friday fiction

The Hero Will Not Be Automatic

Another challenge from Chuck Wendig! Much like last week’s, the challenge was to pick one of ten titles and write a piece that’s 1000ish words. See the original post here and check out everyone else’s awesome stories in the comments! It’s a little rough, just like this week has been, but I hope it makes some sort of sense 🙂

The Hero Will Not Be Automatic

Tamara, the temporary Goddess of Quests, grimaced at her computer screen. Or rather, at the rapid-fire Meeting of the Gods taking place in the office groupchat. She’d been selected to fill the Goddess of Quests position as the last goddess had quit a week before; Tamara was beginning to understand why.

Ruler_of_All_of_You: The time to choose another hero has come, thanks to one of the few world-changing quests QuestGoddess pulled from her hat yesterday

Tamara prickled at that; they weren’t chosen from any old hat! Quests were more like…plot fixes, advice to ruling gods about what to do with the planets under their jurisdiction when things got out of hand.

FairestofThemAll: Why does she get to choose anyway? I applied and was denied but everyone knows my plots are better! I vote for an automatic hero; it’s much easier that way.

Ruler_of_All_of_You: If you’ve got a complaint, fill out a form and email it to the Assignment Board. An automatic hero would be easier though; the Human Division is feeling a little overworked.

TechQueen: We’ve got the spare parts, afterall. What’s the quest for, anyway?

QuestGoddess is logged in

QuestGoddess: Sorry I’m late, but one thing is absolutely certain.

The hero WILL NOT be automatic.

FairestofThemAll: Didn’t you hear that the Human Division’s overworked? Too many quests would be dropped or delayed for one little world-changer.

Tamara pressed her lips together behind her screen, stifling a scream. Loki, a trickster god on loan from another branch raised an eyebrow at her from his cubicle. A chat window popped up beside the meeting chat log, Loki’s green dot blinking as he typed.

ActualRuleroftheGods: You okay?

QuestGoddess: I understand why the last quest goddess quit. Otherwise, just peachy.

ActualRuleroftheGods: What have the should’ve-been-mortals done now?

QuestGoddess: Nothing except go against the first rule of the new quest. It’s pretty important too.

Tamara glanced at the meeting chat window. New messages flashed at her but she minimized the window; it all looked like a bunch of spam from the Goddess of Beauty, head of the Human Design staff.

ActualRuleroftheGods: Pfft. I swear, Fate got their destinies mixed up or something. There’s no way they’re suitable to be gods/goddesses.

QuestGoddess: Speaking of, what’s up with your new username??

ActualRuleroftheGods: You like? 😉

ActualRuleroftheGods: The last one was too long to type in every time we had a meeting. And I decided to go big. Why irritate only a majority of the office when I can piss off the Big Man himself?

Tamara stifled a laugh, peering around the cubicle wall. Loki shot her a mischievous grin, pouring scalding black coffee into his trademark emerald green mug. Studded with actual emeralds, of course.

Seriously? Tamara mouthed.

Loki toasted her with his mug, swilling back coffee before mouthing back, Absolutely. He sauntered to his desk, coffee in hand and smirk stretched tight on his lips.

The meeting chat pulsed red; someone had mentioned her.

Ruler_of_All_of_You: QuestGoddess, what are the specifications of the quest?

QuestGoddess: The world in question is Original Earth; it’s time for Ragnarok. And the hero MUST be human. As in, flesh and blood, not scrap metal and a hasty paint job.

The chat fell silent.

Ruler_of_All_of_You: Someone get Loki in here now.

ActualRuleroftheGods: You called, my liege?

Ruler_of_All_of_You: Five million years and I still don’t get how he does that. And stop stealing my usernames, Trickster God. Or I shall smite you with lightning and the plague.

ActualRuleroftheGods: As I recall, your last username wasn’t, “YesIAteAllTheOfficePudding_DealWithIt.” And lightning is Thor’s thing. Hasn’t smiting gone out of season? 😉

FairestofThemAll: Wasn’t Loki the one who created the plague in the first place???

Tamara pounded at the keyboard; the clock to her left showed a narrow countdown for them to get the hero ready and on Earth to carry out the end of the world. Only a hundred years left.

QuestGoddess: Save the smiting for after work. We’ve got 100~ years or so until Ragnarok and we’ve got over a billion departments to notify. Get to it. FairestofThemAll, we need the standard heroine plus one kickass battleaxe. We’ll drop her off in New Osland or some place around there. In the city, this time. We don’t want another Beowulf on our hands.

FairestofThemAll: Right.

Ruler_of_All_of_You: Get to it, everyone. And Loki?

ActualRuleroftheGods: Yes?

Ruler_of_All_of_You: You’ll work with QuestGoddess on this one. As well as some hands on work when the end of the world comes.

ActualRuleroftheGods: Fine.

Ruler_of_All_of_You: And change your username, for Fate’s sake.

ActualRuleroftheGods: …we’ll see.

Tamara sat back in her chair, flipping through the quest one more time. Her heart sank as she read the detailed Ragnarok scenario over again. She’d seen it on so many worlds, yet Tamara had never thought she’d have to execute it on Original Earth. It was like decapitating your favorite doll. She pulled up Original Earth’s history, scrolling past the text where it got bloody, dwelling on the culture sections. So many things came from that one, she thought, gazing at the mysterious Mona Lisa. Several hundred years later and the mortals still weren’t sure why she didn’t have eyebrows. Tamara smiled at that; she’d gotten the chance to talk to Da Vinci during a Goddess Studies class in their Earth unit. He’d confessed to her in a husky Italian whisper that it had been pure laziness.

“A little too much alcohol the night before, a bit too much of a headache afterward,” Da Vinci had said, winking.

Tamara sighed.

“You’re not sick of me already, are you?” Loki appeared at her elbow, setting his coffee down on her mousepad. “Because that was almost faster than Thor.”

Tamara mustered a small smile. “Nah. I was sick of you a split second after you walked into the office and sat in my seat.”

Loki smiled, as if peering into the past. “Good times.”

She clicked through a few more pictures, planet selfies some old space association had taken in the early days. It really was a beautiful planet, all sapphire, diamond, and emerald.

This is going to be our best job yet, Loki said in her mind, voice on level with a preteen girl about to meet the boy band of her dreams. I can’t wait to watch the world burn.

Get out of my head, Tamara scolded. And this one’s special.

Sadness must have creeped into her words, because a leather jacket dropped over her shoulders. Loki’s leather jacket. The one thing he never took off, aside from the crystal hunk of never-melting ice on a simple golden chain. He didn’t look at her when she gaped at him, merely stabbing a finger into the holographic map her computer constantly projected.

“Right there,” he said, sticking a pixelated pushpin in place. “That’s where we’ll start the end of the world.”

Tamara squinted.

Las Vegas.

 

 

 

 

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