Communication on a Massive Scale

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Re: Communication on a Massive Scale

Postby Westpilot » Mon Mar 23, 2015 1:57 am

“Listen Mark, all I’m saying is that you saying that you’ve been dating this girl for three years means nothing to me if I’ve never actually met her.” Dean’s eyes stared accusingly out at Mark from over the rim of his coffee cup, a flick of the mouse’s thin pink tail adding to the force of his statement.

“No, no I know man...” Mark ran his hand through his hair and sighed, drumming his hand across the polished metal of the table in one of the many cafe’s on campus that they were seated at. “It’s just... Complicated is all.”

“How complicated could it possibly be?” A pair of purple eyes rolled upwards as he took a sip of the dark brew. “Seriously man, I’m in comp sci. Do you know how many of my classmates are dating virtual people that they designed themselves?”

“Huh. Really? Well, I guess that takes a lot of trouble out of it...” Mark paused, then shot his friend a grin. “Did you ever try something that?”

“Puh, no way. You know when I go into the simulations it’s strictly for my Monsters and Miniatures nights. I am, as you know, the greatest wizard this side of the seven kingdoms. Agmenon, master of the sea!” Dean thrust his arms up mightily, curling his fingers to display the awesome might they possessed!

“Oh yeah? Tell me more about this great power that you possess!” The human sat back a bit in his seat and placed his hand under his chin.

“Well, let’s see last night we encountered this lava demon, and so I had to... Hey! Oh screw you, you’re not getting off that easy.” His expression narrowed once again. “Come on man, it really bugs me that you feel like you can’t trust me with this.”

“No, no! It’s not that I can’t trust you it’s just... Shit, I don’t even know how to properly explain it...” Mark let out a sigh and thought for a moment. “Okay, I think that maybe it would be better for you to meet her in person. We were planning a picnic this Saturday, so that would be a good time to bring you along and introduce you two!”

“This saturday, huh?” Dean brought his arm up and started flipping it through the air. The computer circuits that were installed on his irises sparkled gently as they brought up a holographic user interface. “Hmm, calendar app says I’m free.” He brought his hand down and looked back at his friend. “What time are you planning on leaving?”

“Gonna head out around ten o clock. Leave time to get there and get through the security checkpoints.”

“Woah, wait? You guys are doing it outside the city?” Dean’s already stark white fur seemed to turn whiter still. “Isn’t that a bit dangerous?”

“Yeah, she prefers to meet out away from all this technology and stuff. Kinda get away from it all, y’know? Anyways we don’t go terribly far away, managed to find a place that’s rarely frequented by giants at least.”

“Oh man she’s one of those huh? Should’ve figured you’d go after one of them ‘back to nature’ types.”

Mark rolled his eyes and started to get up from the table. “She’s not really like that... Ah, well you’ll get to meet her anyways and, I’m sure, have no end of commentary on my taste in women.”

His friend’s expression softened “Aww hey man, you know I’m just teasing you. Believe me, I’m super glad you found someone that makes you happy. And no matter what she’s like, that’s all that matters, right?”

The human laughed and nodded, clapping Dean on the shoulder. “That’s absolutely correct man. I’ll come pick you up on Saturday from your place then... Try and keep that attitude in mind when you meet her okay? For now I gotta get going and finish an errand.”

Dean nodded in reply and patted Mark’s fingers, smirking a bit. “Alright man, I’ll be sure to. See ya!”

Mark sighed as he left the cafe, feeling the heavy weight in the bottom of his backpack that was sure to give him a nasty neck cramp by the time he made it out to where he was meeting Emily tonight. It was times like this when he really wished he’d sprung for a car...


“Ms. Syllo, let me tell you you’ve got a real winner on your hands! I love this comic, every bit of it. The whole ‘Cantolian and Minevan become friends’ angle is really something unique.” Daisy wore a huge grin as she examined the comics that her old friend had sent her after they’d raving about an artist with ‘a lot of potential’. For her it was a rare thing to recognize the talent of someone at such an early age, but this lioness clearly had it! Well... almost had it, at least. Really all she needed was an excellent editor to help her refine her skills.

“Well, gosh, I don’t really know what to say! I’m really glad you like it, honestly I wasn’t sure the concept would ring with a lot of people.” A peppy young voice came through the receiver on her phone, stilted with the nerves that come with the potential for your first big break.

Daisy smirked as she twirled the chord of her phone against her long, slender claws. “On the contrary, I think it’s something quite a few will find endearing. My syndicate can put you into about twenty or so papers across the nation to start. I’d need enough strips from you to run for at least two weeks, including sunday formats. And you can expect about forty dollars per newspaper per week, though the syndicate takes half of that.”

“I... I... T-that’s incredible! Umm, yes I’ll absolutely be able to do that for you. When would you like the strips by?” Her voice was just teetering on the edge of screaming with excitement, she could tell, but the young lady was doing a fine job keeping herself calm.

“I’ll need them within three weeks at the very least while I negotiate the space for you. And then after that I’ll need a weeks worth of comics delivered every thursday night before 11 pm. Can you do that?”

“Yes! Yes. I most definitely can.”

“Wonderful! We’ll do a test run of your comic for a couple months, and if it’s received well we’ll look at bringing it to other newspapers around the continent. Hell, even the world!” She made a swooping motion with her red-tipped claws to emphasize the point.

“W-wow, worldwide? I mean that’s kind of a big stretch, wouldn’t you say?”

“Not at all! Listen, I was born and raised in Tajiran and while I’m still kind of confused by a lot of aspects of your peoples’ culture I can tell you truthfully that your humour manages to cross over really well. And anyways, with the right marketing people will eat anything up, so really don’t worry yourself about all that. What I need from you is to keep pumping out comics just like the ones I was sent, then you and I can work on improving them and making them into something really special.” The zangoose smiled and tapped a claw on the varnished top of her wooden desk.

“Of course! I- I wow, this is incredible!" The excitement in her voice was very evident even through the phone. She couldn’t help but smile wider at that thought... The poor girl was probably shaking in her seat!

"Alright hon, I'll let you go celebrate now. I'll be in touch with you by the end of the week.”

The other end of the line went silent with a click, filling Emily’s ears with the sound of the dial tone. Her hand shook as she put her phone down, barely able to contain her grin as she looked over at the husky seated across from her on the couch. She had come by to visit now that Emily had settled into her new apartment, and the two had been chatting a about this and that when the phone rang.

“So it went well?” She asked, tail beating against the side of the couch with a loud whump as she leaned forward.

“It... It did! She wants to put Pie In The Sky into a bunch of newspapers across the country!”

“Oh wow! That’s so great! See? Mark and I always told you you’d make it big someday. Just remember us little guys when you get to the top.” The thick furred canine gave her a wink, then walked across the room to the fridge in her little kitchenette.

Emily rolled her eyes. “Oh come on, Ly, it’s not like I’m becoming a movie star or something like that.”

“Uh-huh. And speaking of Mark...” Lyla’s voice rang out as she leaned down to grab a can of root beer.

Oh boy here it comes... “Yeeeeeees?”

“When do I get to meet the guy we’ve known for more than a decade and whom you’ve been dating for the last few years? Not that the video chats aren’t tons of fun to tease you both on, but I want to meet the guy face to face.” Her voice was joined by the sound of tupperware clinking together as she searched through the depths of the fridge.

“I know, I know... It’s just hard with him being in school still his program eats up all his free time, and when he does have some we prefer to spend it together. Like tonight will be the first time I’ve seen him in weeks.”

“Okay fine, I understand that. But still...” The fridge door slammed shut behind her and the can made a little Tsssst! sound as she cracked it open. “Even during summer break? Come on Em, this whole thing is getting a bit much.”

“Ly...” She sighed. “Okay, I promise you’ll get to meet him soon. I don’t know when, but soon, and that’s all I can promise.”

“Okay, okay, I’ll drop it for now...” Lyla sighed as she leaned back into the couch cushions and took a swig from her drink. “So your new boss is Tajiran, huh? That’s cool! I wonder if she can do those fancy techniques like in those old Hito Lee movies!”

“Probably not. I think that the ones who spend their lives training in those techniques can do them, but most don’t really learn nowadays. At least that’s what the apartment’s gardener told me.”

“Oh, cool! Is she one of those plant-looking ones?”

“No, no. She’s one of the foxes with the curly hair. I think they’re one of the ones that can shoot flames from their hands in the movies.”

“Funny career choice on her part then. But hey, if you enjoy your work then what does it matter?”

Emily nodded. “Yeah, that’s true. And speaking of which, I’ve been meaning to ask if you’re still helping your dad out at the shelter?”

“Mmhmm! I come around when I can. Its hard to find the time to help him out with how busy we’ve been. Not that I’m complaining, but man building a bunch of dining room chairs for an order takes a lot out of you.”


“No kidding. I’m sure you’re looking forward to being done your apprenticeship, huh?”

“Well, the pay increase is going to be nice, but that won’t be for quite a while.” Lyla frowned, then looked over at the clock on the wall. “Oh man it’s getting late, I’m meeting a few friends for game night in a little while so I’d best be off.”

The lioness couldn’t help but snicker at that. “Hah, alright! Have fun playing your neeeerd games.”

“They’re not nerd games. They’re a retelling of high fantasy that uses imagination with pens and paper. You’d like it if you came one of these nights.” She called back as she walked over to the door.

“Maybe one of these days I will. At any rate, have a good time tonight!” Emily smirked and blew her a kiss.

“Thanks Em, you too!” She yelled, then closed the door behind her with a loud clunk.



“Okay, I’m gonna hang up the phone now.” Mark announced, flicking his headlamp on as he journeyed into the vast, pink-walled cave that was Emily’s ear. The fur strands here didn’t loom over him like the ones on her head had, but in the dim twilight of the evening they still looked fairly imposing.

“Alright!” Came her voice both through the phone’s speaker and off of the walls. “Just be careful, I always hate when you’re on me and we’re not in contact.”

“Trust me, this’ll be worth it!” Mark smiled and pressed down on the end call button as he continued deeper into the ear of the massive lioness.

The slender trees that made up her fur gradually disappeared along with the light, prompting Mark to switch on the head lamp he’d brought with him as he approached the massive inner wall. He grimaced a bit as the light glinted off one of the yellowish mountains that were littered throughout the cavern, making a mental note to steer as far clear of them as possible. The last thing he needed was to try and guide a q-tip towards him for the rest of the evening.

After a few more minutes of travel he made it to the edge of the wall of cartilage and began to search for a thicker section in the wall. It wasn’t long before he found what he was looking for, a thicker swell in the ear that pushed out a bit. He took his backpack off and placed it onto the ground by his feet, then unzipped it and took out the device he’d spent the last six months working on.

It had taken a lot of research on antennas and transistors, as well as several interesting anatomy classes on ear design to get the rectangular blue box to work properly, but it was finally done! The machine was fitted with two metal sharpened metal clamps at the bottom that he promptly dug deep into the cartilage, shaking the machine a bit to make sure it was steady.

Finally he extended a long antennae from the back of the box and flipped a bright red switch on the front. The machine’s display brightened as it hummed to life and Mark got down on one knee beside it, putting on the headset that was tuned to the same frequency. He began to adjust one of the dials and pressed his index finger onto the “TALK” button on the headset.

However as he opened his mouth to test it, his ears received a blast of white noise and a terrible screeching sound coming from the headset. This was compounded by a sudden anguished roar that bounced off the walls of immense cave around him. A cave that suddenly became a lot smaller as the ceiling fell down towards him, sealing off the exit with the familiar plane of Emily’s palm.

“What in the actual fuck are you doing!?!” She screamed, her voice coming in through the headset as well as flooding around him. The sound of her teeth grating together shook the ground beneath his feet, and threatened to throw Mark a good ways away from his machine.

“Sorry! Sorry!” He yelled back, fiddling with the dials until the feedback finally went away. “Ah, dammit I should have thought about that, sorry!”

“Just get out of there...” He felt her groan. “This is the last time I let you install something on me! The heck is this ‘surprise’ anyways? Something designed to make me go deaf?”

“No, no! Not at all! In fact, you should be able to hear the surprise by now.” He replied with no small amount of pride as he realized that his design worked.


There was a pause, then he felt her gasp. “Holy shit! I can hear you without a cellphone! That’s awesome! What did you like tap into my nerves or something?”

“Oh no! Nothing quite as fancy as that. Basically it takes the waves from sound that you hear and broadcasts them to my headset, and takes my voice and broadcasts it into your ear canal.”

“Wow! How did you figure out a system like that?”

“A bunch of late nights and a bit of guess work. I figured it’d either work or it would make your brain explode.”

“That... What?” Her whole head seemed to freeze as her voice took on a note of panic.

“I’m just kidding! Geeze, you shouldn’t take me so seriously... Aww hey, no not the claw!” He yelled as the vast landscape of ebony began to move from outside the ear and down towards him.

“Oh yes the claw! C’mere you...” Her voice was soon overtaken by a massive scraping sound as the slab of keratin slammed into the ground, grabbing Mark up along with a fair bit of dust and fur.

He squinted as the darkness of her ear was soon replaced with the bright light of the outside world. The lioness had a triumphant smirk on her muzzle as her eyes gazed over her clawtip, searching for the speckle of a human.

“Ugh, why must you do that so much?”

“Because I don’t want to wait for you to walk all the way back out. Plus you deserve it after making such a terrible joke.” Her eyes finally stopped as they picked out his form, and her mouth opened up slightly to reveal her monumental tongue as she proceeded to stick it out at him teasingly. “And anyways, I know you loooove it when I completely dominate you like that.”

It was times like this that he was glad she couldn’t make out his facial features, though he was pretty sure that the intense blush on his face was detectable in his voice. “It’s... not bad, I’ll admit. But still doesn’t make it any less frightening to see coming at you.”

“Well, I guess I can do it less...” She brought her other index finger up to her chin, tapping it with loud, resounding booms. “But you’ll have to make up for it with additional cuddle time.”

“I think that’s a fair trade off! Its been a while since we just spent a night watching a movie together anyways. Not like I have anywhere important to be at any rate. But, ah, before we do that I had something I wanted to ask you.”

“Oh? What’s that?”

“Well, Dean’s been asking a lot about you. And, well, I think it’s time that he knew. He’s my best friend, and I feel bad not telling him about us... And unlike my parents I have to see the guy every single day.”

“Heh! You know, it’s funny you mention that. Lyla’s been saying that she wanted to meet you face to face as well.”

“Oh! Well... Maybe we could bring them both on the picnic this saturday? Do that and kill two birds with one rocket, so to speak.”

She frowned a bit “Are you sure it’d be a good idea to introduce Dean to both of us at the same time?”

“Well, he’s going to have to meet you both at some point, right? Plus Lyla’s got a lot of experience handling our people in a good, calming way.”

“You don’t think he’ll panic too bad?”

“Oh he’s gonna lose his shit, but it’ll be good to get it done with quickly rather than string it out over multiple meetings.”

“Mmm, well alright. Plus it might be better to have two of you little guys for Lyla to fawn over. Shoot, I’d recommend that even if you were my size, but as small as you are? She’s just gonna want to eat you up!”

“Aha... You mean figuratively, right?”

She flashed him a wide, toothy grin. “Oh yeah, still I’d stay away from the potato salad if I were you.”

“I’ll... keep that in mind. But alright, that sounds good. We’ll each aim to be there around noon?”

“Sounds good to me... Now, on to the matter of cuddles!” Emily grinned at him, then gently tilted her finger forward towards her cleavage. Mark could hear her tail whooshing back and forth happily as he fell hundreds of feet down into the pillowy soft landscape of her chest. It took him a few seconds to remember how to stand on the soft, squishy flesh below him, but he was up on his legs by the time she spoke to him next. “We’re gonna watch soooo much girly shit tonight, and you’re gonna not complain one bit!”

“You realize there’s no way I’d be able to see the screen from here, right?” Mark frowned and leaned down to gently squeeze at the supple flesh below him.

“Well if you’d like I could move you!”

“Mmm, nah that’s okay! I can still hear the movie after all.”

“Yeah, that’s what I thought.”



“Seriously man, you know how long customs takes to get through! Why the heck did we leave the house so late? Or does Emily not mind you doing this?” Dean huffed as he walked behind Mark. “I mean the line to get in here took a half hour, and then there’s all the forms we gotta sign...”

“Hey, don’t worry about it man. Here, just watch.” Mark waved his hand dismissively as the two entered a room where a rather imposing looking older human sat with a pile of forms next to him.

“Hey Phil.” Said Mark, smiling at the guy as he walked up to the desk.

Phil grunted and slid a paper towards him along with a pen, then nodded in Dean’s direction. “Does he need the speech, or does he know what he’s getting into since he’s with you?”

“I’m familiar with the boundaries section of the Narafta Accords, thank you.” Dean interjected, trying to keep his voice level as the older man stared at him for a few minutes, then slid a form in his direction.

“Yeah, Dean-o’s a smart fella. But hey, been meaning to ask! Has Nathalie been much better lately?” Mark slid his form back over towards the burly fellow, who gave it a quick once-over, then placed it on a pile behind him.

“Yeah, she’s doing better. Was able to walk around for a little bit today when I visited her.” His voice came low and slow, as though he only had a set number of words he could say, and he had to choose each one carefully.

Dean passed the form over to him, and after a brief check Phil placed it on the pile behind him as well. “Alright, you two are cleared through. Stay safe.”
A buzzer sounded, and the door outside opened up. Mark bid the guard goodbye, and he and Dean walked out to where his flightbike was waiting.

“You... must come through here a lot more than I thought. Who’s Nathalie, by the way?” The mouse asked, squinting a bit as they stepped outside.

“Phil’s daughter, she and her mom got into an accident on their way to school one morning. They both made it out alive, but she’s been in the childrens hospital for a couple weeks. Though from the sounds of it she’s recovering very well.” Mark replied as he unlocked his bike and passed one of the helmets to Dean.

“Oh damn, that’s gotta be rough.” The helmet fit snugly over his head, though he had to fold his ears back to get them to fit properly. As he sat behind Mark the little dials that had been searching for a bike vanished as it detected he was not the driver.

The speakers inside his helmet switched on and Mark’s voice filtered through. “Yeah it’s definitely taken its toll on him.”

The bike hummed gently as its thrusters kicked on and Mark began to fly it out through the row of floating markers that indicated the civilian route in and out of Genedia’s airspace. “But he’s been pulling through it. He’s a strong guy you know?”

Dean nodded nervously as he looked around at the massive plants that they steadily flew up past. “Y-yeah, definitely seems like it...” Truth be told the mouse hated the thought of leaving the safety of the city behind. But Mark seemed to be at peace at least, and that was reassuring enough to keep him from suddenly remembering that he had a very pressing matter back at home.

They flew for nearly an hour to arrive at their destination, most of which was spent with Mark answering some of the questions he’d had about the friend that Emily was bringing along. Mark had spoken to her a few times when she’d visited during their video chat sessions, and said that she’d come across as a really friendly person. Though aside from that he didn’t really know a whole lot about her.

“Ugh, man... You gotta get something with seats one of these days, my legs always get so achey riding on these things...” Dean groaned as he walked around the surface of the leaf of a bush that they’d landed on.

“Well you can always get your license and buy one yourself...” Mark replied as he walked over, carefully adjusting the mic of a headset that he was wearing.

“Sooo any particular reason you’re wearing that?” Dean asked, raising an eyebrow.

“In fact there is! Now, uh, I don’t want to panic you. Though I know that’s pretty much unavoidable.” As he began, Dean could feel the surface of the leaf beneath him begin to vibrate slightly. At first it was a subtle, almost imperceptible movement, but as time went on it became more and more severe.

Soon the vibrations were joined by a deep rumbling sound that became louder and louder as it sounded out over and over again. Almost like footsteps... Dean’s eyes widened and he began to move back towards the bike. “W-we need to leave like now, man!”

Mark grabbed him by the shoulder and held him. “No, we don’t. Listen, I could’ve told you before but you wouldn’t have believed me.”

“Believed what?!”

“Well, Emily’s... Ah, she’s a Minevan.” Mark grinned at him nervously. “So’s her friend.”

“Let me get this straight.” Dean’s voice fell to an eerily calm tone as he stared Mark in the eyes. “You invited me on your ‘lunch date’ with not one but two women who could fit the entire city beneath their footpads? And not only that, but in a place where we have absolutely no protection from them and they can do with us as they please!?”

“Well, when you put it like that it sounds silly, but Dean trust me, I-”

“Trust you?” He looked at him incredulously as he brought his hands up to pull at his hair. “TRUST YOU!? You’re insane! You’re goddamn fucking insane! I’m gonna die because you’re a crazy person!”

“Well, he’s taking it as well as you thought he would, I see!” Came a loud rumbling voice from overhead that played over in Mark’s earpiece a half second later as a shadow fell over them both.

“Oh hey Em! Yeah, I figured he’d react like this. But hey looks like you got his attention now.” Mark chuckled as he looked over at Dean, who was staring up at the forms of the massive husky and lioness as they stood above them.

“Ohh so this is them huh? Man here I thought you were yanking my tail when you told me who Mark was... Like seriously, I thought it was a sting about him being short or something.” The massive husky got down onto her knees with a couple of terrific crashes and leaned forward towards the leaf they were on until her muzzle pressed gently against the tip of it. Her ears seemed to tip forward slightly, almost like they were focusing on the two of them. When she spoke, her voice was still enough to surround their whole being, but not powerful enough to shake them to their core. “Hi guys. My name’s Lyla, it’s really great to meet the both of you. Don’t worry, I promise I won’t harm either of you.”

“Guess you told her on the way over here huh?” Mark gulped as Lyla’s face filled his vision, and looked over at Dean. However instead of being passed out or screaming like he’d expected, he was instead staring wide-eyed at her, mouthing something to himself.

“Yup! She didn’t really believe me though, obviously. Still figured it would be better than her blundering into here without looking down.” Emily smirked as she looked down at her friend. “Wow Ly, I didn’t expect you to act so calm around them.”

“First lesson my dad taught me is to establish trust. That’s the most important thing for them when they’re interacting with people as gigantic as us, right? Once they’re comfortable THEN you can snuggle them.” Her tail wagged slightly as she noticed one of them approaching, squinting her eyes to try and make out some of the details. “Oh! You must be Mark, right? Tell your friend it’s okay too, I’m totally good with you little guys.”

“Uhh, Em tell her that’s not me!” Mark blinked as Dean walked slowly towards her, almost as though he was in a trance. “Dean? Buddy? You okay?” He yelled after him, but got no response.

“Oh... Apparently that’s his friend! That’s funny, apparently he was freaking out just a couple minutes ago.”

“Really? Well that’s great that you’re so comfortable with me so quickly!” She kept her head as still as possible as the tiny mouse approached her muzzle, then stopped just in front of it and laid a single, shaky hand on her fur. Lyla’s eyes widened slightly.

Dean looked up into them, eyes equally wide as his lips curled up into a slight smile. “Holy shit... It is you.”
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Re: Communication on a Massive Scale

Postby TendoTwo » Mon Mar 23, 2015 7:56 am

Yay huskies!

Though I have to say, that line "Lyla’s got a lot of experience handling our people in a good, calming way." .... ummm, in the first chapter wasn't she the one who was terrorizing a bunch of Cantolians she had caught by chasing them with her claw during class? Ah heh.....

By the way, is the whole Tajiran thing with them being plant-people or "foxes that can shoot flames from their hands" some kind of reference that I am not getting? Or is it more hints at world building?

Love the cliffhanger (as much as it teases me :P ), curious to see if Dean also knows Lyla from just chatting online or if it's something more complicated.
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Re: Communication on a Massive Scale

Postby gadabout » Tue Mar 24, 2015 2:41 am

I knew it! They had to know each other considering they both played the same games!

Ah well, another good update for you my son, you get a gold star :I
RIP Baggy52.

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Re: Communication on a Massive Scale

Postby Westpilot » Tue Mar 24, 2015 5:08 pm

TendoTwo wrote:Yay huskies!

Though I have to say, that line "Lyla’s got a lot of experience handling our people in a good, calming way." .... ummm, in the first chapter wasn't she the one who was terrorizing a bunch of Cantolians she had caught by chasing them with her claw during class? Ah heh.....

By the way, is the whole Tajiran thing with them being plant-people or "foxes that can shoot flames from their hands" some kind of reference that I am not getting? Or is it more hints at world building?

Love the cliffhanger (as much as it teases me :P ), curious to see if Dean also knows Lyla from just chatting online or if it's something more complicated.


I'll just repost what I said on FA to here: Ahaha yes she was doing that! I chalk that up more to her being pretty young when that happened, and not totally understanding what she was doing. Like she'd seen her dad interact with them lots of times, why wouldn't they want to play a game of tag while she was bored at school? Though rest assured if he ever caught her doing that she would (and likely did!) get a very sound talking-to.

Tajiran's are basically my way of incorporating pokemon into the world, yeah! Basing their culture somewhat off of the far east, where their 'powers' are kinda like martial arts. Yeah they can learn them, but it takes years of dedication and practice to be able to use them like you see in the movies.

And haha glad you liked it! The next chapter's going to be based around how exactly they know each other, so look forward to that. :3


gadabout wrote:I knew it! They had to know each other considering they both played the same games!

Ah well, another good update for you my son, you get a gold star :I


It's true! The nerd gods hath predicted it, and so it shall be! >:o For truly the D20 is stronger than any size difference.
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Re: Communication on a Massive Scale

Postby Westpilot » Thu Mar 24, 2016 1:28 am

“The thrusters on the bus go Voom voom voom! Voom voom voom! Voom voom voom!... The thrusters on the bus go Voom voom voom! All through the forest!” The children’s voices rang out as the long, slender tube that held them raced through the massive leaves of the canopy before beginning its descent towards a rocky outcropping on the edge of a slight rise in the forest floor.

“So... d’you think we’ll see any Minevans?” asked a short mouse whose fur was as white as freshly fallen snow. He’d spent the majority of the ride over staring at the massive plant-life with his friend, and had only now broken the silence as he turned to face his seatmate.

“No way!” Replied the young human seated next to him. “They get a special area that Minevans aren’t allowed to go into when the grade six nature trip happens.”

“Yeah but like, from afar!” Dean turned his head to look out the window once again. “Mr. Dewitt was talking about how there was a Minevan girl scout troop near us! Maybe we’ll see one!”

“That would be kinda cool, I guess... But they’re probably gonna keep us far away from them.” A silence fell over the two for a moment, before another train of thought entered Mark’s mind, as they so often did. “Oh, y’know what? Emily’s last letter said that her school doesn’t do a nature trip for grade sixes!”

“Oh really? Weird... Maybe she’s in one of those hidden towns in the gigantic cities? That’d explain why all her letters are in pencil instead of on the computer! It’s cool that you guys still talk though, I haven’t heard from my penpal since the last moon festival.”

“Aww, that sucks! Well, maybe they’re just being extra slow or something! They probably have waaaaay too much homework, like we do!” Mark smiled wide at his friend to try and reassure him, but before anything more could be said their teachers voice came on over the speakers.

“Okay boys and girls, the pilot has informed me that we’ll be landing soon, now before we do I want to go over some rules. Remember to stay together in a big group, listen to the teachers and the supervisors, and most of all have fun! For most of you this will be the most time you’ll spend outside of the city, so really enjoy the time you’re spending out here and make some great memories! Is everyone ready?” Mrs. Cornutum stood at the front of the bus with a microphone clipped onto her head, attached just behind one of the proud, curling horns that adorned her skull.

The class shouted a resounding “Yeah!” in reply, and it seemed as though every student was buzzing in their seat in anticipation for what was to come.

Dean watched as the rocky outcropping quickly became a vast, mostly barren landscape that was dotted with forests of moss and lichen. A cloud of dust that was kicked up by the bus’ thrusters as they came close obscured his view, so he brought his attention back to the inside, where everyone was grabbing their things and starting to move out.

It took some time, but eventually all the kids were sorted out into groups and assembled in front of the bus where a blonde human and a white-furred wolfess were standing, both dressed in a blue coloured short sleeved shirt that had some sort of badge on the sleeves that Dean couldn’t make out, and beige pants with a wide-brimmed hat and boots to complete the look.

“Okay boys and girls, this is Dr. Lithgow and Dr. Cavell” Mrs. Cornutum began, gesturing to the human, then the wolf. “They’re both scientists from the University of Menziesii who will be leading you boys and girls around for this morning. I expect you all to be on your best behaviour for them! Okay? Good. I’ll let Dr. Lithgow take over from here, then!” She moved off to the side as the human came forward and smiled warmly at the class.

“Well, good afternoon everyone! Did you all have a safe ride over?”

“Yesssss!” Came the chorus of a reply as the kids gave him as much of their attention as was possible at their age.

“Wonderful! Well, we have a very special day planned out for you boys and girls. We’ll be splitting you up into two groups. One group will be with me for the morning as we examine the various layers that make up a forest ecosystem, and learn why it’s so important for us to understand this environment in our modern society.” Lithgow took a step back and Cavell, the wolfess, began to speak.

“Then the other will be me as we look at how our ancestors survived in this environment. And, as a special treat, we’ll actually take you to a live archaeological site where we’re going to show you boys and girls some real ancient artifacts! Then in the afternoon the groups will switch.” She looked over at one of the teachers, who nodded and waved his hand.

“Okay kids! You’ve all been assigned into two different groups. Your wrist gear will flash either red or blue now. Red is going with Dr. Lithgow, Blue will be going with Dr. Cavell.”

Dean looked down and saw the little device on his wrist that normally carried his homework for upload onto his home computer begin to flash a gentle red. “Woah...” He didn’t even know they could do that!

He looked over at Mark to see if his was red as well, but to his dismay his friends device was glowing a cool blue.

Mark seemed to take note of his face and simply patted him on the shoulder. “Hey, we’ll still get to hang out for lunch, right? Plus this way we can have like... really cool stories to tell each other!”

Dean smiled a bit more at that “Yeah, I guess so! I’ll see you at lunch then!” The two bumped their fists together and the mouse walked off to join the group with Dr. Lithgow.

The group of about twenty students settled into a half-circle around the human, who was asking a few of them questions as he waited for everyone to assemble.

“Is that all of them then?” He looked up towards one of the teachers, who gave him a nod. “Wonderful! We can proceed to the end of the hill here. To begin with, we shall cover the structure of the forest starting with what we call the canopy, and eventually working our way down to the forest floor and as we go through it you will all learn about the sheer amount of diversity that lives at each level. Step lively now!”

As the rest of his group began to walk towards to the edge of the rock that the bus had landed upon Dean glanced back to see if Mark’s group was leaving as well. He noticed that a number of teachers along with a member of the city defence force were now hanging near the bus, brandishing what he recognized as laser rifles. Guess they don’t want us to worry about some of that ‘diversity’ coming down to eat us, huh? he thought to himself as he turned back to follow the rest of the group.

They walked for a while longer until they came to a field of orange that came up to their waists. From it, they could see out into the distance, where the trees seemed to be less like unstoppable pillars of reality and more like... well trees.

“Now come close, kids! Allow me to introduce you to the fascinating world of lichen! See, these fascinating little plants are the very foundation of the ecosystems of this planet. It’s from these very humble beginnings that soils are found...” The scientist got down onto his knees and began to pull up some of the broad leaves of the lichen to show how it was fastened to the rock.

Lithgow’s voice seemed to blend into the background as Dean was suddenly met with a far more pressing matter in his stomach. Warnings of ‘going before we leave on the bus’ started to replay in his mind as he walked up to one of the parent supervisors. “Umm, excuse me? I kinda... have to go.”

“Go?” The salamander, who actually thought that soils were VERY interesting was rather displeased at this sudden interruption to the lecture. “Here, come on.”

He lead Dean towards a slight incline in the rock, where a small, flat path lead around the edge of it, leading to a steep dropoff. “There, just walk around the corner, ‘go’ over the edge, and then come back here.” Then without waiting for a reply, he turned towards the group once again to try and hear as much of his lecture as possible.

Dean sighed and took a few cautious steps forward, legs shaking slightly as he peaked at the edge of the cliff, pulling himself back against the wall behind him as a feeling of dizziness began to take over. Soon he was just around the corner and out of sight of the salamander as he crept a bit closer to the edge and undid his zipper to do his business.

He was in the midst of finishing up when he heard a rumbling, scratching sound behind him. Slowly, he turned around and found himself face-to-face with a set of black, beady eyes attached to a massive rust-coloured body that was suspended by eight stringy yet thick pillars. A harvestman, he realized. A kind of spider that liked to prey on small insects, normally not much of a threat to his people since they’d started travelling in groups and had developed the spear, but to a lone child...

“Uh! N-n-nice spider! J-just go on your way...” He pleaded, motioning his arms as though they might convince the arachnid that there was a better meal elsewhere.

However, his pleas fell on an uncomprehending behemoth as the creature lunged at him with its terrifying mouth, producing venom-soaked fangs that were nearly as big as the mouse! He barely had a chance to scream before he instinctively stepped backwards, only to be quickly reminded of the cliff behind him as he lost his footing and began to fall.

There was not even enough time to call out as the world seemed to suddenly turn over on its head and begin rushing past him in a blur! His teeth clenched for a moment, but then instinctively began to loosen up, along with the rest of his body as he fell. In fact, in a moment when it seemed as though he should be screaming as loud as possible, Dean felt a strange calmness overtake him, one that in later years he would realize saved him from almost certain death as his ears were met with a loud crunch two seconds before he felt the blinding pain of him impacting the ground.

“Aaaah!” It was the first sound he’d managed to make since he fell. His vision was blurry and he could almost feel the buzz of the microchip in his skull as it attempted to evaluate his current condition.

Amazingly, though, he found that he could actually feel his legs! And, in fact, he found that he could feel his arm. In fact, unbelievably, he could feel his everything! This was amazing! This was incredible! Dean felt an amazing sense of joy as he pressed his right arm onto the ground.

“AAAAARRRRRRGGGHHH!” Came the shout as pain shot up through his arm and into his skull. Whimpering a bit, he switched to his left arm, which didn’t seem to be broken. Okay. Maybe he didn’t come out of this as well as he thought he did. But still, to even survive a drop that far someone MUST have been looking out for him.

Unfortunately, the universe was apparently not quite so willing to put him out of danger yet, as a skittering rumbling sound suddenly came from behind him. Dean struggled onto his feet and slowly turned around to see the harvestman slowly making its way down the cliff towards its intended meal.

Unable to do anything else, Dean turned in the opposite direction and ran as fast as his legs could carry him, trying his best to not jostle his arm. From behind him came the tell-tale flurry of scraping sounds that the harvestman’s legs made against the gravel beneath them as it pursued its morsel.

For his part, Dean actually managed to avoid capture quite well as thousands of years of buried instinct kicked in and he rushed over fallen twigs and leaves despite his injuries. But still a young, injured mouse really only stood so much of a chance against a predator, and Dean’s amazing run of luck in the past few minutes finally ran out as he failed to clear a pebble as he jumped over it and fell ass over tea kettle underneath the cavernous root of a pine tree as it stuck out of the bare dirt that surrounded it.

He could only whimper in fear as the spider neared him, those horrible, glossy black eyes seemingly focused on his figure as it prepared for its final lunge.

That was when Dean heard a sound that was quite unlike any he’d ever heard before in his life. First, he felt his ears pop, then a sound that sort of combined the woosh of the wind rustling through leaves with the rumble of a mighty river that broke off from a puddle seemed to fill the air around him. His eyes were still shut for the inevitable end as the sound became louder and louder until a massive, earth shattering crack filled air around him! Immediately he felt a gust of wind pick his battered for up and toss him a few meters back under the root.

His teeth chittered in fear as he slowly opened his eyes to find that the harvestman was no longer where it once was! In fact, it had now been replaced with a sort of wall of brown, heated leather that stretched up until it reached a forest of shaggy-looking grey pillars that seemed to shake and shimmer in the sunlight. Far above that stood a vast precipice of obsidian that rose up from the forest like a foreboding mountain peak, dominating the microcosm of an ecosystem around it.

A Minevan. He realized with fear as his jaw worked wordlessly and he attempted to scramble away from the vast wall of flesh, as though it would do any good.

As if sensing his movements, that wall suddenly pulled back, dragging a vast canyon into the dirt and thus revealing its owner. Standing incomprehensibly high above him was a husky girl about his age. Adorned in a green skirt with grey button-up shirt that had a green sash lain atop it she cut a slightly less imposing figure than her sheer size would’ve done on its own.

Muscles and tendons sounded their laborious movement across the heavens as she started to lean down, and those details that were so far away and obscured soon became incredible in the amount of detail visible.

Dean could only watch in stunned silence as the massive girl moved with more power than his young mind could ever even begin to imagine until she was lying down on her stomach with her city-sized face pointed in his direction.

There was a moment of tense silence before her jaws finally parted. Dean whimpered a little bit and shifted away, expecting an even worse end than before until he heard her say three simple words.

“Are you okay?”

It came, unlike the rest of her actions, not like thunder but rather simply like someone shouting in an empty room. Something that he could comprehend and, in the face of everything else that had just happened, quite a relief.

Dean nodded slowly, watching as lake-sized emerald eyes squinted just a bit.

“Umm... It’s okay, you can speak, i-if you can. My dad runs a refuge centre for you guys in the city, and he taught me how to handle you one day after he saw me trying to learn by myself, heh...”

He blinked in surprise and leaned back a bit to examine her ears, currently intently focused on his position and honed in like great satellite dishes. The tips of the grey furred forests underlain with a flush of red as she apparently remembered something embarrassing.

“I-I’m okay!” He managed after another moment. “Just... my arm, I think I broke it...” If this Minevan’s dad really did run a safe spot for his people within one of their cities, then maybe he could trust her?

“Broken?” The regret in her voice was evident as she attempted to focus on Dean’s arm. “I’m so sorry! If I’d gotten here sooner, maybe you wouldn’t have. Umm, does it hurt a lot?”

He shook his head. “Nuh-uh, only when I try and move it around a bunch.”

Those vast lips curled up into a smile as her head bobbed up and down slowly. “Well, umm, I think that’s good? I’ll try not to jostle you too much when I take you back home.” Still smiling, she began to move her hand over towards Dean’s position.

The young mouse felt his heart rate quicken as his eyes widened at the sight of those quickly approaching digits. He let out a cry of fear and skittered backwards once again, holding up his good arm as he pleaded with her. “No... no!”

Almost immediately that hand retreated with the husky following suit, now staring at him sadly. “I- I promise I’m not going to hurt you! Come on, you’re injured, you’re not going to make it out here alone.”

“I-I’m not alone!” He yelled back. “My class, they’re up there, they can help me.”

She looked up towards that towering cliff, though it could only have been a large stone to her, and made a small sound of realization. “Oh! Oh! Well, that’d be way better for you, huh? Umm, do you trust me to put you up there at least? I can’t go too near cuz of the exclusion zone thingy my troop leader was talking about, but I can put you close!”

Slowly, she inched herself towards him once again, then let her body drop down, planting her muzzle a fair distance away from Dean, hands at her sides. “Look, um, I’ll show you that you can! Just come here and touch my muzzle, I promise I won’t hurt you!”

Every natural instinct was telling Dean to high-tail it out of there, preferably finding some way to get up the mountain of rock behind him and back to the relative safety of his class. And yet, he found himself moving forwards as though he was entransed. In later years he would rationalize this as him having garnered some trust for the husky already, as she could have simply taken him at any moment without his consent. And yet, as he’d learned later from the internet, some Minevan’s took a perverse pleasure in having their targets come to them.

Regardless of his feelings later, however, at the time it was less of a nerve-wracking walk, and more of a numb moment. That face getting larger and larger as he approached it, until he could no longer make out anything past the broad nose and flat muzzle. Nervously he gazed up at the hundred-foot wide black walled cliffs of her lips and slowly, oh-so slowly, reached his hand into a stand of grey pillars, touching what he was surprised to find was plush fur.

“Wow...” He mumbled, moving his hand back and forth, then jumping back in shock as a massive rumbling erupted from above him.

“Oh, sorry.” Her voice came again, obviously restrained for how close he was to her. “That’s a nice spot to be scratched on. Um, anyways, you see you can trust me, right? So is it okay if I put you up top?”

Dean took a deep breath and nodded. “Y-yeah, I’m okay.”

The next few minutes or so should have been mind blowing. Being held not only on a massive hand, one that stretched out until it would be wide enough to encapsulate his whole school, but also for seeing the world from this angle! An angle that he’d only seen once or twice from the window of a bus, and never for too long. But yet, he could find himself only staring at this husky, someone so unimaginably big, so utterly larger than life, and yet who’d acted in such a caring, decent way towards him.

He’d heard a lot of adults say that the Minevan’s had only accepted the Narafta Accords because they were worried about what the military had been building at the time. That, at the end of the day, they really didn’t care about Cantolians at all. And yet, this girl had shown him mercy that he could not have ever imagined her people were capable of.

He was so moved, in fact, that it was only after he’d been dropped back off on the cliff and the two had said their goodbyes, that he realized he had completely forgotten to even ask her name!

Naturally, he was in deep trouble when he got back. Both him for wandering too far away and the parent for taking a child to such a dangerous place and sending them off alone. He never told anyone about the Minevan, not even Mark. After all, who would believe him? Instead he made up some story about an errant gust of wind pushing him off the cliff onto a switchback a few hundred feet below. A hospital visit and a few talks with his parents later, and no one had ever brought the incident up again...

-----

“Man, I don’t believe it.” Chuckled Mark as he and Dean sat next to each other on the branch of a shrub, having bid both Lyla and Emily a goodnight an hour earlier. The two had decided to hang around for a little while afterwards and discuss what had just happened. “Here I thought I was going to be surprising you tonight, then you go and pull that revelation out of nowhere!”

Dean laughed, nodding slowly in agreement with his friend. “Believe me, she was the last person I expected to see tonight. It was really nice to finally learn her name though. That had bugged me for a long time.”

“Geeze, yeah no kidding! I can’t believe you managed to keep that whole story a secret all this time. That would have killed me, personally. And hey, looks like you got to learn a whole lot more than that! Emily had to practically yank you away from her at the end there.”

The slightest blush coloured his friend’s cheeks as he recalled his afternoon. “Yeah, that was, um, something... She really has a way of putting you at ease. Was nice getting to know her, she leads an interesting life.”

Mark shot him a wry grin and leaned over to elbow him gently. “I’m sure she might like to get to know you better in the future too, eh?”

Dean made a sound not unlike he was choking “Aheh! N-no offense man, but I think I’ll leave the dating continental women to you.”

The two shared a laugh and then fell silent for a few moments before Dean spoke up. “So, like, you and Emily... You guys are serious?”

Mark blinked and looked curiously over at his friend. “Well, I mean, yeah man. Of course we are.”

Dean furrowed his brow. “It’s just... How are you going to make it work? You know, in the long term? It’s not like you guys can live together all the time, there’s no way you can commute to Genedia from her place every single day, either. Plus, like, didn’t you tell me that she said she wanted kids at one point? How the hell is that gonna work without one of you taking on way too much responsibility?”

A heavy sigh was heaved from his side as Mark’s head tilted upwards. “I... I don’t know, man.”

“Well, have you guys talked about it yet? Like at all?”

“No! I mean, we just, I guess we’ve been going along and enjoying being together. We haven’t really discussed the future. But... We’ll figure it out, man. We love each other, we’ll work hard to make it work.”

Dean smiled slightly and scratched the back of his head. “Well, I hope you’re able to, man. I just don’t know, personally. You’re not dealing with personal problems here, it’s a matter of sheer size. It’s going to be hard to live together if you can’t even interact at her scale.”

“Dean, you’re absolutely correct. But happily, what you’ve presented to me is a problem. I’m an engineer, my friend.” Mark smiled broadly as he gazed into the setting sunlight as it filtered through the canopy above him. “I solve problems.”


-----

They say that every inventor will have one great idea within their lifetime. One idea that will make up the pinnacle of their career, pushed forward by a bout of inspiration. No one could know when this inspiration would come, but for Mark Summers it occurred four years and five months after that evening.

It had been another long night working for one of the oldest and most well-established engineering firms in the city, CanTest. He had been part of a team designing a new rapid-transit system, and had just gotten home following a presentation of the product to their bosses, who had been very pleased with it. He and his teammates had discussed going out for drinks the following night, but for now he was content to watch a bit of TV, chat with Emily for a little bit, then go to bed.

As he sat down with his dinner and turned the screen on in his modest apartment, one of the commercials sponsored by the government to tell Cantolian’s about their history came on.

The scene opened up to an older looking building with the words CANTEST written on the outside as a number of humans and furs dressed in old business suits came out arguing about something.

“Well you know the story!” Began a lemur in a blue suit and large horn rimmed glasses. “The army wants a battle system that can work on a Minevan scale! The Lembaden’s said it was impossible! The Hylenian’s tried twice and failed! They said we’re dreaming. So we said fine! We’ll build it right here in Genedia! And now you guys, my guys, are telling me it can’t be done!?”

The scene cut away to a small scale bipedal machine being set up as two humans in trenchcoats walked next to each other, one explaining the different systems. The next few then showed a number of those same models failing to start up, spinning wildly out of control, or just falling over as frustrated engineers yelled curses.

Finally, a larger scale version of the machine was displayed, its famous, singular eye still draped over with a tarp as a discussion was heard between some of the workers on the floor.

“But we built it according to your specs!” Cried one.

“Yes, well the specs have changed.” Declared one of the engineers from earlier.

The scene cut to four years later as the orchestra that had been accompanying the commercial swelled in time with the towering hulk of a machine stepping out of a hollowed out tree that had been used as a surrogate hangar while scores of Cantolians watched and cheered. Standing at about the size of a Minevan, decked out in layer after layer of thick armour and equipped with several heavy machine guns, missile launchers, and a short sword, the gigantic mech was an imposing machine.

Next some historical footage of it taking its first steps was shown as one of the ground crew announced. “VX zero-one, you are cleared for launch.”

There was a brief cutaway to the crew of five seated in the centre of the mech, each responsible for controlling an individual part of it, as they struck a pose and yelled some sort of a catchphrase before the colossal machine strode easily over the gathered crowds, causing them to erupt with applause.

Finally, a voice over began. “Although the government cancelled the project, and the prototypes were destroyed, the VX-1 project remains for Cantolians, a benchmark in worldwide engineering achievement.”

The film froze on a freeze-frame of the original VX-1 as the various organizations responsible for making the commercial were displayed alongside the words “A PART OF OUR HERITAGE.”

And it was there on his couch, in the middle of the night, after a long day and having watched a somewhat cheesy government-sanctioned commercial, that Mark Summers came up with the solution to his four year old problem.
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Westpilot
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Re: Communication on a Massive Scale

Postby Westpilot » Sat Sep 10, 2016 1:19 am

If the red panda’s face looked anymore unimpressed with him, Mark could have mistaken him for his grade school principal. “Look, Mr. Cranbrook, I know it’s a bit of an odd request, but by this point I think I’ve earned at least a little trust!”

William Cranbrook, records specialist (as his nametag so helpfully pointed out) sighed, scratching at his forehead in irritation. “I’m just trying to piece together why you’d even make the request. Aren’t you assigned to the transportation division? Why on earth would you be interested in the VX-1? That’s a military project.”

“There are some... issues I’ve had figuring out something on the latest project I’m working on. I think it would help me out massively to be able to look at how they built something so immense fifty years ago.” Mark did his best to project that lovely ‘can do no harm’ persona that his mother had told him he had.

“I mean... sure, okay, fine. But there’s nothing here that you couldn’t already get from the old newsreels. Everything pertaining to the project was destroyed when the Narafta Accords were signed.”

Mark leaned forward, lowering his voice as he looked straight into Will’s eyes. “Now you and I know that’s absolutely not true. We finally build a machine that lets us defend ourselves and the government decides to disarm it, trusting that the Minevan’s will keep their word? Bullshit, they would’ve kept something. Maybe not the original blueprints, but test videos, calculations, armour designs! Some sort of insurance policy in case the accords weren’t effective. Come on, I know that you know there’s something left.”

“Please step away from me, Mr. Summers.” Will sighed, chewing on his lip as he stared at the young human in front of him. Finally, with a great sigh, he relented and motioned for Mark to follow him. “Fine. Come with me, you can have a look at what we have left of the project.”

With a blink of surprise, Mark quickly fell into step behind the panda, ducking out of the way of his bushy tail as the two headed deeper into CanTest’s bowels, past several security doors and down an elevator. “Y’know, I have to say I thought I’d have to do more to convince you!”

William shrugged, then gave him a dark grin. “Well, I thought about it and what exactly are you going to do? Try and expose the government for keeping the records around and you’ll be dead within the week in “the interest of maintaining peace”, and you don’t look like you’re stupid enough to try that. So that leaves only one option, that you really do need it for something. I mean shit, what are you going to do? Build one by yourself?!”

He and Mark shared a laugh as the elevator dinged and the doors slid open. “You’re right on that point!” The human shared his grin, staring straight ahead. “I’d need an army to do that. Or a Minevan of my own!”

*******************************************************************************************************************************************

Mark had always found it interesting that the sound of miles of graphite running across a city-sized sheet of paper had a calming effect on him. It was likely due to the times associated with that sound, namely the evenings spent resting beneath the canopy of Emily’s muzzlefur as she sketched out another comic strip for the following week’s run of Pie in the Sky. Tonight, however, he too was scribbling away furiously, modifying the designs he’d come up with the month before with some of the old testing data that had been left behind by the old VX project.

Most of the information had been useless for him. Notes on power consumption by the cannons and how the armour would fit onto the frame properly and not weigh the machine down too much. Miraculously, however, he’d come across the very information he’d been hoping to find. Namely: how in the hell they’d figured out how to make the damn thing stand and move without falling over.

What they’d come up with back in the day really was ingenious. An entirely separate series of motors had been designed to maintain balance as the weapon moved itself around, and it would have been the work of one of the pilots onboard to maintain this balance as the situation demanded it.

Mark's own designs incorporated about fifty years of learning on top of the ingenious solutions they’d come up with all those years ago, primarily thanks to the wonders of the microchip and 3D printing. He surmised that with the right design he could build one that only needed a single pilot, and he could do it cheaply enough that it could be sold on the civilian market! That only left the challenge of actually assembling the thing and shipping the parts. Thankfully, he had countless tonnes of raw, immense lioness strength quite literally surrounding him at the moment, and all he needed to do was ask...

“You’re awfully quiet tonight. Usually I need to stick you between my breasts so I can concentrate on my compositions.” Came a bemused voice through the receiver on the headset he wore a moment before it sounded overhead like a massive thunderclap. “Something the matter? I could have sworn you were done with the big work projects for a while.”

He touched his finger to the headset. “Oh I am, I am! My team’s getting a bit of a break while marketing figures out how to sell more cities on the new bus we made. But, ah, I did have something else I’m working on, more of a pet project really! But one that I think you and I could do together?”

He noted the sudden way which the scratching sound stopped as Emily paused. “Together? Eeeexactly how’s that going to work? Last time I drew a design for something you said it was ‘aesthetically pleasing but physically impossible.’”

“Well, design-wise I’m more or less set! But I could use your help with some of the lifting and transporting? And uh... assembling?”

He could feel her eyes rolling as her face craned upwards slightly. “Stop dancing around the issue, hon. What do you need help with?”

“Weeellll, alright, before I start do you promise to hear me out all the way before you freak out?” He felt the world suddenly jolt sideways as Emily presumably tilted her head.

“I’m not going to freak out if it’s not something worth freaking out over. If you’ve gone mad-scientist on me though I may need to institute some sort of countermeasure.”

“I can only imagine what THOSE might be...” He tapped the tablet placed on the ground in front of him, opening it up to his preliminary designs of his so-called ‘mech’. “I sent some designs over to your e-mail whenever you get the chance to open them. Basically, do you remember the enormous walking sentinel my people made about fifty years ago?”

“Enormous being relative, but yeah I remember it. My teachers always said it would have instituted a war between our people had Narafta not been signed. What about it?”

“I want to make one.”

“Come again?”

“I want to make one! Not one for battle, of course, but one that would let someone like me interact with things on your scale. Think about it! Lots of the systems on the original were to help it survive being shot and stuff. If we channeled that into making it more dexterous and comfortable I think there would be a lot of potential appeal for all sorts of people!”

“Potential appeal... ah, I mean, sure okay I can understand how you might think that, but... Okay okay we need to start from square one here.”

Moments later a massive slab of ebony descended from the heavens, scooping him up. Mark could only hold on tight to its sheer, smooth surface before being dragged against a white, fibrous expanse all of a sudden.

He shivered a bit, staring up at Emily’s immense form looming above the paper she’d placed him on. Somehow her doing this always made him feel the most vulnerable, probably because there was no way for him to hide. Not that she’d ever do anything to hurt him, but the response he felt was a lot more... impulsive than logical.

“Firstly.” Her eyes narrowed as her head came closer to the paper, taking up more and more of the sky as she did so. “Exactly how do you intend to go about building one? I scarcely doubt you can afford the costs of something like that.”

Mark swallowed nervously “Well, you’re right, I can’t. The raw materials for the structure would be way out of my price range, but they aren’t out of yours! I don’t need anything special for a design this simple, hell a lot of the stuff you could purchase at a minevan hardware store and it would do just fine for my purposes. The finer motors and electrical and stuff are things that you and I can work together to run, plus I have access to CanTest’s 3D printing facilities!”

He paused, taking a deep breath. “Look, Em, I’ve done a lot of thinking about what needs to go into this. It’d take a while and it’d be no small task, but you and I... we could absolutely build one! It wouldn’t even need to be good, just a proof of concept that I can show off and maybe help get a better one built!”

A couple of blinks sent minor gusts of wind towards him as she tried her best to comprehend the information dump. “Okay, hold on, let me just make sure I have this right. So I can help by buying most of the structure at a hardware store, as well as assisting you in assembling the bigger pieces?”

“Right.”

“And then you can build the motors and electrical needed for it to run?”

“More or less! I mean, I’m not really an electrician, but I don’t need perfection with this. I just need something that can move around well enough and stand up on its own!”

She rolled her eyes. “Right, then you show it to your boss and suddenly I can pick one up at Tallmart?”

“I mean...” He sighed, wringing his hands together hopefully. “That’s the general plan, yeah. Just, some sort of design that gives them enough confidence that this is a product that could sell, and then... convincing your governments that an exception in the accords can be made for this!”

Mile-wide lips very gently curled up into a soft smile as he watched the immense lioness attempt to suppress a laugh. “Oh, geeze Mark... Y’know, one of the things I adore about you is your endless sense of enthusiasm, no matter how far fetched something is.”

“Hah, thanks!” He rubbed the back of his head, blushing. “I mean, I’d say we both need to be pretty enthusiastic to make, uh, us work! But I think that’s just the thing, too. How many more couples like us might be out there if something like this existed? Something that would let people like you and me live together and share a workload, you know? I mean, the idea of other people being able to find love like this... I want to be able to share that with the world.”

He watched as a tear the size of a lake welled up in one of her eyes, a small rumbling sound that was probably more of a squeal on her scale sounded off overhead. “Aww Marky... Gods, you’re such a sentimental putz, do you know that? Keep making me tear up when you say sappy stuff like that!”

Mark could only laugh in reply, wiping a couple tears away himself. “I know, I know, I’m sorry! It’s just, your beauty and elegance drive me to- Hey!”

The sound of her chair rolling back filled the air as a leg too large to comprehend sailed overhead, followed by the sight of the underside of a single toe large enough to cover several city blocks. And that was about all he had time to comprehend before the tens of miles of hot leather descended upon him, pinning him to the paper as an incalculable amount of flesh settled around him.

“Oh, geeze...” He blushed, squirming deeply at both the heat of the dominating foot as well as the overpowering earthy scent of his girlfriend. “D-does this mean you’ll help?”


“Hmmmm, I guess so!” Her voice crackled back in through his headset, heavily distorted thanks to the massive appendage surrounding him. “Think I’ll need some form of repayment though, does that sound okay? After all, I need something to destress me while I draw!”

“Y-yaaay!” He squeaked back, snuggling into the flesh as he began on what would turn out to be a very long, very wonderful night indeed.

*******************************************************************************************************************************************

“This is impressive!” Remarked Dean as he and Mark walked underneath one of the vast columns of metal that made up the skeleton of the massive mech. Wires hung low overhead as they were strung between sections of it, some hooked up to various lights and motors. “I can’t believe the two of you built this much in a year and a half!”

He stopped for a moment and looked around, specifically towards the massive couch looming over them. “And I also can’t believe she’s okay with this all being in her living room!”

Mark laughed at that “Yeah, kinda been having to do a lot of favours to make up for this all, but it’s worth it! It’s actually able to move around under it’s own power now!”

Dean nodded in reply and adjusted his glasses. “Right, but you were saying that the counterbalance system it still too complex for one pilot to manage on their own?”

“That’s right, yeah!” Mark gestured towards a staircase that lead up towards the chest region of the mech and started towards it. “See, I thought that because we had less equipment onboard it might be easier to focus on simply standing up straight, but ah... multiple walking attempts with this thing have proven me otherwise. So what I was thinking was that we separate the systems into two!”

He balled his hands and held them up towards Dean to demonstrate. “We have the conscious system! And the unconscious! Much like our own bodies. The pilot would regulate control over the conscious system. Things like moving around and talking and such, while a computer system is expanded to cover more than just air circulation and diagnostics, we give it control over the balancing motors in the mech!”

“Hmm, yeah I can see that working. It’d have to be one hell of a robust program though. Something capable of dealing with different environmental conditions. For example, if the thing ‘slips’ on ice, how does it recover? What happens if a Minevan next to it grabs hold for support? How- cripes these stairs go on forever!” The mouse stopped for a moment to take a breath as they finally reached the top of the staircase. “Gah... Um, as I was saying, you need to consider all sorts of situations that these things will have to go through. Or rather a programmer will!”

“Exactly! And who’s the best programmer around?” Mark grinned, slapping him on the back.

“Ooooh!” Dean grinned back and replied in a mocking tone. “And I hope you have the money to pay the best programmer around, because he’s not doing this for free!”

“Why Dean, you insult me!” Mark placed a hand on his chest as the two reached an opening on the upper chest of the mech. “I’ve got enough to pay your usual rate, pluuuus I’ll give you a stake in the company!”

“Oh wow! A stake in your as of yet capital-less and worthless company? Gee Mark, I don’t know what to say.” Dean rolled his eyes as the two descended into the chest section. “Alright, so you’re saying this thing can stand up on its own?”

“Wiiith your help, yes! I want you to see how the controls run so you know what your computers will have to run. Right now I’ve got the counterbalance controls rigged up to the second seat. Thought you getting a chance to use them might help you out.” Mark gestured towards a couple of simple chairs propped up in front of some large, flat monitors. “I’ll get it standing, you do your best to balance my half out, and we’ll go from there!”

Dean settled into his seat as he listened to Mark power on the massive machine. Slowly the hum of the wires around him grew into a cacophony of sound against the spooling up of various engines throughout the structure. “So what are you using to power this thing, by the way?”

“Right now? Can’t do much better than solar I’m afraid. Got a bunch of panels hooked up to graphene battery cells that let it move on its own for about a half hour, then it needs about a half day to recharge properly.” The screen in front of the two came alive, displaying a vast array of bars and graphs that seemed to be thrown wherever they might have fit.

“Okay, first thing you and I are doing is going over how to properly construct a UI. This is atrocious, Mark! Even for an engineer.” Dean felt something push against his arm, and looked down to see the sides of the chair rising up around him, a number of dials and levers each with a label for the part of the machine it controlled. “Also, solar? Really?”

“Yeah really!” Mark threw a hand up in irritation. “What do you want me to do? Smuggle a friggin’ nuclear engine past border control? Dammit man, compromises have to be made!”

“Sorry, sorry! I’m just surprised that this thing can even move...”

The mech suddenly began to grumble and roar as Mark pushed and pulled on the couple of control columns next to him. “Oh you’re about to see it that and then some! Okay your part is relatively easy, don’t worry about most of those controls, just gently manipulate the two large levers on either side of you to push the thing upright while I stand it up. Just use nice, gentle movements, okay?”

Dean nodded. “Got it.” He focused in on the relevant gyrometers displayed on the screen in front of him as he felt the enormous structure begin to pick itself up. Almost immediately it began to buck to the right, but a quick reaction with his own controls soon steadied it out. After a few minutes, Dean was beginning to understand how the system worked. It didn’t necessarily require a lot of heavy, powerful inputs every now and then, but rather small adjustments to keep movements smooth and natural.

“We’re nearly there... Holy shit man, this is like the first time I’ve ever gotten it to stand up without Emily’s hand on it!” Mark almost seemed to be vibrating in the seat behind him with excitement.

“Well don’t jinx it now!” Dean craned his head to look out the front of the hatch that they’d walked in through, still open to the world. The entirety of Emily’s living room sprawled out before them, and for a moment as though they really were the appropriate height for this insane world.

“D-dean! That’s it! That’s it, man, we’re up!” Came Mark’s voice from behind him.

Deans ears perked up and he spun around in his chair, finding that his friend had done the same. For a moment the two regarded each other with the largest, stupidest grins on their face before breaking into a tight hug.

“We did it!”

“Fuck yeah we did!”

“We kick ass!”


“Yeah! Standing up!”

The happy moment was then interrupted by a sudden alarm blaring from Dean’s console. Slowly, the two turned to look at it, noting how all the gyrometers seemed to be sporting a nice red X across their icon. Then, as if on cue, the mech began to tip over, the tonnes of metal creaking and groaning around them as they descended.

A pair of screams added to the cacophony of sound until the whole thing suddenly stopped mid-crash, coming to a somewhat jerky halt that sent to two flying into the walls that surrounded the controls.

Amidst their groans of pain a voice roared overhead, echoing off the walls with its notes of disapproval. “Dammit Mark, I told you to wait till I got home before trying to test this thing again! You could’ve been seriously injured and there isn’t shit I can do for you at a hospital here!”

After a moment to collect themselves the two walked over to the chest entrance once again to find Emily’s somewhat irritated face staring at the entrance itself. Her arms sprawled out like the world most powerful docking moors as they held the mech upright.

“Sorry sweety! I just wanted to do a test run to show Dean what kind of work the program he makes will have to undertake and I uh, got carried away!”

Emily heaved a sigh both of frustration and relief. “Carried away. Yeah, you know you always seem to do that, and I swear one of these days it’s going to drive all my fur grey!”

“I know, dear, I know! Good thing I make up for it with my charm and winning personality, right?” He shot her a huge grin as Dean rolled his eyes and made a gagging motion.

“You’re lucky Deans here or you’d be in soooo much trouble.”

Dean took this moment to step in before it got any worse. “Alright, well, this has been VERY informative. I think I can work with you to automate the balancing motors, Mark. Hell I can probably provide some sort of system to make the movements of the pilot a lot smoother to boot!”

“Well hey! That’s excellent!” Mark looked between the lioness and the mouse. “Well then you two, shall we get to work?”

*******************************************************************************************************************************************

The clock in this waiting room seemed to be designed specifically to unnerve those about to meet the CEO of CanTest. It was an old fashioned model, analog with large, heavy gears that made an imposing ‘tick-tock’ noise with every passing moment.

Mark tried to keep his breathing steady as he tugged a light blue folder close to his chest, checking his lapels for any kind of dust or threads that had ended up on them. This was it, this was the day that he, Emily and Dean had spent the last two years working towards. Endless hours building and refining, trying to get a machine that worked well enough to show off.

In the meantime Emily’s readership had expanded considerably, even to Cantolian papers! It had gotten to the point that the lioness was looking at assembling her first anthology book for Pie in the Sky. In all honesty Mark had wanted to wait a little longer, but she was very adamant about getting everything out of her apartment so that she could actually move into something nicer.

He curled his fists up and set his gaze forward as determinedly as he could. Emily had sacrificed a lot for this project. Lots of her own free time, her space, and even moments that the two could have spent more intimately, all on his promise that this would make other people like them happier. He had to succeed at this. There was absolutely no other option.

A suit-clad rough collie stepped out of the office, clipboard in hand as he addressed the room. “Mr Summers?”

Mark stood up. “That’s me.”

The collie paused for a moment to look him up and down, then shrugged. “Ms. Mali will see you now.” She gestured for the human to follow and the two entered into an expansive office.

Seated at a large wooden desk with an expansive window opening up into the city behind her was a doe who was tapping away at a terminal.

“Mr. Mark Summers, ma’am.” The collie bowed gently and stepped to the back of the room, closing the heavy wooden doors behind him.

The doe simply gestured for Mark to step over, pointing vaguely at one of the seats in front of her.

Mark cleared his throat as he sat down. “Ma’am, I want to thank you for your time this morni-”

“What’s your product?” She asked, not looking up.

“I’m... sorry?” He blinked, taken aback by the suddenness.

“Your product, your pitch, what do you want to use the considerable wealth and resources of this company to do?” She finally looked away from the screen and towards him, staring with steely determination. “I want to know why you, a...” She glanced back towards the screen. “...five year employee with the transportation division thinks he should be bold enough to come to me with an idea like he was some kind of inventor who wasn’t risking his job if this turns out to be a waste of my time.”

There was a period of silence before Mark finally found his voice once again, taking a moment to swallow what felt like a large lump in his throat. “Alright, just to business then.” He stood himself up, took a deep breath and looked her right in the eyes. “Ma’am, what I want to ask this company to do is to help me change the Narafta Accords.”

“Explain.” She replied, seemingly unphased.

“For the last two years I’ve...” He flipped into the folder and brought out a photo of the more-or-less finished mech. It was comparable to the VX-1, standing tall and with fairly broad shoulders as well as sporting the characteristic single ‘eye’, but without anywhere near the amount of armour plating or any form of weaponry. “I’ve been working on a derivative of the VX-1 battle mech, one that I want to pitch to the civilian market.”

Her eyes widened just a bit as she took the photo, ear flicking slightly. “You... built this? By yourself? I find it difficult to believe one person could do much more than a small model by themselves, and if that’s the case...”

“It’s not a model, ma’am. This is the real deal, see I, ah, had help from a Minevan. She did a lot of the assembly and materials purchases. A friend and I did the of the finer work with wiring and engines and such.” He placed the folder in front of her. “I know that sounds hard to believe, but I have evidence of the full scale thing working, and for considerably less cost than I had originally anticipated, might I add!”

Mali took the folder and flipped it open, scanning through the various documents and pictures he had included. “How did you get a Minevan to help you build this? I imagine most would outright squish you for such an idea.”

“Um... Well, that’s part of the reason why I think this kind of thing would sell on the civilian market. See, this Minevan and I are kinda, ah, dating?” At this, Mali looked up and gave him a look that expressed just how much she believed that statement. “I know it sounds ridiculous, but it’s true! See, I’m not exactly sure why but there was a screwup when we were younger and we became penpals. Then... well, long story short we fell in love and have been trying to make this whole thing work, and I think an invention like this can make cross-size relationships possible.”

She cut him off at that. “Mr. Summers, these ideas are all very well and good. I would go so far as to say they are admirable, but as much as I admire them this is a company, and admirability for me must go hand in hand with profitability. The amount of money we would have to spend to even get the legislation changed alone is enormous, and just because you think a market for this might exists will not be enough to convince the board of directors that it’s worth our resources.”

Mark nodded “You’re right, you’re absolutely right. So how about this? For the first bit we only sell to high end buyers. Think, Cantolians who’ve always wanted to see more of the world but are limited by their size? Well if you have the cash now you can explore to your hearts content! Hell, the diplomatic corps alone would probably buy these in a heartbeat! We already have enough issues trying to get equal standing at the technology meetings every year, if we could look the Minevan ambassadors in the eye as we’re in discussions... Well, I can see several governments even outside of our own showing an interest. The Minevans might even keep one or two anytime they need to have a meeting with one of us.”

Mali seemed to consider this. “Mmm, not a bad idea admittedly. I think that’s the way to go, too. Not a civilian product, or at least not at first, but rather a diplomatic one. Something to be afforded by the few before it can be used by the masses. I suppose we could try and pitch that, but...” She took a look at a few more of the pictures in the folder, clicking her tongue. “We will need to do some.... Revisions to this design.”

“Revisions?”

“Mmhmm.” She tapped one and slid it towards him, a picture of the control column. “Right now this has several issues with it, and I know why.”

He quirked his head. “Why?”

“It was designed for an engineer, not for the public.” She smirked. “The UI for the controls themselves look fine, but there are small issues with the overall design. The seating position is not adjustable, for example. Which is fine for an adult human male in their twenties, but we need to accomodate more than those buyers, yes?”

She stood up to her full height, leaning over the desk slightly as she placed her hands upon it and addressed him. “When designing anything two key factors must be kept in mind! Number one is that it needs to be used by as many different body types as possible. Number two is that it needs to be simple enough to understand that those who did not have a hand in building it can make it move with relative ease.”

“Oh...” He frowned. Honestly, he thought he’d done a good job of incorporating bits of comfort. Hell, it even had cupholders!

Mali noticed his expression and smiled. “Worry not, Mr. Summers. To be honest for this being the job of two or three people it shows a lot of refinement. But that’s the deal here, yes? You’ve presented this company with a strong idea. Now it’s our job to refine this idea and help you bring it to market.”

“W-wait!” Mark felt his heart flutter. “Does that mean you’ll produce it and help me get the legislation changed?”

She sat back down, arching her fingertips as her smile widened. “Of course, Mr. Summers. For, oh, lets say eighty five percent of the profits, and the intellectual rights of this machine line going to CanTest. You would of course be promoted to this, er, newly founded position within the company and will have the right to fifteen percent of the net profits made per year.”

Mark blinked, not exactly sure how to react. “O-oh! That’s, um, that should be fine! My only request would maybe be for me to get ten percent and my friend Dean, the guy who coded it, to get five? This wouldn’t be possible without his programs.”

Mali shrugged “If that’s what you want. I must say I’m excited by the prospect of this market, I really do think you have a novel idea here Mr. Summers. Aaaand if we don’t have to invest any capital to have a working test model either, well, let’s just say that this makes it a much easier pill to swallow.” She extended a hand and stood up as Mark shook it. “Right. Well, I’ll be going to inform the board of our new product line. Mr. Squeaks will draw up the necessary paperwork.”

“Mr... Squeaks?” Mark asked, then was pointed towards the collie from before who suddenly had a bushel of paperwork in his arms.

“Don’t ask. He’ll get you set up and our people will get in touch with you over the next few weeks about how we’ll handle our public relations when we go live with our announcement.”

“P-public relations? That seems like a bit much, doesn’t it?” Mark seemed to be rapidly losing the colour from his flesh.

“Oh goodness no! You’re asking for an exception to be made of the Narafta accords, my boy! This is going to be on every major news network twenty four seven until a decision’s been made!” She patted him on the shoulder encouragingly as she walked out a hidden door. “For now just enjoy the moment! Remember, this is what you waaaanteeeeed!”

The door shut with a slam, leaving him alone with the collie. “She’s um... That’s um..” He took a deep breath. “Why the secret door?”

Squeaks stared at him cooly. “She likes to make the people waiting outside think that she’s still busy and working away.” He turned on his heel and waved a hand. “Come on, you’re gonna have a lot of work to do over the coming months...”

Mark sighed, following the collie out the significantly less secret doors towards the legal division offices. He had certainly succeeded today, no doubt about that, but the most difficult part still lay ahead of him. A part that, if everything went badly enough, could ruin the first peace agreement that had ever lasted between their two peoples.
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Re: Communication on a Massive Scale

Postby gadabout » Sat Sep 10, 2016 2:48 am

Nyahaha, I did this :I

Good stuff once again, you better keep these coming :D
RIP Baggy52.

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Re: Communication on a Massive Scale

Postby Westpilot » Sat Sep 10, 2016 5:58 pm

gadabout wrote:Nyahaha, I did this :I

Good stuff once again, you better keep these coming :D


You certainly did! >:I

And thank you Gada, I will! Last bit should be the end~
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Re: Communication on a Massive Scale

Postby Westpilot » Wed Nov 16, 2016 3:33 am

“Emmy this is immensely good timing for you! I mean, just think of it. Some nut decides to go and challenge one of the founding stipulations of the narafta accords to sell robots that let the Cantolians pretend to be big! And now it comes out that he’s been dating one of us for years and the two are going onto one of the biggest talk shows in the nation!” Emily had not heard this level of excitement in Daisy’s voice in a long while, the zangoose sounded positively ecstatic.

“I’m guessing you want me to hop on twitter and do some sort of promotion of it for the comic?” the lioness replied, attempting to suppress a growing smirk.

“What? Oh no no no! I just want your approval! I got the account all set up to start showing all kinds of support for these two. I mean, shoot, how could it work any better? Two lovers falling for each other despite the difference in size. It’s the perfect tie in for Pie in the Sky!” She chirped in reply. She had that tone in her voice that told Emily that she was about to go onto a very long speech about the wonders of marketing and licensing deals.

“Well you see!” After several years of working together she’d learned how to cut her promoter off at the pass, so to speak. “That’s going to be a little bit difficult, seeing as I’m the one who’s going on the show with the nut.”

“Wait a minute, what? You…” There was a pause, though Emily could have sworn that it should have been longer. “Well! I guess the comic was a bit more inspired than I first realized huh? I’d ask how the two of you met, but I think I’d rather see Moppie asking you about it Sunday night at five o’clock.”

“Well I’m sure you’ll hear that and more. I’m a little surprised though, didn’t take you to be the kind to watch that kind of stuff!”

A deep chuckle answered her on the other end of the line. “Ah, just call it my little vice. Need some mindless brain candy at the start of the week, plus it’s all good fun! Oh, have you told your parents yet?”

“I did! They were, uh, a little surprised!” That was an understatement if there ever was one. Funnily both her and Mark’s parents were less mad about the size difference than they were about the two keeping their relationship a secret for as long as they did. I mean, they knew about him and I being friends and all, but we never told them about any of the other details. For the most part though, things had worked out. Her dad had described anyone who could put up with a two hour long grilling session from a mile high male lion as “a suitably strong mate” and Mark’s mom had apparently been reading her comic for years which made warming up to her a fair bit easier.

“I’ll bet they were! Ah, still good for you two. Well dear I gotta let you go, but good luck on the show! I know it’s mostly focused on that robot thing and your guys’ relationship, but if you could plug the comic a few times that’d be greeeaaaat! Toodles!” Emily heard the phone click and shook her head, Daisy was one of the few forces in this universe that remained constant.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country Daisy was finalizing the details of a meeting on the weekend and trying very hard to ignore the smartass comments coming from the speck in her ear.

“Who’d have thought that there’d be another pair like us out there! You know, I’ll bet you anything Emily doesn’t step on his trains in the morning.” Came Carlos’s chiding voice.

“Please, as if you dislike exploring every square inch of my paws…” She muttered, flicking an ear and smirking at his yelp of protest.

---------------------------------------------------------------------

Mark had to admit to himself that the efforts that the television crew were going through to get him on camera alone were impressive. One poor tech must have gone through about seven different macro lenses just to try and get him on screen. Currently they were setting up a rather impressive array of boom mikes behind and above him to attempt to capture his voice. The day itself had been a whirlwind of impossibly large faces and hallways. According to Emily The Moppie Show was one of the most watched talk shows in the entire country, and the upcoming episode would be one of the highest viewed of its entire broadcast, especially so when you considered the controversy surrounding CanTest’s announcement about his project.

There had been more than a few death threats sent his way since the announcement from people who considered it a challenge to the agreement that had kept them safe for fifty years. Something that could threaten the comfortable status quo of the world. It wasn’t the intention by any means, in fact Mark was hoping to make a better world, but intent was not what people saw. Because of this, it had been the suggestion of Mira and several members of her board of directors for Mark to stay with Emily in the weeks leading up to the court hearing. All in all it had been a pleasant, if somewhat tense, few weeks. Outside of a select few no one knew about him and Emily, though after today… Well, she’d already said she would be with him no matter what.

“Okay.” The tabby cat who had been adjusting the mics and occasionally asking Mark to say things like “test test test” finally seemed pleased with the audio quality. A moment later a familiar thunderous beat met Mark’s ears as Emily walked over and sat down on the immense orange couch behind him. The sight of her in the elegant blue summer dress was enough to make his mouth feel a bit dryer than normal. In all the years he’d spent with her he’d not actually seen her dress up all that often.

He watched as her head turned towards him and gave him a warm smile, a swimming pool sized eye slowly closing in a wink before she turned to look back at one of the Minevans who appeared to be trying to find some optimal way of composing the set. Thanks to the receiving dish in Emily’s ear he was able to hear what she heard, which at the very least made one half of the conversation a bit easier.

“Ah hello, Emily! How you goin’?” came a decidedly accented male voice through his headset. “So lovely to meet you, really!” Mark watched as a lop bunny dressed in an expertly tailored suit took Emily’s hand and shook it for a moment before turning around to face the platform he was on.

A faceful of tan fur and enormous glasses loomed above him as the bunny seemingly attempted to spot his small form. “And you must be Mark!” He said, finally deciding to stare at a spot roughly four hundred meters from where Mark was standing. “Really quite excellent to meet you. Looking forward to talking with you, really just finding out about all this, yeah!”

“Live in ten!” Called the Minevan from before and soon the three of them were the only ones left on the stage. Moppie had already taken a seat on a cushiony armchair seated opposite of him and just to Emily’s right, a broad smile on his face as he turned to face a camera.

“Five… four… three…” The last two numbers were mouthed silently as filming began.

“Good evening everyone and welcome to a special episode of Lapining for Conversation! I’m your host, Moppie, and with me tonight we have Emily Sylla, the artist behind the wildly popular comic strip ‘Pie in the Sky’ and Mark Summers, inventor of the so called…” He paused, taking a moment to read off of a slip of paper. “CX-0 diplomatic relations platform… Now, Mark, I know you’re an engineer and all but goodness me, mate! Has no one else in your company thought of a better name for the thing?”

Canned laughter filled the room. Emily had said there was normally an audience, but in the interests of minimizing the chance of someone taking off with one of the guests they decided to make this filming more of a closed affair.

“But honestly mate, honestly!” Moppie continued “This is really something that you’ve done here. I suppose the first question I ought to ask is why?”

“Whyeee?” Mark’s voice cracked a bit and he reached for a glass of water, he hadn’t really used his vocal chords much in the last hour. “Er, sorry. Well, I guess that the answer to that is that I was presented with a problem. Despite my love for Emily and her love for me the vast difference in our sizes prohibited us from really living like most couples get to. And so I thought that maybe a peaceful version of this old battle mech design would be a way of letting Cantolians and Minevan’s interact on the same scale.”

“Well it certainly seems as though you’ve done that! I’m told that you’ve received a fair bit of praise from some of your colleagues for being able to simplify the system enough for one pilot.”

Mark nodded. “Well, I can’t take all the credit for that. A lot of that was the work of my friend, Dean Marghella, he managed to automate a lot of the processes that formerly needed a person to oversee them. Though bringing him on board was my idea!”

Moppie laughed at that, his glasses bouncing up and down and reflecting mountain ranges of light as it glinted off of the thick rims. “Well that’s certainly interesting to hear about, seems like you had plenty of good ideas. Of course, most of my audience is a little less interested in that as they are in this lovely lady seated to my left!”

Canned laughter filled the air and Mark watched as the flesh beneath Emily’s cheeks burned red, slowly granting a reddish tint to the tawny forest of cheek fur.

“I think the question on everyone’s minds really is how!” Moppie continued as the laughter abated. “How on earth did the two of you end up together, and perhaps more importantly again we must ask why?”

“Well…” she started, then stopped for a moment, seemingly not able to find her words and laughing nervously.

“Tough question, hey?” Moppie laughed.

“Tough, kinda! Mostly just to figure out where to start. Um. I mean when I first ‘met’ Mark I assumed he was a Minevan. He was paired up with me in elementary school as my pen pal, and no, before you ask neither of us knows how on earth that happened.”

He stared at her incredulously “Well yeah! It seems like… kind of a huge oversight.”

“Yeah you’re telling us! Heh, but anyways we kept in contact all throughout elementary and junior high, right up through high school! And then after we both graduated we thought that it was about time we met face to face.”

“Still not aware of the size difference.”

“Noooope!” The three of them shared a laugh.

“You can imagine my surprise!” Mark interjected.

“Oh yeah, yeah! Especially when Mr. Genius over here decides the best place to wait for me would be on the seat of a park bench. So he ended up getting a lot more of an introduction to me than he expected while I was left to think that he stood me up!” She looked over at him, and Mark could almost swear he saw tinges of guilt in her eyes all this time later.

“Ah, but! Then I found him… and mistook him for a bit of a peeping tom.” She continued.

“Not without reason, mind!” Moppie leaned back a bit, his ears bouncing gently as he settled into the chair.

“No, no certainly not! But, ah, he was eventually able to get me on my cellphone and we both realized what exactly had happened. And then… Well” She chewed her lip, searching her mind to try and find the appropriate words to describe her emotions in the days following that meeting. “I mean, he was my friend long before I met him, and the fact that he was a Cantolian didn’t really factor in as much. He was still my friend. And… then as things progressed I realized that the two of us had fallen for each other despite everything. Just, years of talking to each other manages to make the size difference matter less.”

“So that’s our why then! Not a Cantolian, just Mark.” Moppie was smiling broadly now. “I can’t quite say that it’s an experience I personally have had myself, but I’m certain it’s one that many people out there might be able to relate to one way or another.”

Mark nodded vigorously at this “Yes, exactly! And that’s my hope. That by giving people this capability we might see more and more relationships, either romantic or not, developing between our two peoples. I really think that’s the next step up from the peace promised by Narafta.”

“Well I think that we have time for one final question before we’re done here, thank you so very much for coming by the way- it’s really been lovely.” Moppie tipped his head back down to his notes and smiled. “Ah, yeah! So the other question on our viewers minds would be how you two… or even if you do any of, well you know, at all!”

Emily burst out laughing at that point and Mark tried to cut in over the uproar of guffaws. “Practice, Moppie! Practice.”

---------------------------------------------------------------------

Months after the interview had aired Mark had found himself still living with Emily as tempers on both sides of the issue continued to flair. CanTest thought it would be best if their lawyers handled the case and so Mark had been delegated to teleconferencing into work and occasionally getting updates that “the case had been elevated yet again.” Emily had said early on that it would likely take this long as the case was pushed up through the court system, and so far the lioness’ predictions had been proven correct.

It was a novel situation as the legislation that had been developed by both the Minevans and Cantolians needed to be changed, and so as the challenge to it gained more and more attention from both societies it had been decided to have representatives from the supreme courts of both the country of Mineva and the five different cities that made up the Cantolian side of the original Narafta accords.

He’d noticed a change in Emily since the interview, while she was still trying to be optimistic and bubbly it was tempered by a sort of fear. At his scale Mark could see it in her eyes as the two spent time on the couch together in the evening. Or more accurately as she laid back on the couch and he rested on the cool, bumpy leather of her nose. Cautious questions about what was bothering her were deflected, but he had an idea of what was going on. Apparently the controversy surrounding the legal challenge had caused a number of large newspapers across the country to drop her strip. The worst he had seen was a letter written by someone who said the comic was “no longer welcome in my house” and had sent a bunch of yellowed strips along in the envelope. That had been a bad night for her.

Apparently the Genedian city council had taken Dean and placed him into a sort of protection program both for matters of his own personal security and, he’d implied in a phone call to Mark one evening, because they were worried he’d release his code for other cities to make use of.

It wasn’t all bad, however. In addition to the more angry and fearful things they’d heard, they’d also been sent a number of letters from more than a few people who had said they too had managed to make cross-size friendships; or at the very least had been inspired to try them, since they’d watched the two. In addition to this they’d received more than a few requests for instructions from Emily for how exactly she was able to safely interact with Mark in more mundane as well as more blush-inducing ways, with Mark receiving similar questions from curious Cantolians. For both of their parts they managed to answer to the best of their ability, though Mark was deeply considering putting together a manual of sorts once he was finished filing a patent for the headset he used to talk with Emily.

Eventually, though, the night of the court’s official ruling on whether or not they’d allow the production of diplomatic mechs to occur came around. Mark had felt for most of the day as though a great weight was on his chest. He’d never understood the idea of butterflies being in one’s stomach as Emily had said a few times before, though butterflies were once proposed as a form of mass transit for his people so he supposed that phrase was a matter of perspective.

The two were watching a comedy special on Emily’s wide, boxy television set when Mark’s phone began to ring. On the other end there was Mira’s excited voice that was accented with her tired gasps as though she was out of breath. “Mark! Just came out of the court hearing here, I got good news! They’ve approved the construction of the mechs to a very specific standard. Basically as long as they aren’t strong enough to overpower a Minevan and are incapable of using weapons then they will be considered a legal thing under Narafta! I’m told we already have the other four city councils ordering sets for their own diplomatic relations!”

“O-oh my goodness!” Mark felt as though the great weight on his chest had at last been lifted. “That’s… that’s fantastic news, wow!” Emily had muted the TV and was staring at him now with wide ocean spanning eyes.

“Sure is, sure is! I’ll give you tomorrow to let this all sink in but I need you back in the office on monday. This whole thing’s about to kick off and we want you back where you’re needed.” Then, seemingly sensing his next question, added. “And we’ll ensure your own personal safety. Trust me, Summers, you’ve just become an incredibly valuable asset to this company and to the city by extension. We’ll be taking care of you and Dean, rest assured. For now what I want you to do is relax and enjoy yourself before all the hard work begins, okay?”

“Umm… yeah, yeah for sure I will! Thanks Mira…” He tapped the END CALL button on the screen on his phone and sighed.

“What. Whaaaat?” Emily seemed to have somehow caused her eyes to come closer to her nose. “What did she say?!”

“She said…” Mark let his arms fall and his voice drop.

“I’ll push you down my shirt and turn on the news Mark, don’t you yank me around!” Her eyes narrowed, the slightest growl on her voice indicating that she just might do that.

“Okay, okay! She said they’ll amend the accords to let them be produced! We-” He didn’t have a chance to finish before a sheer wall of ebony forcefully flung him forward and then buried him in the warmth of Emily’s muzzle for a few moments, sparing him the eardrum-shattering shout of glee she let out.

“That’s fantastic news, Mark! Like… damn! I mean I’ll be honest I had my doubts about all this, but that makes me feel just so much better.” The relief absolutely blanketed her voice, and she sounded a bit more like her old self again.

“Are you sure?” He asked as her claw tip retreated, giving him room to breath and move. “I mean with the comic and everything you’ve lost so much of your readership…”

“Ahh, easy come easy go, right? I’m still gonna write the comic and Daisy is confident that once things start settling down I’ll attract a new audience thanks to this whole thing. And even if I don’t, isn’t the saying for better or for worse?” The flesh beneath him trembled slightly as her muscles moved into a smirk.

“Well I mean, it is! But we’re not married…” Mark laughed, unable to help himself as months of stress finally gave way to hope and joy.

“Pffft!” Her eyes rolled for a moment before focusing directly on him. “I mean we may as well be, especially if I can get away with doing THIS!” A sudden explosion of force from all around him and he was airborne as she flipped her muzzle upwards. Her body and clothing blended into colours beneath him as he sailed across it before coming to a sudden, bouncing stop in the middle of a deep canyon. Towering spires of fur seemed to rise up all around him and jutted off horizontally off of the rounded, fleshy walls.

The towering lioness grinned as she placed a hand over her bellybutton and started walking towards her bedroom. “I know you won’t be able to fit a ring around my finger anyways…” She mused, tail flicking back and forth gently as her newly invigorated mind raced with possibilities. “So I guess I’ll have to just settle for you doing the next best thing.”
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