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The Last Man Standing

(VI) Week 28 Submissions Thread


Well after the thirteen second scare, I thought I'd buy myself a week without a scare.

Actual plans being discussed in this? Chapter 7 finally starting? Only one gay monologue? It's been a surprising few hours week.

Spoiler! :
She did the only reasonable thing, offered a hand to help Safi off the floor. It was quite obviously the rational thing to do, wasn’t it? Safi needed help. Safi was curled into a ball, which was quite a bad shape to be in right after something dangerous like that. This was not weird in the slightest.

Chapter Seven


Sally stood next to Anna, waiting patiently a few feet off from the door to the portal room. It was the best compromise she could currently think of so that their fellow agents would be able to spot them easily while they would also not accidentally overhear whatever was happening inside there. It looked very much like those two needed to have some sort of conversation, a private conversation.
Sally was hoping for one specific kind of private conversation, but Sally had done enough detective work over the years to know that they were about as likely to have the conversation as the had to rise in the North. A negligible chance unless the world was actively ending.
Sally had never hoped for the world to end as much as in this moment. Okay that was lie. That moment had been when Anna had to carry her back during a mission when she’d gone and twisted her ankle.
Sally was proud of herself for being professional about that one despite the strong urge to just curl up. And Anna was large enough that Sally could very comfortable curl up.
“So what’s your assessment of that little situation at the end?”
Sally was also proud of herself for hearing that and responding like she had been totally thinking the most professional thoughts. “At first glance.” Sally shrugged. “Local animals spot bright light and chose to investigate? Seems pretty cut and dry.”
“I sense a but there.”
“We were there for quite a while and these things only decide to attack right as we’re leaving. That just doesn’t add up to me. Animals are clever, but then they would’ve just attacked when all four of us were the most distracted which was while the evidence gathering was ongoing, not when we were walking back and at arguably our most alert point. What would of course be smart enough to attack a group of secret agents headed home is a human that would think people on their way back home might be less attentive to their surroundings.”
Anna nodded. “That’s a pretty reasonable note to make.”
“You don’t agree?”
“Well. I do but also I don’t know if that’s exactly what happened. Pretty big jump to get to that particular conclusion there.”
“That’s fair.”
“My gut is also saying its some sort of coordinated attack but we really haven’t found any evidence at all to start saying that.”
“Yeah. Well, we should probably start by just identifying what exactly those things were.”
“As good a place as any to start.”
“Yes. Well the base is obvio-“ Sally was cut off by the door to the portal room finally opening as Safi and Serafina stepped out. Was it Sally’s inner hopeless romantic seeing things or where they standing maybe just a teeny tiny bit closer to each other than normal.
“Sorry,” started Safi immediately. “I needed a moment to gather my…composure.”
Anna waved it aside. “No explanation needed. That was quite the horrifying encounter to be faced with on your very first excursion to the field. And you managed it incredibly well by the way. Quite a smart move to build up a shield around you and attempt to get to the portal. I’ve seen one too many newbies try to smash a path through and get jumped from behind.”
Safi blushed bright red. “I was just follo-‘”
“I know it’s a standard protocol, but believe me, those who can study the protocol well enough to recite it word for word or perform it perfectly in a pre-determined simulation are not always the same as those who can actually perform it in a real world scenario.”
Safi somehow managed to blush brighter. Sally didn’t even bother looking at Serafina yet. She needed several more eyes, a professional detective, and many shared life-threatening experiences before she’d be able to read that one.
Anna just nodded at Safi. “And Serafina. Good job there too. You stayed calm and collected and didn’t resist Safi’s quick reaction. One too many agents have met their demise just because they wanted to impress their leader a bit too much on a first mission.”
Serafina nodded. “Thank you. I. I trust Safi.”
“That’s excellent. Well shall we then? We can discuss more on those creatures as work. Sally and I were already starting.”
Serafina nodded along with Safi who still looked like she was trying to process the compliments from earlier.
Sally smiled at both of them, finally jumping into the conversation as they all began to walk.
“So, what did you think of the creatures? Both of us agreed that at least they were meant to resemble a pack of regular wild creatures choosing to attack a bright light.”
“I’ll be completely honest. I don’t recall the creatures nearly well enough to understand what they were trying to do exactly but I found it really strange that they tried to block us in more than attack.”
“I noticed that too!” said Safi, almost jumping up and down. Sally was taken aback for a moment. Safi had recovered surprisingly fast from that. She was going to have to file that information away for later.
“Interesting,” said Anna. “Although. Didn’t one of them attack you, Serafina?”
Serafina nodded. “One of them did, yes. But it was the most telegraphed attack I’ve ever seen from an animal. Okay that’s a bit extreme, but it just wasn’t the usual way a wild animal choses to attack unless it somehow moving in slow motion due to a spell.”
“Hmm, that’s a decent assessment but I don’t know how much we can infer from that until we’ve managed to fully identify the species.”
Serafina nodded. “Of course.”

1,008 words


LMS VI: Something about Monsters

2,002 words. Second thousand for next week. Finished at 11:59 pm.


I'd meant to finish a bit earlier today, but I first discovered I'd never actually saved last week's work (thank goodness for these posts, yikes; don't know how I managed that), so I needed to put that in and fix the formatting. And then I got distracted. But hey, I'm still done on time!

Spoiler! :
Sapphire raises her tentacle again, unaware that Dare was about to retort. “Speaking of combat, do you all mind if we go find… well, whatever we need to find? You know, to start with the tournament itself? It’s just been boring so far and I’d rather actually fight monsters or people than listen to you fight with words.”

Felicity crosses her arms. “You mean you didn’t fight the blobfish?”

“The what?”

Sapphire isn’t the only one to be confused; everyone else looks at Felicity in confusion. (Except for Dare, of course, who knows what she means but is still glaring at her. Neither realises that they’re both the only one with their arms crossed.)

She scoffs, dramatically rolls her eyes again, and makes a waving motion. “The green blob-thing that spits acid and tried to eat us!” She narrows her eyes at Sapphire. “Well, not you, clearly.”

Sapphire is even more confused and looks at the others. “It tried to eat… more of you?”

Felicity throws her hands in the air. “No! There were multiple! They try eating us and those pink people and probably anything else that breathes!”

“That’s assuming that everyone else did encounter one,” Dare says flatly. “It might’ve just been us.”

She rounds on them and sneers. “Yeah, because that makes total fucking sense. We’re all dumped in identical alleys, according to them—” She gestures at Dagger, who instinctively flinches. “—and placed near enough to each other that we can easily form a group, but sure, let’s not also be forced to fight the same fucking blobfish to see how we react to the same fucking situation.”

Since the group hasn’t tried to coordinate harmoniously up to that point, Felicity’s insight comes as a surprise to the three who haven’t yet had extensive contact with her. However, there is very little time for them to react. Because there is very little time for her to react.

Dare steps forwards and lands a solid left-hook on Felicity’s cheek.

Felicity reels, stunned by the blow and indignation incarnate. Her indignation turns into fury, of course. She cries out in anger and then makes the mistake of throwing a right-hook in retaliation. Dare, having initiated the fight, expects the punch and lifts their arm, which is brightly glowing in green energy. Felicity punches one of the thorns on Dare’s arm with all of her might and screams in pain.

“You motherfucker!”

Dare lowers their arm but raises their firsts and takes a step back to enter a more defensive stance. They smirk. “Yeah, actually.”

Coil sighs and rests his face in his hand. Dagger and Sapphire are both too shocked to speak or react, but Dagger is horrified whereas Sapphire is still confused — but no longer because she doesn’t understand what’s going on; rather, because she’s not sure whether she should try to get her teammates to stop fighting or whether to egg them on. Finally, some action!

Felicity screams in incoherent rage and almost rips at one of the growths on her chest, turning the scream into an explosive wave of sound. Dare is blown off their feet and land harshly on their side on the asphalt a couple metres away. Unfortunately, everyone else is hit by the sound wave too, toppling Dagger as well and making Coil and Sapphire stagger back.

“Blasted woman,” Coil shouts, holding his hands over his ears, “get a hold of yourself!”

She most definitely does not get a hold of herself. She hasn’t heard Coil at all, in fact, and lunges at Dare with electrically enhanced speed. Dare raises an arm to protect themselves, but Felicity is much too fast and kicks them in the back, knocking them over onto their face. Dare growls and makes a swipe at her, but Felicity has already, almost in the same motion as the kick, leaped a good metre and a half away, well out of Dare’s reach.

“Not so fucking cocky now, huh, asshole?” She barks a laugh and jogs on the spot, though she also shakes her right first, which clearly still hurts from punching Dare’s spiky arm. “If you’re gonna take a swing at me, you better make it count, ‘cause I’m not gonna turn the other cheek.”

Coil, having taken his hands off his ears, glares alternately at Sapphire, who looks considerably more excited by then, and Dagger, who’s still shakily getting up. “Aren’t either of you going to do something? Stop her!”

At the same time, Dare pushes themselves onto their knees and shoots a look of pure hatred at Felicity. “And if you’re gonna kick an enby while they’re down—” Their left hand, hidden from Felicity’s view, begins to glow green. “—you better make damned sure they don’t get back up.” On that last word, they make a yanking motion with their glowing hand. A shimmering green vine had sprouted near one of Felicity’s legs shortly after Dare’s hand had begun to glow, and it had coiled around her leg without touching it. With the yanking motion, the vine pulled Felicity’s leg back to the vine’s point of origin, taking her down to the road in a startled yelp.

She blocks her fall with her hands, but she hits her knees when she falls onto her stomach and cries out. Sapphire says, “Oh!” seeing an opportunity to join in on the action. She jogs towards Felicity, who is still dazed from the fall, and kneels down to slip a tentacle under Felicity’s right arm at the armpit and lock her tentacle on the back of Felicity’s neck, thereby immobilising the arm. Since Sapphire has three tentacles, she then coils her two left tentacles around Felicity’s left arm, grabbing it at the wrist while also hyperextending it at the elbow. Finally, she uses her upper right tentacle to grapple Felicity in a rudimentary chokehold. Felicity struggles for only a second before the pain kicks in and she holds still.

“Nah, girl,” Sapphire says, “I’ve got you in three different types of holds.”

“I’m not… tapping out!” Felicity gasps.

“I can’t tell you to get comfortable, so I guess we’ll just be here a while. Don’t try that shouting thing again, since you’ll hurt yourself way more than you’ll hurt me. Let’s just cool off, yeah?”

I got a fight scene done! :D Just not the one I expected. XD It's 1049 words in total! And I'm now officially at 30K words. B)


Spoiler! :
When I was in my early twenties, after the migraine at the bookstore, the ambulance ride there, the shuddering blissfulness of the medication kicking in, I signed up to become a 911 responder, and I started taking classes. The instructors talked about what to say on the phone, how to gather as much information as possible, memory exercises to record details quickly and efficiently, procedures we needed to take. They told us about the signs of abuse, key signs to look for that something was wrong in a situation, what to do if someone seemed to have called the wrong number.

I would go to training starting at eight o’clock, and I would get home at four—I was staying in an extra room at my dad’s house at the time, unable to keep up the cost of my own apartment, especially not having quit my job at the bookstore. My dad was away for work most of the time anyway, so even living in the same house, we didn’t bump into each other much. I’d wondered sometimes if my dad had been having an affair growing up, if that was why he was home so late so many nights, but after dropping out of college and moving into his house, it had become increasingly clear that wasn’t the case; he was addicted to work as much as my mom was to church. He found solace in it. And he found a way to be there as much as he could, take up as much of his time away from his house as possible, even when he was the only one there.

He’d get home, and he’d prepare dinner around seven, and we’d sometimes eat in silence, sometimes in separate rooms; and then he’d go to his room. Paperwork, likely, or maybe a phone conversation with a client who lived in a different time zone. He never stopped. I could understand how my mom tired of it. I didn’t, though. My dad and I didn’t have the type of relationship where I felt the need to talk through things all the time, and there wasn’t much for me to discuss about what I did during the day, unless I wanted to detail the signs that a victim on the phone might be in the same room as an abuser, or the steps of compartmentalizing and depersonalizing yourself from every situation on the job: not that my dad would’ve needed help with that—depersonalizing himself, I mean. He always seemed to have it down. Well, almost always.

And I did too. I learned it quickly, that skill of shoving your emotions so far down your throat that you can’t even feel yourself choking on them, suffocating on them, even. Letting them lie in your stomach, untroubled, swirling just enough to produce that faint uneasiness you could chalk up to a bad sandwich from the deli down the street. Separate yourself. Your emotions will only cause time to slip by, to drift down the current and sweep out of your reach, and you won’t even realize it’s gone until you’re sitting in a living room, and your parents are crying, and your dad isn’t depersonalized anymore, he’s crying, and your mom is too, and they’re saying they’re sorry, but you can’t tell if they’re apologizing to you or for you, and you know it doesn’t matter either way, and you can’t seem to grasp—fully grasp, I mean—that feeling in your stomach, because it’s not in your stomach anymore, it’s rising, it’s swelling, it’s crashing over—no, into—you, run into the pavement, head smashed on the bathtub, water swirling down the drain with the faint smell of death in the air, and you can’t—

You can’t. You can never let that take over you. You can never let those emotions out.

You save lives.

You are doing good.

Keep it buried.

It’ll be fine.

And I did. I kept it buried. And I did it well. I didn’t dwell on anything when I got home after hours and hours of looking at photos of horrific injuries, of learning about what people had gone through, what people go through, and I didn’t think about it, I didn’t think about their names or their stories, because I knew I was going to be helping them, I knew I was going to be helping people like them, not the ones in the examples, but real ones, real people, and I was going to be the reason they were saved, there was no maybe there, it was not a question, it was a fact, because it had to be a fact, and it had to happen, and there was no way it wasn’t going to happen.

And on the nights when the emotions began to rise, liquid pooling into my lungs to drown me, I would turn on the television. And I would sit down on the couch in the dark, the volume turned up, a pillow hugged to my chest. And I would watch Family Feud. It was a mindless show, really, one that didn’t take much brain power or contemplation, and they ran it all through the night on the game channel in my area, episode after episode after episode that by the end of the night, when I struggled to rise from the couch at two, three in the morning, when my brain had finally numbed to the buzzers and the ‘good answer’s, they’d blended together. I didn’t know where one ended and the next began. And I think it was better that way.

The world around me would swirl in blues and whites, that pure, clear, nothingness with just that tinge, just that taste of the ocean that swirled around me, in my lungs, in the air. It was drifting towards the grayness by that point, but it hadn’t reached it yet, and I basked in that in-between feeling, that just-numb-enough feeling that I rode through every day during training, every night when my dad and I didn’t talk through dinner, every Sunday morning when I woke up and stared at the ceiling but couldn't’ drag myself out of bed to go to church, just stared and waited for God to blast me to hell—held my breath.

1041 words


Chapter 7: Regulus, Part 3, cookie-cutter scholarship essays, and dead bird bingo.

1,044 words (29,028 total), 40 lines, and 40 lines (2,174 total), respectively.

we went from advice to meth real quick
— ShadowVyper