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Mike Wallace

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About Mike Wallace

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  • Birthday July 20

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  • Gender
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    Alberta, Canada
  • Interests
    Malifaux, Miniatures, Pathfinder, Roleplaying Games, Video Games, Wargaming, Warhammer, Writing

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  1. Those sets are gorgeous.
  2. In a Rose Tattoo Miriam ducked around a corner to squat behind some old crates. Fighting to control her breath, she tilted her head to the side and listened. The footsteps were distant, but it was impossible to tell which direction they came from. Another sound—cackling, no singing—had joined it, but seemed to come from a different location. Where was he? She clutched her rifle close to her chest. For the thousandth time, she wished Carter was with her. The thought stung, a pain that hadn’t faded in months. Maybe it never would. Grief threatened to overtake her and she had to mentally wrestle it away. The direction of the footsteps changed, as did the sound of off-key, Irish-accented rhyme. They were closer now, circling around her. Miriam weighed her options. Get up and run, or fight, or maybe find a defensible position? A hundred battle tactics ran through her mind, but her training had never prepared her for a situation like this. Out of the fog came the click-clack of high heeled shoes, and Miriam saw a woman appear on the street. Her hips swayed in a way that would scandalize a noblewoman and seemed too cartoonish for a real call-girl. A torn, but pretty umbrella hung over one shoulder, spinning it in her hand as she walked. Miriam balked. Who would be selling trysts on a night like this? In this part of Malifaux? She started to speak, to warn the woman, and realized that she had fallen for his trap the moment she opened her mouth. The call-girl turned on her heel, revealing a rotting head rolling on a broken neck. Milky gray eyes focused on Miriam and the undead let out a pitched scream. The singing paused in the distance, then grew more excited. Rapid footsteps echoed off every brick wall, coming closer and closer. Miriam leveled her rifle to her shoulder and fired, worked the bolt and fired again, a trained action that took her less than three seconds. The bullets ripped through the zombie prostitute’s face and chest, punching holes through her front and sending a shower of rotting gore out the back. The zombie collapsed, its body crumbling as if a puppeteer had simply cut its strings. The singing became enraged. The eeriness of a jaunty tune, sung with such raw malice sent a chill through Miriam’s blood. She reloaded as she ran, refusing to wait for her stalker to find her waiting. She didn’t make it three steps before the brick wall exploded before her, knocking her down and pelting her with debris. A burly, muscular shape smashed its way into the alley. The monster’s roars were almost human, but hollow and flat, the expulsion of gas from dead lungs. The monster was a horrendous amalgamation of flesh and pneumatics, bulging with layers of muscle stitched end over end. It smashed at the brick with its bare fists, ignoring Miriam completely. Fighting the urge to scream, she began to crab-walk backwards, trying to reach her gun which had fallen out of reach. She bumped into a pair of legs, and craned her head to look up at the mad, toothy grin of her stalker, Seamus. He licked his teeth, and began to sing under his breath, his eye twitching with a hint of the rage boiling under his skin. Drawn to the sound, the monster faced them both. They loomed over Miriam, who tried to make herself small and of no importance. Seamus grinned at the monstrosity, then waved it off as if he expected it to listen. The monster hesitated, its body flexing and relaxing, as if it were trying to move but couldn’t work its parts. It’s eyes—one human, the other a mechanical lens—narrowed on Seamus. The madman went back to singing, reaching into his coat to produce an oversized flintlock pistol with a wicked bayonet slung under the barrel. Emotions took turns screaming in Miriam’s head. Fear, panic, dread, grief, sadness, resolve. Death, it seemed, had come for her, in more forms than one. Her body wanted to scream, fight, flee, anything to save her from inevitability. The other almost felt… acceptance. A part of her had died not a month before. To go now, to go fighting? There was a symmetry in it. Her grandfather had not lived long after his wife had passed. Maybe this was a fitting death, a chance to be with Carter again. The monster growled at the sight of the gun, its body trembling with the urge to act. Miriam could see that it was not just one corpse, but many. The original body was still there, but it was broken and cut, stretch and stuffed with the muscle and bone and pneumatic parts of perhaps three other corpses, inflating its body into the shape of an almost comical musculature, and- -No. It’s barrel chest was marked with scars and stitching, but she had not and could never forget the mark that was tattooed over the location a heart would rest in a normal human. The skin seemed to have been framed, four metal plates set in a rectangular position to display the tattoo of a rose in its center. “Miriam” was written in a banner, just under the rose. A wordless cry of anguish broke from her lips, and in a flash she knew. She knew. His face was mutilated with pneumatics, but she saw it. The cleft of his chin that even his goatee couldn’t hide. The peak of his hairline even though the creature had been shaved almost bald. Leeroy Carter. * Carter tried to ignore it, but the sliver of sunlight peeking through the shuttered windows stubbornly lingered. He relented, digging himself out of a warm bed to shiver in the cool air of dawn. His mind felt pinched in his skull, the telltale signs of a hangover. Even in most piss-swill taverns of Malifaux, where drinks were more water than wine, there was always enough alcohol to make you regret it. He rubbed his eyes and reached for the bedside table. His hand found a dented tin ashtray, digging a hand-wrapped cigarette out of it that had only burned down about half-way the previous night. There were matches in his coat on the bedpost. He exhaled smoke into the air, watching its tendrils dance in the beam of sunlight. When he was finished he reached behind him to smack the smooth curve of an woman’s exposed rump. The body it belonged to writhed under the blankets, retreating from his touch. He gave the sheets a tug, revealing a pretty face with too-red hair. She winced, frowning at him hard enough to curl a dagger tip. He let her fight her way to consciousness and went to the wash basin, splashing a sleep-deprived but handsome face lurking under a mop of unruly black hair. He thought he could use a shave, but the stubble gave his goatee a distinct sharpness that he liked. The woman sat up behind him, yawning heavily. He returned to her, just to watch her being her. Her sleepy eyes took on a pleasant quality, the kind of a well-fed cat, as she stared back. There was a sharp knock at the door, followed by a crisp but almost wordless shout. The meaning was clear; all soldiers at attention. Carter shrugged and went to stand up, but his bedmate took his arm. Her fingers felt like warm electricity moving up his bicep to linger over a bandage held over his heart. A few drops of blood had stained through, but it had long since dried. With a gentleness she didn’t normally demonstrate, she peeled the bandage away. Underneath was a faded rose tattoo that was a few years older than his need to shave. “Miriam” had been written in the tattoo’s banner, in fresh black ink. Her faint smile turned into a mix of sheepish embarrassment and the same sly happiness she’d expressed shortly before inviting him to bed. Carter shrugged, letting the implication linger between them. Time for talk later. Duty called. Another sun, another scrip. * McMourning hummed to himself, walking a straight line down the corridors of his morgue. The silence was palpable, broken only by the soft tread of his padded boots on tiled floor and the muted sound of his rubber gloves clasped behind him. The air was crisp, cool, and filled with the scents of preserving agents and coppery blood. Today would be a good day, he knew. Every night to bed content at the knowledge of a hard day’s work. Every morning to rise with the prospect of new discoveries and ideas. He loved Malifaux. Life had such meaning here. Ignoring the bow-legged guard at the doors, McMourning stepped into the examination room. A body waited, as it often did, draped in a cloth from head to foot. Sebastian stood nearby, dressed in a clean smock with a tray of surgical tools next to him. He was joined by a Guild sergeant and one of his soldiers, who was weeping into her bare hands. Her hair was almost as red as her duster. Somewhat unbecoming of a soldier, but perhaps there were sentimental attachments to consider. No matter. McMourning paused over the body, put on his best sympathetic face, and gently lowered the cloth, revealing the handsome and quite-well preserved body of a man in a smooth goatee and black hair hanging to his shoulders. The female soldier shuddered, turning away. McMourning took the opportunity to glance at the report Sebastian had prepared. Leeroy Carter, age 26, born in—he set the report aside as unimportant. The sergeant said something, but McMourning was distracted by the tattoo on the man’s chest, just over his heart. A rose, its faded colors suggested it was several years old. But the name written across it; Miriam, was recent. Perhaps only a few weeks or a month. He glanced at the female soldier and deduced everything he needed to. More curiously was the placement of what he assumed to be the cause of death: a gunshot wound dead-center in the rose’s blossom, directly into the heart. It was almost too perfect. Feigning clinical detachment, he gestured to Sebastian for a scalpel, and the sergeant ushered Miriam out. The autopsy would not take long, but even as McMourning began his incisions, he could not take his eyes off the rose and the bullet hole. It would be a shame to see such a work of accidental art go to waste. He wondered briefly if he was getting sentimental with age. With a bemused chuckle, he set to work. * The monster flexed its oversized hands and glared at Seamus. The madman’s song had lost any coherency and had descended into a simple rhythmic babble of sound and repetition as he tested the sharpness of his bayonet. His latest fetch was a real prize, a lovely little Guild solider. A bit rough from combat training, but with such fine form. He couldn’t let such a lovely sight go to wrinkles. Now what would suit her best? A quick dash across the throat? Easy enough to stitch. A shot in the middle? A bit unseemly, for certain. But then, she had gunned down his Donna. Donna, who’d done such a proper job alerting Seamus of the little lovely’s location. A stomach wound, then. Slow, painful, and she’d remember it later, if she got unruly. He gave the girl a hard tap on the shoulder with his boot, drawing her eyes—wide and pretty-blue—to his. Her face spoke volumes, and she screamed, a sound that gave him a momentary paroxysm of satisfaction. How he loved his work. The monster—some stitched-together thing he assumed had broken free from the University—coughed, or choked or made some other odd sound. Seamus glanced up in time to see it swinging one of those ham-hock fists. He brought his own arms up just in time to block the blow, but it still sent him flying like a kicked puppy. * The soldiers from Earth were lead into an examination room, where a pair of unfriendly looking Witch-Hunters glowered at everyone, hands lingering on holstered rune weapons. Carter was sat down on a table, stripped down to his waist, and told to wait for the examiner. He was about to light a cigarette when his eyes were drawn to a pair of… well-adjusted undergarments on the torso of a woman sitting next to him. He didn’t even catch the smarmy retort she gave him when she caught him staring. He put on his best “yes ma’am” smile and started to introduce himself, but the examiner found time to interrupt, asking a bunch of seemingly random questions he guessed were related to the Breach sickness some folk got, and “sudden sensations of power” that sounded like something out of his kid brother’s dime novels. The examiner seemed to take his job seriously though, glaring at Carter’s attempts to be witty in front of his new female comrade in arms. The examiner moved on to the woman, and it was then he learned her name; Miriam. A nice one. Getting her name was just the first step in the battle though. She brushed him off like dry snow, but he kept a grin on his face the entire time; he loved a challenge. Something about that admittance broke through, and she smiled briefly before nodding at the faded rose tattoo on his chest, along with the empty banner under it. He said it was a good luck charm; he’d gotten the tattoo, but waited before adding the girl’s name just long enough to learn she was no good. Miriam said it might be a good idea, then, to keep it blank. Luck was in short supply in Malifaux. * Sebastian rubbed his chin, wondering what had possessed Dr. McMourning to pursue such an odd project. At the doctor’s insistence, Sebastian had ensured the body of the newly dead Guild soldier—the one with the tattoo—had been delivered to his private laboratory, and now that McMourning’s daily rounds had been complete, he had fallen into his latest work with a passion, constructing a Flesh Construct that was an amalgamation not just of man and machine, but men and machines. It would be enormous, powerful, and—Sebastian had reckoned—grotesque. Yet now Dr. McMourning moved about Construct with only the most delicate of instruments, performing the most artistic of surgical cuts. There was an artistic flair to his work that Sebastian hadn’t seen in some time. But perhaps that was a good thing? It never served to grow bored in your work, though he admitted he had never seen the chief mortician lethargic in his practice. McMourning reach for the first of the metal plates that would frame an insignificant piece of skin on the corpse’s chest. Well, insignificant to Sebastian’s thinking, anyways. Corpses came and went, and many of them had tattoos of some sort. This was the first time the doctor had taken an interest in one. He opened his mouth to ask, but after a moment of reflection, decided against it. It was invigorating to see McMourning taking such joy from his work, and he didn’t wish to spoil the moment. The rose tattoo would have a place of honor on this latest creation, and let no one say Dr. McMourning was lack an eye for the aesthetic. * Miriam screamed as the Carter-monster slugged Seamus hard enough to knock him off his feet. The madman rolled across the filthy alley, smashed through the old crates, and lay still. The monster reared back and thumped its fists into its chest like a gorilla, then brought them both up over its head and down towards her. Her training took over, and she rolled out of the way, just missing twin hammer blows cracked the cobblestones. It tore head-sized chunks of the road and hurled them about, cracking brick walls and smashing distant windows. Miriam reclaimed her rifle, and felt her hands shaking like she’d never felt them before. She came up to one knee and aimed the weapon at Carter’s deformed head. It whirled, saw her. Its eyes were devoid of recognition, it saw her only as prey, as a thing to be crushed. Who had done this to him? It didn’t matter. All that mattered was the here and now. One shot, just let one shot, it had to be enough to put him to peace. She put her finger to the trigger- A gunshot rang out. Numbness, then pain, spread through her chest. Her heart ached. She stared down at the redness spilling over her shirt, pumping from a hole in her still-beating heart, struggling to pump blood and killing her even as it tried to keep her alive. She turned her head, saw Seamus grinning at her with a smoking flintlock in his hand. He cackled something about the sharpness of his aim, and then she heard nothing. She fell to the alley floor and felt the last of her life drain away, her eyes lingering on Carter’s broken face, who’s human eye widened even as her own faded to black… Seamus kicked to his feet, ignoring the crack of bone in his chest that were almost certainly crushed ribs. No matter, a bit of spellwork and he’d be right as rain. What mattered more was his prize. A heart shot was a bit quick, but Seamus had to admit he’d been aiming with his hat low over his eyes. It was a devil of a shot though, and he twirled the gun in his fingers. Let’s see them Bull-heads fire a shot like that! The patchwork monster stared at the woman, dumbfounded. It had halted in mid-attack, confused. Stupid thing probably didn’t know how to respond to a target that had just dropped dead. Seamus snorted. His girls had better wits about them than whoever was pulling this thing’s strings. He waved it off again, but it only stared. Annoyed, Seamus put a little magical whoomph into his mental command and assailed the creature with it, and it took a step back, glaring at Seamus. Glaring with very human anger. Seamus paused. That wasn’t righ- The creature backhanded him, an almost casual move, but it sent him sailing again. A string of curses broke from Seamus’ lips before his head cracked against the brick and he slumped down to the floor again. Spitting curses, he began to furiously reload his flintlock. The creature crept towards the dead woman, staring down at her with a thoughtful expression. Seamus brought up his pistol and fired, and the bullet pang’ed off the creature’s head, exposing a skull that was more metal than bone. Cursing to himself again, Seamus loaded a third shot. This ugly thing was interfering in his fun time! The creature ignored its fresh wound, and instead plucked up the dead girl just as Seamus had. With a thumb that was bigger than her wrist, it clumsily wiped hair from her face. Well, this was an odd turn of events. What exactly was he seeing? Old memories? Mimicry? Some of the dead he’d risen occasionally showed a bit of- The monster glanced at Seamus with a look of pure hatred. Then it ran off into the night as fast as its heavy limbs could carry it. Seamus blinked at the empty alley, even more perplexed. Then he shot to his feet and roared at the night sky, demanding the useless cadaver bring back his latest fetch. * Through the Breach, through the fog and gloom. People said he would feel pressure as he passed through from one world to the next. That magic would surge through the body, potentially igniting a power it has never known before. Men became witches, monsters, or are consumed by supernatural flame. But Carter didn’t feel anything. One moment he was Earthside, the next Breachside. Nothing more dramatic than the feeling of momentum gained and lost as the train rolled along its track. Malifaux Station felt typical, the architecture was almost identical to its twin back on Earth. Oh, there were differences; the materials were a blend of both worlds, and the shadows seemed to creep along everything; the lantern light dying more abruptly than it would on Earth. But monsters and a sense of living dread watching you from every direction? Please. Carter hiked his rucksack higher up onto his shoulder and followed the line of soldiers as a Guild sergeant barked orders over the din of departing passengers and hissing steam trains. * Sebastian balked as the doctor’s latest Flesh Construct returned with a bundle in its arms; a dead woman with blood dripping all over the street. The creature ignored his protests as it trudged down the hallways of McMourning’s private lab without the slightest respect for decorum. The doctor was putting some fresh stitching on his Chihuahua as the Construct burst into the lab. The little dog growled at the sight. McMourning was surprised; the Construct had been set out to patrol the slums surrounding his lab and seemed to have found something. With a gesture of permission, he watched as the Construct set a corpse on the examination table. McMourning noted its red Guild duster, disturbed at the prospect of being discovered. The guard was a woman, oddly familiar to him, but he couldn’t place where he’d seen her. When Sebastian entered, sputtering apologies, McMourning sent him out to cover the Construct’s tracks as best he could. Sebastian jumped to obey with only minor grumbling. As he left, McMourning turned to the corpse. Freshly dead, yet with none of the wounds a Flesh Construct would inflict. A single bullet to the heart, and from the size of it not from a regular slug, either. As he worked he realized the Construct was looming over him, almost like a worried husband to an ailing wife. He waved it off, but it ignored him, and then growled when he tried again. Now that was strange. McMourning turned to face it, and its eyes were focused entirely on the woman. He watched it absently scratch at the tattoo over its heart, the name Miriam still bold and black on its pale skin. It didn’t take him long to realize what he was witnessing, nor did it take him long to remember where he had met the woman before. The sight brought a smile to his face. A whirlwind of ideas came to his mind, not the least of which was satisfaction at the progress of his work. How endearing! He had been a mortician all his life, and a good one. He had never been a proper doctor, but now… he felt the way such a doctor might. In a way, a life had been put in his hands. It was dizzying, exciting prospect. He patted the Construct’s arm reassuringly. That was how doctors did it, correct? Then he set out his tools and best stitching. Yes. She’d need a new heart, but there were plenty. Strong ones, too. Maybe he would make her into a Flesh Construct; a matching pair! Or perhaps something more distinct, a beauty for his beast? Wait. An idea occurred. Yes, yes! He went to his drawers and produced his own needles and ink. He perhaps lacked an artist’s skill, but he could copy the original. How perfectly symmetrical! Steadying his hands, he began to tattoo a rose onto the woman’s chest, around the bullet hole through her heart.
  3. Not a bad idea if you want an all-female Star Theater troupe.
  4. I'm putting this up as a discussion thread for the Storied Soundtracks contest (found here). Converse amongst yourselves.
  5. I'm building a Fumigator character. Something about those guys is just creepy.
  6. Malifaux, a surreal world of supernatural horror and scientific madness... but have you tried the tap water? You can't get a clean glass of water like this in New Amsterdam! They must filtrate this stuff through Sir Francis Bacon's sandy beard!
  7. That is the most considerate thing I've ever seen in an Edition change. I respect the heck out of that.
  8. Now will the update interfere with the existing expansion books?
  9. Congrats to Wyrd for running a successful Kickstarter for what is shaping up to be an amazing game. And props to the hundreds of fans who supported it! You're all winners in my book!
  10. I'd highly recommend the soundtrack to Thief: Deadly Shadows, as the setting has similar steampunk/sorcery elements and a sometimes surreal or dreamlike atmosphere.
  11. Ho Chi Minh, famed leader of the Viet Cong, was born in 1890 as Nguyen Sinh Cung, in the province of Binh Khe (now Binh Dinh). On the other hand, Nguyen is the most common surname in Vietnam (taken from the Mandarin Ruan, after a state in China), making up 40% of its population. As surnames are rarely used by the Vietnamese--even in formal occasions--this doesn't cause as much confusion as it does with cultures that put greater emphasis on them. "Binh" means "Section" in Vietnam, and is used to name several of its provinces. "Nguyen Binh" could literally mean "the province of Nguyen." So it's possible that Binh himself is a wholly unique character, and his name is a deliberate use of those commonly found in his country (like naming someone "Alan Smith") to avoid specific comparisons. Or maybe it's an alias to fit the themes of the subterfuge-errific Court of Two. Or maybe it's not. Time will tell. Maybe. /grin
  12. Nah, nah. A Tavern serves food and sometimes provides lodging, and is interchangeable from old Inns (I think the difference is that Inns only sold beer and ale, Taverns had wine). A Bar is a place for drinking. Maybe there are snacks, and one or two games, but they're places you step in for a quick drink on their way somewhere else. A Pub is a gathering place that typically offers snacks and games. It's a gathering place for people to enjoy themselves. A Saloon is a less reputable place born from the American West; maybe they have food, but more often it was a place of gambling, drugs, and brothels. It was a place for dirt-poor frontiersmen and miners to spend what little coin the had on watered down ale or gut-rot, because it was a frontier business and didn't have access to better provisions.
  13. Where the Court of Two goes, I go.
  14. If I go for a Gibbering Horde army, I'm going to give my basic units a uniform color scheme inspired by the primal piranha from "Piranha 3-D."
  15. I have to ask for the benefit of any new players; will these updates be included in card printings going into 2017?