The Wild Seven

The Seven Character Story Treatment assignment seemed perfect for using the class’s various characters. Classic teamup movies where wildly different characters must form a cohesive whole is also such a common trope, so this just seemed too perfect to pass up.

 

 

The job was impossible, steal the entire wealth of the Quinada gang from right under their noses. The same Quinada gang that had just wiped out an entire U.S. infantry base for that same wealth barely two months ago. Who had brought them together, none were certain, but each had gotten a letter telling them just what they needed to hear to get them on the job.

Kyle Masala, an ex soldier in the army who knew many of the men the Quinada gang killed who wants to see their spirits put to rest.

Jacali, the Apache tribe who can guide the group to the Quinada gang’s holdout to briefly get away from her husband and because the mysterious benefactor promised protection from U.S. encroachment for her tribe.

“The Unexpected Gun”, the son of a sheriff who secretly helps his father take down criminals, despite nobody knowing he’s the fastest gun in the west, the letter was explicitly addressed to him to heed the call and reclaim the gold.

Merrel Shale, the gambler who could stay calm in any situation. This endeavour was sold to him as the biggest gamble of his life, enough gold to set him for life, and all he had to do was get the group in.

Andy Slupek, the bank robber. Despite eluding the bounty hunters seeking the fortune put on his head, the same letter that found everyone else found him as well. The greatest heist in history, making even the sum on his head seem paltry in comparison.

Agnus, a bar tender out to save her bar from debt, when she overheard the group talking about their big plan, she gave them a simple ultimatum, cut her in on the deal, or the gossip wheel would start churning.

Richard Crawlston, a gaunt old undertaker who arrived with no letter, but a derringer and a carriage big enough for the seven of them.

Together, they form the Wild Seven, to clash with the Quinada gang is their destiny.

Space Reclamation

So foreword here to explain, this story is going to be for the assignment “Different Point Of View – Same Place”. Which says to write out a movie scene from a different character’s point of view. Well since we need to do have our characters intersect with other characters, I thought this would be cool to warp a bit and instead of doing a movie scene, I’d use another classmate’s story (In this case, it is my radioshow group mate’s intro story for his character Donnie Rejj,

Cyborg Space Cowboy… I couldn’t resist.

. The idea being how would a sci fi rendition of my character go about his business upon arriving at the scene. I figured in the vastness of space, where a single man can be hard pressed to be noticed, to keep up his mortuary mystery he’d need to be part of a bigger mysterious organization that can have myths around it.

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Each step Crawlston took deeper into the station caused thicker and thicker fog to condense on his facemask’s eye lenses until they were little more than white plates. Unlike the miners who had uneasily greeted him at the air lock, his enviro-suit was visibly archaic, using materials and technology not seen on a modern suit in dozens of years with a gaunt, almost skull-like facemask that looked like something warriors of the Great War would’ve worn millenia ago on Earth. It lacked the modern conveniences of the miner’s suits like naturally fog resistant glass, even so, he seemed unphased by the near opaque wall of condensation on the lenses as he purposefully strode into the empty facility. Only a hand torch he carried with him lit the dank interior of the building. Despite protocol being for a miner to escort him to the bodies, none volunteered and instead all skulked around the ship they arrived on, talking to each other on private comms channels that Richard was unable to tune into.

Crawlston already knew where his objectives were to be located and went directly to his first task. It was said to be a bar,  but Crawlston had seen drug dens with more style and character than it. A barren room of steel walls that reflected his torch’s light wherever he showed it and beaten up, semi rusty stools greeted him, but he ignored them all, instead instantly locking his vision on the giant concrete slab that served as the bar’s counter, where a man was slumped over, almost like a drunkard save for the rouge pool that was spread out on the counter and dribbling down thru the grated floor.

Without wasting a moment, Crawlston approached the corpse, finally taking a moment to clear the dog from his lenses before bending over to inspect the body.

“Incision, base of skull, two point one centimeters wide, five point eight centimeters deep. Severance of spinal chord likely cause of death”

Nobody was around to hear him, but the auto-mnemonic  electronics device implanted into his skull immediatly recorded all of his statements for later study. He reached into a pocket on one of his hips and pulled out six circular pads, each about the size of his palm and the thickness of a  bottlecap. With practiced hands he applied a disk to each limb, the man’s back, and the man’s head. Upon placing the final one, all six lit up red and a shimmering field encased the dead barkeeper. With a casual wave of his hand, the six pads started humming and lifted the barkeeper from his slouch, gently leaning him back into a reclining position. Where the blood had been slowly oozing out the back of his neck and his mouth, it had ceased within the field. Another hand wave as he walked out of the bar and the dead man started drifting towards him as he made his way to his ship.

Beyond the airlock, the miners were still standing glumly around, mutely refusing to lift their heads to look at the undertaker or his freshest charge. They all knew the procedure in the event of deaths such as these, up high sends an undertaker, body disappears, nobody speaks of it or else ‘accidents’ happen. Once the man was gone, they’d get life support back on and a new engineer and barkeeper would be sent out. The less they thought about it, and the less they questioned it, the better.

The body gently floated up the ramp to Crawlston’s ship as Crawlston watched. Once it was securely on board, he turned around and walked back in to find his next objective, a Mister Danny.

A Letter To Me

To see what has changed about me in ten years time, here is a letter to myself to read and reflect on.

In ten years time I will be 31. Quite a large gap, so I am not really certain how my wants will change, but right now I mostly just want to get a decent job and alright place to live. I am alright with living somewhere fairly local, but anywhere along the east coast no further south than Virginia is alright with me. I would hope that I would have a healthy marriage by the time I’m 31, but at the moment am not at all fond of the idea of kids (I wonder if I’ll ever not dislike babies).

My big dreams, that I doubt I’ll ever really accomplish, are of course winning the lottery and being able to do a world tour, but that’s not particularly surprising, nor doable and I wouldn’t doubt that myself reading this wen I’m 31 would want to win the lottery too. So yeah, not too much exciting stuff here. The only real big change I could ever see between my wants now and my wants when I’m 31 is possibly having a child, since that often becomes more of a biological imperative at some point, but right now looking forward I do not want one at all.

Oh also, VR is a dumb, overhyped gimmick. This is my thoughts on it right now, so I’m putting this down in case it becomes actually cool in the future so I can definitely have something to look back and laugh at myself over

Character concept: Richard Crawlston

Age: 51

Height: 6 feet 2 inches

hair: bald

Dress: Worn-out dress clothes, shoes, and top hat

Description: Gaunt and bony, but not stooped with age. Richard has long legs and deep lines on his face. Always has a long barreled revolver on his belt and a cane in his gnarled hand. Has sunken eyes and no missing teeth. Lives in a small cottage in the town of Glint’s cemetery..

Bio: Avoided by most of the townsfolk, Richard is the groundskeeper, undertaker, and mortician of the town’s dead. Nobody quite remembers when he moved in, to the townsfolk he has seemed to be around indefinitely. He only appears to quickly take a body away and occasionally is spied walking through the graveyard at night. It is always quite the argument to see who will be sent to Richard’s cottage to fetch him in the event of someone’s death, with whoever sent often just knocking on the door and leaving a note instead of facing the man in person. It is often said that the streets empty twice in a gunfight, once when it happens, and again when the undertaker’s black cart rolls down the street.

Stories abound through the town about him. Many theorize that he is a sad old man who lost his wife or child to Typhoid, and now lives on their grave to be close, others simply say he is a man who realized his dreams of gold in California were for nought, and now lives out the remainder of his days waiting to die. Yet more say that he is the reaper’s personal assistant and that he dances with skeletons on full moons. Few, if any have tried to talk to him to set the record straight.

The Shape of a Story

I just watched Vonnegrut’s “The Shape of a Story” video on youtube. It was a pretty funny satire on the stereotypical stories, but I’m not certain it is necessarily true. Some parts are true of course, because it is making fun of stereotypes, but it’s not universally true.

Many stories in all media have varying ‘wellness’ archs. There are many that act as the inverse of his story, stories about evil snobs getting brought low, or shitty people staying shitty and miserable. One of the most popular types of stories in history, the tragedy, by definition does not have happy endings!

So yes, you can pump out a thousand formulaic underdog, boy gets girl, or standard good day-conflict-victory style stories, and assuming its quality isn’t abysmal, get good returns, but you can also make good movies that do not follow the model at all.

Talking about story shape, ‘The Wife Comes To Yellow Sky’ and ‘Ice Man’ illustrate my point pretty well. Yellow Sky fits Vonnegrut’s first shape near perfectly, there’s the post marriage bliss, there’s the conflict of the gunman, and then there’s the resolution of the gunman to leave them in happily married peace. Meanwhile, Ice Man does the exact opposite, going from the main characters in the story coming off of a victorious high, to the end that has the protagonists losing their money and heading to jail. Both are fine stories (I didn’t feel like Ice Man flowed well, but that’s not due to its structure), but one follows the story shape and the other does not.

Create a character: Mannfred ‘Sandbar’ Black

Name: Mannfred ‘Sandbar’ Black

facial hair: thick dark brown beard

clothing: tall, worn boots, brown legs with tattered ends, simple cloth tunic with leather chest piece over it

weapons: two cutlasses at his waist

personality: loud and boisterous, as willing to spend a night in the bar getting plastered with his mates as he is to rough up a man who hasn’t paid his protection dues to whoever is paying Mannfred to collect debts.

Backstory: Once he served on one of the most famous privateer ships that sailed the seas, hunting down foes of the city of Cairno and ravaging enemy merchant ships for loot. After it got sunk by a mysterious ship that did not fly any flag, he washed up on a sandbar near Cairno where he was saved by some fishermen, since then he returned to Cairno and started simply making ends meet in the slums of the harbour, often acting as an enforcer for the multitude of crime lords there and occasionally smuggling things into and out of the city on his small dinghy. He hopes to one day get back out onto the open sea as the captain of his own ship

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I’m actually somewhat surprised I found this in fanfic, and very glad I did. Sounds right up the alley of a person that plays d&d, so I am pretty much putting down the character concept of my most recent player character in a D&D campaign I’m playing in.

A blunt guest

Men and women in bright server uniforms dashed about, carrying dishes piled high with delicacies from around the world. Shellfish from the great ocean to the west, pies made with exotic berries, and roast beast of all forms sat upon the long dining table, cooling to just the correct temperature prior to the grand banquet. At the head of it all, standing on a raised platform in front of a pair of massive, antique, doors, stood an old bald man in the brightest livery of them all. Deep purple stockings lead into a gold tunic that looked to be woven of the metal itself. His hand and feet were clad in shiny, black leather gloves and shoes no doubt made as a matched set from the same animal.

“Hurry Danton, get the silverware laid out! Our guest will be here any minute, and I will not be seen as some low brow swine on account of you louts!”

“Of course Lord Fandil, it’s all almost done being shined! We’ll have it out in just a moment.”

His voice carried an unspoken threat, if he was at all displeased with any part of their preparations, every single one of them would most likely be homeless and jobless by the end of the night. As demanding and harsh as he was, none of the staff preparing the dinner wanted their families kicked out into the cold nights like those who came before them and the entire room quickly picked up its pace to a near fever pitch after Fandil’s demand. The knives, spoons, and other utensils came out on a massive trolley, gleaming in the light of the chandeliers, and hordes of servers rushed it, picking up utensils two at a time in gloved hands and carefully setting them on the table.

Fandil clapped his hands as the  last servant stepped back from the table. With military precision the entire cadre turned on their heels, did a deep bow, and walked out of the room in two long lines, leaving just Fandril and the massive feast. Careful, so as to not ruffle any part of his immaculate outfit that had taken thirty minutes and the help of two servants to properly don, he walked down the small flight of steps to the head of the table. There he sat in a high backed throne made of dark wood with rose engravings, padded with cloth made by monks in the far south. The throne had already been pulled out so he would not have to sully his hands with manual labour and with another clap, a pair of servants came hurrying out to push the throne closer to the table before disappearing through the doors they had entered through. All was ready, now all he had to do was wait for his guest.

It was rare for the king to give such a responsibility to one of his nobles. Normally envoys from other nations were fast tracked to the capital to see the king, so when a letter arrived for Fandril that he was being given the honour of hosting a leader of the mountain men he was more than happy to oblige. Just thinking about the prestige this guest would bring him made his mouth water more than anything on the table ever could, finally after all the years of petitioning the king for more acknowledgment and sway in the kingdom, he was finally being noticed! He, Fandril, would be the one allowed to show the mountain men the wealth and power of the lowlands and convince them to stop their petty border skirmishing.

“A man approaches! He says he is of the mountain men!”

Fandril was taken out of his revelry by the shout, only one figure? It was true the mountain men would only send one envoy, but decorum and prestige warranted a large train of guards, servants, and supply follow him, surely no noble would disgrace themselves and walk all this way on their own. Fandril thought for a moment before responding, perhaps this man was just a scout or a messenger for the envoy, coming to tell him that they were delayed? It was terribly bad form to get the message so close to the intended time of arrival, but maybe the mountain men were slightly more lax in their manners than the more civilized lowlands. The thought irritated him ever so slightly, he would have to send a letter of complaint to the king about the slight later, but for now he knew he had to play the gracious host.

“Let our guest enter!” Fandril called.

A pair of double doors at the other end of the hall swung open, letting in a chill breeze, and a massive man stepped through, easily a head and a half taller than the armoured guard that had just opened the door for him. He wore a thick fur cloak that hung around his shoulders, and was secured around his neck with what looked like a bone clasp. Underneath the cloak he was bare save for a pair of thick rawhide boots and loincloth of similar make to his cloak. Fandril’s mouth slightly opened at the bizarre figure standing before him. All decorum was lost for a moment and he only barely restrained himself from standing up before protocol demanded it.

“I welcome the envoy of the mountain man and all his allies into my home, I welcome you to my home” Fandril said, regaining his composure, and only now, with the greeting done, being able to stand.

The man continued to stand, looking around as if he had never been in a mansion before, and seemed to almost totally ignore Fandril’s welcome. Finally after what seemed like an eternity to the noble, the envoy’s gaze settled on Fandril and for a brief moment, Fandril thought the strange man might finally do things in a civilized manner, instead, the man took a step towards the table.

“You are the leader, yes?” he said, continuing to stare at Fandril.

“Yes, yes of course I am, where is the envoy? What news have you of his travels you beast of a man? When he arrives, I will have words with him over your crude conduct here!”

Fandril could not hold his temper any longer, his hands were planted on the table as he leaned over, all thoughts of his golden tunic crumpling forgotten. He was nearly ready to call his guards on the man, but he knew the envoy, whenever he arrived, would not take kindly to such an act.

“I am champion of mountain man, we meet yes?”

“Oh, of course!”

Fandril immediately straightened up, putting on a large smile. Within he was raging at this fool. It would seem the mountain men saw this as a mad lark if they sent such a buffoon to treat. Even so, he knew he had to treat the beast with respect as a noble to another ‘noble’.  He tried fixing his clothes, but the crease was already set, and would take a servant to properly set, failing that, he looked up and flung  his arms wide.

“We will meet now! I am lord Fandril of the lowlands, come, let us figure out these grievances between our lands now.”

At that the mountain man smiled “Let the victor feast this night!” and pulled out a barbed mace from underneath his cloak.

The mountain man jumped up on the table and charged down it. Fandril, taken totally by surprise, stood in front of his throne, staring at the charging ‘envoy’.

“What is the meaning of this? You, no, guards!”

The food on the table did not make his steps falter at all, He leaped past or kicked through everything on the table, sending near priceless delicacies and ceramics crashing to the ground. Fandril turned to start to flee, but it was much too late and the mountain man leaped through the air, mace held high, to have it come down on the noble’s skull. The last thing he heard before his skull was shattered was the mountain man screaming “Vain lowlander, you believe you can best me without a weapon? The lands are ours!

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Well, this assignment might not fit the theme exactly, as it’s not literally me hosting the mountain man, but I could imagine myself as a slightly less nasty version of Fandril in this generic fantasy setting. I wasn’t certain what I wanted to do at first with this story prompt at first because there’s not many things I’d really want to have dinner with, or for that matter that it’d make sense to have dinner with assuming it was real. I could have gone with something funny I guess and that would’ve opened up more doors for goofy things, but I wanted to do something semi serious. A lord ordering his orderlies around to prepare a feast seemed fun to start, but probably a bit boring after, so I was thinking about what his guest could be. Some sort of barbarian was my first thought since it’d be a kind of funny butting of heads, but then I was thinking about why he would be visiting and it sort of fell into place. A conflict, between the lowlands and the mountain men, an attempt to end that conflict, and a lot of miscommunication between customs and cultures and what ‘conflict resolution’ means.