The Unexpected Target

Today’s writing prompt was:

three dice showing a plant, a lightning bolt, and a skyscraper.

His back against the wall, electrostunner in hand, Ratyn swore to himself under his breath.  There was another guard on this level between him and the office he was trying to get in to.  Maddup had promised when Ratyn accepted the job that the path up would be clear.  Instead this was the third guard he’d had to deal with.  He should have never trusted that irritating blob or gotten mixed up in this.

Getting up to the thirty-second floor had been easy enough and the outer doors opened to the code that Maddup had supplied. But roving security hadn’t been part of the deal.  The place was supposed to be deserted.  Instead he’d had to stun two different guards and now a third had just appeared out of nowhere.  He was going to charge Maddup extra.

Taking a deep breath, Ratyn listened for the steps of the guard, and, just as the guard approached the corner, he stepped out and fired his stunner at point blank range.  The guard toppled, but Ratyn knew that he only had a few minutes before one of the guards would wake up.  Moving quickly, he found the office in question, typed in the access code he had been given, and entered, relocking the door behind him.

The room was fairly large, definitely the office of someone fairly high up on the food chain in the organization.  Right inside the door was a comfortable meeting area, a couch and chairs arranged around a small table.  On one side of the room in the middle distance was what looked like a drafting table, covered in papers and diagrams.  At the far end, beside the floor to ceiling wall of windows, was a large executive desk and chair.  His prize was supposedly there.

The room was illuminated by a flash of lightning just a moment after he entered.  Which was another source of consternation to Ratyn.  One of those glass panels behind the desk was actually a door that opened onto a balcony, or so he’d been told.  His exit was supposed to be simple, as a Yazirian, he could just step off the balcony and glide away.  Sure, he was over 150 meters in the air, but that just meant he could get farther away before he landed.  But a lightning storm outside put a nix to that plan.

Approaching the desk, he could see that it was not nearly as cluttered as the drafting table.  There were a couple of stacks of paper, a few photographs, a lamp, and a couple plants all arranged neatly on the desktop.  But nothing that looked like what he had been hired to retrieve.

Maddup had said he was looking for a Laco Diamond and Ratyn hadn’t asked any questions.  He knew what a diamond looked like.  Although he had thought it weird at the time that the owner would have something that valuable displayed on their desk.  Supposedly the diamond would be on the far right corner of the desk relative to the person sitting at it but the only thing there was one of the plants.  The owner had probably locked it away for the night.

Busting out his lockpicks, Ratyn prepared to work on the old fashioned key lock but when he tried the desk, it wasn’t locked at all.  Odd, but he was grateful since time was running out if he was going to get back down the elevator before the guards woke up.  As quickly as he could, he started searching through each of the drawers in the desk but didn’t find anything that resembled a diamond.  Maybe he should have asked more questions.

Not finding anything, and feeling each second tick away, he sat down in the chair to think for a moment.  Obviously designed for a human, the chair was a little small for his large 2.3 meter tall frame.  Soft though.  He looked again at the plant that was sitting where the Laco Diamond was supposed to be.  It actually looked a little strange with square leaves and little translucent buds.  Looking closer the buds kind of looked like a small gemstone. “Or a diamond,” Ratyn muttered.  “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Picking up the pot, he noticed some writing etched along the bottom: Rosa Laconis Diamantus.  The Laco Diamond Rose.  It was official, someone had lost their mind.  He’d been hired to steal a plant?  Well, he had his target, time to get out of there.

Scooping up the plant, he wrapped it as best he could to keep it from getting too crushed and spilling its soil everywhere and stuffed it in his flying bag.  He started toward the door of the office but stopped, hearing voices outside.

“Tanj,” Ratyn muttered under his breath, “the guards are awake.”  Walking over to the glass balcony door he stared out at the rain as another flash of lightning illuminated the sky.  “Maddup is really going to pay through the teeth for this.  Well, if he had any.”  Opening the door he stepped out into the downpour.  The rain was going to make gliding hard and he’d fall a lot faster than he’d like, especially from 150 meters up. It would be a hard landing.

Just as he was deciding it wasn’t worth the risk, the office door opened and he saw two guards silhouetted in the doorway, weapons drawn.  With no choices left, Ratyn leaped off the balcony.

“blob” is a somewhat derogatory term for the Dralasite race in the Star Frontiers RPG.  Dralasites are an amorphous alien, very much like a large amoeba,  that can change shape slowly if desired.  They have no mouth per se but rather eat by surrounding their food with their skin and absorbing it.

Yazirians are a tall, light-weight simian race that have flaps of skin connecting their arms, torso, and legs that can be stretched out into wings much like a flying squirrel.

Other Endeavors

I seem to have an infinite number of side projects that I’m always working on.  Today, however, I just want to give a quick shout out to a couple of them that take up the majority of my time.

I like to play (what is now considered) “old school” pen-and-paper role-playing games.  When I started down that hobby decades ago all the adjectives weren’t needed.  You just said role-playing games and people knew what you were talking about.  But today with the computer role-playing games as well other developments, you have to be more specific.

Specifically, I’m a big fan of the old TSR game Star Frontiers.  So much so that I run a Star Frontiers website, The Star Frontiers Network, which primarily hosts gaming forums and a wiki, and I provide hosting for a second site on my server.  You’ll find me hanging out there and on other Star Frontiers sites under my handle Terl Obar, the name of my first major Star Frontiers character.

Related to my love of that game, I let a good friend of mine from the on-line community, Tom Verreault (aka jedion357), talk me into working with him on starting up a science fiction fan magazine, devoted initially to Star Frontiers but with a focus on sci-fi RPGs in general.  The magazine, called the Frontier Explorer, has now published two issues and we’re hard at work getting the third one ready to go.   It’s been a lot of fun and a lot of work.  You can expect to see posts about the magazine and my experiences working with it appearing here in the future.

The other activity that seems to consume the rest of my spare time when I’m not working or spending time with my family is my small publishing company, New Frontier Games.  I haven’t done a lot with this as of yet but things are starting to pick up.  I wrote a book last year (2011) called Discovery which published just as a free e-book.  Just recently I’ve made a print on demand copy available for those that like to have physical copies of their books.  The other thing I’ve been working on is a spaceship combat card game, Star Clash, which I just released as well.  Right now it is available as a “print and play” game.  However, the company we do our distribution through (DriveThruRPG and its related sites) is launching a print on demand card site that Star Clash is specifically suited for.  I’m currently working on preparing the cards to be printed so that people can order the card game ready to play instead of having to print them themselves.

If any of those projects sound interesting, follow the links to check them out.  I’ve had a lot of fun working on them.  Hopefully you’ll enjoy them as well.

This post originally appeared on my old Programming Space blog.