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Imperial Privilege

That Fanfiction Contest I Dropped Out Of

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Having fallen into a creative rut born out of depression, I had to drop out of Milbunk's fanfiction contest, but I like talking about pitches, which is why I haunt the idea threads. So let's talk about the two stories I might have written for the contest and still may some day if I can work up the enthusiasm.

The first one was an action-packed day-in-the-life story, where the life in question is Enhance's. He ambushes a Dead Apostle and DAA-in-the-making in a ritzy New York City bar. When that goes belly up, Enhance chases him across the city, trying to cut the DA off before he can reach his workshop, at which point the vampire will be an order of magnitude more powerful. It's a bit of a dark comedy as he tries to navigate his way across NYC and assassinate his man on the sly, which is made almost impossible by how densely populated the city is and how easily he gets lost. The whole thing would be interspersed with Enhance's recollections of his childhood under the tutelage of his father/mentor, the self-styled Enact. Enact was of the magus-turned-vampire variety, which creates a lot of interesting parallels as he uses his father's teachings to guess his target's move.

Really, though, the target is largely superfluous and only an excuse to write running fight scenes and think about his dysfunctional father-son relationship. Enact did away with his human name because he wanted to enact a great change in the stagnant vampire landscape, seeking to create a crossbreed to enhance their kind as a whole. He was a man of ideals and ambitions and handed out names accordingly. Enhance would, ideally, have all the strengths of an Apostle and none of the drawbacks and taught his son about vampirekind's collective failures, which grown up Enhance now uses to mow them down. In his own way, he's enhancing the vampire race. After all, the only good vampire is a dead vampire.

The other thing that I originally considered and then discarded as running too long for a fanficiton contest was something I call The Children of Einnashe.

This seed of an idea begins with a young Clock Tower magus making off with the blood fruit of the Forest of Einnashe, which landed in the Tower's vaults before he duped and assassinated his professor to get his hands on it. But the actual protagonist is the junior member of a two-man Enforcer cell that has gone hunting for the runaway. I initially thought to make it a Grail War story in name only -- they get mixed up in a power play by several Greek magi to obtain the catalyst of Heracles when all they're really after is the killer/thief, who may or may not also be one of those Herc-hungry Master-wannabes. So they wind up killing a lot of stubborn magi who didn't have to die. Really magi culture in a nutshell.

Then I decided that letting the story be tied to that old, dead horse, even if it was a fakeout where we never even see a Servant, is a terrible idea.

So it became a road trip across the eerie, territorial pockets of magi communities in the American Southeast. Their rogues gallery comes to include a voodoo coven in New Orleans, hillbilly magi in the Appalachians, slick city sharks in Atlanta and a backwoods preacher who was drummed out of the Executors. The Enforcers also have to deal with odd, mutated plant life that emulates the Forest in miniature, signs of their target's passing. The whole thing culminates in the two tracking their target to the site of the abandoned Roanoke colony, where he hopes to use the wraiths of the lingering as part of a ritual that will turn him from a pseudo-Dead Apostle, having eaten of the fruit of Einnashe, into something more spirit than flesh.

But really, the kid and the fruit are just the MacGuffins for the mouthy, knuckle-dragging thug of a protagonist to chase across the South, busting some skulls and trying to get a read on his probably-not-entirely-human partner. The guy is a bit of a Taskmaster and a Hundred-Faced Hassan in that he's an alchemist who uses memory partitions to upload a collection of separate skill sets, swapping between them on the fly to make him everything from a master martial artist to a pilot to an interrogator to whatever else the mission requires. Unfortunately, this talent of his is fracturing his psyche, made worse by the very personal stake he has in the Einnashe mission.

That second idea owes a lot to Bloble's Tomb of the Sun God, right down to the POV character whose magecraft is as much as a curse as it is a blessing. Though less of a WW II period piece dealing with Egyptian leftovers and more modern day Southern Gothic. Write what you know.

Though the prospect of two British guys chasing their man through the American Civil War has also occurred to me.