Ghoul Fan Fiction Part 7

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Aa much as I wanted to run out the door to help the Punisher, there was some unfinished business to take care of here first. The fate of an innocent child was far more important to me than the fate of a man who spends his nights on a murder spree. “Why’d you take the boy,” I asked. “Are you, or one of your sons, his father?”

“What,” Cook cried, his face crinkling up in disgust. “God, no. I’ve known her since she was born. She grew up with my kids. She was like a daughter to me and a sister to my boys. It’s just that if I didn’t get him, who knows where they would’ve stuck him. I took him because I thought he should stay with family.”

I let my gaze drift over to Robert, who was studying Cook’s face. Making up his mind, he gave me a slight nod of his head. “Ok, Cook,” I said. “Here’s the deal. From now on, you’re out of the business.”

“Dallos will kill me if I try to back out.”

“After tonight, you’ll never see Dallos again, so don’t worry about it. I’m going to assume that, like McKenzie, you have a number of legitimate enterprises?” Cook nodded, so I continued, “Good. You’re going to focus on those and raising Amanda’s son. You will care for him as much as you do your own. I will have someone watching you at all times, Cook. If you do anything to hurt that boy, I’ll be back and when I get done with you, you’ll look worse than me.”

That last part put a little fear in him. I didn’t have time to stick around and press the issue. Instead, I took the elevator back downstairs and ran outside. A couple was out front about ready to climb into a taxi. Once again, my horrid appearance worked in my favor. Not only did the couple run away upon seeing me, but the driver did too. It was about time something went my way.

I punched the address McKenzie gave me for Dallos  into the GPS and gunned the engine, letting the navigation unit catch up as I went. I knew the general area fairly well, from my own time as a taxi driver, but I didn’t know exactly where. Another throwback to my taxi days was knowing the best routes to take to avoid traffic. It still took longer than I liked to get there, though.

The last few blocks were a little odd. Through the city, I moved at a frantic pace. Out here, among the large estates that made up this neighborhood, everything seemed calm and serene. I started wondering if I had come to the wrong place. That’s when the sounds of gunshots began echoing through the night sky.

A gate barred the entrance into Dallos’ estate, so I plowed the cab right through it. Or, I  attempted to, at least. The gate was a lot sturdier than it looked. It stopped the car flat. Still, the taxi did enough damage to it that I was able to squeeze through it. I ran the rest of the way to the front door. When I flung it open, I was greeted by one of Dallos’ men.

With one look at me, he dropped the automatic pistol he was carrying. “Oh, hell no,” he said as he raised his hands and started walking out the door behind me. “First, the Punisher and now some dude who looks like he’s right out of Night of the Living Dead? Nope. I’m done. I ain’t getting paid enough for this bullshit.”

I watched him go, not knowing what to do. That was definitely a first for me. Shaking it out of my head, I picked up the gun he dropped and went deeper into the house. Trying to pinpoint where the gunshots were coming from based solely on the sound was impossible for me. Having no ears has its drawbacks, folks. So, basically, all I was doing was blindly walking around.

In the second hallway I walked down, I found the billiards room. Going inside, I quickly located the flash drive behind the vent, grabbed it, and put it in my pocket. Before I had a chance to put the vent back, a shot rang out behind me. The bullet tore through my trenchcoat and out of my chest.  I turned to see another henchman standing there with a smoking gun. His hands trembled when he saw that his shot did no damage to me.

“We gonna do this the easy way or the hard way,” I sighed.

He replied by repeatedly pulling the trigger. The only thing he accomplished was putting more holes in my coat. Now, I was angry and he wouldn’t like me when I was angry. One squeeze on the automatic pistol sent a small spurt of lead in his direction. He fell backwards, landing with a groan. I didn’t see any blood coming from his torso, so he must’ve been wearing a vest. There were holes in both his left thigh and the opposite shoulder.

I thought about finishing him off, but just walked out of the room instead. As a general rule, l avoid killing people, especially since they might come back to haunt me. If this guy ends up going, it won’t weigh on my conscience. I gave him the chance to walk away and he chose to shoot me.

I checked my pocket to make sure that the man’s barrage of bullets didn’t hit the flash drive and breathed  sigh of relief when I found it intact. I continued on into the next corridor and hoped that the growing decibel level of the gunshots meant that I was getting closer to the action. I was.

As I rounded a corner, I saw that there were five men firing into an open doorway. Three other men lay dead around the room. Obviously, I had found the Punisher. I raised the automatic pistol just as one of the men threw something into the room with Frank. “Punisher,” I yelled to get his attention. “Grenade!”

The men, hearing my cry, turned their guns on me. My weapon started barking out seconds before the grenade exploded. I glanced at the doorway long enough to see nothing but a cloud of dust come out of it.

Going On

Anyone that has been coming to this here blog for a while has probably noticed that, on the sidebar, there’s a column that says “Currently Writing”. Ever since that has been up there, there’s been an entry that says “Twin Earths”. Twin Earths is a story that I have been writing on and off for close to a decade. A few months ago, I got back into it and swore that I would finish it this time, no matter what. 

Now, I’m thinking about breaking that promise to myself. I’m debating on whether I should write in it at all anymore. 

Honestly, the only reason I haven’t given up on it yet is the amount of time that I have put into it. This last time I began writing is the third different time that I have started over in it. I have pages of notes about characters and plot points that I wanted to cover. It just seems like such a waste to give up on all of that.

However, this story was a big undertaking. I had so much planned out that I would have had to make it a duology, which I used to think was fitting considering that it’s called Twin Earths. It’s just too much to live up to now. 

I’m halfway through the first book and I’m having trouble coming up with a reason to keep going. I’ve given up on a number of different projects since I’ve began writing. Most of the time, it’s because I’ve lost passion for the project: the story doesn’t excite me as much as it first did, I don’t like the characters as much as when I started, or a number of other reasons. This time, though, that’s not the case.

I still like the characters. I have the will to continue on. I have faith in the story.

I just don’t have faith that I’m the right one to tell it.

This story is epic, talking place on a global scale. That means that I would have to write about places and cultures that I don’t know about. There is a lot of fighting in it, which would mean that I would need to know a lot about modern police and military tactics. I don’t. Sure, I could probably look a lot of that stuff up, but I just don’t have the time or energy to do that. 

That just leaves me with the question: Should I continue on, knowing that the story will never be as good as I want it to be just so I can finish it, or should I take everything I’ve done and shove it in the back of a closet in hopes that one day I’ll have the time to write it well enough to do the story justice?

As of this moment, I think I’m done.

Little Victories 

The longer I’m at my job, the more I’m growing to despise it. While the work itself isn’t hard, it is pretty monotonous. I used to be able to power through that by playing songs in my head, since we’re not allowed to listen to music. I can’t do that anymore because of the people I work with, who make me wish I could call in every day of the week. They never leave me the hell alone. 

I don’t really like anyone that I work with anymore. There’s a few that are ok, but, for the most part, they all annoy rhe crap out of me. Out of the dozens of people here, there are maybe 2 or 3 that I would even consider hanging out with outside of work. And I probably still wouldn’t. 

So, in order to make my time spent on the job remotely tolerable, I’ve began messing with my team lead. While we’re not overly fond of each other, we’ve worked together long enough that we can get along. Lately, I’ve been playing a game to see if I can say something that will get him to just shake his head and walk away. Since he’s used to my antics, it’s not easy, but here are a couple of times that it’s worked.

  • He asked me why I was taking so long to get something done, so I responded, “Well, I was doing that, but then (our boss) told me to do something else. So, I did that. Then, I went to the bathroom and took a righteous dump. There were several casualties, but everyone survived. Now, I’m finishing up what you asked me to do.”
  • They recently got new computers. One of them, which is pretty much only used by me, has been acting up since it was set up. It will sporadically act like it’s going into hibernation mode, but it’ll only last for 5 seconds. This is very disruptive for me since I have to enter in information on it. When I first told him about it, he said he didn’t think it could be that bad, to which I replied, “I know. I didn’t think anything could mess up as much as you do, but I actually found it.”
  • He told me that some side project needed to be finished by a certain time. I told him, “You know, with as much shit as you give me, you’d think I’d have one to give. But I don’t…”

There are more, but they’re more of a “you have to work here in order to get it” variety. So, I’ll leave you with those.

Ghoul Fan Fiction Part 6

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Once again, the Punisher looked pissed that I was having a conversation that he couldn’t hear both sides of. I didn’t care. “Cook took your grandson,” I asked, not really believing. “With you and Amanda both dead, your grandson gives him no leverage over anyone. Why would he do that?”

“I’m a ghost, not a mind reader, you jackass,” McKenzie retorted. “How the hell should I know?”

“He has two sons around that age,” the Punisher interjected with a shrug. “Maybe one of them is the father. Or, maybe it’s Cook himself, if she had a thing for older men.”

“They had better not be,” Robert fumed. “She told me it was some boy from school. I swear if any of those three even thought about touching my daughter, I’ll kill all of them.”

“Focus, people,” I hollered. “Let’s get back to what matters. We have a deal, McKenzie. If you tell me where you hid those files, we’ll go get your grandson.”

“It’s behind an air vent in Dallos’ billiards room.”

“You hid your files in Dallos’ house?”

“If I was trying to hide something from you, would you look in your own house for it?”

“Good point. Wouldn’t he notice that the air flow is being disrupted, though? There’s no way those files are letting air go by them.”

“They’re on a flash drive.”

“Amanda said you kept all your files on paper because you didn’t trust computers.”

“Do you know how many people in this city are in the business? I’d need a warehouse to keep files on all of them on paper. I was forced to make an exception.”

“It’s really annoying when you talk to people who aren’t there and don’t tell me what they say,” the Punisher grumbled.

“It’s not important,” I countered. “Let’s just go get his grandson.”

“I don’t think so. I’m going to Dallos’ house to get the files.” The look on my face must’ve shown my confusion  because he clarified, “I still heard your side of the conversation, genius.”

I thought back. Had I said where the files were out loud? Damn it! I had.

By the time I turned to try to convince the Punisher to change his mind, he was already halfway out the door. “Let him go,” McKenzie said. “We don’t need him. You’re immortal, right?”

“More or less.”

“Then you’ve got nothing to fear from a bunch of guys with guns.”

I stood up and got my gear together. Once I had both of my shoulder holsters on, and full, I put a couple of extra clips of ammo in my pocket. An old rickety jacket was thrown over my shoulders to cover the guns up as I walked out of my office.

When I was around halfway to Cook’s house, I ditched the old jacket in an alley and put on my tan trenchcoat, that I had been carrying underneath the other jacket. I put on the other garment that I had under my jacket, my brimmed hat, and pulled up the collars. My face needed to be as obscured as possible. Once I had it hidden as best I could, I pulled off the magic ring. Immediately, I returned to my actual appearance.

“What did you do that for,” McKenzie griped disgustedly.

“As far as the world knows,” I replied, ignoring the ghost’s tone of voice, “Jonathan Martin is just a regular private investigator. If a surveillance camera catches him entering, or even near, a place right before a gun fight breaks out, his life becomes far more difficult. For tonight, I’m Ghoul.”

“If you say so, pal,” I thought I heard Robert mutter, but I ignored the dead bastard.

The remainder of the walk was fairly uneventful. Most people ignored my horrid appearance. I told the few who didn’t that I was on my way to a zombie walk, which they applauded. That’s one of the great things about living in New York City. Nothing is considered weird here.

Unlike Dallos, who had a house out in the suburbs, Cook resided in a fairly swanky building in the city. Swanky enough to have a doorman, anyway. I had a way around him, though. All I had to do was walk up to him and show him my face. Naturally, he freaked and tried to run away, but I  grabbed him by the collar of the ridiculous looking jacket they made him wear and made him open the door first. Once he did, I released him and he ran away screaming.

After I got inside, McKenzie, who had been here many times before, directed me on where to go. I got on the elevator and hit the floor number he indicated. While I was going up, I pulled my guns out of their holsters, expecting trouble as soon as the doors opened. There was none.

The doors opened up directly into the living area, an entertainment room by the looks of it. Cook sat on the couch watching TV, with the infant in his hands. Obviously, he heard me approach because without turning around he said, “It wasn’t supposed to happen like that. Amanda wasn’t supposed to die. But, Dallos moved too quickly. I couldn’t stop him.”

“Where are your bodyguards?”

“I don’t have any. I’m a secret mobster, remember?”

He turned to face me for the first time. To his credit, he didn’t react to my visage. “I thought you were the Punisher,” he admitted.

“No,” I responded, “I’m much more charming than he is. I can, however, kill you just as dead as he can if you keep lying to me. Now, where are your bodyguards?”

“I’m not lying. Not tonight, at least. There’s nobody here but us. Everyone else is at Dallos’ house.”

Uh oh. “What are they doing there?”

“Dallos killed Amanda  because he didn’t believe her when she said she couldn’t get the file for us. He thought she was working with someone else to hide it from us. After he killed her, he said we wouldn’t need to look for her partner because they’d come after him for revenge. So, now he’s got all of our guys, plus some extra muscle he hired on, waiting for whoever shows up.”

Damn, I thought. The Punisher is about to walk into an ambush and I have no way of warning him.

The Perfect Villain 

Throughout time, there have been many memorable villains. Darth Vader, Sauron, Hans Gruber (say what you want about Die Hard, Alan Rickman was genius in that role), The Joker, Lex Luthor, Moriarty, Magneto, Loki. The list goes on and on. And that’s just in fiction. There have been plenty of real world villains out there too.

If you’re looking for the perfect villain, though, there is one that’s hard to beat.

Let’s say I’m writing a movie. It focuses mainly on two characters. The first is a guy who goes around being nice to everyone he sees. The second is a murderer who beats orphans to death with puppies. By the end of the movie, it’s a pretty safe bet that  the audience would hate the second guy more. However, I could change that by having the first character say three little words: “I’m a Nazi.”

Suddenly, the man who beats orphans to death with puppies isn’t the worst person in the movie. 

It’s true. Since the end of World War Two, Hitler and his Nazis have been the villains in more things than probably anyone else. Just hearing the word Nazi is usually enough to get blood boiling. That’s why, to this day, politicians use the word to describe the opposing political party. It’s meant to paint them in the worst possible light.

Obviously, what Hitler and his Nazis did were horrible, horrible things, but does that make them the worst of the worst? What makes people feel that way?

Is it the number of people that he had killed? 

It’s estimated that Stalin had more people killed than Hitler did, yet history is slightly kinder to him. And Mao is estimated to have had more people killed than both of them combined. I’m sure there’s one out there somewhere, but I have yet to see a movie, book, or TV show that has Mao as the bad guy. Do we not care that he ordered the deaths of more people than anyone else in history just because it happened in China?

Is it the blatant racism, mostly directed towards the Jewish people?

The ancient Egyptians were also particularly cruel to the Jews, enslaving them and working them to death on the pyramids. Outside of the Bible, however, I haven’t seen any stories about their exploits portrayed in entertainment. 

Is it a combination of both? Is it something else? Or is it something that is completely undefinable? 

I don’t know. What I do know is that if you want your villain to be completely hated, slap a swastika on them and your job is done.

Ghoul Fan Fiction Part 5

 

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As soon as the Punisher told me that he wasn’t planning on killing her, I should’ve known something was wrong. The aura of death surrounding Amanda told me it was coming, but I pushed it aside when I took her away from him. I still felt it, even if I didn’t admit it to myself. Had I listened to it, maybe she’d still be alive right now.

“Hey, Martin,” the Punisher snapped my last name. “What the hell is going on? Why were you whispering to nobody?”

“You know how the Hulk is green and can throw heavy things?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, I got the green part down. I just can’t pick up cars. What I can do, though, is talk to the dead, and Amanda’s spirit just came to me.”

“You think you can talk to ghosts?”

“So do ghosts. And I have three of them here that want to talk to you.. A woman with two children. Do you want to talk to them…. Frank?”

If I were in a different situation, I might laugh at his facial expression. It was rage, confusion, and sadness all rolled into one. I didn’t have time for laughs right now. “What’s it gonna be,  Frank,” I asked impatiently. “You gonna talk to them?”

“Fine,” he conceded with a snarl. “You can talk to ghosts. But if you ever bring up that woman and the children again, I don’t care how unkillable you think you are, I will find a way to end your existence.”

Once again, I wanted to laugh. Oh sure, he could blow me up into a million pieces. That would certainly slow me down while my body put itself back together, but he couldn’t kill me. Trust me, more powerful people than him have tried.

“Fine,” I mocked his earlier tone.

“What happened to her?”

“All she said was that she left the place I had her stashed to get her son and that ‘they’ were waiting on her.”

“Who is ‘they’?”

“I’m assuming she’s talking about her father’s associates, Cook and Dallos.”

“She better not be talking about Cook. I made it very clear to him that nothing was to happen to her.”

“What are you talking about? You’re in contact with Cook?”

“I’ve gone up against a lot of gangsters in my time, but McKenzie was one of the smartest I’ve come across. Hell, I didn’t even know about him until about a month ago. The only reason I know about him is Cook. He never said how, but he and Dallos found out about him. They weren’t very happy that their old friend had been conning and using them.

“So, they decided to start making some side deals on their own. The problem with that was they weren’t as smart as McKenzie and they caught my attention. I busted in on a deal that Cook was making with the Russians for some guns. He started cowering when the shooting started. After I killed everyone else, he tried making a deal with me. I played along with it at first, but eventually we came to an understanding.”

“And what was that?”

“He’d tell me everything he knew in exchange for me not killing his two sons when I took down the family. They were low level guys who really hadn’t done much anyways, so I was ok with giving him that one. That’s when he told me about McKenzie and what was in his files.”

“Sorry, but I  kinda tuned you out when you told me what was in there earlier. I was shocked when I saw Amanda walk in. What’s so important that’s in those files?”

“Dirt on every mid to major organized crime figure in the city. I don’t know how he did it, but he got incriminating evidence on all of them. That way, if anyone pushed too hard to find out his true identity, McKenzie would blackmail them into backing off.”

“Well, I’m sorry to say, but I think that file is lost. McKenzie wouldn’t tell me where it was, and Amanda didn’t know.”

“How can you be sure that she doesn’t know where it is?”

“Because she hired me to find it. I asked her dad where it was, but he wouldn’t tell me.”

“I’ll tell you now,” a voice interrupted. Robert McKenzie stood behind the Punisher, staring at me. “But, if I do, you have to do something for me.”

I held up a finger to stop the Punisher before he started talking. “What do you want me to do,” I asked him.

“When they killed my daughter, Cook took my grandson. I  want you to get him back.”

RPG Sequels 

I’m sure this has happened in many other games, but the one I’m focusing on right now is the Dragon Age series of games. And not just the games, but the books and the movie too. Specifically, I’ll be talking about the characters that inhabit these things. 

In the first game, everything is fine. There are no problems because it is what is starting the continuity. Then the second game came out. Sure, depending on what you did in the first game, there were some cameos from people in the first game, but none of them played a big role in the second game…. except for Isabella. 

It’s easy to forget that Isabella was even in the first game. Hell, I forgot it until she interacted with another character from the first game who was making a cameo. In the first game, you could play some type of card game with her, but I think she always won because she cheated. The other thing she did in the first game was teach your character a class specialization. Now, I don’t remember what level you needed to be on in Origins to gain a class specialization point, but I do know that in the second game you got them at levels 7 and 14. Which means at the time of Origins (according to the game mechanics), she had to be at least at level 7. Although, if you look at it logically, someone proficient enough to teach others a skill would be of a higher level. So, I would venture that she had to be closer to level 14 than 7, during the time of Origins. 

Yet, when you first get to play her in 2, she starts off at your level. I’m pretty sure I was at level 5 when she first joined up with me. That means that sometime during the 2 years, or so, of the time between the end of Origins and that part in 2, Isabella managed to lose at least 2 levels of experience. As I said, though, it would probably be closer to 9.

How does that happen?

And that one isn’t the one that’s bothering me the most. It’s two characters from Inquisition: Cassandra and Varric.

Out of the two, Cassandra is the more forgivable one. After all, her skills aren’t shown in Dragon Age 2. They are, however, shown off in the CGI movie Dragon Age: Dawn of the Seeker. Within the first five minutes of the movie, she kills a dragon pretty much singlehandedly. I don’t know if you’ve ever played any of the Dragon Age games, but, like in most mythos, they’re hard to kill. Not counting the Archdemon at the end of Origins, there is only one dragon a piece in each of the first two games. The dragon in the first game is a giant pain in the ass. I hated fighting that thing. In the second game, the dragon was easier to beat, but it was still tough.

In Dawn of the Seeker, they explain that she’s good at fighting dragons because she studied under a group that specializes in killing them. Ok fine. If you take the time to talk to her in Inquisition, Cassandra tells you that she was a teenager when Dawn of the Seeker happened and that it was 18-20 years ago. That would put her somewhere between 36-39 years old. She’s still in the years to be in prime physical form. Yet, when you fight dragons, she does just as much damage to them as she does to everything else. Shouldn’t she do more damage to them since she’s a trained dragon slayer? Maybe double or triple as much? Shouldn’t I do more damage to them if she’s in my party? It would be very easy for her to point out its vulnerable spots are.

The worst offender of the bunch, though is Varric. He is a member of your party almost the entire game in 2. I beat the game, while doing most of the side quests plus the two DLC missions, and I was level 25. At most, he was one level lower than me. So, according to the game, in between 2 and Inquisition, Varric managed to retain the memory of all the events that took place, yet somehow forgot how to fight.

Once again, how does that happen? 

At least in the KOTOR games, there’s an explanation for why the two main characters, who were badass Jedis before the games started, found themselves learning how to fight and/or use the Force again. Here, there is nothing but questions.

WTF Bioware?