Four Basic Tips For Finding A Distinctive Comedy Style For Your Webcomic

Well, at the time of writing, I’m busy making next month’s webcomic mini series. Anyway, one of the things that I sometimes worry about before starting a collection of comic updates is that I don’t have my own distinctive style of humour. Then again, everyone probably does this.

Still, if you’ve seen a lot of other things in the comedy genre, it can be easy to think that everyone else has their own unique “style” of humour and you don’t. Again, this isn’t true. But, here are a few ways that you can rediscover your own unique style of humour.

1) Your favourite comedy: This is a fairly obvious one, but look at all of your favourite things in the comedy genre. All of the things that really make you crease up with laughter. Your own style of humour is a mixture of all of the types of humour found in these things.

If you’re not sure about the humour type of your favourite things in the comedy genre, just read or watch as much of them as possible. You’ll soon start to notice patterns, styles of jokes etc… Yes, most good things in the comedy genre will contain a mixture of different types of humour, but there will often be one or two that stand out more than the others.

These types of humour might include things like character-based humour, “shock value” humour, political/social satire, parodies, cynicism, slapstick humour, clever wordplay, subverted expectations, amusing narration, old things in modern settings etc…

The trick here, of course, isn’t to directly copy any one thing – but to try to find the types of jokes that you want to tell. Once you’ve found a few types of humour that you really like, then come up with your own jokes that use this style and include them in your webcomic. The thing to remember is that distinctive comedy styles come from a unique mixture of pre-existing types of humour.

2) Don’t be afraid to experiment: One of the reasons why I sometimes worry that I don’t have my own “style” of humour is that I tend to experiment with different types of humour from time to time. For example, this comic update of mine combines cynical humour with more philosophical elements:

“Damania Reflection – Mind, Body & Spirit” By C. A. Brown

Whereas, this comic update of mine is more like something from a gaming webcomic:

“Damania Regression – Community” By C. A. Brown

I could go on for a while, but part of finding your own “style” of humour is experimenting with lots of different types of humour. And this usually involves taking inspiration from lots of different things along the way. So, if your humour changes every month or two, then it just means that you’re adding more stuff to your repertoire. It means that you are improving or refining your own unique style of humour. It’s a good thing!

3) Look back: If you’ve been making webcomics for a while and you’re still worrying that you don’t have a unique type of humour, then just look back at some or all of the comics that you’ve made in the past.

When you look at comic updates that you haven’t seen in a while, you’ll probably have a slightly more distanced perspective. And there’s a good chance that you’ll start to notice at least some hints of your own distinctive style of humour lurking in there too. And, since you made these comic updates in the past, it means that you already have a unique style of humour. You just needed a reminder.

4) Your perspective: I’m usually sceptical about people who tell you to “write from experience”, since they’re often the kind of annoyingly extroverted people who seem to think that everyone else should be just like them. No, a much better piece of advice is to “write from your own perspective”.

I don’t mean that you should make your webcomic autobiographical, but that you should take a look at the way that you think about the world.

Take a look at the topics and ideas that interest you. Take a look at anything you’ve seen or read recently that had some kind of emotional or intellectual impact on you. Take a look at your dreams and daydreams.

Once you’ve thought about these things, try to find a way to make them (or things like them) funny. This will instantly give your comedy a certain level of personality and uniqueness.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

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What 1990s Computer Games Can Teach Writers And Comic Makers About Why Humour Is Important

Although this is an article about writing fiction and/or making comics, I’m going to have to start by talking about computer games for a while (again!). As usual, there will be a good reason for this that will become obvious later – and it’s not just because I’m going through a bit more of a retro gaming phase than usual at the moment.

Anyway, at the time of writing, I’m playing two games from the 1990s that – despite many superficial differences – have one thing in common.

One game is a fiendishly difficult sci-fi first-person shooter game from 1998 called “SiN” that features a tough action hero called John Blade who fights hordes of henchmen. The other game is a fairly non-violent fantasy “point and click” adventure game from 1993 called “Legend Of Kyrandia – Hand Of Fate” which is about a magician called Zanthia who has to go on an epic quest to stop her world from disappearing.

On the surface, these two games seem very different. Yet, they have something in common with each other. It doesn’t come across that well in these screenshots, but see if you can spot it:

This is a screenshot from “SiN” (1998)

This is a screenshot from “Legend Of Kyrandia – Hand Of Fate” (1993)

Yes, you got it! Humour! Even though these are games from five years apart, in radically different genres (both thematically and in terms of gameplay), with very different graphical styles, with different characters and different target audiences – they both include a lot of humour! Both games are filled with hilariously sarcastic and/or witty dialogue, silly background details and the refreshing sense that they aren’t meant to be “100% serious“.

And, the surprising thing is that this seriously improves both games in so many ways! Whether it distracts from the constant cheap difficulty and occasionally terrible level design in “SiN” or whether it distracts from the fact that “Hand Of Fate” is (if my memories of playing about half of it during the early 2000s are correct) filled with frustrating early-mid 1990s adventure game puzzles, the humour does a lot to cover up the shortcomings of both games.

It also makes the audience want to keep returning to the game, just to see what funny things will happen next. In addition to this, it lends both games a lot more personality. Thanks to the narrative humour and character-based humour, both games seem like distinctive and unique things that were actually made by people – rather than designed by committee or anything.

So, what does this have to do with comics and/or fiction?

Aside from all of the benefits that I’ve already mentioned earlier, another great thing about including humour in the things you create is that it makes your stories and/or comics as much about the journey as they are about the destination. In other words, the main events of the story you’re trying to tell aren’t as all-important as they might be in a more “serious” story.

This focus on enjoying the journey (or making the journey enjoyable) rather than racing towards the ending, lends creative works that are sprinkled with humour a much more relaxing tone. They are something where your readers won’t be frantically turning the pages to see what happens next, but will actually sit back and take the time to savour the thing you’ve created.

So, yes, whether it’s masking problems, adding uniqueness or just making your story or comic more relaxing, humour can be a surprisingly useful tool for writers and/or comic makers.

———

Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Short Story: “Demo” By C. A. Brown

Note: This story is a stand-alone companion piece to this story.

If there was one thing that Kirsty missed, it was demo discs. Back in the day, videogame magazines used to come with discs filled with the first levels of seven or eight different games. Sure, it was meant as a promotional thing. But, she thought, there was something democratic about it. It was like catching an episode of a drama on TV, rather than only being able to see it in an online boxset. It was democratic.

She was about to mention this to James, but he just sat back on the sofa and pulled out his phone. He tapped it a couple of times and stared at the tiny screen, absorbed in something. Probably some trendy article about “de-cluttering” or whatever.

So, she read a book. It was an old paperback horror novel from the ’80s that she’d picked up in a charity shop for 50p. The cover read “SCYTHE MANIAC!” in dripping red letters and showed some dude with glowing red eyes standing in front of a midnight sky and swinging a scythe at the reader. Within a few seconds, she’d lost herself in the story….

Above the roar of the combine harvester, Farmer Green focused his attention on the spinning blades in front of the windscreeen. Rage roiled inside him. The sheer cheek of that supercilious little man from DEFRA insisting that.. he… went on a safety course! He’d been working the harvester since he was a lad and had not suffered so much as a scratch from the efficient, slicing blades.

Grumbling to himself, Farmer Green heaved the steering wheel. His gnarled fingers nearly slipped on the hasty gaffer tape repair to one segment of it. No doubt that the silly bureaucrat would probably moan about that too. But, the trendy people at the harvester company had stopped making spares. Even though, he thought, this venerable old machine would probably outlive any of the fancy bleeping gadgets that those slick salesmen kept pushing on poor farmers like him.

And then Farmer Green saw it. Behind the yellow haze of chaff, the shadow of a man stood in the field. The farmer’s face went beetroot red and he stamped on the brake as hard as his old legs would allow. If it was that stupid lad from Wilson’s farm again, then there would be harsh words spoken. Balling his fists, he waited for the harvester to judder to a halt. But, when the clouds of chaff fell to the ground – there was no-one there.

He rubbed his sweaty brow and blinked twice. Maybe it was all just a trick of the eye? Maybe he was imagining things in his old age? Letting out a sigh, he started the engine again. But, before he could even put foot to pedal, the window beside him exploded in a shearing shower of sharp shards. The tip of a scythe shot through the hole like the beak of a hawk swooping in for the kill. The razor point slashed…

Kirsty was interrupted mid-sentence by James shouting ‘Alita! Is the internet down? Alita! Dammit!

The silent smart speaker sat on the table next to the TV. A green light stared back at him. He tapped his phone frantically. He walked over to the router and poked it a few times.

Finally, he turned to Kirsty and let out an exasperated sigh: ‘Typical. We get one bloody peaceful afternoon and they decide to repair the internet or whatever. What the hell are we going to watch, read or play?

Short Story: “Chess” By C. A. Brown

Some games will last forever. Chess, Tina thought, wasn’t one of them. It just didn’t have the staying power of something like Minecraft, Tetris, Candy Crush or the billion variations on the same first-person shooter game which were, a Youtube video had told her, all basically versions of an old game from the early ’90s called Doom.

And that, Tina thought, was the test of a good game. People actually played it for fun.

After the local council had spent money revamping the park, they’d done the sophisticated thing of printing chess boards on some of the tables. And, as she leant against the scuffed checkerboard pattern – stained by the bases of a thousand lager cans and polka-dotted by a hundred little burns- she pulled out her phone and started playing Candy Crush.

A few minutes later, Larry showed up. Although everyone at the office thought that they were an item, they really weren’t. They just each thought that the other was interestingly weird enough to spend their lunch hour with. It certainly beat hearing the same banal conversations for the hundredth time.

As Larry sat opposite, Tina paused her game and reached into the bulky bag that was sitting next to her. She pulled out two plain cardboard boxes and handed one to Larry. He raised an eyebrow. She flashed a smug grin: ‘It’s from the stall across town. Ostrich with red pesto and parmesan. They were having some kind of closing down sale. Apparently, burgers really are more popular here.

Larry chuckled: ‘Well played. I can’t believe I didn’t think of that.‘ They ate in silence. She wondered, with a hint of smugness, whether Larry would be able to top this tomorrow.

Like all games, their lunch rota had started out as an ordinary practical thing and then mutated into something beyond all recognition. Every day, they tried to get something more unusual than the last day.

After Larry had almost caused a bio-warfare evacuation at the office by bringing in a spiky, pungent fruit called a durian, they’d had to tone things down a bit. Their new rule was that lunch had to be from within a one-mile radius and cost less than a fiver each. Although it had sapped the fun out of things for a while, they both came to relish the added challenge.

With a smile, Larry finished the sandwich and reached into his laptop bag. He produced a small, rattling sack. Tina laughed and said: ‘That better not be what I think it is.

That board has been staring me in the face for the past three months. I wanted to try it out.‘ He protested. ‘Plus, if I ever find myself face to face with Old Grim, then I want the practice.

Old Grim?‘ Tina said, closing her empty sandwich box. ‘I didn’t think that Stevenson played chess. But, it wouldn’t surprise me. I’d bet anything he’s been petitioning head office to allow him to write memos in Latin again.

No, it’s like a famous old film. Ingmar Bergmann. I haven’t seen it, but there’s that famous clip of the guy playing chess with the Grim Reaper.

Which proves my point, no-one plays chess any more. I mean, the only reason that Grim wins every time is because everyone else has spent their time playing more interesting games than boring old chess.

Exactly!‘ Something gleamed in Larry’s eyes ‘Wouldn’t it be great to catch him by surprise?

Laughing and shaking her head, Tina watched as Larry poured the pieces onto the table and started setting them out. Surprisingly, this was one of those gothic red and black chess sets. No doubt, she thought, it had been a regretted 3am drunken internet buy and Larry was trying to find some use for it.

After Larry set out the pieces and let Tina be red, they’d started. She’d moved a random pawn forwards. He’d moved a random pawn forwards. After a while, they started knocking each other’s pawns off of the board. This has continued for a few turns until Tina had spotted an opening and sent her bishop zipping across the board at one of Larry’s knights.

Of course, her glee had only lasted a few seconds before Larry had casually nudged his rook sideways and knocked her bishop off the board. Next, Tina had tried to remember the weird L-shaped pattern that knights have to follow before thinking screw it and moving a pawn instead.

With a silent laugh, Larry launched his rook across the board and removed the troublesome knight from Tina’s side. Tina had just rolled her eyes and nudged her rook sideways.

By now, they had become aware that a small crowd had begun to gather at a polite distance. With a showman’s style, Larry obliterated one of Tina’s pawns with his bishop. Raising an eyebrow, he whispered: ‘We’ve got an audience. They’re even cheering. And people say that chess is boring.

Tina rolled her eyes and let out a deep sigh. ‘Just listen. They’re jeering, not cheering. We’ll be in every viral video for the next two days. The only people who are actually playing chess on these tables.

Short Story: “Rusty” By C. A. Brown

Dude, you haven’t played in fragging… weeks!‘ Harry sighed as he sat back on the synth-leather sofa and stared out of the rain-streaked window at the rainbow constellations of neon signs below.

Beside him, Gary took a long draught from a can of pina colada. ‘It hasn’t been that long. I mean, didn’t we plunder that Portugese Galleon recently? I remember standing on the fo’c’sle whilst that dude in a fancy shirt tried to run you through with his sword. Then we had that funny argument about whether bringing a pistol to a sword-fight is cheating.

You just mispronounced “fo’c’sle”. You’re out o’ practice, matey.‘ Harry raised his arm and rolled back his sleeve. For a second, he stared at his wristwatch, as if he was checking the time like an old person. In a low voice, he said: ‘Calculate time elapsed since user Capn_RUM420 last logged into Treacherous Seas.

In a perfectly-modulated voice, the wristwatch said: ‘Time elapsed is five weeks, three days, ten hours, thirty-four minutes, nine seconds, four hundred micro…‘ Harry muted the voice and rolled down his sleeve.

Gary raised an eyebrow and finished his pina colada. ‘I thought it was just a few days. Damn.‘ He took a deep breath. ‘Only one thing for it.

A huge grin spread across Harry’s face as he reached under the sofa and pulled out the virtual reality helmets. He handed one to Gary. Like knights armouring up for battle, they donned their helmets and stood up. Against the gloom of the helmet, Gary heard Harry growl: ‘Awaitin’ orders, cap’n!

Below the rim of the helmet, a smile crossed Gary’s face: ‘Raise the sails!

At that command, the helmets activated. In less than a second, jaunty accordion music and the piercing stench of brine filled the air. Gary staggered as the deck of his ship swayed beneath his feet, his virtual beard swinging quietly below his chin. The dead weight of the cutlass on his hip and the brace of pistols on his chest helped him to keep balance, but he still found himself gripping a wooden railing.

Beside him, the eyepatch-wearing parrot on Harry’s shoulder let out a mocking squawk. Harry grinned: ‘Still findin’ yer sea legs, cap’n? Anyone would think ye were a landlubber!

They must have messed with the buoyancy settings since I last played…‘ Gary hastily corrected himself. ‘Er… I mean, quiet ye bellyachin’, mangy dog! Or I’ll have ye flogged at the mizzenmast for mutiny!

Yes, sir. What are yer orders cap’n?‘ Harry stood to attention. The parrot pecked at the air purposefully.

Gary reached into his coat and pulled out a scroll. As he unfurled it, a table of statistics appeared on the tea-stained parchment. He gasped: ‘Blusterin’ typhoons! Where be our gold? Don’t tell me ye spent it on DLC!‘ With a beady eye, he glowered at the shiny new eyepatch that Harry’s parrot was wearing.

Must have been stolen, cap’n.‘ Harry said nervously. ‘I suggest we plunder it back. I’d bet ye a doubloon that there’s a schooner near here loaded with bounty. And, I’d wager, rum too!

Frowning slightly, Harry stared up at the crow’s nest and shouted: ‘Roger? Any ships.’

A voice shouted back: ‘Aye, cap’n! Sail ahoy to starboard. Sittin’ low in the water too!

Taking a deep breath, Gary bellowed: ‘Starboard cannons! Let’s shiver their timbers!

A series of deafening roars and pops thundered through the air. The deck juddered violently. Thick clouds of white smoke engulfed one side of the ship. A satisfied smile crossed Gary’s face. He really had forgotten how much fun it was to fire the cannons. A second later, a quiet splashing sound echoed over the deck.

Above him, Roger’s voice shouted. ‘Our shots fell short, cap’n. The ship be turnin’ away, shall we give chase?

Gary let out a sigh and shook his head. Harry glowered at him, before a mischievous grin crossed his face. In a solemn voice, he said: ‘Ye are unfit to command this vessel. Under the pirate code, I challenge ye for the captaincy.

F***in’ seriously?‘ Gary muttered, hearing the bleep of the game’s profanity filter ring through his ears. Harry suppressed a laugh. Getting back into character, Gary shouted: ‘All right! I’ll run ye through, ye treacherous dog!

In a second, the air was filled with the clashing of steel as their cutlasses met. As they swashbuckled furiously, Gary realised that the swordfights were quicker than he remembered. That the weight of the thirty inches of steel in his hand was greater than he thought.

Clumsily, he parried and swung, feeling confident once again. But, just as a satisfied smile crossed Gary’s face, his vision flashed red. Cartoon blood spurted from his sword arm. Harry let out a triumphant laugh and raised his cutlass for a killing blow.

Without even thinking, Gary reached towards his chest with his other arm. He grabbed a pistol from the bandolier, angled it forward and fired. A soul-shuddering crack filled the air and, against the clouds of white smoke, green text swam in front of his eyes: ‘USER Brine_Hound763 fell to a pistol ball. Respawning in 10..9…8..

When Harry reappeared on deck, he shook his head: ‘All right, ye won cap’n. Ye fought like a n00b and, by yer own admission, ye cheated. But, ye won.

Gary grinned at him: ‘Must be beginner’s luck.

Short Story “Heist” By C. A. Brown

Raxe drew his plasma pistol and let out a deep sigh. It was turning into one of those heists. Unlike in the holograms, he thought, a good heist is supposed to be simple. It isn’t meant to be some convoluted clockwork puzzle, filled with last-minute close calls and all guns blazing drama. The best heists are boring, dammit!

Beside him, an oil-spattered steel panel clanged quietly. Jurina looked up from a tangled mass of wires and stared at Raxe with bright green eyes: ‘We’ve got level-six drones incoming. I can’t throw them off for much longer. If they don’t patrol this corridor soon, they’ll send an alert.

Use the Burner.‘ He grunted.

No can do. The locking algorithms on the vault would get caught up too. Unless you’re willing to spend the next five weeks building a new pathway, we’ll get nothing. Fight them off.‘ Jurina hissed.

With this?‘ Raxe almost shouted, as he waved the plasma pistol around. Any hope of stealth had long since gone out of the window.

Well, yeah. Why did you bring the bloody thing if you weren’t going to use it?‘ Jurina retorted, every word punctated by quiet bleeps from a collection of glowing lights behind a nearby service hatch.

It’s for luck. It’s for show. It’s… It’s like a fire extinguisher. You keep it around in the hope that you won’t.. Oh, forget it.‘ Raxe levelled the pistol at a nearby archway. Of all the places to have a gunfight with level-six security drones, this was by far the worst. The only thing that this grotty maintanence alcove had going for it was that the drones could only attack from one possible angle. Unfortunately, that angle was also the only exit.

Position?‘ He barked, as he stared at the trembling sights on top of his pistol. In that instant, he regretted not spending those extra thirty credits on a targeting module. Despite all of the wild parties that the thousands from the Centauri Job had funded, those thirty credits had seemed like a useless extravagance. With a pang of regret, Raxe remembered how smug he’d been about not falling for any of the merchant’s clever sales patter.

In an oddly calm voice, Jurina said: ‘Four of them. In the corridor. Thirty metres and closing.

Four?‘ Raxe spat. ‘Our probe… your probe… only showed two. This is a storage facility, not the bloody Nebula Reserve!

Jurina was silent. Raxe took a deep breath. Mechanical clanking filled the air. His sweaty fingers tightened around the slick grip of the gun. The tip of his index finger brushed against the rough edge of the trigger. His heart pounded in time with the clanking. The first bulky, angular shadow appeared on the wall opposite. It seemed to linger there for what felt like five minutes.

As soon as he caught movement out of the corner of his eye, Raxe let rip. With a furious pop, a marble of white-hot plasma zipped across the alcove and hit home with a quiet hiss. He heard a deafening clang, followed quickly by a drawn-out crackling sound. A fraction of a second later, the air was filled with groaning and whirring. Raxe pressed himself against the wall. Jurina ducked behind the service hatch, the trailing mass of wires following her.

The groaning got louder and louder. Raxe held his breath. Then, everything was silent. Letting out a long breath and keeping his plasma pistol in front of him, he edged along the wall. When he reached the corner, he held his gun out and used the reflective edge as a mirror.

A second later, he doubled over. Jurina peeked out from behind the panel. Laughter filled the air. She raised an eyebrow.

By now, Raxe was standing in the middle of the corridor and looking down at a crumpled heap of twitching metal. With a smile, he said: ‘You aren’t going to believe this! They’re level-six drones all right, but they’re cast-offs from the Nebula Reserve. If they can’t hire someone to clean this corridor, what do you think happened to the drones’ routine maintenance schedule? It was a miracle that the poor things were still able to walk. They went down like skittles when I knocked over the first one.

Jurina raised an eyebrow. ‘If they can’t hire someone to maintain them, there probably isn’t much in the vault. Hold on…‘ Quiet bleeping filled the air for a second. Finally, with a thin smile, she said: ‘I hope you’ve been working out, Raxe. Some guy in Stuttgart will give us three hundred for the scrap metal.

Short Story: “Alarm” By C. A. Brown

The alarm was silent. The space station’s mood lighting gently changed from green to red. On the upper deck, Captain Morgensen sighed and reached for a computer console. Ever since the latest updates to the station’s software, the alarm lights had gone red more often. She even found herself missing the old air raid howler. At least, she thought, it knew when to make a fuss.

On the desk next to her, Corporal Dra’aen let out a reptilian hiss and muttered: ‘Why don’t they have an amber one? A blocked sink is hardly worth going to full military alert over.

Is that what it is?‘ Morgensen said, trying to sound formal. Protocol dictated it. There had, she remembered, been studies into the most efficient ways to relay information in emergency situations. Fortunately though, her friends in the admiralty hadn’t seen fit to bless her with a scientific observation team. Yet.

Probably, cap’n.‘ Dra’aen’s beady eyes darted across a couple of screens, before settling on a tiny text box. Focusing it to full magnification, he sent it to Morgensen’s screen. She tried to glance at it nonchalantly, but even five years of rigourous training couldn’t disguise the look of utter fury that flashed in her eyes.

Another… update… is available?‘ She stuttered. ‘That’s what this alarm is all about? I dread to think what the software does when a battle-cruiser shows up.

I can look it up in the manual, cap’n.‘ Dra’aen hissed. He’d expected Morgensen to shake her head dismissively, but she just stared at him expectantly. Exhaling, he pulled up another text box and scanned it.

Finally, he croaked: ‘Saturn’s moons! I don’t believe it! There’s nothing but legalese here. All I can really tell you right now cap’n is that the Intergalactic Software Consolidation will probably win the inevitable compensation case after we’re blasted to smithereens by a pulse torpedo.

Suddenly, the soothing sound of wind chimes echoed through the air. A recorded voice said: ‘You have one new video message.

I’m not interested in buying anything right now!‘ Morgensen spat.

The recorded voice just repeated itself. Morgensen let it do this four times before finally saying: ‘Fine. Play message. But, if this is another adver…

The scowling, jowly face of Admiral Salter appeared on the monitor. Without even pausing, he bellowed. ‘Morgensen! What is the meaning of this?

Sir?

Not only did it take you thirty seconds to reply to a critical command message, but your station has been awaiting crucial software updates for the past seven point five minutes! I trust you have a good expanation for recklessly endangering your civilian crew in such a manner.

I set updates to manual, sir.‘ Morgensen said, feeling icy fear spread through her chest. ‘If.. If I may speak freely, sir, I can explain.

Admiral Salter frowned and nodded. Morgensen said: ‘Sir, the station actually used to… work. When there was an urgent message on the comms, it was actually an urgent message. When the alarms went off, it actually meant something. When my crew needed to use the computers, they could run finished programs that took up only three or four exabytes and didn’t crash every two hours. When…

Enough!‘ Salter’s fist slammed into his desk. Taking a second to compose himself, he said: ‘Count yourself lucky, captain. If I had my way, you’d be drummed out of the fleet for that treasonous outburst. But..‘ His voice oozed reluctance ‘… the Intergalactic Software Consolidation has been monitoring all station-to-ship communications for research purposes today.

They’ve been… spying… on us, sir?‘ Morgenson stuttered.

Market research, captain!‘ Salter barked. ‘They’ve assured us that no-one but a few student technicians will be listening in. They were even kind enough to keep in touch whilst doing it. And that is why…‘ He made an expression like he’d just swallowed some bad nutrition pills ‘… I have to promote you.

Promote me? Did I hear you correctly, sir?

Don’t make me repeat myself, captain! For the high-depth user data you have just submitted, you are hereby promoted to Battle Captain. The Fearless will be docking shortly to hand over command. Looks like you’ll be seeing some action again. Don’t screw it up this time. Salter out.‘ The screen went blank.

Morgensen just stared into space, a concerned frown on her face. Finally, Dra’aen whispered: ‘Aren’t you… happy… cap’n?

She let out a sigh: ‘No, I’m terrified. I’ve just remembered that our docking systems were fully automated after the… last… software update.