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Some Days in the Life

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"Daniel -- we don't have time for this." Annie's voice was strained. "And you're making too much noise. Let's just wrap the box before Bobby hears you."

Daniel ignored Ann, and looked over the instructions again. Insert retaining bolt into multi-gear assembly as shown in figure three -- where was the bloody retaining bolt supposed to be? Nothing looked like it...


"A six year old boy doesn't want to unwrap a box Christmas morning," Daniel half-growled. "He wants to see a bike. Bobby is going to have a bike for Christmas, not a box."

"Santa? Santa!"

Annie suppressed a word you don't say on Christmas Eve, running to intercept the child on the stairs. Daniel jerked and swore, cutting his hand on the gear assembly. He felt a flush-like panic and dropped the bits with a clatter, throwing the box over the half-completed frame and trying to hide it from Bobby with his body.

Outside the window, the watching man slowly smiled. He cuddled a calico cat, stroking its fur gently as he watched the parents desperately trying to preserve Christmas for their son. He looked at the shiny retaining bolt, just barely visible under the easy chair, and kissed the top of the cat's head. "Verrrrry good," he crooned, then turned and walked to the street. "Sleigh bells ring, are you listenin'," he sung under his breath. "While the snow... it is glistenin' -- a beautiful sight, we're happy tonight...." He half smiled, walking across to the Andersons' place -- they had twin girls who'd asked Santa for Dollhouses.


Demon of Some Assembly Required
Balseraph Captain of Repartee

Word Forces: 9
Corporeal Forces
Ethereal Forces
Celestial Forces

Vessel: Human Male/4 (Charisma+1); Squirrel/2.

Role: Zachary Talbot (Freelance Technical Writer)/3.

Servants: 3 Imp Familiars/4 (each class 3, all in cat vessels)

Songs: Affinity (Corporeal/1); Artifacts (Corporeal/2); Machines (Corporeal/3; Ethereal/3; Celestial/3); Motion (Ethereal/1; Celestial/1); Numinous Corpus (Claws/2; Tail/5; Tongue/5; Wings/1); Tongues (Corporeal/2).

Skills: Acrobatics/2; Artistry (Technical Writing)/6; Computer Operation/2; Dodge/3; Electronics/5; Emote/3; Engineering/6; Fast-Talk/3; Fighting/4; Languages (Taiwanese/3; German/3; Spanish/3; Chinese/3; Japanese/3; French/3); Ranged Weapon/2; Savoir-Faire/2.

Attunements: Balseraph of Dark Humor; Prank; Rant of Scorn; Secretly Replaced; Knight of Derision; Captain of Repartee; Demon of Some Assembly Required

Special Rites: Kobal's "Cause a humorously improbably fatal 'accident'". Rite of Some Assembly Included: cause a victim to publicly call someone to construct a project for them after spending at least an hour trying to assemble it themselves. Zactartol can bestow this rite on others.

Special Attunements: Demon of Some Assembly Required: Zactartol can use his Balseraph attunement when writing instructions for a project. The resulting instructions will appear logical and simple when read, even if they are completely incomprehensible and missing steps.

In the 1800's, America discovered Mail Order Shopping. This was a positive boon to the farmers of rural America, particularly in the American Midwest. It meant being able to order supplies, staples and luxuries alike by post. Suddenly, country living didn't mean doing without some of the sundries men and women had in the cities. Companies like L. L. Beans of Maine and Sears and Roebuck, Company built empires based on shipping via post.

However, shipping of all kinds was priced both by weight and by volume. Obviously, the larger and more elaborate a product might be, the more expensive it would be to ship. What's more, finished goods broke more easily, especially along joints. The obvious solution was the creation of kits. By partially assembling intricate sections but leaving simpler parts separate, boxes could be condensed into smaller spaces and more easily, inexpensively and safely shipped. When the product arrived, it would be easily assembled by the purchaser. It was an excellent innovation, and strengthened the Word of Trade considerably. "Some assembly required" became a common phrase in advertising.

The Prince of Dark Humor loved it.

First off, it was often ironic -- "some" assembly might mean connecting three pieces or assembling three hundred parts. It sounded so simple, but might be very complex indeed. And it had overtones of Technology -- after all, those high tech toys had to be put together. Kobal had been looking for ways to cozy up to Vapula. This looked like a perfect marriage of the technical and the humorous -- and more importantly, Vapula hadn't started petitioning for one of his Servitors to hold the Word of Some Assembly Required yet, so there wasn't much chance of offending Vapula.

Kobal discreetly began testing his Servitors for the Word -- sending them on missions to subtly draw the humor out of the concept, without killing it off outright. After several such missions, he chose to sponsor Zactartol, a Captain of Repartee, for the Word. Lucifer met with Zactartol and agreed with the choice.

Zactartol was once Zachiriel, a Seraph of Lightning who specialized in engineering projects. He had gradually grown disdainful of Jean's proscriptions when he found himself working with humans in 1567 -- helping to design and build the Bridge of Santa Trinita with Bartolommeo Ammannati. It was distinctive for its innovative elliptical arches, and Ammannati often consulted with his engineers and designers -- asking if they could see a way to make the bridge better. Zachiriel found himself balancing between lying to the man he was helping to illuminate and giving him more Divine technology than he had been approved to give. The combination made him dissonant. In the end, having developed both Discord and a hearty disdain for Heaven and for Jean and Jean's works, Zactartol stormed away from the project and Jumped into Hell's waiting arms. Once there he let himself be recruited by Kobal, happily mocking man's achievements and scientific works, in opposition to his old way of life. He had a savage wit, delighting in cutting down 'visionaries' or other overconfident men who put themselves at the head of a project.

This worked hand in hand with Kobal's plans for the Word of Some Assembly Required. "Zactartol," when being tested, chose to make the purchasers look ridiculous rather than undermine the assembly concept itself. He recognized that men (and women) took a lot a pride in their ability, whether deserved or not. By simply making the instructions hard to follow or switching a few parts in a few boxes, he could make that person the object of derision and ridicule.

Zactartol has thrown himself into his Word with all his heart. Taking a Role as a freelance technical writer, "Zachary" has mastered the art of writing instructions that look simple on first inspection but are nigh impossible to follow in practice. He also carefully encourages the entire concept of partially assembled and unassembled kits. Today, any number of stores carry toys, equipment and furniture -- particularly office furniture -- that requires assembly at home. This ranges from cheap pressboard with shelf paper on it to highly expensive wooden kits that need to be stained and varnished before assembly.

Zactartol's favorite 'innovation' is packing multiple unit instructions with single units, so that customers need to decide which model they're assembling from the list, often going down blind alleys that require them to go back several steps and start over. He delights in doubling the confusion by adding instructions in eight different languages on the same page, hopelessly muddling the layout. His favorite experience is watching a human try to assemble something that seems simple, cutting himself and making a fool out of himself in the process, only to resort to asking for help or calling a professional to assemble it for him. He's delighted by the number of assembly services that have sprung up and the lengths people will go not to use them until they don't have a shred of dignity left.

In terms of his Word, Zactartol is carefully building "Assembly" up -- the World Wide Web has added whole new dimensions to the process, as mail order becomes online ordering, and more and more complex items arrive with assembly instructions -- from computer components that need to be installed into computers to stereo equipment that needs to be wired together. To further these new projects, Zactartol has been ingratiating himself with various Servitors of Technology. However, he tends to be sarcastic about "innovation," owing to the circumstances of his Fall, and all too often he turns a Vapulan project into an excuse to make Vapula's assemblers look like idiots. Further, he comes close to pushing "do it yourselfers" who might turn into inventors to leave even simple projects to the experts rather than look like fools again, and Vapula doesn't appreciate that.

Zactartol's long term goals involve building on his Word even further. He recognizes there is just so far "some assembly required" can go, but thinks that by working hard and building up his reputation, he can position himself for a Word upgrade to Do It Yourselfers -- a Word with considerably more breadth. However, while there's great comedic potential in that Word, he sees potential beyond humor which could grow into an entirely new base of power. He's very careful to keep those ambitions to himself, lest Kobal hear. His other current celestial "goal" is to learn the Corporeal Song of Disjunction -- a very useful Song for his work. He is making overtures to some Servitors of Malphas in hopes of being taught this Song.

In person, "Zachary" tries to look distinguished, wearing slightly formal clothing even in casual situations. He is always helpful to those around him -- especially when they need a helping hand with their home projects. He's very good at making fun of his beneficiaries, especially subtly. He doesn't just help them with hard projects, he makes them look easy (and his "friends" look stupid). He has three Imp familars as servants -- all in cat vessels. They're experts at hiding parts, bolts, screws, tools, pages of instructions... all kinds of things that take a simple project and make it impossible. And, as a Word-bound and Distincted Servitor of Kobal, Zactartol is a powerful demon in his own right..

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