He needed a new scheme desperately.
It wasn't because he had a lack of money, for his previous schemes had generated good returns on whatever investments he had made. It was because of who he was. For him, Stance Red, the Stance Red, the underworld-renowned rogue, not having a scheme ran counter to his very existence. If it was known he was having problems cooking up a new scheme, his reputation would not hold up. Therefore, he needed a scheme.
He glanced down, and realized his bowl of synthmeal had gotten cold. Furious, he swept the bowl from the table. Ignoring the sound of shattering porcelain, he stalked off, determined, as always, to have his way in the world. A minute later, a cleaning robot meandered into the room, swept the bowl shards into its bowels, and scurried along on its way.
The man looked up from wiping a plate in surprise, "Stance Red! Such a pleasure to see you again. Honestly, you can't possibly understand how much-" "Do us all a favor," Stance Red smoothly interjected, "and shut up." "Yessir!" gulped the chubby man, hurrying off. Stance Red took a seat at a nearby table, and twiddled his thumbs. A moment later, the man returned, holding a steaming mug and a newspaper. "Here you go," said the man, "Do you want-" "Just charge it to my account, Jim," Stance Red replied dismissively. As Jim walked off, the rouge took a slip of his coffee, and glanced at the paper. Suddenly he fixated on a particular headline:
Wendigos expected to go extinct soon
Supply of available furs is dwindling, value is rising
Stance Red was intrigued. Clearly there was money to be made here, but how? The remaining populations of wendigos, other than the few in private zoos, were in hunting reserves, maintained by the One World Government. And the last thing Stance Red needed was to contend with was the agents of the OWG. After all, those agents had…ah well, it wasn't like him to mourn over the past. Better to focus on the scheme at hand.
Suddenly it hit him like a bolt from a taser to the chest. If he couldn't hunt them now, he could go to a different time to hunt these creatures. He smirked, knowing that his genius had come through once again. Finishing his coffee, he grabbed the paper and strolled out the door, but not before leaving a very generous tip.
Now preparations had to be made for this scheme.
Scientific Discovery Report, August 2036
Three months ago, in an effort to preserve the species known commonly as the gorilla, genetic engineers at the Mendel Genetics Center attempted to alter these animals to survive in colder climates. However, a number of test subjects demonstrated strange mutations, including white hair, minute horns, and upright posture. Less than a month ago, a radical environmental group calling itself the Environmental Protection Agency launched a raid on the center and freed the animals. They coined the name wendigo for this particular mutant strain in a video by one of their top leaders. The wendigos appear to have been released in the Free Yukon Territories, and seem to be thriving.
After doing research on the wendigos, Stance Red now had to procure access to a timeslider machine. This wasn't too hard, provided one had the proper number of euros and connections. Obviously, Stance Red had plenty of both.
Stance Red showed up at the warehouse with an antigrav sled, a taser, and a skinning knife. He stood, looking for his contact; he didn't have long to wait. She approached from the right-hand alley, dressed like a common hooker. She stopped about a meter away from him, squinted at him, and then muttered, "Furs".
That was the code word. Stance Red nodded, and turned to follow her, effortlessly hauling the sled behind him. She led him to a pair of rusty double doors, on which she knocked softly, slowly, four times. The doors slowly opened, and the two entered the building. Inside was another man, and, beside him, the timeslider machine. "You ready?" the man, a burly bald figure with black tattoos running up his one arm. Stance Red nodded, and proceeded to the slider platform with his sled. The tattooed man flipped a switch, and Stance Red watched as the universe folded sideways around him.
The Free Yukon Territories assembled before Stance Red. He shook his head; timesliding could be so damn disorienting. Well, to business, he thought, as he pulled the taser from its holster. He had wendigos to hunt. And he only had four hours to do it before the timeslider machine pulled him back to the warehouse.
It took him just over an hour to locate the wendigos. There were nearly three dozen in the group, and they appeared to just be standing around. Stance Red crept closer, and suppressed a whistle. These things were huge! The full-grown ones stood between eight and ten feet tall, and easily weighed at least two hundred kilograms. Stance Red shrugged, sighted his taser on the nearest one, and fired. Suddenly, as the blast sped to the target creature, Stance Red shuddered. He had forgot to set his taser to compensate for the wendigo's weight! All he could do was watch.
He was doubly surprised. First, the single wendigo went down like a rock. Secondly, the remainder of the group did not even react, but continued to stand around as if nothing had happened. Elated, he opened fire on the group, bringing them down right, left, and center until all of them were unconscious on the snow.
Stance Red was pleased. He had skinned about half of the wendigos, leaving the rest relatively unharmed. He had chosen the larger full-grown ones to kill, figuring he could get a better profit off the larger furs. Having loaded up the sled, Stance Red now had to wait for the remain half-hour before he was returned to the present. As he waited, his mind drifted…
The teacher turned and spoke, "Now, in order for reproduction, you need both male and female - What's that?" he turned as the side door burst open. Uniformed men rushed through and peppered the teacher with bullets. As his bloody body twisted and fell, the soldiers scrambled around and seized a young girl. "You're coming with us, in the name of the OWG," one said, as they trained SMGs on the cowering students. One teenage boy screamed out, "No! You can't! She's my sister! NONOnonononono…" his moans trailed off as they dragged her out the door. No one else said a word. And then the students, desks, and the walls of the school seemed to collapse, fold, and reform into…
…the warehouse and timeslider machine.
Stance Red shook his head and wiped a tear from his face. Fifteen years had done nothing to dull the pain that memory brought. He shook his head again and walked out of the warehouse, not noticing that the one armed man who was supposed to be waiting for payment was no longer there.
He went to Black Eddy's the next day.
Black Eddy was almost as famous as Stance Red was, but for different reasons. He dealt with anybody, and would buy or sell anything at market value, no questions asked. This made him the chief merchant of the underworld. If someone didn't know Black Eddy, they probably had none of the connections needed to survive and thrive.
Black Eddy greeted him cordially, "Hullo, wot do ya have fer me?" Stance Red brought the antigrav sled, loaded with his furs around. Black Eddy looked puzzled, "Wot are dese?" he said, "Dis is no good. Dey are not val-yu-a-bul." "Not valuable? Not valuable!" Stance Red exclaimed, "These are wendigo furs! Of course they're valuable!"
"Whin-de-go fers? Wot are dose?" was Black Eddy's confused reply. Stance Red was stunned. He left Black Eddy's in a state of shock. Stance Red had some checking up to do on what happened to the wendigos.
Scientific Discovery Report, July 2037
It has been a year since the release of the wendigos by the Environmental Protection Agency, and six months since all adult males mysterious vanished from the Free Yukon Territories. No one can explain the phenomenon that occurred, but the consequences are apparent. The species' population has been unbalanced, and the wendigos are expected to be no more in another year. One thing it shows is that radical environmental groups get their just desserts in the end.
Stance Red sat in his flat, feeling very much like weeping. His scheme had failed. The sun set quietly, shining its rays in through the window. His scheme had failed. The cleaning robot buzzed along on its routine patrol of the building. His scheme had failed. The building manager knocked on the door in order to collect the rent, which was four days overdue. His scheme had failed. For the first and only time a scheme of this illustrious, nefarious rogue, known to all as Stance Red, had failed.
Author's Note: I just could not resist, could I?
The section on Stance Red's (ugh at the name) background was completely unnecessary, in hindsight. Without it, the story would be a short but compact lesson on the dangers of time travel. But no, I just had to give my character emotional angst for the sake of giving him emotional angst. Bad author! Bad!
Still, given that I wrote this story for a college course, I suppose it could be worse. Oh wait, I wrote that Vertical City thing, didn't I? Never mind...