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NaNo2021: Project Mutant Families



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Points: 41664
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Mon Oct 11, 2021 10:37 am
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dystopian
soft sci-fi/ martial arts
masters and disciples
families of choice
conflict of moral duties
eldritch creatures


In a world where families of human mutants occupy liminal space between dangerous monsters and helpful heroes, a young mutant ranger struggles to live up to his duties and expectations of himself, facing the burden of making sure a legacy can survive and thrive.

Meanwhile, aided by an adoring posse, a mutant returns from the unmutated territory with a thirst for vengeance for the land that hurt her, but will have to confront an established community and people willing to defend it. Her goal now is to take over the entire mutation zone and wipe out any traces of the old system, replacing it with what she thinks is a better one.

Spoiler! :
So basically, take the student-teacher conflicts from the first Kung Fu Panda movie and make it darker, mix in the moral themes of Madoka Magica, and finish with a dash of the vibes of Never Let Me Go. That's the best way I can describe this right now.


Goal: 50,000 words
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542 Reviews


Gender: Female
Points: 41664
Reviews: 542
Mon Nov 01, 2021 10:43 am
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Day 1

2112 words

Random character fact of the day: Hai Gang, the father of my protag, knows a martial arts style kind of based on Tai Chi that allows him to control the effects of his mutation and maintain his health, despite significant damage caused by the fact that his mutation is something that literally melts his body.

Snippet of the day:
Spoiler! :

Papa reached into the black pouch he kept tied around his waist, before pulling out a colourful piece of paper that was folded into a tiny square. He unfolded it, and Ren watched the red and yellow blobs expand into a poster. Culinary Arts.

With a cheery voice, Papa explained. “I saw it at the bus stop the other day. Just thought you’d be interested.”

“You pulled me aside for this?” Ren’s eyes were wide. He clamped his jaw shut, noticing it had fallen open. “The way you were acting, I thought somebody died!”
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542 Reviews


Gender: Female
Points: 41664
Reviews: 542
Tue Nov 02, 2021 5:05 pm
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Day 2

1597 words

Random character fact of the day: Aruna listens to a lot of Green Day.

Snippet of the day:

Spoiler! :
“Do you ever think I’m too hard on people, Sher?”
The girl blinked at her in confusion. “You’re about as hard as you need to be.”
Then, her eyes shone, swimming with something – admiration? Distance? A daydream? “I mean, seriously, you’re nineteen and all these guys you keep seeing are twenty-something. You gotta have something to keep them all in check.”
Aruna shrugged. Maybe she was right. Shereen was often right about these things. The little cartoon girl on the cherry soda can was stuck in a wave.
Turning back to her desk, back to her work, Aruna began to sort out her papers. She had a lot to think about, especially before the next council meeting. Her black binder, with all its notes, was a sprawling mess and she needed to set it right. On the wall beside her desk, there was a small yellow post-it, with the words ‘Call Dad’.
Aruna pinched it between her fingers, looked at it for a second, and then slipped the note into the pocket of her coat.
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542 Reviews


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Points: 41664
Reviews: 542
Wed Nov 03, 2021 4:03 pm
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Day 3

2084 words

Random character fact of the day: As a 7-year-old, Ren saw an unmutated city council official shout at Hai Gang and mistreat him in public. Ren intervened, which caused more trouble for HG. Afterwards, during training, HG tried to advise him and even took off the mask from that helmet he usually wears so he could see his face in conversation – but it was less his words and more his anguish ( that Ren tried to protect him, but Ren doesn’t know that) which affected him. Ren sometimes thinks about the one time he remembers seeing his father's bare face.

Snippet of the day:
Spoiler! :

The decommissioned ferry they all lived in loomed large against the grey sky. Waves lapped gently. The sounds soft and familiar in his skull. Ren walked, head slightly bowed, putting his hands in his pockets as he silently appraised his siblings, who were filing in over the ramp.
Dinners were usually with everyone. Papa insisted.
Fluorescent light, though dim, burnt his eyes at the first glimpse. It came from the single lamp right in the front of the ferry. Ren looked up briefly at the other empty spaces in the ceiling, whee lights had once been. All removed. They didn’t need them. And some of the siblings with Type-C mutations had irritated eyes if there was too much light in the room.
His siblings’ shadows bustled on the dark green sides of the ferry, like the impression of a thick forest.


This descriptive bit is a little choppy, but I love this particular setting in the story, so I'm sharing it first.
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542 Reviews


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Points: 41664
Reviews: 542
Thu Nov 04, 2021 4:16 pm
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Day 4

688 words

Random character fact of the day: Ren and Hai Gang share the same mutation, the Type-D mutation. The 'D' stands for discombobulation. Those with this mutation can melt, stretch, extend their bodies . . . at a cost to their health.

Snippet of the day:
(Enspoilered for visceral/ gory images)

Spoiler! :

“Why would we freak out?” Thomas asked, a smirk starting on the corner of his lips. Before he could go on further, Ren interrupted.
“Because I melt a lot.” Ren rolled his sleeve up to the elbow. He squeezed the muscles of his forearm, raising it into the air. With a deep exhale, he melted the flesh all down from his first to the crook of his arm, sending it in a sort of expanding motion that flashed the white of his bone. Then, just as quickly, he drew everything back in and pulled down his sleeve.
Thomas’ face looked a little green.
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542 Reviews


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Points: 41664
Reviews: 542
Fri Nov 05, 2021 4:36 pm
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Day 5

1489 words

Random character fact of the day: Kingpiece/Hanzi's hobby is collecting antiques.

Snippet of the day:

A somewhat violent action scene.
Spoiler! :

When an Agitator leapt up, seemingly flying in from her side, she was prepared. Aruna’s exoskeleton shot out from the elbows, forming two sharp blades. She spun around, knocking the lizard-like creature off balance. Defensive maneuver accomplished, she immediately aimed an uppercut – right to a spot just above the Agitator’s triangular chin. The elbow blade cut its stomach. Its tendrils sparkled to life, and Aruna pivoted, and leapt backwards to avoid them. She reached out a hand to balance herself on a rusting satellite disc.
The effort was piecemeal. Again and again, the Agitator got up. This was why they had a kill-on-sight policy for these things. The second strike, Aruna sliced off one of its tendrils. A risky move, but worth it. In the confusion, she leapt over it, and one of its own tendrils slapped against its own body. It convulsed, emitting a high-pitched shriek. Then it fell off the roof with a thump.
Like an iguana.

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542 Reviews


Gender: Female
Points: 41664
Reviews: 542
Sat Nov 06, 2021 4:45 pm
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Day 6

2201 words

Random character fact of the day: At most times, these are the contents of Ren's pockets -- pepper spray, anti-mutant spray (for the Corrupted, not himself), disinfectant, probably an extra pocket . . . loose change for vending machines

Snippet of the day:
Spoiler! :

“And besides,” Ren chuckled. “Who are you to talk? Your whole life is a stunt.”
“Ten out of ten? Or are you one of those judges who gives an eleven?”
“Glad to see you’re still full of yourself.”
“My pleasure.”
Aruna sighed, looking up. Weird. There was nothing up there but darkness and the occasional satellite. Ren glanced upwards too, just to check.
“The moon should be full tonight,” she remarked. “Wonder why we can’t see it.”
“Oh. The jetty usually covers it up. Yeah.”
Aruna hummed non-commitally. She side-eyed him for a moment. Neither of them talked further about the battle. “Guess I’ll see you at the college tomorrow. I’ve got some business with your mother.”
Ren perked up with interest. His mother? A wave of guilt washed over him; he’d forgotten she was there with them tonight. Craning his neck, he could just about see the small, prim, and dark silhouette walking a few steps behind Papa.
As Aruna walked away, she took her hands out of her pockets and evened her steps into a confident stride.
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542 Reviews


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Points: 41664
Reviews: 542
Sun Nov 07, 2021 12:21 pm
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Day 7

1922 words

Random character fact of the day: Aruna needs to carry around calcium and collagen tablets, because her exoskeleton mutation (Type-B) allows her to extend the exoskeleton into blades at the cost of these materials in her body.

Snippet of the day:
Spoiler! :

The High Street was dimly lit. Ornate black lamps were often broken, the glass shattered and the bulbs stolen, but the residents had hung bulbs from their own roofs, so there was still enough light for them to toe their way. They had only one destination, despite the handful of offerings in Ayer Pedang at night. They pointedly walked away from the small night market that had popped up on the main square of the High Street, instead veering off into a row of shophouses, nearly all of which were closed. Except for the hardware store.
When they walked in, the old lady with the hair rollers glanced up from her newspaper. Her lined eyes recognized them, and she looked down again. She was reading the Ayer Pedang Bulletin, and not the MZ Daily. Sometimes she seemed to have been reading the Ayer Pedang Bulletin forever.
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Points: 41664
Reviews: 542
Mon Nov 08, 2021 4:46 pm
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Day 8

1760 words

Random character fact of the day: Although Ren likes to act as though he's the oldest sibling in the Buttress family, he's not. The oldest sibling is Dan - but Dan is quite happy to let Ren pretend he's older.

Snippet of the day (featuring Dan!):
Spoiler! :

“Do you think we could implement a system to keep track of where all the stuff is each night?” Dan said, as he munched thoughtfully.

Ren looked up with interest. Dan had done a degree in engineering at some point. It wasn’t something he knew much about, because Dan never talked about it. “What kind of system?”

Dan’s eyes widened. “You know, if we could tie little ribbons to them. Colour-coded, maybe. Then we could leave the ribbons hanging outside of the cabinet doors like bookmarks and just . . . pull on them when we need something – “

A clump of rice fell out of Ren’s slack jaw.
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542 Reviews


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Points: 41664
Reviews: 542
Tue Nov 09, 2021 4:10 pm
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Day 9

608 words

Random character fact of the day: Aruna's least favourite animal is the rabbit, because people used to compare her to a rabbit as a child and she didn't like it.

Snippet of the day:
Spoiler! :

She’d been there when Wander left home. It had been a sunny day, the breeze blowing, rustling the trees of this very park. There had been a farewell ceremony, the usual one for mutants leaving the zone, but with added gravitas.

The old man who headed the Bridge family was much shorter than his charge, but he handed them the bokken with no less weightiness to his demeanour. Wander looked thoroughly uncomfortable, fidgeting and glancing left and right, though they kept their head bowed until the transfer was complete.
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Wed Nov 10, 2021 5:18 pm
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Day 10

2254 words

Random character fact of the day: Aruna's father works on the moon due to his mutation giving him some advantage up in outer space. He's a friend of Hai Gang and Jun, and is working on some mutation-related research.

Snippet of the day:
Spoiler! :

“I’ve been thinking about it.” Ren tucked his chin, looking away. “I’ve been trying to get better.”
Now Papa looked confused. “Get better at what?”
“Everything. Being a ranger. Being part of the family.”
Being taken in as a baby, and not when he was older and perhaps sworn to some other party first like so many of his siblings, his status in the family had supposedly been unquestioned. Had remained unquestioned for too long, probably. Nowadays it felt like it had become something of a shivering, shimmering fog that could move any moment. Maybe it had always been like that, he just didn’t notice.
“Ren . . . “ The sympathy and surprise pouring out of his father’s voice was too much for him to bear, and Ren sat up.
“Nothing’s wrong, Papa. I just know I have some things to work on. That’s all.”
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542 Reviews


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Points: 41664
Reviews: 542
Thu Nov 11, 2021 5:02 pm
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Day 11

1825 words

Random character fact of the day: Aruna's zodiac sign is Cancer, Ren's is Capricorn and Kingpiece's is Leo.

Snippet of the day:
Spoiler! :

“Think I’ve got to go to bed, Dad.”
“Oh!” Suddenly her father seemed to be in a hurry. His visor grew large in the camera for a moment as he seemed to lodge his device in between something else to keep it steady. Then he floated his way backwards to pick up something. It was a white card with some calligraphy written on it.
“Happy early birthday, Aruna. I was going to mail this, but I had a feeling it wouldn’t arrive in the post in time.”

Aruna’s mouth went dry. She hadn’t even remembered it would be her birthday in a bit. “. . . Thanks.”

Maybe her father was smiling here, she wasn’t sure. It was just a formality. Something nice, because they didn’t have enough nice things. Dad was generous like that, wasn’t he? Then why was she so reluctant to click the red button?
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542 Reviews


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Points: 41664
Reviews: 542
Fri Nov 12, 2021 5:03 pm
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Day 12

1909 words

Random character fact of the day: Nadia used to have a close friend, who moved away to the Unmutated Zone without saying goodbye.

Snippet of the day:
Spoiler! :

He looked down at the pair of sunglasses he was hanging from the pocket of his button-up. It was a shirt he almost never wore. It didn’t smack of the Mutation Zone at all – and really, that was what they were going for. Around him, the children were dressed in graphic tees and shorts. Shereen stood some distance away, her short curls framing her face, wearing a yellow knee-length dress. Beside her, Aruna was wearing a similar dress in white – no doubt borrowed from Shereen’s closet. And the sunglasses, she’d gotten from Ren, who’d been loaned them by Nadia.

Speaking of whom. Ren watched Nadia as she stood in a circle of the other siblings who’d had their schedule free enough for the day. She was wearing her favourite bubblegum pink tudung, a blue sweatshirt and jeans. Nadia was one of the few of them who already dressed like she could be Unmutated.
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542 Reviews


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Points: 41664
Reviews: 542
Sat Nov 13, 2021 3:51 pm
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Day 13

1294 words

Random character fact of the day: Aruna is really good at playing dance games like DDR.

Snippet of the day:
Spoiler! :
Picking an arbitrary direction to walk in, Aruna headed off, Shereen at her elbow. Seeing that their ‘leader’ had seemingly disbanded them, the rest of the kids finally started exploring the arcade. Shereen smiled.

Aruna stopped at one of the claw machines for a moment, inspecting it from top to bottom. It had a variety of large fluffy stuffed animals, including a tiger and a unicorn. There were also smaller items, like keychains and plastic figurines.

Suddenly Shereen’s hand was on her shoulder. “That one looks cool.” Shereen was pointing at one of the booths with a screen, which flashed with light. The seat before that one had what looked like a boat oar attached to it.
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542 Reviews


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Points: 41664
Reviews: 542
Sun Nov 14, 2021 3:57 pm
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Day 14

3364 words

Random character fact of the day: Knight's personal name is Chitose.

Snippet of the day:
Spoiler! :
Everything on the street seemed to freeze at once. The two girls with double sunglasses clung onto each other, the comedy of their appearance disintegrating. Knight and Bishop were locked to the pavement, each looking around frantically for the cause of the alarm. Cut off from the Rook family’s main building, Knight and Bishop almost seemed to be two ordinary mutants.
Without their battle suits, would they all end up crowding together in the Rook’s household? Ren was sure they’d be discovered, if that happened.
Before Ren could grab Aruna’s hand and run, a lorry came rumbling down the road, a megaphone from it blasting. “This is the Local Security Unit! The siren was a false alarm! I repeat, the siren was a false alarm! There is no Corrupted activity!”
Ren exhaled. His entire posture went slack. Beside him, Aruna seemed composed as usual, but he could tell she had exited her fighting stance. They could believe the local security units. After all, most of them were run by Aruna’s lab.
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Follow your passion. Stay true to yourself. Never follow someone else's path unless you're in the woods and you're lost and you see a path. By all means, you should follow that.
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