SirPiecemaker t1_je6v6bi wrote

She had seen mages before when she went to sell her embroidery in the city centre. They would put on grand displays of magical wonder. She had seen them appear in a puff of colourful smoke, pull crystals out of thin air and turn them into soft, gentle rain, and bestow good fortune and prosperity on the discerning audience while the masses watched from afar.

The issue is that those mages stayed in the nice parts of town, in the luxurious highrise apartments paid for by their wealthy clients. Displays such as those would cost more than her entire hab-block, took entire squadrons of servants weeks of meticulous preparations and were reserved only for the rich and powerful who could supply the mages with crystallized mana and freshly ground stardust. The less fortunate folks, well, they were on their own.

But there are some issues that can't be fixed with hard work and grit. There are issues that need magic. If a tulpa - a thought form made manifest - starts terrorizing a district, magic is the only answer. The fair and noble mages wouldn't dream of coming down to the dirty parts of town. The only option left was the man who just walked through her front door.

The best word to describe him would be 'dishevelled'. He had a 5 o'clock shadow, a long, crumpled up trenchcoat and threw away his cigarette just seconds before walking in. Proper mages were never seen smoking anything except the finest of cigars, not budget-brand coffin nails. Still, he barged in with the swagger she wasn't entirely sure he could afford.

"Where is she?" he asked quickly, not even bothering with proper etiquette. The woman, her eyes red from fatigue and tears, clutching a handkerchief, pointed towards a nearby room. The man quickly paced in, finding a girl, no more than 10 years, laying in bed, gripped by a terrible fever. He touched her forehead to measure her temperature and opened one of her eyes, inspecting it.

"Is... is she going to live?" the woman asked with a shaky voice. The man turned and gave her a sly grin.

"Dontcha worry love, I got you covered. Now, get us a toothbrush and some baking soda, would ya?"

The woman wasted no time and rushed to gather the required materials. When she came back, she found the man removed his trenchcoat and started rolling up his sleeves.

"Grand," he said and took the toothbrush, dipping it in the baking soda until it was completely covered in the white powder. He forced the girl's mouth opened and ran the toothbrush on her teeth. Despite the terrible taste, the girl was far too weak to protest. The man removed the toothbrush and laid it on the ground, surrounding it by the rest of the soda.

"Now," he said resolutely, "you got any beer? Moonshine? Any alcohol? Stronger the better."

The woman once again rushed to grab the necessary ingredient.

"This... this is a bottle of plum brandy one of our neighbours makes. It's cheap, but will it do?"

The man grabbed it and sniffed the contents, his nose hairs almost burning as he did. Whatever it was, it was strong.

"Aye, that'll do," he said and started downing the entire thing. The woman's heart sank - this man was nothing but a drunk with a flair for theatrics. He downed almost half of the entire bottle before he finally set it aside.

"Nnoow... blimey, whatss... in diss shite? Kno- knockd me... on my arse..." he said, his speech already slurred from the hard alcohol. He started uttering some words in a hushed tone, too quiet for the woman to hear, before pulling a lighter from his pocket and setting the toothbrush on fire. It flared with a blue flame far greater than anyone would expect. He kept holding it and uttering his words until almost all of it burned away, the putrid smell of singed plastic filling the words.

He suddenly yelled out several odd words the woman did not recognize. The toothbrush burst into one last blaze before it went out completely and the fire dissipated.

The man sat back down on the ground, breathing heavily. The woman watched on quietly until her attention was grabbed by her daughter coughing up the baking soda, now turned black, and opened her eyes.

"Mum?" she said slowly; the first time she spoke in over a week. The woman rushed to her bedside and inspected her eyes, her forehead, and her mouth. The fever was gone entirely, her eyes no longer bloodshot, the only thing that seemed to bother her was the gross taste of baking soda in her mouth. The woman hugged her tightly before turning back to the mage, still sat on the ground, clutching his head.

"Th- thank you!" she said. "Are- are you well?"

"Aye, dontcha worry love," he said with a pained expression before taking another, small swig of the brandy. Despite this, his speech was no longer slurred, his movements precise - unlike what he looked like when he downed half the bottle. "This kinda shite sobers you up proper, so if you're not actually drunk, well..."

"Then what?" the woman inquired.

"You'll get an aneurysm," he chuckled.

"Is... the monster gone?" she continued in a shaky voice.

"Naw," he said and stood up, grabbing his trenchcoat. "Just broke the bastard's grip on the lass," he said and gave the girl a quick pat on the head. "The bloody thing is still around, lurking, pissed that I just took away its meal," he said and put a cigarette in his mouth. Noticing the woman's concerned expression, his eyes went to the girl again and he slowly took the cigarette out of his mouth and put it behind his ear.

"Need to talk to the block's elder to get the bugger sorted out. Can you take me to him?"

"Of course, but... can it wait for just a few moments? I- I need to tend to Isabella, make sure she is well."

The man offered a smile. "Sure thing love. I'll be outside. Dying for a smoke anyway."

And with those words, the dishevelled, scruffy mage left, leaving behind only a faint smell of cigarettes and plum brandy.


SirPiecemaker t1_je5f27e wrote

It only took 50 years.

God was fed up with humanity's problems. God had a solution. He made 6 new planets, similar to the Earth of old. The first one was a paradise, overflowing with milk, honey and sunny weather. The seventh one, well... it got pretty close to how we would describe hell.

And then, in his divine foresight, gave everyone what they deserved.

The worst of the worst went to Earth 7 to suffer, to squirm and writhe.

The best of us went to Earth 1 to prosper and live in absolute bliss.

And - just to be fair - decided that 50 years later a battalion of angels would be dispatched to each Earth to rejudge its population and see if some were deserving to go up... or down.

It... didn't go as planned.

When the angels arrived on Earth 1, they smiled as their eyes feasted on the pleasant meadows and serene forests. They were then stunned and horrified when they realised that if there was anything humanity was good at, it was hubris.

Emboldened with the idea that they were God's chosen, the people of Earth 1 turned to unbridled arrogance. Each would try to prove that they were the most pious, the most deserving of His love. The Church - an already powerful organization - would scrutinize everyone to the smallest of details. To them, it didn't matter if someone was good, only if they were good to them.

Good samaritans who merely tried to help were burned at the stake.

Those who chose to simply live peacefully without bowing to the Church were crushed beneath rocks.

Paranoia set in. Neighbour turned against neighbour, friend against friend.

It took just 50 years for this paradise to turn into an abomination - the pristine white beaches turned red by the blood of the innocent.


The angels dreaded coming to Earth 7. If the Earth's best turned to such depravity, would they even find anyone alive where the worst lived?

They came and found the scenery they expected. Some came to call it Asphodel after old greek legend. Fitting, too - lakes of boiling water, scorched earth, darkened clouds.

The people there held zero respect for God's emissaries. They were crass, rude, spat at their feet.

And, in all of that, they were united.

Perhaps it was a moment of clarity for them. Perhaps it was sheer pragmatism. Perhaps... perhaps it doesn't matter. But they made the most of what they could. To survive, they had to band together. To let go of old hatreds. They each worked for the collective, because if they wouldn't... they'd die, one and all. In time, this uneasy ceasefire turned to peace. In time, it turned to friendship.

In this, God made a mistake - an unavoidable one, his foresight clouded by the free will he bestowed upon us.

Humanity could not be judged. The best of us could turn bad; the worst of us could turn good. Because in the end, none of us are good or bad.

We are all just... human.


SirPiecemaker t1_jd2js5y wrote


SirPiecemaker t1_jcyuo2m wrote

The four of us stood - and sat - around the table in our hideout, staring at the meticulous plans we had spent the last 3 months learning front to back. The blueprints, the false identities, the passports, the engineering plans... it was beautiful. Flawless. And, by now, useless.

"What a shitshow," Geralt finally said, breaking the silence. "You said you planned for everything!" he yelled, pointing an accusatory finger at me, though a finger was underselling it given its size. He was a massive man, a perfect hitter. It wasn't immediately obvious; some people even called him fat. They stopped doing so when he would lift them up with one hand.

"I did!" I protested loudly. "The plan was literal perfection! It's why you agreed to it!"

"Perfection?! Then why the deep-fried fuck," Geralt replied and picked up the TV remote, tuning in to the evening news. Our faces were plastered all over the screen, capturing our confusion beautifully, "are they naming the museum after us?!"

"Well it is a nice museum," Nassor chipped in from their corner where they were peacefully reading the newspaper which, once again, featured us on the front page. Heroes of the Year, the headline read. Geralt threw an angry look their way but then turned his anger back towards me.

"You said nothing could go wrong," he kept pressing.

"Well, how could I possibly predict that some other group of thieves would be mad enough to break into the impenetrable Royal Mint? And on the same day as us! And, lest we forget, if you didn't trip the alarm during the scuffle, we would have still had the time to make it out with some money. But no, by the time we were finished incapacitating them, the League of Heroes was on site, shaking our goddamn hands!"

"Oh don't throw this at me," Geralt growled. "That hitter of theirs would have snapped you like a twig had I not stepped in."

I shook my head in hesitant agreement. The woman on our competitor's team nearly matched Geralt in size. I was almost impressed.

"She was kinda hot though," Nassor commented again. I pinched the bridge of my nose.

"Not the time, mate," I sighed.

"I just wish we could have spared a second to grab her number, ya know?"

"Oh let me grab the world's tiniest violin for you! Oh wait, we can't bloody afford one!" I yelled at them angrily. They merely shrugged and went back to reading the paper.

We all slinked back into silence as we stared at our plan. It was supposed to be the heist of a century.

"Goddamit," I mumbled and looked around the room. Geralt was still fuming, Nassor more blank-faced but clearly disappointed. My eyes finally rested on Lilian, our hacker. Her face was buried in her hands. She was white as a sheet, though not because she was scared.

"Lilian," I said slowly. "You're awfully quiet."

She sighed and removed her hand from her face and looked around the room with her bright-red eyes. Her albinism was often enough to catch everyone's attention, but combined with her elegant mannerisms and sultry voice, when she spoke, people listened.

"I am," she replied calmly, "because I know how the rest of this conversation is going to play out. I can see it on your faces, no matter how much you try to hide it. You all feel it too."

"What's that supposed to mean?" Geralt narrowed his eyes.

"Don't pretend with me, tiny," Lilian scoffed. "I saw how you looked when that old lady hugged you."

Suddenly, it was as if Geralt deflated, his bravado and anger replaced with meek embarrassment.

"...she reminded me of me gran, alright?" he mumbled.

We all exchanged looks.

"Really?" Nassor raised an eyebrow.

"Hey, my gran was the best person I ever knew, alright?!" Geralt blew up. "Don't you even dare!"

"Hey, I'm not saying anything," Nassor shrugged.

"Face it," Lilian continued. "We all liked being... heroes." She almost spat the last word out. We all looked down at our feet in shame. "Seeing all those people all happy."

"...yeah," I murmured. Geralt and Nassor did not reply, but I could see it on their faces. They liked it too. Feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. Bleh.

"There's bound to be more people like us out there, you know?" Nassor said. I looked at the team. My team. I took some of the world's best criminals; the toughest hitter, the slickest thief, the sharpest hacker, not to mention my immaculate planning brain... and turned us all into good guys.

"Wanna stop them too?" I asked.

Lilian smiled. Nassor folded the newspaper and put it on a nearby table. Geralt tried resisting the idea before sighing loudly and cracking his fingers.

"Ah, what the hell. Sounds fun," he said.

"Alright," I chuckled. "Let's get to it."


SirPiecemaker t1_jcmxspi wrote

In truth, cutting through the alleyway was perhaps not the smartest choice, but I was pressed for time; something that wasn't helped by the man who blocked my path with a knife in his hand.

"Wallet. Now," he barked.

I sighed and pinched the bridge of my nose. "Don't," I replied simply.

"You think I'm joking, lady?" the man yelled back almost instantly. "You think I won't gut you like a fish? Give me your wallet now or-"

His words were cut short by a loud, somewhat moist thud that echoed through the alley. The would-be mugger barely had enough time to react before he found himself laying on the ground, looking up at the tall man with fiery red eyes standing beside me, wielding a two-handed hammer that matched his already impressive frame.

It was then he finally registered the pain in his leg. He looked down and saw the bloody pulp where his knee once was.

"O- oh," he muttered before passing out from shock. I looked over at the man standing beside me.

"Thank you, Lord Hephaestus," I said politely. He only grumbled back.

"No respect for craftsmen, I say," he said, clearly dissatisfied. "Are you well?" he asked me.

"With you watching over me, always, Lord Hephaestus," I smiled.

"Good. The prototype medical brace need some tuning, but is otherwise impressive. Keep it up," he nodded simply. I bowed my head respectfully and by the time I looked back up, he was gone, leaving behind only a fiery imprint of his shoes in the pavement.

I looked back at the mugger laying on the floor and reached for my phone to dial the ambulance. As I busied myself, a small ember left behind by Hephaestus slowly descended onto my shoulder and dissipated almost instantly, yet... the second it did, my eyes narrowed at the man's mangled knee.

"Of course," I whispered to myself. I perfect idea flashed through my head - a way to improve the medical brace I was designing, adding strength while removing weight with just a couple of simple adjustments. It seemed so obvious! Why didn't I-

I noticed the tiny speck of ash on my shoulder and chuckled. It put my mind at ease; I no longer felt bad for not thinking of the improvement earlier.

One can't beat divine inspiration from the God of Craftsmen, after all.


SirPiecemaker t1_jacgcvp wrote

"So, what is it that you wanted to show me?"

"An absolute chemical breakthrough," the scientist in front of me said excitedly; he was nearly jumping with glee. "I've been working on a personal project, you see? Toxicology to be exact."

"Right," I nodded and took a sip of my tea.

"I think I've cracked something incredible. It is a poison - at least in its current form. It destroys the body on a molecular level. Literally degrades it."

"And that's... good?" I asked and took another sip.

"What's a poison now may be a cure tomorrow!" he cheered. "Imagine if we could refine it to only target, say, cancer cells! I mean the potency is incredible - a single drop would be enough to kill a whale!"

"Oh. That does sound pretty strong," I said and sipped again. "So where is it?"

"Oh, it's..." he said and started turning around, searching the room, "it was in this... this beaker..." His words trailed off as his expression changed to one of absolute horror. I raised an eyebrow and followed his stare - he was looking at me but more precisely, at my coffee mug.

But it wasn't my mug.

No, my novelty coffee mug that was shaped like a beaker - a gift from a friend - was resting on the desk while my hand firmly grasped the actual beaker filled with a slightly translucent liquid.

"Huh," I exclaimed simply.

"I'm- I'm so sorry," he blurted out, tears welling up in his eyes.

"Tastes lemony," I noted.

"I'm so- is there anyone I can call?"

"I mean..." I said and turned my eyes upwards, thinking. I raised the cup to my lips again.

"WAIT NO!" he yelled and snatched the beaker from my hands. "ARE YOU MAD?"

"Oh, right. I mean, I feel fine, actually," I shrugged. "How soon should it kick in?"

"It- it should have already killed you," he said with a puzzled look. He cleared his eyes and examined the beaker again - it was his project. "How?" he breathed out.

"How strong did you say it was?"

"A single... single drop could kill a whale!"

"Oh. That explains it," I smiled.


"I'm not a whale," I grinned.


SirPiecemaker t1_ja1a19p wrote

It was a long day. The boss was annoying, missed the bus, heating was busted. Felt like the day couldn't get any worse. So, I did something I always did when I was feeling rubbish - put my favourite movie on. I've seen it a hundred times but never got tired of it. Something about the actors, the music, the plot, all of it just felt like... childhood. Sitting down with a glass of mead, I hit play.

It was as enjoyable as always. The characters said the familiar jokes, the fight scenes were just as crisp as the first time I saw them. A favourite moment came up; the part where the protagonist walks into a trap and has to fight their way out. Jokingly, I yelled out at the TV.

"Don't go in there!" I chuckled.

And they didn't.

They stopped.

Instead, they looked around a bit, confused, and then peeked through the keyhole, spotting the thugs hired to ambush them. They proceeded to come through the back door and swiftly dispatch them.

But they weren't supposed to! That's not how the movie went! It... changed. Same actors, same score, it was all the same but the movie I was now watching was entirely different from what I've seen so many times before. I felt uneasy.

A prank - surely that was it. With deepfakes and AI-generated content, it seemed like just about anything was possible. Maybe a friend switched the DVD the last time they visited. And- and me yelling out 'Don't go there' was just a coincidence, since I often talked about that part of the movie. Still, it didn't quite put my mind at ease.

Company. I needed company. A friend to come over and watch the movie with me, help me analyze it and make some sense of it. I got up and walked towards my bedroom where I left my phone. It was dark and cold, but I was too anxious to pay attention to that - that is until I heard something. A voice that seemed to envelop me, coming from no particular direction. I stopped just at the edge of my bedroom as it yelled out a single sentence.

"Don't go in there."


SirPiecemaker t1_j9sp45q wrote

AND YOU SAID THIS 'WARCLUB' IS PLAYED MOSTLY WITH DICE? Death said, his words not spoken but heard, each syllable weighing my mind down.

"Warhammer," I corrected him politely. "And yes. But to play, you must first choose an army."


"Oh, uh," I chuckled lightly, "Warhammer goes beyond that. There are many factions, each with a set of advantages and unique mechanics. It's more... varied, let's say."

I SEE, Death nodded along.

"Sir... uh, Death, if I may - why the interest?" I questioned carefully.

IT IS CUSTOMARY FOR ME TO PLAY A DEAD SOUL. SHOULD THEY WIN, THEY GET AN... EXTENSION. EVERYONE PICKS CHESS AND, IN THE END, I ALWAYS WIN. IT GETS BORING, YOU SEE? Death explained, the small, blue lights in his empty eye sockets flickering lightly.

"Can't argue with that," I shrugged.


I looked over my collection. I was an avid fan and had at least a solid composition for every faction. My eyes finally settled on a familiar sight.

"I believe Necrons would suit you."


I blinked slowly and looked at the cold, skeletal faces of my Necron warriors before shifting my gaze to the cold, skeletal face of Death.

" reason," I lied.

WHAT ABOUT THESE? Death asked and pointed a skeletal finger towards a group of hardened warriors.

"A great choice," I commended. "You'll need these," I said and slammed a large box on the desk.

ARE ALL THESE DICE? Death asked.



"That's Orks for you. They shoot a lot. They miss a lot. But you're bound to hit with some of the bullets."

Death paused for a moment. YES, he finally said. THIS AMUSES ME.

"Good," I smiled. "Now, if you want to just get into a game quickly, we can do that."


"Well..." I said and scratched the back of my neck, "to really get into Warhammer, I personally think that you have to start by painting your own army. Really immerse yourself. I got some blank models, but no paints at the moment, I'm afraid."

WILL THESE SUFFICE? Death said and pulled a cluster of glass bottles from his robe, each containing different paint. I picked one up; it was a colour that didn't actually exist. Just looking at it hurt my eyes. I hastily put it back down.

"Yes, these are perfect. Now. Allow me to tell you the first cardinal rule of Warhammer," I said with a stern expression.


"Always thin your paints," I laughed.^(2)





^(1) To give Death credit, it truly was an obscene amount of dice. Each was blessed by Gork - or perhaps Mork - to guarantee that the rolls would be wildly inconsistent to even the most skilled hand.

^(2) Seriously. Always.


SirPiecemaker t1_j7ylp2d wrote

I was thinking about it some more and I would absolutely have some Chaos people too. Maybe a Thousand Suns in research. T'au in Engineering. Harlequin strike team. Tyranid garbage disposal.