Crypsis (No Man's Land)

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Crypsis (No Man's Land)

Postby Berserker » Fri Apr 19, 2013 6:20 am

OOPS I accidentally wrote something new I think.

I'll be putting the ending pieces of No Man's Land here, as far as the main story goes. It's definitely not done yet (who would've thought) but I liked these first two scenes so I saw no harm in putting em here for now. Might do some editing on them later but I didn't get the feeling that they're totally hideous. Will update as it goes along.



----If all went according to plan, this would be a good day.

The black-furred wolf, clad in only a green gown matching her sharp eyes, paced the hallway beside her room—having been woken up on abrupt call—whilst cradling the phone between neck and shoulder. She was actually happy that it was about nothing important, especially on a Saturday.

Fiela Rose's gaze drifted lazily about, glancing periodically at encased portraits of her family that sat upon the shelf beside. One was of a female wolf like herself, a state reminiscent of the past that bore a striking resemblance to her, albeit with much softer features and dimmer eyes. Another was male, and the expression on his face was a precarious mix of snarl and smile; it only bordered on presentable.

It had been some time since she'd seen them. She couldn't help but wonder what had changed at her old home since she'd left, how they were faring...but she knew such questions solved nothing; it was all part of growing up after all, and she was proud that she managed to accept that as readily as she did.

Fiela snapped herself from other thoughts. “One sec,” she muttered into the phone. With all the grace of one without a care in the world or the need for any, the wolfess sauntered with purpose back into the dining room, dismissing the photos of her parents. Her fingers twitched with the clear desire to fiddle with a phone cord if there was one. She then took a peek toward a sheet of paper upon the table, quick green eyes scanning it briefly for relevance.

Heck, her schedule was empty. When wasn't it? A little waltz in her step might do her some good.

“...Yeah, I've got nothing to do, Elsa. Just call me when you want me to head over, I still have to shower.” Fiela scratched her raggedy mane absently.

“Will do!” buzzed back the voice of a collie on the other end of the line. “Sam's bringing the whole pack. Don't you hold back on us!”

“The whole thing? Have you seen what happens when you're wasted?” But Fiela's inquiry went unanswered save for a long tone that went unregistered in her mind for a few good seconds. Hung up on again.

Well, if her impulsive friend wanted to wake up feeling like a beached whale then that was none of Fiela's concern. Maybe if it was only a six-pack then it wouldn't be so bad.

Bored and nearly lethargic, Fiela took to quiet pacing and absent thought. It wouldn't hurt to get out of the house for a time, surely. She would think that if she was feeling the drive to go anywhere at all, that is, but today just wasn't a hangout day, and especially not a hangover one.

Looked like she was trapped, though. If she played her cards right then maybe she could get home at eight and with all her clothes on.

Suddenly, she caught something out of the corner of her eye. It jerked her from her sleepy state near-instantly, replacing lethargy with instinctual adrenaline. There was a stifled movement behind a chair leg, but clumsily hidden; something she'd seen so many times before. If she had to think about it, she would say the tiny treated her house no better than a mindless obstacle course.

With foolish abandon, the tiny walked out into the open, thinking itself safe. Hell, even Rey knew better than that the first time they'd met. He got better about it, too, but this was just sad.

Fiela leaned to her side and raised an eyebrow. “What—what the hell are you doing?” she growled sternly. The tiny jumped at the sight of her but was not quick enough to start running before Fiela bent down and smartly snatched the insect from the ground in one swift movement. Experience made such an act as simple as cutting cake, let alone eating it. Not a challenge to be found, sadly enough.

The tiny was a young-looking otter girl, probably around her own age—maybe a little older, with keen scrutiny. Rather than blubbering for recourse or fighting back uselessly—two things the canine had jadedly come to expect from the tinies she'd previously captured—the otter simply began to scream, head poking out from Fiela's fist. Thankfully it wasn't loud, though under other circumstances the wolfess might not mind it. She rolled her eyes as the sound quickly became grating.

“Shut it!” Fiela barked. The caterwauling instantly died down to humbled whimpers. “Now you just sit tight while I figure out what do with you. After all, goodness me, I could swear I'd never have another thief in my house again as of two weeks ago.” She said the words dismissively but they apparently came across as menacing to the tiny, who barely contained her fearful vocalizations.

Fiela was obviously indecisive, though this did not echo to the tiny; in the otter's mind, her fate was all but ultimate. The wolf did not want to deny herself the example she wished to make—Rey was the only exception she desired to apply to her way, in all brute honesty—but something was holding her back. It was her experience with Rey that had taught her it was not a good idea; she had to prove she was above that.

The phone rang yet again, forcing a start and then a sigh from Fiela. It was all too obvious who it was.

Tentatively, she picked it up anyway. “Hey!” Came the voice of Elsa. “You can come over now. Sam dropped by early and stuff. I've already downed two bottles, so you'd better hurry up before it's gone!”

Something told her that she wouldn't really want to be around her drunk friends while sober. Saturdays were fun, but not that fun. If I hurry it'll be because I want to get there before you're unbearable, she thought.

As she listened to the eccentric and tipsy babbling of her friend, she cast a glance back to the tiny in her fist. Its eyes were shut tightly, braced for what punishment she might bestow upon it. She gave it a curious look, sighed, then brought her thumb over its head in a gentle caress. Its hyperventilation slowed down just a little. She whispered a quick “Get out,” and then set the creature down on the floor, watching it waste no time in hightailing it straight out of there.

While she did view it as some kind of humorous, she gave no hint to the receiver of what she was doing.

“...And don't tell anyone but I'm beginning to think you can't hold your liquor, but that's never been a problem befo—” Elsa's rambling came back into focus, which Fiela chose to decisively interrupt.

“Yeah, stuff came up, sorry. Exciting as watching you binge all day sounds, I'm gonna have to reschedule to next weekend...you have fun.” She clacked the phone against the hanger before she could hear the protests she knew were spilling from a certain collie's tongue right now, about three blocks away.

Hopefully she'd made the right choice. Again, that is.

****

There was that greying wall, the one that spurred the wolf to ask herself just why it was she had agreed to be here. That wall had never been gotten its second coat. Yeesh. Ugly to look at; peeling here and there, a dusty color that contrasted the well-kept wood of the bookshelf to her left and the desk just before her in a bad way, and overall it only exemplified her question.

Fiela was never a political person—“Personally, it seems pointless to argue about anything in that regard but the most pressing issues” was what she told anybody who asked—and yet here she stood in the mayor's office of Scotton, advocating for tinies, in the most general sense at least, by answering questions for a journalist. And to her, what happened to most tinies wasn't really the most pressing thing. There was Rey, to be sure, but it's not as if others were really any of her concern.

Politicians: sitting at a snug tenth place on her list of things closest to the scum of the earth. Hopefully this one wouldn't prove that too readily.

The wolfess sat with one leg crossed over the other upon a stool, in front of her placed a desk and atop which stood a tiny white figure with crimson eyes.

“Beginning...” the tiny started, “I'll need your birth names, first and last.”

“Fiela Rose,” she answered leisurely.

“Legal first and last?”

“...Same thing, Max. I've never changed them.”

“Yes, of course. And age?”

“21. You know that too.” She was already growing just a bit exasperated, as she knew she would at some point. It was simply a matter of when. And patience was a lot harder to come by with only four hours of sleep under the belt.

“Necessary questions...” Max muttered dispassionately, jabbing his pen with both ferocity and finesse. It only took a few seconds for him to finish jotting down the answers for each of the questions. “How long have you lived in Scotton?”

“Four months.”

“Indeed. And have you supported tinies for that long?”

Fiela could have laughed.

“No. It's been two weeks since I started. I'm not super hardcore about it or anything though.”

“Yes, that would be so.” It appeared as though the rabbit wanted to fidget, but he hid the desire well. After copying the latest two answers, Max tucked away his pages and clicked his pen. The albino looked Fiela in the eyes, no clear sign of uncertainty or within his own whatsoever. Fiela found that just a little jarring. “Why did you start?”

Fiela's brow tensed. “You put away your notes. That's not a journalist question.”

“Whether or not I write down what you say immediately makes no difference toward the purpose of the question.”

What did that mean?

“...Your cousin.” It was something she hated to admit since she had only just finished climbing the fence with her feelings for him. To both her relief and twinge of anger, the rabbit did not save the response in any way.

“Rey's got a way with words, doesn't he?” Fiela got the irking feeling she was being mocked, but she didn't dare twitch a finger.

“I owe him nothing,” she spat, emitting a guttural growl. “Anything else? Or are we just going to sit here and shoot the shit until one of us gets bored?”

Max frowned a little. “Perhaps you'd like to explain why it's important to you. Last I knew, caring less about such a thing would be an impossibility for you.” Dismissing his verbosity, the only way he could have sounded more accusatory was if he had finished the sentence with “you vile snake,” which Fiela figured he was on the verge of saying anyway—even though his opinion of her wasn't fully understood.

This interview suddenly started to become a lot less professional, and a lot more personal. Tenth-closest thing, tenth-closest thing.

“Don't think you can just ask me whatever you want,” Fiela snarled while leaning closer. She eyed the bug-sized rabbit in a way to strike just the right amount of intimidation into him, equal parts scorn and predatory motive. “You're not invincible. If I were you I wouldn't go on acting like I can't just pop you and be done.”

Finally she felt in control of where this stupid conversation would go. Last thing she wanted was to be craned and dragged around by this rabbit—who, by the way, should be afraid of her in the slightest at least. Why in the world wasn't he? It was almost unsettling that he either didn't know or didn't care, or that he was hiding it incredibly well.

Almost.

“While I wouldn't be the one to remind you of how detrimental that would be to your own cause, I feel that I must correct you. I ask these questions precisely because of the opposite reason: I'm not invincible.”

“...So you think you're going to...die?” Fiela found herself a little unclear on what he meant.

“I know I am.” She had trouble feeling much sympathy, but she could see his point...however fine of one it was.

And while she was by no means certain of what cause there would be for him to simply keel over, she could think of no reason for her to care to find out.

“That's not a reason to make it happen sooner,” Fiela growled flatly. But then, she shook her head. This was for Rey; like Max said, she was better to let him off—and Rey would be none too happy with the results if she decided to harm his cousin, most likely. “...I-I won't hurt you, okay? Just, let's be done with this soon. You've gotten enough answers from me and we can make this happen already.”

Control was wrenched from her again. He may well have been invincible after all.

“Fret not, it's merely a little longer.” Max reproduced his notes and pen, looking just a little solemn. “My apologies, Fiela, for my intrusions. I'd simply rather not have my cousin going out and getting himself killed just because he sees a pretty face.” His harshness returned.

The one thing Fiela realized she was beginning to hate right then was his demeanor. “Seems that everything ends up boiling down to Rey.” The words were dismissive and quick in the hopes that they could move on.

“You two are a topic of interest. My interest. What with him visiting your house so frequently, one might suspect that a little more goes on behind the scenes.” Fiela scowled madly. Ooh, she could just kill him right now...

“You still think that the bucket's close enough as is? Keep this up and I swear I won't even let you kick it!” Fiela found herself nearly yelling. Stupid questions and accusations that in no way had to do with what she came here for; oh, how she knew she would regret trying to be helpful.

“Now that's a temper. My apologies.” Bullshit. “This could be helpful information regarding the announcement in the square, you know.”

“You dirty...you know what, I'm done. This is the least professional thing I've ever been a part of.” Fiela stood up, curling her tail a little in a dignified manner as if to protect it from taint; ninth-closest thing, maybe. “I came here because it would help out my friend, and all you want to do is get some kind of shallow satisfaction out of it.” She kicked the stool into place behind her without thinking. And all this trouble just for Rey? What had gotten into her? Perhaps it would be better that the canine left before she did something she knew she would regret...

“Wait! I-I'm sorry, really. I need you. I meant it when I said this information could help.” He stopped and sighed. "Rey and some others have a plan...an announcement of sorts downtown. They need my aid, and I need yours."

Fiela halted, clearly considering his words. But the pause was purely for dramatic effect; the wolf already knew how she would respond. He wants my help, but of course he does.

The tall, agile body sauntered back over, looming above Max at its full daunting height. Suddenly, Fiela slapped a hand down against the wood of the table with a smart clap, trapping the rabbit between her fingers and underneath her paw, head showing in the space where her index and middle fingers parted. He struggled to move but there would be no avail, while fear at last ran rampant in his eyes.

It was a sight that somehow satisfied her—not merely in the way of control and comeuppance. He really wasn't invincible, and for a moment, she was almost ashamed that she had just about believed it.

“Let's not forget who the volunteer is here, and who wouldn't be noticed missing if they decide to act up.” Perhaps a little harsh—and against her predatory instinct and now-cultivated anger, a bluff—but it drove the point home well. “You're ticking me off and that's the last thing I need.” She pulled the brown stool back from underneath the desk and sat back down. “Do you understand me?”

Just then, the squeezing stopped. Fiela removed her hand and let the creature recompose himself. She swept a hand over her head to brush back loose bangs and took a moment let him react.

“I thought you said you wouldn't—”

Perhaps not too long a moment. “Don't try to take advantage of me just because I said I wouldn't hurt you. That can change.” Humbled a little, Max nodded vigorously. “Listen; whatever you think is going on between Rey and I isn't true. You want to go back and forth between thinking we're something more than friends or that I'm just leading him into some kind of deathtrap. We're friends. That should be enough for you anyway—a giant and a tiny? The idea's ridiculous.”

Max looked somewhat taken aback; just the plan.

“Besides, I'd suggest you keep your little twitching nose out of business it doesn't belong in. I thought this interview was for political purposes, not column gossip.”

The rabbit's lips tightened. His eyes, featureless though they were, still hinted at reluctance. He was almost ready to admit he was wrong and Fiela was aware of that. She could sense how dearly he wanted to continue arguing, but her confidence was far too overpowering for him to bring himself to do so—especially after being held down and threatened, even though he obviously wasn't terribly shocked that she retaliated in such a way. And if he continued anyway, so help her...

“Alas,” said Max. “Reymont told me himself that you two were...” A sour glare spread across the giantess' face. “Ahem. I suppose he simply over-analyzed things, as he does.” It became apparent that his assumption of treachery was his own, while the theory of a relationship was simply Rey's doing.

“Much better.” She'd have to remember to have a word with Rey later, though, the loudmouth. “If you don't mind me breaking the mold,” she continued with a sarcastic droop, “I'd like to be the one asking questions. First off, what's with the way you talk? No need to sound so...well, I won't say 'refined' because it isn't, it's just verbose.”

Max looked like he had just been stung in the nose. “I-I do not mean to talk in any way. Perhaps...” he paused, eyes rolling skyward. “Yes, I think I understand your question.”

“There's hardly anything to get about it, to be honest,” the wolfess retorted.

“I lived most of my life in solitude, Fiela.” There was no mistaking the defensive hiss in his voice. “I had little to turn to but books, not people. It is possible that is why you think I sound strange.”

Fiela narrowed her gaze. “So is that your excuse for being a nosy asshole too? Social ineptitude?”

Much to her surprise, the rabbit looked offended—gutted but alive, and yet not at all angry. There was no place for anger and he knew it.

“I'm...sorry, Fiela. I truly am.” There was another pause, but Fiela didn't want to interrupt. “It was wrong of me to snoop, I just...I was curious.” He looked...after an inspection, indeed apologetic.

“Well? Then why are you the one 'interviewing' me to begin with?" She used the term both loosely and mockingly. "You'd think another giant would be more suited to the task. And you're the mayor's advisor anyway, since when were you also a journalist?” Perhaps she could have handled the situation better with somebody else. But then, she didn't see her reactions as her own fault. “I know you were quoted one time, but that hardly means anything here. You know what good that did.”

The rabbit shifted; not in discomfort, merely in thought. It was likely he was figuring out how to phrase his answer, something that Fiela noticed Rey did as well. Although he was a little put off in recalling the little his quote alone did; Fiela wasn't sure quite what he must have expected from it, or if it was simply his foray into the issue.

“I was curious.” During the beat, Fiela's ear twitched and she barely prevented a sigh. Why were you curious, go on, she urged mentally. “I wanted to assist Reymont before the rally began. I have few ways to do so, and I chose to take charge of what happened here today because...” He drifted away, but he was still making eye contact.

“Yes?” Fiela was no longer angry. Just expectant.

“Because, Fiela—it might be the last chance I have.”

The words struck her a little more deeply than expected. Perhaps...perhaps she could trust him. And perhaps he had proven something to her—eleventh closest? Yes...that might be suiting.

“Hm. Well, lucky for you, I'm just full of ideas today.” Fiela stood up again, black tail fluidly following her form. “I'll say this much, Max: You don't always make a whole lot of sense. I see now that this...'interview' was completely pointless on my end. I don't need to answer any more of your questions—I know what I'm going to do.” As if to recompense him, she continued, “Good luck later. I'll see you there.”

If all went according to plan, it might just be a good day after all.----
Last edited by Berserker on Mon Apr 22, 2013 4:35 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Crypsis (No Man's Land)

Postby TendoTwo » Fri Apr 19, 2013 8:36 am

Glad to see more of this series.

The incident with the otter girl seemed a bit random, I know it was probably to help her realize she feels different towards the littles now (Well, she did mention seeing them as people in the original) and go to the interview with Max, but it still kinda came out of left-field. Granted, it would have made things with Rey very awkward if she was violent towards her. Her nonchalant muttering about Rey's promise to make them stop came off as funny though.

Speaking of "for Rey", that almost seemed like a mental battle-cry for Fiela in this chapter. I wasn't aware he had made that much of an impression on her in two weeks. I mean, it was clear she liked him, but I wasn't expecting her to care about him enough already to start actually supporting the others, and especially to (mostly) suppress her anger towards Max each time he ticked her off.

As for Max, well, I guess we had only seen him once before really, and that was when he was talking to Rey, so I didn't really know how he would act, but he seemed surprisingly vitriolic towards Fiela, especially for someone who is an adviser to a "giant" mayor.

I admit though I am not to sure what was happening throughout most of that interview (Was Max just not approving of Rey and Fiela? He seemed fine with it when Rey mentioned it to him), especially near the end.

By the way, what was with all those tenth-closest, ninth-closest, etc thoughts Fiela was having? I didn't get that.
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Re: Crypsis (No Man's Land)

Postby Berserker » Fri Apr 19, 2013 2:09 pm

By the way, what was with all those tenth-closest, ninth-closest, etc thoughts Fiela was having? I didn't get that.


Uhhhh whoops, that's something I had explained in a leftover segment that got cut out, and forgot to put the reasoning back in. Fix'd

I'm actually laughing at how stupid that must have looked. I need to go to bed.

I admit though I am not to sure what was happening throughout most of that interview (Was Max just not approving of Rey and Fiela? He seemed fine with it when Rey mentioned it to him), especially near the end.


Basically, Max is being kind of a sociopathic douche and it's mentioned that he's trying to milk the information as a sort of tool (if a tiny and giant are in a relationship, that could be a point in their favor) but, of course, Fiela doesn't want that information to get out at all. That, and a part of him wants to believe that she's going to end up hurting him. All that should come into light a bit more later, as well as just what Fiela plans to do, but for now I can see why some of it doesn't make total sense (especially since I left out what the thing was that Max wants to get done, which I added with a quick sentence as Fiela begins to leave the first time).
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Re: Crypsis (No Man's Land)

Postby Duct Tape Fanatic » Fri Apr 19, 2013 9:21 pm

Looks like Rey has been mellowing Fiela out some. I like that she's less inclined to harm tinies since meeting him but isn't utterly opposed to it if they agitate her far enough.
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Re: Crypsis (No Man's Land)

Postby kool kitty89 » Tue Apr 23, 2013 11:27 pm

Berserker wrote:Basically, Max is being kind of a sociopathic douche and it's mentioned that he's trying to milk the information as a sort of tool (if a tiny and giant are in a relationship, that could be a point in their favor) but, of course, Fiela doesn't want that information to get out at all. That, and a part of him wants to believe that she's going to end up hurting him. All that should come into light a bit more later, as well as just what Fiela plans to do, but for now I can see why some of it doesn't make total sense (especially since I left out what the thing was that Max wants to get done, which I added with a quick sentence as Fiela begins to leave the first time).

I got that . . . it seemed pretty straightforward by the end (kind of complex in the middle though, but that's kind of the point. It seemed like a combination of Max pushing his personal and political agendas along with you fleshing out his character further -- including the whole point of why his mannerisms are they way they are. (or at least in part)

The "otter girl" thing, as Tendo mentioned, didn't seem to out of place to me . . . I wasn't totally sure of the context initially (namely after the shift in chronology in the previous addition to the story), but after entering the second section, it was obvious that we're back in the "present" time in the story.
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Re: Crypsis (No Man's Land)

Postby Berserker » Mon Apr 29, 2013 5:08 am

Haven't forgotten about Alice I'd hope, because this brief part's focused on her. Should get a little more interesting after this, though. And I swear there will be actual macro content (and more Fiela) soon, but for the short time being the side characters are stealing show. Y'know, as far as that goes.


----All was silent. At least, for the time being. Alice Walker thought just then that she might prefer it that way, even though she wouldn't be here when the sound would start up again. All that mattered now was that her job was done, and that she had all but paved the way for Rey and his cousin to take that one step forward.

There was the stage, the podium, the microphone and wiring, the posters placed in only the most decisive of locations—all was her doing. The lynx had to admit that she wasn't too keen on the ideas of posters, though. Might draw the wrong kind of attention.

Then again, this rally was her idea to begin with.

Those few weeks of knowing Dexter seemed to have paid off, now that she took some time to think about what she had accomplished. The bull could be sour at times, but it was obvious he genuinely cared about her. He was much more intelligent than he let on as well, she decided—a humble person, surely. And it was that knowledge he wasted no time in spreading to her; without his help, she wouldn't have been able to sort a bolt from a nut.

Alice took a seat at the stand and held a paw to her cheek. Now it was just a matter of waiting for her escort back since the last thing she'd do was walk home, especially at just past the break of dawn where activity would resume soon. “Home” was the last thing she'd like to call the Undersector...though now, it's not as if she had a choice. She started kicking her legs lightly against the stage to an unknown rhythm.

Suddenly, a voice called to her. “Were you up all night working on this?”

Alice looked up to see the face of someone who had approached without her noticing; one that brought a bubbling to her belly.

“Rey!” She hopped up to hug the rabbit, holding back a little so not to knock him over in his shorter height.

“Hey, it's good to see you again, Alice!” Rey replied, reciprocating the gesture. “I'm here to take you home in a bit if you're ready. You've done a great job!” He smiled the one that he always did, a gentle one that emanated a genuine warmth.

However, it was its commonality that made her just a little bit sad.

“Thank you very much. Yeah, I think I've been here for four hours if I were to guess. Dexter was here earlier, but he went back...home.” She coughed. “I'm not sure what, but he said he had some things to work out.”

Rey nodded, stifling a yawn. “That's Dexter alright. Say, how are things between you? Are you getting along okay? I haven't really gotten a chance to say hi or anything to you, how stupid is that. I've been busy with personal stuff, and you've had the 'Roubold Welcome' right?”

Rey stretched out his hand in a prompt for Alice to take it. She was reluctant for but a curt second, then did so before Rey could wonder if something was the matter.

Alice took a glance at the podium and stage she had set up once again, then back to Rey, who started away. She followed closely.

“Totally. Is the 'Roubold Welcome' that common, then?” Alice laughed a little and shook her head. “But it's not your fault, Rey. Stuff needs to get done, so it gets done, and there's nothing wrong with that.”

Hm. Her demeanor seemed...just a little different, Rey had to think. The rabbit was used to being the only one she had confidence around—and admittedly, the same had applied to him while around her some time ago—but she now seemed a bit stronger, just going by the way she spoke.

“You're beginning to sound like Dexter,” Rey said with a chuckle. “You've changed a little, Alice. And I mean that in a good way. I—” Rey stopped himself before he could mention that her exposure to Scotton and the burning of Wardston, and how that had strengthened her character. “You should be proud.”

Alice let a hand drift on the concrete of a building at her side as they walked. “I think you're right about that, heh. Thanks though...you can be too nice, Rey.”

The pair walked for a little longer. The winding streets of the city were of no consequence to the watchful care of Rey, who knew which paths to take given what sounds he heard or what time it was. It was all so surprising to the lynx who had no idea of his experience—but she easily understood why he had developed such a skill. Or rather, why he needed to.

Even so, Alice found it just a tad ironic that they had to be so careful given the events that would follow.

“But seriously, how have you been? I should have been keeping in better touch,” Rey started suddenly. They were half a giant's block away from the Undersector, Rey judged. The sun was pleasant at this time, at some interval between dawn and late morning.

“Fine, fine,” Alice replied concisely. She jogged up to his position having noticed she was somewhat lagging behind. “Things have been going well. I'm pretty much under Dexter's tutelage at this point, though. Can't help but get the feeling he wanted to make me useful for something,” she said without the humorous tone it warranted.

The rest of the walk was in silence. It vaguely hit Rey that Alice might have been hiding something, but the rabbit immediately dismissed it. She wouldn't, it wasn't in her nature. They grew up together in Wardston and even had dated back in their mid teens—days he recalled warmly due to that fact—and he knew her well enough by this time.

Every now and then he remembered just what he liked about her, what had spurred them to dating, and during those times he would feel a twinge of regret. All it took was a moment of her speaking and a glance at her gentle face; but he had to force the feelings away, for it was a thing that was now gone and could not return.

****

They arrived. It took Alice's speaking to bring that fact to Rey's attention at all; once again, he had been knee-deep in cogitation and hadn't realized it. The pair, both slightly nervous though one much more confident in the path, stood before what giants would call an ordinary storm drain below the sidewalk. To tinies, however, it was more than that; it was one of a few entrances to the Undersector. The grate was delicate to walk on, but not too small for a tiny such as Rey or Alice, who could then hop up to a hole bored into the concrete at the side and make their way down into the old city via a makeshift stairwell.

“Well...we're here, huh?” Alice slipped a hand behind her head, looked away, then back. “Thanks. For walking me home.” Whatever it was that she wanted to say, Rey noted how...precise, dodging, her words were. As if noticing this, the lynx mixed it up quickly. “Be careful, okay? I'm not going to be there at the rally. I—”

“No,” Rey interrupted. “It's fine. I understand completely. It's just going to be me and Max; I think it's better that way. He's probably safe enough, and I've been in plenty of situations like these. Anybody else would be asking for...” He swallowed. “Something.”

The sun was midway to its ascent. Still early morning. No giants about just yet. A cautious breeze, though one more unsettling than comforting to the rabbit. There was some kind of anticipation in the air, but he had no idea what to prepare for. And that was what he wanted least of all.

“I do care about you a lot, Alice,” Rey started again. “What we're doing really will be dangerous. You and I haven't gotten any chances to catch up, yeah...and I do miss living together in Wardston. But—”

Rey looked up to see her face, and instantly regretted his choice of words. Her blue eyes were just twinkling at the reminder of their destroyed hometown.

“I-I'm sorry, Alice, I didn't mean to—” Rey was cut short as the lynx abruptly enveloped him in an embrace, one hand groping the nape of his neck as she held back tears. The rabbit said nothing, only slowly curling his arms around her in a shy return of the gesture. He had been ignorant; there was something amiss with Alice, and he was a fool not to have noticed. Only now would he see what.

“Can't we go back to the way things were?” Alice whispered into his neck, hiding fierce sobs. “I miss you so much. I don't want anything to happen to you. If we're together, we—” she stuttered for a moment, trying intensely not to let her voice show weakness but ultimately failing: “I can't let you go!”

Rey had no time to wonder how long she harbored and bottled such feelings; Alice's eyes, shut tight and refusing to pry open, were already beginning to trail tiny streams. The strings of his heart tugged themselves coarse to see such a familiar face so torn. The rabbit tried hard to summon words, but could not as quickly as he'd like. He understood her pain all too well—and yet, he couldn't make this easy. There was no easy answer, no easy way out of her assertion, not to Rey.

The last person he could tell about his relationship with Fiela was his closest friend, who would be crushed to know he had fallen for a giant.

“Please—stop, Alice!” was all he could say at first. The lynx tightened her hold on the rabbit, but said nothing more. “Where is this coming from? There has to be something else to it—this is just too much right now!” At last, she let go, taking a few steps back in apology, but looked no less sorrowful.

More silence. Overwhelmed, the lynx collapsed onto the ground, sitting with her arms over her knees, shadowing her face. Thankfully, however, she had at least the courage to speak. “It just isn't fair...” she choked. “It isn't fair that this is what my life is now.”

It hit him. “This isn't just about me and you...” he found himself muttering in realization, but he went unheard. Rey had to think of something. A little louder, he said, “Have you and Dexter been getting along? Tell me.” The rabbit sounded genuinely worried, repeating the question from before firmly.

“N-no...between us, everything's fine.” Alice wiped tears and took a deep breath. Rey felt the slightest levity at his progress. “It's just...I have to call the place home now, you know? It feels just alien. There's something really, really sad about it.”

A mix of expressions drifted across Rey's face, starting with surprise, one-upped by contemplation, and tailed by remorse and then a subtle hint of agreement. She could catch that he had already come to terms with the same things she was now realizing.

“Rey.” The single word was said concisely and with meaning. That caught his immediate attention. “...I miss home. Wardston is gone and I've all but figured out why,” she sighed quickly and inhaled again, speaking from the slightly muffled cover of her furred arms, “But it's just not fair!”

“It's not fair to anybody, you're right. Least of all you. But now you have a home nobody can take. Me—I have to treat everybody in the Undersector like a group. It's my job. But you can afford to look at it like a family. You can, can't you?”

Alice's features wrinkled, the first display of anger Rey had seen in her in half a decade, however small. For a moment, he thought he may have said the wrong thing. “A family that tears each other's limbs off for fun. Nobody gets along there! Between Dexter and Randall...” Alice paused to catch a falling droplet and sniff, “You'd think that it's more like an orphanage. Sometimes it gets hectic, and it's more depressing than anything else. There's that, and...God, I really do miss you. It's even harder to know that you might die at any time, and that today isn't any exception to that. But I know you're not going to listen to me.”

Rey's ears splayed. Alice knew that much about him, she was right about it, and he had nothing to return with. Ultimately, he also had nothing to console her with other than assuring that he would come out okay, and even he wasn't completely sure about that. Now he wanted little more than to break down and admit she was right and give up—but, to both his sadness and pride, he knew like before that giving up simply wasn't an option.

“I'll be honest, Alice...I don't know what to say. You're probably right about a lot of that.” Rey began to trail off, but caught himself. “But there's one thing I can't deal with right now. Please understand when I say this, okay?” The rabbit waited for a hesitant nod from the lynx, then extended a hand. The hesitation was very brief. Then as she took it, she was helped to a standing position, their gazes perfectly level with one another.

“What?” urged Alice, despite having an idea of what it was. There was a noticeable glint of uncertainty in Rey's face.

“I can't deal with us trying to get back together. It isn't something that can happen right now. I'm just...” Rey nearly cursed himself for having to pause yet again, avoiding any mention of Fiela. “I'm preoccupied with lots of stuff. Taking from giants is an, ah...full time job. And that's not to mention what I have going on today,” he said with a nervous sigh.

“I...I understand, Rey. It makes sense. I'm sorry—what I was doing wasn't fair to you.” The lynx suddenly swiveled her head left and right, then toward the sun—its position, more specifically. “We should head inside before somebody sees us, huh?”

“You're sure you're alright, Alice?” Rey asked, placing a hand on her shoulder. The fingers of his hand were promptly caressed, then picked off gently by Alice's own.

“I love you, Rey. You're my best friend and that will never change.” Rey looked confused and nearly ready to protest, but Alice would not let him. “Don't worry, I know what you mean. We can stay friends—that's fine. I just want you to know that that's how I feel.” She took a deep breath.

“I can accept it,” Alice continued. “Not everything has to be sad, and there's no point in making it seem like it does. I'll make do and stay positive; we'll all be okay, and that's what matters.”----
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Re: Crypsis (No Man's Land)

Postby Berserker » Sun May 12, 2013 5:20 pm

Will Dexter really leave? How will Rey do during the Rally? Does Balance of Power really take place in the same setting? Find out next time on Dragonball Z

Or something

----“You're not all that suited as a leader, you know.” Randall's copper eyes glimmered with intent.

“Can't help but wonder what in the name of common sense would make you go and say that,” Dexter muttered. For a few seconds it seemed that was all he had to say, but it was not so. “By all means, tell me why I should step down.” Almost as if to ignore the grey fox, Dexter shoved a wrench between his own teeth and grabbed hold of a pipe above him with a great leap.

“Only that there's a reason you don't see a lot of bulls here in Scotton. Or anywhere else,” said Randall. A glance sized him up. “A really big one. Some bulls can't control themselves and just stick to their third-world. Most, in fact. Why didn't you?”

Dexter had by this time pulled himself with a single hand up to a higher pipe in the narrow hallway of the Undersector, for the leak of which had been irritating him for some time. Dexter was a little wary of Randall's unusually serious demeanor. Perhaps this time he had a point he was trying to make, rather than the usual daily quelling...

“In case you haven't noticed, I'm in perfect control of myself. When I get mad at you it's because you're an asshole.” There was no change in Dexter's complexion whatsoever; he kept that glazed, mostly uncaring look characteristic of one without any emotions.

Or rather, one hiding them. If there was one thing he hid better than anything else that might have been going on inside his head, it was the smoking ember of a rage that haunted him. And if Randall didn't know any better, he'd believe the ruse.

“Seeing red isn't a common thing,” Dexter continued, palm held out. He spoke informatively, like a professor, only hinting at impatience—a tutor with a single, unruly student. “Don't talk to me about things you're insensitive to, you're not a bull.”

The clap of flesh against metal, two light squeaks, then no more dripping. Dexter's mass belied a monkey-like agility.

“I...” Randall appeared to give up, throwing his arms into the air for a brief moment, “Fine. Whatever. I know you don't like me, Dexter, but remember I'm only doing it because I'm supposed to.” His evasive, annoying act was entirely gone.

The bull dropped to the floor with a thud, then returned the wrench to his table several feet away before returning as if he'd never left the conversation. Now Dexter was a listener, not a speaker, and it came to the fox's attention that he wasn't going to be interrupted just yet. Not this time.

The student became the teacher.

“It's no secret that every species is different. If you look back in the past, it's a bit surprising that people get along that well at all given...advantages.” He paused. “In several parts of the world, there are regulations as far as what kinds of activities—the competitive stuff I mean—that one can partake in. Sometimes not regulations, just suggestions, but you get what I'm saying. That on account of the things just not being as suited for some people as they are for others.”

“Yeah I know, rabbits and cats on balance beams, all that—”

“But it's not just that. Bulls are an extreme case, if you don't mind me saying so.” There was a break in speech as he awaited Dexter's hesitant nod. He did so, but more hesitantly than was expected. That didn't bother him.

“Cats and rabbits are agile, sure. Wolves can be just plumb vicious, but not necessarily in a physical way, among other aspects. Bulls, though...bulls get crazy when they get mad, and have trouble controlling how mad they get in the first place. That's the reason for two things: one, I'm here, and two, lots of bulls are busy locking horns in the reservation far west. And I don't even mean that metaphorically!”

Dexter scowled and waved a hand dismissively; but on the inside, that familiar burning was starting to tear a hole through his stomach. He couldn't show it. “Pheh. Even for my Lead you're way too involved. Take some cues, will you? Sometimes I swear even I have more tact than you.”

Randall scoffed and crossed his arms. “You're only kidding yourself. One day something will go wrong which will undo the all the work you're putting into this, and it's going to take away people you think you know—people who you think know you, but they don't because you're too busy shutting yourself away—and then it will ruin you. All you're doing is putting yourself in the path of a gigantic heartache that will inevitably happen. As your Lead it's my job to tell you when you're making this kind of mistake.” Randall's shady gaze was both solemn and determined, and he took a few steps encircling the bull.

To the surprise of the fox, Dexter lunged a step forward and grabbed him by the collar, hoisting him a good and effortless foot above the ground. The fox's attempt at seizing control had been utterly halted, while he was forced to note once again that the bull was much quicker than he looked.

“You'd better knock that shit off,” said Dexter. No matter his actions, he still managed to appear calm, speaking with only a drone; his gravelly and rough voice still managed to make that intimidating. “I said it once and I'll say it again: you don't know what you're talking about, so you might wanna stay inside the little box I'm letting you have.” He raised his free fist in emphasis. “Consider what you think you know about bulls and tell me I'm bluffing.”

“You need me,” Randall said sharply. “Every bull needs a Lead to keep them in check. I'm yours, you just haven't accepted it.”

Dexter narrowed his eyes—was that just the slightest dark hue Randal caught in them? But he had no time to focus on that; Dexter tossed the fox like a ragdoll forward and away from him, disgusted. A loud thud accompanied impact.

“I wouldn't mind any other Lead, but you're the worst at your job. I'll just say that.”

“You ungrateful—fuck, that hurt—it wouldn't be as much of a problem for you to live a normal life if you weren't in the middle of crap between us and the giants!” Randall rubbed his arm, his head—wherever had been pinned as he landed, he couldn't tell right away. He was no stranger to abuse in the forms of bruises and injuries due to what was generally considered volunteer work. “It's a bunch of stress buildup that—”

“I said shut up!” Dexter said, louder, anger prevalent in his voice now. “No shit it's stress buildup. Know what else is? You harping at me day in and day out when you are literally the biggest sack of shit. You don't do anything, you just sit here and bother me when I've made it very clear that's the one thing I don't want you to do, and you're not helping at all!”

Dexter's monotone was gone. In its stead a rough flare of a voice took over. Something bestial was beginning to come over him, of that there was no longer any doubt.

“See! You're seeing red right now—” then Randall was slugged straight across the face with a force that sent him spiraling onto the floor. With the thoughts that remained (the others gradually reforming having been scattered with the punch) he managed to realize he had gone just the inch too far. Dexter took to all fours, his body seemingly better proportioned for such a stance, and howled madly.

That wasn't my smartest move. He remembered after all those classes of anthropology that it was a thin line that he tread; he had to be a lot more careful. Dexter...well, not just him, such beasts as him, were difficult to reel in just so. Tempting them just enough to vent, then letting go so they wouldn't go overboard. Like fishing. The hobby of fishing with the consequence of bomb defusal.

The fox forced himself upright, rubbing his jaw coarsely and popping it back into place, but not everything was as it should be. Dexter was nowhere to be found. When his internal clock returned to normal attunement—damn, that was one hell of a punch—he realized that some minutes had gone by and he hadn't even noticed.

Shit, shit, shit!

If there was one thing Randall could make of the moment, it was that he had to find the amok bull.

“Dexter!” No response, not that he expected one. The fox took to running ahead. He was still somewhere in the Undersector, that much he could guarantee. If Dexter tried to leave, he would have already collapsed on the rough stairs that he wouldn't have the clear state of mind to ascend without tripping. They were edited precisely for such a purpose; at least the bull had that kind of forethought.

He could check there later, he thought somewhat morbidly.

Randall called out the name again, then noted a distinctly harsh sound poke at his ears from some distance away in response. He upped the pace. As he turned a bend, the blur of a stricken otter girl dashed past him and toward the general direction of the homely quarters behind him. It was all too clear what she'd seen on her way home, and quite possibly narrowly avoided being a victim of. He squinted harshly.

Randall followed the underground, mostly unlit corridor to find himself in another one of Dexter's workspaces. This one was littered here and there with boxes filled with unknown things; some were open, revealing food taken from giant raids—these he sneered at—while others were filled with raw, malleable scrap. In the process of rampaging through it all with mindless destruction was a wild-maned, red-eyed, brown-furred behemoth of muscle and fury, landing bleeding fists through anything unfortunate enough to be seen, even if that meant the things he would normally care for.

“Dexter!” he yelled sternly, like an animal tamer. This time a response was given in the form of a loud, bestial snort. “Get back here and calm down, now!”

The bull roared monstrously, heaving without effort one of the boxes scattered aside him, and Randall only had scant moments to dash to a stack of crates and crouch behind it just in time to watch a meteor of wood and metal fly past him at startling speed. A hideous crash accented the danger he was in.

“Goddamn,” Randall muttered, listening to the flustered smashing behind him. It hit him that Dexter, free from the shackles of reason and rational thought, might actually kill him if he put himself in the way. There had to be a way to calm him down before...

He knew what to do.

The fox turned from his cover as if to take a blind meatshot, “Rey and Alice have never seen you like this!” A soaring snowball of angry hand-molded scrap whizzed by him just in time to scrape an ear as he flung his head back. No dice, he thought, folding the cut ear and dabbing away fresh blood with a finger, teeth clenched.

“Alice will be here soon, too! She's getting an escort from Rey back home,” he yelled back in a second attempt. Dexter snorted heavily and lay a fist into the ground, pummeling the concrete—but then held hands to his head, hunched over and manic. Just a hint of Dexter's better judgment was leaking through. Just a little more—

“They'll both see you the way you are. Right now they just assume you're 'scary' and avoid getting you mad just because. Soon they'll see just what they have to be afraid of. What then?”

Heavy breathing followed, then a loud thud as the hulking creature promptly fell to the ground.

All was quiet for a few moments as Randall waited for the most sure signs that Dexter's 'seeing red' phase was over. Only when a grunting, delirious exhalation was heard from the other side of his crate did Randall stand.

It was his turn to be mad. Bulls could be compared to animals while seeing red, but Randall did no amount of beating around the bush; such was precisely what Dexter was in his mind.

****

Through the cloudy mist of crimson in his vision that was beginning to fade to grey, Dexter could catch a thin, shadowy creature walk up to him. Most of his brain's functions sighed with the relief of burden and were beginning to shut down.

“One day...happened to be today. Didn't it Dexter? You couldn't accept what I'm here for. You couldn't accept that you're just different and that you need help.” The fox turned away, breathing harshly like one would after experiencing near-death. “You're such an idiot. I know you feel guilty about getting into a fight with a giant because you think all of this is your fault. Well guess what? It is, and this is why. Putting yourself into this kind of situation, making my job damn-near impossible—you bulls are all the same.” And just like that, Randall was gone again.

Though now he had no audience for his epiphanic ramblings other than himself, Dexter began to mutter roughly, for perhaps he was delirious at the sudden change of blood flow. He was nowhere near the proper state of mind to be upset at Randall's blatant show of the xenophobia he claimed not to have.

“It doesn't sound so bad...if I think about it,” Dexter said, eyes a little wider. “I don't have to hold anything back if I go. My parents—they used to live there, at the wastes. Said they got a wall separating us tinies and the giants. Giant bulls don't care enough to break it down 'cause they're too busy venting and doing their own things. Then I can cut my shit loose and stop worryin' about everything...”

Liquid shame and sorrow began to pool at his cheek, and there he wallowed, unable and unwilling to move. Dexter's strength was sapped, but his will was not broken. Shattered and reformed, different from what it was before, but no less resolute, and the quickness with which the change happened left no hint.

Just then, he realized he was alone.

The bull tried to stand himself, but couldn't, for though his thoughts had somewhat collected themselves from their schism, his rage had left him utterly exhausted. A rage he hadn't truly let overcome him in years...save one time. His decision was the same, but it was not out of eagerness; it was out of the heavy guilt that he felt and, finally, could now displace.

Randall was right. He didn't have to put himself under so much pressure.

“Not everything has to be sad,” he choked lastly, “And I'm done making it seem like it does.” His eyes glimmered with a new determination before they dimmed out and fell shut.

****

It was a disturbing concoction very familiar to Rey: fear and unease, with a whole layer of primal instinct. That terrible mixture had been forcibly dumped straight into the pit of his stomach and he was more than ready to retch it back up. The thing he was most put off about was the fact that he hadn't experienced it to this extent in so long, though he was no stranger to his brain yelling at him to flee and hide.

The rabbit had lost count of the times he had been thrust into conflicts with giants prior, but this was too different. Too different for him, for his developed “tastes,” for his preferred circumstances. His strengths lied in outmaneuvering giants, escaping them, making sure he was the one that never got caught. Such a thing was possible inside a giant's house, where their reactions to his presence and that of others was likely just that bit more warranted.

But that couldn't happen here.

Rey found himself where he was but hours earlier, the town square of Scotton. He was sure that any other vocal gathering would be much more...populated, as it were, but he simply had to amuse himself at how the podium and stage looked more like a—what would he call it?—a toy set left behind by a spoiled child after paying for it with their mother's money, having quickly lost interest, perhaps? No, wait, he could go further: and then it was occupied by tinies.

Yes, that would do.

“What are you so nervous about?” Max suddenly asked, noticing Rey's shivering. Wait, was he really shivering? Rey immediately stopped after noticing, took a moment to breathe, then swiped a hand over his hair.

“Oh, nothing. Nothing at all.” It was nothing new that stress made him quite cynical. “Just dealing with the fact that I probably signed myself up for assisted suicide. Three-way, pizza-style.”

Max turned a callous gaze to him. “If you are going to make an analogy you might as well keep the theme consistent.” Rey shot him a look as if to ask if he had missed the point. “It's not as though this is any different from what is routine for you, is it? Just bear with it for a little while.”

“What's 'routine' for me is not being seen! I'd say I'm okay at that much! But—don't you think this is kinda the opposite, Max?” Rey asked, flustered.

Max was quiet.

The smallest mass of giants was to gather at the specified time that was now approaching. Though the smallest indeed—about three giants in total. Wanting, to be sure, it might even have been demoralizing if he wasn't already bordering on the pessimistic, but such a low number was not at all shocking.

Other giants circulated behind them, doing their own daily things, paying little heed to Rey or the stand. No, they were more interested in the bakery, in the grocery store, in anything that happened to be more eye-catching than the hover of a butterfly, though perhaps some hadn't noticed it at all; save the exceptional three who possessed the mind to attend.

Three giants is still three too many, Rey thought somewhat coldly. Max stood beside him, but the silent, ominous shade's presence was doing the situation absolutely no justice, let alone the justice to merely assuage him.

One such giant, a jaguar woman leaning heavily on a leg and alternating which one every few minutes, shot off the occasional “why am I here” look in no particular direction. Another was a collie, though her disposition replaced boredom with expectation and specious curiosity; however, she was possessed by a telltale waltz befitting one with not the most...diligent presence of mind. The last was a badger devoid of any particular reaction or opinion regarding where he was at all.

Rey expected that one might leave midway through.

Though the rabbit had complied with the idea, he regretted it by now. It was the last place he wanted to be: out in the open, with no form of defense or immediate places to run. This rally would by no means be the final step toward giants seeing tinies any differently and he knew that—it was simply that being here was still important to getting there, a point A to point B and so forth scenario...or so he had to assume.

In truth, he had no idea how much of an impact relating his experiences to giants would really have.

What if none of them cared? That was something that would not surprise him in the slightest, and yet it was also the biggest and most looming threat. Rey himself would assert that tinies were treated hardly better than pests—sometimes worse, outcome being on a giant-by-giant basis—having seen any manner of death by their gigantic (and sometimes literal) hands while on the job. The odds of them paying attention and actively changing their minds were not too hearty in Rey's mind.

Max nudged him lightly. “Stay composed, Reymont,” he said, then took to the podium. The albino began to speak of things Rey had heard in rehearsal plenty of times; a phrase of welcome that could only sound confident coming from him, and thanks for the time they took, and why it was that they were here today.

“Composed! Yes, composed! Of course,” Rey muttered, frantic and cynical. He was shivering again and noticed, but did nothing to stop it. “Oh God...”----
Last edited by Berserker on Mon May 13, 2013 4:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Crypsis (No Man's Land)

Postby TendoTwo » Mon May 13, 2013 12:52 am

I really don't understand why you ever would complain about your writing, I was shocked how well this latest chapter was written, especially the exchange between Randall and Dexter. Rare in stories that the "asshole" character proves a point.

The only criticism I really have about this latest update is that while I love how you have characters interrupt their speech and thoughts, as it feels like a realistic flow, it felt a bit overused in this latest chapter, namely with Randall.

P.S. That was a funny reference to Balance of Power
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Re: Crypsis (No Man's Land)

Postby RaddaRaem » Sat May 18, 2013 7:18 pm

Bunch of praise for your precise and descriptive writing style as per usual! Probably sound like a broken record at this point constantly harping about that. What I especially liked with these set of updates though was... well... how realistically you portrayed Rey and the others in their efforts to combat the indifference of the giants! The giants aren't just going to up and suddenly change their opinions much less listen/acknowledge them. Whereas the smaller furs are not some perfect and cohesive group. There's distrust and secrets kept among them, as shown with Dexter, that could threaten to splinter and break apart what little is holding them together. Fantastic writing and characterization as per usual.
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Re: Crypsis (No Man's Land)

Postby Berserker » Mon May 20, 2013 4:35 am

Heh, thanks as always Radda and Tendo. Good to know that last went over decently because that's the one I was particularly on the fence about. If you liked that then I'm certain you'll like what happens next.
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