Topic: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - The Morning After (Deadline December 31st)  (Read 33661 times)

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Iced Fairy

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Two years ago a woman's fantasy became reality, in a form never seen before.  A massive writing arena, known as the Weekly Writing Coliseum.  The motivation for spending so much labor on the WWC was to encounter new stories, creating original artistic creations.

It is here, within the WWC that many ascended to new heights of skill and fame, and where many new stories entered the libraries repertoire.  In addition many new styles of contest have been tried, including some created by librarians.  The WWC has risen and fallen, but it still stands, a monument to the greatness of our library.

However the old arena has become a little too crowded.

Thus we are now unveiling a new battleground for our noble writers.  A field that extends through time and space, to draw in the greatest warriors of all time.  Behold, the new Weekly Writing Coliseum!


With this, the second thread of the WWC, we're beginning with one of the most audacious plans yet.  A free for all battle against some of the strongest writers in the field, the Iron Librarians!

For the next four weeks the Weekly Writing Coliseum is open to all challengers new and old.  Every single week a writer may submit an entry, and each week the Iron Librarians will post their own works.  Those brave challengers who defeat the iron Librarians shall win the admiration of their peers and the Wordsmith title as their own!

And what is the theme of this contest?  Simple.  A writer may pick any contest they have not entered before as the theme of their entry!  Simply list what theme you are working on, then begin writing.  Will you write one story each week?  Or pour all your effort into a masterpiece for the end of the month?  That is for you to decide.

Come forth, and show us the stories hidden within your soul!

Week One Begins Now!
« Last Edit: December 01, 2013, 07:36:31 pm by Drill Sergeant Patchykana »
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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - This Month, Consecutive Battles!
« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2012, 07:08:15 am »
Could we perhaps get a list of prior themes?

Iced Fairy

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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - This Month, Consecutive Battles!
« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2012, 07:14:28 am »
The first post of the old thread contains all the prior themes.  If your name is not Iced Fairy there should be a wide variety of themes to select from.

Von Stein

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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - This Month, Consecutive Battles!
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2012, 02:44:38 am »
Reimu hung in the air above the Youkai Mountain, a letter falling to the earth from her hands.
The mountain itself was obscured by the smoke billowing up from its surface as every inch of the mountain was burning.

"You promised..."

The fire of the mountain reflected off the tears in her eyes, eyes filled with the rains of sadness, which however were not enough to quell the raging inferno of wrath contained within them as well...



It's been another boring day at the Kakashi Spirit News, and Hatate was surfing her phone through various pictures, trying to figure out what to write about.

"Hrm, is there like no good news these days? So what if Alice created a new meme, she does that like every week! Wait, I heard something about some ship called the Titanic sinking in the outside world, I don't think that has been written about yet... wonder when that happened ag-"

Her thoughts were cut off when the lazy atmosphere of the room was interrupted by a knock on the door.

"It's like open, welcome to Kakashi Spirit News, what news do you have for me?"

Without so much as getting up or even looking up, she shouted her stock phrase at the door.
The door opened, and two girls enter.

The first had dark skin, dark hair in a tight ponytail, and wore glasses, and a black business suit with appropriate skirt from which a ghost tail was waving about lazily. She looked to be in her late teens early twenties.
The second looked much younger, perhaps ten, of a very pale complexion and wore a white, fairly nondescript dress that appeared to have erratic thin blue lines on it, and a paper boat on her head, from the latter of which long golden hair floated. She had a large, friendly smile on her face while her companion sported a more appropriate professional expression.

"We would like to make a proposition, Lady Himekaidou."

Hatate tore her eyes away from her phone and looked at the newcomers.

"Is that so?"

The businesslady nodded, and pointed at her younger companion.

"With her aid, all of this Gensokyo will listen to you."

The young girl beamed brightly at knowing she was this important, while Hatate considerable perked up.

"Is that so~?"



"YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSS. Wahahahahanyaaaaahahahahaha!"

Patchouli and Yumemi nearly jumped from their seats, as Reimu had clearly gone insane there.

The two had met for exchanging intellectual discussion at Reimu's shrine, since it had become somewhat of a hotspot for various creatures to mingle.
 Reimu was fine with having two more intelligent guests than her usual crew and hosted their tea party gladly.
The discussion of the two geniuses clearly went over her head, but with two minds like those around, it was no surprise that she'd be confused. 

Reimu's eyes were virtually spinning when she heard her mail getting delivered. With Patchouli and Yumemi too engrossed in their discussion, Reimu took the chance to catch some fresh air, idly excused herself and got the mail.

Above reaction came next.

"Yesyesyesyesyesoh, oh Jigoku YES! This is it, this is it!"

Patchouli and Yumemi came out of the shrine just to be greeted by a Reimu shaped cloud slowly dissipating as Reimu became a small speck in the sky in the distance.

Yumemi looked after Reimu, and turned to Patchouli.

"You don't think she got one of those..."

Patchouli held up an torn envelop in response and nodded.

"She did. This is bad."

Patchouli scanned the horizon and sighed.

"Where were we?"

The two returned inside to continue their discussion.



Reimu flew towards the majestic Youkai Mountain, screaming joyously the entire way, ignoring the voice of her intuition screaming at her to go back and think about this. She bowled over Momiji without even taking notice and managed to land largely unbothered in front of Hatate's house.

"Where do I sign?"

Reimu busts the door in without so much as a knock. Hatate nearly jumps through the ceiling from the shock, but the other two girls don't so much as flinch.

"So you have come for our proposal. Good, I knew I could count on you of all the people. Please do take a seat here and fill out this form if you would be so kind, mylady."

The business woman points to a share and a piece of paper with a fountain pen next to it while the young girl waves.

"Hiiiiii~, ladysir!"

Hatate shivers in her chair as she sees who just busted her door down, rushed to the chair, filled the paper out, gave all three people in the room a big hug, and flew right back out, shouting a

"See you all in a week~<3" at them.

"Do you have any clue who that was, Boipelo-san?"

The business woman took the papers hastily filled out by the shrine maiden and stuffed them into a folder, a satisfied expression on her face.

"Do not worry yourself, Lady Himekaidou. Lady Awiti and I will be able to guarantee your full safety."

The young girl smiles and nods.

"Haaaaai~! All the paperwork's in ooooorder~! Nothing can go wrooooong~!"

Hatate was still trembling despite the reassurance, laughing very nervously.



One week later, the Youkai Mountain was in flames.

Reimu dropped the letter, the voice of her intuition saying sadly "I told you so..."

"You promised."

She let out a scream of anger. Despite all she had done already, she was still angry.

Two shapes appeared from the smoke, coughing heavily. It was Boipelo and Awiti.
Reimu pointed her Gohei at them.

"This! This is your fault!"

Awiti looked at Reimu angrily while Boipelo was still busy getting the smoke out of her lungs.

"You big damn meany! We just wanted to survive!"

Finally having stopped coughing, Boipelo adjusted her glasses and gave Reimu a pained smirk.

"Tch. You gullible b****! You really believed that letter, didn't you?"

The businesswoman lost any trace of her professionalism.

"We merely wanted a place to live, and for that you need money."

Reimu's eyes grew cold as she readied herself for the incoming massacre.

"This is Gensokyo. You do not need money to survive here. But for stealing mine..."

Boipelo, sensing the miko's aura and nearly being snuffed out by it's pressure alone whimpered, finally realizing how deep in night soil she was. Awiti however was still staring angrily at Reimu.

"Don't hurt my mommy, you gulibelbeach! I'll protect her no matter what!"

"A-awiti!"



Reimu didn't listen and large amulets began flying at the young girl, who's dress suddenly became aflutter , and send out sheets of paper everywhere.
She took hits from the amulets, that visibly shook her, but the mass of paper seemed to slow them down enough to not hurt her majorly.

Reimu scoffed, and send more amulets out, several of them into boundaries that warped them in a full circle around the paper girl.
 Awiti grimaced as more amulets slammed into her, and she began dodging in earnest, redirecting some of her paper shield now at Reimu, creating a typhoon of pages, sending them all towards Reimu.

 The shrine maiden frowned as she flew to the side, and gasped, when she noticed that Awiti had no problems continuing to trail the paper beam towards her, even as Reimu flew faster.
Awiti stayed on target, and Reimu was enveloped in papers, which had formed a tunnel around her, sending paper 'bullets' her way continuously, her clothes and skin suffering small cuts everywhere.
Reimu screamed again in anger, and rushed through the center of the stream of papers, enduring the cuts.

She prepared to punch the young girl visible at the other end, when suddenly the tunnels wall below her broke up, and golden light flooded the area, the a spirit lion flying towards Reimu, passing right through her, and filling her with pain, causing her to scream.

Awiti and Boipelo breathed heavily, despite the latter not needing air, as the endless stream of amulets finally stopped. They looked down as the cloud of papers dissipated into nothingness along Reimu's scream.

"Did we beat her?"

"I hope s-"

"KYAAAAAAAAH!"

The ghost and youkai jumped back, as Reimu's scream rose up again, once more filled with anger, her flaming aura blowing all the left over papers away and revealing her still floating, badly cut, but not down for the count.

"I will end you both! I will end you and get back what is rightfspark?"

She stopped talking when she heard the all too familiar words Master Spark being said.

One moment later Reimu disappeared in a beam of light.



The letter Reimu dropped read as such:
From: "mrs mariam " [mrs.boipelo4@{at}caramdansmail.com]
Message-ID: [akkb3ijd93k2j2kgi8{at}Nitocos-Sokyo.com]
X-Mailer: NitocosMail
X-Originating-IP: [ed.uf.afe.ww]
Mime-Version: 1.0
Subject: HELLO
Date: Sat, 04 Aug 2012 03:19:50 +-3985720357
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Dear Friend,
Greetings in the name of the lords. I am delighted to write this letter to you hoping that you will understand my predicament and respond. My research tells me that you are a soul most trustworthy. I am Mrs. Boipelo, wife of the late Lunarian head of state, Yagokoro Smith. I am in possession of ¥50 billion Japanese Yen of Gold, which I want to invest in your plane. For clarification purpose, this gold, is deposited with a security company disguised as a family treasure. It is not an ill-gotten wealth rather; it was generated from my organization - family support program (F.S.P.) This money (JP¥50B) was deposited in a private security firm onmoon. This transaction is 100% risk free. Me and my daughter has lost all we had as our bank accounts were frozen and assets siezed even my Interstell Passport but was just released to me two months ago. For your acceptance of this offer to help; I will give you 20% of the total gold, another 5% will be used to offset any costs to both parties in the course of the transaction.I and my children wish to use our part of the money to buy a palaca of living for ourselves in your country, and the rest will be kept for investment  package also in your country.If we must do this business successfully, we must  keep secret and unknown to public. At this Jucture I want to forwarn you of the many scams that go on in my name and names of other dignitries in the country as I have even recieved letters bearing my name.
Looking forward to your quick response.
Yours sincerely,
Mrs. Boipelo

Pour gagner une Playstation 2, envoyez un SMS avec le code PS au XYZWE
(0,35 euro hors coût du SMS).



Reimu drifted back to concsiousness. The futon was so nice and comfortable. Just five minutes longer she thought. That damn loud yelling in her ear could wait a few mi...yelling in her ear? Oh no, and so many ze's added to the end of the sentences...

"Marisa, what is it?"

She woke up, and found herself back at her shrine, in her futon, Marisa grinning over her.

"Gotcha good this time, eh? I knew that new catalyst would work wonders, ze!"

Reimu remembered that she got Master Sparked while... while...

"Oh right, what happened to those two thieves?"

Reimu rubbed her head as Marisa responded cheerily.

"Made a fortune off of insurance scam, ze! They build a mansion across the Misty Lake wich Remilia leveled, and used the money from that insurance to build a palace near the Forest of Magic."

Reimu rubs her face.

"How long was I out?"

"About a week, ze! By the way, why did you attack them that harshly anyways? You burned down the entire Youkai Mountain!"

"They stole from me! 72 yen!"

"What?"

Boipelo stared in disbelieve at the shrine maiden as she and her daughter enter the room.

"We never took your money, you know, Lady Hakurei?"

"But I wrote it over to you in the papers! It said I give you my 72 yen and you give me the 20% in a week on there!"

"That paper was just a front, you big dummy!"

Awiti chimed in.

"We just wanted to look convincing until we could make our real move."

As it turned out, the duo knew perfectly well that no person targeted would be stupid enough to actually believe a word that was written in those letters. Their plan was simply to overload everybody with so much letters that they could start business as a waste management company, giving Hatate a percentage for the initial help and for advertising them once the time was right.
But because or Reimu's rampage that never became necessary. Hatate saw the storm coming and quickly took out an insurance towards her house. When that storm hit, and her house was burned to a crisp, she made a good sum and shared that with the duo...

"You've got to be kidding me..."

Reimu couldn't believe her ears.

"You guys managed to scam yourself into Gensokyo... because of me?"

Awiti beamed.

"Yes, thank you~."

"Thank you for the tea, Lady Hakurei. Please be more discriminating in what you believe in your mail."

Patchouli and Yumemi appeared in the room.

"Yes, back home we have long since learned not to believe in these types of messages. Anyways, thanks for the tea and take care."

Reimu stared at the leaving duo blankly.

"Those two where still here? How long was I out again?"

Marisa, Awiti and Boipelo laughed.





Since nobody else has posted yet, I figured I'd take the opportunity to open the new page of the contest with the topic of WWC's first contest. Nigerian Spam Mail. :V

I jumped through several different topics (self insert, badfic, sports) before settling on this... so here we are... let the games begin and oh please, don't hurt me for writing this! *scared cower*
Can't think of a good signature.
More lilies maybe?

Iced Fairy

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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - This Month, Consecutive Battles!
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2012, 04:34:53 am »
Come on you slackers!  It's getting close to the end of week one!

Try Haiku or Spam if you need something done quick.

capt. h

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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - This Month, Consecutive Battles!
« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2012, 05:04:36 am »
Come on you slackers!  It's getting close to the end of week one!

Try Haiku or Spam if you need something done quick.

A little sparrow,
A hungry ghost, A full moon.
Goodnight poor sparrow.


Crud, it has to be spellcard themed.

Song of the Sparrow,
Meet the ghost of death's hunger.
Goodnight poor sparrow.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2012, 05:11:47 am by capt. h »

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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - This Month, Consecutive Battles!
« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2012, 06:13:13 am »
Butterfly spirits
Float gently in the spring breeze
Towards your soft face

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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - This Month, Consecutive Battles!
« Reply #7 on: June 10, 2012, 02:23:05 am »
Type: Haiku
Subject: Food
Status: GO!

-----

An oni, a gourd
A long night out on the town
A lake of vomit

:V
« Last Edit: June 10, 2012, 04:41:00 am by SacredSwimmyReptile »

GuyYouMetOnline

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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - This Month, Consecutive Battles!
« Reply #8 on: June 10, 2012, 04:39:28 am »
Your last line has six syllables.

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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - This Month, Consecutive Battles!
« Reply #9 on: June 10, 2012, 04:41:15 am »
Fixed! :derp:

Iced Fairy

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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - This Month, Consecutive Battles!
« Reply #10 on: June 11, 2012, 06:53:18 am »
It's been a quiet week in my hometown of Gensoukyo.  No new comers.  No big events.  And only twenty or so danmaku fights.  Just lazy days leading to lazy evenings where you could go out with your family and watch the fireflies gather.

This was all great for the village, but up on the mountain it was a little different.  It started out fine.  The crow tengu flew around having fun, writing joke articles on flower shows and in depth resturant critiques of ramen stands.  Filling up the pages of their papers with articles saying things like “The broth has a deep and full body with hints of many exotic seasonings,” and “The expert  cut of the tuna cooked sweetly to perfection in my mouth.”  They started competing with each other to make the descriptions more and more extravagant, pouring over their thesauruses to pull out words like “ambrosial” and “saliferous” and “effluvious.”

But after the third or fourth page of this they started getting tired.  They'd reviewed all the restaurants that served enough sake to be worthwhile.  Visited all the flower shows, twice.  Once to see the flowers and once just in case Yuuka had shown up.   And the only words that were left in the thesaurus were words like “saltish” and “yummy.”  The well of the news had run dry.

Now the Crow Tengu have a saying.  “When the well of news runs dry, throw down a tsurube-otoshi and see what you can pull up.”  A lot of the younger tengu think this is a figure of speech, but in the old days they'd actually do this.  They'd go sneak up on a tsurube-otoshi, very carefully approaching from above because they don't usually look up.  Light wing beats and all that.  Then they'd tie a rope around it's bucket fast as they could, run over to a well and then toss the bucket down!  After that they'd just pull the rope up and see what they got.

Things being as they are what they usually got was a bullet or two from an angry tsurube-otoshi.  Apparently they don't like being tossed down wells.  They frown upon it.  However crow tengu don't care about those sort of things.  They care about their headline.  And while “Tsurube-otoshi Breaks Tengu's Nose” isn't the most flattering of headlines, it does sell papers.

These days there aren't any tsurube-otoshi to throw down wells up above ground.  So the tengu have to make do with a substitute.  Fortunately Gensoukyo was built around a substitute for those youkai traditions that couldn't be transferred over from the real world.  I am of course talking about bothering the shrine maiden.

It started out simple.  The tengu who got out the most were first, since they had already been planning articles on flower shows and restaurants.  They geared up, got their cameras, and started bothering Reimu about long term subscriptions.  The kind that last three years and come with a lottery ticket for a prize you actually don't want, even if you could win it.  Second came the sharper tengu, the keen eyed story thieves that were always on the lookout for new headlines.  They saw the first group coming back with broken noses, and arms, and the smile of a tengu who has a full camera.  So they grabbed their cameras and rushed out to question Reimu about what the other tengu had seen.

After that it sort of grew on it's own, like a tree in good soil or a snowball war when the fairies show up.  The slower tengu came to get their pictures of a fight with Reimu.  The conspiracy specialists came to ask what Reimu had against honest hard working reporters.  “First responders” came to report about the sudden increase in reporting.  “In depth reporters” came to interview the other reporters about their reporting styles.  The “media critics” came to complain about how no one was doing serious investigative journalism.  The reporters who had already been here came back to catch up, because their original story was no longer new and fresh.

In the end no one really remembered how this had started.  There were tengu reporting on reports of a critique of a report about reporting critiques.  And chances were when they were done there'd be another reporter standing right behind them, asking for their “expert analysis” of the news they'd just finished compiling.  It had become a self sustaining news event, reports feeding new reports, like ouroboros eating its own tail.

It was a couple hours in that one of the “media critic” types opened up a drink stand as a satirical protest.  Of course the reporting had been going on for so long even the tengu were starting to get tired and hungry.  He sold out all his stock within five minutes.  Seeing that business was good some of the youkai who'd been watching just for fun ran in and opened up their own stands.  Soon there was a rush of people running back and forth to the human village to restock, which meant some of the more curious humans wandered over and started browsing the booths.

So just as quickly as it had appeared the tengu's “big scoop” turned into the “Gensoukyo Correspondence Appreciation Festival.”  The alcohol started flowing, and the tengu put away their cameras, and eventually even Reimu stopped shooting everyone and just tried to relax while shaking down the vendors for money.

This might seem like a strange way for a festival to form but Gensoukyo has a long history of festivals and businesses starting up because of a passing whim.  Especially if that whim was to annoy someone close to them.  In fact four of the best known shops were built just to annoy someone.  And the most famous example of that would be the Kirisame family.

Back when the barrier had just formed Kiichi Kirisame was one of the finest onmyouji in Gensoukyo village.  They said she was so good she once sealed a youkai with chopsticks and an squid bowl.  Just stabbed the chopsticks into the ink sac, scribbled a sealing charm, then went back to his rice.  Impressed the heck out of the cart owner.  He didn't know you could use squid ink for sealing charms you see.

Now that last story might be a bit of an exaggeration, but even so Kiichi was the kind of guy people made exaggerations about.  He was a figure of legend.  People looked up to him, respected him.  So when he finally settled down and had a son, everyone was certain his son would follow in his footsteps, Kiichi most of all.  He went so far as to name the boy Takemi, to 'try to get a little extra courage in early.'

Kiichi did everything he could to make the boy a great spiritualist.  Long trips to stand under freezing waterfalls, memorizing ancient writings, and calligraphy lessons every day.  A lot of people thought he was pushing the boy too hard, but Takemi loved it.  While the other kids played hopscotch he'd scribble kanji in the dirt.  He knew four languages before most of his classmates mastered one.  He'd even complain about the bathwater not being cold enough in the summer.  He was a perfect student, everything his dad could have hoped for.

Then one day, when Takemi was about fourteen, he walked in and said, “Dad, I'm going to become a hatter.”

Kiichi kind of blinked and scratched his head a bit and asked, “But why?  You've been training all this time to become an spiritualist?  Why quit now.”

Takemi just sighed and shook his head.  “Dad, one day you have to grow up and get a real job.”

“What do you mean a real job, Son?”

“Youkai incidents are on the decline, Dad.  And with the shrine maiden monopoly there's no room for growth in market share.  Hat's are new.  Hats are in.  There's a big market for hats.”

“There's more to life then money son.  This is a family tradition.  You'll shame the family name if you become some second rate tailor, Son!”

“I'll show you, Dad!  I'll become the best hatter in the village.”

Well as you can imagine that didn't go over well.  The argument lasted about a month, the burning passion of youth clashing against the iron will of tradition, before Takemi left home and took up as an apprentice to the village's tailor. 

There he mastered the way of lace and frills.  He learned how to make good proper stiff brims and flexible headbands.  And at the age of sixteen he opened up his own store, the “Kirisame Hat Shop.”

It was an incredible success.  People who loved hats went there.  People who didn't love hats fell in love with hats.  People who hated hats bought ribbons and bows so people would stop asking them if they needed a hat.  Even youkai came in to buy hats.  Hats became the new big thing.  He personally was responsible for the hat's place in Gensoukyo.  Takemi Kirisame was the best hatter in the village and for him everything was perfect.  He was in hat heaven.

Time moved on, as it always does, and Takemi married a nice woman who knew how to weave silk, and had a son of his own, Shinzo.  Takemi was ecstatic.  Takemi taught that boy everything he knew about hats.  How to make them, how to fix them, how to find the best hat for someone.  Every little trick and tip that made the Kirisame Hat Shop the best store in Gensoukyo.

Shinzo hated all of it.  He hated the sewing.  He hated the lace.  He hated the customers.  He hated everything about that store.  It got to the point where he would knock the hats off of people around town then run away.  He kept his hair short so he wouldn't need hairclips.  He started distrusting umbrellas for being too hat-like.

As he got older would sneak away from his lessons and run off into the fields to help the farmers plant.  He'd go fishing way out past the safe areas of the village.  He started hanging out in bars, trying to learn how to be 'tough' and 'cool.'

Takemi tried to compromise with the boy.  Started planing camping trips in the woods out where his father trained him.  Explained how tough a shop owner needed to be tough and strong to protect their stock.  But it didn't go anywhere.  As soon as Shinzo got back in the hat shop his head drooped and his shoulders slumped, and he just started going through the motions again.

Finally Takemi decided he needed to force the issue.  He pulled Shinzo aside out behind the shop where no one could hear them and said, “Son, there comes a time in every man's life when he needs to grow up and pick a career.  Now maybe I've been wrong.  Maybe hats aren't the thing for you.  But you need to think of what you're going to do with your life.”

Well Shinzo perked up at that.  “Dad, I know what I want to do with my life.  I want to be a lumberjack!”

“A lumberjack?”  Takemi didn't quite believe what he'd heard.  “You can't make a real living as a lumberjack son.  There's no future in the business.”

“It's not about the money, Dad.  It's about a sense of accomplishment.”

“There's plenty of accomplishment in real work too son.  Now your gonna get back to your training until you think of a real job you like.”

In the end Takemi was the only one surprised when Shinzo ran away from home and took up in the forest.  It crushed the poor man, seeing his oldest son reject his beloved paradise of headwear.  It took him two years to recover, and start focusing on training his second son to take over the business.

Meanwhile Shinzo was enjoying the woods.  He went out there and carved out a spot for himself.  A small house, with a little farm and easy access to all the stuff he needed to survive.  The local youkai bothered him of course, but a few amulets made them decide he wasn't worth the effort.  Then, one day after he settled down a bit, he dragged back the most perfect ceder tree the village had seen.  He auctioned it off right then and there, and with that his business was off and running.

Shinzo became every bit the legend among loggers as his father was among hatters.  He cut down almost one of every tree in the forest, and considering how mean some of the trees are around here are that was quite the feat.  It's hard to get a proper cut when the tree keeps stealing your ax.  But Shinzo did it, and he did it without breaking a sweat.  He was so good he didn't even need to run the business side of things.  People just came to him with orders and he'd name a price.

Shinzo got married to strong woman who wasn't afraid to live out in the woods, and eventually he had a son of his own, Taro.  Shinzo did his best to make sure the kid knew his way around the forest.  That he knew the names of the plants and their uses.

By now I bet your sensing a pattern here.  Taro was always more interested in the village, especially the marketplace.  He loved the bargaining and bartering.  He was fascinated at how an egg could go from the farmer at one end of the market, to a passing fish vendor in exchange for a tilefish, then to the ice seller for a few extra ice shards, then finally over to the takoyaki vendor at the far end, only to end up in the batter for the next batch.  To him it was like a dance, an intricate ballet of goods.  It was a huge revelation to the boy.  The idea that you could get things, even simple everyday things like food, without having to beat up ten fairies and farm it yourself.

So he went to his father and said, “Dad, your wood brings in a lot of money.  Why don't we use some of that to buy our food instead of hunting all the time?”

Shinzo just stood there for a moment dumbfounded.  “Well... it's not right to do that.  Money isn't everything son.  You should contribute all you can.  Accomplish something with your life.”

“But what if I want to accomplish other things, dad?  What if I want to hang out with other kids, or play games or something?  Why shouldn't I just make a lot of money fast and use my free time to do what I want to do?”

Shinzo wasn't the type of man used to frowning.  He hadn't frowned in a long time.  So when he heard his son say that his face twisted, bent into strange shapes not meant to be on a face.  But he did his best to keep his cool.  “That's merchant talk,” he said.  “And I don't want to hear any more of it.  Now lets get back home.  We've got radishes to pick and the fairies will probably be trying to steal the laundry.”

The very next day Taro was gone, along with all his possessions.  All that was left was a note that said, “I'll become the best merchant in town, Dad.  Just you see.”  Shinzo just shook his head sadly.  He  never spoke about his son again, but he started spending more time training his daughter, who truth to be told was a better lumberjack to begin with.

Meanwhile Taro started small.  He dusted off a spot in the marketplace and started selling herbs that he found in the forest.  All he had was his stock and a sign that read “Magic Forest Healing Herbs.  Sure to Ease Your Pain.”  But Taro was good at buying and selling.  Within a week he'd gotten his own stall up.  By the end of the month he was selling the items that other people had traded to him instead of herbs.  A year later and the Kirisame Second Hand Shop opened up, just a few blocks down from his grandfathers hat shop.

Business boomed for the newest Kirisame shop.  Taro had a bunch of assistants, one of whom eventually became his wife.  And they in turn had a daughter Marisa.  And as soon as news got out bets were ten to one that she'd run away before she was thirteen.  People in Gensoukyo are nothing if not skilled at pattern recognition.

For a long while though it looked like they'd all be wrong.  Marisa was just as fascinated by trade as her father was.  Admittedly sometimes she was a little bad about the payment part of the trade, but she was sharp as a tack and she loved the store.  She would sit behind the counter just to see the new items people would bring in.  Every battered lamp, rotted book and faded picture was a treasure to her eyes.  A mystical relic that needed to be investigated, cleaned and traded only if a better item came in exchange.

Which is why Taro was so surprised when Marisa came up waving a book of magic spells above her head and proclaimed loudly, “I want to be a witch!”

Taro looked down at that book with great trepidation.  He'd always known that his daughter might find a different path then his own, but a witch?  No one would willing go to sell a witch their old goods.  But if he told her to give up on her dream, well, he could recognize patterns too!  He stared at that book as if it were a mine.  A horrible trap that was sure to take his daughter away if he couldn't find a way to disarm it.  Finally he simply said.  “That's nice dear,” and patted Marisa on the head.  Then he stole into her room that night and took the book away, figuring Marisa would just think it had been lost.

It might have worked too, if Marisa hadn't been sneaking into her parents room already to see what rare items he picked up each night.  Two days after he hid the book away Marisa had gone off into the woods to become a witch.

A few years of mage training in the forest later the Kirisame Magic Shop was opened.  And while Taro had been right about people not being keen on selling her their used goods, they were happy to buy things from her for ridiculous prices.  She sold potions, and charms, and most of all fireworks.  The finest fireworks in all Gensoukyo, built not just with gunpowder but with her own magic.  Sparklers that lasted for days and rockets that changed in dragons midair were just some of the few new and exciting fireworks she made.

So of course when the Gensoukyo Correspondence Appreciation Festival started she was there, preparing a new show for when night fell.  Tengu, kappa and humans alike would wander over and hand her a few coins, and she'd smile and ask what type of fireworks they liked best before adding another round to her mortars.

Night fell, and people cleared the skies for the performance.  And what a performance it was.  There were noise makers, and color changers, and sparklers and lasers.  Rockets that spun and twisted to form a camera that took a picture of the watching crowds.  And of course leaflet droppers to spread the newspapers from the higher paying customers out around the crowd during intermissions.

When it was all over and done with Marisa looked at her handiwork with an amount of pride.  It was a great accomplishment from her perspective.  She it didn't match fighting through strange dimensions and stealing from aliens, but it was a lot safer.  You had to appreciate the small jobs after all. 

As she was standing there she heard a cough and her father walked up beside her.

The two stood there silently for a long while, each stubbornly looking out at the festival.  A sort of anti staring contest, where the first one to look the other in the eyes or walk away would lose.  People would wander over to talk to one of the other, then freeze and walk away, somehow realizing there was mental battle, a cosmic struggle going on between the two.

Finally Taro cleared his throat again, signaling his defeat.  Marisa started to walk away, but before she disappeared into the crowd he said, “That was a good fireworks display.  The best.”

The young girl didn't turn around.  But she replied, “Thanks, Dad.”

Sometimes in life, a few words are all you need.

That's the news from Gensoukyo.  Where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are about average.

Iced Fairy

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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - This Month, Consecutive Battles!
« Reply #11 on: June 11, 2012, 06:57:39 am »
Week 1 Ends here
Week 2 Begins Now!

Iced Fairy

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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - This Month, Consecutive Battles!
« Reply #12 on: June 16, 2012, 04:50:35 pm »
Come on now.  Over 25 topics and no entrants?  Some of you have to have an unfinished entry from before you can put together.

Don't make this a win by default.   :(

capt. h

  • Only sane townie
Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - This Month, Consecutive Battles!
« Reply #13 on: June 16, 2012, 06:12:11 pm »
Doctor Komeiji challenge

***

“I hear voices.” Utsuho said, lying on the couch next to me.

“Those are perfectly natural. I hear them all the time!” I say. “Usually when people are talking to me.”

“No, I mean in my head.”

“Well, where else are you going to hear them?” I ask. “I mean, maybe if you heard them in your belly button there would be a problem, but your head is a perfectly normal place to hear voices.”

“I mean I hear voices, but they aren’t real.”

“Of course the voices are real! If they weren’t real, you wouldn’t be hearing them,” I say. “Do you listen to them? I find that voices usually say stuff.”

“They tell me to burn everything.” The raven scowled.

“That’s normal.” I say. “Are there people saying these things?”

“No. The voices aren’t real, they all come from me.”

“Well then,” I say, tapping my pen on my cheek. “You should know that just because a voice is in your head, doesn’t mean it’s not real. I suggested doing what the voices tell you.”

“But they tell me to kill people!”

“And do you want to kill people?” I ask.

“I don’t know anymore,” The raven says, clutching her head. She’s really worried, isn’t she? Ah well, only one fix for that.

“I think the voices are your subconscious. You should listen to it! You secretly want to destroy people, and the healthy thing to do is to listen to yourself!”

“But…” Utsuho stutters.

“No buts! I am your Psychiatrist, and I’m telling you to go out and burn things! Understand? Now go!”

I am such a good psychiatrist, I tell myself as I see my raven out. I should get a degree!
« Last Edit: June 17, 2012, 06:04:55 am by capt. h »

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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - This Month, Consecutive Battles!
« Reply #14 on: June 16, 2012, 10:21:45 pm »
I might have poasted something by now but I have a heb code and it's thlowing me down. *sniff*

Bardiche

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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - This Month, Consecutive Battles!
« Reply #15 on: June 16, 2012, 11:04:22 pm »
Theme: Reporter (clearly talking about Cirno)

She said she was strong
confidence before falling -
the world wept for her

FinnKaenbyou

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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - This Month, Consecutive Battles!
« Reply #16 on: June 17, 2012, 09:19:10 pm »
It’s a little known fact that kappa can’t hold their liquor.

Ever wondered why they’re so into that cucumber beer crap? It’s not the taste, before you ask. Talk to any kappa on the street and they’ll tell you cucumber beer tastes like someone pissed in your water. I’ve tried it myself, and I can second that claim.

The reason they still drink it is because the alcohol content is close to zero. For any other youkai it’d be unnoticeable, and for a human it’d take a dozen mugs before you started feeling tipsy. But the kappa start chuckling and falling over by the second glass, so it’s the safest way for them to get drunk.

Safest, in my opinion, also means ‘least interesting’. So I decided to engage in a little experiment today.

“I told you, Marisa, I can’t drink this.”

Nitori gives me that look as I slide a shot glass over to her. It’s the look she gives me when she’s talking about upgrades or maintenance - when she feels like the main authority on the topic of discussion. Most of the time she’s right about that. I’m a pilot, not a mechanic.

But this isn’t one of those times. I’m not willing to nod along with her explanations today. I nudge the drink into her hand, clasping her fingers around it.

“Nitori, your folks would be ashamed. What sort of youkai would ever turn down a free drink?”

I ask the question just loud enough for some of the patrons to turn in Nitori’s direction. Being a teetotaler is not something to be proud of in youkai society, and she’s already getting some unwelcome glares. A seat at the bar should be reserved for people who’ll use it properly, in their opinion.

Nitori eyes the crowd, then the shot glass. It’s small, but the drink is pretty potent. They call it Nine Lives, because they claim it’s strong enough to kill a human eight times over. With a reputation like that, there’s no way I can turn this opportunity down.

“C’mon, brainiac.” I nudge at her with my elbow. “Don’t disappoint your audience.”

Nitori takes a moment to glare at me. She’s short and puny, but she’s capable of some nasty looks when she tries. She snatches at the shot glass, brings it to her lips, and downs it in one shot. Her lips pucker up as if she’s just swallowed a lemon. There’s a small round of applause from the other patrons.

I give her a pat on the back. “So how’s it feel to drink grown-up alcohol?”

Nitori looks about ready to erupt. “You’re a...” She points a finger at me, accusation dripping from her words, but halfway through the sentence she stops. She looks away, trying to pull the last word out of the air. “You’re a...a...”

Her eyes glaze over as she falls headfirst onto the bar. Raucous laughter floods the room before the other youkai get back to her own drinks. For a moment I’m scared that she’s just dropped dead, but as I move closer I can hear her snoring.

That experiment came to an end shorter than I’d expected. The results were conclusive, but I wouldn’t have minded playing around with it a bit longer. Maybe I’ll try it again with something lighter to try and test just how much Nitori can take.

I order myself a whiskey. If there’s anything good that came from the border collapsing, it’s all the new drinks it brought into Gensokyo. Sake gets old after so long, so it’s nice to have a change.

I’m halfway through my second drink when the door opens. Everyone in the room - myself included - turns to look towards the newcomer. I’m the only one who recognises her, and I beckon her over to the free chair on my right.

“Take a seat, Ran.”

Ran Yakumo nods as she comes close. She really doesn’t blend in well with the seedy nature of the bar. The snappy business suit she’s wearing contributes a lot to that. She wipes at the seat with a handkerchief before she sits on it, her nine bushy tails waving around behind her back. Half the youkai in the room are looking at her, and one or two of them are probably considering trying to stroke one of those tails.

I saw her hospitalise the last oni who tried that.

“You’re a hard woman to find, Kirisame.” Ran orders a gin and tonic. Just light enough for her to enjoy on the job. She’s normally a lot less upfront than this, but we’ve seen a lot of each other in the last few months.

“Well, y’know. Gotta hide from all my loving fans.” I sip at the whiskey, letting it swirl around in my mouth for a bit before I swallow. “How’s my favourite diplomat?”

“Overworked, as usual.” Her glass arrives, and she stares down into the drink for a while before taking a sip. Her shoulders loosen up as the stress seeps out of her. Without her daily dose of alcohol, I bet she’d drop dead from all the work Yukari puts her through.

“Any new alliances?”

“Gensokyo doesn’t deal in alliances. We’re just pushing for ceasefires right now, but I don’t need to tell you how well the media have been painting us.”

She doesn’t. Ever since the border came apart I’ve been hearing stories about how the rest of the world sees Gensokyo. A nation of ravenous monsters disguised as humans, possessing magical powers beyond mortal ken. It’s the sort of stereotype no professional journalist could turn down.

I finish the last few drops of whiskey. “So if you’re calling on me, I’m guessing there’s another duel to be fought.”

Ran nods. “You know the drill by now. You’ve got 24 hours to make any preparations you need.” She pulls out a small PDA and types furiously for a few seconds. I hear a beep at my waist as my own PDA receives the message. “Those are the co-ordinates. Any questions?”

I only have one question. It’s the same one I ask every time. “So how much do I stand to make off of this?”

“The fight purse is standing at two million yen right now.” Ran’s eyebrows lower, her golden eyes glistening in the dim light of the bar. “But you know how much is at stake here.”

“Right, right. I get it.”

I call the bartender over and pay my tab. I nudge Nitori by the shoulder, trying not to touch the puddle of drool she’s left on the bar.

“...no-good, double-crossing, back-stabbing...” She murmurs to herself as she starts to wake up. “Foul-mouthed, two-timing sellout harlot!” She jerks upright, finishing the insult she’d been saving up since before she fell asleep.

“Eh? What happened? And why is my face so wet?” Sadly, she’s forgotten why she was insulting me to begin with. I give her a hand out of the chair as I lead her to the door.

“No time, Nitori. We’ve got work to do.”

“Work? What? When?” The kappa is stumbling left and right, still far from sober. Hopefully she’ll be fine by the time we get back to base.

“Another duel. We’ve got a day to get ready for it.” I wrap an arm around her to support her as we head out the door. “Seriously, how am I gonna win when my top mechanic falls asleep on the job?”

-----

Preparing for a fight is a difficult job for both the pilot and their mechanic. Nitori has to make sure the Black Star is in working order and that none of the limbs are going to fall off halfway through the battle. I have to be ready for anything the opponent throws at me: that means being physically and mentally fit, as well as knowing what I’m up against.

We’re better prepared on that front than most teams. Nitori’s put together a simulator that’ll let me get some practice shots in. Most of the big nations have well-known duelists, so it’s not hard to train with your opponent in mind.

I take a seat in the simulator’s cockpit, built to match my machine’s perfectly. I’m properly dressed in what Nitori calls the Hubsuit - a skintight suit with ports and wires running down its spine. It’s more than a fashion statement - which is unsurprising, because making the appropriate links between the ports and my nervous system is a painful and lengthy experience.

“So who’s the challenger this time?” I ask as I take a seat in the cockpit. Gensokyo is on poor terms with so many countries I don’t even try to keep track anymore.

Nitori’s face flickers onto a screen at my side. Thankfully she’s sobered up by now. “You’re going to be fighting Gawain Alexander tomorrow.”

“Alexander? The Green Knight?” I take a deep breath. This I definitely didn’t expect. “I thought the Brits were on good terms with us.”

“There was an election in the last few weeks, and they’ve got a majorly conservative government now.” Nitori fiddles with a keyboard as she speaks, feeding the simulator the relevant data. “There’s a lot of underlying youkai hatred there.”

I snort. Sounds like every other nation beyond the border, honestly. They had enough trouble dealing with fellow humans, but when Gensokyo showed up they all found a common enemy to turn on. It’s a relief these rules are here to keep every nation from storming us at once.

The simulator begins to load up, and the cockpit locks in. A belt clips around my waist as I lean forward towards the controls. As usual, the sheer number of levers and buttons to select from is overwhelming. Thankfully, I don’t have to do most of the thinking myself.

As the chair slides forward, I feel a jolt of pain as the machine’s wires jab into the ports on my back. The neural connections take a few seconds to fire up, but soon I’m looking at these controls as if I’ve known them all my life. Another handy little invention Nitori came up with; it’s so good, it almost feels like cheating.

Not that playing fair is a big thing for me.

“So remind me, Nitori. What happens if I lose?”

Nitori’s head drops as she answers, typing in the last few variables. “You know what’ll happen, Marisa. The Brits are trying to claim ownership of the waters around Gensokyo. If you lose, they’ll expect Yukari to hand it over...”

“...and the populace won’t agree with that.” I finish the sentence for her.

“Right. Most countries wouldn’t go to war over it. That’s what the Duels are for, honestly. But youkai really don’t like people stepping on their turf...”

“No pressure, then.” I knew all of that, but I just felt like being reminded. It’s good to keep in mind what I’m fighting for, and how much is at stake. Though the payout that President Yakumo is offering is a nice little bonus.

“OK, you’re good to go,” Nitori says as the screen bursts to life in front of me. It renders a 3d scene of one of Gensokyo’s open plains, in a half-mile square. The textures and details are far from perfect, but it’s enough to give me a vague concept of immersion.

Across from me is a giant green frame, carrying a sword in one hand and a shield in the other. While most duelists opt for long distance warfare, the Green Knight mech is built for close range combat. The shield - as tall as the machine itself - is built to withstand any blow thrown at it. There’s a reason Gawain Alexander is considered one of the world’s greatest duelists. I’m going to need to make the most of this session.

“You’ve got about six hours of practice time before we need to make the trip to the combat zone. Good luck, Marisa.” The picture of Nitori flickers and dies, letting me focus my attention solely on my training. She’s probably away giving the real Black Star some fine tuning right now.

[READY?] The machine blurts at me. I reach out to the control panel. My hands stop naturally on two of the seven levers, and my feet land on two of the four pedals. It’s thanks to Nitori’s neural interface - my thoughts get passed through the wiring and sent back into my nervous system to move the appropriate limbs. It translates ‘move left’ to ‘grab that lever and push that button’ without me needing to memorise a 400-page instruction manual.

The knight points his sword in my direction, taking a step forward and leveling a tree as he does so. I know plenty about how he fights, and I doubt I’ll see anything from him in these six hours that isn’t public knowledge. What I need to learn is how to deal with it.

[FIGHT!]

On the machine’s command, the fight starts. Without fear or hesitation, the Green Knight charges forward. It raises its blade while the shield protects its body. Instantly I break away, the entire cockpit spinning as the virtual Black Star rolls across the ground.

This is a bad fight for me. The Green Knight is designed to take on as any projectile I throw at it. The Black Star uses nothing but projectiles - a sensible call against any other opponent, but not with Gawain Alexander. His mech is faster than it looks, taking long strides across the clearing to catch up to me. I try to fire a shot to slow it down, but the machine blocks with its shield and barges onward without losing any momentum.

As the blade slams into the Black Star’s neck, I’m struck by another jolt of pain. This was one of Nitori’s less pleasant additions to the system - the same cords connecting me to the machine also allow me to feel any sort of injury inflicted upon the machine, though admittedly dampened to non-fatal levels. In her words, it’s an incentive to stop me screwing around during training sessions.

She’s lucky that she’s the best in the business, or I’d have hired someone else.

[DEFEAT. RECORD 0:1. REMATCH?]

The machine is polite enough to record my loss as the screen fades to static. The general rule is any blow that would kill a human is considered to ‘kill’ a duelist’s machine, and a sword through the neck is pretty fatal. I let the momentary pain fade as I lean backwards into the chair.

“Rematch.”

A few seconds later, the scenario has reloaded. The Green Knight’s on the other side of the field, ready to charge. This time when the fight starts I try another tactic, leaping upwards into the air. Gawain’s first swipe hits nothing as I hang above him. For a second I think I’ve got the advantage.

Then he throws his sword into the air, and it slices through the Black Star with ease.

“Nnngh-!”

Imagine someone drawing a line down your chest with a scalpel. That’s more or less how that defeat feels for me. At least Nitori hasn’t made it simulate the resulting fall as well.

[DEFEAT. RECORD 0:2. REMATCH?]

I’m beginning to see a disturbing pattern here. Gawain is fast, and he’s prepared to fight in three dimensions. Most other nations wouldn’t have a chance to practice fighting him, and they’d go down in seconds like I have.

But I can practice. As soon as the pain has passed, I’m ready to go again.

“Rematch.”

The scenario starts again. All I have to do is try everything and see what does and doesn’t work. This simulation is a compilation of all of Gawain Alexander’s match data. If the simulation isn’t ready for it, Gawain won’t be either.

Besides, I have six hours. I can figure out a strategy by then, right?

-----

“You lost HOW many times?”

Nitori looks like she can barely contain her anger. Luckily the hovercraft is high enough that there’s no risk of her crashing into anything as she swerves to one side.

“I told you, I was experimenting. Can’t blame a girl for trying stuff out, can you?”

“Your job is to figure out how to win, not figure out every way to lose.” She grips the wheel so tightly it looks ready to snap. The Black Star’s already been moved to the battlefield for us, so we just have to get there ourselves.

“I tried, alright? But at least now I know some things that won’t work.”

“Like pointing on the horizon and asking him to turn away.”

“It was worth a shot, wasn’t it?”

She doesn’t answer. She has every reason to be mad. I’ve never had a simulation session this poor. I kept fighting for the whole six hours, but I didn’t achieve a single victory in all that time. All I found was hundreds of ways for Gawain to break through my defenses or stop me from escaping him. To say the situation is bleak would be a pretty big understatement.

But that doesn’t mean I’m out of ideas. There was one lingering thought I considered throughout the training that I couldn’t test properly thanks to a few inaccuracies in the simulation. It’s a really out-there idea, but it’s all I can think of that stands a chance. And with all the training I went through, I should be able to survive long enough to give it a try.

And if it doesn’t work? Well, there’s always emigration to look into...

-----

The fight is taking place on a plain very similar to the one I saw in the simulation - or at least, it was similar to the simulation at some point. Gensokyo has only one or two areas wide and flat enough to work as suitable arenas, and they’ve been seeing a lot of use recently. Most of the foliage and greenery was either burnt or crushed in the combat, so it’s a massive grey patch in Gensokyo’s otherwise luscious environment. It’s an ugly sight, but a necessary sacrifice - if we didn’t go through the duels, all of Gensokyo would look like this.

The mechs have both been prepared. On one end of the field is my magnum opus, the Black Star. Nitori went all out with preparing it, even going so far as to give the plates a polish before sending it out. It’s a good fifty-feet tall, built with sleek plates of reinforced steel and armed to the teeth with every explosive Gensokyo knows how to make. Nitori had to do some intensive research to figure out how to fit all that stopping power into the machine without making it tip over.

Across from it is the daunting form of the Green Knight. Its plates have been tweaked to resemble a medieval suit of armour, and even when it’s inactive it holds its sword and shield at the ready. It’s a few feet taller than my mech, and I know from experience it’s at least as fast. Even seeing it from a distance, I can’t help but get a little concerned.

Before the fight can start, there’s a formal meeting between the competitors in the center of the arena. As Nitori lands the craft, I see our opponent has already arrived with his own team. I step out to approach him as we come to a stop.

“Good morning, miss Kirisame.” Gawain Alexander bows towards me with exquisite chivalry. He speaks in a language I don’t understand, but there’s a chip at the back of my neck that works as an on-the-go translator. It’s almost a necessity for a serious duelist.

Even Gawain himself is intimidating. His suit doesn’t have the same ports mine does, but it’s been fitted to resemble armour like his mech. He stands six inches above me, his bright blue eyes shimmering with the wisdom of a veteran. This is a man who’s seen more duels than I can count, and I feel the gap between us more and more by the second.

To his sides are a sniveling man in a labcoat - probably his head engineer - and a stern looking man in a suit. The last of these is probably his ‘diplomat’, though I’m using the word loosely. The suit gives Nitori a vile glare while Gawain and I talk.

“I must say, your track record made for some entertaining reading,” Gawain says with a smile. “You’ve been rather overworked, haven’t you?”

“What can I say?” I shrug. “Gensokyo isn’t very popular nowadays.”

“So I’ve heard.” Gawain frowns. He looks ready to say something, but he looks to the pudgy man in the suit and abruptly stops. Can’t go against the party line, it seems. “Let’s hope for an interesting bout, then.” He offers me his hand.

“Interesting is nice, but I prefer to win.” I return the gesture. His hand is twice the size of mine, and he jerks it up and down in a firm handshake. I haven’t been tugged around this much since the time I challenged an oni to an arm wrestle.

With the formalities out of the way, we each return to our respective crafts and head to our mechs. Nitori is bleeding nerves as she brings the vehicle into the air.

“Marisa...you do know what you’re doing, right?”

Of course she’s worried. Gensokyo is her home, and its continued existence depends on me. She can’t just run off to some other nation like I can - the rest of the world still considers youkai lesser citizens, if they qualify as ‘humans’ at all.

“Relax, I’ve got this.” I give her a little pat on the back. “If I mess up, you can force shots of Nine Lives down my throat until my liver blows up.”

Her expression lightens. “I’ll hold you to that.” She looks at me with a small smirk, just subdued enough that I’m not sure whether she means what she says. I’d better play it safe and win today.

The craft comes to a stop at the Black Star’s chest, right in front of where the machine’s ‘heart’ should be. Now that I think about it, this is probably the only part of the machine that wasn’t torn to pieces during the simulation. Normally fatalities are frowned upon, but considered unavoidable; yet Gawain didn’t strike at the cockpit once.

I place my hand into a small indent on the frame, and the breastplate opens up. A small walkway into the machine emerges from within, and I let myself out of the craft to step onto it. At the end of the walkway is the same cockpit I’ve been doing all of my training in.

The idea from earlier is still wavering around in my head. Calling it a battle plan would be exaggerating - it’s a vague idea which might work if the planets align and the gods smile upon me. Still, the alternative is watching the Black Star get cut in half, so I’ll take it.

I take my seat in the cockpit. The chair slides forwards as the machine interfaces with me. A dozen wires stabbing into your spine is a great way to keep yourself on your toes. I’m fully ready for battle by the time the monitor flickers to life.

“Are you ready, miss Kirisame?” Gawain’s voice comes through the speaker to my side as the Green Knight comes to life across from me. The machine lowers itself into a battle stance, sword at the ready.

“You can drop the whole ‘miss’ thing. Just call me Marisa.”

Gawain doesn’t answer, but I hear him stutter a little through the speaker. Maybe he’s not used to someone questioning his manners like that.

[READY?]

The same message jumps onto both our monitors. The two technicians are watching over the fight from a safe distance, working together as a neutral third party. Of course that also means Nitori won’t be able to yell advice into my ear whenever she wants, so I’m pretty much alone.

I grab at the controls. The Green Knight prepares to break into a dash.

[FIGHT!]

Just as the simulation predicted, the Knight charges head-on. Dodging left or right won’t work - he’ll cut me down before I can recover. Dodging up doesn’t work either. The only option is forward.

“Haah!”

At the last moment I send the Black Star into a charge of its own. Gawain brings the sword across in a horizontal swipe.

I fall to the earth with a slide tackle, knocking him off his feet. There’s a mighty crash as twenty tons of British handiwork falls to the ground.

That’s my first opening. As I bring the Black Star upright, I turn to face Gawain. I pull the machine’s arm forward, firing the first of its many missile salvos. The Green Knight pulls up its shield before they can hit, and the attacks bounce off of it harmlessly. Of course it wasn’t going to be that easy.

I buy myself a few seconds of running time as Gawain gets to his feet. I launch off another stream of missiles with one hand, and fire a laser out of the other. Gawain tilts the shield to block both attacks at once as he comes forward again.

Now that I have momentum it’s easier to keep my distance. I focus fire at the space between his sword and shield, and as he blocks it Gawain is forced to stop his swing. All the while I’m on the move, taking the occasional shot at his feet to make sure he can’t speed up again. I circle around him, making him turn as he continues to block the barrage. He can barely move, and whenever he makes progress I simply step back.

Of course, this is only a temporary measure. The Black Star is loaded with missiles, rockets, lasers, mines, and every other explosive known to man, but it does still have a limited ammo supply. The only difference is that the limit is much larger than any other machine in circulation.

As the missiles run out, I switch to mines. They fire out of the palms like most of my weaponry, but rather than aiming for the ground I fire them straight at Gawain. They clamp to the shield, detonating in waves of five at a time. The green frame shakes beneath the impact, but there’s no sign of surrender.

“You expect me to submit to this barrage?!” Gawain yells into the speaker. He’s a lot less polite on the battlefield, apparently.

I don’t answer. Honestly, I don’t expect this to be enough to take him down. In the simulation I emptied all of my reserves in this attack without any sort of progress. But the simulation made one very large assumption on that count.

Namely, that the shield was unbreakable.

As yet another wave of mines explodes, I can see the first few cracks beginning to form in the shield’s plating. It’s strong enough to take on the arsenals of other, less prepared machines, but the Black Star is on another level. As I try to finish the attack off, I look at the dwindling ammo counts all across my HUD.

Finally I reach my last wave of mines. I fire all six of them at once, all focusing on the cracks on the shield. Gawain seems unaware of his mech’s damage, holding off each blow with the same vigor.

When the mines explode, the shield shatters into half a dozen pieces. I wish I could see the look on his face right now.

“Wha-”

All I get is a stuttered gasp from his end of the speaker. His main defense is down at last. This is my cue to finish him.

Or at least it would be if I had anything left to finish him with.

I give the arsenal another look-over. No missiles, no rockets, no mines. The lasers are out of power, and the propulsion system can’t maintain this speed any more. In no more than two minutes I’ve unloaded the Black Star’s entire weapon supply.

There’s only one weapon left, and it’s the biggest risk of all. But I’m totally out of alternatives here, so I have to go for it. I press a large red button on the side of the control panel.

[NMS PROTOCOL INITIATED
NOW CHARGING...........]

The entire cockpit hums as non-essential power is redirected to the engine. The legs of the machine lock in place, and I can barely move the top half of the machine on command. A hole opens on the Black Star’s navel, and a cannon emerges from it.

The monitor clicks and blinks as it catches the Green Knight in its reticule. The sound of it locking onto its target is enough to pull Gawain out of his daze. He breaks to the side to avoid the upcoming blast, but the Black Star’s waist swivels around to follow him.

[CHARGING 40% COMPLETE]

I hear him gasp. He knows he can’t avoid the attack. All he can do is interrupt it. The Green Knight begins another charge. Even without the shield, he still has that ruthless blade of his.

I look at the Green Knight, then at the charge meter. It’s not hard to tell what’ll finish first. Gawain blitzes towards me, raising his sword to slice the Black Star in half.

I have one idea. If it works, I win. If it doesn’t...I lose more than just the match.

[CHARGING 80% COMPLETE]

He’s on top of me now, ready to swing downward with a few seconds to spare. The attack is ready to slice clean down the centre of the frame.

I lean the machine to the side so that the sword is right above the cockpit instead.

“NO!” Gawain screams.

The sword digs into the Black Star’s shoulder, burying itself a foot into the framework. The entire machine rumbles, almost knocking me out of my chair. Even with Gawain holding back, the attack is devastating.

But most importantly, it’s not a killing blow.

[CHARGING 100% COMPLETE]

This, on the other hand, will be.

As Gawain pulls his sword out of the Black Star’s shoulder, the frame looks down at the cannon. A pale blue light is emanating from its tip, aimed straight at the Green Knight’s waist.

I win.

“Neo Master Spark, FIRE!”

The cannon explodes, sending a devastating ray of light across the battlefield. It cuts a hole in the stomach of the Green Knight, tearing through layer upon layer of metal as if it was paper. The entire machine hangs in place, sword held above its head as it freezes.

As the laser dies down, Gawain Alexander and his machine topple backwards onto the ground.

[VICTORY!]

I swear, that word has never been so satisfying to read. I melt into my chair as the neural interface begins to break the links between me and the machine. The Black Star goes into shutdown, taking a well-earned rest of its own.

The speaker flickers back to life, this time accompanied by a small picture of Gawain’s face. The man is as pale as a ghost.

“...In all my years as a duelist, you’re the first person I’ve ever seen lean into the swing.”

Of course he’s shocked. By all accounts, he should have ended the fight with that last attack. But at the last moment, he held back.

“I figured you were a decent guy,” I tell him. “You don’t wanna kill anyone, do you?”

He’s silent, but his ashen face says more than words ever could.

“What if I hadn’t stopped?” he asks. I’m not sure if he’s talking to me or to himself. “If I’d kept going, I’d have killed you in an instant.”

I shrug. “Well, yeah. But that didn’t happen, so it doesn’t matter.”

Gawain struggles to find the words he’s looking for. I’m surprised when he starts to laugh instead.

“You...you love this country, don’t you?”

I tilt my head. “Come again?”

His face starts to brighten, as if the whole fight was a joke to him.

“At the critical moment, you chose to risk your life for the safety of Gensokyo. That sort of courage doesn’t come from a desire for money, power or fame. You were ready to die to keep this country from falling apart.”

Now it’s my turn to fall silent. Gawain’s grin is almost cheeky.

“I’ve struck a nerve, haven’t I? You’re one of those anti-heroes who cares more than she wants to admit.”

“Maybe,” I mutter. Dammit, why do I feel like I’m the one who lost here?

Gawain chuckles. “Worry not. Your secret is safe with me.”

I can tell he means it. He’s not the sort to lie. I sit up as the last wire pops out of my back.

“It’s been a pleasure fighting you,” Gawain says with a slight bow towards the camera. “I’ll be looking forward to a rematch...Marisa.”

I return the gesture. “Yeah. You too, Gawain.”

The monitor flickers out. I’m left alone, waiting for Nitori to pick me up. I’ll need to thank her when I get the chance. It’s thanks to her handy arsenal that I managed to take down Gawain’s shield in the first place.

A few minutes later the door opens, and my favourite kappa in the whole wide world steps in.

“So you did it.”

She’s acting stern, but I can see her whole body trembling. I bet she wants to hug me right now, but her pride won’t let her.

So I hug her instead.

“Did you ever doubt me?”

Nitori goes bright red, squirming in my grip and trying to get away. “W-Well, there was that moment at the end. But I don’t understand why Gawain didn’t finish you off.”

“Oh, there’s a story behind that.” I let go of her and let myself out, jumping into the passenger seat of the hovercraft. “But it’s a story best told over a victory toast, in my opinion. Don’t worry, drinks are on me tonight.”

Nitori takes the wheel beside me. She sighs, but finally allows herself to smile as the craft’s engines warm up.

“Can I keep to cucumber beer this time?”

I snatch the cap off her head, twirling it around with one finger. “Sorry, can’t make any promises on that count...”

  • Guest

Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - This Month, Consecutive Battles!
« Reply #17 on: June 17, 2012, 11:27:15 pm »
Aaaand I just realized my haiku post was supposed to be SPELLCARD haiku.

Screw it, I'm too lazy to fix it. :V

Uhhhh may or may not have something tonight. May the common cold forever burn in the deepest pits of Hell. *snuffles*

Von Stein

  • Just some insane airhead.
  • What's this newfangled stuff?
  • Gender: Metal! \m/
Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - This Month, Consecutive Battles!
« Reply #18 on: June 18, 2012, 04:37:09 am »
summary so zis is stori bout how i life got turned rite side down and u all sit right there, and im fresh prince yeah
narfuto rulz111!!!!!!!

so mima is totally the god of gensokyo and since she be back next game i figured i tel u just how Blasted awesome she is!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1111111111
imma tell you rite now so she roxxorz so hard its awesm!!!!!
so she fly over the shrine 1 day and ter wuz tha orkz
and tha orkz wanted to killz mima so they did moar dakka
and mima said cry moar and then the orkz wuz no more
it was so funneh with mima Amicably murdrin all the greenskinz
such a stron smoothy
but then the unpossbl happen
narfuto appear!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
and sht just got real mang, gots poses!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
narfuto and mima look at each other
world roundem began Disintegrating as they scouted each others powers
wuz totally over 90000000999999000000000!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
but then the unpossbl happen
they hugged and kissed and then they began undr

mum said i shuldnt write stuff like that so i wont
wont take what i wrot of so
so after they went to bar and drank some beer
the Fermented hops was strong in zis one and they killed anakin and jar
btw since star wars referenc now
vader rulzzzz11!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1111one111111

but then the unpossbl happen
kyuubei appear and something else and then Illicit activites happen and naruto and mima became hero
i know its all weird byt its tru!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
y u no believe me??????????????22222222222two?
then moar unpossbl happen
sora appear and kill everybody but i heldim off
narfuto and mima now dead i cried moar
but then mima realized she was a ghost anyways and did bad things to sora with his keyblade
then mickey appear and approve
then food
the party at the end was a Culinary awesomnes and everybody wuz happy, even tha orkz
and then there was more dakka

by the way i am looking for some gurlz so if you wanna hook up sned me some pms

sora is burnin in hell btw
vaders awesome

and no i wont become an hero!!!!!!!!
seacrest out





I am so dead for writing this.
I am so dead.
Just in case somebody decides to be a smart about it, the subject is spelled out up there. :V
Seacrest out.
Stein out too.

PS: The preceding fic does not reflect my personal believes.

PPS: And my PM box better not be full with responses to this tomorrow. :V
Can't think of a good signature.
More lilies maybe?

LogosOfJ

  • Nickname: Faithless Priest of VOID!
Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - This Month, Consecutive Battles!
« Reply #19 on: June 18, 2012, 08:20:37 am »
Since I'm running short on time,

Konpaku blade poems
Composed by Founder Youmu
Lessons through teaching

Blades do not suffice
Duality: dream and void
Cut! Into the world!

Reference within,
Example of Kirisame
Look where no-one leaps.

Cut, thrust, lunge, parry
Beauty shines in every move
Means nothing to death.

1, the start, unit
2, the fruit of the first cut,
void, the cut's substance

Forget fealty
Forget judgement from the hells
Forget argument

Win, over nature
Win, in battle, in choosing
Find such a method!

Beware what is here!
Improvement is possible!
Saying can distort.

strongly inspired by http://lesswrong.com/

LaserTurtle

  • Master of the lurk
  • *sips tea*
  • Nickname: As sane as you think I am
  • Gender: When applicable
Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - This Month, Consecutive Battles!
« Reply #20 on: June 20, 2012, 11:01:37 pm »
So, who agrees with me that the only way to start a fan fiction career is to make a shoddy self insert story in under 30 minutes?

Nobody?

aww...

When getting teleported against your will through an  ungodly rip in reality, I'm pretty sure that there are several places that people tend to end up. This, of course is based on my experience with various anime and book cliches, so you might want to take this speculation with a grain of salt.

First up: The lucky [insert swear word of your choice here]. He (or she) is inevitably the person who gets teleported straight to their soul mate, and they end up living happily ever after. Now, you don't hear about them in books, because that would generally make a rather uninteresting story. I'm just guessing they exist because the lucky people are everywhere, and I'm not one of them.

The next kind is the person who ends up going to a time or place of crisis, next to the device/people who can bring back peace. These are your textbook story examples. They become heroes and saviors, and everyone respects them in the end, even if they have to earn that respect. I'm actually sort of glad that I'm not one of them, because I wouldn't have the guts or motivation to save anything.

And then there are people like me. The unlucky ones. To illustrate what I'm talking about, here's what I had to go through.

Instead of being all "Wheee! Destination up ahead!" I got the detour route. It just so happened that the detour involved going through at least ten different dimensions, all filled with eyes and purpleness. I think my organs got rearranged in there or somewhere, because I still feel all queasy.

So, after that short mind-devouring detour, guess where my actual destination was.

Go on, guess.

Yup. Straight up in the air, probably thousands of miles away from the ground.

So, for the past couple of seconds, I've been falling and waiting for the splat on the ground. I'd be more concerned, but I've pretty much already accepted my fate.

Wait, are they having a firefight or something below me? There's colorful light explodey thingies everywhere. Looks like it's straight out of a video game.

And of course, I'm heading straight towards the fight. Fun.

~Girls are unwittingly destroying a poor guy, please wait warmly~

Oh god, now I hurt all over. Why am I not dead yet?

You know what? Scratch that. How the heck were they flying? You saw them too, right? That red and white shrine maiden? I ran into the other one on the way down, someone in a cape. Green hair, and antennae. Why did he she he that person have antennae? Flying cosplayers, seriously?

Bleh, I think some of my hair got into my mouth. Yuck.

Wait.

WAIT.

I didn't have long hair before.

Oh jeez, I didn't really pay attention to myself, did I? I guess that's a given, based on what's been happening for the last 30 seconds or so.

Anyway, that just tipped me off. I'm a girl now. What. Stupid ten-dimensional warpholes of demonic origin.

I hate this place already, and whoever got me into this stupid mess.

Really, the only way this can get worse and more cliche at the same time is if I ended up with amnesia, but that probably isn't going to happen. All my memories are intact, even how I got into this stupid mess. I'd tell you, but I've got an important meeting with the ground, sponsored by gravity in a couple of seconds..

~Boy Girl is landing, please wait warmly~

Ow, now I hurt all over. Wait. Where am I? Who am I? Why do I ache everywhere? How did I get here? What is going on? I am supposed to be a girl, right?

And why do I feel like the universe is laughing at my misfortune?
Off The Rails [complete!] 1  2 - Sharks jumped: Somewhere between one and all of them
Talking to yourself isn't a sign of madness. Expecting a reply is.
Stare too long into the abyss and the abyss stares back, and then it gets awkward until one of you breaks eye contact.

FinnKaenbyou

  • Formerly Roukanken
  • *
  • blub blub nya
  • LOOK AT ME
  • Nickname: Roukanken
  • Gender: i don't even know anymore
Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - This Month, Consecutive Battles!
« Reply #21 on: June 21, 2012, 08:32:19 am »
Quick note for everyone taking part - Iced won't be around for a while because his hands are full with a new job, so until further notice I'm gonna be running this event.

On that note, Week 3 Started Like Three Days Ago. That LaserTurtle story above me counts as week 3, so.

You've got until Sunday, guys. Good luck!

Dead Princess Sakana

  • Idiot Deity
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  • E is for Elodie, who swims with the fishes.
  • LOOK AT ME
  • Nickname: Sakana
Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - This Month, Consecutive Battles!
« Reply #22 on: June 24, 2012, 09:39:12 pm »
Alright, it's time for the battle!
This story would probably fit under several prompts we had in the WWC, but I was thinking of it for the "Job Swap" theme.
This story is actually related to another piece I wrote before (though only the prologue, I never got around to write much more). You don't have to know the original to read and enjoy this one.
Also, this is only the first half of the story, though it is finished in itself. It would just have been impossible to finish it all before the deadline though, so you get "only" this much for now.
But enough foreword! Enjoy the story~

I highly encourage you to read this story with the linked BGM by the way, it will enhance the experience  significantly :3





BGM: Drunken Irish Oni

The atmosphere in the large bar on the main street of Old Hell was great. Which, by oni standards, meant that several fist fights had already broken out, some passed out oni were lining the walls, and the air was as filled with alcoholic fumes as the drinkers were filled with alcohol. A local band of underground-youkai was playing a cheerful tune while waiters and waitresses weaved their ways through the customers, balancing giant mugs with almost artistic skill.

“And thish shtuff shey call alcohol up there? It’sh awful! Imposshible to get drunk off! And I tell you, I TELL YOU, I’ve tried!”

The large crowd gathered around a certain table in the middle of the room roared with laughter.

“How’sh an oni shupposhed to shurvive up there!”, the statement was followed by a large bang as the speaker smashed her fist on the table.

“Gyahahahaha, that’s what you get for wanting to see the world.”, another loud voice responded before yelling through the room. “Heh , another sake!”

Immediately one of the waiters, a spider-youkai, grabbed a pot of sake from the counter and started climbing up the walls and along the ceiling, making his way to where the voice had called from. When he reached the place above the table that the order had come from, he slowly lowered himself from the ceiling, carefully avoiding the spiky horns of the gathered oni. He was greeted by a large empty sake cup being  held in his direction, and as he filled it up he caught a look of the two people that were the center of the commotion.

He immediately recognized the pair, there was noone in Old Hell who wouldn’t have. They were two of the strongest oni around, Devas of the Mountain: Hoshiguma Yuugi and Suika Ibuki. The waiter frowned a bit as he noticed the latter.

This small oni-girl had left the underground years ago to explore the surface world and had since lived there. However, from time to time she would return down to Old Hell to tell people about her adventures in the world above. At those times nearly all the oni in the town would gather around to listen to her stories, giving the bar they chose for their gathering a hefty profit for that day. The only downside to this was that Suika herself was not a good customer at all. She didn’t order any drinks, instead preferring whatever she had in the seemingly endless gourd she always carried around. She also tended to go violent very quickly when she was drunk, often leaving the bar with more than just a few chairs to repair. But at the end of the night, the profits outweighed the expenses, and so Suika’s appearances were always looked forward to by everyone in Old Hell.

“… and shen, the neksht day, I wake up and I shee that thish ten… teng… that crow wrote shtupid shtuff about me! Sheriously, just look at that!”

The small oni reached into her bag and grabbed what looked like several pieces of paper folded into each other and threw it onto the table. The surrounding group drew closer, trying to catch a glimpse at what Suika had pulled out. Those of them that were lucky enough to see the papers right-side up could see the following:

Before them was a sheet of paper with many letters printed on it. The letters were arranged into words, the words into sentences, and the sentences were formed into blocks crowned by a larger short sentence. There were also pictures on the paper, one of them showing a giant-sized Suika stomping on a cart carrying cabbages and a man, likely the cart’s owner, running away in fear.

One of the oni next to Suika squinted and leaned in closer to look at the object before him.

“Whad… ish shish?”, he asked, swaying back and forth groggily.

“Thish! Thish ish an inshult!”, Suika shouted, waving her arms around in frustration, whacking the oni with the chain-ball attached to her wrist.

With a loud thump the oni fell over unconscious, while the rest of the group broke out into roaring laughter once more. Meanwhile, Yuugi stretched out her hand and grabbed the paper from the table.

“Hmm… Bunbunmaru Mainichi Shinbun? Is that one of those… what do they call it?”, she asked.

“Newshpaper! The crow callsh it a newshpaper!” Suika responded.

With a curious look Yuugi’s eyes flew across the page.

‘Malicious attack at midnight! Drunken oni goes on a rampage in the human village’. Sounds like you had a lot of fun up there, Suika”, she said with a grin.

“I’m telling you, it wash an accshident!”

“It also says you ate a whole cow, and that you had to be stopped by the Hakurei shrine maiden?”

“She’sh lying!”

“It does sound like you though, Suika”, Yuugi responded with a laugh.

“Well, it’sh shtill not true! And I bet that goesh for all the other shtuff in shere too!”, the drunk girl waved her arm at the newspaper.

Yuugi glanced through the other pages in her hand.

“Hmm, some of this does sound rather weird, but I don’t think it’s all-“, she started before being interrupted by Suika jumping onto the table.

“SHE’SH LYING!”, she shouted. “That crow’sh alwaysh lying! Making up shingsh to put in that…. that… newshpaper!”, she spat the last word out with disgust. “There’sh no way. NO WAY! She doesh thish everyday. Every! Shingle! Day! She hash to make thingsh up!”

“Oh, is that so?”, someone asked from the other side of the table.

Yuugi turned her head towards the voice. Her eyes went wide, then she broke into roaring laughter.

“Yesh, that ish sho! Jusht making thingsh up, musht be fun! Some real shtory here and there, and everyone’sh happy! I could do that too, it’sh no big deal!”

“Ah yes, I’m sure you could”, amusement sounded in the voice. “Why don’t you give it a try then, I’m sure you will do rather well.”

“YESH! That’sh what I’ll do! I’ll show her!”, Suika raised her fist into the air, striking a pose.

 Then she turned towards the voice.

“Thank you, my namelessh oni-comrad-“, Suika stopped. Leaning down towards the source of the voice, she squinted her eyes and concentrated hard. “I don’t think I have sheen you before… you look funny for an oni…”

A loud sounds could be heard as Yuugi fell from her chair in a laughing fit on the other side of the table.

“That would be, Miss Ibuki, because I am, in fact, not an oni.” A voice like dripping honey, spoken with the brightest of smiles. “I am rather sure you should recognize me though.”

Suika took a step on the table and leaned in so close that her face almost touched that of the person in front of her. For some seconds she stayed in that position. Then, her mouth fell open, and with a loud scream she jumped backwards, almost stumbling off the table.

“Aaaaaaah! Sham…sham… Shamumamaru Ayaya!”

“Shameimaru Aya, actually, but close enough, given your current state. Now then...”

The tengu stood up, extending the black wings on her back, which caused the surrounding oni to immediately jump aside. Then Aya reached to her wings and plucked a single feather from them. She jumped up to the table and edged in on Suika, who was still paralyzed from the shock she had received.

“Hmm, you don’t have wings so… this will do!”, Aya said as she grabbed the gourd from Suika’s waist and in return pushed the feather she had plucked into the little oni’s hands.

“Uugrh…?”,  the little girl groaned in confusion.

“The exchange of feathers! A traditional way for a tengu to welcome a new pupil! You said you could be a reporter easily, and I’ll give you the chance to prove your words!”, the woman grinned as she grabbed the oni-girl’s hand and turned towards the exit.

“Frgh… wai…”, Suika tried to form coherent words of resistance.

“Now everyone, hope you don’t mind if I take care of this one for a few days. In exchange, I’ll just leave you someone who can tell a few nice stories until I return Suika! Tsubasa!”

The last word was shouted at a young tengu that was intently watching the band’s performance. The girl turned around.

“Eh?”

“This one here volunteered to try out your job for a bit”, Aya pointed to Suika, “so you can stay here and make some new friends, okay?”

The girl’s face changed from a puzzled look to a terrified one.

“Wait… what do you…”, she started.

But she was too late. As soon as Aya had finished her speech, she had left the bar with incredibly speed, leaving a room full of confused oni behind.

As Tsubasa stared at the still swinging door in disbelief, someone walked up to her.

“So, Tsubasa’s your name, right?”, Yuugi asked her as she put a hand on the tengu’s shoulder. “I heard you tengu like drinking…”



Suika awoke with a groan. Her memory was hazy, and the splitting headache she felt told her the reason for that.

“Urgh, I need a drink…”

She reached out to her waist, reaching for her gourd, only to find her hand grasping nothing but thin air.

“Eh…?”

She tried once more, with the same results.

“….. Aaaaaaah!”

With a loud scream, the small oni jumped down from the bed and ran towards the exit of the room.

“Where’s my gour-“, she screamed as she pushed open the door and stepped outside. A split second later her shouting changed into a scream as she found herself plummeting.

“Aaaaaargbwoof”

When Suika came to, the first thing she saw was the house she had stepped out of high above her. Leaning down from the small platform in front of the door, looking at the fallen oni, was Aya.

“Good morning, Miss Ibuki. That was quite a ruckus you made there, it’s good to be energetic in the morning!”

“Wha- the crow? Why are you… where am I?”

“You don’t remember? Well, I guess that was to be expected given your state last night.”

The little oni stared at Aya in confusion.

“Wait…”

Suika closed her eyes and concentrated.

‘Okay, I remember I went drinking with Yuugi’, she thought, ‘and then I… right, I said something about that newspaper… and… I think she was there and…’

Little by little Suika’s memories pieced themselves back together. She opened her eyes and stared at Aya once more.

‘Oh god… ‘

With a groan Suika slapped her own forehead.

Up above, Aya looked amused.

“It appears you remember what happened, that’s good. Now as for your gourd, that is stored away safely until your work here is done. No being drunk on the job”, the tengu explained, then added with a serious look, “And please don’t even think of trying to get out of this by force. The exchange of feathers is a sacred rite, and while I can’t say if I could beat you in a fight, I know for sure that you would not stand a chance against Lord Tenma himself. Plus, I do not think you want another article about yourself going on a rampage to be published, no?”

The oni and tengu stared at each other in silence for a while.

“… how long?”, Suika finally asked without any enthusiasm.

“Hmm, I think a single day should suffice. Just for today, you will be a freelance reporter for the BunBunMaru! We have an issue to put together for tomorrow, and you’re gonna be part of making it happen. Then we’ll see if you will keep up your silly accusations, Miss Ibuki.”, Aya responded with a smile.

“Drop that ‘Miss’ stuff, crow! Just Suika is fine!”

“If you say so, Suika. Well then, it would be nice if you could get up here so we can start our work. Or would you happen to need help?”, the tengu grinned.

“No thanks, I’m fine!”, Suika snapped at her as she pulled herself up and unsteadily floated a few feet up into the air, only to fall back down again.

‘Argh, just how much did I drink yesterday?’

“… okay, maybe I *do* need help! So what?”, she pouted.

With a swift motion, Aya let herself fall from the platform and swooped down at Suika, wrapping her arms about the oni’s waist as she rose back up with a strong beating of her wings.

“Heh, what are you-“, Suika started to complain, only to be silenced by Aya immediately.

“Shh. This is the first time you see it properly, right? You should enjoy this moment, daybreak is always nice to watch here.”

Suika turned her head and looked at Aya in confusion, but the tengu just motioned her to look ahead as she rose up even further, passing by the house that the two had spent the night in.

BGM: A rustling of feathers in the morning

“Welcome to the Tengu Village, Ibuki Suika! You may very well be the first oni to ever see it like this!”

Suika tried to respond, but the view that suddenly appeared before her just left her mouth hanging open in awe.

The Tengu Village was a magnificent sight. From their position Suika could see that the house they had been in, which she figured was Aya’s, was actually at the very edge of the village. Behind it, illuminated by the morning sun, there were a large number of similar houses of all sizes. Suika could see small hut-like buildings, most likely for living and storage. In between them was the occasional larger house, some of which had large iron chimneys protruding from their roofs. The only thing all the buildings had in common was that they were constructed on large stilts, making them look like bird’s nests high above the ground. Connecting all houses in the village were wooden suspension bridges, which made the whole place look like a giant spider’s web. And at the far end of the village, elevated above all the other buildings, Suika could see a large structure that could only be described as a palace, watching majestically over the rest of the village.

“The Hall of Feathers, Lord Tenma’s residence, and the political center of the village”, Aya explained as she noticed her ‘passenger’ staring at the building.

Suika also noticed that all the living quarters seemed to have two entrances: One that led to the bridges, and another that led only to a small platform like the one she had fallen from earlier.

“Any moment now…”, she heard Aya say behind her.

As if the tengu had given the cue, a deep and powerful sound broke the silence.

“A bell?”, Suika asked, turning her head towards Aya, who only nodded.

“Watch”, the tengu responded.

For a few seconds the village seemed to stand completely still as the echoes of the bell faded away.
Then, Suika saw movement. From one of the houses, a tengu stepped out onto the platform, stretched his body with a big yawn, and jumped. After he passed half the distance to the ground he extended his wings, breaking his fall and swooping upwards in a graceful curve. The same was happening everywhere around the village. The air was soon filled with the sound of beating wings and rustling feathers as hundreds of tengu rose into the air and scattered all throughout the village to start their daily activities.

“This is how Tengu Village wakes up every day”, Aya started to explain. “Every morning around this time the currents are quite strong here, so it’s easy to fly at a high speed and get around quickly. The bell tells us when it’s time to ride the winds and get the day started. I assure you though, it’s nowhere near as nice as it look from afar when you are instead in the middle of it”, she laughed. “You’ve got to be careful not to crash into someone. That said, we should move as well! Hold on tight!”

Before Suika could muster a response, Aya had already propelled the pair forward with a strong beating of her wings, catching a current in the air and flying rapidly towards the village. Within seconds, Suika found herself yelling out in fear as the crow tengu weaved her way between chimneys, under bridges, narrowly passing over rooftops and just barely avoiding head-on crashes with other tengu soaring through the air. From time to time Aya would slow down to greet acquaintances of hers, giving the oni-girl just enough time to catch a breath before the wild ride started up once again. Then, just as she feared she was about to faint, Suika felt herself being set down.

“Wait here for a second”, Aya commanded the swaying and disoriented oni and ran off, only to return a minute later carrying a small woolen bag.

Grabbing one of the oni’s hands, Aya poured the contents of the bag into Suika’s palm. Suika stared at the green powder in confusion.

“It’s called ‘The Legendary Drinker of Youkai Mountain’, a traditional recipe against hangovers. Go on, eat it.”

Suika looked back and forth between her hand and Aya, then slowly brought the substance to her mouth and swallowed the powder. The effect was instant, and unlike anything Suika had ever felt before. Every last remnant of alcohol seemed to immediately have vanished from her body, leaving her with a completely clear mind and an energetic feeling she hardly had experienced before.

“Whoooooah”, was the only response that she could muster.

“So it does work on oni too, good to know!”, Aya said happily as she scribbled something into her notebook. “You should be able to fly on your own again now, so it’s time to officially make you a reporter Follow me!”

With those words, the tengu rose into the air again. Suika, still slightly shocked by the unfamiliar feeling of being sober, shook her head a few times and quickly leaped up after her.

“Where are we going now? To the palace?” the oni asked as she noticed which direction they were heading in.

“Not quite the palace itself”, Aya responded. She noticed that her follower let out a small disappointed sigh before she continued. “We are going to the administration office to get you a temporary journalist pass, so you can officially work for me.”

“A… pass?”, Suika asked, never having heard of this kind of thing before.

“It’s basically a piece of paper that shows that you are you and that you are allowed to do certain stuff. When the tengu became more organized years after the unification under Lord Tenma, we also saw an increase in regulations and rules to follow. Most of them are rather useful, but they can be irritating at times too. Anyway, if we don’t get you this pass, it could get me into trouble, so let’s just get it over with!”, Aya explained as she landed on the large wooden area in front of the Hall of Feathers and headed for one of the smaller building at the edge of the square, Suika following close behind.

When they entered the building, Suika let out a shriek.

“Gah! What *is* that?”, she shouted, pointing at something inside the room.

There, behind a large wooden  counter, sat a creature that was by all accounts a tengu, but unlike any that Suika had ever seen before. The man seemed to be rather old, judging by the sparse grey hair on his balding head, and the large grey wings on his back. He was also wearing the traditional small tengu-headwear. What made him stand out though, were his face and skin. His whole body was tinted deep red, and a comically large nose protruded from his face.

“That is a bureaucrat. Scary, I know”, Aya responded, half laughing.

“That’s a tengu?”, Suika asked her, ignoring the disapproving looks the man was shooting  both her and Aya.

“Of course it is. But I guess you would never have seen a hanataka before, they don’t leave the village much. Most people outside only ever see us crow tengu when we are out for our business, and maybe the wolf tengu if you happen to go near the mountain. There’s more clans and races amongst us tengu than just those two though, and the hanataka are one of them. I think it’s not much different for you oni, right?”

Suika looked lost in thought for a second.

“Hmm, that’s true. There’s the red oni, the blue oni. Those with one horn and those with two… I guess I just never thought about it before…”

“Well, just consider yourself lucky. The last time an oni saw a hanataka they were probably trying to kill each other, back during the time of the oppression.”

With those words Aya moved up to the counter and exchanged a few words with the hanataka, who shot Suika another glance before pulling out a piece of paper from under his desk and handing it to Aya along with a pen.

“Race: Oni… Status: Apprentice… Mentor/Contact: Aya Shameimaru”, the tengu-woman muttered as she filled out the form she had been given.

When she handed the paper back to the hanataka he took out a pair of small glasses and put them on, giving him an even more haughty look. He intently checked over the paper in silence, until he finally gave a small nod and turned towards Suika.

“Step over here please”, he said.

Suika stepped over to the counter. When she arrived, the hanataka reached under the counter once more and brought up a small camera.

“Now, if you would maintain a neutral expression.”

“Wha-“*FLASH*”-gah!”

With a whirring sound a small piece of paper came out of the camera’s bottom. The tengu grabbed it and stared at it for a few seconds, waiting for the picture to become visible. When it did, he looked up and down between the oni standing before him and the photograph, until he gave another small nod. He applied a bit of glue to the photo and slapped it down onto the form that Aya had filled out. Then he folded the paper in half and handed it to Suika.

“Here, your temporary journalist pass. Now…”, he paused for a moment, “enjoy your stay in the village.” He quickly forced out the last words and turned to Aya. “And you, please take proper care of your responsibilities, Miss Shameimaru.”

As the pair left the office, Suika opened the pass.

“I look silly!”, she complained.

“It’s just for a day”, Aya responded, “We’re already lucky that he didn’t make a fuss over giving you the pass. Due to the history between tengu and oni, many tengu still hold prejudices and grudges against your race.”

“Hmm…”, the oni responded in a disinterested tone.

When Aya turned around, she chuckled. Just for a moment she had seen a small smile form on Suika’s face as she looked at the pass once more and put it away in her clothes.

“Now that you are officially my apprentice and therefore allowed to pursue journalistic activities, it’s time to get you some equipment! Just bear with me dragging you around for a bit more, okay?”, Aya informed Suika of the next step.

“Equipment… you mean?”, the oni’s expression brightened.

‘Got you!’, Aya thought while grinning.

“At the very least, let’s see, you’ll need a notebook, a pen and…”, she paused.

Suika was standing right before her, an expectant look in her eyes, lightly swaying back and forth as she waited for the tengu’s next words.

“… a camera!”



The next destination the oni-tengu-pair arrived at was the large, chimney-topped building that everyone in the village generally referred to as “The Pool”.
While this name was not technically false, it was not representative of the facility’s main function. The Pool was one of the very few buildings that were not mainly owned and operated by the tengu. Instead, it was a facility that stemmed from the cooperation between the tengu and another race that lived on Youkai Mountain: The kappa, who were responsible for the creation, maintenance and distribution of all the advanced equipment and machinery needed for journalism.
Since having to transport complete printing machines halfway up the mountain would have been a nearly impossible feat, Lord Tenma and the kappa chiefs had agreed on the construction of a research and development facility for the kappa right in the middle of the tengu village. Because kappa were dependent on water for living, the building also had been equipped with a large swimming pool, which earned it its nickname.
At first the Pool was used exclusively by the kappa, but soon tengu had started to develop an interest in helping out around the facility. While reluctant at first, the kappa later decided to take on tengu apprentices. It was from this cooperation that the class of yamabushi tengu was born, a class that consisted mostly of crow and wolf tengu, whose job it was to perform maintenance on the equipment all around the village, while the kappa could focus more on research and the actual construction and improvement of the machines.
When Aya finally finished her explanation of the place, Suika felt dizzy from all the new information she had already received today. When they entered the building, arriving at the large swimming pool inside, the tengu looked around.

“Hmm, now who’s in charge today… oh!”, she started waving towards someone a short distance away. “Nitori! Didn’t know you were visiting today.”

The girl in question turned around and looked surprised, then she smiled as she recognized Aya.

“Oh hello there, Miss Shameimaru! I was called in quite suddenly because of a special visitor that arrived. But tell me, what are you doing here? And with an… oni? That’s quite the unusual sight”, the kappa asked.

“It’s a bit of a long story, but let’s just say I’m helping out for a bit”, Suika answered.

“Actually the story is not that long: She got drunk, said silly things, and now she’s here to learn better!”, Aya laughed.

Suika groaned, but kept quiet.

“Before we can get to work though, Suika needs a camera, so we were going to get one from the depot. Do you happen to know who’s in charge of that today?”

Nitori thought for a few seconds.

“Hmm, that would be Kimori, but I think she just left for an errand. No worries though, I’ve got a few minutes right now, so I will take care of it! Right this way please!”, the kappa answered and started to walk at a fast pace.

Through a number of doors and corridors the group soon arrived in what looked like the most well-organized storage room Suika had ever seen. Along the walls thousands of cameras were lined up on shelves, as well as additional equipment like tripods, camera-bags and of course mountains of rolls of film. The little oni’s mouth was left agape as she gazed upon this compilation of kappa-genius. She did not even understand the function of half the things in the room, and they instilled a feeling of awe in her.

“Here we are! What kind would you like?”, Nitori asked.

“She’s a strong one, so something sturdy would be nice. Oh, and I don’t think she’s ever used a camera before, so an easy to use type would be appreciated.”

Immediately upon receiving this information, Nitori started stepping quickly along the rows of shelves, until she came to a sudden stop, reached into the depths of the shelf without any hesitation and pulled out a camera. Then she walked back over to the waiting pair and handed her choice to Suika. The oni looked down at what she had received. The camera in her hands looked a bit more clunky than the one she had seen Aya use before, but the weight felt comfortable.

“We made this one to be used in difficult environments where crashing into things would be hard to avoid. The exterior is purely made of metal, so it should be hard to break even for an oni. ”

Suika barely listened to the explanation as she raised the camera to her eyes and looked through the viewfinder.

“It’s an instant-picture camera, and it’s already loaded with a roll of film. I will also put some additional ones into the bag that goes with the camera,  so you are all set to-“*click**FLASH* “-gah!”

*Swrrrr*
The camera made a small sound as it ejected a piece of paper from its bottom. Suika grabbed it and stared at it intently as the picture on it began to show.

Nitori sighed. “It appears you do not need any further advice. Now then, if you would excuse me please”, the kappa said and left the room.

“Wow, I haven’t used one of those in ages”, Aya said as she looked at Suika’s camera. Then she walked over to another shelf and grabbed a notebook and pen. “Here, you will need those to-“*click**FLASH*”-gah!”*Swrrrr*

“You really don’t need flash for everything, you know!”

“Oh, sorry!”

*click**Swrrr*

Aya let out a sound that was halfway between a laugh and a sigh as she walked over to Suika and just pushed the pen and notebook into the oni’s camera bag.

“Now, let’s go. There’s a lot more interesting stuff waiting out there, Suika!”, Aya declared, pushing the oni out of the room.

*click**Swrrrr*



BGM: There’s something in the water

By the time they arrived back at the entrance hall of the Pool, Suika had already used up the film in her camera and urged Aya to teach her how to put in a new roll. The tengu grew increasingly surprised of how much the girl was getting into this, especially given the circumstances of how this apprenticeship came to be in the first place.

“So, now we get to the part where we make stuff up to fit pictures we take, right?”, Suika asked as the two passed by the pool once more, heading towards the exit.

“I told you, we don’t make stuff up! All the news in the BunBunMaru are—“, Aya paused as her eyes caught something moving in the pool. She blinked once, then twice. “What *is* that?”, she shouted.

“What?”, Suika looked confused.

“This! Over there!”, Aya started pointing in the direction of the pool.

When Suika followed the tengu’s finger, she finally saw the source of her reaction. There in the water was a creature the two had never seen before. From what they could make out it had a small build, similar to a kappa. What stood out about it thought were its front and back. At the front, on its face, the creature had a comically large duck-like beak. Meanwhile from its behind protruded a flat but wide tail, like a beaver’s. The creature moved through the water with smooth moves, heading for the edge of the pool, where it climbed out quickly.

“What *is* that?”, Suika repeated the question Aya had already asked. “You are the reporter here, shouldn’t you know?”

“Uhm… it’s… it’s… a… duckbeaver!”, Aya blurted out.

“Eh?”

“A duckbeaver! You know, just like there are crow and wolf tengu, the duckbeaver kappa is a subspecies of the kappa that-“, she stuttered an explanation.

However, the tengu was cut short by a shout from across the room.

“Excuse me! I’m *not* a duckbeaver, such a thing does not exist! I’m a platypus!”

When the tengu and oni looked over to the voice’s owner, they noticed that the girl had taken off her beak, which was apparently a kind of mask used only for swimming. Her tail, however, appeared to be an actual part of her body.

“Have you ever heard of such a thing?”, Suika asked.

“Not once…”, Aya answered, slightly red from the embarrassment she had just suffered.

Just then, quick footsteps could be heard as a familiar figure ran up to the platypus-girl.

“Oh, you must be Miss Marin, so you were here after all! I’ve been looking all over the place for you!”, Nitori’s voice sounded through the hall.

“Ah, Miss Nitori! It’s a pleasure to finally meet one of the kappa’s greatest minds in person.”, the girl responded, immediately forgetting about Aya and Suika.

“So, I was told you wanted to test a new invention of yours?”, the kappa asked her guest as she motioned her to a door leading away from the pool

“Yes, you see…”, Marin responded as they passed through the door.

*click**Swrrrr*

Aya flinched at the sudden sound. When she turned around, Suika held another fresh photograph in her hand.

“Ha, still got them!”, Suika declared triumphantly.

Then Suika’s hands moved quickly. She reached down to her bag, pulling out the notebook and pen Aya had equipped her with earlier. She opened the notebook and put the picture she just took on the first page. Then the oni readied her pen, closed her eyes in thought for a few seconds, before she finally started writing.
Aya watched in surprise as Suika’s face showed utmost concentration and her pen moved at a fast pace across the page of her notebook. The tengu quickly moved around to catch a glimpse of what the oni was working on. What she saw was the following:

Mad scientists uniting – Gensokyo in trouble?

Today at the kappa’s research institute in Tengu Village, commonly known as the Pool, renowned genius Kawhatever (Note: I just can’t remember those names) Nitori met with a mysterious creature duckbeaver visitor. The person, claiming to be a platipuss (Note: look up spelling?) of the name Marin, is apparently a scientist and researcher just like Nitori. Information exclusively available to us suggests that the two are planning to participate in a joined experiment, the exact contents and goals of it however remain unknown. Could this be another incident looming at the horizon? (Note: Ask Reimu what she thinks!)


Suika nodded with determination as she put away her pen again.

“Suika… do you know what you just…”, Aya said slowly.

As if she was snapping out of a trance, the oni stared at Aya in surprise.

“Eh… I… I was just… kinda copying how you… I sometimes read the… you know…”, she stammered an incoherent response.

“This… this really isn’t half bad. Looks like this day is gonna be quite interesting in more ways than one! I didn’t know you could do this, is it because you are sober for once?”, Aya was getting more and more excited.

“I… don’t understand…”, Suika was still confused.

“Ibuki Suika, you just wrote your very first news article for the Daily BunBunMaru!”




And that's the end of the first half of the story. Curious about what else Suika and Aya will experience? Sorry, but you'll have to wait a few more days .
Also, credit for Marin goes to Roukan, and thanks for giving me permission to use her for this story.  ;)

Von Stein

  • Just some insane airhead.
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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - This Month, Consecutive Battles!
« Reply #23 on: June 25, 2012, 05:10:26 am »
Autumn's leaves fall down
Shizuha, crimson goddess
whirls into battle

Met by fresh blossoms
Lily, spring's joyous herald
agrees to join her

Rustling canopy
Orange and red and yellow
Serenity lost

Opening petals
A colorful explosion
laughter splits the air

Barrage of small lights
A leaf, fallen, flies through
goddess smiles, unharmed

Gentle floating lights
Cheering, a young girl dances
Herald laughs, untouched

Will-o-wisps fly now
Hurricane of spring and fall
Blossoms and red leaves

Herald and Goddess
Autumn and Fall, never met
Come together now

Herald and Goddess
Just two girls out of season
Finding the right time

Two girls, laughter now
Monsoon of birth and death now
Battle's end draws near

No bullet ends this
No pedal, no blossom, no
Two girls just embrace

...
...

Letty, winter's soul
Yuuka, Demon of Flowers
Two faces, two palms.





Subject of entry
Selfexplanatory is
Hope you do enjoy
Can't think of a good signature.
More lilies maybe?

capt. h

  • Only sane townie
Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - This Month, Consecutive Battles!
« Reply #24 on: June 25, 2012, 05:53:14 am »
This theme is Wild West

***

It was sometime around 1885 that Gensokyo appeared in the New Mexico Territory. Nobody knows why it appeared there and then. Gensokyo was supposed to be in Japan, was supposed to have been sealed for a hundred years, and was supposed to be a lot of things. Me? I let the academics sort that out. I’m a simple woman with simple goals, trying to make a living in the untamed wilds.

And I reckon nothing is simpler than the want of gold, ze? Course, getting the stuff is hard. These Americans like to keep their gold and money away from a poor thief like me. Not every train has cash or gold. Not even half of them have much of worth. But when they do have cash, they have a lot of it. I’m not familiar with the economics of transport’n it east to west and west to east, but I know they send the stuff all over.

As we sit overlookin’ the tracks, my buddy speaks up “This one,” she says. Her name’s Nazrin, has a real knack for sniffing gold out. Don’t know what she does with it. Never asked. But what she lacks in firepower she has in nosing the stuff out. “Gold. A lot of it.”
   
“Well what’r we waiting for? That gold ain’t gonna take itself, ze?” I say, mounting my broom. Ah, one of the two tools that make us the most feared outlaws in the west. Most bandits are stuck with horses, but us? We fly, and my broom’s the fastest in the west. Heck, no sense being modest, I figure my broom’s the fastest ride anywhere. Nazrin gets on, I shout “Ye-haw!”, and the wind rushes past my face as I run down that train. Only takes a second to pull up next to it.

“A little further,” Nazrin tells me, directing me to the car right behind the coal car. “The front of that one.” I pull up next to the car and take out the second tool I’m feared for, a nice little magical reactor that livens up any heist.

I aim my “mini-hakkero” at the side of the train and let out a wail, “LOVE-COLORED MASTER SPARK!” A beam of my special brand of magic rips through the car. “There’s our door, ze!”

“As unnecessarily destructive as always,” Nazrin deadpans. She never did have proper appreciation for my brand of magic. The train’s brakes screech along the rails with that lovely ear-piercing sound of a successful heist. Well, I reckon it’s not successful until we pick up our gold. As the train stops, Naz takes out her pistol. I set my broom down and aim my hakkero at the car, Nazrin aims likewise.

I shout towards the car, “Now here’s the deal, ze. This ain’t your gold. This is the bank’s gold. No sense in you dying for the banks money, understand? Now I reckon you two’ve got family waitin’ for you at home. And we’re not ones to separate you from your families. No sense bein’ a hero for the banks gold when you have young’uns waiting for you at home. Now I’m gonna count to 3. And you’re gonna drop your guns and come out of that car by 3, or I’m gonna blast you out of the car, got it?” I pause. “1. 2.”

“We surrender!” one of the guards says, throwing his weapon out the hole. A second gun is thrown, and two men leave the train with their hands in the air.

 “Wise choice. Naz, tie ‘em up.”

Nazrin gets the rope out and begins tying their hands a safe distance from the car. “You gonna clear it out?”

“Yep.” I say, charging my hakkero again. “Love-colored master spark.” Magical energy roars through the air and tears off the roof. “Looks clear to me,” I say. I step up onto the wooden floor of the car and approach a scorched safe. With a little magic to melt off the lock, I’m in, and who-boy, did I hit big.

“Hey Naz, must be at least 30 bars in here!”

“Told you. Gold. A lot of it.” Finishing up with the guards, she hands me a bag and begins stuffing her own. Even divvied across 5 of them the bags nearly split from the weight.

“Alright Naz, let’s saddle up!” I say, tying down the last of our haul to my broom. The two of us get on, whizzing away before any unneeded attention catches up to us. “I think we’ve got enough gold to last us a lifetime, ze!”

Nazrin replies terse as always, “For me, a lifetime. For you, a week.”
« Last Edit: June 25, 2012, 06:16:24 am by capt. h »

FinnKaenbyou

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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - This Month, Consecutive Battles!
« Reply #25 on: June 25, 2012, 08:59:36 am »
Week 3 Is Over.

Week 4 Begins!

Alfred F. Jones

  • Estamos orgullosos del Batallón Lincoln
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  • y de la lucha que hizo por Madrid
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Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - This Month, Consecutive Battles!
« Reply #26 on: June 25, 2012, 08:45:32 pm »
Now modified to be the week 4 Librarian entry instead.

Theme: Dreams.



Rapiemur

She had picked up a book a week ago, and since then had not been able to put it down for more than a few hours at a time. When having a tea break, she read it with one hand. When eating lunch, she had Koakuma read it to her (no good bibliophile, in her eyes, could risk a book being damaged or stained by negligence). When bathing, Koakuma was again the narrator. When sleeping, she slept with it by her side, finger stuck in the book to keep track of what page she was on. For being a lover of books, she could never remember to keep bookmarks nearby. That, and she had a tendency to fall asleep while reading.

Above all, she never put a book down for more than half an hour while she was caught up in reading it.

This was the sort of person Patchouli Knowledge was.

That was how her day began, as well. She woke up, found her page, and read for a few minutes before finally getting out of bed and drinking tea while reading with the book in the other hand. This was the sort of story she liked: engaging and long. Short stories were easy to come by; good short stories less so. But the problem with them was that they ended too quickly, when she wanted to spend more time in that universe.

Then she went off to bathe, and relaxed in the water while listening to Koakuma narrate. She lay in a tub, and Koa sat in a chair, curtained window to the side and Patchouli behind her, and all the while she enjoyed Koakuma's range of voices and temperaments for the characters. Koa had different values than she did, and sometimes liked characters Patchouli didn't, and vice versa; her narration would reflect that. Patchouli had found that while she sometimes disagreed with Koa's take on characters, she would sometimes illuminate different aspects of a character Patchouli hadn't seen yet.

Long dress, comfortable robe. She was off to the library with Koa by her side. Patchouli was still reading, but had long since committed to muscle memory the amount of steps and turns needed to get there without looking.

“Steps” was figurative; she mostly hovered these days.

It was now afternoon; the sun was high in the sky outside. The light would have damaged the books of Voile centuries ago, which is why Patchouli always kept the curtains closed. Or maybe it was that so many years living with two vampires in the house had managed to turn her off to the idea of daylight. Why couldn't it be both?

She sent Koakuma off for tea. (“What will you be having, Patchouli-sama?” “Some Earl Grey would be nice today, Koakuma. Thank you.”) Alone in the library but for the quiet fairy maids dusting the bookshelves, she drew her book out and opened it up from where her finger marked the paragraph where she'd left off.

She was so absorbed by the story that it took her a few moments to notice her visitor.

It wasn't Marisa. No book was engaging enough to block out the noise of her explosive entrances. Nor was it Koakuma; the tea couldn't be done yet. And it wasn't Sakuya, because she never bothered with stealth when it wasn't around her master, the showoff.

And even though Flandre had recently mastered the art of walking through the mansion calm enough to not destroy things by accident (mostly), it wasn't her, either.

Well, this was unexpected.

“Come in,” she greeted her.

A less trained eye would notice the short vampire's relaxed pose and shudder at the confidence she exuded at every turn. A more trained eye would notice that it was a show.

Patchouli was neither of those. Instead, she was her best friend, and she could sense when Remi was shaken and trying to hide it.

It was in the position of her fingers. Remilia thought her hands and fingers were her most beautiful physical aspect, and she had a hobby of making them flutter or putting them in odd poses. That was when she was truly relaxed and confident, which was upwards of ninety percent of the time.

The other ten percent, her hands were deathly still-- Remilia trying to keep a hold of herself.

Patchouli watched as Remilia walked to her table after so soundlessly closing the door behind her. Her stride was confident, her eyes bright, her hair perfect. Her performance was seamless, except for her unmoving hands.

Remilia walked to her side and stood there for a moment. Patchouli had to tread carefully. She wasn't in any danger, but simple consideration for her friend's pride prevented her from asking her outright what had disturbed her.

“Good afternoon, Remi.”

Good afternoon: the indication that Patchouli had some hint of what was going on. It was daylight, and yet Remilia was out of bed. Remi: the nickname that spoke to how deep their bond was.

Remilia reached out and touched the librarian's shoulder, fingers first and then palm. It was a light touch, but with Remilia, no action was insignificant. She had wanted to reassure herself of Patchouli's physical presence. Why?

“I'm still here, Remi,” Patchouli offered.

Remilia's fingers froze, then she dropped her hand to the side, but her fingers weren't nearly as frozen as before.

“I see that now.”

What a curious thing to say.

The mystery grew deeper, and so did Patchouli's worry.

“You're worried about me.”

A simple statement of fact. Patchouli wasn't surprised; after all, if Remilia's tell was her fingers not moving, Remilia would surely have picked up on her own tell after a few decades.

Patchouli's eyes lowered a bit, and her mouth formed a thin line.

“You made me worry.”

Remilia was the more expressive of the two; Patchouli had always had much more muted expressions next to her, and as the head of the house, Remilia had no competitors, so there was no need for a constant poker face. Still, it spoke volumes that Remilia sighed in relief and gave her a smile.

“I'm just so glad you're still here.”

Patchouli could say nothing; she knew that her eyes widening had done all the speaking for her. Remilia, for her part, pulled over the nearest chair and sat about a foot away from her.

“I couldn't sleep,” Remilia said. “I had a dream.”

“A dream that woke you up in the middle of the day,” Patchouli replied, “is not an ordinary dream.”

“Heh.” Remi leaned her head down and to the left, letting her hair fall off her shoulder and down the side of her face. “A nightmare is a type of dream.”

There were so many jokes she could have made then; the lord of the night, the queen of vampires, suffering a nightmare?

But that was for strangers. Patchouli was her best friend. She stayed quiet. Remi had once said that she appreciated having her around just to listen, and listen she would.

“I dreamt... that I woke up one night, and Sakuya wasn't there to greet me.” Remilia laid her hands on the table in front of her, intertwined her fingers together. “I walked out of my room and down the hall, and there were no fairy maids. I went to Sakuya's quarters, and she wasn't there. I went to Voile, and you weren't there. I went to your room, and you weren't there. I went to Koakuma's room, next to yours, and she wasn't there either.”

Patchouli watched as Remilia's hands steadily turned a paler shade of white.

“I went to the basement. I thought maybe somehow Flan had escaped, or brought all of you down to play with her. Flan wasn't there either. Not even her clothes were there anymore. She was just gone. And so were all of you. It was daylight, but I didn't think anything of walking out without a parasol; it was a dream, it didn't occur to me. Meiling was gone. I flew over to the Misty Lake; those fairies that always play there were gone. I flew towards the human village, and I didn't see a single youkai in the forest, or even birds or animals. I arrived in the human village, and there was no Kamishirasawa Keine to keep me out. There was no one in the streets. No Fujiwara no Mokou running to kick me out, no humans at all to hide in their houses and stare at me in fear.”

It unnerved Patchouli to see such a blank look of uncomprehending horror on Remilia's face as she recounted her dream, as if she were there again in her mind.

“There was just... nothing. The Hourai immortals were gone. The Sanzu was unattended. The Hakurei maiden, gone. The Gate to the Netherworld, unguarded. And so was everyone and everything else.”

She shook her head, closed her eyes.

“All that remained was me, and the wind moving through the trees with no one else but me to hear it.”

Remilia's hands were shaking. Her eyes were still closed.

Since Remilia wasn't looking, she wouldn't be embarrassed by Patchouli putting her hands over Remi's own.

She rested her fingers against the bony vampire's, feeling how cold they were, and stopping them from shaking. She did that for a few moments, then:

“I'm still here, Remi.”

Remilia nodded, eyes still closed, but she turned her hands upward to hold Patchouli's in her own.

“Yes,” she said, “and I forgot how much I appreciate that until today.”

Patchouli smiled.

“I'm not going to leave, Remi. I promise.”

The blue-haired vampire nodded again, the shaking in her hands going away the longer they absorbed Patchouli's warmth.

“I will... hold you to that.”

Patchouli smiled, a bit wider this time, squeezing Remi's hands in her own.

“I haven't left my library in a century. And those are just books, you know?”

There was no way Remilia could not have realized what she was really saying.

You're so much more important to me than a library.

“... Thank you, Patchy.”

Remi released Patchouli's hands. Patchouli released hers. Remilia pulled her hands back onto the desk, and the fingers were beginning to twitch once more.

“Now,” she began, “I have to go visit Flandre and hug her. Then go outside and check on Meiling. And when Sakuya gets back from shopping, I'll make her let me hug her too. And then go back to sleep.”

She hopped off her chair, turned to see Patchouli, smiled. “Say hi to Koakuma for me, as well.”

“I will.” Patchouli nodded. “And if you ever have a dream like that again... you can come talk to me about it.”

Remilia laughed, and Patchouli was reassured. “Certainly.” She turned, waved her hand up in the air as she walked off. “Now, don't let me ruin your reading or anything. I'd hate to cause trouble for you.”

“What do you mean?” Patchouli asked, confused.

“Are you saying,” Remilia began, half-turning again as she opened the door to leave, “that you haven't noticed your own nervous tell?”

Patchouli shook her head. “Why, what is it?”

Remilia pointed a finger at her desk.

“You stop holding a book in your hands.”

Patchouli looked down at the book that had left her hands without her even realizing it.

She looked back up at Remilia, who grinned at her from the door.

“See ya later, Patchy.”

And then she closed the door behind her, just in time for Koakuma to return with her tea.

-----

She had picked up a book a week ago, and since then had not been able to put it down for more than a few hours at a time. When having a tea break, she read it with one hand. When eating lunch, she had Koakuma read it to her (no good bibliophile, in her eyes, could risk a book being damaged or stained by negligence). When bathing, Koakuma was again the narrator. When sleeping, she slept with it by her side, finger stuck in the book to keep track of what page she was on. For being a lover of books, she could never remember to keep bookmarks nearby. That, and she had a tendency to fall asleep while reading.

Above all, she never put a book down for more than half an hour while she was caught up in reading it.

This was the sort of person Patchouli Knowledge was.

Except, of course, when her best friend needed her.

Esifex

  • Though the sun may set
  • *
  • It shall rise again
  • LOOK AT ME
Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - This Month, Consecutive Battles!
« Reply #27 on: June 26, 2012, 05:24:45 am »
Ruro, Remi's nightmare scared me ;-;

That's... terrifying.



Can I sleep with you tonight? ;-;

So I wonder - I've suggested several topics, but never wrote for many of them. Would those be fair game for me?

Alfred F. Jones

  • Estamos orgullosos del Batallón Lincoln
  • *
  • y de la lucha que hizo por Madrid
  • Staff
  • LOOK AT ME
  • Nickname: Sakura Rurouni
Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - This Month, Consecutive Battles!
« Reply #28 on: June 28, 2012, 12:40:39 am »
Ruro, Remi's nightmare scared me ;-;

That's... terrifying.



Can I sleep with you tonight? ;-;
Nooooooo, it's way too hot here already ;-;

It should scare, though. This past week my hobby has been learning about Christian dominionism and premillenial dispensationalism (since I grew up in an atmosphere with both of those beliefs, more the latter than the former). Of course, one of the horror stories the latter group loves to talk about is the Rapture (hence 'rapiemur', the root word thereof), which was initially popularized in A Thief in the Night and brought back, as though it were a Jewish zombie, in the Left Behind series.

Everyone disappearing and me being left behind was one of my common nightmares as a child. At least now I've managed to get a WWC out of it.

Achariyth

  • Nickname: Tonomi
Re: Weekly Writing Challenge Thread 2 - This Month, Consecutive Battles!
« Reply #29 on: June 28, 2012, 01:21:20 am »
Amuse-Bouche

Theme: Food

By tradition, late night is the time to do the Devil's work.  Most chefs, no strangers to the Inferno, chose to raise hell in the bars and clubs, but tonight, for one night only, Cirno stayed in the Maya Noodle Bar's kitchen.  A syringe in hand, a single question consumed the fairy dessert chef:

Will it spherify?

Head Chef Mystia Lorelei introduced the esoteric technique of spherification on her first day in charge of the kitchen.  Making her tuna marrow in apricot caviar required dripping a mixture of fruit juice and tasteless alginate into a calcium bath.  This created caviar-like beads that squirted apricot into a diner's mouth with each bite.  The delightful surprise, along with the mixture of the fruit's sweetness and the savory umami of the marrow, made Mystia's creation a signature dish for the Noodle Bar.

Since the juice spheres, like most food, tasted best when served fresh, Mystia gave the tedious job of making them to the newest cooks.  It gave then a break between cracking tuna bones for marrow and filleting fish, while giving Mystia a chance to determine which of the new hires had the patience and attention to detail needed to cook professionally.  An elegant solution; one that even Keine Kamishirasawa, the more active of the Noodle Bar's two owners, approved of.

And then Mystia had to put the syringes into the hands of fairies.

It wasn't her fault; Kaguya's Bamboo Child restaurant had hired away all the experienced chefs.  As the Maya Noodle Bar ballooned in popularity, Mystia had no choice but to promote her two dishwashers, Sunny Milk and Luna Child, to line cooks.

As expected, the fairies' innate curiosity got the better of them.  It had started innocently enough when Sunny first made little oranges from orange juice.  As long as they limited their playing to juices, Mystia gave the experiments no thought.  But when Luna spherified her first batch of coffee, Mystia paid closer attention.  Not only did it kick off a minor war between Medicine Melancholy, the newly hired bartender, and Luna over who got each new batch of coffee "beans", it sparked ever more exotic experiments.

Olives, peas, and even milk worked well enough that the head chef was searching for a way to add them to the menu.  Water proved to be underwhelming, and the less said about Rumia's fish spheres, the better.  Keine even banned all spherified peppers after a bead of ghost pepper juice "mysteriously" ended up in her tea.  When a customer left Medicine's unique take on Scotch on the rocks (a fifth of tonic water liberally filled with beads of Scotch) out long enough for the spheres to congeal to the consistency of jellybeans, the three fairies found inspiration for their crowning achievement of spherification:

Sparrow sake.

Giggling, the ice fairy slowly dripped the lemon-infused rice wine that Sunny had prepared earlier into the calcium bath.  After the last drops fell into the solution, she scooped the small white candy-like balls out with a net.  Allowing each to drip dry, she filled a glass dish with her night's work.

Tiptoeing down the hall, Crino slipped into the management office and set the candy dish down on Mokou Fujiwara's desk.  She left with one hand covering her mouth.  For as much as Mokou tried to hide it, the phoenix girl had a ravenous sweet tooth.  And sparrow sake had a well-known side-effect...

***

"Keep it down," Sunny whispered as Cirno walked down the hall.  She pushed the ice fairy against the wall.  Next to them, Luna peeked into the manager's office.  While it was common for the line cooks to arrive at the Maya Noodle Bar early, Sunny, Luna, and Cirno had beaten all but Mystia, Mokou, and Keine to work.  Instead of preparing their mise en place for the day's services, the three fairies sat outside Mokou's office, waiting.

They suppressed giggles as the phoenix girl and co-owner of the restaurant absent-mindedly popped a handful of white candies in her mouth.  But the giggles faded as Mokou calmly shuffled a stack of papers on her desk.  Using a red feather quill, the owner scratched her signature on the top page.  After watching her finish her paperwork for five minutes, the three fairies huddled together in the hall. 

"How long until it works?" Cirno asked.  She jumped as a hand clamped down on her shoulder.

"There you are," Mystia said.  The head chef pointed towards Sunny and Luna, and then towards the kitchen.  "You two, get cracking."

"Not the tuna bones again," Sunny wailed as Luna dragged her into the kitchen.

"Good morning, Chef," Cirno said, shrugging her shoulders away from Mystia's hand.

"Spill it."

"I don't know what you are talking about," Cirno stammered.  Mystia just glared at the fairy.  Sighing, Cirno fluttered up and whispered into Mystia's ear.

***

Two hours into the lunch service, and Mokou couldn't shake the feeling that someone was watching her.  While it didn't raise her hackles like the silence before Kaguya struck, it still made her uncomfortable, like a man's errant eyes.  To make things worse, whenever she went into the kitchen, four sets of eyes followed her, expectant. So she hid in her office, working on the paperwork that never seemed to stop. 

Sometimes, when she looked up, she swore she saw little fairy heads duck behind the doorway.  One of them even had bird wings.  But whenever she got up to look, the hall was empty.

She'd talk to Keine about it after the lunch service was over.  Mokou sighed, and chewed on another of the sweet white candies from her dish. 

***

A white sake sphere rolled along the metal counter of Cirno's dessert station.  The ice fairy shook her head and flicked another across the surface.  "I thought you said this would work."

"I thought it would," the sunlight fairy said in between bites of the staff "gruel".  Traditionally served between the lunch and dinner rushes, the more appetizing than its name meal usually featured the trinity of chicken, pasta or rice, and salad.  Out of deference to Mystia's sensibilities, the Noodle Bar served fish instead.  "Mystia said it wouldn't take much."

"Just for the record, I had nothing to do with this," Mystia said, holding out her plate so that Wriggle Nightbug could scoop an extra helping of rice onto it.

"Maybe Mokou's just a lush," Luna said, sipping at her coffee mug.  She scowled at the empty cup before filling it up again from a nearby coffeepot. 

"Or maybe you fairies are just lightweights," Keine said, appearing behind Sunny.  She frowned and crossed her arms beneath her breasts.  The fairies jumped at the sound of her voice, spilling bins and silverware.  Only Luna's heroic effort saved her coffee from the same fate.  "What did you do?"

"Nothing," the three fairies said together.  Each stared up at Keine with all the feigned innocence of a misbehaving child.

"You've been shadowing Mokou all day.  Did you think that I wouldn't notice?" Keine scolded.  "Mystia!"

The head chef looked up from her meal.  "Yes?" she mumbled between bites.

"Do you-?"

"Look out!" Sanae Kochiya shrieked.   The waitress dove into the kitchen, rolling until she collided with a reach-in refrigerator.

Hurricane Mokou swept through the kitchen.  Twirling like a dervish, the phoenix girl danced lightly on her feet.  Her long floor-length hair  whipped out, ripping pots, pans, bins, and anything not nailed down from walls and racks.  The cooks ducked out of the way of the flying curtain of pale hair.  Still spinning, Mokou picked Keine up off the ground in a bear hug, and twirled the were-hakutaku in the air.  Setting her friend down, the phoenix girl stopped spinning long enough to sing, "Keine, let's go dancing tonight."

Red-faced and trying to hide her smile, Keine caught her breath.  "Whatever you gave her, I want on the menu tonight!"  An arm snaked around the were-hakutaku's waist, and Hurricane Mokou swept her away.

The room stood still for the briefest of moments before breaking out into uncontrollable giggling.  But as the merriment faded, Mystia gathered a mixing bowl and a whisk and shoved them into Cirno's hands.  "Start. Cooking," she hissed at the wide-eyed ice fairy.

***

Out in the dining room, Sanae stopped to wait on her next table.  Hiding frustration behind a polite smile, she looked Marisa Kirisame in the eyes.  It seemed like every night that the witch showed up at the Noodle Bar with a new suitor and a new little black dress.  "Would you like dessert?"

"Do you have something different?" Marisa asked, not looking up from staring into her date's eyes.

Sanae smiled grew wider, lest she scream aloud.  At least Marisa's dates tended to be generous tippers, otherwise she would have left this table for Star Sapphire to serve.  "In fact, the kitchen just rolled out something new a few minutes ago.  It's a berry-flavored cereal milk panna cotta with a lemon and spherified sparrow sake sauce."

"Is it light?" Marisa asked.  She shimmied in her seat.  "I want to be able to dance all night."

Sanae closed her eyes, and relished the memory of the single bite Mystia and Cirno had allowed her.  Light, creamy, and clean, the tart lemon pleasantly contrasting with the cereal milk custard's sweetness; the waitress swore that the dessert, like most of the restaurant's food, was wasted on the customers.  Then there was the reason why Mystia had only allowed the wait staff a single bite each; those delightful jelly-like bites of sake.  Of course, Cirno would use the only sake that made people dance uncontrollably whenever they drank it.  Sanae smiled at Marisa for the first time with any mirth.  "I guarantee you'll be on your feet well into the morning."
« Last Edit: June 30, 2012, 05:22:20 am by Achariyth »
 

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