Monday, August 10, 2020

Microstory 1426: Mad Dog’s Growing Army

By the year 2042, Madoc Raptis had transformed thirteen people into mages. Most of them decided to join his little army, but not all of them. Vaion Newport, his first one, was determined to prove himself worthy of protecting the border against external threats. Maybe his powers wouldn’t help him do this, but there were plenty of other ways to fight. Some time monsters even responded better to physical combat, rather than special temporal abilities, and that was how people handled them long ago, before they fully understood how special some of the unborn children were. Two others chose to use their gifts in other ways; neither for the border, nor Madoc, and that was fine. Madoc wasn’t expecting anyone to be particularly loyal to him. He just wanted them to be honorable, and productive members of society. Ageless Ecrin Cabral—having been sourced by Orabela before the first Mage Games—had a choice of where she operated. She became a bit of a floater, helping people wherever she felt she was needed the most, and this often meant sticking with Madoc’s group. So in total, there were now eleven, which brought their number up to the same as the source mages themselves. Vaion was the only person who Madoc gave what boiled down to a useless power. Being the lucky one, he only ever sourced powerful and formidable abilities, even though he randomized them, and never controlled who received what. So his army was now almost evenly matched with the sources. This didn’t mean they were going to war against each other, but it was still an important occasion. The source mages were not perfect people, or gods. They were fallible, dangerous, and at risk of becoming corrupted. Madoc knew that this could become a problem, so in 2042, he released them from their attachment to him. He would continue to source one new mage every single year, and encourage them to join what was being called Mad Dog’s Army, but he made no requirements of them. He did not give them orders, or ask them to protect the source mages’ interests. In fact, he didn’t want them to do that at all. They should be there to protect the balance. They kept his name, but anything more could be considered a conflict of interest. This army was a lot more versatile than a simple military outfit. No single title would describe it thoroughly, and unambiguously, so the word army was good enough. They went on offensive missions against the time monsters, yes, but they also handled internal affairs in the same way a police force on Earth would. Much of what they did was completely nonviolent too, like when they used their powers to construct buildings, or complete other acts of public service. They even helped protect the towns’ borders, though they generally preferred to leave that responsibility to the other mages. This group continued to grow over the years, and when the Mage Protectorate fell, there were over fifty of them, all of which were considered to be the elites. It was a much coveted role, and almost no one who wanted to be part of it was selected.

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