Friday, July 1, 2016

The Broken Mirror Part Three: Dark Side of The Moon

When last we left the face-shifting amnesiac known only as the Talented Mr. Ripley, he had half a dozen holes in him, had murdered a handful of Chicago cops, and managed to make his escape into the shadows. It was a pivotal moment in his development, though he didn't quite know it yet. After all, his familiarity with guns, blades, and blood would be enough to worry anyone who had misplaced their memories, and when you're down in the gutter, any outstretched hand will do.

Even one that comes out of the sewer.

Before continuing on, make sure you're caught up on the previous installments of the story below.

The Broken Mirror Part One: The Talented Mr. Ripley
The Broken Mirror Part Two: Through The Mirror Darkly
The Broken Mirror Part Three: The Dark Side of The Moon
The Broken Mirror Part Four: The Moon Court Madman
The Broken Mirror Part Five: Madness Comes Home to Roost

Finished? Lovely! Because this is around the time that things start getting good... or bad, depending on your perspective.

A Carrot on a Stick

When I initially created the Talented Mr. Ripley, I had no real direction I wanted to go with him. He was a jack of all trades, and the only thing he was truly a master of was blending in and going relatively unnoticed. It was one of the few times I, as a player, allowed my character to be shaped entirely by the events that happened to him.

Then my storyteller opened his big, fat cake socket.

Once you're here, there's no going back.
Game had finished for the night, and we were all at a local restaurant getting fuel in us for the drive home. My storyteller, appropos of nothing, mentions that he's had a plot kit for months now, but no one has shown any interest. My ears perked up, and I asked what it was for. In an off-hand tone, he told me it was a kit for characters to get recruited into the Moon Court.

I jumped on that like Mario on a toadstool.

Life-Saving Initiation

Ripley, as someone who is a killer and not a fighter, is losing blood fast. Though he managed to escape, he passed out in a gutter somewhere. He awoke to the sound of rubber gloves, and to a man standing over him. Ripley's first instinct was to reach for his own face, which sent lances of pain through him. The man, wearing a bloody apron, just smiled at him.

Don't worry... everything's going to be just fine.
The back alley miracle worker, a mysterious man named Puck, said he saw Ripley's entire performance, and it would be a shame for someone like him to die broken on the busted concrete. Ripley was still raw, of course, but he showed talent. If someone could put an edge on it, then he could really come into his own. That was when he explained the philosophy of better living through Disgust, and told Ripley that if he wanted to find a place with open arms, the Moon Court would take him... once he passed a simple test.

Nothing hard, really. He just needed to play a trick or two to show his devotion.

A Dark Seed Grows A Twisted Tree

It was my goal, as a player, to see which of the courts would reach out to recruit Ripley as a member. Winter seemed the likeliest court, especially given his recent services, but they didn't rescue him from his predicament. Puck did. More importantly, though, Puck gave Ripley the most dangerous message the mirrorskin could have received; there's nothing wrong with you. Your broken face and murderous hands? Be proud of them! The filth and squalor you've been forced to sleep in? Don't hide that, it's a badge of survival! If other people see you, and recoil, that proves they aren't capable of handling your truth. The dark side of the playground is where the monsters hold sway, my friend, and we're all monsters who came back from that place.

Even Jeff. Especially Jeff.
It seems harmless at first... but Ripley's mind proves fertile soil. His entire perception of the world is like looking through a spider-webbed crack at the best of times, and now he's being told that he's right. Right to feel resentment for his treatment. Right to feel wrath at the smallest of injustices. Right to take what he needs without thought or worry, because that is what monsters do.

All he has to do is play a trick or two. It takes a few months, and just the right set of circumstances, but he manages. Accosted by a man with knock-out darts, Ripley does some bloody business with the knife he keeps up his sleeve. Of course, the stripling mirrorskin keeps his peepers open, while one of the Summer Court's heavy hitters is left unconscious and snoring on the ground. The big warrior is completely vulnerable, and has no idea what happened around him, so Ripley leaves a tiny note explaining both his dereliction of duty and cowardice, and walks away whistling through his own yawns.

That little piece of paper caused fires of rage to spread through the Summer Court, but it was rage fueled by shame. Trying to control it was like putting out a grease fire with a water bottle; all it did was spread it around.

Puck, slow-clapping and smiling, used that as a chance to officially induct Ripley into the Moon Court. It was the first step off of a long, long drop.

This is, of course, not the end of the tale. If you want to keep up on all my latest stories, or submit some of your own, make sure you check out the rest of Table Talk. And, if you'd like to help support Improved Initiative, why not drop by The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page? All it takes is $1 a month to help keep the content coming your way, and all new members will receive some sweet swag just for choosing to support me! Lastly, if you haven't followed me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter yet, now would be a great time to change that.

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