Archive | July 1, 2012

An excerpt of Rin & Girey for the Giraffe Call (@Rix_scaedu)

To [personal profile] rix_scaedu‘s prompt. This is part of the main story, set very early on, their second day on the road.

Chapter 2: Strangers
After a war-season, we look for friends in the faces of strangers, and for enemies in the faces of our friends.

Her companion was a bit of a grumbler.

Rin was not all that surprised. A career in the army and a lifetime of being royalty both tended to lead one to complain; the former out of a ritualized counter to obligation and responsibility, the second for much the same reason, at least in Callenia. A royal soldier, then, and a captive to boot, was probably entitled a bit of complaining. She couldn’t say she wouldn’t do the same, were the roles reversed.

Of course, if the roles were reserved, she might be facing far less kind treatment, something the damn morning, the difficulty of their mounts, and her companion’s near-incessant whining were bringing to the forefront of her mind. How would he like it, draped over the saddle instead of riding properly?

“Mount.” She snapped the word out in his own language before she could follow through with the thought. “Come on, the sun moves more quickly than you do.”

“And it set on the wrong side of you last night.” He smirked as he got onto the gelding, the smirk fading as the beast gave a settling buck that must have jarred him in all the wrong places.

“I’m not the only one.” She was still answering in Bitrani; it was a better language for being irritable in. And they had seen no-one on the road for the last few hours of the night before. It was not the wisest decision she had made.

“Over here!” The voice came through the bushes, a southern Callenian accent with the clipped syllables of an Army scout. “I heard some strays this way.”

“Behind me.” She pushed the goat behind her and stood as professionally as she could while still bootless and with her hair unbraided.

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Mid-rainy Festival, a story of Reiassan for the Giraffe Call (@inventrix)

For [personal profile] inventrix‘s prompt.

Reiassan has three still-unnamed seasons: Cold, Rainy, and Hot.

A kehlag is a small furry domesticated animal; a dohdehr is a a weasel/ermine like creature with soft fur. In the interest of not calling a Rabbit a Smeerp, I will probably call them cats and fishers (or weasels) in the long run, like the pahziht and pyahz are goats and horses.

The rainy season was at mid-point, and many of the animals were beginning to give birth. Much to the distress and consternation of her five-year-old daughter Oniarya, Upunbina (the Mayor of a small northern Callennan town) was every bit as focused on her new child as the mother goats were with their kids, the mother dohdehri with their kits, the mother kehlagyi with their kittens: nobody wanted to play with Oni, and nobody wanted to let her play with the little ones. It was going to be the worst festival ever.

She carried around a rag doll her grandmother had made for her, pretending to feed it, pretending it was a baby, but she didn’t really want a baby; her new sister was loud and messy on both ends. The kittens were cuter, less loud, softer, and when the kehlagyi weren’t so distracted with all this child-stuff, they often slept on Oni’s bed in the cold season. But now they wouldn’t play with her at all, and her bedroom had three mice and a noise she was afraid was something bigger. Maybe a monster.

Not only that, her parents were so distracted with all this baby-stuff, between the goats kidding and the baby sister and the rest of it, that they hadn’t even mentioned the mid-rain festival. Oni had been born there, five years ago. It was her favorite thing ever, less grown-up than the frost-break festival, less boring than the mid-cold festival. And now the day was here, the day was finally here, she had dressed all by herself in her best festival tunic, her favorite one, with the lines of purple and orange embroidery along the hems, and her parents were nowhere to be seen.

They had forgotten. They were off doing something else, they were busy with the stupid baby or the stupid goat kids or the stupid dohdehri who had bitten Oni last week when she tried to pet a kit. They were all stupid.

“Oni?” A little mewling sound followed her mother’s voice. “Oniarya, are you hiding again?”

“No,” she sulked. “I am playing castle in my closet.” She peeked her head out.

“Well, come on out, honey. Your father and I were just finding you the perfect festival present.”

“Present?” They hadn’t forgotten! She popped out of her closet, braids flying, hands outstretched. “I’ve been a good girl and I braided my own hair and I buttoned myself and…”

“And you’ve been very patient. Here, she’s just weaned.” Her mouth passed down a tiny little kehlagyi-kitten, its swirling spots buff-and-brown. “This is for you. She’s all your responsibility now.” She took on the Grown Up Voice she used when doing Mayor work. “Now that you have a little sister, you need to be the adult. This little one will help you remember that.”

“And we’ll help you remember her, and teach you how to take care of her.”

Oni cradled the kitten, holding it close, its tiny claws tickling her skin. This was going to be the best festival ever.

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Paradox and… a story of Superheroes

For [personal profile] imaginaryfiend‘s commissioned continuation of Returned Paradox

I was born to death.

I was born to the memory of a dead woman, forty weeks to the day after Paradox Maverick died, and I was told so, in whispers and glances and blasted macaroni and cheese on my birthday every year. I was born, it seemed when I was younger, to echo her back to my mother’s companions, to look like her in every way I could.

Sometimes I think that she did it on purpose, Paradox, tinkered with my genetics in the womb to put them off the scent, as it were, to make them keep looking in the wrong place and never think to look where they should have. I wonder, if she did that, if she had any idea how well she would succeed?

Here I am, now, exactly what they created, exactly what I created, and not what they would have had me be. Nothing, nothing, I might add, like Paradox Maverick, may she rot in a cold cell in the darkest corner of Hell.

I am Order. And today is my eighteenth birthday.

There will be macaroni and cheese. There will always be macaroni and cheese. And my mother will buy me a pretty dress, and I will wear it. It will be the last thing I wear that I did not choose myself. And it will be the last time I eat macaroni and cheese. Today, I am going to start my plans. Today, I am going to begin my empire.


“Bit serious, are you?”

The window was open. The window was not supposed to be open. Marciana looked up, frowned, and then felt her frown deepen from mere irritation to true anger.

“You don’t belong here.”

“Oh, but let’s be honest, neither do you.” The girl in the window was green, her hair blue, her wings – she had wings, humans did not have nor need wings – purple. She looked like she’d been dropped in a tye-dye pot. “You know it. All those tidy little notes in your journal. Didn’t anyone tell you that the primary flaw of villains is monologuing? Get in the habit and they’ll never stop. I’m Arsenic, by the way.”

“Lovely villain name. And I’m not a villain. I’m a hero. See,” she gestured at the tower they were in. “The Tower of Truth? Heroes live here.”

“Heroes and their kids. And Arsenic isn’t my villain name, it’s my given name.”

“Who names their kid Arsenic?” Because she was a kid, as much as Marciana was, maybe-eighteen, probably-less.

“Who names the daughter of two heroes Marsha?”

“It’s Marciana.”

“It’s Marsha with a flourish. Seriously. They knew they were going to let you grow up in the public eye. They knew they were already thinking of little Parry when you were born. Why in the world would they name you Marsha? Did they want you to turn evil?”

It was too much like her own thoughts. She squinted at the tye-dyed fairy. “Are you another one like Szec Mzip Wrisverhmersl?”

“Szeccie? Little pink goblin? No, Marsha, I’m not reading your mind. I’m not a mirror of your conscience – not like that, at least.”

“Then what are you? I mean, other than a green intruder.” She should be hitting the panic button. She should be calling in the Truth Troops. But she wasn’t panicked, and she didn’t want to see the Troops. Not now. Not with what she was planning.

“I’m you.” She waved both hands, making a blur and whirring noise like a flying bug. “Not like that. Not like Szeccie or any of the mirror-universe imposters.”

“Imposters, what?”

“Nevermind that. You people in the Truth Tower are awfully bad at telling truth, that’s all I have to say on the matter. No, I’m what you were supposed to be.”

It only took a second. Marciana was bright, after all, and her entire life had been haunted by the specter of what she was supposed to be. “You’re Paradox Maverick.” Her hand was on her blaster before she finished the sentence.

“I was. I’m Arsenic right now.” The green girl shrugged, looking entirely undisturbed. “Did you get any powers?”

“I did.” She didn’t want to admit that. “You know I haven’t told anyone else?”

“Neither have I. Of course, I haven’t told anyone I’m their enemies’ favorite troublemaker, either. You think I ought to?”

“Will they believe you? Nobody believes that I’m not.”

“Which is funny, all things considered. They think I’m…well, half of them think I’m Szeccie’s kid. Including my mother.”

“Wait, your mother thinks you’re a world-shifter’s kid? Your mother…?”

“I might be. It would suit my other me. Look, are you going to shoot me or what?”

“Your other you, what?” She set the blaster down but kept her hand on it.

“I’m not all Peri. I’m Arsenic, but there’s this little voice in the back of my head that is, or used to be, Paradox. I mean, sometimes it’s the other way around and she takes over. But for the most part, I’m me. Sennie.”


“Well, ‘Arse’ is a stupid nickname, isn’t it? Marsha?”

“Marciana. Yeah.” She was smiling. When was the last time that had happened? “So… why are you here?” Quick, think about business.

“Well.” She sat down on Marciana’s clean desk, one foot on the journal, leaving a smudge of dirt over Marciana’s declaration of self-hood. “Half of me was homesick. The rest of me was sick of being there, not being what they wanted. Watching their confused faces…”

“While they try to figure out who this cuckoo in their nest is, what she’s planning, why she doesn’t fit in.” The words tumbled out. She was half-standing. She sat down again, mortified. “Oh, Fillzbot.”

“No, no, you’re right. Exactly. They know about you. They think you’re me, too. Or sometimes they think you’re her, one of theirs, that died.” She paused. “Are you?”

“As far as anyone can tell – and everyone has looked – there’s nobody in here but me. It might have been easier if I really was the enemy.”

“Well… my folks are the agents of world domination, and yours want to protect truth and light. How do we go about being enemies of both?”


“Well, who else have we got?” The green girl’ smile was pink, very, very pink. “And maybe if you have someone to talk to, you’ll stop monologuing.”

“So we become…” She thought about it for a moment. “Chaos and order. Paradox and reason. We’re monkeywrenchers. We’re the ones who tell them when they’re all being stupid. We crash wild schemes and stupid plans and bad press conferences.”

“Awesome.” She held out one long-fingered hand. “You have a deal, partner.”


I was born to defy expectations.

We were. We were born to be nothing our parents wanted. We were born to be trouble in their sides. We were born to legends we didn’t ask for, habits we didn’t have. We were born to ask questions. All the questions.

We are Order and Chaos. We are Madness and Reason. We are the Wrench in the Machine, and today is our eighteenth birthday.

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