A month ago, I shared a first draft short story. A prequel to how Alex Rune assembled a group of technomages. In real life, around 2003 or so, a group of people actually did look into creating technomagic for themselves. I’ve had time to think about what needs improvement and started making small adjustments.
Who Wants to be a Technomage? (v2)
Two minutes after the start of the panel, and the room remained nearly empty. An uncostumed woman with long, jet black hair and russet skin sat waiting in the front row. The Babylon 5 television show finished in ‘99, by 2005, the fandom convention BabCon still carried the torch, albeit with a tired arm and guttering candle of a flame left. The panel’s scheduled topic Who Wants to Be a Technomage appeared to be like its presenter, a no-show.
A long hanging table cloth covered the single table at the front of the room, which held a microphone, name standee labeled Alex Rune and a rumpled banner of some sort. The woman noted all of this for the fiftieth time while she waited. A noise at the back of the room drew her attention. Three people jostled their way into the room, out of breath. A Narn, a Centauri and a Minbari entered the room, perhaps as the lead-in to a joke.
The male dressed as a Narn must have shaved his head and air-brushed over his umber features. He spoke first, “Is this the Technomage panel?”
The woman in front turned and nodded.
The Indian costumed as a Centauri raised a sepia toned hand up to check his watch. His hair crest wobbled as he gesticulated and spoke with a poor imitation of a french accent, “Then, ah, where is the presenter?”
The woman shrugged. She didn’t look like she belonged here, in her grey leggings and tunic. Maybe if she wore gloves and a PsyCorp pin. Some people don’t do dress-up.
The Minbari opted for the Delenn character look with the bone crest sitting over her hair. Her short, stocky frame presented a different take on the character. She panted, “Fuck this. Let me catch my breath -I had to run to keep up with you guys.”
“Aight. Imma sit down. Narning is wore me out.”
“If y’all breaking character, so am I. This hair piece is itchin’ like a sonovabitch.”
The three sat down in the back, half investing in the panel’s dismal start and ready to bolt once they rested. The Centauri fidgeted, “Excuse me, ma’am. How long you been waiting?”
She gave a wan smile, “It seems a few years, perhaps a few minutes more.”
The costumed trio talked amongst themselves, as she rose and stretched. Then she walked over to the table. Picked up the name placard and examined it and set it down. Then lifted the part of banner to look it over.
The Narn craned his head to see better, “Ay, what’s that say on it? Can you lift it up?”
She grasped the long painted closet dowel run through one end of the banner and lifted it up, so the bottom dropped down to the floor as she held it up with her arms raised and it spread out along her side.
“I’m too close to see all of it, what is the message?”
The Centauri read it out, “Abandon this room if your love of magic is weaker than your resolve. Only the committed shall persevere to see technomagic come into this world.”
The woman’s arms tired out and she brought the outstretched end of the rod down to her side. The banner crumpled to the floor. I stood in my dark grey hoodie with the deep cowl up and my hands resting in front of me so the cuffs appeared joined. Classic mystic pose.
I nodded to my wife and she raised up the rod, freeing it from the banner and then handed it to me. About time, my right knee whined with the force of glassy nails on a chalkboard from waiting. I gripped it tighter and took weight off the injury. Rain returned to her seat, that part of her role completed.
“You’ve come a long way. Have you decided to take the door, or come closer so I don’t have to use this stupid microphone they setup.”
The Centauri got up first and approached, “Are you going to show us magic tricks or are you serious?”
As he neared Rain’s row, I flung out my left hand, a cloud of glitter sprayed out as the words left my lips, “varpa fitu!” while I struck the butt of my staff onto the floor. The lights flickered and the man slipped and fell when he reached the table.
Laughter from the back filled the room. Making my way around the table, I stepped carefully and extended a hand to help the man up. “You OK?”
“Mostly my pride, though my ass isn’t too keen on any more demonstrations.”
“Fair enough, man. Let’s step over here and you all should come up.” Gesturing to the uncostumed lady, “This is my wife, Rain.”
The Minbari and Narn came around the side of the room to the front. Perhaps her shorter stature helped her notice, she reached down and picked up a ball bearing. “So you set all this up ahead of time?”
The Narn smiled, “Of course they did. A technomage is strongest in their place of power. Just like the books.”
The Centauri looked me up and down, “I don’t want to be a practice dummy, but is there anything else you can do?”
“I can produce fire,” I brought my left hand out again from the folds of the sleeve and snapped, a small burst of flame flared out.
The deductive Minbari reached into her pocket and revealed a Zippo lighter. She flicked the top open and a two inch flame flared out. “Yeah, I can do that, too.”
“I know that which can’t be known. You are all acquainted on the BabCom website. You are Harridas,” I said as I pointed to the Centauri. “Named after a famous Indian fakir, I believe.” I turned to the Narn, “You screen name is BlackCrow. And you are Trigoth. You restore classic cars.”
Trigoth turned a deeper red. “You must’ve picked that up from our posts over the years. Who are you on there?”
Harridas slid is feet, careful to avoid bearings to get to the table. He picked up the name card. “Duh, he’s Rune. You don’t even hide your name. You vanished and then posts said you went to Za’ha’dum.”
Flashback time almost started, but Rain appeared by my side, somehow dodging bearings and the subject. “After a fashion.” she said. “You’ve seen what he can do now and how some of it was done. Imagine working together to improve and make new abilities, year after year.”
Staring at my painted curtain rod, Trigoth said, “Well, first off, your staff sucks. I could mill a better one at my shop.”
Harridas scratched his chin, “Could it be hollow? We could make it shoot bullets or something.”
Kneeling down to start cleaning up bearings, BlackCrow said, “Dayum, that’s hardcore. But what are we gonna do with it? Because dressing up is fun, but that’ don’t get shit done. Tomorrow, I gotta be me again.”
I could sense a monologue coming on, I didn’t have a script writer to make it sound good. “Who are you and what do you want? That’s what the TV show asked us. You dressed up, but as soon as you got here, broke character. Because that’s not who you are, and it’s hard pretending to be something you’re not. I know,” flipped my hood off, revealing my stark white hair and leather patch over my left eye, ''because I’ve been this my whole life. Took dying and coming back, to realize it and do something with it. Just like I know who you are. I know, because you ran to be here. We are dreamers, shapers, singers and makers. We can make the future, and shape a more just and fair world, once we have the power.”
Rain summed it up, “So, who wants to be a technomage?”
BlackCrow stood up, a bunch of my balls in his hand. Bearings, I mean. “Wizard. Technomage is clunky and too much of a giveaway. And yeah, I do.”
The glint in the Indian known as Haridas gave it away, “I’ve known you on the forum for years. Count me in. I got some ideas for a staff with power.”
The last one to pick a stance, Trigoth paced back and forth. “You’re gonna need some more women. Let’s be wizards.”
At this stage, I made few changes. Adjusted some words, clarified things. I wanted to make sure the reader knew we were at a sci-fi convention for Babylon 5 and that the three to come in were humans dressed as aliens from the show. I don’t think it’s necessary to explain the alien races as its not relevant and somebody who doesn’t know anything about the show, still won’t by whatever briefing I give. All they’ll feel is “nerds in costumes, got it.”
I forgot to have Alex introduce Rain, which I think is rude of me, and as a former small stage magician, he’d know to do. I got the idea for Alex to have magic skills from a guy I went to college with. Turned out he’d do shows on the side for money. I thought that’d be a good basis for using technology as magic.
I want to improve Haridas, Trigoth and BlackCrow’s dialogue. They all swear, which makes it muddier. Haridas is inspired by The Expanse character Alex Kamal who’s got that cowboy pilot twang going on. BlackCrow hasn’t got his wizard name yet, and he’s supposed to be a communications expert. He doesn’t sound like the most polished here and I want to improve how I present him. Trigoth is a rugged woman who welds and makes beauty from metal.
I’m also not happy with the skin color words I picked from Writing With Color. Not their fault, I just need a collage of faces and words to inform me. I expect I'll rework how I describe everybody, though I really want to keep the joke setup for the three aliens.
Last up, there’s not a lot of conflict here. Alex’s goal was to recruit wizards. The three friends wanted to be wizards. Match made in heaven among online friends now meeting in person. This story was only meant to be a slice in time, but maybe I can spice it up. That’s the kind of thinking that results in larger changes.
You can see the previous draft here:
Find other articles about Alex Rune and Technomages here: