Killing Time

"Why do we go in the booth, again?" Thunderhorse asks. His eyes are red from days of watching movies and drinking beer.

"To learn how to use guns," Doc responds. His eyes are equally red from days of reading and drinking coffee.

It's been almost a week since they returned from Earth, and Doc has done nothing but study and watch the occasional movie with Thunderhorse. Thunderhorse has been learning about Earth history, guns, the film industry, and reading. The latter is not going so well, but progress is being made. Thunderhorse has been enjoying Westerns and gangster films. World War 2 movies scare the hell out of him.

This morning, Doc decided it was time for a break from the routine. He'd been reading about the Holobooths, and thought it would be good to try them out, finally. Fortunately, it seems Dr. Ritenrong has a western style game on file.

The two step into the spherical booths on either end of the lounge. The world they enter is dark, save for a pair of doors behind them.

"Load the Shoot Out! program, computer," Doc commands. The computer complies.

The black world becomes light as a bright sun rises over an old desert town. Doc is surprised to find that he's wearing a cowboy hat and chaps, along with a belt laden with a six-shooter. Thunderhorse is even more surprised to find himself in the same condition.

"What is this magic?" he asks, without the usual fury as he's becoming accustomed to the strangeness of his new surroundings.

"It's an illusion. We're going to play a game."

"We're in a Western!" Thunderhorse is excited. "Will we meet the Outlaw Josey Wales? What about Lee of Marvin?"

"I don't know. This is more of a High Noon game, or The Quick and the Dead, remeber that one?"

Thunderhorse pulls out his revolver. He looks it over, examining its parts. Doc had previously explained the function and concept of guns to him, but this is the first time he's held one. He pulls the trigger, almost by accident.

Doc feels a physical jolt as his world goes black. A giant, laughing skull appears hovering above letters a hundred feet tall; "YOU LOSE!" Momentarily, the world becomes bright again, and he's back on the deserted road with Thunderhorse.

"HAHAHA! That was funny! Let me do it again!"

Thunderhorse takes aim with the revolver, but this time Doc whips his revolver up and plugs the viking before he gets a shot off. Thunderhorse flies back and hits the ground. After a short moment, he fades away and re-appears standing again.

"That was not so funny," Thunderhorse says, rather upset by the experience.

The small town is not much more than a road lined with a dozen wood buildings, and desert surrounding them in every direction. The place looks real enough, but feels artificial. Something about the lighting, the textures, the sounds and smells seems fake or unrefined. It's probably just a cheap game.

The town has a general store, a church with a clock tower, a bank, a saloon, a sheriff's office, a stable, a few houses, and a mansion at each end of the road. A brief conversation with the poorly animated town drunk outside the saloon reveals the basic plot of the game: the two rival families are having a quick draw tournament to see who is the fastest gun in the west. The prize is one million dollars.

There are a selection of weapons in the general store, and not much else. In fact, the only thing for sale besides weapons and ammo is a change of outfit. Whiskey can be bought at the saloon, but it doesn't seem to have much effect other than tasting like bad whiskey. The two start with $5, just enough money to enter the first round of the tournament. Thunderhorse has already spent his on whiskey.

A sign on the road points to a "practice area" out in the desert, where rabbits, cactus, and birds regularly spawn and disappear, kind of like a realistic shooting gallery. The two go out to warm up.

Doc is doing okay. Every time he hits a target, a little ching! sound tells him he's made more money, 10 cents for cactus, 25 for rabbits, and a dollar for a bird. Ammunition here seems to be infinite. Thunderhorse is having a hell of a time. It's easy enough for him to pull the trigger, but he hasn't gotten the whole aiming thing down. He keeps flinging the gun forward before he pulls the trigger, as if he must sling the bullet out.

Doc helps him out with this a bit, and Thunderhorse is ecstatic when the bullet finally hits a cactus and the little ching! goes in his pocket. "Hooray! I have destroyed the green thing!" He keeps trying, getting a little better as he goes.

Doc leaves Thunderhorse to practice while he decides to go start the tournament mode. To do so, he must pick a family to sponsor him, either the "Bucks" or the "Reds." Doc goes with the Bucks because their mansion is closer. He pays his five dollars and the fight begins immediately. He is called out to the street by a grizzly looking bandito. The townspeople line the street, conveniently blocking all exits.

The mayor referees the fight. "At the sound of the bell, draw!" The bandito has a few inane chatter loops, insulting Doc's mother in the most politically correct ways possible. The sound of the clock ticking is amplified, and it's magically ten seconds to noon.

When the bell tolls, Doc draws and fires. His opponent is almost hilariously slow on the draw, and falls quickly. The mayor shouts "Doc wins!" with the "Doc" part poorly tacked on. $10 falls into his pocket.

After a few rounds of this, Doc has enough cash to start buying new weapons. He picks out a shotgun and a rifle and takes them out to Thunderhorse for him to try. Thunderhorse is still at the shooting range. He's getting better, missing only every three of four shots instead of all of them always. He's reloading the pistol when Doc arrives.

Doc hands Thunderhorse the rifle. It's a poor replication of a Winchester, but it will work for now. "Here. Try this one." Doc shows Thunderhorse how to use it. Thunderhorse tries to hold it like the pistol, but Doc corrects him. Thunderhorse fires and misses. It's obvious Thunderhorse is uncomfortable with it. Aiming and precision is just not his thing. Doc gives him the shotgun instead. It's a simple single-shot, short barreled shotgun.

One blast and Thunderhorse is in love. The shot easily takes out a rabbit. "Now this I like," Thunderhorse remarks. He reloads it and keeps on shooting, hollering with excitement when he lets off a blast. He's hitting almost every shot with this.

Doc practices alternatively with the rifle and the pistol while Thunderhorse enjoys the shotgun. As they shoot the targets, they shoot the breeze as well.

"What's it like living in the Winterlands, Thunderhorse?" Doc asks.

"It is a hard life, not like here. Here we eat whatever we desire, whenever we desire. In Hilton, our farms were small, and could only grow very little, for the warm seasons were very short. We either bought our food from the city, Venis, or we simply took it from others. If you wanted meat, you had to kill a sheep, but sheep are well protected. They cost many gar, and thus were kept safe behind the city walls.

"The city of Venis is large place, even larger than the place we saw on Earth, although it only has one tall building, the Tower of Venis. It is the seat of Nathan the Pickled, King of Venis and self proclaimed ruler of the Winterlands. No one beyond the city walls accepted him as king. We of Hilton live for ourselves, and deny any man who would rule us. But that did not stop him from sending his armies into our town to burn our homes and take our women.

"King Nathan proclaimed he was protecting the country side from brigands and thieves, and that he was bringing peace to the land. Ha! If he had simply shared his grains and wine and sheep with us, we would not need to kill his men and steal. My fathers tell me stories of the days before Venis, when we would ride across the seas, looking for a home; a land rich in soil and beasts. When my fathers arrived at the Winterlands, it was a warm and green place. But when the snows came, Nathan's fathers killed and raped and stole our food, locking it away behind their stone walls.

"Some say it was an evil spirit that possessed Nathan's family and cursed the land. Other say he hides a frost giant below the tower, who bring with him snows and death while giving the king power and wealth. I think this is true. It was a frost giant who led us astray all those years riding through the wastelands. He clouded our vision with snow and wind and killed us with frostbite and starvation. That frost giant was protecting King Nathan, for if we had reached the Tower, we would have laid it in ruins.

"I will return there, someday, and have my revenge. If what you say is true, and we can travel through time its self, then we can save Hilton together, keep Jazelle safe, and crush Venis with our mighty thunder slings!" Thunderhorse fires the shotgun, hitting a bird. He smiles with pride.


ERR said...

Thunderhorse learned to use Firearms.-4 penalty to use negated

Doc gets a choice:
Quick Draw: Draw your pistol as a free action
Pistol proficiency: +2 to use pistols
Rifle proficiency: +2 to use rifles

The Firearms training allows you to use any basic gun. Doc has advanced firearms training as well, allowing him to use assault rifles, sniper rifles, etc. This includes particle weapons and railguns, as long as they are similar in configuration (laser pistols, etc)

Later on, you can focus further on a weapon class (such as pistols, shot guns, rifles, assault rifles, etc) getting +2 each time: Proficiency is +2, Specialization is +4, and Mastery is +6 and above.

ERR said...

New players are very welcome! Who wants to join?

PS, feel free to write a reflective piece about Doc. You can publish it yourself, if you want, or just email me. deadbraincells at gmail dot com

Is Doc married? Does he have kids?

All I know is that he grew up in an era of hot climate and political turmoil. I'm sure he met lots of Mexicans who were now citizens of the US of North America. Most people were probably well tanned, girls would stand in the acid rain for free cosmetic peels, that kind of thing. He was in the national guard, but any combat experience he or relatives would have would be in the nuclear wastelands of the middle east, so a lot of wearing air conditioner suits and caring for radiation illness or burns.

ERR said...

Or I can write one myself if you give me an outline.

How does he feel about the future, so far?

Doc said...

I'll take Quick Draw. As much as I'd like to have the +2 to hit, I think I better take quick draw instead. It might prove to be a good complement to my fast talking, as I can do them at once. At some point I'd like to make mastery and make Doc an accomplished pistol shot, but that will have to come with time.

I don't know of anyone who would want to play, but I wanted to ask you first.

I'll write a little piece for Doc and post it.


ERR said...

Very well.

Doc learned Quick Draw

Doc said...

Feel free to continue the story. I can toss in Doc's background along the way.


Doc said...

The Quick Draw would count towards my initive wouldn't it?


ERR said...

According to Wizards of the Coast, no, drawing your weapon is now always a free action, meaning you can draw, shoot, and take cover all in one round rather than just drawing and shooting or running and drawing.

I don't see why it can't also grant a +2 initiative with pistols as well, though.