Friday Fragment

This week’s fragment is from a piece of in-game writing I did when I ran a superhero game a few years back.  The game was a sort of “quantum pulp” game, where the tropes of pulp are applied to 21st century science rather than 19th century science.

The game didn’t last, sadly.  This was to set the stage, starring an NPC who would have eventually either walked away from the story or been killed.  The story had the usual RPG mix of sturm und drang, but didn’t work out for a lot of reasons.  Anyway, on with the story…

I’m sorry.

In a dark room, a lone man sits alone, his hands steepled under his chin. He stares out the window at the growing storm, his face lit only by the lightning that cracks the sky every few moments.

I’m sorry I couldn’t save you. I’m sorry it’s over.

Once, he’d been a lone crusader. A member of the Shou Ling Brotherhood, the scion of the order’s Founder, he was raised in the temple, steeped in the martial arts of his people. He learned, also, the ways of Taoist sorcery. He was forged by the Brotherhood to be the purest expression of their art – to be the Wujen, whose life’s work is to protect the world from the Dark.

Tai Han went to America, and there fought the Dark alone for years, before he was approached by a blind man who fought as if he could see, and controlled forces even the Wujen did not understand. He told Tai Han of the League, a group of men and women possessed of extraordinary powers, who banded together to protect the world – who fought the Dark in the shadows, away from mortal eyes. And he offered Wujen a place among them. And the Wujen accepted.

For ten years, he fought alongside them. He was their colleague, but he was also their friend.  Angela, whose gentle nature belied the ferocity with which she fought; Adam, who remembered Eden, and fought a futile war to get it back; Jeremiah, who left his beloved cornfields to fight Mr. Scratch, and lost his sight to the Sisters of Pain; and Thomas … Thomas, who every day lived with the knowledge that he would die screaming, who knew the moment it would happen, and did nothing to escape it.

Now they’re all gone, he thinks, and he remembers the end. Not more than a week since he watched them all torn apart, killed by the demonic horde summoned by the sorceror they sought.  Only the Wujen had escaped, and that barely – his ribs cracked, his left arm broken, his side bleeding.  The Librarian had tended to his body’s wounds, but only time would have a chance at healing the wound in his soul.

But he would find others. The Librarian had given him a list of possibilities. Now he would track them each down, and make them the offer he had been made so many years ago. It was time for a new League. Time for new heroes.

Published by Michael R. Johnston

Father of an eighth grader, high school English teacher, writer. Fifty years old and feeling almost every bit of it on some days, and not a bit of it on others. Based in Sacramento, California, USA

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