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Meet the Wolf, Chapter 2
Meet the Wolf,</b>
Chapter 2: Welcome to Oklahoma City!
The truck drove into the city. Bianca looked around in fascination at the big buildings through the windows of the truck's camper shell. The buildings appeared to be steel melded with trees, making the city look more like a giant forest.
Wow... The Lycan thought as she gazed at the buildings. Not many big buildings like this back home... The truck was slowed up by the traffic, which allowed a lull.
"I can't believe she did that." Alan shook his head in disbelief. "I cannot believe she snuck into our truck like that."
"What amazes me is that neither of us noticed her." Josh pointed out. "I mean, you don't expect a big ol' wolfgirl like her to be that stealthy."
"She's a Lycan, man." Alan reminded. "They can be surprisingly stealthy...I should know..." The Hispanic man looked out the window at the crowd of people walking up and down the sidewalk. But his gaze was not on them, the varied array of beings
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Literature
Meet The Wolf
Meet The Wolf
Disclaimer: All characters are mine. There's some slight violence and language, but hardly anything horror-level. It's just in case.

Author's Note: After re-reading through this, I felt I could do this better. Much better. As such, I decided to edit it a bit. Hope you like the edits I made.
BLAM! BLAM!

Another zombie's head exploded thanks to some buckshot.
"Blasted zombies..." The shooter muttered. He scowled at a pair of zombies staggering towards him. He calmly pulled a couple of shotgun shells out of a bandolier that crossed his leather jacket-covered chest. He aimed and fired, killing the two undead beings. He looked around and saw nothing else but truly-dead zombies. Josh Reynolds nodded in satisfaction.
"Well, that takes care of that." Josh said to himself. He took off his Oakley sunglasses, revealing dark brown eyes, and wiped some sweat off his dark-skinned brow with his jacket's sleeve. His hair was closely cropped to his head. He looked
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Back in February, I gave my thoughts on the upcoming sequel to Super Mario Maker. I loved the original game, and I was so thrilled that there was a sequel coming to the Switch. What more would be added? New features? New worlds? New enemies to place and items to use? Well, this Nintendo Direct dedicated to Super Mario Maker 2 should answer that question! Let's take a look!

 

 

Hey, Builder Mario! And Builder Luigi, too!

You'd be surprised how much fun it is to just place blocks wherever you want.

Heh heh, line of Goombas. It's funny that a Goomba can support six or seven of his comrades on top of him, but is easily squished by Mario or Luigi. Maybe they're actually just very light?

This reminds me, I gotta get back to work on that level I started designing who knows how long ago.

Oh, that would suck if you desperately needed a power-up, but ended up getting a Chain Chomp. ...Somebody's going to do that to be cruel, aren't they?

One of the things I loved about this game is the fact you can do some outright insane stuff, like have Chin Chomps pop out of pipes, or have Goombas carry Bullet Bill launchers.

Take that, Thwomps. Heh heh.

Oh, you can create slopes now? Neat! Sliding around in Super Mario World was always fun.

Oh, no! The Angry Sun?! These people are crazy! I can imagine this guy was a source of great torment to many a Mario 3 player. And now they can inflict it on a new generation of Mario fans! Fun!

I played Mario World, I remember snake blocks. I had no idea they were unavailable in the original. Ah well, nice to see them here. I'm guessing the blue ones were icy blocks.

On/Off Switches would make for some nice possibilities if you want to create sneakier levels that require a bit of smarts to play through.

Seesaws are going to raise a lot of blood pressures.

Heh, Swinging arms. Neat.

I like the Custom Scrolling feature. Gives more control over where the player has to go to avoid death.

The Vertical Sub-Area feature reminds me of the vertical levels of the American Mario 2. I wish stuff from that game could be used, like the vegetables and enemies. Maybe in DLC?

HOLY CRUD BANZAI BILL!

I'm surprised the Dry Bones Shell has never been a legit Mario Power-Up.

Big Coins and new sound effects are neat.

Hey, you and a friend can make levels together! Awesome!

I like the ability to create clear conditions. Allows a bit of shaking up to the gameplay. Oh, you don't just have to get through the level, you have to do THIS as well! Ups the challenge.

I like that this game has added more items to use. And Red Yoshis, huh? Are Blue and Yellow ones also available?

Boom Boom! Absolute Madlad!

Wait, this game has a STORY MODE?! Cool! And you have to rebuild Princess Peach's castle. Appropriate for a game about building. And I'm guessing Bowser wrecked it again.

Nice variety of new themes. And a Night Mode for them, neat! I like the idea of the Moon contrasting with the Sun by being helpful.

I hope those extra surprises can be shut off.

Hey, new game style! I loved Mario 3D World! But I wish you could use the cat suit in other game themes. Maybe in an update.

I wish you could use these enemies and items from 3D World in other game styles. They'd be awesome in a Mario World style.

Wow. I'll have to get Switch Online, then.

Nothing like a little multiplayer madness!

Well, I am quite impressed. I am very impressed with what this sequel has to offer. Super Mario Maker was an incredibly fun level design game, so it's nice to see that Nintendo went clearly above and beyond to give a sequel that would build (pun semi-intended) on it. There are some minor things that bother me, though. As I said, I wish you could use elements from 3D World in other game styles, and there was elements from the American Mario 2, but those can be fixed with updates. I can't wait for this game! Thankfully, that wait won't be long!

Back in February, it was revealed that Game Freak and Nintendo were bringing the eighth generation of Pokémon games to the Nintendo Switch in the form of Pokémon Sword and Shield. You can read my thoughts on that reveal here. The reveal of these games were especially exciting to me as the new region of the game, Galar, is heavily modeled on the United Kingdom. I was born there, and I had kind of hoped that the Game Freak team would create a region based on the country.

So far, we haven't learned a lot about these new games. Mainly just the region and the new starter Pokémon. But a new Pokémon Direct has come out, which promises to reveal some more about this new adventure in the long-running series. So with that, let's take a look at this video!

 

 

Hello, Mr. Ishihara! It's nice to be here! I like the little Pikachu on his desk cabinet.

This game looks really good.

I'm guessing that old lady is the resident Pokémon Professor that sends us out on the journey.

Some of these new Pokémon are neat. My favorites are the sheep one and the turtle.

I get the impression that we're going to be visiting a variety of environments here. Awesome.

Oh, cool! Pokémon wandering around the overworld?! That is awesome! In the 3DS remakes of Dragon Quest VII and VIII, monsters did that, too! It helped the player control the amount of encounters they had so they could get places faster. I hope that's what we get here. Grind when you want.

That grumpy Gyarados is like, "WHAT YOU LOOKIN' AT?! YOU STAY OFF MY LAKE! THIS IS MY LAKE!"

Butterfree are awesome. They are such great Pokémon to have on a team.

Hey, a water trike! I wonder if you can fish on those.

I wonder if that whistle is to get the attention of wild Pokémon?

You know, fans have gotten the idea that the female trainer is the Pokémon world's version of a Scot. It's because of the tam-o' shanter she wears.

...GIANT POKEMON! SOMEBODY CALL GODZILLA!

Wait, you can make YOUR Pokémon giant, too?! I'm guessing the developers watched a LOT of Godzilla movies lately.

I bet people in the world of the Godzilla films wish you could solve the kaiju problem that easily. Just throw a giant pink Poké Ball at it.

This dude is significant.

Hi, Mr. Masuda! Hi, Mr. Ohmori!

We've met the three starters before, and they look really neat. I have honestly been gravitating towards Scorbunny, but I do want to get all three. Gotta Catch 'Em All, and all that.

I like the idea of Galar being a place where man and Pokémon truly collaborate on things. And that Wynaut playing hopscotch was too cute.

I'm guessing the stadiums WILL be the Gyms of this game. Maybe they'll also build on the trial aspects of Sun and Moon, having to do additional things with your Pokémon before facing the Gym Leader.

Appropriate that a Britain-themed region's Gyms are like association football stadiums.

Hello, Mr. Turner! That's cool they got a Brit to be art director of a Britain-themed Pokémon game.

Wooloo here has gotten quite popular on the Internet, with tons of fanart already. Makes sense, it's a cute sheep Pokémon that likes to roll away from trouble. I can imagine they are everywhere on Galar, and sweaters made from their wool are insanely soft and comfortable.

Gossifleur kind of reminds me of Flabebe from Pokémon X and Y. Maybe they're cousins?

Dreadnaw is awesome and deserves more love. It's a snapping turtle with attitude, and they can chew rocks. I imagine it to be a grumbly surly Pokémon that has a subtle talent for snark.

Corviknight is awesome, too. It's definitely a British-themed Pokémon. Knights and ravens. And they're used as taxis. I can't help but feel this Pokémon is far too cool to be a taxi. There should be hordes of them hanging around Galar's version of the Tower of London.

Ah, we see our first Galar evolution line. Eldergoss kind of resembles a dandelion that's ready to spread some seeds.

See? I'm guessing these Pokémon were inspired by dandelions. Iwonder if we'll see any special Galar-based variants for certain Pokémon, like Sun and Moon had for Alola. 

I do hope we get a good variety of Pokémon from previous generations as well.

So...everywhere between cities in Galar is essentially a Safari Zone? That is actually pretty neat And I like the idea of what Pokémon you encounter changing based on where you are and the weather. Good for replayability.

Dynamax feels like a mechanic that would have been more appropriate for games set in Kanto or Johto. After all, those regions were based on Japan, and Japan is known for its fair share of giant monsters.

Hi, Mr. Iwao!

Letting two giant Pokémon fight in an arena does not sound like a good or safe idea. I also wonder if Mega Evolution is still a thing.

Dynamax makes your Pokémon super-powerful, but at a price. Only can be big for three turns. I can also imagine that it can only be done once per battle, like Mega Evolution. Balance is sort of a hidden theme in Pokémon, so it's great the Dynamax keeps that up.

Hey, Max Raid battle is pretty neat. I love the idea of trainers working together to catch Dynamax-empowered Pokémon. And it encourages further strategy. ...Do all the trainers get the Pokémon if one manages to snare it with the giant glowing pink beach ball Pokeball? I'm kind of mixed on the idea that some Pokemon may only be caught this way. Yeah, it can encourage Trainers to join forces and work together. However, if you don't have many friends to play the game with, it makes it much harder to complete the Pokedex.

I knew that guy would be important! ...I hope Leon doesn't end up a villain.

Hop kind of reminds me of Hau from Sun and Moon.

I wonder what impact Sonia will have on the journey?

I'm betting this Gym here is the first one.

Where's Milo's nose? Why does he have no nose?

And we have our Legendary Pokemon for this game? Meet Zacian and Zamazenta. I wonder how Zacian eats? Does it ever put down its sword?

Oh, I can't wait for November! And it's about time they did a double pack for these games. There are people who buy both versions...myself included. I can't wait for these games.

Nick Fury does Die Hard on a boat as I look at Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD #32! randomrockinblog.blogspot.com/…

In 2014, Legendary Pictures released Godzilla, the 30th film in the long-running Japanese kaiju franchise. The film was a reboot of the franchise, but also meant to kick off Legendary Pictures' own MonsterVerse (A cinematic universe of films that also included 2017's Kong: Skull Island.). The film was a major critical and box office success, making over $500 million worldwide. It was praised for Gareth Edwards' direction, musical score, visual effects, cinematography, and the performance of Bryan Cranston. It was given criticism for its characters and Godzilla's low screen time. Personally, I loved this movie.

For the sequel, Legendary decided to go bigger. We weren't getting just one monster in this movie, we were going to get new takes on some of Toho's most iconic monsters, like Rodan, Mothra,...and King Ghidorah. So, was this movie worthy of the King of the Monsters? Let's find out!

 

 

The film starred Kyle Chandler, Vera Farmiga and Millie Bobby Brown as the Russell Family: Dr. Mark Russell, Dr. Emma Russell, and Madison Russell. Dr. Mark Russell was a scientist who once worked for Monarch, the MonsterVerse's resident government organization that deals with the giant monsters. After a tragedy caused by Godzilla's battle against the MUTOs in San Francisco, the family has fallen apart, but the rise of a new group of monsters bring them into an epic adventure.

One of the big issues I had with this movie was Charles Dance's character of Alan Jonah. He didn't really seem to do a lot in the movie. There wasn't a whole lot of reason for him there. Hopefully, a future movie will give his bioterrorist group some more spotlight and deepen his character a bit.

I also personally did wish that we got to see Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Ford Brody again. I would have liked to see what Brody had been up to since the events of the last movie. It would have helped strengthen the connection between the two movies.

The human characters are a bit underdeveloped, and the story is a bit cliché, but it didn't bother me that much. I don't think anybody watches these movies for the human characters much, anyway. It's all about the monster fights, and the film does deliver well on that.

The big thing I loved about this movie was of course, the monster battles. We get plenty of them in this movie. I did with some of the monsters that cameoed in the movie did get to appear in the final battle, though. I get that they're establishing that there are quite a few monsters out there, but it felt a little unsatisfying.

Another positive was Bradley Whitford as Dr. Rick Stanton. He was a great character. I really liked him. Also, there was a scene that nearly made me shed a tear. I will not spoil it. Another thing I will not spoil is a link to another movie.

Do I recommend this movie? I personally enjoyed it. The monster battles were fun, and there were a couple shout-outs I found to some classic Godzilla films, including the original. If you like seeing giant monsters beat the holy macaroni out of each other, this is for you.

Thanks for reading this blog entry! If you enjoyed it, spread it around! And if you want to give this blog some additional support, please drop a tip in my Digital Tip Jar! It would be greatly appreciated! See you next time!

Meet the Wolf,</b>

Chapter 2: Welcome to Oklahoma City!

The truck drove into the city. Bianca looked around in fascination at the big buildings through the windows of the truck's camper shell. The buildings appeared to be steel melded with trees, making the city look more like a giant forest.

Wow... The Lycan thought as she gazed at the buildings. Not many big buildings like this back home... The truck was slowed up by the traffic, which allowed a lull.

"I can't believe she did that." Alan shook his head in disbelief. "I cannot believe she snuck into our truck like that."

"What amazes me is that neither of us noticed her." Josh pointed out. "I mean, you don't expect a big ol' wolfgirl like her to be that stealthy."

"She's a Lycan, man." Alan reminded. "They can be surprisingly stealthy...I should know..." The Hispanic man looked out the window at the crowd of people walking up and down the sidewalk. But his gaze was not on them, the varied array of beings of various ethnicities and species walking the street. His gaze was more distant, looking at the past.

"...You know, that whole thing wasn't her fault." Josh whispered. Alan nodded.

"I know." Alan sighed. "It's just...Lycans, man."

"Your father was killed by a Maneater." Josh reminded. "Lycans hate them, too."

"...yeah." Alan sighed. "Still, they came from the Lycans." Josh shook his head. He then decided to change the subject. He flipped a switch on the truck's dashboard.

"How you doing back there, wolfy?"

"Alright."  Bianca answered. "A bit warm, but otherwise that, can't complain."

In a newer truck, there'd be AC back there... Josh mentally grumbled. "Sorry we can't cool it down for you."

"It's fine. I'm used to it." Bianca reassured. "I've been in worse. Texas can be pretty humid sometimes."

"Texan, huh? Explains the accent." Alan remarked.

"Yup, I'm a Texan girl, born and raised." Bianca grinned proudly.

"Texan, huh?" Josh noted. "Tell us more."

"Really?" Alan frowned.

"Hey, we're stuck with her, might as well get to know her."

"Not much to say, really." The brunette she-wolf shrugged. "I grew up as part of a pack that protects a small city in northeast Texas."

"So, if you're part of a pack, what're you doing on your own? You get kicked out?" Alan asked.

"Nope." Bianca smiled. "I came of age. Since I'm a bit of an explorer at heart, I decided to go do some travelling. Make my own way as an adventurer. And afterwards, go form my own pack."

"How's that been working out for you?"

Bianca shrugged. "It's alright. Mostly, I've been helping track down missing people..." She tapped her nose. "The Lycan senses help with that. Also did a bit of bodyguard work, and the like. It's been a bit lonely, though."

"Oh yeah, Lycans are naturally social creatures." Alan remarked.

"Yup." Bianca nodded. "It's been...weird being on my own. I do miss my pack. They were literally my family."

"What place in Texas are you from?" Josh asked.

"It's called Mount Pleasant." Bianca explained. A smile crossed the Amazonian Lycan's face as she started recalling pleasant memories. "It lived up to its name. It's a beautiful little place. When I was a cub, my mother would take me and my siblings to this nice little park. We'd play, wrestle, and enjoy ice cream afterwards."

"Siblings?"

"Got a bunch of them." Bianca explained. "I have a younger sister with my mother, but I also have several half-siblings."

"...half-siblings?" Alan blinked. "Your dad must've gotten around."

Bianca nodded. "Well, yeah. Kind of par for the course in my family pack. My father has five mates." Alan's jaw dropped, and Josh snickered.

"What?!" The Hispanic man exclaimed. Josh's snickering bloomed into full-blown laughter.

"Oh God, your dad has a harem." Josh laughed.

"Well, yeah." Bianca shrugged like it was no big deal. "Some packs have them. Some Alphas only take one mate, others take several. Depends on the pack."

"Where does your old man find the time for all those women?!" Josh laughed. Bianca chuckled.

"He makes it!" The she-wolf answered brightly. "And also..." She smirked. "...not all of my father's mates are female."

"Wait, your dad also likes guys?" Josh realized.

Bianca nodded. "Yes. Two of my father's mates are male." She smiled. "My ralgrts Max and Thomas."

"I've heard that word among Lycans back home in New York." Josh recalled. "I'm not sure what it means, and I didn't ask. I thought it was none of my business."

"It's not some sacred secret that's only for Lycan ears. It doesn't have an exact translation to any human language I know of." Bianca explained. "You could say it's a mixture of 'uncle' and 'step-father'. Ralgrta is the female version."

"Hey, her dad likes the guys, that means you got a shot, buddy." Josh teased with a grin, lightly tapping Alan's shoulder. The Hispanic man rolled his eyes.

"Funny, Josh. You are a funny guy." He muttered.

"So, you learned about me. Tell me about yourselves." Bianca asked.

"Eh, I was born in New York City, but grew up upstate." Josh explained. "In Utica."

"...Mega-Angeles boy myself." Alan explained.

"How'd you two meet?"

"Well, we met in basic training. The United Earth Intergalactic Navy."

"You guys served in the war." Bianca realized.

"Yeah." Alan said. "We fought on the planet Axlarna. Remember that, man?"

"God, don't remind me." Josh muttered. "I nearly ended up getting eaten by that insectoid monster."

"And if it weren't for me, you'd be insect food." Alan reminded with a smirk. "You still owe me a case of beer."

"I thought I got you one when we returned to Earth."

"Axlarna. I heard about that battle on the holovid. You guys fought in that quagmire?"

"Yup." Josh nodded. "God, that planet was a mess." He sighed.

"Longest year of my life." Alan agreed. "You would not believe how happy I was when we got reassigned to Volnox. That was a nice planet."

"Oh yeah, beautiful beaches." Josh agreed. "The people there were a wonderful bunch as well."

"After the war, Alan and I went into business as problem solvers."

"It's good work." Alan explained. "Days are never dull."

"Problem solvers." Bianca chuckled. "Makes you guys sound like you're mercs."

"Josh likes the term 'problem solver'." Alan explained. "He thinks the term 'adventurer' is too 'uncool'."

"That's what we do! We solve problems!" Josh insisted.

"What's wrong with 'adventurer'?" Alan frowned. "We have adventures. People pay us to do that!"

"Makes us sound like we're in a Dungeons and Dragons campaign."

"You say that like it was a bad thing."

"I was never into that tabletop stuff, pal."

"You oughta do it. I played all the time when I was a kid."

"My ralgrta Amanda does DM sessions at a game shop she owns." Bianca piped up. "She's awesome."

"I was too busy kicking ass in football." Josh explained. "I was good, too. One of the best fullbacks in the state. Could have gone pro if I didn't join the service."

"Why did you guys join the service, anyway?" Bianca asked.

"Help pay for college." Josh explained.

"I wanted to see exotic worlds." Alan remembered. "Boy, did we. Remember that time on Praxis?"

"That was insane. We spent practically the whole night chasing around Tennyson."

Alan chuckled. "Crazy drunk. I'm surprised he didn't manage to lose his pants."

"I'm grateful he didn't." Josh snickered. "We had already nearly caused an intergalactic incident as it was."

"Oh man, were we lucky the Sarge had a good laugh about the whole thing." Alan laughed. "We could have been keel-hauled!"

"Yeah. I wonder what he's doing now?"

"He's a lifer. He's likely still there in the service." Alan remarked.

"So, just did your tours and got out, huh?" Bianca realized.

"Yup. Five insane years." Josh noted. "But I am glad to be back on good ol' Mother Earth." The truck headed towards a large white building. The front door was on top of a flight of long steps, with large statues of bulldogs on the sides. On each side of the door was a large blue light with "Police" on them in translucent white lettering. "There we are." The truck parked in a lot right next to the building. "Alright." He unbuckled his belt. "Let's make sure everything is secure." He and Alan got out of the truck. Josh briefly slapped the side. "We're here, Wolfy!" Bianca climbed out of the back. Alan and Josh checked out the weapons they had kept in the back of their truck.

"Everything unloaded, and safety locks are active." Alan said. "Thank God for smart-lock tech." The two then locked the guns in a box in the back of the truck. "There we go."

"Okay, let's go in." Josh said. The three headed towards the front door of the police station. They entered and walked up to the desk. The receptionist was typing on a computer, and was unaware of the three. "Uh, excuse me..."

"Oh, sorry!" The receptionist apologized. "I was just catching up on some..." His eyes widened at the sight of Bianca. "Whoa..."

"Hi." Bianca waved with a smile.

"Yeah, we're here to see the chief." Alan said. "Josh Reynolds, Alan Rodriguez, and Bianca Lawrence."

"Oh, right." The receptionist nodded. "The three of you caused that tizzy at one of the entrance gates earlier."

Alan rolled his eyes and jerked his thumb at Bianca. "Thanks to Wolfy here."  

"It wasn't intentional!" Bianca insisted.

"We nearly ended up going to jail because of you, Furball."

"Guys, stop." Josh insisted as the receptionist called the office. Meanwhile, inside her office, one Lisa Tanner looked over some information displayed on her tablet. The intercom on her desk rang out. The Native American woman peeked over and turned it on.

"Yes?"

"Reynolds and Rodriguez are here." The secretary announced. "...And they have a guest."

Must be that Lycan stowaway. Tanner deduced. "Okay, send them in." On the other end, the receptionist looked at the three.

"Tanner's waiting for you inside." He gestured at the door. The three walked into the office. Bianca looked around in fascination.

"Hello, boys." Tanner smiled.

"Wow. Much fancier than the police chief's office back home." The Lycan noted, taking in the awards and shelves filled with various books, nooks, and crannies.

"Back home?" Tanner asked.

"I'm from Texas." Bianca explained. "I grew up in a small city there. Nowhere near this big. My family pack helped protect it." Tanner got up and marched towards the brunette she-wolf.

"Heard you cause a bit of a tizzy earlier today, wolfy."

"That's an understatement." Alan muttered. Bianca's ears went back and she blushed in embarassment.

"I just wanted to see the city. I never went to a city before. Well, not one this big."

Tanner smirked and gestured at Bianca's leather bikini. "You look more like you're going to the beach than going out adventuring." The remark only made the Amazonian wolf-woman shrug.

"I'm a Lycan. I have a fur coat, and I grew up in a hot, humid climate. If I wore much more than this back home, I'd be sweltering." Bianca grinned cheekily. "Besides, as the saying goes, 'if you got it, flaunt it'."

"Uh, we're here to talk about the zombies you called us in to deal with." Josh reminded.

"Right." Tanner went back to her seat. "I understand a wrinkle has come up."

"Yeah." Josh nodded in confirmation. "Show her, Alan." Alan pulled out his phone and loaded up the photos he took on it. He handed the small device to Tanner. The Native American woman looked them over.

"Hmmm...that glyph on them."

"Yeah." Josh nodded. "We think they were summoned by someone."

"Makes sense." Tanner agreed. "Many sorcerers like to put glyphs on the things they summon, like an artist signing their work."

"We're going to need some heavier weaponry for this if there is a sorcerer involved." Josh told Lisa. Tanner agreed.

"My sister Lina is an expert on such matters." Lisa said. "I'll call her and she can help you out." She smirked at Bianca. "You two might as well bring along the She-Wolf of Texas here as well. She could be of some help. Extra muscle, and all that."

"No problem when it comes to muscle here!" Bianca grinned, flexing her arm and showing a well-developed bicep. Josh and Alan looked at each other.  

"Well, she was willing to help us out with cleaning up that zombie manifestation..." Josh started. "And she did take down that big ol' mutant bunny with her bare paws..."

"I...I guess..." Alan said.

"Better get going, then." Lisa told them. "Here." She handed them a slip of paper with an address on it. "Here's Lina's address. I'll let her know you're on your way."

"Uh, thanks." Josh took the paper gratefully. "Hey listen Lisa, we could use some men to help deal with this thing if it gets hairy."

Tanner shook her head. "Sorry, boys. Protection of Oklahoma City is the priority of the men under my command at the moment. We're still a bit on guard after that Maneater scare last week. But Lina is no slouch when it comes to magic. Trust me."

Josh sighed. "Alright. Thanks, anyway."

"Again fellas, I am sorry. But if it helps, I'll tell the city treasury to send you guys your payment for the zombie-clearing job...and I'll see that you guys get some extra for this." Lisa told them. "You've earned it."

"Uh, thanks Lisa." Josh said as they left the room. The three emerged from the building, Alan sighing.

"We're dead." Alan groaned. "We are dead men."

"I don't blame her, really." Bianca frowned. "If a sorcerer is involved, sending a bunch of men after them would just end up getting more death certificates signed."

"Tanner's never led us wrong, man." Josh pointed out. "If she says her sister will be helpful, then she'll be helpful."

"I hope so." Alan grumbled. "I would like to retire someday, not end up ripped to pieces by magic-powered zombies."

"Aww, don't you worry." Bianca grinned as she wrapped her arm around Alan's shoulders and pulled him to her. "You got this Big Bad Lycan at your back. I won't let any of those mean ol' zombies eat you."

Alan rolled his eyes. "Lovely."

"Look, let's just go meet Lina. She's likely expecting us." Josh said. The three got into the truck. "We need a new truck." Josh grumbled.

"I like this truck." Alan countered.

"You like it because it's an old wreck."

"And it was cheap."

"Because it was an ancient wreck!" Josh exclaimed as he started the truck. "It ended up being so goddamn expensive because of all the money we had to sink into retrofitting this hunk of tin that should have gone into the recycling scrapyard ninety years ago!" He continued to rant about the truck and how much he hated the truck as it pulled into the road and headed to the address Tanner gave them. Alan just programmed the GPS, rolling his eyes.

"What're you two yelling about up there?" Bianca asked, using the intercom in the truck's bed.

"And she has to go back there because she can barely fit in the damn cab!" Josh finished his rant, jerking his thumb at the back of the truck.

"Oh, I'm sorry. I should have kept in mind that we would end up stuck with a Lycan when I picked this truck!"

"Well, maybe you should! A modern truck wouldn't have this problem!" Josh snapped.

"For someone who hates this 'ancient wreck', you sure have no problem driving it!" Alan snapped back.

"Maybe because last time you tried to drive this ugly hunk of junk, you nearly got it completely totaled!" Josh reminded. Bianca couldn't help but overhear them argue thanks to the intercom line still being open. She looked rather amused by it.

Heh. Maybe I'll stick with these guys for a while. The she-wolf thought. They seem like they're good for a laugh or two.

"Oh, like that was my fault!"

"Well, considering that we nearly went off that cliff..."

"That damned bull came out of nowhere!"

"Maybe if you actually kept your eyes on the road instead of oh look we're here." Josh noticed the truck was heading towards what looked like a small shop in a red-brick building.

"Huh. Looks like a small home." Alan noted. The the two men emerged from the truck after pulling up on the driveway. Josh tapped the side of the truck.

"We're here, Bianca!" He announced. The Lycan climbed down from the back of the truck, giggling like a school girl. "What's so funny?"

"Your arguing." She said. Josh rolled his eyes. She then reached into the truck and pulled out her duffel bag.

"What do you have in there?"  

"...my stuff." Bianca explained as she pulled the strap over her shoulder.

"You can just leave it in the truck."

"Ehhhh, I'd rather keep it on my person at the moment. My purse and ID are in here." Meanwhile, Alan had walked up to the front door. He noticed the sign on the door indicated that the store was closed for the day.

She should know we're coming... Alan frowned as he looked around for a doorbell. This is the right place... He found the doorbell and rang it. The door opened, revealing a tall slim Native American woman. She wore a green bandanna that held her dark hair back, a green blouse, and a pair of black slacks. "Uh, Lina Tanner?" She smiled as Josh and Bianca walked up.

"Ah, my sister called about you. Come on in." She waved the three inside. The three walked inside. "You guys want a snack? Drink?"

"Eh, I'm good." Bianca shrugged.

"I admit, I'm a bit peckish myself..." Josh admitted, rubbing his stomach.

"I could use a snack..." Alan added. Lina smiled.

"Here you boys go." She handed them a pair of protein bars. The two men munched down on them. "My sister called me, said you had something to show me?"

"Yeah." Alan gave her his phone, and she looked at the pictures on it.

"Hmmmm..." She frowned. "Yeah, this is definitely a sorcerer's glyph. I wish I knew which one this was, though."

"I noticed those on the zombies we fought." Alan explained. As they talked, Bianca had eyed a pair of white Reebok Pump shoes on a shelf. She blinked and pulled them off, noticing the large white-feathered wings on them.

Neat. Winged shoes. Bianca smiled. Too bad my feet are a bit too big for these. She then noticed the small pumps on the shoes' tongues. Huh. What do these do? She started pressing the little pumps. The Lycan yelped as the wings started flapping.

"Hey!" She gasped as the shoes flew out of her hand. Lina noticed this and rushed towards her. The woman managed to grab the shoes, and she sighed.

"That's my bad, I should have warned you all: Don't touch anything here." Lina told them. "Magical trinkets can be pretty dangerous." She looked around at some of the objects. "Okay, maybe not the stuff here, but yeah."

"Like those shoes?" Alan noted.

"More dangerous than these shoes." Lina explained. "In fact, these ones are quite harmless compared to the stuff I have. Not here, of course. There are laws, after all." She smiled at the shoes. "These shoes make you run faster and jump higher."

"How much for those?" Alan asked.

"They're not for sale."

"Ah. Dangit."

"Anyway..." Lina put the shoes back on the shelf. "I can ask around if anyone recognizes the glyph."

"We'd appreciate that." Josh nodded.

"I get the feeling we're going to need some more help with that." Alan sighed. "I mean, your sister told us she had to prioritize the city."

"I don't blame her." Bianca shook her head. "Cops have better things to do than get killed."

"I'll ask around." Lina dialed on her phone. "You guys can make yourselves at home. And don't touch anything!" She walked into her kitchen. "The couches are safe, though!" The two humans took seats, and Bianca sat on the floor. The three listened to her talk.

"You guys think she's legit?" Alan asked.

"Tanner said she was." Josh reminded.

"Her scent didn't indicate any deception." Bianca noted. "I think she's legit."

"You're being paranoid, man." Josh told Alan.

"Being paranoid ended up saving my butt on Praxis." Alan countered. "Those nasty freakin' lizards..." He shuddered and shook his head.

"We all were a bit paranoid on that planet. Because of those lizards."

"I really want to hear that particular war story." Bianca grinned.

"Maybe later." Josh told the Lycan. Lina re-entered the room.

"Hey, I did some asking around. You're looking for a guy known only as Rakath."

"Rakath...that sounds like a sorcerer name." Alan said with a frown.

"Who is this Rakath guy?" Josh asked.

"Not much is known about him." Lina explained. "It is believed that he comes from somewhere in the Eurozone, though. Possibly Italian. It was also believed he was dead. Killed in Paris."

"How did he die?" Bianca asked.

"Hole blown in his chest." Lina explained. "And then his head."

"That...usually does the job." Alan remarked.

"Yeah, but there's a tenant among sorcerers." Lina pointed out. "Make yourself as hard to kill as possible."

"So, if it's him, what's he doing here?" Josh asked. Lina shrugged.

"Who knows? Could be anything. The guy is known for being a bit...crazy."

"Wonderful." Josh grumbled.

"Okay, if this 'Rakath' guy is in the area, why didn't he have his zombies attack Oklahoma City?" Alan asked.

"Yeah." Josh nodded. "When Alan and I went over to check out that zombie outbreak, it wasn't...much of an outbreak."

"Yeah." Alan agreed with a nod. "When Josh and I went to check it out, we found a bunch of zombies just...standing around. It was weird."

"Huh." Bianca blinked. "My dad told me about the time a zombie outbreak broke out in Mount Pleasant about oh..." She frowned in thought. "Thirty years ago, I think? There were tons of them. The cops and my family pack barely managed to get people to the shelters in time, there were a lot of them. I think a couple hundred."

"Yeah. It used to be worse before the vaccine was created." Josh recalled. "That thing was a godsend. People no longer fear being bitten by zombies."

"So, why summon a bunch?" Alan wondered. "It's not like they have much use besides well, getting blasted."

"Or clawed up." Bianca added.

"Distraction, maybe?" Lina suggested.

"Makes sense." Josh agreed. "Get people's attention with a zombie swarm, and then take advantage of it to achieve a hidden goal."

"Okay, what's the goal, then?"

"That, I have no idea."

"Maybe he's after a relic or something?" Bianca thought.

"Maybe. Ugh." Lina muttered, rubbing her eyes.  

"Why was he stopped in the Eurozone?" Alan asked.

"Hmmm..." Lina thought. "I think he was after some sort of artifact. It was on display in London at the time. Hang on, let me look it up." Lina pulled out her phone and started doing some browsing. "Ah, here it is!" She held up the phone's screen towards the two men and Lycan. They gathered to look at it.

"What...is that thing?" Alan asked.

"It's a mask." Bianca realized. The mask was round and red, with black stripes over the eye holes and blue around the mouth. "Very simple-looking one."

"Indeed." Lina nodded. "It was in exhibit at the British Museum for a while."

"Where did that mask come from?" Josh asked.

"That's the thing. Nobody knows." Lina explained. "It was found in the underground ruins of Ancient London about fifteen years ago."

"Maybe he thinks it has some kind of magical power?" Bianca suggested.

"Naw, if it did, they'd dare not display it to the public." Alan shook his head. "Maybe it's alien."

"Possibly. That's the big theory. Doesn't look like any ancient civilization's ceremonial mask."

"For all we know, it could be some kid's ancient arts and crafts project they made in an elementary school's art class." Josh scoffed.

"Again, it is possible...if the materials indicated that." Lina said. "They examined it and determined that this mask was some kind of metal. Nothing like it anywhere on Earth...at least, occuring naturally."

"So, it is alien." Alan sighed.

"Huh. An alien artifact appearing on Earth that far back." Josh noted. "I know that Earth did have contact with extraterrestials back then, but it was rather limited..."

"One of them is still playing superhero in Austin." Alan remembered. "He's old enough for a nursing facility, but he's still at it."

"Nursing facility is an understatement. If he were human, he'd have died decades ago." Bianca retorted.

"Having slowed aging helps." Josh chuckled. "That guy has claimed that he's barely entered into middle age yet."

"Considering it's Argos we're talking about, I can believe it." Bianca chuckled. "I met him once. One of his regular villain-types was raising all types of holy Hell in Mount Pleasant. He helped my pack deal with him. He was very nice. Gave me an autograph. If we ever go visit Mount Pleasant, I'll show it to you."

Oh, joy. Being surrounded by Bianca's family. Alan rolled his eyes.

"Maybe some other time, wolfy." Josh told the Lycan.

"Hang on a second..." Lina looked at her phone. "The mask got moved."

"Where to?" Josh asked.

"Oh, I got a bad feeling about this..." Alan winced.

"It's been loaned to the museum...in Oklahoma City." Lina announced.

"The mask is in town." Josh realized.

"And we can bet that ol' Rakath has decided to take that transatlantic jump to get it." Alan grumbled.

"You got it." Lina nodded.

"Oh, this is going to be fun to explain to your sister." Alan shook his head.

End of Chapter 2!,</b>
Meet the Wolf, Chapter 2
Finally, Chapter 2 of my little story. Josh, Bianca, and Alan arrive in the domed Oklahoma City, and they get some answers! All characters are mine.
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Back in February, I gave my thoughts on the upcoming sequel to Super Mario Maker. I loved the original game, and I was so thrilled that there was a sequel coming to the Switch. What more would be added? New features? New worlds? New enemies to place and items to use? Well, this Nintendo Direct dedicated to Super Mario Maker 2 should answer that question! Let's take a look!

 

 

Hey, Builder Mario! And Builder Luigi, too!

You'd be surprised how much fun it is to just place blocks wherever you want.

Heh heh, line of Goombas. It's funny that a Goomba can support six or seven of his comrades on top of him, but is easily squished by Mario or Luigi. Maybe they're actually just very light?

This reminds me, I gotta get back to work on that level I started designing who knows how long ago.

Oh, that would suck if you desperately needed a power-up, but ended up getting a Chain Chomp. ...Somebody's going to do that to be cruel, aren't they?

One of the things I loved about this game is the fact you can do some outright insane stuff, like have Chin Chomps pop out of pipes, or have Goombas carry Bullet Bill launchers.

Take that, Thwomps. Heh heh.

Oh, you can create slopes now? Neat! Sliding around in Super Mario World was always fun.

Oh, no! The Angry Sun?! These people are crazy! I can imagine this guy was a source of great torment to many a Mario 3 player. And now they can inflict it on a new generation of Mario fans! Fun!

I played Mario World, I remember snake blocks. I had no idea they were unavailable in the original. Ah well, nice to see them here. I'm guessing the blue ones were icy blocks.

On/Off Switches would make for some nice possibilities if you want to create sneakier levels that require a bit of smarts to play through.

Seesaws are going to raise a lot of blood pressures.

Heh, Swinging arms. Neat.

I like the Custom Scrolling feature. Gives more control over where the player has to go to avoid death.

The Vertical Sub-Area feature reminds me of the vertical levels of the American Mario 2. I wish stuff from that game could be used, like the vegetables and enemies. Maybe in DLC?

HOLY CRUD BANZAI BILL!

I'm surprised the Dry Bones Shell has never been a legit Mario Power-Up.

Big Coins and new sound effects are neat.

Hey, you and a friend can make levels together! Awesome!

I like the ability to create clear conditions. Allows a bit of shaking up to the gameplay. Oh, you don't just have to get through the level, you have to do THIS as well! Ups the challenge.

I like that this game has added more items to use. And Red Yoshis, huh? Are Blue and Yellow ones also available?

Boom Boom! Absolute Madlad!

Wait, this game has a STORY MODE?! Cool! And you have to rebuild Princess Peach's castle. Appropriate for a game about building. And I'm guessing Bowser wrecked it again.

Nice variety of new themes. And a Night Mode for them, neat! I like the idea of the Moon contrasting with the Sun by being helpful.

I hope those extra surprises can be shut off.

Hey, new game style! I loved Mario 3D World! But I wish you could use the cat suit in other game themes. Maybe in an update.

I wish you could use these enemies and items from 3D World in other game styles. They'd be awesome in a Mario World style.

Wow. I'll have to get Switch Online, then.

Nothing like a little multiplayer madness!

Well, I am quite impressed. I am very impressed with what this sequel has to offer. Super Mario Maker was an incredibly fun level design game, so it's nice to see that Nintendo went clearly above and beyond to give a sequel that would build (pun semi-intended) on it. There are some minor things that bother me, though. As I said, I wish you could use elements from 3D World in other game styles, and there was elements from the American Mario 2, but those can be fixed with updates. I can't wait for this game! Thankfully, that wait won't be long!

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L1701E
Writer and Artist of Stuff
United States
You wouldn't believe what my real name is.

I like to draw and write. I also am an avid reader and gamer. Have a strange obsession with 1970s and 1980s pop culture.

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(Responding here because AnaTenjou blocked me.)

Just to be clear, I am not one of those incels. And I am not sexist and not racist either.

It's just that whenever any celebrity says something that even remotely implies that they are bigots, I get really suspicious.

I mean, Chuck Norris turned out to be a homophobe, John Wayne turned out to be racist, and Mel Gibson turned out to be anti-semetic. Makes me worry about how many other bigots there are out there in Hollywood.

If you have any evidence that Brie Larson is not racist or sexist, I am willing to listen.
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