Cat’s Honors

Writing | Posted by davidludwig
Aug 05 2019

I have been exploring the world of my upcoming high fantasy adventure novel, Cat’s The Pajamas, in 250 words or less over on Siobhan Muir’s Thursday Threads as well as doing weekly polls on my Twitter to introduce the characters–which I invite you to engage with for a bit of diversion at the least and some insight into the characters if you look for it.

The week before last, judge B.A. Tortuga gave me Honorable Mention for my second flash fiction about Hunter Lee–so I thought I’d share both flashes of him here in order.

HUNTER 01

Once discovered, ruins tended to be cleaned out quickly. Most were inactive these days. Active ruins took a little longer. Sometimes their contents ended up in museums or those fancy learning places, but usually they just disappeared into private collections. There was big money in raiding ruins.

The Cistern was discovered sixteen months ago and had yet to be breached. Very unusual, even for an active ruin. Word in port was that was about to change. The navy found a cliffside grate they determined connected to The Cistern, planned to open it by bombardment, and come in behind all those nasty defenses.

Hunter couldn’t see the grate from the sea’s surface, but he knew its location, and had something the navy didn’t. Patting his twenty foot saltwater crocodile on the side, Hunter pointed to the break in the cliffside.

“Okay, Schooner, let’s get paid!”

Feeling his croc surge under him, Hunter laid low on his back and soon they were sailing through the air and through a conspicuously destroyed grate. Standing up once inside, Hunter looked around the bottom level of The Cistern, strewn with the remains of more automaton defenders than he’d seen in his entire career.

“What the brink happened here?” Hunter whistled.

“Just a bit o’ fun!”

A small girl in a captain’s coat and hat perched on the edge of the next level.

“Did you leave anything for me?”

“Defenders, or treasure?” she adjusted her oversized cutlass. “Either way it’s no. But I like yer crocodile!”

HUNTER 02

Hunter Lee squinted out at the sunbaked sand of the arena from the ready room shade. Heat radiated in search of his exposed skin, promising a rough ride. The cowhide vest covered about as much of his chiseled torso and broad arms as he was used to, but the ass-less chaps were not his idea of a good time. He held the ten-gallon hat Jerem gave him over his crotch and kept his other hand over his exposed bum.

“This is the most degrading thing I’ve ever done for money…”

The effeminate Jerem looked up from his checklists at Hunter’s grumble.

“You expect me to believe that? Remember, I’m the guy you come to every time you hit bottom.”

Hunter clenched his fist angrily, then hurriedly relaxed it to restore coverage.

“That ruin should have been my biggest score yet! Instead that girl beat me to it!”

Jerem returned to his lists with a hum.

“Try not to mention that. The Duchess and her ladies aren’t paying to see a performer who got beat by a little girl.”

Hunter slapped his hat against his thigh impatiently.

“Fine! But do I have to rope from horseback? You know how I feel about horses!”

Jerem peered over his half-moon spectacles.

“Says the man who rides a twenty-foot crocodile. The ladies are looking for an authentic experience.”

“Authentic my ass!” Hunter snorted.

“It’s gonna be. A busy night should see you financially solvent again though.”

Then this past week I was again honored by judge Katheryn J. Avila for my flash concerning Sforzando Alighieri. As with Hunter, I’m going to share two flashes here–the second one being the prize winner. I actually hadn’t figured out how old Melody was when she and Sforzando first met when I wrote the first flash, so I have changed 1 word compared to the version I submitted to Thursday Threads on that older flash.

SFORZANDO 01

“Thank you so much for responding to our summons, Maester Alighieri!”

The tonsured Brother Everard bowed as deeply as his pot belly allowed. Sforzando Alighieri tossed his long prematurely grey hair back with one hand, grateful for the brief air on his sweaty neck. The hill up to the temple had been steeper than it appeared.

“As a humble researcher, I’m honored to be summoned by The Celestial Temple.”

“Please, come in.” the priest bowed and ushered Sforzando inside. “We have fresh tea in the welcome room.”

Sforzando stood head and shoulders above Brother Everard, despite the priest’s subtle orc heritage. The young arcanist occasionally struggled to find fashionable clothing in his size, but never to make himself the center of attention. In the welcome room Sforzando lowered himself into a high-backed basket chair while Everard attended to the iced pitcher of tea.

“Lemon or sugar?”

“Lemon, please.”

The holy half orc passed Sforzando a tall glass with a lemon wedge on the rim before shoveling several scoops of sugar into his own glass.

“The whole temple is thrilled to welcome the man who single handedly lifted the art of Song Magic out of myth and legend into a modern science! Maester Alighieri, you are truly a saint!”

Sforzando laughed earnestly.

“I’m no saint! And please, just Sforzando.”

“As you wish, Maester Sforzando. This winter a child was brought to this temple to be raised in faith.”

“Why are you telling me this?”

“She is the new Songstress.”

SFORZANDO 02

Mother Josephine stood like granite between Sforzando Alighieri and the door to the cloister. He hadn’t noticed when his half-orc guide, Brother Everard, dropped behind him but there was no one between Sforzando and Josephine. Easily a head shorter than him, there was still something about the sour-faced woman that frightened Sforzando.

“I, ehm, I’m here to meet the child?”

The old priestess harrumphed dismissively but deigned to scrutinize Sforzando further with sharp clear eyes.

“This is Maester Sforzando,” Everard offered delicately. “He’s here to train the child?”

The Mother’s eyes narrowed and Sforzando could feel Everard step back, abandoning him to the terror of every religiously schooled child.

“Neither Songster required training to fulfill their destiny. What can this layman possibly teach young Melody?”

“We talked about this,” the bulky Brother squeaked from a safe distance. “The elders all agreed it was a good opportunity…”

“Not all.”

Josephine cut Everard short. Sforzando took a breath and centered himself. It didn’t seem like his smile that had charmed the Queen would help here, but he was too nervous to go forward without it.

“My studies of Song Magic have shown good results; I’ve even taught myself to perform it without being a Songster. Perhaps Melody can teach me something?”

The Mother uncrossed her arms with a reluctant sigh.

“Before I let you through, I need to know; are you confirmed?”

Sforzando scratched the back of his neck.

“Actually, I’m not religious.”

Her arms re-crossed.

“We need confirmation.”

Honorable Mentions

Writing | Posted by davidludwig
Jul 11 2019

A week ago I earned another Honorable Mention for Siobhan Muir’s #ThursThreads as judged by George Varhalmi. If you’re interested in my current novel project I’ve been working out characters and backstory over on #ThursThreads for a while now. Keep an eye out for Cat’s The Pajamas, because I mean for it to be big.

***

“I told you they were real!” The dwarf elbowed the half-elf next to him on the trawler deck.

A hopelessly entangled mermaid was the sole occupant of their net. The fishermen had been quick to gather the pearls that rolled across their deck while their catch had thrashed, whined and squealed. The half-elf studied his handful of glistening white pearls.

“Where do you think the pearls came from?”

The dwarf ran stubby fingers through his thick beard.

“My granddaddy used to say merfolk cry them.”

His companion licked his lips and watched their captive with hungry eyes.

“So if we keep her…”

“We’ll both be wealthy men!”

The mermaid shrilled and slammed her tail against the deck hard, prompting the dwarf to turn with raised fist.

“Would you stop that racket! What is wrong with you? Can’t you speak speaking?”

Their captive responded with narrowed eyes, a sneer and a sequence of low clicks and throat squeaks. An unexpected voice cut in.

“I’d say the question be what is wrong with ye? That’s no way to treat a lady.”

A little catgirl in captain’s regalia perched on the trawler railing. Where she came from was anyone’s guess.

“Nextly,” she continued. “Are ye going to give me any trouble returning the lady to the sea.”

The tiny captain patted her flintlock pistol. As the fishermen backed toward the aft cabin, she turned kindly to their captive. Grateful pearls from the mermaid’s eyes brought a grin to her rescuer’s face.

I also scored an Honorable Mention on this week’s #MenageMonday over on Cara Michaels’ website, where I am still working with my Fantasy Fighter characters. I particularly appreciated judge Miranda Gammella’s curiosity as to whether Wenona or Caldwell was more dangerous, since with both of them being playable characters for a fighting game that is a question that could easily go either way.

***

The man who found me in the eastern field says his name is Caldwell. I believe him. I feel safe near him. When I’m alone I feel anxious.

I wake up much earlier than Caldwell does. I can’t seem to cook at all, so I go out and watch the sun rise over the field. He says that my name is Wenona, and I believe him.

The clothes and bangles Caldwell gave me feel good on my body, keeping me company while he sleeps. He says they look good on me, and that he’s glad I like them because I bit him the first time he tried to make me wear clothes. I believe that too.

A single strand of weathered barbed wire isn’t much to separate me from the field, or the forest beyond. Caldwell says that I used to be the mystic protector of that forest. Looking at it across a lone length of wire and an empty field I feel impossibly far from home. I believe that the distance I feel is not physical.

Caldwell tells me that our friend, Karl, is still out there somewhere. Caldwell thinks I can help him find Karl, even without my memories. He believes I will help him out of friendship.

If Caldwell finds where I buried Karl, I’ll have to bury him too.

Take the Cake

Writing | Posted by davidludwig
May 05 2019

This past #MenageMonday over at Cara Michael’s site the honorable Monk Hulsey awarded me another win for a flash fiction from my Fantasy Fighter universe about Hazuki Akiyama and Mifuyu Shizuka! I highly recommend swinging by Cara’s site to see the prompts and other entries, but in case all you’re looking for is some more flash from yours truly I’m re-posting that much here.

“What are your intentions toward my granddaughter?”

Hazuki’s grandmother’s eyes narrowed dangerously over her sake cup. The mood in the car shifted as suddenly as the weather. Mifuyu downed her sake without breaking eye contact with her opponent in the front row. Hazuki’s mother threw her head back against the driver’s headrest.

“Mother!”

Youko sipped her sake slowly and deliberately, as if she could destroy Mifuyu by the difference in their drinking styles. Someone had suggested this picnic to bury the hatchet; which clearly meant something very different to Mifuyu and the old woman than to Hazuki or Tsukiko.

“How long has this been going on?”

Mifuyu felt her blood rise for the fight and her lips split in an uneven grin. Madness glinted in her eyes.

“It’s the endgame, old woman.” Mifuyu raised her engagement band.

The four had started out on a beautiful day with a clear forecast. This storm roiled up out of nowhere and forced them off the road. Their car’s dome light was now a solitary beacon in roaring darkness. Hazuki’s mother’s eyes widened as her gaze fell on the empty seat next to Mifuyu.

“Where’s Hazuki?”

The three women jumped when the hand thumped against the inside back window, where it dragged a sticky red streak back down into the cargo area. Youko and Mifuyu were stunned into somber silence, so Tsukiko continued.

“See what you two have done? You both knew Hazuki is a stress eater! She’s probably had the entire jelly cake!”


Family Values

Writing | Posted by davidludwig
Mar 25 2019

I’m a little later than I intended getting up my entry for last week’s #MenageMonday hosted by Cara Michaels. You can swing by the original site for the prompts and other entries.

Judge Miranda Gamella awarded my Fantasy Fighter story the Judge’s Pet distinction, and I learned a little more about Hazuki’s family in 250 words.

Warm muted light from the stained-glass window blanketed the room in sleepy stillness. Tsukiko Akiyama gave in. The reasons she shouldn’t be there troubled her thoughts but could not stir her to leave.

She should be in America, in case her daughter needed her. Sacred energy was conspicuously absent from this old church. Even the hellfire in her companion’s eyes excited, rather than worried, her.

Sitting together on the floor of the desecrated church, Tsukiko ran her thumb lightly over Melantha Karahalios’ knuckles. Melantha leaned in and kissed Tsukiko with tender firmness that warmed her whole body like her respectable husband never had. Tsukiko felt beautiful again for the first time in too long.

Then the church doors were knocked in disruptively. A tiny old woman stood righteously in the unfiltered light of day.

“Mother!” Tsukiko gasped.

The old woman glowered at the two women before her.

“You dishonor your family! I raised you better than this, Tsukiko.”

Melantha looked between Tsukiko and her mother, licking her lips. For once, Tsukiko met her mother’s gaze with defiance not deference.

“Maybe you didn’t.”

“Your daughter is on a mission far from home, and you run off across the Atlantic? No. Further, I will not tolerate any blood of mine fraternizing with a demon!”

Tsukiko stood to tower over her mother.

“You smothered me with your expectations. I’m giving Hazuki her freedom. Hazuki is not me, and I am not you.”

The old woman sighed.

“She’s more like you than you realize.”

Valentines’ Love

Writing | Posted by davidludwig
Feb 16 2019

I won Cara Michaels’ #MenageMonday again this past week! This time judged by Siobhan Muir, whose #ThursdayThreads I was given an Honorable Mention on by judge Louisa Bacio!

As has been my pattern this year, Monday was set in my Fantasy Fighter universe you can learn more about on this site, and Thursday was set in the Magical Girl Alternate Universe of my Four Sisters story–which you can learn about through my Twitter posts.

Also, since Thursday was Valentine’s day, we were encouraged to wax a little romantic. I encourage checking out the prompts and other stories through the links above.

Major Stevie Cannon initiated a background system diagnostic while she visually scanned the forest around the old enclosure. The result always came back normal or better, but she still checked every time she thought she heard the alien’s voice in her mind. Every time she held still for more than a minute. Trying to sleep was hell.

No movement. The structure appeared empty, but there was a lead lined under level that scans didn’t penetrate. Biomass Delta was smart. A lot smarter than it was supposed to be. If it had learned how to hide from government scans that would explain why Major Cannon had been called in. Normally the boys in the bio division did their own cleanup to keep their secrets in house.

Personally, Major Cannon agreed with the need for the country to develop and control the next generation of weaponry before their enemies even knew it existed. The second part of that had been particularly troublesome recently. If she had it to do over again, she still would have signed on for the moon base project, but she couldn’t shake the irony of being asked to cleanup a weapons program gone sideways.

Her right arm became a literal energy cannon and she activated her personal force field as she approached the enclosure. As convincing as her prosthetics were, precious little of Stevie Cannon was still human.

It was time to get her fellow weapon back under lock and key.

The purple hued magical elf, Emathyst, pushed past the bullet scarred door of the dive bar. Desperate characters huddled in isolation over their drinks in the dim light. She exchanged a nod with the grizzled bartender and made her way to the desperate character at the bar, staring into his shot while his pint foamed.

Her luxurious hair floated up and away, leaving her normal black faux hawk. The Giant’s Ring was once more a trinket on a chain around her neck, her elegant dress replaced with her biker’s leather jacket, torn jeans and combat boots. She was again the punk chick, Violet Li.

“You alright?” Violet sat next to Cole Dooley.

Cole did his shot and moved on to staring into his pint.

“I don’t know what to feel. You’re really one of them now, aren’t you?”

Violet smiled as the bartender brought her Shirley Temple.

“A magical girl?”

Cole took a gulp of his beer and nodded glumly.

“I just… Why? Why you? You’re like, the one person who can pound those monsters without any powers at all. Why’d you have to change?”

Violet cocked her head thoughtfully. “Fighting monsters is a lot easier with powers. And I’m still me.”

“I feel like we’re losing you. I know the city needs magical girls now, but we needed you first! You were the only one who ever expected anything good out of this side of the tracks.”

Violet gripped Cole’s hand on the bar firmly.

“You’ll always have me.”

#TeamRPG Blog Hop: Enter Dor Maus

Writing | Posted by davidludwig
Feb 05 2019

The sages of a world on the brink cast a desperate spell, assembling an unsuspecting team of champions from our world to save theirs. #TeamRPG

Thanks to Cara Michaels, a team of writers have been assigned fantasy classes in order to explore the concept of #TeamRPG.

As one of those writers, these 339 words get my character into the world of Greylea.

The bus sunk, practically groaned, as he stepped up to pay his fare. He wasn’t tall, but he was robust. Wild red hair splayed out from his face and head like a mane framing his dark eyes, only one of which was engaged with what he was doing. He fumbled the coins to feed the machine. He whined fearfully. Had he saved enough?

“It’s okay, honey. Take your time.”

The bus driver was nice. It was late. No one was waiting on him. Nobody staring. He did have enough. He chuckled happily and it bounced around his chest up through his nose. The bus driver smiled at him. He shuffled back to a seat.

His clothes were a tattered assortment of things that hadn’t fallen apart yet, built up in layers until they puffed out like his hair. The thing in his arms was precious though. He had saved all month for the iron teapot that felt like home, and the thrift shop owner saved it for him.

As the bus lumbered through the night, he drifted off cradling his teapot.

He took a deep breath, practically squeaked, as he woke and stretched. He wasn’t tall, he couldn’t even see out over the lip of the teapot. Sitting back on his haunches, he leapt and pulled himself over the edge to look around. The bus looked much older than he remembered, especially with the roots and vines pulling it apart. It seemed bigger too. It would be quite a dash to get to the front. Was this right?

Terror.

The weasel’s fangs sank into his neck before he even got his bearings. The terrible sensation of growing. Then the weasel was the frightened one, hanging by its jaws from his bushy beard. He barked at it. The weasel released and scurried off.

Satisfied, he took up his teapot and the sturdy walking staff next to his seat with a nod. He decided to follow the little fairy that zipped by the bus window and see what he would see.

Image By Danielle Schwarz – Danielle Schwarz, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2802929

Also see drmagoo’s contribution to this adventure, and keep an eye out for the #TeamRPG hashtag!

Winning Week

Writing | Posted by davidludwig
Feb 03 2019

I had the good fortune of winning both Cara Michaels#MenageMonday as judged by Ruth Long this week AND Siobhan Muir‘s #ThursThreads as judged by Cara Michaels! Winning either of those is a pretty great accomplishment–though for any writers seeing this, I recommend giving them a shot anyway just for the excellent practice and to see all the great stories. Winning both of them, I just don’t have the words.

So instead, I’m letting you guys have both stories! The first is from my Fantasy Fighter universe which you can learn more about on this site, and the second from a Magical Girl Alternate Universe of my Four Elven Sisters story which you can learn more about on my Twitter account.

“Hazuki, your grandmother fell…”

Hazuki Akiyama rushed past her mother to her grandmother’s bedside. The room was warm, but the tiny teenager had no coat to add to those by the door. She had stayed in America an extra week, but hadn’t expected to come home to this. Her grandmother was even smaller than Hazuki, and appeared to be sleeping. Hazuki took the old woman’s hand.

“Gran-gran…” Hazuki’s voice caught in her throat. “You said there was a new demon in town. Why didn’t you wait for me?”

“A demon?!” Mrs. Hamada, their neighbor, gasped from the other side of the bed.

Suddenly aware of the other person in the room, Hazuki clammed up. Hazuki’s mother cleared her throat and placed a hand on Mrs. Hamada’s shoulder.

“Whether they are dealing with fact or fiction, Hazuki and her grandmother are very close. Why don’t you and I have some tea?”

Hazuki’s mother winked at her daughter as she escorted Mrs. Hamada out of the room. Once Hazuki was alone with her grandmother she took a breath and returned her focus to her mentor.

“I’m the hero now, Gran-gran. But I’m not ready to do this without you. Please, come back to me.”

The old woman sat up with a hacking cough, then blinked until her eyes refocused.

“I can’t be gotten rid of that easily, Hazu-chan. I was just astral projecting to make sure the demon didn’t try to slip away while I waited for you. Let’s get the bastard.”

The dopey dog that hung out on the corner was no longer what anyone would call little. An infusion of dark energy blew his bug eyes up like balloons, lifting his head to his new height of eight feet. Burn patterns leading up the street suggested his salivary problem had become more aggressively acidic too.

Esmeralda clenched the Crystal Arrowhead in her fist and took a deep breath. The darkness had never attached itself to an animal before. How was she going to calm his spirit to seal the breach? Before she could transform into the magical archer, Vedania, she felt a tug on her sleeve.

“Can I help you catch him?”

It was the sophomore, Coco, clutching the Crown of Heaven with hope shining in her eyes. Esmeralda gave Coco the Crown last week to save both of their lives. Still, it bothered the senior how much the younger girl enjoyed turning into an elf and saving the day. This wasn’t a game.

“Any idea how we do that?” Esmeralda dodged the question.

“Yes!” Coco slammed the crown on her head.

In an instant the underclassman’s stupid pigtails fell off, her ears became pointed, and the Crown transformed into a halo. Now the magical saint, Oaklie, was dressed in a floofy gold party dress instead of Coco’s school clothes. She even loved their sickeningly girly costumes. This wasn’t dress up, either.

“Douglas loves scritches behind his right ear!” Oaklie pointed ahead as wings of light sprouted from her back.

Fantasy Fighter

Gaming | Posted by davidludwig
Jan 29 2019

The Fantasy Fighter universe I’ve been using for Blog Hops and #MenageMonday is one of my older game concepts, which the more I work with it the more I think it could be very successful if I had the connections to cover the parts I can’t do myself. If your interest is in the characters and story go ahead and jump down to the list of Fighters.

At its heart, Fantasy Fighter is basically my own take on Darkstalkers/Vampire Savior. More specifically I see it being a supernatural/fantasy focused 2D Fighting Game with all the passion for and attention to detail the genre exemplifies. A critical difference in my mind though, is I would like Fantasy Fighter to be easier to pick up and play than I have experienced 2D Fighters to be. That could be a turn off for hardcore gamers, but I feel they already have other options and it would be nice to have a foothold in the genre for regular and even casual gamers to experience a game where every move or idle tells you about the character and details in the stages tell you about the world. I also happen to believe that it’s possible to make a game that is both deep AND fun to learn, but understand that is a lofty goal.

Given the current state of gaming loaded with patches, updates and in-game purchases, I feel like it would make sense to do Fantasy Fighter as a single game instead of a series of 2D Fighters like it might have been in the past. So rather than a second and third game, my idea would be to sell additional “seasons” to the base game. I have stories, final and sub-bosses for 3 seasons. Though there is a lot I don’t have.

An early concept sketch from the road trip I had the idea on

The real point of Fantasy Fighter is the characters—and those are also who you want to know about if you want to get more on my Flash Fiction in the universe. So without further ado;

  • CORE FIGHTERS
    • Adrian Godard: [Church Exorcist] A black German warrior-priest capable of summoning the Sword of Uriel. He travels the world battling the unholy, particularly the succubus, Melantha. His play style is to take advantage of limited usage of the Sword at close and mid range.
    • Biomass Delta: [Toxic Blob] A goopy mindless incarnation of pure hunger. It keeps alive by traveling and feeding, developing a particular taste for the magical girl, Hazuki. Its play style is about wearing its opponent down with damage over time.
    • Caldwell Keller: [Possessed Drifter] A grey haired, chain smoking, hard drinking mercenary possessed by a demon shadow. He’ll take just about any job if the pay is good enough and tends to butt heads with the more duty oriented android, Major Cannon. His play style focuses on weaker rapid strikes with excellent range thanks to his demon shadow.
    • Butch Slade: [Dirtbag] A deranged giant of a man that almost can’t be human. His story is about merciless vengeance against the world itself, particularly Agency hero, Johnny. He is so physically large it’s hard to avoid his attacks, but also hard to miss him.
    • Hazuki Akiyama: [Magical Girl] The latest in a maternal line of Japanese heroes capable of creating what they need to fight by force of will. She is a new hero looking to make the world a better place, and specifically identifies the possessed Caldwell as in need of purifying. Her play style involves toolbox special moves that she is unimpressive without.
    • Karl Victorien: [Monster] Somewhere between the Jewish Golem and Frankenstein’s monster, he has become deeply philosophical in the years since his creator’s death. He travels the world seeking a purpose for his artificial existence but is opposed by the wolf girl, Wenona. His style is a grapple tank that grabs his opponents and breaks them.
    • Melantha Karahalios: [She Devil] A Greek succubus and club owner with powerful fire magic. Whether at her club or on the road she means to enjoy what the world has to offer and not let exorcists like Adrian send her back to hell. Her play style focuses on blasting her opponent from a safe distance.
    • Wenona Grey: [Wolf Girl] A mixed Native/French Canadian who uses the spirits of the forest to ravage the enemies of nature without speaking. She hunts all enemies of nature, but most specifically the monster of her own forest, Karl. Her fighting style is about power and speed, primarily at close range.
  • SEASON 1 BOSS & SUB BOSS
    • Huītzilōpōchtli: [Solar Alien] <Unlocked by beating Season 1 Story with all Core Characters and Major Cannon> A fiery alien conqueror resembling, or perhaps the inspiration for, the Aztec war god of the same name. His mission is the absolute domination of the Earth, making him the Final Boss of Season 1 and a threat to all the fighters. His play style is about managing the ebb and flow of power, that when it’s up is the greatest in the game.
    • Major Stevie Cannon: [Legend Android] <Unlocked by beating Season 1 Story> A patriotic American test pilot and career military woman who became fused to alien technology. She is the big gun that the government sends in to clean up messes, including the blob, Biomass Delta. Her play style is about building and releasing power, a generic version is the sub-boss of Season 1.
  • HIDDEN CHARACTERS (so, stretch goals for getting into the first game)
    • Aphrodite: [Secret Agent] <Unlocked if beat her when she appears in Survival Mode> A veteran secret agent highly ranked in the Agency skilled in fighting and survival. While the Agency would like her to retire from field work, some jobs like the succubus, Melantha, are too important to leave to anyone else. Her play style is similar to Melantha’s, but with grapples for close range and fewer area options.
    • Blades: [Tech Skater] <Unlocked if find and beat him as a bonus fight in Story Mode> A junior agent recruited for his technological genius to develop hardware for the Agency. He is committed to using his gadgets to prove he is capable of being a field agent, even against enemies as formidable as the dirtbag, Butch. His play style is tool box specials like Hazuki, based on technology instead of magic.
    • Johnny Treeman: [Heroic Berserker] <Unlocked by beating Story Mode with Butch or Wenona?> A pulp worthy hero who channels the totemic power of the bear in defense of all that is good and true. The Agency recruited him after he put away the dirtbag, Butch, and now provide him leads on and transportation to those in need of a hero. A stronger but slower take on Wenona’s play style since he channels the bear instead of the wolf.
    • Mifuyu Shizuka: [Scarred Medium] <Unlocked by using each Core Character in Multiplayer> A Japanese woman who scarred her own face while possessed and now can’t control what spirits or powers enter her. She wanders the world on a one-woman rampage against the supernatural. Her play style is randomly copied from the other fighters.

New Year’s Revolution Blog Hop

Writing | Posted by davidludwig
Jan 27 2019

I recently had some trouble with my site that resulted in needing to have my #NYR2019 entry hosted over at Cara Michaels’ site. Now that my site is back online I figure I should post it here too–but definitely check out the extended Blog Hop and feel free to read my entry there or here.

As with the most recent Tipsy Santa and Monster Mash Blog Hops, my entry is another 746 words in my Fantasy Fighter universe, which you can expect to hear more about here on this site.

Cara even made this sweet title for my entry she hosted

ENERGY HORIZON
by David A Ludwig

The Agency spacecraft cut through the atmosphere like a knife. All this expedition to stop the apocalypse needed was drink service. Though Caldwell Keller supposed he should be grateful the golem wasn’t having any rations. The wolf-girl was easily consuming a double share.

Ahead the moon was looking big enough to land on. Caldwell detached the orange visored face mask from the collar of his Agency bodysuit. Fixing it in place he engaged the seal and tested the rebreather and HUD.

“You guys sure you don’t want one of these suits?” Caldwell turned back to his team. “Life support might be down when we get there.”

Wenona Grey was back in the wolf pelt skirt and wolf head helmet Caldwell first met her in. She bit him the time he made her try on real clothes. Her chair’s armrests were ravaged from her gripping them and snapping at things outside the shuttle.

For a so-called monster, Karl Victorien was the more sophisticated of the two. In fact, for being stitched from various dead parts, he looked pretty good in a silk three piece. Though, even he reverted to his earlier shirtless and shackled look for this mission. Karl’s huge arms were crossed stiffly, but at least he responded.

“No need to worry. Impressive as it is, your suit is merely a simulation of the aura mastery Ms. Grey and I utilize regularly.”

Caldwell shrugged and sat back as the auto-pilot brought them into the moon base hangar. What was left of it anyway. The place looked like a warzone—and not the kind Caldwell knew from before learning demons were real. By the time the team landed and disembarked their path was blocked by a dozen combat robots even the Agency would be jealous of.

 “We have a survivor!” Karl shouted, leaping between the body he spotted and their enemies. “Something has activated her aura…”

Caldwell grit his teeth as armaments materialized from the robots.

“Okay, Karl, take care of the survivor! Wenona and I—“

Caldwell was cut off by Wenona’s snarl. She swept her finger at the room of robots before pressing her hand to her chest with teeth bared.

“Seriously?” Caldwell watched his savage teammate lunge into the thick of the robots.

“It is better not to get in her way when she is like this.” Karl spoke while assessing his charge.

“Great. On our own already.” Caldwell looked at his shadow, which cocked its head in response.

Exploring the surviving facility was underwhelming. Every robot in the place was dealing with Wenona and there wasn’t much else intact. Life support was limping along at high mountain levels instead of the vacuum of space Caldwell had been worried about. Caldwell did get to kick down a hermetically sealed door with an eight foot tall being composed of flames and empty darkness behind it. That was a thing.

“I’m guessing you’re the one I have to beat to stop all this?” Caldwell wished he’d opened the door in some way he could have closed it again. “Huey, wasn’t it?”

The energy being’s eyes sparked ominously.

“I am Huītzilōpōchtli! I will burn the skies and boil the oceans of your pathetic world, until the flames of my rage have been quenched by the blood of sacrifices beyond count! Then the survivors may serve as my slaves.”

Caldwell cracked his neck and shook out his arms.

“’Yes’ would have been enough.”

As Caldwell settled into his fighting stance the world exploded. Battling a war god in a psychedelic flame vortex was a hallucinatory experience. The mercenary was taking a beating, though only a fraction of what his senses were reporting seemed to be real. His Agency suit was already blasted to shit; fortunately Caldwell was no slouch when it came to aura. Now he just needed any kind of an opening to finish this before that was gone too.

Real or not, the Mesoamerican pyramid rising behind his foe seemed as good an opening as he was going to get. It cast a long shadow. Caldwell’s own shadow emerged from that of the pyramid and ripped the heart from the back of the deity thrashing Caldwell to a burnt pulp.

The moon base slowly rematerialized around Caldwell, who managed a high five with his shadow before collapsing to his knees.

“Hah! That’s a ‘no’ to burning skies and boiling oceans!”

“In your life time.” Karl stepped into the boss chamber with Wenona.

“What did I say?”

Tipsy Santa Blog Hop

Writing | Posted by davidludwig
Dec 12 2018

We’ve got another Blog Hop ala the Monster Mash back in October with a comparatively long window to develop and refine a story in 750 words or less.

This time Ruth Long is the host, and man did this one give me trouble! My Fantasy Fighter universe was well received last time so I wanted to stick with that, but merely encouraging holidays and drunkenness without anything like the song prompt from last time eliminated options without inspiring anything particular. I fought hard for these 723 words and now look forward to reading the other entries.

SCHNAPPS

Sidestepping Santa’s savage swings was a delicate operation. Agent Treeman didn’t want to get crushed by the holiday throne, but he also had to keep Fatboy’s full attention so the kids and parents could flee.

“Graghbaghl!!!” the festive giant spit cottony pieces of his fake beard at his opponent.

Johnny Treeman powered through the nauseating waves of peppermint and vomit on Big Red’s heavy breaths and finally got the opening he was waiting for. The big man splintered his chair with an over extended sweep from the right. Johnny stepped in and delivered a brick breaking left hook to Fatboy’s liver.

Insanity shone from the mad giant’s eyes. Instead of going down or doubling over, he delivered a crushing double hammerfist the agent was barely able stop with a crossed forearm block. The cement under Agent Treeman caved like thin ice, but he just managed to keep his feet under the larger man’s weight.

“Help! Please!”

Eight hours ago, Johnny had been crammed into a technically heated bush plane with mail, packages and the senior agent code named Aphrodite.Even wearing his trim blue tactical snowsuit under his polar bear pelt it was a little cool thousands of feet into the predawn northern sky. How Aphrodite seemed so comfortable in her sleeveless sexy Mrs. Claus getup he didn’t venture to guess.

“He’s your arch nemesis!” Aphrodite’s words were less comforting than the sound of her loading her gift wrapped sniper rifle.

The veteran agent had received intelligence that the escaped dirt bag, Butch Slade, was in this part of the world. She grabbed Johnny and they set out immediately. The Santa costume might have been the third strangest thing Johnny had ever seen B.S. wearing, but there was no mistaking the fiend’s size or power.

“Naughgaghs!!!”

B.S. apparently heard the loading gun too. The giant picked Johnny up by his head with one hand, to charge Aphrodite with Johnny dangling along for the ride. Aphrodite dove and rolled out of the way. Johnny hooked his legs on the larger man’s arm and levered him through the post office wall into the street. The gathered townspeople reevaluated their idea of a safe distance from the disturbance.

“Seriously, who hires a nine foot tall Santa?”

Johnny pulled himself free from B.S.’s grasp and pinned the plastered profligate with an arm bar. B.S. beat his assailant against the ground wildly, but with a face full of snow had temporarily lost track of which direction was up.

“The suit has to be his own,” Aphrodite was unflappably analytic as ever. “There are enough empty bottles here he may have seen the chair and thought it was his too.”

The veteran’s shot split the icy air. B.S.’s face hit the snow and stayed down this time. Johnny maintained the arm bar and shook his head at the collapsed shell that had fallen back into the giant’s neck folds. As Johnny anticipated, B.S. sprang back to his feet with a roar. One thing he could definitely say; Agency missions were never dull.

“I’m going to try to finish this!” Johnny shouted. “Be ready if it doesn’t work!”

As the giant staggered around looking for the sniper, Johnny called on the full strength of his totem. With his own ursine roar, Johnny broke Santa’s arm. He then dropped to the ground and it was Johnny’s turn to lift B.S. The spirit of the polar bear was practically visible around Johnny as he squeezed the suspended behemoth for all he was worth.

Three more shots rang out in practiced rhythm and the giant finally went limp. Johnny dropped his nemesis and fell to his knees, completely exhausted. Soon the earth rumbling snores of the dirt bag started in slow and steady. A bottle of Rumple Minze wheeled through the air to stick in the snowbank next to Johnny.

“Hair of the dog?” Aphrodite emerged from the hole in the wall with another bottle. “Looks like even Butch Slade couldn’t finish all of this.”

“You know I don’t drink.”

Agent Treeman fell back into the snow, oddly comforted by his arch enemy’s discordant breathing, and watched upside down as trepidatious townsfolk crept closer in the wintery stillness.

“I used to be able to get through half a bottle on a good night,” Aphrodite sighed. “I guess we should have brought Caldwell.”