A Writing Entry – Through a Lens Darkly

This was published in Pagan Edge in November of 2012.  The theme for the month was “redefinition,” or “redefining oneself.”  There were a lot of ways to interpret that theme, and this is what I came up with.  This is something a bit close to me because I sometimes I felt like I couldn’t define who I was, or sometimes was afraid to do so.  What if I defined myself as a writer, only to find out I wasn’t very good at it?  My definition of self is still changing, although I hope without catastrophe.

Through a Lens Darkly

Ranya sat down at the desk and faced a familiar woman.  “Well, here I am.”
“Here you are,” said the other woman.  “Where is here?”
“Rock-bottom,” Ranya sighed.  “I failed the Bar exam.  I broke up with Justin.  The wedding’s off and Mom and Dad are out about two-thousand bucks in deposits and I’m out about a thousand.  No one understands why we called it off.  I was laid off from work, so I have to move back in with my parents until I figure out what to do.  I’m in my mid-twenties and right back where I was when I was a teenager.”
“Yeah, that’s bad,” the other woman agreed.  “How did that happen?”
“I don’t know.”
“You don’t know?  If you don’t know, who does?”
Ranya stared angrily at the other woman for a minute.  Then she sighed.  “You’re right.  I ought to know.  I got here because I thought it was what I was supposed to do.  I was supposed to go to college and get into law school and become a lawyer.  I was supposed to get married and settle down and have kids.”
“Why were you supposed to do all that?”
“Because that’s who I am.  I’m the overachiever.  I was going to have a high-powered career and be the super-mom with the family.  I’m the responsible one.  I don’t fail.  I don’t fail at tests and I don’t fail in life,” Ranya answered miserably.
“So you never did what you wanted, but only what you were supposed to do, because that’s who you are?” the other woman asked.  “But if that’s who you are, why wasn’t this what you wanted?”
“I don’t know.”
“Ranya,” the other woman said sternly, “if you don’t know, then no one knows.  Who are you?”
“The responsible one,” she answered.
“No, that’s how your parents define you.”
“The overachiever.”
“No, that’s how your family defines you.”
“The big sister.”
“No, Ranya,” the other woman said patiently.  “That’s how your brother defines you.”
“The ex-fiancee.”
“That’s how Justin defines you.  Don’t you know who you are?  How do you define yourself?  Can you define yourself without using the labels others give you?”
Ranya looked down at her lap.  “I-I’m not sure,” she said hesitantly.  “Maybe I really am back to being a teenager; trying to figure out who I am and what I want.  I think I’m too old for this,” she said, looking back up.
“No one is too old to realize they’re on the wrong path.  It takes courage to admit it and more courage to try to find the right path.  Maybe staying with your parents isn’t ideal, but at least you have a place to go while you figure that out,” said the other woman.  “It won’t be easy.  It won’t be fun.  But it’s necessary, and you know it.”
Ranya nodded.  “You’re right.  Maybe it’s good my life fell apart.  It’d be worse if I married a man I shouldn’t have or gotten stuck at a job I hated but felt guilty leaving.  I’ll get through this.  Maybe I won’t figure out the right path right away, but at least I know what’s the wrong path for me.  Now, I’d better get back to packing.  Thanks for listening,” she said to the familiar woman.  Then she picked up the mirror from the desk she’d been sitting at and packed it into a box.

A Comic Book Entry – Passing the Torch

Before the rant, I’d just like to say Weird Al continues to be awesome, and has  rescued a very catchy melody from a very creepy/gross song with “Word Crimes.”  Go  see his videos.  It’s Mandatory Fun!

Okay, on with the rant.

A famous general once said, “Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.”  This  is true of comic book characters as well (generally speaking).  For the  long-established big two companies, one of the biggest problems with continuity is  that popular characters don’t really die (at least not for long).  This leads to  rather crowded universes with a whole lot of main characters vying for top billing  (hence, why Wolverine started appearing on the covers of comics he wasn’t,  technically speaking, actually in).  Attempting to change this status quo is very  hard.  After all, there is money to be made in marketing the biggest/most popular  characters as much as possible.  And as soon as anything changes, there is a huge  backlash of, “It changed, now it sucks,” from the fanbase.  Such is the burden of  legacy.

DC Comics has been slightly more successful, I feel, at retiring older characters  to make way for newer characters.  In particular, the Flash and Green Lantern, and  to a lesser extent, Batman and Green Arrow.  While there are a lot of problems  with teen sidekicks, in theory the idea of Batman and Green Arrow training their  replacements makes a lot of sense (even if Ollie never actually did it).   Pre-Nu52, the mantle of the Flash had gone through three separate characters (Jay  Garrick, Barry Allen, and Wally West) and Impulse (Bart Allen) was probably going  to be the Flash of the future.  Green Lantern rings had gone to Alan Scott, Hal  Jordan, Kyle Rayner, Guy Gardener (who thought that was a good idea again), and  John Stewart.  Granted, while the most popular of those two mantles did not  actually stay dead, the way was cleared for newer characters (and in the case of  the Blue Beetle, Ted Kord stayed dead).  I will also grant that Wally West and  Kyle Rayner had a hard, uphill battle for the hearts of the fans, but they did  eventually win.  So, before the universe was rebooted, notable heroes such as the  Flash, Green Lantern, Blue Beetle, Atom, and Batman, who all started out straight  white guys, passed the torch to, well, more white guys, but also a black Green  Lantern, a Hispanic Blue Beetle, and an Asian Atom.  The universe was inching its  way towards greater diversity and had a decent mechanism to do so.

Marvel Comics to me always had more problems passing the torch of the flagship  characters to new characters.  It’s odd too because the X-men in particular seems  like a great vehicle for introducing new characters and passing on the legacy.   But this seems to have been thwarted back in the ’70s when Chris Claremont made a  sincere and almost successful attempt at writing the first class of X-men out of  the book in favor of his own team.  It’s not as though Marvel necessarily has more  immortal characters.  Sure, Thor is and Captain America virtually is so, but Iron  Man, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Henry Pym certainly are not.  Nick Fury wasn’t supposed  to be.  Marvel did make an effort to shake things up a bit when they launched the  Ultimate UniverseA lot of changes were generally confusing to me, but a couple  worked out well.  Nick Fury was introduced as a person of color (specifically  Samuel L. Jackson) and eventually Spider-man, that flagship of flagships, passed  from Peter Parker to Miles Morales, who was also a PoC.  And yes, there was a lot  of uproar over that.  But Marvel has been trying to market some new characters a  bit more than before (Ms. Marvel is a good example, Avengers Academy which  culminated in “Avengers Arena” is a bad example).  Marvel is also making an effort  to place Carol Danvers (currently Captain Marvel) as their foremost female solo  superhero but it has not been an easy road at all (poor Carol…).

And in this turbulent time of declining comic book sales (but for Marvel a very  profitable movie machine), what is to be done?  DC’s answer was to hit the reset  button (as they do) and make everything fresh and new by going back to the dark  and edgy ’90s.  Seriously.  Oh, sure all the Green Lanterns stayed around, but  it’s clear Hal’s the main man, but Bruce Wayne is Batman again, and Wally West and  Ryan Choi seemed to have disappeared into the ether.  And Jaime Reyes as the Blue  Beetle?  Cancelled after what, six issues?  Static Shock?  Same deal.  The  Wildstorm characters?  Never imported, gone, or unrecognizable (by and large).   Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown?  Joined Wally and Ryan in the abyss,  apparently.  Is DC allergic to money?  Do the people who run DC comics know that  women and people of color have money, and may be willing to spend it on comic  books?  Based on their numerous and ongoing poor decisions, I can’t help but  wonder if they are actively trying to repulse anyone who doesn’t fit their target  demographic.

So what is my point?  Well, in other news Marvel is planning major shake-ups in  the mainstream 616 universe that will result in more diversity of characters.  For  instance, the new Thor is going to be a woman and the new Captain America will be  Sam Wilson (formerly Falcon).  And I hear something’s going to happen to Tony  Stark and Iron Man will get a new squishy human center.  At first I thought, “What  a blatant and contrived attempt to market to a wider audience.”  And initially I  didn’t like it (I too fall victim to that kneejerk, “they changed it; now it  sucks,” mentality occasionally).  But then I thought, “well, why not?  If the  company had made an effort to diversify sooner, then this move wouldn’t come  across as so heavy-handed and cynical.”  And given how DC has whitewashed its  stable of characters, I can definitely see some marketing executive saying at a  meeting, “Women and PoCs have money too; maybe we can make some characters they  would relate to and buy the comics for.”  Clearly this is  revolutionary  thought…  Also, this may help expand some options in the movie-verse, so the  opportunity for profit is pretty high.

Upon further reflection, I am okay with this blatant and profit-driven  contrivance, assuming the stories are written well.  A bad example would be the  writer that decided Sam Wilson clearly had a secret past as a pimp because he’s  black so of course.  A good example would be the transition from Peter Parker to  Miles Morales.  I also hope the writers don’t fall back on laziness and make all  the old characters villains thus freeing the torch to be passed.  Basically, if  the writers actually bother to write a story, then this could work.  Is this an  ideal way to diversify the universe?  Hell, no.  But better late than never, even if  the reasons are almost surely purely profit-driven.  So I will proceed with  caution but I will hope for the best.

A Writing Entry – Earthly Delight

So this short story was published in July 2012′s edition of Pagan Edge and the theme was food.  I have hinted at various fights with foliage in previous entries and some of that foliage is indeed of the edible variety.  I’m more than a little food-centric sometimes and I’m indulging in attempting to grow some edible plants, so this is a topic close to my heart (albeit perhaps closer to my stomach).  I don’t quite take the view presented in the story, but that’s why it’s a story.  In real life, I have found out that bug spray is less a deterrent and more of a seasoning (my left elbow is particularly delicious).  That’s funny enough for Twitter or Tumblr if I had those, but not for a 600 word story.

Earthly Delight -

Carol was working hard in her garden, as usual, when she heard her friend Kal come through the back door.
“Every time I see you these days you’re up to your knees in dirt,” Kal said.
“Gardening is hard work,” Carol replied, standing up and dusting off her pants.  “It’s not just about having fresh veggies either.”
“Then what’s it all about?” Kal asked, trailing Carol to another part of her garden.  “You’ve got more garden these days than lawn.”
“I found this has brought me closer to my gods,” she said, pulling out some weeds.
“Really?  How so?”
“Well, I never really appreciated how much of the ancient religions, what we know of them anyway, were dedicated to food.”
“Beltane is a fertility festival.  It’s obvious,” Kal said.
“I know that, but I didn’t really appreciate it until I started trying to grow my own food.  I really started to understand why people were so concerned with the coming of spring and the rites of fertility.  To me, it’s a hobby, but to them, it was their livelihood.”
“I never thought about it like that.”
“There are so many gods of food and seasons and wine,” Carol said, gathering up some fresh herbs.  “And of course the other side of planting is harvest, which was probably even more important to the ancient people.  At Samhein, that’s why you give an offering to the gods, to thank them for a good harvest and ask for their blessings for the following year.”
“I know that part,” Kal replied a touch irritably.
“Yes, but I think it means more to me now that I have this garden.  I know how much work goes into making my food grow and I’ve been saying a lot more prayers than I used too.”  She examined a plant critically.  “And the rabbits still get into my lettuces.”
Kal chuckled.
“This garden has really been a learning experience.  I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone, but it works for me,” Carol said.
“I think I understand your obsession better, but I think it’s not for me.  I am, however, happy to help you eat the fruits of your labors,” Kal replied with a smile.
Carol laughed.  “That’s fine by me.”

A Writing Entry – Narrative Choices: Paradise Island

This actually ties in a lot with previous parts of this string of random musings, so they are handily linked for you to review if you so desire.  I can wait.  But if you don’t have time, briefly – artists often think (not maliciously), “I don’t understand it, therefore it doesn’t exist and/or matter.

Utopia is most commonly expressed in the fiction I have read as a philosophical ideal.  Rarely, very rarely, have I ever seen an effort to truly depict a utopian society.  In fact, nearly all stories I can think of that featured a utopian society either ended with:
a)  that society being crushed/conquered/destroyed by a clearly non-utopian society
b) the revelation that the utopian society wasn’t a true utopia at all but had a dark underside that allowed for the pretense of a perfect, equal society.

Once upon a time in Greek lore, the Amazons were an isolationist race of women who were such dedicated warriors that in some accounts they cut off their right breasts in order to be able to better draw back a bow.  Depending on the myth, they either visited neighboring tribes to become pregnant or kept a few slaves for procreation.  Baby boys were either sent back to their fathers, killed, or left in the wilderness.  Baby girls were raised to become the next generation of Amazons.

It is also a difficult task to for writers to create a society different from the one they grew up in, or were exposed to in the media.  I know; I struggle with this myself which may be why I don’t venture into sci-fi.  Our world, while not entirely a crapsack world, is far from a utopia.  So attempting to create such a society even in fiction requires a significant effort on the part of the writer’s imagination.  So what?  I grew up in a capitalist society, so I would have difficulty writing a functioning communist society.  But difficulty should not be a barrier to even trying to write something different even if our own limitations can lead to unfortunate implications.

Once upon a time (the 1940s), a middle-aged white male psychiatrist drew on Greek myth to create a role-model superhero for little girls.  And in this new mythology, Wonder Woman was created from clay on an island of immortal women called Amazons, who worshipped the Greek gods.  The island was called Themyscira, or Paradise Island.  It was, and was meant to be, a utopia.

Where does this leave Paradise Island?  I’ve presented the two accounts of the Amazons, one from history (although assuredly biased because all history is written by the victors), and one from the mind of Wonder Woman’s creator.  Paradise Island is the only utopia I can think of that exist(ed) in mainstream fiction.  Paradise Island was the home of Wonder Woman and shaped her morals and personality.  I have a theory that part of the difficulty some writers have with the character of Wonder Woman is in fact Paradise Island; i.e., they don’t understand a utopia, therefore it doesn’t exist/matter.  Artists, writers, everyone understands dystopia.  In fact, such a cynical and jaded society are we that we understand many different types of dystopia (post-pandemic, post-gasoline shortage, post-robot uprising, post-nuclear devastation, post-astroid impact, Detroit, etc.).  But a utopia?  That couldn’t exist.

That is NOT the point.  Pretty much no superhero in the vast stables of the Big Two (not to mention the dozens and dozens of independents) could actually exist (physics just does not work that way).

The writers don’t understand a utopia; they don’t understand how it could come about and continue to exist.  So the idea of Paradise Island, and therefore the character of Wonder Woman, is misinterpreted in generally two ways:
a) Her society is perfect so she must be disdainful and condescending of all other societies.
b) Her society is perfect and has no men so she must be disdainful of all men, as they are clearly the obstacle to achieving utopia.

The idea of a compassionate warrior just boggles the mind of some writers.  The idea that there could indeed be a society that has managed to endure for centuries in peace is almost beyond comprehension.  Granted, a true utopia doesn’t offer a lot of dramatic possibilities, but as a background of a character, it seems like a narratively manageable concept to me.  And it has been managed, with perhaps differing levels of success, for seven DECADES.

Once upon a time, (statistically probable) middle-aged, white males got together to revamp the origins of their characters.  And in the new mythology, the Amazons were an isolationist race of women warriors who kidnapped sailors to become pregnant and then killed the sailors and drowned the baby boys until Hesphestus took pity on the boys so the Amazons traded them into slavery for weapons because clearly history just wasn’t dark and edgy enough.  Wonder Woman is an illegitimate daughter of Zeus.

I.e., “I don’t understand utopia, therefore it doesn’t exist/matter.”

In a post-9/11 world, the point of disbelief for the DCnU creative team wasn’t that Batman statistically can’t have all that money and training (and also should have been put in to therapy stat), or that Superman is an alien orphan from another planet who is super-strong, super-fast, and can fly and shoot laser beams out of his eyes, that aliens created totally not-magical rings that allow the wearer to create solid green light constructs, or that a person can get doused in chemicals and run so fast they can travel through time (I mean, more so than humans ordinarily do), but that Paradise Island is really, actually, truly a utopia.

The loss of Paradise Island is clearly not due to a lack of imagination.  I posit the loss of Paradise Island is a result of an insular world-view that just doesn’t understand anything outside of itself, and based on DC’s other obviously bad decisions with the New 52, a world-view that dosen’t want to understand anything outside of itself.  I’d also like to point out this issue is not limited to Paradise Island and Wonder Woman; I understand utopia is in fact a difficult concept to grapple with.  I have some slight sympathy for writers, but then again, that’s why they are paid professionals, right?  To cope with these kinds of narratively tricky concepts.  I can imagine a better world and write a better world and I’m not a paid professional (not yet anyway).

I’m sorry Paradise Island, and by extension Wonder Woman, have been sacrificed by this destructive lack of vision and self-adsorption.

A Writing Entry – House to Home

This short story was published in “Pagan Edge” in March of 2012.  The theme for the month was house and home, so I took that probably a bit literally in this story.  What can I say?  Sometimes my Muse is like that.

House to Home:

Nicholas and Sophie turned the key in the door to their new home.
“This is it,” Nick said gladly. “Our first home, and with good luck, the home we’ll raise a family in.”
The house still smelled of the cleaning chemicals used by the previous residents.
“I’m glad we have time to make the place our own before we have to move in all our stuff,” said Sophie. “Some things are just easier when the place is empty.”
“You take care of the cleansing. I’ll head out to get the paint and some supplies,” he said.
“Sounds like a plan.” Sophie went to the car and pulled out a box of supplies.
Nick first checked the paint swatches in the rooms to make sure they worked with the lighting, and then took the car and headed out.
First, Sophie walked around the property to get a feel for the boundary and for the types of plants that were in her yard. She’d done this when they’d been looking at the house, but now she took her time to really learn what was around. Next, she walked around the house to get a feel for it as well. She stopped in each room and tried to concentrate on the feeling she got. The house had been built over fifty years ago, and had only been owned by two families since it had been built. While she concentrated, she could almost feel the passage of time as two generations raised families in the house.
She pulled out some of her supplies and lit a smudge stick made of sage. She performed a cleansing ceremony in the house to rid it of negative influences. The house didn’t have much of that to begin with or they wouldn’t have bought it, but the cleansing ceremony was a good idea.
When she finished, she pulled out more ordinary supplies and started laying out plastic sheeting and taping up the light fixtures to prepare for painting.
Nick returned with the paint and some rollers. “It smells good in here.”
“It should.”
Preparing the house took a little time. As they painted a room, they cast spells of protection and blessing on the house, using the act of painting as a focus. There was a lot to paint, they had to have the chimney serviced, and of course they still had to move in all of their stuff.
At the end of moving day, Sophie took a small offering of food outside and set it out for the local land wights. When she came in, Nick had lit a small fire.
“Isn’t it a bit warm for a fire?” she asked.
“Maybe so, but I thought it would be nice to give an offering to Hestia on our first official night in our new house.”
“That’s a great idea.”
They performed a ceremony to Hestia to ask for her blessings upon the house. When the offering was consumed by the fire, the fire slowly burnt down and flickered out.
“That was a great idea,” Sophie said. “The house felt like a good house before or we wouldn’t have bought it, but now it really feels like our house.”
“No, now it feels like our home,” Nick said with a smile.
“You’re right,” Sophie said. “It’s our home now.”

Fifteen-minute TV Series – Sailor Moon R

“Sailor Moon Crystal” premiered today!  I would squee but that is both embarrassing and doesn’t translate in text very well.  Following up on the suffix-less first series, I present a summary of the second series.

[[There are a few episodes with some aliens/elves from a magic space tree that are nothing but filler; the senshi get their memories back, Sailor Moon gets a new transformation and a new power, the other senshi get new powers they pretty much never use again, and the Moonlight Knight appears only to be revealed as part of Mamoru's lost memories; the aliens are defeated/saved, the tree is defeated/saved, Usagi and Mamoru finally get together and the story really starts...]]

Usagi – Oh, Mamoru, I’m so glad after all that weird stuff that happened that we finally remember everything and can date.

Mamoru – Me too.

[[A young girl with pink hair literally drops outs of the sky onto Usagi]]

Usagi – I’m about to use words I’m not supposed to around children.

Mystery Girl – Give me the Imperium Silver Crystal!

Usagi – What?  How did you know that?  I mean, what are you talking about, strange girl?

Mystery Girl – I need that crystal!  Give it to me!

Usagi – Back off, kid!

Mamoru – Usagi, she’s just a child.

Usagi – She’s weird and she stole my hairstyle.  [[later Usagi goes home to a big surprise]]  Mystery girl!  What are you doing here!?

Mrs. Tsukino – Usagi, this is your little cousin, Usagi, but we’re going to call her Chibiusa.  She’s staying with us.  Actually, she’s staying in your room.

Usagi – *blink* *blink blink*  What?!?!  I don’t have a cousin!  What is going on here?  And why does your ball thing…

Chibiusa – It’s Luna-P.

Usagi – Look exactly like my cat, Luna?  I mean, that’s important right?  Hey, Luna, what’s going on here?

Luna – Yeah, I don’t know.  She just showed up and your family accepted her.  There are pictures and everything.  We’ll need to keep an eye on her.

Chibiusa – Give me the Crystal!

Luna – Yeah, that’s weird too.

Alien Spaceship:
Rubeus – Okay, Ayakashi Sisters who in no way resemble the four inner planet senshi, you have your tasks – capture the Rabbit and fill the Crystal Points with Dark Power to open the Dark Gate so Crystal Tokyo will never exist and we, the Black Moon Clan, can have our revenge.  Bwahahahahaha!

Ayakashi Sisters – We know all this, but thanks anyway.

Mysterious voice – Mamoru, if you do not break up with Usagi, you will destroy the future, like so.  [[Mamoru experiences horrible visions]]

Mamoru – Gahh!  What the hell is going on here?

Tokyo, Hikawa Shrine:
Mina – So this weird girl says she’s your cousin and your family believes it?  And she wants the Imperium Silver Crystal?  And has a weird floating ball-thing that none of us wonders where the hell she got that kind of technology?

Usagi – That about sums it up.  I wish I knew what was going on.  Maybe someone with psychic powers can help, huh, Rei?

Rei – Yeah, right now I got nothing.

Luna – Well, I have some good news.  I have these upgraded transformation devices.

Makoto – Neat!  Where did you get these?  And why did you wait until now to give them to us?

Luna – Um, somewhere.  You know, for reasons.  Anyway, we have to be prepared for anything.

Ami – I’m going to Germany.

Others – *blink* *blink blink*  Yeah, we did not see that coming.

[[But in the end, Ami decides that friendship and saving the world is more important than advancing her scholarship opportunites, and shows up just in time to save the others from a monster of the day that controls ice using her brand new transformation and power]]

Sailor Mercury – Finally!  I get a real attack instead of just a defensive power.  But where did that monster come from?  Do we have a new threat to the world?

Mamoru – Erm.  Hey, I know this is a terrible time to say this, but Usagi, we’re breaking up.

Others – *blink* *blink blink*  Yeah, we did not see that coming.

Mamoru – I’ll still help out and try to figure out where this strange girl came from.

Tokyo, Hikawa Shrine, Later:
Rei – Grandpa, you can’t be a perv or people will stop visiting the shrine.

Grandpa – Fine, I’ll just stop being a priest and start a self-defense class for young ladies.  So I can leer at them.

Rei – ARGH!!

[[But Koan of the Sisters attacks the shrine, which leads to Rei using her new transformation and getting a new awesome attack!  We also get to see that the Sisters are, well, sisters and kind of mean to each other]]

Alien Spaceship:
Rubeus – Okay, try scaring the Rabbit out.  Can one of you manage that, hm?

Petz – I’m on it.

[[it turns out that Usagi and Chibiusa are frightened by thunder and lightning; it's like they're related or something...]]

Chibiusa – Puu, I want to go home.

Puu (pixilated image in the Luna-P ball) – I’m sorry, Small Lady, but you must find the Silver Crystal to help your parents.

Chibiusa – But I’m scared!  [[runs away]]

Usagi – Mamoru, Chibiusa’s missing!

Mamoru – Then we should find her!

Usagi – What about us?

Mamoru – We’re not dating.  Not until those visions stop!

Usagi – What?

Mamoru – Nevermind.  Let’s find the poor kid.

[[Chibiusa pulls out a key necklace and tries to activate it, but instead kind of explodes and on her forehead is revealed a crescent moon mark that is identical to Princess Serenity's like they're related or something... they defeat the monster and save Chibiusa]]

Tokyo, Later:
Mina – This heat wave is awful.

Makoto – Yeah.  I wish we had boyfriends to share it with.

Chibiusa – I’m going to marry Mamoru!  And that is in no way creepy, and won’t get any creepier  later!

Usagi – And I am for some reason jealous of a small child!

[[Minako and Makoto have a fight while Calaveras and Petz of the Ayakashi Sisters have a fight in case it isn't totally obvious the Ayakashi Sisters and their powers are like the inner senshi; also, they casually mention returning to the future]]

Usagi – You two need to stop fighting.

Minako/Makoto – Whatever.

[[Naturally they stumble into a Black Moon Clan plot and Minako and Makato use their new transformations and awesome new attacks!]]

Alien Spaceship:
Wiseman – I can predict the future.  You need to catch the Rabbit.

Rubeus – Yeah, I know that.

Wiseman – I’m also here so you can provide helpful exposition to the audience about what the hell Crystal Tokyo is and what’s going on here.

Rubeus – Oh, you mean how the Black Moon Clan attacked Crystal Tokyo in the 30th century and were only stopped by a mysterious energy coming from four sailor warriors that were protecting the palace?

Wiseman – Yep, that.

Rubeus – Hm, I wonder if this has something to do with the sailor warriors we keep running into here.

Wiseman – Yeah, you keep thinking about that.  I’m sure it’ll come to you.

[[Despite Chibiusa being obnoxious and trying to steal the Silver Crystal, the senshi repeatedly save her from Black Moon Clan; also, they have no idea what's going on but they do get to meet Rubeus]]

Usagi – So there’s an alien spaceship after Chibiusa for reasons that have yet to be explained and these four women and one dude are after her?  I overheard some weird stuff from that floating ball which makes it sound like Chibiusa’s mother has been captured by these creeps, but that’s it.

Ami – Yeah, my computer’s got nothing.

Rei – It’s too bad we can’t turn these bad girls into allies.

Usagi – We can totally do that!

[[and they totally turn Berthier, Koan, Calaveras, and Petz into ordinary humans; it helps that the Sisters realized Rubeus was a total jerk and using them the whole time anyway]]

Alien Spaceship:
Esmeraude – So, Rubeus, this is going well, don’t you think?

Rubeus – Shut up. I have a plan to destroy them all, including the Rabbit.

Esmeraude – Yeah.  You are going to fail, and I’m going to laugh.  [[does so]]

Rubeus – Oh, good grief, never do that again!  It’s like someone running their nails down a chalkboard combined with the screeches of howler monkeys.  That’s the worst laugh ever, even worse than Zoisite’s.

Esmeraude – I hope you die!

[[Rubeus inacts his plan to capture Chibiusa and kill the senshi which involves moving his spaceship right over Tokyo; also, this is pretty much the only time we ever see Usagi forget to grab her transformation brooch ever]]

Naru – Hey, Usagi!

Usagi – Whoa, I forgot you were even in this series.  Um, sorry about ditching you.  I had things to do.  Things that I kind of need to do right now, actually.

Naru – I’m going to strongly imply that I already guessed you are Sailor Moon or at least involved with them and I forgive you for forgetting I’m supposed to be your best friend.

Usagi – Thanks!  Laters, and don’t get your energy drained, okay?

[[So the senshi can teleport to the spaceship and the battle goes very poorly but as per usual, Sailor Moon is as strong as she needs to be and she defeats Rubeus, rescues everyone, and they all teleport away from the exploding spaceship, which is the end of Rubeus]]

Usagi – I am still so confused!  Can someone please, please provide relevant plot information?

Puu – Since Small Lady is incapicated and you will never figure this out otherwise, I will facilitate an episode that will explain some of this to you.  I am actually Sailor Pluto, Guardian of Time.  The Black Moon Clan attacked Crystal Tokyo in the 30th century and incapicated Chibiusa’s mother.  They are trying to use their Evil Black Crystal to destroy Chibiusa and Crystal Tokyo in the past.

Others – *blink* *blink blink*  Yeah, we did not see that coming.

Rei – Could you try being a little more specific?

Sailor Pluto – Nope.  Can’t reveal the whole plot at once.

Black Moon Clan HQ:
Saphir – Why are we even bothering with the past?  We’re invincible!

Wiseman – Not until we destroy the Silver Crystal.

Saphir – Dimande, who are you going to believe, your own brother, or this creepy guy who is so obviously evil?

Dimande – I’m thinking the creepy guy who is so obviously evil is on to something.  Also, I have ulterior motives.

Saphir – But-but he’s totally evil!  Argh!  Why won’t you listen to me?

Esmeraude – The prince is so dreamy.  I’ll continue where Rubeus left off.  I’m sure I’ll succeed and win his love.

[[And that goes about as well as could be expected]]

Mamoru – Damn the horrible visions!  Usagi, I love you, and I want to be together.  I’m sure our love will conquer whatever bad things happen!

Usagi – Yay!  Wait, what horrible visions?

Mamoru – Nevermind.

Chibiusa – Okay, everyone, I think we all need to go into the future and fix this problem once and for all.

Ami – Oh, I think this will violate pretty much every law of space and time imaginable.

Usagi – Do you have a better idea?

Ami – No.

[[And they transform and go back to the future!]]

Sailor Moon – Wow, this place looks terrible!  I think we need some more helpful exposition.

King Endymion (hologram) – I can totally help with that.  A terrible tragedy befell the Earth, which is totally unimportant to this story right now, and eventually it was saved by Neo-Queen Serenity and the Silver Crystal.  I am King Endymion and with Neo-Queen Serenity, we rule the future Silver Millennium and the capitol of Crystal Tokyo.  A long time ago, Neo-Queen Serenity banished a bunch of trouble-makers to the tenth planet of Nemesis.  They plotted their revenge and now they’ve nearly destroyed our city and nearly killed me and Neo-Queen Serenity.  Our daughter, Chibiusa, went to the past to get help.

Sailor Mars – Wait a minute.  Are you saying what I think you’re saying?  Oooo, Usagi, guess what you and Mamoru totally did…

King Endymion – Yes.  Sailor Moon is Neo-Queen Serenity, Tuxedo Kamen is me, and Chibiusa is your daughter.

[[cue comedic blushing]]

Tuxedo Kamen – Then why the hell were you sending me those terrible visions?

King Endymion – To test your love and make sure it would endure.

Tuxedo Kamen – Wow, my future self is a real jerk!

Sailor Moon – Totally!

King Endymion – The important thing is that you’re here now and we need to save Neo-Queen Serenity.  My body is badly damaged and she’s in stasis.  We need to wake her up.  And protect Chibiusa.

Sailor Mercury – I don’t understand.  Why couldn’t Neo-Queen Serenity just use the Silver Crystal when they attacked?

King Endymion – It was missing.  We have no idea how that could have possibly happened.

Chibiusa – Um.  Yeah, that was so weird, right?  Can we, um, talk about anything else, please?

Dimande – Blah blah, talking stuff.  Time for me to indulge my obsession and kidnap the person who looks exactly like Neo-Queen Serenity, whom I am totally crushing on!

Sailor Moon – I strongly object to that you creep!

Dimande – Whatever.  Let’s go!

[[Luckily Sailor Moon wards off the creep long enough for Tuxedo Kamen to rescue her; unfortunately other things don't go so well in the future as Wiseman captures Chibiusa and tries to convince her no one loves her; it is soon revealed that Chibiusa stole the future Silver Crystal and it disappeared which is why Neo-Queen Serenity didn't have it to protect Crystal Tokyo]]

Esmeraude – What does the prince see in that dumpling-headed ditz?

Saphir – Did you just help them escape?

Esmeraude – Um, no.

Saphir – Hey, on this I’m with you.  He shouldn’t be wasting his time on the queen.

Esmeraude – Yes, and I’m going to get rid of her once and for all.  Wiseman, can you help me?

Wiseman – I’m so glad you asked.

[[Wiseman tricks Esmeraude and she ends up getting killed]]

Wiseman – Two down, two to go.  Once my brainwashing of Chibiusa is complete, and I kill Saphir and the prince, I can inact my evil plan!  Bwahahahahaha!!

[[Wiseman finishes using his dark magic on Chibiusa, which makes her older, sexier (ewwww; she's like five!  And yes, she still tries to flirt with Mamoru...), and the wicked Black Lady; they go back to the past to open the Dark Gate]]

Saphir – Wait a damn minute!  You’re just using us for your own evil purpose to release the Death Phantom into the world.

Wiseman – Um, yeah, totally.  And I’m going to kill you so you don’t tell your idiot brother!

[[Saphir escapes to the past and takes refuge with the Ayakashi Sisters]]

Sailor Moon – Chibiusa is gone!  What do we do now?

Sailor Mercury – We’d better go back to the past!  Something is happening!

[[And back to the past they go!]]

Saphir – Dimande, you can’t trust Wiseman!  He’s evil and he’s going to…

Wiseman – Shut up before you give away relevant plot information!  [[kills Saphir]]

Dimande – What did you do that for?

Wiseman – Um, he was totally a traitor.  Totally.  Now help me and Black Lady here open this Dark Gate.

Dimande – Whatever, as long as I get Sailor Moon, er, Neo-Queen Serenity in the end.

Sailor Moon – He’s a bad guy!  He turned Chibiusa evil!  He killed your brother!  He’s going to destroy everything!

Dimande – Yeah, you know what, I think you’re right.  Hey, you stop that!

Wiseman – How about you die!  [[kills Dimande]]  Black Lady, open that Dark Gate!

Black Lady – Okey dokey.  [[does so and the world is filled with darkness]]

Wiseman – Bwahahahaha!!  My plan cannot be stopped.  I, the Death Phantom, will destroy the world.

Sailor Moon – Okay, first things first.  Save Chibiusa!  [[they manage to convince her that she is indeed loved and the power of the Silver Crystal transforms Sailor Moon into Neo-Queen Serenity; Black Lady reverts to Chibiusa]]  Second, close this Gate!  [[Let portal combat begin!  This plan does not go so well and is clearly going to kill her]]

Chibiusa – Oh, no!  It’s just like when my Mom was defeated!  I just wanted borrow the Silver Crystal and be a real lady.  I didn’t want to hurt anyone.  I want to save everyone!  [[suddenly the future Silver Crystal manifests from her tear and she turns into a little princess]]  The future Silver Crystal!  It was inside of me.  I made this mess and I’ll fix it too!

Sailor Mercury – Wait, won’t using the same crystal displaced in time so close together in space cause some kind of rip in the space-continuum?

Sailor Mars – How would that be worse than what’s already happening?

Sailor Mercury – Good point.  Sailor Moon, proceed with saving the world.

Neo-Queen Serenity – Let’s do this thing, future daughter!

Neo-Princess Usagi – I’m with you, future Mom!

Senshi – Let’s do it!

[[the power of the two Silver Crystals combined destroy the Evil Black Crystal and the Death Phantom in a blast of pink light]]

Sailor Moon – Are we dead?

Voice of Neo-Queen Serenity – No.  The power of your crystals saved everyone again.

Sailor Moon – Cool.

[[After fond farewells, Chibiusa finally returns to the restored future and her parents]]

-next series-

A Writing Entry – Turnabout is Fair Play

This short story was published in the February 2012 edition of Pagan Edge.  The theme was, appropriately enough, love, relationships, and romance.  I’ve thought a lot about narrative convention and romance, and I wrote this to deliberately try to break that mold.  Whether I was successful or not is for you, the gentle reader, to judge.

Turnabout is Fair Play

“Steve, just ask her already,” said one young man to his friend as he drank a beer.  “Seriously.  You’ve been flaking out for weeks.”
“This is the biggest decision of my life.  I’m not going to screw it up,” replied Steve.
“No, Darnell is right,” said another young man.  “You’re wasting time.  You want to marry Katrina, so just ask her.”
“Great, thanks, Terence.”
“Man, she’s too good for you anyway,” continued Darnell.
“That’s true,” Terence agreed.
Steve sighed and ordered an appetizer for his buddies.  “It’s just such a big decision, you know?  This is the rest of my life.”  He fumbled with something in his pocket.
“Is that the ring?” Terence asked.  “You seriously carry it with you?  Katrina’s not even here.”
“I don’t want to lose it,” Steve mumbled.
“You are totally pathetic.  Just ask that girl.  How hard is it?  You pull out the box, show her the rock, and she already knows what you’re going to say.”
“But what if she says no?”
“She’s dated you for like, three years,” Darnell said.  “If she was going to ditch you, she would have done it already.”
“Yeah, but this is serious.  There’s like, no going back.”
“You really believe that?  I mean, half of all marriages fail,” said Terence.
“I know, and I think it’ll be different with me and Katrina.  But I guess everyone thinks that, and half of them are wrong,” Steve said.  He sighed.  “Maybe that’s why I haven’t asked yet.”
The other two groaned.
“Look, here we are, three single guys, and you’re the only one with a steady girl.  Katrina is awesome.  She’s totally hot, she’s funny, she’s smart.  Just ask her already,” Darnell said.
“Seriously,” said Terence.  “You call her up and take her out to dinner this weekend.  You don’t have to go someplace fancy, just someplace nice.  You propose to her, or we’ll tell her what an idiot you’re being.”
“Thanks guys,” Steve said dryly.  “You’re the best.  Really.”
But the next day Steve made a dinner date with Katrina.  He settled on someplace nice but not fancy so she wouldn’t think he had anything big planned.  And if she didn’t think he had anything big planned, she wouldn’t be disappointed if he lost his nerve.
After he ordered appetizers and cocktails, he thought about asking but just couldn’t quite work up the courage.
“Stephen, we need to talk,” Katrina said.
Now he was really nervous.
“We’ve been dating for a long time now.  I think you’re a great guy.  You’re smart, you make me laugh, and we always have a good time together.”
“Please don’t say ‘but,’” he thought.
She pulled a small box out of her purse and put it on the table.  “I know this probably isn’t what you expected.”  She opened the lid to reveal an expensive man’s watch.  “Stephen, will you marry me?”
Suddenly he understood the meaning of the word ‘dumbstruck.’  In a moment, he regained his voice.  “Of course I’ll marry you.”
Her smile lit up her face.  “Good.  I thought you were going to ask, and I was afraid the reason you hadn’t yet is because you didn’t want to marry me.”
“I want to marry you more than anything else in the world.”  He leaned across the table and kissed her.  “Um, would you like your ring now?” he asked sheepishly, pulling the box out of his pocket.
Katrina laughed until she was out of breath.  “You are so silly sometimes.  But that’s why I love you.”
“I love you too.”

The Raging Fanboy

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