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The Last Mogul
Sun May 2, 2010 11:26pm


On the bow of an old sailing ship stood a childlike version of Shinsei. She could feel the spray of the ocean, taste the salt on the wind and hear the call of gulls. Her eyes studied the distant horizon and she wondering what strange places lay beyond it. Then the world grew dark, her vision of the romantic horizon dimmed and the ocean was replaced by dank stone walls.

Shinsei was herself again, though she didn’t know how she’d come to be there. Beside her in the dungeon cell stood Demios and her brother, Kaze. The dumfounded looks all around told her that she wasn’t alone in her confusion. Angry shouts for answers and demands for emancipation erupted from other cells throughout the prison and it sounded to Shinsei like every Freelance Reploid was locked up there.

The illusion had ended just in time for the prisoners to watch Jim Sikorsky being drug down the aisle between the cells by a creature made of black smoke. He moaned feebly as if his trip through the jungle had not been a pleasant one. Shortly thereafter, Ouija strode down the row of cells and announced “That’s the last of you. The master will see you now.”

Either by magic or mechanisms the cell doors suddenly opened. Zeo Grey was the first to leap out. Though unarmed and unarmored he instantly began sizing up Ouija to decide how best to kill the human girl.

“Don’t even think about it.” the warrior witch warned and challenged at the same time, clearly interpreting his intentions. She too carried no weapons and was armored in nothing more than some tribal paint and a few feathers, yet the slightly built human showed no fear in the face of the brawny mercenary.

Zeo didn’t attack, deciding instead to wait for the girl to lead him straight to her boss, the person who was in real need of killing. Ouija turned her back on him and exited the dungeon. The puzzled Freelancers filed out of their cells and reluctantly followed the jailer. Behind him Zeo could hear the others whisper things like “Where are we?” “Now’s our chance! We should run for it!” and “There’s Maq and Axel, but where’s Kail?” Apparently Kail was the only merc absent from the group. Some of them feared that the dark reploid was dead while others wished it were so.

Ouija led the Freelance Reploids through stone tunnels to a metal door. The door’s electronic eye recognized the human as she approached and it slid open. On the other side they found a large, comfortably furnished chamber that looked like the luxurious living room of a posh contemporary mansion. The architecture was ultra-modern, with avant garde decorations and gleaming white furniture so trendy that it bordered on tacky. Hidden speakers played the upbeat bossa nova standard “Desafinado”, sung in its original Portuguese.

The chic domicile was dominated by an enormous vidscreen upon which a violent video game played out. A handsome twenty-something human sat on a ridiculously long couch in front of the vidscreen working a joy stick like mad. His attention remained on the screen even as the Freelance Reploids entered the room behind him.

“Is that him?” Cocker asked, more confused than ever.

Ouija let out a single mocking laugh, saying “That’s nobody.” She then slid into one of the chamber’s over-padded chairs, lounging in a way that reminded all of them how young she was.

“I know that guy.” blurted Kirisu. “That’s Reid Falcon. I saw him at a party once.”

Sonmura Stravinski asked “The movie star?!?”

Though Hollywood had been obliterated long ago in the Technology Wars, the entertainment industry had survived and in the year 21XX Reid Falcon was one of the world’s hottest actors. The mercs muttered amongst themselves for a moment, debating this person’s similarities to the famous movie star, until Cross finally yelled out “Hey you! Are you Reid Falcon or not?”

Just then the digital avatar on the vidscreen zigged when it should have zagged and ended up catching a plasma blast to the face. The human on the couch snarled loudly and shouted at Cross “You just got me killed! Now I have to start that level all over!”

“Oh, sorry.” Cross apologized meekly, then changed his mind after the young man’s attention was turned back to the game and said “Hey, don’t blame me! Just because you don’t know how to play. And you sucked balls in your last movie! Was that my fault too? Geez, Reid Falcon’s a douche.”

“He really is.” Ouija commented from where she lounged.

Finally having enough of it all, Hilton exclaimed “Will someone please tell me what’s going on? Where are we? Why does this place look like it was decorated by Andy Warhol’s gay brother? Who’s Reid Falcon and why is he here playing a video game?”

“Because he’s my guest.” answered a new voice from the other side of the room and a human walked briskly in through the doorway there. The man was dressed in a very chic white outfit that looked designed for leisure on the Riviera. His feet were bare and his shirt was unbuttoned at the top enough to show off chest hair. He wore oversized rose-tinted sunglasses and carried a tennis racket in his hand. He was older, probably in his sixties but looked virile and energetic enough to be in his forties. There wasn’t a trace of gray in his hair, and his dark tan greatly contrasted with his light clothes and extremely white teeth.

The man’s voice was rich and round, what those in the radio business called a Brown voice, and it sounded like the voice of God speaking when he continued by saying “I’m thinking of putting the kid in a new picture. Plus I enjoy the company of celebrities. Almost as much as I enjoy the company of beautiful ladies.”

This he uttered upon reaching the gathered mercenaries. With all of them clad in immodest bathing suits the collection of perfectly proportioned reploids and well toned humans looked like a buffet of nubile flesh fit for the appetites of Caligula. He quickly looked over the bevy of bikini-clad beauties and then said directly to Dan Crasher “You’re traveling in good company these days, Astandan.”

“Actually, people just call me Dan these day.” Crasher replied.

“You know this guy?” Maq asked her maker.

Dan halfheartedly admitted “We go back a little. His name’s Malegaunt.”

“King Malegaunt.” the human corrected sharply.

“King?” Dan asked. “King of what?”

“Why, King of the World, of course.” Malegaunt explained with complete seriousness.

Dan started to laugh. His chuckle grew into a guffaw until tears leaked from his eyes and he had to hold on to the nearest reploid, Shade, to keep from falling down. Malegaunt was clearly annoyed by this and for a moment the entire room responded to it with a kind of seismic tremor.

“Cut it out, Mal, you’re going to mess up the game!” Reid Falcon shouted from his couch without bothering to turn around.

Dan finally managed to stop himself from laughing and said “I’m sorry. I really am. But come on. King of the world? This doesn’t have anything to do with that silly club of yours, does it?

“The Illuminati are the People of the Light. Not a club.” Malegaunt answered, still irritated. “We’re a centuries-old secret society founded with the singular purpose of bringing order to the world by uniting all nations under one power. And last year we finally succeeded. I, the Illuminatus Primus, am now King of the New World Order.”

Dan still had a smirk on his face when he inquired “I know I don’t read the paper as much as I should, but wouldn’t I have heard about a thing like that?”

“Only if I’d wanted you to. If the people of Earth had any idea that I was their King then they’d expect me to solve their problems for them. I’m not interested in governing a world of demented, weak-minded children. I’m only interested in ruling them.”

“Prove it.” Hilton challenged.

“Prove it? What, you want a demonstration?”

Hilton folded his arms. “That’s right. Somebody tells me they rule the world I need to see more than talk before I believe it. Make the stock market crash. Or better yet, make the Technology Wars stop.”

Malegaunt smiled. “Give me five minutes.”


Gregory Guracer, chancellor of Abel City and commander of the Hunter Security Council with the honorary rank of “Ultimate Hunter”, shifted uncomfortably in his chair. He’d only spoken to the Illuminatus Primus once before through an intermediary and now the face of Malegaunt himself hovered over the holovid on his desk. Even with thousands of miles separating them and Gamma X, his personal bodyguard, standing nearby he still did not feel safe.

“It’s impossible, I’m afraid.” Guracer said nervously. “Our forces are advancing deep into Maverick territory. If they stop now it could cost hundred of lives.”

The floating face of Malegaunt replied callously “I don’t think you understand. The Illuminati got you elected and we can get rid of you. I snap my fingers and you’re hamburger, baby. Rare.”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Malegaunt.” the bureaucrat apologized. “I appreciate what you’ve done for me, but my responsibility is to the Maverick Hunters.”

Without hesitation Malegaunt commanded “Gamma X, kill this guy.”

“Wait!” is all Guracer managed to say before the reploid bodyguard pulled a sidearm and put a bullet through the man’s brain.


NRP – BTW, I based the character of Malegaunt on a real life movie producer named Robert Evans (who’s actually much older, in his late seventies or early eighties now). Type his name into Youtube to see some video of him.

Also, it’s actually against precedent to allow magic to affect the minds of reploids, as Gorgon’s spell did. But once it was introduced I decided to just roll with it rather than rocking the boat. Let’s just say that Gorgon cast a spell that caused artificial images to appear in front of their optical sensors, artificial sounds to play into their ears, etc. So their systems were working perfectly, their senses were just receiving false data. I think that’s something that could affect humans and reploids equally.

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