Death & Friends

“Thanks again for the upgrade,” WaterJet said. She lovingly cradled the blue ceramic pitcher in her arm like a newborn while they walked through the outdoor bazaar back to the guild hall. “But are you sure giving LaughTrack that boot is a good idea? He’s already faster than Hermes without them.”

“Oh, you guys have that myth on your Earth too?” Billy asked. He enjoyed learning about the mythologies of different Earths. WaterJet shook her head.

“Probably not, I was talking about an ex-guildie. He joined another guild but he’s got super speed. In derby he would get three laps before anyone else got one,” she said.

“Only three? LaughTrack killed everyone on an Earth in less than a minute; that seems a lot faster.”

“Oh right, you don’t know how the AlterNet works,” she said with a smirk. “Hermes is a lot faster than that but there’s a limit to how far ahead you can get. It’s usually three laps, but different rules can be agreed to.”

“Huh,” Billy stopped walking. The flow of people behind him started going around him and WaterJet. “I bought him this…,” He held up a single brown leather boot. “…because I thought it’d help your team if he got more laps.” Billy shrugged. “But if he can already get the max without it; it’s just redundant.” He looked at WaterJet. “Will this help him in any other way besides speed?” She shook her head.

“Negligible stat boost, nothing special.” Billy sighed.

“I probably should have asked you before I bought it. Is it any good for you?” He asked her. WaterJet shook her head.

“I’ve got good boots for my spec.”

“I’ll be right back,” he said. Billy wiggled his fingers at the air and opened a black portal. He walked through it then WaterJet waited several minutes for him. Finally, he came back without the brown boot.

“Where’s the boot?” she asked.

“Gave it to a friend of mine,” he said. WaterJet smirked; one corner of her blue lips tugged upward.

“You don’t seem like the type to have friends.” Billy nodded.

“I’ve got one.”

Gift of Death

“So why don’t you have an AlterNet character?” WaterJet asked Billy.  The pair wandered through a crowded bazaar. Humans, goblins, trolls, mermaids, centaurs and more manned various stalls to sell their goods. The white-faced clown with bright blue tears painted under her eyes was there to help him make sense of the hustle and bustle.

“Not interested,” he said with a shrug. She stepped in front of him with wide eyes.

“Not interested?? Do you know how strong you’d be?” She bit her bottom, baby-blue lip as if debating something; but, she decided quickly. “I heard about what you did to LaughTrack…,” she paused to wait for a reaction. None came. “You’re already the most powerful Muerte I’ve ever seen; the AlterNet can ramp that up even more!” Again, Billy shrugged.

“If I ever need to be stronger, I’ll consider it,” he smiled at her; the first time she’d ever seen him smile at all. “Like you said, I’m already the most powerful Muerte.”  WaterJet rolled her eyes.

“That I’ve ever seen, I said.” WaterJet turned around and continued to guide Billy through the crowd.

“Besides,” Billy continued. “I don’t know a thing about it, that’s why you’re here. Thank you again, by the way.” She nodded.

“No sweat, I’m glad to get out of the diner for a bit. The way they all worship LaughTrack is annoying. I just wanted to join a fun guild but lately, they’re more like a cult. Anyway, here we are,” she stopped and pointed at a colorful wooden sign that stood next to a pink tent. It read: “Lasting Laughs”.  “This is the best crafter I know.”

“I’m the best crafter on this server!” a small, high-pitched squeak replied; he sounded offended. A tiny person, no taller than a foot, hovered in front of them to protect his honor. He wore overalls and a small leather apron. His insect wings fluttered like a rainbow blur and rainbow specs of pixie dust rained under him.

“Billy this is Beau.”  Billy nodded.

“Have any #22’s available? Speed variant,” he asked the pixie.

“Whoa!” WaterJet grabbed Billy’s arm. “Excuse us a second, Beau.” She pulled Billy several steps away from under the pink awning. “Do you know how expensive speed boots are?!” she asked. Billy shrugged. He was about to say something but she interrupted him.

“No, you don’t, because you don’t play in the AlterNet. I brought some of the guild’s funds since you’re getting equipment for LaughTrack, but I don’t have enough for those.”

“I appreciate the concern,” Billy replied with a hand on her shoulder. “And, thanks for the help; but, I’ve got the nanos to cove it. Don’t worry.”

“Where’d you get nanos from?”

“I do taxi jobs on the side.”

“Oh. Okay. Then nevermind.” They returned to the stall; the pixie had a single brown leather boot waiting on the counter for them.

“Still interested?” Beau asked. Billy nodded. “Anything else?”

“What about you?” Billy nudged WaterJet with his elbow.

“No thanks, I’m good.”

“It’s on me,” Billy added. “If you need any gear upgrades now’s the time.”

“No, I couldn’t. Thanks though.” She shook her head.

“She comes here a lot, right?” Billy asked Beau. The pixie nodded. “Is there anything she has her eye on?”

“No there isn’t,” WaterJet shook her head. Beau answered by falling down below the counter. After several seconds he floated back up carrying an ornate blue ceramic pitcher.

“#44 will make her water attacks hit a lot harder. She always spends a few minutes pining over it whenever she visits. Now, I just keep it under the counter for her.”

“I’ll take both of them.”

“50 million,” Beau replied.

“I know you don’t have 50 million just from running taxi,” WaterJet turned to Billy ready to pitch in her guild funds. She watched him produce a golden, apple-sized cube on his palm and place it on the counter.

“I never said it was just from that,” Billy said, then winked at her.

Clown Patrol

“Wait here,” Billy said. He nervously adjusted his tie. He felt somewhat out of place in a navy business suit. His partner, Red, was a burly five-foot clown with blue rubbery strands for hair. “I’ll negotiate, you’ll only be in the way.” The pair stood just inside the door of a crowded diner; both kept their eyes on a clown couple seated at one of the larger booths. A dozen colorful clowns dotted various groups throughout the restaurant. Billy approached the table he’d set his eyes on. As he neared it, he felt the gaze of every clown in the place watching his every move.  He reached the table and both clowns, a male, and female looked up at him. Billy focused on the balding one with a horseshoe of bright blond curls around the white top of his head.

“LaughTrack?” Billy asked.

“That’s who I am, my good man.” The clown smiled. “And this lovely pet is known as WaterJet,” he introduced the clown with bright blue tears painted on her white face. “What can we do today to get you on your way?” Billy shook his head and sighed.

“I have a…”Billy paused. He almost said, ‘friend’ but he did not want a friend like Red. “…an associate that wants your name. What would it take for you to release it?”

“My name? Preposterous, insane!” LaughTrack raised his voice. Billy realized all the clowns in the restaurant gathered around him expecting trouble. LaughTrack glared. “This name is my claim to fame. It belonged to a powerful clown, but he’s temporarily down. When he returns to the AlterNet, he’ll come find me. That’s a bet.”

“What happens when he does?” Red stepped out of the crowd of clowns that surrounded Billy.

“IT’S YOU! IT’S TRUE!” LaughTrack bolted from the table and knelt before the short clown as fast as he could. Most of the clowns in the restaurant followed suit and bowed. Billy looked around at the display. Over a dozen clowns were bowing to Red. The rest of the patrons in the restaurant kept eating as if nothing interesting was going on.

“Are they NPC’s?” he asked WaterJet; the only clown not bowing. She nodded.

“This is the Clown Patrol guild hall. We like the restaurant look.”

“Great, so you’re gonna give me my name back, right?” Red looked down LaughTrack. The blond, balding clown sat up on his knees and shook his head.

“Forgive me, great one, normally it’d be fine. But this isn’t just about fun. Our guild is on the line.” Red sighed at LaughTrack.

“Do you have to rhyme everything?”

“I’m RP’ing! It’s very freeing!” Red and Billy both looked at WaterJet.

“What’s the situation with the name?” Red asked her.

“Dana Sharp is holding a big derby tournament,” she shrugged. “We signed up so that means LaughTrack has to compete. If he changes his name then you have to compete in his place; we won’t have a full roster otherwise.”

“Derby, huh?” Red glanced at Billy. The lean, suited man nodded in approval. “Alright. I’ll join you for the tournament. ONLY for the tournament.”