“NEXT!” Dirge yelled into her microphone at the crowd of players gathered around the stage she stood on, in the open-air plaza. The young woman with white curls scanned the crowd waiting for someone to step forward. A tall minotaur moved towards the stage, and the crowd parted around him. His head alone stood taller than any ogre he passed, and thick, deep black horns protruded straight out of each side of his skull like a Texas longhorn. His hooves clacked on the wood as he climbed the steps, and walked across the stage to stand next to the short woman. Her head barely reached the top of the minotaur’s stomach. The short woman looked up at him and smiled.
“Tell us your name, class, Unique number, and what challenge you want,” Dirge said, then offered him the microphone. He looked down at her with large brown, nervous, cow eyes and gently took the microphone from her.
“Uh, hi.” He looked out at the crowd, then quickly looked down at the wooden floor in front of him. “I’m, I mean, my name’s Moose. I’m a max level Clown, uh Rodeo specced.” Some chuckles ran through the crowd, but most everyone cheered. Rodeo Clowns were the most popular tanks at the moment. “I’m gonna move Dread,” he added. The cheer grew to a roar from the crowd. Dirge pulled the microphone back, then asked him a follow-up question.
“I’m super curious to see what you’re gonna do, Rodeo Clowns are agility tanks. I don’t see how that’s gonna help you against Dread, but I definitely want to find out. Oh, what Unique are you?” She held the microphone up to his face.
“Oh, right. Sorry. Uh, #45. El Venado.” The cheering crowd fell silent for several seconds. People in the crowd looked at each other with confused looks. During the try-outs, the crowd put forth all kinds of strong Uniques, but all of them were upper tier. He was the first one on the stage with what most considered a weak animal soul. “Boy. It got really quiet here all of a sudden,’ he chuckled into the microphone. His comment dissolved the tension; Laughter tore through the crowd then voices began to unify into a chant.
“MOOSE! MOOSE! MOOSE!” they cheered. Dirge held her hands up to quiet the crowd, and after a few more chants they settled down.
“Alright, folks! Let’s see if Moose the Rodeo Clown Minotaur can get my sister, Dread, to so much as blink!” she yelled, then turned to point at her best friend climbing the steps. A tall pale woman with short, white spiked hair pointing upward. A golden and purple yin-yang symbol sparkled on the back of her black leather jacket. Inside the symbol, a golden tiger faced the tail end of a purple shark. Dread’s black leather pants covered the leg of her dark biker boots. The crowd cheered for Dread as she took the stage. She walked straight to one side of the stage, then turned around to face Moose. At the back center of the wooden stage, a scoreboard appeared showing Moose’s name on the left and Dread’s name on the right.
“You know the rules. You can use any of your skills, and you have access to any power-ups.” Dirge reminded Moose, then stepped forward and hopped off the stage to watch the action with the crowd. Moose walked stage left, then began pacing it up and down as he got ready. A frosted translucent square hovered in front of him while he walked, displaying a menu that only he could see. Finally, after several seconds he stopped, dismissed his menu, then turned to face Dread. Two small, white octahedrons coalesced and hovered in the air next to him. He touched one, then the other causing the scoreboard to announce his two chosen power-ups.
“Juggernaut!” A deep male voice yelled from the scoreboard. “Hyper!” it yelled for the second power-up. Dread solidified her stance. Her skin took on a dark, gunmetal grey color and became jagged with interlocking scales.
“Skark skin!” the scoreboard announced for Dread. She nodded at Moose to let him know she was ready whenever he was. He nodded in return, then crouched low and readied himself like a football player.
“Barrel Smash!” The scoreboard announced Moose’s skill activation. A glowing golden outline of a barrel took shape around Moose and he immediately launched himself forward with his hind legs to charge at Dread. The ghostly golden barrel moved with him, and the scoreboard announced him using another skill as he neared the shark-skinned woman. “Run with the Bulls!” Then Moose activated one more skill right at the moment he butted heads with Dread. “Bull’s Charge!”
The next thing Moose knew, he felt the ground at his back as he looked up at Dread. She smiled at him, and he realized her skin had gone back to pale alabaster; it no longer appeared grey and jagged.
“Did I do it?” he asked. He forgot about the crowd, but a roaring reminder surged through the players as he accepted a hand from Dread and pulled himself up. She pointed his attention to the scoreboard. Under her name, it displayed a green number.
“0.001 inches moved.”
“Congratulations, you’re in for Toku-high,” Dread said, and patted him on the back.
Thank you for reading! I’m responding to prompts every day in 2018, this is #194. You can find the first 6 months worth of stories collected on my old blog until I make the full move to my new blog at Hugoverse.info. If you’re curious about my universe(the Hugoverse) you can visit the Guidebook to see what’s what and who’s who, or the Timeline to find the stories in order.