Thursday, 25 October 2012

Story Hook: The Nation of Endless Dancing

Story Hook #93: Nation becomes infested with sand worms attracted to things with no rhythm. Entire continent becomes perpetual dancers


"If you do not dance, you can not leave ship," the man said in somewhat broken common. "Come and dance the dance of my people." I looked around the harbor. Everyone was dancing. Cabin boys danced across ships. 8 poor guys carrying what looked like a mast skipped past holding tambourines. A gentleman manning the office was doing a little jig while carrying on a conversation with a woman who kept twirling and leaping. Music wafted through the harbor from somewhere, though I couldn't see the band. I looked back at the gentleman i was talking to. He was doing a weird little tap dance in time with the music. He bobbed up and down. It was probably the strangest thing I had ever seen, even stranger then the giant teddy bear we found in that giants cave. I glanced over at Enok. He shrugged.

"Come," the man said, "dance." "Erm..." I hesitated. I didn't really want to dance across the harbor and to be perfectly honest, I wasn't much of a dancer. The man saw me hesitate and smiled. "Come," he said to Enok, "dance to wonderful music." Enok shrugged and leaped off the boat, causing several pirouetting repairmen to scramble out of the way. He landed gracefully, but then he had always been the graceful one. It was one of the annoying things about him. Enok was a ranger, and having grown up and trained in the forest could move like a cat. I watched him, quite literally, waltz across the dock, where he joined a conga line and headed off.

I shook my head. Well, if he could do it so could I. I stepped past the old man and onto the dock. Now I tend more towards the hit things with the axe until the stop moving bit of adventuring, so I was not exactly as graceful as Enok. However, I gave it my best, I wiggled and jumped and waved my hands and succeeded in sort of moving across the dock and into the harbor.

Almost immediatly the old man was beside me. "No no no," he said, "You must dance in time with the music." I tried to jig my feet like his, but it was rather difficult with my steel boots. Enok and his conga line had looped back around and several of them were watching with rather horrified expressions at my failed attempts to dance while the old man jumped around me yelling "No, no, back on the boat you go!" I continued trying, which was unfortunate because I tripped and fell flat on my face.

At this moment, I heard a loud rumbling and suddenly from out of the ground burst a massive worm. It was easily twice both my height and girth, a sandy coloured creature that looked like a giant snake until you saw its strange round head.. The creature roared, its huge round jaw revealing rows of massive teeth. I went for my axe and realized to late I'd left it aboard the ship. I hadn't expected any trouble from these dancing maniacs. I raised my hands to protect myself as the thing came at me, knocking me to the ground. It reared up above me and I looked around for help. Enok was working his way back to the boat, presumably to get a weapon. Meanwhile the conga line was congaing the heck out of there and the old man was leaping about maddly. I groaned. The worm pounced on me and I rolled away and back to my feet. From out of the ground two more of the creatures burst. The first dove on me again and I rolled out of the way. The second caught me as it gave chase however, knocking me back to the ground.

The old man, ceased leaping and jigged for a moment. He pointed his finger at me. "Shouldn't have left boat", he said, "You have no sense of rhythm." And with those fateful words the first worm struck my head with its tail and I blacked out.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Story Hook: Paint Everything Blue

I have a list of adventure game story hooks, the idea being that you roll a dice to generate a story hook and then play the listed adventure. I'll try a couple of these and see how entertaining they are.

I rolled: 56: Sinister Cult believes key to peace and happiness is to paint everything blue

All right then...


"It all started with the mailboxes. Someone had gone around in the night and painted all the mailboxes of all the houses blue. Imagine, getting up in the morning, opening the door to get the paper, and finding that your bright red mailbox with the little green gnomes is now a vibrant shade of baby blue. It gave me quite a start. And it was the talk of the morning at the diner. I mean, its a small community. Heck, the damn town has only got two diners. And stuff like this gets around you know? People wave to each other in the street and share the local gossip. Everyones mailboxes turning blue, that was a big prank for some kids to pull. In all honesty, everyone was more amused then angry about the whole thing."

"What happened then Mr.Reed?"

"The blue mailboxes lasted about a week. Some people painted over them but most of us just ignored it, since it was giving us something to talk about besides the weather. The local sheriff was all up in arms but its not like he does much besides help the drunks home and and retrieve lost cattle. He didn't like being outsmarted by a bunch of hooligans and it wasn't like he was doing nothing but I doubt even he thought he'd ever figure it out."

"Anyways, the next week, all the front doors to all the houses were blue. People laughed at this too, though some people were a little less impressed. Its one thing to paint a mailbox, the damn things are a dime a dozen down at the store, but a door is a little expensive and someone was going to have to repaint them all. People complained to the sheriff, but like I said he wasn't much on it. He didn't have any leads or anything. No one had seen who did it, which now that I think about it is a little odd. How the hell did they paint all those doors without no one seeing them?"

"Interesting Mr.Reed, but I need to know more about why this was happening."

"I'm getting to that, okay."

"Anyways, the following week it was the lawns. All the grass, all covered in blue paint. It looked like someone had pointed at the grass and said, "Now look here, the sky and the ground should be the same colour". People were mightly upset by this. It's one thing to paint a man's door, but to ruin his lawn, which he has worked hard to keep trimmed and green all summer long, is another thing. People were up in arms about the whole thing. The poor mayor was swamped with complaints. Reed, he said, we need to find out what the hell is going on here. So I told him I had a plan."

"That's when you staked out the mayors house?"

"Yeah. Seemed like a good plan. I mean, it wasn't like they'd spared his house or anything. So I went and sat in the shed in the mayors yard, and cut a little hole in the door so I could see out of it. And then I just waited. I'm a light sleeper at the best of times. I brought a book with me, and a flashlight, and of course my extra set of playing cards, because you never know when somebody might want a game of poker. And I sat and waited, for, oh I dunno, four, five days."

"And what did you see?"

"Well, nothing at first. But then one night I saw these guys wearing funny blue robes sneaking around. They were carrying big buckets of blue paint. One of them was clearly overseeing and the others were in charge of the painting. It looked like they were going to do the road. One of them pointed and the other two got painting. Back and forth, back and forth, across the road and back they went, fast as a fox in a chicken coop. "

"And what did you do then Mr.Reed?"

"Well, I opened the door and I hollered at them. The closest one was standing in the yard, so I yelled "Get off that lawn" at him. It seemed to spook him. He jumped and tripped and landed splat on the road. Which normally wouldn't have been to bad mind, 'cept they'd just finished painting that bit, so when he stood up his hands and face were all covered in blue paint. And then he pointed at me and yelled something in some weird language and the other two with the paint rollers looked up at me and sort of waived there paint rollers menacingly."

"Waved their paint rollers menacingly?"

"Yeah, you know, like they were gonna come after me with 'em. But I stood my ground, cause what's a guy gonna do with a paint roller? And then the leader took something out of his robe and threw it at me. I think it was a balloon, but all filled up with paint. Hit me in the stomach and splattered paint all over me. So now we were both a right mess and I didn't really know what to do so I high tailed it out of there, making him think I was running away. 'Cept I was headed for the police station"

"And what did you find when you got to the police station Mr.Reed?"

"Well, the station was all blue, but that didn't surprise me much because it was blue before. What surprised me was all the windows had been painted over with blue paint too, and someone had painted the walkway blue. Now the sheriff, he lives in back of the police station, so I knew if I went in I could probably rouse him. So I went into the police station. And inside were all these people wearing blue robes and holding paint rollers and pointing at the big map of the city inside the police station. And they all turned and looked at me. Now I stood out like a sore thumb and they were being mighty threatening with those paint rollers, so I turned and ran."

"And that is why, Mr.Reed, I found you, running down the highway at 2 in the morning covered in blue paint?"

"Yeah, that about sums it up. But your a real cop right? That means we can go down there and arrest those buggers. I mean, clearly the sheriff was in on it. But you're the highway patrol. You don't have to answer to no lowly sheriff. Call in some backup and lets toss them blue painting bastards back where they belong."

"While, Mr.Reed, you are correct in that I do not have to report to, as you have so eloquently put it, a lowly sheriff, I still have to maintain some semblance of order. And unfortunately, Mr.Reed, you have rather irritatingly created a lot of work for me by tracking dirt through all those well painted blue roads. Do you know how difficult it is to get paint that won't wash off of a roadway Mr.Reed. Very difficult indeed."

"What, wait a minute here. I thought you were going to help me. Who the...mmph!?!"

"I'm sorry Mr.Reed, but your drivel is tiring me. You have clearly seen to much. You should have stayed in your wonderful blue town, where peace and love are sure to flourish now that the painting is complete. But don't worry, Mr.Reed. You will be happy to. Or at least at peace. And all it will take is a little blue washing." 

Thursday, 18 October 2012

History: The First Two Great Crusades (Steam)

The church has embarked on 4 major crusades across the Old World, each of which has resulted in the destruction of the churches enemies.

The first crusade, led by Thomorn Dragonsbane, was against the vikings of the South. At the time, the vikings controlled much of the Old Sea. The islands of the Old Sea, Atherstone, Riddlesden and Garrabost were all inhabited by viking colonies and viking colonies extended into the west as well, up the coast of the Old Sea and even parts of the White Sea. The vikings main colonies bordered the west of the Girga Desert, Stuttgart being the major viking settlement of the times

Thomorn took the churches forces first across the land from St.Peters, founding the cities of Valencia and Havensfield. He would continue all the way to the end of the Old Sea, the current location of Morristown, and formed the first of the monastery outposts known as Thomorn's Churches. Thomorn then returned to Havensfield, where ships had been constructed to take him across the sea. Thomorn sailed on Atherstone, then Riddlesden and finally Garrabost and rid them of the vikings.

Now, up until this time the vikings has mostly attacked villages and had avoided the cities. They lacked any way to threaten walls, preferring to harry there foes and steal livestock and gold. Thomorn mounted the first real attacks on the vikings and the vikings were ill prepared to defend themselves. The crusade swept through the old world quickly and the vikings were largely unable to create any sort of defense capable of defeating Thomorn. Massive siege engines where mounted on ships and priests called lighting from the skies to defeat the few fortifications the vikings had and, since the vikings settlements bordered the waters, Thomorns superiority both on the water and on land gave him a great advantage over his foes.

However, after ridding the islands of the vikings, Thomorn was forced to wait several months before his fleet could make the journey into to the south. In those months, the vikings prepared great defences to throw back Thomorn's fleet. When Thomorn arrived in Stuttgart it was to face a foe prepared. The vikings had stolen the technology for Thomorn's siege weapons and used there magic to cause the seas to destroy Thomorn's boats. When Thomorn's armies landed they faced a new type of viking, the huge warriors of Woden. These heavily armoured warriors were a far cry from the lightly armoured raiders Thomorn was used to.

The church did successfully destroy Stuttgart, pushing the vikings back into the southern forests. However, a terrible toll was exacted on Thomorn's army. All of the warships were destroyed and many of the priests and knights had fallen as well. Thomorn himsef was killed taking the city, slain by a huge avatar of Haldor, the vikings god of war. The avatar, created by animating massive effigies to the gods, is one of the few to have ever been seen by the vikings. While it was destroyed by siege engines from the ships the damage it wrought upon the army was terrible.

Thomorn's remaining forces attempted to cleanse the vikings from the old world, but were largely unsuccessful. While only a small number of vikings remained the viking warriors in the south were very different from those who has raided the coast. Riding light horses through the murky forests and using magic to turn the environment against the knights, the vikings successfully repelled the invaders, though it would be many years before there civilization would recover.

The Second Crusade, led by Richand Silverkin, would lead the church much deeper into the south. The crusade focused largely on the Lands of the Night Lords, a strange people who lived in the southern desert bordering the Old Sea.The Night Lords were so called because there people only came out during the cool desert nights. They lived in vast underground chambers which contained there markets and houses. Meanwhile, there crops grew outside these underground cities, flourishing in the blistering sunlight of the desert.

Richand Silverkin planned a brilliant campaign in which the church spilt its forces, sending half across the Old Sea and half across the Inner Sea. Richand accompanied his troops across the Old Sea and captured the city of Odessa from the Night Lords. He declared it his base of operations in the South, and troops from nearby Riga sailed across the sea to join him there. Meanwhile, Belhand Darkeye led the troops crossing the Inner Sea. They met little resistance and formed Luxor, which would later become a major trading post of the old world.

Richand's crusade pushed the Night Lords father back into the desert, but the cost on his own troops was great. It was difficult to get supplies in the desert, and Richand followed the Taia River inland in order to stay supplied with food and water. He conquered several minor cities though the Night Lords defended against him furiously. The Night Lords were unused to battling heavy cavalry, what cavalry they had was light and often used for chariots or horse archers. The Night Lords had access to little metal in the desert and largely relied on bronze, which was incapable of piercing the knights heavy armour.

Much like the vikings, the Night Lords quickly learned to fight this new foe. There first tactical change was to begin raiding at night with there lighter cavalry and troops. Richand's men's morale quickly dropped as the Night Lords began to nightly raid his camps. Accustomed to the darkness the Night Lord's men made short work of there targets while the knights, unaccustomed to such fighting, began to fall. Seeing that a quick action was needed, Richand struck out for Tanta, a large underground city that also housed the temple of the sun. Richand hoped to take the temple and so cripple the Night Lords morale.

Meanwhile, Belhand crossed towards Tanta, but unlike Richand his progress was severely hampered by lack of food and water. While priestly magic succeeded in keeping Belhand's knights alive, he lost almost all his foot soldiers to exhaustian.

Richand arrived at Tanta to find the Night Lords waiting for him. While the city was largely undefended, once inside Richand realized how poorly he understood his foe. The city of Tanta was unlike any he had seen before, spreading for miles in every direction underground and housing massive pyramids and stone monsters. The Night Lords forces, used to fighting in the caves, wreaked terrible carnage on Richand's army. Furthermore, they brought there stone creations to life, and great sphinxes and monsters statues cleaved through Richand's forces.

Not to be outdone, Richand's forces summoned forth angelic warriors to battle these creatures. Angelic choirs battled stoney sphinxes in the underground streets. However, these forces were not enough. Richand's forces were destroyed in Tanta and Richand himself was slain by a champion of the Night Lords army.

Several weeks later, Belhand arrived in Tanta to find the ruins of Richand's forces. The long trek across the sands had changed Belhand and his knights. They had been sustained so long by priestly magic that they had become half-mortal and half-celestial. Great wings sprouted from the knights backs and there weapons and armour glowed with holy flames. Belhand stormed the city to avenge Richand. The Night Lords fought viciously again, but the angelic knights proved a much tougher foe. The weapons of the Night Lords had little effect against them and the flight granted to the knights allowed them much more maneuverability inside the large underground city. Eventually Belhand stormed the Temple of the Sun, where he fought and killed the great Night Lord Ricice Samulkin. In death however, Samulkin cursed Belhand to die in a cowardly manner.

Belhand, having destroyed the temple, left Tanta, unable to destroy or hold the city with such a small force. Hoping to reunite with the churches forces, he traveled down the Taia hoping to reach Oddessa. However, it was not to be. During his travel the river flooded, turning the desert into a mire. Belhand and his men sought to use there newfound wings to save themselves, but were unable to fly far enough to escape the flooding. In the end Belhand and his men where killed by the Taia.

The second crusade is unique in that it is the first recorded instance of knights gaining angelic power. Since then it has become more common for knights, especially captains, to gain some angelic powers such as the flaming weapons or wings common to angels. The reasons for this are unclear, though some scholars believe that the increase in such powers is due to the increase in the belief that truly great knights will have these gifts bestowed upon them by God. While such reasoning is probably correct, it does not explain what caused these gifts to be given in the first place, when no one believed such things happened.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

History: The Lost City (Steam)

Since I have to do it any is a poor excuse for writing anything, but I have to, at some point in time, actually flesh out this location beyond "it's underwater" for adventure gaming. So without further ado, the history of the Lost City.

Few of the cities in the Old World are as unique as the Lost City. Once known as Atherstone City and perched on Atherstone Island, the Lost City was once a thriving seaport. Atherstone facilitated trade through the sea from Valencia and Havensfield to the southern continent, most notably to Oddessa. Atherstone was somewhat uniquely located in its location separating trade in the Old Sea and trade coming down the coast from the White Sea or up from the south.

Atherstone, similarly to the other islands in the old sea, was originally colonized by the vikings. In early times, the vikings controlled the vast majority of the waterways since there were so few ships. The first crusade, led by Thomorn Dragonsbane, cleared the vikings from the waterways and pushed them back onto the southern continent. The first crusade would see the creation of Valencia and Havenfield, as well as the founding of Atherstone. At that time, Atherstone functioned as a restocking station for the crusade. Thomorn went on to conquer three of the four islands in the Old Sea and would establish colonies on each of them to facilitate his eventual crossing to the southern continent. Atherstone was a key part of the crossing and made the crossing possible. Though Thormon was eventually defeated by the vikings he decreased there numbers sufficiently that Atherstone was rarely threatened by them again.

Atherstone stayed as a small refueling station for the navy until the founding of Oddessa, which greatly increased trade through the Old Sea. Similarly, metals and machinery became more common place as the Fortview Furnaces grew and the products from Fortview were shipped down the coast. Havenfield became a bustling city and as trade from Havenfield increased, so to did the number of ships making port in Atherstone. Metals and exotic foods were shipped from Havenfield and Valnecia through to Riga and from Riga into the Inner Sea. As trade increased Atherstone changed into a bustling trade city, fuelled by the ships making port there for supplies.

Havenfields proximity to Waltham would eventually lead it to adopt the technologies more common in the west. A university was founded at Havensfield to study the items brought up from Oddessa and to mount expeditions into the south. Soon a university was founded in Atherstone as well in order to support both these pursuits. While Havensfield's university would slowly die of stagnation and lack of trade during the third crusade, Atherston's University flourished studying the diverse sea life and exotic plants and animals brought by the servants of the Night Lords fleeing the church and by expeditions into the Girga desert.

Meanwhile Valencia would go on to become a major city of the Church, one of the few western cities to still have a priestly leader. Valencia became a holy city, frequented by thousands of pilgrims to see the fabled walls of Valencia, a massive barrier commissioned by the Pope himself to protect Valencia from sinking into the sea. Valencia's expansion had brought it perilously close to destruction and the church's decision to save it made it a holy city.

At the beginning of the fourth crusade, it became obvious that Valencia and Havensfield would become the natural choke points of the attack. The Fortview Mountains prevented an attack at the heart of the west and an attack around the mountains would be difficult to mount in the face of stiff resistance and difficult weather and terrain. Valencia became a gathering point for Cruice's army.

About this time, the Free Cities elected the Sunset Kid to lead an army against Valencia. Knowing Valencia's walls would be unable to protect it against airborn attack, the Kid staged a large force of airships at Atherstone. Meanwhile, his ground troops moved to defend Havensfield from any ranging forces.

Unfortunately, Cruice discovered the Sunset Kid's plan, and in a bid to save his forces and Valencia he commissioned the vatican to sink the isle of Atherstone. The pope and his councellors gathered there might and sank the island beneath the waves. Atherstone, home to both a university and several powerful mages who were part of the war effort, was saved by a massive bubble spell which protected the city as it sank. The spell  is similar to that which protects Valencia and at the time the mages of Atherstone's university were working on such a spell to protect the city from vicious ocean storms. In a stroke of luck, the spell was largely prepared ahead of time and while the mages were not able to repel the church's power they were able to protect the city. The spell filters air from the water, allowing air to reach the city and stabilizes the pressure in the city, allowing humans to survive in it. The casting of the spell cost many mages there lives, a sacrifice still felt by the Free Cities due to the lack of properly trained war mages.

The destruction of the island caused massive tidal waves across the Old Sea. Valencia's walls held it safe, but the Sunset Kid's fleet was not so lucky. The fleet was largely destroyed and most of the airships, tethered to the island, were destroyed as well, sunk beneath the waves as there tethers sank or destroyed by the church's magic. The magicians tasked with protecting the fleet dedicated there energy to saving the city and as a result the Sunset Kid's army was reduced to a fraction of its original size. Many of the war mages the Sunset Kid has brought with him died saving the city as well, resulting in a serious reduction of the magical power of the Free Cities. Fortunately, the amount of power it took the church to destroy the island largely neutered the Vatican as well, and such power has yet to be displayed again during the war.

Now, Atherstone, known as the Lost City, functions as a sea floor base for the Free Cities. The city has continued to grow as deep sea mining operations have since set up in it. Largely protected from the church, the Lost City is a powerful stronghold but also a poor place to amass an army. Few resources can be gathered besides gasses from the ocean floor, and the majority of these resources are needed to sustain the city. Vast kelp fields, maintained by automatons and humans in pressure suits, keep the city fed. The lower classes feed on kelp and fish while the upper classes generally eat more exotic foods such as beef and chicken. The Lost City has certainly lost its former glory, but its unique location has led to many discoveries that would not have come about otherwise.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Creativity Exercise 4 (The Springfield Paper, a football stadium, observational learning)

Object: The Springfield Paper (A weekly paper published in Springfield, Ohio and Clark County, Ohio)
Place: Pittodrie Stadium (A football stadium located in Aberdeen, Scotland)
Other: Observational Learning

It is well known that an employee must always rise to his level of incompetence and so it was with the editor of the Springfield Paper, one of those men who chomped on a cigarette while giving order and trying to smack the secretaries ass. I remember well him first explaining this hair brained plan to me. See, he was a great believer in sports stories for some reason. I always felt like a town the size of ours really didn't worry to much about that sort of thing. Besides the local high school we didn't really have a sports team and most people got on fine without one. But at the time he was full of new ideas and this was one of them. Cover an international sports event, he said. Cover football. Everyone loves football. This is America, and in America we love our football. And then he'd continued on with some patriotic idiocy that made me feel like he'd taken leave of his senses.

And so I ended up in Aberdeen, sitting in the stadium watching a soccer game. I suppose nobody ever told my boss they don't play football in Scotland, and he just assumed that if the game was called football then it was American football. I sighed. I didn't watch much soccer and had only the vaguest notion of what was going on. Besides, it was raining, and cold, and who in there right mind wanted to watch a bunch of grown men chase a checkered ball around a field. Oh, and reporting. Lets not forget about the reporting.

The reporting pretty much consisted of writing down goals and trying to learn what the hell was going on. Which I was rather unsuccessful at, I will admit. I understood the whole teams try to score goals bit, but many of the fouls seemed rather unnecessary to me. I left the stadium feeling considerably confused.

I wrote my report on the flight back, and it was on the editors desk first thing in the morning. He called me in later in the day. "Will," he said, "I can't publish this drivel. Your supposed to be the crack sports reporter. But you haven't even recorded how much yardage everyone ran. Or how many touchdowns were made." He gave a snort. "Queer sort of reporting you've done. For instance, how could the score possibly be 3-1. Were there no touchdowns at all? Are the Scottish such pansies that they can't get touchdowns or did you just screw it up? Well?"

He gave me the "I'm the boss and you'd better fucking explain if you still want a job" look. I was speechless. Of course there were no touchdowns. It was a game of soccer. So I said so. "Will," the editor said, "I want no truck with soccer. A game for ladies and little boys. I sent you to watch a football game." So I tried again. I tried to convince him that football and soccer were the same game in Scotland. "But Will," he said, "Then what do they call football there? This stories got more holes in it then that smelly French cheese. Write it properly you idiot. Clearly you went to the wrong field or something. Dumbass."

I was speechless. He shoved my article back on me and shook his head. "Should never have sent you in the first place. What do you know about international reporting anyways? Should have gone mmyself." He shook his head sadly. "And such an expense to the paper to, sending you all that way for nothing. You had best revise that article, and revise it now." He pushed me out of his office and slammed the door.

About a week later, the Springfield Paper published an article about a football game in Scotland. There running back had apparently played very well and both teams had scored several touchdowns. There was also, rather curiously, a rather high number of penalties in the game. But everyone in town thought it was one of the most interesting articles the paper had published in a long time. They especially liked the part where it was pointed out that any American football team could have easily beaten the Scottish at a game of football.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Creativity Excerise 3 (Granta Park, moth, For All Practical Purposes)

Place: Granta Park (a science, technology, and biopharmaceutical park located near Cambridge, England
Object: Coleophora alniella (A moth common to North America which eats leaves)
Other: For All Practical Purposes (A scientific statement indicating that something has always been observed as true, even though it can not be proved true)

The windows of Abington Hall glinted in the sunlight as the cricket players ran about on the green in front of it. Dr.Powers watched the men chase the small ball across the green while another man jogged about, cheered on by a small crowd of students and men taking a small break. "A break of their senses," Powers thought irritably. He had never had much time for cricket, or for any such frivolous games. After all, he was a man of science, and it is well known that men of science must leave off everything for the pursuit of knowledge. He still took his exercise to be sure, a brisk walk in the morning to wake up the mind in the fresh air of the park. But even on these walks Powers considered his research, looking at the morning clouds and whispering trees for inspiration in his work.

Powers checked his watch and make as tsking sound. His colleague was late. The man had been pestering him for weeks now, something about a moth and the universe. Powers snorted. Probably some nonsense about butterfly wings and hurricanes. How the scientific community let such beliefs still stand was unthinkable. String theory was all well and good, but people always took these things too literally. A metaphor became scientific fact and the general population ended up believing the stupidest things. And was it not up to the scientific community to set them right again? Powers certainly thought so, but their was little he could do to sway public opinion.

Powers' colleague arrived and it can be accurately said that Powers' colleague was nothing like Powers himself. For while Powers wore a suit and slacks and shoes which had been shined that morning, his colleague had none of this professional attire. Dressed in a button up shirt and jeans, Powers' colleague seemed all disarray and confusion, and spent several moments sitting down, an event which Powers watched with no amusement whatsoever. "Dr.Young," Powers said, extending his hand with a ever so slight grimace on his face, "How are you today?"

Dr.Young, who had finally managed to be seated, stared at Powers' hand for a moment before seeming to suddenly realize he was supposed to shake it. "Dr.Powers," Young said with a smile, "Quite well thank you, and yourself?" Young shook Dr.Powers hand rather vigorously.

Powers extracted his hand from Young's. "All right," Powers said, "It is a nice enough day to sit in the park." Dr.Young looked around, as if for the first time noticing he was in a park at all. "Yes, quite," Young murmured and then immediately pulled a cage onto the table. Inside it a pair of small gray moths fluttered around somewhat frantically. Upon placing the cage on the table, the moths settled again. Young then began to dig around in his back, muttering quietly to himself.

Powers stared at the moths in the cage. They looked like garden variety moths to him, but then he knew little about moths. His specialization was electronics, not insects, and he had no great love of moths in general. Annoying creatures really, which served no useful purpose save to fly into fragile equipment and get electrocuted. He glanced back at Young, who had extracted a strange looking device from his bag and was hurriedly connecting wires to it. It had six wheels and a circuit board with a CPU and some ram on it as a chassis. A great many wires ran off the thing and it was to these that Young was connecting things. Probes mostly, but also pieces of metal and smaller circuit boards and even what looked like a little hat. Powers' mouth curled back in distaste, and his distaste was only increased when Young removed a scalpel from his bag, grabbed a moth from the cage and cut off its head.

"Really," Powers said, "Why in the world did you do that. I did not come here to watch you kill insects." "You will see in a minute," Young said as he began to attach wires to the unfortunate bugs head. "I can not keep them hooked up for long since the heads decompose, but I'm working on that too." He placed the little hat on the head and placed the head on the chassis. Wires stuck out of it at odd angles. "Frankly," said Powers, "I am not sure what you are trying to prove here." "Oh, it is quiet simple really," said Young, and then began to expound on how the head generated impulses and how the wires were connected to the head and so forth. Powers understood little of it, after all he had no degree in biology, and stared with mounting horror at the sad little head on the circuit board. The feelers on it were still moving slightly, though with the breeze or because the poor thing was still alive he couldn't tell. Young continued on about humans and how it could be expanded and more testing was needed. Powers looked at him with growing frustration.

"This is what you have to show me?" Powers said, "A head attached to a little car. Quite frankly this is one of the most disturbing things I have seen in a long time. I have no idea how I let you talk me into this meeting." "Just wait," said Young, "Soon you will see what this type of technology can do." "I doubt," said Powers, "that it will do anything at all. Attaching a head to car does not magically create science. I expected to see research and proposals, forms of applications and the like. even hurried emails would have been nice." Young stared at him, a slightly exasperated look on his face. "Why should I have those things?" Young said, "If you just wait..."

"I have waited long enough," Powers said. "Good day to you sir. For all practical purposes a scientist who does not have papers and research and proposals is no scientist at all." And so saying this Dr.Powers got up and left. Young sat at the table, somewhat dumbstruck, as Powers walked out of the hall. "Well, that was rather rude", Young though to himself as he looked down at the car, "And what a waste of a moth." As if on cue the car began to roll across the table and since Young was lost in his own thoughts, we has not quick enough to prevent it rolling off the table and crashing into the floor. Young sighed as circuitry and wheels skittered across the floor and began picking up the pieces of the little car, watched with no curiosity whatsoever by the other moth.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Creativity Exercise 2 (Chalet, Bird, Hell's Bells)

Place: Humber Valley Golf Resort (Golf course and chalet in Newfoundland)
Object: Liocichla (a type of warbler common to Asia with a red chest and yellow head)
Other: Hell's Bell's: The dangers of Rock 'N' Roll (a Christian documentary about the relation of Rock 'N' Roll to amoral behavior and the devil)

I sat on the deck, looking out across the golf course covered in fresh snow. There is something about snow that I find very relaxing. It is clean and fresh and makes the world look, at least for a little while, like it has been cleaned up. I yawned and took a draw on my coffee, letting the heat of the drink warm my chest and the Irish cream warm my soul. Most people found vacationing during the winter quite intolerable. They would rather sit on a beach somewhere on watch children scream at one another and chase each other up and down the surf. Frankly, I would take this white wonderland any day of the week.

The deck, which was equipped with several heat lamps so that customers could sit on it, was devoid of anyone save me and the bartender. I glanced around to where the bartender was idly wiping down the bar. The bar was located inside the chalet so that the bartender could serve both the deck and the restaurant at the same time. Behind the bar hung a bird cage containing a strange looking bird, all red and yellow feathers, which sang a pretty little song. The bartender occasionally whistled at it and the little bird whistled back. The birdsong added a pleasant atmosphere to the place, a counterpoint to the silence of the snow.

I was just beginning to contemplate a second coffee when a woman bustled onto the patio. She wore a large white coat trimmed with white fur, though whether or not it was real fur I couldn't say. The coat was long enough that it swept out behind her along the ground so that the trim on the bottom of it gathered the dirt off the patio. She also had on a white ushanka and a pair of white gloves. She bustled up to the bar and rather rudely asked for a glass of orange juice, which the bartender produced. She then proceeded to come over and sit next to me.

Still warm from my coffee and enjoying the snow I made the mistake of saying good morning to this strange creature. She immediately began complaining to me about the service in the chalet, about how the bus boys were slow and lazy and the maids had not done a good enough job of cleaning the room. This greatly surprised me. I had stayed here numerous times and always found the service to be excellent. However, to hear her speak of it, this was an atrocious place to stay and not worth the dime she had spent.

The worst of it, the lady said, was how after they were off the bus boys and maids gathered and danced in the basement to that hideous rock and roll music. Now I was a little astounded by this. Many of the staff lived at the chalet, since it was a long way from town, and far be it from us to tell them what they should do in there time off. Besides, it was well known that the staff threw parties several nights a week and most of the guests went to them. Anyone was invited and the chalet did good business selling drinks at the event. I myself had partaken in one a couple days ago, and while I assure my readers that I did not dance I certainly enjoyed the band and the company of my fellow vacationers.

"Madam," I said, "surely we should not be so hard on them. After all, they are only young once. Let them live a little. Besides, many of the guests enjoy the parties as well and the chalet sees no problem with them." The woman looked terribly affronted by this. "Have you not seen Holmberg's work on the subject?" she asked, "In Hell's Bells he explicitly shows how rock and roll music can lead to drunkenness and drug use and rebellion." I gave a shrug. "Surely it is the purpose of youth to rebel a little," I said, "after all, how can we hope they will change the world if they will not rise up against it?" A shocked look crossed the woman's face. "Why should we want them to change it?" she asked. "Is it not god's will that the world is how it is. The world does not need changing. Look at the beauty of today. Would you like this changed?" And with that she swept her hand out, indicating the snow covered golf course.

 I looked over at her. "The snow hides the ugliness beneath it," I replied, "but we can not forget how dirty the world is beneath the snow, no matter how beautiful the snow is." And with that I stood up and walked over to the bar.

The bartender smiled as I approached, and his little bird, which had stopped singing, began again as I walked up to the bar. I asked for another coffee and stood there watching the little bird while the bartender made it. He handed me the drink and I thanked him and walked back over to my seat again.

The woman was standing, and for a moment I was hopeful she would leave. However, I could see that I had upset her, and as I approached she seemed to swell a little bit with rage. "How dare you," she said, "drink such a profane drink. Alcohol at this time in the morning. You are as bad as any of the staff here." I was a little shocked, and my surprise allowed her to grab my coffee from my unyielding hand. She threw it, cup and all, off the patios and then stormed off. I looked down at my coffee, which had splattered across the new fallen snow, leaving an ugly spattering of brown across the otherwise pristine snowy ground.