Chapter 1: It's a New Generation

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REMEMBER:

"Good prose is either memorable/witty/beautiful, gives us an insight into character, or furthers plot development. Great prose does both."

Chapters:

Chapter 1: It's a New Generation ✅
Chapter 2: We Close Our Eyes
Chapter 3: Right to Know
Chapter 4: No Spill Blood
Chapter 5: Goodbye-goodbye, epilogue


He had a steady job and watched what he spent.
He'd say I don't believe in payin' no goddamn rent.
I'll squirrel away every goddamn cent
And buy my own damn house in Kalamazoo.

In his flat one thousand, six hundred and sixty-seven miles from Kalamazoo, Michigan, an old man who certainly did believe in payin' his goddamn rent silently nodded along to the beat of Les Claypool's bass, Larry LaLonde's Guitar, and Bryan Mantia's drums. Sixty-five years old, his body still trim and flexible but his mind hopelessly dulled from years of retirement and drinking, it's all agent Tyler Umen could do to not fall asleep in his chair — but sleep brought dreams, and dreams usually took him back to a time he'd rather not dwell on. The music should've drowned it all out, but even that hardly worked anymore. Umen cursed himself (as he was prone to doing nowadays) for not taking the amnestics when he'd had the chance.

I knew a guy that mangled his hand,
And he went from pipe fittin' to a hot dog stand.
They say last year he cleared fifty grand
Selling dogs round Kalamazoo.

Umen had once seen a guy get his hand mangled, back in the early days of his career. It was his first mission, and the guy'd been a bit careless where he shouldn't have been, and, well…he'd just laid his hand on a bit of unstable reality and it came off looking like the model for a Picasso painting. They'd had to stop the mission and bring the team home right then and there — Umen could almost still hear the other guy crying, all through their trip back to Site-75.

She turned to the world with a bastard child.
Said, "I just can't handle him he's too damn wild".
But the years and the liquor have made him mild.
And he lays around in Kalamazoo.

Umen supposed the life he'd chosen wasn't too bad — his pension from the Foundation took care of things, for the most part, and he hadn't really had to get out of his house for a while. He still did go out every so often (usually to get some exercise), but he kept to himself as much as he could even then. He'd heard once that loneliness and introversion were a common problem in MTF retirees, but there wasn't much Umen could do about that without making himself vulnerable. It was fine, though, he didn't mind — he reckoned (or hoped, to be honest) he'd end up dying of a heart attack before the end of the year. He'd already written his will, anyway…

Umen didn't know when he'd fallen asleep, and of course hadn't noticed his drift into unconsciousness, but he did notice the loss of time. The Brown Album was over, and his CD player now blasted the simultaneously angelic and devilishly mischievous voice of Danny Elfman, begging for someone to get him out of his Private Life.

More pressing, though, was the knock on his door — the knock of someone who'd definitely been waiting too long, and certainly would be pissed as all hell when Umen opened the door. For a moment, Umen debated just waiting them out, staying slouched in his armchair until whoever it was went away — then another salvo of knocks, more insistent this time, battered his door. Umen groaned, unburied himself from the folds of the seat's cushions, and slowly hobbled to let whoever it was in.



Dr. Placeholder McDoctorate seriously didn't have time for this.

He'd been standing at the door of what she hoped was Tyler Umen's apartment for nearly 30 minutes now, hearing loud-ish boomer music emanating from within and wondering if he'd somehow gotten the wrong address, and was considering just getting back into his car and going back to the airport. He'd been on-board for the whole operation to be sure, but Placeholder was just the kind of guy to change his entire outlook on something in response to any sort of minor inconvenience — though in this case, having to wait for a half-hour in front of someone's door was hardly minor.

Well, all that didn't matter now. With another self-directed whisper of "I seriously don't have time for this," Placeholder decided to knock once more and leave if nobody came in five minutes. If the geezer'd fallen in the bathtub and bled to death, he didn't want to be a suspect. McDoctorate took a breath, readied himself, and knocked as hard as he could.

One minute…

Two minutes…

Three minutes. Placeholder recognized the music that emanated from within the apartment — ugh, Oingo Boingo.

Four minutes. He thought he heard a yawn.

Five minutes. Too late, Umen.

Just as Placeholder was about to turn and leave, though, he heard the unmistakable sound of creaking footsteps approaching the door. He quickly turned, sharpening his face and preparing a few choice words for the doddering old fart the moment he saw him. At the creak of the knob, the first four-letter word in his verbal barrage was all but prepared, and he breathed deeply in anticipation. Then, the door opened a crack, and Placeholder McDoctorate's carefully constructed speech of enraged malice crumbled under the gaze of the bleary, deeply creased face of Tyler Umen.



"Here, want some of this?"

Umen, holding two cans of beer in his left hand and a fake smile on his face, walked out of his humble kitchen and held out a can to Placeholder. He looked up, shook his head, and looked back down, saying nothing. Umen shrugged and sat down at a comfortable distance from him, placing the cans among a pile of empty ones that'd accumulated since he had come in. With a sigh, Umen popped one can open and all but downed it.

"That shit's gonna kill you someday, you know." Umen looked up, the saccharine-sweet, cheery expression on his face momentarily gone, and Placeholder didn't blame him for being caught off-guard. After being quiet for what felt like hours listening to the oddly imposing old man rail on about his fantastical family history and watching him down beer after beer like an Asian Viking, he himself was surprised to have found the guts to speak up.

"It's fine, don't worry." Umen's happy facade returned as quickly as it'd faded away. "This is reduced-alcohol. Doctor's orders." To prove his point, Umen pointed a finger at the can's label: 2% alcohol by volume.

"You know what?" Placeholder stretched a hand out towards Umen. "If that's the case, I'll have that other can. If you don't mind." Umen smiled, and passed the remaining can to him. He popped it open and took a few gulps, then looked back over at the old man. "So…we haven't really talked all that much about it, and I'm sorry for that, but…what do you think of this assignment? The, uh, reason I'm here?"

A blank stare — Umen looked at Placeholder like he'd just spoken to him in Korean. McDoctorate rolled her eyes, but wasn't entirely surprised. It'd just be so tedious to explain to this crusty old coot something that he knew he knew…but before he could open his mouth again, a look of recognition flashed to Umen's face.

"I-I know what you're talking about, yeah. I remember…that letter from Dune in Pataphysics, the whole thing about killing Bright and Clef…yeah. I remember wanting to dust off the place before everyone came in, but I never really got to doing that, but…yeah. Yeah."

Umen trailed off, and he and Placeholder both silently wondered if he had gone senile. The knock on the door was a welcome break, and this time it was the younger man who went to let whoever it was in.



MTF 𒀀-1 ("To Defy the Laws of Tradition")

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Task Force Mission: A temporary task force comprising of select Foundation personnel with high narrative density, assigned to assassinate Charles Gears, Agatha Rights, Jack Bright, Benjamin Kondraki, Alto Clef, and other entities whose continued presence in baseline reality has the capacity to cause a 𐤌K-Class Narrative Stagnation Scenario.

Members:

  • Dr. Jay Dune: Narrative Tactician, Assassination and General Combat
  • Dr. Placeholder McDoctorate, PhD: Narrative Tactician, Assassination and General Combat
  • Agent Tyler Umen: Espionage and Scouting, Assassination and General Combat
  • Junior Researcher Estelle Isle: [DATA LOST]

Project Status: Ongoing

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