Machines: As Diverse as Their Creators

Part One: Basic Types

The term machine is a label like any other: it has a purpose and some basis for being used, yet it fails to reflect the variety within the group. Just as mutants are more than one type of being or monsters are not all truly terrible creatures, machines are more than just droids and computers. But they are still those of the robotic kind. They are products of science, fashioned by human minds, created for purposes that have either been overwritten or continue to direct them like wind-up toys.

Most machines are purely robotic, yet the cyborgs are also placed under this label, despite being part organic. Seeing as humans began using these labels, it is deemed most likely that they saw the cyborgs as becoming machines. It is also likely that humans wanted to name cyborgs among machines to make them more alien, to make everyone see them as something very different and never a possible future for the human race. Which is exactly what the cyborgs proclaim to be. Thus dubbing cyborgs as a part of the machine race is possibly both an emotional reaction and a thought-out piece of propaganda.

Otherwise, machines are mechanical only. Droids are the most common. They are essentially humanoid robots, designed to follow orders, constructed to perform most functions their creators can, only better. Sometimes they are fashioned for more specific tasks. It could be a droid is bigger and more heavily built than usual, in order to endure battle better. Others could be of slimmer frame for more delicate tasks. Yet usually they are a standard model. Building droids was neither easy nor cheap for the human organisations that were floundering as the world crumbled around them, and that got worse over time, so making a simple multi-purpose model was the best course. Droids can handle weaponry or tools, anything a human hand can wield, yet are rarely skilled. They need instructions, they also need programming, or else they are limited to basic functions. Droids have ‘brains’ – cerebral cores where memory is stored, analysis is processed and choices can be made. They can learn, adapt, evolve. Just in their own way. A droid could possibly perform martial arts, but only if someone programmed them to know such skills, so while droids can fight, they are often basic automatons of destruction, relying on metal and mechanics to overwhelm their foes.

Droids can be found serving others. They will serve anyone who can programme them to do so, yet most often they are under the leadership of computers, acting as the muscle of highly intelligent devices that seek to reach out into the world. Super-computers were created before the Shadow World came, usually set up to run public services or oversee internet security. When things went bad, more were made, with the unease their existence created in most humans being swept aside for fear of greater threats. Super-computers were to fight on behalf of their masters, and not just in the real world. Cyber-warfare was already important, but as more machines were produced, the more the control over them mattered. Nations could be brought down by ripping apart their communication networks, let alone by taking control of armed droids. While monsters ran rampant and mutant armies marched across the changing earth, wars were fought via satellites between super-computers. They were a serious threat to each other, yet also to the human race. Many hi-tech communities were brought down by a super-computer. However, some lost such fights. Rumours abound that super-computers can be found in buried bases even now, maintaining themselves, waiting for a chance to break free.

Many machines are more like droids, just different, with a specific purpose to be fulfilled. Sappers are squat, armoured machines that march in close and then open up to unleash bullets, bombs or various other projectiles. Often used in siege operations, they are also useful workers, carrying supplies from base to base and digging trenches. Then there are Assault Walkers, more commonly called ogres. Essentially they are big droids, with three legs instead of two for stability. They lack arms too, instead powerful weapons rotate to lay waste to all opposition. An interesting rumour about ogres is that humans didn’t create them. It is claimed it wasn’t until super-computers set to annihilate their masters in bigger and bigger wars that such behemoths were needed.

Turtles are similar. Resembling a turtle in form, these large machines slowly stomp across terrain. Their shells are almost impenetrable. Their heads are actually cannons, firing fierce beams of energy, either continuously or in intense bursts. Again, these have one purpose, to destroy, and so are less common. The same goes for cataphracts. They are three-wheeler bikes, made for search and destroy missions. Sleek, fast and agile, they have often hunted humans, but can also be scouts for a machine army on the advance.

How do machines go so far from their homes? The secret is bouys. In form they are just globes on legs. But they are invaluable, being conduits to relaying transmissions in quick time, even over long distances. This is how a computer sat in an underground base can direct its forces miles away. Bouys can set up paths of communication, digging into the ground, using camouflage projections to hide themselves to continue their vital work. Obviously, destroying – or better yet, capturing – a bouy can hinder a machine force greatly, perhaps even defeat it.

As would be expected, machines function on cold logic. They are beings of patience, purpose and practicality. In truth, they do not hate their enemies or fear those who are a threat to them. They simply remove dangers in whatever way is most prudent, while watching out for others and aiming to improve their own existence. The same as all other beings. Humans, monsters and mutants alike distrust how different machines are from themselves. Even if they hate each other, at least they share such emotions. They can understand one another to a degree. Machines have their own way of life. To the rest, it is completely alien.

Weapons of Renown: Part Two

Scientific Weapons of Renown:

Grinder – a single-bladed axe that has four edges of diamond teeth, buzzing alternatively along it. It tears its way through armour and has taken many lives. It is the weapon, and always has been, of Antipater, the foremost general of the Order of the Hybrid Complex. He is a loyal servant of Prime, its leader, and this weapon was made for him as he led armies across the world. An old, intelligent and fierce leader, he is seen as Prime’s right hand, and rightly so.

Flammard – a longsword with a wavey blade that can emit intense heat, which enables it to cut metal with ease. It also distorts vision, with the air around it shimmering. This formidable sword is the possession of Duke, an important commander among the Order of Symbiotic Harmony. Not only is he an admirable tactician, but he enjoys single combat, so had this made. For him, when the Author wishes him to act, he seeks the surest and simplest way to victory and cuts his way through.

Augustus Shotgun – known as Guses, this is a larger than usual shotgun used by humans to kill super-soldiers. It fires special shells, with a solid stock needed to brace when firing. Because of its size and power, the humans picked to use these have to be bigger than average. A fair bit bigger. This weapon is a new invention among the humans who reside in bases within the region once known as Texas. If it proves its worth, it may be spread further afield. Humans need every advantage they can get.

Bolt Pistols – a large, sleek automatic pistol that usually requires two hands and fires eleven powerful shots. This weapon is favoured by commandos and specialist soldiers, even more so by super-soldiers (when it is even bigger) for being a deadly, accurate and controlled weapon, yet capable of firing a sudden and full burst. The fact it is mainly used by super-soldiers now is ironic as it is very good at killing them, even a human version. With more power and focus, even the improved forms of these mutants can do little to stop the shots. It is also excellent against droids.

Mega Tommy Gun – this weapon is everywhere in Trade Island. Essentially it is a superior version of the infamous Thompson submachine gun, once used so well in wars, but also iconic in its role in gang warefare. This new version is bigger and more powerful, and also deliberately louder. It is meant to clear a room, or force everyone to cover as a warning. Easy to make, cheap to buy, it has become a favourite amongst gangs and mercenaries throughout the city. Sometimes they are known as Tommy Twos. Inelegant and ferocious, they are perfect for unskilled fighters in close quarters.

Weaponry of Eden – this human sanctuary has withstood assaults for centuries, and while those within praise God and faith for this, it is also to do with their technology. It is much more advanced than those in the rest of the world, so their soldiers who defend the dome are much better equipped. For one, they can generate force-fields about themselves, impenetrable to anything. A much larger version sits around their home. They also have vehicles that hover over the barren land, as well as cherubim – small, flying robots that scan for mutants and eliminate dangers. A telling sign of the power the soldiers of Eden possess is the energy they emit. The mutant combatants all know that the energy produced by Eden’s weapons is a pure, bright white, unlike anything they’ve seen elsewhere. This energy rips through their hordes whenever they attack. That’s why they keep attacking, for fear one day the superior weapons of Eden will be used to reclaim the world for the human race.

Obliterate – a robot that is essentially a mobile weapon, ready to respond on command. This machine is the bodyguard of Leopold, head of the current top ranked gang in Trade Island. Before he rose to this position, Leopold was a business negotiator and had helped the machine nation to the north with dealings within the city, acting as both representative and advisor. For this, he was rewarded with Obliterate. The robot says little, mainly its own name, and responds to commands from Leopold alone. While only one of its kind, Obliterate has enough firepower to level buildings, and in a packed city, this is too much of a risk for anyone to provoke either owner or weapon. Leopold’s gang has fought in the streets to earn top rank, but few will strike at Leopold himself. It is widely believed that, even if such an act succeeded, Obliterate is programmed to go on a killing spree. No one is ready for that. Yet.

Weapons of Renown

Owning a weapon is important in surviving this world. Being able to use it with deadly skill is vital. Yet for many, they want more. Weaponry can be improved on so that it ranks above the norm. It can also be fashioned into something unique. Many use magic to do this. Others science. This is a role call of weapons that stand out, many of which have names and a past. To own one is to fear less and be able to take more. People would kill to own one. Many already have.

Magical weapons of renown:

No-Daichi – there are actually a number of these, although no one knows how many. In the early times after the Shadow World arrived, with magic and monsters running wild, a range of large Japanese swords were crafted. Magic was used to make them not only super sharp, but also unbreakable and able to even deflect magic attacks. Owning one of these would make a skilled warrior near unstoppable.

Tempest Fan – this unique item is also most likely from Japan, but nobody knows for sure. It is claimed to be a cursed weapon too. While it has incredible power to manipulate the air, creating blasts or slices of wind, it is claimed it drains all joy from the user. It makes the wielder light and so faster too, but some think it has claimed the life, maybe even the soul, of previous owners. For now, the infamous quartermaster and pirate, Amadeus, has it and his clinical and ruthless nature intimidates people throughout the Mediterranean.

Atlas Staff – this is claimed to have originated in Great Britain, but for now its whereabouts is unknown. This staff – a simple looking wooden staff with metal caps on each end – makes the one who holds it resilient to an incredible degree. Tales speak of beings withstanding boulders and magical barrages without harm. At the same time, it is claimed to be light in the hand of the one wielding it, while simultaneously feeling heavy and solid by anyone struck by it.

Giant Breaker – this is a highly unusual weapon, because it was one the skull and spine of an infamous warlord. Lord Ogre was a very large human who terrorised many across Great Britain long ago, until he met his end, defeated in single combat by a devil-beast. In retribution, this monster ripped out his backbone, and the skull with it, and then worked on this magically for some time. A mace was forged, long in haft, round and solid at the end. Yet this trophy was even worse than that. The devil-beast managed to bind the spirit of Lord Ogre to his remains, so whoever holds this weapon can communicate with him. At first Lord Ogre had to endure being the powerful aide to the one who defeated him. Later, he ended up being used by others, one after another, as they all strove to conquer. This weapon was powerful indeed, shattering shields and bones with ease, and even able to create small quakes on impacting the ground. With good reason it came to have the name, Giant Breaker. Now, it has ended up in the big hands of Bruin, an outlaw roaming the island, snarling at the cruel and arrogant voice only he can hear.

Devil’s Death – this pike is wanted and dreaded for a single reason: is was forged to kill devil-beasts. This long and thick weapon was carefully crafted to slice through magical defences and power, and then through the muscle and sinew of one of the largest monsters around. Some claim it even has specific magic bound to it to seek out the weaknesses of such creatures. With this, killing a devil-beast becomes a lot easier, as much as combating one of them could ever be called so. Who made it and why are unknown, as is its whereabouts. Many want it, especially other devil-beasts.

Sunfire Sabre – a sabre made in China, which can wield heat and light and even fire. Highly difficult and risky to master, it promises to make the one who clasps it near unfaceable to most enemies. It is thought to be an attempt by humans to imitate the fire sword used by aegis. If so, it has not fallen that short, according to some stories. It isn’t entirely sure where it is right now, yet it hasn’t gone far. With the amount of humans moving about in that region, it is very likely it will not be long before it is revealed to the world again.

Oni Ken – a simple yet strong iron club. Specifically, it would be called a tetsubo by the Japanese who made it. It is claimed it can smash anything, withstand anything, and has been used to defeat brutes, vandals and even a devil-beast. It may have been made in Japan, maybe not, as it has mostly been used in Australasia. It was lost a number of years ago by followers of magic while on a mission in the more wild lands towards the centre. Either it has been lost, or a monster or human bandit has it, which can only mean trouble for those in their way.

Guard Gauntlets – these are specially crafted and magically charged gauntlets worn on the left hand only. They were worn by the elite guard of Morrigan, an aegis who ruled Great Britain decades ago. She was a strong warrior, leader and magic-user, and expected her elite to be her enforcers as well as her protectors. So these gauntlets were forged and refined to enhance their power. Not only were they a vital aid in combat, but they became a badge. To see an aegis wearing one was to know this individual served Morrigan, and she did not tolerate any trespassers or transgressors. These made the wearers feared and respected, but since her fall and death, anyone wearing one is hated, and therefore hunted.

Unpleasant and Unpopular Monsters

And so, we return to the previous updates and information bulletins that reveal, delve into and explain the world of the Sojourners in Shadow series. We begin with some tidbits about some of the most vile and reviled monsters:

They say that no one likes hobgoblins, even other monsters. They are a pest, a nuisance. They specialise in sneaking and stealing with a fine line in sabotage. Hobgoblins aren’t wanted as allies or even servants by anyone. They don’t make things, they break them or steal them, and have been known to try selling their loot back to the previous owners. Some would claim hobgoblins are stupid, yet if they were, they would be extinct. They are impulsive, true, and seem slaves to their nature, but they are often the ones to survive destruction, crawling out of wreckage, scurrying into new hideouts. If anything, hobgoblins are underestimated. Maybe they like keeping it that way.

But they are not the most derided of monsters. That title would be taken by vermin. While hobgoblins are pests, some credit can be given for the risks they run stealing and sneaking about those stronger than them. Vermin are scavengers, seen as cowards and weaklings. They prey on the injured or lone straggler. They paw their way across battlefields to take whatever they can and finish whoever is left. Some would liken them to hobgoblins, but where those have a near innocence to how much they are disliked, vermin know their reputation and often follow savage instincts, if only when they can do so without risk. On the plus side, they invent. They cobble together weapons and devices from their scavenged goods. Nothing impressive, but they have taken to technology in a way few other monster races have been able to. They wield make-shift guns and bombs, besides other things. As cowardly as they are, vermin are dangerous if encountered in large numbers, or cornered.

Even so, there is one type of monster that is truly loathed. Gleaners.

Once they were small but vicious creatures. Arachnids, scuttling across the ground, seeking kills to feed on. Even then, they possessed a deadly poison in their stingers and clearly bore a taste for cruelty as well as death.

Then came the mass migration to the magical hotspot of Madagascar. Human inhabitants were slaughtered. Piles of corpses littered the island as gleaners made it their home. None know why this happened, or if the gleaners knew what would occur. But this vile race did what they have always done – kill and feed. Just this time it was on a massive scale and on a land flowing with magic.

New gleaners were born amongst the piles of dead. New as in a new generation, but new as in unlike how they were before. Gleaners were mainly still arachnids, yet now they had a half human form protruding where their head should be, and even this wasn’t normal. There was no doubt that the many dead had an effect on this development as the human halves were more like a corpse, with rotting flesh and pale eyes. Also, instead of hands, scythe-like blades were waved on the arms. Not only that, but these gleaners grew to large sizes, much bigger than most living things.

Gleaners are vicious, cruel and greedy. They slaughter most they encounter, capture and feed on the rest. This makes them feared and hated. Yet their appearance makes them repulsive. Their nature does as well. Hobgoblins and vermin are known as thieves and scavengers, spies and cowards, and this is clearly put on them by their own nature. Yet neither compare to gleaners. When the new type were born, they butchered and devoured their parent generation. They live in nests, competing with each other while preying on outsiders, ruled over by inbred rulers, depraved and hostile. They breed in large numbers too. All other faces fear the discovery of a gleaner nest near them because it is only a matter of time before expansion occurs.

The saying is no one like hobgoblins. It is true. But vermin provoke more contempt. Gleaners install more fear and disgust than most things of any kind. Hobgoblins might steal your possessions or break your devices, yet they won’t seek to harm your young because they are too craven to fight adults, as vermin are. More importantly, they won’t remove your limbs and poison you to keep you alive, in agony, so they can feed on you over time. Gleaners are what was once a pest become nightmare. For everyone.

Rabbit Wars

For some reason Watership Down gets played at Easter. Nothing to do with the Christian or Pagan celebration. Just because it has rabbits in. Which is fine by me because that film is one of my all time favourites.

What I wanted to say here was that today, having seen the film was on television and getting into the last third of it, as I always do, I felt compelled to grab the book and read a bit. I was looking for something, I can’t quite remember what. I think Bigwig taking a swing at Campion just because Woundwort wondered if he could take him. Such a typical Bigwig moment.

Anyway, I sent the afternoon skim reading the last part of the book.

If you’re a fan of the film and not read the book, I highly recommend you do. It is well written, not hard to read or follow at all and gives a lot more insight into the characters. Especially the Efrafans.

The book helps us get to know various members of the so-called bad guys. We find some are vicious, like Vervain, and others are only following orders, like Groundsel and Ragwort. Then we have Campion, a loyal captain and yet also someone the good guys respect, because he’s always ready to throw himself into the mud and dark along with his patrol. Campion seems a noble and brave rabbit, whose loyalty to Woundwort keeps him from questioning him.

Woundwort himself is much more than a 2D villain. Even the film gives some glimmers of this. But not much. In the book, we understand Woundwort. Losing his family while young, witnessing his mother be killed, he became ferocious. He went looking for fights. They say, later on in the story, that they think he was unlike any other rabbit. Their natural instinct was to run and hide. He wanted to fight. He wanted to make rabbits safe by making them strong and fearsome. He did this by personally leading and inspiring them. Hell, even Bigwig, for as much as he loathes the regime under the General, admires him for his ability to command. Woundwort leads where others fear to go, and so becomes an admirable but brutal adversary.

The other thing to mention is that the book explores the life in Efrafa much deeper than the film can. That does manage to tell us that their society is breaking down, but in the book we see it for all it is – the good and the bad. Woundwort took over the warren, then moulded it into his image. They feared him, yet many under him respected him and some even admired him. He made them feel strong. Gave them hope.

His society is one of strength and stealth. Rules are ruthlessly enforced. Rabbits can’t even shit where they want, for fear of leaving signs of where they live. Woundwort honed his warren to be one where everything is for the good of the community. Everyone has their place, has their role. You do your job, don’t cause a fuss, and things will go well. In fact, this harsh life has helped them flourish, to the point where Efrafa is overcrowded.

That’s what is so interesting about this society. It is one where the individual wants and wishes are overridden, and it works, but many feel miserable and resentful. Woundwort keeps it together, but you can already see the cracks. It is a facist/communist society. There is a secret police of sorts, led by the reviled Vervain. No one can leave. Order must be maintained. Promotion is highly sought after for the prestige and the rewards. But also many do believe in their way of life and want to do well for their people.

I loved this mention I came across today. After Bigwig helps some escape to Watership Down, there is an incident between him and Blackavar, who he helped escape. Blackavar warns him of something going wrong and Bigwig doesn’t listen, so after it has, he lets Blackavar know he should have listened to him. Blackavar says he has no idea what he is talking about. Turns out, in Efrafa, lessers are so deeply taught to follow their betters, that if a subordinate gives advice that isn’t heeded, he or she will forget about it. Basically, Blackavar genuinely has put that out of his mind, because he can’t show up his better. To him, Bigwig was never wrong, never ignored his warning. Efrafa breeds strong rabbits who are ranging wide across the land, but there is a weakness in their heads and hearts.

As I said, it is a fascinating depiction. A society that flourishes because of its own brutal and regimented nature, and yet is suffering for it too. Woundwort led them to greatness, but then kept them in his grasp. He wanted to stay in charge at any cost. He didn’t believe anyone else could do what he had. Maybe he was right.

Anyway, I love the film, with its melodic score at times and intense drumbeat at others, and the comedy and gore, yet the book is a must read. Woundwort and his followers are more colourful and more intriguing. I feel the story benefits as the world is shown to us via more than one group of characters. Differing views, challenging philosophies, conflicting personalities = more fascinating and engaging story.

I know they’re just rabbits, yet Woundwort and Bigwig remain two of my favourite characters and are a big influence on my writing. Their bloody showdown – depicted with more tactical thought and personal fear in the book – was everything those two promised us. I can only hope to deliver the same one day.

Terminator Just Gets Worse

I watched Terminator Genisys last night. I previously thought that the third Terminator film was the worst, with Salvation not far ahead of it. Now I know we have a new low for the franchise. Honestly, this movie felt half romcom, half buddycop rather than reigniting the Terminator world. Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor could have been played by Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.

I could bitch about the issues I had with this film, how I exclaimed several times at the stupidity of it and how fed up I was by the end. I kind of enjoyed it at first, but it lost me big time in the final third. A lot like Avengers: Age of Ultron. But I won’t bother ranting or whining. Won’t do no good, no how.

What I wanted to comment on was body type and look. Specifically, that of Kyle Reese.

In the original film, Michale Biehn played him. He looked like someone from a post-apoc world, a survivor, a scavenger and scurrier among the rubble. Basically, Biehn was scrawny while muscular. He looked like someone who ate little on a regular basis and was ripped in a natural way due to running, fighting and doing whatever else was needed to survive. He looked the part.

I’ll also mention that I loved his performance. He has wild eyes, bad dreams, sharp instincts. He draws you in as Kyle Reese, out of his time, possibly almost out of his mind, yet a tough, driven soldier.

But back to look. I have nothing against Jai Courtney. I like him and still feel the pain of Varro’s execution. But when I saw his body, and we get several nice body shots in this film, he never looked like he came from a post-apoc world of brutal existence. Sure he had some scars slapped on. But physically he looked like someone who eats well and works out. Which I’m sure the actor does in real life.

To me, this is common in films. They glamorise people and things too. When you watch a movie set in medieval times, you rarely see the natives with rotting teeth or lice, unless they’re depicting a group as much more mucky and loathsome than usual. When people die, their bowels are evacuated. That’s not something we want on the big screen. Movies sanitise reality for us. They also make it look fancy.

Kyle Reese looking this way isn’t a surprise. But it did highlight what I felt was wrong with the film overall. Sure, redo scenes from the earlier films. Reuse the famous lines. But the tone was never the same. There was a grim aspect to the first film. A realistic look, or at least as realistic as films can be.

Oh, I was also annoyed that Sarah Connor from the 80s sounded more like someone from today.

Anyway, Kyle Reese fitted the world I was being sold in the original film. Michael Beihn was a perfect choice. Humans living day to day, meal to meal, in a horrific war with machines should look like he did. Or the ones who could survive it would. It has often been how I imagine most people would look in a post-apoc world setting when I write fiction. Lean, tough, grizzled, wary. But this new movie gave me a nice looking chap who spent much of his time in witty banter.

I will say I did enjoy Arnie a lot and I thought the film did some new, exciting moves with the T-1000. Especially liked the cut a piece off, let it spin, catch and throw move.

But yeah, didn’t like this one at all. Important note: when selling people on a make-believe reality, try to not make it very obvious how make-believe it is. Fake yet realistic. Artificial but fitting. Characters should look the part, sound the part, act the way the time and role would have them be. I really don’t think it is too much to want.

Oh damn, just had one more thought I have to mention as I was going to end this. Reese stealing a homeless man’s trousers. In the original, this is done and, while it got a snicker from teenage me, it helps us to know and understand Reese. He has no problem taking the clothes from a homeless man. On the one hand that shows he has no qualms about getting dirty, and at the same time he is equally lacking in qualms at taking from others. Reese is a survivor and soldier, so he takes what he can, when he can, in order to complete his mission. Stealing from a homeless person is really low in our world, yet he is from another time and place, where he has to be ruthless to live.

In this new film, it becomes a running gag. Grrrr.

Tormergard, the champion in the making

So after a bit of a delay, I finally get to post the last of the character biographies for my book, the Silent Slayer.

As they say, last but certainly not least:

Tormergard is the hero of his own story. Most would tell him that heroes don’t exist, that life isn’t a story and doesn’t work like one. Tormergard is not someone to be dissuaded. He knows he is a hero in the making. Life is his story. He is going to become someone great, someone famous, and someone adored. Heroes always win. They get the girl. They do the right thing and reap the reward. Tormergard intends to achieve all of these. A lot.

His home is Galan, otherwise known as the Galan Mountains. A secure realm with strong people and a society built upon solid family units. Here people see the best in things, therefore the stories they tell reflect this. In most places tales are grim, even macabre. For instance, the myth of Drem is often one of ruthless terror and uneasy mystery. In many places he is portrayed as inhuman. In Galan, they hear stories of the Silent Slayer as a more heroic figure, one who is fascinating rather than unsettling, who slays the wrongdoer and never the innocent. They even talk of romance.

Tormergard was raised on such tales. He sees the world as one of heroes and villains, champions and ruffians, the good and the bad. No one good ever harms a woman. No one good ever steals just to stay alive. No one truly good would ever do something bad. Unless, of course, it was to do good. Therefore he can justify his own actions as both warrior and killer. He would never kill the helpless, obviously. He follows the code of the hero. But Tormergard’s physical prowess means he was born to fight and he loves to do so. In his mind, if people start a conflict, anything that happens to them – anything at all – is on them. No hero ever has to justify his actions. A hero can kill a hundred villains and never be seen as a maniac. They all had it coming. Evil must be opposed.

Others might think Tormergard is either insane or stupid, or even both, to not only view the world this way but believe himself an unstoppable warrior who will right all wrongs. Everyone can be killed. Anyone can be stopped. Life has proven this to people all around the world throughout history. However, nothing has been proven to Tormergard, and until it is – if it ever is – then he will continue on his path. He is a handsome giant with a fearless enthusiasm and talent for mayhem that means life rarely makes him stumble, let alone fall flat on his face. He bundles through with a grin and a cheer. So far, it has been so good. Perhaps that may not last, but few would ever try telling him this.

He is a lover. He loves life, applause, praise, fame, glory, action and women. He loves women as often as he can. This is all part of the lifestyle of the hero. He accepts it, because who wouldn’t love him? If you need a friend, he is there for you. If you need saving, he can rescue you from any danger. If you need loving, he can love a worthy woman all night. Longer if she can take it. Tormergard boasts, but it has to be admitted, few who encounter him would deny the truth underlying his claims.

When people hear of him, they are in disbelief. Many who encounter him are bemused, some amused. He can seem innocent to the point of stupid. Boastful to the edge of arrogant. But those who look close, who take time to consider, see that Tormergard is a force to be reckoned with. His cheerful naivety and simplified world view cannot undo what talent and physique have granted to him. He has wild ambition burning in his heart, but he remains a kind champion, one who wants to help and will never shirk from doing so.

Tormergard is a champion entering a criminal world. In many ways he is not ready for it, and yet at the same time, the criminals are far from ready for him. He may yet become the hero he dreams of being. If he can stay alive, that is.