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Archive for the ‘Sci-Fi’ Category

I’ve been really hyped to run Game of Thrones with the FATE Core RPG. I’ve written thousands of words on emulating this dramatic saga!

So, of course, my awesome players … would rather play in Star Wars.

images-1I’ve run Star Wars for MANY years – off and on since the mid-90’s. Once the prequels made the story silly, I stopped.

I’ve played four editions of RPGs from two publishers, so I know what’s been done and can hopefully use my experience to craft my best version yet.

I think the key to this is to focus on storytelling of the original trilogy.

Character Creation

The Aspects that define Star Wars characters are categorized as Role, Conflict, Crisis, Debt and FavorThese are patterned after the main characters in A New Hope.

Role defines the character’s function in the story and serving as a snapshot of their portrayal. It follows the general framework: [Adjective], [Adjective] [Species and/or Job] from [Origin].

Luke Skywalker: Brash, Young Pilot from a Remote Desert World

Han Solo: Quick-on-the-Trigger, Cocky Core World Smuggler

Jar-Jar Binks: [not available for play]

jarjar[1]

USDA ground Gungan

Conflict replaces the Trouble Aspect in standard FATE games. Trouble represents personal struggles or problematic relationships. Conflict defines a character’s core duality or principle opposition. This Aspect follows the general forms of either contradiction “I am X, but I’m also Y” or confrontation “I am X, so I fight Y”.

Chewbacca: Honorable Warrior life-debted to a Mischievous Scoundrel?

Princess Leia: We fight for Freedom, Tyranny is the Real Crime

These are a personal struggle and a problematic relationship, but notice each defines a character by contrast. Dramatic contrast is what puts the war in Star Wars. Great stories would come from scenarios calling for one side of the Aspect at the expense of the other. Examples:

  • Chewie must pose as slaver to rescue Han from the Corporate Sector Authority.
  • Leia must ally with an Imperial Admiral Pelleaon to fight the Yuuzhan Vong.

LRNCe[1]

Crisis, Debt, Favor are pretty close to the FATE Core Phase Trio in that it describes a shared background that links the characters.

The Owen & Beru Barbeque was Luke’s formative crisis, and in the course of the story he’s in Debted to Han for saving him and is gets Favored by Leia for rescuing her. Repaying him with a sisterly tongue kiss could be the source of a new Crisis.
2010289_1316684920816.7res_468_359[1]

Skills

Not a lot of changes to skills have I made. Its mostly just renaming some for a more Star Warsy feel and in homage to the old d6 version:

Buy (Resources), Con (Deceive), Contact, Fight, Interface*, Investigate, Know (Lore), Mechanic*, Move (Athletics), Perceive (Notice & Empathy), Persuade (Rapport), Pilot (Drive), Ride, Survive*, Shoot, Sneak (Stealth), Strength (Physique), Threaten (Provoke), Will. (* for new skills I’ll explain after the paragraph space)

Interface is for using computer software to help reach a goal. There wouldn’t be a story unless somebody sliced data files to decrypt the Imperial desktop folder “Death Star Weaknesses“.

How did Han know to shove Luke inside a dead Tauntaun? He Overcame with his Survive skill. This skill would cover field medicine too. Survive is useful wherever civilization ain’t.

Mechanic skill represents the ability to resolve issues with machinery; i.e. building prissy droids from scratch , fixing over-sized 1970’s sci-fi gadgets and constructing armor. Handy, cause some armor isn’t that effective.

funny-Storm-Trooper-meme-Star-Wars

Consequences

Characters in this galaxy endure a lot of hardship – especially if they’re protagonists. However, they’re not harder than other sci-fi stars. Chewbacca versus Jayne Cobb, fair fight.

Instead of taking an Extreme Consequence, characters in my game will have 3 Mild, 2 Moderate and a Severe Consequence slots. These make them no tougher than standard FATE PCs but dramatically deeper (Consequences = Complications = Player emotion = Drama).

Speaking of drama, Mental Stress is renamed Emotional Stress. <— THAT’S pic is EMOTIONAL.

Vehicles

Applying the FATE Fractal, anything can be a character, including vehicles. So, how are vehicle s characters?

A Rebel in an X-Wing can blow up a TIE fighter, but that same Rebel with a Blaster rifle would only stain its paint job. A Jedi on a speeder bike can cover a hundred kilometers in an hour, but on foot a dozen or so km in a day. Vehicles are Extras that showcase how awesome characters are and enable them to do things they normally couldn’t!

speeder-bikes-speeder-bike-star-star-wars-motercycle-speeder-demotivational-poster-1275255530 The skills of their controlling character or characters are a vehicle’s skills. Yet, these machines have Aspects for unique details about the individual craft and Stunts for hardwired design features of their class; both can bolster character rolls.

  • Boba Fett’s Firespray transport Slave 1 has the Aspect  Linked Cannons Rain Blaster Torrents .
  • A-Wing fighters have the Stunt Small and Quick that grants +2 to Pilot Defend action  to avoid targeting locks and being tailed.

A consideration with vehicles is how much damage they can take before being rendered not useful to characters. All vehicles have a default 1 and a 2 Stress boxes, like PCs. Also, characters can sacrifice their own Stress in place of their vehicles Stress when on board.

They also get Consequences depending on their size and durability. These are general guidelines:

  • Speeder bike has 1 Mild.
  • Bigger Speeders and star fighters have 1 Mild and a 1 Moderate.
  • Giant speeders/walkers and light star transports (Millenium Falcon) have 1 Mild, 1 Moderate and 1 Severe.
  • Small capital ships would have extra Milds and/or Severes. Monolithic Super Star Destroyers might have 4 Milds, 3 Moderate, 2 Severe and 1 Extreme.

Characters can choose to take Consequences in place of the vehicle. Instead of the speeder taking Ruined Engine, it may be better for the engineer to take Frustrated because a Ruined Engine would be MORE frustrating.

funny-star-wars-1Roll Mechanic to Overcome Busted Mini-Van Aspect

The Force

The Force as an ally can greatly enhance a PC’s capabilities. If a character’s Role Aspect describes Force sensitivity, you know something like “I’m an Eff’in Jedi!“, then they have Permission to take Use the Force Stunt:

  • jedi-master-funny-picture-23466Once per Scene, the character can Create the Advantage Using the Force on their character with a free Invoke without rolling; although Will would be used to “re-create” the Advantage. The Invoke can be used to allow Will to make ranged Strength actions (telekinesis).

A long list of individual Force powers, need we do not. Every special ability we see in the saga can be emulated by a mix of Use the Force and individual Role Aspect Invocations. Stunts can be a mechanically “cheaper” way to use powers the character uses regularly.

Take getting a vision of the future for example. A player could:

  • Invoke Using the Force or any Force-related Aspect to declare that they have a vision, then roll Perceive to Create an Advantage based on it.
  • Use their Farseeing Stunt: Once per session, the player can ask the Gamemaster about the future and she must answer with a visual description of a scene that answers the question. Players don’t spend 2 refresh for ambiguous images! This revelation can become a Story Aspect.

This modeling of the Force is based off ideas by Ryan Danks. His write-up has plenty of great examples FATE Force Fun.

funny-luke-darkside-y-u-no-memeThe Darkside is always a threat to Force users. I’ve seen how several other RPGs handle the seduction, and I think I’ve figured a good method.

A Force using character that is played like a good guy, won’t go to the Darkside. A character that does Sith shit should rename their Aspects to reflect this. To redeem, start doing really good stuff on par with the evil you did.

A PC can start on the Darkside if its cool with the group. If their Role Aspect describes evil and Force use, they’re on the Darkside.

And … that’s it. There’s no need for a seduction mechanic. Playing a Super-Powered Sci-Fi Asshole Ronin can be way more fun than a celibate stoic space paladin – that’s the REAL seduction!

OK, I’m done – WAIT!

Lightsabers are Weapon:4 and very rare.

The Stunt A Jedi’s Weapon lets a character with a Jedi or Sith Role Aspect use Fight to Defend against Shoot attacks. If the Defend succeeds with style, they can deal 2 Stress to another character instead of getting a Boost if the weapon was a blaster. Bullets deflected will just stain your robes with ashes.

Pimp_8d6210_306669

Now, done we are. This is untested and any input would help make our game better. I’d do it for you. 😀

Comment here or on the G+ FATE Community.

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Mavion stopped his task for a moment to touch his left cheek where the bullet passed through his upper jaw. Even he couldn’t have dodged the shot, but he reacted fast enough to choose it’s destination. There was enough blood, David assumed, to believe he was killed. Still, he was disgusted by the arrogance shown in not making sure he was a down target. Now and then he still got nose bleeds and the hearing in his left ear went out, yet he lived.

Sevie didn’t die, physically. The attack was a brutal warning to her father from a rival corp, Durflan Mining. Mr. Ordonez received 75% of his deposit back from Achilles Shield. It was a bit more than the standard  payout for the service package he bought. It would’ve been less had the girl died.  Funeral expenses would’ve been less than the life-long physical rehabilitation and counseling she would now need. These arbitrary numbers were the price of Sevie’s rape.

*   *   *

When able, Mavion visited her where she convalesced, but didn’t find the same young women he knew. The natural beauty forming was replaced by a cosmetic caricature of prettiness meant to conceal the damage. The eyes that held great wonder and reflection now gazed hollowly, even the real eye that remained was as cold as the new false one. Sevonia’s manner was measured and formal, her warmth extinguished. She thanked him for his efforts, but underlying the polite tone was a hurt dread only a once friend would hear.

In the hardest way she had learned the world was not safe regardless of guards, privilege nor the money that bought both. It was a place of predators stalking within murky uncertainty. The innocent were not beneficiaries of justice. She was just a corp-family asset to be plundered, “daughter” was a mere classification. Heroes could not protect her, as they didn’t exist beyond the commercial fictions. David Mavion was not, nor ever was, her hero. This realization numbed her heart, as much as it broke his.

Brought back to present, the lonely man at the table finished assembling the device and finalized the ceremonial by loading the tungsten razors into their cartridge. Magnetically propelled, this ammunition was silent and produced minimal recoil. Additionally, they would NEVER cause jams. It was what he had needed for the last job of his career.

*    *    *

Mavion entered the Durflan Mining offices, where Charles Gerbel operated. The reasons for his extortion of Ordonez didn’t matter. The look on Sevonia’s warped face was all David needed. He bought a hacker to circumvent their security and cripple their facilities to allow his infiltration. The half dozen agents that he couldn’t avoid would nurse broken bones and concussions to allow him to reach his target, and as punishment for being mercenary evil-enabling garbage – like David had been.

The doors to Gerbel’s lavishly appointed office suite opened suddenly and  unexpected given the enforced security lock-down the building was undergoing. Mavion glided in to find two guards between himself and the executive that ordered the assault. They started but obviously thought he was one of their people here to report on the situation. The one on his left was the one from the ambush. He was the one that shot David and taught Sevie a brutal lesson. Mavion stood quietly meeting his eyes until the man’s horrific recognition spread over his pinched features a moment later. He calmly reiterated his previous challenge to the assassin, “Come on.”

The man sharply barked, “INTRUDER!” as he lowered and drew his weapon. Mavion waited until the weapon was pointed directly at him before raising his sliver gun in response and deftly pivoting his body to the right. Before he even heard the pistol’s report, he could feel the shot zip past his head in a parallel path to the one that felled him last time. His own weapon released a high toned hum as two magnetically-propelled ionized razors sliced through his attacker’s head.

The second guard managed two rushed shots at where David had been a second ago. The hum of the sliver gun belatedly announced where Mavion rolled to his left. A razor tore through his wrist and a second ripped his shoulder’s muscle and bone. He dropped his weapon with a shrill shocked gasp as his arm fell slack both bleeding and electrocuted. After three swift strides, Mavion  closed and blurred a pistol whip across his jaw to bring on much welcomed unconsciousness.

Gerbel crouched behind his desk slamming frantically on the alert button that was disabled like the rest of the building’s com-network.  David strode up to the desk as the executive shouted impotently, “Who are you? What do you want with me?”

David answered with all the steadiness of professional detachment, “Sevonia Michala Ordonez.”

Gerbel furrowed in confusion, “Who? Who the hell is that?”

Mavion’s then damaged left cheek twitched in what may have been a smirk or frown. “Daughter of Ricardo Ordonez, chairmen …”

“She was spared!” the man objected desperately, before realizing all pretense of innocence had just fled with that admission. Angered by his own folly, he indignantly pressed on. “A warning was sent! Ordonez complied! He threatened our interests, and we responded! Such IS business!”

David lowered his head wearily and released a shuddering sigh driven by his own anger and shame. That infected woman, Sevie and many others were just pawns in this “business” that was conducted amongst these monied monoliths. Nathaniel, Shime and of course himself were just the agents of this unchecked avarice. He was no different than the one that shot him and hurt Sevie: an instrument of death formed from a once human shell.

Mavion’s senses peripherally caught Gerbel reaching for something in a desk drawer as the man blathered on. “In these sort of large scale dealings, my friend, the naive fool should have know a certain amount of collateral dam …”

A protractedly long whine from the sliver gun cut off the executive with the finality only a torrent of tungsten could grant. Mavion turned his back to the blood splattered desk and reloaded before exiting the suite.

*    *    *

David sat with his newly cleaned, assembled and loaded Ares Viper pistol cradled in his hands. Its precise metallic lines mirrored his own mind more than anything in this life he now lead. He was still a protector, but now only to those his outdated honor deemed worthy. Down here, at the bottom of society, there were some that wanted to make a change to the world. They ran in the shadows of corporate law, which itself had little regard for their hardships and injustices.  As a fugitive, there was no better place for him. Still living by the gun, but now only he decided where it was aimed and why the high whine would sound.

They say that in these times there was no right or wrong. They were wrong. Right was whatever it took to allow the mind to accept rest without regret. This was a luxury no salary, benefit package nor stock share could buy. It was, however, one David Mavion with his filthy apartment and dingy third hand clothing could finally afford.

It was time to cash in. Without a glance, he flicked the bottle cap and hit the room’s power panel. The yellowed light above ceased its harsh glare.

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Mavion adjusted the ejector port to align precisely with the primary actuator. David turned the fasten-wand so slowly it was hard to see the movement. A half millimeter mistake could cause a catastrophic failure in the device, which could quickly lead to the end of his life. Yet, it was important that he do this without computerized gauges. They may have greater accuracy, but still a mere human had programmed them.

Mavion had greater need to be on point. He must be responsible for this. He had to determine the course of his life. Safety was always an illusion.

*    *    *

Sevonia Ordonez was a sheltered seventeen year old girl of corporate wealth not unlike Mavion a decade and sixty missions ago. Bookish but blossoming into a statuesque beauty, the girl was intent on her studies in history and philosophy.

These were subjects David had himself enjoyed between the tedium of Virtual Programming 106 and Poly-planar Algebra 202. They discussed them often as he and his associates escorted her to and from classes, lessons, recitals and other engagements that her father, an Aztech corporate chairman, approved of. Although, papi was ignorant to her fraternization with the help.

Nothing went on between them that was … unprofessional. Sevonia, “Sevie” he called her,  clearly has a crush on him but was too shy to try anything beyond a suggestive double-entendre. Mainly her aim was to fluster his implacably on-the-job cool. After several rough assignments, this low prioritized contract seemed the next best thing to a vacation for Mavion.

He felt … safe, but David didn’t see the target on his admirer until the trigger was pulled.

*    *

They caught Nathaniel and Shime by surprise outside the restaurant. He’d curse those two G3’s for their carelessness but it was a Tertiary Risk Assignment, and their deaths did alert David. He had the girl under the table and weapon drawn when they walked into the door as other customers screamed or dived for cover.

He fired over the assassins heads to halt them and avoid hitting any civilian running in between while also letting them know he was another source of danger, so stay clear! The single shot made the weapon jam, which no doubt had been aligned by the best computerized gauges.

The intruders had no such hard luck with their shots. One slammed into the armor over his stomach just before another hammered through his unprotected thigh. He regained his wits from the storm of pain in time to look up from the floor and see a shotgun muzzle aimed for his face at the end of a jacketed arm.

Burning claws seared his muscles as they hyper-reacted. Slowed like this, the attacker was able to watch his wrist broken, elbow dislocated, shoulder twisted then feel the pain of each before Mavion’s palm crushed his windpipe.

A scream snapped David around, his unsteady steps nearly toppling him – if what he saw didn’t. The second assassin had Sevie on her knees sobbing and wailing. Her long dark brunette hair bunched in his left fist and a pistol in the other. Four strides away, but with a agonized leg it might as well have been a mile. A smile crossed the bastard’s face, and for a moment he ever so slightly favored Garner Atwolf.

Mavion eyed the gun with all of his focus – measuring it’s aim as though he were holding it from the reverse point of view. He measured it as pointing to his left eye. Hard choice, but there was nothing else to do. The girl would be dead already if that was the mission – now she was just insurance Mavion wouldn’t kill them. He was the threat that endangered Sevonia.

He tore open his shirt to reveal the armor beneath and shouted with all of his fear for Sevie, hatred for his own failure and guilt for everything he’d done in his career to those that were as helpless as he was now, “COME ON!!!”

The man’s shot spun David’s head left and his whole body twisted to that side as he fell to the floor.

To be continued? …

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David began piecing together his instrument. The activation assembly and impeller rod connected together then fit into the primary housing. Mavion cleaned the leads to the main power cell with a number 4 filament brush. He plugged it into the housing and a high-pitched whine sounded for a moment before fading out, letting him know the device was live. Indicator lights along the bottom of the rod cycled in sequence as the component began to charge.

He could feel the way the tool would hum when he used it. His mystical muscle memory could assemble the entire collection in a minute, but the ceremony required each part receive full attention. Too many things could go wrong when the pieces came together.

*    *    *

Garner Atwolf was a thin man with neatly cropped hair whom wore ovular black designer spectacles although his annual salary as Enereon Vice President of Operations could have bought the best optical surgery for every citizen in Provo, Utah that needed it. The bonus he’d received for exploiting a legal loophole to drill into a local lake could buy each kid a set of those specs, for those that could still see.

The operation released chemicals into the local water supply that gave thousands a degenerative nerve disorder. 65% lethal in most cases, but 90% to those exposed if under the age of twelve. None of those afflicted were employees of Enereon, so they weren’t classified as collateral damage. No required compensation for Enereon to dole out. The protesters strongly disagreed.

A firefight was going on in the lobby of Atwolf’s hotel, so Mavion was rushing him through a service corridor to get to the rear carport. Suddenly, from a service elevator four armed protesters cut them off half way and let David know immediately that someone in his detail had given them their route.

Mismatched street clothing, antiquated slug pistols and hunting rifles plus the haphazard masks they wore suggested the betrayal was sympathy driven rather than monetary. The couple of hundred nuyen they could scrape up was a half hour’s pay for an agent of Mavion’s rank.

The VP coughed out a startled cry as he hit the ground hard under David’s pinning grasp. The agent squatted into a firing stance, nearly sitting on the back of Atwolf’s neck to shield the executive and drew his weapon.

*    *

The executive’s armored limousine could be heard screeching off when Mavion returned to the corridor. Atwolf was away and safe, or headed to another ambush later – Achilles Shield’s contract was fulfilled so it didn’t matter to him anymore. What was of interest was finding some clue to the traitor in his unit.

David could taste blood from the cut on his lip from a slug fragment while his side throbbed from where his armor kept a poorly aimed shot from doing worse. The four bodies were still lying where he dropped them in an arrangement a professional would recognize.

The nearest one to the door had died trying to run, but now lay with his head at David’s feet. The pants were damp with urine, the only notable detail or discovery. The next had been effecting a firing retreat and was on its back with a throat wound. It was fitting that the mask rustled up to cover the dead face. Neither did this one have anything. The first two were brave, or at least eager, and died on their bellies pointing towards where he and Atwolf had hunkered down. The left one had taken a point blank face shot, so he started to check the right one to postpone dealing with the mess.

When rolled over, its … her mask fell loose to reveal the face of a woman that hadn’t, nor would ever, see her thirties. High cheeks and almond eyes spoke of Native/Latino heritage. Her skin was a deeper bronze than David’s own, except for infected black and grey veins blanching the right side of her face a puss yellow – common symptom of the disorder. The milky eye nearest the corruption had been dead for a while. Untrained and with no depth-percep, still she shared the point position in this attack on Atwolf. She must’ve been very eager, and stupid.

He snapped his gaze off her vacant expression to continue the search and found something, a folded paper print of all things. A wrinkled low-res picture of a smiling boy, maybe eight years, hugging a smaller girl giggling mid-squirm. Some lake reeds, sand and water framed their apparent autumn frolic. Their resemblance to the woman was as deep as the ache in David’s bruised ribs. Perhaps mother and children were together now … probably not, stupid thought. For the moment, the picture was all that was. … … …

Mavion refolded and replaced it, then rose to casually stride towards the lobby to rejoin the rest of his team were. He didn’t hear anymore gun fire. This was good. Maybe the other protesters had fled, been arrested or gave pursuit to the limo, whichever spared more blood. He’d explain his brief exchange of fire to Summers and have the G2 write the action report.

David didn’t want to recount this job, find any leak, identify these assailants nor find their relations for arrest.  He just wanted this day to end as the ache returned to his notice.

To be continued …

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Lion Spirit lager swooshed around the base of it’s dark bottle as though the bitter musky flavor could be improved by the humid air of the disheveled apartment.

It wasn’t some hundred year old chardonnay composed like liquid aromatic art in the 1960’s from breeds of real grapes aged in barrels of actual oak.

David knew it was an alcoholic byproduct made in the process to synthesize some industrial solvent or machine fuel that was deemed dilute enough for consumption. The brew was combined with taste enhancing chemicals, food dyes and effervescence agents then bottled and labeled as Lion Spirit. Marginal production was the corp-term for selling garbage as though its what was intended, and the means that fed, clothed and sheltered most.

David took a swig of the liquid and leaned back from the small table with a sigh. Under his caramel tan skin, his lean muscle relaxed over the sharp ribs of his thin torso as he dangled his head back, heavy with a bush black curls. The piss-colored light above flowed over vaguely semetic narrow features, stubble dusted thin lips, a lightly scarred left cheek bone and lit his weary amber eyes.

They took in the small dim living space strewn tornado-style with discarded paper Taiwanese food containers and color-faded clothing of mostly dark or gray earth-tones. Colors spoke gang affiliation around here, and David Mavion was for hire. A neat and clean-cut professional would stand out like a diamond amongst turds in the slums. The apathy of the lazy or imbalance of a madman would be judgements made about this hovel that would serve as further camouflage. Why make a search easier for any agent that broke in while he was away?

The sauce-stained table held a small 3” by 6” metal box of precision brushes and fine ceramic tools in slots next to an array of electronic and mechanical components, themselves arranged in orderly fashion by function and in relation to each other. A shiny stack of half-inch long triangular tungsten razors sat next to a hollow cartridge to the right of the congregation.

Compared to everything else in sight, one would think ancient mystics left these as some cryptic message. Not so. These pieces and their organization were the true evidence of who Mavion actually was. The weekly ceremonial these artifacts featured in were his anchor against the dark fetid tides of his chaotic life.

David sat up, took a silk cloth from the box and gave it a spray of cleanser. He began to wipe down the handle assembly and let his mind wander.

*    *    *

Francis and Abigail Mavion turned their military experience into an A-rated security contractor corporation called Achilles Shield. Mother’s inheritance and high class contacts sold Dad’s expertise and personnel to give their three children a protected upbringing. As the youngest, David was privileged to be beneath their notice yet availed of actual literature – instead of the standardized specialist vocational curriculum and reinforcing entertainment content.

Stories of heroes filled his imagination with dreams of the kind of man he would be. Good empowered ordinary men to win out against circumstance and insurmountable evil. He’d later learn those tales were as exaggerated, or plain false, as their legendary times were removed from the world outside his gated community. The protection he received, and being the only boy in the family, made him special. Yet, something else revealed itself in his early adolescence.

Twenty years before he was born, The Awakening returned, or some say added, actual Magic to the world. Symbol regained extra-personal power and science lost its understanding of every facet of reality. It was a natural force the corporations couldn’t control, so fear and demonize.

David learned Mother had a brother that turned into a troll in the Goblinization outbreak, whom was then disowned. This was why he hid his burgeoning talent, although it was more blessing than curse.

Hyper-Synaptic Reactivity gave David blindingly quick reflexes that preserved the accuracy of an action taken with meticulous patience. If he drew a highly-detailed picture of a turtle while concentrating, the boy could draw it the same way fifteen more times in a fraction of the time it first took. The same was true with dance steps, dart throwing or any other coordinated exercise.

The peaceful, safe life his parents envisioned for their youngest was no more, as this gift gave him too much utility to the company. The youngest Mavion received the best and most varied combat training Achilles Shield Security could afford. David would get the chance to be a hero, but not like those he’d read of.

To be continued …

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