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Author Topic: Pananagutan -- A Limited-Ongoing Tale  (Read 12387 times)

The Wyrm Ouroboros

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Pananagutan -- A Limited-Ongoing Tale
« on: (23:08:29/10-11-11) »
Manila, 2052.


         "T minus five.  Main ops on final approach.  Support ops confirm.  Over."  The squashed-band transmission of the normally tonal Japanese sounded flat in her ear, the digital compression robbing the speaker on the other end of tell-tale tics and tone.  She didn't need to hear the voice to know who it was, though; the commander's call-sign was appended on her HUD via the gear the mercenaries had loaned her and her associates.  "So we can keep in contact," their quartermaster had said with ill-disguised scorn, contemptuous of the 'special ops' group their mutual employer had saddled them with.   All of the mercs were Japanese and human, and most of them were male; of her seven associates, she was the only female, the only one who professed being from Nihon, and five of her group were metahuman -- scum kawaruhito, lower even than gaijin, and her contaminated by association.  The fact that the op was in the ‘pacification zone’ of Luzon, largest island of the Philippines, made no difference to them; they were Japanese, and so they ruled the world.
         Holding up a finger to her 'teammate', she pointed at herself as the first group, a sniper and his spotter, called in their readiness status.  "Support op two," she thought back in the same language the mercs used, the implanted thought transducer silently sending the signal through her subdermal microphone into the tactical unit, which held the data.  "In place, awaiting engagement.  Over."  The last word signaled the recognition software, which compressed her brief response and sent it through the burst transmitter.  Her nominal teammate, a burly Filipino ork who looked ill-pleased to have to be babysitting the back door and the new girl, allowed a low grunt of understanding to momentarily replace his scowl at her presumption.  In the low rumble of the forest, the sound blended where speech would have not.
         It took another two minutes for the sounds of the laboring trucks that made up the primary operational team to reach them through the jungle.  As they did, she and the ork rose from their waiting positions, seiza and squat respectively, and started to move through the jungle once more.  She was as a wraith, but her companion was better; while her passage silenced wildlife, they treated him as just another creature, to be hunted or hid from or ignored in turn.  The village that was the target of the operation would never have seen him coming.  As it was, the two halted at a distance from the wall that was uncomfortably close for her; she would have expected a place like this to have cut the jungle back some distance from the barrier, but instead it grew almost up to the wall -- inside it, so she might swear.
         In the distance, at T minus 30 seconds, the lead truck coughed, rattled, and died just after coming around the final turn.  Beside her, the ork took cover behind a troll-thick bole, bracing his battered AK-97 against his shoulder and the tree and sighted it in on the panel of the in-set back door, ready for hell to break loose.  As their tac-comms updated the information, his via helmet screen, hers via implanted image link, the second and third trucks took the curve wide, snorting their way towards the gate -- and accelerating.  Behind them, two men dropped from the tailgate and stepped clear, each dropping to one knee and lifting a fat tube to their shoulder.
         One of the gate-guards, already looking alarmed at the two charging trucks, shouted and pointed at the two distant men.  Some of the more reactive guerrillas raised their assault rifles and chattered bullets downrange, even as two columns of flame erupted from the backs of the tubes, the anti-tank missiles throwing themselves at the upper outside corners of the gates.  A couple of guards, more wise, threw themselves off the back of the catwalk, tumbling to the ground in a desperate gamble for a few more minutes of life.
         She rose to her feet as the ATGMs impacted upon the gates' hinges, sending chunks of steel and concrete screaming through the forecourt of the village; she couldn't see the direct results, but she was smart enough to be able to predict it.  Slapping the ork on the shoulder, she sprinted forward; cursing with surprise, he hesitated, then followed, clumsy in comparison to her liquid flow.
         The same moment the second, now lead, truck hit the crazily-dangling gates and smashed them open, she kicked off the ground, off the reinforced-concrete column of the gatepost, and chinned herself momentarily above the level of the greened wood panel.  Beyond, the village closely resembled a kicked-in ant's nest, responding rapidly to the assault at the front gate.  She held there for a moment, dark hair and painted face blending into the twilighting jungle behind her, then twisted back to offer her hand to the approaching ork.  He needed the boost, but only barely, gripping the panel and pulling himself just past eye level over the wood.  After letting him take a quick glance -- and listen to the ferocious gun battle at the gate as far more weapons than were on the 'expected opposition' list engaged the merc team -- she spoke, quickly but concisely, using Tagalog when she could, Japanese when she didn't know the local words.  He stared at her for three precious seconds, astounded at her brutal audacity, then nodded, once.
         With a kick and a heave, they moved over the gate, two against two hundred, to take the enemy from the rear.


Edited for formatting and due to research in the Sixth World Almanac.
« Last Edit: (06:07:12/10-26-11) by The Wyrm Ouroboros »
Pananagutan & End/Line

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Deepeyes

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Re: Pananagutan -- A Limited-Ongoing Tale
« Reply #1 on: (11:50:25/10-20-11) »
Very nice!! When's the next part coming?! ;)

The Wyrm Ouroboros

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Re: Pananagutan -- A Limited-Ongoing Tale
« Reply #2 on: (06:12:36/10-26-11) »
Part 1 edited for formatting and due to research in the Sixth World Almanac.



Seattle, 2073.
Three Weeks Ago.



         Despite her most-public commlink being tucked away in her bag, the 10% opacity of one of the few people trusted with a direct link to her headware address popped up in Suki's image link.  Perhaps a flicker of distraction showed in her eyes as the electronic ghost formed beside her opponent; with a shouted kiai, he sprang forward, upraised sword sweeping down from jodan no kame in a fierce cut to the head; with a huff of breath, she deflected it with a flicking snap of her own blade, drifting a half step backwards, and thought her greeting to the ghost.  "Konnichiwa, Sanchez-sama.  Ogenki desuka?"
         The Japanese man in front of her struck again, switching sides; she pivoted her hips, bringing her sword from left to right while taking the other half of the pace backwards.  Again, the strike; again, she parried, rhythm building between the two, broken only by her assailant choosing to double up on one side of her head or the other.  Once she reached the limit of her ability to retreat, she first parried, then swiftly counterattacked with a fierce strike to her opponent’s skull, stepping forward as she did.  As she had before him, he retreated, blocking each of her advancing strikes with his own weapon.
         As they exchanged blows, she spoke via thought with the electronic ghost of Julie Sanchez, who gave her a very slight smile and spoke in English.  “I am well, Ms. Hashimayatsu.”
         “And Miss Buttercup?”
         “Well also.  Miss Yuri?”
         “Peculiar.  She has stated she likes, as she calls it, ‘exciting music’.”
         “‘Exciting music’??”
         “Her exact words.  Mostly ork and troll thrash metal, from what I can tell.”
         “Oh dear.”
         A sharp snap of sound and held block signaled her opponent’s own limit-of-retreat; once more Suki began backing away as she blocked, the Japanese man testing her high and low guards on either side.  The ghost, self-muted, spoke momentarily to someone in the distant office before returning.
         “Miss Buttercup requests Miss Yuri be guided towards less violent music, Ms. Hashimayatsu.”
         “Please tell Miss Buttercup I will endeavor to do so.  Is my daughter well?”
         “Excellent, in fact.  Her internship continues most promisingly, and she shows a particular aptitude for the binding and banishing of spirits.”
         This caused Suki to pause in the block at her uttermost retreat for a heartbeat longer; showing an aptitude for spirit-control while amongst several powerful free spirits could be a swift road to immolation.  Her opponent, moving like a cobra, snapped a strike at her head.  Blocking it reflexively, she returned the favor of exercising his quarters, pressing forward with each strike.
         “I hope this is not proving to be a problem, Miss Sanchez.”
         “Of course not, Ms. Hashimayatsu.  She is a valuable member of our team, and her other skills are coming along quite nicely.  Though she has asked that you not be told until she can speak to you in person, she has in fact spoken of a possible religious calling.”
         Thinking about this while her body took care of her rhythmic strikes, Suki pondered her twenty-two-year-old daughter’s pursuit of the Shinto tradition of magic.  It was traditional, and in many ways it would allow her to fit in almost anywhere in the world where there were Japanese people.  “I thank you for the information, Miss Sanchez.  Please tell her I hope to speak to her tonight.”
         “Tonight may be somewhat difficult for you, Ms. Hashimayatsu.”
         “Why would that be?”
         “I expect you will be in the air, and Philippine Airlines’ HSCTs are old.  Even your multitasking capacity must be challenged by erratic linkages and irritated contacts.”  Meaning they weren’t likely to have been upgraded to full modern capability.  A flickering icon floating over Julie’s head indicated a message and info-bundle waiting for her in storage; though she didn’t let her eyes flicker over it, a mental toggle banished the icon until she could deal with it.
         “Thank you for the call, Ms. Sanchez.  Please let Riian know I will speak with her as soon as I can.”
         As the 10% opacity ghost vanished, she committed herself to a very low block.  An error, perhaps one she could recover from -- and then the Japanese man’s wrists flexed.  The edge of her opponent’s blade slid along the block and swept upwards, speed and power undiminished, for her throat.
« Last Edit: (02:29:17/11-14-11) by The Wyrm Ouroboros »
Pananagutan & End/Line

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The Wyrm Ouroboros

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Re: Pananagutan -- A Limited-Ongoing Tale
« Reply #3 on: (19:14:12/11-07-11) »
Philippines, 2052.
2 Weeks Earlier.


          “Ang matugunan ay nakatakda para sa siyam na,” said the solid, authoritative dwarf in Tagalog to the rest of his team of six; “The meet is set for nine.”  He gave the new girl -- definitely a girl, not a woman -- a glance that carried a wealth of contempt and derision, not bothering to translate into Japanese or Spanish for her.  If she wanted to know what was being said, then she’d have to learn the language; it was obvious just from the lack of stains that her SecureTech jacket was a recent purchase, no matter how broken-in her katana hilt was.  What was even worse was the fact that the young twenty-something Japanese girl was half-cloaked with a blanket, an infant tucked under and (from the sound of it) actually nursing.  He was offended on half a dozen levels.
          ‘The new girl’ glanced at two of the others -- the robust young ork Aswang, ‘Ghost’, sitting there with his arms crossed and bracing the wall, and the lean human shaman Pating, ‘Shark’, lounging arrogantly across one of the couches -- then gave a slight nod.  When she responded, her accent had the slightly haughty sound of someone who’d been chip-taught instead of in person by a native -- though it sounded like it was a good chip.  “Ako doon,” she said -- ‘I’ll be there.’
          The dwarf, known as Mahirap or ‘Hard’, gritted his teeth.  Damn Uri for dumping this newbie Japanese dulo on him; who cared if Shiawase was hunting her and her baby?  Well, the Kind Man had his reasons, but he couldn’t see what this lean little thing was about.  He continued in Tagalog, giving the location to the group and fortunately not needing to tell them who should be where.  He paused, then said to her in crude Japanese, “You.  What we call you?”
          She paused, clearly thinking about all her digital lessons, then said, “Talim,” the Tagalog word for ‘blade’.
          He grunted.  “Talim,” he repeated, then continued in Tagalog.  “Fine.  You’re with me.”
          Her eyebrows went up, but she nodded.
          “And leave the baby at home.”
          “Yes sir.”

          ---

          That night at the nightclub in Manila that was the meet location, Mahirap and Talim passed over their weapons at the door (her a short wakizashi blade and an old Seco LD-120 pistol, him a battered carbine-frame AK-86, a Colt Manhunter, and a combat knife) and made their way through the club, their target the door to which the doorman sent them.  There, two wrestler-looking Japanese bodyguards stopped him and the girl (without baby, thank the spirits) as they stepped forward.  “Your name,” one snarled in Japanese, shoving his knee against the dwarf’s chest, “or shove off, kawaru gaijin scum.”  Thunderclouds filled Mahirap’s face and he moved, gripping the back of the knee against his belly and punching down and sideways against the bodyguard’s other knee.  He felt more than saw the newbie shift as well; holding onto the leg, he levered the bodyguard to the floor and, with a twist of his foot, kept him there.
          A glance sideways at the girl showed her pressing her hand against ‘her’ guard’s chest; he in turn was looking down at her, nostrils slightly flared and an expression of offense on his face.  A longer look at her hand resolved into it holding a lean pistol that the weapon scan at the door really should have caught, pointed directly up towards the human’s throat.  She glanced at Mahirap, and he nodded for her to go ahead.
          “We,” she said in excruciatingly polite Japanese, “are the party your employer awaits.  We apologize for the pain your partner has and may be experiencing, but rudeness is inelegant.  And violence is unacceptable.”
          The guard made a slight gesture of his head back towards the door at his back; Talim nodded, and put the pistol away under her too-new jacket with a smooth assuredness that surprised Mahirap.  No doubt, it was that same rapidity that got the weapon out quickly enough to forestall the bodyguard.  The stocky human knocked on the door and opened it.  “The people you are expecting, sir,” he said in a calm professional voice.
          “Let them in.”
          The guard nodded to Talim, then to Mahirap; the dwarf grunted, and let go the other guard’s foot with a warning twist that stressed his ligaments without giving a lot of pain; if he tried to do anything else nasty tonight, he’d find the leg giving out on him.  The Japanese girl had preceeded him into the room, looking around swiftly but not hastily; by the time he dropped the guard’s foot, she was turning towards him, giving him a bodyguard’s nod, though she already seemed twice as tense as outside.  With a grunt, he entered past her, and heard her closing the door behind him.
          The table inside was occupied by the expected G. Salaysay -- ‘Mr. Tell’, for someone who would tell people what he wanted and expect them to do it for a pittance -- who turned out to be a middle-aged Japanese man in a Western-style pinstripe business suit.  Behind him against the wall stood another bodyguard, this one looking much more competent than the tripwires in front of the door.  Mahirap lifted himself into his chair, eyeing the lean muscle standing against the wall for a moment more before turning his attention to the corporate employer; beside him, Talim sat down as well, folding her hands in her lap.
          The Salaysay immediately started speaking in Japanese, and from the look on his face, he didn’t care if Mahirap could understand him.  Oh, he could, but not very well, and not easily at the rate he was going on.  The dwarf could feel his expression tightening, the thunder rising; this anak sa labas was at least as bad as the offensive thug out front.  Shoving his presumed superiority just at being Japanese in Mahirap’s face, not even bothering trying
          “Ginoo Salaysay,” said Talim when the Japanese bastard paused as if for a reply, turning her head towards him as though she’d been hired specifically to do this, “does us the honor of bringing to us a request for our assistance in reinforcing a small mercenary strike force during an operation.  We would be staging out of Alfonso Castañeda, east of Pantabangan Lake.”
          The Japanese girl’s courtesy surprised a grunt from him before he thought about it.  Pantabangan Lake wasn’t too far from San Jose City, and he knew a couple of people there.  “We’re capable,” he replied.  “What sort of support is he looking for?”
          Talim turned back and spoke in Japanese to the Salaysay, the two of them exchanging words for a few moments.  Oh, he understood about one in ten -- enough to get an idea of what was going on, anyhow.  The Salaysay was talking about specialists -- mage, sniper, scout, that sort of thing, just the sorts you’d expect a group of soldiers might maybe need in the middle of the deep green.  The word ‘firebase’ was another.  Oh, and ‘nuyen’; he understood that word just fine.  Finally, Talim turned to him again.
          “Ginoo Salaysay asks for two sniper teams, one line mage and one in support, a drone rigger if possible, and as many scouts familiar with the jungle as possible.  The mission is to eliminate a terrorist firebase in the mountains, fifteen kilometers generally northwards of Alfonso Castañeda.  Estimated time of completion is three weeks.  He offers one hundred fifty thousand nuyen, to be divided as you see fit, with ten percent now, twenty percent upon departure from Alfonso Castañeda, and the balance on mission completion.”  The girl had plenty of self-control, but a hint of irritation had crept into Tagalog.
          He could see where the irritation came from.  The raw amount was generous for a crew of his size.  Each of them would net over fifteen thousand with another plus-fifteen going to group expenses; that was a serious amount of cash for most of them.  But for three weeks in the boondocks -- four, probably -- it was less eight hundred a day, with serious risk to all of them.  Besides, the base was likely to be one of the Huk’s, and most of his people had Huk leanings, if not outright links.  Hell, he had Huk contacts that wouldn’t like him if they knew he was doing this.
          Which meant either he needed them to not know, or else he needed to tell them that some bad juju was about to go down fifteen klicks north of Alfonso Castañeda...
          After a moment of thinking, he decided, “Tell him two twenty-five will get our co-operation.  We can give him one sniper team, the two mages he’s asking for, and two scout teams.  We could get a rigger in there, but the only thing that’d be coming out would be the man himself, and then G. Salaysay would be paying for the drones to boot, and I doubt he wants that.  One third now, one third at Alfonso Castañeda, the last third in third-party escrow.”
          The Japanese female inclined her head and shoulders -- that was a bow, wasn’t it?  It was then that he realized then that there was something troubling him about the girl, even as she turned to negotiate with the Salaysay.  He thought about it, watching the man on the other side of the table, listening to the two rattle back and forth with growing intensity until Talim spoke at his side again.  “He offers two hundred plus a recent-model three-axle transport,” she informed him.  Three-axle; deuce and a half territory, that was, and pretty good, even if G. Salaysay was likely to turn over a beat-up one out of his own corp’s pocket.  “He agrees to your payment schedule.”
          Mahirap nodded.  “Good.  I like a reasonable man.  Get the contact information and when he wants us in Alfonso Castañeda.”
          Talim gave him another of those shoulder-bows and, turning, supplied another to G. Salaysay.  Japanese, and then a datachip and three credsticks went from male Japanese to female.  Seeing that, Mahirap grunted, then shifted to slide off the too-big chair.  “See you,” he said casually to the Salaysay, and sauntered towards the door.  With a fluidity he associated only with elves and those with their joints all lubed up, Talim was there ahead of him, opening the door and keeping watch on the whipcord bodyguard inside.

          ---

          Outside the club, walking down the street, Mahirap finally nailed it down, and spoke on it immediately.  “You’re an elf, aren’t you.”
          “Yes, Mahirap.”  Her voice was controlled, but there was a nervous tremor to it.
          “Why aren’t you on Yomi?”
          “I look enough like a human to be acceptable, Mahirap.”
          “Your baby?”
          “Clearly elven, sir.”
          “The father?”
          “Didn’t want an elf baby, sir.”
          “Stop calling me sir.”
          “Yes, sir.”
          Mahirap shook his head, stumping into an alley laced with clotheslines, most of them with clothes on them.  “That why you’re here?”
          “Yes, Mahirap.”
          “Right.  Why’d you tighten up when we went through the door?”
          “I recognized the bodyguard inside, sir.”
          He let that stretch for a moment.  “Going to be a problem?”
          “I hope not, sir.  He is extremely competent.”
          Mahirap grunted, and led the way through a hovel that was busy housing a six-person family when it wasn’t thinking seriously about collapsing.  “You’ll have to tell me about him.”
          “Yes, sir.”
          "And about that pistol."
« Last Edit: (01:48:15/11-12-11) by The Wyrm Ouroboros »
Pananagutan & End/Line

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"Oh, gee - it's Go-Frag-Yourself-O'Clock."
New Wyrm!! Now with Twice the Bastard!!

Laés is ... I forget. -PiXeL01
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rasmusnicolaj

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Re: Pananagutan -- A Limited-Ongoing Tale
« Reply #4 on: (03:43:45/11-08-11) »
I like your characters. Cool story  :)

Rasmus
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The Wyrm Ouroboros

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Re: Pananagutan -- A Limited-Ongoing Tale
« Reply #5 on: (02:28:21/11-14-11) »
Seattle, 2073.
Three Weeks Ago.


          The bokken froze precisely as it touched her throat; she and her opponent held in place for one heartbeat, then another, before separating and straightening up.  She bowed, low from the waist, a bow which he returned precisely.  He being Nanadan, it being his dojo, the bow drew a deep sussuration of amazement from the twinned rows of students, swiftly stifled as the two straightened up.  With self-effacing quietude, Suki took a step backwards, then three to her right, turning precisely before moving back enough to be over the line of the practice area -- what western-style olympic fencers might call ‘the lane’ -- before settling into seiza, bokken held by her hip within her left hand.
          Her opponent turned to his assembled students, some sixty individuals of various gender, metatype, and most important, skill.  “What,” he asked generally, “did she do wrong?”  Holding his own bokken very much like his recent opponent (though less precisely), he pointed to the newest of his advanced students.
          “She blocked too low,” came the reply.
          “Correct..”  The sensei pointed to the next.
          “Her right foot was too wide.”
          “Her hips were too far forward.”
          “Her timing was growing erratic,” came the response of a student several correct answers later; a more advanced student, he knew that sensei wanted analysis of the entire encounter, not just the last moments.
          “Her grip on her bokken was wrong.”
          “Her blocks were too vigorous.”
          “She was not direct enough in her paces.”
          “She did not have enough zanshin,” the late-twenties Japanese male human stated emphatically a dozen more answers afterwards; several of his fellow students on either side were unable to control at least a minimal roll of their eyes; clearly, ‘not enough intent’ was the go-to phrase for the man.  Even the sensei paused for a moment before giving a brusque nod and pointing at the next in line.
          Suki’s lips twitched.
          “All correct,” stated the master of the dojo after the last of his advanced students had spoken of an error in her form, walking slowly back up along the line.  “The rest of you -- any thoughts?”
          Towards the end at which the master had begun, a girl’s hand lifted tentatively.  “Kira. Yes?”
          The girl looked the dozen yards over towards Suki.  Her voice giving the same uncertainty showing on her face, she offered diffidently, “She was distracted.  And she was holding back.”
          This pair of suggestions caused more unrest among the assembled students as the bow and the zanshin comment combined.  The sensei, however, lifted his eyebrows, then turned to regard Suki.
          “Suki.”
          Suki bowed, this time all the way to the mat.  “Isamu-sensei.”
          “Were you holding back?”
          Suki’s lips twitched again.  “Yes, Isamu-sensei.”
          “And were you distracted?”
          “Yes, Isamu-sensei.”
          “Did I not tell you to leave your commlink in your locker?”
          “I cannot remove the implant, Isamu-sensei, and certain calls I cannot refuse.”  More uneasy shifting among the students; Isamu-sensei was quite firm about distractions in the dojo.  Besides, an implanted commlink cost a pretty sizeable chunk of cash, and though half the students were corporate, the simple fact was that only one or two might have had the means to implant a commlink -- or that they were important enough that their corporation would have retained control over its activation.
          Isamu regarded her for several long seconds, long enough for her to bow herself to the mat again.  He appeared to consider that a suitable apology, and stated, “Again.  Do not be distracted.”
          She rose, assuming position opposite him, and settled once again into low guard, both hands upon the hilt of the bokken as he assumed high guard.
          With a shouted kiai, he sprang forward, sword sweeping down from jodan no kame in a fierce cut to the head; with a huff of breath, she deflected it with a flicking snap of her own blade, drifting a half step backwards.

          ---

          As before, she committed herself to the very low block.  As before, Isamu-sensei’s wrists flexed, sliding his blade over the block and sweeping it upwards with speed and power, straight for her throat, where it froze precisely upon touching it.  Suki and Isamu held in place for one heartbeat, then another, before separating and straightening up.  Again she bowed low from the waist, a bow which he returned precisely before straightening and turning to his students as she returned to her resting position.  “Again -- what did she do wrong?”
          This time he did not select any specific individual; almost all of the students were staring at Suki as she settled primly back into place.  Each of her movements had been precisely the same as the previous; Isamu had picked up on it almost immediately, and had done the same.
          “She did not have enough zanshin,” the same Japanese male asserted vociferously, a certain belligerence on his face.  The look in his eye as not only his fellow students but his sensei looked at him suggested that he was becoming aware that that answer was not going to be tolerated for much longer -- but this wasn’t going to stop him from putting this young Japanese woman in her place.
          But once more, Isamu simply gave him a long look, long enough for the rest of the students to turn their attention back to him, then ordered, “Hibiki, you will be permitted to be her next opponent, so that you may illustrate the point of today’s lesson.  Get armored up.  Nash, Bug, help him.”
          The lips of the late-twenties human tightened slightly; Suki could see the corners of his mouth turn upwards just a touch as he bowed.  “Yes, sensei!”  Surging to his feet, he stepped back out of his line and headed towards the alcove where the bogu were kept, even as the two other students named bowed, rose, and followed to help.
          She made a mental point to ensure he would regret that arrogant enthusiasm tomorrow.
          “Anyone else?”  Isamu looked at the rest of the students, waiting for a moment as nobody volunteered a thought before singling out the girl who had spoken before.  “Kira.  What do you think?  Was she distracted?  Holding back?”
          The girl hesitated, then gave a credible bow.  “Holding back, sensei.  I don’t think she was distracted, this time.”  She eyed Suki warily; the Japanese woman’s lips flowed into a full smile, and she gave the girl a respectful bow of her head in reward and recognition for her perceptiveness.
          “Very good.  Suki!”
          She bowed again, though not so low this time.  “Yes, Isamu-sensei.”
          “Were you holding back?”
          “Yes, Isamu-sensei.”
          “And were you distracted?”
          “Not as such, Isamu-sensei.”
          Isamu gave a snort of amusement, then turned back to his students.  “Distraction is death.  Within these walls, where we pursue the philosophy and pure art of the sword, distraction is death to the growth of learning and comprehension, to the growth of your art with the blade.  Outside the walls, distraction may well be death to you.  Remaining aware even while you are distracted is something to be assiduously studied.  A point in favor of this: Suki.”
          “Yes, Isamu-sensei.”
          “Again.  Cleanly, this time.”
          “Yes, Isamu-sensei.”
          She rose, assuming position opposite him, and settled for the third time into low guard.  This time both her hands gripped the hilt of her bokken with the slight differences that made right from wrong; Isamu again assumed high guard.
          With a shouted kiai, he sprang forward, sword sweeping down from jodan no kame in a fierce cut to the head; this time, her deflection was accompanied by a bare puff of breath, a light tap of her blade guiding his to the side as she paced backwards, the legs of her hakama rippling, ready for his follow-up -- which this time came at speed much faster than the first two.

          ---

          The block she committed the third time was still low; it remained the block necessary to conclude the exercise pattern.  Again, Isamu’s wrists flexed, sliding his blade over the block and bringing it to touch her throat, freezing into the tableau once more before the two separated, straightened, and exchanged bows.  The entire sequence had taken half the time of the others.
          “Thank you, Suki.  For the benefit of my students; the first time, were your errors intentional?”
          She smiled.  “Yes, Isamu-sensei.  If I may?” she added, with a slight sideways nod of her head towards the two rows of students; he gestured for her to speak, stepping back in his turn into waiting in seiza.  Turning to face the threescore, she let her gaze draw over the assembled students, knowing that Isamu’s most advanced ones were not among their company.  “Isamu-sensei and I agreed that I would commit errors, many of which were seen by the advanced students here.  The two errors that were the basis for the others, however, were discovered by this young woman.”
          “Kira.”  She again gave a head-bow to the girl, who was starting to be nervous about being singled out so frequently.  “Was I holding back this time?”
          After a long moment’s hesitation, she replied in a subdued voice, “I think so …”
          Suki nodded.  “Very good.  I was.”
          This admission caused a widespread murmur of disbelief, which Suki waited through.  “Yes,” she again stated, “I was.  And this time Hibiki-sama would still have been correct; I did not have enough zanshin.  However, this lesson is on practical swordsmanship; here Mr. Hibiki comes to help me demonstrate that what does not have enough zanshin can still kill you.”  She turned towards the alcove, stepping back to take Isamu’s place while Hibiki bowed at the edge of the mat, then at the edge of the court before stepping forward and lifting his shinai into middle guard.
          “Bug,” said Isamu in a firm voice.  The student, a short ork, bowed his respect.  “Exchange their weapons.”
          His eyes wide, the ork took the bamboo sword from his fellow student and brought it to Suki, exchanging it for her wooden one and bringing the bokken back to Hibiki.  Then he and Nash settled at the prescribed safe distance from the edge.
          Hibiki, clad in full bogu armor, lifted the wooden blade above his head.  Suki readjusted her obi, having thrust the shinai through the belt, then settled her hands to either side of its knot, her hakama covering but not concealing the casual ease of her stance.
          From the side came the voice of Isamu-sensei, giving final instructions.  “This lesson is on street rules and practicalities; the foremost rule on the street is survival.  All rules of the dojo are suspended, except that you will not step outside the court line, nor push your opponent into doing so.  This match is blood and bone; it will not end until blood is drawn or bone is broken.  There will be no yield accepted.  Do you understand?”
          “Hai!!”  Hibiki, vigorous, stern, determined to give this girl a thorough thrashing, armed with the superior blade, armored.
          “Sure.”  Suki, quiet, casual, throwing her attitude down like a gauntlet, her practice weapon not even out, at her ease in her gi.
          A moment of silence.  The students watch, tense with uncertain anticipation.
          “Hajime!!


A few notes on language:
  • Nidan: 2nd dan black belt in Kendo.
  • Nanadan: 7th dan black belt in Kendo.
  • bokken: wooden practice sword, used usually in solo form practice (katas) or with very trained (or sadistic) practitioners.
  • shinai: bamboo practice sword, used full-speed and -strength, often when armored.
  • bogu: Kendo armor, covering most of the front of the body.
  • hakama: loose black pants, covering gi bottoms.  If you don't know what a gi is ...
  • zanshin: 'intent', which includes situational awareness.
  • seiza: traditional Japanese martial art 'rest' position; kneeling, hands across (not down) your thighs, sitting on your heels.
  • jodan no kame: a high guard in Kendo.
  • Hajime: contest command: 'Begin!'

Edited for clarity and story issues.
« Last Edit: (22:30:10/11-19-11) by The Wyrm Ouroboros »
Pananagutan & End/Line

Old As McBean, Twice As Mean
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Laés is ... I forget. -PiXeL01
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The Wyrm Ouroboros

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Re: Pananagutan -- A Limited-Ongoing Tale
« Reply #6 on: (00:55:57/12-01-11) »
Philippines, 2052.
2 Weeks Earlier.


          I sat uncomfortably in the midst of the rest of the team.  Have you ever been there?  The only person who doesn’t fit in?  And it isn’t like it was just that I was Japanese, and I was surrounded by Filipinos and kawaru sent to Lagu-Lagu and who’d escaped.  It wasn’t that I was human, because I wasn’t, but maybe that was a part of it; I looked it, and that lack of appearing kawaru kept me     that hellhole they sent Japanese ... metahumans ... to.
          Metahumans; I have to get used to calling them that instead of kawaru -- changed.  These days, those who get sent aren’t usually changed, they’re born that way.
          But still, I didn’t fit in.  I know you don’t know me, but think of yourself in my place -- Japanese, so human-looking for an elf that my parents were allowed to keep me and raise me and even enter me into the usual corporate school.  Shiawase, Shiawase, our family, our home ... I still sing it under my breath when I brush my teeth.  It was my life until only months before, when … well.
          Anyhow.
          Best not to dwell on the past, right?
          Where was I?  Oh yes -- Mahirap’s team.  Mahirap, dwarf, hard and stolid, patient as the stones, with ruthless violence in every fiber of his being.  Lawin, his spotter, flying his trucks and bikes and drones just like the hawk the ork was named after.  Pating, so quiet, never saying anything but what is to the point, and smiling, always smiling, ever more viciously in the middle of a fight.  Palakol, almost the Shark shaman’s polar opposite, a Japanese troll as kind and gentle as you could believe of any born healer -- but you didn’t want her irate at you, otherwise the Shinto non-priestess mage would unlimber the naginata they named her for, calling it an axe.
          Suno and Yelo, fire and ice, ork and human, sister and brother -- twins.  She a decker and the team’s demolition girl, liable to go off about the Japanese, the corporations, rape of the countryside, toxic shamans, or the elven conspiracy; he an experimental subject of the corporations, detached, twitchy, by need extraordinarily self-controlled and fulfilling the ‘street samurai’ archetype by always limiting approaches to himself.  Aswang ... ork, adept, powerful, magnetic.  A predator as much as Pating, he had a quiet intensity that frightened me.  For many reasons.  And me ...
          Well, you know me.
          But do you see what I mean?  I’d gotten Riian back from her babysitter -- Suno and Yelo’s sister -- and was feeding her, and, well, that wasn’t going over well with anyone but Lawin and Aswang.  (Should have expected that.)  Mahirap was, I don’t know, still ... simmering.  You know how people are when they’re sitting there getting upset at you, just watching you, and you’re waiting for them to go off?  Maybe for you it’s your boss.  Or your boyfriend.  Or your husband, or parent, somebody who has an enormous influence on your life.  And he’s just staring at me, hard, just like his name.  And Riian’s nursing, and ... I’ve never been comfortable at interviews, on either side.  And this one was ... well, hostile.  So finally he speaks, and it's like an earthquake, shaking up my world.  Again.
          "Take your pick, Talim.  Gun or guy."  It wasn't like that in Tagalog, but it's as close as I can come in English, and my Tagalog is -- well, was at the time -- very academic.
          I couldn't make up my mind, but I guess my body decided for me, because I pulled out one of my pistols out of my shoulder holsters and placed it on the coffee table in front of me.  "It's a Springfield design," I said quietly after staring at the gun for a minute, just like the rest of the team was.  "All of it.  Most of the weapon itself is what they called a squashed composite, a carbon-fiber weave fused into an aluminoceramic, invisible to MAD detectors, incredibly durable, usable in extreme combat conditions -- as a hand-to-hand weapon, too.  Slim profile, silenced -- virtually no recoil, even with the special rounds.  Rangefinding smartlink, but it was upgraded ... a couple months before I left, with a lockout function.  Eighteen plus one rounds of ten millimeter caseless.
          "The bullets I have for it are made of the same stuff as the weapon -- excellent armor penetration, even vehicular.  They're very good at, um, what we called 'pest removal' -- killing drones."  I glanced at Lawin a little guiltily.  "Sorry."
          He waved it away, looking amused at my discomfort.  "As long as we're on the same side, Talim, you don't have to worry about that, right?"
          I didn't miss his use of the word 'you'.  I shifted a little, still nervous, looking back at Mahirap.  "I don't like using them, though.  They have too much penetration, and the shoot-through danger is very high.  I tend to use, er, chemical rounds.  DMSO and, um, a fast-acting paralytic." 
          Lawin started to laugh, while Suno groaned her contempt.  "Come on, little girl, we're not going out to play patty-cake with people.  If we sneak, oh, that's dandy, but when it comes down to the knife's edge, you have to hit fast and you have to hit hard."
          "Oh, now, that's not true, Suno --"
          "Don't you start on me, Palakol --"
          "Hey, at least she has options --"  (That was Lawin.)
          "Shut up."  Mahirap stared at me for a long minute that felt like a year while I calmed Riian down, then he glanced at smiling Pating.  He gestured with his chin towards the shaman.  Of course; Pating, even more than Aswang or Yelo or even Mahirap himself, was all about efficiency in a fight.
          "How fast is this chemical?"
          I hesitated, trying to remember the specs.  "Two, two and a half seconds?" I said, uncertainty in my voice.  (I'm still ashamed of that.)  "Sometimes a little faster, rarely a little slower.  I've heard of some people that are immune, but ..."  I gave a little shrug.  "I've never met any.  And ..."  I inhaled slowly, not wanting to disturb Riian and said, "It doesn't exactly shoot through armor, but at firearm speeds the liquid will go right through ballistic cloth and make contact with the skin.  Impact-resistant shells are a little better, but the smartlink helps to shoot for their edges; even a quarter-dose is enough to take down, well ..." I gestured at Palakol's massive size, big even for a troll.
          Pating kept staring at me for a moment, then turned his even-wider grin on Mahirap.  "I like.  Where can I get some?"
          The dwarf snorted, still watching me and my infant.  (I sure hope adrenaline doesn't get into breast milk.)  "Did you bring enough for everyone?" he asked, then waved away what I was going to say even as I opened up my mouth.  I'm glad he did; I, um, I wasn't sure what ... I hope he was talking about bullets.
          I'm blushing just thinking about that.
          "The Seco?" Mahirap asked.
          "Decoy, sir.  Nobody would walk around unarmed, so ..."
          "Where'd they come from?"  Yelo, clinically curious.
          "I used to work for Shiawase," I said, trying to stay vague.
          "Oh, the 'let the power plant nuke the countryside until it glows, then use the radiation-poisoned everything to power the plant' people?"  I can't say I didn't flinch just a little from Suno's vituperation.  "Or is it the 'build a mobile underwater mining platform and dump the heavy-metal spoil behind us so that it kills all the fish' people?  Or maybe the --"  She shut up with a 'bah!' and a spit to the side when Yelo reached out to touch his twin's arm.
          "What part?" asked Yelo, cool.
          Again I hesitated, glancing around at the rest of the people; Mahirap sitting in judgement, Palakol carefully winding up a gauze bandaging roll, Pating watching me with a grin like he'd eat me if I gave the wrong answer.  Aswang glanced away from the alley down the hall to look over at me, and the look in his expression was ... I don't know if I can explain it right.  Neutral supportive?  He looked interested in the answer, but not like whatever I'd say would cause him to tear out my throat right then and there, you know?  Like it mattered, but it didn't matter.  It was just a point of information.
          "Personnel protective services," I told him, even though he was back to keeping watch, looking down the hall and out at the rag-football game two dozen grimy kids were playing.  "So far as I know, they're the only ones the gun is given to; Springfield is a wholly-owned subsidiary, and all the parts and techniques were developed in-house.  I was assigned to Hitomi Shiawase.  For two years.  She's a good little girl," I added, looking over at Suno with, I guess, a certain amount of defiance, "no matter what Sadato-san or Tadeshi-san or the rest of her family do.  She's only eight."
          "You don't strike me as a bodyguard," Palakol mused, tucking the end of the bandage into the wrap, then carefully inserting it into its place in her medkit.
          "Tend to be big and bulky," Lawin agreed.
          "Bullet magnets," noted Pating.
          "Sniper bait," suggested Lawin.
          "Target practice," offered Pating.
          "Trolls.  No offense, Pala," added Lawin.
          "None taken," the healer replied with equanimity.  "Many of them are.  Well?"  She looked at me over the woefully tiny glasses she had to use for close work; far-sighted, which is okay for a mage, bad for a healer, and fixable anywhere but in the middle of this sort of poverty.
          "Sadato-san wanted someone who blended in," I admitted.  "And someone who could get her away from trouble, not wipe trouble out."
          "Which is where you saw this bodyguard of Ginoo Salaysay's?" asked Mahirap, moving me to the next point.
I couldn't help it; I bowed, or as much as you can when you're nursing a three-month-old.  "No, sir."  (A snort from Suno.)  "I recognize him from before my training."  Mahirap made the universal finger-rolling-forward gesture for 'keep it rolling, keep it moving, keep talking', so I did.
          "I was in the Shiawase Junior Athletic Championships when I was fourteen -- kendo.  All the sports had guest star judges for the final rounds; usually they did some sort of exhibition before the final contests.  Mine was Senior Lieutenant Hattori Takezo -- he'd been four-time Inter-Corporate Junior Athletic kendo champion, went into Tsunami's OCS right out of secondary school.  I was amazed at his skill when he performed his katas; every one of us in the competition was.
          "That was him, at the meet.  The bodyguard.  By his shoulder flash, he's made Major.  He's probably commander of the mercenary team we've been hired to assist."
          After a thoughtful silence, Aswang asked, "Do you think he recognized you?"
          "I don't know," I admitted.  "I came in third that year.  He wasn't a judge the year after, and then I was assigned to personnel protective services, which made me ineligible to participate.  It's been almost a decade."
          "Must have made quite the impression on you, then," suggested Palakol.
          "Yes, ma'am."  I blushed.  "He was handsome and very skilled, I was young and impressionable and wanting to get that good."
          "How good are you then, huh, swooner?"  Suno never gave anyone a break, I swear.
          "I was awarded my second-degree black belt, Nidan, before I entered PPS.  It was indicated by my instructors upon graduation that though I might want to continue, my technique may have suffered due to my other training -- that I wouldn't be able to restrain myself to pure kendo form.  So I never tested for a higher degree."
          "Doesn't answer the question, girlie."
          I looked up at her with fire in my heart and ice in my eyes.  "Right now, the only reason you are not unconscious or dead for your kawalang-hiyaan is because I respect Mahirap for taking me on.  Only your brother is faster than I am, and surprise counts for much."
          Silence reigned throughout the room, during which I carefully buttoned myself up, shifting Riian to lay on top of the blanket and over my shoulder while I started to gently pat her back.  I didn't want to dry up on Riian, but I also didn't have time to find the medication that would make me do so. I was going to have to leave her here, which meant my breasts were going to fill up ... the next weeks were going to be intensely painful for me.
          I wasn't looking forward to it.




Talim says Suno's treatment is 'kawalang-hiyaan'.  This translates to 'hooliganism', which is the sort of thing you'd expect from someone who learned a translation program  ... and just exactly what I got when I tried to translate 'invective'.

« Last Edit: (01:05:28/12-01-11) by The Wyrm Ouroboros »
Pananagutan & End/Line

Old As McBean, Twice As Mean
"Oh, gee - it's Go-Frag-Yourself-O'Clock."
New Wyrm!! Now with Twice the Bastard!!

Laés is ... I forget. -PiXeL01
Play the game. Don't try to win it.

The Wyrm Ouroboros

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Re: Pananagutan -- A Limited-Ongoing Tale
« Reply #7 on: (02:51:18/12-21-11) »
Seattle, 2073.
Three Weeks Ago.



          Hello again.
          Every once in a while I wonder who you are, watching me, listening to me, being me.  Not later on, when this gets fed through somebody and turned into a recording and released six or twelve or eighteen months down the road; now.  Don't try to pull the wool over my eyes, I've heard the rumors.  Right now, right now, someone -- maybe a few someones, maybe several, maybe many someones -- is hooked up to ego-submersion drugs, receiving the feed coming from my implant.  For the tech-heads among you, let me access ...
          Commlink Evo Tesla 7.216.delta, running Xiao Technologies Bù Shào OS v. 7.12.13 beta.  Simsense recording interface gear Yamatetsu Productions/Xiao Technologies YouRThere 2.62 delta, transmitting raw ASIST wet record to node *******-******.*****.
          There.  Sorry about that last; classified.  I don't even know where this goes.
          I guess it goes to you.
          Sometimes I imagine there being hundreds of you, each of you resting in custom-made recliner-beds and living vicariously through me, all of you fabulously wealthy and paying hand over fist for the privilege of being me, live and in person and in real-time -- or at least live, in-person, and real-time as it's technologically possible to be.  Sometimes I think maybe there's only two or five, an intense ad agent along with a crazed screen writer or three, and when I'm asleep for my three hours you come suddenly awake, yammering at each other in an orgy of crazy-hair-tearing creativity until spikes in my alpha waves trigger the receiving system into sending you back unconscious, to go back to receiving my transmissions..
          ...
          Sometimes I wish there wasn't anybody at all, because I know that when I receive that call, it means there's no privacy any more.
          ...
          ...
          ...
          Odd, the things you remember when you're waiting for someone to attack you.  Aswang once mentioned that I was as much of a combat monster as Pating, that when I got into it, I was into it until I was down, or all of them were.  I suppose I was.  I suppose I still am.  I think that maybe it comes from what Musashi-sensei called 'resolute acceptance of death' -- that as one enters battle, one accepts that the result may be, will be, your own death or the death of your opponent.  Killing a stranger is not a natural or easy thing for a human to do; like the man said, nations and megacorporations spend weeks upon weeks training perfectly normal human beings to learn how to do this without first getting angry or frightened. 
          Maybe it's just competitiveness.
          I speak, half to Hibiki, half to the other students, half to you out there.  "In a street fight, there are no judges to decide whether your opponent does not get a point because he did not have enough zanshin.  The street's rules are direct and brutal, and there is no appeal.  You win, or you are lying in the gutter.  Dead, dying, surviving if you're lucky."
          But anyhow.  You can see him, can't you?  You should be able to, you who can see what I'm seeing.  That little shift in his attention, even though we can't see his face beneath the kendo mask, the adjustment from 'she should attack' to 'I'm going to kick her ass.'  Time for the first lesson for Hibiki-.  And for the rest of the class.
          Hibiki is starting to move, coming down at me from that ridiculous jodan no kame stance.  For his sake, for Isamu's sake, I hope he never assumes that in a street fight.  He seems to be moving so slowly, but I know it's just the power flowing through my veins, through my nerves.  Yes, my nerves; belly a little weak, my heart rate is up.  Breath rate, too.  Fear, that's what that is, fear and adrenaline.
          I'm almost always scared during combat.
          Does that surprise you?  It shouldn't.  Any human being, every human being, should be scared when their life is on the line.  Even with all my training, all my meditation, the times I am calm during combat are very, very specific.  Whether unarmed or with a firearm in my hands, my heart rate goes up as the adrenaline and the 'fight or flight' (or fornicate, but nobody mentions that around the kids) instinct makes every one of my muscles quiver ever-so-slightly.  In most circumstances, for me it never really goes away.
          My right forearm comes up and across to catch his in a block, because my feet have taken a quick pair of steps, left-right.  It's harder to do this against a long blade than against a knife; to strike with a knife, you're already inside arm's reach.  I move faster than he suspected, maybe because he was busy when Isamu and I went at our own workout speed.  I'm even faster than this, but for his sake I rein myself in.
          Forearms press before he's gone more than five inches, before his movement really has any amount of momentum, and the movement stops him in his tracks for a fraction of a second, too short for him to think about doing anything, because the next thing that happens is that my left palm ascends into his elbow at the same time that my right arm slides to my right.  My right catches the back of his wrist and pulls downward, while my left continues to push up on his elbow.
          The way the metahuman arm is built, and the way its muscles are connected, means that he can't strength his way out of this maneuver; all of my upper body is behind this, and unfortunately for him, what momentum he has in the rest of his body wants this to happen too.  With his wrist now all but locked in my right hand -- he still has both his hands on his bokken, that's good, let's see if he keeps it -- I step in with my left foot and pivot upon it, sweeping the mat with the bottom of my right foot.  His wrist comes with me, and because of the way my left hand is locking his elbow, his entire body's momentum comes around with me, left hand releasing the bokken in an instinctive attempt to keep his balance.  Good; it'd get messy otherwise.
          Aikido in motion (lowering my arms to bring Hibiki down to the mat, as gentle as I can) is all about circular movement.  Even its straight lines (bending my left knee, Hibiki thumping not-so-gently onto his belly, left arm slapping at the mat to rob the movement of its energy) have circular-ness about them, curving out of the way and then continuing the curve with the opponent drawn into its embrace.  I don't know if Hibiki (my thumb sliding onto the back of his hand, the bone that leads to his smallest finger now controlling his hand, arm, entire body) has studied O-Sensei's teachings; I doubt it.
          I take the bokken from him with my left hand, my thumb's pressure on his right hand opening up his fingers.  A bit more twist, his palm now virtually parallel to the floor; he cannot move without popping something painfully out of joint, and he knows it.
          I turn to my audience.  Not you, whomever you are; Isamu's students.  Kira in particular, but all of them as well.  "Never underestimate your opponent.  You may surprise him," Hibiki pats the mat twice, tapping out, and I release him, taking several smooth steps away (I love how fluid I can move; sometimes it's a joy just to walk and feel my limbs move) while I talk, because this is street rules, and what I know and Hibiki might eventually appreciate is that on the street, the only rule is 'Survive', "but you cannot count on that, or on being better, or on not being surprised in your turn."  I keep Hibiki in the corner of my eye as he climbs to his feet and turns towards me.  "As much attention as you can spare should be for your opponent."  I throw the bokken towards my faceless opponent, who reaches out to catch it.
          Even planning to do this, my heart triphammers in adrenaline panic.  See how everything slows down for us?  Adept reflexes, moving us faster than the bokken flies through the air.  I don't often commit myself to ki shouts, but digging my left foot in behind the line of his feet so that I can bring my left hand behind the level of his shoulders and twist my torso -- "Hhaa!!" -- while striking his do over his belly requires the exclamation, just to twist all my body's momentum together and channel it into the palm strike.  I am not much stronger than many men, but momentum counts for much, and technique for more.
          The way his unbalanced body lets his hips kick backwards and upwards in reaction to the palm strike, my momentum becoming his, is exceedingly gratifying.  My Arnis instructor would have grunted and said something about my form, but Hibiki is practically flying back into my left hand, which I keep as solid as I can, deflecting his upper body downwards while his hips and legs keep going.  He again lands on his belly on the mat, this time sliding several feet while the bokken slaps into my left hand.
          "Never give your opponent a moment's rest."  I glance sideways at Hibiki who, though armored, has had the wind punched out of him; he's recovering his breath.  "Take advantage of every break, no matter how temporary," I add to the class as I walk over Hibiki, letting the hands-smoothed wood of the bokken slide into position in my palm.  You -- not the class, not Isamu over there, but you, you whomever you are, hearing me think, feeling me breathe and move and calm down -- you can feel my heart slow down as the practice blade eases into my hand.
          I love the sword.  Everything becomes so simple.  There is the edge, and there is everything else.
          Stepping next to Hibiki, I lay the last several inches against the back of his neck; he knows, and I know, and everyone in the class knows that he's dead.  "Never give him a break.."  I smile, and lay the bokken next to him, turn my back on him, and walk away.  "Never turn your back upon your opponent."
          I speak, but all my attention is on the momentarily-humiliated young man behind me.  I can hear his hands and his sandals against the mat.  "Never take your attention away from him," I counsel the students, looking directly at Kira, feeling my heart rate more than double in those few seconds.
          Hibiki lunges, committing himself to follow the point of his weapon; I side-step, turn, grab the back of his hand as he's lunging past.  Pressure against his thumb rolls the sensitive part of its joint against the hard wood of the bokken, and in an instinctive attempt to escape the excruciating pain, he collapses to the floor.
          Doesn't that feel great?  This guy has been irritating me since I walked in...
          But I'm playing with him.  Like his 'death', everyone knows it -- now, anyhow.  It's ... well, my Hyōhō Niten Ichi-ryū kenjutsu sensei would be very disappointed in me right now.  I can easily imagine that Isamu is.  As for me, well -- I'm sure you can feel that, too.
          Sometimes I hate this thing in my head.
          My thoughts should be my own.
          So should my shame.
          I help Hibiki up, and hand him the bokken, taking half a dozen steps back.  "Most important of all, respect your opponent."  I bow, keeping my eyes upon him.
          "Respect his skills."  The shinai slides out of my sash, lifted in middle guard, tip pointed at his face; my left foot moves backwards to test one position; you and I both feel my uneasiness with it, so I adjust it several millimeters forward, tightening the angle.
          "Do him the honor of taking him seriously."  My breathing slows with the feel of a blade in my hands, even this bamboo-strap imitation.
          "Do not play with him."  Hibiki mirrors my stance, then shifts warily into high stance.
          "Finish him as quickly as possible."  I take a sliding half-step back, shinai easing down into an underhand low retiring guard.  I can feel his gaze shift over me to try to figure out what I'm doing, and to be honest, I'm playing out my favorite scene from my favorite movie, and from the blockbuster simsense version that helped launch Nicky Saitoh to stardom.  If you've seen it, you know what I'm doing; I know Isamu recognizes it.
          Besides, Kyūzō was always my favorite of the Seven Samurai.
          With a shout, Hibiki surges forward, sweeping his sword down hard and fast; unlike the movie, Hibiki's goal is to crack my collarbone, so my stroke needs to be perfect.
          It is.  Time slows down, the blade is in my hand, everything is clear and precise, my opponent and I a unity of intention and movement.
          There's an underground document out there -- I got it from the friend of a friend, never mind how -- in which a man claims that in a fight between an adept who focuses with the intentions of a warrior, and one who focuses with the intentions of an athlete, the warrior adept will be the one walking away.  That may be true in his experience, and to a certain extent, it's true in mine; most athletes compete, they do not make war.
          This is not true of me, nor of any athlete within the schools in which I studied.
          Acceptance of death, your own or your opponent's, does not make you a Warrior, any more than running in a footrace makes you an Athlete.  A Warrior seeks to triumph over his opponent; an Athlete seeks to triumph over herself.  The Warrior seeks vindication of his skills outside himself; an Athlete seeks purification of them within herself.  As an Athlete, I am a harsher taskmaster by far than any Warrior who seeks my blood.
          As my bamboo blade describes an arc, my left foot retreats from lead to rear; the point of Hibiki's aim is now two feet further back, stealing the power from his blow. My stroke requires a fillip, and here you can feel how my wrists and arms snap to the side as the bokken comes to rest on my shoulder as Hibiki reaches full extension.  The snap creates a wave in the flexible shinai,a wave that the bokken could not duplicate; however, you and I watch how this flexiblity causes the tip to slide under the shoulder-protecting flaps of the men, tracing the gap between that helmet and the body-protecting do, to impact with precise force against my opponent's clavicle.  The leather saki-gawa applies in the strike well over the five percent of his weight of directed force necessary to break the bone, clean and precise.  I've had that bone broken myself, so what's going to come next may be a surprise to you at home, but it's none to me.
          Hibiki screams in pain.
          I catch him and his bokken before either hit the ground, easing both gently down to the mat.  Looking at the class, marking each face and their reaction to the speed of the strike, the debilitating break, the painful lesson inflicted upon one of their number of which they will be reminded every time Hibiki comes to class, I offer one last piece of advice.
          "Show mercy if you can."
          A Warrior could walk away.  An Athlete would not.
          Isamu claps twice, ending the bout.  "Bug.  Nash.  Help him to the benches.  Suki ..."
          "Already dialed."
          "911, what is your emergency?"



A few notes on language:
  • Bù Shào: Mandarin for 'Sentinel'.
  • -: Masculine diminuitive, like calling a man named Thomas 'Tommy' or 'Tommy-Boy'.
« Last Edit: (19:55:03/12-21-11) by The Wyrm Ouroboros »
Pananagutan & End/Line

Old As McBean, Twice As Mean
"Oh, gee - it's Go-Frag-Yourself-O'Clock."
New Wyrm!! Now with Twice the Bastard!!

Laés is ... I forget. -PiXeL01
Play the game. Don't try to win it.

The Wyrm Ouroboros

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Re: Pananagutan -- A Limited-Ongoing Tale
« Reply #8 on: (03:08:02/12-21-11) »
Sorry -- had to edit something.
Pananagutan & End/Line

Old As McBean, Twice As Mean
"Oh, gee - it's Go-Frag-Yourself-O'Clock."
New Wyrm!! Now with Twice the Bastard!!

Laés is ... I forget. -PiXeL01
Play the game. Don't try to win it.

The Wyrm Ouroboros

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Re: Pananagutan -- A Limited-Ongoing Tale
« Reply #9 on: (08:16:14/01-01-12) »
Philippines, 2052.


          For a moment, he stared hard at the magazine of half-inch-thick bullets, willing them to react as though he'd banged it on a hard surface.  Normally he would have, the floor or the parapet or the Picatinny rail if nothing else presented itself, but in the middle of the jungle, while in position to do bad things to good people (or at least good enough people), he couldn't bang it on anything.  It'd disturb the wildlife.  Disturbing the wildlife would alert the good-enough people he was about to put .50 Browning Machine Gun rounds through.  For him, at least, that would be bad.  He fought against his natural inclination, willed the springs internal to the thing to be working properly, and snapped the ten-round box magazine into its receiver.  He'd already chambered an individual round from the rucksack of reloads laying between him and his spotter, so the urge to rack the bolt to chamber a round had to be fought, too.
          Successful at both, Mahirap eased back off the sight-line to the camp, drawing the ghillie shroud away from his face as he waited for the main team to call for their readiness.  Taking a sip from the tube leading to the electrolyte-rich sport-drink-filled Hump, he settled a bit more comfortably, watching Lawin visually scout out the village / camp on the other side of the hump.  "So.  The new girl.".
          There was silence from Lawin for a long moment before the ork eased back down as well, bringing his binoculars with him.  "Talim?  Good kid.  Intense but controlled.  Ready to learn; you can tell she'll do what she has to in order to survive."  He closely inspected his eyepieces for a moment, then glanced up at Mahirap.  "You're going to have to tell Suno to cut her some slack."
          Mahirap let his head settle back against the thin jungle duff, looking up at the leaves and brances fifty feet above him.  "Suno's never cut anyone any slack in her life, maybe excluding her brother.  I've never told her to, and I'm not about to start."
          "You've told her to back off before."
          "I've told her to shut up before; completely different.  Only person who can get her to stop when she starts going off is Yelo, and you know it."
          Lawin gave a noncommital 'mmm' and, after looking slowly around, went back to looking down into the camp.  After several minutes of silence, he volunteered, "You should teach her."
          "Teach who her?  Suno?"
          "Talim."
          "Teach her what?"  The dwarf craned his neck back, trying to see the ork's face. "Sniping?"
          "That too, but ... planning.  Thinking about the entire thing, the way you do.  Everyone's abilities, everyone's positions, how things work together and play off each other."  He leaned back, adjusted the after-market polarization caps, then went back to watching.  "Thinking as far ahead as possible, planning on what to do at every step if you can, thinking of what can go wrong, what can go weird, what can go psycho on us, even if you don't tell us."
          Mahirap looked around at their hide, then went back to looking at the canopy above him.  "She's afraid of me."
          "She'll get over it."
          "She thinks I hate her."
          "She'll get over that, too."
          "I'd have to be twice as hard on her."
          "You remember Balitang?"
          Frowning, the dwarf rolled his head, to find Lawin looking at him and waiting.  Sometimes that was the problem with Lawin, he could be so goddamn patient.  Returning his attention to the leaves above, he hunted through his memory.  Balitang, Balitang ... "Ork, maybe sixteen, spoke with a lisp?"
          "No, that was Talino.  Named himself that, stupidest thing I ever heard and I told him so."
          "Whatever happened to him?"
          "'Bout six months ago, he got mouthy with one of the Kapunín."
          "Oh, shit.  Did he survive?"
          "What do you think?"
          "I think if you enrage an always-pissed-off troll, they're gonna be playing football with your head."
          "Got it in one.  I helped with the grave.  Balitang."  Lawin had a way of letting things go only so far off-point; one of the reasons for his nickname was the focus he brought to the team.
          Mahirap growled, but dove back into his memory.  A few long moments later, he had to abort a move to sit upright.  "Balitang.  Dwarf.  Intense little bastard, twisted around when he walked.  Had to use crutches most of the time.  Too charming for his own damn good, twice as smart as he was charming.  He'd talk to anyone, and anyone would talk to him."
          Lawin went back to observing the 'firebase'.  "Two tries, not bad.  Scoliosis, it's called."
          "What are you, studying to be a doctor, now?"
          "I got curious after you took him under your wing, asked Palakol.  You remember how you were with him?"  Mahirap frowned, doing just that.  Lawin gave him only a moment, and didn't let up.  "You drilled that poor kid into the ground.  Didn't mean a thing to you that the furthest he could walk without grabbing on to something to keep from falling over was three steps, did it?  You drove that kid harder than anybody I've ever seen."
          The sniper pressed his lips into a tight line.  "He was good.  He saw all the angles."
          "He had to see all the angles, all the time.  It was that or curl up and die.  But he didn't get all of that on his own, and you know it."  The rigger eased back once again, taking a sip from his own Hump.  "He had potential, and you saw it.  He was a dwarf, and you wanted to make sure he'd have a chance.  So you nurtured that potential.  What did he do, every time you hammered on him for missing something?"
          Mahirap grunted.  "Hunted for more angles."
          Lawin knew when to let the rabbit struggle itself the rest of the way dead; he remained silent, instead reaching for the AK-86 carbine he'd lent to his team leader on the night of the meet, removing its magazine and checking it over yet again.
          "You think she has Balitang's potential?"
          "No."
          "No??"
          "I think she could be twice as good as Balitang will ever be."
          "Explain the logic behind that conclusion, please.  That's a ballsy claim."
          Carefully pulling the AK's charging handle back and letting the loose round drop into his lap, he slowly worked the action several times, making sure the old weapon moved smoothly.  "Because she's already almost where he was when he went underground with the Huk.  I watched her at the planning meetings; she doesn't have as much control over her face as she'd probably like to admit.  You could watch her thinking, wondering why you were making this suggestion or that to that bastard Takezo.  She'd get it, after a little bit, maybe eighty percent of the time."
          Mahirap watched him as he put the loose round back into the magazine, then locked it up and charged the weapon -- again, as quiet as possible.  "You want me to train my competition.  Or my replacement."
          "I want you to try to bring the best out of your team, Omar.  The way you always have."
          He sighed.  "I don't like her, Raffi."
          Lawin started laughing, very quietly, as he rolled onto his belly and returned to watching the firebase.  "You don't like the fact that a nursing mother is on your team.  Bet you're wondering about what she's like in bed."
          "Not my type.  And don't lay on my doorstep what keeps getting you hard.  You and Aswang, I swear.  Can't let a good pair of tits go by without staring."
          "Comes from having competition for your mother's milk.  Haven't met an ork that didn't get fixated on breasts, one way or another."  He paused, then with a sly grin, added, "Suno's been looking, too."
          "Oh, you gotta be kidding me."  Mahirap joined in with his friend's almost silent laughter.  "I gotta kick all you ork assholes out, just so downtime doesn't turn into an orgy."
          "Hey, have you ever seen Suno get so pissy with someone so fast?  Repressed lust."  That brought a new wave of laughter from both of them, virtually silent but no less tension-relieving for it.

          ---

          "T minus five.  Main ops on final approach.  Support ops confirm.  Over."
          "Nip bastard."  Lawin lowered his head slightly, moving the hand-held corded to his support unit upwards towards his lips.  "Support op one in place, awaiting engagement.  Over."  The unit gave a little chuckle as it spat its package off.
          "Support op two.  In place, awaiting engagement.  Over."  Talim and Aswang, watching the back door, not quite opposite Lawin and Mahirap's over-watching position.  On the grid-reference they'd overlaid onto the map of the village, Talim and Aswang were watching the small gate at A-1, with Lawin and Mahirap another hundred fifty, two hundred meters off from I-7.  The ridgelines linked up maybe three hundred meters beyond I-1.
          "Support op three.  In place, awaiting engagement.  Over."  Suno and Yelo, closer off of I-2, , watching a well-used trail Lawin had spotted off the satellite recce.  The road entered the firebase -  camp - village at C-7 and D-7.  Though Lawin couldn't see it from where he was, the coordination technology and the sounds rising through the jungle gave him enough information for him to imagine it pretty well -- the trucks snorting up the road, the one dying, the other two growling ahead at full speed.
          With the surplus military binoculars all but glued to his face, he had a box-seats show to the destruction of the gate.  Already, though, he was scouting through the responders, hunting for targets for Mahirap to service.
          "B-5, male human, no weapon."  They'd practiced in Alfonso Castañeda and in camp at night on a large-scale map, and most of the day on the actual base until the dwarf was shifting his weapon towards the sector before even getting complete target information.
          The thunder of the Barret M82A3 was unmistakable, WHAM, but down in the village it was probably lost in the storm of gunfire.  The smack of the air coming from the muzzle brake was like a firm slap in the face, but Lawin was used to it; a third of a second later, the man -- mage, from what he had figured, what he had seen -- went tumbling, backwards into the ground, as the .50 BMG round violently dumped its energy into his body.  Lawin only watched long enough to see the start of that particular movement, and went scanning for more mages.
          "F-4, female ork, no weapon."
          WHAM.
          "D-1, female human, pistol."
          WHAM.
          "C -- holy shit, is that --"
          Mahirap triggered his mike with a twitch of his head.  "Talim, what the hell are you doing?!? Over!!"
          WHAM.
          "Lawin, do your fucking job!!"
          "Ah, shit, uh -- G-5, male human, AK!"
          WHAM.
          "Taking the opposition from behind, sir.  And prisoners.  Over."
          "F-6, male troll, machine gun!"
          WHAM.
          "Get your ass back behind that gate!!  Over!!"
          "C-3, female elf, staff!!"
          WHAM.
          "Negative, sir, over."
          "B-5, male human, no weapon!"
          WHAM.
          "Shit!!  Shit shit -- Suno, Yelo, get your asses in there, back that crazy-ass bitch up!!  Over!!"
          "D-1, female human, no weapon!!"
          WHAM.
          "Wait, did you --"
          "On our way, over!!"
          "What the -- fuck it!!"
          WHAM.
          "See if she gets up from two!! Reload!!"
          "You shot her once already!!"
          "I know, what the fuck?!?"
          "Ops teams, be advised shapeshifters are present!! Comm, relay all sets to broadcast in the clear!! Over!!"
          "No shit!!"
          "Fuck, where did it --"
          "All units, Zetsumetsu Protocol is in effect!!"
          "My leg, it tore up my leg --"
          "Jiro's hit!!"
          "D-4, leopard!"
          WHAMWHAM.
          "I don't want to die, I don't want --"
          "Asahi, punch through that gap!!"
          "Bet that keeps the bastard down!!"
          "Seiji!!  Stay with me!!"
          "Mahirap!!  Mahirap, Pating is losing it!!"
          "H-3, leopard!"
          WHAMWHAM.
          "Whack him on the head if you have to, Palakol!!"
          "I don't want to --"
          "He's faced off with one of their mages, and I can't get to him!!"
          "Man your post, you troll bitch!!"
          "Kagi, pull back!!"
          "Seijiiiiii!!!"
          "Lawin, find me that --"
          "E-5, male human, unarmed!!"
          WHAMWHAM.
          "Regenerate from that!!"
          "Mahirap, that wasn't him!!  I don't --"
          "NooaAAAAGGGGHH!!!"
          "WHAT THE FU --"
          "GRENADES!!"
          A cataclysm from the village as the reactions of a dozen and more trained mercenaries reached, pulled, and threw, all in the space of a second and a half.
          WHAM.  WHAM.  WHAM.  WHAM.
          "Reload!!  Find that fucking mage!!"
          "No damage!!"
          "Regenerate THIS you -- die!  Die!  Die!  Die!"
          "I know, goddammit!!  Find the mage controlling that thing!!"
          "AAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!"
          "Yamato, lay fire on that blockhouse!!"
          "Pating!!  Pating, no, you're burning yourself --"
          "--  Die!  Die!  Die!! DIE!!! DIE!!! DIE!!!"
          "Kill it, oh please Kannon have mercy --"
          "Yoshi, can you --"
          "G-2, male ork!!  Fuck, he's shifting!!"
          WHAM.
          "Shit!!"
          WHAM.
          "Shitfuck!!  Where'd he go??  Did I get him?!?"
          "AAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!"
          "I have him!"
          "Talim?!?"
          "Yoshi, get on that spirit --"
          "Fast-acting paralytic, sir!"
          "Mahirap, look at her wake!!"
          "PATING, NO!!!"
          "It's toxic, Major, I can't --"
          "Palakol!!  G-1, sniper!!  Palakol, is Pating --"
          WHAM.
          "He's dead, Lawin!!  He burned himself out!! He kept overcasting --"
          "Shit!!  Suno, Yelo, you're on Palakol!!"
          "On it!!"
          "Roast the fucking thing, Yoshi, or I swear --"
          "AAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!"
          "Tōkyō, displace right!!"
          "Wha -- where'd it go?!?"
          "A-3, leopard!!"
          WHAM.
          "Fuck!!  Where does that --"
          "Yoshi, good job!!"
          "Major, I didn't --"
          "A-1!!  Back gate!!"
          "Palakol, Kagi team needs you now!!"
          "Talim, Aswang, get that fucker!!"
          "AAAAAAAAAAHHHHH IT BURNS IT BURNS!!!"
          "I'm coming, I'm coming!!"
          "Holy shit, that girl can move!"
          "Lawin, find me --"
          "Asahi, covering fire!!"
          "Watch it!!"
          "H-1, gunner in good shot Aswang! G-1, doorway shotgun!!"
          WHAM.
          "Mahirap, there's nobody here!!"
          "Lawin, you didn't --"
          "Hey, where'd they --"
          "Yamato, cease fire, cease fire!!"
          "I wasn't -- wait a minute."
          "All units, cease fire!!"
          "Cease fire, cease fire!!"
          Silence, falling nervously.
          "Where'd they all go?!?"



A few notes on language:

  • Balitang - 'intelligence', as in tidings or news.
  • Talino - 'intelligence', as in military intelligence.
  • Kapunín -- castrated.
  • Asahi, Tōkyō, Kagi, Yamato -- Japanese phonetic alphabet, similar in purpose and use to the NATO phonetic alphabet (Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, etc.) used by many militaries, airlines, etc.
  • Everything else odd has meaning, but -- like Pananagutan itself -- is better if you look it up yourself.
« Last Edit: (18:00:53/01-03-12) by The Wyrm Ouroboros »
Pananagutan & End/Line

Old As McBean, Twice As Mean
"Oh, gee - it's Go-Frag-Yourself-O'Clock."
New Wyrm!! Now with Twice the Bastard!!

Laés is ... I forget. -PiXeL01
Play the game. Don't try to win it.

Deepeyes

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Re: Pananagutan -- A Limited-Ongoing Tale
« Reply #10 on: (16:44:54/01-19-12) »
... can't... stop... reading....

Oh wait... I'm done!! :'(

Hope there's more!! :D

The Wyrm Ouroboros

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Re: Pananagutan -- A Limited-Ongoing Tale
« Reply #11 on: (21:55:59/03-29-12) »
Seattle, 2073.
Three Weeks Ago.



          She placed her first call while still racing along 520 eastbound on her Honda Vector motorcycle, approaching the aging six-lane New Rosellini Bridge.  Political and economic AR tags arguing over the cost and usefulness of the proposed replacement fought for attention from her public commlink; she'd forgotten the other debate of this political season while she'd been mulling over the conversation she'd just had in the locker room.  She thought commands to the Tesla, which obediently moved the public comm from its active to its passive subscriber list.  Another thought sent a digital song out into the ether, receiving a reply in a matter of moments.
          The audible chaos on the other side of the call was only a fraction of the volume of what it undoubtedly actually was.  "McCarran."
          "Hey.  Busy?"  Always the first question you asked, because sometimes he was, and if he was, you hung up and called later -- or waited for him to call back if it was slow.  Suki always called later, because she knew that McCarren's job at Sea-Tac was never slow.
          "Depends on if this is business or booze," replied the ork.  To someone on the other side, he said, "No, shift the -- yeah, left.  Don't back up, just give it a shove, it'll move."  His commlink's filters kept it at an audible level for everyone involved; she could see the heavy sound-dampener muffs on several fellow workers, almost entirely orks and trolls, in the background.  Must be a brand new crew he was training; basic aural dampeners were standard implants for most ground-crew at the airport, a sign-on bonus included in their initial eighteen-month contract, put in after three months of training.
          "Business," she replied, knowing she had enough of his attention, and giving him enough of hers.  Still, discretion was the byword of the shadowrunner -- even if you were a company man.  Especially if you were a company man.  "I need movement on a package or two," she stated, leaning to the side and shooting along the flanks of a quartet of minivans.
          "When and where?" McCarran asked, direct as always.
          "Within six, maybe within two; I have an infodump I need to assimilate.  Philippines, probably Cebu City, maybe Manila.  Probably not Marawi."  Honks followed her up the road, but she was hitting the bridge itself, and mere honks would not stop her.  Nor would GridGuide's fumbling for her license; the modified spoof chip (which the designer gloatingly called a ghost chip) in the bike emitted an echo of the license of the nearest other vehicle -- so long as the chip was close enough to read that license, within a meter or so.  Perhaps it encouraged her to speed closer to traffic than was safe, but she was only metahuman, and racing through traffic was almost as thrilling as matching blades with an expert like Isamu.
          "I'll still be on in two, and I can stick around, but you'll have to exchange with Mitchell if it's more than four.  Marawi sucks.  Ship into Manila, go from there.  Not that you need to know, huh?  What you moving?"
          She gave a tight grin into her helmet and replied, "Not that you need to know, huh?  Don't know yet.  Probably the standard two-week pack, probably not the heavy pack."  The public commlink started to vibrate an out-of-lane warning as she swung out of the leftmost lane of the bridge and accelerated up the straightaway.  She ignored the warning, intentionally driving up the narrow passage between vehicles and jersey barrier, only to see blue-and-red start to reflect in the vehicles she was flashing past.  She popped her cycle's rearview sensor from 5% opacity in her AR feed to 25%.  Some badge on a bike must have seen her go past and decided to go after her.  Wasn't often she had to look in her rearview, usually people faded fast.
          "Probably two, two and a half, then; one to me or Mitchell, the rest on the other side.  HEY!!!  THIS AIN'T A RACE COURSE!!  Look, I gotta go.  Comm me back when you know for sure, huh?"
          "Yeah, I have company too.  Discomm.  Call Deckard."  The headware flickered a quick 'disconnect' image in the lower left of her visual field before the 'dialing' image started circling.  Before it made it around twice, the call was picked up on the other end.
          "Deckard."
          The police cruiser was trying to close up with her, so she goosed the Honda up towards 160 kph.  Reactive smart-tires let her tear up the two-meter-wide channel, but apparently the Knight Errant behind her was running tough too, because he kept coming.
          "Deck, I need a little help.  Got a Kee zipper on my six, getting boxed in."  At a thought, the Tesla started feeding Deckard location information; he'd immediately recognize the issues of being on the New Rosellini.  Almost simultaneously, the public comm's icon send a squawk, and the Peace Officer Override (POO might not have been the best acronymic decision) forced its programming to feed the Tesla a small 60%-opacity overlay of the Knight Errant motorcycle cop's imagery, which the Tesla turned down to 30%.
          "Stop your vehicle immediately, citizen.  This is not only illegal, it's dangerous to your health."  Fortunately, Knight Errant didn't quite have instant access to GridGuide, and her public comm had a 'license' for her Vector ready to feed any snooping cops.  If he'd been aware of the ghost chip spoofing the traffic control system, 'citizen' would have been replaced with 'scum' or something similar.
          "Gotcha, H.  Far side toll barriers are wide enough for you to get through -- barely -- but that won't lose him if he's good."  A diagram of the toll booths and the lowered crossbar clicked in at 15%, then shot into miniaturization to overlay the distant target.
          "He just crapped in my throwaway, Deck, and he's keeping pace."  A new alert popped up from the resident agent running security in her headware, warning her of an intrusion in the public commlink.  "And he's got an agent trying to shut me down."
          "That ain't standard.  Just the throwaway, right?  Gimmie P's and let me hack him back."
          "You can do that?"  With the direct neural link, she didn't even need to move a hand to reactivate Deckard's on-file temporary permissions.  That was fortunate, because someone had left a not-quite-shredded tire on the side of the road that took her perilously close to a lumbering drone-driven semi.
          "If I didn't have to take the time hacking permissions, I could take a virtual stroll from here to NYC via only commlinks in ten minutes.  Well, most of the way, anyhow."
          "Stop the bike now and I'll only give you a ticket."  The corporate cop's words promised leniency, but his tone promised ruthlessness.  In her business, tone could matter more than words ...
          "Damn that's a buff agent.  Frozen now, he won't be alerted that it's crashed.  Even with an employee discount, this guy spent a lot on this thing -- Ares all over it.  I can't screw with his bike, he's running a tight ship over here, looks like he's got experience with hacker tricks.  He really must like catching people, H.  I don't think he's going to let you go."
          "Crap.  If I wasn't on the bridge, all I'd need is ten seconds out of his LOS.  Crap, hold on!!"  Horns blared around her as she dodged back into traffic, brakes and engine working in rapid concert to keep her moving at the highest speed physically possible.  She barely kept from flinching as her left shoulder made a soft 'huh!' of sound brushing past an old VW Superkombi III van's rear panel, and boosted her speed back up as soon as she could.
          "I maybe could edit you out of his AR feed ..."  Deckard sounded thoughtful; he was not usually a thoughtful sort of troll.
          "You can??  For how long??"  A lane-changing Hyundai Shin-Hyung, blatantly sporting quasi-legal modifications to show how 'independent' he was, forced her back out to the edge; his comic outrage at her screaming past him at three times his current speed was something she would have enjoyed if she wasn't being chased.  She poured on more speed, blowing past 200 kph almost as quickly as she had the Hyungk of Jyungk.
          "Knight Errant protocals require me to give you a last warning before I blow your hot little ass off the road, lady.  You got ten seconds to cut your speed."
          "Fifteen, twenty seconds, taking care of all the reflections and echoes.  Twenty-five at the outside.  Ah, no you don't!  His agent's trying to reinitiate.  Call it twenty."
          "Do it five seconds before we hit the plaza."  The pilot-assist adjusted its countdown to the upcoming toll plaza as she poured on speed.  She needed to get beyond the plaza and disappear ... "Deckerd, if the bar is down, can you make him think it's going up?"
          "While making you disappear and him think his agent's seizing your commlink?  Sure, why not that too?  Make it seventeen seconds of freedom I'm giving you."
          She leaned hard to the right, cutting back into traffic, standing on the brake before cutting back left and gunning it again.  Getting among civilians was both good -- KE frowned on their cops shooting into crowds, even if the crowds were surrounded by half a ton of plastics -- and bad -- it forced her to slow down, and her boss frowned on using civilians for cover.  Over the open POO link, she heard the KE cop swear at her maneuver, gaining distance on him as his bike proved less maneuverable than hers.  As the pilot assist clicked past '5', she could hear him really start to swear as Deckard worked his technological magic to make her invisible.
          Flashing through the toll plaza approach, she ducked under the end of a descending bar, and mentally slid the throttle bar to maximum plus 15%; the Vector popped a 'temperature gauge' potential-damage indicator below the throttle bar, sliding a marker steadily up from the green zone.  Seconds ticked past as she streaked by cars and trucks, working to put as many of them between herself and the toll plaza as possible.
          The sound of brakes squealing was almost immediately superseded by that of automotive plastics shattering; Deckard crowed triumph through her link.  "Ohh, that's gonna be on the Crash boards tonight!!  Ha ha haa!!  You're all clear, kid, now let's blow this place and go home!!"
          Ordering her public comm to turn itself completely off, she slid the Vector's acceleration bar back to 95%, mostly keeping her metaphorical foot in it to put space between herself, the bridge, and the flattened officer.  It was something under five kilometers from the toll gate to the 520-405 interchange; she made it in little over a minute.  As she approached, she killed the majority of her speed in order to ghost in the shadow of a rigger-guided land train, using it to shield her from the traffic cameras.  Knight Errant loved Bellevue for many reasons, so vanishing completely was as difficult as they could make it.  Not impossible, though.
          "Deckard, back to business.  I'm sending you some documentation, our standard CDA.  I need you to sort through it, be ready to give me a précis in fifteen so I can plan my packing.  No, make it thirty, I need to shower first."
          "Shower first?"  Deckard sounded amused.  "Hair dye coming out?"
          "Yeah, again.  Can you do it?"
          The technologist pondered the files as they started spawning on receipt.  "You should just stop.  I know three guys who'd ask you out in a New York minute if they saw your real hair and eye color.  Hmmm.  Thirty ... yeah, probably.  Five hundred on receipt of proof of scrub."  He meant proof of his removing the files from his system, part of their standard classified documents arrangement.  "That all?"
          She shook her head, even though she knew he couldn't see her.  "No.  I need you to find me a fixer to work with over there.  Minimum five years in the biz, preferably someone with operational experience as well.  Meta preferred, but use your judgement on Evo ties on this one."
          Deckard blew out a breath.  "There's a lot of little radical groups over there; you want me to avoid them?"
          "Radicals, yes.  Majors ... not necessarily."  She mulled this over as she slowed, looking for one of the holes the Hellhounds habitually knocked in the noise barriers.  Spotting one, she slid off the road, smart tires reacting to the shift in terrain and helping her cross gravel, grass, and rubble as though it were a racecourse.  Gaining the surface street, she took the first underpass and headed towards Vasa Park.  "Listen, if you find someone with ties to the old Huk -- not necessarily the new government -- give them precedence."
          "Meta, Huk, five years, ops ex-pee, no weenies.  You call?"
          "Yeah.  Thanks, Deckard.  How's Cindi?"
          He sounded disgruntled.  "Still dancing.  I keep telling her I don't want her to, but she just ..."
          Suki laughed; she couldn't help it.  "It's an independence thing, Deck, and a rebellion thing to boot.  Bet you fifty she'd quit within a week if you told her you thought it was a good idea."
          Deckard sighed, an explosion of disgust.  "Sucker bet, H.  Sucker bet.  Comm me in thirty."
          "Will do.  Discomm."
          "Discomm," she agreed, driving on through the night and thinking of the conversation not many minutes past.

---

          Her shower at the dojo had started the problems with her hair again; quietly disgruntled, she'd wiped the steam from the mirror, watching the heat from the showers try to put it back.  Though the old warehouse's receptionist's office became the front entrance for the place, other offices had been turned into locker rooms, and the massive main storage area held the heavy padded mats that made up the totality of the practice area.  Even with enough space for all of that, there was still enough for whatever storage Isamu and the dojo might need.  Really, it was larger by far than was strictly required, but Isamu had once told her privately that since he'd had the money, he'd might as well get some use out of it.  Suki had sighed, fingering the straight hair that was her Japanese heritage, then looking at the slight smear of black dye that was her last-ditch effort at trying to deny what was part of her mystic heritage.
          She'd once again had pondered just giving up and accepting that her hair was going to be violently violet.  At least she could cover her matching eyes with programmable contacts; the slight electronic emissions it gave off helped suggest that the false-front commlink she carried strapped to the inside of her forearm was the real thing.  To help the illusion, she typically used Horizon's TouchIt fingernail-appliqués, ostensibly running on a skinlink.  Would-be hackers generally found hacking her to be fun, funny, and ultimately useless, since the contacts were hardwired for color only and not to throw up any AR feed.  Still, for the look of it, it was a great cover, and sometimes it distracted combat hackers long enough for her to find them and, well, make them stop.
          Washing her hands in the sink, the dye on her fingers had swirled down the drain.  In the distance, she'd been able to hear Isamu -- whom she'd first met under his shadow-identity of Shiinto -- drilling his special students.  Adepts every one of them, learning the sword.  If she was talented in that direction, maybe Kira would soon --
          "Ms. Suki?"
          Speak of the devil.  She'd turned, seeing Kira clad as she was -- bath towel wrapped around herself from arms to knees, hair soaking wet and clinging to her back and shoulders.  "Kira."  She smiled a little sheepishly, lifting her fingers to her hair.  "I dyed this three days ago.  It never sticks for longer than three or four -- rinses right out."
          The girl had blinked at least a half-dozen times before figuring it all out, at which point her lips had expressed that recognition in a round O.  "Are you -- I mean, err, I mean I don't mean, to pry, you know --"
          "Relax."  Telling her that hadn't helped much.  "Yes, I'm Awakened, but I think you already knew that."  She'd gestured up at her hair, adding, "And a changeling to boot.  Never go into the Amazonian jungles after lost Incan temples if you can help it, no matter how many little gold god-statues they say are there."
          Kira had looked baffled, but had at least gotten over it a bit faster than she'd figured the hair out.  "I was wondering -- how did ... I mean, in there."  She'd gestured towards the dojo floor.  "How did I know?"
          Suki had shrugged slightly.  "Intuition, combined with a very subtle sort of mystic awareness -- not really even astral projection, just a hunch."
          "You mean I'm ... I'm really a magician?  Really one??"  The young woman sounded utterly amazed and delighted.  Becoming a magician of some stripe was still one of the biggest fantasies among, well, almost everyone; corporations from Saeder-Krupp to Spinrad Industries to Suzy's Five-and-Ten played to that fantasy and sold billions of nuyen worth of 'let's pretend' goods every year.  At least two 'mystic' AR overlay themes of some sort have  remained in the top ten best selling products of their type for years.  "Why didn't the testing --"
          Shaking her head, Suki had run her hands through her hair -- and then had to wash them again.  "None of the tests are a hundred percent, Kira.  I was almost forty before I Awakened."
          Kira's eyes had widened again.  "Forty?!?  You can't be forty!!"
          Suki had sighed, not wanting to get into her actual metatype, then had stripped off her towel and bent over to scrub vigorously at her hip-length hair.  Perhaps half of it wound up leaving dye on the towel.  "We're getting off-topic, here," she'd said, twisting her hair back up inside the towel as she'd straightened, then looked Kira right in the eye.  "Yes, you seem to be Awakening.  No, the tests don't catch all of us.  Stick around, watch the advanced class; if you work at your sword properly and hard, you might be joining them in a half year or so, depending on what your magic is like.  Talk to Isamu-sensei, either tonight or before your next class; he set this place up in part to help people like you find teachers."
          For another moment, the sharp kiais of the special class were the only sound in the shower, the two women facing each other.  Finally, Suki had addressed what the girl no doubt had been wanting to ask.  "No, Kira, I can't be your teacher.  Isamu might not, either, but he'll send you in the right direction.  Now if you'll excuse me, I have some business to take care of."
          Her violet hair wrapped in the towel, she'd walked back into the locker area to dress and head home.
Pananagutan & End/Line

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Deepeyes

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Re: Pananagutan -- A Limited-Ongoing Tale
« Reply #12 on: (11:31:07/04-02-12) »
[stares at the screen waiting for the next part to appear]

The Wyrm Ouroboros

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Re: Pananagutan -- A Limited-Ongoing Tale
« Reply #13 on: (01:26:55/04-23-12) »

Philippines, 2052.


          It took Mahirap and Lawin almost ten minutes to get down to the village from their sniper's position, and I dreaded every minute of it.  Did some of the villagers get away through the back gate that Aswang and I had come over?  I didn't think so, and as I followed my team member (difficult to think that, even now, uncomfortably aware of his musculature) in his restless prowling I'd had the opportunity to check it.  The gate was still closed.  In fact, closed and locked and, so far as I could tell, so corroded it'd take a seriously determined troll to smash it open.  But the jungle here ...
          I was not mistaken about the jungle here against the wall.  Not too far from the back gate a heavy tree, with vines creeping and draping down from it, was slowly shouldering the reinforced concrete of the wall off its base and into crumbling ruin.  Its thick branches reached out to shade several roofs, and even seemed to stretch down to press against one.  I frowned at that, but Aswang kept prowling, so perforce I followed.
          Working by pairs and teams, Aswang and I had helped the uninjured members of the four fire teams finish up a quick-and-dirty sweep through the houses, putting burst-fire through bedding but confirming what everyone already knew -- that there wasn't anyone but us and my two prisoners in the village right now.  Aswang continued to prowl around, which meant I had to prowl too.  I could call it wandering, but ...
          ... Aswang didn't wander.
          By the time Mahirap and Lawin managed to get to the temp medic station Palakol and the merc's medic had set up in a carport, you could almost see the steam rising off Major Takezo's head.  I'm sure he would have abused Palakol more than the brief verbal lashing he'd given her for not instantly helping his wounded, but Suno and Yelo had taken Mahirap's in-battle order as still being in force, backing her up.  Suno ripped into the Major the third time he was nasty, and they spent a good thirty seconds screaming into each others' faces, but at some unspecified instant, Suno shut up in mid-tirade and stepped aside.  Yelo had apparently touched her, just touched her elbow, and she moved, and then Major Takezo-san found himself face-to-face with Yelo's unhuman detachment.
          Suno annoys me, and Lawin amuses me, and Mahirap fills me with, I don't know, the desire to do well enough for him to approve of me.  Pating scares me ... scared me ...
          Oh kami, great and small.  He's dead.
          He scared me so much, he had such complete confidence in me.  It was like he knew that I could do whatever I told him I could, that he'd be there to support me doing it.  Or maybe just that if I said I could do something I couldn't, if I lied, he'd be there to eat me.
          ... that smile ...
          When Aswang and I had joined back up with the rest of the team, our team, we got there only a little after Suno and Yelo did.  Palakol looked up at me with this, this, this terrible grief in her face for a moment, and then it just vanished, vanished completely.  I've never seen her be so Japanese before.  She looked at me, and then she slowly lifted both of her huge, gentle hands, each held perfectly straight, slowly up to lay across her eyes.  The Tsunami soldiers, medic and assistant, saw this and went as utterly silent as I did, simply watching her.  I have never seen the Noh gesture for great weeping done with greater passion or better timing.  I know I felt like bursting into tears myself.
          When Palakol and the Tsunami medics returned their attention to their acid-burned wounded, I knelt at Pating's side and looked down at him.  I don't think I had realized how old he really was.  With his shark's smile gone from his face, he looked tired, he looked ...
          I cannot describe it.  But for the first time since I met him, he looked old, weary, frail.  Perhaps it was a good thing that he died, for I do not think he would have liked his body breaking down.  He once told me that sharks are there to end pain and suffering, and when their own grows so great, they seek out the pain of something greater than them, and try to gorge themselves upon it, to take both the other's pain and their own out of the world at once.
          I do not like death.  I wish I had never stepped on this path...

---

          I'm sorry.  I didn't mean to ... make you hear that.
          Where was I?  Suno and Yelo and Major Takezo-san.
          Suno was ranting at him, giving as good as she got, and then stopped in mid-sentence and stepped aside.  Yelo was there ... like I said, utterly unhumanly still.  Yes, unhuman.  Inhuman, I think, you can understand, they are like human, but not.  Unhuman was Yelo.  Once human; human no more.
          Aswang had been squatting just inside the doorway of a two-room apartment, one in a row of twenty identical ones in a low sullen concrete structure that screamed 'minimal corporate laborer housing', bouncing gently on his heels and scowling at the grenade-blast-shattered structure across from him.  I didn't know what to do, so I stood just against the wall next to the door, watching Suno storm back over to Palakol, who was gently putting Pating's body in repose.  Takezo and Suno had been far away enough that I hadn't gone deaf at their mutual tirade; now Takezo and Yelo were barely close enough for me to hear.
          Takezo-san hissed and spat words, horrible words at Yelo, and Yelo simply stood there, motionless.  I was ready to run in moments, but it took Takezo twenty, maybe thirty seconds more to grasp the fact that this Philippino was not moving, was waiting for something.  When he fell silent, Yelo let his words sit there for a moment, then said very calmly, as if reciting the properties of a chemical, "Please do not interrupt her work again."
          The threat of death was in the air, and I believe, then and now, that the more certainty came from Yelo.  Not that he was driven to it, just that it was computed, clinical, a number in its place awaiting tallying.  Pating scared me; but Yelo terrifies me.  I am glad I am on his side.

---

          With Lawin there to back him up, Mahirap and Takezo-san went away from the medical station.  I do not know what Mahirap was thinking, but I believe Takezo-san did not want to acknowledge a disaster, that already a quarter of his forty-eight men were dead or crippled, with another eight of them functional injured.  They argued; oh, how they argued.  Unlike Suno, Mahirap kept their voices down; they also stayed inside one of the concrete buildings, but all of us could hear the tension in their voices as they argued.
          Aswang could not keep still, though, so I was unable to eavesdrop.  Again and again, the ork returned to the back gate, turned and looked at the rest of the complex, and began prowling from there.  It was obvious he was looking for something, but I could not fathom what it could possibly be until he grunted in satisfaction and sat on his heels, cupping a handful of stones and shying them down a half-meter-wide hole under the foundation of one of the buildings.  They thumped at first, but then there was a fading clatter -- and they kept clattering, like an echo.  He looked up at me.         
          "Tunnels," I said softly, settling into seiza next to him.
          The Philippino ork nodded slightly, then eyed the hole.  "I'm never going to fit into that."
          I thought about it for a moment, then gestured with my head, rising and stepping away from the hole before crouching down again.  In a low voice, facing away, I told him, "Unless they're all shapeshifters, they will need a normal way to get into the tunnels.  That sounded like something other than dirt down there -- concrete?  There should be trap doors," I suggested.  "There were some trolls here, so ... some of them will be big trap doors."
          Pursing his lips, Aswang looked back at the hole.  "If that goes under the building, then the other way in ..."
          "... should be inside the building," I finished along with him.
          "Come on," he said, rising and moving on his ever-bare feet towards the corner.
          As we neared the door to the rooms, I saw Mahirap outside the place in which he and Takezo-san had been arguing.  Suno was busy patching his cell phone into his communications unit, and as he waited, Mahirap was looking around and talking to Lawin, seeing how the Tsunami mercenaries did their work, and how his team compared..  Mahirap bore an expression of immovability, that he'd made up his mind and nothing Takezo could say would change it.  From the expression on Takezo's face, Mahirap had decided to go over his head.  I suppose as, um, 'independent contractors' we could do that, but from what I now knew of Takezo's personality, I don't think he liked his authority, real or perceived, being challenged so openly by one of the kawa- -- by a metahuman.
          Mahirap, looking around, spotted me; he watched me for a long moment, which caused me to pause at the door to the rooms behind which the tunnel was.  The dwarf gave his ork spotter a nudge and nodded towards me; Lawin looked over at me, then grinned at something Mahirap said, breaking away and trotting towards me.  I felt suddenly nervous; why would they want to talk to me all of a sudden?
          Lawin arrived, grinned at me again, and said to Aswang, "Mind if I borrow her for a bit?"
          My ork partner grunted permission, then said to me, "I'll let you know if I find something in here."  He waved, and headed inside.
          Once Lawin and I got over to Mahirap, he gestured at me with his chin.  "Give Suno your comms cord; I want her to patch you in so you can listen to this call.  No talking, mind you; listen only."
          Baffled but obedient, I unplugged the slender optical cord from my own tactical unit and held it out to Suno.  The other end was held magnetically to the subdermal implant at my temple, and as Suno plugged it into the little hash of the mercenaries' gear she'd needed to use to link Mahirap's phone into the portable satellite link, I mentally flipped the 'outgoing' toggle to off.  Listen only it would be.  "Mahirap," I said in a low, private voice, "Aswang and I think there are tunnels under the village."
          He nodded at the information, then waved me to silence as he dialed.  Twenty, thirty seconds passed before I heard in my head the tone meaning the phone on the other side was ringing.  Once, twice, and then it picked up.  "Yes?"
          "This is your short friend," Mahirap stated in Tagalog, his arms crossed as he looked up at the mountain ridges behind the village.  "Your lackey and I are having a difference of opinion, and to be frank, you're the only one who can decide."
          Ginoo Salaysay replied with barely-sufficient civility.  "What seems to be the problem, my short acquaintance?"
          Mahirap's lips twitched in cynical amusement at Mr. Tell's alteration of the word he'd used for their relationship.  "He says the village isn't empty.  I say that if you have one of those satellites or drones you used to get all that information for us to take a therm image of the place right this second, it'd only find his team and mine.  Clear the village, that's the contract.  Village is cleared."
          "If you are right, that does sound like the completion of the contract.  How can there be such a difference in opinion?"  The Japanese man on the other side of the line sounded polite, but I could hear the threads of tension in his voice.  Watching Mahirap, I could see that they shouted out to him, too.
          "There are things," replied Mahirap with politeness that I found surprising, "that were not in the contract.  Toxic mages.  Shapeshifters."  He paused for a delicate moment, and then added, "An underground complex."
          Even Japanese men expert in controlling their emotions let them slip from time to time.  The slight hiss of a faint indrawn breath caused Mahirap to smile in a vicious, silent grin.  I covered my lips with my hand to silence my own laughter at my team leader's pleasure at that little sound.  "I see where the difference in opinion must lie," G. Salaysay finally said, and the threads of tension had turned into cold anger.  "You wish to leave before the job is done."
          Mahirap's grin got even harder.  "I don't wish to lose any more team members to a situation which was lost before we started.  I don't expect the Major wants to lose any more men either, but that means he wants my people as back-up."  The meaning was clear to everyone on the line -- contract renegotiation.
          There was silence on the line for a long, long moment as Mr. Tell struggled with needing to release more funds to a mixed bunch of Philippinos.  "Put the Major on," he finally said.
          Mahirap turned and made a 'come here' gesture to Takezo-san, who stalked over like an offended cat.  With a push of a short finger, he said, "You're on speaker."
          "Major," said our employer in Tagalog, "is there anyone but your team and theirs in the village?"
          "All of the targets --"
          "Answer the question."
          "There were --"
          "Yes or no, Major, is there anyone but your team and theirs in the village?  Yes or no ??"
          The struggle for Takezo to control his temper was a live thing upon his face; I wondered what could have caused him to have to fight so terribly for self-control.  Finally he spoke in a flat voice, retainer to lord.  "No, sir."
          "Were there toxics involved?"  I frowned as the Salaysay shifted over to Japanese, and at his tone of voice; there was something that struck me as wrong, though I couldn't put my finger on it.
          "Yes, sir."  Takezo shifted languages too.  He knew that Mahirap didn't speak Japanese very well; it had to be deliberate.
          "And shapeshifters, there are shapeshifters involved?"  The first word he used was yōkai, animal-who-changes-form; the second, kitsune, the clever fox who could take human form.  Again, something was wrong with the way he spoke of them; most Japanese have subtle but deep-seated fears of the yōkai.
          "Yes sir, shapeshifters."  Takezo used yōkai, adding, "Jaguars.  Many," he finished, sounding reluctant to admit to it.
          "And an underground complex?"  The tone was still subtly off.
          To my secret delight, Takezo looked baffled, then I saw Aswang emerge from the rooms he'd been investigating.  He saw me looking, and gave a firm nod.  Reaching out, I touched the Major lightly on the shoulder; he turned on me with a fierce expression of offense.  I pulled back quickly, then gestured towards Aswang, who had gestured over and was now talking to two of the Tsunami soldiers, one of them a sergeant.  The two soldiers looked towards Takezo, who waved them permission, and the three went into the rooms again.  To his employer, he stated, "We're confirming that now, sir."
          "Very well, I'll wait."
          Fortunately he only had to wait a couple of moments before the trooper emerged and nodded agreement to Takezo.  "It's confirmed," he relayed to our employer.
          "Very well.  Put the koborokuru back on."
          Hitting the privacy button and handing the handpiece back to Mahirap, Takezo gave to me an expression of contempt before walking away, making no apology for his employer; it was clear he felt he should not have to work with metahumans, and that though I was female, as a Japanese I should have enough pride to agree with him.
          Perhaps after all this is done I'll tell him I'm really an elf.
          "Very well," Ginoo Salaysay said in his accented Tagalog again.  "What do you propose?"
          "Triple," replied Mahirap with grinding finality.  "The full remaining balance on the six hundred thousand payable immediately.  It will be necessary to confirm distributions before we take one more step into this cesspit you dropped us in."
          "An extra one hundred," countered the Japanese man immediately.  "Payable upon extermination of the pests."
          I frowned at the use of the word pests, my eyes going to Mahirap's face to find him doing the same.  It wasn't the same term used for metahumans, but it was certainly the same attitude.
          "I'm sorry if you thought we were negotiating," replied my team's leader grimly.  "You want my team -- down one mage -- to go into an underground complex against toxic-magic-wielding regenerating shapeshifters.  If you want my team to take on a suicide mission, you're going to pay us at a rate and in a manner attendant to that mission.  My people are going to know their people taken care of before they take one step further into this place."
          "Two hundred, one payable now, the other when you return," Ginoo Salaysay said, sounding a little more tense.
          "Well, if that's how you feel about losing the rest of your people, I'll make sure to tell them that as we leave.  Good-bye."  Mahirap didn't hang up in his usual abrupt manner, though.
          "Wait," replied the Japanese man.  He fell silent for a moment, then finally said as if biting the heads off nails, "Two now, two in Manila."
          "Two now," suggested Mahirap, "two in escrow with Hong Brothers again.  You pay the escrow fee this time."
          There was a long silence, then reluctantly: "Done."
          "Good.  You have ten minutes to set it up.  Any more time wasted and we'd be walking into even worse shit than we already are; you don't come through, we walk now."
          "Very well.  Let me speak to the Major privately, please."  I frowned again at the Japanese man's tone.
          "Yeah, sure."  Mahirap reached out and pulled my plug before turning and shouting for Takezo, tossing the phone to him and pulling me with him as he walked away from the communications setup.
Pananagutan & End/Line

Old As McBean, Twice As Mean
"Oh, gee - it's Go-Frag-Yourself-O'Clock."
New Wyrm!! Now with Twice the Bastard!!

Laés is ... I forget. -PiXeL01
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Bio ex Machina

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Re: Pananagutan -- A Limited-Ongoing Tale
« Reply #14 on: (18:31:03/05-02-12) »
*avidly scrolling down page* more...more...more...! this is some amazing writing! keep up the good work. only 1 thing that prevents it from being perfect, and it's a small thing: your syntax is a little confusing when the soldiers are throwing their grenades. but other than that its absolutely amazing! i can't wait to see more!

 

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