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  1. Hi all! Just after a 1-word Critique from whoever's happy to leave me their opinions! This is my first time venturing into writing, let alone fan fiction. I'm participating in a little Shifting Loyalties campaign with a good little group of guys here in New Zealand, and a couple of us are doing some fluff background for our crews. I'm running Mancha Roja to start, with a view to building up to Wong, so I'm putting Wong on the trail toward his loyal Henchman. I'd really appreciate any critique that anyone has to offer, and thanks for reading! (apologies if I inadvertently contradict canon here - I don't know enough about the Malifaux universe yet to reliably avoid those kinds of mistakes) The Wong Stuff, Part 1: Last Train to Spotsdale (Stop). Little Lucy hated living in Spotsdale Stop. All the townspeople looked wrong to her somehow - just shuffling around with no energy, their eyes locked on their feet. They made her sad. Made her feel heavy. That's why she would usually spend as much time as she could in the swamp out back of town, catching baby skeeters and lizards, and listening to the noises of the frogs (they were singing to her!). AuntyMummy had stopped her going out there now. She'd come home a couple of weeks ago with her best Sunday dress full of mud and slime and stench, and that'd been the last straw. So now, the best fun to be had was to just sit at the town's eponymous railway station and hope that someone interesting might arrive on the 11:55 daily from Malifaux. That hadn't happened though, on any of the seven previous days that Little Lucy had spent sitting on the edge of the platform. She just whiled away the day there, sometimes running up and down till she was spent, then collapsing on the solitary bench that faced out to the swamp, flushing her with bitter anguish because AuntyMummy had forbidden her to go out there again, on pain of losing her prized possession - her magic set. Lucy used to pack up her "Wong's Patented, Prodigious, Phantasmagorical & Probable, Efficiency Enhancing Ectoplasmic Enchantment Kit! (now, in "Super-Sterile"!!)", and toddle off to the bayou to put on a practice show for her amphibious friends (she still thought of them as friends, even though many of them had met instantaneously sticking ends, becoming plastered in the process against various trees, vines, stumps and genuinely shocked alligators-in-hiding). Lucy was still working on retaining the physical presence of her audience, before putting on a show for the townsfolk in Spotsdale Stop, but how was she meant to get better now, when she had nowhere to practice? Today, on Lucy's eighth day of her railway vigil, she'd decided to bring her magic set with her. Yesterday, on the way hone, she'd gone a different way (around the back of Virgil Awlins' hardware store, instead of down the main street in front of it), and had suddenly seen Mr Awlins' nice big stockyard with new eyes... Of course! Here was somewhere that she could practice her magic! Behind, between and around the corner of so many piles of metal, lumber, timber, slumbers and hammers, no-one would could see what she was up to - not even from the station next door! She happily went straight there with a packed lunch of peanut butter bread and a gallon of milk, her "Wong's 3P By 4E Kit", and a box full of frogs that she'd captured and brought home the last time - the last time - she was allowed in the swamp. The morning hours flew by in a flash (and a few "WHOMPF!!'s", "POOF!!'s" and "'ribbet'-BLAM!!-SQUELCH!!!'s". So engrossed in her labours was Lucy that she did not notice at all the high-pitched toots of the arriving train. It - quite literally - ground to a halt on the warped and rusted tracks that the Spotsdale Stop Town Council maintained they had no money to, well, maintain - and disgorged it's usual cargo of letters, parcels and essential goods, along with a rarity - one fully fees-paying passenger. A short man, he nevertheless stood very straight and gave the impression of being quite formidable ordinary in stature (or would have, had any of the depressed townsfolk been fussed to look up and notice him). He wore a dusty black tuxedo, slightly worn at the elbows, and he wore a very tall top hat, bedecked with fine golden symbols around the band. He carried with him a leather kit-bag of deep maroon, and with a pattern that at first suggested that it was made from the hide of an enormous snake, the scales individually being half the size of the man's hand. The clasp on the kit-bag was apparently gold, and was polished to the highest sheen, reflecting the noonday sun as the stranger made his way off the platform, toward the station entrance. Lucy was down to her last frog before she realised all that she had been doing wrong, was wanting to magically make them jump too high, and the poor fellows never had any wings! She wanted them to jump all the way up into the sky, so that they could fly home and be with their friends again (with her help!), but she hadn't given them any wings with which to do it! Full to the brim with excitement over her momentous discovery, Lucy aimed her wand at froggy final, and closed her eyes and concentrated on visualising him instantly sprouting huge, black feathery wings, just like the ones she'd seen on the vultures and buzzards out in the desert whenever she rode the train to Malifaux town. Lucy took a deep breath, opened her eyes, and willed the spell to power... When Lucy woke up, she found herself lying next to a pile of timber some 10 feet away from where she'd cast the spell. Some funny-looking man was lying a few feet away from her, starting to pick himself up off the ground and gather his wits. She looked to where the frog had been, but couldn't see him there anymore. He seemed to have been replaced by an oozing red ball of feathers and fluids that pulsated slightly every few seconds, but then shortly stopped moving altogether. The man by now had recovered himself, and Lucy could see him in profile as he reached for his hat. She realised that he wasn't really a man after all - he had green skin, and long, wispy hairs on his top lip, and his ears were huge and pointy. He was just turning to face her when Lucy realised what his silly-looking peaked hat meant. He was a wizard! The man fixed her with a frighteningly fang-tastic smile, but one which Lucy felt was supposed to put her at ease, and made his way beside her. He stretched out one hand full of claw-filled fingers to help her up, and said in a high-pitched and rapid speech, heavily accented from somewhere exotic, "Well, little lady. I think I may have just the adventure for a girl of your talents. Come, Lucy", (she started at the stranger knowing her name), "We have an awful lot to accomplish together"...
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