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200 Years my attempt at writing :D

#201 User is offline   Zenoc2 

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Posted 05 November 2010 - 02:12 PM

View PostHelelix, on Nov 4 2010, 07:48 AM, said:

Excellent story. Just finished reading chapter 22 and im finding it really enjoyable. Thanks Shinkansen!

Shinkansen is one of our best writers (and at the moment, one of the only active ones). :bored:

Now that that's out of the way, welcome to MC! And now for your traditional MC welcome: a tomato. :rotflol:

While you're at it, have a milkshake. :arianna:
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#202 User is offline   Shinkansen 

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Posted 12 November 2010 - 09:00 PM

View PostHelelix, on Nov 4 2010, 06:48 AM, said:

Excellent story. Just finished reading chapter 22 and im finding it really enjoyable. Thanks Shinkansen!

Cool, I'm causing people to join MC.

View PostZenoc2, on Nov 5 2010, 03:12 PM, said:

Shinkansen is one of our best writers (and at the moment, one of the only active ones). :D

Wow, really?
I mean, I am the only one doing semi-semi regular updates at the moment, but 'one of the best'?
There are plenty of other, better writers, right? I'm just some new guy who started posting random bits of writing.


Heh, enough of my self-degradation, how about an update?




Twenty Nine

"The Guild of Maintainers was unique amongst the Guilds: apart from the Writers, it was the oldest, largest, and most important Guild. But, it was also the only armed branch of the D'ni State, save for the minor contribution of the City Guard. Legally, the activities of the Maintainers was under the purview of the Council, but like almost any other security apparatus, the needs of security often overrode the requirements of oversight.
-from Facts About D'ni, published by the D'ni Info Centre, 2050

Ulam strode quickly across the entry hall, flanked by two armed guards.

The hall was crowded with Guildsman who had responded to the general alert: senior members of the Maintainers and City Guard were required to report to the Guildhalls in times of emergency.

Ulam and the guards went through a doorway, entering a much less crowded hallway: the dormitory wing of the Guildhall.

Coming to the door of Gara's quarters, Ulam readied his pistol. He nodded to one of the guards. The guard readied himself, and then delivered a solid kick to the door. The door flung open, and the three men ran into the room.

There were panicked yells and shouts of "Don't shoot!" from the room. Five Guildsmen ran towards the corners of the room, trying to not get in the way of the guards' rifles. Ulam signalled to the guards, ordering them to stand down.

"Is Gara here?" Ulam shouted.

"Sir? Oh, Gara, he's...Gara's not here, sir. We came here to report to him, and couldn't find him, so we decided to just wait around until he-"

"Do you have any idea as to where Gara might be?"

"Erm...no. Sir."

Ulam activated his communicator. "Bryson," he said, "he's not here at the Guildhall. Your search had any success?"

"Negative," Bryson replied, a note of frustration in his voice. "All we found was his parents wanting to know why we broke their door down, over."

"Right," Ulam said quietly as he turned the device off.

He sighed.

"You two," Ulam said to the guards suddenly, "follow me. I've got an idea where Gara might be."

He reactivated the communicator as he stepped briskly out of the room. "Bryson, Colonel," he said, sending a message to both, "I need both of you over here as quickly as possible."
***
Gara stood before Grand Master Esel's desk, his hands folded nervously behind his back. He was still wearing his armoured vest, and he still had his gun in its holster. This was excusable, given the alert, but it still made him feel ill at ease in Esel's richly decorated office.

Guild Master Menir stood next to Gara, an almost invisible smile forming on his face as he listened to Esel speak.

"So, Master Menir," Esel said, "this latest attack, you are saying that you believe that Esher or one of his men is responsible?"

"Well, Esher and his writings were most likely more of an inspiration for the attack, rather than Esher himself planning it, but yes, Grand Master," Menir said. "Guildsman Gara was at their Embassy himself when the bomb went off."

"Is this true? Guildsman, are you injured?" Esel asked, a sudden note of concern in his voice.

"I was there at the Embassy just before the bomb went off, Grand Master. I am uninjured, but...sir, I confess, I acted unbecoming of a Maintainer, as soon as I found out that there was a danger, I fled."

"That is understandable, Gara, but-"

"What you must understand, Grand Master," Menir cut-in, "is that Gara's leaving the Embassy in such a hurry has made the surface dwellers suspicious of Gara; they suspect him of being the one who planted the explosive."

Esel blinked. "So," he said quietly, "they are after one of my own men." He opened one of his desk drawers, and got out his own pistol. "I will need to talk with the Five about this; it is time for the surface dwellers' powers to be checked. Menir, I need you and Gara to come with me."

"Yes, Grand Master."

As Esel stood to leave, the office door was flung open. In ran Ulam followed by several Maintainer guards. Two of the guards ran over to Gara and grabbed him, slamming Menir into the desk in the process. Out of his hand dropped a communicator, a light flashing on its display.

"Stay there!" Ulam shouted. He turned to Esel. "Sir, I'm glad you and Menir are unharmed; I was worried that they might try to strike in more than one-"

"What are you talking about, Ulam?" Esel asked. "Gara has just come from the Embassy-"

"I know! He the one who planted the bomb."

"What? No, you are mistaken, Guild Master," Esel replied, "Menir and the Guildsman were just explaining the situation to me. Esher and his followers are responsible for this attack-"

"No, it was Gara-"

"See, Grand Master," Gara yelled, "they have already convinced our own men of their delusions!"

"What?" Ulam turned to Esel. "You can't just believe him-"

"Ulam, you will address me as 'Grand Master' at all times!" Esel shouted. "Besides, Gara's innocence in this matter has been collaborated by Master Menir."

"Menir?" Ulam looked at Menir, and then at Esel. "So, you two..." he turned to the guards. "Men, arrest Master Menir and Grand Master Esel."

"Sir?"

"Just do it!"

Four more guards advanced on the two men. Esel tried to defend himself with his pistol, but the weapon slipped from his shaking hands and fell to the carpeted floor with a soft thump. Gara, Esel, and Menir were forced to sit on the floor, their hands tied behind their backs.

"You have no evidence to support this!" Menir shouted. "As soon as the Five and Council hear of this-"

"I have my evidence; a video recording of Gara in the Embassy before the explosion."

"Hundreds of others have been in their Embassy before I." Gara protested. "I suppose they're all guilty, also?"

"Perhaps you remember shooting at Guildsman Ailem as you escaped, Gara?" Ulam replied, matching Gara's mocking tone.

"The testimony of a single Guildsman," Menir said, "is not enough to charge three of your fellow Guildsman, two of whom are your elders, with conspiracy!"

"There is a conspiracy within the Guilds. I cannot afford to take any chances. Now, as soon the Colonel arrives..." he paused, and glanced at the clock on his communicator. "They should've arrived by now...." Ulam activated his communicator. "Colonel, this is Ulam, have you arrived yet?"

No response.

"Her communicator is on, so why..." Ulam muttered to himself.

He pushed the button to send the message again.

From behind, there was a shout. Suddenly, Ulam found himself knocked to the floor. As he struggled to see who had attacked him, he felt something bind his wrists behind his back.

"Get him up," a gruff voice ordered.

Ulam was jerked up to a standing position. He turned to see who his captor was.

Master Lemashal stood in the doorway, a black armoured vest over his Guild robes.

"Put him in the van with the others," Lemashal said to the guards holding Ulam. A black sack was pulled down over Ulam's head, blocking his vision.

As Ulam was lead out of the office, Gara walked over to Lemashal. "What're you doing?" he asked quietly. "Last I knew, we were going to wait a few days before acting."

Lemashal grabbed Gara's arm and lead him out into the hallway. "I received a message from Menir a few minutes ago, saying that the surface dwellers were attempting a coup. Given the situation, I felt it was best to act, and our friend Ulam there has proved my suspicions."

Gara frowned. "We will never be able to fight them, you know."

"What, Guildsman?"

"Master, the surface dwellers; the Council will listen to whatever they say. Even if the most of the Maintainers and City Guard are on our side, most of the other Guilds will follow them. They will fight you, even if you capture their leaders. However..." Gara sighed. "Let me find Esher. I've meet with him, and he is willing to help us."

Lemashal stared. "Why do you think he'll be able to help us."

"I...I don't know, Master...he seems to have ideas about things, and a way with people. If he's able to get the people on our side-"

"So basically, Guildsman, what you were talking about at our meeting last night, is that what you are talking about?"

"Yes, Master-"

"Gara!" Esel called from inside the office. "Menir and I are going over to the Council to talk with the Five. We nee to clear up this disaster. I want you with me."

Lemashal leaned in close to Gara. "Guildsman, go with Esel. I shall go and get Esher-"

"No, you can't-you'll attract too much attention. Besides, I know how to contact him."

Lemashal nodded. "Well...go with Esel. I'll try and figure out a way to deactivate the surface dwellers' communicators."

He walked back into the office and called the guards. Out marched Lemashal and the guards. They turned down the hallway and disappeared around the corner.

Esel and Menir then came out of the office. "Come, Gara," Esel ordered. Gara followed, walking closely behind.
***
Ulam tried to listen for clues as to where he was being taken, but he couldn't make out anything over dull background chatter of mingling voices. After a few minutes, the murmur of voices stopped, and Ulam assumed he was outside.

The bag was pulled off of his head, and Ulam was suddenly pushed into the back of what he assumed was the van Lemashal had mentioned.

He tumbled in, nearly falling over.

There was a startled shout from somewhere. "You too, Ullam?"

"Colonel Tyne?"

In the darkness of the back of the van, Ulam could make out several shadowy figures.

"Yeah, I'm here," Tyne said. "What happened? Me and Bryson got your message, but as soon as we got to the Guildhall, some guy and a bunch of guards arrested us for 'crimes against the state', as he put it."

"Who was that?" Bryson put in.

"Master Lemashal, probably. He's the keeper of the Prison Ages."

A few moments of silence followed. The van's motor rumbled to life, and the vehicle began swaying slowly as it moved. A light came on, and Ulam could see his fellow prisoners, he was sitting between Bryson and two other soldiers. On the other bench sat Tyne and a third soldier. Slightly startled, Ulam saw all five were injured in some way; Tyne's nose and lip were bleeding, the left side of Bryson's face was bruised and swollen, and the three others sported similar injuries.

Ulam finally broke the silence. "Ambassador Henderson-?"

"Phil's still at the Embassy, with Needrah and the other commanders," Tyne answered.

One of the soldiers suddenly spoke, turning to Ulam. "Sir, what's gonna happen to us?"

Ulam sighed, trying to sit in a comfortable position. "Well, if the Council is still on our side, we'll be released immediately, but if not, we'll probably spend some time in one of the prisons here in the Cavern."

"I meant, sir, what will happen to us, not just me and Lieutenant Bryson and the Colonel, but all of us. What...what if..." the soldier closed his eyes and sighed. "What if your Council decides not to help, what then? There's nearly a thousand of us, and I know my country won't abandon us-"

"Brodsky, shut up," another soldier cut in. "You worry way too much."

"Look," Ulam said, "the worst will not happen, so we don't have to worry-"

"Keep quiet back there, all of you!" a voice shouted in D'ni through a tiny grille in the far wall of the compartment.

The light blinked out, casting them all again into darkness.
***
In a small room below the Council Hall paced Lord Ji, Grandmaster of the Guild of Miners, his Guild cloak worn loosely over his nightgown.

He had been woken by an explosion, he was sure it had been an explosion, and had come to the small meeting room in the Council Hall almost instinctively, trying to learn what was going on. So far, all he could find out was that there had been another bomb attack, at the American's Embassy.

He had tried calling his four companions, but to his alarm, he found that his, and it seemed everyone else's communicators were non-functioning.

Finally, the door opened. In came Emen the Writer, his thin white hair askew and falling into his face. "My friend," he said, "do you have any idea what is going on?"

Ji shook his head. "No. I've not been able to find anyone who knows what is actually going on. All I've heard is that there has been some sort of attack at the Embassy."

"That's all I have heard. Where are the others."

"I went over and woke Ishek; he will be over as soon as possible, but I was not able to contact the others, because-"

"Because the communicators are not working, yes?"

Emen nodded. "I hope that someone will inform them of what is going on."

The door opened again. Emen and Ji looked over, expecting Ishek or maybe any other members of the Five. Instead, Master Esel of the Maintainers came into the room, followed by several other Guildsman.

Ji and Emen turned. "Thank the Maker." Emen Ji exclaimed. "Master Esel, can you explain as to what is going on?"

"I am sorry to say that I am the bringer of ill news, my lords," Esel replied. "The surface dwellers have attempted a takeover-"

"What are you talking about, Esel? Last information I heard was that there had been a bomb in their Embassy."

Esel scowled. "I don't know, perhaps it was a ruse, but I do know that Ulam, the liaison to the surface dwellers, came to the Guildhall and tried to arrest me, Master Menir, and several members of my staff."

Both Ji and Emen stared at Esel. "What...no, no-" Ji managed to stutter. "I have known the surface dwellers ever since they arrived here, and have been friends with Ambassador Henderson for many years, Esel. What you are suggesting is utter madness."

"I would hope, for all our sakes," Emen added, "that you and your men haven't taken any action to damage our relations with them-"

"We are wasting time, Grand Master!" Menir cut in. "The conspiracy runs deep even in our Maintainers, why should we have expected any different from the Lords?"

"You watch your words, young man." Emen warned.

"But, my Lords, what of the surface dwellers?" said Esel. "Their treachery is apparent, we must not-"

"Grand Master, I have had enough out of you!" Emen shouted, his frail frame quivering with anger.

"If you are not willing to act," Menir said to Esel, "then I will." Advancing on the two old men, he pulled out his pistol and shouted, "Men, take those traitors into custody!"

The guards automatically ran forward and grabbed the two Lords, binding their hands behind their backs.

"Esel!" Ji shouted, "you can't let this insanity to continue!"

Esel stared at the old man, his eyes not quite focused. Finally, he said, softly, "Master Menir, take these men back to the Guildhall and hold them there." He turned to the guards. "These two will not be any trouble, you all go and find Lords Ishek, Gan, and Lameer, and bring them too into custody. Everyone but those who have proven themselves is worthy."

Menir nodded, and he and the guards exited, Ji and Emen in tow.

"Gara," Esel said, turning to his assistant, "I am sorry to have brought you over here; I had thought that the Five would be more open to our evidence."

"I understand, Grand Master."

"You may return to Guildhall, Gara. I am going to stay here and call the rest of the Grand Masters, to see which are still loyal."

"Yes, Master." Gara bowed his head, and exited the room.

Outside, in the hall, Gara paused, panic coming over him. Things were moving too quickly, they had hours, a day at most, until the surface dwellers reorganised themselves for the attack, and attack that the D'ni would loose.

Breathing deeply, he pulled out his communicator and turned it on to send the message to Esher.

There was no response. The screen of the communicator was blank.

Gara stared at the device in disbelieve. How could the surface dwellers have disrupted their communications? How?

Then he remembered.

"Lemashal..." he growled under his breath.

Gara ran down the corridor, back towards the Maintainer Guildhall, nearly running into Lord Ishek of the Stonemasons as the man was handcuffed by a Maintainer guard.
***
Grand Master Kedri of the Surveyors sat in his office, a printout of the message from Esel held in his hands.

There was a knock on his door. "Come," Kedri said.

Kedri put down the message and looked up at the two Guildsmen who had entered.

"Me'erta, Gadren," he said, "you are both representatives of our Guild on the Council, and you both have experience with the Americans."

Me'erta and Gadren nodded slowly.

"Do you trust them?"

"Master?" Me'erta asked. "Does this have to with the explosion in their Embassy?"

"I have just received a message from Master Esel, informing me that the Americans have attempted some sort of takeover-"

"Preposterous!" Gadren blurted out.

"I agree," Me'erta said. "I have known them for the past forty years, and they have been nothing but cooperative and trustworthy."

"What does Esel's message say, if I may ask, Master?"

"Esel reports...he claims that he and several other senior members of the Maintainers were nearly arrested by the Americans, and is now ordering the other Grand Masters to meet with him."

"What, without the consent of the Lords?"

"It would appear so, Master Me'erta."

"Master Kedri," Gadren said, stepping forward, "I think there might actually be the possibility of a coup, but from the Maintainers themselves." He took out his communicator. "After I heard the explosion, I tried contacting Master Ullam of the Maintainers, but he did not respond, so I assumed he was busy. I waited, but then my communicator went inactive, and so did nearly every one else's, as far as I can tell. It's back on now, but," he held the communicator out, so that Kedri could see. "I cannot contact any of the Americans: their Embassy, their surface base, none of them. If there are a certain group of radicals are trying to take power, they would no doubt try and lock out communications between here and the surface."

Kedri leaned back in his chair and sighed. "So, if Esel is acting independently of the Lords and Council, he will try and get the Guilds on his side."

"We need to talk with the other Guilds first, sir," Gadren said.

"Yes...I will do that...Gadren, I need you to wake the rest of the Guild, if they aren't already all up at this point. They need to know what's going on, and get all non-essential personnel out of the Cavern. Me'erta, go over to the Embassy and tell them what's going on."

"Yes, Master," both Gadren and Me'erta nodded, and exited the room.

Kedri stood up and walked over to his office window. From it, he could see down the entire length of Ae'gura. A pall of smoke and dust still drifted over from the Embassy. Just barely audible was the sporadic sound of gunfire.
***
Esher strolled along the street, a giddy recklessness overtaking him. He was not alone, that was the only thing he could think about, he was not alone!

To be fair, the people were at his side, as that Maintainer had said, but the support of a thousand commoners was meaningless compared to the power that support within the Guilds brought.

Esher had not even cared to watch where his feet were taking him. He stopped walking for a moment and looked about. He was standing at the barricaded entrance to the Guild District. On either side of the gate stood an armed Maintainer Guard. Esher quickly pulled his hood up, and walked slowly over into an alley.

Out of habit, he looked back down the street as he turned. Advancing quickly towards the gate was a small group of surface dweller soldiers.

Esher jogged the last few feet into the alley, and watched.

To his surprise, the Maintainers raised their rifles. "Halt! Drop your weapons!" one of them shouted.

The surface dweller came into view. "What are talking about, Guildsman?" the leader asked in heavily-accented D'ni.

"Drop your weapons!" The Maintainer repeated. Several more surface dwellers came into view, their weapons also raised.

Esher stared. Whatever was going on, he did not want to get caught by either group. As the surface dweller and Maintainer continued to stare at each other, Esher ran for it, jumping over the barricade and running up the street, uphill towards the Guildhalls.

"You, stop!" someone shouted.

There was gunfire, and then screams and more gunfire, but Esher did not look back, not slowing until he rounded the corner.

Esher stopped, wheezing heavily. There had only been two Maintainers, but several surface dwellers, and if they had opened fire on each other, the outcome was not to difficult to predict. Esher began running again, albeit at a much slower pace.

The street began to level out, and Esher stopped again, and sat down upon the cobbled street, gasping for breath.

A peculiar beeping noise started emanating from his pocket. Esher reached in and pulled out the communicator the Maintainer had given him. A little indicator on the screen was flashing, and text appeared: 'CALIBRATING'.

The text flashed for a few seconds and then disappeared. Immediately afterwards, another symbol lit up, indicating a new message.

Esher pushed the button to view the message. It was text, reading simply: Meet me at the entrance to the Maintainers Guildhall.

Esher stood, still staring at the message. Could it be a trick? He remembered what the Maintainer he had meet had said, but it was still possible the whole thing had been some sort of undercover operation.

But then he thought of the confrontation between the guards and the surface dwellers. Something was going on.

He began walking towards the Maintainer Guildhall, too winded to run.

After several minutes, Esher came to the entrance to the Guildhall. Standing outside the gateway was the Maintainer Esher had meet. "Esher," he said as Esher approached, "I don't believe you got my name before. I am Gara."

"Gara?" Esher said, "You Grand Master Esel's-"

"Assistant, yes, but that's not important now. The surface dwellers have attempted a coup, and I'm worried that once they realise we're on to their plans, they will bring in more of their soldiers."

"Why do you want me?" Esher asked.

"Esher," Gara grabbed Esher's shoulder, "we can't fight them, not by ourselves. You yourself said you bring results, well...we need some now."

Esher stared, still somewhat dizzy from his run. "It's all too soon, too soon," he said quietly. "There's no possibility of me organising anything...not this quickly..."

"Fine," Gara said. "As long as you're here, I might as well take you off to be arrested..."

"No, wait!" Esher closed his eyes, and covered his face with his hands, thinking hard. He remembered Alexandrov's book, and how it talked of the surface dwellers defeat at the hands of an outnumbered enemy. That would not work; there wasn't enough time.

"What we need..." he said, "Gara, the people you lot arrested, the ones arrested for being my followers, having my writings, what happened to them?"

"What? Oh, they were taken to an off-Age prison, Elatak, I believe-"

"Take me there."

"What?"

"I need to go there. Talk with prisoners." Esher began to walk in circles around Gara, gesticulating with his hands. "And how do the surface dwellers get from their Embassy to the surface quickly? They must have a Book...I need that Book, Gara."

Gara stared open-mouthed at Esher. "Esher...what are you suggesting?"

"No time to explain, we need to go now. They are already penetrating your outer defences. Let's go!"

Gara blinked. "Right," he said, "follow me, you're with me, so you should be left alone."

The two men walked through the gate towards the looming Guildhall.
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#203 User is offline   Allatwan 

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Posted 13 November 2010 - 04:13 AM

I wanna see the rest of the plot! :D It's getting more interesting each time...
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#204 User is offline   Gehn, lord of ages 

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Posted 13 November 2010 - 08:48 AM

View PostShinkansen, on Nov 12 2010, 07:00 PM, said:

Cool, I'm causing people to join MC.

Here, you get rewarded with a grossamary :bounce:

Quote

"Negative," Bryson replied, a note of frustration in his voice. "All we found was his parents wanting to know why we broke their door down, over."

:D


Also, Actiooooon! How does this story keep getting exciting-er?

And this whole coup is reminding me of when I read a book on South Vietnam. Very realistic.
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#205 User is offline   Allatwan 

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Posted 13 November 2010 - 09:56 AM

You know what you should do, Shinkans,en? Put all the previous chapters together (when you're done, that is) and post the whole thing on DA or Fanfic.net. seriously, this story deserves to be read over again by different people :D
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#206 User is offline   Shinkansen 

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Posted 13 November 2010 - 05:28 PM

View PostAllatwan, on Nov 13 2010, 10:56 AM, said:

You know what you should do, Shinkans,en? Put all the previous chapters together (when you're done, that is) and post the whole thing on DA or Fanfic.net. seriously, this story deserves to be read over again by different people :D

I do plan on doing that, actually. I've made a number of revisions, mostly to fix some sentences that made no sense due to typos, like my personal favourite of "Bryson held his head in his hands".

Shinkans and En?
New television series, I presume?
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#207 User is offline   Lostthyme 

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Posted 13 November 2010 - 11:27 PM

View PostShinkansen, on Nov 13 2010, 05:28 PM, said:

View PostAllatwan, on Nov 13 2010, 10:56 AM, said:

You know what you should do, Shinkans,en? Put all the previous chapters together (when you're done, that is) and post the whole thing on DA or Fanfic.net. seriously, this story deserves to be read over again by different people :D

I do plan on doing that, actually. I've made a number of revisions, mostly to fix some sentences that made no sense due to typos, like my personal favourite of "Bryson held his head in his hands".


I'm glad! I've sorta fallen behind on the updates, so I need a good rereading. :bounce:
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#208 User is offline   Allatwan 

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Posted 14 November 2010 - 04:53 AM

View PostShinkansen, on Nov 13 2010, 06:28 PM, said:

Shinkans and En?
New television series, I presume?

Meh, talk about typos! :D
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#209 User is offline   Shinkansen 

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Posted 18 November 2010 - 10:47 PM

Thirty

Ailem sprinted through the Embassy's hallway, rifle slung over his shoulder and his communicator grasped tightly in one hand. He rounded a corner, and came to the door to Ambassador Henderson's temporary office. Not bothering to knock, he flung the door open and rushed into the room.

In the office was a small cluster of people: Phil, slumped in his office chair, Captain Needrah of the City Guards, one or two other Maintainers, and one of the American commanding officers, who Ailem only knew as Major Barnardo. They all turned to Ailem as he came into the room.

"Guildsman," Needrah asked, "should you not be outside on guard duty?"

"I was, Captain," Ailem gasped, "but I just received a message from Esel that I thought you all might be interested in-"

"How? Our communications went down a while ago," Barnardo stated.

"I know, but my communicator came back on, and I got the message immediately after. Here," he tossed the communicator to Needrah. "It says the 'surface dwellers', as he calls you, have attempted a coup, directs all Maintainers and City Guardsmen to arrest any surface dweller soldiers, and orders for all Guild Grand Masters to meet with Esel at the Council hall?"

There was a few moments of silence. Barnardo took out his communicator and stared at it. "Mine's still off," he noted.

Phil leaned forward, running his hand through his hair. "So," he said quietly, "all of our efforts have resulted in this, now? We spend the last year and a half chasing after this Esher, and-and..."

Phil picked up his computer mouse and flung it across the room. "God damnit!" he screamed. "How stupid can he be?"

Taking several deep breaths, he stood and turned to Barnardo. "Steve, I need you to go over and knock some sense into the idiot-"

"Ambassador, we can't do that," Ailem pleaded, "If any of you try and go out there, you will be arrested or shot at!"

"I can't bring myself to believe that a D'ni Guildsman would be capable of that!"

"Sir," Barnardo said, "I agree, we can't do what you're suggesting."

Before Phil could respond, the sound of gunfire came from outside, far too loud to be something in the distance.

Not waiting for instruction, Ailem bolted into the hallway, strapping his helmet on. The other Maintainers in the room looked to Needrah. He nodded to them, and they too left, leaving Phil and Barnardo alone in the office.

"Sir," Barnardo said, "we should get you to the surface."

"No, Major, I'm not leaving."

"But, sir-"

"No! I know what you'll say: that my time as a civilian here is over, that you'll handle things. I'm not going to leave, Major."

"Yes, sir. At least, let me escort you to a secure room."

"Fine," Phil said grudgingly.

The two men left the empty room, and turned the corner, coming to a staircase leading down to the basement.

As they began their descent, there was a sudden burst of gunfire, very loud and very close.

"Sir! Get down there!" Barnardo yelled, giving Phil a slight push down the last few steps. Phil stumbled and turned around to see Barnardo running back up the stairs, gun drawn.

"Sir, I can see them!" Barnardo shouted back down the stairs. "Stay down there, and I'll-"

A sudden burst of gunfire cut him off. Barnardo screamed. He came sliding down the stairs, finally resting in a heap at the bottom. Phil sprinted over, grabbing the Major and dragging him over behind a crate.

"Steve, are you alright?" Phil asked.

"I'm fine, fine...just a little..." Barnardo moaned, clutching his stomach. Blood oozed from between his fingers.

"We need a doctor...uhm...I think I've changed my mind about evacuating, wait here."

Phil stood, walked back into the middle of the room, and glanced over the various boxes and crates in the basement. "It's here somewhere..." he muttered as he rummaged through some of the smaller boxes. Finally, he found it: a small leather-bound Linking Book with the words "MIDWAY" stencilled on the cover.

He turned around, only to see a Maintainer standing at the foot of the stairs, pointing a gun at him.

"What's that you got there? A Book?"

"What are you doing Guildsman? Since when do the Maintainers deal out force without the permission of the Council?"

"What?"

"Did you shoot Major Barnardo, Guildsman? Why did you do that? He is no threat to you."

The young Maintainer lowered his gun slightly. "He's a surface dweller, and so are you. How can I trust you when you people are trying to take over?"

"Why do you say this?"

"I was told by my Guild Master, that's all the evidence I need!"

"Here," Phil said, walking forward, "we do not have to have things go this way."

"Keep your hands where I can see them!"

"Guildsman," a voice called down the stairs, "what are you doing down there?"

Not taking his eyes or aim off of Phil, the Maintainer responded "I've got Henderson down here, and he's got a Book!"

Another Maintainer came down the stairs. He glanced at both Phil and the first Maintainer. "Why haven't you...Guildsman, you can leave, I'll deal with this one."

As the younger Maintainer climbed back up the stairs, Phil tried to dive behind the crate. The Maintainer, reacting quickly, fired several shots at Phil.

Phil crumpled to the ground. The Maintainer walked over, and picked up the Book, leaving Phil's corpse bleeding on the floor.
***
Esher stood on the platform, the hot sun of Elatak beating down on his head. Beside him stood the Maintainer Gara, and another man Gara had identified as Master Lemashal.

Lemashal spoke, "So, before I call the prisoners out, tell me again why we're listening to you, Esher?"

Esher sighed, adjusting his goggles. "Even if your men are able to defeat the surface dwellers in the Cavern, something I believe to be well within their abilities, by the way, they will not leave us alone. Now, I had originally thought up a plan to slowly wear them down with methods similar to what you and your people had been doing, but naturally, circumstances have forced us to act quickly."

"Your point?"

"A single, forceful strike is needed, to show the surface dwellers our resolve in this matter."

"And the prisoners?"

"They are to be our foot soldiers. As soon as your men fetch the Linking Book from the Embassy, they will go through, armed, and attack their base upon the surface."

"You want us to give the prisoners, violent malcontents, weapons?" Lemashal spluttered. "You're insane. Gara, why are we wasting our time-"

"He has a point, Master." Gara said. "If we show the surface dwellers we are willing to fight, to spill our own blood over our principles, they will leave us alone. Forever."

"And think of it this way," Esher added quietly, "right now, all these prisoners are doing is costing you money. Once they get onto the surface, they cannot get back. They'll be as good as gone."

Lemashal stroked his chin and then smiled. "Esher, I like the way you think. I'll go and order the prisoners out." He turned, and disappeared through a doorway.

Below the platform upon which Gara and Esher stood was a courtyard, surrounded on all four sides by high rock walls. Slowly, men began filing into the courtyard.

The yard filled, and Esher stepped forward to the railing. "Citizens," he began, "no doubt many of you are familiar with who I am; no doubt, your adherence to my beliefs is the reason why many of you have been incarcerated on this Age. I can understand if there are any of you hold an amount of animosity towards me, but-"

From the crowd below, there was a sudden outburst of murmuring.

"But," Esher continued, speaking louder, "you must remember that it isn't I, or even the Guilds who are responsible for this injustice. It is the surface dwellers, the ones who never belonged in our society in the first place, and now are trying to impose their idea of right and justice upon us."

"Get to the point, Esher!" someone below shouted. "We know something's up. You're up there, and not down here, that's something!"

Esher smiled. "Yes, well, something is happening. The Maintainers have finally seen the delusions that have been forced upon them, and are expelling the surface dwellers-"

The low murmur grew to a incessant buzzing.

"-and are currently fighting surface dweller forces as we speak! But-" Esher paused, allowing the shouts and cheers from below to calm down. "But, something is needed from you.

"There is a base, a group of buildings kept by the surface dwellers at the mouth of that damned tunnel. The task that has been given to you is this: we will provide you with arms, ammunition, and a Link to the surface, and you will show the surface dwellers what happens to those who threaten D'ni.

"Now, I realise that this mission is dangerous, there is a very good chance that some of you may be injured or even killed, so we aren't going to force any of you to go. If any do not want to participate, leave now. We won't hold it against you."

To his surprise, not a single person left.

Resisting the impulse to grin, Esher turned to Gara. "Begin gathering weapons for our men, Gara. It is time."
***
Esher watched as each of the men, armed with a rifle, pistol, or firemarble gun, walked up to the dais and Linked using the bloodstained Book.

There was a pause in the rhythmic whooshing of men Linking out. Esher looked up.

Standing before the dais, leaning on a crutch, was Hamil.

Speechless, Esher grabbed Hamil's arm and brought him aside. The line of men began the regular rhythm of Linking again.

"Hamil," Esher began, "I...I-"

Hamil raised his hand. "What's done is done," he said. "I was angry, you can understand that, and I needed time to think, but-"

"But trying to find one's bearings while wanted for crimes against the state is somewhat difficult, yes?"

Hamil nodded, smiling bleakly.

"Hamil," Esher said, "you must understand there is actually a fairly good chance that something might happen to you-"

"We all must make our sacrifices, no? I heard about your march, Esher. That was quite daring of you, going against the Guilds..."

Hamil paused, looking at the shrinking line of men behind the Book. "Well, I should be off...farewell, Esher." He adjusted his crutch and rifle, and hobbled back into the line.

Esher silently watched Hamil come to the Book, place his hand on the panel, and vanish into nothingness.
***
The little room was crowded, every chair around the table occupied. Officer Matthews walked around the conference table, passing by each member of the base staff he had managed to contact before communications had failed.

"Ok, what do we know?" he said. "First, our Embassy in D'ni is attacked by persons unknown. Second, communications between here and the Cavern have gone down completely. Third, not only have surface-Cavern communications gone down, so have all the communicators on base and on the surface. I'm open to theories as to what's going on here."

"Sir," one of the men said, leaning forward in his chair, "I don't want to sound impudent, but have you contacted General Loa about this?"

"I can't," Matthews replied. "Everything is done with these," he held up his non-functioning communicator. "I can't use my cell phone, 'cause I'd rather not discuss sensitive information over the open airways."

"I understand, sir," the soldier said. "Anyway, couldn't we go down the tunnel to see what's going on?"

"We could, but until we understand exactly-"

Matthews stopped. From outside came the distinctive sound of automatic weapons fire.

He went over to the window and looked out.

Outside, in the courtyard, he could see several running figures, each carrying a weapon. One of them turned towards the office window.

Matthews ducked. Bullets flew through the window, shattering the glass.

"I don't have my sidearm!" Matthews shouted. "Let's get out of here."

Crouching low, he went over to the door, slowly opening it. He looked out into the hallway.

Empty.

"C'mon."

They cautiously walked into the hallway. Coming to an intersection, Matthews signalled for them to stop. "The rest of you are armed, right?"

"Yes, sir," several replied.

"Ok, so I'll try and get my weapon, and the rest of you head out and try to find out what's going on. And be careful."

The group of soldiers walked slowly down the hallway, leaving Matthews behind. Checking once again for any intruders, Matthews and his two companions crept along the hallway.

Suddenly, from behind, there was the sound of a door being flung open. Matthews braced himself against the wall.

"Hey, is there anyone here? I need some help!" a voice called.

Matthews turned back towards the intersection in the hallway. Two soldiers walked into view. One was supporting the other, carrying the wounded man over their shoulder.

Matthews ran to help. He wrapped his arm under the injured soldier's arm and lifted. The three began walking down the hallway, in the direction of the infirmary.

"What's happening?" Matthews asked.

"It happened so quickly," the uninjured one said. "I was on guard duty when I heard gunfire. Sergeant Wilson says he saw people Linking in."

"Linking? That would mean...attack the Embassy...the Book, right. Do you have any idea how many?"

"No, sir. They were running everywhere...I swear I saw some stealing one of our trucks...but, they seemed very disorganised. Lots dropped their weapons and ran the moment we started shooting back..."

Matthews looked at the wounded soldier. "Don't worry," Matthews said, "the infirmary's up ahead. We'll be safe there."

The wounded soldier nodded, his face pale and sweaty.
***
"I wanna thank you again for letting me stay at your place."

"What? Oh, right, Henry. It's no problem, really."

Henry Tilden walked along several feet behind his neighbour, staring through the plate glass windows of the shop fronts. "So, where first?"

"Well, since you're staying with us, we'll need get groceries, then I wanna stop off at the hardware store and get new batteries for the smoke detectors."

"Ha ha, right..."

The two men walked down the sidewalk, coming to the supermarket. Tilden's neighbour kept walking, but Tilden stopped, staring down the street.

"Henry? What're looking at?"

"Do you hear something?"

"Huh?"

Not answering, Tilden stepped off the sidewalk, staring out into the street.

"Henry?"

An army truck raced down the street, swerving over the centre line. Men were hanging out of the windows, firing weapons as the truck sped along.

"GET DOWN!" Tilden shouted. He and his neighbour dove down, Tilden landing near the edge of the sidewalk, his neighbour in the entryway of the supermarket.

Across the street, there was a crash. Silence followed.

Tilden crawled to the edge of the sidewalk, peering out from behind a parked car.

A few people had gathered around the crashed truck. "You people, get away!" Tilden shouted at them. "Get away!"

As Tilden began to stand again, the cab doors opened up. A man in a reddish tunic jumped out, rifle in hand.

There were screams, and the man opened fire. Tilden dove down once again, still trying to keep an eye on the truck.

More men clad in the same tunics began piling out of the crashed truck, all firing guns. Tilden saw, his stomach clenching, several people lying motionless in the street.

A siren began wailing somewhere, quickly growing loud.

The armed men seemed to hesitate, some of them running off down the street, others standing firm.

The siren had become blaring, and there were several loud gunshots.

Two of the armed men fell to the ground. The rest scattered. Several police officers followed, shouting for the men to stop.

Tilden stood, staring out at the scene.

Several people lay shot in the street, dead. Several cars had crashed, either into other cars or into the buildings on each side of the street. Several police cars had arrived by now.

Tilden walked slowly forward, ignoring the warning shouts of the police officers, towards the bodies of the two men in red tunics.

He looked down at the body. A crutch lay next to the man, slightly bent. Then Tilden noticed the man's eyes.

They were pale.

"Sir, please step out of the street!" the police officer's voice boomed.

"Right..." Tilden said quietly, getting out his cell phone.
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#210 User is offline   luna 

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Posted 19 November 2010 - 03:38 AM

To be honest the plot is getting a bit confusing now , but it sounds great and when I read it again in December I'm sure I'll understand it all :bounce:

(really, I can never remember what happened in the chapter before, my memory fails :D )
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#211 User is offline   Allatwan 

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Posted 19 November 2010 - 03:41 AM

Looks like the beguinning of a civil war...
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#212 User is offline   Gehn, lord of ages 

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Posted 19 November 2010 - 09:24 AM

Now that's going to be a ton harder to cover up.

And yay, the D'ni are pretty much doomed, but so are many major characters. Suspeeeence.
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#213 User is offline   Andrewnuva199 

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Posted 19 November 2010 - 03:06 PM

And all heck breaks loos.

(Somewhat funny note: I had the Indiana Jones theme music blaring as I read this. When I got to the part where
Click to reveal hidden content
Phil died
, the romanitic part relating to Marion or something began. How morbid.
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#214 User is offline   Shinkansen 

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Posted 01 December 2010 - 08:30 AM

View Postluna, on Nov 19 2010, 04:38 AM, said:

To be honest the plot is getting a bit confusing now , but it sounds great and when I read it again in December I'm sure I'll understand it all :cones:

(really, I can never remember what happened in the chapter before, my memory fails :D )

It is quite convoluted, isn't it? And yet, no one seems to be complaining too much, so I assume it still makes a modicum of sense.

I am the genius of all convoluted-political-Myst-fanfiction-involving-Esher writers! :bounce:

View PostAndrewnuva199, on Nov 19 2010, 04:06 PM, said:

(Somewhat funny note: I had the Indiana Jones theme music blaring as I read this. When I got to the part where
Click to reveal hidden content
Phil died
, the romanitic part relating to Marion or something began. How morbid.

Andrew reads depressing Myst Fanfiction while unfitting music plays?


Thirty-One

Ulam sat uncomfortably on the seat running down the back of the van, his arms still bound behind him. The compartment was still cast in total darkness. Any attempt at conversation with his fellow prisoners only elicited a stern warning from the guard in front.

The van's vibration slowed, and then stopped, but there was still a slow rolling motion, indicating that they had driven onto a ferry.

The minutes passed slowly.

A muttered conversation filtered from the front through the grille. The cover was slammed over the grille, blocking what little light had been coming through it. There was then the sound of the front doors opening and slamming shut again.

Ulam sat up, listening carefully.

From outside came a muffled roaring noise, and there was the slightest feel of forward motion as the ferry's throttle was opened. Even through the van's walls, the intermingled shouts of the Maintainers could be heard.

The sharp sound of gunfire suddenly cut in.

"Get down!" Ulam heard Tyne shout. Before he could act, someone pushed him hard on the back, knocking him to the ground.

Gunfire again, more distant, sounded. Points of orange-tinted light shone through as bullets tore through the van. There were further shouts from outside, and the Maintainers shot off another round.

Ulam crawled to the wall, carefully peeking out of a bullet hole. He could see the bright orange surface of the lake. In the middle distance was another small ferry, clouds of blue smoke spewing from its motor. A man stepped in front of the hole, blocking Ulam's view.

"What's going on?" one of the soldiers shouted.

More gunfire, and more holes were punched in the wall. A worrying thunk emanated from somewhere.

"Did someone hit something?" Ulam asked.

"No, I'm too busy staying away from the flying pieces of metal!" one of the soldiers replied.

"Are we moving?" Brodsky whispered.

Ulam felt it too: the slightest sensation that they were rolling backwards.

Before Ulam could brace himself, the van tilted off the back of the ferry into the lake. Water poured in, lighting up the back of the van. Within a few minute, the water had risen to waist-height.

"Well, any ideas?" Bryson asked, wading over next to Ulam.

"This is one of your vehicles, right? Can we not open the door from the inside, somehow?"

"If our hands were free, maybe," Bryson said, the water still rising.

The weight of the engine in the front of the vehicle began to counteract whatever buoyancy the van had possessed. The van began to dive, nose first, into the lake. Water rushed in, through the bullet holes and whatever other openings it could find. As the floor tilted out from under him, Ulam suddenly found himself struggling to keep afloat in the glowing water, his head bumping into rear door of the van.

"So," Bryson said, struggling to keep his head above the water, "I don't think we'll get out of this one. It's..." he paused, looking down at the water. "I never thought I'd go this way," he added quietly.

"Quiet," Tyne cut in, "do you hear something?"

Ulam listened. He could just hear the faint sound of knocking. "Hey," he shouted, "We're people in here, help us!"

"Stand back," a muffled voice replied. Ulam and the others tried their best to stay towards the walls, the deepening water making it hard to stand.

There were several gunshots, and the door was wrenched open. Water poured in, and Ulam found himself bobbing on the surface of the lake, waves splashing over his head. A few feet away was a ferry. He swam for it the best he could, kicking his legs while his arms remained tied uselessly behind his back.

As he approached the ferry, two men leaned over the side and grabbed Ulam under the armpits and hauled him onto the deck. As he stood, he felt a knife cut the plastic ties that had been binding him.

He looked around. Standing near him were Bryson, Tyne, and the three soldiers.

"Well, I'm glad we were able to pick you guys up," a voice behind Ulam said.

Ulam turned to face the soldier. It was Captain Ramirez. "Why did you shoot at us?" Ulam asked, wiping water off his face.

"It wasn't our fault," Ramirez replied, "it was your men," he pointed towards the other, disappearing ferry. "They started shooting at us."

"Where were you, Captain?" Tyne inquired. "How did all of you avoid getting captured?"

"I was down in the harbour with my men and, uhm...well, a little after the bomb went off, a group of City Guardsmen came and told us the Maintainers were arresting everyone. Then all these people started showing up, and we thought it'd be best if got off the island. Must have left just before you did."

Ulam looked at the crowd. It was mostly made up of soldiers, but a few Guildsmen were scattered here and there. Near to where he and the others were standing sat several wounded. Ulam recognized one them.

"Ailem," Ulam said, kneeling down. "You were at the Embassy, what happened?"

Ailem looked up. "I had gone inside to tell Ambassador Henderson and the others about the message my communicator received-"

"From Esel?"

"Right. was in the Henderson's office when...they came at us from multiple directions...Needrah was killed, I saw him shot down. Henderson and the others, I don't know. Myself and a few others managed to get away. We were cut off, and we were able to get down to the harbour."

"Why...what were they after?"

Ailem shook his head. "I have no idea."

"Thank you, Guildsman," Ulam said, standing back up. He walked over to the railing, watching Ae'gura slowly shrink into the distance.
***
Irras had returned to D'ni, somewhat concerned about Esher, for the time Esher had said he was to return was nearly six hours past. To his surprise, there had been a gathering crowd of people in the street outside. Even more surprising was the lack of a Maintainer presence.

Taking a breath, he opened the door and exited out into the street.

Outside, it seemed even more crowded. People crowded around Irras, slowly pushing him towards the middle of the huddle. From all sides came muttered conversations.

Irras tapped the shoulder of the person in front of him. The man turned around.

"Excuse me," Irras said, "what's going on here?"

"Didn't ya hear?" the man replied, "The surface dwellers blew up the Guildhall and tried to take over."

"That's not what I heard," another cut in. "I was told that there was a riot, and the surface dwellers tried to take out the Council in the confusion."

"That's what I just said," the first man replied.

"I also heard," the second retorted, "the surface dwellers are evacuating the Cavern. A friend of mine said he saw a whole crowd of them leaving back through the tunnel."

"Wait," a woman interjected, "if the surface dwellers are leaving, does that mean all the people they arrested are getting released?"

"I suppose..."

"Please," Irras protested, "can someone tell me what's going on? What's happened?"

No one seemed to hear him. As the idea that their imprisoned relatives and loved ones were being released spread through the crowd, the low murmur grew to a buzz.

"Even if they're not going to release them," someone shouted, "we need to make them! Without their hired guns, they're no match for all of us!"

There were shouts of agreement, and some in the crowd began walking. More joined in the movement, and soon the whole crowd headed in the general direction of the harbour.

"This is madness..." Irras muttered to himself, pushing through to get ahead of the growing mob. Coming to the front, he turned to one of the people in the front row. "Listen," he shouted, "none of us know for sure what's going on."

"That's what we want to find out."

"They won't tell us what's going on, even if you fight them, and I remember the last time we tried that-"

"That would've succeeded if it hadn't been for their surface dwellers."

Ahead was the harbour. Several ferries sat in dock, made idle by the recent emergency.

The group began to bunch up as several figures appeared at the harbour entrance. Irras stepped out of the group. He looked at the guards. They wore the burgundy armbands of the Volunteers. Only one was armed.

"Hey, you lot!" the lead Volunteer shouted. "The entire Cavern's on lockdown, didn'cha hear?"

The man Irras had been talking to stepped forward. "Get out the way, man. We want to see if the rumours are true."

"What rumours?"

"I've heard that they're releasing prisoners."

Several people had already grown impatient, and were trying to sneak through the gate. The armed Volunteer fired a shot into the air. "Everybody, just keep back!" he shouted, waving his antique rifle at the crowd.

Despite his threat, the crowd continued to press on the gate. Several had already climbed over the low fence.

Irras stepped forward, pushing through the crowd. He came to the huddled group of Volunteers, their leader still clutching his weapon.

"What d'you want?" the Volunteer demanded.

"Look, these people mean no harm, they're just frustrated with the lack of information that's been coming their way."

"Oh, so you're saying that I should listen to you, rather than my superiors?"

More people jostled past, and there was the sound of diesel engines starting up. The lead Volunteer twisted around. "Stop them!" he shouted to the other Volunteers. They looked at the crowd walking past them, and shrugged.

"Fine," the Volunteer said, "fine. I'll let them go." He watched the last few people walk past and onto the ferries. "Where are the Maintainers?" he shouted as the ferries began to depart.

Irras left the man and ran down along harbour wall, out to the end of the jetty. From that point he could just make out Ae'gura, rising above the lake. He stared at it. The entire island seemed washed out, details obscured by the shroud of smoke hovering around it.

He glanced back at the harbour. It was empty, aside from the small number of Volunteers now milling about.

Where were the Maintainers?

"Esher, what did you do?" Irras said to himself. He shook his head, and began walking back to the harbour gate.
***
The ferry slowly motored through the water, the fading lights City Proper in the distance to the left. The great rock pillar of A'egura was now a dark stump rising above the lake surface, far behind.

In the ferry's wheelhouse, stood Tyne, Bryson, Major Brandeis, and a few other soldiers. Ulam was also in the small room, staring vacantly out one window. A large map had been temporarily pasted over the other window.

Colonel Tyne, red marker in hand, gestured at the map. "So, we're here," she said, marking the ferry's rough location with an X. "Majors Bui and Buntin and Second and Third Companies are here, in the industrial area; Jefferson and Fourth Company in the Tunnel; and Barnardo in A'egura." She circled each location as she mentioned them.

She continued, "With communications down, organising any sort of resistance or evacuation will difficult.

"So, I think it would be best if we headed back to the surface and informed them of the situation. I'm assuming that they have no idea of what's going, so going up there in person is the only solution. Ok?"

There were nods of agreement.

"Ulam?"

Ulam turned. "I agree," he said quietly. "There is not much other choice at the moment. Though," he walked over to the map, "what of the rest of your people, Colonel? Are we to just leave them?"

"Believe me, Ulam we can fend for ourselves," Tyne replied. "As long as the Tunnel remains open, people will be able to get back to the base, no problem."

"How about your men, Ulam?" Bryson inquired.

"My men?" Ulam looked back out the window. "They are the ones causing this! Do you not think that-" he paused. "Colonel, I would like to have a brief word with you, in private."

Tyne nodded to the others, and they filed out of the wheelhouse.

"Colonel," Ulam began, "how can we be sure that going to the surface will help us? Once we are there, then what? What if your leaders are unwilling to send more help? I fear that-"

Tyne cut him off. "Ulam, don't start that, ok? We've got enough problems to worry about without you getting pessimistic on us. Things are bad, yes, but-"

"Bad? Of course they're bad, things couldn't be any worse! How dare you stand there and lecture me on how I should be behaving!" In his rage, Ulam had lapsed to shouting in D'ni.

He continued, "We've spent the last year and a half searching for this Esher, and it turns out he was a nothing; it was our own Guild who betrayed us in the end! There is no way that you can understand..." he paused, his voice breaking.

"No way for any of you to understand..." he turned away, leaning on the window, his eyes wet with tears.

"Ulam?"

Tyne slowly stepped forward, until she stood next to Ulam.

"Hey," she said quietly, "you alright?"

Ulam sniffed, wiping his eyes. He glanced at Tyne, not turning his head. "I...I am sorry...for my outburst, Colonel...I-"

"Ulam, it's ok. You're right, there is no way for any of us to understand what you're going through, but..." she sighed and leaned against the control console, "us arguing or sitting around feeling sorry for ourselves isn't going to accomplish anything. I know how hard this must be for you, but going back to the surface really is our only choice at this point. Alright?"

Ulam nodded, still staring out the window.

Not receiving a response, Tyne turned and walked out of the cabin, leaving the door open behind her.

Ulam stared out the window for a few more seconds, and then too turned and exited the cabin.
***
"Is it safe?" Grand Master Kedri asked in a whisper.

Gadren peeked out the window, the surface of the street level with his eye. "I'm not sure...I can't see anybody."

It was crowded; seemingly hundreds of Guildsmen were pressed together, their normally colourful Guild cloaks all grey in the half light of the basement.

"I can't hear any more gunshots, so I guess the fighting's stopped for now...do you think we should try and escape, Grand Master?"

Kedri stood up. Stepping over a wounded man, he looked out the window himself. "Not all at once, that would be suicide...we'll need to split up."

He turned to the crowd. "Alright, men...the fighting seems to have slowed for the moment. I say we try and escape to the surface-"

"The surface? How are we supposed to get there?" a voice asked, incredulous.

"I don't know," Kedri replied. "But, given the situation, that seems to be the best choice."

"Best choice?" the voice asked again. "How can we just give up like this?"

"What would you want to do, fight?" Me'erta asked from the corner. "Look around you, Grand Master. We're Surveyors, Engineers, Archivists, and Caterers. What chance do we have against the Maintainers?"

"You're still assuming that they're trying to fight us. I still can't bring myself to believe that the Maintainers would so willingly turn against us like this!"

"Imas, use your senses!" Kedri shouted. "Esel has betrayed us! Me'erta saw enough evidence, they had attacked the Embassy, wounded and killed Americans and Guildsmen alike. Me'erta was lucky to escape death, let alone arrest. To them, we are all traitors!"

Imas grumbled quietly, but offered no further protest.

Kedri continued. "We can't all leave here at once. We'll split up, go out in small groups. Someone better tell the men upstairs were evacuating."

"Grand Master," someone said, "what about our families? I know several already evacuated their families to the surface some time ago, but I didn't...my wife and children are off-world..."

"I suppose I can't stop you from caring about them, Guildsman..." Kedri said. "Anyone who wishes to notify friends or family can do so, but..." he paused, glancing out the window again, "...please, be careful, all of you. May Yahvo, the Maker," he added quietly, "guide and protect us all."

Slowly, the gathered Guildsmen dispersed, and left the building in small groups. The basement slowly emptied until only Gadren, Me'erta, and Kedri were left.

Nodding silently, they climbed the stairs back to the first floor, and exited the building.

They walked cautiously down the sloping alleyway, towards the harbour.

After many minutes of slow walking, the path began to level out.

"Wait," Kedri said, holding up a hand.

Shuffling feet could be heard coming down an intersecting alley.

The three men tensed.

From the opposing alley came three American soldiers, their uniforms smeared with dirt and grime.

They stopped, and held up their rifles.

"Who are you?" one asked.

"I am Grand Master Kedri, and these are Guild Masters Me'erta and Gadren. We're Surveyors, so do not shoot us, please."

The soldier lowered his weapon. "Surveyors, eh?" he said, stepping forward. "Do you know a way off the island?"

Kedri nodded. "Follow us. Hopefully there will be a boat or something..."

Still proceeding at a cautious pace, the group resumed their trek towards the harbour.

Coming to a terrace, they were provided with a small panoramic view of the lower island. Below them was the harbour.

"Look," one of the soldiers said, pointing.

Several ferries had docked at piers. People were streaming off the boats, in groups and individually.

Ignoring them, Kedri pointed over to another pier. At it sat a small patrol boat.

"Can we take that?"

"If we are quick about it," Kedri responded, already trotting down the final staircase to the harbour.

Keeping a wary eye on the growing crowd, the group sprinted the last few feet onto the boat.

Not hesitating, Kedri went to the boat's control console, and started the motor.
***
Esher sat slouched in a desk chair in Lemashal's office, staring absent-mindedly at the wall. On a piece of paper he had written three names: Veesha, Hamil, and Irras. Next to Veesha and Hamil's named were little checkmarks.

Veesha's death had been unavoidable, the man had been an idiot. Hamil, too, was now no doubt dead.

He had liked Hamil, though. Esher had put the man down as a coward, but his last act had proved otherwise.

He stared at Irras' name.

Would he, too, be destroyed in the name of justice? Irras, the Commoner?

Esher shook his head. Commoner Irras may be, he was not fool like Veesha had been.

"To hell with it..." Esher muttered, crumpling up the piece of paper.

The office door flung open. On the threshold stood the Guildsman, Gara, breathing heavily.

"Esher," he gasped, "we need you."

"Huh?"

"Get up!" Gara shouted, running over and grabbing Esher roughly by the shoulder. "Just listen!"

"What?"

"There's a whole mob trying to break in, demanding to see the prisoners! If this is your doing, Esher, then-"

"I really don't know what you're talking about, Gara..." Esher said as Gara pushed him out the room.

"Just shut up, Esher! Make them go away or something!"

They came to the grand entry hall. At the far end stood a line of Maintainers, blocking the entryway.

"Why didn't you just shoot them away? That is your method, isn't it?"

"JUST GO AND TALK WITH THEM!"

Esher trotted down the stairs, and sprinted across the hall. He reached the row of Maintainers, craning his neck to see over their backs.

Coming across the courtyard outside was a crowd of people, moving quickly towards the doorway.

"When they come to the door," Esher said, "let them in."

"What? We can't do that-"

"Why not? They're citizens of D'ni, just like yourselves. They have every right to petition their leaders."

"But, sir, they're a mob, they're uncontrollable-"

The crowd reached the chain of Maintainers and pushed against them, shouting incoherently.

"Guildsman!" Esher shouted, "Let them in! They will overwhelm you if you resist, so do not try and fight back. Remember who they are, they are not surface dwellers or off-worlders, they are D'ni!"

The Maintainer glanced back at the crowd. After a few seconds, he ordered his men to stand back. They did so, and the crowd immediately began pouring in.

Some of the mob recognized Esher, and began crowding around him.

"Esher, what are you doing here?"

"Did they arrest you?"

"Where's everyone else? Did they release them?"

"Please, stop for a moment!" Esher shouted. "Now, why are you all here?"

"We've heard that the surface dwellers are gone, and that all the prisoners are being released."

There were more shouts and questions asked, but Esher tried to talk above them.

"It is true," he shouted, "it is true that the surface dwellers are gone, but-" Esher raised his voice even louder before the crowd's cheers could cut him off, "But our people that they wrongfully imprisoned, they are dead."

The mob seemed to roar as one, and began to move. Esher found himself jostled on all sides, caught in the flow of the crowd like a cork.

They moved up the staircase. Esher caught a brief glimpse of Gara's terror-struck face before the mob overwhelmed him.

"Do to them as they've done to us!" a voice shouted.

Esher managed to untangle himself from the swarm, and stumbled into a side room. In the corner cowered Lemashal, Esel, and several other Guild Masters.

"Esher, what in the name of Kerath did you do?" Lemashal demanded.

"It's not what I did," Esher replied slowly, "it's what you did, both you and the surface dwellers."

"What?" Lemashal stood, his face screwed up in anger.

Before he could approach Esher, several members of the mob ran into the office. Shouting, they swarmed the elderly Guildsmen and carried them off. Esher stayed in the room, listening to the shouts of the crowd and diminishing screams of the masters of the Guild of Maintainers.
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#215 User is offline   Gehn, lord of ages 

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Posted 01 December 2010 - 09:16 AM

View PostShinkansen, on Dec 1 2010, 06:30 AM, said:

"I was down in the harbour with my men and, uhm...well, a little after the bomb went off, a group of City Guardsmen came and told us the Maintainers were arresting everyone. Then all these people started showing up, and we thought it'd be best if got off the island. Must have left just before you did."

Quote

"Fine," the Volunteer said, "fine. I'll let them go." He watched the last few people walk past and onto the ferries. "Where are the Maintainers?" he shouted as the ferries began to depart.

Quote

"What would you want to do, fight?" Me'erta asked from the corner. "Look around you, Grand Master. We're Surveyors, Engineers, Archivists, and Caterers. What chance do we have against the Maintainers?"

Wow, people acting sensibly when near armed force. In 200 Years?

Quote

Before he could approach Esher, several members of the mob ran into the office. Shouting, they swarmed the elderly Guildsmen and carried them off. Esher stayed in the room, listening to the shouts of the crowd and diminishing screams of the masters of the Guild of Maintainers.

Oh wait, things back to normal. :D
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#216 User is offline   Andrewnuva199 

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  Posted 01 December 2010 - 02:33 PM

Man, it's still only twenty years since D'ni met the Americans, right? Because this is sure setting up whatever's going to be happening over two centuries of trouble. How far have you planned ahead?
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#217 User is offline   Shinkansen 

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Posted 01 December 2010 - 04:34 PM

View PostAndrewnuva199, on Dec 1 2010, 03:33 PM, said:

Man, it's still only twenty years since D'ni met the Americans, right?

45 years, actually. Chapters one though nine were in 1984-1985. Everything from ten on is around 2030 or so (ten actually starts in mid 2028, I believe).

View PostAndrewnuva199, on Dec 1 2010, 03:33 PM, said:

How far have you planned ahead?

2285.
Though of course, I'm going to skip the 'boring' ie peaceful bits. Once I'm done with this segment, I'm skipping ahead to 2180 or so, and then there's an epilogue that takes place in 2285.

View PostGehn, lord of ages, on Dec 1 2010, 10:16 AM, said:

Oh wait, things back to normal. :D

To be fair, they probably weren't most likely armed.

To be even fairer: what's the difference between 'armed' and 'very very irritated'? :bounce:
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#218 User is offline   Allatwan 

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Posted 01 December 2010 - 04:50 PM

You know what? I'm about as excited when waiting for the following chapters as I am for Christmas...
Click to reveal hidden content
Because I'm asking my aunt to get me the Myst books! :D

And yes, both are exciting- 200 years is one of those rare fanfics that are probably as good as canon pieces ^^
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#219 User is offline   Zenoc2 

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Posted 06 December 2010 - 05:03 PM

Is it possible? It sounds like they're actually making the right decision for once, leaving the cavern.
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#220 User is offline   Shinkansen 

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Posted 07 December 2010 - 05:57 PM

View PostZenoc2, on Dec 6 2010, 06:03 PM, said:

Is it possible?

NO! It's impossible!
No one in this story is allowed to make a correct decision!
ALL MUST BE SORROW AND ERRORS!
SORROW AND ERRORS!!!

Erm...anyway...update next week, perhaps?
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#221 User is offline   Helelix 

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Posted 09 January 2011 - 07:51 AM

Quote

Erm...anyway...update next week, perhaps?

I hope you haven't forgot about all of your avid readers! Update soon please? :P
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#222 User is offline   Shinkansen 

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Posted 25 January 2011 - 10:16 PM

View PostHelelix, on 09 January 2011 - 07:51 AM, said:

Quote

Erm...anyway...update next week, perhaps?

I hope you haven't forgot about all of your avid readers! Update soon please? :p


Thirty-Two

The street had been vacated, yellow caution tape had been strewn between buildings, blocking off the wrecked Army truck away from prying eyes.

Henry Tilden had finally been convinced to leave the scene. He now leaned against a building, watching the various police officers shoo away any who approached the yellow caution tape.

A news crew approached the scene, and they too were rebuffed. They set their camera up a respectable distance away, but still within the camera's range of the cordoned-off street.

Slightly curious, Tilden took a few steps towards the crew.

Seeing Tilden approach, one of the technicians suddenly stepped forward. "Sir, are you volunteering to come forward and answer a few questions for us?" the technician asked politely.

"I, uh...yes. Yes, I am," Tilden replied.

"Step over here," the technician said, pushing Tilden behind the camera. "Okay, I just need you to tell me your name-"

"Brian Maximillian," Tilden said quickly.

"Alright, sir," the technician replied. "Wait here, will you?" He turned to the other members of the news crew, "Hey, here's one who'll talk to us."

"We're on in thirty seconds," the cameraman said.

"Stand here, Mr. Maximillian," the newscaster, a young woman with blonde hair, said to Tilden, pushing him over to just outside the camera's range.

"Ok, when you're ready," one of the technicians said.

The newscaster quickly fixed her hair, and turned to face the camera. "This is Claire Davis," she began, "reporting from Carlsbad, New Mexico, on what may develop into the greatest tragedy this area has seen in many years. Information still remains scarce. Many people, perhaps thirty or forty, have been injured, and information is still too scare to rule out the possibility of anyone being killed. The authorities aren't exactly being forthcoming with their information, but we have found a few witnesses."

The camera turned slightly, and Davis held out her microphone so that Tilden could be heard.

"So, did you happen to see what happened here?"

"Erm, yes. Yes I did," Tilden said.

Davis gestured slightly with the microphone, wanting more.

"Uhh...well, I was out grocery shopping, for food, you know, and, er...I was with my neighbour, and...well, I heard this noise. It was a...hmm, how do you describe it, like a taka taka taka-"

"Machinegun fire?"

"Yes, exactly! Well, anyway, I dove for cover under a car for cover, and saw a army truck, that one over there, we can't see it, but it crashed into a building, and out came all these people in red jumpsuits, and they were shooting, all taka taka taka taka. Then the police came and started shooting back, and it stopped. I stood up, and here we are."

"These men in red, were they escaped prisoners?"

"I would think so, but, uhm...I don't think that they were from any of our prisons. There's an Army base just outside of town, and-"

"They're escaped detainees? There's no record of the Army keeping detainees at any facility in the country."

"I know that!" Tilden snapped. "The thing with this particular Army base is that it's not marked on any maps. Look it up, it's just marked as 'government property', but anyone who's lived here long enough knows there's an Army facility here.

Tilden briefly glanced over his shoulder, and then continued. "You see, about a year ago, I meet this fellow, a guy calling himself 'Esher'. He told me, and I swear this is true, that he was from some place called, if I can remember, Dunny or something..."

Tilden inhaled, and sighed slowly. "I think, that the Army has been interacting with a race of...well aliens," he said slowly. He heard the whirring of the camera's zoom lenses, and felt the stares of the news team. "Here," he finally said, taking out his cellphone. "I've got...some pictures, of some attackers after they got shot by the police." He handed the phone to one of the technicians. "I took pictures of some attackers after they were shot by police. They're dead, obviously, but...I think one should be able tell that they're not quite human. They've got pale eyes, for one, and-"

"Why would the government want to hide the fact that they've contacted people who, for all intensive purposes, are aliens."

"It's what they do. I don't blame them, but I have to fault them for being over-cautious. I don't know what it is the Army and these...'aliens' got up too, but something went sour. A few days back two of these Dunnyians...Dunny people assaulted me, broke into my house, tied me up in my basement, and then set the house on fire, leaving me to burn to death inside!" He sighed.

"You're all reporters, right? You should go over there to that base and see what going on over -"

"Yes, thank you Mr. Maximillian," Davis said.

The camera turned back to focusing on Davis, pushing Tilden out of the frame.

"So should I just...?" he asked quietly.

Davis continued talking into the camera.

Not receiving an answer, Tilden slowly walked down the street, away from the centre of town.
***
Esher paced in Lemashal's office, hands clasped behind his back. Although the screams and sounds of gunfire had ceased, he still dared not leave the office. He was not wearing a Guild uniform, but he did not trust the mob to recognize him for who he was.

Esher stopped at the window, and looked out.

Acrid white smoke drifted in patches in the courtyard below. A few lone indistinct figures strode across the courtyard, but aside from them, there was no movement below.

Also in the courtyard were several dark lumps which Esher could not make out what they were. After a few seconds of staring, Esher realised they were bodies. He turned away, and returned to his pacing.

The office, like all others of senior Guildsmen, was richly decorated. But with papers scattered over the floor and the furniture piled up against the door, the office felt empty, whatever power it had projected was gone.

There was a crunch of glass. Esher looked down. He had stepped on a framed picture, the glass had cracked under the pressure of his foot. He picked it up and examined the picture.

It was of a young man and woman sitting together on a couch. Both were dressed in fine clothes, the man a Guild uniform, the woman in a elaborately embroidered dress. The man resembled the Guild Master Lemashal, the picture was perhaps of his wedding as a young man.

Esher had meet Lemashal not six hours ago, but he found the idea that Lemashal would marry somewhat surprising. From what he understood, Lemashal had been one of the leaders of the radical Fahrah faction.

How could he be both loyal to his convictions, and also to his family?

"What does it matter now?" Esher said to himself, dropping the picture frame, shattering the glass completely. He brushed the remains of the pictures aside with his foot, and resumed his pacing.

There was a knock on the door.

Esher froze.

The knocking continued. A muffled voice called from the other side of the door.

"Esher, Esher, open up, I know you're in there. It's me, Irras!"

Slowly, Esher walked over to the door. He disassembled the pile of furniture he had built, and opened the door.

On the other side stood Irras, dishevelled and sweaty.

"Esher," he said, stepping forward, "what did you do?"

"What?"

"You never came back from delivering your pamphlets, so I Link here, and find the entire City rioting! You must have done something to incite them, I know you, Esher!"

"I did nothing," Esher said quietly. "The people rose up by their own accord, perhaps, seeing the conflict between the surface dwellers and the Guilds, they sensed weak-"

"So that's what they were going on about." Irras said. He sat down on an overturned cabinet, and wiped the sweat off his brow. "A bunch of people back in the City Proper kept asking me if I knew anything about a...an attack by the surface dwellers on the Council or something."

"There has been an attack; another bomb exploded in their Embassy, and the surface dwellers attempted to take over in the confusion. Their coup was stopped, and now they're retreating from the Cavern."

"And those people came here and...?"

"They attacked Guildsmen," Esher replied. "After they swarmed in, I came in here, for protection, and they seemed to have dispersed."

"They're still out there, Esher, roaming the streets. I barely escaped from a group of them. They kept asking me if I was a Volunteer or a Guildsman, they probably would have killed me if that had been the case."

Irras stood back up, and sighed. "You need to do something, lest everything completely fall apart."

"What?"

"I don't know, write a short message or something! Anything!"

"Why? Perhaps we should let things fall apart. 'Things' allowed the situation we're in to develop, perhaps we should let such things be destroyed."

Irras sighed again, rubbing his forehead. "Esher...you..." he paused. "If," he began again, slowly, "if the surface dwellers did attack us, as you said-"

"I'm not lying."

"Yes, yes, if that's what happened, then these people are going after Guildsmen who are loyal D'ni. They're venting their rage at the people who carried out the policies of the surface dwellers, Esher. The surface dwellers are gone, the Guilds are now free to rule D'ni."

"Do you not remember? It is the Guilds themselves who had allowed the surface dwellers to invade us, they willingly carried out their injustices. Is it not prudent that they be removed?"

"What? Esher, how can you SAY that?"

"What would you like me to say, Irras? That with the ones who collaborated with the surface dwellers are welcome to continue acting as they always did? To do so would invite the same tragedy all over again."

Irras stared at Esher, his lips slightly parted in surprise. Slowly, he shook his head. "Would you wish even more death and destruction on us just...just for what you call justice."

"Are you doubting me?" Esher said leaning forward. "After all that has happened, all that we have struggled through together, after all we wrote and preached, you would question that what we do is the right thing?"

"I-I...Esher, it's not...right-"

"Right? None of this 'death and destruction' would have occurred had it not been for the surface dwellers' meddling in our affairs. How many times must that point be made, eh?"

"Esher, just, please," Irras said, lip trembling, "it just is frightening. I am literally fearing for my life now-"

"Stay with me, and I assure you we will both survive for many years to come."

"Forgive me if I have doubts about that statement, Esher."

"Have them, if you so wish." Esher chuckled. "I don't think you'll want to take your chances with the chaos out there."

Before Irras could respond further, Esher pushed him aside and walked through the door. "I need to find a way to get whatever Maintainers there are back here," he said as he exited the room. He disappeared into the hall, leaving Irras in the ruined office.

Irras stood in the room, staring at the wall. He wiped the sweat off his brow. He started for the exit, following Esher's lead, watching only his feet as he, too, left the room.
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#223 User is offline   Zenoc2 

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Posted 26 January 2011 - 03:25 PM

:blink: You just made your story-self look like an idiot on live TV... like any person would in that situation, but still. That was... interesting. I'm sure if that really happened, it would be turned into a song and posted on YouTube in an instant. :p
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#224 User is offline   Shinkansen 

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Posted 26 January 2011 - 10:04 PM

View PostZenoc2, on 26 January 2011 - 03:25 PM, said:

You just made your story-self look like an idiot on live TV...

Hey, I was once actually on live TV, and I made an idiot of myself. I didn't say anything, and I was only onscreen for about an eighth of a second, yet I still managed to make a fool of myself. :p

View PostZenoc2, on 26 January 2011 - 03:25 PM, said:

I'm sure if that really happened, it would be turned into a song and posted on YouTube in an instant. :p

They Burned Down My House: The Super TAKA-TAKA Remix?
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