Re: MSPA Fanfiction V: We're Going to Need More Wands
Originally Posted by Jim Groovester
The Sapphire of Alternia, Part 14
Problem Sleuth walks across the street and heads toward the car, pretending he hasn’t noticed his tail. His hands are stuck in his coat pocket, gripped tightly around his key.
He whips out his gun and ducks into the window and levels the key at the man in the car. “I don’t care who you are but you better...” Problem Sleuth trails off. The man inside has short legs and a round torso. He’s got a handful of candy corn ready to be tossed into his gaping mouth and he’s got Sleuth’s style in hats.
He eats the handful of candy corn all at once. “Hey, Problem Sleuth.” The man says between chews.
“Ace Dick?” Sleuth asks as he lowers his key. “What the hell are you doing?”
“I’m following you.” Ace Dick says. He puts more candy corn in his mouth.
Sleuth picks up his jaw and unscrunches his brow. “But what are you doing that for?”
“Because I was told to.”
Sleuth’s hand hits his forehead. “But why were you told to?”
“I don’t know.” Ace Dick swallows.
“Weren’t you at all curious about why you were following me?”
“No.” Dick says completely honest. He reaches for more candy corn.
Sleuth swats his hand. “Stop it, you fat bastard.” Sleuth snaps.
“What?” Dick asks indignantly. “It’s my candy corn.”
Sleuth points a finger. “No it isn’t. That’s my candy corn. You stole it from my office a couple of days ago and I knew it was you.” Sleuth says. “Is that why you haven’t been answering my calls? Because you knew I knew you took my candy corn?”
“Shut up, Sleuth.” Ace Dick says. He glares at Sleuth as he defiantly reaches for more candy corn in a deliberate motion.
Sleuth curls his hand into a shaking fist.
You really hate Ace Dick sometimes.
Sleuth sighs in exasperation. “If you haven’t been avoiding my calls because you took my candy corn then what have you been doing?”
“Oh! That.” Dick says loudly, chewing some more. “I’ve been working. And my phone’s broken anyway.”
Sleuth gasps and grumbles inaudibly about the stupid fat short bastard. “What’s this work you’re doing?”
Ace Dick motions for Sleuth to get in the car. Sleuth steps in and sits down. “I’ve been working with a bunch of private detectives. It’s a real tight operation.”
“The usual. Following people. Keeping tabs on the gangs. Doing stakeouts.” Dick says. “Normal private detective stuff. I think some of it’s probably busy work to keep us guessing about what we’re actually doing.”
“So what are you actually doing?”
“Beats me. I’m not one of the ones asking questions.”
“Dammit, would it kill you to have a little curiosity, Dick?” Sleuth asks.
“Look at the trouble you get into because of your curiosity. No thanks.” Dick says, grabbing more candy corn. “Besides, I’m getting paid to not ask questions.”
“Oh.” Sleuth says with a disapproving edge. “So the perfect job for you?”
“Exactly what I thought.” Dick says with a smug smile on his face.
Figures. The short fat unimaginative dullard gets the job of his dreams at the same time Sleuth gets his. “When did you start working this new job?”
“About a week ago. I got a call from somebody who didn’t tell me their name and said there was a lot of money for me if I did some work. So long as there were no questions asked.” Dick emphasizes the last few words. “He was very adamant about that.”
“And you said yes.”
“Of course I said yes.” Dick says with a smug grin. “Why wouldn’t I?”
Sleuth furrows his brow and rubs it. “Because you were obviously getting roped into something incredibly shady.”
“But I don’t have a problem with that.”
“If you knew what you were getting into you would.” Sleuth says. He sighs. “When did you start following me?”
“Sometime yesterday in the late afternoon.”
“Well, that’s when the guy in charge asked us to follow you. I didn’t find you until this morning when you left your apartment. You gave those cops the slip. Impressive work, Sleuth.” Dick says.
“I volunteered.” Dick says. “You’re my friend and I know how you work.”
Sleuth frowns. “You’re a jackass, Dick.”
“Shove it, Sleuth.”
Sleuth rubs his chin. “Where can I find this guy in charge?”
“Hell if I know.” Dick responds. “There’s a place we go to check in every once in a while. That’s where the guy in charge calls. There’s some smug piece of crap who likes to think he’s the second in command. He spends most of his time at the place.”
An idea crosses Sleuth’s mind. “I could use a ride, Dick. I’ve got this place I want to visit.”
“I’m on the clock, Sleuth. I can’t make social trips in the middle of the day.”
“Like you care.”
Dick smiles. “Good point.” Dick turns the car on and starts driving. He pulls out of his parking spot and merges into traffic. He takes a quick right and changes lanes. “What have you been getting yourself into lately, Sleuth?”
“If I tell you I need you to keep this quiet. This is just between you and me.”
You always tell Ace Dick exactly what to do. If you don’t tell him to be discrete he won’t be.
“I’m looking for the Sapphire of Alternia for Wealthy Quantifier.”
“That’s interesting.” Ace Dick says but means the opposite.
Sleuth turns to Dick. “Interesting? That’s it? I tell you I’m looking for the most expensive hunk of rock on this planet and all you can say is that it’s interesting?”
“What do you want me to say?”
Sleuth faces forward. He doesn’t really know. “At least you can pretend to be interested.”
“That’s what I was doing!” Dick says. “I don’t get you sometimes, Sleuth.”
“Just shut up for a second.” Sleuth says. “The Midnight Crew and the Felt are looking for it too. I think your group of detectives is involved in all this too.”
Dick doesn’t say anything.
“I could use your help on this one.”
“Sure, anything you need.” Dick says.
Sleuth ponders if Dick is just humoring him. “You mean that?”
“Of course I do.” Dick says. “After you helped me with Mobster Kingpin I’d do anything for you, pal.”
Sleuth grips his key. Dammit, it’s just so tempting. But he obviously means well even if he is a self important jackass. “Thanks, Dick.”
The rest of the car ride is spent wordless between the two. Dick drives from the Midnight Crew’s hideout to a neighborhood full of buildings that have obviously seen better days. There's currently a land grab by real estate developers who were hoping to turn a profit by destroying old buildings and replacing them with new offices and apartments, and in turn new wealth.
In the meantime, the neighborhood harbors squatters, drifters, grifters, and an assortment of other petty criminals and transients. The prevalence of abandoned buildings make it a simple matter to hide and distribute illicit substances, something the Felt and the Midnight Crew take advantage of frequently. The two major gangs are at odds with each other because of it.
“Are we close?” Sleuth asks.
“Why are a bunch of private detectives making a base out here?”
Sleuth opens his mouth to ask another question but remembers how pointless it would be. “When you’re a couple blocks away drop me off.” Sleuth says.
“Alright.” Dick says.
Sleuth glares. “And because you didn’t ask what for I’m going to tell you. I need you to keep working with your detectives, as a sort of inside man.” Sleuth says. “Can’t have your friends noticing you dropping me off at their headquarters.”
Dick lets the comment pass as he continues driving. “Hide your face for a little bit.” Dick says.
Sleuth complies by turning his hat down.
“On your right.” Dick points out. “We’re passing it right now.”
Sleuth takes note of the building. It’s an abandoned office building with a boarded up storefront. At some point it was Honest Shopowner’s General Store, but the sign says H ne t Sh powne s Ge era Sto e.
Dick turns a corner and drives for a few blocks. He pulls over. “Here you are, Sleuth.”
Sleuth opens the door and gets out. “Now remember, I completely gave you the slip right now.”
“Don’t tell me how to do my job.” Dick shouts as he drives off.
Sleuth watches the car drive away, gripping his key the whole time. Damn, it’s so tempting. Sleuth turns around and walks down the street towards the abandoned office.
Late afternoon, Sleuth thinks. What did Sleuth do yesterday that got him followed by his former rival? He got shook down by the Felt and the Midnight Crew on a couple different occasions, so maybe Dick’s group of detectives figured Sleuth was on the case because of it.
Or, it could be something else. Sleuth doesn’t want to believe that could happen. But he’s got his suspicions.
Sleuth turns the corner and winds up in front of the store. If these private detectives are any good they’ve already spotted Problem Sleuth.
Problem Sleuth: Make a stealthy entrance.
You’re not really sure that’s necessary, but for the sake of caution, you enter the storefront as quietly as you can.
If what Diamonds Droog says about them is true, that these are your competitors instead of colleagues, you don’t think you have much to worry about.
Sleuth holds his key out of his coat with his left hand wrapped around his key ring. He’d like to put a few holes in these guys, but if he gives Anarchy Repressor an actual murder charge to pin on him he might as well stop trying to prove his innocence.
The door swings silently open. Inside are dusty shelves, racks and counters. Behind the counter are a bunch of dirty blankets making a rough mattress. The detectives probably don’t sleep there, with the money Dick says they’re making.
Sleuth hears voices coming from the back. He silently hides behind a counter. Two detectives, obviously ripping off Sleuth’s style, walk through the store oblivious to Sleuth’s presence.
“I don’t know why we bother looking for her.” One detective says to the other.
“Quit whining about it. We both know she can’t be found if she doesn’t want to be, so will you just stop complaining and take your money?” The other says as they walk outside.
Sleuth stands up and heads towards the back of the store. There’s a small storage room, empty save for garbage, and a small staircase leading to the second floor. Sleuth moves to the staircase, listens for a moment, then makes his way up.
Sleuth doesn’t immediately hear anything on the second floor. It either means the building’s empty or he’s walking into a trap. He walks down the corridor to the first door. He throws it open silently, key and keyring at the ready. He peers through the open door.
There’s a broken office chair and some stripped carpeting. He takes a step inside, looking around. There’s nothing in here. Sleuth heads out.
He performs a similar procedure for the second and third offices on the floor. He opens the door to the fourth and quietly enters when he hears a phone ring from the floor above him. Somebody above him stomps around to the phone. Sleuth hears the muffled sounds of one-sided conversation.
Sleuth peeks into the corridor. He quietly makes his way back to the stairs. He ducks back into a room as a trio of detectives march up towards the third floor.
“You ever been to the Crew’s casino? Place is a palace.”
“Can you really get everything you ask for there?”
“Sure can. Last week, I got-”
“Shut up, you loner. Nobody wants to hear about that.”
“That’s not even what I was talking about.”
Sleuth heads back to the fourth office. By their footstomps the trio head to the room above and talk to the man in the room. Sleuth hears muffled shouting and muffled excuses and muffled ripping new ones. Dick was right. There is a guy who fancies himself second in command. The trio start walking away, most likely with some new assignment.
Sleuth waits for the trio to descend the stairs. After he can’t hear their complaining about confusing jobs, Sleuth makes his way up. The third floor has the same setup as the second, but Sleuth knows which room he needs to go to.
Sleuth walks to the fourth office. He looks through the dirty frosted glass of the door. He can see the man, but not where he’s looking. The problem is that the man can say the same for Sleuth. And in this case, the advantage goes to the person who isn’t trying to sneak around.
The man starts walking to the door. Sleuth opens the door across from the fourth office and hides inside the room. The man opens the door. “Hey, come on. You shy or something?” The man asks.
There are several seconds of silence.
“I know you’re out there, so come on. Just come out with your hands up. I promise you you won’t get hurt.”
Sleuth silently refuses the offer. There are several more seconds of silence.
Whoever this guy is, he either doesn’t like shy private detectives, or he thinks somebody is trying to sneak in.
Because he’s firing hot lead through the office walls.
Problem Sleuth: Lie prone against the wall.
Like you need to be told to do that!
Problem Sleuth pulls his key ring out of his coat. He pushes himself away from the wall with his legs and fires a short burst from his tommy gun through the wall. That quiets the man down for a bit.
Except he comes back louder than ever. Sleuth is going to end up with a bullet through several organs if he keeps it up.
If only you had a corpse to throw through the door. Besides yours, of course.
It seems you have only one option left.
Problem Sleuth: SEPULCHRITUDE!
What? No. That’s stupid.
“Alright, alright. You got me.” Sleuth shouts, bluffing panic. “I give up. I don’t wanna die.”
“Your guns.” The man shouts. “On the floor where I can see them.”
Sleuth puts his key and keyring on the floor just inside the open door, in plain view from the opposite room.
A moment passes. “What the hell is this? I said your guns, not your keys.”
“Those are my guns.” Sleuth says.
A moment passes. “But those were keys a second ago and now they’re guns.”
“Are you an idiot? That’s a pile of keys, not guns.”
“What the hell is going on?”
“Are you sure that’s a gun in your hand?” Sleuth asks.
Unidentified Man: Look at gun/key.
It appears that your gun/key, upon very close inspection, is, in fact, a gun. You find the notion that it could have been anything else besides a gun oh dammit.
The guy across the hall has his keys pointed right at you.
“Put it down if you don’t want to walk around for the rest of your life a foot shorter.” Sleuth says lying on his side with both hands around his tommy gun.
The black carapace is wearing a trench coat and tie. He probably has his hat somewhere else. He looks at his gun, confused.
“I said put it down.” Sleuth repeats.
The man slowly rests his tommy gun on the ground. Sleuth stands up, keeping his own gun trained on the man at all times. He walks across the hall and kicks the tommy gun away. He searches through the man’s coat and tosses away all his other armaments.
“What’s your name?” Sleuth asks in a demanding tone.
The detective ringleader starts to speak.
“Actually, I don’t care.” Sleuth says. “Who do you work for?”
“I don’t know.” Detective Ringleader, for lack of his actual name, says.
“Don’t give me that. You got a phone right there and you’re barking orders to a bunch of for-hire second-rate private eyes. You’re not pulling them out of your ass so they must be coming from somewhere.”
“I don’t know his name.” Ringleader says.
“You better start giving me answers before I start losing my patience.” Sleuth says.
“Okay, okay.” The man throws his hands up in a placating gesture.
“You’re not working for free so you must’ve met him at some point.”
“Yeah, I did. He’s a tall guy, white carapace. Covered up an expensive suit and his face with a giant trench coat. Told me to work for him, here’s a thousand dollars, said to keep quiet. Is that good enough for you?”
“What are you working on?”
The man looks up at the ceiling. “I give out all the orders and I don’t even know.”
Sleuth taps Ringleader in the gut with his gun.
“Look, there’s about twenty of us, and we’re all being worked to death. The guy calls constantly to get updates on our progress. A lot of it seems pointless, and even contradictory sometimes.”
“Has your group been to Wealthy Quantifier’s house?”
Ringleader starts. “I don’t get it. We get sent there, told to pack up a bunch of valuable stuff, and then we stash it somewhere.”
That’s weird. Something odd’s definitely going on with this group. “And did you ever deal with a courier?”
“Yeah.” Ringleader looks down, regret on his face.
“Where’s what you took from the poor guy?” Sleuth asks.
“It’s in a warehouse with the rest of Wealthy Quantifier’s stuff on the other side of town.”
Sleuth doesn’t have a chance of getting there in time even if he calls his racecab driver. Even if he does, the men there will know he's coming. He’ll have to use a different tactic to get to the Sapphire of Alternia. Sleuth points with his keys to the phone. “Call him.”
Detective Ringleader hesitates. “We don’t call him. He calls us.”
“It’s an emergency. There’s some real pressing information he needs to know.” Sleuth points his gun at him. “You’ve got a gun to your head. You think you can come up with a good reason?”
The man frowns and moves to the phone. He dials the number and hands Sleuth the receiver. “It’s your show now.”
Sleuth takes it and puts it to his ear. After the fourth ring, the phone gets answered.
“Hello?” The other end asks. “Tell me it’s you. Is the box ready to be moved yet?”
Sleuth hangs up.
It was Litigious Lawyer.
You’re gonna have a lot of questions for him.
Like why he stole the Sapphire of Alternia, killed a courier, robbed Wealthy Quantifier, and had you followed after you paid him a visit.
You better get to him soon, since Mr. Pretend Detective here is going to let him know as soon as you leave.
Problem Sleuth: Call Transportation Deferrer.
You dial the number to your favorite cab service. She picks up in the middle of the first ring. You tell her you need a ride somewhere quick. She says that she’s your girl in a manner suggesting she’s willing to do more than simply take you from two different locations in the city. Actually, you’re surprised. She doesn’t say that suggestively at all. You just kinda figured.
You ask her if she was waiting for your call. She says that the two of you’ve been through this. She always knows when you need a ride.
That’s great, you say. You tell her where you are and tell her to get there quick. She says will do and hangs up and so do you.
“If you know what’s good for you, keep it that way.” Sleuth says. He shoves his keyring back in his coat pocket. He leaves Ringleader in the room. As soon as Sleuth is gone he starts dialing a number.
Sleuth starts heading down the stairs. Some private detectives come up the opposite way. “Don’t worry about it. He got him.” Sleuth says.
“What are you talking about?” One of them asks.
“I heard the shooting too. There’s a guy dead in there.” Sleuth responds, marching past the detectives.
“Dead?” One of them asks. “This isn’t how things are supposed to go.”
“Ask him.” Sleuth says, pointing backwards with his thumb. “The guy came in here with a gun, or something. I don’t know. He seemed shocked about it. I would be too.” Sleuth says, starting the descent to the first floor.
“Come on.” One detective says to the other, moving up the stairs.
Problem Sleuth hustles his way out of the building. He opens the door to find a cab screeching to a stop on the curb. Sleuth opens the door and sits in the backseat.
“Hey, Sleuth.” Transportation Deferrer says. She seems a bit more reserved today.
“Keynote Bank. And step on it.”
Deferrer gives a half-hearted giggle. Sleuth is pinned to the back seat from the sudden acceleration.
The plot thickens. Or gets revealed, as the case may be. Everybody saw this one coming, right? I would be surprised if this was actually a surprise to anybody. You mean that the character you introduced and spent some time fleshing out actually has a larger role in the story than first thought? Noooo waaaay.
I had so much fun writing Ace Dick. A completely self-interested, completely incurious, completely unimaginative dullard who annoys Problem Sleuth in just about every way possible was seriously fun to write. The plan with Ace Dick was that he was supposed to drop in, tell Sleuth a bunch of stuff, and then Sleuth would figure everything out from there. I decided to change that up a bit.
Feedback is always welcome. Since I'm planning on making some heavy edits once I finish this thing, even though I've got some ideas about what I could've done better I'd still like to have a second opinion.
Hahahaha! I love Ace Dick here. He's... well... he's such a dick. Interested to see where this is going.
Originally Posted by Iguana Baritone
Homestuck is just Dragon Ball written by Douglas Adams.
Re: MSPA Fanfiction V: We're Going to Need More Wands
Originally Posted by Violet CLM
Your name is KIMINOA MAHLIKA and you are EMPRESS of the Troll species. You have developed such an AIR OF AUTHORITY about you that your INFERIORS, and all trolls were your inferiors, never dared speak your name aloud, preferring to call you HER IMPERIOUS CONDESCENSION or the ALLMOTHER. This latter term always struck you as especially flattering because MOTHERS, like their vestigially opposed counterparts FATHERS, are mostly a part of troll MYTHOLOGY AND ANTIQUATED VOCABULARY, and it was useful for you to command a mythological level of respect.
You have no INTERESTS, since any sign of personal affect could have proved a POTENTIAL WEAKNESS for your NUMEROUS CRITICUTIONARIES to take advantage of. You had some many solar sweeps ago, of course, when you lived as a youth on your homeworld of ALTERNIA, but ERASED them from record when you first entered into the THROES OF REBELLION against the previous empress. You even had your lusus BROKEN DOWN INTO BIOMATTER lest anyone find a way to use her as a weapon against you.
Since ascending to your role as empress, you lived on your PERSONAL FLAGSHIP with your IMPERIAL CONSORTS and a staff of retainers and militia. KUMBHA VAZIRI was a fellow indigo-blood and your most recent consort, but was rather younger than you, since your consorts had an EMBARASSING HISTORY of BETRAYAL and needed to be REPLACED every few solar sweeps. The consort was traditionally a sort of INFORMAL MOIRAIL for the empress, but you had never been weak enough actually to need one for that romantic function.
All these uses of the past tense, of course, are because EVERY TROLL BUT YOU SEEMS TO HAVE JUST DIED.
You felt it coming, of course. There were psychic ripples through the universe seconds before it struck, and when it did strike, it felt like your insides and outsides were trying to swap places. You tasted blood and your vision went black for a little while, but you are empress, and it was beneath you to be vanquished by so base and natural a phenomenon. You clung to the ladder exit of your imperial respiteblock and waited until the pain and vertigo subsided. Your right knee hurt a little from where you banged it against a rung of the ladder when the first ripple hit you, but besides that, you are fine.
You are pretty sure you know what happened. The Vast Glub finally struck, and while you are not technically of the same high caste as the Rift’s Carbuncle, Gl'bgolyb, your role as empress protected you. Still, you didn’t reach this job by not testing out your assumptions, and it’s possible that one of your many enemies just developed some sort of neural attack wave that targeted only you. You’re going to need more data, so you ascend the ladder from your respiteblock, favoring your right knee, and begin to explore your flagship.
It doesn’t look good. If there was some technological attack, it was fairly wide-reaching. Dead trolls litter the halls, their blood seeping out from orifices new and old and pooling in rainbow puddles, caste and caste mixing together frivolously. It is disgusting. You identify the bodies, mentally sorting them into their respective onboard factions to make sure that one group or another didn’t launch an attack on everyone else, but there is no caste or belief system or alliance of necessity not represented among the dead. It looks like the whole ship really is gone. You look into the weapon and control blocks but the situation is no different. You notice some control pads sputtering from the blood splashed onto them and you considerately turn them off until you can figure out what to do next.
It occurs to you to check on your imperial consort. You doubt Kumbha could have done this – he had always struck you as one of your most loyal consorts ever, despite the age gap, and he never showed any flair for programming either – but if anyone else on the ship survived, it was probably him. Your thought is confirmed as you pass into his chamber – no lock on the ship cannot be opened by you – and find Kumbha in a heap beside his desk, bleeding heavily but still miraculously alive. The attack was definitely attuned to hemospectrum, and you suspect the Vast Glub more than ever.
“EMpress?? KIminoa??” His voice is feeble as you approach him, but maintains its dragging quality.
“Don't move: Kumbha. Everyone else is dead and you're bleeding badly. What did you feel.” You speak exclusively in titles and declarations, as befits a troll of your rank.
“THis horrible wave came through my mind and body all at once.. OH god,, KIminoa,, I Hurt everywhere..”
“Yes: I know: Kumbha. I think it was the Vast Glub. Do you think you have any chance.”
“NO,, it''s too much.. SOon I''ll be dead too.. KIminoa -- EMpress -- what are you going to do??”
“I'll go back to Alternia: and see if it's been invaded. If it has: as the last representative of the troll species: I'll fight them until one or the other of us dies.” The words come easily to you, for your dedication to your subjects is total and complete.
He nods and fights to breathe. “KIminoa...... before you go,, please kill me.. I Don''t want to die so slowly..”
“I will. Goodbye: my consort.” From your strife specibus you summon your imperial spear, the Pokerface Poker. Its mirrored surface reflects impassively the dying troll before you. You hold it aloft for the killing blow.
“KIminoa,,” he says, staring at you rather than at the spear that is about to end his fading life. “KIminoa,, I''Ve always loved you..”
“That is immaterial,” you say, and drive it home. His vascular system bursts apart and his muscles go limp. You rise to your feet and walk away before you can be bothered by the look of pain in his eyes. One more troll dead. That is how it goes. That is how it has always gone. You do not have the medical knowledge to have treated him, and he was hurt and deserved to be culled. That is how it goes. You are empress. All is beneath you.
You return to the ship’s control block and turn on the fleet communications system. There is no word from any of the other ships, though many of them were stationed around your flagship when the Glub – there is really no reason to believe it was anything else – hit you. You were in place to invade a newly discovered planet some glaresweeps away from Alternia, but now the planet’s inhabitants will live to breathe another day. Perhaps someday they too shall discover space flight and will fly to Alternia and find… what? That must be your destination. Even if there is no one left alive and no attacking force to battle, you are empress and it is your duty to be on homeworld for the end times.
You do not know where Alternia is or how to get there, for you have always had a dedicated crew for such things, but you can learn. None of the ship’s functions seem to have been damaged, so you still have access to food and spoor, and you have all the time in the world to read through the manuals and learn the workings of the ship. You drag the dead bodies from the control block and take them to the incinerator, so that they will no longer be in the way. Brainless cleaner droids are dispatched to remove the colorful blood from the controls, and it is reassuring that something besides you still moves, however robotic and lifeless.
You begin the long task of learning how to bring your flagship back to Alternia. The ship’s memory banks have access to innumerable works of instruction besides the physical manuals onboard, and you refer frequently to these for clarification and definition of unfamiliar terms. There is also useful information to be had on the Alternet, but as the hundreds of hours of learning go by, more and more servers disappear from the ‘net until there are no pages left to visit and your browser is as helpless as its mythological namesake, Sisyphus. Most probably, the bees of the apiculture networks on Alternia have no one left to feed them and are slowly dying, taking their Alternet servers with them. The information in the manuals and memory banks is somewhat less up to date, but you still manage.
When you sleep, it is worse than usual. The slime of your ornate recuperacoon keeps away many of the bad dreams, but a few always get through. Every troll you have ever felt any sort of connection to in your long life features at one point or another in your dreams, falling bloodily to the ground as the Vast Glub tears through them. Somehow they know you are there, and their words to you are always the same before the breath leaves them before.
“Wy did yu fale to protect mi?”
“Why’dja failta protect me?”
“WhY DiD YoU FaiL to ProtecT me?”
“Y9u failed. To pr97ec7 me. Why?”
“Where4 did U fail 2 protect me7”
When, weeks after the Glub, it is finally Kumbha’s turn to die before you, you wake yourself up, hurling the Pokerface Poker into the dark. The motion triggers the lights to turn on, and you pull yourself from your recuperacoon, cursing loudly, and pull on a robe. There is no one left alive to see you, but you are empress, and protocol forbids you from leaving your respiteblock in the nude. You try to stay awake for as long as possible, but a troll must sleep sometime, and so you do, always fitfully. One day, wandering the ship after trying to absorb a particularly obtuse passage in one of the manuals, you discover that Kumbha’s recuperacoon was larger than yours, and you take to sleeping in it instead, since the additional slime keeps more of the dreams away. You will never know what so tormented him that he needed so much extra protection from the terrors.
After what you would guess is about the length of a season on Alternia – it is hard to keep time with no moons in the sky – you feel that you are ready to begin the trip home. In theory, you are now master of the workings of your flagship, and it is time to return to the heart of your former kingdom. Besides, a possibility has occurred to you in the interim for saving your species. It is a faint one, for you never kept tabs on it during your more active days as empress, and you dare not hope it will work, but there are days when it keeps you going as you emerge from the recuperacoon.
You flip the master switch and the control room lights up. You have not tried to use any of the controls before now, but you have done the reading and they are all familiar before you. A spacemap found on the Alternet and downloaded before its server died tells you where your destination is. Slowly, carefully, knowing the flagship is meant to be staffed by multiple trolls at once, you turn it around and begin to boost it towards home. As all goes according to plan, you let out a breath you had not realized you had been holding.
You give the ship’s engines everything you can, since you see no reason to conserve fuel. If for whatever reason another trip is required after you reach Alternia, you can always find more fuel matter on the planet and load it into the ship yourself. You will have all the time in the world.
It takes a long time to reach Alternia. You find a shipboard computer that displays universal time, and the equivalent of several solar sweeps go by before you finally sight your gray homeworld. In the meantime, you do your best to stay busy and find new duties for yourself as empress. You sort the dead bodies you had not previously incinerated by caste and deposit them in separate storage containers. You join the cleaner droids in removing the caked blood from the halls, and eventually everything is clean again. Clean and lifeless. You try to remember what life was like before you became empress, and it is difficult. Like all trolls of any nobility, you lived alone – only base bloods lived in the sweeping communal hive stems – but then you had your lusus to watch over you. She had been strict, allowing no disobedience or frivolity in the empress to be, and she had shown no surprise when you had her killed, but she had still been company.
You take up exercise, running about the flagship’s corridors and listening to the pound pound pound of your feet against the floor echo into silence, as no one but yourself hears it. Several times you redecorate the entire ship for simple lack of anything else to do. You take up reading and go through many of the works of fiction stored in the ship’s memory banks, written in a more peaceful period of your species’ history when such creativity was less looked down upon. You even find a few troll movies in the rooms of some of the dead, and try to watch them, but they are just too terrible. Besides, it feels strange to see other living beings, even though they are merely projected images.
As the equivalents of seasons go by, sleeping grows even harder. Even Kumbha’s large recuperacoon keeps out only a fraction of the painful visions, and you take to sleeping in spurts instead, every few hours, resting your body but not staying asleep long enough for most of the dreams to sneak up on you. It is an odd life, but physically viable. You wish you could sleep more so that you would have to spend less time figuring out what to do with yourself, but the visions are far worse than the boredom.
In the third sweep of travel, you suspect you are beginning to go a little mad. From toys and food containers and bits of clothing you construct a miniature throne room on the floor of the large weapon block, and then a whole palace, and finally a city. You expand it no farther, since there is only so much floorspace and you do not have the means to send your fictitious inhabitants into the sky. The city is perfectly laid out in concentric circles of hemospectrum position, radiating outward from the palace, a tiny purple fortress to house the royalty within. Over time, you invent individual inhabitants of your city and move them about their lives as threshecutioners or archaelotantes or a dozen other jobs. When one of them displeases you, it is culled. That is how it goes. That is how it has always gone.
You are proud when Alternia and its two moons finally appear on the viewscreens. Proud that you mastered the controls of your flagship and steered it home, and proud that you survived the journey. You are empress, and you are supreme, even when all others are dead. In the days of approach, you review all sections of the manuals on landing – you doubt that any automatic mechanisms to help with descent continue to function on the planet below – and then begin the landing procedure with full confidence. Technically you could get something wrong, but you have come this far, and it would be ridiculous if you made a mistake now. You have come to Alternia, and you will survey it and discover what your new duty must be.
You bring the flagship down onto a forest, the fire of its jets burning away the trees beneath you as you descend steadily to the ground. Your clothes are neat and you are in full regalia for this moment of return. You hold your spear at the ready and step from the ship to begin your exploration.
There are wild animals everywhere, their numbers increased dramatically without trolls to keep them in line. You handle yourself well in combat – an empress must be prepared to defend herself against threats both political and physical – whenever one of them sees fit to attack you, but for the most part you leave one another alone. You are not shocked until you see lusus running free among the other animals, their custodial roles apparently forgotten with no one left to care for.
Your first destination is the ocean, to try to determine what slew the Emissary to the Horrorterrors, but there are no visible clues on the sea’s surface, and you lack the specialized physiology to go underwater and witness directly the resting place of the aquatic behemoth. You try to find a submersible, but too much has stopped working without anyone to maintain it, and you are unwilling to start learning the skills involved in submersible operation and repair so soon. You intend to return later, but first you have other locations to visit.
As you leave the seaside, you remember that Gl'bgolyb had been a lusus, and had a charge, a young troll named Feferi Peixes. Feferi was the heir apparent, and had the highest blood of all. You would have had her killed long ago were it not for Gl'bgolyb’s protection. You wonder if it is possible that Feferi too might have survived the Vast Glub, and be somewhere on Alternia, equally alone. If so, she would probably be underwater somewhere, though, and even if not the chances of finding one troll on an entire planet are not especially promising. If Feferi is alive, and you find her, it will be because she wants to be found. And then what? A fight to the death between the last two trolls in the galaxy over an empty title?
You shake your head at the thought and continue walking. It is not an empty title. Your species may be dead, but you are empress, and you will discover your duty and you will carry it out. And if at last you give up hope and find nothing more to do, then you will know that you have failed your people and deserve to be culled. As your last act of service, you will do the culling yourself. You have known this since you confirmed in the control block of the flagship that you were the sole remaining survivor. But you have two more stops to make before you return to the ocean and do the final test.
It has been a long time since you last set foot on Alternia, but the shifting pink sands and garish moons are nonetheless familiar. You travel at night and invade the hives of long-dead trolls to take what solace you can from their recuperacoons during the day, since the solar cycle places new restrictions on your times of mobility that did not exist aboard the ship. Everywhere you see the same decaying corpses, surrounded in dried blood, except for the cases where the wildlife have broken in and devoured the bodies before time could work its magic on them.
You begin to cull lusus when you see them. Their niche is as caretakers, and if there are no young trolls to care for, they have no part to play in the ecology. It is a futile gesture – there will always be more lusus – but it is good to be doing something real, after seasons of nothing but moving little pretend trolls around on the floor of a derelict battle station.
You wonder what young Feferi might have been unable to protect her lusus from. Or perhaps she simply neglected to feed it, and it had died of starvation. Feferi had been assigned a moirail – you think his name was Eridan Ampora, although it is hard to remember – to help her and to make sure she continued in her duties, but perhaps something had gone wrong. Heirs were assigned moirails to prepare them for the more formal responsibility of a consort in the event that they achieved the throne. Maybe she grew tired of him, or maybe their relationship grew too flushed and she abandoned Gl'bgolyb in a fit of youthful indiscretion. There were clear risks in leaving the feeding of the most dangerous creature on Alternia to children, but no adult who had grown up unculled would have wanted to remain on the planet instead of joining the vast Starfleet, and it kept Feferi busy enough that she could not reasonably try to assassinate you without fear of everyone dying. The system had worked… but clearly it had stopped working, one way or another. Perhaps you will find out how when you return to the ocean and find a way to enter the dark waters safely.
In a small grove of trees you find an entrance to the subterranean complex where the lusus wait for new charges. After a few hours of searching you discover the chamber housing the great mother grub. You are not surprised – only disappointed – to discover that she is dead. Without any trolls to feed her, she must have died sweeps ago. Only your faint hope remains.
You had heard, although you had never thought much of it, that a wriggler with a special jade green blood had been born, and that a virgin mother grub had abandoned its role as progenitor of the species to act as her lusus. You have a vague sense that their hive had been somewhere in a certain desert, not too far from the border. Unlike the skeletal remains before you, this virgin mother grub had lived above ground, and perhaps she has managed to hunt and sustain herself. Perhaps she is still alive even now and can be brought to serve as a new mother. The trolls aboard your flagship whom you sorted by caste are well-preserved enough that you should be able to extract the requisite genetic material from them to begin the species anew if only the grub survives.
Ultimately, though, your hopes are foiled once again. It takes a long time of wandering and battling wildlife before you find the oasis where the desert hive stood. Something has happened, though, and the building itself has completely vanished. There is a large splotch of dried green blood nearby that roughly matches a mother grub in size and shape, but there is no sign of the grub herself, not even a skeleton. Suddenly you realize that her body must have contained a matriorb. Did something kill her in order to extract it? But what? Or who? And how can you possibly guess where they might have taken it before they were killed by the Glub?
As you ponder these questions, your eyes are drawn to the desert to the east. There is a strange sort of temple standing there, surrounded by six pillars in a circle formation. Spear in one hand, just in case, you approach the temple and notice a pit in the ground before it, with a set of sand-covered stairs leading down into the darkness. In search of clues, you descend the stairs.
At the base of the pit you find an enormous computer system, with twelve monitors and a single keyboard beneath them. The monitors are embedded in a large metallic plate of a shape you do not think you recognize. A glowing button – how, when all other systems you’ve seen have stopped working? – invites you and you press it.
One of the screens comes to life. It is focused on a young troll, you would guess six or seven solar sweeps old, with a bright purple highlight in his hair and striped pants and scarf. Abruptly, you recognize him from pictures as Eridan Ampora, the heir’s moirail. As you watch the screen, the boy Eridan blasts another young troll with a white light and the other troll is thrown backwards against a wall. You do not understand. Is this a record of something that happened before the Glub? But why does it focus on Eridan? And why does it begin the clip at such an abrupt moment?
As the light of the attack fades, you see the rest of the room, and everything becomes clear in an instant. In the background, lying next to a pretty young troll who looks horrified at the action before her, is the missing matriorb from the vanished virgin mother grub. The sign on the troll’s shirt is jade green. And there, turning from Eridan to the fallen body of the other troll, is Feferi Peixes. Somehow she must have found a way for not only herself but also these other three trolls – and who knows how many more not visible on the screen – to survive the Vast Glub. They have brought the matriorb with them and are going to start your species anew, with Feferi as empress instead of you. But she is not fit to be ruler. In triggering the Glub, not only did she fail to kill you, her target, but she also killed her entire species save for this select set of followers. That is not culling. Culling is done in response to imperfection and failure, not to the entire species.
As you watch the screen, you see Eridan point his weapon – a wand of some sort – at Feferi, but he seems unable to follow through with it. You will him fervently to kill her, to punish her for this act of wanton violence, for killing the entire species for the sake of a failed bid at your title, but he hesitates. Again you notice the keyboard beneath the screens. You are still not sure if this is a recording or something that is taking place as you watch, but you see no harm in trying.
“Boy,” you type, and you see him look confused. Somehow the message is going through to him. “Eridan.” He seems to look towards you through the screen.
“You kill that girl,” you type. Feferi has turned from the defeated troll’s body and is readying herself to attack Eridan, and while you have no idea what his motivations are, neither do you care. He is your hope of punishing Feferi for her crime against the species.
“You kill that girl this instant.”
And he does.
You are still empress. And your duty has been fulfilled.
All I can say is, Wow. The intricate detail makes it seem so real. Beautiful and chilling.
Re: MSPA Fanfiction V: We're Going to Need More Wands
The Cool, I don't think your closure is the problem. I think your chapter size is. If all of your chapters so far are that length, you could probably consolidate them into one single chapter and have it flow a lot better.
Re: MSPA Fanfiction V: We're Going to Need More Wands
A Fan - I remain interested. I like what you've done with Nepeta's ancestor...
Skaian - As excellent as ever. I love that you acknowledge all the character's powers, and I am very intrigued by the plan they've apparently cooked up...
mienrose - The idea of Jack-as-a-sort-of-anti-hero is really entertaining. And there is something about Aradia as a mother that I find unspeakably adorable. I can't wait to see where this is going.
Jim - Oooh, those other private eyes were in way over their head. I can't wait to see just what PS does to LL...
Also, I will be disappointed if there's not some kind of closure with regards to TD and PS. I don't know what it would be. I just really like TD for some reason, and want to see more of her.
penguinbound - Oh wow, do I love this. You say a lot in very few words and it manages to be very emotional.
Violet CLM - That...is brilliant. An idea that makes perfect sense. You did a great job making the Empress sort of chillingly emotionless. Definitely stark-raving mad.
And now, another chapter of Candlelight and Clockwork. No color tags for the moment, as I don't have time, but it should be fine without. I'll come back and fix it up a bit later.
Rain knocks softly against the window glass, as though endlessly seeking entry. A familiar beat is produced. It’s the one Emptiness uses to keep her symphonies in time. And it is promptly interrupted by a flash of light and the arrival of three young teenagers.
John blinks and looks up. “Whoa…hey Dave? Can you put me down?”
Dave grunts his assent, but finds himself unable to move. Suddenly both his shoulders are supporting the weight of an individual. He glances to his left and finds that Rose has maintained her death grip on his arm and is leaning heavily on him. Her eyes are clenched shut and her face is pale, her breath coming in sharp bursts through her nose.
“Hey. Rose. Either you let go, or I drop Egbert. Which is it gonna be?” Dave asks.
Rose sucks in a shuddering breath and straightens. “Of course, John’s wellbeing is the first thing on my mind after something like that.”
“That’s really nice of you Rose, but I think you should be more worried about yourself! You don’t look so good, what’s wrong?” John asks.
Rose rubs her temples. “Your scorn is duly noted, John. To answer your question, it would appear to be unwise for those who are especially familiar with the dark gods to travel through time. I have absolutely no desire to repeat that experience. Ever.”
“Told you they’re pervs. Creepy calamari have no sense of personal space. Never had any problems while time traveling though, and they’re my dream-buddies too,” says Dave.
Rose shrugs. “Maybe it’s because you’re not a seer. Maybe it’s because you’re the Knight of Time. Hell, for all I know, it’s because of those hideously unironic shades you insist on wearing.”
“Hey, don’t knock the shades. You just don’t understand irony.”
“You keep using that word, Strider. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
“Yeah, here I am, guy who lives comfortably ensconced in irony every day, I’ve got no idea.”
“Ensconced, are you? Then surely you must understand how you misuse the word!”
John listens as the two volley arguments and insults back and forth. He slips unnoticed from Dave’s shoulder and sits against the wall, hands behind his head. His eyes dart back and forth as he watches his two friends argue. The sentences carry a hint of cadence, almost as if Rose and Dave are reciting lines from memory. And now that he pays closer attention, they definitely seem to be responding to each other faster than expected. In fact, some of these lines sound awfully familiar...maybe if he just…sort of…
“—comic ironic? It’s at best an example of a classic internet trolling attempt.” Rose is saying.
“And that’s the genius. It—” Dave begins.
“—It’s ironic that I’m trolling at all!” John interrupts. “And then Rose, you were going to say,” And John adopts an exaggeratedly distinguished accent and tilts his nose up at the pair, “That’s hardly ironic, it’s merely childish.”
Dave and Rose stare at John, utterly nonplussed.
“John, how did you know that’s what I was going to say?” Rose asks.
“Yeah bro, you get some crazy psychic powers with your shooshy ones?”
John grins. “No way! You two just have this argument at least once a week, and you always say the same things! I didn’t realize it at first, but I knew I recognized your lines! You always talk to me after you argue, and you say the same things then too. I just didn’t realize it ‘cause I’m not used to hearing your voices!”
Rose blinks and, presumably, so does Dave. They exchange an embarrassed glance with each other.
“No way do we argue that much. Once a month, tops, man,” Dave mutters.
“Nuh-uh. I counted once. Definitely about once a week,” says John.
“This is a revelation as stunning as it is embarrassing,” says Rose. “How about we just continue as we were, and address this some other time?”
“Yeah, let’s move on,” agrees Dave.
John stands shakily, supporting himself against the wall with one hand. “That sounds like a good idea to me, I’m exhausted already.”
Rose scoffs. “Are you implying our shenanigans exhaust you, John?”
“No comment,” John replies, grinning.
Rose rolls her eyes, draws her needlewands from her strife specibus and levels them at John. Before he has a chance to protest, a beam of energy arcs from the tips and surrounds him. John is levitated into the air, supported only by a luminous bubble of transparent gold and blue energy. Rose looks over her shoulder at Dave, who is totally not relaxing from a half-completed lunge of surprise. Paragon of cool, that guy.
“I thought that perhaps I could save you some effort this time. Shall we?” Rose asks innocently.
“Sure, whatever,” Dave says, shrugging.
Rose makes her way out of the room, John trailing behind her like an overgrown, giggling balloon. Rose idly flicks her needlewand downward, and John neatly avoids cracking his skull against the top of the doorframe. Dave returns his Timetables to his sylladex and follows the bizarre spectacle walking—and floating respectively—in front of him. He shrugs. At least now he knows what’s going on this time around. Speaking of which…
As he passes a doorway, Dave reaches a hand through, grabs something and pulls it out without looking. His hand emerges holding another Dave by the arm.
“Need your help, c’mon.” he says.
To his credit, the other Dave doesn’t bat an eye before joining the group. “What’s up?”
“Gonna need an extra pair of fucking sweet shades to help out. Also, time travel. But mostly shades.”
“Yeah, thought so,” says Past Dave.
Ahead, John is exploring the limits of the bubble he finds himself levitated by. He is able to move and rotate freely, but the position of the bubble relative to Rose’s wand never changes without her action. Predictably, he is spinning around, making whooshing noises under his breath. In one of his revolutions, he catches a glimpse of the dual Daves behind him, and stops to get a better look. After gawping for a moment, he smiles brightly and waves.
Past Dave nods slightly. “’sup?”
Rose looks over her shoulder. “Oh? Have we added another to our entourage? I fear we’ll be overwhelmed soon, John. Will you protect me from the cresting tide of ironic sunglasses and feigned nonchalance?”
“You bet, Rose!” John exclaims, striking a pose with one arm outstretched and both palms splayed. “No way is Team Dave getting through Team Egbert-Lalonde!”
Rose turns fully and raises an eyebrow at John. “I didn’t expect such exuberance, though in hindsight that was probably folly of me. Regardless, the thought is appreciated…though I believe I’d prefer ‘Lalonde-Egbert’, myself.”
John shrugs. “Okay, that’s fine too.”
Past Dave speaks up. “Are you done?”
“Yeah, the two of you can do your weird flirty thing later. We’ve got chumps to nurse, and the ill to tend to,” says Present Dave.
John cocks his head to the side. “Flirty thing? Rose, were we doing a flirty thing?” He asks, turning to Rose.
She merely rolls her eyes, turns and continues walking. “We’re nearly there anyway. The plan was to use the series of rooms behind the blackout curtain, if you recall, to save John’s eyes from unnecessary candy-blindness.”
“Oh, is that what that was for? I thought you set it up because you wanted to be all mystical and spooky!” John says.
“As a matter of fact, I’m rather fond of my Land. Despite my incidental appearance as a dark wizard caricature, I find it somewhat soothing,” Rose replies haughtily. “It was not without some displeasure that I began tearing it apart to learn its secrets.”
“You were tearing it apart? Why?”
Rose sighs. “Because I detest dungeon-crawling, as the game would otherwise insist upon. I decided to simply remove the middle-man and jump straight to the end by bringing the end to me. It’s worked wonderfully so far.”
The four of them approach the curtain hanging in the hallway, and Rose sweeps it aside. As John’s eyes adjust to the darkness, he hears a match flare, and is struck by an odd sense of déjà vu. He turns to his left and sees an open doorway, framing a sitting Rose. She is holding a lit match in her hand and reaching toward a candle on a bedside table. Under the covers in the bed is…himself. He boggles for a moment before he recalls the recent time shenanigans and doesn’t exactly understand, but dubs it unimportant. He waves at Past Rose, who looks up, looks back down, and does a double take before waving back weakly.
Present Rose enters the next room down the hall and lowers John to the floor before releasing him from the needlewands’ energies. The room is entirely bare, save for a lonely end table in the corner.
“Oh man, I bet you were so confused just now Rose!” John exclaims.
“Hm? What are you—oh, do you mean an hour ago-now?” Rose asks.
“Yeah! You were totally surprised!”
“I suppose the realities of time travel hadn’t quite dawned on me at the point. It is certainly strange being privy to knowledge about a single event from multiple perspectives simultaneously, but also in my personal future.” Rose pauses for a moment to process what she said. “I believe I have a little more sympathy for you now Dave.”
“Holy shit Rose, that was almost human sounding of you. What does the shooshy dweeb here do to you in the next hour?” Past-Dave asks.
“Oh dear, you’re right. Quickly, fetch me my crown woven from the solidified tears of the tortured peasantry and my black whisperscepter made of the coagulated cries of the damned before it’s too late!” Rose cries.
“Hey!” John interjects, “I’m here to put a stop to that, remember? And also free you from your dark masters and stuff!”
Present Dave rolls his eyes and motions at Past Dave. The two of them leave the room, unnoticed by Rose or John.
Rose rounds on John, her face eerily calm. “But John, what if I don’t want to be freed? In fact,” she beings, and a toothy grin creeps onto her features, “I think I’d like you to join me.”
“No, Rose! The power of…uh…wind compels you!” John says, holding his hands up defensively.
A breeze stirs in the room, and quickly becomes a localized gale, roaring in the kids’ ears, and overwhelming all other sound. It whips in a circle around Rose, imprisoning her in the eye of the miniature tornado. Her scarf and the ends of her dress whip to and fro, and she clutches her throat in horror and falls to the ground. She claws at the air as the windstorm begins to die down reaches up dramatically.
“Noooo! This isn’t the last you’ve seen of me, Heir!” she hisses.
John is the first to start giggling. Rose lies on the ground, a smile tugging at the edges of her lips, snickering quietly. Rose stands up briefly, crosses to John and sits against the wall next to him.
“That was incredibly silly, John,” she says, a ghost of smile on her face.
John is still giggling. “And it’s definitely proof that you’re free of evil influences! No bad guy could be that silly.”
“I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that you’d be capable of silliness of that magnitude, antagonist or not.” Rose says. “And I must admit, that I was genuinely surprised by the degree of control you wield over the wind.”
“That’s nothing! Those wands you had earlier were awesome! But didn’t you alchemize a better set? The Spikes of Ogloboggoloth or something?”
“The Thorns of Oglogoth, John. And yes, but what of them?”
John rests his elbows on his knees, and leans his head on them, facing Rose. “So why weren’t you using them just now?”
Rose frowns and looks away. “While may give the appearance of blithely disregarding the danger inherent, I am perfectly cognizant of the fact that the Thorns are indeed weapons of darkness. I would be remiss if I allowed harm to come to you, physical or mental, through my indiscretions. Thus my use of the comparatively weaker needlewands on you.”
John points at Rose and grins. “Hah! Told you I’d come free you from your dark masters!”
“You’ve got some work ahead of you yet if that’s your intention. Regardless,” She says, clasping her hands together, “Swoon.” And she slides along the wall toward John. Along the way, she slips, and her head lands squarely on John’s shoulder.
John blushes crimson. “Uh…Rose, uh…” he stutters.
“Yes?” she replies. Her voice is steady, but she is blushing equally fiercely and refuses to back down.
“You’re uh…kinda on my shoulder?”
“So I am. I spent the better part of an hour watching over you; surely you wouldn’t begrudge me a few minutes?” She says, closing her eyes.
John blinks and says, “Oh yeah, I guess that’s fair,” and closes his eyes as well.
Several minutes pass in silence before a thump and a muffled curse from outside the room rouse Rose from her torpor. She looks up and furrows her brow in confusion. Past Dave is walking backward into the room carrying half of a mattress. Past Dave walks further into the room and Present Dave soon appears, carrying the other end of the mattress. The two Daves drop it against wall opposite the doorway and turn to face John and Rose. They exchange a glance, their actions mirroring each other exactly. Present Dave shakes his head and Past Dave shrugs. Past Dave walks out of the room.
“Don’t forget, bro. Twenty-seven minutes,” Dave calls after Past Dave. He doesn’t receive an answer. He shrugs and turns back to John and Rose. “So I guess I don’t get an invitation to Cuddlefest ’09? What’s a guy to do, huh? Stare all forlornly at the happy feelings, Scrooging it up from the window while some freaky ghost shows me what could’ve been if only I weren’t such a colossal douche to everybody all the time?”
Rose says nothing, but raises her eyebrows.
“Don’t answer that.”
Rose rolls her eyes and shuts them again. She hears the sound of Dave crossing the room and sitting heavily on the mattress, the springs gloinking noisily under him. The room is silent after that, save for the creaking of springs and even breaths of a sleeping John.
Rose sighs. “I can feel you staring, Strider. What is it?” She asks without opening her eyes.
“Hey, you’re the one who wanted my help. I’m just hanging out being useful, waiting on your every beck and call like the finest butler on Butler Island.”
The mattress springs creak again and a series of thumps makes its way across the room before fading back into silence at the doorway. There is a short eternity of silence.
“So,” Dave begins, “Either of us going to address the elephant in the room here? Or are we just gonna let it traipse around like its freaky clown handlers accidentally let a mouse into the ring, ignoring the crazy shitstorm going on right in front of us?”
Rose opens her eyes to see what Dave means. She glances at John, down at herself, then back at Dave. Dave nods. Rose shrugs and closes her eyes once more. “Yes, I believe that sounds about right.”
“Yeah, okay. You gonna help me move him onto the mattress? Didn’t haul it in for nothing, you know,” he says.
“Mmmf. Five more minutes.”
John awakes later, laying down on something soft this time. He feels much better than he did after his last awakening, but that may be because even a mattress on the ground is better than Dave’s rail-thin shoulder. “Much better” isn’t a huge improvement though; his nose is entirely clogged and serves no purpose, save for the decorative. Mucus is draining down the back of his throat, his headache has returned with a vengeance, and the fever has left him covered in a light sheen of sweat.
Wait, that’s not entirely right. Only half of him feels sweaty and overheated. He feels constricted too, and for a moment he thinks he’s gotten tangled in the sheets, except there are none. He opens his eyes in an attempt to solve the mystery, and discovers an arm that doesn’t belong to him wrapped around his midsection. He turns slightly and discovers that the arm in question belongs to Rose. She’s curled up against his back with one arm wrapped around him. Now that he thinks about it, he can feel her chest rising and falling against his back in time with her breath.
He wonders for a moment how the two of them have escaped Dave’s omnipresent ridicule. For that matter, he feels like he should be more concerned about his current position. Instead he just feels warm and safe.
A sleepy smile crosses John’s face as he closes his eyes again. Maybe this is what god-tier dreams are like. No way this is real…
This was supposed to be the last chapter. But it just kept getting longer and longer and longer, and eventually I just had to cut it off. Every time I went to progress the plot, the kids just kept talking! Sheesh, they just don't know when to be quiet. Even with the cutoff, this chapter is still half again as long as the next-longest. The epilogue is partially written already and will probably be done soonish. If I don't start writing Hot Blooded again in the middle of it. We'll see.
Last edited by PingZing; 02-26-2011 at 08:54 PM.
Reason: Added color tags.
Re: MSPA Fanfiction V: We're Going to Need More Wands
@PingZing: I just went back and read all of this and it's fantabulous. I really like your voices for the kids, especially your Rose - such a wonderful blend of serious and silly. I'm excited that there's going to be more!
Re: MSPA Fanfiction V: We're Going to Need More Wands
Originally Posted by Katrika
Guide of Space
When Theseus was thrown into the labyrinth to face the Minotaur, he didn’t get lost. Not because he knew the way, or anything like that. No, he had a ball of thread that he unwound behind him, guiding him back to the entrance after he slew the beast.
I know how he felt.
It’s kind of like my power, see? I see the best possible path to take, outlined in a golden light. It’s harder to manage then it sounds. For one thing, before I reached god tier, it kept flickering out if I didn’t concentrate. Even now that it’s constant, it’s always changing. After all, everything else is changing. Placement of monsters, for one. Potential allies are always moving around. In some lands, even the landscape is in a constand flux. There were a few scary moments when I thought I lost the thread, but I always found it again.
I’m the finder. I’m the guide. I’m the planner.
I’m the quiet one in the background pulling all the strings.
I’m Emma Scout.
I have just one thing to say to the Black King: Checkmate.
I really enjoyed this! I love these explorations of what different kinds of titles could mean, and this one was particularly cool.
Re: MSPA Fanfiction V: We're Going to Need More Wands
@Violet CLM: Whoa. You build up the empress and what she's doing, and then that ending hits like a punch to the gut. Great fic.
@Katrika: I'm liking these. I wish I had more to say about them. Looking forward to seeing what happens.
@SkaianRedeemer: That's a good point. It's not clear how common item duality is in either PS or the MC Intermission (since the Felt apparently don't have it and we're looking at exceptional individuals anyway), so I could with a wave of my hand just say that DR hadn't seen it before. But since I think it would make it more interesting if item duality was really widespread, I'll make a note to edit that part. Sleuth confusing the guy with his gunkeys is a bit of a cop out anyway.
Saying that I'll edit something is starting to be a bit of a cop out for myself. Hmmm.
@Sporkaganza: Yep, he's a dick. You can almost say he's an... Ace Dick.
@PingZing: Hell yes, more terrific character interaction between the kids. Although if you decide to start writing Hot Blooded in the middle of the epilogue for this, you won't hear any complaints from me. I look forward to both.
And about TD, I don't really see the constant flirting between PS and TD (and let's not forget about PM here) as a serious emotional issue for either of them that's in desperate need of resolution so I don't think closure is something that's going to happen. I'll keep it in mind though.
This chapter uses almost no formatting at all, so I'm crossposting it here:
Kyon: Be past Haruhi.
These imps are quite possibly the coolest things you have ever encountered!
They all have these big, cute eyes, plus they're all dressed in maid outfits for some reason! You think they're just about the most adorable things in the world.
That said, they also have this habit of trying to kill you. You've ended up having to partake in fisticuffs with them, wielding your good old BOXING GLOVES you happened to have lying around. Now your strife specibus is set to GLOVEKIND, although you're not really sure what other kinds of gloves you could possibly fight with.
Fortunately, it's easy enough to dispatch these imps. Even if they do constantly manage to somehow put girly bows in your hair just by hitting you, it's not exactly a useful ability in battle. You've been punching the snot out of these silly little frolickers for a good hour or so, and it never stops being fun.
Kyon: Stop being Haruhi and be you.
These imps are quite possibly the most annoying things you have ever encountered.
It's bad enough that they constantly manage to put girly bows in your hair just by hitting you, but they also can make themselves spontaneously glow excruciatingly bright, as though a switch had been flipped. It made them kind of a pain in the ass to get rid of. However, after you alchemized yourself some SUNGLASSES, it became a bit easier, and with your ALUMINUM BAT, you've been making short work of them.
But you still have far too many stories to go before you reach your first gate, and whacking the hell out of these little bastards is only fun for so long. Damn you, Haruhi! How the hell did you get to your first gate so fast?!
Kyon: Be Mikuru.
You cannot be Mikuru right now! She's SLEEPING!
Kyon: Be future Mikuru.
You cannot be future Mikuru! The future has NOT YET HAPPENED (from YOUR PERSPECTIVE)!
Kyon: Be past Mikuru?
You cannot be past Mikuru! The author is too busy with his CAGEY BULLSHIT for that!
Kyon: Oh, Christ, fine then! Be present Haruhi.
Well, since you asked nicely...
THE LAND OF RUNES AND SEASHELLS.
You find yourself on an ISLAND SHORE, the eponymous SEASHELLS littering the ground. The breeze carries the fishy, tangy scent of the ocean to your nose. The humidity in the air causes you to sweat a little. The sun is rising, painting the sky in hues of orange and red.
To your EAST, you see nothing but the vast expanse of blue water, and to your WEST, you see crumbling, vast RUINS, no doubt left behind by some native civilization of island dwellers. They're long-forgotten now, with nothing but those ruins indicating they ever existed. Only the constant and soothing sound of WAVES breaking on the shoreline remains.
God, THIS IS BORING. Is this what your land is going to be like ALL THE TIME?
Originally Posted by Iguana Baritone
Homestuck is just Dragon Ball written by Douglas Adams.
Re: MSPA Fanfiction V: We're Going to Need More Wands
@Sporkaganza & SkaianRedeemer: Alright, I guess I'll keep it in there.
I'll point out that in Part 2, WQ handed PS some keys that stayed keys, and he used them a couple times after that, so sometimes a key is just a key. I guess I'll reinforce this precedent in some other areas. (PS getting taken in by the police seems like a good opportunity.)
@anonymousComrade: Thanks. I shall continue to endeavor to fail to disappoint you. I hope I have great success in the venture.
@battlerek: Heh, I was seriously shaking my fist at AD when I wrote his part, just like PS was. I empathize completely.
Re: MSPA Fanfiction V: We're Going to Need More Wands
word up, posting something because i've been told i should several times. yeah moh wrote a fan fic, a whole bunch of fan fics actually. check 'em all out at http://www.fanfiction.net/~mohtzu or you can check out my tumblr at mohtzu.tumblr.com. tumblr also has a bunch of theology posts, and i guess if you missed that from me for some reason you can go check it out. i'll just post these homestuck/one piece crossovers i've written and let you all glimpse at their poor construction. okay, that's about it from me, see you on tumblr or twitter if you miss me, i'm not sticking around.
John's prankster gambit was strong, and Chopper was willing to do as he was told.
"Okay Chopper, put that bucket on the door, so when Rose comes in it'll fall on her head."
"But won't that get her wet?" Chopper asked naively. John rolled his eyes. "Kids," he thought, "What are you gonna do?" Of course the irony here is that Chopper is actually older than John. They met in the Land of Cotton Candy and Medical Books, finding out that somehow Chopper's friends' session and his own was connected.
"That's the point, Chopper. Come on, your prankster gambit won't ever get higher if you act like that."
Chopper blushed. "Oh, right, of course." He placed the bucket on the door ever so carefully, and walked back to where John was. They started giggling, waiting for Rose to come. They were so focused on waiting that they did not notice an arm appearing in the door, picking up the bucket and dumping it on Chopper and John.
"Oh man," John said, "what happened?"
Just then Nico Robin and Rose walked into the room. Robin was giggling as her prankster gambit maxed out. "Sorry," she said, still giggling, "I couldn't help it."
Chopper started laughing as well, and so did John and Rose. "That was a good one," John said, "but I'll get you next time!"
Sburtb on Weed
"Here Chopper," Dave said to the young reindeer, "take a hit off this."
Dave passed a joint to Chopper, and Chopper eyed it suspiciously. "Isn't that bad?" he asked, "that's what John told me. He said D.A.R.E. squad warned him all about weed."
Dave exhaled. "Is that what he said? Well don't listen to him Chopper, weed's awesome. Here, try some for yourself."
Chopper eyed the joint suspiciously, but when Dave smiled at him Chopper knew he wouldn't hurt him. He took the joint to his mouth and breathed deep. He tried to hold it in his lungs like Dave did but started coughing.
"Heh," Dave said, "don't worry about it, little guy, you'll get the hang of it."
Just then, John walked in. He saw his best friend Dave offering his new pal Chopper a joint, and he felt betrayed. "DAVE!" John shouted, "HOW COULD YOU DO THIS? I thought you were cool!"
"I am cool," Dave said, "this is what cool dudes do."
"THAT'S NOT WHAT D.A.R.E. SAID! I promised D.A.R.E. squad that I would ALWAYS say no to weed! Look at you, smoking weed and offering it to little kids!" John was shaking as he said this, he was so upset.
"I'm actually older than you two," Chopper said, but neither of them were listening.
"Come on John, D.A.R.E. squad? Really? That's just a bunch of anti-weed propaganda borne out of racism. Do you know why weed is illegal? Because a bunch of white dudes didn't like Mexicans. That's the reason. And policing weed just causes so many problems, and it can be useful for helping chemo patients eat and glaucoma patients manage pain," Dave said, coolly, as he did all things.
"I can't believe I'm hearing this from you, Dave. How long? How long have you smoked the devil weed?"
Chopper looked quite confused. What was D.A.R.E. squad? Why was weed so bad? Where was Rose and Robin in all this? And why did any of this matter, there was nothing left on Earth anyway.
"John, John, John, I've smoked the whole time you've known me. I mean come on, I'm a coolkid of course I smoke weed. Don't you want to be cool?"
"NO!" John shouted, "I want to live rightly by my promise to D.A.R.E. to always say no."
"Okay then John, do you not want to smoke weed?"
"NO!" John shouted, not realizing his mistake. Chopper looked on, shocked and not entirely relevant to this story.
"Okay, so you do want to smoke weed. Here," Dave said, taking the joint from Chopper further highlighting his lack of purpose in this story, "try some."
John was shocked. He answered no, but no was not the answer he wanted! He was trapped by his flawed grammar. He took the joint in his hands, and shaking, he put it to his lips.
"Inhale," Dave said, calmly. He wanted to make sure his friend had the full weed experience. "Now hold it in your lungs."
John felt strange. This wasn't so bad, he thought, in fact, it was kind of nice. He exhaled, and felt pretty good. Maybe D.A.R.E. squad was wrong after all.
"Huh," John said, "that's actually pretty nice."
"Isn't it though?" Dave asked, coolly.
"Come on," Chopper said, "don't bogart the weed."
And they all laughed together.
The Angry Boy and the Reindeer
"WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU LOOKING AT, FUCKASS?" Karkat yelled. Chopper had been staring, it's true, but he was just so fascinated by his new friend. He had horns like he did, but he had a human body. What was up with that?
"Oh, sorry Karkat, I was just wondering what your anatomy's like, in case you get hurt or sick. I am a doctor, you know," Chopper answered. He did not like Karkat's tone, so he hoped his thoughtfulness would impress him.
"WHO GIVES A SHIT WE'RE ALL FUCKED ANYWAY, FUCK YOU FOR CARING." Karkat responded. Chopper's lip quivered a bit; he didn't like being talked to like that.
"I just thought that, you know, maybe it'd be good for the future. I've never seen anyone like you before, and it could be useful. I… I don't know." Chopper was becoming more and more uncomfortable around Karkat. They had just met and already Chopper had a feeling he didn't like him very much.
"LIKE I SAID WHO CARES WE'RE ALL DYING. FUCK YOU, JUST LEAVE ME ALONE."
Chopper began to feel even worse. Everything he did just made him more and more angry, and the angrier Karkat became the more upset Chopper got.
"B-but I'm trying to be helpful!"
"WHO. GIVES. A. FUCK. WE ARE DOOMED, YOU IDIOT MONSTER FREAK." Karkat responded angrily. This punk was wasting his time, and he had better things to do. Like spy on John. The more time he spent with this mutant the less time he'd have to troll the kids, and clearly that was the most important thing to do at that moment.
Chopper became very upset, and began to tear up and he stammered, "I… I'm not a monster, you bastard!" With that, Chopper's patience eroded and he began to cry.
"OH GREAT, NOT ONLY ARE YOU A FREAK BUT YOU'RE A WIGGLER TOO. DO YOU NEED A DIAPER, WIGGLER?" Karkat asked peevishly.
"S-stop making fun of me!" Chopper screamed through his tears. Just then, a fist came flying through the air and struck Karkat, knocking him unconscious.
"No one makes anyone on my crew cry," Luffy said, walking onto the scene. "Are you okay, Chopper?"
Chopper sniffed and wiped his tears, "Uh huh," he answered.
"Good. But you can't let people like him get under your skin so much, you're a member of the pirate king's crew after all."
Chopper stood at attention, "Yes sir, Captain Luffy!"
"Good, now let's eat, I'm starved."
And so they ate while Karkat was unconscious.
The Weird Boy and the Reindeer
Eridan Ampora was a very lonely boy. No one he talked to wanted to go out with him! His dad never understood, always talking to him about "bitches" and "whales." I mean come on, how many whales did Eridan have to kill before Feferi would get out of the moirail zone? So he hit on anyone he could, desperately hoping to find someone to fill a quadrant, any quadrant. Chopper was not all that interested in romance. Sure, if he saw a cute deer he might try to ask her out, but in the course of his adventures he'd never actually seen one. Humans just didn't interest him, and so trolls definitely wouldn't. But that didn't stop Eridan.
"Come on Chopper, aren't I at least SOMEWHAT cute?" Eridan asked, with more than a hint of desperation.
"Uhmm, I guess?" Chopper responded, cocking his head to one side. He just could not figure this weirdo out.
"Wwell okay so you aren't into me in a red way, okay I can understand that. Maybe you just don't havve those feelings for me. But wwhat about black, huh? Don't I havve a stupid face and a stupid wway of doing things? Don't you wwant to just turn into a kung fu reindeer and kick my ass?"
"Not really," Chopper answered, "I don't really care about you in that way. I guess I just kind of nothing you?"
Eridan looked quite hurt by this, and Chopper regretted it. He didn't really understand quadrants, but he knew he didn't want anything to do with Eridan. He was a creepy boy, and besides he was only six. Chopper was fifteen, he was much too old for the little guy, size notwithstanding.
"Okay, come on, wwhat if I called you a raccoon, wwould that get your mojo wworking?" Eridan asked, his forehead starting to sweat. He liked Chopper for reasons he could not understand, perhaps because he had a pulse.
"Well, then I'd get mad at you but I still would not want to be in a relationship with you. You see Eridan, I'm a reindeer, and I like other reindeer. Now, if you were a reindeer MAYBE I would date you, but I'm not a gay reindeer so who knows. But you're not a reindeer, are you?"
Eridan sighed, "No, I guess I'm not. But come on, can't you, I don't knoww, just experiment a bit? Maybe go a little outside your comfort zone and make out a bit wwith me?"
Chopper became increasingly uncomfortable with this guy. What was his deal? "No, Eridan, I am not going to make out with you. Please leave me alone."
"Okay fine I get it, wwant to play hard to get, huh? I knoww you're into this, wwhether you'll admit it or not. Now if you don't make out wwith my right noww I'll bloww a hole in you with this wwhite magic wwant."
Chopper became extremely frightened. He didn't want to be killed! But he also didn't want to make out with Eridan, that would be gross Eridan smelled like fish and besides Chopper wouldn't make out with him anyway. Eridan stepped closer.
"Come on, you knoww you wwant it," He said, angrily. Just then, arms popped out of Eridan's elbows and pulled them to his back.
"Cuatro Fleurs, Clutch!" Robin yelled, as Eridan crumpled to the ground. Before he lost his consciousness he said, "Ohhh yeah, that's good."
"What a strange young man," Robin said, "Are you okay, Chopper?"
"Now that you're here, I'm great," Chopper replied. Robin picked him up and they started to look for their crew together.
Re: MSPA Fanfiction V: We're Going to Need More Wands
The idea that Eridan's lusus taught him that, "Son, life ain't nothin' but bitches and whales. Kill one, impress the other. Just don't fuck up which." is now a permanent fixture of my headcanon.
On a related note, in my mind, Eridan's lusus now has the voice of Samuel L. Jackson.
Do you like Magic: the Gathering? Got ideas for MSPA-inspired cards? Post them here!
Sigspoiler of spoilsigging:
Fervent believer in preserving Internet anonymity.
Perhaps the last person on Earth without a Facebook.
Most easily satisfied audience in paradox space.
I am A Fan. And I am silly.
Generic chummeme: Your chumhandle is maverickLinguist, for your typing style is notable only for its absence of notable quirks. You let the assortment of personalities both naturally occuring and artificially manufactured in your own mind supply the requisite air of the bizarre. Your title is Muse of Thought. Your land is that of Dreams and Thunder.
And Tompkins sigquotes:
Originally Posted by Decker
I love the "whoops." It makes me think it happened by accident.
"Okay. My still life bowl of fruit is com-WHERE DID THESE LESBIANS COME FROM?!"
Originally Posted by LegoTechnic
Also keep in mind that the universe is a frog. It's a good thing to remember any time you start to feel you have a grasp on the celestial logic of the universe, be it the size of suns or the location of the furthest ring, because it reiterates that things can still be inexplicably weird.