smile on his face. When everyone looked at him in confusion, he explained, “Usually when I do this, everyone just gets something boring and then I’ll ask for something like…” He looked pensively at his goblet and said, “Strawberry and cream shake with chocolate and caramel syrup,” causing said drink to appear in it, “And everyone would just stare like they’d seen the Devil.” He drank from his goblet.

Tyche had already finished hers while he’d been talking. “I know, right? You give people a cup that can give’em any drink and they pick soda, or water,” she said, glaring at Basil. He gave her as deadpan a look as he could in return, with most of his face covered up.

“Banana and cherry smoothy mix.” Her goblet filled up again.

Meanwhile, the freaking Godking of Mars was laughing quietly, like this was all just a friendly gathering. “Ah well, no matter.” He drank from his goblet. “Let’s focus on more important things.” He looked at Basil. “First of all, we ought to introduce ourselves properly.”

He put his right hand over his heard, tilting his head forward. “Emyr Blackhill, God-King of Mars and Once and Future King of Earth,” he introduced himself smoothly, without a hint of irony or boast. Then he looked at Tartsche to his right.

“T-tartsche,” the armor-clad youth replied, his voice betraying a great deal of nervousness. “Leader – though likely not too much longer, after this stunt – of the New Lennston United Heroes Junior Division.”

“Spellgun, member of the same,” his boyfriend continued as Emyr’s gaze passed onto him.

“B-Bakeneko. The same,” came a squeak from the next one in line. She seemed to literally wilt under his gaze, her power reacting to her mood.


“Gloom Glimmer, also a member of the junior division,” Gloom Glimmer introduced herself, her voice clear as a bell and betraying no hint of being nervous or even slightly intimidated. Her eyes were nearly glowing underneath her hood, though blue rather than red now.

“Polymnia, also a junior hero,” the songstress continued, her electronic voice reflecting none of the nervousness that her face and body showed.

“Tyche! Hero and member of Team B- ouch” Tyche began, but was cut off when Hecate reached out to knock her over the back of the head with her staff, reaching behind Basil to do so.

“Brennus, of the same team,” he said curtly, seeing no point in trying to hold his name back.

“Hecate, also said team which most certainly does not use that atrocious acronym,” Hecate grumbled.

Emyr watched the whole exchange with open amusement. “A pleasure to meet you all, young heroes,” he said, raising his goblet in a casual gesture. “It’s always a joy to see young people willing to fight for a good cause.” He drank from his goblet, before he continued, “Now, on to the second point.” He looked straight at Basil. “You are wrong. I am Emyr Blackhill, not merely a fascimile.”

“You believe so? Even though you are incapable of leaving this… pocket reality?” He watched the long-haired man closely, feeling rather curious in spite of the seriousness of the situation, and the time pressure he himself was under. This was the man who’d once conquered the world, after all.

Instead of replying directly, Emyr turned to look at Legend, who was holding her head lowered in a demure posture that was very obviously not willingly chosen. “It’s pretty easy to determine with a single question. Sophia, can you summon anyone who’s not a metahuman?”

She replied instantly, without hesitation, yet without looking up, either. “No, I can not, your majesty. Only metahumans have sufficient impact upon the Historia to be summoned by my rituals.”

He turned around, smiling as he spread his arms in a ‘there-you-go’ gesture. “Can you tell why I claim to be the real one?” He looked around at everyone at the table, aiming the question at each and every one.

What does he mean? Basil asked himself. Why is he even trying to make an argument based on a Contriver’s delusions… of course, he may simply be delusional himself, believing that he truly is the true Emyr even though he is not.

Still, real or not, he was far more powerful than all of them put together, yet willing to talk instead of outright killing them, even after their attempt to do just the same to him. So best to play along for now.

“You’re implying that there’s something about metahumans in particular that would make them viable targets for resurrection, when baselines are not,” Spellgun spoke up, suddenly, leaning onto his elbows, which rested on the table, while Tartsche looked at him in alarm… though, they’d already clasped hands, putting him within the aegis of Tartsche’s power…

Emyr circumvented Tartsche’s power, Basil realised all of a sudden, his eyes snapping from Emyr to the two young lovers. Both Spellgun and Tyche were still underneath its protection when he stopped time, yet they were moved. He focused on Tartsche – his face was hidden by his knightly helmet, after all – and found himself thoroughly unsurprised to see that he was clenching Spellgun’s hand tightly, like a lifeline; the only sign, but a telling one, of just how freaked out he had to be right now.

Another thing to worry about, Basil thought, clenching his hands into fists. So much to worry about, so many things to keep in mind…

“Suffice it to say that, based upon my understanding of the nature of metahumanity, it is strong evidence towards the fact that I am the true Emyr Blackhill,” came the reply after Emyr drank from his, milkshake. “Once I am truly and completely revived, I am confident I shall remember all that happened during this little sojourn. Of course, I may just be delu-“

“Enough,” Basil cut him off with a sharp voice, in spite of his earlier decision to play along.

Everyone turned their heads to stare at him like he was a man possessed, but he ignored them to focus on Emyr.

“I do not have time for this,” he said, leaning towards their ‘host’ as he just barely kept his voice calm. “There are people out there who are dying, people whose one and only chance to survive rely on completing this mission and I need to get going because the clock. Is. Ticking. So tell us what you want and then let us go, or just let us go, but do not dither; I do not have the time to waste having a tea party here with you.”

Hecate made a strangled sound when he started speaking and was trying to wave him off, but he ignored her.

Mate, you just lipped off to the Godking of Mars, Macian whispered inside his head. I ain’t sure whether to congratulate you on the density of your balls or hand you the Darwin aw-

Shut it.

Emyr put his goblet down, touching his fingers together in front of his face, his expression pensive. “It has been some time since anyone has dared speak to me like that,” he said, finally, while Basil shook with barely restrained rage. “Not counting the little princess across the table from myself,” he nodded to Gloom Glimmer, who stiffened up. “Yes, child, I know who your parents are. No, I didn’t use my power to find out – but you do look entirely too much like your mother and your power feels entirely too much like your father’s for you to be anyone else; I’d recognise either any time, for they are both people who I have studied extensively.”

“Whom, Sir,” Hecate cut in, almost in a squeal. “The term is ‘whom’, not ‘who’.”

He looked at her, smiling as she clapped her hands over her mouth in shock at herself, but just nodded. “You are right – I apologise for the mistake, it shall not happen a-“

There was a sharp sound of metal crumpling, screaming, make everyone look at Basil again.

He’d just crushed his goblet in one gloved fist, without even noticing it. “This is enough,” he stood up, nearly throwing the chair he’d been sitting on over. “I, we, do not have time for this, so get to the point,” he told him, once more, his teeth grinding together at the end.

Emyr still looked pensive, not offended, which really only made Basil even angrier. He clearly didn’t care about any of this!

“I really do need to take over the world again,” he replied with a soft voice, finally, loosely clasping his hands together. “Seems like things are even worse than the last time.”

How would you know, Sir?” Polymnia said, sounding perfectly calm and composed; “Your power ends at the door, doesn’t it?

Emyr shrugged. “This one,” he spoke calmly, gesturing towards the fuming Basil, “is quite sincere in what he says. Which means that there are people out there dying and the only chance they have to survive is… a group of children? Fighting people like Sophia, here, who’d not hesitate to slay you?” He made a dismissive gesture with his hand. “Any world in which children must go to war is a horrible one indeed.”

He looked around at each of them in turn, and they all looked away, unable to meet his gaze, save for Basil, who simply glared at him and Gloom Glimmer, who showed no reaction at all.

“I see none of you can dispute the state of the world,” he followed softly.

“Is that really the reason why you want to take over the world?” Gloom Glimmer spoke up, suddenly, her eyes barely visibly underneath her hood.

“Is it not enough?” he answered with a question.

“Not for you,” she shot back. “Not according to my power. Is it because it’d make for a great story? Is that it, does the author want to impose an epic tale on the real world?” she pressed the point, while also throwing a look at Basil.

Please, calm down – we’re not going to get away from him if we piss him off, she spoke into his mind, without missing a beat physically.

Basil clenched his fists so hard his gauntlets creaked and strained, but he sat down again. Not that he was going to just go along with this farce, but she was right, just complaining at Emyr was not going to achieve anything of use.

“That would be interesting, wouldn’t it?” Emyr asked right back again, looking as amused as before. “However, while I won’t deny the fact that I enjoy turning my quest into a story for the ages, even at the cost of efficiency in some aspects, it’s merely a… bonus. As for taking over the world, that is merely a means to an end; and I am not so delusional as to believe I could cure all the world’s ills and bring eternal peace and prosperity to humanity – if nothing else, humans will always find another reason to fight amongst themselves, no matter the circumstances.” He shrugged. “Though I do believe I could reduce the number of casualties on the way to my goal.”

“What is that goal?” Hecate threw in, the words bursting forth as if she couldn’t stand the tension anymore.

Even Tyche, currently drinking her sixth drink, seemed to be on the edge of her seat. The only one who seemed to be entirely unaffected by it all was, as usual, Osore.

“My true goal is…,” was all Emyr began to say, leaning slightly forward, his face grave and shadowed by his wild mass of hair. “Secret.”

“Oh come on!” Tyche complained loudly, nearly spilling her eighth drink.

“Hey, I kept it a secret for so long, why should I tell now?” He laughed, clearly amused by the annoyed expressions he could see, at least from those whose faces weren’t hidden by masks or cowls – though their body language certainly helped express their own opinion towards his attitude. “Really now, children, I may enjoy crossing off the classic tropes, but I’m not going to reveal my great master plan in a big villaneous monologue. I’m laidback, not stupid.” He picked up his goblet and drank again. “Now, as to what I want with you lot, specifically… to be honest, I simply want to amuse myself.” He looked straight at Basil again. “I know that may seem callous to you, especially now that you’ve told me something of what’s at stake – and you’re right. Which is why I’ll instead ask you what exactly you’re after, young Brennus. What is your quest?”

Basil frowned at the question. Much as he really didn’t want to antagonise him – he wasn’t an idiot, previous behaviour be damned – he also didn’t exactly cherish the idea of telling this story just to amuse a capricious wannabe-deity.

Still, it seemed like the fastest way to get out of this would be to play along… to a point.

“If I tell you, will you let us go?” he decided to ask.

“That very much depends on the story you tell me,” Emyr replied smoothly, as if he’d expected the question. “Tell your tale, and tell it true, and I shall choose the next scene to come.”

Basil’s hands clenched into fists again, at the arrogance, the-

His right hand clenched around something hard.

He looked down and saw his goblet, whole, in his hand. He looked up at Emyr again, who just smiled.

Neither word nor gesture, he thought. Is there no limit at all to his power? Can he bend reality by will alone? Did he create the goblet so it’d repair itself? Did he give himself an ability that allows him to fix it at will? Did he… He cut that train of thought off right there – there were too many possibilities, and he had no means by which to determine which one was the most likely. No, there is. There are. He’s said so himself, and it shows. He was killed, as well – that wouldn’t have worked out if he didn’t have limits that could be exploited.

You’re in no position to exploit anything, mate, the Man in the Moon whispered.

But I can gather information for when I – or another – will be.

Taking a deep breath, he said, “First, I have a question to ask, about our fight earlier.” He looked him straight in the eyes again, even though his mask prevented direct eye contact. It was still strange, looking into those pools of black. A sense of vertigo he’d never felt before. Like looking through two windows into the Abyss.

“More of a little spat, really,” Emyr qualified. “Ask, and ye shall be answered.” He made a permissive hand gesture to accompany the statement, without a hint of humor in any of it.

“You threw me off of you like I weighed nothing, and you were able to tear Gloom Glimmer’s gag off just as easily. Yet no command – or dictate, I suppose – could have allowed you to do that, so how did you do it?”

Emyr’s smile broadened. “Body language.” He winked at him, then broak out into laughter when he saw the shocked expressions on the exposed faces. “Ah, yes, people tend to react like that to finding out about that little aspect of my power. Anyway, I believe that answers your question – your turn, now.”

Basil took a deep breath. “It is a long story.”

“I love long stories.”

He rolled his eyes. “Alright. A member of the organisation she belongs to,” he gestured towards Legend, “unleashed a bio-weapon on Hawaii, years ago. It killed most of the victims and left the others crippled, dying slowly. Their time is running out, I discovered the location of this base but the authorities are still deliberating how to proceed – and whether to trust my information, so I decided to come after the woman responsible – Dusu – myself, because I need her to give me the cure for her poison. Legend here intercepted us as we were taking the train towards their base’s section in which we believe Dusu to be.”

“A lengthy tale indeed,” Emyr mused. “So every one of you came here to find this cure?” He turned his vertigo-inducing gaze at the others, up and down the table. They all nodded, some more self-assured than the others.

Seemingly pleased, he turned his eye upon Brennus again, stroking his chin with one of his spidery hands, contemplating… something. “Why do you need this cure, young Brennus?” he asked, finally.

Basil tilted his head, confused. “Why… I need it in order to cure her victims.”

“That is what you need it for, but why do you, Brennus, want it?” the Godking asked with a curious smile, resting his cheek on his left hand. “What drives you to attack the base of such a dangerous organisation, taking these brave friends of yours into such danger – and don’t deny that you did, I recognise a leader when I see one – and challenge even me?”

“I need to cure those who have been harmed by Dusu,” he replied simply, trying to find the sense in this line of questioning. “If you must know, one of them…” He looked at the junior heroes, briefly, then decided he’d trusted them this far anyway. “One of them’s my girlfriend. This is the only way I have left to save her, short of carrying her into the Protectorate – and even if I could, she’d never survive such a trip.”

He could feel the eyes of Tartsche, Spellgun and Polymnia on him, but ignored them as he focused on Emyr. “Is this enough already? Every second counts.”

Emyr tapped his chin with one of his long, thin fingers. “I suppose it is, and thank you for satisfying my curiosity.” He sat up straight. “I think I understand you a little better now. I am curious though, what would you do if I were to say I intend to keep you here for a longer time?”

Basil shrugged. “I would kill you or, failing that, disable you in some way and break out of this place,” he replied flatly. I don’t know how, yet, but I will figure it out.

Everyone at the table, as well as Legend, just stared at him. Then they looked at Emyr, who’d gone still, looking at him in surprise.

“That’s hardly very heroic of you,” he said.

“I am not much of a hero,” Basil spat him, annoyed. “Or that good a person. But I am enough of both that I am going to do the right thing to save these people, and if that means going through you, then so be it.”

“I’m giving you points for gumption, at least,” Emyr replied flatly, untouched by the venom in the boy’s voice. “Not for brains, though. You’re talking about killing a-“

“A god, I know,” he snarled. “Or at least, that is what you claim – but you, you are no god.”

Emyr tilted his head the other way, looking dumbfounded. “Have you seen Mars lately? I assure you, I am very much a god-“

“You really aren’t, Sir,” Hecate spoke up, her voice low, but firm, looking straight at Emyr’s eyes when he turned his gaze to her, shivering when she felt their effect upon herself. “You were killed. Everyone knows the story. The Seven Regicides took you down, and they were certainly no gods themselves.”

“Seven Regicides, huh?” Emyr smiled in amusement. “So that’s how the world remembers them, is that it? Do they tell their tale still?”

“They do,” Hecate answered him, clearly straining to keep up the eye contact. “Everyone knows their names. Jack Flag. Gungnir. The Prospector. Jekyll and Hyde. The Unseen.  Chatterbox. The Illionaut.There’s books, movies, comics… we don’t know how they did it, but we know they did.”

“There were eight, actually,” he remarked. “The count starts at Zero, not one. But that’s beside the point,” he continued, as if that was nothing, ignoring the gasps of everyone around the table.

Everyone save three. Gloom Glimmer remained still, and both Polymnia and Basil watched her, having noticed her flinch earlier.

What was that about?

On the other side of the table, Emyr continued to speak.

“I’ve got to say, though, it’s rather annoying how people keep misunderstanding my title,” he said, actually showing some annoyance for once. “I never claimed to be a god of humans. I created my children, the Martians – I reforged the world they live on. To them, I am, undoubtedly, and by any definition, God. I am also their absolute, unchallenged monarch – thus, King. Thereby, I am the God-King of Mars.” He huffed, brushing a few strands of hair out of his face. “It’s not a boast, it’s a simple fact.”

Basil sighed. “Are you deliberately wasting my time now?” he asked, growing weary even as his voice rose to near-screaming. “None of this, none of this, is necessary. I need to get going, I need to find Dusu, so get to the fucking point!

“Alright, alright,” Emyr made a calming gesture with both arms. “Calm yourself, young one. I do sympathise with your plight – if anything, I applaud it. A knight in shining,” he looked at Basil’s jet-black armour, “well, not-so-shining armour, out to cure countless innocents including his lady; I love that kind of story!” he finished with an excited smile.

Basil leaned forward in his chair, “This isn’t for your amusement!”

“It may not be meant to, but it amuses me anyway,” the Godking said softly. “And I say that without any derision. I am not making light of your quest, Brennus, I am merely trying to point out that, perhaps, you should sit down, relax, recover some of your strength and realise that I am your ally, here.”

That made Basil sit back and stare. “What?”, he said, only to realise that about half the other teens at the table had said the same, at the same time.

Emyr chuckled. “Please, children. I may have tried – and succeeded, let’s not forget that – to take over the world, but I’m no monster, and I’ve always considered myself to have certain standards. Even if this Dusu hadn’t apparently used a bio-weapon on civilians, I would still support you, if only because the idea of a tale like this appeals to me too much not to,” he explained, before drinking from his ice-cream-filled goblet. “Are you going to accept my help?” he asked, finally, looking straight at Basil once more.

“I… of course. If you want to help, I… could not say no; we need any help we can get,” he replied, feeling thoroughly unbalanced.

Then, a new hope bloomed inside of him. It was far-fetched, a mere chance, but… “Could you, just, wish them whole?” he asked, leaning forward, unable to keep his voice calm. “Can you do, something with your power, that’d just fix them?”

Emyr smiled sadly at him. “Ah, how I wish I could,” he said, crushing that particular hope. “Once upon a time, it would’ve been less than child’s play to me – but now, with my power limited to this little pocket? I’m afraid not – I could not even create a Panacea and let you take it along to use on them yourself.” He sighed. “I’m sorry, I truly am, but in this, I am less able than you are to make a difference.”

Then he smiled. “However, I can offer two other things. One, I can rejuvenate the lot of you – which, as you may have noticed, I already did before time continued,” he gestured at them, and Basil took a second look – he was right, all the damage to his armor and costume, as well as those the others had accumulated, was gone; and he felt as fresh as he would after a good, long night’s full of sleep (something which he’d missed these last few days). “And second, we can extract some information from Legend here – that alone should be worth the delay, right?” He gestured at the enslaved contriver. “Ask her whatever you wish to know and she will answer to the best of her knowledge, in all honesty and with no attempts at deception or manipulation.”

Legend shuddered under the weight of the dictate – and it was one, even though there was no real indicator as to which parts of his speech were backed by his power and which weren’t – but nodded obediently, without a moment’s hesitation.

Basil looked around the table at the others – everyone looked to be shocked, scared or hopeful, to varying degrees, sometimes all three at once.

This is too weird for words, the Man in the Moon spoke up. Then again, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, mate.

For once, I agree with you. He turned towards Emyr, again, to ask the first question that came to mind, but he was pre-empted by Polymnia using her vocoder.

“What kind of resistance are we likely to run into, from now on until finding Dusu?” she asked the woman in the maid outfit.

She flinched. “The team you’ve fought before is likely to have recovered by now and be setting up an ambush outside the portal to this realm. There’s also two more combat-able teams on the Installation. Furthermore, Dusu has her own security, and her lab is in the same complex as that of the new Ascendant – I have no idea whether the latter could have some nasty surprises in store for you, if you show at her doorstep.”

Gloom Glimmer leaned in, putting both arms onto the table. “Wait, the Ascendant? So they did name a new one – what’s this one’s deal?” she asked, her voice hard. “Is he going after children again!?”

Legend shook her head. “No. I’m not aware of their exact project – while she only slightly outranks me, I have little to do with the Gadgeteering complex – but I know that it’s seriously impressed the top executives and that they declared it Top Secret even for the division heads like myself. I am, however, aware that it does not, apparently, require the purchase of test subjects, as the previous Ascendant’s work did.”

Several of the heroes around the table, particularly the girls, looked rather green at the callous admission of slave-trading being done here, but Basil decided not to press that particular point here.

“So we can not know what to expect once we get past the team we already defeated before,” Basil concluded. “What can you tell us about Dusu’s own security?”

“Her laboratory is heavily fortified and hermetically sealed, due to containing so many bio-threats. Attacking her carelessly would be supremely dangerous. I am not aware of any specific security other than the guards who protect her complex as a whole.”

“Is there some shortcut that can take us straight to Dusu?” Tyche asked inbetween emptying her thirteenth goblet and refilling it. “Would be nice to skip straight past all the fightin’,” she concluded rather uncharacteristically.

“None that I’m aware of.”

Tyche sighed in disappointment.

“Where do these monsters come from that attacked Esperanza City, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Australia?” Tartsche asked, suddenly, his voice still trembling a little, though noticably more controlled than earlier – he’d even relaxed his grip on Spellgun’s hand a bit. “And why did you have them attack in the first place?”

Legend looked away, seemingly ashamed – but Basil couldn’t tell whether she was honestly ashamed for what had been done, was ashamed of something else related to it or was simply being forced to be so due to Emyr’s unkown edicts – and replied, “They attacked because we couldn’t control them after their creation, so the top executives decided to cut them lose and see whether they couldn’t cause some more origins,” she explained as if talking about the weather. “As for their nature, I am not entirely sure but I know they are connected to the Sleeper.”

“What is the Sleeper?” Tartsche immediately pressed on.

The sorcerous woman looked up at him, a strange, off-putting light in her eyes. “The Sleeper is the future, our key to expanding our power and bringing as many into the light as we can – a colossal being sleeping in the depths of the Mariana Trench which we believe to be connected directly to the source of metahuman powers, currently in some form of hibernation,” she explained with almost religious fervour. “The beasts that attacked those places were somehow induced to spawn from it, but I don’t exactly know how – I do know that Dusu was and is the head of that particular program, so you should ask her for anything more regarding the subject matter.”

Emyr watched the exchange, tapping his fingers together, his face gone completely serious. “What a disgusting collection of wretches,” he spoke softly, his voice shimmering with an anger that made everyone else within the pocket reality shudder and lean away from him. “What is this group called?” he asked his slave.

“We are sometimes called the Companions of the Future, but our original and preferred name is ‘die Gefährten’, which means…”

Emyr cut her off with a wave of his hand. “I am well aware of what it means. Well, now I know whom to purge once I take over again. Continue.”

Basil leaned forward, putting his goblet aside to clasp his hands in front of his face, his mask snapping shut once more.


They continued to extract as much information as they could from Legend. The woman was completely cooperative, though clearly not willingly so, repeatedly making faces and shuddering, yet unable to truly strain against the commands imposed upon her by Emyr.

Finally, after nearly ten minutes, Basil decided to end it. “I think that is enough,” he announced loudly, leaning back. “We should get going now.” He looked at Emyr, silently asking for permission – though it galled him a great deal having to defer to him so.

To his (mild by now) surprise and gratitude, Emyr nodded, making a sweeping gesture. “It is time, yes. Go, find the cure.” He smiled softly, a little sadly. “I do wish I could offer greater support, but I’m afraid all I have left is to give you all my blessing.”

The others looked at each other, then at him, but no one knew what to say to that, really.

“Thank you,” was all Tartsche could bring himself to say – he still appeared to be rather put off by having his power circumvented somehow, and he’d very tellingly not asked how Emyr had achieved said feat.

“You’re welcome. Now off, off with you all!” Emyr raised a hand and snapped his fingers, and the door behind him opened smoothly, without a sound, revealing the shimmering portal they’d seen earlier behind Legend’s force-field.

They all got up, rather quickly, and moved towards the door, but Tyche stopped briefly next to Emyr’s chair.

“Y’know, for a crazy evil overlord, you’re really ok,” she said, offering him her hand. “And thanks for the drinks. Wish I could keep the magic cup, really,” she continued with a grin.

Emyr smiled at her, only having to bend his neck slightly to look up at her face, even while sitting. “It was my pleasure, Tyche. My pleasure, and my horror – I’ve never seen a normal-sized girl drink twenty-two drinks in such a short time. And each one an original, at that.” He took her hand, shaking it. “I do hope we can meet again under more pleasant circumstances, young hero.”

She blushed a little at his smile, and nodded. “Sure. See ya, your royal godliness.”

They all passed by Legend, who remained quiet, her head lowered and her hands clasped together, but Hecate and Polymnia both stopped next to her.

They exchanged a look, the two of them, then turned around, with Hecate speaking up.

“What’s going to happen to Legend?” she asked worriedly.

Emyr leaned around on his throne-like chair, looking at her with an inscrutable, but gentle expression. “Worried for your enemy, are you? Well, you needn’t be – I don’t intend to kill her, merely teach her a lesson before I eject her unto the real world once more.”

They looked at each other, again, as the others pooled around the gate, waiting for the two girls to join them and exit this reality. While neither seemed to be too happy with his reply, they clearly decided – sensibly, in Basil’s opinion – that it was likely to be the best they’d get.

“Alright. One more thing, Sir,” Hecate pressed on. “May we, um, take those?” She gestured at the items on the table, the ones Legend had used to summon her shades. “They should be returned to their proper places.”

Emyr nodded and gestured at the items, then at Hecate. They all rose up and flew over to her, making her briefly squeal in surprise before she caught them all and, with a respectful bow to him, stuffed them carefully into her bag of holding.

“Is there anything else?” he asked kindly.

She shook her head. “No, that will be all. Thank you, Sir,” she bowed again, then turned to leave.

Basil watched all that, feeling oddly disconnected from it all, but didn’t comment.

It didn’t help that he still didn’t trust Emyr, and so he let the others exit this reality first, just in case.

He was just about to step out of it himself when Emyr spoke up again.

“Brennus,” he said and when Basil turned to look at him, he’d rotated his throne around to face him and the door. “One last thing before you leave.”

“What is it now?” Basil asked wearily.

“Remember these words,” Emyr said, before he cleared his throat and sat up more straight, then spoke in a much firmer, deeper voice than before: “To pursue what is necessary is the province of beasts – a true man must pursue naught but what he desires.'”

Basil tilted his head to the side. “I… do not understand.”

Emyr smiled at him like a kindly old grandfather might. “I know you don’t, just as I know that you will, some day. Be well, Sir Knight, and may you save those you wish to save.”

Clearly dismissed, Basil nodded at the strange man and turned around, leaving.


Legend watched quietly as Emyr leaned back in his seat while it rotated – with no visible or audible cause – back to face the table, the door closing behind him. She couldn’t do anything but be quiet and await new orders… and dread whatever ‘lesson’ he had planned for her.

“How likely do you think they are to succeed, Sophia?” he asked pensively.

She didn’t have to think about it to know the answer. “There’s no way this story is going to have a happy end,” she replied sadly – and she did feel sad. She wasn’t heartless, and she did feel sympathy for Dusu’s victims and those trying to save them; nevermind that she honestly wished that monstrous woman would get what she deserved (Sophia was a villain, and she was even willing to kill teenaged combatants, but… Dusu was just evil). “Whether or not they reach Dusu, she-“

She was interrupted, suddenly, when someone walked past her from behind, making her jump and squeal in surprise as she saw someone wearing a dark blue, hooded robe move down the table.

Where, where did he… no one but him and me should be here! she thought, staring in shock.

Emyr remained quiet, looking almost as surprised as she felt as he watched the stranger sit down at the opposite end of the table, where the unnerving girl with the changing power had been sitting just a minute earlier.

Sophia was immediately assaulted by an unnerving sense of vertigo as she looked at the stranger’s face underneath his hood – or rather, the lack of a face, as he was wearing a mostly flat, featureless mirror-helmet within which she could see the distorted reflections of both herself, Emyr and the table. Yet, even though she could not see the figure’s eyes, she still felt like she was seeing into Emyr’s own black orbs, seeing into the abyss beyond them.

The stranger sat down without a care in the world, putting his elbows on the table and clasping his hands underneath his chin, resting it atop his interlaced fingers.

“Well well,” Emyr said, tapping the armrest of his chair. “Who do we have here? I don’t believe we’ve met before. What is your name, stranger?”

“Some call me Journeyman,” the man spoke, making Sophia shudder at the sound of countless voices – most but not all male – speaking in unison. In spite of that, though, the man did not project any kind of hostility or threat.

“Mm, interesting choice of names,” the Godking of Mars replied. “I assume you know who I am, Aion?”

“Emyr Blackhill, the Godking of Mars,” Journeyman said. “I came here to kill this incarnation of yours.” Sophia choked on her own spit.

“Well, that is rather refreshingly forward,” Emyr chuckled with clear amusement in his voice. “While I’d be really curious to see how you’d achieve that, I’m afraid it’s quite superfluous – I am going to terminate myself soon, since I can’t break out of here in any case. You’re wasting your time and strength, if you can even do it against my will.”

“Not so,” Journeyman countered. “I know you too well – you’d find a way to break out of here, and I can’t have that.” He leaned a little more forward, as his mask stopped reflecting the scene in front of him and showed nothing but Emyr’s own face, reflecting back at him.

The Godking frowned at him, his mouth twisting. “You seem quite certain… precognition?”

“Of a sort,” Journeyman replied.

“It is not impossible that I could device a means by which to escape this confinement, that is true, though I haven’t as of now,” Emyr said pensively. “Yet that would be truly a major feat, even for one such as I. You still believe you could slay me, now?”

Please, oh please, say yes!, Sophia silently begged the stranger.

To her dismay, he shook his head, only for his words to then make her hopes flare again. “I don’t think. I know.” He lowered his hands onto the table, leaning onto his elbows. “In this place, at this time, I am more than you are.”

Emyr chuckled. “I’d like to put that to the test, if you don’t mind.”

Journeyman grabbed the table by the edge and threw it aside like it weighed nothing, causing it – and the bowl atop it, and the goblets – to shatter against the walls, as he strode forward towards the Godking on his throne, his long, powerful strides moving him faster than Sophia could run.

Emyr stood up, ponderously, and pulled back an arm, forming a fist.

Journeyman wound up for his own strike.

Sophia stared in horrified fascination, unable to do anything but observe.

Their fists met.

Their world broke.

Previous | Next


Filed under: Brennus Chapters Tagged: Bakeneko, Basil, Emyr Blackhill, Gloom Glimmer, Hecate, Journeyman, Legend, Osore, Polymnia, Spellgun, Tartsche, Tyche
  • open
  • next

New Chapter


The new chapter is almost ready – 90% written – but I’m having serious trouble getting the ending to be anything but horrible, so I’m still at it at 0:40 in the freaking morning. Bear with me.


Tieshaunn Tanner

Filed under: Brennus Chapters
  • open
  • next
Crying Grumpies

Netrunner Core 2.0, ¿La última pieza del puzzle?

Crying Grumpies


En el año 2008 y después de varios intentos de varias compañías Fantasy Flight Games dio con la tecla para mantener juegos de cartas expandibles en el mercado y alejarse del modelo tradicional de venta de estos, el formato de compra ciega popularizado en el sector por Magic The Gathering. El novedoso LCG o Living Card Game es un formato que prometía un juego de cartas que a través de pequeñas expansiones mensuales de contenido no aleatorio pretendía mantener a flote y con menos costes juegos de menor base de jugadores. Uno de los principales escollos del formato es que las cartas de los LCG siempre iban a ser legales, cosa que cambio hace tres años  cuando se anunció la rotación. Cual espada de Damocles el día de ver la primera rotación en uno de sus LCG ha llegado y con ella también una sorpresa. Hace unos días FFG anuncio un nuevo juego básico para Netrunner para sustituir el actual, pero al contrario de lo que hicieron con Juego de Tronos manteniendo la legalidad de todos los productos menos aquellos que rotan y no mediante una versión 2.0 del juego.


El nuevo juego básico de Netrunner será una reimpresión del actual a la que se le retiraran algunas cartas problemáticas o completamente inútiles y se sustituirán por cartas de los dos primeros ciclos y en algunos casos nuevo arte.Para mí este anuncio tiene diversos análisis diferentes, el primero es lo que representa para los LCG y las bases que sienta para el mismo y el segundo es que representa para Netrunner.

Sobre lo que representa para Netrunner pues contento aunque no creo que el juego tenga un resurgir con este nuevo Core. Hace ya muchos meses que el juego no me emociona y si bien saber que muchas de las cartas que me han hecho pasar un mal rato jugando no se van todas y en mi caso el daño ya esta hecho. Si queréis un poco más de lo que implica para Netrunner os dejo un articulo donde Mailman lo explica algo mejor.

Para línea entera sienta un precedente que me gusta. Me gusta porque creo que todos los juegos recibirán un tratamiento similar cuando roten. Me gusta porque si llevo jugando al juego desde el día uno no es necesario que me haga con él. Me gusta porque implica un interés en mantener el formato competitivo de los juegos lo más sano posible, aunque en el caso de Netrunner posiblemente esto llega tarde. Me gusta porque me hace sentir menos mal por los 180€ gastados en cartones que de otra forma irían a parar al fondo de un armario. Pero también hay algunas cosas que no me gustan, que espero solo se den en este caso y son las formas. No me gusta que no lo anunciaran en su ponencia de la Gen Con, aunque entiendo que no lo hicieran para focalizar el esfuerzo en L5R y Star Wars Legión. No me gusta que entren en vigor antes del mundial y sin estar a la venta el nuevo Core, si bien es poco probable que un asistente al evento no este informado me parece forzado.


Y antes de acabar no puedo irme sin decir que este producto y la rotación no hacen que la entrada al juego sea más sencilla para los nuevos jugadores. Este nuevo Core no cambia para nada la perspectiva de meterte en un LCG con varios años de historia mas allá de eliminar alguna que no todas las experiencias negativas por causa de cartas y interacciones mal diseñadas. Al contrario de los CCG donde las rotaciones de producto suelen ser muy agresivas, en cada ciclo se va casi la mayoría de las cartas legal, FFG optó por una rotación inicial del producto más lenta y al final creo que este es el mayor escollo para la entrada de nuevos jugadores.

Vamos que estoy muy contento con esta noticia aunque me deja algunas dudas. ¿Harán lo mismo en el resto de sus juegos?¿Se atreverán a hace algo con las expansiones deluxe? ¿Reducirán el número de expansiones legales para facilitar la entrada de nuevos jugadores? ¿Gestionarán algún día estos problemas en sus juegos de miniaturas? Muchas preguntas sin respuesta por el momento.

  • open
  • next
Crying Grumpies

ENforcer Brawl en El Local

Crying Grumpies


Como bien sabéis ya en El Local jugamos bastante a Malifaux así que a falta de la quinta jornada, no me he podido poner a ello aun, uno de nuestros miembros ha decidido organizar un Enforcer Brawl. El Enforcer Brawl es un modo alternativo de juego multijugador. La fecha escogida para la contienda  es el domingo 24 a las 10:00 y se jugará una sola ronda. Entre todos los asistentes se sorteara una Miss Deed, alternativa de Taelor de la Gen Con 2017. Tras el salto encontrareis las modificaciones a las reglas para jugar un Enforcer Brawl.

-4 Jugadores por mesa, todos contra todos.

-Solo se permiten Enforcers y cualquier habilidad que cree más miniaturas no tendrá efectos.

-Cada jugador deberá escoger 3 Enforcers de un máximo de dos facciones distintas, no se permiten mercenarios de facciones que no sean las escogidas. Los Enforcers pueden repetirse.El coste en Soulstones de los enforcers más los Upgrades no puede superar las 29 piedras. Las piedras no invertidas en creación de banda se pierden.

-Los Upgrades deberán ser legales para las miniaturas que los lleven.

-Se desplegará en las esquinas del tablero hasta 12” de la esquina una miniatura por jugador. Quedando las otras en reserva.

-La mano de control será de cuatro cartas no de seis.

-Cuando un Enforcer sea eliminado aparecerá un Enforcer de la reserva en una zona de despliegue determinada de forma aleatoria.

-Las partidas serán de 6 rondas sin posibilidad de rondas extras.

-La puntuación será la siguiente

1 Punto   Herir a una miniatura sin heridas.

2 Puntos Matar o Sacrificar un Enforcer enemigo, 1 Punto adicional si nuestra miniatura tiene un coste menor.

Si en algún Momento te quedas sin Enforcers pierdes 3 puntos de victoria.

El jugador con más puntos de victoria al final del juego ganará el Enforcer Brawl. Si hay un empate se jugará una ronda adicional con solo un Enforcer por cada jugador entre los que hayan empatado.

Espero veros el domingo.

  • open
  • next



A lot of game nights take place at our house and some bigger games are quite a hassle to take with you on a bike* and so they sometimes get left behind in at our place. 😀

* Yes bikes are really a big part of living in The Netherlands and a lot of people here don’t even own a car.

So we’ve been playing quite some games again this week and that has been fun again! With autumn kicking in, there is something cozy about huggling up at a kitchen table playing some board games with hot coco and a blanket.
It’s been a long while, but we played Forbidden Stars again! Too bad I had forgotten a lot of rules and made tons of silly strategical mistakes … ending the game in the fourth round. Normally our plays end in the final, the 8th, round.  It’s still a brilliant and elegant game and I will certainly have my revenge – soon. 😉

A post shared by Semi Co-op (@semicoop) on Sep 13, 2017 at 2:28pm PDT

We also been playing multiple games of Elder Sign and we bought Kingdomino and that turns out to be a great filler game with a great flow.  The box says 20 minutes play time, but I think it can easily be played in 10 minutes with two players.

Last week we asked you guys for advice on deciding which games had to go and we received a lot useful tips – thank you! I’m curious:
Which games in your collection are probably the first to go?

The post Shelf-ish appeared first on Semi Co-op.

  • open
  • next
In My Daydreams

Hideaway: Part 7

In My Daydreams

We did finish the game. Jaclyn won. The gun was disappointed to learn that you couldn’t raid other players’ property and burn down their buildings. To be fair, there wasn’t anything specifically forbidding that in the rules, but there also weren’t any rules for how you’d do it.

Cassie talked him down by volunteering to play a game with him that did involve weapons. With some grumbling, the gun quieted down.

As we sat at the table afterward, Jaclyn raised an eyebrow as she looked at Cassie. “I have no idea how you can live with that thing.”

Cassie shook her head. “It’s not that bad. I’ve got total control. I can turn it off or on, prevent it from listening to our conversation, whatever. Right now, it’s drilling itself in fighting simulations, something it honestly likes.”

Jaclyn laughed. “So, what? It’s basically playing video games.”

Shrugging, Cassie said, “I’m just glad, I’ve got something that I send it to do that it genuinely likes. It’s like babysitting a murderous two-year old that likes arson.”

Shaking her head, Jaclyn said, “Yeah. You know that’s just not a thing I’d put up with. That thing keeps going on about whatever comes into its head, mostly about killing people. I’m pretty sure, I’d smash it after one too many suggestions.”

Glancing down toward the gun on her thigh, Cassie took a deep breath. “Believe me, I get it, but sometimes there’s something endearing about its bloody single-mindedness.”

Jaclyn frowned. “Better you than me then.”

With that, we drifted into talking about other things—not least among them what we’d done that night. I didn’t say so, but the way the shields had failed (shortly after we’d shown up and started trying to rescue the workers) bugged me.

If someone wanted to know what we could do and how we handled problems, it wasn’t a bad way to find out if you were willing to risk killing people.

So that’s what I was thinking about as I lay in the bed they’d set up. Marcus snored softly while Katuk barely breathed. Over in the next room, Jaclyn and Tikki talked while Cassie slept. Tikki had stayed overnight rather than walk back after the game.

The next morning we woke up and had breakfast (meat inside some kind of pastry. Marcus named them Space Pasties). As we finished, a voice I didn’t recognize (as in, not Geman) told us that we’d be having visitors this morning—the colony’s ruling council.

It didn’t take us long to finish breakfast and clean it up, getting into our uniforms and generally being ready receive them.

They all came in as a group. Jadzen and a man (her assistant?) lead them in. While Jadzen was tall, even regal with long hair and dark eyes that moved to take in every detail, the assistant held some kind of tablet. Short and dark-haired, he only seemed to look at something before typing into or tapping the screen. He looked familiar somehow and then I placed him. After Jadzen had tried to tell us to go home, he’d been the one who looked embarrassed about it.

Following him came a group of five people—two men and three women, all of them with white hair.

We met them in the common room between the two bedrooms. Jadzen’s assistant stepped up to the front, standing between us and the council. In a quavering tenor voice, he said, “Hello… ah… Xiniti citizens. I’m Maru, assistant to the Hideaway Council. The council wanted to come here to thank you for your actions last night. We’ve been told that every one of you were quite impressive… and powerful.”

He swallowed and glanced behind him toward Jadzen Akri who was frowning. As he hesitated, one of the other two men stepped forward. This one appeared to be in his mid-fifties, and while he had a head of white hair, he moved without any weakness. Nearly seven feet tall and with a thin, but muscular build, he might have been related to the workers we’d saved.

“I’m Iolan Mekus, the colony’s medic and genetic counselor. I’d like to personally thank you as the workers you saved were cousins of mine, distant cousins, but still family with all the obligations that entails. I’m grateful that they’re alive, but that’s not all. I need to talk to you about a suspicion I’ve had even back home before emigrating here—“

One or more of the other council members said, “Iolan,” in a tone that I recognized as irritation, but he continued, ignoring them, his voice growing louder as he talked.

“—I believe that there is a spy or spies within our midst and this latest incident confirms it. When my cousins examined the shield poles, they found that the poles had received a command to turn off. It was no coincidence. Someone had attempted to kill them. Except there’s no reason to kill them, but there’s plenty of reasons for a spy to want Xiniti or Xiniti aligned humans to die.”

image image image
  • open
  • next

Scott Bachmann (RT The Pen in the Stone):
Our Super Mom | Chapter 12 | Page 40 https://t.co/I3gl02dhht https://t.co/xsWicngx5z

  • open
  • next
In My Daydreams

Hideaway: Part 6

In My Daydreams

Marcus shifted back to normal, looked over at the three colonists near him. “Stand next to me and do it now.”

The colonists listened even if their eyes widened when his arms turned into tentacles and pulled them into one group. “Nick, you want to take us over?”

“Sure,” I ran over to him. He sprouted two more tentacles and grabbed my legs. Knowing what was needed, I activated the rockets and took to the air, slowing as I neared the end of the tentacles’ full length, and then flying upward slowly enough that Marcus could still hold on.

It didn’t take much to fly back over the wall.

We landed as Katuk ran back between the force field and the barricade. He must have run out past the wall to check if there was anything else out there, and at the speed he was running (more than two hundred miles per hour), he could cover some ground.

At almost the same time, Tikki gasped and the shimmer around the final terrier/tiger disappeared. Before I could move, it had turned toward Tikki, beginning to pounce.

It didn’t matter. A white beam fired from Katuk’s chest, cutting a hole halfway through the creature’s head.

It fell forward, slumping onto the ground.

Katuk’s voice carried over the group channel. “There are no more creatures of this type nearby.”

“Good to know,” Jaclyn started walked toward Cassie. “Ready to jump back over?”

Cassie shook her head. “I think I better incinerate these things with the gun. If we let the dead bodies rot here, who knows what we’ll attract?”

Cassie cleaned her sword with a rag from her utility belt, sheathed it, and pulled out her gun.

Geman’s voice came over the implant. “Good idea. The bodies would only have attracted more and with people working there… Well, it’s not worth the risk.”

“And it stops the thing from complaining that it didn’t get to do anything,” Cassie told us on a private channel. She aimed a wide, white beam at the nearest dead body. It took a few passes, but the gun converted it to ash.

“It’s too bad,” Cassie walked toward to the next one as Jaclyn watched. “They’d almost pass for dogs if they were smaller.”

“They are dogs—mostly,” Geman broke into the conversation again. “The Abominators terraformed this place around the time they were modifying humans. Like a lot of their terraforming projects, it was supposed to test us and almost all the genetic material comes originally from humanity’s homeworld, wherever that is.”

Jaclyn blinked, watching as Cassie destroyed another. “I thought they just looked like dogs. That’s sad.” She shook her head. “My uncle’s dog could almost pass for one of their puppies—if they have puppies. Could they be dogs like our dogs?”

“Want one?” Marcus grinned at her.

She laughed. “Oh, sure. Can you see me walking one? Or coming home to find that it’s eating a cow on the front lawn? Thanks, but no. Even if we could train them, we’d have to keep it in HQ.”

She turned serious. “Hey Geman, I’m going to grab your force field poles.”

Geman’s voice rumbled through the connection. “Yeah. Bring ‘em in. We’ve got people who might be able to figure out why they failed.”

She did, and by the time she’d gathered all of them, Cassie had finished burning the remains. One of the workers lowered a section of force field and Tikki, Katuk, Jaclyn, and Cassie stepped inside.

The tallest of workers, all of whom looked like Viking stereotypes, clapped Jaclyn on the shoulder, giving a small bow as he did.

“I’m Sentok. You have our deepest thanks. You are, all of you, remarkable fighters—even you, Tikki. We’re all trained soldiers ourselves, but our true strength sleeps for now. If we’d fought them maybe one of us would have survived. Ask us for help whenever you need it.”

They escorted us back to the Council building, explaining to us that they wouldn’t be working any more tonight. The woman (I’d missed her name) commented, “We shouldn’t even have been working tonight if it weren’t for this world’s crazy animals.”

They left us at the door and we all walked back into the Council building and our rooms.

After the doors shut and we heard Sentok and his friends walk away (one of them had started singing), Tikki’s lips curled as she said, “Even you-Tikki.” She shook her head. “I suppose I should be grateful that they noticed.”

Marcus turned to her. “How did you even get out there?”

She gave a small smile. “That kind of force field flickers on and off multiple times per second. I stepped through when it was off and I took Katuk with me.” She frowned. “Which was why I had less time to use than I needed.”

Marcus shrugged. “It worked out. You won’t do it again.”

Tikki laughed. “I can’t promise that.”

We all stood together in the room were we’d been playing Monopoly. Because it had been virtual reality provided by the ship’s AI, we hadn’t bothered to sit at the table, but our chairs were still in a circle next to the fireplace.

Jaclyn looked at the chairs and sighed.


image image image
  • open
  • next
Crying Grumpies

El futuro de Netrunner y mis pensamientos sobre el juego.

Crying Grumpies

Ha costado, mucho, pero tras el chasco de que en el In-flight Report de la Gen Con 50, no nos dieran ni una sola noticia sobre el futuro de nuestro juego de cartas favorito (quitando el remigio, por supuesto), y que lo único fuera que alguien en la sesión de preguntas y respuestas, les preguntase que si ya lo daban por muerto y dijesen que no, por fin, tenemos noticias sobre lo que nos espera.

Para empezar, ya sabemos que la esperada rotación, que tenía que llegar con el primer paquete de datos del siguiente ciclo, se hará de forma prematura, el 1 de octubre, para tener un Mundial más movido de lo normal. El primer paquete de datos del siguiente ciclo, que por fín sabemos como se llama, Visión Soberana, del Ciclo de Kitara, saldrá más cercano a finales de año, pasado el mundial.

Este ciclo nos llevará a las orillas del Lago Victoria, donde la Liga Sub-Sahariana trabaja incansablemente para crear un nexo entre el mundo sucio y fangoso y la expansión ilimitada más allá de la atmósfera terrestre… Pero el Consorcio Weyland tiene algo en contra que decir…

La verdad, es un alivio por fín saber que al menos el futuro cercano del juego está asegurado.

Pero eso no es todo…

Llevamos mucho tiempo escuchando los rumores, reddit estába lleno de ellos desde hace eones, y yo no acababa de creérmelo, y es que han anunciado el antes llamado “Core 2.0”, ahora “Revised Core Set”.

Esta caja, pretende equilibrar el competitivo, eliminado las cartas más bestias del la primera caja básica, a la que sustituirá completamente, y reeditando algunas cartas de los ciclos que dejan de ser legales tras la rotación.

Lo más notable, es la desaparición de las identidades HB: Engineering the Future, Noise: Hacker Extraordinaire y Kate “Mac” McCaffrey: Digital Tinker, eliminando de un plumazo las dos identidades que tenian créditos gratis y la identidad comodín.

Dejo enlace con el listado completo de las cartas que traerá este Revised Core Set.


Hay que agradecer, que aunque algunas cartas tendrán dibujos nuevos, no vendrá ni una carta nueva, por los que lo tenemos todo, nos podemos ahorrar un buen dinero (ya ya… algunos se comprarán 3 cajas sólo por los dibujos nuevos… y eso que es la Stacy Malibú de siempre).

Otra cosa notable es que este listado de cartas, TAMBIEN SERÁ LEGAL PARA EL MUNDIAL, por lo que las cartas que no aparecen aquí del viejo core, no pueden ser jugadas… Adios a mi querido Scorched Earth, al Breaking News, al Astroscript Pilot Program… Ains… hay algunas cartas que duelen…

En este tiempo sin noticias, y más aún, en los últimos dos ciclos, mucha gente ha quedado asqueada de como se estaba llevando el juego, las cartas superbroken, la necesidad de una MWL más regular, y han dejado de jugar, y muchas tiendas también han dejado de dar soporte al juego. Personalmente, no creo que la salida de un Revised Core Set, por muy buena idea que sea, haga que entren muchos jugadores nuevos… Espero equivocarme.

Para terminar, decir que nosotros queremos seguir dando soporte al juego, organizando torneos como hemos hecho todos estos años, desde su salida, pasando por varios Store Tournements, por el Chronos Protocol Tour, etc… Pero al parecer, desde Asmodée están empezando a poner trabar a nuestros esfuerzos… (no digo que sea sólo a nosotros, que conste), pero nos ha llegado un comunicado en el que nuestro distribuidor de material extrangero, nos ha indicado que no nos puede enviar más kits de torneo en inglés… Esperamos que no haya problema en conesguir los kits en español, pero siendo Asmodée los que está en medio, quien sabe… Tendremos que buscar otra forma de hacer los torneos, u ofrecer premios no oficiales… Por favor, os pedimos a nuestros seguidores y a los participantes de nuestros eventos, que nos dejéis un comentario, a ver si hacemos notar a Asmodée que aunque nuestra tienda “The Grumpy Shop”, no sea tienda física, hacemos todo lo que podemos por la comunidad.

Gracias a todos por estar aquí.

  • open
  • next

Cleaning up


We’re thinking about cleaning up our board game collection and giving away or selling some games we haven’t played for years and we know we’re probably never going to play again. I do find this a little difficult though. Games like Munchkin and Catan are true classics and Munchkin is probably one of the first games we ever bought, but we will we ever play them again? No, there are just so many better games. And yes, the Pandemic Legacy box. We actually still have it so that’ll definitely be the first one to go. 😉

Last week I played X-Wing for the first time! It feels like a lighter version of Tail Feathers. We played a team game and somehow our epic space battle took a little longer than usual according to those who play it more regularly. The dice were never really in favor of the attacking party, but they were helping out the defending party a lot. 😉 I’m curious how (quickly) the game plays one-on-one.

A post shared by Semi Co-op (@semicoop) on Sep 7, 2017 at 1:55pm PDT

Have you ever purged your board game collection? And if you do, what makes you decide to ‘get rid of’ a game?

The post Cleaning up appeared first on Semi Co-op.

  • open
  • next
In My Daydreams

Hideaway: Part 5

In My Daydreams

Answering my unasked question, the beast showed that it was smart enough to recognize that the force field was down by leaping at the group of us. I didn’t have time to grab the guy and fly away. Instead, I leapt forward, aiming myself at the animal’s chest, activating the rockets on my back to give myself speed.

It had me on mass, but I hoped I could give myself enough force to make up for it. Keeping in mind what Geman had said about the creatures going crazy when they smelled blood, I tried to knock it sideways into the back of the barricade. If I had to kill it, I would, but I didn’t want to make things worse if I didn’t have to.

I hit it in the chest, aiming to my right, causing both of us to tumble sideways into the wall. The beast gave a yowl as it hit, but it was still faster than I was, chomping down on my arm and chest with its mouth.

I blasted it with the sonics, aiming the blast of noise directly at what appeared to be an ear. Despite a clear invitation to the universe to create creatures that used an entirely different sense, it dropped me, screeching.

I pushed myself to my feet and opened up on it with more noise, and a goobot. The smart bullet expanded into a cloud of sticky goo before it hit, covering the animal’s chest and front legs.

It grunted and experimentally tried to pull its right leg away from the left, grunting more and then squealing as it worked on it.

Checking my peripheral vision, I found that Marcus had changed into a dome, covering the three humans we’d come to protect. I hoped he’d left them air holes, but didn’t have time to pursue the question.

With a ripping noise, the beast pulled its legs apart, leaving hair from its right leg attached to the flapping bit of goo on its left.

Even before I’d figured out where Marcus’ eyes had gone when he flattened out, I heard his voice through my implant as it broadcast to the group. “Help, everybody! Even with Nick keeping it back, I can’t take off fast enough with three people.”

It made sense. He had wings.

It also meant that I’d probably have to kill not one, but all five of the terrier/tiger things. They weren’t more important than people, but it seemed a little sad to kill animals that were just being animals.

That didn’t stop me from loading a killbot. I’d make it quick, painless and efficient. If I were lucky, I’d even be able to retrieve the bot. It wasn’t as if I had very many of them. The killbot sliced through the creature’s skull and into its brain—which was enough like ours that the thing fell over, limbs moving spastically.

Along with the hole the killbot made in its head came blood mixed with brains and bone.

Maybe that would have summoned and enraged them by itself, but they were already bounding around the corner even as I fired off the killbot, possibly attracted by the sound of the force field going down.

I aimed the killbot at the first one, a terrier/tiger larger than the one I’d already killed, and gave the bot the same target.

It dove out of the air where I’d sent it after the first hit, and went through the terrier/tiger’s head in the same place as before. This time, though, it barely made through the far side of the creature’s skull. It wasn’t out of fuel, but it was close. Following my program it had put the minimum power needed to get through and flew back into my suit through the bot intake.

I readied another killbot, unsure if I’d have to skip it and start using lasers, something I’d been avoiding because the translucent force fields might not be any protection for bystanders.

The terrier/tigers were closing and just before I decided to go with the lasers, it stopped mattering. Cassie and Jaclyn landed in front of me. Jaclyn had grabbed Cassie and jumped over the hundred foot tall fence. She let go and Cassie pulled out her sword. It hummed. Running toward the nearest one, she dodged a swipe of a paw and jumped, flying toward its head. It didn’t dodge and she decapitated it with one blow.

She didn’t quite manage to avoid the body which hit her as she passed under the beast’s neck. It didn’t hit her straight on, she was too strong and too quick for that, but she had to push off it with her hand, flying sideways to land on her feet off to its side.

While watching her though, I’d missed what Jaclyn had been doing altogether. All I know is that I looked past Cassie to find Jaclyn standing in front of a crumpled heap of a beast.

The fifth and last of the creatures was still alive. Tikki had stepped through the force field somehow and stood next to a tiger/terrier that appeared to have been caught mid-leap.

With the aid of my HUD, I thought I could see a globe around the beast. Tikki’s high voice carried through the night. “Could you maybe hurry? I don’t think I can keep the bubble up for more than… thirty seconds?”

We hurried.

image image image
  • open
  • next
In My Daydreams

Hideaway: Part 4

In My Daydreams

I watched the beast walk up to one of the force fields, bat at the downed force field pole, turn, and follow the wall back the other direction.

It didn’t strike at the force field wall even though it did watch the workers behind it, throwing a few glances in our direction.

It had large teeth and a lot of them. How many pounds of force could it bite with?

I didn’t know off the top of my head but used the HUD to take measurements of its mouth and head and the underlying muscle structure.

The fact that it didn’t bother to strike at the force field argued that it might understand that it couldn’t get through.

As I thought, Jaclyn asked the question that I’d just begun to consider. “How did the pole go down?”

Geman didn’t say anything, giving Cassie time to say, “I guess he doesn’t know.”

Katuk walked toward the edge of the shield and the beast stopped, watching him.

Geman’s voice came over the channel. “It sounds like they didn’t configure it right. I think it got a paw under the force field.”

Interesting. I wasn’t sure how smart that made it, but it was at least kind of smart. I zoomed in on the pole with my HUD. The pole was bent and a thick section near the bottom looked like it had a chunk missing. I doubted that I could repair it, but it might be worth looking at later.

“Okay everybody,” Jaclyn said over the channel we’d been using. “We’ve got to make some decisions. We’ve got to figure out how we want to rescue these people.”

“Easy,” Marcus grew wings out of his back. “All we have to do is have Nick and I fly over the top of the force fields, grab them, and fly back. Problem solved. No fighting. No risk. Everything’s good.”

Katuk looked away from the beast and back toward us to send the word, “Sensible,” in our direction.

Cassie looked the beast up and down. “I’m almost disappointed, but let’s not fight it if we don’t have to. That thing looks like it could do some damage.”

“It sounds like a good plan from this end,” Geman said. “They get crazy when they smell the blood of one of their own.”

“Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen then.” Jaclyn waved over at the workers by the wall. “Geman, tell them we’re coming.”

Deep voice rumbling, Geman said, “It’s done. I told them what you’re doing.”

“Great,” Marcus said and took a great flap with his wings. A few more flaps took him up and over the top of the force fields. I turned on the rocket pack and took to the air. The force field ended around one hundred feet up. I slowed my ascent very nearly to hovering in place and then gave myself enough forward moment to float above the separated section of the force field and the wall.

It took a moment to get the Rocket suit to hover in place, but once it did, I took a look over the wall and noticed that Geman had been correct. My HUD showed four more of the beasts on the other side of the wall, none of them moving, waiting for anything that chose to escape around the corner.

I sent the picture over to everyone and let the suit lose altitude. I came to a stop next to Marcus and the three workers (two men and a woman).

The group of us stood right next to one of the floating cargo platforms. If they’d been planning to use it to escape, it wasn’t a bad idea. Depending on how high and how quickly it flew, they might not need us. On the other hand, I’d never seen them higher than twenty feet or so.

“Hey everybody,” I said, letting the implant translate my words into their language. They grunted greetings as the implant informed me that they were from a gene line that emphasized strength and were used to breed warriors. Looking them over, I could believe it. They were all about my height while wearing the Rocket suit—about seven feet. At the same time, they all could have passed for bodybuilders, even the woman.

If they were like the other people, they might not officially have powers, but I would have bet that they were stronger than a normal person.

I looked over at Marcus. “How many can you take?”

He looked from one of them to the other. “Two, I think.”

With me taking one, that would be the end of it in one trip.

“So who wants to fly with me?” I looked over the group. One of the men made a short bow in my direction. As I reached out to him, the shields stopped glowing. A second look made it clear to me that they were off, leaving the workers and us standing unprotected in the dark.

image image image
  • open
  • next

B13.2 Call of the Sleeper


Previous | Next

“This is going to go wrong so much I can’t even put it into words,” Hecate complained, her mouth – the only part of her face, other than her chin, visible beneath her cowl – twisted into a frown as she leaned onto her staff, gripping it tightly with both hands. The green jewel at its top was stirring with greenish light and black smoke, as if responding to her nervousness… which it likely was.

“It can hardly come as a surprise to you,” he rebuffed her, himself standing at the centre of the rooftop, one hand clasping the other arm’s wrist behind his back. He didn’t look at her, just downwards, as if deep in thought, though really, his mind was too unquiet to be deep into anything in particular, right then. “They were hardly going to mount an immediate assault based purely on some information I got from strange visions.”

“When you put it like that, it only makes you look even kookier than usual,” Tyche commented.

“Thank you for that glowing recommendation,” he replied, deadpan.

“So, why insist on this meeting then?” Hecate pressed her point. “What’s the point?” Her voice rose slightly in frustration, yet Brennus kept his gaze downcast, fixed.

“I think it is obvious. I am going to go after her myself and recover the cure.”

The other two girls just stared at him, their jaws dropping.

Before the protests could begin, he looked up. “She is here… and she is not alone.”

The other two followed his gaze, to see several figures flying down towards the rooftop.

In the lead was Gloom Glimmer, her pure white cape billowing around her as she descended gracefully, toes pointed in perfect form. With her came Polymnia, in a vastly changed set of power armour, apparently carried by her friend’s power, stumbling gracelessly as they touched down, and Osore in his black bodysuit, leather jacket and Oni mask, as well as Spellgun and Tartsche.

They weren’t the only ones. A human-sized, black-furred bird with a cat’s head followed them, landing near the duo while shifting into a more humanoid cat-form.

Brennus spent a moment looking Polymnia up and down, taking in her new appearance. Spare armour, he realised. Less elaborate than her standard loadout. It must have taken too much damage during the fight in Esperanza for her to fix quickly. The new set of armour was still made out of that blue, transparent material that her other previous one had consisted off – which Basil found quite offensive, transparent armour would be unable to protect against a lot of light-based effects – to reveal her pink shorts and top, but otherwise it looked entirely different to Basil’s eye. It lacked a lot of the former armour’s strength enhancements, he could tell with a glance, though there were still some parts he guessed were lesser servo motors, nor did it sport the prehensile limbs with her speakers and keyboard, which usually extended from her backpack; there was still a back module, though he couldn’t guess what it did, and her forearms were much more thickly armored, with numerous speakers built into the resulting gauntlets. Her hair was tied into a single, long, multi-coloured braid, shifting colours as sounds played over it, and she still wore the same visor as always. She smiled when she noticed him looking, her lips shifting colours just like her hair did.

“W-wha…” Vasiliki stammered at the sight of all of them gathered there.

Brennus didn’t give her a chance to continue, though, stepping forward towards Gloom Glimmer, who stood there with a serious expression on her face, her cloak wrapped tight around her form. He was about to start talking when a prompt from Eudocia flashed on his HUD.

‘Be polite.’

He stopped, briefly, blinking, then started again. “Gloom Glimmer, thank you for meeting me on such short notice,” he began, both annoyed and grateful that she’d pointed it out to me.

“I do owe you,” she said, a little levity entering her voice. “Besides, I can guess what you want to do, and it’s a worthy cause.”

“Well, if you can do that, you know him better than we do,” Hecate grumbled, stepping closer to flank him. “What about the rest?” she asked, then nearly squeaked when Polymnia waved at her with a smile.

“We’re here to help,” Polymnia explained, the fingers of her left hand wiggling the way Brennus’ usually did, when he used the air-keyboard function built into his gloves. Which explained how she intended to play her instruments without that giant keyboard she usually had.

Gloom Glimmer smiled. “I was going to come here, after you called, but Polymnia overheard my side of our conversation and got the rest out of me, insisting that she come along. Then Bakeneko noticed us preparing to leave and insisted that she come along. Osore heard that and chose to come along, and then I figured it wouldn’t be fair not to tell the others, too, which is how Tartsche and Spellgun joined the party.”

“Outstep’s still laid out recovering from the fight in Esperanza, otherwise he’d…” Tartsche explained, but Spellgun shoved his elbow into his boyfriend’s side, making him flinch. “Ow! Well, ok, he likely wouldn’t have come help with this anyway.”

“Did he really get hurt that badly?” Tyche asked curiously, ignoring the second part.

“He didn’t really get hurt,” Polymnia replied, even while her eyes kept moving from Brennus’ new gauntlet to the black-and-silver oblong ovoid currently attached to it, seemingly sticking to the gauntlet’s engraved surface just by itself.

“Outstep did evac work during the battle,” Tartsche picked up, explaining. “Kept pulling the defenders out of the way of attacks, or collapsing buildings. Hundreds of saves, but he really over-taxed himself, and he’ll probably be laid out for at least a few more days.”

Brennus nodded absently, his eyes on Gloom Glimmer. “You know what I intend to do, and judging by what you said earlier, you are willing to help?”

She smiled at him, a sight that would likely be quite distracting for most boys and cocked her hip before replying, “Hey, you saved my girl, I’ll help save yours.”

Polymnia blushed, punching her friend’s shoulder. “Could you not phrase it that way? It’s not like the shippers aren’t really going crazy enough, without you adding more fuel,” the young musician huffed, looking resolutely at him, rather than the others and ignoring the chuckling around her. “Anyway, she’s not wrong. Aside from the fact that we owe you for all your help, this… these people are clearly evil. And Dusu is the only chance we have to heal… all those people. So, I want to help, too, even if the UH says to wait.”

“This is crazy!” Hecate burst out before anyone else could reply. “You’re talking about assaulting the base of some super-secret villain organisation that makes monsters which can level cities! We wouldn’t stand a chance!”

“We are not going to assault them,” Brennus cut in. Everyone turned to look at him, as he focused on each in turn. “I never said I would be taking anyone along for this, other than Gloom Glimmer. The plan is to sneak inside and either steal the cure or else extract the information from Dusu – if necessary, we’ll apprehend her and bring her back for a more thorough interrogation, should Gloom Glimmer’s powers fail to extract such from her.”

I’d rather  have Amy along for that, but there is no way whatsoever she’d allow this to happen.

Everyone but Gloom Glimmer was now staring him in disbelief.

“What?” he asked, feeling slightly defensive. “Did you really think I would advocate an outright assault on this kind of enemy? The only reason why I even insist on going along myself is, first of all, because it is my idea and I am not going to send someone else into danger without taking the same risks, and second, my expertise might be needed.”

“Can’t Gloom Glimmer just use a gadgeteer power of her own?” Hecate asked, sounding less annoyed and more serious now. “Speaking of which, can’t you just fix the bodies of Dusu’s victims? I’ve seen you manifest healing powers before,” she now addressed her directly.

The girl in question sighed, looking down. “No, to both. I’ve never been able to manifest gadgeteering powers, or Contriving. Or any long-term powers, for that matter. As for healing, don’t you think I’ve tried to fix people like that?” she complained in a petulant voice. “I can’t control what powers I get, or when I get them. I only really get healing powers when people close to me get hurt, and even then, it doesn’t always work out well – during Crocell’s attack, Poly had to sit most of it out because I could only heal her ears, but not fix the migraine his scream gave her!” She stomped her foot on the roof, hard enough to make thin cracks spread out from her heel.

“I thought so,” Brennus commented. “Either way, we should not dally any more than absolutely necessary. I have the coordinates for the enemy’s base, and all my relevant equipment. We should l-“

“Oh hell no you don’t!” Hecate cried out, turning around to swat Brennus over the back of the head.

“Hey!” he shouted, more startled than he was hurt – he’d made sure to heavily armour his head, of course.

“Look, you’re an idiot, Brennus, and this whole plan of yours is idiotic, but I’ll be damned before I let you go there without as much backup as possible!” she shouted at him, very nearly at the top of her lungs. Certainly loud enough that anyone down at street level would hear her, if they weren’t empty at present (he had his last two ravens keeping a lookout). “Now, I want to save her, too, and since the UH want to play it safe, it seems, we gotta do something – but not like this, and certainly not on your own!” she finished by stabbing a finger into his chest. Not that he felt it, through his armour.

“What kind of infiltration are we going to pull off if all of us come along?” he asked in exasperation. “Nine people is way too many!”

“Ten, actually,” Eudocia whispered into his ear, but he ignored her.

“Actually, I think she’s got a point,” Tartsche spoke calmly, stepping forth so he stood next to Brennus and Hecate, between them. “If you and Gloom Glimmer went alone, and she’s taken out, then you’re pretty screwed. You shouldn’t put the responsibility all on her shoulders.”

Brennus crossed his arms. “I am not. That is why I am going along. I can take care of myself, I can back her up, and I know what to look for.”

Tartsche spread his arms, as if saying ‘that’s what I’m saying’ or something. “Look, no one denies that. But my point is, nine people is not that much and if something happens, we’ll be able to provide backup and support!” He took a deep breath. “Look, if it was up to me, we wouldn’t be doing this at all. This is way beyond reckless. But I also believe that we have to help Dusu’s victims, and time is running out on them. I’m sure Rounds would agree with me, which is why I’m here, and willing to help. But we’ve got to do it smart. Otherwise, we’ll all just die, or be captured, and we won’t help anyone!” Spellgun stepped up behind his boyfriend, nodding his assent.

“Look, B- Brennus,” Aimi, Bakeneko, spoke up. “You can trust us. We’ve been through a lot, and we’re not any amateurs anymore. You need every bit of help you can get.”

“Listen to the catgirl,” Tyche agreed.

“I still think nine are too many,” Brennus disagreed, though more calmly now. “Can Gloom Glimmer even transport and hide that many?” He looked at her.

She seemed to think it over, briefly, then she nodded. “I can do it. Not much more difficult than just two, really. Right now, I have a kind of, telekinetic plane power, and a stealth field and… some kind of enhanced perception, it’s kind of hard to put that one into words.”

Brennus looked around at everyone. He didn’t like it, one bit; he wasn’t an idiot, in the end. He knew this whole plan was extremely risky at best, suicidal at worst, but he’d decided that he couldn’t not try it. Dragging the others along, though… at least he could be all but certain that Gloom Glimmer could escape from any kind of situation, leaving him behind if need be.

He looked them all in the eyes, until he was looking at Osore, who’d just stood back, his arms down his sides, motionless.

“What do you think? You’re the only one who hasn’t said anything yet,” he asked the quiet boy.

“Any action is better than no action,” Osore spoke quietly, his voice barely more than a whisper. “Let’s roll the dice, and see where they fall.”

Brennus looked down at his feet, then up at Gloom Glimmer again.

She shrugged. “Hey, don’t look at me. If I am crazy enough to go along with this, what right do I have to dissuade anyone else from the same course of action?”

He sighed, before he snapped his fingers, causing his two ravens to fly up and land on his shoulders, one on each side. “Alright. Let’s go.”


Unseen and unfelt by anyone, a figure in a dark blue robe sat on the edge of the roof, watching the teens gather up, stroking a black cat’s long, soft fur as the feline lay curled up in the grip of his left arm.

He watched quietly as Gloom Glimmer’s power rose up around them, a transparent, but not invisible energy wrapping around the group, forming something like a upward-pointing cone, before another power wrapped around them like a shroud, causing them to fade from sight.

A trivial alteration of his position allowed him to penetrate that ability, as well, so he could watch them fly East.

He stayed quiet, his thoughts unreadable, until just moments later, a black-and-purple blur came down from the sky, smashing so hard onto the rooftop, the concrete cracked, nearly caving in.

Mindstar rose from a crouch, her lower face twisted into a snarl of rage and concern, looking around wildly.

“Where is he!?” she shouted at no one in particular, looking around wildly, her eyes wide and livid. Then she seemed to zero in on something, looking in the direction they had flown off towards and, with another snarl, she shot away after them, cracking the roof further.

The man called Journeyman watched as she disappeared in the sky, standing up and stepping forward just as the rooftop began to crumble in on itself. As the concrete broke away beneath him, he just kept walking on the same level, as if the air could carry him just as well as concrete.

The cat purred in his arms, his fingers going from its back to the back of its ears, scratching them skillfully.

“The plot thickens, my friend,” he spoke calmly to the cat. “And I’ve got to say…” he gave off a strange chuckle, sounding elated “… most of this, I did not see coming.” Though his face was hidden by mirrors and strange visions, one could somehow still see his grin. “Didn’t see it coming at all. Oh, joyous day.”

He looked down at the cat, who looked back up at him with lazy eyes, then yawned, showing off its teeth.

“Don’t worry, I’ll keep an eye on them,” he continued, petting it underneath its chin. “Might even lend a hand and help them, if they surprise me enough. Wouldn’t that be swell, eh, pal?”

The cat yawned once more, then subsided in his arms, purring calmly.

He tilted his head, looking down at for a little more, before he looked up and after the others. “You know, if I could just remember where I’ve seen you before, I could finally find out your name.”

Beneath him, the house alarm went off, finally, as the roof collapsed fully into the floor below.

“Oh well, I need to get going anyway.”

And just like that, he disappeared from sight.

Previous | Next


Filed under: Brennus Chapters Tagged: Bakeneko, Basil, Gloom Glimmer, Graymalkin, Hecate, Journeyman, Osore, Polymnia, Spellgun, Tartsche, Tyche
  • open
  • next

B12.10 Born At Sleep


Previous | Next

I’m not dead.

Relief surged through Basil as he processed that thought.

Then he opened his eyes – and saw only darkness. Followed by a female grown to his left, and a cough to his right.

The buildings fell on top of us, he remembered. But they were still alive. He didn’t know how just yet, but first things first.

He tested his body, clenching and unclenching his hands, rolling his ankles. Everything seemed to be in working order. There were no new pains, leaving him only with the splitting headache curtesy of barely dodging Crocell’s blast.

With a flick of his fingers, he activated several lights all over his armor, illuminating his surroundings.

At first, he only saw dust. Lots and lots of dust, choking the air, which explained the coughs around himself.

Before he could do anything about it – not that he really had many options – the dust began to move, swirling and gathering into a single clump about the size of a football.

Without it to block sight, his lights could reveal the exact nature of his predicament.

He was in a small cavern created by the collapsing buildings smashing into each other and onto them. Somehow, through sheer happenstance, they had collapsed, broken and ground against each other in such an absurdly lucky sequence that it ended up forming a safe room around the three of them.

His armor wasn’t even nicked.

This can’t be just luck, he thought quietly, turning his head left and right. The woman in brown and Tyche were coughing and spitting out black globs of dust, but otherwise seemed as unharmed as he felt. Still, best to check.

“Are you two alright?” he asked as he got up. The cavern was just barely big enough for even him to stand, though his hood brushed against a desk that’d somehow gotten stuck in the new roof above.

The woman in brown spit out another glob of spit and dust, then coughed roughly, clearing her throat. “Quite alright… against all expectations.” Her voice stood in marked contrast to her understated costume, a pleasant contralto with a midwestern accent he couldn’t quite place.

“I feel amazing, actually,” Tyche replied with a chirpy voice, not bothering to sit up. “Apart from the whole buried alive and mouth full of dust thing, that is.” She turned her head to look at Basil. “What about you, B-Six?”

“Worst I have is a headache,” he said as he inspected the cavern more closely. “I can not see an easy way out, though…”

“There are five airways leading to the outside,” the woman in brown said. “But none of them is big enough to fit even a sparrow, much less a human or three.”

“How can you tell?” The prone girl asked.

“She wields some manner of aerokinesis,” Basil couldn’t help but interject. “Earlier wh-“

“No exposition!” Tyche cut him off. “She has aerokinesis. Don’t need a whole lecture.”

He grumbled under his breath, his back to her as he rapped his knuckles against a particularly sturdy-looking piece of concrete. “We’ll have a hard time getting out of here,” he said bluntly.

Just then, there was an earth-shaking impact, and a roar so loud, they heard it through the rubble.

Tyche cried something out, but it was lost in the scream and the deafening rumble of their little cavern shifting, collapsing, furniture and concrete coming undone to fall…

All around the three of them, without so much as a splinter touching them. When the cacophony and the dust subsided, they found themselves beneath the open sky, the fallen building having literally split open around them.

They didn’t have time to process the situation too well, though, because right after that, a huge, jet-black figure flew over them and slammed into the rubble just a few metre away.

It was Kraquok, in all his twisted, monstrous glory, having just smashed into the already broken rubble only to crush it further. He was bigger than the last time they’d seen him, having grown by at least half a metre in height, and several times that in length.

Before the many-armed monster could rise, Crocell leapt over them as well, landing on him with a deafening boom.

The two immediately began to wail on each other, one savagely, the other with an uncanny grace – for all his twisted form and size, Kraquok was a veteran fighter, and though Crocell was larger and stronger, not to mention standing atop him, he quickly reversed their positions, wrestling the beast into a submission hold, clinging to its back.

Basil didn’t have time to watch what came next, though, as a strong wind picked him and Tyche up, whirling them around the woman as she flew them away from the fight, causing him to lose line of sight for a few dizzying seconds. His ravenbots were still en route, and so could not help him right now.

When they were deposited, it was on the pavement two streets away, out of sight from the battle.

“We ought to be safe for at least a bit, here,” the woman said, bent over with her hands on her knees as she was trying to catch her breath. “My name is Nightingale, by the by. A pleasure to meet you, Brennus, Tyche.”

“You know our names?” Tyche asked in surprise, while Basil studied the woman more closely. Nightingale was not exactly a big name, but he’d read her name in a list of veteran villains – she’d been active for at least three decades by now.

The woman smiled at them, the skin aroudn her lips crinkling into laughter lines. “I’m something of a fan of bird-themed capes and cowls, and try to keep up with any new ones. Call it a hobby.” Suddenly, her smile turned into a frown, as she gave Basil a stern look. “I do hope those birds are actually robots and not some poor animals you’ve experimented on.”

“Is this really the t-” Tyche began, but Basil waved her off.

“They’re simple drones. I used Peregrine’s winged-flight design from Toybox and stuck it on an articulate Raven-shaped chassis, that’s all.”

She went back to smiling, clapping her hands together happily. “Oh, very good! That’s a weight off my chest.”

“Alright, enough with the geek-talk!” Tyche cut in. “What should we do next? Tall, powerful and ugly is still out there tearing up the town!”

“Right,” Basil admitted, focusing on the situation at hand again. Which immediately reminded him of something he should’ve done minutes ago, the moment he’d realised it. “Brennus to central,” he contacted them through the device he’d linked to his own com suite, “Crocell appears to be specifically going after my teammate Tyche.”

Father Manus’ cultured voice, practiced by years of preaching to his congregation, replied, though it sounded weaker than when he had spoken to the gathered capes and cowls before the fight. “Please elaborate, my son.”

“Crocell has repeatedly pursued my teammate, directing its attacks towards her and even ignoring immediate threats in favour of lashing out at her,” he explained.

“One moment,” the preacher replied.

Basil turned to Tyche. “Let’s hope they figure out how to use this.”

“Use… Oh, like, using me as a bait?” she asked, first stunned, then grinning.

He nodded, just as he was contacted again. This time, he made sure to patch Tyche into the connection.

“Brennus, we’ve confirmed your claim,” Father Manus said. “All our analysts agree that it’s accurate.”

“Well, duh, B6 wouldn’t lie about that!” Tyche cut in with a snort, before Basil could cut her off.

“Of course, please excuse the implication – I did not mean to insult anyone,” the holy man replied smoothly, never missing a beat. “It is good you are listening in – would you be willing to coordinate with us so as to maximise the distraction you appear to be to Crocell in our favour?”

Tyche crossed her arms and rolled her eyes, not that Manus could possibly see that. “I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t. What’d you need me to do?”

“Splendid, my child!” he replied warmly, making her look… embarrassed? No, that wasn’t it, and Basil didn’t know how to parse the emotion that ran across her face and posture. “I shall send a flier to pick you up at your current location, along with an escort.”

“I can take her,” Nightingale spoke up, as if she’d been listening the whole time.

Aerokinesis… she probably can listen in on any conversation within her range, Basil noted, filing it away for future reference. Note to self, determine maximum and possible minimum range.

Father Manus must’ve heard her, too, because next, he spoke through the communicator on her belt, and told her where to take Tyche.

The redhead turned to Basil, meanwhile, and smiled. “Guess I’m going on a solo adventure, B6.” In spite of her bravado, she couldn’t quite surpress her nervousness.

“Do not hog all the loot,” he said, reaching out to put an armored hand on her shoulder, giving her as gentle a squeeze as he could through his own and her armor. “And stay safe.”

She rolled her eyes. “I’m always safe, B6. You know that. You’re the one I’m worried about, so please don’t get yourself torn and broken – like last time.”

“I shall. Now go and do your job – I’ll do mine.” He let go of her just as Nightingale summoned a gust of wind that picked them both up.

Tyche saluted him casually before they flew out of sight beyond an office building.

Basil looked in that direction for a few moments, before he looked around. The street was now deserted, the fight having moved further on.

I wonder what I can do, he thought quietly as he triggered his grappling gear, catapulting himself up onto the tallest rooftop within reach. So far, nothing I have done has had any measurable effect on this fight whatsoever. Aside from keeping Tyche alive, but that was probably her power at work, not me.

He saw a dustcloud rise, several blocks away, and the unmistakable sound of the battle continuing, and immediately took a running start, leaping off the rooftop towards it.

His grappling system kicked in, swingning and throwing him towards it as he handled the controls. Even so, he’d grown used to the system by now, and could operate it casually enough to let him continue contemplating his role in this.

Without his ravens – there were only two left – he could no longer serve that well as overlook or Search and Rescue, at least not to a meaningful degree; while his medical training (of unknown origin) was easily up to performing heavy-duty surgery, that wasn’t really an option on a battlefield, nor necessary at the base camp, where actual healers and certified surgeons were available. Nor could he transport the injured, his grappling system put too high a stress on the bodies it moved, and wasn’t calibrated to transport a whole other person over a large distance, much less safely so.

His rifle, meanwhile, had proven completely ineffective by any standards. He might as well just have thrown stones at the thing, it was that much of a waste of effort.

Basil was still in thought when he swung upon a dust-covered four-storey office building with a tipped-over neon sign on top, and got a good look at the battle below.

Crocell was ringing with Kraquok, their huge bodies locked in a brutal struggle, as capes and cowls with ranged powers pelted the monster whenever they had free shot.

Then, Crocell managed to wind itself out of Kraquok’s grip, moving as if its bones had temporarily turned into water, and got a grip on one of his leftside arms, wringing the supervillain down to the ground.

As Basil watched, it stepped on his back and tore at his arm, ripping it free of its socket in a massive spray of blood.

Kraquok roared, but it wasn’t in pain – it was in triumph, as the stump almost immediately stopped bleeding and new flesh began to grow out of it.

While Crocell was throwing the giant arm it had ripped free away, a new one grew in its place, easily half again as long and thick as the one lost.

The twisted supervillain planted his new, oversized hand on the ground, as the growth began to spread from the stump like super-fast cancer; first the shoulder bulged, irregularly, then the other arms, the neck, the torso proper, and so on, his monstrous body growing to one-and-a-half times its previous size in irregular fashion, the process tumultous enough to make Crocell lose its footing and fall off of him.

Basil watched, fascinated, as the enlarged Kraquok rose to his full height, drawing himself up as his upper body twisted around to face his foe. Both of his faces were grinning in savage bloodlust as he opened his lower, crocodile-like mouth, drawing in air.

He knew what was coming – he’d heard a lot about it, even seen some spotty recordings online, but none of them had shown it in its entirety.

A dark red glow appeared in the back of Kraquok’s throat, and within his chest, pulsing with every heartbeat – in fact, judging by the location and shape of the glow in his chest, which could be seen even through his thick skin and armor-like scales, it was literally his heart that was glowing – as he seemed to take a deep breath, drawing himself further up onto his hind legs.

Then he bent forward, and his power exploded out of him in a wave of crimson, almost blood-like fire that washed over Crocell and everything around and further behind it, creating a cacophonous sound like water suffused with enough waste to make it thick, rushing over sharp stones, breaking. Wherever the crimson flames touched, things did not burn – instead, they withered, aged, rotted away, from the plants it touched to streetlights and even the concrete itself, quickly being reduced to dust.

Basil could not tell what, if any, effect the Mortal Coil, as it was often called, had on Crocell – but he sincerely doubted it was a pleasant one. There was a whole thread on Toybox populated by people trying to analyze the properties of Kraquok’s greatest offensive weapon; all anyone had been able to determine was that it actually aged whatever it touched, somehow accelerating the passage of time for any matter or energy it came into contact with. It decayed super-tough armor, force-fields, energy beams, defenses based on strange, sometimes even abstract mechanisms – in short, it could penetrate most any defensive measures available to most anyone; it’s only flaw being that he had to hit a certain minimal size before he could employ it in the first place.

Which he’d obviously just done, because he was pouring it out all over Crocell. It was a focused breath, too, with only minimal collateral damage.

The buildings around the two of them were already falling apart, aging decades, maybe centuries, wherever the slightest ember touched them, introducing numerous faults within their structures.

One of Basil’s ravens saw Hecate approach, as her shadow form landed just a few metre away, resolving into her costumed form. Basil was focused on the display of power in the distance (he was curious, but not stupid enough to try to get closer in order to get some better readings), but he lifted a hand to greet her, show that he had noticed her approach.

She came to a halt standing next to him and briefly touched his hand, trading a reassuring squeeze.

Her hands were drenched in blood up to the forearms. He did not inquire – if she wanted to share the story behind that, she would.

“Reminds me of my aging fire,” she spoke instead, her voice betraying weariness. “Though I don’t think I could ever make it that powerful.”

“It is certainly humbling,” he replied. “Neither your nor my defenses would be of any use against it and it would most likely burn away Gilgul’s time in an instant, unless her power somehow renders her immune to it.”

She nodded, as they watched Kraquok’s breath peter out. A few seconds later, they could see Crocell on the ground. Its skin was gone, exposing muscle and sinew – or at least, what appeared to be such, because it all seemed to be made of the same, uniform, pale white material as the rest of its body, from its bones to its softest organs. Pale, water-like fluid was flowing all out of it, pouring on the ground below.

And it was still moving, rising to its feet with no visible change to its speed or dexterity, even though at least forty percent of its legs and arms were gone. Its eye was gone, but that didn’t seem to impede it at all as it swung a bubbling, rapidly regenerating fist at Kraquok’s head, knocking the surprised villain over.

His heavy form toppled and crashed onto the street behind him, jaw broken for a few seconds before it fixed itself, growing slightly in size and said increase spreading throughout his entire form.

Crocell was absolutely dripping bubbles as its entire front regrew, stepping forward as it reached for the prone villain.

Then a mighty roar that reminded them both of nothing so much as a certain beloved movie trilogy filled the air as a massive figure leapt onto a rooftop adjacent to the street the fight was taking place on, and from there onto Crocell’s back.

“The hell is that!?” Hecate exclaimed in surprise, as giant claws dug into Crocell’s hide for purchase, while razor-sharp teeth bit into its neck.

“Oh my… that is the Ultrasaurus Megarex!” Basil exclaimed in glee. “I did not know Totemic had hunted it down!”

The huge beast was easily four and a half metre tall at the hips, and over twenty metre in length, which was further extended by the crown of jetblack, curved horns extending from its head, and the even longer, similarly coloured spikes on the tip of its tail. Its teeth and claws were similarly black and overly sharp, but the rest of its body betrayed its identity – instead of scales, it had messy, dark brown fur from the tip of its tail all the way to its snout and its front arms were grossy elongated and twisted, looking like gnarled wood.

“Ultrasaurus… Megarex… why do I even ask?” Vasiliki rested her face on her palm. “H-how…”

Basil shrugged as he watched Totemic savage the far larger Crocell with tooth, nail and stinger, drawing it away from the slowly rising Kraquok.

“There was this boy in Australia, a contriver who would clone dinosaurs and release them into the wild. Then he hit puberty and suddenly, ‘old’ dinosaurs were not cool enough anymore so he… innovated.”

“Oh, golly,” she replied with all the enthusiasm of a person lacking a Y-Chromosome. “So, anyway, what are we going to do? We’re still as superfluous as before, except for Tyche.”

“I intend to watch, study and figure out how to contribute,” he replied as he readied his grappling hooks. “As well as provide emergency support where necessary and possible.”

He leapt off the rooftop, as the fight moved further down the street, and onto a taller building a few houses down and across the street. Hecate landed next to him moments later.

“You’re not asking how I knew about Tyche,” she said.

“I assume you were listening in on our talk with Father Manus, seeing how you are patched into my communication suite.”

“I was just checking.”

As they talked, a horizontal funnel appeared around the three combatants, drawing in dust, rubble and the mist that kept forming around Crocell’s general location. Turning their heads, they saw Charybdis stand about a hundred metre down the street from the two-on-one battle, her brother behind her ready to lift off as she kept her mouth open.

The suction increased with every second, and the two giant metahumans began pushing Crocell closer to her, throwing both their body weight against it even as the strange monster dug its heels in to withstand the simultaneous pull and push.

Even Basil and Hecate had to brace themselves against the powerful winds that Charybdis’ power was summoning, though fortunately, they were far enough away from her for that to not actually be much of a problem – her vortex was tearing the facades off the buildings on the street, and still building up more power.

Still, it did not seem to be enough – Crocell had simply dug itself deeply into street, braced against her vortex, while neither Kraquok, nor Totemic were large and powerful enough to dislodge it. Instead, it seemed to be trying to move them around, to put them between itself and Charybdis, slowly edging the smaller Totemic to its side.

Is it really that smart? Basil thought, surprised. It had not, so far, shown any real intelligence, but it was now clearly trying to maneuver its enemies and use their ally’s powers against them.

And honestly, it might have worked – it was clearly stronger than either Kraquok or Totemic, and it had the advantage of the suction making it easier to move them into its way – but just then, a flier came into sight.

It looked, at first, like an oblong, almost elliptical mass of smooth mercury, flying through the air with its broad side in front, but as it approached, its form rippled like water and receded, until it was merely a floating disk, with two people atop. One was a man a costume styled to evoke a Roswellian alien, only taller, with black lenses over its eyes. He stood atop the mercury-like disk, his arms crossed in a stern pose.

The other passenger was Tyche, standing in front of him with a cocky grin.

“Oh God, what’re they planning…” Hecate whispered.

Crocell immediately turned its head nearly one-hundred and eighty degrees to look straight at Tyche. Abandoning its attempts to reposition its closer foes, it opened its mouth wide and fired its destructive beam straight at Tyche, headless of the still-active vortex in its way.

Predictably, the beam wavered, then was diverted, pulling down into the vortex to be sucked into Charybdis’ mouth on a spiraling path.

Nevertheless, Crocell kept firing as it now actively walked towards her.

“A distraction,” Basil explained, though it shouldn’t be necessary. “Looks like it still prioritises going after Tyche whenever she’s near enough.”

“I’d really, really like to know why,” Hecate said, worry in her voice – until Tyche started dancing around on the platform and  goading the beast by slapping her own butt at it. “On second thought, I totally understand the desire to liberate the world of her presence.”

“Admit it – you would miss her, too,” he teased her.

Crocell seemed to finally realise, meanwhile, that his attack was bearing no fruit, and stopped firing his beam. Only by that point, Kraquok and Totemic had gotten a good hold of its arms and shoulders, keeping it facing Charybdis, who took the chance to close her mouth.

“There it comes,” Basil commented, not that Hecate didn’t already know perfectly well how Charybdis power worked.

The young woman leaned back, as if taking a deep breath, and then she threw her head forward, her mouth snapping open in a silent scream.

A focused blast of compressed energy and matter shot forward to impact Crocell – but it started moving as soon as she fired, twisting its shapeless body. Its arms and shoulders… simply became boneless, like sacks filled with fluid, allowing it to simply twist out of its foes’ grip and duck beneath the blast.

“Oh fuck!” Hecate shouted as it shot past them. “That’ll blow an entire block away!”

They watched the blast fly down the street with a loud, ear-rending whine; but before it could hit a building – or worse, a person, for there were several approaching heroes down that way – a shadow dropped from above and into its way.

It was promptly engulfed into a huge, though strangely shaped explosion, most of its destructive energy being directed upwards or forward at a high angle.

“Did you see that shadow?” Basil asked as he wrapped an arm around Hecate’s waist, steadying her against the shockwave that nearly bowled them over. He had to rely on his grappling hooks to stay upright, again.

“Yeah, what could it have been… oh my God,” she finished with a whisper, as the explosion faded.

The Subjugator hovered forward out of the cloud of smoke it had thrown up, shimmering, shifting force-fields in front of it, shaped in such a way as to divert the worst of the explosion harmlessly upwards. Lights were glowing all over its blocky, yet elegant form, as vents opened, unleashing a pale blue glow.

Its four ‘eyes’ were rotated to face forward and briefly flared up in, causing the force-fields in front to dissolve starting from the centre, as the huge barrel on top of it further extended, until it was twice as long as the actual aircraft itself.

“DEFENDERS OF THIS CITY!” blared a chorus of powerful voices further amplified by its speakers – and also patched through all of their communication devices.

It is even in our private channel… Basil thought with some trepidation. He hadn’t even noticed an attempt to hack it.

“YOU HAVE FAILED TO CURTAIL THIS BEAST WHICH SO RUDELY INTERRUPTED OUR GATHERING!” Light began to gather in the depths of its gun barrel, as if motes of blue light were being drawn in and gathered, while electricity arched within the barrel. “NOW WALLOW IN YOUR SHAME AS THIS SUBJUGATOR FULFILLS YOUR DUTY!”

The glow became brighter and more intense, until even Basil had to avert his eyes, in spite of his mask’s filters.


It fired straight at Crocell.

Previous | Next


Filed under: Brennus Chapters Tagged: Basil, Charybdis, Crocell, Father Manus, Hecate, Kraquok, Nightingale, Totemic, Tyche
  • open
  • next

A guide to UNLOCK!


After our first try at a real escape room, we were curious if a card game could give us this same feeling/experience as being locked up in a physical room frantically trying to solve all the puzzles. It turned out that UNLOCK! does a pretty good job at that! We’ve enjoyed ourselves immensely while solving the three adventures. There were some tedious bits, and we only managed to solve Squeeck & Sausage in time. The first adventure, The Formula, took us 60 minutes AND 1 SECOND! 😀 This was partially because we didn’t read the manual and only played the tutorial scenario the day before. While playing The Formula we didn’t understand that you always have to enter the codes in the app. We got stuck at some point because of something silly we could have prevented by just reading the manual. That’s another tip for all you future players!

The last adventure in the box, The Island of Doctor Goorse, was definitely the hardest one and took us 106 minutes to solve.

Since this is not a destructive game, we’re planning to put a paper in the lid with a score list and pass it on to our friends. We’re curious to know if we are just terrible players and how well they will do. If you’re planning to do this, print this comic and put it in the box as well! 😉


A post shared by Semi Co-op (@semicoop) on Sep 4, 2017 at 4:01am PDT

No, the suitcase and other decorative things are not included in the game. 😉

We were having a discussion whether you could compare this type of game to Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, but we came to the conclusion that you can’t. The big difference is that these escape room games are linear games. There is only one route to take in a particular order and you have to find out what that is. It’s very nice to discover the elegance of certain puzzles, but since you’re under a time pressure you won’t always be able to solve these puzzles yourself and you’re going to need a hint. In a game like Consulting Detective, you have to figure it out by yourself and there’s no time limit and that gives it a little more of a satisfying feeling in our opinion. Nonetheless, we found UNLOCK! an exciting and fun game, if you’re interested – buy it with a couple of friends and give it a try.

Have you played any escape room type of games? If yes, any suggestions?

The post A guide to UNLOCK! appeared first on Semi Co-op.

  • open
  • next

Missing Chapters


As some of you have noticed, there are a few missing chapters. Two, in fact. Apparently, this is due to some server issue on wordpress’ side, and mine is not the only blog that has lost something.

The missing chapters are B12.10 Born At Sleep and B13.2 Call of the Sleeper.

Unfortunately, those are both chapters I wrote on my ipad, while on the move (mostly on the train), and I’m afraid I’ve failed to keep backups of them – just a few half-finished drafts. I can rewrite them, of course, but I thought I’d ask if anyone here may have a copy they can mail to me at “geo_mi@web.de”, to speed things along.

Now back to writing the new chapter.


Tieshaunn Tanner

Filed under: Brennus Chapters, Writing
  • open
  • next
In My Daydreams

Hideaway: Part 3

In My Daydreams

We all wore uniforms based on my current stealth suit technology—that’s to say thin armor that could shift into normal looking clothes as well as uniforms. Changing colors and mimicking some textures was part of the package.

For this mission, our default setting was silver with a Xiniti symbol—five orbs in a circle—on our chests. The orbs were supposed to represent both planets and clans at the same time.

For me, the uniform still acted as a flight suit for the rest of the Rocket armor, so I stepped into my room, stood on a block of ceramic, tapped out the activation sequence on my palm, and waited as my armor reformed around me.

It wasn’t the classic Rocket suit.

I’d wanted to imitate the form fitting Xiniti suits for everyone, but it wasn’t going to work for me. I couldn’t miniaturize Rocket suit tech and still have the power of the Rocket suit so I went with the next best option—a suit that would have been form fitting if I’d been seven feet tall. That was the size of the regular Rocket suit anyway.

Normal Xiniti suits contained weapons that could take out spaceships on their own. With any luck, they’d decide that my suit had to be an extra-powerful Xiniti suit. Or, alternately they’d decide I was fake.

On the other hand, given that we were about to face megafauna, they probably wouldn’t think anything of it at all.

I stepped out of my room, following Marcus and Katuk out. We met Jaclyn, Cassie, and Tikki in the room between the two bedrooms. It felt a little strange to see all of us in faux Xiniti style armor. Plus, Cassie’s sword and gun weren’t typical Xiniti tools or so I’d assumed.

The implant gave me more examples of Xiniti weaponry than I’d ever wanted in a cascading series of images. Swords weren’t completely outside the norm. Apparently Xiniti mythology included accounts of a god that commonly carried two swords into battle, one in each hand. In close combat, some Xiniti liked to emulate him.

I resolved to ask Lee about that one sometime.

Meanwhile, Cassie’s gun had shapeshifted into a large silver and black pistol in a typical Xiniti design.

“Mind if I come along?” Tikki asked as if there weren’t any reason to say no.

Jaclyn’s mouth twisted. “Are you sure? We’re probably facing some kind of giant elephant dinosaur thing?”

“I told you about my power,” Tikki said. “I’ll be fine.”

“Seriously,” Cassie looked over at Jaclyn. “With time control? She’ll be fine.”

Geman’s voice came over our implants. “Are you ready? We’re getting nervous over here.”

I responded for the group. “We’ll be there in seconds.”

“Great. I’ve sent a map to your implants. Follow the red line.” And then Geman cut the connection.

As we headed toward the hallway that led outside Tikki turned to Cassie, “I don’t think I’ll be able to keep up with you and I’m not sure where you’re going.”

Jaclyn’s frown showed through the silver mask covering her face. “I’ll carry you.”

We stepped outside, following the dirt road with a red line floating above it. The streets had no lights. We all stayed together anyway. The new suits all had basic night vision included in the design. The Rocket suit had a more complicated system that combined radar, sonar and thermal imaging to create a composite picture, so I could see more than most.

I didn’t need to.

We ran down the road at about thirty miles per hour, but as we ran, the problem became clear without any explanation. During the day, the colony’s shields had glittered in the sunlight, but in the night they glowed a translucent white, lighting both sides of the shields.

They’d built a physical wall outside of the main area of the settlement and it looked like they were in the process of extending all the way around. They weren’t being idiots about it either. They’d used their force field poles to extend a force field path from the main area over to the end of the wall they were working on.

Well, sort of.

I’m sure that’s the way it was supposed to work. Somehow it had happened that one of the poles had been knocked down. However they worked, it had sealed each side of the path, separating the section next to the new wall from the settlement’s. That was the good news. The bad news was that there were people inside the force field next to the wall, that the only way for them to get back to the settlement was to run the distance between the two force fields, and that they weren’t alone.

Between the new wall and the settlement paced a four legged, shaggy beast. Covered with a layer of thick, curly fur, it made me think of a terrier turned bodybuilder and crossed with a tiger. It appeared to have been batting the fallen force field pole around. According to my HUD, it was twelve feet tall.

Geman opened a private channel to our implants and (according to the address information) Tikka’s bracelet. “You see it now.”

Cassie looked it up and down. “It doesn’t look that bad. Let me out of the shield and I could take it out myself.”

Geman laughed. “Well, I’m glad you’re confident, but there’s one more thing you should know. They don’t ever hunt alone. So there are more of them, and my bet is that they’re on the outside of the new wall waiting for a fight or for our people to make a run for it.”

image image image
  • open
  • next
Crying Grumpies

Labyrinth, Una guerra de ideas

Crying Grumpies


Creo que toda mi vida recordaré que el miércoles 15 de Agosto de 2017 estrenamos el Labyrinth, The War on Terror 2001-? de GMT. Por desgracia lo recordaré más por la matanza acontecida el día siguiente en Barcelona, mi ciudad, que por el juego en si mismo. Labyrinth es un Card Driven Game diseñado por Volko Ruhnke que aborda la guerra contra el terror que se está librando en el mundo desde el 2001.


El juego para dos jugadores nos pone en el papel de EEUU o de los líderes del extremismo islámico en una pelea por el control de los países islámicos, especialmente por aquellos productores de petróleo. Volko Ruhnke, el diseñador, es un buen conocedor de la situación pues es asesor de la CIA de día y diseñador de juegos de noche. Este conocimiento se traslada al juego a la perfección.

Labyrinth es un juego asimétrico aunque el objetivo de ambos jugadores es el mismo, conseguir controlar un determinado número de países exportadores de petróleo. El jugador americano tratará de imponer sus puntos de vista ocupando territorios, transformando las posturas de los gobiernos no islámicos sobre la guerra del terror, cazando células terroristas o influyendo a los países islámicos para que sean sus aliados. Por su lado el jugador terrorista para conseguir la victoria puede crear crear células terroristas, moverlas por el mundo, intentar realizar atentados o acercar la ideología de los países a sus creencias lo suficiente para instaurar gobiernos islamistas.


Como en otros CDG que hemos visto realizaremos las acciones mediante cartas. Cada carta  tiene una afiliación, un valor de operaciones y  una acción. Podremos jugar las cartas por su valor o bien por su acción si está asociada a nuestra facción. Si la carta esta asociada a nuestro oponente solo podremos jugarla por su valor de operaciones y se resolverá el evento. Cada país tiene u valor de gobierno, entre 1 y 3 o estado islámico, en el caso del jugador americano para realizar una operación en un país deberá jugar una operación de valor igual o mayor al nivel de gobierno mientras que el jugador yihadista por cada punto podrá realizar una tirada de un d6 y realizar la acción siempre que el resultado sea menor que el nivel de gobierno. Contra más cerca de ser un aliado de US está un país más sencillo le resulta realizar operaciones en él, mientras que si el país se inclina más hacia un estado islámico más difícil lo tiene y al revés para el jugador jihadista. Hay acciones que necesitan de la presencia de una célula terrorista en el país o que son modificadas en función de la postura frente al terrorismo tanto de los EEUU como del mundo no islámico.


Podremos jugar tanto partidas en solitario, como jugador americano si no tenemos su expansión, como partidas a dos jugadores. Como la mayoría de juegos de GMT no es un juego corto pero tiene diferentes opciones para acortar o alargar la partida. En este caso la diferencia es la cantidad de veces que tenemos que jugar la totalidad del mazo, una, dos o tres veces. Otra opción que nos brinda el juego es la de plantear diversos escenarios. Estos escenarios pueden ser ficticios como la Presidencia de USA de Al Gore planteando un juego en el que la postura del gobierno americano es antibelicista o empezar la partida con después de algunos eventos. Empezar la partida en 2002 o 2003 en vez de el 2001 nos planteara un inicio de partida diferente y nos prohibirá la utilización de determinadas cartas mientras que otras tendrán sus efectos ya en juego. Como he mencionado existe una expansión donde se añaden cartas y disposiciones para reflejar momentos acontecidos después de la salida del juego tales como la muerte de Bin Laden, la Primavera Árabe o la creación de Facebook. En la expansión también nos viene el bot americano para jugar en solitario siendo el jugador islamista.


El juego si bien es sencillo a nivel de mecánicas tiene una complejidad importante. Nosotros tardamos un par de horas en empezar a ver que es lo que hay que hacer para ganar en vez de enzarzarnos en la pelea por espacios irrelevantes. Laberynth es un gran juego muy profundo y que al igual que su primo el Twilight Struggle ofrece una rejugabilidad increíble. Es un juego que por temática te deja mal cuerpo y te hace pensar más allá de lo acontecido durante la partida y eso fue antes de lo acontecido en la Ciudad Condal. Después de la partida me hizo pensar un buen rato sobre la situación horrible en Oriente Medio y al día siguiente por vez primera fui consciente de lo que hacemos realmente cuando en un juego movemos fichas de un lado para otro. En fín un buen juego que os recomiendo a todos.

  • open
  • next

13.10 Call of the Sleeper


Previous | Next

Can’t kill him. Can’t capture him. Can’t control or subvert him. Can’t harm him, Basil thought, his body exploding into motion, running forward towards Emyr’s back, as the tall man moved to pass through the door and subjugate two worlds again – and Basil did not doubt that he’d be able to, not when the world was already in such utter disarray. I have to stop him.

So how do you propose to do that, genius? the Man in the Moon asked him. We’re talking about a guy who, when he calls himself a ‘God-King’, is making a perfectly reasonable statement about his capabilities.

Moving as fast as his legs would carry him, trying to stay as quiet as remotely possible, Basil leaped onto the dais. If his power works anything like what it seems like, like what we know of his original life, then I won’t be able to achieve anything he has outright forbidden, but I can still neutralise him in any manner which doesn’t outright violate any of his dictates.

Mate, listen to yourself, you’re talking about taking on a god. He can literally wish you dead! Just stand down, play nice and don’t fucking antagonise him! the Man in the Moon shouted within his mind, yet Basil advanced.

What kind of man would I be, if I gave up the first time a big challenge appeared? He was almost upon him, less than four steps away from the man thought to be the most powerful being to ever walk the Earth.

Big challenge? The Protector was a big challenge! Crocell was a big challenge! This is an impossible challenge!

The black marble-like floor in front of the doorway warped, flowing upwards into a rippling curtain of the same material, blocking the Godking’s advance.

Gloom Glimmer! Basil thought, though he didn’t bother to look. Instead, before Emyr could even react to the sudden appearance of a barrier, he leapt at his back, impacting him with quite a lot of force as he wrapped his arm around his head, pressing his right arm’s bracer against his mouth to prevent him from speaking.

Emyr gasped in surprise, staggering forward to nearly slam into the now-solid wall, yet at the last moment, his movement was averted by no apparent means, causing him to stumble and fall to the side, with Basil on top of him, holding on for dear life – the Man in the Moon wasn’t wrong, it was not unlikely that all Emyr had to do was to simply shout ‘Die!’ to kill everyone in this place who wasn’t himself, under Tartsche’s power or, most likely, Gloom Glimmer.

Still, without his speech, he was just a normal man, so as long as Basil could hold him in a proper lock, he-

Emyr easily overpowered his left-handed grip on his arms and reached over his back to Basil, a single long-fingered hand grabbing him by the back of his neck.

Before he knew what was happening, he was thrown away as if he weighed nothing, tumbling end over end until he slammed into the bare floor, over a dozen metre away.

“Did you really think I-” Emyr began to speak, but was interrupted when a piece of the floor below shot up to cover his mouth – though not his nose – and cling tightly, cutting off his speech. He looked down at it, then looked aside towards Gloom Glimmer, who was standing firmly on the ground, an arm extended towards him with its hand clenched into a tight fist, her eyes glowing red beneath her hood.

I won’t let you speak one more word,” she spoke, her voice reverberating with power.

He expelled a breath through his nose, like a huge sigh, looking infinitely annoyed as he reached calmly for the gag made of marble-like stone clinging to his lower face. At the same time, he flicked a hand out at her, making an odd claw-like gesture.

Nothing happened, causing him to look at his hand in surprise.

Meanwhile, Legend was staring at the fight, her formerly haughty face utterly despondent and wild-eyed, gone a nearly purplish red as if she was struggling with herself, trying to say something – That’s right, he forbade her from talking – and pointing desperately, just out of sight from Emyr, towards something.

Basil followed her gestures and found himself looking at the table with the one burning basin left on it.

Of course! She summoned him by putting his book into the flames – perhaps destroying the basin will banish him again!

Spellgun and Hecate seemed to come to the same conclusion at the same time, and all three of them raised their weapons – Basil and Spellgun their rifles, Hecate her staff – and, just as Emyr’s fingers dug into his gag without any apparent resistance, fired a single shot each.

He reached out with a hand again, making a different gesture – thumb and index forming a circle, pinky sticking out and the others curled in – but again, nothing happened.

The basin exploded, as did most of the table, blown apart by the combined force of their attacks (though mostly by the explosive bullet Spellgun had clearly used).

A ring of blue fire shot out from the smoking wreck, washing over everyone, making Emyr flinch in what may have been discomfort.

His eyes grew wide as he looked down at himself, sawing his body begin to fade as the Protector had, earlier, when Hecate had dispelled Legend’s work, if slower than that.

Was that enough? Basil thought, hopeful, watching the Godking become more and more transparent.

Then he ripped off the gag Gloom Glimmer had put on him, though it rippled and melted again, flying back at his mouth even as he shouted at the top of his lungs-



Immanuel tilted his head to the side, his eyes fixed on a particular point of the floor of his meditation chamber, looking straight at the entrance to Legend’s realm, his expression briefly slipping from its usual calm serenity for a moment before he reigned it in again.

“What happened?” Heaven’s Dancer asked, as she sat on the same dais he was sitting upon, though her own posture was far more lady-like than his – knees together and to one side, her feet on the other – as was her choice of clothing, a proper white business suit with a silver shirt and golden jewelry. Unlike him, she also insisted on footwear even in such a meditation chamber, high-heeled white pumps in this case. Even her hairstyle, a tight, intricate braid woven into her gold-blonde hair, contrasted his careless style, if it could even be called a style.

“Blackhill just… stopped time, I think,” he said, stroking his smooth chin with one hand. “Whatever he did after, I can no longer see into Legend’s realm, if it’s even hers, still.”

The gorgeous young woman frowned, her serious expression quite out of place on a face as young as hers. “Is he deliberately blocking you out? How would he even know about you in the first place; even if he compelled Legend into telling him all she knows, she knows next to nothing about your actual power.”

He closed his eyes, smiling his usual, serene smile. His compatriot did raise a good point. “No, I don’t think that he’s blocking me, specifically, more likely that he chose to fortify Legend’s realm in general and just happened to shut me out as well. With power like his, it’s not inconceivable that he might shut me down by sheer accident, after all.”

She actually growled in response, the vicious snarl completely out of place on her face. “I told you Legend was too irresponsible! You must have known that she had that book in her possession, why didn’t you take it away? What if he breaks out of her realm? Even if he’s weaker now than before, as you claim he would be, I still don’t see how we’d stand a chance to contain him!” Her voice rose towards the end, becoming more shrill and angry than usual.

When he simply waved her concerns off, she nearly exploded, though he didn’t give her time to do so, simply continuing to speak: “Relax. Even if he breaks out, that’s not necessarily a bad thing for us. His goals – as far as I understand them – and ours are not mutually exclusive. At best, we might actually be able to recruit him – he’s not entirely beyond my power’s reach, after all – and at worst, we might have a new leader – not a bad thing, no? He’s rather fearless himself, after all.” He smiled easily at her. “All that is assuming he can get out, though.”

She held his gaze for a while, blue eyes to brown, before she averted her eyes to roll them, sighing in exasperation. “You’re impossible.”

“You mean I’m impossibly amazing,” he replied with a boyish grin.

“Impossibly childish is more like it,” she countered, giving him such a pure ‘mom’ look he actually broke out into laughter.

She watched him as he shook, the corner of her mouth ticking up briefly before she got it under control again. He noticed it, of course.

He finally, he got himself back under control, wiping a few tears from the corners of his eyes. “Ahh, I needed that. Thanks, grams.”

She frowned again. “I am not your grandmother, young man, even if I may be twice your age.”

“Not quite ‘twice’,” he replied, raising a finger. “But yes, you are very old.”

The glare she was giving him now should, by all rights, have reduced him to a blast shadow on the nearest window. He felt an intense gratitude for the fact that her current form did not have any such power.

“I’m glad you are so amused by all this,” she said, her voice dripping dishonesty. “But I’m still rather put off about all this. We have her daughter within our reach, we should be capturing her, not letting her run around willy-nilly!”

And it was back to that subject. “You know as well as I do that we can’t contain her,” he gave her the same answer as every time she’d brought up the young Whitaker. “Even if we could, it would put us at the top of both Goldschmidt’s and Whitaker’s hit lists, something which we’ve avoided for nearly a century now by not doing things like these – or at least, not doing them in a way so easily leading back to us.” He gave her a beady-eyed stare. “You’re just sore you can’t take her for yourself, aren’t you?”

She gave him a furious look. “I could have, if you hadn’t insisted that-“

He cut her off with a stern look. “Take Whitaker’s daughter? Really? Remember what happened all those decades ago, when you tried to take Whitaker herself?”

As soon as he reminded her, she averted her eyes, lifting a hand to press against the left side of her lower ribcage in an unconscious gesture, shuddering and going pale.

“I thought so,” he continued, more coldly. “As powerful as Irene may be, she’s simply not worth the risk. Nevermind that she may be able to resist your power anyway.”

He waited until she nodded, more subdued now as she recalled the humiliation (and pain) of her first and only encounter with the elder Whitaker. Satisfied at having made his point, he turned to look at the entrance to Legend’s realm again, deciding to simply wait and see what was going to happen.

He’d already called in reinforcements the moment Legend summoned Emyr, anyway, just in case.


Basil was sitting on a very comfortable, cushioned chair made of what looked like old, hand-carved dark wood. The others were seated in similar chairs, all arranged around a table just long enough to seat each of them, minus Legend whom he couldn’t see.

Emyr sat the head of the table in a throne-like chair made of the same dark hardwood, richly engraved with strange, yet beautiful winding patterns and flowers which certainly did not exist on Earth. He somehow managed to sit in both a regal and almost slouchingly relaxed manner, radiating a sense of being both utterly in control and utterly at ease as he looked around with a slight smile on his face, his black eyes looking almost warm as he regarded the teenagers sitting at his table.

On the long side of the table to Emyr’s right sat Hecate, Tyche, Basil and Polymnia. Opposite of him at the other end of the table and seated on a chair that was taller than the others, yet still smaller than Emyr’s, sat Gloom Glimmer. To his left-hand side sat Tartsche, then Spellgun, Bakeneko and Osore at the end, opposite of Polymnia.

The basin that kept Emyr alive stood at the centre of the table, casting a flickering, five-coloured light as his book floated gently within it, untouched by the flames. The doll and rosary which Legend had used to try and summon the Chevaliers with lay on the table in front of Emyr, and he was holding the Protector’s token, idly flipping it around in one hand. It looked like a leather wallet to Basil, an old, much-used one, though clearly well taken care of. A stack of papers, bound with some kind of cord to form a crude book, lay on the table right in front of him. He could read its title, upside down, written in neat, flowing handwriting – Hasty Dictates XXI. Nothing else about it stood out.

Everyone stared at Emyr with various degrees of consternation or horror on their faces. What they were thinking, he couldn’t guess at, so he focused on Emyr instead. First, he briefly considered trying to attack the basin again, but as soon as he thought about it, he had a sudden, intense feeling of unease, as if his every instinct was screaming at him that that could not be done.

That’s different from before, he thought. I can still consider those actions, but now I get a warning that they won’t work?

He changed something, the Man in the Moon said quietly. Maybe that book…

“You can write commands down,” Basil spoke up, breaking the silence and causing no small amount of gasps by his startled friends, though he paid them no mind, focusing on Emyr instead.

Emyr continued to regard the wallet for a few more moments, before he looked at him and smiled lazily. “That’s correct.” He tapped the thin book – no thicker than one of Basil’s fingers, really. “I’m sorry about the effect my earlier commands had on some of you.” He looked at everyone but Basil and Gloom Glimmer, in turn.

It took a moment before Basil remembered that everyone but Gloom Glimmer and himself had frozen up – perhaps it had not just been fear?

“I’m sure you know, stories told by mouth are fickle things, easily misunderstood, twisted and forgotten,” he smiled a mirthless smile. “But write one down and you can fix it for the ages.”

Does that mean his spoken commands have a time limit? Then why did he bother to specify ‘today’ earlier? Basil thought to himself, even as he kept going through more and more scenarios in his head, trying to find one that could work. Any way he could think of to directly attack Emyr was out. As was any attempt to reach the portal – now likely behind the heavy wooden door which stood behind Emyr’s seat, as well as any manipulation of the basin…

It was rapidly starting to look like Emyr had considered any possible quick solution to this situation which didn’t favour him.

More information might help.

“So if you write a command down, it becomes permanent?” he asked, suddenly glad that he’d set his helmet sensors to constantly record everything going on – provided he got out of this, the records of this encounter would be a thing for the ages.

Emyr focused on him, leaning forward just slightly as he kept flipping the wallet around in his fingers. “So long as the writing persists, yes. Before you think to try something untoward, I have already written that this,” he tapped the collection of dictates, “cannot be harmed or even manipulated by any of you.”

Bakeneko – now back to her cat-girl form – raised a hand, as if she was in school.

“Feel free to speak your mind,” he told her, looking amused.

“W-what was… what happened, earlier? When you said that stuff, I… I couldn’t…” she looked down, slumping her shoulders under the weight of his gaze – even when looking at someone kindly, his gaze was so intense even Basil could feel it, when he wasn’t even the one looked at. “It was like, like my brain just… froze up.”

“Ah, I do apologise for that,” he said softly. “That is one of the downsides of me relying purely on verbal commands. They affect everyone who hears them differently. For example, when I decreed that I would neither be hurt nor captured, some of you became unable to take any aggressive action against me, your minds locked up by what you couldn’t do rather than focusing on finding loopholes. Or, to make it more simple, my commands, when phrased too broadly, tend to affect everyone in different ways.” His shoulders shook as he laughed briefly, the sound low and completely at odds with the situation – as if he was sitting with friends at home, telling a story. “As to why some are affected one way, and others another, why some,” he looked at Bakeneko, Tartsche, Spellgun, Tyche, Hecate and Polymnia, “were struck with inaction, while others,” he looked at Basil and Gloom Glimmer, “where able to seek – and even find – loopholes, that I know no hard rule for. It appears to simply rely on the personality of the person in question.” He flipped the wallet in his hand, and Basil finally got a glimpse at the other side – it wasn’t a wallet, it was an EMT badge, belong to one Jason Devon.

“I, I see,” she said, looking away with an expression on her face that Basil couldn’t quite interpret – though the fact that her face was largely inhuman right now certainly didn’t help.

“Is that how the Martians’ ‘magic’ worked?” Basil couldn’t help but ask – he seemed amenable to talking, for whatever reason (though he could think of a few why he might).

Emyr redirected his unnervingly intense gaze onto him, but Basil remained calm, refusing to shrink back from it.

Not that there was anything like an overt threat there, or even an implied one. In fact, Emyr just smiled nicely. “Well, knowing what you know now, how do you think it worked?”

Basil frowned, briefly considering what he’d seen and heard so far. “It seems pretty simple, now, even if mind-boggingly powerful. You just wrote down how magic works, didn’t you?”

That earned him another smile. “A gold star for you, young man!” he said, snapping his fingers, and a golden star – an actual, solid gold by the looks of it, five-pointed star – appeared on the table in front of Basil. “That’s precisely how it works. I spent a whole month writing the entire Book of Magick. Then I had my priests create copies of it and spread them around.” He sighed, his gaze growing distant, lost in his memories. “That was a fun month. I’m really quite proud of the system I came up with. Very well-defined, like a science. Anyone could use it, too, not just Martians, though I did write in a few limitations to the effect that none of it could be used against me, personally.”

“Why not just restrict it to your Martians, or only to people who worship you?” Hecate blurted out a question of her own, leaning forward as they moved onto a subject close to her heart. “Seems like a safety precaution worth taking.”

Emyr directed his gaze, and smile – He really smiles a lot, doesn’t he? – at her, making her shrink back in spite of the complete lack of anything threatening about his bearing. “That’s a very good idea, my dear, but I did intend to integrate humanity into my empire, and having them all be unable to use magic would’ve reduced them to mere second-class citizens, especially once it turned out that my Martians were quite capable of manifesting powers of their own, as well. As for the worship, I-“

“Wait, they could what!?” Hecate jumped out of her chair, very nearly throwing it over. “The Martians… they could… I mean, we thought it was all just…”

“They could manifest, of course. It is not limited to humans,” Emyr replied, making a dismissive gesture with his free hand. “No, don’t ask,” he continued, pointing at Basil. “I will not reveal to you the origin of powers, nor any other of its secrets. You needn’t bother to even ask, for I will not answer,” he explained, his voice cold and hard again. “And be thankful for that, my boy. Some knowledge is naught but a burden to all those who know, and not to be shared lightly.”

“You can not expect me to ignore the fact that you apparently know the answer to the single greatest question of the last hundred years!” Basil shot back, leaning forward as he clenched his hands around the tips of his chair’s armrests.

Mate, what’d we say about pissing off megalomaniacal godlings?

Shut your mouth.

“I don’t expect you to ignore it, and I certainly don’t simply expect you to drop it,” Emyr replied, relaxing again as he lowered his hand down to the table. “I order you to drop it.”

And just like that, Basil knew he would no longer be able to bring the subject up. “Alright,” he grunted between clenched teeth, barely holding back the desire to charge him across the table and try to hurt him for so casually controlling him. He opened his mouth to continue, make a scathing reply in spite of his better judgement, when Spellgun jumped in after Tartsche poked his side with his elbow.

“You did the same thing for their technology, didn’t you Sir?” he asked respectfully, his Southern accent thickening as he got more nervous with each word. “Ah mean, the ships, the portals, the weapons, none of it seemed like, you know, normal science” He looked aside, unable to stand Emyr’s intense gaze.

“The Book of Emyrian Science was my second written work on Mars, yes,” he affirmed.

“But none of it works anymore, does it not?” Basil threw in, drawing that unnerving gaze back onto himself. “Their machines, their spells, it all stopped working when you died. And it’s still not working, even now that you’re back.”

“How do you know it doesn’t? Do you have some means to observe the outside world from in here?” Emyr asked curiously, not seeming perturbed at all.

Basil shook his head. “I do not, but I noticed you making a strange hand gesture several times earlier. Both times, you clearly expected something to happen, and both times, it did not. Which tells me that you could use your own magic, and that you need your writings yourself in order to cast your spells, if you can not just speak it all out loud or do not want to, and it does not work now, even though you are back and clearly expected it to work.”

“Very perceptive,” Emyr replied, tapping his left cheek. “You are right, loathe as I am to admit it – either my former writings have stopped working entirely, or else they don’t reach into this pocket dimension. Though it’s more likely the former than the latter, as they have reached into such places in the past.”

“Or maybe you are just not really Emyr Blackhill,” Basil pressed on, drawing several hissing breaths from the others, as he kept up the eye contact with Emyr. “Because you are still here, wasting your time talking with us, when you were just trying to get out. So I am inclined to think, you tried to, and you stopped time, so you had the, time, to try as much as you wanted to, and you could not. You are stuck here, even though you took over from Legend.”

Emyr leaned to the side, resting his cheek on the fist of his left hand, his right one still playing with the badge.

Since he didn’t reply, Basil pressed on. “So, I guess my real question is, why are we still here? You certainly didn’t set this all up just to have a nice chat among friends. What do you intend to do with us?”

The Godking of Mars looked at him, smiling. Then his smile spread, and he began to chuckle, his shoulders shaking as the chuckle moved on to a pleasant laugh, and the laugh into full-throated laughter, as the heroes in the room stared alternatively at him and at Basil, at the latter as if they couldn’t believe he was talking like that.

After more than a minute, he finally calmed down, spots of red having appeared on his high, razor-sharp cheek bones.

With a smirk, he wiped a tear from his eye. “Ah, that was good. Haven’t had a good and proper laugh in a while.” He flung the tear away from his finger. “You are, of course, right. I don’t want just a nice chat among friends here.”

He raised his hands, making everyone but Basil and Gloom Glimmer – who had stayed completely quiet so far – tense up and lean away… and clapped them, twice.

From off to one side, Legend appeared, wearing an utterly ridiculous dress – oddly reminiscent of a maid’s dress, though in red, gold and black, with actual gold filigree worked into the cloth, tight around her body yet still modest, even tasteful… if one thought a gaudy fantasy-version of a maid’s dress could be tasteful – and an utterly furious, humiliated, terrified expression on her face, as she carried a tray with a variety of goblets, walking around the table – starting with Hecate and moving around counter-clockwise back to Emyr – as she put a unique goblet in front of everyone.

Each goblet seemed to be customised to fit the general appearance of the person it stood in front of, made of materials and covered in jewels that matched their respective colour schemes. Basil’s own was made of what he guessed to be Obsidian, with numerous tiny diamonds worked in, forming his sigil in a colour-inverted version.

They were also, one and all, completely empty.

All of them looked at the goblets, then at Emyr, who picked his own up as Legend took up position behind his chair and to the side of his left, moving smoothly, not like a puppet at all, and yet there was no doubt to be had that she wasn’t in control of herself anymore – her facial expression alone said it all.

Emyr’s own goblet was made of gold – of course – and had five large jewels that encircled it – an Emerald, a Diamond, a Sapphire, a Ruby and an Onyx stone – with no further decorations. Though it was larger than any of the others, it seemed to merely be so it fit into his long-fingered hand, not for the sake of, well, having the biggest goblet around. It, too, was empty.

“Chateau Margaux, 1787,” he said simply, and the goblet filled up with a sparkling red liquid. He took a long, slow drink, savouring the taste as he put the goblet – it instantly refilled – down on the table again, leaning back with his eyes closed for a few moments. “Ah, always a good one.” He opened his eyes, surveying everyone around the table. “Please, order your drinks. You can have anything you can reasonably describe. And afterwards… afterwards, we talk.”

Previous | Next


Filed under: Brennus Chapters Tagged: Bakeneko, Basil, Emyr Blackhill, Gloom Glimmer, Hecate, Legend, Osore, Polymnia, Spellgun, Tartsche, Tyche
  • open
  • next
In My Daydreams

Hideaway: Part 2

In My Daydreams

When Hal finished, the gun said, “IT’S A GAME OF COMMERCE. INTERESTING.”

Keeping her voice low, Tikki asked, “Does it always shout?”

“I don’t know,” I said, “but my bet is yes.”

The scene changed. It was just like before in that Tikki, Cassie, Jaclyn, Marcus, Katuk and I were together in a room, but now we were around a dark stained wooden table. A Monopoly board lay in the middle of the table. Beyond the board, table, and chairs though, nothing else looked real.

Above us, below us, and around us, everything else merged into indistinguishable white. It reminded me of the staging area in The Matrix where they picked up weapons before going to rescue Morpheus.

[I could add in the racks of weapons], Hal told me over a private channel.

“No,” I told him. That might give the gun ideas and it already had enough ideas.

Hal addressed the entire group after that. [Please choose your token. A token from any version of the game will be acceptable.]

After a few minutes, we’d chosen them. I took the Space Shuttle. Jaclyn took the boot. Cassie chose the thimble. Marcus chose Jack Skellington’s head. Tikki stared into space before finally picking a pretzel and asking, “What is it?”

Katuk chose a penguin. I have no idea why.

The gun meanwhile chose itself. I didn’t hear the conversation, but I did see a representation of the gun appear next to the board while hearing the gun comment, “HA! PERFECT!”

Hal didn’t say anything.

Tikki leaned over to Marcus. “Is that part of the game?”

Marcus shook his head. “There is a howitzer, but that’s a different kind of gun.”

[Now you may roll to see who goes first.]

Then two dice appeared in each of our hands as well as next to the gun’s token. We all rolled—including the gun because virtual reality didn’t apparently require hands—just will.

Cassie went first, followed by Jaclyn, followed by the gun which couldn’t help but add its own thoughts. “CLOSE ENOUGH! NOW WATCH THE BIRTH OF A GREAT COMMERCIAL EMPIRE!”

Katuk eyed the gun without saying anything. Tikki looked up from her own dice. “He’s very optimistic, isn’t he?”

Cassie glanced over at her. “You don’t know the half of it. If the Abominators made all their weapons like him, I think they aimed for crazy.”

Tikki nodded. “They did. From what I heard anyway. The Human Ascendency doesn’t have anyone left who can use them, but we’ve all heard stories of their massive AI controlled ships and the way they destroyed worlds as well as the smaller weapons… Our government wishes we still had them. Me, I’ve always wondered if they would have stayed on our side without the Abominators controlling them.”

“I’m betting on no,” Jaclyn readied her dice to roll her first turn.

Katuk looked up from reviewing the rules. “When the Xiniti fought them, a group broke away to challenge the Abominators for control of their own sector. They didn’t do it to aid us. When they won, they created factories to make more of themselves. In the end, we declared a war of obliteration on them. They were too dangerous to let live.”


The game went as you’d expect after that. With every move, the gun praised itself for it’s brilliance at every move. It wasn’t as if it was doing spectacularly well either. At best, it was the upper end of normal.

You could view it as funny. You could view it as irritating. It was your choice. For myself, it was easy to do a little of both. I’d rolled a three—which meant that I was the last person to start. On a practical note, that meant that I had to pay rent on the second square I landed on.

“ONE STEP CLOSER TO VICTORY!” the gun informed everyone as I paid. Irritating. That said, he didn’t see me as a threat, so I didn’t get much razzing by the comparison to Jaclyn or Katuk who it saw as competitors.

“I swear,” Jaclyn said, “if I hear ‘mongrel’ one more time—“ but she didn’t get to finish that sentence. All of our implants received an alert.

Geman’s voice echoed in our heads. “It’s not what you think, if you’re imagining invaders,” he began. “We’ve got a situation near one on of the barricades we’re building. You’ll want to come armed and armored.”

“HUMPH,” the gun muttered.

image image image
  • open
  • next

The Pen in the Stone:
@DrewHayesNovels Would he have stayed in Shanghai/China? Did he fight the Japanese invasion during WW2?

  • open
  • next

Scott Bachmann (RT The Pen in the Stone):
#FF Fellow Pen and Cape part 1: @PenAndCape @wereviking @PenintheStone @CassidyJonesAdv @NormalChey @kevin_rau @rjrosscapehigh

  • open
  • next



We’re always very careful with our board games and make sure we don’t lose any pieces or cards. And so far our careful treatment has worked, we’ve never lost a single card, token or die! Woooh! I probably jinxed it by saying it out loud though.
About this comic: Pim borrowed our copy of Above and Below and mentioned that one of the cards was missing. Which we didn’t believe but it did make us question ourselves at one point. Luckily it just turned out to be in a wrong pile of cards. 😉

A few weeks ago we went over to our FLGS to play another one of their demo games and thus we finally got to play Istanbul. The game is highly praised by Quinns of Shut up and Sit Down, so we were curious. And the game is just SOLID! It’s good. And even a lot of fun to play with just two players. This is certainly a game that might end up in our collection.  🙂

A post shared by Semi Co-op (@semicoop) on Aug 24, 2017 at 1:57pm PDT

Did you ever lose tokens, cards or dice of one of your precious board games? Share your sad story with us!

The post Missing appeared first on Semi Co-op.

  • open
  • next
In My Daydreams

Hideaway: Part 1

In My Daydreams

Agent 957, H’Spar System

Agent 957 couldn’t find them. He’d set the fighter’s computer to run simulations to find out where they could have gone. None of the simulations made any sense. Agent 957 knew why. The ship used a standard hull, one commonly used to create groups of small gunboats for planetary defense.

This ship was not standard.

It had a Xiniti registry for one. For another, an analysis of its acceleration indicated that it had considerably more power at its disposal than any ship its size ought to have. Finally, it had slipped over from near space into jump space. Agent 957 knew this was impossible until he started researching the phenomena with his implant.

It turned out that in the early stages of faster than light travel, physicists had discovered jump space while experimenting with oversized power plants. They’d discovered blink space in the same way, but intentionally that time. Since then, some still speculated that there were higher levels of FTL to discover. The implant wasn’t aware of anyone doing research at present. Scientists had tried after discovering blink space, but over time funding had disappeared. No one was willing to fund research that showed no results.

Agent 957 made a metal note to pass this along. Someone might know how to recreate the technology.

That left Agent 957 back where the agent had begun. The agent knew how they’d disappeared, but didn’t know the technology’s capabilities or limitations. He hit his console. Even he, one of the powered elite, could do nothing more than connect to the ansible and wait.

He stared out into the depths of space wondering how long he’d be there and what awaited him on his return. If he found the world where the Alliance hid the refugees, he’d be rewarded. If he didn’t, he wasn’t sure. He’d had enough successes in his life that he didn’t think they’d execute him, but he couldn’t be confident.

Hours later, his implant notified him that he’d received a message from the mole. It came from a deep space relay that should not have any clients at all, and more to the point, couldn’t possibly be real. The rebels could never have reached there from here.

The mole didn’t know where they were. All the mole knew was that they were somewhere in the Alliance, that it was only possible to reach there via jump space instead of blink space, and that it had taken one blink and a jump from the Human Ascendancy’s attempted ambush.

It sent pictures of the world and of its sky. Agent 957 forwarded everything back to the fleet and the homeworlds. He didn’t recognize the place, but someone would.

* * *

The Heroes’ League, Council Building, Hideaway

We’d opened the windows and even though the smell wasn’t quite right, it smelled like summer. For lack of a better word, the air here smelled “spicier.” Haley might have been able to explain why, but she was literally light years away.

Jaclyn’s eyes went from one of us to the other. “Are we really going to do this?”

Cassie grinned. “Why not? How bad can it be?”

“Exactly,” Marcus leaned back in his chair. “It’ll kill time and I liked it as a kid.”

Tikki had come to visit us while we ate supper. She bounced once in her chair. “It sounds fun.”

In all of our heads, Cassie’s gun said, WHAT ARE THE RULES OF THIS GAME?

Eyes widening, Jaclyn muttered, “Oh, no. No.”

“Trust me,” Cassie said, “It’ll be better if it plays than if it gets pissy about being excluded.”

At almost the same time, Tikki asked me, “Where did the loud voice come from?”

“Cassie’s gun is an AI,” I began, but the gun interrupted me.


Tikki leaned forward to look at Cassie’s gun. It adjusted, shifting between shapes, but at that moment, it was the size of a small submachine gun, holstered alongside Cassie’s right thigh. Bluish-green with silver sparkles, it didn’t look as fearsome as it must have imagined.

Whispering, Tikki told me, “That’s an Abominator weapon.”

Nodding, I said, “I know. Please don’t tell anybody.”

Hal, the ship’s AI, spoke up. [I’ll send it the rules and explain them as needed. It will save time.]

I couldn’t argue.

image image image
  • open
  • next
In My Daydreams

Between: Part 10

In My Daydreams

We walked deeper into the village, staying to the side to avoid the floating cargo platforms. Most of them carried boxes but the ones that didn’t carried what looked like pieces of the poles for the shield generators, blocks of the same white substance that the buildings were made of, and sometimes lower tech building materials—wood, rock, bricks, and even dirt.

“This place is busier than I’d have thought,” I said, watching a platform carrying bricks pass us.

Geman laughed. “This colony’s enemies don’t only come from space. I told you about the megafauna. One of the herd animals comes through here every year. We’ve been calling them brontoyaks.”

Marcus and I looked at each other. He appeared to be ready to break out into laughter. To be fair, brontoyak was a dumb name. The bad news though, was that it wasn’t the real name. The implants changed the name into English in our heads just like they changed our names into a version that fit the language before we spoke them.

Marcus barely stifled a giggle, earning a glare from Jaclyn.

Geman noticed. “Yeah, yeah… It’s a dumb name, but tell me what you’re thinking of when one’s bearing down on you.”

Cassie turned to ask, “Why did you settle here then? Couldn’t you have gone to the mountains or something?”

Shaking his head, Geman said, “There are brachiogoats in the mountains.”

Cassie’s eyes widened. “I’m not going to ask.”

Still walking, Geman nodded. “I get it. Coming here seems crazy, but we’re on the outer edge of the migration. We’ve survived it before. We’ll survive it again. Ten years of experience means we know where to build the barricades to redirect the herds. We know what to do.”

In the silence that followed that statement, he added, “Now if you all chose to help that wouldn’t be a bad thing. Blasts from our fighter craft at the right moment have been the difference between life and death. Your ship is armed, right?”

“Yes,” I told him as Jaclyn glanced back at me, letting me decide what to reveal. “We can help. It won’t be the first time fighting giant animals.”

He turned back to look at me. “What did you fight?”

I shrugged. “I don’t have a name for it. They were big, flying scaly things. Worse, they were flying directly over the city where we live, so I always had to fire from below them if I wanted to be sure I didn’t take down buildings and people every time I missed.”

“Good,” the corners of Geman’s mouth stretched for a moment. “That’s the kind of thinking I was hoping for. We haven’t let of them into the city since the first year, but I’m sure it will happen again someday. We’re good, but not perfect.”

Jaclyn eyed him. “What’s your plan?”

He sighed. “It’s not very complicated. When the herds come through, we’ll use the barricades to redirect the brontoyaks away from the colony. If we can’t we’ll evacuate into the caves in the hill over there.”

He pointed toward a hill on the far side of the colony. Tall and rocky, it was higher than anything else in the town, hanging over it.

Geman shrugged. “It worked the last time the brontoyaks broke through the shields. It ought to work next time.”

Then Geman stopped walking. “Ah. Here.”

We stood in front of a collection of upright eggshells, all arranged next to each other as part of the same building. Taller than any of the other buildings in town, it wasn’t huge relative to the Capitol or Washington Monument, but by comparison to your average house frame on a colony? It was obvious.

Geman let us inside one of the eggshell sections of what he called, “The Council’s building. You’ll be staying here.”

The inside almost matched the outside. With the outside shaped like an upright eggshell, the inside lacked a monstrously sized chick, but it was white with a tall, curved ceiling like expected. What was unexpected was the wooden floors and the separate rooms inside the eggshell. While anyone could have expected that each eggshell was too large to be just one room, I wouldn’t have been surprised to find that the rooms were broken up by walls made of the same advanced ceramic.

“We’ll call you with your implants about food. We have group meals as a colony sometimes, but most of the time you’ll find that a family will deliver food to you.” Geman stood next to the door, watching us explore. There wasn’t much—a few rooms off from the bigger room where the Council met.

“Your next meal will be here in about an hour. Make the best of it.” Then Geman left, putting the rest of us in position to have to figure out how to split up the rooms. Putting Jaclyn and Cassie and Marcus and me together wasn’t hard, but what gender was Katuk? And could we ask him? No one knew off the top of our heads. Fortunately, that was exactly the sort of information that our implants actually had.

Katuk ended up with Marcus and me.

Once we’d settled on beds, that left us with one question to answer. “Food’s coming in forty-five minutes,” Jaclyn said. “How are we going to kill the time?”

“Easy,” Marcus grinned. “Monopoly.”

Cassie punched him in the shoulder.                                                                      

image image image
  • open
  • next
Crying Grumpies

Perdido en La Estación de la Calle Perdido

Crying Grumpies


Hace mucho tiempo en un blog no muy lejano un colaborador hablo de China Mieville y la Trilogía de Bas-Lag y la dejo muy muy bien. Como siempre que alguien me habla con pasión de alguna cosa me entraron ganas de leer la obra. Por desgracia por aquel entonces la obra estaba descatalogada y en la sección de libros de segunda mano de Gigamesh tenía un precio desorbitado. A principios de año el sello Nova de Ediciones B anunció que se había hecho con los derechos de la bibliografía del señor Mieville. Para mi cumpleaños me regalaron La Estación de la Calle Perdido y la semana pasada aprovechando las vacaciones me la leí y llego la decepción.


La estación de la Calle Perdido es uno de esos libros de género difícil de discernir aunque se le suele englobar en la Weird Fantasy, una corriente deudora del Horror Cósmico con tintes de fantasía tradicional y steampunk. La historia se desarrolla en Nueva Corbuzoó, una ciudad estado que como Ank-Morpork es un trasunto de Londres y sigue las desventuras de Isaac Van Nomeacuerdo principalmente. Isaac es un científico que por una serie de desgracias se ve involucrado en la posible destrucción de la ciudad en la que vive y decide erigirse como su salvador.


Un poco más arriba os he dicho que el libro me había decepcionado, gustarme el libro no me ha gustado pero tampoco os puedo decir que el libro me haya parecido malo pues en ese caso lo habría abandonado. La imaginación de autor es desbordante y plantea un mundo muy interesante con razas que sin ser novedosas tienen giros interesantes, magia, tecnología, política y otros planos de realidad. Pero ese interés por meter todo lo que se le pasa por la cabeza acaba siendo un puzzle que no tiene fácil solución y enmaraña muchas veces la historia de forma innecesaria. Hay como mínimo tres o cuatro escenas que no llevan a ningún lugar y que en mi opinión no hubiera pasado nada si no hubieran acabado en la versión final del libro.


Todo esto no sería un problema si esta mañana al acabar de trabajar tuviera una necesidad imperiosa de ir a buscar el siguiente volumen. Pero no tengo ese ansia. No os puedo recomendar La Estación de la Calle Perdido pues si pongo en una balanza sus pros y sus contras por desgracia los contras ganan.

  • open
  • next

Always look at the bright side


This is another redesigned comic that has been exclusively posted on social media two years ago.

GenCon is over and a lot of interesting games have been announced and people their crazy ‘haul’ pictures* are showing up everywhere. (* pictures of the gigantic stash of games that people bought at GenCon)  This made us think about how much money we’ve saved by not going to GenCon and how many games you could buy from that! In our case a ton of games since we would have had to buy two plane tickets to the USA. 😉

I hope everybody had a great time at GenCon or GenCan’t this year! 😀 If you have some fun anecdotes, feel free to share them in the comments, we’d love to read them.

A post shared by Semi Co-op (@semicoop) on Aug 9, 2017 at 5:16am PDT

Although GenCon was a little out of our reach, we’ll be going to Spiel in Essen this year! It’s rather close to where we live and we think it’ll be fun to experience the board game madness for once. And we’re looking forward to meeting some of our readers and other content creators in the board gaming scene!

Board game convention veterans, any tips for us noobies for our visit to Spiel?

The post Always look at the bright side appeared first on Semi Co-op.

  • open
  • next
In My Daydreams

Between: Part 9

In My Daydreams

Cassie walked next to him. “How many of you are there?”

His mouth twisted and he cocked his head. “About… five or six thousand. We’ve got three different colonies on this world, all pretty close. I can’t say exact numbers for all of them, but that’s about right. We’ve been sneaking people out for about a decade now.”

Raising my voice since I was behind him, I said, “I’d heard you only needed about two hundred people to get almost all of humanity’s genetic diversity, and you’ve got that.”

Geman turned to stare at me. “Where are you people from?”

Bearing in mind Lee’s personal mission to distract his people from looking for Earth, he’d told us we’d need to lie about that. He’d told us to say we came from M8749. According to our implants, some Abominator had secreted off a few thousand humans to the world as a backup unmodified population it could use for future research. Located in the middle of a galactic rift, it was so isolated that only the most powerful drives could cross the emptiness, using one system after another.

Without hesitating, Jaclyn said, “M8749. I’m sure you’ve never heard of it.”

His eyes widened as his implant fed him the information. He looked around at us. “You’re all fallow, unmodified humans. Well, you’re lucky. The Abominators changed us so that we can mate within our own gene lines, but it’s impossible to mate outside them without medication. It keeps us pure so that the Abominators and now the Ascendency government can breed what they need.”

Cassie glanced back at Jaclyn and I. “Why would they do that? Wouldn’t they use the Abominators’ birthing chambers and pop out a bunch instead of waiting for someone to get pregnant?”

Geman shrugged. “The Abominators did that, sure, but the birthing chambers don’t work anymore. So the Human Ascendancy has to use the Abominators’ backup plan—creating people the slow way—the one where they take the baby away the moment the kid’s born.”

It surprised me that the Human Ascendancy hadn’t reverse engineered the originals to create their own birthing chambers, but maybe it was harder than I knew.

Geman added, “But I think many of us have seen too much of that.”

“Are you saying that’s normal?” Cassie asked.

Geman shook his head. “It isn’t where you come from?” Then he said, “Well, I guess it wouldn’t be. You weren’t modified by them. Well, normal for us is to be born into one of thousands of gene lines created to help them rule the universe. So why shouldn’t they steal a few kids?”

As he’d been talking, the path widened and we entered the village. It looked much like it had from the air—a collection of egg shaped buildings, their long ends pointing into the air. Children played in the streets, sometimes stopping to tap bracelets on their wrists. Depending on the moment, the children then concentrated on nothing I could see or watched a hologram generated by their devices.

In more than one case, the hologram showed a picture of us.

Children weren’t the only ones in the streets. Much like K’Tepolu, driverless floating cargo platforms carried boxes and sometimes people.

“Jadzen Akri doesn’t want us here,” Jaclyn said. “Do you know why?”

Geman watched one of the cargo platforms go by. “That’s hard to say. Not everybody likes the Xiniti, but that’s not all of it. Jadzen was, no is, one of the great leaders of our people. She spoke up when no one else would, saying that we were worth more than being pawns in the Ascendancy’s war effort. I’m sure that she was one of the only people in her social position to do it.”

“Social position?” I asked.

“She’s a motivator. When people hear her voice, they do what she wants. The Abominators and the Ascendancy used them to control us. She’s used her ability to smuggle us out to the Alliance. I can’t speak for her, but sending a Xiniti group that’s mostly human is unusual. It seems like an obvious way to ingratiate yourselves with us. It makes her wonder what you want.”

Pushing toward the front, Katuk said, “They were chosen only so that the people we were escorting would be more likely to listen to our advice.”

Shrugging Geman said, “I’m not the one you need to convince. I heard all of it, including that they were followed. We need your help defending this place right now, so I’m getting you a place to sleep. I’m going to leave politics to the Council.”

Tapping his fingers against each other and then pulling them apart, Katuk said, “Humans are not well-ordered beings. Accepting help from trained fighters for your defense is simply rational. Being forced to go against the rule of your leaders to do something that will keep all of you safe weakens the group.”

Geman smiled at that. “I can’t argue with you, but Jadzen doesn’t speak for the Council. Until the Council rules you have to go, you’re staying.”

image image image
  • open
  • next
Crying Grumpies

La Biblioteca Isawa, el podcast de Leyenda de los 5 Anillos LCG, episodio 2.

Crying Grumpies

¡Ya tenemos aquí el segundo episodio de la Biblioteca Isawa!

Ya se conocen todas las cartas, al menos los textos, que pueden leerse en l5r.gamepedia.com , aunque faltan algunas imágenes que esperamos tener pronto, ya que estamos en semana de Gencon y ya todo será revelado.

En este episodio, Grima, Salvi y yo mismo, contamos con la colaboración de Yushi, otro antiguo jugador del coleccionable, Escorpión para más señas, y hablamos de las previas que se vieron en su día de los clanes Grulla, Dragón, Cangrejo y Dragón, dejando el resto y las neutrales para el episodio 3.

Por lo que no tenemos a Chef, que está de vacaciones, pero al siguiente, seguro que lo tenemos de vuelta.

Enlace desde Itunes:


Enlace desde Ivoox:


Como siempre, esperamos que lo disfrutéis y os esperamos en el siguiente.

Para cualquier comentario, mandarnos un correo a cryinggrumpies@gmail.com

Hasta el próximo episodio.

Hay hay hay… ¡No te quedes sin tu caja básica!

  • open
  • next
In My Daydreams

Between: Part 8

In My Daydreams

Katuk glanced toward the poles with no noticeable interest, his dark eyes flicking from one to the other. “They’re low energy use, air permeable shields optimized for worlds with large, ground dwelling animals. You’ll note that they’ve also made use of the air protection as well.”

I looked up. Glittering lines ran between the poles. From what I could see, they hadn’t filled in between the lines. So they weren’t afraid of normal sized flyers—only big ones. I supposed that might be good news.

Katuk stared at the ground. “If I remember correctly, they can be configured so that the lower ten feet are permeable to smaller creatures but not permeable to larger ones.”

I thought about it. “Can they be configured to work against aerial bombardment?”

Katuk’s eyelids lowered and then rose as he began to speak. “I’ve never heard of it. I doubt that their design would allow it.”

“Just curious,” I said.

Katuk looked up at the sky, clearly imagining ships dropping asteroids or firing meson guns at the surface. “There are force fields that protect cities, but I doubt they own one.”

“I guess I would have been surprised if they did.” Thinking about it, that meant that if the Human Ascendancy did find us we’d have to defeat them before they got close to the planet, help them hide on the planet, or maybe the old ship we’d seen might be big enough to help.

Jaclyn pointed toward the starport buildings. “If we want to find out about their defenses, we should ask that guy.”

A man had stepped out of a door in the starport’s cluster of eggshells. Tall, dark skinned, and wearing a blue jumpsuit, he turned toward us. In a deep voice, he said, “Come over here.”

“That’s the guy,” Cassie said, and we all started walking toward him.

“I heard him,” Jaclyn shook her head.

As we caught up to the man where he stood on the edge of a dirt landing circle, Marcus said, “Hey, it’s Hideaway Starport.”

The man smiled. “That’s me.” He bowed at us, and reminded by our implants that it was polite to bow back at the same angle, we all did.

He said, “I’m Geman, and you are?”

As Cassie, Marcus, and Jaclyn introduced themselves, I looked at his jumpsuit. From the design, it appeared to be a spacesuit too. “I’m Nick,” I told him when it was my turn. “Are you a pilot?”

Geman laughed. “So, if you’re a pilot, you’re going to ask me, why am I directing spaceship landings?”

“Pretty much,” I said.

He shrugged. “We’re small. We’ve got three pilots and no one with experience directing air traffic. So, we take turns because at least we’ve got the pilot’s end of the experience.”

Taking a look back at the three eggshell structure behind him, he said, “It works better than you’d think. Between being secret and being in a no blink space zone, we’re not exactly busy. We’re so far from busy that I’m leaving an empty building back there.”

Marcus glanced over at Geman, “What happens if somebody shows up?”

Geman sighed. “All of us pilots have implants. If someone shows up, we’ll talk them down or scramble both fighters.”

His twisted expression showed how little he expected that to do.

Leading us across the landing circles and down a path between two force fields that led toward the village, Geman talked as he walked. Grass grew on either side of the path, but the path itself had been worn down to dirt.

“Now,” he said, “you’re probably wondering about the force fields.”

“Yeah,” Marcus said, looking out at the grassy field beyond the glittering wall.

“Well,” Geman said, “there’s a reason this place wasn’t settled. The animals are huge. There are a dozen different huge herd animals eating the grass and half a dozen different predators eating them. We stay inside the shields and only go out in powered armor.”

Marcus checked the walls each side of the path and I followed his gaze. There wasn’t much of anything to see. I didn’t have any right to complain. I was on another planet with plants and animals and humans that didn’t grow up on Earth—not to mention the aliens. Still, all I could see were trees, fields, and grass. We could have seen that on Earth.

I didn’t have a right to be disappointed. The tree sized plants that didn’t have any bark were alien and weird in the right way, hinting that this wasn’t Earth and that there were mysteries we might even understand by the time we left. Still, when someone suggests that the planet you’re on has giant animals, it’s disappointing when you don’t see a single one.

Jaclyn nodded. “I’m not trying to criticize, but it seems to me that the colony is in a bad position. If you’re ever cut off from the outside, you probably don’t have all the parts you need to repair the shields or your powered armor.”

Geman stopped walking and turned toward her. “Don’t I know it. We’ve stockpiled parts and repair tech, but you’re right. If we’re ever out of contact for more than a year, the shield poles, the armor, the ships and the fliers will stop working one at a time. We’ll be able to move the shields and cover less ground, but it will be a lot harder without the armor.”

He shook his head and then he shrugged. “Fortunately that’s never happened. Besides, we’ve got too small a population to grow without some severe inbreeding. No one talks about it, but we’re doomed anyway.”

image image image
  • open
  • next
Crying Grumpies

Malifaux, la 4a Jornada o estrenando la mesa Japonesa

Crying Grumpies


En medio de las vacaciones llega la cuarta jornada de nuestra liga de Malifaux. Como era de esperar durante la tercera jornada por las fechas no se han podido jugar todas las partidas y ahí esta la ventaja de las ligas sin subidas de experiencia pues las partidas que faltan ya se jugarán. Para la pàrtida de este mes he decidido estrenar escenografía de nuevo. En este caso una mesa que llevo varios meses preparando, el pueblo japonés que he construido con elementos de 4Ground, Sarissa y TTCombat de nuestra visita al Salute.

Como siempre empezamos por la clasificación y los resultados y emparejamientos.

Haga click para ver el pase de diapositivas.

4a Partida

Duración Ronda: Hoy hasta el 15 de Setiembre

Banda: 42 puntos

Estrategia (objetivo común para los dos jugadores, Max. 4 Puntos):

Derechos de ocupación (Tomos) (ligeramente diferente de la del manual)


Coloca 5 marcadores de 30 mm. en la parte central de las partes A,B,C,D,E de la muralla.

Reglas especiales

Los marcadores empiezan el juego sin reclamar. Una miniatura puede hacer una acción de Interactuar 1 con un marcador con el que este en contacto. Un marcador solo esta reclamado por la última banda que haya interactuado con él.

Puntos de Victoria

Al final de cada turno después del primero si una banda controla como mínimo 2 marcadores gana 1 PV.

Esquema (cada jugador debe escoger 2, Max. 3 Puntos por esquema):

Una Línea en la Arena

Al final del encuentro cada banda gana 2PV si tiene al menos 4 marcadores de intriga en la linea central.

Si esta intriga es revelada a principio de la partida gana 1PV si al menos tiene dos marcadores de intriga en la linea central

Asesinar (Cuervos)

Este esquema empieza la partida sin revelar. Si el Líder enemigo es sacrificado o matado revela este es que y gana 2 PV. Si ocurre antes de el turno 4 gana 3PV y no 2PV.

Proteger territorio (tomos)

Al finalizar la partida gana 1PV por cada Marcador de Intriga propio (max. 3) que se encuentre a 6” de su zona de despliegue y tenga al menos una miniatura amiga a 2”. Los marcadores con más miniaturas enemigas que amigas no dan puntos de victoria.

Si esta intriga es revelada y se ganan 2 PV por ella, gana 1 PV adicional.

Hacerles sufrir (7)

Después del primer turno cada vez que una miniatura Maestro o Compinche elimine una miniatura Secuaz o Peón enemiga gana 1PV. Después del primer turno gana 1PV si la banda enemiga no tiene miniaturas Secuaz o Peón. Limite de 1 PV por turno, máximo de 3 PV por partida.

Esta intriga se debe revelar en el momento en que se gane el primer PV.

Murder Protege (11)

Anota el muñeco oponente de mayor coste, en caso de empate decide. Gana 2PV si el modelo es matado o sacrificado antes del final de la partida.

Puedes revelar esta intriga y en vez de ganar 2 PV ganar 3 PV.

Mesa de juego

FullSizeRender 2

Despliegue: Standard (7)

Elementos de escenografía:

Muralla: Altura 4, impasable y quita LOS. Puede ser destruida tratando cada sección como un muñeco con el siguiente perfil.

Inmune a estados

Defensa 5 Salud 3

No realiza flip de defensa

Tiene un (-) en el flip de daño

Durante el turno en el que es destruido sigue quitando linea de visión pero se puede cruzar.

No son escalables.

Tenderetes de madera: Ht 2, no obstruyen LOS, dan cobertura ligera

Casas: HT 5, se puede entrar en el interior utilizando las puertas pero se pierde LOS. Otorgan cobertura pesada. No son escalables.

Templo: La base del templo tiene ht 1y otorga cobertura pesada. Las columnas otorgan cobertura ligera y tienen ht 3. La campana otorga cobertura pesada.

Arcos Torii: Ht 6, otorga cobertura ligera.

Canal: altura 0, terreno impasable

Valla: altura 1, cobertura ligera,  cuesta 1 pulgada atravesar

Lápida: altura 1, cobertura pesada, cuesta 1 pulgada atravesar

Lago: terreno impasable

Bosques: eliminan línea de visión, terreno difícil (movimiento a la mitad)

  • open
  • next
Crying Grumpies

Torneos de tiende de X-Wing y SW Destiny 2017

Crying Grumpies


Como cada año ya ha llegado el momento en que en una galaxia muy lejana se inician las hostilidades mayores. El camino al gran conflicto conocido como el mundial empieza con los Store Tournament o Torneos de Tienda y este año nos hemos animado organizar torneo de X-Wing y Destiny. Si quieres asistir después del leer más encontrarás más información.

2o Torneo Grumpy de Tienda X-Wing

Día: 2y 3 de Setiembre


El Local, Asociación lúdica

C/ Amilcar 119 Bajos


Formato: 2 mangas clasificatorias el sábado, mañana y tarde, y top 4 el domingo

Plazas: 16 plazas por manga

Precio inscripción: 10€ (8€ premios y sorteos, 1€ Consumición, 1€ Mantenimiento de la asociación)


Clasificatorio Sábado mañana: 09:00

Clasificatorio Sábado tarde: 16:00

Top 4 Domingo: 10:00

Premios y sorteos según participación:

Kit Store X-Wing 2017,  más información sobre los sorteo próximamente

Para inscribirte al torneo mándanos un correo a orders@thegrumpyshop.com indicando preferencia de horario para el clasificatorio, mañana o tarde. Nosotros te responderemos informándote si hay plaza y con un enlace donde formalizar la inscripción y el pago, así como instrucciones para enviar la lista.


1r Torneo Grumpy de Tienda Star Wars Destiny

Día: 3 de Setiembre


El Local, Asociación lúdica

C/ Amilcar 119 Bajos


Formato: 5 Rondas de suizo con Top 4 (puede variar en función de asistencia)

Plazas: 32 plazas

Precio inscripción: 10€ (8€ premios y sorteos, 1€ Consumición, 1€ Mantenimiento de la asociación)

Horario: Apertura de puertas 09:30, inicio 10:00. Durante el suizo se hará una pausa para comer

Premios y sorteos en función de participantes:

1-8 Jugadores: Kit Torneo de Tienda

Sorteo de un vale de tienda con valor de 15€ por cada 2 participantes por encima de 8

Para inscribirte al torneo mándanos un correo a orders@thegrumpyshop.com. Nosotros te responderemos informándote si hay plaza y con un enlace donde formalizar la inscripción y el pago, así como instrucciones para enviar la lista.

  • open
  • next

GenCon or GenCan’t


People who have been following Semi Co-op on Facebook and/or Twitter might already know this comic. We posted it about two years ago on social media, but very little people actually saw it back then. With GenCon coming up this week, we think this comic is still very relevant so it has been redrawn. 😉
Flying over to the USA just for GenCon is not really an option for us, so we’re happily joining the bigger crowds at GenCan’t – which can be enjoyed from the comforts of your home, a friend’s place or your friendly local gaming store!

So you can even win prizes at GenCan’t by participating in their photo contest or join the raffle. Check out their Twitter account (@gencant) for up to date information. They also have a big list of free Print & Play games which you can play. In other words: there’s a lot to explore and GenCan’t is a wonderful reason to play a lot of games this weekend.

What games will you be playing during GenCan’t? Or if you’re actually going to GenCon: what games are you looking forward to?

In other news: sad news has reached us last Friday. Our fellow board game comic makers, Tiny Wooden Pieces, will be uploading their final comic this Friday. We respect and understand their choice, but the comic and their insights will be sorely missed. They’ve done an amazing job these past three years and they were a true inspiration. Thanks, you guys and good luck with your future endeavors. 🙂

The post GenCon or GenCan’t appeared first on Semi Co-op.

  • open
  • next
In My Daydreams

Between: Part 7

In My Daydreams

I checked with the ship and could see Crawls-Through-Desert next to the refrigerator sized box in the ship’s cabin. In a moment, it was floating out the hatch next to him. I could see that as good news given how much space it freed up, but at the same time, I’d never meant to bring him here and I didn’t know what was in the box.

We all turned to see the plant on the box floating in the air next to the ship.

“Hey,” I used the stealth suit’s speakers to give me some volume. “What’s in the box?”

The plant slowed, branches rustling and bending. Some combination of the implant and my brain interpreted it as having a New York City accent—from the Bronx, maybe? My only knowledge of NYC accents came from movies.

“Stuff that every colonist needs—batteries, solar chargers, water to hydrogen processing equipment and mini fusion plants. All for a low, low price.”

I blinked. “How would they even buy? How would you process payments here unless you take physical cash?”

The plant laughed. “You’re from a low tech world, aren’t you? They’ve got an ansible. They run it behind so many fake addresses it’s practically anonymous, but it works and they’ve got money. Check your implants, you’ll know what I mean.”

I checked. The ansible didn’t call itself the Hideaway ansible. It claimed to be a deep space relay in a completely different sector. I checked if there was an Earth ansible. There wasn’t, but the Xiniti base next to the jump gate did have one. It didn’t have a connection to Earth’s internet and if they listened to our radio or TV broadcasts, they didn’t make them available over the ansible, but how crazy was that?

On the other hand, with the number of extraterrestrial visitors we’d had, it stood to reason that they’d want a connection to galactic civilization.

A quick check told me that ansibles cost a lot of money—the kind it would take to buy your own private planet on the edge of Alliance space. So, at least one of the colonists had a lot of money. My first guess would be Jadzen Akri. She seemed willing enough to order people around.

It seemed like a fairly obvious security problem for Hideaway, though. Even keeping the fake address in mind, it only took one loose lipped colonist to tell everyone where the planet was. Or did it? If I weren’t the pilot, jump space and normal space would look the same everywhere and if the crew deliberately attempted to confuse the passengers, they might not have any clue where they were.

Well, except in this case, they were a blink and jump from K’Tepolu. That wouldn’t narrow it down enough to be easy, especially considering our non-standard drive, but it made it easier.

“I’d like to look over what you’re selling these people before you leave,” I told Crawls-Through-Desert. “We’re supposed to be protecting these people.”

“You betcha, kid.” The plant and box landed in front of me.

Jaclyn turned to me. “Are you even going to recognize something dangerous?”

“Within limits,” I said.

The box opened as I spoke, containing many small devices, all of them embedded in a translucent foam. Light glowing at the bottom of the box made devices at every level visible. They weren’t a consistent shape though many of them were cylinders that could fit in the palm of my hand. Some were almost the height of my knee, but wider. It didn’t take much to identify the devices as exactly what he’d said they were.

I could have taken them all apart to check for bombs, but after randomly inspecting the insides of a few different devices, I believed it.

Cassie questioned it while I dug through the box. “Don’t you think just happening to have exactly the sort of thing that colonists might need is suspicious?”

Crawls-Through-Desert’s leaves and branches rustled. “Not at all! I saw my opportunity and I took it. I needed to get off the station and hide so I bought products that colonists would need. When I saw Tikki, I knew she and her people would need what I was selling. My only miscalculation was choosing human colonists. I wouldn’t have been attacked if I’d been with anyone else.”

“No kidding,” Cassie watched the plant as it floated next to the box. “It seems like the fight worked out pretty well for you though. We didn’t have time to vet you or your stuff because we were in a hurry to leave.”

The plant said, “Eh. I’d have preferred not to get this far out from civilization. I’m going to want to leave after a while, and now I’m betting I’ll have to get a berth on a military ship. That’s a pain.”

I put the casing of the last device back on it and placed it into the box. “Done. It looks like what it says it is.”

Cassie shrugged. “Then I guess you’re free. Just don’t scam them. We’re all stuck here for a while.”

Crawls-Through-Desert flew a little higher as the box shut itself. “I conduct myself with the greatest of all possible personal ethics.”

The box flew off to join it in the air and they floated away toward the eggshell village.

Jaclyn eyed Cassie. “I hope that thing’s just an opportunist. Anyway, I guess we’d better go check out the starport.”

Marcus grinned. “Yeah. For all we know, the guy might only stay there when he knows he’s got something coming in. He might have already left for the day.”

“No,” Jaclyn said. “I’ve been watching.”

“Me too,” Cassie said. “By the way, has anyone else been really looking around this place? Do it right now. What do you see?”

I looked. Plants surrounded the place, many of them two feet around with green stems. There were trees with hard, bark-like protection, but they weren’t the most common large plants. That wasn’t the most interesting thing though. There were white poles of some kind of artificial material around the edge of the starport and the village next to it. Just past the poles, the air glittered up to a height of about one hundred feet.

I could easily see putting up a force field on an alien planet, but one hundred feet seemed like overkill.

image image image
  • open
  • next
In My Daydreams

Between: Part 6

In My Daydreams

Jadzen blinked and her mouth tightened. I guessed that people didn’t argue with her under normal circumstances. Before I could say anything, Jaclyn started talking.

“We don’t want to argue, but we’ve got our orders. We’re supposed to escort you here, but to stay until reinforcements come. My understanding is that they’ll come soon.”

Standing straight and looking Jadzen in the eye, Jaclyn acted as if this were a meeting of equals instead of whatever Jadzen thought it was.

Jadzen glanced over at Katuk, the sole Xiniti here. “I assume that you’re the leader? We don’t need you to stay. We’ve been hiding people here for years now. No one who doesn’t know where it is can find this place.”

A yellow alert appeared in my helmet’s HUD. Knowing those were minor, I ignored it. I could check it out later.

Meanwhile, Katuk’s eyes widened. “I’m not the leader of this mission. No one has made clear to me that there is a leader, but that one,” he pointed at me, “may well be the leader.”

I shook my head. “I might be the leader on the ship, but not always on the ground. We switch off. Anyway, she’s right,” I nodded toward Cassie. “Our mission requires us to stay here until reinforcements show up.”

Jadzen’s mouth twitched. “We’ve never needed protection before.”

Cassie shook her head. “Did you ever get met along the way with a small fleet of ships? You got tailed to K’Tepolu. There’s no reason to think they can’t tail you here.”

Jadzen stared at the group of us, her eyes finally settling on Tikki. “Then follow your orders. Tikki, remove your luggage from the ship before it leaves.”

Tikki said, “Yes, ma’am,” and went briefly into our ship before she ran over to join the line in front of The Bug’s Revenge.

While Tikki ran, Jadzen left, escorted by a group of men and women. One man looked back, his mouth twisted in an expression that I interpreted as embarrassment. Then he turned back to the group as they walked away, eventually disappearing behind a long white spaceship with a brown smudge on its side.

Even to my eyes, it looked old and the implant supplemented my guess with knowledge. It was an Edge class human transport. It had been popular with settlers more than one hundred and fifty years ago. The implant couldn’t sense it’s serial number, but it noted that the hull’s shape matched the shape of earlier models in the class’ history.

The other two spaceships parked at the airport were deep space fighters. The implant didn’t peg either of them as being as old as the transport, but they were both twice as old than I was. While Alliance technology didn’t appear to change as quickly as ours did, I doubted that forty year old fighters could be cutting edge.

Katuk interrupted my thoughts, using his implant to connect to all of us. “Her attitude isn’t unusual. The Alliance was grateful that we destroyed the Abominators, but they fear us. The humans saw us destroy their masters and kill no small number of their own kind. It’s understandable that they fear us too, but I would have hoped that they might trust you.”

Marcus watched them go. “Yeah. The fact that we were human didn’t make things any easier. Of course, they’re running from humans. So they might not be willing to trust us just because we’re human.”

Katuk’s brow furrowed. “Interesting insight. We forget how divided other species are.”

Jaclyn snorted. “You haven’t seen divided. Go read about our wars, or for that matter, the Civil Rights movement. Then you’ll begin to get it.”

Katuck’s voice continued as she spoke. “Yes. That is exactly what I lack a true understanding of. In my people, Xiniti are Xiniti and that is all. In that sense you are all Xiniti and your perspectives count as much as mine. We do have people who ask if you truly can be in the same way that you wonder if I can truly understand your history.”

This felt like it was going to enter into territory that we’d never be able to handle. I considered what I could say, but then I noticed the notification I’d ignored back when Jadzen had been speaking with us. I decided I probably ought to check that.

As that thought struck me, Cassie spoke, “Hey everybody, I think it’s time to reel it in and start thinking small. We’re here to protect these people. We’re not here to figure out who the real Xiniti are. I think our next step ought to be figuring out what their defenses are like, right? They knew when we came out of jump, so all the mines must signal them or something. I think we need to know where they have mines and what else they’ve got. My bet is that if we go over and bug their starport staff, we’ll be able to find out everything we need to know.”

Marcus nodded, “And we’ll also find out that it’s only one guy, I bet.”

“Whose voice is kind of hot,” Cassie added.

Jaclyn looked at her. “Is that what your speech was really all about?”

Cassie shook her head. “No, but it’s a bonus, right?”

I checked the suit’s alert. When Jadzen had been speaking, the suit had activated a defense I’d made against people capable of controlling minds with their voice. It had activated at a low level, so it might be that she used it unconsciously, but it might be that she used it subtlety.

“Hey,” Jaclyn said, “where did that plant go?”

image image image
  • open
  • next
Crying Grumpies

Deep Water Prision, la BP y los dramas carcelarios

Crying Grumpies


El año pasado para el Salón del Cómic de Barcelona Yermo Ediciones puso a la venta Prometeo de Bec y Raffele, una obra que se cayo de mi lista de la compra porque no se puede comprar todo. Cuando me quise dar cuenta habían a la venta tres volúmenes y como no tenía claro si me iba a gustar puse la compra de la serie en el congelador. Hace un par de meses Yermo anunció Deep Water Prision, una obra de los mismos autores en formato integral autoconclusivo. Que mejor forma de decidirme si me agenciaba Prometeo que leyendo algo de los mismos autores y que al ser conclusiva no me iba dejar con la miel en los labios. Hoy nos mudamos a las profundidades del mar para vivir un drama carcelario con tintes ecologistas.


Deep Water Prision nos traslada a un futuro cercano en el que Estados Unidos ha construido una prisión sumergida en el fondo del océano. Un futuro en el que se repite una catástrofe medioambiental como fue la fuga de petroleo de la BP de hace unos años pero a lo grande, cuando una plataforma petrolífera se hunde. Con esta premisa arranca nuestra historia, un drama carcelario mas bien clásico en el que asistiremos al intento de fuga de unos prisioneros que poco a poco se irá mezclando con las consecuencias de la gestión de la crisis del petróleo y como la empresa intenta tapar sus trapos sucios.


El guión de Bec es correctísimo, sigue casi todas las convenciones del género y tiene algún giro interesante, aunque hay un elemento que me chirría un montón como las anguilas gigantes pues me esperaba un mayor protagonismo de estos bichos. Con buen ritmo  en general si que hay alguna página en la que la historia se hace algo pastosa por la longitud de algunos bocadillos. El dibujo realista de Raffele es precioso, brillante en su mayro parte y sabe tornarse oscuro en aquellas escenas que lo necesitan. Pero también es verdad que no es el cómic más dinámico que he leído.


Deep Water Prision es un tebeo muy recomendable. Con mucha crítica al mundo actual, tanto en el plano político como medioambiental y militar. Deja cosas en el aire pero la historia que cuenta esta bien acabada y cerrada. Me ha dejado con más ganas de las que tenía de acercarme a Prometeo.


  • open
  • next

Summer Special week 2


Week two of the Semi Co-op summer special! We’re still having an adventure somewhere in Europe so we don’t have a lot to talk about. Maybe we can lighten the burden of waiting for you by learning about some smaller board game content creators that you can binge while you wait for us to return!

First up is Take Your Chits. A Youtube channel that has just started eight weeks ago, but who has already reached more than a thousand subscribers (congrats!). Christian does a light rant/discussion/thought sharing about an aspect of the hobby. It’s funny in a nice cringey way and makes you think about some aspect of your favourite hobby you didn’t think about before. Also the video’s are short which can be nice in a genre that is filled with >15 min videos.

Second is the Rules Girl. Think Watch It Played but much faster using the power of animation and skipping everything but the most important rules. This is perfect for when you will play a game for the first time at a friend but you don’t need to know every edge case of the the rule book.

Een bericht gedeeld door Kevin (@theendsofboardgames) op 25 Jul 2017 om 7:52 PDT

On Instagram we think @theendsofboardgames is a fun concept, showing only the end states of the games Kevin plays. These pictures seem a little too organised to be actual games states though, our table looks like the game exploded by the time we’re done with them (are we weird?).

Lastly, of course, we want to point you our favourite creators Actualol, Tiny Wooden Pieces and Up to Four Players who we’ve mentioned in the past but have always been amazing in showing support and sharing comics that they liked!

Who is your favorite “unknown” board game content creator?

The post Summer Special week 2 appeared first on Semi Co-op.

  • open
  • next
In My Daydreams

Between: Part 5

In My Daydreams

Of course, they hadn’t mined the entire solar system—just the best places to come out of jump space. We’d appeared on the dark side of the planet. Mines surrounded the area in a sphere. Unlike a normal minefield, the people hadn’t designed the pattern to hide the mines. They’d designed it to make them extremely obvious.

Checking the sensors showed that that the mines weren’t close to us. A ship large enough for a jump or blink drive would have had enough space to turn around and jump out. So, this wasn’t so much an attempt to kill as much as a pointed invitation to leave. I imagined that all the nearest jump points had been mined.

If we turned on the shields and let Hal calculate the route, we might be able to blow through them before much damage had been done. The same wouldn’t be true for the colonists’ ship. It would go down in flames. In space, mines could aim themselves at their targets. Plus, they’d probably mined near space too, so that wasn’t an option either.

Of course, that assumed that the mines were owned by unfriendly forces.

Before I could call back the colonists to ask them if they knew more, a message came from the planet. A deep, deep voice said, “This is Alliance world Hideaway’s starport. Identify yourselves.”

The colonists’ ship replied first. The male voice I’d heard before said, “This is The Bug’s Revenge. We were hired to carry Jadzen Akri and her followers to Hideaway by the Alliance government. The ship accompanying us carries members of the Xiniti nation who were escorting us here.”

“We’ve been given your public ID. Send us your private ID to allow us to confirm. If you don’t think you’ll pass confirmation, I’d advise leaving the way you came in.”

In an even voice, the man on The Bug’s Revenge said, “No worries, Hideaway. Transmitting ID.”

“Xiniti ship Beeblebrox is also transmitting ID,” I said, hoping there weren’t any problems. K’Tepolu hadn’t cared about our ID. Of course, a big, outlaw station might care less about a ship’s identity than a hidden world of refugees.

The deep voice spoke again. “Identities confirmed. We’ll send you a path through the mines.”

As quickly as he said it, the ship received the message and I read it. Not sure how much of this anyone else had heard, I checked the ship’s settings, found that communication was private by default, and shared that with everyone.

I heard Cassie’s voice in my mind. “I’m keeping the weapons ready. I’m assuming you want the shields on.”

It hadn’t occurred to me that she could take control of those, but on the other hand she was sitting at the weapons and shields console. “Yeah,” I said, “we need the shields until we get through the minefield. I don’t think we’ll need weapons, but you never know, I guess. Just don’t make us look menacing, okay? I don’t want them to think we’re going to attack.”

“Course not,” Cassie said, “but they don’t seem to have the same philosophy.”

She had a point. The mines didn’t widen to give us a comfortable distance as we flew through them. The colony had given us a route that gave us all the room we needed to maneuver and no more. I flew only as quickly as I felt comfortable—which is to say slowly. I could only wonder why they’d do it.

They’d given The Bug’s Revenge a route with more distance from the mines. They made it out before us.

All the same, it didn’t take too long because for all the dots in the sensors, I’d been right about them protecting choke points. Once we were away from the spot we’d appeared at, space was as empty as its name implied.

Following Hideaway’s starport’s instructions, we flew around from the night side where we’d come out of jump into the planet’s day. The starport lay near the mouth of a river on a massive continent at least the size of Africa. My strongest impression of the place could be summarized in one word: green.

Plants covered everywhere I could see. Tall grasses blanketed the fields. Trees and flowering bushes covered the rest of the land near the settlement, some of the flowers as much as two feet wide.

The starport, however, was something of a disappointment. Mind you, I should have known what it would be like when I’d seen the houses—hundreds of identical egg-shaped buildings that must have been the product of sort of kit.

Despite that, I still wasn’t prepared to discover that the starport had a collection of three egg-shaped buildings and half a dozen dirt circles, some larger, and some smaller. That was the landing pad. The deep voice directed us to land near The Bug’s Revenge.

People descended from the spaceship in a large group, all of them centered around a blonde woman in flowing robes. The question of who lead the group couldn’t have been clearer if she’d worn a crown. They all watched as she descended and followed her as she strode up to our ship. My implant identified her has Jadzen Akri.

We’d only had one very short flight of steps to work with, so we were all there waiting for her.

“You’re the Xiniti escort,” she said, looking us over, and undoubtedly noting the humans, a single Xiniti, and a floating plant. “Interesting. Tikki get your things and come with us. The rest of you can go. You have our thanks for your service in getting us here safe, but there’s no further need for you.”

Cassie met Jadzen’s eyes, jaw set, voice even. “No. Our mission’s not over and we’re staying until it is.”

image image image
  • open
  • next

Scott Bachmann (RT The Pen in the Stone):
Paragon pleads to save civilian lives but will it work?!? Is this just a ploy to get our hero to let down her... https://t.co/vjXpHtcngM

  • open
  • next
In My Daydreams

Between: Part 4

In My Daydreams

“Monopoly?” Jaclyn raised an eyebrow and looked at me. “Seriously? Why?”

I shrugged. “To kill time. We’ve got a week in jumpspace and as you can see,” I pointed toward the infinite gray outside the window, “it’ s not very interesting. Plus, I was joking a little too. We probably ought to come up with ideas for how we’ll handle it if we have to defend the colony. There’s no question they’re being followed.”

Jaclyn shook her head. “Skip the Monopoly then. Let’s get prepared.”

Cassie laughed. “That figures.”

Katuk said, “On smaller Xiniti ships, we often do simulated drills of attack and defense patterns. On the larger ships, of course, we have facilities for physical training.”

Jaclyn frowned. Tikki unstrapped herself from her seat and looked around the group. “So what’s Monopoly? Is it a game?”

“It’s a game,” Marcus said, “a really, really long game. It’s fun, but it’s not short.”

Tikki nodded along as he spoke. “What are you trying to do?”

“Get rich,” I said. “If I remember it right, it became popular when a lot of people were poor on our world. So it was a fantasy, I guess. What you try to do is buy property, charge people rent, and become the wealthiest player.”

Watching me with his big, black eyes, Katuk said, “That sounds like a dangerous game. You’re taking money from those you play with and work to acquire more than the others. It seems as though it would breed jealousy and division. Is that the custom on your world?”

I thought about it. “I don’t know. I don’t know the history of other worlds well enough to say that we’ve got more of that than other places.”

Hal, the ship’s AI, spoke before anyone else, his “voice” sounding over our implants or in Tikki’s case, her bracelet.

[If I might interject, I’ve prepared a number of simulations that will put your group through common offensive and defensive situations. You’ll be able to experience and therefore assess group members’ personalities and training in combat.]

“If everyone’s okay with it,” I said.

Everyone was—except for Tikki, and she wasn’t against it as much as unsure. “I’d like to, but I don’t have an implant—just this bracelet—and I’m not part of their team, so I don’t know where I’d fit in?”

She looked down at the bracelet.

Hal responded, [The bracelet will be adequate for this function. As for your presence… Their purpose here is to protect civilians. Having a civilian who isn’t a simulation will be useful. Did you participate in the Human Ascendancy’s militia units?]

Her mouth twisted. “It’s required. I wouldn’t have been able to attend school without it.”

[Then I’ll arm you with standard infantry equipment in some scenarios.]

The week settled into a rhythm after the first day. We’d run through combat scenarios. Hal simulated combat on ships and between them, on planets, and in the atmosphere above them. Run through Xiniti implants, it felt like we were there. I could hear the rain, and even more impressive, feel and smell it.

I’d become awake later with my body feeling like I’d slept in a strange position. This was more or less true. And the AI wasn’t wrong. We did become familiar with how people fought. I didn’t have much to learn about Jaclyn, Marcus, or Cassie because I’d been training with them for years. Katuk though? I learned through fighting with him that the Xiniti we’d killed wasn’t an exception. Katuk moved almost as quickly as Jaclyn in his armor even if he wasn’t as strong. He made up for the relative slowness with his weapons—laser, plasma gun, and a sharp blade.

Especially at the beginning, Katuk would forget that he wasn’t part of a squad with the exact same abilities. To be fair, we were close. Jaclyn had the speed, Cassie had the weapons, and I had both except that I had to be flying but didn’t have his reflexes.

Marcus didn’t have any of that—which helped. Katuk remembered the differences because Marcus’ shapeshifting didn’t fit the Xiniti paradigm at all.

Tikki, meanwhile, reveled in all roles Hal used her, appearing as armed support, a kidnapped civilian, powered and unpowered enemies, and even as a spy. Virtual reality let Hal slip her into spots where we didn’t expect to find her, playing them to the hilt—even the ones where she had to fight us. It may have been the game, but I felt like she’d been trained in hand to hand combat.

So training took up the days. At night we separated to the degree that we could. I read, watched a movie, or messed with Rocket suit improvement ideas. Marcus drew, Cassie talked with people, and Jaclyn delved deeply into her implant’s culture and history archives, sometimes asking Katuk and Tikki questions.

On the last night of jump, Tikki said, “We should play it.”

“What?” I asked.

“Monopoly!” Tikki looked around room, grinning. “I’m sure I’ll never have the chance to play it again. So how about just once?”

“No,” Jaclyn shook her head. “I’ve never liked that game.”

“I’ll play,” Cassie said. “It’s still better than looking out the windows.”

“It’s not that bad,” Marcus told Jaclyn. “What have you got to lose?”

Narrowing her eyes, Jaclyn said, “I don’t know. More time to that game?”

“If it will make things easier,” Katuk said, “I’ll play.”

I was about to say the same when my implant informed me that we were about to drop out of jump. I hadn’t been the only one notified either because everyone strapped in. Watching as the ship counted down, I connected with the ship, feeling its sensors, weapons, and shields.

We dropped out of jump, the gray fading into the blackness of normal space. Even as we did, I knew that something was wrong. The sensors showed me hundreds, possibly thousands of small dots. I turned on the shields, turned the ship, and radioed the colonists’ ship, telling them to do the same.

The space between us and the planet had been thoroughly mined.

image image image
  • open
  • next

Brennus File 15: Spawners


Previous | Next

Spawners, Mook-Makers, Birthers, Queens: the names are many, but they all refer to the same class of abilities – those which generate ‘agents’ which are separate from the metahuman himself…

Which is actually not a very good way to classify powers with, because there is a vast difference between the various different ways in which this power may manifest and what may be a well-advised strategy in dealing with one type may lead to catastrophy when applied to another – for example, if a metahuman’s agent is independently intelligent, knocking them out may not cause it to disappear; instead, you’re now stuck with an inhuman monster that’s off its leash (and likely pissed at you for hurting its master).

But first, let’s focus on where Spawners come from.


Common Origins

Spawner origins tend to share one common theme – a lack or loss of people. They are also overwhelmingly negative, with only a very few confirmed cases of positive-origin spawners known even within the metahuman community.

The kind of lack often informs the power – is it focused on a single person or on a multitude of people? The former might generate a single agent, while the latter the ability to spawn a great many of them.

Often, spawners and controllers come from very similar, sometimes near-identical origins, but it’s the focus which determines the result. For example, a bullied teenager might manifest either spawning or control abilities, depending on whether their origin focuses on the people who are there (and who could be controlled) or the people who aren’t there (and so need to be generated/replaced).



In general, Spawners can be classified by way of several categories relating to their agents’ abilities, its source and their control over it. This scale is mostly academic, as it’s too cumbersome to use in the heat of things, but it’s quite popular in online debates, among others. It is known as the SAVRIC scale:

Source (S): Where does the agent come from? Does it appear out of nowhere (0), is it constructed out of surrounding material, such as a golem made from rocks (1), does it have to be made in advance, such as in a lab or through a ritual (2) or is it permanent and does not need to be summoned at all, but has to be moved about (3)?

Amount (A): Does the spawner generate a single agent (3), a limited amount (2), a whole swarm (1) or an unlimited/unknown number (0).

Variation (V): Is the agent always the same (3), does it vary along a limited template (2), can it take any form, but depending on extraneous factors (1) or can it be (nearly) anything (0)?

Range (R): How far from the spawner can the agent(s) move and still be of use? Are they limited to within their immediate presence (3), can they act within a short range (2), long range (1) or is it unlimited (0)?

Intelligence (I): The most worrisome aspect that one uses to categorise spawners is how intelligent their agents are – debates whether its actual intelligence, sub-conscious control via the spawner or something else notwithstanding – and thus, how independent they are. Do they lack any intelligence at all, being merely remote-controlled puppets (3) or are they without intelligence, but possessed of simple robot-like principles and commands they stick to, or which can be programmed into them (2)? Do they have an intellect comparable to some kind of animal (1)? Are they perhaps even as intelligent as humans or even more so (0)?

Control (C): How much control does a spawner have over their agents? Is the agent absolutely controlled (0), does it have leeway in interpreting commands (12), can it outright resist commands (2) or does the spawner have no control whatsoever (3)?

A spawner is thus rated from 0-3 in each of these categories, with their average being known as their SAVRIC score. While it’s not usually equivalent to how dangerous one is, a low high score is generally considered to be bad news, especially due to spawner’s prospensity to negative origins and the accompanying derangements and other issues. Fortunately, low scores, especially in regards to Variation and Intelligence, are extraordinarily rare.

The only known spawners with a SAVRIC score of 0 are Weisswald and the Dark.



One of the most important distinctions between Spawners is whether their agents are lasting, permanent beings, or are merely projections that only exists for as long as they are maintained. Does knocking a spawner out cancel out their agent? Does killing them do it? In the case of Weisswald, for example, the answer to both of those is a resounding no. His Spiteborn, once created, are independent, living beings, if utterly twisted.

Also important is that power nullification can cancel out impermanent agents, but can, at best, knock permanent ones out (until they leave the area of effect), if it affects them at all (Spiteborn can be prevented from using their more exotic abilities, such as their black blasts or, for the more powerful ones, their telepathic abilities, but can otherwise operate as usual).

Fortunately, there appears to be some form of trade-off involved – barring extreme cases like Weisswald, the Nightmare Sun or the Dark, Spawners seem to trade off one ability for another – those who produce many agents usually have weaker, dumber ones, while singular agents tend to be more versatile and powerful. More intelligent agents also tend to be harder to control, providing another trade-off.

True permanence in particular is extremely rare. Most agents, at the very least, die or disappear upon the death of their master.


The Question of Intelligence

One of the most hotly debated subjects in regards to Spawners relates to those who produce agents with near-human or human-level intelligence (rumors of beyond-human intelligence are usually roundly dismissed as hoaxes or delusions).

The first and most common question is this – are they truly intelligent, independently from their creator? Or are they merely being controlled by way of the spawner’s subconscious, acting as he would expect them to act? The most common evidence brought up towards the veracity of this theory is that agents tend to act in a way that seems to fit their Spawner’s personality, or else their suppressed desires. A common counter-argument is that the same can be said about most powers, that they usually tend to fit the personality of their bearer to some degree, and that the minds of these creatures may just be formed to fit their master.

The second and, perhaps, more problematic question is this – at which point is an agent intelligent (and permanent) enough to count as alive? As sentient? At which point would human rights need to be applied to them, or should they not be granted to non-humans – even if they are of human origin – at all?

Perhaps fortunately, there has never been a case where an intelligent agent came forward to claim equal rights under the law (as far as anyone knows, at least), nor has anyone ever accused another human of murder for killing a permanent, intelligent agent. However, as the number of metahumans grows, so does the number of Spawners, making permanent, intelligent agents more and more common (though they are still a vanishingly low percentage of their kind – if one made a separate category for Spawners who generate intelligent, permanent agents, they’d likely be the second- or third-smallest group of metahumans, exceeded only by high-powered Gadgeteers and, at the very top, the highest end of meta-powers, such as DiL’s, Gloom Glimmers and Baba Yaga’s).



One of the most common forms of Spawning (though it is still quite rare) is the ability to duplicate oneself or, in very rare cases, others. This can range from being able to split oneself into two, to being able to create a slavishly loyal copy of another person, or an unlimited number of such.

Generally speaking, Duplication, like most Spawning, tends towards being a solo-power, though Self-Duplication in particular appears to be the one most likely to have other, usually ancillary powers.



A surprisingly common sub-set of Spawners are those who get Spawning as a sub-rating – usually Gadgeteers and, most commonly, Contrivers, who can create some manner of agents to act in their place. They may range from summoned demons/fairies/elementals/etc to clones, to robots, to weirder things.

Like other sub-ratings, Sub-Spawners are usually described by appending the Spawner rating after the main rating, usually via a backslash, for example:

Legend: Contriver 9/Perception 8, Spawning 11


Exemplary Spawners

  • The Eighth: One of the most feared Spawners in recent history, the Eighth was a metahuman (presumably) who appeared in Egypt during the mid-2000s. Appearing as a slightly above-human sized locust-like monstrosity with vastly enhanced strength, toughness, speed and senses, as well as winged flight, the Eighth would create permanent, apparently perfect copies of itself each time it killed another human (animals didn’t count, though it killed any it came across), eight at a time. Furthermore, it would poison humans with its scorpion-like stinger, sending them into a murderous rage – any kill these victims would rack up would cause the Eighth which poisoned them to generate four copies of itself. While the individual Eighth did not appear to be too intelligent, and nor did they seem to have a true hive mind, they did cooperate on instinct, raging across Egypt like a biblical plague. Fortunately for the world, they were discovered early and could be eliminated before they managed to multiply beyond any hope to contain them. As no core Spawner was ever found, it is assumed that the first Eighth was the source, but became just one of many once it multiplied the first time, with no one member of the swarm being the ‘original’ any longer.
  • Hydra: An old-school villain from the late 20s. Any time he took a hit, he’d split into two, with each duplicate being able to further split upon taking damage. No real limit on how many duplicates he coul dmake, but they got progressively dumber the more were made, until they couldn’t even stand up straight anymore. He usually couldn’t go beyond about a hundred selves before they became too stupid to be of use. He was killed in battle against a rival crimelord in 1929.
  • Zomboy: Creates duplicates of himself that begin to rot pretty quickly, dying off within about an hour of their creation, but has no upper limit as to how many he could do, except that he can only make one at a time (they take about 3 seconds each). While he lacks an ongoing connection to his copies, they are all of like mind and predisposed towards cooperating with each other and the original. When a Zomboy dies, be it due to outside influence, its time running out or deliberate suicide, all remaining Zomboys gain his last sensory input and thoughts.
    The original Zomboy does not decay rapidly, nor does he have their immunity to pain and slightly enhanced strength and toughness (neither of which reaches supernatural levels, though).
  • Necromonger: A major villain of the early seventies. He could create permanent duplicates of himself by touching human corpses, shaping them into his own duplicates. If he used it on metahuman corpses, they’d have the original’s powers. He was killed by Lady Light and the Dark after he crossed the line, killing over twenty teenagers with powers who’d been gathered for an attempt to make a super-school, creating duplicates out of their corpses. Even with their combined might, putting all Necromongers including the original down proved to be one of the original duo’s most challenging tasks.
  • Argus: A Greek superhero and anxillary member of the Olympians. He can create stationary duplicates of himself that share senses with him and can fire laser beams from their eyes. While he can only have up to twelve of them up at a time, they last until he creates new ones or are destroyed (though they are partially insubstantial, and so very resistant to most damage), and operate even when he’s knocked out or asleep, though with only very basic intelligence (usually following pre-programmed commands). He usually has at least two of them watch over him while he sleeps, and several more stationed all around his area, the city of Drama.
  • Matryoshka: A Russian metahuman, and a member of the Frozen family. She’s just a living skin, no internal organs or bones. By wrapping herself around a victim, she takes control of their body and drains nutrients from them. She can spawn duplicates of whomever she’s currently got inside her, who are under her complete (verbal) control. The more duplicates she makes, the faster her victim wastes away, and once they die, the duplicates made off of them die, as well. She has trouble letting someone go once she’s wrapped herself around them, making a non-lethal application of her power very difficult.
    For someone with such a ghoulish power, she’s a surprisingly pleasant young woman (though her actual age is likely impossible to determine, seeing how she woke up one day with no memories of her past and her power already active).

  • Crawler: A preteen boy from the Midwestern USA, he has command over a permanent agent the size of a small bus, a monstrosity of many limbs, huge muscles and armour plates capable of shrugging off anti-armour fire. While the agent doesn’t appear to be any more intelligent than a very smart dog, he is very independent of Crawler, and has been seen taking actions which directly contradict given orders, usually for the sake of keeping his master safe. They live a nomadic life, moving from town to town with no clear goal known; they are both rather peaceful, unless provoked (which, unfortunately, happens rather often). The agent, commonly known as Crawler (while his master is addressed by his true name), appears to become vastly more powerful (or perhaps he simply stops holding back) when his master is in danger of immediate harm and is very prone to highly destructive rampages while so empowered.
  • The Dark: The King of Supervillains can create apparently-permanent, human-level intelligent Darkwraiths, each with a custom powerset and absolute loyalty to him, going so far as to wear (at least) one of them in lieu of a costume. His Darkwraiths are at least as intelligent as normal humans, if not more so, can be created out of thin air, in any number he so wishes, have custom powersets and skills and are both able to operate at any distance from him, as well as absolutely loyal to their master, giving him a perfect SAVRIC score of 0.
  • Merkabah: Usually considered one of the most powerful Gadgeteers alive, the terrorist known as Merkabah seems to specialise in creating mechanical monstrosities she unleashes (apparently) at random to cause massive havoc. She has also demonstrated the ability to create organic monsters, so her exact capabilities are unknown; the fact that almost no one has ever seen her makes her all the more mysterious.


Rarities amongst Rarities

There are some rare, confirmed cases of Spawners coming from positive origins – and all of them were or are notable in some way:

  • Michele/Michael: Generally considered Italy’s pre-eminent superhero, Michele was once a priest who achieved his manifestation after what gaining what he claims to have been an Epiphany following an intense meditation on the bible, the world and his place in relation to both. He considers superpowers to be Gifts from God, and using them for selfish and destructive deeds a blasphemy worthy of Sodom and Gomorra.
    His power allows him to generate a multitude of semi-corporeal, angelic duplicates of himself, with several secondary abilities which he himself shares – flaming weapons, the ability to use lethal strikes without harm (he slashes someone with a sword but instead of cutting them, they merely feel pain as if they were and are drained of strength, for example), flight, healing hands and a very annoying (for villains) subconscious precognitive ability that guides him towards ‘Sinners’ (i.e. metahumans who abuse their powers).
  • Rounds: The leader of the New Lennston UH division, Rounds is generally considered to be a prime candidate for succeeding the Feral Family as a Shining Guardian, should the current Doc Feral not find a worthy successor from within her family. He manifested after defeating a notorious supervillain with his bare hands, while defending several innocents, his younger sister amongst them, from said villain, and shortly thereafter joined first the Junior Heroes and then the United Heroes proper.
    His power allows Rounds to create duplicates of up to twelve individuals by touch, one each. Each of these duplicates has any powers the original may have at half-strength, while Rounds himself gains half-strength versions of their powers as well (essentially splitting the target’s powers between himself and their duplicate). The duplicates are loyal to him, even if made out of supervillains, though they retain their original personality and can be quite hard to deal with even while being loyal. Destroying a duplicate also deprives Rounds of their associate powers. The exact time limit for how long each duplicate can last is unknown, though a time limit definitely does exist.
  • Drakaina: The original Drakaina was a gadgeteer who specialised in creating crude (by today’s standards) robots with limited ability to act independently. While not much is known about her, it is known that she gained her power after managing to build her very first robot, after many years of failures and disappointments. Her original, pre-manifestation creation is enshrined in the headquarters of the Drakainas and taking a trip to Toronto in order to visit said shrine and see the (officially) original gadget is considered something of a pilgrimage amongst Gadgeteers.

Previous | Next


Filed under: Brennus Files
  • open
  • next

Summer Special week 1


It’s the Semi Co-op summer special! The next three weeks will be a little different. Rachel reimagined three board game covers using the rule of the archetypical Eurogame box art rules. This all started when we came across this Reddit thread:”What is the most “eurogame” eurogame in your opinion?“.

For those who don’t know what a Eurogame is, a little explanation:

Eurogames or German-style games are games with low luck and low player conflict. Victory is, most of the time, achieved through gathering the most resources or point and not through direct combat. Think of games like Agricola or Catan, it’s all about building an engine that provides you with the right resource to grow the fastest. Games with a lot of dice rolling for shooting each other and random events tend to be called Ameritrash because this type of design used to be more prevalent in the U.S than in Europe. Think of games like Risk and Eldritch horror where winning can be decided by getting lucky on dice rolls.

An interesting historical reason for this difference in game design was the aversion against products that glorified violence in post-war Germany which resulted in the popularity of economic games. Because of the lack of explosions and big monsters in these games, the themes used to be things like trading in the Mediterranean (there is even a Dice Tower top 10 about this specific theme!) and the box art used to be kinda bland.

Luckily these two schools of game design have come together these past years creating new hybrid designs like Gloomhaven or Above and Below. Mixing the exciting themes and stories with solid designs that are powered by player decisions and not just random luck. This is great because we love some thematic flavor in our Engine builders and some strategic options in our dice filled luck-fests.

Enough of the board game history lesson! We’re off having adventures in the real world, we hope you have a great summer with some great games!

What do you think is the most boring board game box art ever?

The post Summer Special week 1 appeared first on Semi Co-op.

  • open
  • next
In My Daydreams

Between: Part 3

In My Daydreams

Frowning at the goo, I decided that Crawls-Through-Desert could clean it up and wondered how I’d make that stick. Meanwhile, Jaclyn had thought of something.

“Seven of us in one room? For a week? That’s going to be interesting and by interesting I mean, it’s going to be interesting if we’re still talking to each other by the end of it. But that’s not all, do we have food for a week?”

Marcus held up his hand. “I’ve got the one. Yes. We’ve got food. The ship’s got a machine that takes biological matter and converts it into food bars based on its profile for different species’ nutritional needs—“

Jaclyn’s eyes narrowed and she stared at Marcus. “Whoa. Wait a second. Where’s this biological matter coming from? Because there’s only one place I can think of where we’d get spare ‘biological matter’,” she glanced at the bathroom in the back, “and I don’t want to eat it.”

Tikki shook her head. “I wouldn’t worry very much. All the food systems that repurpose biological waste as food follow very strict guidelines so they’re perfectly safe. Well, except for ones the ones the Duguns use, but no one else uses those anyway. The Duguns evolved from carrion eaters after all.”

“No,” Jaclyn began.

Waving down Jaclyn’s objections with both hands, Marcus said, “It’s all real food. I bought it from the grocery store and everything. It’s normal stuff—meat, vegetables, spices… I even gave it recipes I liked—“

In a lower voice, she said, “What kind of recipes?”

“You know, normal stuff—pizza, hamburgers, pot roast, ribs… Plus stuff that Grandma makes. Plus food I like from the D’Onofrio side of the family—and that includes the restaurants. Awesome stuff. Oh yeah… And also some Indian, Thai, Korean, Vietamese and Mexican food because I like it. I tried for sushi too, but I’m not sure how well that worked.”

Marcus grinned. “Seriously. You’re going to like it.”

Cassie glanced over at him, raising an eyebrow. “Didn’t you say it made food bars? None of that stuff sounds like food bars.”

Jaclyn nodded along as she talked. “Exactly. Plus, what about breakfasts? You didn’t say anything about that.”

Marcus shrugged. “Breakfasts are in there. It’ll be fine, and yes, they’re all food bars, but trust me, you’re going to like them. I tried a few and they taste more like the meal than you’d ever expect. Plus, one more thing… We’ve got a couple months of food even with seven people. We’ve got this week covered.”

“Cool,” I said. “What happens when food gets low? It sounds like we’ll run out of ingredients eventually. Does it substitute stuff in?”

“Kinda,” Marcus said. “I read in the manual that there’s a point where it prioritizes nutrition over aesthetics. I think it still uses the spices though.”

“That’s right!” Tikki said. “I don’t know if all of you know it, but I was training to be life support engineer. They’re required by Alliance law to prioritize nutrition over taste because of some disturbing incidents early in Alliance history where the crews started eating each other when the food grew low.”

I thought about it. “I can see where that might be a problem in multi-species crews—“

“It was,” Tikki said. “There was a passenger ship early in Alliance history where they lost their engines and had to eat the beings that died to survive.”

Jaclyn stuck out her tongue. “Yuck. It sounds like the Donner party.”

Katuk looked from one of them to another. “What’s the Donner party?”

I said, “Travelers on our world got stuck in the mountains during the winter and ate their dead to survive.”

Katuk said, “Sensible. The dead no longer need their bodies and would have wished their companions to survive. It’s simply another way to serve.”

Cassie laughed. “Humans don’t see it that way. Most humans would be horrified to discover cannibalism.”

The Xiniti peered at her. “Certainly it would be wrong if the subject was killed to be eaten, but not if they were already dead and the living needed food.”

Jaclyn shook her head. “By our customs, it would be wrong either way. Sure people have done it, but only if they were desperate. Even then, they should have done something else.”

The ship notified me that we were near the gas giant and I extended the ship’s scoops and aimed for the gas giant. For the next hour, the ship gathered and processed water into fuel. Sometimes gas clouds would fill our view—the whole of the spaceship surrounded by a cloud.

Despite the clouds and the planet’s gravity, it didn’t take long to skim and process the fuel. The colonists’ ship did the same behind us and so we both were ready to jump as soon as we left its atmosphere.

“Last chance to go back to your ship,” I told Tikki. “Otherwise you’ll be stuck with us in one small cabin for a week.”

She shook her head. “Don’t worry about me. I’m having much more fun with all of you here. Everyone else is there with their family and I’m by myself, so I don’t know anyone there very well.”

“Okay, then,” I told her. “Remember that when you’re competing with the rest of us for the bathroom. You had a chance to avoid it.”

She laughed. “I’ll remember. Besides,” she stopped smiling, “even though my powers are limited, they’re active. The breeders try to be nice, but they’re still uncomfortable around me. Even sharing a bathroom is more comfortable than that.”

Not sure exactly what she meant, I nodded and brought the ship into near space. The colonists’ ship joined ours and the stars stretched as we flew away from the gas giant. When we had enough distance, I shifted us into jump drive, pulling the colonists’ ship along with us.

Once the gray, shadowy shapes of jumpspace appeared in the windows, I stepped out of my chair. We’d be here for five to nine days, depending on how well the assumptions I’d made matched the system we were heading for. However it worked out though, we were stuck here together for a while.

“Anybody want to play Monopoly?” I asked.

image image image
  • open
  • next

B13.c On Wings of Lead


Previous | Next

Malphas never set himself an alarm clock – he didn’t even own one, there was no need. As the day began, he felt his people wake and go about their morning routines, the vibrations of their increased movements propagating through the material he’d filled with his power, reaching him, the contrast to the relative calm of the night enough to wake him from his restless slumber.

He turned onto his side with a groan, the ground he lay on molding itself flawlessly, instinctually, to his body, far more comfortable than any bed could possibly be; people often thought that his room spartan, with few anemities other than his ever-growing collection of comic books and a single poster, but the truth was, furniture, even a bed, was superfluous – not when he could control the tenements at will, thanks to all the power he’d channeled into the material over the last two years, ever since he created their first incarnation. Even now, as he woke, the ground rose up, pushing him into an upright sitting position, then extended into a chair that was sitting on – once he wanted to rise, it’d be easier to do so from this position than from the ground.

Next, he reached out with his right arm, as a tendril of semi-liquid metal extended, handing him a cup of steaming hot coffee it’d brought from the communal kitchen, in his private metal cup-

The cup slipped through his non-existant fingers as a horrible, stinging pain shot through them, through his arms and into his shoulder.

He screamed, doubling over and off his chair, hitting the ground face-first as the pain – and the knowledge – of his missing limb took over his mind, not even noticing it as the ground melted to receive him, making it look like he’d dove into jelly, sinking in before he rose back up, curled up around the stump of his right arm.

For several minutes, he lay there in just a pair of ratty grey sweatpants, his slender, dark-skinned chest heaving, trying very hard not to hyperventilate – he’d done that a few times, the first few nights after Blauschwinge’s attack, passing out from the strain and the shock.

Fuck. Fucking fucking fucker, fuck you! he thought, as the memory of the arrogant, mad-eyed villain rose up. The contempuous snarl on his face as she grabbed Volca using his power to simply chop through her body, from shoulder to hip, with one hand, ripping her in two. Lag’s anguished cry, as she ran to her dying cousin, touching her, taking her wounds onto herself.

Taking her death unto herself.

Then, as if that wasn’t horrible enough, he’d flown out, dodging several spikes Malphas had shot his way, those he didn’t simply allow to splash harmlessly off his body, and then smashed his tenements with a single blast, warping and twisting them so violently, even his power hadn’t been able to counteract its brutal deformation, hadn’t been able to evacuate everyone in time before they were crushed, killed.

Never, not once, since he’d gained his power had he failed so thoroughly. It hurt more than losing his arm, in its own way, to have failed the people he’d sworn to protect.

Another lance of pain shot through the space where his arm should be, into the useless stump sticking out from his shoulder, making him bite down on another scream, silently thanking his foresight in sealing up his room, save for a pipe leading outside for air, before he went to sleep, so no one would hear his initial screams.

It took him almost ten minutes to recover enough that he could gather his wits about himself and rise up on shaky feet, using his power to wrap several tendrils around his waist and left shoulder, to steady himself. Another tendril had caught his falling cup earlier and now passed it to him.

Strange, I didn’t think of that, he noticed, his mind still numb from all the pain, almost moaning as the hot black liquid – he hated sweets, never developed a taste for them, and always took his coffee black – ran down his throat and soothed him, while also helping him wake up.

Gulping it down in one go, using his power to make the cup so smooth every last drop would run out, he dropped it, letting it melt back into the rest of the tenements.

Only after taking a few more breaths did he finally look at the stump. It’d been tied off, bandaged expertly, first by Aap Oordra, then later by the staff of the hospital which he and Volca had forced him to go to.

Not that he’d protested much, once the adrenaline had started to fade and the full magnitude of the pain made itself known.

Speaking of which, it was coming back again, so he popped some painkillers from a small can that rose out of the floor, then retreated back into it.

They wouldn’t kick in for a while, but just knowing that they would was already helping, putting his mind a little more at ease.

Taking some deep breaths, he slowly counted down from ten, took a look at his poster – it always lifted his spirits, ever since he’d hit puberty – then simply walked through the wall leading to the hallway outside his bedroom, stepping out fully armoured with metal drawn from it, making his way to the shower room on the top level, where he resided.

Behind him, the floor of his room overturned itself, drawing in the sweat and tears in, channeling them out of the tenements and into the drain, leaving no trace behind.


One thorough shower later, the eleven-year-old was clean and relatively fit again, as the painkillers slowly kicked in and he’d removed the last traces of his troubled sleep.

Not that he had long to enjoy it, thanks to his stomach immediately deciding to rumble loudly, announcing its need for food.

I haven’t eaten since lunch yesterday, he realised, startled, even as he felt relieved that he had the top level for himself and no one was around to hear it.

Seeing no pressing business to take care of, he dove through the floor, using his ability to feel all throughout the structure to avoid hitting any of the tenants that moved through the intervening levels. All of them were already quite used to him diving through the tenements in such a fashion, and no one even flinched.

Malphas tried very hard not to dwell on how much emptier the tenements were, compared to before the attack. Not only had he been unable to save eleven of his people, but several more had chosen to move out, scared off by the brutal attack, even though the attacker had been brought down almost immediately afterwards (though Malphas wasn’t sure whether he’d survived or not – that mercenary working for Aap Oordra had taken his body with him, saying he’d take care of everything). He’d told them that they were welcome to return at any time, and he hoped that they’d remember that the tenements were still the safest place to be in in the Undercity, but for now, he felt the absence of twenty-three of his own.

There were few things Malphas hated as much as losing his own.

Fortunately, just as his thoughts were about to turn to all the others he’d lost over the years, he reached the communal kitchen and mess hall that he’d built into this newest iteration of the tenements, while fixing the damage from Blauschwinge’s attack. It was bigger, now, extending all the way up to the roof of the plant above, and broader, the outer walls multi-layered, disconnected from each other while still being reinforced, hopefully making it more resistant against any similar attacks.

He’d taken the chance to add several upgrades that people had been asking for for a while now, including expanding the shared kitchenspace into a proper mess hall, with enough room to provide seats for as many people as could possibly fit into the tenements.

When he got there, he was instantly distracted from his gloomy thoughts as he saw an increasingly rare sight at the tenements, though this one was one he was unambigiously feeling good about.

Volca sat at a table near the actual kitchen, sipping coffee from a huge mug. She was wearing sweatpants and a blue sweater, and her hair was still wet and clinging to her head and neck.

The other tenants kept their distance, mostly moving around her table to get to the coffee machine behind the kitchen counter, and in general doing what they could not to offend her in any way. Ever since Lag’s death, she’d become increasingly irritable and violent, to the point where, during the first days, Malphas – himself still recovering from having lost his arm – had been forced to put her down a few times to prevent her from hurting others.

He’d just about started to consider locking her away for a while, or splitting a part of the tenements off to give her a space of her own, when Aap Oordra had shown up, out of the blue, and offered her and Malphas a job. It hadn’t taken much prodding for her to accept it, though Malphas himself had declined – he didn’t like the thought of being away from his tenements for too long.

She’d calmed down since then, with no more incidents that’d required his intervention, though that was at least partly because she spent less and less time down here, and partly because she was always so tired when she did.

Still, he worried, and he was also curious about things were going, so he decided to join her after getting his own meal.

When he walked to the counter, the cook, Marley, saw him and picked up the pot of coffee from the machine, letting it flow down onto the bare metal counter. A cup formed out of it, catching the glorious java, and a bowl as he simply dumped some stew onto it, already used to the routine.

“Thanks,” he said, his voice much deeper-sounding thanks to his helmet. The short, wiry man behind the counter just nodded (he was mute, as far as Malphas new), picking them up and walking over to Volca. “Mind if I join you?”

The young blonde looked up at him, taking a moment before she responded – not because she had to think it over much, he was sure, but simply because her brain was not quite as awake as the rest of her body, just yet – and nodded. “Sure thing. Your place anyway.”

He nodded back and sat down, his armour immediately fusing with the bench. He picked up the cup of coffee, the lower portion of his helmet folding open (he’d styled it to open kind of like that alien from that old Schwarzenegger movie) to let him drink.

Ah, coffee.

He noticed Volca staring rather intently at him, as he drank, and gave her a questioning look.

“Ah, sorry,” she said, averting her eyes and raising her mug to take a sip. “Just… I can still barely believe that you’re a freaking preteen. Never would’ve guessed.”

He felt his face heat up a bit. “Um, yeah. That’s why I always go around in full armour, you know? I need people to take me seriously, not see me as just a kid, so I can take care of everything.”

She snorted, almost laughing, putting her mug down and looking incredulously at him.

“What?” he asked, defensively. His helmet snapped shut again.

“Malphas, dude, you’re so far beyond being ‘just a kid’ it ain’t even funny anymore,” she replied, grinning at him over her steaming hot mug. “If there’s one thing you don’t need to worry about, it’s anyone ’round here not taking you seriously.” She looked him straight in the eyes, her gaze as intent as her words.

He looked down at his food, looking at his food rather than at her, feeling embarrased. “You think so?” he asked her, not really taking it all that seriously. He knew how adults were about that, treating children like they weren’t able to think properly or something. Like they couldn’t be trusted with anything.

It always annoyed him, seeing how the adults themselves couldn’t really be trusted with anything, ever. One look at the state of the world showed that.

Except for guys like Aap Oordra, he’d rarely met any adults who seemed all that better than kids at being smart. A lot were worse, in his experience, like Volca used to be.

“Yeah, I mean, dude, look around you,” she replied, seeming to wake up fully for the first time and leaning forward over the table even as she gestured at everything around them. “You built this. All of this. On your own. You’re taking care of dozens of people, all alone. You were, what, nine when you started it?”

“Ten,” he grumbled, annoyed. “I started this two years ago. Am almost twelve, now.”

“Yeah, I betya even Double-L and the Dark weren’t this badass at your age! And, and, I mean, dude, you lost an arm defending this place!” She almost shouted that last sentence, then suddenly became a lot calmer, sitting back again and averting her eyes. “The people here love you, Malphas. You don’t need to hide a thing from us, you know? No one who matters is gonna think less of you for being young.”

He had trouble believing that. Especially since it came from Volca, the same woman who thought it was a good idea to put chili powder into coffee and hot chocolate.

“I’ll, uh, I’ll think about that,” he replied. “So, uh, how’s work, anyway? I barely see you around here anymore.” She’d barely spent three nights in the tenements, since the night Lag died. Not that he couldn’t understand that, even disregarding her new job.

She groaned, slamming her head onto the table. “Don’t remind me. Aap’s a fucking slavedriver,” she said, muffled. “I don’t just have to work full-time, I also have to train. ‘Until you’re up to my minimum standards’ he says. ‘So I don’t have to worry you’ll get yourself killed by some random crook’ he says.”

“Uh, training? What kind of training?” he asked, surprised. He hadn’t heard about that.

“What kind of training? Easier to say what kind of training he’s not giving me!” she complained loudly, making several heads turn their way, though the other tenants still kept their distance, giving the two metahumans their room. “He’s having me study to get my GED, and to get a proper, legal license both for the job and as a cape. A cape, me! Plus combat training, and investigative training, and negotiation practice and it ain’t the normal stuff either, you know? I looked it up, the kinda stuff he makes me learn, even the cops’ special forces don’t do that much! I dunno who trained him, but it must’ve been a complete sadist! Today’s my day off from training – not work, just training – otherwise I’d be out jogging with a backpack full of rocks while getting quizzed on crime scene procedure. And his pop quizzes! Any time we’re not on the clock, he might attack me, out of the blue! To test whether I’ve been practicing all the reversals and tricks he’s teaching me! And he says we’re just getting started!”

Malphas couldn’t help but gulp, feeling glad that he’d dodged a bullet by refusing Aap’s job offer. Even though he’d been really, really eager to accept, if only to spend more time with him. Aap was freaking awesome. The coolest adult he’d ever met, ever.

Still, what Volca was telling him sounded like the proverbial training from hell.

“That… sounds a little extreme, yeah,” he agreed with her. “Does he, uh, what does he do, while you train?”

She shrugged, while remaining bent over, her head on the table. “Most of the time, he trains with me. Does all the stuff he makes me do. ‘cept when he takes on some extra work and is busy. Then he has Wa- I mean, Cartastrophy watch over it instead.”

“Well, at least je doesn’t make you do anything he ain’t willing to do himself, right?” he pressed.

She looked up, finally, looking annoyed, and waved it off. “Nah, he’s pretty cool ’bout that. He’s done it all when he was little, already, and he does it again with me. And he even pays me for the hours I spend training. Well, will pay me. Haven’t got my first paycheck yet, just a signing bonus.”

He tilted his head to the side. “A signing bonus? How much did he pay you?” he asked, curiously. If he’d understood it correctly, Aap had just returned from being some kind of prisoner of war – how much money could he already have, really?

“Ten k,” she said, grinning. “First time I made this much money the honest way and all at once. Or any way, really.”

His eyes nearly bugged out. “T-ten thou? Seriously? Where’s he get all that money!?” That may not have been all that much up top, but ten thousand dollar were one hell of a fortune down here.

She waved an arm. “Savings from before he went to war. Plus, he got money from the government. Basically, they paid him his salary as a non-com for every single day he spent as a PoW. And on top of that, bounty for turning the Ascendant in. Guy’s a freaking millionaire, not that he seems to care about it, ‘cept how it lets him set up his new business.”

Malphas jaw was hanging open in shock as he processed that. He knew Volca was gonna be making money now, real money, not the occasional take from some crime, but if that was just her signing bonus

“Ah, this reminds me,” she continued, laying her arm on the table and resting her chin on her hand, looking straight at him again. “You’re gettin’ some of that, too.”


“The bounty, silly,” she grinned at him. “Aap’s insisting that everyone who helped with the fight at the water works gets a cut, ‘cept for that stoic mercenary he’d hired – he got paid already, or sumthin’.”

“Seriously? I, uh, I dunno what to say. How much am I gettin’?” he asked dumbly, not sure what else to say.

“Bounty was a few million. Got paid out to him and he’s giving us all an equal share, after taxes and all. That’s you, me, Cartastrophy and himself, so about, a little less than a mill each, once the money comes in.”

He felt the people move about in the tenements, going about their business, some leaving to get to whatever small jobs they had, or just to scavenge or do other stuff. Time passed.

Volca got up and went to get herself some beef barley soup, then came back, sitting down to eat. Time passed.

“You know, I’d say it’s funny seein’ ya look like a statue, but then I realised you always look like that, anyway,” she commented, when he’d still not said anything halfway into her meal.

“Uhhh…” He shook his head, trying to recover his wits again, then groaned when the jerky motion made pain shoot through his stump.

It wasn’t important, though, because, damn it, he’d never even seen that much money, nevermind had been told it would be his. And now Aap Oordra wanted to give him nearly a million dollars, when he’d basically taken down the Ascendant and his cronies all on his own?

“I, um, I really don’t know what to say,” he replied. “What, uh, what do I have to do to get the money?” he asked the only thing that came to mind, or at least the only one that wasn’t him just babbling incoherently.

“Just come with me to the office,” she replied between two spoonfuls of soup. “You can talk to Aap and get all the info.”

“Leave the tenements? But, I need to-” he began to protest, but she cut him off.

“Dude, it’s gonna be alright if you’re gone for just a morning or something,” she said, annoyed. “Besides, what do you think is gonna help this place more? You being here this mornin’, or you havin’ nine-hundred kay to throw around?”

He looked away, embarrassed. She was right, of course, but… leaving the tenements, his place of power behind… it wasn’t just that something might happen to people around here, it was, it wasn’t something he really felt comfortable doing. Ever. Even leaving them to go after the Ascendant, it had been one of the hardest things he’d ever done.

Volca finished her soup and got up. “So, you comin’? I got a schedule to keep, so I can’t hang around and wait, big guy.”

He looked at her, then he looked around at the other people in the mess hall. Most of them were focused on their food or their conversations, but a few noticed him looking at them and looked back, smiling and waving.

Everyone here was ragged, their clothes old, some of them handed down half a dozen or more times, within the tenements. Food was just a thin beef barley soup, water and coffee from a scavenged coffee machine they’d somehow fixed up, but which kept breaking, over and over again.

Forget nine hundred thousand, I could do so much for people around here with just nine hundred dollars, period.

That thought was what decided him, finally, and he stood up, nodding to her. “Alright, let’s go.”


“You know, I haven’t seen the sun in months?” he asked Volca, as they left the Undercity through an old, abandoned subway station, stepping out onto the open street and drawing no few looks. He’d left his armour behind, putting on some real clothes – well, more than just underpants and sweatpants – for the first time in a long time, and that alone was making him incredibly nervous, but even so, at his age, and with just one arm, he was drawing stares.

At least his sweater hid the bandages around the stump, so it wasn’t evident that it was a recent injury, and not just something he’d been born with or whatever.

He didn’t like it, feeling both pitied and exposed, two things he really did not want to feel.

“You should get out more,” she replied, walking ahead confidently, her hands in the pockets of her jeans. New jeans, not brand-name stuff, but still, new and well-fitting, and a stylish black sweater, her hair up in a messy ponytail, and just a touch of actual make-up on her face.

Maybe it wasn’t just him who was drawing stares. He’d never really thought about it, but walking with her now, out of costume and all, he couldn’t help but notice that she was really quite… attractive.

It was quite annoying really, ever since about two months ago, he’d been noticing girls more and more. The poster on the wall of his bedroom being Exhibit A of his newly awakened interest in the formerly icky half of the population.

At least most of the women living in the tenements – ‘cept for Lag and Volca, and now just Volca – weren’t all that pretty, so he hadn’t gotten tongue-tied or anything in front of people yet.

At least Volca was someone he’d known since before he’d started noticing girls, so he could talk to her normally.

“Maybe I should,” he told her, as they walked down the street. “The breeze feels nice.” It was a windy day in the Windy City, and it was really refreshing. It even made his stump throb less painfully.

All the noise around them wasn’t nearly so nice, though. The Undercity wasn’t exactly tranquil, but up here, it was a cacophony. Cars driving around, people walking, talking, shouting. Electronics, everywhere, beeping and screeching and more.

He focused on the way ahead, trying to shut the worst of it now, but it did distract him briefly, so he missed the first part of Volca’s next sentence.

“- sometime after the next months starts,” she said.

“Huh? Sorry, I got distracted, what’d you say?” he asked her, wishing he could look up at her face as they talked, but he didn’t have the tenements around him to feel where he was going, and know when he was about to walk into someone, so he was focusing on where he was going, moving much slower than usual and not just because his legs were shorter without his armour.

“I said I’ll probably be moving out once I get my cut of the bounty and my first paycheck,” Volca repeated.

He stopped dead, looking at her in shock. She moved on a few more steps, before she noticed that he’d stopped and turned around to look at him, looking confused, first, then sympathetic as she seemed to pick up on his mood.

“Y-you’re leaving?” he asked, dismayed. It wasn’t like he didn’t understand… the tenements were a place for people to hide out and rest, until they got their life back on track, and it was also the place where her cousin had died, and she was making money now, too, but…

But… he hated it when people left. No matter how good the reason.

She smiled sadly at him, moving closer and bending over as one of her hands slid to the back of his head, pulling him forward to touch her forehead to his.

“Hey, don’t be sad big guy,” she spoke softly. “I won’t disappear. I’ll still visit, and I’ll be helping out – you and the others down there, you did so much for me and Nina, there’s no way I could just abandon ya all. But I gotta find a place for myself, now that I can.”

He averted his eyes, even as he leaned against her, enjoying the gentle touch – a rarity, even when one discounted the fact that he was wrapped in several inches of steel most of the time. “I know. I’m sorry for being silly, it’s just…”

“You’re not being silly, big guy. Just… being you. And I freaking love you for that, you know?” She pulled back, then leaned in again, giving him a warm kiss on the forehead.

When she pulled back, the warmth stayed, spreading from his forehead through his head, and down towards his chest as he looked up at her. They were both a little teary-eyed.

“Thanks, Volca. And… congratulations, I guess. I should’ve said so sooner, but… I’m really glad you’ve found something like this.”

She laughed quietly. “Thank you, big guy, but really, that’s just thanks to Aap. I still dunno why he insisted on hirin’ me, it’s not like he can’t do everything I can do, just better, anyway. But I sure am grateful that he’s such a weirdo. Anyway, speaking of said weirdo, he’s gonna put me through hell if I’m late, so let’s get a move on!” She ran her hand through his close-cropped hair, then turned around and walked on.

He stared after her for a few moments, then he gave a start, and followed her.


They reached her new jobplace soon. It stood near the Downtown area of Chicago, though Malphas didn’t know enough about the upper city to identify the precise location. There were a lot of shops around, but also a few apartment buildings, plus a homely little park with a playground.

The building Aap’s business was in must have once been a bar or something. Only two storeys tall, it was made of red bricks, with a solid wooden double-door that a short flight of stairs led up to and stained-glass windows.

What stood out the most, though, was the sign above it. A circular carving of a monkey wearing one of those Sherlock-Holmes hats, holding a magnifying glass and a baton, and next to it, in bright golden letters, the words ‘Blue Monkey Investigative and Protective Services’.

He was just about to ask Volca what those weird hats were called, when the door opened and the absolutely prettiest girl he’d ever seen walked out.

She was tall, taller than Volca even though she was clearly at least a year or two younger, with chocolate-coloured, unblemished skin that didn’t match her more white-ish facial features, but strangely complemented them, and bright, gorgeous purple eyes, as well as rich brown-black hair currently up in a braided bun. Wearing black tights, calf-high boots, a skirt and a pink keyhole sweater, she drew the attention of every guy on the street with a line of sight towards her.

“Oh, Hennessy,” Volca greeted her with a chargrined smirk. “Looking good as ever, but shouldn’t you be in school?”

The gorgeous girl rolled her eyes at Volca, but didn’t reply, instead looking at Malphas and giving him a gentle smile that made his knees weak.

Holy shit… How the fuck could girls be so distracting without even talking?

Then another person stepped out of the door, turning around with the same motion as she seemed to be talking to someone inside.

“-dare forget it, or I’ll make your life hell!” she shouted, sounding angry in a cheery kind of way, before she turned around.

She was a freaking goddess. Even prettier than the purple-eyed girl, and that was saying a lot, her skin was as pale as her friend’s – at least, they seemed to be friends, as she stepped forward and took the other girl’s hand with hers – was dark, her hair a rich golden colour and her eyes a mesmerising green-blue, like liquid jewels. She was wearing jeans so tight they seemed painted on, high-heeled boots that made her as tall as the other girl and a complementary blue sweater with a keyhole cut out and she was even more stacked than her friend.

Some part of Malphas mind was realising that he was staring at her with his mouth hanging open, but most of it was just endlessly repeating blue screen.

“Oh, hello Evelyn,” the blonde goddess – or was angel more appropriate? – greeted Volca, before she focused on him. “Oh, and who’s this cutie?” She grinned, walking down the steps, her friend following after her as she came to a halt in front of him and bending over to put herself at eye-level with him. “What’s your name, sweetie?”

He tried very, very, very hard not to stare at her breasts, which weren’t really hidden all that much from view in this position. He really, really tried.

“Uhh… ahhh…” he replied dumbly, really wishing he had his armour – then at least he could seal his helmet and not seem like a complete idiot. “Um, my name, uh, it’s, uh…” What was his name again?

“God, Camille, lay it off with the charm,” Volca complained.

The angel rolled her eyes, laughing before she focused on him again. “I’m not doing anything to him, silly. Just being friendly.”

He finally tore his eyes off her, her cleavage, and looked up at her face, gathering his wits for his reply. “Um, I, my name, my name’s Adrian, m-m-miss.” He gulped, trying to somehow wet his dry throat.

“Hello Adrian. My name’s Camille,” she replied, her voice as melodic as her body was gorgeous, and stood up – mercifully – offering him her left hand to shake.

He took it, shaking it. “A, a, a pleasure to meet you, miss,” he said.

“Likewise. And this is Hennessy,” she introduced her gorgeous friend. They shook hands, too, as he felt a wave of calmness come over him, helping him relax and gather his wits again.

“Nice to meet you too, miss,” he said, though she didn’t reply. Not that he cared, he was still mostly focused on the other girl.

Suddenly, Volca spoke up. “Hey, do you two have some time free?”

The girls looked at her, then at each other, then at her again. “Sure we do, why?” Camille asked curiously.

“Well, I got work to get to, and I thought, maybe you’d like to show Adrian around the place a bit, and stuff?” Volca suggested.

He whirled his head, staring at her in surprise, but she ignored him entirely, focusing on the two younger girls instead.

Camille grinned, looking at him again, and he felt his face flush with heat. Even more when her eyes briefly dipped to the stump of his arm, then up to his face again, with just a hint of pity in them – though it didn’t bother him at all right now. “Sure! We can hang out a bit, maybe grab a bite to eat?”

“Sounds great,” Volca said. “Ok, Adrian, you have a fun time and we can take care of business later, you ok with that?”

“Uh, ah, um, ahhhh.”

She nodded sagely. “I knew you’d agree. Have fun you three!” She waved at him, and walked past the girls into the building.

He stared after her, for a moment, feeling both bewildered and a little bit betrayed, before he turned his eyes back to the an- Camille.

She grinned at him, like… he didn’t know what to compare it to, it was too dazzling.

Instead of pressing the point, she held out her free hand for him. “C’mon, sweetie, let’s go have some fun!”

He took her hand, unable to form words, and let her pull him along, he on one side and Hennessy on another.

He didn’t even notice that his arm wasn’t hurting at all anymore.

Previous | Next


Filed under: Brennus Chapters, Donation Bonus Tagged: Chayot, Dearheart, Malphas, Volca
  • open
  • next
In My Daydreams

Between: Part 2

In My Daydreams

No one waited for us when we came out of blink space this time. On the other hand, bearing in mind that we weren’t using the jumpgate system anyway, I didn’t feel the need to follow the standard paths through space.

I’d taken advantage of our speed in jump space to allow us to blink in a spot that allowed us options that jumpgates didn’t because they were still too close to planetary gravity wells.

We came out in system 2411 within Edge sector. The numbers instead of a name meant that it had no populated worlds and hadn’t ever had populated worlds during any recent civilization.

What it had was two stars, three gas giants, and an assortment of lifeless worlds. The gas giants were the best part because we needed fuel after that jump and we could skim water off of any of the gas giants. Then we’d only have one jump to go before we reached the colony.

I aimed the ship toward the nearest gas giant, notifying the colonists what I was doing, and let go of my awareness of the ship, setting it to notify me if anything important changed. Snapping back to reality as opposed to a virtual world where I was the ship, I first became conscious of the smells—human sweat, dirt, and something else.

I swung my chair around, noting that Cassie had taken the weapons and shields console next to me in the front. She hadn’t done that before, but that wasn’t the only detail I’d missed. I’d known that Cassie and Jaclyn had brought Katuk, but with everything I’d barely had time to say anything to him.

He looked like any other Xiniti—humanoid but with gray skin, a large, bald head, and wide, black eyes. He wore a silver, form fitting suit made of liquid metal that by all accounts contained powerful weapons.

Another thing I hadn’t noticed? That the plant’s pot was three feet wide and that the plant itself was almost as tall as I was. It had placed its pot next to the wall, but now it floated into the middle of the room with the rest of us.

Tikki sat next to Jaclyn. They’d been talking as I turned. Close to them, Marcus put a sketchbook and a pen back into his bag and looked over at me. “We lost them, right?”

“I think so,” I said.

Cassie shook her head, eyes watching something we couldn’t see. “We lost them. There’s nothing on the sensors. Plus, I checked with the AI. Hal says that if they’d followed us, we’d have seen them by now.”

Then she shook her head and blinked, seeing us instead of stars. “Those implants are amazing. I get the same level of integration with the ship that I get with the gun.”

Katuk spoke in English, his voice so quiet that I wondered if Xiniti ever spoke aloud among themselves. It didn’t matter though. My implant amplified the words in my head.

“We’ve had implants for more than seven hundred years,” he said, not meeting any of our eyes. “We’ve modified our bodies to work better with them than without them. I’ve received additional implants that would rip you apart without severe modifications that we’ve worked into our DNA.”

I flashed back, remembering the Xiniti we’d fought. He’d been a terror. It had mostly been speed, but the way it cut into Bloodmaiden’s armor back then argued for strength too.

Jaclyn nodded. “I can believe it. The Xiniti we fought moved fast. Normal humans can’t handle that much speed.”

Katuk did look up as she talked about the Xiniti we’d fought, but lowered his eyes when she stopped. Interesting. I could see how he might be curious.

“So,” Jaclyn continued, “you’ve been plotting the route. What’s next?”

I smiled a little. “It’s the last jump. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it actually has to be a jump. We’ve been using blinks and they take basically no time at all. I mean, a minute is pretty close to instantaneous when it comes to interstellar distances. The problem is that jumps are a week long for the people inside the spaceship. It’s not always a week, but it’s go between five and nine days, so roughly a week.”

Marcus laughed. “A week? Why?”

I shrugged. “It’s complicated, but basically it’s due to gravity. There are too many heavy things in this system to go into blink space and that’s true of all the systems in this area. They’re all a little too dense.”

Crawls-Through-Desert grunted (according to the translator) and said, “I’m going to go dormant. Don’t chew on my leaves.”

Then it floated back toward the wall and began to excrete some kind of sticky goo from its leaves that stuck the pot to the wall.

Someone was going to have to clean that up, and I had a bad feeling that it would be me.

image image image
  • open
  • next
Crying Grumpies

Mega Civilization, 12 horas creando culturas

Crying Grumpies



Este fin de semana usamos la máquina del tiempo que son los juegos de mesa para revivir y cambiar los albores de nuestra historia. Después de casi un mes de planificación para conseguir juntar suficientes jugadores sacamos a mesa el Mega Civilization. En mi caso nunca había jugado al juego clásico así que no podré compararlo con anteriores ediciones.


Lo primero es sacarnos de encima los detalles técnicos del juego. El MegaCivi es una nueva versión del clásico publicado por Avalon Hill en 1980 y diseñado por Francis Tresham y Mike Uhl. De esta nueva edición se responsabilizan Flo de Haas y John Rodriguez, esta publicado por 999 Games y Pegasus Spiele en el año 2015. El juego admite entre cinco y dieciocho jugadores y es uno de esos juegos en los que mejor quedas por la mañana sin nada que hacer hasta la tarde. Los componentes del juego están a la altura de la edición de lujo que es.

Cada uno de los jugadores va a comandar una civilización antigua a través de las eras con el objetivo de ser el que más puntos de victoria acumule cuando una civilización alcance la edad de Bronce. Las reglas del juego son bastante sencillas. Cada turno duplicas las unidades que tienes en mesa, te mueves, construyes ciudades y acumulas recursos que podrás intercambiar con otros jugadores para conseguir capital suficiente para comprar mejoras para tu civilización. Repetir hasta que alguien llegue hasta el final del track de avances de civilización, momento en que la partida termina y se contarán puntos de victoria. En el caso de que se produzca algún combate entre jugadores o NPC todo se resuelve forma muy elegante mediante la eliminación de tokens, uno por jugador empezando por el jugador con menos unidades en el espacio.


El verdadero meollo del juego es la fase de comercio y las calamidades. Los recursos están separados en nueve barajas numeradas, a mayor valor mejores recursos contienen. Se obtiene un recurso por ciudad que se controla de la siguiente forma, una ciudad una carta de la baraja uno, dos ciudades, una carta de la baraja uno y una carta de la dos, y así hasta nueve. Dentro de estas barajas hay dos o tres tipos de recursos, según número de jugadores, y dos cartas de calamidad. Las cartas de calamidad como os debéis imaginar son cartas que te hacen perder unidades y ciudades de diversas formas y pueden ser cambiables o no cambiables. Las cartas de recursos tienen diferente valor en función de la cantidad de ellas que tengas del mismo tipo. Una carta de acero vale dos si no recuerdo mal pero dos valen ocho. Durante la fase de comercio los jugadores pueden intercambiar paquetes de como mínimo tres cartas pero solamente dos de las que has negociado tienen que ser reales. Por ejemplo yo te puedo decir que te doy dos pescados y un acero y darte un pescado, un acero y una calamidad. Esta es la principal vía para deshacerte de las calamidades que te caigan pero solo puedes hacerlo con las que puedes intercambiar.

Y aquí llegamos a uno de los principales peros del juego que son las calamidades y su aleatoriedad. En mi caso a cuando la partida se estaba decidiendo, últimos tres turnos robe cuatro de ellas y pase de estar en posición para ganar a no tener opciones para ello. Y en mi caso   ocurrió casi al final de la partida, a Calamar le costo tres horas salir del pozo en que le metieron después de comer y Arqueo paso las cuatro últimas horas de partida sin poder hacer nada. Entiendo que esta mecánica está para que nadie se desmarque demasiado pero perder una partida porque el juego te ha echado no es lo mismo que perderla por equivocarte en el momento crucial.


Volveré a jugar al Mega Civilization, sin duda pero también es cierto que se me quedo un poco corto y la decepción de mis últimos turnos no ayuda. Creo que es un juego demasiado largo, en el que me pase 10 horas realizando una vez tras otra las mismas acciones. Creo que el juego a cuatro o cinco horas mejoraría un montón y no se perdería mucho, y sobre la repetición de mis acciones tengo la sospecha que se debió a mi situación de salida en las islas del mar Egeo, la peor de todas y que no permite un juego de expansión agresiva.

  • open
  • next
EPU - What's New

UF/GA: The Vocaloid Variations: The Mother of Invention

EPU - What's New
Earth, 2052. One pair of traveling musicians, caught on the wrong continent at the wrong time, could really use a break from the monotonous grind of the mid-21st century's slow-motion apocalypse.. and they're about to get it, but not in a way they could have anticipated. Here is The Vocaloid Variations: The Mother of Invention! 2017/07/25
  • open
  • next
Crying Grumpies

Los mejores trailers de la Comic-Con 2017

Crying Grumpies

La Comic-Con 2017 de San Diego nos ha dejadu un buen puñado de interesantes trailers. Aquí juntamos los que más nos han gustado/interesado para que no tengáis que hacer ni el esfuerzo de buscarlos.

Stranger Things (Season 2)

¡Vuelven los chicos de Hawkins para Halloween! Si os gustaron las referencias y el espíritu espíritu ochentero de la primera temporada, este tráiler a ritmo de Thriller os va a encantar.

Star Trek: Discovery

El espacio: la última frontera. Estos son los viajes de la nave estelar «Enterprise», en una misión que durará no-sabemos-cuantos años, dedicada a la exploración de mundos desconocidos, al descubrimiento de nuevas vidas y nuevas civilizaciones, hasta alcanzar lugares donde nadie ha podido llegar. Vamos, lo mismo, más nuevo y, esperemos, mejor.

The Defenders

Puede que los superhéroes de Netflix sean unos borrachos, medio locos o delincuentes, pero son superhéroes, al fin y al cabo. Aunque no quieran montar un supergrupo, van a acabar luchando juntos por el bien de su ciudad. Ojo a Sigourney Weaver que como mala promete, ¡y mucho!

Westworld (Season 2)

La primera temporada fue el estreno más importante del 2016. El trailer de la segunda temporada nos deja algo bien claro: los androides tienen que empezar a ser ellos mismos.


El fracasado proyecto de película sobre los Inhumanos de Marvel ha acabado siendo la nueva gran apuesta de la ABC. Este trailer final tiene mejor pinta que el primero, aunque no se si eso es decir mucho.

The Flash (Season 4)

Es complicado comentar el trailer de una cuarta temporada sin hacer spoilers, así que simplemente dejaré el enlace aquí para que los que sigáis este divertimento, con Barry Allen como protagonista, podáis echar un vistazo rápido a sus nuevas aventuras.

The Gifted

Una nueva serie sobre mutantes. Trás los pasos de Legion, The Gifted se aparta de las películas sobre X-MEN para crear su propio espacio. El piloto está dirigido por Bryan Singer. Imprescindible.

Kingsman: The Golden circle

Los sastres “Jamesbonianos” de Mark Millar se internacionalizan. Tras el exitazo de la primera película, era imposible no estirar el chicle y tener una secuela. No sabemos si el film estará a la altura, pero el trailer sí.

Ready Player One

Aquí no hablamos tan sólo de la adaptación de la fantástica novela homónima, sino que este film va a cargo de Steven Spielberg. Si necesitáis algo más para hypearos es que sóis de piedra.

Justice League

Sigue sin convencer el universo cinematográfico de DC, prueba de ello son los rumores de que ese Flashpoint, que veremos en la peli de The Flash, puede cambiar absolutamente por completo el tono de los films. Por el momento tenemos un nuevo avance de la Liga de la Justícia que, gracias a Cthulhu, parece ir más en la línea de Wonder Woman que de Batman v Superman.

Lego NinjaGo

Todas las pelis de Lego molan. Esto es así. Nueva franquicia a llevar al cine, nuevas risas y nuevo éxito asegurado.

Thor: Ragnarok

Mi trailer preferido de la Comic-Con de este año. Podrían haberle llamado “Guardianes de Asgard: Cara B”, aunque no es una cosa que moleste, más bien al contrario. La música de Magic Sword pone los pelos de punta.

Pacific Rim: Uprising

Los que quedamos enamorados con la primera entrega de Pacific Rim nos llevamos un chasco al saber que Guillermo del Toro no dirigirá el segundo film, pero este anuncio de reclutamiento nos ha devuelto a las filas de los creyentes. ¡Larga vida a los Jaeger!

  • open
  • next

Cardboard Kennel


For some of you it might be time for the summer holiday! We will be leaving shortly which leaves us with a bit of a conundrum what we can create on such short notice. But we’ll surely be bringing some games to pass the time between the beautiful views and being stuck in a tent because of rainy days.

But being on vacation also means time away from the game collection which is a shame! We’ve started with our Near and Far campaign and are having a blast so far! Ryan and his crew have really delivered an immersive world full of super cool things and interesting choices. The game does come with lots of different components which is why we decided to create a laser cut insert with a very swanky character tray.

Een bericht gedeeld door Semi Co-op (@semicoop) op 22 Jul 2017 om 3:11 PDT

Speaking of people doing cool things for board games, this week there are three worthy causes for your money. First up is the campaign for the second African board gaming convention. Board game designer Kenechukwu Ogbuagu is raising money online so attendance can be free for visitors, promoting board gaming in Nigeria. We think this is a very cool way of organizing and funding a convention, so we wish him the best of luck and the visitors the greatest of times!

On the internet side of our hobby, Shut up and Sit Down and Rodney from Watch It Played are both doing campaigns to continue their work getting people excited about playing games! We’ve featured both in our comics and we’re long time fans, so we hope they keep doing the cool things that they do.

Spreading the joys of board games can also be done by lending games to friends and people (you trust not to bend cards). We currently have three games left by friends and will lend people games they want to try or play some more in their own time. While three games doesn’t quite make a board game kennel we do love taking care of other peoples games :).

How often do you borrow or lend games?

The post Cardboard Kennel appeared first on Semi Co-op.

  • open
  • next
In My Daydreams

Between: Part 1

In My Daydreams

Excerpts From the Interstellar News Network:

New Developments in the Issakass War
The Issakass First Fleet that had been attacking the Hardor Imperium appears to be in disarray following the destruction of its flagship. The flagship had been directing an attack on Hardor Prime when it turned and rammed another battleship of its own fleet.

At approximately the same time, the ships of the Issakass fleet began to fire upon themselves, resulting in losing 50% of their fleet before they managed to withdraw and turn off their weapons.

When the flagship was boarded after the battle, Hardor forces discovered that the command staff of the Issakass flagship had been killed with bladed weapons, in some cases beheaded. Laser scoring from within the bridge indicates the personnel were aware of the attacker, but unable to stop the being.

Additional inspection of the flagship’s computer systems indicate that it had released an update to the fleet’s friend or foe recognition database that misidentified Issakass ships as hostile vessels. It’s believed the fleet’s automated weapons’ use of that database caused the fleet to fire upon itself.

Until four years ago, the Issakass were best known for their merchant ships which could be found throughout the galaxy. Armed with devastating weapons whose designs are based on technology recovered from archeological sites, the reptilian Issakass are now engaged in a war of conquest that includes nearly sixty systems and more than five fronts… (More)

Traveler Advisory: The Border with Human Space
Travel within human space is restricted due to the violent and dangerous nature of the inhabitants, but those who must travel within its boundaries should use Xiniti patrolled jump gates. Of particular note is the Precursor archeological site in System 5151 of the Human Quarantine.

More than fifty ships have disappeared while investigating the site. Thirty of the fifty were armed…(More)

Human Ascendancy’s Fleet on the Move
A naval task force from the Human Ascendancy, humanity’s oldest and most aggressive post-Abominator nation has been seen on the border of Alliance and Human Quarantine space.

Reports indicate that they may be traveling toward the K’Tepolu system…(More)

* * *

We came out of blink space into the H’spar system with not one, but two ships behind us. One ship would have made sense. The colonists’ ship (named—I’m not kidding—The Bug’s Revenge), a bulky and slow design usually used for cargo, lumbered after us. Behind it, however, flew a much smaller ship. I knew the wedge shape. It was a Stinger class deep space fighter, a ship used throughout the galaxy.

The Human Ascendancy assigned them to government agents that needed to travel through hostile systems, a phrase that accurately described most systems in human space—even within the Human Ascendancy.

It hailed us. “Bug’s Revenge and Xiniti ship surrender. You can’t outrun us or out fight us. Your only hope is to stand down and appeal to our mercy. Breeders, your escape was an impressive feat that only makes your gene lines worth more, not less. Come back now and your indiscretion will be forgiven. Resist and we’ll destroy you despite your value.”

The Bug’s Revenge broadcast a woman’s voice. “Ascendancy ship. Thanks for your offer but we’re not stopping. We don’t want to go home and breed warriors for the military.”

Turrets (at least five) popped out of the Bug’s Revenge’s skin and that hull glowed. Interesting. It wasn’t like my ship’s shields, but they had shields too. It appeared that theirs had been integrated into the hull.

The Stinger fighter took the pointed invitation to leave and zagged toward the right.

It would be nice to say that all our problems were solved and we continued peacefully on to the next jump gate, but that wouldn’t have been true.

What actually happened is that I used my implants and extended my thoughts in the direction the ship had turned, seeing one thing I’d expected and many things I didn’t. What I expected to see was the gas giant H’spar and the four populated ice worlds that orbited it. What I did not expect to see was a Human Ascendancy carrier cruiser. It was launching fighters.

Even with The Bug’s Revenge’s unexpected fitness for fighting, we didn’t have a chance and I knew it. That, of course, made it all the more irritating when the ship’s AI started communicating with me.

[I’ve run several thousand simulations and you don’t successfully fight your way across the system to the next jump gate in any of them.]

“I guessed,” I told it.

[I’d recommend a strategic withdrawal.]

“In process,” I said and opened communications with the colonists’ ship.

“Start your near space drive and follow us,” I told the captain.

“That won’t do any good,” he said. “We won’t reach the next system for years with a near space drive and they’ve probably mined near space around the system’s second jump gate.”

“Have you ever followed another ship through jump? Follow us and make sure your FTL envelope matches ours. Ours will change twice, once to jump and once to blink.”

“That’s impossible for a ship your size,” he said, his voice growing louder.

“It’s not,” I said, and transitioned the ship into near space. The Bug’s Revenge followed. The lack of other options had made me more persuasive than normal.

We passed through jump space into blink space and out into normal space with the colonists’ ship behind us, and one less secret.

image image image
  • open
  • next
mark as read