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(LMSVI) The Ruptured Shadow, Chapter 1.2

by HarryHardy

Serafina nodded. “Precisely.” She produced a lighter, flicking it open with a click.

Safi popped the cap off the bottle, bending down a little and spreading her legs to get into a more stable position. There was no telling what could happen. Given the electric handle, there was no guarantee that the door wasn’t just going to explode right in their faces.

Serafina nodded, hitting the button. It took a few tries and a couple of shakes but on the sixth attempt the tiny flame flickered to life. Safi took a deep breath. Here we go. Arson time.

She pressed down on the perfume and the thin stream of perfume sprayed perfectly into the path of the flame, turning the harmless sweet-smelling liquid into a large fiery ball of death that blasted right into the center of the door under the sign.

There was the sound of something splintering and a large crack appeared in the center of the door. Safi’s stared at it. That wasn’t what wood normally did when exposed to fire. Not if she remembered that class correctly anyway.

She let up on the perfume, their temporary flamethrower cutting off instantly to reveal…just a crack. There was no sign whatsoever to suggest that the door had just been exposed to any form of fire, not even the weird coagulating that tended to happen on fireproof paint. It could be some sort of ward but even those usually gave off some sort of other indication.

“Well, that was…” began Serafina.



“I guess….” Safi was cut off by the sound of splintering wood. The two of them swiveled towards the door. The crack was widening somehow, even without any visible force and as they watched, it bent inwards and the door proceeded to snap in half like a cheese cracker falling in two pieces into the room.

Wide green eyes met Safi’s own.

“Well...” they chorused, both trying to talk at the same time. Safi recovered first, quickly moving bow and gesture towards the open door. “After you milady.”

Serafina did a little double take, before she seemed to realize where she was, tossing the lighter back into her pocked as she nodded in thanks and stepped over the broken wreckage of the door.

Safi stepped in after her. Her hands instinctively moved up in surrender, ready to apologize before she realized that this was supposed to be her solution to this test and apologizing for it was definitely going to be sending the wrong message.

She proceeded to put her hands on her hips. That’s when she realized that she was still holding the perfume. This was a mess. She was a mess.

“That was…” came a voice from within the room, the drama dripping off it in waves. Safi grimaced, closing her eyes to hear the verdict. “…very cool.”

Safi opened her eyes out of pure shock. What? Had she actually done it?

“Vankous we’re trying to be professional here,” said a second voice. “You’re not helping that cause in the slightest.”

“Excuse me, I am…”

A third person cleared their throat.

Safi stood there in shock still trying to make sense of all of it. She focused on the room. Focusing on the three people sitting on the other end of the room clearly wasn’t going to help her calm down.

Taking a deep breath, she looked around. It was a surprisingly cozy environment compared to the rest of the agency. Gone were the white tiles and indifferent blue lights. It looked almost homey with the cheery wallpaper depicting various landscapes ranging from fields of flowers to a golden dual sunset. It was much more chaotic too, wrapped around the walls with no discernable pattern.

The floor was carpeted, the fluffy carpet soft and squishy even through Safi’s combat boots. Unlike most of the other rooms within the agency it wasn’t bare, making even the tiniest room seem massive.

No, this room felt almost cluttered by the number of comfortable couches and various tables covered in food and drink scattered about. Even though it had to be one of the larger rooms that Safi had walked into.

She took a deep breath, using the peaceful images in the walls to ground herself so she could finally look up towards the judges. That’s when there was a loud thud from behind her and she whirled around, barely managing to suppress the urge to scream.

She breathed a sigh of relief. It was not someone charging in with a baseball bat to clobber them on the back for breaking the door. The door was in fact stitching itself back together somehow and rising up to take its former place.

She shrugged and turned back to the judges. The door doing that was hardly the most magical thing about that door or this place for that matter. She took another second, this time focusing on her own combat boots to ground herself once again before finally looking up at the judges.

“Welcome, Ms. Vialena and Ms. Gianova,” began the one in the center. “My name is Hardy. Katherine Hardy. But everyone calls me Kate. If I hear a single one of you even try to call me Captain Hardy, we’ll have strong words about it.” She chuckled, even as the judge on her right rolled his eyes.

Safi found herself mid panic for the third time in probably less than three minutes. The summer dress in a very particular shade of blue. The unmistakable logo on the top right of said dress. The glasses tinted a very specific shade. The vibrant blue hair hanging in loose curls. This was THE Kate Hardy. The legend. And… And. Safi forgot how to breathe for a second. She’d just asked Safi to call her Kate.

“Oh for goodness sake. Does everyone have a crush on you?” It was the judge that had spoken up first. As Safi looked towards him, she could easily recognize the lab coat, also emblazoned with a specific symbol, a calculator sticking out of his pocket and purple hair slicked into a style Safi knew well. Not to mention how one of the other judges had clearly called him Vankous. She recognized him too. This was THE Vankous. This day was getting more stressful by the minute.

She glanced closer at the other judge. If those two were... She gulped. Despite the fairly normal look of the spotless three piece suit and tie, the symbol on the top right pocket gave away who it actually was, not to mention the R shaped cufflinks. That was Raymond Sanders. It was the only explanation, especially next to those two.

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Sun Oct 23, 2022 3:20 pm
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Liminality wrote a review...

Hey Harry! Lim here with a short review.

First Impressions
I thought this was quite a delightful chapter. There were a few funny moments, like Safi’s thoughts about it being “arson time”. It looks like we’re hyping up these three new characters to anticipate something important happening in the plot, which I’m definitely excited for (here’s to Safi getting accepted into this job she wants!). The reaction of the door to the fire definitely made me think someone was controlling it to crack open once the interviewee had discovered an acceptable solution to the problem, and by Vankous’s line, it looks like I was right :D

I think having a bit more context as to who Kate Hardy, Vankous and Raymond Sanders are before encountering them in the story might help make Safi’s very admiring tone feel more natural? At the moment, I still don’t know what this secret agency is about, and how Safi found out about it and its members, so I don’t quite feel the epic reveal moment that Safi is feeling.
Something that stands out to me about the introduction of these three is that they have very colourful character designs, which is neat, and also that they seem to be pretty unconventional interviewers. I like that this is also signalled using the setting, which is described being very different from the rest of the facility that Safi and Serafina have entered.

In general, I think you’ve done a great job of varying sentence lengths to effect here! There weren’t any large chunks of text, and as a whole the chapter read smoothly and things felt like they were being kept in motion.

She proceeded to put her hands on her hips. That’s when she realized that she was still holding the perfume. This was a mess. She was a mess.

I noticed you’re being very consistent with showing Safi’s negative/ nervous thoughts in the narration, and that’s a good way to establish her character through the writing style.
I also like how you wrote Safi and Serafina’s dialogue overlapping at the first part of the chapter. I thought that carried over the comedic feel of that part quite well and it also feels realistic to the way people actually talk.

I’m curious to see how Safi will be given this job. I have a strong feeling she *will* be given the job, but since the interview/test was so interesting I’m wondering how the hiring itself will play out :D I’m also eager to know more about these three figures, what they do at the secret agency (and what the secret agency does in general) and how they’ll be important to the story.

Feel free to ask for more feedback!

HarryHardy says...

Thank youu for the review!! :)

Life is about losing everything.
— Isabel Allende