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#still militaristic with the braid
fericita-s · 3 months ago
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Title: Jacket
Date: late 19th century
Culture: Hungarian
Medium: leather, wool, metal, glass, silk
Credit Line: Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Museum Expedition 1920 & 1921, Robert B. Woodward Memorial Fund, 1921
Accession Number: 2009.300.51
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kich-rp · 6 months ago
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Better with Age; K'alya Basari
Describe your muse at ages 20, 40, and 60!
20— Having had some trips outside of her native Radz-at-Han, Alya still primarily has stayed in the Basari compound. There is a softness to her, the baby fat of her cheeks still lingering - an aspect that she will maintain throughout her life - and her hair is kept long and relatively untempered. She prefers longer, softer clothes, stayed wholly within the Basari tertiary of golds, blacks and reds. She and Erah both received their facial tattoos at 16. Though still solemn, at the comfort of her home, she is prone to more neutral and almost light expressions.
40— More or less present day Alya. Her expressions are minute, erring towards scowling or general looks of arrogance and displeasure. She suffers headaches with a frequency and looks as though she does. Her hair is kept short and curled, slightly unkempt despite all efforts to have it be otherwise. She favours more militaristic style as she spends the majority of her current time outside of Radz-at-Han, and has adopted influences from both Ishgard and the Far East. She is in nearly her fifth year of being Basari Matriarch and third year of being a mother.
60— If the Basari do anything well, it is age like wine. There is little to the woman that belies her age, beyond the faintest hint of silver in her black hair - kept primarily in a long side braid, decorated in times of celebration and untouched otherwise - and few wrinkles touch beyond a brow that has trained to scowl. She has become harder with age, a near mirror image of her mother - a fact that would delight the now-deceased K'saida Basari. She has trained her heir well, and is nearly ready to step out of the Matriarch light. There is, however, little doubt that she maintains a prominent role in the family's shadows. Tagged by: @seascrapes {thank you dearly! this one was so fun??} Tagging: @luckiselki @dragons-bones @dawning-sky @verdandir @miqojak @katalinhunter @zhauric @luck-and-larceny @spotofmummery @lettersnorth @elibraddock @shadiyah-ffxiv @cobstagram @mistraljanta @theash-hatrukoth @bek-sc @thefreelanceangel @damienward-ffxiv @thegildenheart @stone-xiv @healerstail @shroudandsands @hexepresso @the-wardens-torch @eorzeanflowers @wildname @skoryy @neekaxiv @ythealleycat @bruises-and-bangles @dumb-hat @under-the-blood-moonlight @flamesworn @kri-babe @awatercat @shadowburgers @semper-miles @starforger @cigarettes-n-daisies @kasumi-ffxiv @cadrenebula @kodie-ffxiv @eligos-venator @thanidiel @nekun-uul @thegreatsharkleve @clockworkdragonffxiv @bertramblog @wind-up-mayru @rythasbrenelle @yuukiwiii @sundered-souls @sola-ffxiv @wildgirlcinna @avwalya @hadriel-ffxiv @fortempsward @lulucaelumffxvisblog @safflowerlizard @seabound-dragoon @fheylahaken @nightmaze {I absolutely tagged some OOC blogs in this mix when y'all have a roster - please feel free to choose a character if you'd like to do this! <33}
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sayosdreams · 8 months ago
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Sand and Stardust - Chapter 17
Word Count: 3866
Chapter Index
Writing Masterlist
__________
Nesta sighed as she turned to the next page of her novel.
She was sitting on the sofa besides Cassian, who had spread his wings out to rest them on top of the backrest. His eyes were half-closed as he relished the sunlight streaming through the window, warming his wings.
“Are you alright, sweetheart?” Cassian asked, lifting his head.
Nesta hummed her assent.
Some strands of her hair had fallen loose from her braid and glimmered in the light. Cassian observed her for a moment, his eyes filled with admiration, or perhaps joy, before raising a hand to tuck the strands back behind her ear. His fingers brushed her neck and came to rest on her shoulder. She leaned into his touch.
“I’d be better if Emily would just admit that she’s in love with Simon,” Nesta replied, giving the book a dirty glance as if it would change Emily’s actions.
Cassian let out a soft chuckle.
He watched her as she continued to read — her eyes darting across the page, widening and narrowing in reaction to the plot — until she closed the book. He raised an eyebrow in question, knowing the book still had well over a hundred pages left.
“Oh my gods, I can’t believe she’s so stupid! I told her not to go there, and she did it anyway! What did she expect? Of course he was mad at her! He doesn’t even know about her plans! Why didn’t she just listen to me?” Nesta said passionately.
Cassian couldn’t help his smile. “I don’t think she heard you, sweetheart.”
Nesta rolled her eyes but a grin spread across her face. She leaned back against his chest. They sat in silence for a few moments. Cassian’s hand gently caressed her braided hair. When his hand disappeared, his lips met the top of her head, placing a soft kiss.
“Have you always braided your hair?” Cassian asked quietly, his voice like a blanket enveloping her in secure warmth.
“I think so. My mother taught me,” she recalled. “She used to braid it for me, until I was… six? No, I think, four?” Nesta shifted slightly. “Anyway, after that, I braided my hair and my sisters’.” A small smile spread across her face. Although Cassian couldn’t see it from his position behind her, he felt it. “They used to love it. Elain wanted me to try all those intricate waterfall braids and lace braids on her. She loved to tuck wildflowers into her hair, too.” Nesta chuckled slightly. “Feyre… She loved dutch braids and mermaid braids. Oh, and four-stranded braids, too. I remember that she’d always ask if I could braid a ribbon into her hair. Mother hated it because it was unladylike, but we did it sometimes if she was away.” Nesta tilted her head. “Actually… I think Mother allowed it for Summer festivals when we were very young. We’d all show up to the fair with crazy hair — Feyre with multicolored ribbons, Elain with flowers, and me.”
“That must’ve been quite a sight.”
“I’m sure it was. The townspeople must’ve thought the merchant’s daughters were crazy, but we didn’t care about all that back then.” Her shoulders tensed. “My mother did, though.”
“Did you keep braiding your sisters’ hair?” He asked, steering clear of the topic of her mother, which seemed to distress her.
“I did, for a while. Of course, there were no more ribbons when we were older, since we sold everything that could get us any money.” She paused for a few seconds, considering what to say, before continuing. “They had learned to braid it themselves by then, but they still asked me for special occasions.”
Cassian’s arm wrapped around her and his hand came to rest on her stomach.
“I’m sure she’ll love your braids,” he murmured.
Nesta went unnaturally still. “I hope so. There’s not much else I can do for her.”
Cassian wrinkled his brow. “What do you mean?”
“I’m sure you know that I wasn’t the best older sister to Feyre. Or to Elain, really. And you know how crappy my life was back when I lived at my old apartment.” The ‘and was drunk’ went unsaid. “Clearly, I’m barely able to take care of myself and my track record shows that I’m even worse at taking care of others.”
“Nesta, first of all, you were a child when all that stuff happened with Feyre and Elain. You were barely older than them. It wasn’t your fault.”
“But I should’ve-”
“Maybe, but you were so young. You’ve grown since then. Didn’t you help Khoniya? And Brielle? And Saibh and Riona and Cian?”
“That’s different.”
Cassian continued, undeterred. “Also, yes, you had a hard time with all the crap you were going through. I should’ve been there for you-”
“I pushed you away and said horrible things-”
“-but I wasn’t and I’m sorry. But Nesta, look at you. You got yourself out. You’re brilliant and strong. You got yourself a job and friends.” He sounded as though he were in awe. “Look at you, Sweetheart. You did it all yourself.”
“Cassian…”
“You’re going to be an amazing mother, Nesta.” He wrapped his arms around her, hugging her from behind. She leaned her head against his shoulder.
“I don’t even know what a good mother is,” she confessed quietly. “I love my mother, but she’s not- I don’t want to be the kind of mother she was.”
“I don’t know how to be a dad either,” Cassian admitted. “I don’t even know who my dad really was. My mom…” He sighed. “I love her, but that’s really all I’m sure of. I barely remember her.”
They sat in comfortable, contemplative silence for a few moments.  
“I want to be a warm, caring mother,” Nesta whispered, “but I’m not a warm person. I’m full of sharp edges and words and I’m scared that I’ll end up accidentally hurting her.”
“Maybe you’re not always warm, but you care deeply. Our daughter will know you love her. And you’ll teach her to be strong,” Cassian replied. His eyes fluttered closed. “Nesta, I don’t even know… I’ve never been around kids. The only ones I know are the ones who I occasionally train in the camps and I don’t want to be so... rough and militaristic around her but I don’t know how to be anything else.”
“You’re not militaristic around your family,” Nesta answered.
“No,” he agreed. “Around them, I crack inappropriate jokes. That certainly isn’t happening in front of her.”
“You’re not rough around me,” she said, looking up at him. “Cassian, just be yourself.”
“I can’t-”
“Cassian, you’re kind and caring and infinitely patient.”
“I’m not patient.”
“Okay, well, you’re forgiving then. Don’t say no. You have to be one of those things, or you wouldn’t be sitting here with me after all the things I said to you.”
“And what of the things I said to you?”
“Maybe I’m forgiving too,” Nesta said with a smirk. Then her eyes turned serious again. “Cassian, you’re going to be an amazing dad.”
He sighed. Then, he pressed a kiss to her neck. “We’ll try together.”
“Together,” Nesta repeated in answer and her voice sounded like birdsong, indicating the end of a long harsh winter.
__________
“And that concludes the formal part of today’s meeting,” Khoniya announced. “Unless anyone has anything they’d like to add?”
Riona nudged Nesta, drawing her attention away from Alizeh who had decided to start a discussion about how the informal courses they had set up were going. Nesta followed Riona’s gaze to the corner of the room, and let out a small chuckle. Cian and Iridiana were sitting next to each other, holding hands in a way that they probably thought was discrete but was actually glaringly obvious. They kept glancing at each other every few seconds. It was clear that their focus was certainly not what was going on in the meeting.
“Do you think I should tell Alizeh to ask what Cian thinks?” Riona said in a conspiratory whisper to Nesta.
Nesta smirked, but replied, “Let them be. They’re quite adorable.”
Riona rolled her eyes playfully. “Urg, don’t tell me you’ve become sappy too. I can’t be the only one with any sense left.”
Nesta raised an eyebrow. Had Riona realized what was going on between Saibh and Brielle? It certainly wasn’t Nesta’s place to reveal any secrets but perhaps Saibh had told Riona herself.
Riona seemed to interpret Nesta’s expression correctly and snorted.
“No, they haven’t said anything, but they’re even worse at hiding it than Cian and Iridiana. I mean, look at them.”
Brielle and Saibh were on opposite sides of the room but were gazing lovingly at one another, a slight blush coating both of their faces. They seemed to be communicating through a series of expressions and mouthed words.
“I don’t know, I’m not sure anyone could be more obvious than Cian and Iridiana,” Nesta countered.
The two teens had now seemed to completely abandon any semblance of discretion and were now kissing. Avidly.
And now they were making out.
“Cian’s lucky Saibh’s busy with her lovey-dovey staring contest,” Riona muttered. “If she saw him, she would’ve killed him. She doesn’t want any baby nieces or nephews roaming around, especially while we’re still living with Khoniya.”
Nesta snorted playfully.
Riona glanced at her sister and then at the teens, before gagging violently.
“I can’t deal with all this mush,” she said, as though the word mush meant torture.
Nesta nudged Riona as she noticed a new fae starting to talk.
“Thank you all for letting me join,” the fae with silver hair, copper skin, and golden eyes said. “For those of you who I haven’t talked to yet, I’m Zorina, Senara’s sister.” Senara was a female who had been coming to meetings for the past two months. “I live in the Dawn Court. Things are slightly better for non-high Fae there than in Night, but there is nowhere for us to get to know each other. And there is certainly nowhere that half-high Fae or even full high-Fae who want a place to go can interact so freely with non-high Fae. It is so nice for you to have such a space and community.” Zorina’s smile turned wistful. “I must admit that I am sad that I must return home soon. I wish we had such a place in Dawn.”
Nesta watched as fae exchanged meaningful glances with each other. Then, suddenly, Arnav stood up. “Would you like to set up such a place in Dawn?”
Zorina blinked in surprise before nodding. “I would, but I have no idea how.”
“I can help with that,” Khoniya chimed in. “It really isn’t as hard as you’d think.”
“We could help you get it started!” More voices joined in, excitedly.
“My daughter lives in Dawn. She was actually mentioning to me how much she wished she had a place like this near her.”
“Oh, my nephew lives there too!”
“Okay, first, you need to find a space. It’s better for it to be a larger place in case more fae join later, but you could just find a temporary space when you start. Then, you need to spread the information. We can help with that as well, if you’d like.”
“Did you start out with this many fae, or did most of them join later on?”
“No, no, we actually had less than 10 fae show up, but then we actually used flyers…”
__________
Nesta screamed as Cassian whispered the word “BOO!” into her ear.
She turned around in her chair and glared at him but Cassian’s attention had already shifted to the item — well, items — in her hands.
“Why, sweetheart, you don’t have to be ashamed of your reading habits in this house,” he smirked.
“I’m not ashamed of anything!” she retorted, though a slight blush and smile crept onto her face.
“No? Then why exactly are you hiding your smut inside a pregnancy book?”
Nesta merely narrowed her eyes as Cassian grinned. He peered at her book again.
“He thrust inside her again and again, his hard member hitting a spot that made her see stars and explode in pleasure,” he read aloud.
Nesta slammed her book — books — shut.
“That’s not very realistic,” Cassian said with a shit-eating smirk. “Most females require clitoral stimulation to reach an orgasm.”
“Our baby can hear you, you know!” Nesta was visibly blushing now.
Cassian chuckled. “It’s just human anatomy, sweetheart. But for what it’s worth, you were the one who started it, reading that dirty book in front of our daughter. I mean, it’s not even realistic sex ed.”
Nesta spluttered. “She can’t see what I read- it’s not- just- shut up.”
Cassian leaned down next to her ear and whispered, “If you were looking for some pleasure, you could have just asked me.”
He straightened and turned to get a cup of water in the kitchen.
Nesta, tired of blushing like a child, stood up silently and quipped, “Would you have said yes?”
It was Cassian’s turn to be startled. “What?”
“If I’d asked,” she took a step towards him, the corners of her lips upturned at her newfound advantage in their verbal spar, “would you have helped me?” Their eyes met, their gazes filled with both intensity and playfulness.
Cassian moved closer, taking one step. Then another.  His hand caressed her cheek as he tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “I would do anything you wish.” His voice sounded like gravel as he spoke quietly, intently.
“Yeah?”
“Yeah.”
Their lips met softly, but since they were Cassian and Nesta, the kiss quickly grew passionate. Her hands wrapped around his neck and his encircled her waist, pulling each other closer. They kissed and kissed and most likely would have continued to kiss if Nesta hadn’t pulled away with a wince.
Cassian snapped out of his blissful daze, becoming concerned at Nesta’s reaction. “Are you alright? Are you in pain? Or was it- if you don’t want to do anything, we don’t have to. I don’t want you to feel pressured if you were just joking or-”
“Cassian,” Nesta interrupted firmly. “It’s fine. I just felt… something.” She patted her swollen stomach.
Her blue grey eyes met his worried hazel ones once more, and she smiled. “I think she’s just happy.”
“Are you sure, because-”
Nesta grinned, gently pulling Cassian’s neck down once more. “Won’t you kiss the pain away?”
“Pain? Wha-”
Nesta pushed her lips against his once more, effectively silencing him. Her hands moved to the roots of hair, her fingers gripping the soft strands. Cassian made a sound halfway between a growl and a moan. Nesta wondered absently if that was why it was called a groan. The thought evaporated as one of his hands cupped her ass. Their kiss grew increasingly heated. Nesta let out a sensual moan and was about to move one of her hands to the waistband of Cassian’s pants when he pulled away, gently but suddenly.
Nesta’s confusion only grew at the expression on his face. Nesta tried to think of a reason he would look so alarmed, but her brain seemed to have been turned off at some point during their make out session.
“Nesta, sweetheart, I know I make you wet, but, um,” he trailed off, glancing down. Nesta followed his gaze to where her water had just broken.
Fuck.
She probably shouldn’t be cursing at her daughter before she was even born, Nesta thought absently. She probably should have been excited to meet her, and she was, but did her daughter really have to be born now, when Nesta had finally been getting some action after nine months of hormonal abstinence?
“Nesta? Nesta? Are you listening to me?”
“What?”
Cassian’s voice had lost all traces of his usual joking, flirtatious manner and instead seemed panicked. “Where’s the parchment to contact Healer Galen? Do you want to lay down? Are you-”
Nesta walked over to the side table next to the sofa. Picking up a pen, she wrote on the communication parchment in her usual, neat handwriting:
Hello,
My water just broke. Please come quickly.
Thank you,
- Nesta
“Don’t you want to sit down? Aren’t you having contractions?” Cassian asked, hurrying over. Nesta rolled her eyes at his fussing. “Calm down, Cassian. I guess I am having contractions.” She had just mistaken it for her daughter’s painfully strong kicks (and also suspected indigestion). “It doesn’t even hurt that much.”
__________
Nesta cried out in pain and Cassian resisted the urge to do the same.
Healer Galen had arrived swiftly, bringing along a special bed that where the top half could also be lifted to create a chair-like structure. The first few hours had gone fairly smoothly, but then Nesta had started whimpering in pain. Feeling helpless, Cassian had whispered soothingly to Nesta. After an hour (which felt like ten), Healer Galen had performed some magic on Nesta to numb her pain. A few hours later, Nesta was back to gasping in pain. Cassian had volunteered to let her hold his hand and was now facing the consequences. He wondered briefly whether Healer Galen was qualified to reset bones.
Nesta cried out again.
Nesta had never been someone who openly showed her emotions. Cassian knew that whatever she was displaying was merely a fraction of the pain she was in.
“Isn’t there anything else you can do?” Cassian demanded desperately.
Healer Galen shook her head. “I’m sorry, but right now we just have to wait.”
“There’s really nothing else?”
Healer Galen nodded apologetically.
“Can I at least feed her something?”
“She can’t eat right now.”
“Well, what can I do?”
“SHUT UP CASSIAN,” Nesta yelled, crushing his hand once more. “This is all YOUR FAULT you know.”
“I’m so sorry, Sweetheart,” he replied, wiping her sweaty forehead.
“This one really hurts,” she whispered. Her voice sounded so frail, so unlike the fiery Nesta that he was used to, that a piece of Cassian’s heart seemed to break. Right along with his fingers, as Nesta clenched them once more.
“Is it almost over?” Nesta pleaded.
“You still probably have about five hours left,” Healer Galen replied.
Nesta slumped tiredly. “Five hours? I can’t- I can’t do this.” “You’re doing great,” Cassian answered.
“No. No, I can’t, Cassian.” Nesta’s hand started to shake and her eyes darted rapidly across the room, panicked.
“Hey, hey, Nesta, look at me.” Her eyes met his. “Good. Now take a deep breath with me. In.”
Her chest rose with his command.
“And out. In. And out.”
He repeated his command until Nesta’s panic subsided.
“Thank you,” she whispered after a few moments.
“I should be thanking you. You’re the one doing all the hard work, bringing our daughter into the world.”
Nesta gave him a half smile before settling into a painful, tired silence.
The next few hours blurred together. All Cassian could do was sit there, offering her his hand and his words of encouragement. He hadn’t felt so powerless since he was a child, unable to stop his own mother’s suffering. Watching Nesta, one of the strongest females, no, one of the strongest fae he’d ever met, scream in pain made him wish there was a way for him to help her. His desperation grew as he wiped away the tears gathering at the corners of her eyes.
“Alright Nesta,” Healer Galen announced, “you’re fully dilated now. You’re going to start pushing soon, alright?”
Nesta let out a ragged breathe but nodded. Her hand was still gripping his, but it felt too tired, too limp. And she was supposed to start pushing a baby out of her soon? Who the fuck had decided that pushing a child out of a tiny hole was a good idea?
“Okay, deep breath Nesta. Good, now, push!”
She scrunched her face in pain, leaning forward, and pushing with all her might.
“Good, now stop. Deep breath. Wait, wait, wait. Now. Push!”
Her screams triggered something deep inside Cassian — something he hadn’t dared to touch until now. He reached for the string in his gut, the one he tried to pretend didn’t exist for so long. He took a deep breath and grasped it. It felt as though a door had opened, the connection between them unbarred. Then, he took the the wonder and admiration he felt at her continued efforts to bring their daughter into the world, the strength she gave him to face any hardship as long as she was by his side, and the excitement he felt at becoming a parent — becoming a parent with her — and he sent it through the bond.
She gasped softly and turned her head to meet his eyes. Her face lit up and she gave him a genuine smile that pulled his heartstrings and made him want to pull her into a tight embrace and never let go. He wanted to kneel down and worship her like a goddess just to make her want to smile like that again. He wanted to kiss her and pour every bit of his emotions for her down the bond and watch her realize the depth of his affection for her. Instead, he wiped her brow and pressed a tiny peck to her cheek.
Time seemed to go faster after that.
Nesta kept pushing, and pushing, and pushing, and then all of a sudden the baby was in Healer Galen’s arms — a bloody, gooey, crying mess.
Cassian felt as though he were in a dream he was afraid to wake up from as he cut the cord. Healer Galen took the baby — his daughter — to clean her up.
When Cassian turned back to Nesta, he realized that she was still in pain.
“What’s wrong?” He asked, panicked. Was there some sort of complication? Or- No. It couldn’t be twins. They didn’t have enough supplies for that. They didn’t even have two cribs!
“It’s just the placenta,” Healer Galen explained calmly while washing the baby. “It should be over in a few minutes.”
Sure enough, a few minutes later, the placenta and the contractions finally left Nesta’s body. She slumped on the bed, exhausted.
Healer Galen walked over to them, holding their daughter, wrapped in a white cotton blanket, and placed the baby in Nesta’s arms.
Cassian and Nesta stared down at the bundle. Cassian felt his heart expand as he looked at her, their beautiful, magical, miracle. Their child.
He looked up at Nesta, whose eyes were filled with such joy and peace that Cassian wanted to week. He looked at them, his girls, and wished he could freeze this moment and bask in its glory forever.
But as Nesta caressed their daughter’s dark hair, Cassian was reminded that the best was yet to come. He had never felt this happy in his entire, 500 year life, and he was so full of emotion that he felt as though he were about to explode.
His face was adorned with tears of joy and his truest smile as he leaned in closer to his daughter and whispered, “Hello, Adira.”
__________
A/N: Adira is pronounced Ah-deer-ah (like, “add” + “dear” + “ah”)
__________
Permanent taglist:
@grandma-noob-lord // @thewayshedreamed // @courtofjurdan // @maastrash // @awesomelena555 // @theoverlyenthusiasticwriter // @iammissstark // @cass-nes // @perseusannabeth // @bookstantrash // @stardelia // @b00kworm // @ghostlyrose2 // @sjmships // @a-omgnaomithings-love // @sjm-things // @ireallyshouldsleeprn // @claralady // @illyrianshadowhunter // @my-fan-side // @dreamingofalba // @thatsowlmazing // @that-golden-lyre // @superspiritfestival // @inkedstarlight // @nesta-archcrons // @vasudharaghavan // @swankii-art-teacher // @anne-reads
Nessian taglist: @makainight // @nahthanks
Sand & stardust taglist: @thalia-2-rose // @arinbelle // @queenestarcheron // @grouchycritic7794 // @champanheandluxxury
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untitledtallgeesepodcast · 6 months ago
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[TRANSCRIPT] Episode 09: Cognitive Mobile Suit Therapy
[MIDI version of Just Wild Beat Communication plays, fading as Caitlin begins speaking]
Caitlin: Hello and welcome to Untitled Tallgeese podcast, where four friends sit down and discuss classic ‘90s anime series Gundam Wing. I am Caitlin, I'm joined today by Kat, Mallory and Cathy. Today, we will be discussing episodes 17 and 18.
In episode 17, “Betrayed by Home, Far Away”, Lady Une goes full femme on a diplomatic tour of the colonies in order to seduce the colonies into accepting OZ control. In fact, she is there scoping out colony defenses and looking for gundam manufacturers, which she finds in the form of five old man scientists. Duo and Quatre decide to head to space via transport to the Singapore OZ base. Their public attack on OZ pushes the colony politicians into going along with Lady Une’s proposed agreement and declaring the gundams their enemies. As all hope appears lost for pilots Two and Four, Wufei arrives, kicking ass and making a nonsense speech which inspires Duo to keep fighting. Heero and Trowa also show up. Quatre realises they won't make it to the transports without someone defending them from the ground and he stays behind to allow them time to launch. As he sets his gundam Sandrock to self-destruct, Sandrock—hereafter known as Gundam Best Boy—opens its own cockpit to allow him to leave, wandering off on its own to self-destruct. Quatre heads to space injured on a shuttle.
In episode 18, “Tallgeese Destroyed”, Zechs tells Treize he can no longer fight for Romefeller so Treize declares that he should die in battle to inspire other soldiers as a martyr. Treize then decides to fight a bunch of robots, the AI-powered mobile dolls, that are technically on his side. He just has to fight them to prove that humanity is better. He demonstrates the power of human connections by having his people nearly assassinate the OZ engineer who designed the mobile suits. Zechs is attacked by mobile suits sent by Romefeller but he kicks all their asses. His mask splits open and we see his sexy Zechs-y face. He declares ‘Friendship ended with Treize, now Lying Face Down On The Beach Next To His Wrecked Mobile Suit is his best friend.’ Meanwhile, in space, Quatre’s shuttle is spotted by Earth Alliance holdouts who hope to use a gundam pilot against OZ. Lady Une attacks them, planning to kill Quatre, but she realises she can use him as leverage to force the old man scientists to build her a mobile suit stronger than both the gundams and Tallgeese. They agree. Later she fires on Quatre anyway but one of the Alliance dudes has switched places with him and he safely escapes. We close with a montage of the gundam pilots settling into colony life—sort of—set to Heero making a speech about humanity, war and peace to his new school, where he is posing as Duo Maxwell. 
[2:52]
Alright. There is a lot to talk about today and I think we will all have many things to say. We wanted to start out today with a discussion of Lady Une, who we've talked about quite a bit on the podcast before, in terms of her, sort of, failure to properly perform the OZ ethos.
Kat: Heart.
Mallory: The heart. 
Kat: The heart of OZ.
Cathy: The heart of OZ!
Mallory: The soul!
Caitlin: And today she opens these episodes in - I think we’re not supposed to recognise her until she identifies herself. She does this sort of like full femme outfit, she lets her hair down…
Mallory: Her voice is completely different.
Kat: Yeah, she has like a complete teen rom-com makeover, right? She takes her glasses off and suddenly she's beautiful! Just a little lipstick.
Mallory: Well, her hair is down too and she's wearing like a femme skirt-suit.
Cathy: Well, I don’t necessarily read her as more or less femme. I mean, like, in her military outfit, she wears lipstick, wears a, you know, dark red crimson like outfit and is in a skirt. So I don't really think that this is like more femme, it’s just differently femme.
Mallory: Yeah, no, I was saying more femme in the sense that her body language is so much softer and her voice is more modulated. She giggles at people's jokes. I read it as more femme in the sense that she's play-acting at these behaviors that other women typically use.
Caitlin: Yeah I agree with that. It's less the look because, as you point out Cathy, her OZ outfit is a feminine version of the OZ outfit and she still does that, like, elaborate hairstyle which is, in my opinion, very feminine, but it's much more restrained and it's much more like authoritarian femme. 
Kat: Well, she's very severe.
Caitlin: I also think of the glasses? Like she takes off her glasses when she's in her like, diplomat mode and then puts them back on dramatically when she identifies herself. And it made me think... There’s a class I TA-ed for on Hitchcock, and Hitchcock's movies have - You know, they have a lot of sort of beautiful women who are objectified in various ways, but they also often have these side female characters, who aren't the sexual object of the protagonist’s desires, and they're often a little bit suspect and they often wore glasses. Like the idea that a woman wearing glasses is able to see more, as opposed to the image of like the innocent girl who can't see. And so like her putting those glasses on is partly like her moving back into the world where she is who she is and is able to see what is going on, as opposed to the diplomat, which is a performance that she sort of - where she's disguising the fact that she has all these other secret plans.
Kat: Well, I was saying the rom-com because she becomes a lot more sexualised. She's using that arsenal in her weaponry as well, which she doesn't do. She's much more severe and authoritative. She's, she’s trying to be intimidating in the military uniform, I think. And in this one, she's obviously more soft and, like, available for romance. Like, she's presenting herself in that way.
Caitlin: It's a little surprising to me because we’ve seen her enact several different military operations, like the bombing that killed Relena’s father, a couple of times we’ve seen her in command, and she doesn't seem like the sort of person who can pull off like a spy situation? [laughs]
Cathy: So, hold on. Hold on. I wonder, and maybe this is a spoiler or maybe you guys have forgotten. She is presented in the show as having a split personality.
Caitlin: Right.
Cathy: So this is not like she is putting on… I mean, she is, right? But she's unconsciously doing it, right? So it's not like she -
Kat: No, I thought that that happened later.
Cathy: No, it's here. 
Kat: Right?
Cathy: No, it's here. She has a split personality disorder and this is the beginning of it. This is the beginning of it.
Kat: But I thought… This is like her specifically putting it on, like she's in control of her transformation here and not later, when she, like, becomes this character.
Cathy: I…
Mallory: Yeah, I mean, like her demeanor and her voice changes, like, dramatically when she puts those glasses on, when her hair goes up in a braid. To me it seemed like she is performing. Not necessarily that it's like a split personality. 
Kat: Yeah.
Mallory: Because she remembers everything that she's doing.
Cathy: So wait, wait wait wait, I’m not arguing that she doesn't remember what she is doing, but I don't think it is the same as she's actually like a spy and this is her cover. Like I think there is an element where she is not in control of her own performance?
Kat: But how is she not in control, then? Like she modulates her - like her voice changes dramatically when she slips them on when she's talking, after she's finished dressing.
Cathy: I - Like, I very much believe, and like maybe this is because I do know later on this becomes a split issue, that this is a personality she sort of develops out of trauma because Treize earlier, in the previous episodes remember, told her, in like very severe terms, to learn more subtlety. This is the beginning of her mental break.
Caitlin: So I think this doesn't contradict what I'm saying, which is that this is not what we expect to see based on what we’ve seen of her previously. She is not - Like she's not good at any of this stuff.
Cathy: I agree, yeah.
Caitlin: So it’s shocking to see her in this form.
Kat: Well, she hasn't tried any of this stuff, is the thing. Like, Treize keeps reprimanding her…
Caitlin: Well…
Kat: ...but we haven't seen her -
Caitlin: But -
Kat: - attempt softer diplomacy, so -
Caitlin: No, but - We haven’t seen her attempt it but there have been plenty of cases where she could’ve - where she should have used it and she did not.
Kat: Right but he's telling her to learn it because the colonies need a softer touch, and then this is where we see her go to the colonies, finally.
Cathy: I agree that this is not… Like I’m not saying that she's not in control necessarily, I have always read this as the beginning of her mental breakdown. And so -
Caitlin: Yes.
Cathy: - this is not as if she made a really conscious and political and strategic decision to assume this. I think this is almost like a trauma reaction where she then -
Kat: Well, I don't disagree that the stuff that happens beyond this could be, is like a trauma response or like she flips out. I think this episode makes tons of sense, building on all the story and interaction that we’ve had between her and Treize. Like he's been pushing this point for a long time and now that she's finally in space to start doing this diplomacy, she's going to try it out. And I do think it's incredibly deliberate and practiced, like she created this persona herself because it is the opposite of herself. She's not using it to cope. She's finally decided to try it out, is what it seems like to me - 
Caitlin: Yeah.
Kat: - and I think it's pretty obvious to me that like, when she puts her war armour back on, like now she's back in militaristic mode and maybe that really sharp delineation between those two parts of her personality or - 
Mallory: The compartmentalisation.
Kat: Yeah, the compartmentalisation and like, maybe the creation of this persona, can help but like if I had not seen any episodes after this, I… Like, watching this is, I was like, “Oh this is when she finally is like, ‘Yeah, Treize told me to do this,’ and she's finally doing it.” 
Caitlin: And obviously, we’re not supposed to know yet that she is… develops a split personality.
[10:09]
Cathy: You know, apart from this, I just wanted to say that after the last episodes, I looked up when Revolutionary Girl Utena was on air and it was actually a year after Gundam Wing.
Mallory: A year after Gundam Wing ended or a year after…?
Cathy: After it began airing. Yeah, so Gundam Wing started airing in ‘95, Utena started airing in ‘96. And so in 18, there's this scene, right, where Lady Une is being helped by her maids.
Caitlin: Yes.
Cathy: And that scene, because of the fact that it’s using silhouettes and it's about this like transitioning between these two personalities, and doing it slowly and piece by piece and like this gradual sort of like building of dread as she becomes more and more Lady Une and not the diplomat Lady Une, where I was like, “Oh my God, that feels so much like Revolutionary Girl Utena.” Like that was the note I made to myself. Only for me to realise that it couldn't have been an homage to it, right, because it didn't exist, so I…
Caitlin: I think it’s just drawing on the same, like similar shōjo tropes.
Cathy: Yeah, I agree. Like, to me, it read as like a really shōjo moment in this otherwise really shōnen series. You know, the femininity of the maids and their outfits and this like, putting on of a woman's wardrobe and what that meant. So I thought that was like also a really interesting scene, because to me it read so much like a shōjo scene.
Caitlin: I also think that there's a lot about this that is a little bit shōjo aesthetics. Like, I think something about the military uniforms and their sort of like European influences are... It is a little bit shōjo. 
Mallory: And like, every time Relena shows up, there are… The simpering girls are, to me, like very shōjo.
Caitlin: Yeah.
Cathy: Caitlin, you were saying it’s very Rose of Versailles. 
Caitlin: Yes.
Cathy: And indeed, like this whole - Like the Romefeller Foundation, their outfits. It's like Italian royalty. Like, Tsubarov literally looks like he walked off a Borgias set, it's very strange. And so…
Mallory: Yeah, it’s...
Caitlin: It’s all the legacy of European style shōjo from the ‘70s. Like it's, I mean, it’s Rose of Versailes, it's a bunch of other stuff. Just that aesthetic of like European-ish aristocracy.
Kat: Was that coming back into fashion at the time?
Caitlin: I don’t know, there might be a generational thing where... So this is like 20 years later. People who grew up watching or reading shōjo manga of the 1970s are now making things themselves, so it might be that sort of influence. I mean, shōjo manga of the 1970s was extremely influential on every genre, including shōnen, including mecha, so yeah.
[12:33]
Alright. Next on our list, I wanted to talk about Quatre, who is declared many times in these episodes to be a genius warrior who could unite the gundam pilots but he actually spends most of these episodes unconscious.
Mallory: No, he’s, he’s pretty butch and, at least at the beginning of episode 17 - 
Caitlin: Yes, that's true. He's alive and awake, and he has a whole plan and then he has his own Heero moment, he self-destructs his gundam. So I’m wondering what people thought about the return of the gundam self-destruct and how Quatre handles it a little bit differently from everybody else.
Kat: I think it's so Quatre because he's killing himself in a selfless way. Like, for others rather than because… Like Heero does but, um, I feel like Trowa was very much like, “I don’t really know what the fuck else to do so… I’m gonna just hit this button,” versus Quatre who’s like, “I will kill myself not to erase my failure but so others can succeed.”
Caitlin: And Gundam Sandrock’s programming seems to be equipped with a ‘save the pilot’ mode when it goes into self-destruct, as well, which maybe speaks to a little bit of the differences in Quatre’s relationship to his colony versus the others?
Mallory: At least his relationship to the maker of his gundam.
Cathy: I do think you're right, that I do think he has a very different relationship with the colonies, you know, obviously, his family and his gundam, shown by Sandrock, and I believe this is one of the few sequences in Gundam Wing where it's kind of implied that the gundams have their own mind?
Caitlin: Yes.
Cathy: And can do things without the pilot, which I think is really New Age-y for a mecha thing!
[laughter]
Cathy: But goes along with the whole Quatre’s, you know, heart of space stuff. And one of the things that's always been really fascinating to me about Quatre is he's much more of a leader of the other pilots than Heero ever was. And so it is, it's fascinating to be reminded of that because I do think there sometimes can be an elision of that, because Heero is such a prominent character. But Heero is more like, a symbolic character than - than Quatre is. Quatre is like an actual practical leader with thoughts! [laughs]
Mallory: Yeah, yeah, Quatre is the one that's like, “Hey, this is what we need to do, this is what we’re going to do, so let's do it.” You know, he's always the one that kind of comes up with, a step one-two-three…
Kat: Any plan! Literally any plan.
Mallory: Any plan, yeah!
Kat: I also think his relationship to Sandrock is foreshadowing. Especially then when we get to episode 18 and Une starts talking about building a super gundam.
Cathy: Oh yeah! For sure! 
Kat: And these are the episodes where we’re introduced to the mobile dolls so like, are they mindless? But now there’s sort of that glimmer here, and then Treize’s comments about the mobile dolls and like the soullessness of that. And it’s like, well maybe they aren’t. [laughs]
Cathy: No, that's a really great point.
[15:35]
Caitlin: We can talk about the mobile dolls now, let’s go in deeper on that. I’m really intrigued about the mobile dolls, just in terms of how Romefeller is building them, Lady Une is using them, and then Treize is opposed but also still using them. [laughs] So I’m wondering where the mobile dolls fall in all of this because like obviously, we’re supposed to think that battle without stakes is bad.
Kat: In my notes, I was like, “Ah, OZ introduces them,” because I was trying to remember, going into this rewatch, I was like, “Are the mobile dolls gonna show up? Who the hell built them?” And they do just sort of... show up!
Caitlin: They show up back in the Siberia altercation where OZ is moving them, they’re about to be launched.
Cathy: I think we’re supposed to interpret them as a Romefeller thing? You know, Tsubarov, who is their chief engineer—despite looking like Gérard Depardieu, which is like really weird! You know, is sitting there watching the mobile doll test and he's their chief engineer. So I think that it's supposed to be like, Romefeller's chief cause is to kind of erase the need for people and just have this force that's all mecha, like mechanized fighters. And then Treize - Like this is one of the breaks between him and Romefeller is that he doesn't like this. So where Lady Une fits in this, I guess, like, she still considers... I think, to her, OZ and Romefeller are more united than maybe at this moment to Treize, so maybe that's why she's more comfortable using them.
Kat: And I think, like, to her, they’re just another weapon.
Cathy: Yes.
Caitlin: Yeah.
Mallory: Yeah, she's a very practical character, so she's like, “I'm going to use the weapon that’s gonna net me the most efficient win.”
Caitlin: I feel conflicted about this because I get what the series is saying, about how war shouldn’t be a game. But the idea that bloodshed is necessary in war because that's how you know not to do war? Like that's basically what one of the doctors says, that like, “Fools go to war but fools learn from the bloodshed of war to stop doing that,” I guess? To me it seems just as cold as the idea that you should go to war with these dolls. The idea that people need to die in order to learn a lesson is much darker to me than the idea that we could send dolls into war to fight instead of us. So I feel really conflicted about the ethics of what the series is trying to say here, even though I agree in terms of contemporary politics that drone warfare is bad, but the reason drone warfare is bad is because people do still die from it. If you just have these mobile dolls fighting each other, then I don’t really see the ethical problem with that except that it doesn't fit with Treize’s idea about what war is good for.
[18:25]
Kat: Well, I think you end up seeing, in the colonies, when they start talking about how the Alliance have them under military rule, and then you get a couple images of a mobile suit standing in the middle of like a town or whatever, and sort of, kind of a shocking scale image of what's going on. So I guess when they talk about all these mobile dolls… And I'm wondering, yeah, does that just mean like Colony B and Colony C are going to work out their problems by just who has the most mobile dolls? Or is it gonna be like, mobile dolls hitting up a civilian wedding?
Mallory: Right, which are big differences. 
Caitlin: Well, I think that's the issue with what the doctors are saying, is that there is no way to get rid of bloodshed and war. So the mobile dolls aren't replacing bloodshed, they’re just sort of moving it off of the burden of the more powerful military and onto the burden of the less powerful military.
Cathy: I think maybe there's this element where, again, the pilot is actually the important resource and why is that? Because the pilot can think, because it's not a program.
Caitlin: The pilot can stop. Yeah.
Cathy: Yeah, and the pilot like, can have his or her own thought, which means that in the world of Gundam Wing, which is very individualistic, that pilot has so much power because he or she can then actually change the course of history. That’s, maybe, I think…?
Caitlin: Yeah, so I mean I sort of joke about this in the summary, but it is a really interesting moment where Treize is encroaching on this mobile doll test, Tsubarov tries to fire on Treize but Treize is able to order the men in the room with Tsubarov to kill him instead. And that, for Treize, is a demonstration of the weakness of mobile dolls, about how you're always going to need humans involved ‘cause humans can make these decisions, they can turn on you…
Kat: Mhmm.
Caitlin: They can decide to follow somebody else, and they have loyalty. 
Kat: That idea of pilots and loyalty? One of the things I noticed was when we see the colonists leading counsel or whatever, for whatever colony they’re on, start talking… The honorary... advisor? The honorary advisor says, “These pilots are desperate because they love the colonies more than anything else.” And like I think that word has come up multiple times in describing, like, why the gundam pilots are so good at what they do. And I don’t know, like gundam pilots have ideology, pilots have ideology so it makes them more effective warriors?
Caitlin: It’s weird though because the pilots don’t. Like, they come into their mission without knowing anything and without really having anything to do besides follow orders. So I think it's a little bit weird that they have, like, this outside perception of being really like fighting for love of the colonies. These are not hard-boiled revolutionaries. These are kids who are recruited to fly robots.
Mallory: And maybe they seem desperate because they're teenagers whose brains haven't fully developed yet, and that's what you get when you leave all these tactical and battle decisions to 16-year-olds.
[21:34]
Kat: I was wondering when Wufei -
Cathy: Oh my god! Yes!
Kat: - shows up to kick ass.
Caitlin: I love him.
Kat: And he goes, “I know what we do is right!” My notes are like, “Well, what does that mean, though??”
Cathy: Exactly, thank you! [laughs]
[crosstalk]
Mallory: What is right?
Kat: Like, what are you doing?!
Cathy: I 100% sign on to this because in my notes, I have literally, “Wufei says, ‘The ones who are right must be strong, and it's because we are right.’” And I was like, “What does that mean?!” [laughs]
Caitlin: It’s very bad! In fact, it is like the opposite of my own ideas of politics, where you should never just like full-force believe that you are right, you should always try to interrogate your own position, and that strength comes from, like, weakness more than anything, vulnerability more than anything.
Cathy: No, no, we are right! And the ones who are right must be strong!
Caitlin: It’s just a bad opinion and… But he's, you know, 12. [laughs] Sorry. 15.
Mallory: Right!
[laughter]
Caitlin: He’s my son. He can say whatever he wants.
[crosstalk]
Mallory: I -
Kat: They’re CW teens!
Mallory: I did like that sort of asshole move of him being like, “Alright Duo and Quatre, if you guys wanna die, go ahead ‘cause we got it from here.”
[laughter]
Mallory: And like, I really liked how he was kind of goading them to get back up because, you know, all hope had seemed lost and they were about to die and then, he rides in.
Caitlin: Yeah, it was a good moment, and I liked that he inspired Duo, it did reawaken my old Two-Five feelings.
Cathy: Yes! 
Kat: Mhmm, yup!
Caitlin: This is when it starts. Look, Two-Five. [laughs]
Cathy: I love…
Kat: A little banter.
Cathy: I love that. I love that, especially since another note I had was that, Duo and Quatre are implied to have spent a lot of time together, and yet it feels absolutely sexless. Like I felt absolutely nothing about them hanging out at this gorgeous mansion with a pool…!
Caitlin: They have no chemistry.
Mallory: They definitely like splashed around that pool together, but it's like the way that little kids splash around the pool together. Like they wrestle and stuff and you can tell that they’re... I like that these episodes kind of established them having worked together as a team, like you can see the way that they're talking and communicating. And I really like that they're a team, but I still don't ship them because it's just… There's just no chemistry.
Kat: Two bottoms!
Mallory: Two bottoms. That’s it. [laughs]
Kat: Two bottom energy, I said it before.
Caitlin: Two bottoms, but I would be fine with that, I like them both very much. I should ship them but I can't do it. I think we need to find like one person on the internet who is a Two-Four shipper.
Cathy: No. No, no, no, we don’t! I’m sorry!
[crosstalk]
Caitlin: And have them on the podcast for an official debate!
Cathy: We’re right, we’re right! We’re right, I must be strong, I must rule out this opinion!
Caitlin: No!
Mallory: Yeah, we’re right and we must be strong!
[laughter]
Caitlin: We need to be open to other ideas, including Two-Four! Just kidding, Two-Five all the way.
Cathy: Absolutely not, absolutely not!
Caitlin: And…
Mallory: Well, we’ll cry forever.
[24:18]
Caitlin: Wait, the other thing in these episodes is that Treize and Zechs break up. Cathy had an explanation of the breakup and what happened and why they broke up and what is going on here, because we couldn’t figure out who Zechs is fighting, really.
Cathy: Okay, so what Treize basically offers him is this huge fight, where he'd send what I guess is supposed to be an outrageous number of mobile suits, which is like 20-something and 30-something.
Caitlin: Yeah.
Cathy: And Zechs has a choice. He can either die here on the battlefield, which is giving everybody what he wants, or he could do a symbolic death, where Zechs Marquise dies and then Zechs basically has to fight his way out and figure out this new thing that he supposed to do, and I guess this is all part of like Treize’s secret plot which I can't really make heads or tails of yet, even though I know what it is! [laughs] So this is the symbolic death of Zechs Marquise and so the idea is that it gives everybody else this impression that Zechs died, because the idea’s like nobody could have survived this fight, but it makes Zechs have to essentially prove himself to Treize, even though he doesn't want to, just so that he can survive. And I was like, this is incredibly stupid because this is therapy, like you guys should all just go to therapy and - 
Caitlin: No!
Cathy: - talk this out.
Caitlin: All therapy in this show is conducted via mobile suit battles. I think it's all mobile suit therapy.
Kat: So my question is, I guess I thought when Treize was speaking to Zechs, where he was like, “You can die in a great battle and you'll inspire all these other soldiers,” that… it meant that Zechs would go out in a blaze of glory for OZ, not be attacked by OZ, so that's why I was confused.
Cathy: Well, I think, to me it seems really obvious that, when he says, when he talks about the “blaze of glory” he means like, the symbolic death of Zechs Marquise, which like, “This is the end of Zechs Marquise who was the fighting machine just for OZ.”
Caitlin: Yeah.
Cathy: Like, Zechs Marquise -
Caitlin: And that’s the split in the mask.
Cathy: Yeah.
Caitlin: That is what happens.
Kat: Right, but also Zechs Marquise is like no longer fighting for OZ, and he was the one - The soldiers that he's meant to inspire don't know that he's also Milliardo Peacecraft, even though it’s kind of obvious.
Mallory: The way that I read that was that Treize was saying like, “You will die in a blaze of glory, it will be like a firefight, and this is the narrative if you die in battle. Basically, like if you let us kill you on the battlefield, we will make you a hero for OZ.”
Caitlin and Cathy: Yeah.
Kat: Ohhhh. Okay.
Mallory: I thought that was the promise that Treize was making Zechs.
Kat: Okay.
Mallory: You can either - 
Kat: Yeah.
[26:47]
Cathy: I do want to say that there is something really interesting that to me was happening in episode 18, which is when you see all the Aries and Cancers that attack Zechs, you never see the face of any pilot that’s in them, which is kind of weird for Gundam Wing when we’re doing a big battle like this.
Caitlin: That’s true.
Cathy: You usually at least see somebody, like some establishing shot of the pilot screaming or something, and it's totally silent. It kind of echoes the Taurus scenes that we see earlier except I don't think that there are yet, or maybe ever—I'm kind of fuzzy on this—automated Aries and Cancers. So it is like this really strange moment where, kinda like tying all those things together like, people versus robots, like who is fighting who.
Caitlin: So one of the episode summaries online says that the people in the mobile suits Zechs is fighting are Alliance and that they've just been employed by Romefeller to do this.
Cathy: Which maybe is true. Which maybe is true.
Caitlin: Which maybe is true, and we just totally missed it. ‘Cause who the heck knows.
Kat: So I liked this episode because of all the like, but found it confusing, because of all the cross alliances.
[27:51]
Caitlin: Yes, that is our other agenda point, I believe. There's a really interesting earlier moment in episode 17 where you get the split in the colony politics.
Kat: Yeah.
Mallory: Mhmm.
Caitlin: And the younger colony politician, the one who’s sort of falling for Lady Une, is explicitly like, “This is a generational gap. The older types, the second generation or first generation colonists, think that OZ and the Alliance are basically the same. But us younger types, the third generation of colonists, see the difference between OZ and the Alliance.” And that's the breakdown that we get when he goes to his little council and the old man comes in and is like, “I love gundams, I hate OZ and Alliance.”
[laughter]
Caitlin: And he's like, “No, we have to be political and make good choices. Lady Une is looking out for us.” All of us in the audience are like, “No, that's crazy.”
Mallory: I found that young dude to be like a really interesting, watching that in today's world, because I kept thinking sort of how easily young, college-educated, supposedly smart people can fall for something like Lady Une ‘cause like her voice is so nice and what she saying is so chilling that if you just listen to her voice, you think, “Oh, she’s saying such nice and lovely things and, you know, Lady Une wants to help us.” 
Caitlin: He did, he did look like a neoliberal. I don’t know how to describe it, he looked neoliberal.
[laughter]
Mallory: That’s not necessarily where I was going, but…!
Kat: He did have that look. He wasn't quite ‘intellectual dark web’.
Mallory: No, no.
Caitlin: No, definitely not. He doesn't seem like he has a, uh, any sort of revolutionary sense. He seems like he would tell you like, “Oh, just for practicality, we have to maximize our potential to…”
Mallory: “We have to make these unsavoury alliances.”
Caitlin: Yeah.
Mallory: “Even with people we disagree with, because they will help us.” And I think in the ethos of the show, that’s the opposite of the kind of passion and emotion that the gundam pilots are fighting with and so, the show is very clearly showing you like, “Hey kids, even young adults can sell out so don't sell out, always fight with your heart.”
Kat: But it’s...
Caitlin: There’s some commentary on like, real life Japanese politics, and in the US, politics as well, that the ultra right wing and the ultra left wing have more in common with each other than they do with the, like, middle-of-the-road moderates.
Kat: Oh no, is this horseshoe theory?
[laughter]
Caitlin: Yeah, it’s a little bit horseshoe theory. But you hear it quite often, where, like, they can at least unite around the idea that things are bad about society. [laughs] Maybe that's Treize and the gundam pilots and that's why they can, that's why they can fight nobly together!
Kat: I think the images we get of the colonies is so interesting, ‘cause... It's like they were a total police state up until like right now. But then we also have Relena and her father go visit the colonies, where he was like, “Look at how peaceful and wonderful it is here in the colonies.” The details we get about colony life in this episode are fucking wild. Like they weren’t allowed to contact each other, there's no travel in between colonies…
Cathy: Yeah.
Kat: They've been living under like this hardcore military rule for at least 15 years, because the doctors have not talked to each other in 15 years so I kind of get why third generation dude is like, “They're getting rid of the space mines and they just killed all the dudes who’ve been living on this colony oppressing me,” so…
[31:21]
Caitlin: Yeah and that brings us to the scientist guys, the old men. It means that like 15 years ago, they were like, “Yes. We’re never gonna speak to each other again, possibly.”
Cathy: [laughs] Yes! And can I say the really funny thing here is like, I have to assume that they exchange no plans, no communication, no blueprints, and yet ended up with five gundams that look really similar to each other!
Caitlin: Well, they had worked on Tallgeese together, right? So - 
Cathy: I guess! But like -
Caitlin: They are like adapting those plans.
Cathy: But Professor G is like, “Oh yeah, I created what I think was like the utmost machine. Why would I create five of them?” And I'm like, “Dude, do you not see that all five of these, like, look like the same thing?!”
[laughter]
Caitlin: You’ve just swapped out different arms! One of them has heavier arms, one of them has dragon arms.
[laughter]
Caitlin: That’s it!
Kat: One of them has a scythe.
Caitlin: Yes!
Kat: One has wings!
Caitlin: One has wings. Only the limbs are different.
Kat: I see why the colonists would be like, “Yeah, let's get those gundams so we can be fucking freed from the Alliance,” and why the colonists would be like, “Okay well, whoever's freeing us from the Alliance is fine, like it would just be great to not be suffering under military rule.”
[32:24]
Caitlin: This might be a good moment to transition into our fandom artifact, which has a lot about the colony life, which is Heero’s closing speech of episode 18. I sort of recognised his voice but I couldn’t tell immediately it was him, just ‘cause it seemed like a really weird thing for him to be saying. But all of the gundams have sort of docked somewhere in the colonies, some of them are still floating in space. Trowa’s hacking something. And then we see Heero walking around in a nice little turtleneck and he's making a speech about colony life.
Kat: And at first you think it's like a paper, right? Like maybe he's presenting an essay?
Cathy: Yes!
Caitlin: In fact, it is his greetings to the class! The teacher interrupts him to say, “I don't think this was a good topic for your greeting speech.” And I don’t know, if any of you have ever seen anime, you’ve seen like a transfer student come into a class and the teacher say, “Please introduce yourself.” And they say, “Hello, my name is Caitlin and I used to go to such-and-such school,” and then they sit down. And instead he talks about why the colonies were created, how they’ve turned to militarism.
Cathy: And of course, the kicker at the end is that he enrolled under Duo’s name so then you have this like - I remember being like, jaw on the ground watching this!
Caitlin: Yeah.
Mallory: Yeah.
Cathy: First of all, that it was Heero’s speech. Second of all, that he was giving it as a self-introduction, and third of all, that it was under Duo’s name.
Mallory: There’s so many wild things happening in that scene, like Heero’s kind of nihilism, and the shots of his new classmates staring at him in horror? Transfixion? Transfixed…?
[crosstalk]
Kat: Awe?!
Caitlin: It’s groups of girls who definitely think he’s hot.
Kat: The girls, like there’s - I couldn't tell if they were like transfixed by his beauty or horrified by him just being like…
[crosstalk]
Mallory: Yeah, just being like, clutching pearls!
Cathy: Ooh, ooh!
Kat: “Space sucks!” 
Cathy: I also want to call out, I believe this is the first time that we’ve seen a school where not everyone is wearing uniforms, so there is kind of an interesting break here, like it looked more like a college classroom, almost?
Mallory: I like that he calls himself Duo, because that's definitely like fic fodder.
Caitlin: Yes. Yes.
Cathy: And it was, and it was fic fodder.
Caitlin: And it was indeed fic fodder! [laughs]
Cathy: There was a lot of… I mean, I, I - So when I originally was thinking about this, I know there's at least two fics that came to mind, which I could not find again because I couldn't remember the name or anything else about them, but one of them was like in-depth explanation, like you know, tracing why Heero like chose to unroll under Duo Maxwell’s name. But another thing, why I wanted to call out this speech is I remember there were a number of AUs which would like take this moment and have it be like an infodump in another way, to try to explain like - You know, there would be a setup, in which Heero would be addressing, like, a class and it would be based off of this speech. So clearly like this, this moment is like shocking for a lot of people, and like definitely was a moment that a lot of us thought about for all sorts of reasons. At the time, I didn't think about it for the actual text of it, which now that I’m reading and like thinking about the images we see, it’s wild.
Caitlin: It's actually - There’s something that’s a little bit like Evangelion episode 25 montage.
[laughter]
Cathy: Yes.
Mallory: “The animals known as humans have acquired such strength.”
Cathy: And like, this false pacifism, this false living space.
Caitlin: The aquarium - Not the aquarium, the TV shots - 
Cathy: Yes.
Caitlin: - of the fish, and I’m just like, “This is some real, like, art. This is some artistry here for Gundam Wing.” [laughs]
Cathy: Yeah I definitely agree, it felt really montage-y in a beautiful and like really strangely subversive way, and I think it was also... This idea of like all these images that we see on life, that we are supposed to, I guess, contrast with, like, the sterile idea of living on a colony? Like, I think that was kind of where it was going. But I don’t know, it gave me so many images and so many thoughts and never went anywhere, which I guess is kind of like Gundam Wing in a nutshell, is this speech.
[laughter]
Caitlin: There are lots of moments in Gundam Wing where people are making speeches and they don't, like the words don't really make sense, but somehow with the words combined with the images, you get an idea of what they are saying. Like it leaves, like, an emotional impression, but I'm really intrigued by the ideas in this, which is that, is this Heero saying his real opinions? This is more - 
Kat: Yeah.
Mallory: Yeah.
Caitlin: This is a really long speech, this is a lot of monologuing.
Kat: But it’s weird because it's very much like, “Military technology has ruined our idyllic dream of living eternally in space,” right?
Caitlin: Yes.
Kat: Even though, like, he is… He was basically built to utilise this technology built by doctors in the colonies.
[37:13]
Cathy: Wait so, Mallory, I wanted to ask you a question because I was reminded when I went back and thought about it that you had not watched the show in its entirety, but you had read some fanfic. So I'm curious what you think about Heero, like what you thought you knew about Heero’s characterisation and then what you're actually seeing as you watch the show, specifically now that we’re at episode 18?
Mallory: Well, so I'm looking at the Tumblr post about this speech and it starts with, um, “For whoever started the absurd fanon idea that Heero is a cold killing machine with no emotions or opinions, I present this speech.” I think all the fanfic I read was very much informed by, ‘Heero is the cold one and Duo is the one that runs hot.’ As the show has gone on, like, Heero is a lot more of a subtle character than fanon presented to me. Like he jokes in like a wry way that I don't know that 13-year-olds writing Gundam Wing fanfic can really emulate? 
[laughter]
Mallory: But try to. 
Kat: Indictment on my past self right here.
Mallory: Well, we were 13-year-olds writing fanfic about -
Caitlin: It's okay.
Mallory: - these characters and emotions. 
Caitlin: We still respect you, Kat, it’s okay.
[laughter]
Caitlin: Just because you didn't understand the subtleties of Heero’s character as a 13-year-old. Yeah, this speech is… Even having adapted my interpretation of Heero from the fanon interpretation to what I'm actually seeing in the show on rewatch, this speech is still beyond what I would've expected. Why did he write this? 
[laughter]
Kat: Do you think he didn't want friends? He's like not here to make friends?
Caitlin: No, I think he wants to make friends! I think this is his way of making friends!
Kat: If you wanted to start a revolutionary club at your school!
Caitlin: Yeah! I think he wants to start a revolutionary club at his school. That's exactly it. 
Mallory: Cathy, going back to like what fanon has told me versus like what I'm seeing in the show, one thing I wanted to say was, I was remembering watching these episodes where we finally see all five of them back together in like one spot, and they're like... It's a big moment that they're all back together. And I remember in the beginning, like my conception was that this was a team show and not just, like, a show about five people, you know, and they might cross over but they're all kind of on very individual paths. So it was really interesting to watch this episode where I was like, “Oh, when was the last time we saw all five of them in the same, like, battle together?”
Caitlin: The other thing I want to say about the speech is that, like, part of what the show is about, is about moving from like a childhood where you don't really understand politics or the world and you don't really understand like what's going on, you just sort of do what you're told, to like developing a political consciousness. And you see it most clearly in Relena, but I think, like, moments like this with Heero, you're also seeing it in the gundam pilots, and it’s a little bit inconsistent and they make up a lot of weird nonsense along the way, but you do have this moment…
[laughter]
Caitlin: But this is like a really powerful moment of like asserting yourself and your own ideas in a way that the show depicts as sort of unified with the ethos of the show. Like by putting this in a voiceover for a large section of the speech, Heero's voice becomes the voiceover of the show.
[Just Wild Beat Communication MIDI begins playing in background]
Caitlin: Alright, thank you all for tuning in and we will see you next time when we watch episodes 19 and 20.
[Just Wild Beat Communication MIDI continues playing]
Mallory: Tell us what you thought of these episodes. You can find us on Twitter at @TallgeesePod. We also have full transcriptions on our Tumblr, untitledtallgeesepodcast.tumblr.com. And follow us on Instagram at @UntitledTallgeesePodcast for fandom artefacts, sneak peeks, and more. Until next time.
[Music ends]
[End at 41:19]
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blue-scr33n · a year ago
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OKAY! Here’s a new series I’m starting because I’ve griped (both online and off) about how much I dislike the girl’s designs for ML, so I’m going to do my own designs!  Starting off we have the Ladybug and the Cat! 
I’ll start with my gripes that happen to be about Ladybug’s design first.
IT ALL SUCKS!  Okay, that’s a bit of an overstatement. Her pigtails and ribbons imitating antennae are good, nice when it comes to her design, and very fitting. However, a skintight onesie with spots? That neither looks comfortable (which show can get away with since it’s magic, so always comfortable) nor looks like a good superhero design.  So in my redesign I decided that it should be both functional, and look good/comfy. I kept the onesie, but that was so villains had a lack of areas to grip (I did give the impression of boots, and was planning on adding some red militaristic-esk soles.) Then I gave her the jacket (that has gloves and is fingerless just because I wanted too, and it allows for a place to put smaller lucky charms) I wanted it to have something on it though, and so I placed the ladybug on the back (Originally having her with her name below the Ladybug too, like a sports jersey.)  I also made her eyes black because it both calls back to her being mixed race, and the fact I believe Tikki shouldn’t have blue eyes so she’d look more bug-like (Not fully black eyes, but at least iris’. The blue eyes are cute, but kinda put out the whole color scheme in my opinion) 
Then for Lady Noire’s
IT ACTUALLY SUCKS! Not only is it less visually interesting aside from her braid tail (which has another argument from me) that Ladybug’s, it’s also skintight and doesn’t have a single embellishment aside from the belt she has (The ears are obligatory, like the tail. They don’t count.) Chat at least has his boots/gloves that give him something. Lady Noire (which I don’t like her name, thus, Kitty Noire, which I accidentally didn’t spell Noire in the art.) I had a whole new design idea, one that still used her hair for one of the elements (I found that quite clever, however, not fitting of Marinette per se)  So in my redesign I decided that to match Chat, it’d be playful and yet look good/functional. It’s still pretty skintight, however, I decided to section off the top like a chesogasm and give her a little cat pawprint to end it (I thought it looked really cute) I also gave her more color than Chat, which wasn’t going to be the case originally. Her belt was going to be black, just like the suit, but then I got the idea of it being a green belt (Using my own karate belts for inspiration and reference) so it evolved from there! It gave her twintails, which I find to be really fitting since she seems like the person to like doubles of things (Pigtails, the ears I gave her reflecting that, and the earrings which could arguably only be one and still work as in canon)  And yes! She does have the toe beans on her feet, it was too cute to not pass up (It’s just not shown here.)  Finally, I didn’t change her eyes to green. I left them black, why? The fact she has such unnaturally blue eyes when her parents have such dulled eyes? It doesn’t feel right, plus black eyes with green scelra coming at you with a baton? Yeah, that’d be a bit intimidating (Sadly, you wouldn’t be able to see her scelra, but that’s regardless of the fact it’s still pretty creepy since I’d assume Chat’s eyes have the reflective properties an actual cat’s does in the dark.) 
BUT HEY! These are just my opinions! You find something wrong with my redesigns, go ahead to rip me a new one because I’m not going to block you over something that small unlike ol’ Hawkdaddy!
Tune in next week were I design Marinette a fox and turtle outfit, then bee, and then the final of the main five will be the peacock and butterfly! The only one of the zodiacs I’ll do is the Mouse (and maybe dragon/dragonbug too, but I haven’t decided on that yet)  Then I’ll do Alya (With the main two and five), then Chloe, and finally Kagami (And are just like Alya)
(December 2019)
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druidx · a year ago
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The Darner’s Dance Pt2
Context: Set in the the Fighting Fantasy/ Torguard universe, several years after the end of Destiny's New Servants where the Special Recondite Unit has been running unhindered for a while. Also yes, Elo is thirsty AF. That's what happens where you're nearly the only Gay on the Village and have a job with no regular hours.
Warnings: Passing mentions of general fantasy violence, w|w flirting. (Really this 90% tooth-rotting fluff, but if there is anything wants adding let me know)
I came to a halt just outside the doors of Mistress Yidril's shop, gulped a few breaths and tried to stop my heart from hammering like I hadn't just run a mile to get here. There was a small down-spout next to the pastel-green frontage that fed into a barrel. Standing on tip-toes, I looked at my reflection in the dark water for a moment, trying to put my wild brown hair back in its place. Six of the right-hand braids were coming loose, so I scooped them all into one and pulled a tie around the lot. It hung lopsided but was better than nothing. Between my sun-blanched freckles and generally dark skin, it was hard to see if I'd been splattered with blood. I splashed my face and scrubbed it over with the hem of my tunic anyway, just in case. My tunic that carried the distinctive scent of hops. I groaned internally; that was sure to be noticed. Gods damn. Now I understood why the Triumvirate were nervous about having me represent the city...
As neat as I could be in the circumstances, I walked into The Darner's Dance. "Miss- Captain O'Toreguarde!" Mistress Azéli said, coming around the counter. "You are a half-hour late for your appointment... Why do you smell of ale? I thought you didn't drink... What are those stains... Rust?" "I apologise for being late. I was detained by an, ah, incident outside the Cracked Crockpot. The local Watch was struggling to contain a bar brawl and asked me to render assistance. It took a little longer than I expected to get everything under control." Miss Azéil gave me a penetrating look, and I wondered if she could see through my reconstructed set of events. Truthfully I'd been dragged into the meleé when a drunkard in said brawl had, on seeing my uniform, tried to strike me with his ale. He only succeeded in soaking my tunic, but my noise of annoyance had drawn other unfriendly eyes, and well, I'm sure you can picture the rest. "I thought you usually travelled by Dragon?" "I do when she's available, but Aurianna has her own tasks and chores." "Hrmph. Very well. This way," Miss Azéil said, turning away. She led me back down the corridor to Miss Yidril's conservatory.
Once again, the heady scent of lavender and rose, and the shimmering brightness of the room overwhelmed me as we entered. I barely heard Mistress Azéli introduce me, and withdraw. I couldn't help but close my eyes for a moment, breathing it in, feeling the warmth. A friendly set of giggles came from the centre of the room and I opened my eyes again to see Nula smiling at me with fondness, while a quartet of ladies - youngsters really - giggled from behind their hands. "I'll be with you in a moment, Lady Toreguarde. Help yourself to tea," Miss Yidril said, waving at the little table again. I took a seat and poured tea for myself, watching as Nula dealt with the girls. I could only assume they were attending some society event for the first time. Their dresses were demure, long skirts and high bodices, but a riot of stunning summer colours with exquisite embroidery in patterns of leaves and flowers. I sat silently as they were measured, pinned and tweaked into the dresses, and tried not to judge them for their upbringing. Nor myself, for my hypocrisy, though that was a lot harder.
Soon enough Nula was done, the girls' dresses had been returned to their hangers to be taken away later, and the girls themselves had left. The conservatory seemed somewhat quieter without the backdrop of giggles, cooing and gentle high spirits. Nula sat down opposite me and let out a gusty sigh. I poured her a cup. "Do you take milk or honey, Mistress Yidril?" I asked. "Please, call me Nula. And just some honey, thank you," she replied and tipped her head back, eyes closed while I stirred in the honey and placed the cup in front of her. She rested a moment longer, before giving another sigh, and bringing herself back to the present. "Thank you," she said again and drank half the tea in one go. "They seemed... nice," I said. "They are, but they are also divas in training, and a bit of a handful together." Nula smiled. "Thank you for being so patient." "You're welcome," I said, smiling back. Nula finished her tea in another few gulps, so I poured another, as she spoke. "I have some ideas for you to look at, and pick which you like the best. It shouldn't take my girls too long to make them up." "Oh? How many do you employ? I genuinely thought it was just you and the shop assistant." "Oh! No, no." Nula laughed. "I have five girls on my payroll. They're all quite talented seamstresses, and two of them are skilled Fabrication mages like myself." "Fabrication mages?" I blinked, and Nula chucked at my confusion. "The Mages' tower don't like to talk about us. Not mysterious or debonair enough I suppose," she said between slower sips of tea. "Fabrication is a type of mage-craft that seems inherent to some elves. Have you never wondered why our architecture and our clothes seem so ethereal? It's because they are created using Fabrication mages." "Ah, so the reason your buildings seem faintly magical, is because they are?" "Indeed," Nula said, laughing again. "Well, I'll be," I said smiling. We finished our tea then, and Nula invited me over to her desk.
The elf laid out a selection of drawings over the other haphazardness of her desk. "These are the day outfits," Nula said, pointing to the four drawings on the left, "and these are the evening ideas," she indicated the rest. "What's that one?" I asked, pointing at the one still in her hand. "Oh, hah." Nula's cheeks pinked, a pretty rose shade to her golden skin. "This isn't one of the selections. I just needed to get it out of my system before I could focus. You'll hate it." "May I see?" Nula gave me a considering look, then handed the paper over. Ooh, that's pretty, came the voice of my dragon, as I looked over the drawing. I thought you were busy, I replied internally. And I am. But not too busy to have a half eye on the outfits you're to pick. You have no taste. I gave Aurianna a mental grumble, partly because she was right. Nula was right as well. The costume - because I could never call anything with quite so much ostentation an "outfit" - was a complex, glittering and voluminous thing in white with gold embroidery. A headdress of obscene proportions filled with gems hovered over a pencilled head, while to one side, a pair of feathered wings and harness was drawn with a question mark next to it. From an objective view, it was stunningly beautiful, and would probably have won awards just as it was on paper. From my point of view, it was an abomination of fabric. So much expense, for something someone might parade around in once. So much waste. "You're right," I said, handing it back. "I hate it." You'd look so pretty in it, Aurrianna sulked in my head. Don't care, I said, and gave her a flash of all the outrage I'd felt at seeing it. Plus, it'd contrast too much. It would look so bright underground, and with my skin tone... I felt a mental giggle from the dragon. Cor cordium, she said, you literally glow when giving speeches. I gave her a mental tut and turned my attention back to the outfits. Of the day outfits, there was a definite theme. All echoed the blue of the Watch's uniform, all gave a militaristic bearing. One was a closed top, short sleeves and a rounded high collar with wide-legged trousers, embroidered with gold. The second was a jacket, long-sleeved and tapered at the waist, with a squared-off high neck and silver frogging, coupled with narrow trousers. The third was a loose v-necked jacket, tied at the waist with a long billowy tail that hung behind flared trousers. The last was an asymmetric jacket, clasped at the waist with a strip of metal, and the same straight trousers as the second. Outfits one, two and three all featured a long, square-shouldered cape, attached by some secret fastening, the drawing showing it as removable. "Well?" Nula asked. "I- Well." I ran a hand across my temples. "They're... alright." "You hate them. I knew it." She dramatically threw her hands up in the air and swept away from me. "I went too overboard, didn't I? Damnit. I shouldn't have gotten so carried away." She put her hands on her hips, tilting her head downwards. I ran a hand over my forehead again. "I don't hate them. They're just a bit more... fancy than I was expecting." I sighed. "Perhaps I was expecting too much. There's no way I can stay true to myself and please the council. I mean- Gods. When His Majesty met me I was wearing butchered vestments of Moradin, held in place by a set of skeleton armour. I met his children and their aunt in a refugee camp, after days on the road and tending to the sick. I don't need to impress them. They wouldn't be demanding my presence if I hadn't." Nula turned back to me, sharply pivoting on one foot. "But it's not them you need to impress, is it?" she said. "It's the people of Fangthane. Do you know much about dwarves, Lady Toreguarde? They like glittery things. The more gilt and intricate a person's clothes, the more they command respect. They wouldn't look twice at you in what you're wearing now... Well, they might, but only because you smell like beer." I looked away from her, at the irises, the peonies and sweetpea that surrounded her conservatory. "I just don't know if I can justify this." I pressed a hand to forehead again. "The fabric of these alone is going to cost more than most people make in a week. Then add the embellishments and your time and everything. This outfit, that I'll wear a few times at most, could feed a family for half a year. But I can't embarrass the council. Once in Fangthane, I will be Toreguarde. I can't disobey a direct order. But I'm also breaking my vows if I wear any of these. The Gods have expectations... The Council has expectations. I don't- What'm I-" "Hey! Hey. Breath." Nula knelt on the floor in front of me, parts of her face obscured by dark blotches. She gently tilted my head so I was facing her, looking her in the eyes, as she took my hand, making slow, small circular motions around the heel. "Take a breath. In." I breathed in. "Good. And out?" I breathed out. "Excellent. There we go. Much better." "Sorry," I said, after a long moment of calming down. "Not a problem." Nula gave me a small smile. "It's been a little while since someone's had a panic attack in here." She glanced off to the side, staring at the flowers for a long while, before she turned back to me, her expression serious. "Look, if it's that much of an issue for you how about this: Whichever outfit you pick, for every one I sell because you wore it first, I'll donate 20% of the profit to the Shield." I bit my lip in surprise, then started to say thank you, but Nula cut me off. "-And! Every year that I'm still in business, I'll take an apprentice. Someone from the outer districts. They have to know their letters and numbers already and show an aptitude for the craft, but I'll give someone a chance that might not otherwise get." "That's incredibly generous of you," I said, and I just knew my shock still showed. "Thank you so much. I'll have my assistant put you in touch with someone from the Shield." Nula laughed. "Not a problem. Anything to get you over this dissonance, and get my product out there. So which will it be?" I looked back at the outfits. "Which one is going to get the most money?" I asked. Nula frowned and tutted at me. "Don't do that," she said. "You need to pick what's going to be most comfortable for you." I hummed lightly, looking over the drawings again. "This one," I said, picking up the one with the high-necked jacket. It was the simplest look, with the most elegance. It also looked closest to what I usually wore, and would, therefore, be easiest to fight in. "But, could it have less glitz? And also, could you put a- a split thingy in the back, or on the shoulders so I don't rip it the moment I move my arms?" "Oh, like a pleat?" Nula looked up from where she'd found a spare sheet of paper and was doodling new designs. "Uh. Maybe?" "Here, like this." She grabbed a swatch of fabric and demonstrated, pinching the fabric to create a hidden fold. "Yes, like that." Nula nodded and handed me the swatch. "Incidentally, that's the fabric I was thinking of. Let me know what you think." I felt the square. One side was the softest linen I'd ever felt. On the other was stitched some kind of satiny fabric. The linen was a deep blue, matching the Watch's uniform, while the satin was a pale blue. "It's lovely," I told her. She hummed in response, momentarily absorbed in her drawing.
As she was busy, I turned my attention to the evening outfits. The first was a peach coloured dress, it's skirt short and a split up one side, while the bodice was asymmetric, beaded decorations that could have been flames or feathers reaching up from the waist to the shoulder. Noted separately was a hose and shorts combo, so I could run and not be embarrassed, I supposed. The second outfit was a vibrant red dress, the skirt cut short across the front, but dipping down behind. The bodice was cut plainly, square across the chest from shoulder to shoulder. But it was the embroidery that made this garment stand out. On the back of the dress was a geometric design, picked out in gold thread, depicting a dragon clinging to the wearers back. Again, the hose and shorts combo made an appearance. The third was white, the short skirt wavy, perhaps made from some diaphanous material, with two splits in it. The bodice was gathered at each shoulder with a gold boss, dipping down at the front and leaving a drape of material across the back. It was pulled in at the waist by a metal-looking gold girdle, decorated with flowers and leaves. The final outfit was a midnight blue suit, made from some shimmering material. The trousers went straight down, but the jacket was decorated along the wide lapels with silver elvish script and flowers. I don't know which to pick, I thought to Aurianna. They are all so beautiful. You could be practical about it. The blue one will be easiest to fight in. What if, for once, I want to be pretty? I asked. There was an internal silence, as Auri considered my words. I was glad she didn't call me out on it. After all, I have permission now. I added, half-joking. Take care, My dragon warned me, her aspect in my mind taking the form of thunder clouds - bruise-dark and ominous. That kind of thinking is a slippery slope. She paused. Her aspect lightened. I like the red one, she added, and then I got the impression she'd turned her attention back to whatever it was she should have been doing. I sighed. Some help she'd been. If I was being strictly practical, then I should take the suit. If I had to wear a skirt, then the floating one would be best. But my eye kept being drawn back to the peach number. It would certainly surprise any enemy that saw me in it. I drummed my fingers on Nula's desk. It would have helped if I knew exactly why I'd been summoned by the King of Fangthane. His emissary had given me some gumph about protecting my best friend and now pregnant High Inquisitor of Moradin, but something about his delivery had been off. Plus, her Eminence did not me to babysit her, preggers or otherwise. Still, if all King Storri wanted to do was show the power he commanded, that would be one way to draw attention. I sighed. "I may regret this," I said, picking up the piece of paper, "But I'd like this one for my evening outfit. Can you make sure that it goes over the right shoulder though? I need the left clear for my holy symbol." Nula looked up at me, glanced at the paper, frowned and her eyes found mine again. "Are you sure?" she asked, the confused frown turning to a worried one. "Yes," I said, confident in my bullshit. "It's a tactical choice. I'm always the distraction. It seems to be my primary focus in life. I will be extra distracting in this." "Yes," Nula agreed, her eyes going languid as she looked me up and down. A lazy smirk tugged at her lips, and her cheeks reflected the colour of her roses. "Yes, you will be quite the distraction." I blinked. "Why Mistress Yidril. Are you flirting with me?" "And if I am?" she asked, her tone teasing. I took a breath, then let it out in a gusty sigh as reality caught up with the dozen of interesting images that flashed through my mind. "I'm flattered, but now is not a good time. In a handful of days, I'm being sent to the other end of Alansia for Gods know how long. Also, we both have work to do to prepare for said trip." She was giving me a coy sideways look. "But you are interested, correct?" I looked her straight in the eye and said simply, "Mistress Yidril, had circumstances not conspired against us, I would have suggested we took tea and crumpets at your abode within the hour." The light dusting of rose bloomed to a full-on blush as her eyebrows raised. "Galana take pity on me," she breathed. "That audacity." Nula swallowed, and I found myself watching closely the grace of her neck. "How do you not have people fawning all over you the moment you step outside in the morning?" I shrugged. "I'm told I'm quite scary before my morning tea." Nula laughed, and oh that was a delightful sound. I smiled sadly. "Forgive me, Mistress Yidril, but I believe we still have work to do?" She hummed and sighed wistfully. "Yes, we do." She turned the page she had been working on around to show me. "Are these designs more to your liking?" I took the page to see she'd redrawn the jacket I'd requested. Instead of the excessive silver frogging, she'd imagined some kind of hidden fastening. A minuscule amount of golden thread created a border around the neck, hem, cuffs and down the front that was filled with geometric leaf designs, picked out in a blue only slightly lighter than the jacket fabric. The one exception to this subtlety was the back of the collar, where a starburst was depicted, and the back of the hem, where a dragon was shown, both picked out in the gold thread. I handed it back, smiling. "It's beautiful. Much more my style," I said, and Nula beamed. "Very well then," the elf said, and I handed her back both drawings. She made a note about my prefered side for the dress and nodded. "I'll have my girls get started on these as soon as possible," she said, fixing the two drawings together with an extra note. Her hands skittered over her desk as she spoke further, tidying the other drawings away and replacing pens. "I'll need you to come back in two days for a fitting. There will inevitably be tweaks to be made, but we should be able to do the alterations then return the articles to you, packed and ready for travel before you leave." Nula raked her fingers through the hair above her ears, stopping short of pulling on her crown of plaits. "Is everything okay?" "Yes yes." She flapped a hand at me, but there was an undertone to her words. One side of her lips curled up, but the smile didn't reach her eyes. I stepped forward, and gently took that flapping hand. "Nula, I really appreciate everything you're doing for me. If there's anything I can do-" "Oh, no." She gave a depreciating little laugh. "It's nothing serious. Just a little flustered" She looked back down at the drawings on her desk. "There's just so much to do, in such a short time." "Oh. Yes." My short laugh was more tired than anything, thinking about having to get my Watchhouse in order before I left. "Tell me about it." "Over dinner?" Nula asked, ever hopeful apparently. I laughed again, brighter this time. "I think we're both a little busy for dinner. How about I bring you pastries to my next appointment?" "I would really like that," Nula said, smiling properly now, a beautiful, shimmering thing. I looked at her a moment longer, before bringing her hand up and ghosting my lips over it. "As my lady wishes then," I said and gave her hand back with a wink.
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thedistantstorm · a year ago
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Project Compass 18
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This time: Vah’nya teaches Ezra something new. Thrawn miscalculates.
Next time: Ezra tries to navigate the fallout.
-/
Vah'nya sat entirely motionless in Ivant's office located just off the main bridge. Her eyes were not closed but barely open, their muted red glow creating a soft purple gradient against her cheeks. In her lap, her hands were folded as if serene. Every so often, they would twitch or jerk, but the rest of the time they remained still and unmoving.
When the door to the hallway opened, she did not stir. Ivant moved slowly. He did not raise the lights, nor did he comment on the Navigator sitting behind his desk. Methodically, he retrieved two mugs from a cabinet that by all accounts would have held liquor if it were a more traditional Chiss officer in command, filled the equally out of place kettle, and programmed the warming pad.
Once the water reached optimal temperature, Ivant pulled two sachets of tea from the back of a drawer. The smell was grounding - frosty wintermint with the subtlest hint of Csillan evergreen. He dipped one sachet in each mug, set one before the Navigator sitting at his desk and sat down as if he were the visitor. He picked up the datapad he’d left on the chair when he’d arrived, muted the brightness as not to be blinding, and tasked himself with requisitions and reports while he waited.
After a few moments, she shuddered and came back to herself.
“Still too hot to drink,” Ivant said mildly, not yet looking at her. She wrapped long, slender fingers around it anyway. It was a familiar motion. An anchor.
“How long?”
“I’ve been here for about fifteen minutes.”
Vah’nya nodded. “Then I have been here for about an hour,” She commented. Then, delicately, she added, “Something is coming.” She watched him turn off his datapad and set it aside. The Navigator scrubbed at her face. “The Jedi’s meditation helps,” She told him. “Things are clearer than if I were only to see.”
“Have you any control over it?”
She shook her head. “Not exactly. But I feel as though I can recall more detail. I see-” She closed her eyes and exhaled, focusing. “I was on a Grysk vessel. You were there. I did not see you, but I felt... But it was not like before,” She was quick to correct. Her grip on the teacup was the only thing that kept her fingers from shaking. “We were not alone.”
“Who?”
“I’m not sure. Other Chiss,” She said. “I remember,” She trailed off, looking up at him. “They had the Jedi.”
Ivant sighed, rising from his seat and rounding the desk to tap the consoles that faced where Vah’nya was sitting. “I have to tell her.”
“Yes,” She agreed slowly. “I-” She flinched. “Even now, after,” She emphasized, “I can feel the malaise, Eli. It’s close. It’s not just they Grysk. There’s something-”
“I know,” Eli said softly. He keyed the required combination that would ping the Admiral directly but discreetly. While they waited, he stepped to the side of her, reaching across the desk for his own mug, taking a sip of the soothing tea while his free hand squeezed her shoulder, encouragingly. “It’ll be alright,” He told her.
“I hope so,” Vah’nya murmured, looking up to him in concern while the Admiral’s face appeared on the holo projector, face tense, but not quite surprised. Vah’nya was certain they were all tired of relying on the vagueness of hope.
-/
“I wish to teach you how we,” The Navigator smiled, “For a lack of a better term, how we navigate,” Vah’nya explained, approaching Ezra when he and Thrawn arrived at their station three days after Commander Esmadi’s outburst. “It is a valuable skill, should you never need to do so without warning and you do not have someone like Commander Thrawn to guide you through it.”
Ezra had not seen or heard from Vah’nya since they’d returned to the Compass following their time in Copero City. There was a sort of severe quality about her now. He got the sense that she hadn’t been sleeping, though the glow of her eyes and her deeply blue complexion hid any traces of bags or dark shadows.
He also had the feeling Thrawn was seeing the same thing that he was, considering the way the Chiss Commander scrutinized her. Instead of her hair being in a free-fall or the braids other navigators had adopted, Vah’nya’s hair was pulled back in a very sharp knot at the apex of her crown, her long mane cascading like a pin-straight waterfall from the bottom of it.
Beyond the glow of her eyes, Ezra recognized a grim sort of determination in her gaze. Wary, yes, but he knew without a doubt that he needed to listen to her. Whatever her reason was to teach him now, it was important. He looked to Thrawn, but found his attention being held by that of Ivant, standing alone on the command walk. Ivant wasn’t looking at him, even, his back was to them. But there was something about it, about how he was standing alone, looking out at the stars and the Steadfast in the distance.
Ivant turned toward them. His face was blank as he gave the order to his second.
“Clear the bridge,” Commander Slasha’s lips curved, as if he’d already anticipated the order. There was a good chance he had already been informed of the maneuver about to take place, Ezra realized. In total, it took no more than a minute for the bridge to be cleared, the Commander inclining his head to Ivant before striding off to the secondary control room where the bridge staff would be able to monitor the situation without being physically present.
Without preamble, Admiral Ar’alani’s voice echoed across the bridge speakers. “You are ready to begin, Captain?”
“Yes, Admiral. Just getting underway now,” Ivant informed her.
“Excellent. We will rig for stealth and await your return.”
Vah'nya led Ezra to the navigation console, the two seats located at the bow of the ship, with a perfect view of the stars. She explained how each lever and knob worked, then how she utilized her Sight to navigate to and from a destination. She explained how sometimes it was as simple as following a heading or emissions, and other times, it was from memory. The latter was what he would need to learn. Navigating with the assistance of coordinates was a much easier affair. Navigating to a place in the abyss of space without it was something else entirely.
When they were ready, Vah'nya nodded to Ivant, and Thrawn was motioned over to the Captain's side, instead of lingering just behind and to the left of his seat at the controls.
"We will compare," Vah'nya said. "The secondary controls are not actively capable of steering the ship. However, you will treat this as a simulation. We will see how your choices match up with mine. If you score highly enough, you will be responsible for bringing us back, while I man the secondary controls. Understand?"
Ezra did. They both looked back up to the command walkway. Ivant and Thrawn stood side by side, talking quietly. It seemed Ivant was explaining what would be happening to Thrawn. Vah'nya nudged his shoulder, gracing him with a sly smile. "It is obvious now, hmm?"
The Jedi huffed, covering his laugh. Now that Thrawn had told him just about every detail of his and Ivant’s together, it was easy to see. Sure, Thrawn had the underlying desire to learn about Ivant's secret project, but he was acting carefully within the limits he'd been given, much to the surprise of everyone, it seemed. Thrawn's body language, still rigid and militaristic, and his eyes gave him away. There was pride, but it wasn't in himself. Trust, as if Eli could lead him blindly and he'd welcome the loss of control. Yeah, it was obvious, all right. "About as obvious as an Imperial Star Destroyer," Ezra said.
Vah’nya hummed. “Glaringly so,” She agreed.
“I guess my question is whether or not he cares about him - like that,” Ezra was quick to specify, “back.”
The Navigator straightened. “There are a great many things you do not know about our Captain,” She said. “You, and Mitth’raw’nuruodo both.”
“That’s what I mean,” Ezra said. “I just-” He sighed. “He doesn’t express feelings like that. I don’t think he ever has, at least. Not recently. And I don’t want-”
Vah’nya squeezed his shoulder, seeing through to the heart of what he was trying to say. “You are a good friend, Ezra’Bridger. He is lucky to have you.” She smiled softly. “Eli wants what is best for him. I promise you.”
“This all feels sudden, is all,” Ezra said. “All of a sudden-”
“He is still being kept at arm’s length,” Vah’nya said. “Eli has simply made the line known. The only difference is in perspective. But,” She admitted, “It will not be forever.”
“I hope not,” Ezra said. “Thrawn and I came back to help. Not to sit around and wait.”
She smirked. “Eli.”
Captain Ivant turned to them expectantly, breaking off from his quiet conversation with Thrawn. Thrawn looked surprised, but Vah’nya didn’t waver from lack of protocol.
“Vah’nya,” He said back, and there was respect there. Respect of equals. Partners. Thrawn looked between them in a way that Ezra couldn’t miss. No doubt he was considering their shared history, and not for the first time. “At your leisure.”
“Let us begin,” She replied, nodding to him before returning her attention to Ezra. “If the bridge crew were here, he would give the order and we would begin the route. Because they are not, we may go at our own speed. Our Sight is much like the senses you use during battle. We will use them to keep the ship clear of any dangers, like other ships and anomalies like solar flares, asteroids, and sunspots.” Vah’nya keyed the comm system. “Bridge control, this is Senior Navigator Vah’nya. Standby for jump.”
The comms hissed. “Acknowledged.”
“I like to give them a heads up,” She said, nodding to indicate the lever that would propel the ship to lightspeed. “We will trigger it together.”
Ezra looked back at Thrawn. The Chiss nodded. Beside him, Ivant’s eyes were cool and contemplative, jaw set. “Okay,” The human said. He positioned his right hand on the edge of the hyperdrive lever and Vah’nya matched him like a mirror, her left hand on the left edge. “Ready when you are.”
The Navigator dipped her head, beginning to push. “Now.”
-/
The stars blurred, and Ivant immediately queued up three separate holo screens. He sat back in the command chair, Thrawn watching him carefully but not approaching.
“I know you want to know what I’m doing,” Vanto mused after a cursory glance to assure all the information he was looking for to be present. “It’s not a secret. This is a test.”
Thrawn joined him, lingering on his right side, so close that his tunic brushed the arm of the command chair. “Comparing him with Vah’nya in real time?”
“That, and the rest of the Navigators aboard.” He motioned to the lower portion of the middle screen. “All five navigators, Vah’nya, and Ezra. This run is relatively straightforward. The Admiral wanted me to compare them all to each other. And, as this is a much smaller group than the one we had before, I have the facilities aboard to test them all at once. Simulations are no good. In the younger navigators, it tends to overstimulate them, since their brains are looking for physical stimuli but they’re trying to outsmart a computer program.”
“Their Sight can work like that,” Thrawn mused, “But it does seem as though it would cause more harm than good.”
“Right.” Something blipped on the screen in front of them, automatically outside of parameters and thus blocked immediately in yellow. “It appears Navigator Un’hee is ahead of the curve.”
“I’m not surprised,” Ivant said. “The rest are clustered in the same half second. They’re not as well versed with this region, but it’s on the edge of the Hegemony. Un’hee is familiar with this sector.”
“You would have them trial through Grysk space?”
“Technically,” Ivant said with a wry look, “It’s our space.” He inclined his head to Thrawn, even more amused, “They just haven’t gotten the memo.”
“They’ve encroached significantly on our space,” Thrawn said. “We have been pushed back by entire systems in some areas.”
Eli nodded. “Yes, that’s true. All unoccupied systems, ones we don’t particularly need, unless you’re house Chaf and you’re very concerned about where your imported liquor was coming from.” He smirked. “I saw your friend over it.”
“My friend?”
“Ah,” The smirk sharpened a little, revealing a peek of white teeth. “Maybe not the right word. Your gift to the Admiral.”
“Admiral Ar’alani gave Ronan to house Chaf?”
“As a ‘Liason,’” Ivant revealed, then nudged him with his shoulder. Thrawn almost commented on it, but remembered that he was not the superior. This wasn’t particularly against protocol, considering Admiral Ar’alani had the tendency to latch tightly to her subordinate’s arms, occasionally to the point of bruising when she insisted upon retaining one’s attention. “They deserve each other, if you ask me. Apparently after they got over their mutual disdain of each others’ species, they gave him the ability to wear a cape again. Only difference is that it’s neon yellow.” He smirked, “She tried to give him to Thrass first, but your brother refused him within five seconds of meeting him.”
Thrawn smirked at that. “He’s not a complete imbecile. That man is… exhausting.”
“Thrass suggested giving him to House Inrokini, but Sarvchi’s at least somewhat friendly to non-Chiss. Wasn’t like we were trying to kill him. He still calls me a traitor, though,” Eli mentioned. “He was Chaf’s representative sent to see me on my deathbed. Made sure to tell me I was a turncoat, but at least I did something with my life. Only mentioned Krennic twice that I could remember, but I was pretty out of it.” At Thrawn’s pensive frown, he added, “I think I started recovering as he said the words out of spite.”
“That is hardly possible,” Thrawn said. His gaze bordered on intense as he shifted to a more serious topic. “Still, I regret that I was not able to come to you sooner. I would have-”
Vanto turned in the chair, his knees brushing Thrawn’s thigh. The Chiss looked down at the point of contact, but didn’t move away. “We can’t change the past, Thrawn.”
“I know, Eli.” He looked down into Vanto’s eyes. At his sides, his fingers twitched microscopically with the urge to reach up and touch his captain’s face, to affirm eye contact between them with a physical aid. This was wholly inappropriate, some part of him knew. And yet, he couldn’t stop now. This territory was new, begging to be explored. “But the future…”
“Thrawn,” Eli murmured in warning.
Around them, the starlines stuttered and stopped. Vah’nya and Ezra’s heads came up. The Navigator recovered first and immediately turned to the Jedi. He seemed shaken, but Vah’nya instructed him very easily through the post-procedures, including comming the bridge crew on standby.
The Chiss jerked backwards with the slightest twitch. Vanto’s hands, which had come up to prevent Thrawn’s from reaching their intended destination, braced his forearms. He blinked. “Forgive me, Captain,” He said, stepping back. “I don’t know what came over me.”
There was no facial heat, no indication Vanto was particularly moved by the moment they’d just shared. To Thrawn, it seemed that Eli didn’t perceive anything having happened between them at all. The thought left a bitter taste in his mouth. Then, Ivant dismissed him. It struck like a blow. “You should join your charge. No doubt he could use your expertise.”
“Of course, sir.” Thrawn dipped his head respectfully, resisting the urge to move faster, to put distance between them and whatever this had almost been. His voice sounded like it’d been dragged through gravel and shards of jagged transparisteel. “Excuse me.”
The Captain watched him go. As Thrawn descended the two steps down to the Navigators’ station Ezra met his eyes over the Commander’s shoulder. It lasted only a three-count before Thrawn was upon him and he turned away. Eli leaned forward, bracing his elbows on his thighs, steepling his fingers over his mouth. He allowed himself one lengthy, covert sigh before turning his eyes to the status board and comparing the numbers.
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chaos-of-the-abyss · 2 years ago
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Most of the people see Visenya as a badass savage queen and Rhaenys as a pretty doll princess which is so wrong dude! Just remember her confident talk with Meria Martell like what a bad bitch! I also see her being like a Cersei but a better one. Do you see any similarities between them? (btw I’m so glad I found your blog, so we can talk like that! There’s not much about the conquerors but you’re on my top!)
I can’t deny that it’s irritated me to see people label Rhaenys as just some pretty princess who painted nails and braided hair. What I like about Rhaenys is how she was the sweetheart of the three original Targaryen siblings, yet she was still fierce when necessary and still took part in the conquest. I love it when I see fantasy women who are both traditionally feminine and traditionally masculine, because there exists a cliche of making traditionally feminine women all delicate princesses in need of rescuing, and traditionally masculine women are your stereotypical sword-wielding, society-scorning encapsulation of being a rebellious tomboy TM. While there’s nothing wrong with those tropes, I feel that they’re very overused, and it overjoys me that Rhaenys (and Visenya, actually) defy them by being a woman who is capable of both. 
I indeed think Rhaenys bears similarities with a kinder, more intelligent, more competent version of Cersei, and they also have foils: 
Both Rhaenys and Cersei carried out a relationship with their brothers. However, Cersei and Jaime’s relationship is toxic because of the patriarchal limits placed on Cersei that have consequently made her want to be Jaime (a man) to escape those limits, hence her “love” for him. Meanwhile, we’re presented with a quite loving relationship between Rhaenys and her brother-husband Aegon. GRRM never hints, even a little, that their relationship was abusive like Cersei and Jaime’s, so I’m assuming that their marriage was healthy and happy. A foil there, if you will.
Both Rhaenys and Cersei have ruled as queens. But Cersei was ruling as regent, all her power coming from her position as the king’s mother (this is not too uncommon in Westeros). In contrast, Rhaenys was able to actually govern and act as any ruling king when Aegon was away; she was even able to make laws. Visenya had this same power. In other words, this is the most power any queen of Westeros has ever wielded - even Alysanne’s ability to govern was dependant on the fact that Jaehaerys loved her and thought highly of her opinion. So in terms of political power, Rhaenys as queen was less restricted than Cersei as queen, although they both were queens - a foil there, in my opinion. 
We also have to look at the difference between Rhaenys and Cersei’s abilities when ruling. Rhaenys was a beloved queen, and both the smallfolk and the nobles agreed. She was responsible for the law that decreed a husband may only beat his wife with six blows (this sounds quite awful in our society, but marital beating was legal in Westeros, and before Rhaenys, husbands beat their wives to death), was a very good diplomat, and she was also very clever in manipulating singers to sing about the greatness of the Targaryens. Cersei, by contrast, was nowhere near loved and surrounded herself with sycophants. She never bothered to help her public image because she believed fear was the only way to keep the people in line. I see another foil there. 
But now, for an actual similarity: Both Rhaenys and Cersei are brave. Rhaenys took part in the Targaryen conquest when she was in her mid-to-early twenties. Dragon or not, she’s participating in a war, and that comes with dangers at all times, dangers that are not necessary militaristic but rather executed through treachery (such as poisoning). Plus, Rhaenys’ death is proof that dragons don’t make you invincible. Cersei - well, say what you want about Cersei, but she is brave and doesn’t allow fear to decide her actions. It takes some serious guts, if you ask me, to have an affair with your twin brother when you’re married to the king. 
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whitleyschn33 · 2 years ago
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RWBY 7 Trailer Thoughts
So, I said I would share my thoughts on the trailer, so here they are! I’m going to start at the beginning and write down what comes to mind for each little section, but since I have seen the entire trailer a couple times now, I may jump forward to connect whatever I’m addressing to something later in the trailer. This might make things seem a bit erratic, so I apologize in advance if this comes out like a lot of rambling nonsense. That said, let’s begin!
1. We open with Ironwood narrating that these are “uncertain times” over a montage of the Kaiju Grimm attack Argus, then cuts to Ruby saying that she’s trying to do what’s best, but doesn’t know if what’s best is what’s right as we see her use her Silver eyes on the Kaiju.
I’m hoping that this line about Ruby not being sure about what’s best being what’s right implies that we’ll get some kind of fallout for the events of Argus. One of my major gripes with the V6 finale is just how dangerous their plan was for the civilians in Argus, and how the narrative so far hasn’t really acknowledged that. The first step of their plan was cutting communications in Argus – something that would have caused mass panic even if they had succeeded and got away without the military noticing in time to send out forces. That panic can and did draw Grimm, and very easily would have killed dozens to hundreds of people. They’re huntsmen and huntresses – even if what’s “best” may be getting the Relic to Atlas, that doesn’t make what they did to do so (putting the civilians of Argus in unnecessary danger) “right”. Anyway, moving on.
2. Next, we get the gang flying into Atlas, whose airspace is completely full of military airships, with Weiss saying that this isn’t right. It then transitions to a shot of Atlas above Mantle, which seems to be on fire, then to the city, then the streets, where we see Atlesian knights patrolling, and only a handful of civilians walking outside, while Blake says the city just seems awful. We see a man throwing a trashcan at a TV screen (which as far as I can tell was showing the “Atlas Broadcasting(?) Network”) while a voice asks “what can we do?” (Can someone tell me who that is? It doesn’t really sound like Oscar or Jaune, and Qrow’s new VA pulls off a much more convincing performance at the end of the trailer, so I don’t think it’s him). Cut to Ruby saying that they didn’t come this far to fail now.
So, from Weiss’s line, we know that this is not how things usually are. The military is on high alert, showing off how strong their defenses are to match the closed off borders. I would guess that this also means troops roaming the city on patrol isn’t how things used to be either. Now, from what I’ve seen, most people seem to be taking this as a sign of martial law, and that theory certainly seems likely – the man throwing the trashcan and the fires we see are all potential signs of rioting, which could be a cause and/or effect of martial law being enacted. I have to wonder if that’s only part of the story, though. Later in the trailer, we see the gang fighting Grimm on the city streets (so I assume that’s what Ruby’s line is directed at), which we know from the leaked storyboards and their clothes happens immediately after they enter Atlas. The only time we’ve seen Grimm inside kingdom walls is during the Fall, so why are they there? What if this is a recent occurrence – a sudden influx of Grimm making it past the defenses and into the city proper? That’s another explanation (or even just another reason in addition to rioting) for troops to be patrolling, and I could very easily see that becoming a vicious cycle. Grimm get in, people panic, drawing more Grimm to the area and making it more likely for them to get it, causing more attacks and more panic, and making the soldiers seem less like protectors and more like ineffective “peacekeepers”. There’s a lot more I could say about this, but let’s keep going.
3. We go back to Ironwood’s voice overlaying what seem to be two/three different fights – the fight in the city streets against the sabertooth Grimm and two different fights in a mineshaft (and yes, they’re mines, the warning signs on the walls warn of deep mineshafts) against a new type of Grimm that I’ve heard are called Centinels and later an Ice Geist. He says, “Until now, I believed it was impossible to truly turn the tides against Salem. We find ourselves in the position of needing…. A new approach. She will keep returning stronger and stronger –“ cut to the new model for Ironwood “- unless we destroy her.” Cut to Ruby saying “Tell us how we can help.”
So, the main thing of interest to me here is Ironwood. We can see from the shot of his new appearance that he’s no longer taking care of his appearance like he did in the first few volumes – the stubble from V4 has become a full grown beard, and his hair doesn’t look like it’s been combed in weeks. The guilt and paranoia that we saw budding in V4 has fully come into bloom, as evident by his lines here, the heightened defenses we saw around Atlas, and the troops patrolling the city. In V4 E11, Jacques accuses Ironwood of never trusting anyone but himself, to which Ironwood responds to “For good reason,” then immediately says, “If Oz had just listened to me from the start…” Ironwood clearly believes that the Fall of Beacon would not have happened had Oz listened to him – used his strategies. Oz’s strategies “failed”, so this reaffirmed Ironwood in thinking that he’d had the right ideas – that if he had been able to control what was happening in Beacon, he could have stopped it. So, now, he’s not taking any risks with Atlas. He’s doing everything he thinks is right to protect the kingdom, no matter how paranoid or insane it seems – closing the borders, dust embargos, potential martial law, whatever it takes to keep the kingdom “safe”. 
Now, this seems to be extending to Salem herself. If Oz was flawed about Beacon, he may be reasoning, why can’t he be wrong about Salem? Maybe there is a way – maybe the strength of Atlas *can* destroy Salem. Salem always seems to come back, maybe she’s just never been completely destroyed, and that’s what we need to try to do to fully get rid of her. Now, we know that this isn’t true, that Salem can’t be killed, can’t be destroyed, but even if Ironwood knows this (from his “believed it was impossible to turn the tides” line), he’s clearly no longer thinking straight. He no longer trusts Oz for having reasons for not simply going after her with an army, since Oz has been knocked down from his pedestal of “all-wise and powerful” with his “death”, so now he’s going to try to go about things his own way… which, from the state of Mantle? Doesn’t seem to be working amazingly well. More on that when I try to summarize my thoughts into a cohesive TLDR.
4. Cue Team RWBY jumping out of a plane into some kind of complex (my guess would be the mines/refineries at the mine site), interspersed with them fighting either the Sabertooths or the Cenitals, and title card.
So, “final” (I say that, but I’ll probably talk about them again) take on the new outfits. Ruby is still my favorite – it still looks really good, the hair is far tamer than I or anyone else thought it would be and I’m glad (though in some places, particularly the concept art that went around like a week ago, it really looks like Cinder, and I’m not sure how to feel about that), since this just gives her hair a more stylized look.
Blake is sitting at my second favorite – I think it’s a look that comes together pretty well, and the hair looks fine (I’ve seen some people complaining about how flat it looks, and I’m just here like, yeah, that happens a lot when you cut it that short, it can lose the volume it used to have). 
Now Weiss and Yang… are now kinda tied. Yang’s outfit looks better than it did in the original art for me, and I think that’s mainly because the belt breaks up the khaki a bit better in 3D, so it’s not just a great expanse of bleh (still think the jumpsuit itself is ugly as hell, but I’ll take what I can get). 
Weiss’s… is still a case where I like the aesthetic they were going for, but it doesn’t come together right. The big poofy skirt looks okay when she’s on her own (sometimes), but next to the rest of RWBY just looks so out of place and in the way and honestly a bit bland. The top half with the sleeves and gloves look… fine, but again, I wish they didn’t poof out the arms so much. The braid… still gives me really mixed feelings because it’s shorter than the concept art, but it’s still looks so thick and heavy, and adds to this unbalanced feeling I get. If it was in the back completely, instead of the side, I would be perfectly fine with it, but as it is, just throws me off. I can see what they were going for, particularly in the clip where she’s fighting a Cenital since that’s where the outfit as a whole looks best to me, but as a whole, there are too many little details that throw me off for me to really like it. Again, that might change when the first episode hits, but for now… eh. 
The title card is pretty, though.
5. Back in the city streets – Qrow comments that he was expecting things to go a lot rougher, Blake and Yang are walking away when suddenly – captured by bolos! We see Blake, Qrow, then Ruby go down, the Relic falling off on to the pavement. A man approaches, while another standing of to the side, and then picks up the Relic. End trailer.
So, first off, major kudos to the new Qrow VA – his performance is outstanding. I was worried that the transition would be jarring, but if I hadn’t known they’d put someone new in, I honestly wouldn’t have noticed. His mimicry of Qrow’s voice is exceptional.
Second, I’m fairly certain that the people that captured the team are Atlas personnel. While we can’t see much, the man in frame wears white and blue, Atlas colors, and has a fairly militaristic haircut. The other figure is either wearing white boots, has a model that hasn’t been completely rendered yet, or seems to be an android, looking at the odd pattern and shape of his feet. I’ve seen some people throwing out the idea that this is Ironwood trying to take the Relic, or Atlas trying to steal the Relic, since the man picks it up, but – guys. Really? We see Ruby talking to Ironwood earlier in this trailer. They’re still in their old clothes, this is episode one. The more likely explanation is that these guys captured them because RWBY and Co attacked a military base, stole an airship, arrived in said stolen airship, and clearly are not supposed to be here if they just suddenly appeared without the border officials being informed, and so are clearly criminals in the eyes of Atlas. So, yeah, my 5 lien are on them spending, like, 5 minutes in jail before they can get to Ironwood, where he (hopefully) reams them out a bit.
So, yeah, that’s the trailer!  No sign of Whitley, which, disappointed by not surprised. I’m gonna hold out hope for him to be in the intro, like in Volume 4. As for what I think may be happening this volume from the trailers, I expect we’ll have a heavy focus on Ironwood, his paranoia, and his relationship with Oz, and how that extends to how the inner circle has operated for the part 10/20/?? years. I also feel like the first big thing to be tackled will be the Grimm in the city. The fact that Grimm are getting in points to a huge breakdown in the kingdom’s defenses, despite the fact Ironwood seems to have ramped them up to 11. So, the question is, where are they coming from, and how are they getting in? Considering that the Centinals break out from the ground, and RWBY and Co are fighting in a mineshaft, I would say that it’s coming from a subterranean pocket of Grimm, like the ones that people of Mountain Glenn broke in on. Since we know Salem is experimenting more with Grimm, it’s possible that this Grimm outbreak is being caused by her seeing how viable it would be to launch an attack on Atlas from underground, where their defenses are at their weakest, and this is showing most prominently in the mines and the city around them/on the ground. Otherwise, it could be possible the SDC, while mining, broke into a cavern full of them. This doesn’t seem as likely, though, with the dust embargo. If the SDC isn’t able to sell overseas, then mining operations were most likely shut down temporarily. No use wasting money trying to get product that you can’t sell. It could be an old mine, though – one that had been boarded up cause Grimm, but that broke loose due to all the negativity caused by Ironwood’s new measures.
But ultimately, we’ll just have to wait and see! Once again, I’m sorry if this is a bit rambling – I have to leave any minute now, so I haven’t given this a through reread, but I want to get my thoughts out there in a timely manner for once, so I’m going to post anyway. Thank you for reading this far! What’re your thoughts on the trailer, the outfits, the potential plot? Feel free to comment below or send an ask, and I’ll talk to you all soon! Have a good day!
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diannaphantomfiction · 2 years ago
Text
Karivarry LifeSwap AU Writing Prompts. Prompt 11/♾: True Love’s Kiss
Prompt requested by @temmie-loony 
Kara always has a Kryptonite arrow and a freezing arrow in her quiver, not for Barry and Oliver but for evil versions of them or should they end up whammied. One day, it's not them but her that gets whammied... 
____________
Kara was used to not asking for help. It wasn’t a trust thing so much as it was a basic habit. She’d forgotten what it was like to rely on people years ago and old habits were hard to beat. So, when she was investigating a series of cases of hysteria and memory loss in which the victims committed a series of thefts. It didn’t occur to Kara that this would be anything more than a rather strange drug, some type of super roofie. She didn’t think that maybe she should call Barry or Oliver, who had far more experience dealing with people with powers.
What she did know was that the victims were getting more powerful as time went on. Not politicians or CEOs, not anymore at least. No, they were too easy to get to apparently. Whoever was drugging these people was going for bigger challenges. A group of Navy Seals. Two female FBI field agents. A couple of CSI agents. A world renowned thief Sara had worked with, apparently. A couple martial arts masters in town for some sort on competition. An ex army sniper. It was like someone was trying to build an army.
It had taken Kara some time, but she was pretty sure she’d found their base. More than one well off family had left National after the undertaking, leaving more than one large, old mansion empty. Whoever they were, they had taken over one of them. FBI agents were highly trained, but there was something empty to them. It made them predictable and it was easy enough to disarm them and knock them out with a hit from her bow. The martial arts masters were equally as easy to take out. Kara had never really mastered any of the styles she used per say, but she fought dirty because she fought to win. She fought to survive.
It was the Navy Seals who ended up giving her trouble. They, like everyone else here, were highly trained, but more than that, there were more of them. And they were much larger than Kara. She had fought them off as best she could, but they got into close range quickly, forcing her to use her bow as a blunt weapon instead of her preferred long range. In the end she had to throw her bow away in favor of her dagger. They took advantage of the situation quickly, using their size to subdue her. One of the pulled her into a very tight headlock, cutting her air supply down so she was forced to wheeze to get any air into her lungs. One of the other ones stripped her of her weapons as she scratched at the one holding her and tried to kick him in the balls.
“Get her hands!” One of them yelled.
Someone grabbed her wrists and wrenched them downward painfully. She felt something cold and metallic wrap around one of her wrists, tight and painful. Then the other. Handcuffs.
“Don’t let up. Give her an inch and she’ll manage to get away. She’s tricky.”
“I got her. Go get the boss.”
The one holding her tightened his grip slightly, just enough that her eyes rolled back in her head a little and she instinctively tried to tilt her head back to get more air.
“Boys, what’s this I hear about a gift?”
The one holding Kara released her just enough so that she could fall to her knees and gasp for air. His arm was still around her neck, but holding her place more than strangling her.
A woman knelt down in front of Kara. She was wearing a militaristic black outfit with her hair pulled back in a tight ponytail. “The Arrow? Boys, you know just how to treat a girl.”
Kara snarled. The woman grabbed Kara’s hood and in one quick motion, pulled Kara’s hood and mask off.
“My, my, you’re lovely aren’t you. You know, I’ve been looking for a General. You’re perfect, aren’t you?”
Before Kara could react, the woman swooped down and kissed her. Kara’s eyes went wide and she tried desperately to pull away, but she had nowhere to go. The woman forced her tongue into Kara’s mouth and kept kissing.
Something was buzzed at the edge of her mind and it quickly started to take over, even as Kara fought it. It was warm. Comforting. The most welcoming feeling she’d felt in a very long time. This...this woman was amazing and perfect. Of course Kara had to follow her, serve her, she was everything. Kara started reaching to kiss her back. She wanted to touch her, to kiss her, to make her happy. Oh god, Kara loved her.
What about Barry and Oliver?
No. They were nothing compared to this woman. She was everything.
The woman pulled away and Kara’s heart ached at the loss. No! She wanted to keep kissing her!
“Hello Arrow, I am Marianna. Do you know why you’re here?”
Kara’s eyes lit up at the question. “To serve you Ma’am.”
“There’s a good girl.” Kara’s heart soared at the praise. “Let her go boys. She’s with us now.”
The Navy Seals released her and undid her handcuffs as Kara beamed up at Marianna.
____________
Marianna smiled into the Arrow’s neck as they stood in the privacy of Marianna’s Master bedroom. Kara’s heart was soaring at the attention. At the touch and private moment with her mistress. Marianna pressed a kiss to Kara’s cheek.
“You’re exactly what I’ve been looking for. So strong. So powerful. So willing to serve me. You do want to serve me, don’t you?”
“More than anything.” Kara breathed.
“You would do anything for me?”
“Anything.”
Marianna hummed and kissed Kara again, tugging on her braid to get a little moan out of Kara. She smirked at how expressive Kara seemed to be. “I have the perfect job for you, my sweet Arrow. But, I need you to be something else first. I need you to be my perfect general before you can be my perfect consort. Can you do that for me?”
Kara’s breath hitched. “Yes. Yes. I want nothing more than to be perfect for you. Let me be perfect for you.”
“There we go dear. You’ll get to be, I promise.” Marianna guided Kara to her knees and traced Kara’s cheekbones with her thumbs. “Do you want to know the job I have for you?”
“Yes. Please tell me.”
“I need you to kill the superheroes.”
____________
No one noticed when Kara snuck into her base and left with a quiver full of cold arrows and all four kryptonite arrows in her possession. The thing about the superhero community was that it wasn’t a unified community, but rather a group of factions held together by alliances of an unsteady nature. And that was something that would work in her favor. Factions and their alliances were held together by central heroes. Kill the central heroes and alliances would break apart, factions would fracture, and soon the heroes would all isolate themselves. It would make them that much easier to kill.
Still, she needed to be careful. While more dangerous and thus a larger threat, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman wouldn’t hesitate to fight back if it was clear she was trying to kill them. Diana and Clark may be gentle and hold back due to their love of Barry, but she wouldn’t be able to defeat them.
Of course, she could take out the sidekicks easily enough. Nightwing, Spoiler, Signal, Kid Flash, or Stormfire would fall to her arrows before they even knew she was there. But that was too easy, it would never impress her mistress. No, It had to be Barry and Oliver. They would never strike her, never use their powers to do more than bruise her or restrain her.
It had to be them.
____________
Oliver felt the cold before the pain. It wasn’t really surprising when he thought about it later. His body would of course feel the freezing of his muscles, bones, and cells. Feel the lightning that always ran through his cells stop suddenly and vibrate against the one thing that would always stop it. Then he felt the pain in his hip, stabbing, gushing, and throbbing. The arrow tip half buried in his hip bone. Oliver looked at the arrow buried in his hip but even with his blurred vision he recognized it.
It was one of Kara’s arrows.
Oliver pressed on of the buttons that held his jacket closed, the one on the corner of the large lightning bolt across his chest, and activated his communicator. “Felicity! Call Barry! NOW! ”
Oliver gripped a hand around the arrow shaft, carefully trying to keep it in place while he moved. Right now, it was acting like the Little Dutch Boy, keeping the blood inside of him and while it hurt, the arrowhead cutting his flesh over and over again and scratching his hip bone, it was far safer than risking the frostbite spreading and blood running from a wound that the cold would prevent from closing.
He couldn’t stand, much less run, but he needed to get out of the open. Behind a car or a dumpster or something.
Oliver heard the familiar sound of Kara’s bow sliding down a zip line and her combat boots hitting the pavement. Oliver managed to crawl backwards a couple feet as Kara pulled another cold arrow out of her quiver and notched it. She only had three, having used the other two once when Oliver was whammied, but with an arrow in his hip, she only needed one to finish him off.
Oliver heard a familiar rush of air and smiled a little. Before Kara’s arrow could hit him Barry caught it and snapped the cold generator in half with a tiny squeeze of his hand.
Barry dropped the pieces of the arrow and turned to Oliver, he slipped quickly into Speed Talk so only Oliver could understand him. “You good?”
Oliver nodded and Barry turned back to Kara, speeding over as she began to pull a Kryptonite arrow from her quiver. Oliver could really only watch as Barry grabbed her bow, applying the smallest bit of super strength to rip the bow from her solid grip as he knocked her feet out from under her. The kryptonite went bouncing and Oliver watched the green glow through a numb haze as another wave of bitter cold spread through his leg.
Barry had Kara pinned down, holding her by her wrists as she struggled and began to scream.
“Let me go! You bastard! You won’t get away with this! I have a duty to my Mistress and I fully intend to complete it!”
Fear flashed through Barry’s eyes and he tightened his grip just a little. “I’m sorry about this Kara.” He let go of one of her wrists. Just long enough to hit her across the face with just enough strength to knock her unconscious. The cold started to spread from his leg, Oliver couldn’t stop shivering and he began to have trouble concentrating. He knew Barry had spoken to someone, that the flash of swirling light was one of Felicity’s portals, that it was Diggle who lifted  him up and carried him through, but it didn’t seem to register. All that registered as the cold, the pain, and the betrayal.
____________
When Oliver woke up, he was wrapped in warm blankets with an IV in his arm. Usually, speedsters woke up slowly. They slept hard, they slept deep, and they slept long. Mornings were hell and more than once Oliver and Roy had sat down to eat after a long patrol and just...fallen asleep. And after an injury like this? Well, Oliver tended to slip into healing comas. No, the only surefire way to wake up a speedster that didn’t involve constant prying was if someone they love is in danger.
Caitlin stuck her finger in Oliver’s face as he tried to sit up. “You’re leg isn’t healed yet.”
“Kara-”
“Is safely unconscious and strapped to a cot in the Pipeline. Barry’s watching over her. You can wait until your wound closes, but you’re wearing the brace.”
Oliver glared at Caitlin, but laid back down. He hated the braces. They were made of titanium and used to hold his limbs still. Apparently he “couldn’t be trusted with splints” and so drastic measures had to be taken. There was even one for his spine. It would make it difficult to get down the stairs to the Pipeline.
“What about Kara? How is she?”
Caitlin sighed. “If I show you here scans will you stay in bed until your arrow wound closes?”
“Cross my heart.”
Caitlin pursed her blue lips and narrowed her eyes at him suspiciously, but still grabbed her tablet and pulled something up with a few quick taps. “These are scans of Kara’s brain. See these bright spots…”
“Her hippocampus, her prefrontal cortex, her pituitary gland...she’s in love?”
Caitlin nods. “It’s not natural love, though. Here...this is her brain during our routine scans, when I asked her about you and Barry...and here it is now.”
The glowing spots were about ten times a large and bright. Instead of the warm, happy spots that appeared in her routine scans, they were so bright and loud that they looked like they were burning. That..wasn’t right. Oliver stared at her brain for a few seconds, slowly piecing it together.
“Someone is using false love to control her.”
____________
About an hour later, Oliver limped down to the Pipeline on crutches, his hurt leg immobilized by the brace. True to Caitlin’s word, Barry stood guard in front of a cell, shoulders tense and still in his suit.
“She hasn’t woken up, yet?”
Barry shook his head, not looking away from Kara’s unconscious form. Worry lined his face and swam in his eyes. Oliver set one of the crutches against the wall and hobbled over to Barry. Barry reacted quickly, putting an arm around Oliver’s waist to stabilize him. Oliver purposefully leaned a little more of his weight than necessary against his boyfriend. Not only could Barry take it, but he would know it was a sign of affection and comfort.
“When she wakes up we’ll be able to figure out how to fix her.”
“I know. I just want her back.”
“Me too.”
____________
It took Kara a few more hours to wake up and within seconds she got to work trying to break herself out without any regard for her own body. Within a few minutes, despite Barry and Oliver’s pleading, she’d made her wrists bleed from struggling. She screamed herself horse about some mysterious mistress and a mission as Caitilin did test after test, mumbling possible cures under her breath. Finally, they had to put her back into the cell, wrists neatly wrapped in bandages and cuffs tugged tighter to try to decrease her ability to struggle.
“Wait!” Oliver called as he limped over to her side. “We will fix this Kara. I promise.”
“Fuck you.” she growled.
Oliver put a hand in her hair and leaned over, placing a gentle kiss to her forehead. Then he backed off and nodded, letting Kara be put back into her cell.
They next time they took her out for tests she was more subdued. She still clearly wasn’t Kara, but she wasn’t screaming about some crazy “mistress” and threatening them.
“Whatever this Meta-Human is using to control her seems to be wearing off.” Caitlin said, showing them Kara’s most recent scans. “It’s possible that it’s something that needs to be topped off regularly.”
Barry scrolled through the scans. “No look. They suddenly changed. If it was something that needed to be topped off, there would have been a gradual decrease in her hormones and brain activities. They just...dropped by half randomly. Caitlin, what did you do?”
Caitlin looked over the scans again, thoughtfully looking over everything. “I mean, I tried a series of hormone treatments, but they wouldn’t work this drastically this quickly.”
Oliver’s eyes went wide as he remembered something. “I kissed her. Right before we put her back in her cell.”
“Of course!” Caitlin exclaimed, “Real love hormones to counteract the false ones! Barry, Oliver. Go kiss your girlfriend!”
____________
Kara woke up to Barry’s lips on her own, a killer headache, and her wrists burning. She blinked a couple times and pulled away from the kiss, not even realizing she’d been leaning into it. She was tied down on a medical cot with reinforced handcuffs and in the Pipeline for some reason. She blinked again and looked around, Barry was leaning over her, brushing hair off her forehead, and Oliver was on crutches, leg trapped in one of his braces.
“What happened? Ollie? Are you okay?”
They both smiled and crowded her, hands in her hair and cupping her face.
“You’re back.” Oliver breathed happily as he pressed a kiss to her lips.
“Yeah. Two questions. Where did I go and can you please untie me?”
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okimargarvez · 2 years ago
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HURT- open wounds 19
Original title: Hurt.
Prompt: Luke’s dark thought, destiny, contrasted love.
Warnings: sexual content, dark thoughts.
Genre: angst, drama, romantic, smut, dark, mistery, frienship.
Characters: Penelope Garcia, Luke Alvez, BAU team, O.C.
Pairing: Garvez.
Note: multichapter.
Legend: 💏😘😈🔦🐶❗🎈👻.
Song mentioned: La tua vita intera, Tiziano Ferro.
Hurt- Masterlist
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GARVEZ STORIES
Chapter 19-
-JJ told me about it .- pulling off his arms away from her hips, he forces her to turn around. Penelope still holds the wooden spoon with which she was stirring the sauce in the pan. She glares at him but finally gives up. She hears a worrying sigh behind her. She decides to give him a maximum of one minute.
-What?- behind Luke instead there is a table perfectly set. It's late evening, not too late for dinner, but he has just returned from a mission and he ate badly, if not nearly fasted, during this trip. And she was very happy to cook for him. Only that he, after having prepared everything, couldn’t resist the sight of her hips while she was doing a sort of alternative dance, following the rhythm, the swaying of the pasta in the pot, the sauce in the pan. In that domestic situation, he had found her damn sexy.
-Of your skills as an engineer.- she smiles. -It is clear that you hide something from me, Alvez.- it's his turn to giggle, feeling called by surname. Everything that Penelope does is exciting. Maybe he should drink a chamomile? -First you think of that thing... dolina? I don’t even remember the name, and you were able to conduct a serious conversation with Reid about that subject! And then this.- she turns once again to give the attention it deserves to their dish. But she feels the man's gaze on herself. And she likes it. -We have overcome this thing of being afraid to talk about our past, right?- he nods. -Then explain to me where you come from these.- she extinguishes the fire. She extracts the spoon and taste the result of her efforts, more to provoke him than for real necessity. And it gets the desired effects. She approaches him, her breasts pressing against Luke's chest, which doesn’t hold back a sort of groan. -I find your intelligence extremely intriguing... your perspicacity...- with each new term that she adds, she shortens the centimeters that separate their faces. He seems in her complete power and this new experience is interesting. -...acumen... sagacity...- Is Penelope reading the synonym dictionary? How does she know so many words? But it is useless for him to try to stay lucid, especially when she says the last word before kissing him -...penetration...- will they eat cold pasta? The sauce will solidify in the pan. But this time she asked for it.
It is her fault if his hands wander along her curves, unable to stop at a specific point. She feels Luke's desire pressing on her thigh, but she decides to be a rational (and bad) person. -Come on, wash your hands, fast.- she slips out without any problem from his grip and returns to behave like a perfect wifey. Man takes a little longer to recover. Finally, he sighs, snorts and sits down at the table. Penelope knows that "revenge" will come, sooner or later. And she can’t wait.
 -A special course of study.- the blonde is picking herself off while humming a tune that only knows her. The voice of her man suddenly breaks the silence. She looks up at him, who catches her eyes immediately. -The sinkholes and that story of the bastards.- he adds as he gets up to help her. -So, I learned them during a special course while studying at university.- once all the dishes are in the sink, Penelope starts the washing. But soon she feels Luke's warm hands brushing her hips and slowly descending, clinging to the edge of her skirt and pulling it higher and higher, higher and higher, gradually, without too much haste.
-What... what the heck...- it's hard to concentrate on the simple manual work she's doing, but also on the slight protest she's trying to make. His movements are always perfect, the fingers go where they want. She can’t stop him in any way, but she doesn’t want to do it either. Water flows while she is rinsing dishes, glasses, cutlery, pot, pan, wooden spoon... every action of man seems to be only preparatory for something that still has to come, waiting for Penelope to have completed everything, before going further. His hands end up on the woman's breast, they go to squeeze it, causing her hot flashes and moments of loss of concentration. When his hand goes to close the tap, they both know that that gesture will carry something much more meaningful.
Luke turns her around and wraps her face in his hands. She feels so small and vulnerable, almost made of clay, wax, malleable and completely soft by his touch. Like from the first time, he could do what he wants with her. And as always, Penelope feels fear and excitement together with this idea.
-What do you want, from this evening, Penelope?- his tone is so sensual, so enveloping, it's the melody of a siren, it will lead her into the abyss... but she doesn’t care. She doesn’t care about anything, only that he will never let her go. -Who do you want to be?- and she understands what he is referring to and looks down, the long eyelashes that make her look like a shy girl at first experiences. Her hair is gathered in two braids, and this helps to give her the childish, naive impression that makes her look as if she were the Newbie or the novice. She can’t see the smile that has been painted on Luke's lips, but she still feels the aura in the atmosphere. She feels his hot breath on the back of her head. He is so infinitely taller than she!
The man abducts her in an overwhelming kiss and Penelope for the umpteenth time wonders how it is possible that it is never boring, obvious, that the spark is always on, shiny; in real life there shouldn’t be passion fading? This hasn’t yet happened to them. Yet it is not that they haven’t had to face problems... then he breaks away and forces her to look at him. She knows exactly what he wants, but this time what will happen will not be followed by sudden regrets or escapes, or excuses pronounced in a valley of tears. Before opening her mouth, she nods imperceptibly. -I want to be yours, I want you to make me feel yours... I'm your woman, if you want me to be.- here are the answers to the questions that awaited. She smiles, again, and is always beautiful, even more now that he knows how much suffering, how much pain she had to overcome to be born on those lips. He goes around her and ends up behind her. Penelope feels a shiver climb along the spine. He pulls the straps off her dress, slides down the zipper and the garment soon ends at her feet. Now she only wears underwear and high-heeled shoes.
She can’t help but wonder, as far as he should have been able to convince her. But does he really like what he sees? She feels the hand travel along the leg, stop occasionally to some point to perform a kind of massage that he manages to snatch some groan. Then he grabs her firmly by the hips and makes her walk towards the table. He puts his hand on her back and pushes slightly down. She bends over, placing her hands on the table. Luke leans on her. It's not really a woman with a skinny physique, yet when it is next to him, she seems incredibly small. The man wraps her with his bare arms, just below the breast. She knows perfectly well that this is not just sex. When he penetrates her, she doesn’t feel wrong, a slave or anything similar. She feels instead that only he knows the mechanism to open her lock, both of her whole body and of her heart.
 -It was my grandfather who wanted me to join it.- he continues practically from where he had left off before the after dinner.  Stroking her hair that makes him tickle on his chest. She looks at him with great interest, but her eyes give her a sweet and tender expression. -All the male members of my family have distinguished themselves in a special field. And so I had to excel myself, too. And I decided for geology. While I was attending the second year, they opened a selection for a special program. I was taken, along with nine other students. I shouldn’t talk about it, even if many years have passed, because it was an experimental program and managed by the CIA, yes, our rivals.- he still can’t understand that Penelope has never been on good terms with this American institution. -Anyway, I trust you.- he smiles. What might seem like something due, is actually very important, because the only real problems that existed between them concerned the difficulty of being able to say something about their past, especially him. -I have quite confused memories of that period. It was a mental training, but also a physical one, which greatly facilitated me to enter the rangers. Very militaristic. Alarm clock at 5.30 in the morning. Clothes all the same, anonymous. Sports activity during the day. Sometimes they divided us into groups and made us play war. But it was above all strategic, they wanted us to develop a certain way of thinking. The same thing for the afternoon, when we had to study things every day more and more strange... and what I gained was an extremely elastic mentality, as well as a series of useful cultural information...- Penelope leans over to receive a kiss. -Unfortunately not everyone was so lucky. A boy tried to commit suicide a few days before the end of the course, he threw himself out of the window... he didn’t die, but remained in a coma and when he woke up he had no mobility from the waist down and had lost most of the faculties mental...- his tone has become completely serious, but the voice remains low and devoid of special inflections. -Another  managed to kill himself, instead.- she caresses his face with her smooth and fresh hands, but there are no tears to dry. She draws him close to her to lay her lips once more on his.
-Honey, if you need to vent, I'm here, you know. Like from the first time, when you appeared outside the door of my house, in the middle of the night, burned and upset.- her mouth bends into a sweet smile, while she kisses the skin of him, exactly where is now visible a sign of those burns. -I welcomed you that time, and I welcome you now. I'm ready to listen to anything you want to tell me or keep quiet, until when you'll need it.- they look at each other for a long time, she still can’t clearly tell him that thing, but now it's there, in the air, between them, just waiting to be grasped and he now doesn’t need it. He just needs her beside him, to know that when he wakes up, she will be there. The smile on his lips is also due to Roxy who snores deeply at the bottom of their feet. They look like a family. A bizarre family, but still a family. Even Penelope gives in to Morpheus, Luke instead is in one of those moments when you realize how lucky you are and you can’t sleep anymore, but you would like to get up and live every second, enjoy it to the last. And so at least an hour passes to caress the woman who rests by his side, to admire every nuance, even a few wrinkles that is normal arrives with the age and that only contributes to making her even truer, more beautiful in his eyes.
When he too abandons himself to his friend, the Sleep, he doesn’t seem to dream. Perhaps because when one has everything he wants in real life, he doesn’t need to have to invent it in the parallel world that we inhabit during the night. And Penelope and Roxy are all he could wish for.
_____________________
TAG LIST: @shyladystudentfan  @norge-the-great @avengerquake123 @reidskitty13 @eclipseflower123 @lovebennycolon @pegasus-scifichick @theshamelessmanatee  @beana83 @ilovegarvez @martinab26 @hideourscars @ gracieeelizabeth27 @iliketomakecreampie @hepensadocosaspeores @arses21434 @sillygirlspy @mymidnightnightmare @teyamarra @mydreampenelope @lilises-blog @cosmicmelaninflower @thinitta @extremeobsessions101 @agentbishop @hellodawnwrightfan @kiki-krakatoa @amieatingevidence @ leftlamphumanfestival @ella1239me I tagged just who liked at least a chapter of this story. Tell me if you want to be removed from the tag list ^^
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kindofchaoticgood · 3 years ago
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Uma’s Updated Look in ‘Til the Storm Comes and the World is Quiet’
- All the purple is gone from her outfit. After her latest run-in with Mal, the color feels like a reminder of all of her past mistakes.
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- Her usual turquoise jacket is replaced by a more militaristic-style black jacket, and Uma spends an entire afternoon scouring the barges for gold buttons.
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- Instead of her staple brown leather sandals, she and Desiree manage to transform a ratty pair of black boots with the help of some embroidery, new heels, and some gold spray paint.
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- She attacks her jeans with a pair of scissors until they’re positively gaping with holes, and then pairs them up with fishnets, because why the fuck not? If Mal can dye her hair that hideous excuse for purple, she can wear fishnets with jeans.
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- Collarbone-exposing t-shirts quickly become her new favorite thing, because then her ‘still I rise’ tattoo is exposed, and she knows for a fact that Harry has a hard time focusing when he sees that tattoo.
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- She gets tired of switching in between her gloves and her brass knuckles, so she eventually just hammers brass into her gloves and calls it a day.
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- One of the only pieces of mermaid jewelry that Ursula still had from her old life Uma steals it the first chance she gets, and then never takes it off.
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- She finds the trident piercing in her Aunt Morgana’s jewelry box and manages to bribe her aunt out of it. Ursula is pissed as all hell every time she sees the trident in Uma’s ear, but Uma doesn’t give a damn. Her other ear is pierced with golden helix hoops, a crown around her orbital, and a dangling chain with a tiny skull on the end from her earlobe.
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- Gone are the white streaks from her hair, because her mother doesn’t deserve to be represented in her hair. Instead, her hair is made up of turquoise and black stands mixed together in her braids.
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- She also adds gold cuffs to her braids after she redoes them just because she feels like she deserves to treat herself after that entire fiasco with Mal and Co.
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xiakha · 3 years ago
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The Races of Hyltorea
It is said that Goblinkind all originated from the Desert of Origins after the utopia that had once existed in its center collapsed. Goblinkind have ruled the lands of Hyltorea in one way or another since the beginning of recorded history. They have conquered and been conquered many times over, often times squabbling to divvy up the land under whoever thrust themselves to the world stage and dared rule. It has never lasted long. Whatever advantage commanded the throne at the time would nevertheless prove transient, a bubble of stability in the frothing turmoil of history. They have held a common bond that the other races of Hyltorea often do not share and are more willing to work towards mutual benefit, but these alliances have seldom proven permanent. All the Great Noble Houses sort themselves into Orc, Goblin, or Hobgoblin, even if their members are not all of that race. Goblinkind can be distinguished as having an olive-greenish sheen to their skin. Their eyes are large with vertically slitted irises, their noses tend to be flat and wide, their ears come to a point, and their mouths house more or less prominent tusks and incisors. Overall, they give an impression of having somewhat felid facial characteristics.
  GOBLINS
The City-State of Mauze'fel is the only explicitly Goblin-run city-state. Its ruler, Mikhael Mauze, is a typical Swiftfinger Goblin with a chip on his shoulder. He and House Mauze alone hold the secrets to Airship technology that now churns the trade winds. It is no exaggeration to claim that he may be the most powerful man in Hyltorea.
 Small yet ungainly, Goblins look like large house cats on two feet that have a bit too much limb for their body sizes, but they still carry themselves with unnerving grace and accuracy. They rarely stretch taller than 4 feet, though their arm spans often extend further than that, and usually weigh no more than 65lb. They tend to have yellow or orange eyes. Their clothes are generally practical and they prefer simple, muted blues and yellows.
Goblins are inherently technically suited, their minds work in practical, problem solving ways to the point of exaggeration. Their lanky limbs have quick purposefulness to them and their nimble fingers are as at home working on large farming engines as on the intricate internals of a watch. Goblin Noble Houses primarily busy themselves with the husbandry of machines and technology. Their greatest tend to be scientists and knowledge seekers, searching for whatever truths may lie beyond. But all the greatest architects and artists and writers that Goblinkind has produced have also been Goblins with few exceptions. Goblins group these artists into the category of knowledge seeker, as they look for the greater truths within themselves.
However, Goblins generally do not like to bring much attention to themselves. They would rather be observers, and perhaps manipulators, in the background, keeping the machines ticking and the engines of the greater world running on time. They have never openly ruled much of the world, preferring instead to be the subtle backing or the subtle knife in the back. An Orc with a Goblin's backing can conquer much, and a Hob with a Goblin's backing often gets away with more than otherwise possible.
Goblins typically venerate Bargriv'yexh, a god of creation and design and the patron god of Goblins. Bargriv'yexh's symbol is a triangle inscribed in a square inscribed in a circle and can be found in the top left corner of all Goblin printed works. Shrines to Bargriv'yexh can be found in every Goblin firm, and temples are often simple affairs of elegant work full of prayers for inspiration and tributes that resulted from said inspiration.
Their aesthetic resembles that of Classical Islamic/Persian design, with Mongol Empire influences.
Goblins take Halfling traits and characteristics with these changes:
Ability Score Increase: Dexterity score increases by 2.
Age: A Goblin is considered an adult at the age of 16 and will generally live for just over a century. The oldest Goblins have lived to 120.
Alignment: Most Goblins have a chaotic bent, with the many projects and ideas that they pick up and drop at a moment's notice. They tend to be insular and self-centered, but they will not stand for obvious and blatant injustice.
Size: Goblins average under 4ft tall and weigh about 65lb. They are Small.
Speed: Goblins have a base walking speed of 25 feet.
Lucky: When a player playing a Goblin rolls a 1 on a d20 without advantage or disadvantage, he or she may reroll that die if they justify the reroll in roleplaying terms. If he or she does so, the second die result must be used instead. (Ex: "I'm going to try to convince the shopkeeper to give me a discount." Rolls for a persuasion check, gets a 1, goes for the reroll. "I try to flirt with the shopkeeper by saying 'What's a cute girl like you doing in a place like this?' but when he turns around, I realize he is a very male Orc and very offended." Reroll is a 14, still a failure, but not a catastrophic failure. "I say, 'Why, you're so good looking I thought you were a woman!' as a smooth recovery, and he glares at me, but doesn't kick me out of his store.")
Quickfingered: Goblins have advantage on all Dexterity based d20 checks that they can justify using only their fingers and hands for (but not arms).
Goblin Nimbleness: You can move through the space of any creature that is of a size larger than yours and any machine that is of a size two categories larger than yours.
Analytic Mind: Goblins have a knack for invention, and often specialize in a specific field. Upon creation, a Goblin character selects either Steamworks, Clockworks, or Magiworks. Goblins can intuitively understand machines of the chosen kind and have proficiency on skill checks they can justify when working with that chosen kind of machine.
Languages: Goblins can speak, read, and write Common and Goblintongue. Goblintongue is tonally very similar to Common, but is based in Dwarvish runes instead of Common Script, rendering it largely incomprehensible to those that know Dwarvish or Common. However, with a successful insight check, a Dwarvish reader or Common speaker can figure out what the Goblintongue says, and vice versa.
Subraces: There are two main kinds of Goblins, Resolute and Swiftfinger. These are not so much hard and fast subraces as ways Goblins tend to specialize.
Resolute
Resolute Goblins are the more common type of Goblin and are tougher than their size would indicate. They're the kind found clambering all over an engine or cranking and assembling contraptions onto sprockets.
Ability Score Increase: Constitution score increases by 1
Ironclad Resilience: Resolute Goblins have advantage on saving throws that involve machines if the player can justify it.
Swiftfinger
Swiftfinger Goblins are more likely to be dreamers and inventors. They often spend their days indoors at drafting tables and typewriters than in front of heavy machinery. They do difference engines, not steam engines. That isn't to say that every Goblin in the field is Resolute and every Goblin in academia is Swiftfinger.
Ability Score Increase: Intelligence or Charisma score increases by 1
Naturally Ignorable: Swiftfinger Goblins just kind of fade into the background when they're in an environment where they're expected to be. They may attempt to hide in any situation in which they're among other friendly or neutral Goblins or in any other place where they may justify being expected.
  ORCS
The City-State of Gi'am'fel has always been the seat of military power in the history of Hyltorea, and it has always been occupied by Orcish forces. The ruling party always takes the name of Gi'am, Reckoner, and Lu'i has not chosen to break from that tradition. It is by his word and sword that the other city-states wage war or peace, and, after the calamity that befell Prosperity, he is wise enough a man to be of few swords and fewer words.
 Orcs were said to have been bred and born for combat, once upon a time. That Force has been lost to the mists of times, but the results of their experimentation are clear to see. Orcs are the bulkiest of Goblinkind, even the smallest and lowest ranked individual would easily overpower a Hobgoblin of equal stature. They usually stand 6 to 7ft tall and weigh 200 to 250lb at full maturity, which they reach at age 20 to 23. Their faces resemble those of big cats with flat, low noses, though they do not have a snout like projection. Their bodies, though humanoid, are covered with light fur though some males have heavy fur on their bodies. They have pronounced cuspids, but rarely are they so overgrown that they emerge from an Orc's mouth unless they will it. Much of their clothing revolves around military garb worn with reckless casualness, in navy blues and olive greens and desert tans.  Some factions have traditions of ritualistic scarring and tattooing, others of war paint and colored livery, still others of medals and braided oaths. Whatever the case, these Orcs proudly present their House or family sworn displays at all events, formal or non-formal.
The martial prowess of Orcs should not be discounted, but despite their perceived destiny, they have found other uses for their militaristic habitudes. When they aren't at war, Orcs are builders of infrastructure. Most, if not all, roads on the face of Hyltorea were paved by Orcs, and Orcs were the first to introduce the concept of clean, running water and separate waste streams in cities. If Goblins discover, Orcs apply. From irrigation to public transport, engineering projects are often helmed by Orcs. Orc Noble Houses center around such facilities, and only three of the many houses deal directly with war. The Ruling House of Gi'am is not hereditarily resolved. Once the Head of House abdicates, whether due to age, politics, or death, challengers from all other Houses meet to test their strengths and wits in ritual combat. The victor becomes the next Head of House, and they nominate their lieutenants from competitors that they have personally defeated. So far, every Head of House has been an Orc, though many non-Orcs have vied for it.
Orcs are the shapers of the world. Their prevailing philosophy is not to observe and plan, not to convince and persuade, but to act and react. Opportunities present themselves most often when one goes to create them. They openly make themselves large and mighty, because they know that draws attention, and thus their enemies and allies alike will be forced to make themselves known. Subtlety is not beyond Orcs; they just have little chance to practice it, and only the most careful observers would recognize it.
Orcs traditionally post tribute to Gruumsh, a god of war and wisdom. Gruumsh's symbol is that of his mystical eye, a gift from his wife, Maglubiyet. Orcs salute by positioning their right hands diagonally over their right eyes, and pledge oaths by covering their right eyes, in deference to the sacrifice to wisdom that Gruumsh had made in order to win over his queen. Temples to Gruumsh are rare, but tributes to Gruumsh can be found on most public utility projects headed by Orc foremen, as the Mystic Eye is posted on all crevices that may be out of easy view.
Aesthetically, their art and design resembles that of Classical Indian design with Greco-Roman influences.
Orcs take Half-Orc traits and characteristics with these changes:
Ability Score Increase: Strength score increases by 2, and Constitution increases by 1.
Age: Orcs mature slightly slower than their cousins, only reaching maturity by ages 20 or 23, at which point they have mastered a weapon and a discipline and used both in a coming of age ritual. They live to 140 regularly, but rarely older than that.
Alignment: Orcs are generally lawful with the rigid systems that they grow up with. They trend to doing what is best for the greater good, but as it pertains to themselves.
Size: Orcs stand 6 to 7ft tall and weigh 200 to 250lb, though older Orcs will often weigh more. They are still considered Medium sized.
Speed: Orcs have a base walking speed of 30 feet.
Darkvision: Orcs excel at nighttime operations, and their work days have traditionally extended well beyond night fall. They can see 60 feet in front of them in dim lighting as if it where bright light, and they can see in total darkness as if it were dim light. However they cannot accurately discern color in complete darkness, only shades of gray, depending on the heat of their surroundings.
Menacing: Orcs don't really need to try to be intimidating. They just need to smile wide enough to reveal their large cuspids. They gain advantage on Intimidation checks as long as they're actively putting effort into being intimidating.
Weapon Familiarity: An Orc chooses and trains with a weapon from an early age. Though he or she may eventually adopt other weapons, their first weapon will always hold a special place for them. When an Orc character is created, choose a Weapon of Choice from longsword, greatclub, battle axe, rapier, warhammer, crossbow, longbow or shortbow. That character cannot get disadvantage while rolling to use a weapon of that kind, if they've used that specific weapon before in at least one previous encounter.
Public Utility Apprenticeship: The other rite of passage for an Orc is completion of an apprenticeship of a certain public works project. When an Orc character is created, choose a single public infrastructure (ie. roads, bridges, sewers, aquifers, etc.) of choice. That character gets proficiency any skill checks made with regard to that public infrastructure if it can be justified. (Ex: "With my knowledge of water mains, I try to intimidate the store owner by hinting at a possible water main break in his store unless I can check out his basement with my crew. I should get proficiency and advantage.")
Survival Instincts: The combat training Orcs undergo from a young age hones acutely their ability to not die. Whenever an Orc would be reduced to 0 hit points but not killed outright, they can choose to drop to 1 hit point instead, once per long rest.
Brutal Efficacy: Whenever an Orc scores a critical hit with a melee weapon, he or she may roll one of the weapon's damage dice one addition time and add it to the extra damage of the critical hit. If the Orc is wielding a weapon that would get the Weapon Familiarity bonus (a Weapon of Choice), instead they may re-roll one of their damage dice once, and choose a preferred result, and then, if the Weapon of Choice is melee, roll one of the weapon's damage dice one additional time and add it to the extra damage of the critical hit. (Ex: A Critical Hit with a longsword with no other bonuses is 2d6. With Brutal Efficacy, the Orc can roll an additional d6. If the Orc's Weapon of Choice is longsword, the Orc may roll one of the original dice again, taking which ever result is higher, and an additional d6.)
Languages: Orcs speak, read, and write Orcish and Common. Orcish sounds significantly different from Common, but is written in Common Script. With a successful insight roll, a Common speaker can figure out written Orcish and pronounce the words on the page without understanding what the words are.
  HOBGOBLINS
For the last eight hundred years, the Hyltorean Hobgoblin Xhaga'nate held a mighty grip on the main continent and extended its reach from the Goblin Colonies in the west to the Northern Mountains in the east. Now it is shattered, and Xhan Arth'uria sits on a broken throne in a broken empire, plotting a broken revenge.
 Hobgoblins are the middle race, not as tall and bulky and Orcs, but not as lanky and small as Goblins. They stand roughly 5ft to just under 6ft and weigh from 110lb to 180lb. They have cat-like ears on their head and their limbs are furred to match. They tend to wear intricate layered outfits, and formal garb almost always consists of a loose cloak or tunic draped over a double breasted tailor-fitted inner layer.
Hobgoblins value community and diplomacy over everything else and their lives are steeped in tradition. Legends tell of a world united in harmony under a Goblinkind flag, and much of Hobgoblin cultural identity revolves around recapturing this lost era, or any of the many that came after it. The last Xhaga'nate was the most recent and most successful attempt to bottle lightning. Almost every Hobgoblin has a plan or an opinion about how to best rebuild their empires, and most do what they can to advance that agenda. The Hobgoblin Houses not dedicated to diplomacy and management usually involve understanding and interpreting history and tradition. Indeed, one could say that Hobgoblins are the most traditionally founded of Goblinkind. That's not to say that they are less forward thinking than their Orcish or Goblin compatriots, as Hobgoblins use their understanding of the past and tradition to inform their decisions and spur on the movements they helm with unerring confidence.
Hobgoblins thus are all about connections, compromise, networking, and bridge building. This often manifests itself as persuading others to take the course of action that is most optimized for the Hobgoblin. That doesn't mean all Hobgoblins are master planners, they're just convincing and good at cultivating ideas. Few operate that well outside the short term. If Goblins are all about subtle workings and Orcs are about the obvious or ostentatious, Hobgoblins draw a happy medium between the two extremes, as they are oft to do.
All Hobgoblins have at some point in their lives prayed to Maglubiyet, goddess of ambition and cunning. Her symbol is her Iron Throne, and every one of her many temples has this uncomfortable device at its centerpiece. People come to worship the Patron Goddess of Hobgoblins in pairs or groups, never alone. Almost all rites and prayers require at least another to join in, whether it be in chorus, response, or round. Outside of her temples, Maglubiyet and her symbols rarely appear save in the morality stories taught to children.
Aesthetically, Hobgoblins use an interplay of Mongol Empire and Greco-Roman design.
Hobgoblins take Half-Elf traits and characteristics with these changes:
Ability Score Increase: Charisma increases by 2, and two other ability scores of choice increase by 1.
Age: Hobgoblins come of age in mass ceremonies at 18. Most live about 150 years, but there are claims that some have lived to see their second century.
Alignment: Hobgoblins come in all stripes, and do not necessarily veer more lawfully or chaotically, though individuals will obviously have explicit preferences.
Size: Hobgoblins are 5 to 6 feet tall and weigh 110 to 180lb. They are Medium sized.
Speed: Hobgoblins have a base walking speed of 30 feet.
Darkvision: Hobgoblins retain this throwback to some ancient time, and Hobgoblins that live in the city generally only find use of this trait in the unlit Temples of Maglubiyet, as it is believed the darkness improves one's spiritual connections. They can see 60 feet in front of them in dim lighting as if it were bright light, and they can see in total darkness as if it were dim light. However they cannot accurately discern color in complete darkness, only shades of gray, depending on the heat of their surroundings.
City-State Heritage: All Hobgoblins know more than they realize about the places that they grew up in. Choose one of the marked geopolitical points of interest on the Hyltorea world map west of (and including) Prosperity and south of the northern reaches of the Spine of Hyltorea as a region of origin. Hobgoblins have advantage on all skill checks made with reference to that region of origin if it can be justified.
Skill Versatility: Hobgoblins have proficiency in two skills of their choice. Hobgoblins that hail from a city-state choose an additional proficiency in a skill that uses Intelligence checks or Charisma checks. Hobgoblins that hail from a non-city-state choose an additional proficiency that uses Wisdom checks or Charisma checks.
Languages: Hobgoblins speak, read, and write Common primarily, Goblin or Orc as a secondary. City-state based Hobgoblins tend to learn Elvish as a third language, and non-city-state based Hobgoblins tend to learn Dwarvish. Common tongue is also known as Hobtongue or Hoblish.
  ELVES
The Moon Elves and Sun Elves have always danced in complementary cycles, even before their gods united as one being. The uneasy truce they brokered in their many wars was planted in trees, and the lofty tops were used as a neutral ground, forcing the Elves to rise up, metaphorically and physically. The pale Moon Elves have been hunters and sailors since antiquity, living nomadic lives in the frozen north. The god they worshipped, Corellon, was a mighty hunter and trickster who could disappear with a twist. His traveling cloak was the Moon. The tanned Sun Elves have always been planters and herders, and settled in the rich fields of what is now the Xham'bel Fielfdom and Luran Forests. Their goddess, Larethian, is primarily seen as a nurturing mother too beautiful and vindictive to look at directly, liable to kill with the very power that feeds. Her chariot was the Sun. As the myth goes, the romance that never could be was struck and consummated when Corellon used his traveling cloak to disappear not just himself, but Larethian's chariot entirely. And from that unity emerged a new being, Corellon Larethian, a deity of dualities, both Sun and Moon, both male and female, both life and death. They have remained this way ever since, traveling in the Chariot of the Sun by day, and the Cloak of the Moon by night.
Luran Forest was planted, nurtured, and filled with all manners of beasts as a symbol of this new unison, and was one of the first places Moon and Sun Elves intermingled. Within the treetops, the city is symbiotic structures woven out of the living branches of the canopy. The Elven retreat from Luran Forest and the Xham'bel plains eastwards lead to the Unification of Sylvanian tribes, a response to the increasing grasp and power of Xhan'fel. But even Unified Sylvania eventually signed away power to the Hobgoblin Empire in treaties that have since been negated and neglected as Xhan'fel no longer has any ability to enforce them. In Unified Sylvania, years of intermarriage between Moon and Sun Elves have lead to progeny that claim themselves "Dawn Elves."
Moon Elves take aesthetic cues from Norse and Mesoamerican designs.
Sun Elves take aesthetic cues from Egyptian and Mesoamerican designs.
Dawn Elves are largely super organic Art Nouveau.
Elves retain the same stats except as follows:
Ability Score Increase: Dexterity increases by 2.
Age: Elves reach physical maturity slightly later than Hobgoblins, at about 25, but most Elves are not treated as full adults until they reach 75 years of age, because of cultural traditions and the experiences they have to master. Elves age slowly after that and do not seem to age after 150 years of life. Arguably, an Elf could potentially live forever, and the oldest Elves are record to be over a thousand, but most die long before then.
Alignment: Sun Elves tend to be a bit more settled in their ways, and Moon Elves are continuously in flux. Thus in general, Elves tend to be neither overly chaotic nor lawful on average, but individuals may vary wildly, especially among citizens of Sylvania.
Size: Elves are 5 to nearly 6 feet tall and are slender to skinny looking. Their size is Medium.
Speed: Elves have a base walking speed of 30 feet.
Darkvision: Elves see in the dark, potentially because everyone else can see in the dark too. They can see 60 feet in front of them in dim lighting as if it were bright light, and they can see in total darkness as if it were dim light. However they cannot accurately discern color in complete darkness, only shades of gray, depending on the heat of their surroundings.
Keen Senses: Elves have proficiency in the Perception skill.
Trance: Elves don't technically need to sleep. Most adult Elves do not, choosing to meditate or "Trance" instead for four hours a night. This comes easily to Dawn Elves, and even children grasp this naturally. Sun and Moon Elves need to train to do this, and some Elves just never learn how.
Elvish Knowledge: Elves that are considered adults have proficiency in Intelligence checks when dealing with Elvish history, tradition, religion, or artifacts.
 Subraces:
Dawn Elves
Hailing from Unified Sylvania, Dawn Elves have a certain mystical quality to them. It might be magic. Their skin tones tend to fall in the average between the warm, saturated tones of the Sun Elves and the cold, desaturated tones of Moon Elves, though some are as tanned or as pale as their ancestors. Their somewhat unearthly eyes tend to be silver-blue, purple, yellow-green, or red. Likewise, their hair tends to venture into the "unnatural" ranges of purples, bright reds, greens, and blues.
Ability Score Increase: Intelligence increases by 1.
Fey Ancestry: It is said that the union between Corellon and Larethian and their children was blessed by the Fey. At least, that's what Dawn Elves claim their natural resistance to charm and sleep is. They have advantage on saving throws against being charmed and magic can't put them to sleep.
Elf Weapon Training: Dawn Elves have proficiency in two of the following: rapiers, shortsword, shortbow, and longbow. Adult Dawn Elves have proficiency in all four.
Elvish Diplomacy: Dawn Elves have proficiency in Charisma checks when dealing with other Elves.
Cantrip: Dawn Elves can cast one cantrip of choice from the wizard spell list. They use Intelligence for spellcasting ability.
Languages: Apart from Elvish and Common, many Dawn Elves also pick up at least a smattering of Sylvan. Dawn Elves of at least 75 years of age are usually fully fluent in Sylvan, and most also pick up a fourth language.
 Moon Elves
Moon Elves come from the icy north and have spent most of their time raiding the coasts and following the herds of dire caribou and dire buffalo as they migrate up and around the spine of Hyltorea. This activity brought them in contact with both Sun Elves and Goblinkind, often in less-than-civil engagements. They have colder, less saturated skintones that reflect their environment with eyes and hair to match, though red hair and eyes may appear in fiery defiance of the hoar frost.
Ability Score Increase: Constitution increases by 1.
Frozen Heritage: Moon Elves have resistance to cold damage and have proficiency on Wisdom checks related to cold or oceanic environs or hunting prey in those environs if the link can be justified.
Elf Weapon Training: Moon Elves have proficiency in two of the following: shortsword, trident, shortbow, longbow. Adult Moon Elves have proficiency in all four.
Elvish Diplomacy: Moon Elves have proficiency in Charisma checks when dealing with other Moon Elves and Dawn Elves.
Light of Foot: Moon Elves have a base walking speed of 35. When a Moon Elf passes through snow and ice or similar difficult terrain, they may attempt a Dexterity check to pass through the difficult terrain without trace. Whether or not they succeed, they still take no penalty to movement speed, and they can move at a steady pace without slowing while working through the terrain. They may do the same with rocking surfaces.
Languages: Moon Elves learn Elvish, Moon dialect, and Common. When learning other languages, they often pick up either Sun dialect Elvish, or Goblin. Elvish speakers can intuit what is said in Moon dialect Elvish with a successful Insight check.
 Sun Elves
Sun Elves are native to the hot and flat plains of the south, and have long lived a pastoral life based on grains and herd animals. They are more friendly and amendable to Goblinkind, as they have been in constant contact and trade since time immemorial. They have a warmer, more saturated complexions, eyes, and hair. Every so often, there's one with white to blonde hair and light eyes, but they are rare.
Ability Score Increase: Wisdom increases by 1.
Pastoral Charm: Whenever a Sun Elf is in a position to talk about their culture or spin a yarn about their life on the plains, they gain advantage on all justifiable Charisma checks. They also have proficiency for Wisdom (Animal Handling) checks and Wisdom (Survival) checks when in prairie.
Elf Weapon Training: Sun Elves have proficiency in two of the following: longsword, shortsword, longbow, shortbow. Adult Sun Elves have proficiency in all four.
Elvish Diplomacy: Sun Elves have proficiency in Charisma checks when dealing with other Sun Elves and Dawn Elves.
Cantrip: Sun Elves can cast one cantrip of choice from the druid spell list. They use Wisdom for spellcasting ability.
Languages: Sun Elves learn Elvish, Sun dialect, and Common. When learning other languages, they often pick up either Moon dialect Elvish, Goblin, or Orc. Elvish speakers can intuit what is said in Sun dialect Elvish with a successful Insight check.
  DWARVES
Dwarves believe their race was cast from iron and hammered into shape by Moradin, a sentient Godhammer. Before the metal cooled, the detail work was done by Moradin's spouse, Kalavin, a sentient Godsickle. Together, they raised the Dwarvish race from the depths of the earth to the favorable place underground they find themselves now. But it has taken much hard work and sacrifice to reach the position that they are currently at, and Dwarves know better than anyone else that a community often must move with conviction and coherency.
Underground, the Dwarves are super utilitarian and put the needs of the community before their own. Dwarves traditionally mask themselves literally to honor the agreement they made with Moradin to metaphorically treat all other Dwarves as the same, that no Dwarf is below or above any other in the dark. They wear their beards long and braided, one braid for every bond, pact, and allegiance that they have.  All receive what they require and all give what they can. Any Dwarf putting self before others is stripped of her beard and removed from society, left to wander the Underdark eternally, or until they reach the surface.
Above ground, then, are the Dwarves that were ejected from that perfect state and their descendants. Some still wear masks and braids in keeping with Moradin's ways. Others have turned to Kalavin, expressing and emphasizing the details the Godsickle granted them. Most farm or herd, and the ones in the mountains mine. They have taken to recreational use of explosives in very small quantities, high boots, and outsized floppy hats.
Yes, Dwarvish vaquero.
Above ground Dwarvish aesthetic take cues from Chinese design with Wild West influences.
Dwarves have the same stats as stated in the Player's Handbook with these additions:
Tool Proficiency: Dwarves gain proficiency with one of these artisan's tools: smith's tools, gunsmith's tools, brewer's supplies, mason's tools, or leatherworker's tools.
Persuasive Professionalism: Dwarves gain advantage on all Charisma checks when discussing the trade they work in or subject matter related to the trade they work in.
Blend In: A masked Dwarf can attempt to hide in a group of other masked Dwarves even without anything else obscuring her. In an area with ten or more other masked Dwarves, a masked Dwarf has advantage on this hide check.
Languages: Dwarvish is written in pictographs that have been formalized and standardized as runes.
  GNOMES
Gnomes primarily hail from the southeastern islands, and most can trace roots back to Gnometown. Little is known about their origins, save that they seem to be oddly in sync with the Fey, which tolerate their presence better than any other race. Are they Fey that lost their access to the Feywilds? Are they reject-Dwarves from Moradin's first casting? Are they the result of forbidden Elvish experimentation? Are they counterparts to Goblins? Who knows. The fact remains that they have tunnels everywhere in their cities, they tunneled into the mainland, and they are intensely curious.
Gnomes take the same stats as stated in the Player's Handbook with these additions:
Sylvan Connections: Gnomes have advantage on all Charisma checks relating directly to the Fey.
Gnome Connections: Gnomes always know a guy, and with an Intelligence check, can always figure out how to reach that guy, even if that guy is trying very hard not to be reached.
ANIBORN
The Aniborn are humanoids with animalistic traits, as would suit those of the Anima lineage. In that respect, they have even more variation to how they look, and some even have ears resembling those of an animal that extend past the tops of their heads and antlers they may grow and shed like deer. These traits are usually rather benign and do not change their silhouette dramatically. Wings grown are generally small and useless, hands still include thumbs, digitigrade feet still allow for typical bipedal locomotion, tails are nuisances and not prehensile, faces do not get snouts, and for the most part, the Aniborn are only as hirsute as the other mortal races. There are some exceptions, but those are rare and often live as hermits, shut away from even other Aniborn. They have an affinity for nature like the Anima they resemble, and have natural magical ability like the Fey. Though they most likely have origins in the Great Spirits that sunk into the earth, they readily interbreed with most other mortal races; however, their offspring are never hybrid.
Aniborn generally live in villages on their own, near Fey conclaves, and rarely interact with the other mortal races. When they do, they often come across as cunning and charismatic, in an uncanny manner. As they generally have a good relationship with their Anima brethren, it isn’t unheard of Aniborn living among the Fey and Anima themselves, serving as liasons between the more animalistic of the Anima and mortals. Some even work with the Unseelie. However this disconnect with modern society and a lack of social graces in comparison to their suave Lumi cousins, has given the Aniborn a somewhat undeserved reputation for being awkward and naive. City Aniborn do not lack these graces but the reputation still precedes them, much to their chagrin.
The Aniborn use stats for Tieflings. DM fiat for changes to resistances and Infernal Legacy replacement spells
LUMI
The Lumi clearly have some kind of elemental matter running through their veins. They may have hair of a mottled brown, a fiery red, a wispy blonde, or even no hair at all. Their skin likewise range from a coppery tan to an ethereal pale. Their eyes are invariably an unearthly yellow or purple. In general, most Lumi take form very similar to that of very large Luminal influenced Fey, so oddly they resemble Elves more often than not. Their variability means that short Lumi may only be slightly taller than Dwarves and tall Lumi tower over Hobgoblins. They also have some aspect of control over the elements they resemble, and it is not unheard of Lumi without magical training unleashing gouts of flame or sparks or controlling boulders or ponds. As Luminal are generally incompatible with the usual methods of mortal reproduction, it is often said that the original Lumi were creations by the Great Spirits that ascended to the skies, potentially by fusing Luminal with mortals.
The Luminal in them give the Lumi strength and a dazzle that other mortal races find oddly compelling. As they have no homeland and their Luminal “brethren” are generally wary of them, they instead integrate themselves among the other moral races, and it is not odd to find them working closely with Hobgoblins or Elves. Though they may take lovers of different races, the Luminal have difficulty conceiving even among themselves (half-Elf half-Lumi are basically unheard of), making Lumi society rare. Only in the Luminal city-state of Xhor'Ruvula is there a significant Lumi population, and even that, subservient to the Luminal that rule the city-state, could hardly be called a thriving society of its own right.
The Lumi use stats for Dragonborn. DM fiat for breath weapon replacement and other details.
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lordofcrowns · 3 years ago
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Calloused fingers tapped incessantly on the countertop, demonstrating L’mara’s impatience as she eyed the proprietor looking over the little badge she’d handed over for his inspection. He was a gruff, unsavory looking Hyur with messy salt and pepper hair and leathery skin. He, like most of the villagers in Crescent Cove, weren’t particularly fond of the authorities or anyone closely aligned with them, and it showed in their manners towards the Miqo’te. What with their little hamlet often being left unguarded from pirates and brigands, Mara could understand their bitterness entirely. But that wasn’t her responsibility, she had other matters on her mind.
Drabble can be read here if viewing it on my theme is difficult!
“Yer a consultant ter de Flames den, aye?” The man finally spat out contemptuously. He set the badge down and slid it back across the table to her. “'ill ye bea 'avin sumndin, den?”
Mara was taller and in a way more intimidating than the Hyuran man glaring at her. She was slender, but toned. Bark brown-grey hair that seemed to be light, almost minty blue at the roots was tied back in a loose braid. Gold eyes were cold and resolute and yet somehow they still bore a disarming glitter. Her chest was bound flat with bandages that covered her misshapen torso, only partially hidden by the frumpy, weathered travel clothes she wore.
“I want no drink.”
The woman stated bluntly as she caught the emblem in a bandaged palm as it came across the counter at her. She calmly tucked it back into a pocket and rolled out two rather weathered scrolls, one depicting a ship, and the other a Hyuran man.
“I need only know what you have seen.”
The man huffed and adjusted a pair of rusted, dirty spectacles and leaned over, picking up the parchment that bore an illustration of the Captain. He didn’t bother looking at it very long before shrugging and shaking his head.
“Not seen any’ne who looks loike dis, sorry marm.”
“You are certain?”
“M’sure I'd notice de eyepatch.” He gestured to his right eye and to the illustration of the man on the paper. Mara huffed and slid the illustration of the ship closer to him.
“The ship or the colors then.” She snapped out impatiently. “You keep a record of all who port here, no?”
The man shrugged and tossed his head back in annoyance again before picking up the poster with the ship and flipping it around in his hand a bit.
“Eh? a ship loike dis is too lorge ter make port 'ere…”
He trailed off a moment and took a closer look, adjusting his glasses and passing his thumb over the calligraphic ‘S’ inscripted in the corner. He glanced curiously back and forth at the poster that bore an illustration of the man himself and the inked image of the ship.
“Yer 'untin' de slaver?”
Mara straightened up and nodded stiffly and the man behind the bar seemed to tremble a moment, his lip quivering and his throat growing tight.
“Stacy tuk me missus an' me daughter away from me…”
The man set down the rumpled parchment and curled his hand into a fist. There was a few tense moments where Mara felt unsure if she should speak, perhaps apologize for bringing up what she couldn’t have known was such a personal subject. Of course she knew the slaver had soured so many lives, touched so many people in so cruel a way. But she couldn’t have known this man’s struggle. The barkeep snarled and banged his knuckles against the counter.
“Ye won't catch 'im! ‘Tis a fool's erran'! Whoever ye lost is long gone, marm. An' yer won't git dem back.”
He spoke now with a bitterness that Mara could tell came from experience. Surely this man had hunted, had paid what little coin he had for bounty hunters, implored the Brass Blades or even the Flames for aid. But it had been for naught, the pirate still evaded any attempts at confrontation, he even evaded her.
But while she understood his plight, his resentment, his brokenness… her impatience was what ended up showing through.
“Then I am a fool.” She said matter of factly. “My son was taken from me.”
The proprietor seemed to snap out of his stupor and slightly composed himself enough to offer a sympathetic nod, listening in polite quietness to the Miqo’te as she kept speaking.
“I have no care for the many who say that he is lost to me.
She put her hand on the poster to bring the man’s attention back to it.
“What can you tell me? I must needs know all of it.”
The man shuddered a bit and had to swallow a sob that threatened to escape his throat, but all he did when he’d done so was shake his head forlornly.
“Dat wus more’n two years ago, marm. Oi 'av not seen de ship or Stacy's colors since.”
Mara hissed and bit her tongue in frustration, putting her hands on her hips and stomping one foot in a barely contained rage. She hung her head then and nodded, adopting a far more militaristic, no-nonsense tone and doing her utmost to stifle the emotion within her.
“Very well. I would ask that you report to the Flames should you sight anything relating to the slaver.”
The man nodded and crossed his arms as Mara rolled up the posters and tucked them back into her knapsack.
There was a brief bit of conversation, a small trade of gil for supplies, and the woman took her hasty leave of the little coastal settlement, feeling no better for her wasted time. The proprietor watched her leave and shook his head a bit, strolling out behind her and taking a broom to sweep away dirt from the entryway to his little shack of a bar. He spoke to himself as the woman faded off into the distance, pity and foul memories pooling like ice water in the pit of his stomach.
“Oi wish yer luk, marm. ‘Tis a sour lot we's thrown. But oi tell ye roi nigh, him’s lost to ye.”
In the back of the barkeep’s mind, he was furiously trying to remember what the slaver had looked like. He’d only caught glimpses of the man, he hadn’t even gotten anywhere close to him in the panic and the chaos when those raiders had swept through and ripped his family away from him. But still, he could have sworn the slaver to be a Miqo’te.
Perhaps the lonely years had just piled on too heavily and his memory just wasn’t what it used to be.
Yes, that had to be it.
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squirrelwrangler · 2 years ago
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ID Candy FFXIV post while I wait because of maintenance night:
Estinien and Ysayle role reversal AU. He becomes the Red Dragoon, leader of the heretics and she is Lady Iceheart, Ishgard’s premier warrior.
First of all in this role reversal mirror ‘verse, until the First Shard that will be in Shadowbringers (and lol, called it), everything is mostly the same history and culture unless pointed out for a change/whim. One of those whims, I decided even before the SbH reveal, was G’raha as a key Scion instead of shut in Crystal Tower. Also, no Alphinaud or Alisae- instead this AU for grins and giggles Louisoux is in his early adult years and is a bit of a flirt and flabbergasted that his counterpart on the Source is a grandfather (though he likes the beard).
Also Moenbryda is a technical instead of aetheric scholar, the replacement for Cid type characters. With a prog Cid’s contractual exemption from death. Urianger still smitten. Also he’s a full Sharleyan Astrogolian getup from the get go. And still a loquastious nerd.
Coerthan history is the same until King Thordan’s betrayal. Role Reversal AU- Hraesvelgr is the one slain, his eyes eaten (adding an extra layer of magic cannibalism taboo with the imparting of not just his aether but a tiny bit of Shiva’s). Ratatoskr is the one to find her brother’s remains, vow revenge, lose her eyes- and heavy scarring on one side of her body, and renames herself Hela. Nidhogg has always abstained from contact with mortals, this enforces it. He abstains from the war and attacks anyone that comes to his lair - reverse so Aery is now subterranean? To take the Hela symbolism one step further, the generic monster minions also include a lot of undead draugar, including the dragoons whom Ratatoskr had originally trained. Haldrath doesn’t give up the throne; Ishgard remains a monarchy along with a powerful church and nobility - but by time of game the king has been dead for years and his infant son, now a young preteen boy who I haven’t decided on a name yet but should feel at least in a part as a direct homage to Puck, the Burmecian Prince of Cleyra from IX, has been under a regency headed up but Archbishop Thordan. As part of the cover-up, Ishgard doesn’t denounce Shiva as the heretic that slept with a dragon but instead chose only to stress the manner of her death and pretend justice/revenge for her death was King Thordan’s motivation. History rewrites her to be Haldrath’s sister; now she is the martyr Patron Saint of Ishgard and to suggest the truth that she and Hraesvelgr were in love is the heresy.
Dragoons never undergo the transformation from dragon riders to dragon killing specialist. Anyone in Dragoon armor is a heretic.
Instead the main class/their position in Ishgardian society is replaced with Rune Knight.
When the Calamity hits, Ysayle’s village of Falcon’s Nest still decimated, flees for the safety of Ishgard, the avalanche still hits, but she is rescued and makes it to Foundation’s Gates. Faced with starving or turning to prostitution in the Brume, and warned that her physical beauty means any noble house she takes work in will likely lead to the same fate, Ysayle levers her small magical knowledge to apply for training as a Rune Knight. The two well-known dragoons in-game, Hestienne and Estinien, were both orphans adopted by former dragoons, which suggests that this wasn’t the group that secondary heirs were shuffled into (Temple Knights for that prestige, natch). And the disdain and refraining from getting involved in the political maneuvering and back-biting of the High Houses - So stressing that the Rune Knights are the revered and no longer apolitical but more loosely aligned to the royal house military group, numbers bolstered and drawn from the orphans and abandoned bastards, a little more like the Convictors. Ysayle’s best friend and friendly rival is Hestienne - all other named dragoons are now heretics. Ysayle has a bit of Celes Chere, Lightning, Freya, and Beatrix to become her new adjusted FF archetype. Save the Queen is her sword. Wears long hair in a braid to visually differentiate from Source Ysayle. Outfit is a blue mix of her original look, Amano artwork Celes, and Beatrix coat I think. She is still Lady Iceheart, but for her cold and serious demeanor and her proficiency with ice spells. The course of the plot means she is at one point a temporary bodyguard for the prince and/or has to hunt after him to rescue him. She wants to prove herself because as a provincial from Coerthas instead of Ishgard proper, she has to be twice as good to be taken half as a seriously- and can’t forget the sense of obligation, that she would be dead if not the gates opening for her, and Falcon’s Nest still has a giant statue of Haldrath- she’s a royalist through and through. She has no family left, her village is an icy ruin, she will do whatever it takes and fling herself into battle, sacrifice her life so no one else will die alone in the snow. And above all she hates the dragoons, the undead ones sent by the Great Wyrm or the living heretics who grab themselves in dragon scales and use the power of the blood of dragons to mimic the beasts by leaping through the sky. The first meeting with Estinien was him also killing Hestienne in an attack - she’s on a personal vendetta and she’s as much Ratatoskr/Hela’s parallel as Source Estinien was Nidhogg’s.
Aymeric is still the Archbishop’s bastard son- but in this universe isn’t quietly adopted out to another childless noble family. Instead he’s mockingly the Aymeric de Brume, leader of the lower class revolutionaries. No Hilda- but he and Lucia (if I’m going full ship, I’m going full ship ) have a half-elezen, half-Garlean daughter with black hair and green eyes. Named Livia after Lucia’s dead sister. Garlean Empire isn’t a full empire- still in early Roman Republic Stages instead of Full Roman Empire. Garleans still the can’t-use-magic was pursued by everyone and forced into coldest north and has that third eye- but now come in two clans/groups. The first are mercenaries and tinkers and spies, militaristic but not dominating their neighbors yet- condottoris and mercenaries. The smaller second group are like WoT’s Tinkers- pacifists who emphasize sharing of stories and theater and songs. Lucia and her sister were from the first group, the Lexentale are the second. Neither much like each other and one wouldn’t want to mistake them. Lucia the mercenary spy still ends up in Ishgard and defects out of admiration and love for Aymeric. Livia the Mongrel is a precocious child. Prince “Puck” will at one point run away from the palace, bump into his new playmate, cue everyone going ah they will become the unlikely friendship of the next generation.
Haurchefant joins the Heaven’s Ward. More strained relationship with Papa Ed and half-brothers. More emphasis on rushing alone armed with only a knife and slaughtering multiple armed kidnappers in a rage to rescue his friend part of his personality- he’s the cheerful berserker Token Good Guy member of the Archbishop’s elite guard, the one to have the Judge Gabranth/Judge Zargabaath change of heart towards the end to help the heroes and is the one as survivor to be the prince’s permanent bodyguard.
Estinien. So here’s the change-up: Nidhogg never attacked Ferndale - but another dragon did show up in that tiny village on the Coerthan outskirts. Orn Khai, child of Vedrfolnir and grandson of Hraesvelgr. The children of Hraesvelgr are now the protected and sacred brood- but cling to the memory of their sire and the knowledge that their stepmother was Elezen and thus most do not wish to partake in the war. The more peace-like take shelter with Nidhogg, especially when Vedrfolnir’s consort is Nidhogg’s daughter Raunehm. But adventurous Orn Khai (The sorrow this time is his grandsire’s death and what later happens) gets lost and injured and thus found and rescued from Hela’s brood by an Elezen shepherd boy. Hamingant brings the adorable injured dragonnet to his older brother: “He’s just a baby, Estinien. He doesn’t want to fight anymore than we do.” Cuteness and brotherly loyalty overrides a thousand years of the Dragonsing War. But the baby dragon can only be hidden for so long. Word gets out to the Inquistors. Estinien’s family and village is purged as a den of heretics. His family and little Orn Khai are killed. Vedrfolnir in a rage is too late to rescue his son, finding only Estinien as he is thrown off the cliffs. The truth of what happens is imparted; the truth of how the Dragonsong War was started and only confirms the hypocrisy and injustice, Estinien vowing revenge on the Inquistors and all of Ishgard. Vedrfolnir adopts Estinien as a son, having both lost son and family respectively - plus as an Ishgardian Estinien carries that trace of Hraesvelgr and Shiva’s blood-Aether. Raenehm gives the black-red scales that form Estinien’s new dragoon armor. He fights on dragon back and with Dragoon moves, Khal Tok and his brothers are among his dragon allies. The Red Dragoon, leader of a group of heretics that call themselves the Grandsons of Shiva (shortened to the Sons), vowing to put all the corrupt churchmen’s heads on pikes, starting with the Archbishop. (Rebel Leader Aymeric is fully onboard with greeting his father for the first time by trying to shoot him, so allies!)
Happy Fun Times Roadtrip ensues.
It’s Nidhogg they have to try to convince to ally with- Vishap with his mighty bulk at one point helps to tank attacks from Aunt Hela so they can escape, at the climatic end fight between Hela and Nidhogg, he gives his remaining eye to Estinien (who is quite upset and doesn’t want to lose Grandpa Dragon #2).
Ysayle is the one imprisioned in the Vault for perceived heretic sympathies. (Well, more explicit sleeping with the enemy acustations which aren’t yet truthful). The boss fight at the end is where get either the Haurchefant defection or dialogue that sets it up to happen later down the line.
Climatic end is still Estinien turning into a maddened dragon - this time not fully Nidhogg but something that looks more like a red Hraesvelgr. And Ysayle furious at how dare he force her to become Shiva reborn but she certainly didn’t sign up for falling in love with a dragon and he’s not eating her.
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hysterialyywrites · 2 years ago
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From Rue to None (Multichaptered)
One
If there's one good thing about this particular school, it's not having to worry about choosing what outfit to wear every day.
Swiping my phone off the table, I hastily slipped on my blazer and double checked my image.
Pressing the lock button on my phone, I noted the date.
September 1st.
Looking back into the mirror, I considered our uniform tolerable enough: a white blouse tucked into a dark, sort of army green skirt, with a navy blue striped bow tie under the collar adorning our necks. The blazer was the finishing touch; it shared the same shade of army green as the skirt, with the school emblem sitting proudly on the right breast pocket. Ironic how evidently dark, male, and militaristic our colors were, seeing as we attend an all-girls academy. You'd expect the colors to look a bit more chipper and charming, the common depiction of a young lady's soul and spirit. I've heard enough complaints from my fellow classmates to know that more than half of the academy has already signed a petition to redress (quite literally) the students' concerns on uniform colors. If all goes well, the uniforms might be different next year. Quite a shame though, since I liked the way the colors complemented my eyes: dark, hollow, and grey. A stark contrast to the rest of my family's irises.
I spotted Minella a few ways back from my reflection in the mirror. Without turning back, I called out to her. “Minella?” “Yes, my lady?” she replied, her accent rather distinguished in only three words. “Adelia is fine, Minella. Are we late for the opening ceremony?” “Not yet, my lady, although we will be in a few minutes.” I hummed in response. “Then, let's get going. It wouldn't look good for me if I were to be late on the first day.” I brushed past her without a second glance as she took my bag and followed me out of my room, down the long hallways of my family's prestigious manor, until she finally saw me off at the courtyard. She gave me a small smile, one that I did not acknowledge, as she closed the car door and nodded at the driver. My eyes were on the sky, taking in the grey of the clouds and the gloom of the weather. Reports say there might even be rain later afternoon. On the 15-minute ride to Hopewell, I felt my stomach churn at the memory of Minella's fallen expression at my surly response to her smile, but I brushed it off, held my head high, and kept my eyes undeterred. A Calloway does not lose face because of a simple, trivial regret. I hear the booming of thunder as the car drives on.                                                             * * *
Minella is, for the lack of a better word, my maid. I found the term quite derogatory, so I asked her if she knew of another word to describe her line of work. She told me that back in her country, she was often called ate, and prior to the Calloways, her family in the Philippines had her siblings call her ate or ate Ella instead of her given name alone. When I asked her what it meant, she told me it was a term used to refer to an older sister, or any girl a few years older than you. As I tested the term myself, I found it rather awkward on my tongue, so I resorted to calling her by her first name instead. She didn't mind one bit. Minella, 20 years old at the time, first came to the estate when I was only 3 years old, and was a general housekeeper before she was reassigned to me as my personal maid. My parents have noticed that I've taken a particular liking to her after her first two weeks, and decided that it would be better if she were to care for my needs instead of the manor's. It was a good call on my part, since I consider Minella the first friend I've ever made. She was incredibly kind, caring, selfless, and very family-oriented. Her movements were kept to a minimum and she worked with such poise that I once thought of her as a long lost queen. She told me I described her as mahinhin. Ever since then, she's been teaching me her language little by little everyday. She was younger than she looked as well, so I really did treat her like an older sister instead of a maid. We were inseparable. I would have her teach me how to play games such as sungka, play hide-and-seek with her around the garden, have her teach me how to braid my own hair, and she would tell me stories about her family back home. As mentioned before, she had siblings about my age, and she told me we would get along very well if we were ever to meet. I started writing them letters then, and they would always write back. Minella was right; we did get along. As I grew older, however, my priorities started to change. As the only daughter of the estate, I was expected to take over the family's well-renowned railway company in the future. My growing fluency in Minella's language was replaced with French, Spanish, and German. My expertise insungka was replaced with chess and card games to entertain guests and clients that I would accommodate in the future. Stories of Minella and her family were replaced by both world history and the history of the company. I started taking my studies a lot more seriously. I stopped writing letters. A rift grew between me and Minella, until finally, I became the very description of my eyes: cold, dull, and lifeless.                                                            * * * I stepped out of the vehicle, ignored the familiar gut-wrenching feeling in my stomach and made my way over to the front gates of Hopewell Academy, one of the finest institutes in the country. We followed standard protocol that was expected to be adhered to by every student on opening day, and proceeded with orientation. As lunch break rolled by, I was greeted by two girls, Henley and Kristina. We've been friends since primary school, and I would trust them with my family's wealth, precisely because they have no intentions of exploiting it. “Ada, how have you been? Is your family alright? I haven't heard from them in a while,” said Henley as she took a bite of her sandwich. She comes from a small, working class family in the south. She got into the academy on a scholarship, triumphing over her status with her smarts. “Yeah, they've been busy. They're in Germany right now on business.” “Oh, really? That's too bad, I would've made them something for their trip,” replied Kristina. Her family owns a small bakery downtown. My parents often love to bring home cake fresh from their oven from time to time. Like Henley, Kristina is here on a scholarship. I'm the only one in the group who got in with their family's wealth. Money, however, is not the base of our long-standing friendship. We talked and caught up for the rest of the break, rejoicing as a drizzle started to pour. As the bell rang, we were off to our separate classes, familiarizing ourselves with our new schedules. As I walked along the school courtyard, I fell witness to a girl tripping over the now wet asphalt as she fell flat on the floor, her bag spilling its contents, getting soaked in the rain. The girls around her paused, then laughed (rather heartlessly), and carried on with their own businesses, without even bothering to help the poor girl. I sighed. Still as obnoxious as ever. These girls never change. I was a good distance away from the scene, about to run and help her when I realized who she was. Zelda Fitzgerald, the daughter of the rivaling railway company who threatened to buy out the Calloways. Her older brother, Nathan, was a sly and crafty young man who had the audacity to bribe my parents with their wealth, offering a sum that totaled in millions for the sake of getting his hands on our business. Of course, my parents refused the outrageous offer, albeit regretfully, as they realized the weight of the new responsibility they have placed upon my shoulders. Nathan Fitzgerald was sure to strike another bargain, and I had to be ready when I take over in a year. I told my parents there was nothing to worry about; I would take matters into my own hands and ensure that the company stays ours for as long as I can manage. I turned a blind eye to the situation and walked straight to my next class. My parents despise the Fitzgeralds. I do too. I ignored the churning in my stomach.                                                            * * * “Hello, young Delia, how was your day?” Leo, my afternoon driver, asked as I got into the car, shaking off my wet umbrella. A headache was forming since the last period started and it hasn't gotten any better. “It was okay. Quite tiring, if I may add.” “Ah, first-day fatigue. A cup of tea would be the perfect solution! Would you like to try that newly opened café just a few blocks down from Miss Henley's place? The weather shouldn't be a problem; we've had tea with rain and thunder as our accompaniment before, haven't we?” “Yes... oh, today was the opening day for that too, wasn't it?” I started massaging my temples. “Indeed, my lady! I hear their crêpe−” “It's okay, Leo. Let's just go home.” “Ah... alright. Right away, my lady!” I tried not to think about Leo's sudden drop and forced change in energy and his apparent disappointment as we head back home in silence.                                                             * * * I sit at my desk later that night, working on some papers father sent me as Minella comes in with a cup of tea and some waffles. The waffles, doused in chocolate sauce with strawberries at the side, caught my attention. “This is unusual for a midnight snack. Aren't waffles supposed to be served for breakfast?” “Ah! Um...” Minella stutters and starts mumbling in a panic. “I'm sorry, I couldn't hear what you just said. Could you repeat that?” “Um, well, one of the maids told me that you liked to eat waffles for dinner sometimes, while you work on some papers. Since I was on kitchen duty tonight, I thought I'd make you some.” I looked at the dessert again. “You slightly overburnt the waffles, I noticed, and the chocolate sauce was messily spread around. Your hands were shaking. Did you wash your hands after ironing again?” Minella looked down at her feet and pursed her lips together. “Yes... I'm sorry, I forgot.” I sighed, and with the paperwork in front of me I could feel the day’s events taking a toll on my body. The Fitzgeralds have been a huge bother recently. Half of these papers are largely attributed to their ever growing interest in our company. Without glancing up from my desk, I said, “it's okay, Minella, there's no need to apologize. Look, I can always ask Kristina if you want to learn a new dessert recipe. She knows loads and she's willing to help you out.” I looked up, and saw how Minella was still looking down at her feet and pursing her lips. She was aimlessly fumbling with her apron. My stomach churned all of a sudden. “You must be tired. Go to sleep, Minella. It's been a long day.” She looked up. At me, specifically, and smiled as if she knew something I didn't. “Speak for yourself, young lady,” she said, her Filipino accent clear as day, her hands on her hips, pouting in a rather futile attempt to seem intimidating, all while using the formal term to address me. “You've been working ever since you got back from school, and you have the nerve,” she continued, pointing a finger at my face, smiling and so close to laughing, “to tell me to go to sleep?” I stared at her, wide-eyed, slightly shocked because she never told me off like this before, and all the while wondering what was so funny; she was basically shaking from trying to suppress her laughter. I took note of her slightly deranged face, contorted into an expression that can't seem to choose between anger and light-hearted playfulness. I'm guessing she was aiming for both. Her face, still a sight to behold, brought me close to laughing as well. I was trying to keep it to myself, although it was useless as we both burst out laughing at the same time. Minella's laugh came with a snort, making it as funny as you can imagine, so I laughed harder until I could feel tears pricking my eyes. We both calmed down after a full minute or two. It was quiet once again, but less tense than before. I haven't laughed like that in ages. Minella spoke first. “Sige na, since you skipped dinner, I advise you to finish your burnt waffles and your tea so you can finally go to sleep. Don't overwork yourself with those papers; you might get a papercut,” she said as she walked to the door, half-closing it as she made her way outside.     Her drop in formality gave me a warm feeling of ease that I knew all too well. “A papercut can't kill me, Minella.” She smiled. This one I acknowledged. “Good night, langga.” I watched as the door shut behind her. It's been a while since she used that nickname with me. I felt the churning in my stomach again. As I did before, I pushed it away once more. I finished my tea and the last of my paperwork, and I felt my eyelids grow heavy. The last thing I heard before passing out was the sound of my head hitting the desk.                                                            * * * I woke up in the comfort of my bed, snuggled up in my sheets, extremely confused. Didn't I fall asleep at my desk last night? I sat upright and looked around, eyeing my desk, questioning the missing paperwork from the night before. Maybe Minella just kept the paperwork in one of the drawers after she brought me to bed. I'll ask her when she comes in. I hear the click of the door as it opens. Minella comes in, wearing a look of shock on her face. I'm never awake when she comes in. “Good morning, my lady. This is a surprise; I hope you slept well last night.”
I noticed how she reverted back to using the formal term to address me. “I did, actually. Thank you, Minella.” I climbed out of bed and walked to my desk, checking the drawers as Minella proceeded to fluff my pillows. My eyebrows raise at the still missing stack of paperwork, because they arenowhere to be found. “Minella, where did you put the paperwork from last night?” “Paperwork?” “Yes, the ones Father sent me yesterday after I got home from school.” “My lady, I don't remember your father sending you any paperwork yesterday. Plus, school? I'm quite sure opening ceremony is today.” “What?” I laughed. “That's funny, Minella. Today's the second day. Plus, you saw me doing the paperwork last night; you even said I might get a papercut!” Minella looked utterly confused. I slowly felt my heart race and my breath hitch in my throat. I walked to my closet. I had three sets of uniforms. I threw the one I wore on the first day in the laundry yesterday. If today really is opening day... I threw open the closet doors, and there I saw three uniforms, ironed, pressed, and ready to be worn. I looked out the window, saw the familiar gloom of the sky, the grey of the clouds, the resounding boom of thunder. I've watched the weather forecast for this week. Today, September 2nd, was supposed to be sunny. I was too freaked out to check my phone. “Minella, what day is it today?” She looked up from her chore, smoothing out the covers as she warily replied. “September 1st, my lady.”
Two
There's no mistaking it. September 1st has repeated itself. I was convinced of this fact the moment the school decided to proceed with first day's orientation. Ever since then I started telling myself that this was nothing but a dream. A weird dream, in fact. Everything, from when Minella saw me off at the courtyard that morning, Zelda's fall after lunch break, Leo's invitation to that newly opened café after school, up to the hysterical laughter that ensued after I blatantly pointed out the flaws of Minella's waffles, everything, was in fact, the same. The only differences were the shortened amount of time it took me to finish the paperwork, seeing as they're the exact same paperwork from “yesterday”, and that annoying gut-wrenching feeling in my stomach. That feeling was multiplied tenfold today, making it almost impossible for me to ignore it. But I still did. In fact, I was surprised I didn’t throw up today. As I lay in bed that night, I was one hundred percent convinced that this was just a weird dream, and that when I wake up tomorrow, all I'll be seeing is the sunny September 2nd that was supposed to play out today. But in the back of my mind, I knew for a fact that this was not a dream, however impossible it may seem, because for all these years I've been alive I was never once conscious of my dreams, and I saw no reason to start now. I pushed away the thought, closed my eyes, and let my mind wander off as I slept. I was thinking about tomorrow. But tomorrow never came.                                                            * * * “A god is out to get me.” “What?” “Oh, nothing. Sorry, today’s just been really freaky.” “Well, our first day at school has never exactly been a road trip in the first place,” commented Kristina. “Plus, the weather itself is kinda freaky. It’s the only gloomy day this week.” “We’re still happy it rained though,” Henley chimed in. “There’s no denying that.” “Oh, do you remember that one time I snuck out in the middle of the night with a baseball bat because I was convinced there was something supernatural going on in the bakery?” “As if I’d forget! You wouldn’t stop calling me that night! I was this close to throwing my phone out the window!” Henley and Kristina’s recollection of that night slowly drowned out with the background noise as I found myself staring at my feet, thinking long and hard about my current situation. I’m thankful my sense of panic disappeared after meeting with Henley and Kristina, despite not telling them that this was actually my third time meeting them. As if they’d believe my nonsense about warped time travel, or whatever this was; I would be the first Calloway to go insane. Everything screamed September 1st; every single event on replay like a broken record, and I still have no idea why. I could no longer ignore that uncomfortable feeling in my stomach, for my heart was starting to become affected as well. Turning a blind eye to Minella’s smile and leaving the car without a word were all followed by a churn in my gut and an ache in my heart, and I thought maybe I was dying, but that still doesn’t explain my life’s fondness for the first day of September, and I thought, I can’t go on like this. I need to find out what’s wrong, and fast. Think, Adelia, think. I let the day’s events play out. I noted the familiar gut-churning and heart-aching after Zelda’s fall and Leo’s invitation, wrapping my brain around the mess that I’ve become. As I sat at my desk later that night, the paperwork finished in record speed, I got back to thinking. The next time these feelings would turn up again would be after my encounter with Minella an hour later, and if I don’t do something, I’ll never get out of this mess. Think, Adelia, think. Why is time so bent on making sure you know that you’re dying, replaying this day because you’re too dense to figure it out? I recalled those particular events: Minella smiling as I left, leaving the car without a word as I entered the academy, Zelda falling, receiving no help, Leo’s invitation. And right now, Minella charring my waffles. And after all of those events come the gut-churning, and just recently, the heartache. Suddenly, I was invaded by a memory.                                                            * * * I was 5 years old, playing tag with Minella and the family butler, Victor. I was running down the halls as Victor was chasing me with half his speed, giving me time to run with my little legs as I raced through the manor. I veered right, dashed left, sprinted up the stairs, and made another left. I kept looking back after every turn. This, on my part, was a mistake. As my eyes were trained on an exhausted Victor, I failed to notice the stand that held my family’s heirloom: an incredibly valuable 18th century pocket watch that once belonged to Howard Kenneth Calloway; in other words, the founder of my family’s company. In my haste, I knocked over the stand, breaking the glass box that encased the prized heirloom. The pocket watch did not break, that is, until I accidentally stepped on it. At the age of 5 I already knew how important this heirloom was to the family legacy, so of course, I was horrified. And it was when Victor and I stood side-by-side, getting an earful from my mother, that I first realized I was also a coward. “Adelia is not to blame, Madam Sophia. It was my fault; I knocked over the glass case and accidentally stepped on the pocket watch while I was running after the young lady. I apologize, Madam. It was my mistake.” Victor held his head high, kept his eyes undeterred, and did not lose face because of an irresponsible 5-year-old girl. I saw this in Victor for a mere second before I hung my head low in shame. I forever burned this image of Victor’s fortitude in my mind, as if that alone was enough to make up for my lack of courage at the time that Victor was temporarily excused from the estate. He returned a few days later (I’m honestly thankful my parents loved the staff), but he was no longer a butler. I couldn’t look him in the eyes ever since, even though he told me I had nothing to worry about. I felt my gut churn and my heart ache. That was my earliest memory of guilt. My earliest memory of regret.                                                            * * * All of a sudden I felt stupid; of course I wasn’t dying. What was I thinking? I’m the first Calloway to go mad. I understand now. When I didn’t acknowledge Minella’s smile, I felt regret. When I left the car without greeting my driver, I felt regret. When I left Zelda to embarrass herself, I felt regret. When I heartlessly dismissed Leo’s invitation, when I criticized Minella’s waffles, I felt guilt. I felt regret. I still feel those now. But now I know what to do. Minella comes in, tea and waffles at hand, still slightly charred with the chocolate sauce all over the place. I eyed the waffles warily. “This is unusual for a midnight snack. Aren't waffles supposed to be served for breakfast?” “Ah! Um...” for the third time, Minella stutters and starts mumbling in a panic. Tonight was going to be different. I giggled, then smiled. “I’m kidding, Minella, thank you. How did you know I liked to eat waffles while I worked on some papers?” Her face instantly lit up. “Ah, well, I was on kitchen duty tonight, and one of the maids told me you preferred waffles whenever you had paperwork… or whenever you skipped dinner,” she smirked and gave me a knowing look. I raised my hands in mock surrender. “Guilty as charged.” We both laughed, and I’m thankful she took it as a cue to enter my room without waiting for my permission. The formality was making me feel lonely. She walked to my bookshelf, right at the foot of my bed, and took a photo album out of the top shelf. She turned to me and said, “Since it looks like you’ve finished your paperwork, would you care to join me for a trip down memory lane?” I chuckled at her use of the phrase. “Hardly anyone says that anymore, Minella.” “Oh, hush. Just come sit with me,” she said, followed by a mutter of Filipino words that I couldn’t quite catch. We spent the next few minutes flipping through the pages of the album, constantly laughing at my hilarious antics caught on camera when I was much younger. We stumbled upon a picture of my parents, my mother smiling next to my father despite the burden of pregnancy on her shoulders. My father had stunning green eyes, and my mother’s a beautiful blue. I looked up at Minella, seeing her warm brown eyes for the first time in years. I looked back down at the photo. “It’s a shame I didn’t take after my mother’s eyes.” “Ah, I remember you telling me blue was your favorite eye color,” Minella said. She always had the better memory. “Yes, and it still is,” I sighed. “My eyes are such a bland color. This must be a recessive trait… but I don’t remember my grandparents or my great-grandparents having grey eyes.” I looked up again at Minella, and saw her giving me a sad smile. She must pity me right now. I usually hated it when people gave me pitying looks, as if I couldn’t take care of myself. My pride couldn’t allow that. But looking closely, I could see that that wasn’t Minella’s intention at all. She didn’t show me a smile that pities; she showed me a smile of hope. Once again, it’s as if she knew something I didn’t. “A lot of things aren’t always going to go the way you want them to, langga. There are times you’ll feel frustration and anger over some of the things that you do, and other times, guilt and regret for the things you didn’t do. There are times when you’ll feel like you’re stuck in a never-ending nightmare, but that doesn’t mean you can’t wake up from it.” I was in awe; her words were spot-on. She closed the album, returned it to the shelf, took the empty tea cup and plate, and turned back to look at me. “You’ll learn to love your eyes, langga. Just wait for it.” She gave me a wink before closing the door. I was sound asleep that night, my mind chasing dreams despite the nightmare that surrounds it. Tomorrow didn’t come, but that’s okay. Because now I knew what to do.          
Three
This was my fourth September 1st, and I’m going to make sure this is the last.
I looked up from my seat in the car just in time to see Minella smile at me, and I returned the action as I rolled down the windows and said, “Leo and I will be going to that new café after school. Would you care to accompany us in this dangerous endeavor against the forces of nature?”
Minella chuckled at my dramatic flair. “Why, of course, my lady,” she said with a curtsy. “Now hurry up before you’re late for the ceremony!”
I did as I was told, and rolled up the windows with a smile on my face.
The 15-minute ride to Hopewell was a good one; I was in my best mood.
As I was about to leave the car, I turned to the driver. “Did you hear me invite Minella to the café after school?”
“Yes, my lady,” the driver replied.
“Good, because that invite is for you too. Tell Leo about our plans once you get back.”
I stepped out of the car and was about to close the door when I forgot to do one last thing: greet the driver a nice day.
I knocked on the driver’s side window, and saw his look of surprise as the window rolled down. This is the first time I’ve ever looked into his eyes after he was temporarily dismissed from the manor all those years ago.
“Thanks for dropping me off. Have a nice day, Victor!”
                                                           * * *
“Someone looks happy today,” Henley remarked.
“Did that guy from France send you flowers again?” Kristina suggested. Her eyes were hopeful.
“Knock it off you guys, that’s not it,” I countered. “But yes, he did. I got them last week.”
The girls squealed and bombarded me with questions.
I shouldn’t have said that last bit.
As expected, rain fell as the break ended and we parted ways for the next class. Zelda slipped (for the fourth time) and I watched as the girls around her neglected helping her. I rushed to the scene, gathered her belongings, among them an open sketchbook, and held out my hand for her to take. As I did so, I noticed her face. Her cheeks were blushed and her eyes red and puffy. She looked like she was about to cry.
No, she had been crying even before she slipped in the rain.
She took my hand, and I helped her up. “Thank you,” she said quietly.
I gave her a small smile. “What’s your next class?”
“Um, chemistry. With Ms. Margaret.”
“Oh, we’re in the same class then! Let’s walk there together.”
She looked surprised (I’ve been getting a lot of those lately), but she smiled in return and nodded at the offer.
As we walked, I got to know a lot about Zelda. I first asked her about her sketchbook, and she told me she wanted to be an artist someday.
“I was made fun of by the other girls during art class because my paintings were “too simple”, “too boring”, or “lacked artistic sense”. They trashed my canvas and somehow made the teacher believe I’ve gone mad. I dashed out of the classroom halfway through the period and stayed in the bathroom. I’ve been crying ever since.”
I flipped through her sketchbook, and I sort of got what they meant when they said “lacked artistic sense”. Her pieces consisted of mostly black paint smeared across the page, with some red and blue here and there. I could make out a few shapes as well. They all focused on a central theme, with simple colors and simple designs. I knew nothing about art, so I asked her what exactly she was working on.
Her face lit up at my question. “It’s called minimalism. It’s an art form where the subject is eliminated of any unnecessary details and is stripped down to its barest form. In other words, “experiencing reality in the most direct way”.”
The whole walk to class consisted of Zelda explaining her pieces to me with a glint of passion in her eyes, and never once did she falter when I failed to understand. She would simply rephrase her explanation, and she made it look so easy. Up until then, I completely forgot she was a Fitzgerald.
But I guessed not all the Fitzgeralds were that bad.
                                                           * * *
Zelda came up to me after school, once again thanking me for helping her out after she slipped.
“It’s no problem, Zelda. Thanks to you, I got to know a little bit about art. I’m not a very good critic, but I can tell you’re really talented. Keep it up, and don’t let other people dictate your art for you.”
She gave me a look I couldn’t quite fathom, but I saw how her eyes softened. I noticed we both donned the same shade of grey.
“Y’know, I used to think the Calloways were a bunch of stuck-up snobs who didn’t care about anything else but their pride and wealth. My brother was wrong about you guys. I’m sorry I thought otherwise.”
I laughed, then replied, “And I used to think the Fitzgeralds were a bunch of hot-headed children who flaunted their money and didn’t know how to take “no” for an answer. I’m just as guilty as you are. I’m sorry too.”
After talking for a few more minutes, we finally waved each other goodbye. Upon opening our car door I was met with the Calloway staff fiasco, their arguing and shouting spiraling out of control like a bunch of children. I then realized what all the fuss was about.
Leo, who once took pride in his slicked black hair, now sported a neon pink afro.
“Leo, if you wanted to join the circus that badly­−”
“That’s not it, my lady!”
Four
(One Month Later, October 1st)
It took extreme concentration to block out the distractions that threatened to impede my journey to victory.
And by ‘distractions’, I meant Zelda’s incessant chanting.
“It’s going to fall.”
“No it’s not.”
“Yes it is.”
“Oh, hush now Zelda. I’m trying to win here.”
“Pft, yeah. Note, “trying” to.”
My thumb and forefinger worked closely together to remove a wooden block from the tower, and so far, with Zelda annoying me to my wit’s end, things are not looking good for me. While slowly moving the block, I exhaled a breath I didn’t know I was holding, which was, of course, a bad mistake, considering how the tower wobbled and fell to the ground with a regretful clanking of wood against ceramic.
Like the blocks, I fell with my back to the floor in one fluid motion. I give up, I thought. I’ll never beat Zelda at Jenga.
“Care for another round?” she suggested, wiggling her eyebrows.
“Oh, you’re enjoying this, aren’t you?”
“Of course; it’s not every day you get to beat a Calloway at something. You may have an advantage over me in cards and chess, but when it comes to Jenga, nothing beats Zelda!”
“That rhyme was awful.”
“You’re awful.”
We both laughed as Victor knocked on my door, tentatively opening it halfway to reveal an envelope in his hand.
“Is that from Mico and Micah?”
“Definitely so, my lady! They just arrived this morning, I presume.”
I got up from my position on the floor and walked over to Victor, taking the envelope from him. After one week of numerous repetitions in the first week of September, I thought, if I was clearing as much guilt and regret as possible, I might as well continue writing letters to Minella’s siblings in the Philippines. I’m not able to write as frequently as I could before, but at least we’re keeping in touch.
“Thanks, Victor. Where’s Minella, by the way?”
“She’s over at Miss Kristina’s, probably to hunt for new dessert recipes.”
I chuckled at that. “She’s taking her new hobby quite seriously, isn’t she?”
“Why yes, she is. At least she isn’t burning pancakes or waffles anymore, right?”
I remembered those days, and smiled fondly at the memory.
“I shall leave you and Miss Zelda for now; if you need anything, please let me know.”
“I will, Victor. Thank you.”
He gave a quick bow before closing the door behind him.
I returned to my seat on floor, across the low table from Zelda, and opened the envelope.
“A lot’s changed this past month, huh?”
After four September 1st’s, two September 2nd’s, three September 15th’s, five September 22nd’s (that was a horrible day), Victor being reinstated as the family’s butler, Leo growing fond of his pink afro, and the Fitzgeralds reaching a compromise with the Calloways, I’d say “a lot” is an understatement.
““A lot” is an understatement,” I actually said.
“Your parents will lose their minds when they find out what you’ve been doing without them.”
“Considering my parents, as long as I don’t go anywhere near the kitchen, I’m safe.”
“You seriously almost burned the house down?” Zelda asked in shock.
“I seriously almost did,” I replied. I was never a magician in the kitchen; always a witch.
The sounding of the grandfather clock in the hallway tells us it’s 6 PM sharp, and Zelda stands up to gather her things.
“Thanks for having me over, but I have to go. My family’s expecting me for dinner.”
“Alright, I’ll see you off.”
We both walked together to the courtyard, where her driver was waiting for her at the gates. We waved each other goodbye, and I watched as her car drove off, thinking
wow, I never expected to befriend a Fitzgerald just a month ago, and now both families have reached a compromise, too. Mom and Dad will never believe this if I told them.
As I walked back to my room, I passed the Calloways’ “Hall of Fame”, where portraits of every single family member were hung on the walls. There were too many frames to count, so I only paid attention to the portraits of my parents and my own. I stared at my mother’s portrait, taking note of her blonde hair tucked neatly into a braid, crossing her right shoulder. The evening gown she wore looked regal, her smile bright and shining, and I remembered this photo was taken when she was about my age, several years ago. I looked over to my dad’s portrait and noticed his slicked-back hair, as brown as Minella’s eyes, and thought, this must be where Leo got his style, before he got his afro.
I ran a hand through my own hair, the same shade of brown as my father’s, as I took in his posture and branded dress suit. His smile matched my mother’s, and it looked as if he hasn’t been carrying the weight of the company his whole life. A carefree smile, to put it simply.
I shifted my focus to their eyes: my father’s a striking green, and my mother’s a beautiful blue, a color I envied to have. These familiar hues are what I should have seen in these portraits, just like all the other portraits of my parents in this manor, however, I’d be lying if I said I did. Instead of their rightful colors, both my parents’ irises were a dull shade of grey, just like my own, as if they mirrored all the struggles they’ve carried, all the frustration, anger, guilt, and regret they’ve felt. I blinked once, twice, rapidly three times, and hastily rubbed my eyes, but the portraits’ irises did not change. Upon closer inspection, they don’t seem to have been painted on either. I’ve looked into my parents’ eyes countless times, and they’re nothing like my cold, lifeless, grey ones at all. But these portraits seem to be saying otherwise.
I suddenly remembered Minella’s words on the third night of September 1st.
“A lot of things aren’t always going to go the way you want them to, langga. There are times you’ll feel frustration and anger over some of the things that you do, and other times, guilt and regret for the things you didn’t do. There are times when you’ll feel like you’re stuck in a never-ending nightmare, but that doesn’t mean you can’t wake up from it.”
I realized she wasn’t just spouting random advice; she was actually speaking from experience. Minella, my parents, they must’ve gone through a ‘nightmare’ of their own, and it may or may not have been warped time travel like mine.
It must’ve been something they had to overcome by themselves, a struggle they had to grasp before their eyes changed the way they saw the world.
I then remembered Minella telling me at random instances recently that I seemed a lot happier, I smiled a lot more, and I asked her, “What made you think so?”
And she replied with, “Your eyes made me think so.”
I looked into Mico and Micah’s envelope as I slowly walked back to my room. In their last letter, they said they would send me a photo of themselves from a few years back, when Minella was still living with the family. I fished out said photo, and saw the three siblings smiling at the camera, Minella in the middle, tightly hugging her little brother and sister. She must’ve been no more than 19 years old here.
Her eyes in the photo were the same shade of grey as my own.
No camera tricks, no Photoshop, no faded filters; in fact, the photo seemed newly developed.
This further confirms my suspicions, but I still had no concrete evidence to prove what I had just concluded, other than my own experiences this past month. But how and what can I prove with that? This past month has been nothing but pure insanity; no one would believe me.
But to think that my parents and Minella once had eyes like mine, I’m not sure which one I believe to be more insane: changing eye colors or days that repeat itself? Both are, realistically speaking, impossible.
I return to my room with a headache, still racking my brain for answers that I can’t seem to find, until I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the mirror. I couldn’t believe what I just saw.
“You’ll learn to love your eyes, langga. Just wait for it.”
I walked closer to the mirror, making sure I saw what I saw.
This past month, I have never really cared to pay attention to little details in my reflection, one of them being my eyes. I looked at them closely.
Since when exactly have my eyes turned blue?
Written: July 16, 2016
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ask-the-infiltrators · 4 years ago
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The meeting- Prom Pt1
Featuring Aurora from @ask-acepony
At the entrance to the Canterlot gardens, a unicorn businesspony waited for his date to the prom to arrive. As one might expect of a unicorn, he was of a fairly average build, standing only just barely taller than a few of the mares around him. Despite his stature, he stood tall, displaying an air of confidence that was expected of business owner. His coat was a harvest gold, contrasting well with the gold trimmed slate blue uniform he wore. It was militaristic in nature, something that would be expected if one didn’t know that he also doubled as a Night Guard.
It was a little unfortunate that he had to wear such an outfit to a lax social event such as this, but it was the only outfit he had that wasn’t stuck at the cleaners. He simply couldn’t get his normal tux in in time to beat the prom rush. At the very least he felt good knowing that even with this uncomfortable uniform on he was still able to show off some of the accessories he had crafted for this occasion. On his right foreleg was a pristine embossed bronze armband with a fire agate embedded inside. On the other was an Electrum, also called white gold,armband. Like the other one, this too had a gem in it, a citrine to be specific.
While the significance of these bands wasn’t initially apparent nor did they match his outfit all that well, they still looked of good quality.
He waited for a good ten minutes before his date had approached him. While his uniform’s color was complimentary to his coat, her dress was triadic in nature. She looked pretty good in pink lavender, and the reef green trimming made the dresses contours pop against her columbia blue coat. Her vibrant eyes scanned him, as if she was examining him as thoroughly as he was her. He had expected her to critique his sense of fashion, given the fact that she was too was in the fashion business and sizing up the competition was the usual thing to do in social events. However, when it didn’t come he bowed, taking one of her hooves and kissing it in greeting, “Aurora! So glad you could make it. I trust your trip from Ponyville was a safe one?”
The mare in question brushed her braided mane aside with her free hoof, blushing lightly at his gesture. Her mind was drawing a bit of a blank. This was her date? Sure, the stallion had the look of a sophisticated member of society and his choice in color scheme conveyed some sense of fashion, but the whole situation seemed a bit fishy. A kiss on the hoof, the humble bow, his invitation letter... He had the right signs of a gentlecolt, but this was a public place and a good way to get on a mare’s good side was to be polite. If he was to be a potential business partner, she had to be sure that how he acts now is how he’d act when eyes were not on them.
Aurora didn’t let her suspicions be known outright, as that would burn a bridge quite fast and if he was sincere, it’d be bad for business. She returned his smile with one of her own as she sat her extended hoof back on the ground, “You must be Platinum. I am sorry for being late. I did have a little trouble finding you.”
He waved a hoof to dismiss her worries, “It’s fine. I’d have had a little trouble finding you too. You look a lot different than you did in the news articles. And among all these ponies, we sort of just.. Blend in.”
That was something they could both agree on, “I don’t even recognize most of these ponies, and i’ve traveled around for some time during my career.”
That statement seemed a little odd to Platinum. If she was aware of the pony prom and even how to get here, surely she’d have known that a lot of the ponies here were tumblr ponies. Unless…
The stallion moved out of the way of another arriving couple before taking Aurora off to the side a moment and out of the way of other arriving guests, “Before we go out to dinner, there was one thing I wanted to ask you.”
Her curiosity rising, she asked, “What about? Is it about the news articles, because I’ve seen a few of those and I must say, a lot of that information they stated was falsified?”
Platinum chuckled softly as he shook his head in the negative. He made a gesture towards some of the arriving guests and the dance hall that had been erected in the center of the gardens, “You are aware this a tumblr event, right? Odds are, you won’t be able to recognize most of these ponies even if they were from your world in the first place.”
World? That’s right... Not every tumblr pony shared the same world, so it’d make sense for her to not recognize some of them.  Such a confusing matter at times. If it weren’t for her friend Ace vouching for the Prom being a decent tumblr event, she might not have even came, business opportunity or otherwise. Another thing that bothered her at the time was the fact that there was no Tales of Solcia Jewelry store she was aware of in her Canterlot, or anywhere else for that matter. It was just another thing she had to take her friend’s word for.
“If we’re all from different worlds, than how are we all here in one place like this? What makes this happen?”
Platinum had to resist the urge to facehoof. It was hard enough for him to imagine somepony at the event not know about this, but even harder to come up with a good way to explain this concept without causing irreparable damage to current status as a tumblr pony. He put on his best smile and said in a calm tone, “Okay… Imagine a bottle of soap. Let’s call it tumblr. The bubbles inside are like their own little world. They can be similar in multiple ways, be it size, shape and in some cases color, but they are all not the same.”
For emphasis, he pointed at two different versions of Twilight Sparkle that had walked past them, each sporting their own dates.
“Sometimes, there are moments where bubbles pass by each other, creating asks and other strange happenings like anons and the wacky magic they produce.”
They both shuddered, knowing just how much of a nuisance some of them can be. Aurora, being the smart mare she was, was starting to piece together some of what he was saying with her previous experiences and had an idea. Pointing a hoof at the guests, she stated bluntly, “Okay, but you still didn’t explain why this happens.”
She even gestured for emphasis. Nodding, Platinum continued the analogy, “Well. Sometimes bubbles can can touch each other even if for but a moment. The longer the touch, the more things tend to crossover. It is during these extended periods that meet and greets and other such things occur. Like this prom for example, every year at about this time, certain parts of many bubbles wind up touching, creating a space where all of us can come together can meet. In this case, it happened here in Canterlot.”
And with that explanation, suddenly the meaning behind the invitation that Platinum had sent her had become much clearer. She was already pretty famous back home. Platinum must have known this and yet here she was, not being swarmed by the press or adoring fans. She was unknown… Clever. Seeing as they both were green in the grand scheme of things, if they were to show off what they do here and get their names out there. Their businesses would spread beyond their own home turf.
There was a new thing that started to bother her now that she has this knowledge. Why her? Surely this Platinum could have came here alone and got along just fine. Why did he feel the need to bring her along? Could it be that he wished to learn the secrets of her craft and leech off her stardom to get more popular or is it a genuine attempt at a partnership and integrating her into the community she hadn’t known much of beforehoof?
It was a distressing thought, but one she had to know the answer to. And of course there was only one way to get that answer… She had to continue this date. At the very least, she was going to get a free dinner out of this, and if she doesn’t like how things are going, she could just leave or ask that they go their separate ways.
Putting on her best smile, she stated gratefully, “Thank you Platinum for those answers. I appreciate you taking the time to explain this.”
The stallion nodded in affirmation before motioning towards the exit to the gardens, “It’s not a problem Milady… Shall we get going? I have our reservations already scheduled and a taxi on standby ready to take us there.”
Well, she can’t say he wasn’t prepared to honor the dinner date, could she? Nodding, she held out her hoof for him to hold as he lead her out the gardens and the prom’s grounds and towards an awaiting Taxi that would take them to whatever restaurant that Platinum had picked. Hopefully it won’t be that bad...
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pixelonline · 4 years ago
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(I am so sorry, mobile users. This is really long.)
My Mass Effect Andromeda thoughts:
1. I was gonna stream the trial, but proceeded to use almost all 10 hours at once because I couldn’t stop playing. I suppose this is a good thing. I’m definitely streaming it once it’s actually out.
2. I hate the character customization. Mass Effect has always been ugly as fuck when it comes to making characters, but my dudes it is 2017 what is going on here.
2a. Side note but I laughed for like 15 minutes that there is only one “White People” face and it is honestly the ugliest thing. Cool feature (sorta not but I’m viewing it as a positive) is that there are designated skin tones with each face set. Speaking of sets, all facial features are stuck to a specific preset face. You can slightly move them, but there’s no changing. I’m hoping this is just for the trial, as other things in the game were locked off until it’s official release.
2b. so many pony tails. no undercut. despite reports saying that hairstyles would be less militaristic as you’re not a soldier, they’re more or less the same. let me be the woman i want to be dammit. There were braids, but only one style. Still double the representation compared to previously I guess? I have very much so white people hair so I don’t feel comfortable having an opinion on that subject. I will say that the braids are exclusive to fem!Ryder and m!Ryder gets 2 different textured styles. I, personally, cannot wait for the beautiful mod community to fix this hair travesty, both with representation variation and all these fucking ponytails. Maybe they can make something happen with the faces, but I hold little hope. They had “alt” hair colors, so it’s already way better than ME Original Trilogy. My Ryder has blue hair, because of course she does. There’s not much shade difference in the colors available, and some of the unnatural colors were, in fact, so unnatural looking that it was hard to accept as a hair color. dyed hair doesn’t reflect light the way it did in game and it didn’t look like much shade variation between the strands so it occasionally looked like the hair hadn’t actually finished rendering. The color selection suggested a more soft ombre look than was actually present.
3. I like that you can customize your twin also, but limits on the CC still drives me crazy. Male hair diversity isn’t super, like I said before, but it just felt like more than the female counterpart. I just really, really hate ponytails you guys.
3a. In your CC options, you can pick story bits. The only options that connect to the previous games is a selection between your Shepard having been male or female. I suppose that’s so pronouns are correct later on.
4. Prologue: I feel it takes too long, the tutorial is honestly not that great. SAM, your AI, is down for most of it, so you have no idea what anything is. It was fine at first, adding to the worldbuilding and urgency and whatnot but it got irritating by the 30th “unknown” enemy.
5. The Omni-Scanner is a neat addition, but it felt sort of...forced at times. More on that later.
6. The prologue story is okay. The ending of it, and the beginning of the actual game, was actually pretty dramatic and I didn’t expect it given the hype around certain characters that Bioware has tried to generate.
6a. Dad Ryder seemed really one dimensional with his kid. Like, never referred to them affectionately even at the last bit. This is sort of explained when you go to his room later, but it felt really hollow to me as a whole. Cool dad fact: CC of your Ryder and their twin decides what Dad looks like. Mine had obscenely blue eyes but grey hair.
6b. Evil dude looked really sad during his introduction and I wanted to be friends with him. This feels like a failed attempt at showing off the ominous silent bad guy, as I immediately started rooting for him. You go, evil dude, touch the stuff and let your dreams be true.
7. I hate the weapon interface. Inventory functions like ME1, allowing you to see the items you’ve picked up (both upgrades and actual weapons) but you cannot equip them. I couldn’t until the first mission after getting my ship. Which is terrible, as I got a sniper rifle I wanted to use and couldn’t for the prologue portion.
8. The Hyperion’s travel system is awful. There’s very little instruction about it. The tram looks as if it’s a one way thing, from the ark to the new citadel-like port, but in actuality you use it to travel around the ark itself too. Didn’t notice until my camera turned slightly to the right and another thing on the board was selectable.
8a. Not travel related, but you do get more info about the ending of the prologue and a new ongoing mission on the Hyperion. It felt like a bit of a slap. It’s all “Here’s this cool new power and a friend BUT ALSO FUCK YOU JON SNOW YOU KNOW NOTHING and you’ll never find out until you go look for these things randomly around. But not around here! Fuck you twice!” It was clearly created to push the story more later on, which is all fine and good, it just ticked me off at this moment.
9. The new Citadel is a goddamn mess. I’m not a huge fan of it right now, though what I’m 100% sure will happen is that as you make more homesteads, the place gets nicer until you’re at endgame and have a fully functional hub. I’ll like it more once it starts changing. It looks like it has really good potential. I hope it functions more than the keep in DA:I, and your choices really DO have an effect on what is opened up and how the society there builds itself.
9a. The Original Trilogy made each race very distinct, with their own speech patterns and everything. I didn’t really get that from this game’s other races. The Salarians didn’t speak in fast bursts with lots of words jammed together, and the Turians more often than not didn’t have that robotic twinge to their speech, and weren’t all that hostile. It seems unlikely to me that there wouldn’t be any left over anger as they left for Andromeda seeing as it’s possible some actually fought in the first contact war. It is about 30 years apart. It was something constantly prevalent in the previous trilogy, which every NPC lived during (at least ME1)
9b. I do, however, love super not Krogan Krogan lady. She’s perfect and I wish I could romance her. You do talk about the genophage. Sucks that she and her clan have no idea that there’s been a cure for over 500 years now.
10. The ship, Tempest, is really nice. I always felt like Normandy was very irritating to navigate around. ME1 especially, but 3 wasn’t so hot either. This one isn’t as large, but it has a really nice flow that I liked. Pathfinder quarters were way better than Shepard’s.
10a. It has a system like the Dragon Age: Inquisition war table where you have timed missions that NPC complete for materials, items, and intel. Seems interesting, but I didn’t see one to completion. They’re still running.
10b. the R&D table is interesting, and I like the separation between the two, but it didn’t feel like a huge asset so early in the game.
11. The traveling system is beautiful. Visually it gets 100% approval. However, it’s extremely slow paced. any selection of a new planet or system takes you back to where you were originally, lets you stare at it a moment, then flies you to the next place where you zoom in for another moment before zooming out and then FINALLY getting information about it. It’s nice, but by the 12th time I was incredibly tired of it.
12. Your Salarian pilot is cool. Not especially Salarian-like, but still I liked him. Cannot kiss. I tried.
13. Material gathering is kind of limited. You scan a whole system, and you have the option to scan planets, but there’s not much point to it as SAM tells you if there’s something worth scanning there. Usually it’s a single deposit of a mineral.
14. I hated the MAKO in ME1, but this one isn’t so bad. I think it helps knowing that I can customize it later.
15. Speaking of customization, you can change the colors of your casual clothes and your armor. It’s the same color selection tool as in CC, so it’s awful. The dial to change the color overlaps with the bubble to select the actual shade so there’s a lot of trial and error involved. Once again, no indication that [SPACE] is necessary to confirm your color choices. I hate the whole design of it.
16. You do meet some companions that you’ll pick up, but you barely interact with them. Good intros though. Really gave them personality right off the bat.
17. ROMANCE: Being fem!Ryder is rough at the start.
17a. Gil is one of the ship’s crew. He’s one of the few genuinely attractive males in all of Mass Effect’s history. As a woman, you can flirt with him, but he turns you down solidly. He’s kind, but firm. He states that he’s interested in men. Which is awesome, because now I have a reason to play a male Ryder after my first play through is done. Female Ryder apologizes, nothing is weird (unlike other interactions) and it actually made me like him more as a character.
17b. Liam kind of blows off your advances but it definitely felt like a rejection. As he wasn’t very clear, I don’t know if he’s a bi character that you have to develop a friendship with first, or if he’s gay and just doesn’t want to come out to your Ryder. I didn’t like the wishy-washiness of the interaction but we’ll just have to see what’s what when the full game is out.
17c. Doc. I forgot her name, so now she’s Doc. I knew this interaction wouldn’t go well, as I’ve read articles about it. She definitely turns you down because you’re a patient. I’ve read that she has a crush on the Krogan that joins you, so is he not a patient too? Either way, she’s very professional about it and as with Gil it made me appreciate her character. Knowing that it’s Natalie Dormer and I’ll never hear her tell me she loves me hurts me deep in my soul though. Why does the world hate me like this???
17d. Blonde biotic woman with the goddamn hair that I want on my Ryder. Cora. I don’t like her. You have the option to hit on her early on, and her reaction felt really awful to me. She gets kind of hostile and all “I already told [person you never met] that I’m not interested in women and I’m telling you too.” Like, ok. Damn. You aren’t my type anyways. I just wanted to see the option play out. 0/10 poor way to handle the interaction. I’m not super fond of the Asari commando thing either. Jack was a kickass biotic too and she was treated like a monster. This woman gets to take part in something very culturally specific like it’s nbd? jnasdlfknasdivhbna, not a fan of her. She looks somewhere between confused and murderous all the time. Also, she walks like Stretch Armstrong. It makes me laugh.
17e. Vetra. The only individual that actually reacts positively to fem!Ryder flirting with her. Even then she really only takes it like a compliment. But, as I love Vetra and much like Garrus I would die for her from first glance, I’ll take it. I think it’ll be a beautiful relationship. She’s also really tall. And pretty. One thing I thought was strange with her is that it always looks like she’s posing when she’s just standing around. One hip is thrust out and her arms are crossed. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think they rigged her to always be in mysterious seductress pose.
17f. I couldn’t flirt with the pilot. Let me kiss the Salarian, damn you Bioware. Also, our nice Scottish friend Suvi can’t be flirted with, but she sounds really soothing to talk to. I’m def a fan of all these non-American, thicker than previously heard, accents on the ship. The Original Trilogy was full of light British accents or full on American. Sort of hard to believe the Alliance was multinational when everyone spoke like they were from the US.
18. Combat: I mostly use the sniper rifle and the pistol. Pistol was nice. I love the sniper rifle in this game. Other ME games it was hard for me to confirm headshots but this one was a clean and clear animation. Very nice. The companion AI was strange at times, as they’d just use their abilities but in odd places so the skills would get stuck in corners or just go off to nowhere. There was combat stutter on the first planet you can visit but I think that’s more my graphics card. The update refuses to finish so I’m stuck 2 updates behind where I should be.
I have, like, an hour I think left so I’m gonna try to rush through a male Ryder play and see how companion reactions differ. I’m really only in this for the romance, you know.
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