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3 yrs ago
Current Why am I bothering to update the status anyway? No one's gonna care
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3 yrs ago
"Remember to look at the stars not down at your feet." Inspired me ever since. Rest in peace Professor Hawking
4 yrs ago
I don't know why, but the boredom is killing me slowly
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Bio

Welcome to my crappy profile front end. I hope you will enjoy your stay here.

To be honest, I haven't had much experience in RP, since I just started recently. But to reassure you, I am a writer, and my fic has received a bit of attention now, and so you don't have to worry about grammars and spellings, just rules of roleplaying.

I have written many types of stories and I am confident to say I can fit in into any categories when I switch to RPing, but my favorite genre is probably fantasy and science fiction. Currently so, I am taking part in a few of the RP, and is still looking for more. Hopefully we can find a common interest among them.

Thank you for reading (it's quite short really, but I don't have anything else to say)

Most Recent Posts

Alexander Kherol


Masked Off



He didn't even need to arrive on Plenty to know their work was already done. Behind a successful man is always a group of other successful men and women. What concerned Alexander a lot more were those involved.

"So what you're saying right now is that thanks to Laguna, this rebellion has gone under our noses for months on end?"

"...Yeah." The blond haired woman settled on the blunt response. "I don't know how she kept the situation so well-shut. When we sent Kotaro, I thought it's just a recent thing."

"He said the same thing to me as well. It takes way longer wrestling over responsibilities than actually dealing with the rebels."

Alexander thought it would be simple. The rebellion occurred, Laguna was right there and she got involved. When specialized teams under his command comes to take over, she'd just simply hand over the keys and the rebels would be just a footnote in history. But nooo. Apparently someone just had to have it all for themselves and drag an already bad situation into a mess. Of course, there are chances of her doing it out of some other reasons, but who is he kidding? It's Laguna. She's a cowardly fascistic dictator. Of course she is going to do this for personal glory. Nothing is more important to one of those kind than showing power.

"I'll deal with this myself. Thanks for your hard work." Alexander said, preparing to end the holographic call. "Oh and one last thing. I'm pretty sure you're aware of the current situation?"

"Oh that?" Annette immediately replied. "Ay, I'm already on it. Way before it became trending."

"Really?" Alexander sneered. "Don't tell me you have some stakes involved in this?"

"...No..."

That was the guiltiest reply he had ever seen.

"...ok, I made some profit out of it. Don't blame me." She quickly admitted. It wasn't something of a particular concern for the Grand Admiral anyway, since he doesn't do stocks. "But thanks to it, I have some interesting information you may wanna know."

"Oh?" He liked the sound of this.

"Obvious info out first. It started from an internet forum called RealAscendancyStockBets. Instigated by a member on the forum, these group of disorganized random strangers held the stock price to the point where several hedge funds of the Ascendancy went poof in a single day." Even though both had heard the story before, they couldn't help but gave a laugh at the sheer absurdity of the situation. Hearing the seething contempt of these rich oligarchs brought joy to their ears. "So that's that. What people probably don't bother with is the identity of the instigator. The name changes often, but other forum users have connected this member to this elusive figure known as the 'Wolf Cub of Wall Street'. Apparently a prodigy at stock trading, this is not the first time he has done this. Companies and regulators were finding ways to regulate this guy but to no avail."

Prodigy eh?...

"We already have our suspicions, so you can expect some more info on them soon." Annette gave a sly smile. "What's more interesting is the amount of coordination this is happening. Our AI ran a searching algorithm and mapped out a series of connection between these random internet users. I don't trust this map 100 percent, since users can lie or just create some throwaway accounts for the fun of it. But..." Alexander could see her eyes lit up as she read the next line. "The key word with the most user association is: Windsor Autonomous Trading Fleet"

Whooooo.

That's not a pretty image now.

It's not a smoking gun of course, but given the rapid expansion of that organization's space fleet, their strange demand for resources, Windsor's very shady behavior when meeting with Alexander on Nevivsky, and now this, it didn't take a lot of thought to recognize the potential threat they're facing. But it took a lot of effort, so he didn't expect any of the higher-ups to go into this. Looks like Alexander had to do this himself.

Perhaps it is time.

After a whole minute of silence, the Grand Admiral said with a stern and decisive countenance.

"Can you arrange a meeting between all of us? All us admirals. The sooner the better."

It might be the most important decision he had to make.

November 21st - Home


The trip home had two parts. Two completely opposite one. The first was the boat trip. Cramped, crowded and cold. The bunks were humid and reeks of sweat from god-knows-how-many previous occupants there were. It would be hell if Michael hadn't gotten so used to the stench of the trenches and rotting flesh before this. To him, it was respite. If anything, people weren't groaning about their misery, since everybody here had something to look forward to. And too did Michael. The first time in months yet it felt like years had gone by. War had obviously taken its toll on him, regardless how short it is, not only mentally but also physically as well. Within months, he already got himself two very ugly purplish scar on his right arm, still healing and still required some attention, after the heavy actions at Amone opened the old wound. Thankfully, it wasn't his dominant arm, so he could still write and do his sapper duty, to which he still did diligently until he was given the break.

The second trip, however, home from the port were different. As the troopships docked and the soldiers began to disembark, a figure was already there. A man still lush in his prime, donning his black suit, high white collar and a bow tie, yet salt and pepper tint began to appear on his neatly combed hair. Time and weather had also chiseled some crow's feet beneath and above his eyes. His job was made fairly easy today though, as it didn't take long for him to spot Michael, for his short height was very hard to miss. And even if he doubted his skill as a valet, the hat tip coming from the young master was enough confirmation. Both men, now having seen each other, maintained eye contact as they navigated their way through the crowd of expectant soldiers and relatives.

"Victor! I see you have been early today!" Said Michael as both men approached each other with a gentleman's handshake and a short firm hug, the scent of black coffee lingering in the chilly grey clouds of the upcoming winter.

"Oh how can I be late young master? A hero comes home today!" The middle-aged servant replied. Today would not be a chilly day no more, for the happiness he felt right now, there would be more to come a few hours from now.

"Ahaha, I wish. Right now, I'm hungry." Michael said.

"You're hungry?" Victor asked. "How about we go to this restaurant over here before we leave? It's the best sausage here in Tyrella."

"No I'm good." A little hunger meant nothing to him now. "In fact a hot bath is more preferable right now. I smell disgusting!"

The valet gave a hearty laugh before leading Michael to his car, a black Gallian 4-seater with a brown leather roof. A fairly old model already, quite prone to some problems, to which the Daunte family was considering buying a new one, if the market hadn't been quite stingy due to the currently going on Europan War. And it did break down a few times during Michael's trip. But having a companion made a lot of differences. Despite the lengthy trip home, Michael never felt bored. They talked, talked and talked. Like old friends. Well, they were old friends. Victor had been there throughout most of his childhood. The man is diligent yet witty and fatherly, dutiful yet not machine-like, kind and compassionate. If his parents hadn't been the closest people to Michael through his entire life, Victor would be.

Alas, through the rain, fog and occasional snow, both men arrived at the doorstep of the Daunte household. A mansion coated in dark red sandstone, born out of an architect of the previous era, and laid bit by bit by their owners to completion. The stones that stood greeted the winter storm and summer heat with dignity. The white fence settled in front of the flattening green lawn, the acrid botanical smell meant it was freshly cut. All added to the anxiety Michael felt as he trotted through the stone walkway to the wooden dark oak door. The man hesitated a little, calmed his nerves, breathed a long sigh, filled his eyes with life before knocked on the door, thrice.

The door opened.

And right there, without a word uttered, he fell right into her embrace. Norms be damned. He just defied death to return to his mama. He'd not let go.

The sky was still grey, the weather slowly sinking to freezing temperature as the sun settled for the day. But he felt warmer than ever before. Dinner that day was something beyond him. It wasn't made by butlers or maids, but rather by his mother himself. It wasn't the stale, diluted, bland and tasteless processed food of the trenches, nor the first-class meal of the professional cooks in his household either. It was imperfect, the pie she made was a bit too sweet but very well-cooked, the sourness in the cream, the soft layer of butterscotch. It was the most perfect meal he ever had.

Then the house servants all turned out for a talk with their young master. Work was off for them as soon as Michael arrived. Some were newly hired, curious to meet the Viscount's son, others were interested in the story the man had to offer. The Viscount himself was all too proud with the praises, but Michael himself led the conversation this time. They talked way into the night, Michael almost forgetting the leisure of the hot bath he said and wearing something other than the tight and dirty Edinburghian military uniform. As the day ended, Michael was in a cozy bed, in her arms.

"We haven't done this in a long time, have we?" Elizabeth said, as she wrapped her arm around his shoulder.

"Hmm...I don't think so." Michael replied. "It just feels so long."

"My poor boy. It must have been terrible." She said. "Having no one to be like this together..."

"Actually I do." He said. Her crystal green eyes lit up in curiosity, then realization.

"Oh yeah, that girl you said. Lucia, right?" Michael nodded. "Does she loves you?"

"...I think so." Michael, after a silent thought, said.

"And you love her back?"

"...I think so too..." An even longer thought, and a sheepish reply.

"What makes you think so?"

"...The scar I had here. My right arm...it's her work. Well technically there was another but nevertheless. She stayed by my side pretty much the entire time at that inn, holding my hand until I go to sleep." He confessed. Here, there is no need for embarrassment or reservation. "She even saved my life one time as well."

"My my. She is quite a girl..." Elizabeth exclaimed, her hand now turned to cuddle his cheeks. Indeed she is. "...though can't you say the same for the other soldiers out there as well?"

"What do you mean?"

"From your description, it seems like a normal response to someone dear to you being hurt." She said. "I'm glad you've made such a positive impact on her, but I don't know if that is actual romance."

Michael was a bit taken aback by the response. It was gentle, kind just like his mother usually is, but she didn't always push back on him this way. If anything his father would do this more often, so Michael couldn't help but feel a little uncomfortable. Not love? The gestures Lucia showed him, the shyness, gentleness and care she gave him. But mama knows best. She didn't say this out of contempt for Lucia either. There is a tint of wisdom within her words that made him think.

"In that letter of yours, apparently she was abused?" Her tone switched.

"Still is."

"Then you might want to consider if she's doing it because she's desperate for affection?" She said. "I'm not saying it's bad. At 16, it is very traumatizing to be both at war and be abused. But she probably doesn't know what is love and romance, and rather is seeking a missing piece of her heart."

"..."

Her words cut. She was right...

"I am proud of the compassion you showed her, but romance is something else. You can want to show her affection and kindness, but not be physically intimate at the same time."

By the hands of the Lord she was damn right. But it was difficult for the young Michael to fully accept this. It was confusing, way more confusing than the technicality of engineering or the politics of the world. It also didn't help that Elizabeth wasn't being definitive on her answers either. Who can blame her for this really? His feelings are his alone. Only he could understand it.

"Come here..."

Feeling the silence her son left by her words, she pulled him into her warmth again. Michael really has grown up. She still vividly remembered him fit right in her arm's embrace, and now he's so big. Grown, mature and brave, ready to take on the world. But despite everything, he shall forever be her precious little angel.




December 30th - Observation Post



“Thanks. And thanks for the feedback too. I’ll keep it all in mind.”

Elliot had some great points. It likely would be so that marksman, already having all their specialized equipment already, wouldn’t bother with this mediocre mish-mash that did none of the other’s equipment better. But marksman were only a small minority of soldiers, so it is better if he’d focus on the other majority who would have loved to look at a creeping Imperial shocktrooper more closely. That might end up saving a trench sector one day.

On the other hand, hearing the curt reaction from the brown-haired lady...kind of tickled him. Oh god, is she another one of those stuck-ups? There were no shortage of these ‘soldiers are meant to kill not relax’ machines in the army, but she thankfully doesn’t seem to bother with him not doing it. He understood their rationale though.

Suit yourself miss.” Michael gave a fuzzy smile as he replied. He wouldn’t bother with her for the next hour or two, nor for Elliot, respecting their duty. Instead, he worked even further on the design for the next half an hour before occupying himself with a good book and writing letters home. It was getting a lot easier to write compared to the first few months of his enlistment. Now that he stopped with describing how wet and full of rats the area was, or how great his friends are and that they are his strength and all that cheesy stuff, he suddenly found himself having a lot more to say. Like the stale food, the cute dogs in the squad and how Michael would want to wallow in their fluffy furs, or some random rambling about communication technology.

With the conversation having died down, Elliot soon settled into the rhythm of sweeping the area with his own periscope, detecting nothing in the initial sweep, and then sweeping the area once more, this time with the scope of his rifle. Peeking out of the safety of the trenches to get a better look at things with his scope was always a risky prospect, but if there was an enemy marksman lying in wait, Elliot would have spotted them long before.

Or he’d be dead.

...But seeing as neither of those things were the case, the boy settled into the monotony of his job. Thankfully, a marksman was nothing if not patient. Two years of war experience had desensitized Elliot’s perception of seemingly boring jobs-- as disinteresting as they were sometimes, they had a purpose to serve.

Soon, Michael found his hunger becoming more and more unbearable. The growling in his stomach were getting more and more obvious. Having no reasons to not eat anymore, he packed up his things and trotted down the trench line back to the reserve line for some good ol’ packed rations, the marksman seeing the young man off with a tip of his hat. It was a nice enough diversion, but Elliot supposed the sapper had no reason to stay for much longer if they were going to be quiet, which was reasonable enough. He would’ve done the same thing, in his shoes.

And thus, Elliot went on to do sentry duty...

After grabbing his portion of the meal, Michael was finding himself a seat at the tables, but he suddenly remembered both the sentries, wondering if they had had lunch yet. They might have already, and it would be a waste of time, but eh, it wouldn’t hurt if they did anyway. It would also be nice to have some companies. And so, Michael went back into the soup kitchen, and, with a little bit of modesty and politeness, convinced the soldier in charge to give him 2 more rations for ‘his friends’. And he wouldn’t betray their trust in him to do what he was told either. He went back to the observation post with them in hand.

”Anyone want some food?” He laid them out at the spot he last sat a few moments ago and sat down and took one for himself.

Elliot was surprised when Michael had returned, with food in his hands. The marksman had planned on getting lunch after his shift, but seeing as the sapper had gone out of his way to do this much…

”I’ll take some.” He said, the faintest of smiles on his face. ”Thank you very much.

The marksman placed down the meal before him. As far as army slop went, the food was still better than the claylike rations given to him on extended trips away from the trenches. Water, a small teabag, stale biscuits, dry bread, tinned meat and some kind of soup, the kind of which Elliot could not identify.

The marksman set a nearby kettle to boil-- the thing likely left there as a small reprieve for watchmen and sentries assigned to the observation posts. As the water began to heat up, he couldn’t help but ask. ”I would’ve figured you’d have preferred to spend your off-time back in town.” He commented. ”Why return to the frontlines?”

Elliot certainly wasn’t complaining-- anyone willing to bring food back for someone was a good enough sort in his books; he simply wanted to hear the sapper’s reasoning for it.

Michael put his fingers on his chin. He tried coming up with whatever reasons like he wanted to work on the periscope more, which he could just do it back there, or he wanted to work on the trench, which he wouldn’t get to do so without authorization, or he just wanted to talk...which sounded dumb. At the end of the day, he’d just give a light shrug as he picked up the cup of diluted tea.

”Well, I don’t know…” He said. ”I figured it’s not noon yet, so maybe you guys haven’t had lunch yet. I don’t think it hurts being nice.

If they already had lunch, he would be handing them to someone else anyway. Not everything is for personal benefit.

The sapper then took a sip of the tea. Although freshly boiled, it was still bland and watered down. Pretty tasteless and if he paid too much attention he’d probably appreciate just a cup of water more. But it’s wartime, he wouldn’t demand more than this. He’d treat it like any first-class meal he once ever had: with some delicate touch beneath the cup.

”How very thoughtful of you.” Elliot said in response. It was unclear whether or not he believed it to be so, but he looked thankful enough. ”...Well, you were certainly right about one thing: I haven’t eaten yet.”

With that, the marksman mixed in his own bag of tea with the newly heated water. He took the metal cup in both hands, holding the handle with his dominant hand, and using his other as an impromptu saucer. Elliot curled his fingers inwards, letting the warmth of the tea run through his hands, before raising the cup to his lips.

All things considered, the tea was bland and not nearly as sweet as he would’ve liked. He had heard that sugar rations were issued early in the war, but by the time he had enlisted, those were reserved for officers. Still, even despite the lack of taste, it was suitable enough for warming the body.

After taking a long sip, he set the cut back down on the palm of his other hand. Normally, this was done on a table with a small plate or saucer, but both things weren’t strictly necessary in a war like this. Elliot enjoyed his tea (or what passes for it) in silence, letting only a small sigh escape his lips.

Too Michael let out a sigh, as he grabbed the biscuit and held it by the very tip of his finger, biting it small and careful not to let crumbs stick on his lips. If any was left on, he would wipe it off with the given napkin. On the while, he was quick to notice the same exact posture carried out by Elliot. The palm beneath the cup, the fingers and especially how he didn’t have the next sip without putting it back into his hand. It might be just confirmation bias on his part, but Michael recognized these social gestures.

Whether or not he’s right, he let himself loose a little and asked, his head tipped slightly sideway.

“Y’ new mahney?”

His accent changed suddenly. It was no longer the neutral intonation that everybody across Europa were taught, but a distinct Tyrellan one. He was taught to be proud of his heritage, which was kinda dumb, but it helped recognizing people.

Elliot looked up at Michael, somewhat surprised, though he did his best not to show it. He took a moment to parse that Tyrellan accent back into the more neutral tone he had grown accustomed to, before letting out a small exhale through his nose, as if slightly bemused.

If Michael was going to hang a little loose, perhaps it wouldn’t hurt for Elliot to do the same.

”Aye, something like that.”

Unlike the sapper’s Tyrellan accent, the marksman’s own accent was distinctly Castletonian. Elliot gave the young man a knowing glance, before shifting back to a more neutral tone. “...money’s a little tight nowadays, though.” He let out a shrug.

”What of you? Old, or new?” Elliot figured small talk like this was fine, as long as he was careful. Besides, it was better that he start making new friends and acquaintances in this platoon sooner, rather than later.

”Eh...Kinda both.” His eyes glanced up, ”We inherit our wealth, but our grandfather kinda squandered our wealth through...variety of means,” And rolled around, exasperated. ”So my father had to patch it up like a sinking ship. He did well though, professorship gets good pay so we’re doing just cozy. A nice house and some good academic opportunities.”

It was nice seeing an upper-class (somewhat) Castleton brother around. Despite Michael not wanting to look like a spoiled rich kid, he couldn’t help the pre-imposed impressions of these people in society, so he tended to keep his status hidden, only letting loose when he was around familiar territory. New money might sound derogatory, but if anything he even respected those hard working people. People underestimated the strength of the manual labourers these days.

Elliot nodded as Michael went on, the marksman occasionally snacking on a biscuit. It was interesting-- he didn’t expect a blue-blood to be working the trenches, but he’s seen more than his fair share of surprising things in the war. Still, he couldn’t help but ask another question.

”...So what are you doing here?” Elliot asked, not unkindly. ”I ended up being drafted, so I didn’t have that much of a choice-- not that I mind all that much, mind you.” He quickly appended. ”...but forgive me if I’m presuming a little much: you don’t seem like the kind to want to go to war.”

From behind a sniper’s scope, Elliot’s seen plenty of faces. Michael’s own countenance just happened to be the kind that didn’t seem like the kind to enjoy fighting overmuch (though in fairness, there were very few that did). It made the marksman wonder about the young man’s convictions.

”Oh I don’t have a choice either…” Michael sighed. Well, it was not necessarily right. ”W-Well, I do have a choice. Go to university and be considered a reserved-skilled worker, which is what I’m into anyway. But... He snapped his fingers several times, getting irritated by each. His accent changed once again. ”Some tired old codger in the Board of Admission prob’bly slept during the job or somethin’. Got the admission letter a week late, and got called. So ‘ere I am.”

To be fair, he wasn’t too used to the new admission process either. Most of what he was referenced to was from his father, who studied in Vinland instead. So it took him a bit of time to gather the documents. Probably served him right he should’ve checked early, but hey, whatevs.

”To be fair, it does make me a lil more plucky than if I stayed home, He said, which is true. His Amone experience really toughened him, but nevertheless...”Don’t get me wrong though, I hate this fecking war regardless. No disagreement is worth millions of deaths.

And whose disagreements anyway? Some worthless kings’ on the throne? All the while people die like dogs. People that probably don’t even know the country, let alone the soldiers, they’re fighting if they hadn’t been subjugated under so much propaganda.

Michael put the cup of tea down for a long sigh. He doesn’t often get riled up.

Elliot calmly sipped at his tea, giving Michael an apologetic look. The marksman didn’t seem to mind the sapper’s sudden turn of mood. ”It’s a damn shame.” He simply commented. ”The world is a beautiful place, made darker by the war.”

Was the world beautiful, and the war ugly? Or was the world ugly, and the war merely a byproduct of that ugliness? Elliot pondered this for a moment.

The marksman set down his cup and looked to the sky. Though bleak and overcast, there was a certain beauty to its dreariness. He then turned to his compatriots: the sapper and the rifleman. This moment, as fleeting as it was, was likely to be the calm before the storm. It was best to cherish it while he could.

Elliot then reached for some of the dry bread, cutting it crosswise before putting some of the tinned meat between the loaves. Impromptu sandwich complete, the marksman took a bite. It was lacking in many things, but it was still better than nothing. He ate in silence for a while, occasionally pausing to take a sip of what little remained of his tea, or to survey the area with his periscope.

Michael let the talkings die down a little as they both enjoyed their lunch, while Michael cooled himself as well, relatively quickly though. Thankfully with Elliot here, he wouldn’t mind releasing the valve a little. He wasn’t one to hang on too long onto negativity as long as he could just say it to someone and someone understanding. It gets boring. Better to hand it to someone so both can bury them into the Earth.

Once he was done, he briefly cleaned up and prepared to get back to the reserve line. Some bloke coming to replace the two here informed him they were probably gathering soon.

For a while, he also wondered about the idea. The world. A beautiful place? He didn’t really see it as such, nor he saw it otherwise. He just...didn’t really think about it a lot. He’d really love to think it is, for there is beauty he wallowed in. His family. His sickly yet gentle mother. His stern yet kind father. As of now, he fought the war for them, because he is an only child. He is their future.

What about Elliot?

”Also, if you don’t mind me asking something as well. It might be intrusive, but you have someone at home you look forward to seeing?”

People who love the world probably have someone to fight for.

The marksman gave the visiting man a nod. Elliot hadn’t even realized it, but it seemed his shift would be over soon enough. The man said that they were probably gathering soon, prompting the boy to wonder as to what kind of operation they’d be doing soon enough.

Michael’s question snapped Elliot out of his reverie, though. Someone at home he looked forward to seeing… He pondered the question for only a few moments, before continuing. ”I’ve got family back home. My mother, father, and brother.” He started. ”It’s no exaggeration when I say that a big part of the reason as to why I signed on was to protect them.”

”...Truth be told… I don’t know if they’d be glad to see me.” Elliot admitted sheepishly. Going behind their back, breaking off a betrothal, and generally making a mess of their plans tended to breed more than a little bit of resentment, even if his intentions were good.

”...but when the war’s over, I’d like to see them again.”

And that was the truth of it. Even if he had left out a large part of context, Elliot was content with that answer.

”Ah I see.” Michael nodded firmly, and gave a genuine smile. Thinking for a couple of seconds, he reached for his pocket and took out another piece of paper. This one not the weary yellow notes he had for his designs and other random things he needed to write down, but a pinkish-white one, slightly marred by the dirt, but still looked modest enough on its own.

”I have someone to see too. My mother. Basically the angel of my life. And she wrote me this. He unfolded the paper and read. ”I swell in pride in hearing your accomplishment. But please don’t get carried away. I don’t care what you did or how many battles you won. All that matters is you coming home...”
He stared at the paper for a little, held it out then folded the paper and put it back in his pocket, laughed a little. ”A little dramatic I know. But those who stayed always have strong feelings.” He then patted Elliot on the shoulder. ”So I hope everything will work out for you.”

Elliot looked on as Michael read out his letter, and soon, in spite of himself, the marksman revealed a genuine smile of his own. He knew his own family might not have approved of him disappearing, but he knew that they wished for his safe return as well.

Thoughts of family tended to make the world a brighter place.

”That they do.” Elliot said in reply. ”...thanks… I hope everything works out for you too.” He smiled.

The boy then reached into his pocket, retrieving a simple, brass pocket watch with just a little bit of tarnish. He opened it, looked at the time, and then looked to his companions, the sapper and the rifleman.

”Looks like our shift’s done. Shall we head back?”

”Let’s go then.” Michael said.
@Hawthorne@TGM



"I am Michael. Last name Daunte." He returned Elliot's introduction with yet another slight nod, more as a formality but he rather took it in with grace. Nevertheless, even before his life in the trenches, he had long preferred the rather down-to-earth commoner address to most of his peers. If anything it made him feel a bit more relatable to the rest of society than the relatively few stuck-up individuals up there on the upper echelon. "Just call me Michael. There's no time for titles in a place like this."

He's also not that old anyway, but chances are Elliot was just being formal as well. Speaking of whom, Michael noticed the little tube jutting out of the ends of Elliot's rifles. It's thin and barely, if not outright otherwise, bigger than the rifle thickness. Curious. People don't tend to put accessories on their rifles since they get turned in quite frequently to higher ups, so he wondered what that is. Maybe he worked this out on his own as well. He may be a marksman, but who can say that he doesn't have backgrounds in engineering or mathematics. Elliot does look a bit young for that, but hey, the existence of the one and only Michael himself was enough proof that looks can be very deceiving.

Michael waited a little bit anxiously as Elliot peered the periscope over the parapet, both for him and for the feedback on his latest invention/innovation, although if it hadn't been already apparent, the way he handled it and positioned himself indicated he knew what he was doing perfectly. Actually that wouldn't really relieve him much, considering he was asking for feedback from an experienced veteran, whereas he only just partook in the war for a few months at best. Like his university or job interview, he stared at literally everything, every small detail, Elliot does, up until he turned around. Whew. It worked, and while not exactly glowing, it wasn't scathing either. It was exactly what he expected.

"Yeah, it's optical lense. It was a binocular from a dead Imperial officer that I found a few weeks back. I have to redo the magnification because the saw-off point is right in the center." Michael replied as he took out the sheet of paper he had folded in his pocket. Unfolding it, it showed a rather crude but geometrical drawings of the design. "The binocular is rather short, so it leaves not so much room to work with." He gave a small laugh afterward. "I do have a bit too much time on hand."

Now that Lucia wasn't on his back the whole time he does. He wondered if she was doing alright, but personally, he did find her absence somewhat liberating, not having to babysit her. Was it down to his normal etiquette or his complex feelings towards her and her current predicament was up for debate, but it was nice being a free man for once.

His discussion with Elliot was followed quite abruptly by a lovely lady at the entrance. Unlike neither the marksman or the sapper, she was tall, and had this rather...weary aura to her. And the custom for a gentleman is to never leave a lady unattended.

"Are you alright, miss? Are you here for the observation duty? Come, join us in our work." Michael cupped his hands in front of his stomach. "Make yourself comfortable."

He was meant to go back for some food after this, but eh, he could wait a couple of hours.
@TGM@Hawthorne


For all that's worth, the silence and relatively remote location of the observation post meant a little bit of personal time for Michael. It reminded him of the time in his father's study or the school lab, minds drifted away in deep introspection or concentration, sometimes crossing his legs crudely in his armchair. Which is kind of what he was doing right now. His tools were a bit all over the place on the ground next to him. His hair was unadjusted from the various head scratch he had as he figured out the periscope. Most of the time once he was done, he would get back to his usual self soon enough. But he forgot time today as well.

When a boy popped up at the observation post for his shift, Michael looked up almost immediately and, out of instinct, uncrossed his legs and went into crouch with one knee firm on the ground. His two hands put the periscope to the side and tugged down his lower shoulder's shirt areas. Normally Michael would have stood up for a greeting, but he knew he wouldn't stand up again if he does that. He still greeted the comer to his recently fitted out observation post like a guest to his house.

"Good morning!" Michael returned the boy's nod with his own nod and a spirited yet firm voice. When prompted about the shift, he took a moment to compose an answer as he briefly glanced at the periscope again and adjusted his hair. "It's not really my shift actually. I was really just setting up the last of the things for the post. The I just kind of...toyed with this periscope for a while." He said as he pointed at the sentry. He would be a little bit proud of the work he had done as the work on this trench were mostly relegated to him (and Anna as well) if it hadn't been back-breaking from all the carrying and digging he had to do, even more so if he ran into those pesky rocks to break.

"So yeah, hope you'll enjoy your stay..." He joked a little as he asked. ...if you don't mind me asking how may I address you?"

Also, while the young man was here, Michael did not hesitate to ask him a little favor, picking up the periscope. "Also, if you don't mind, can you test this out for me? You can use a periscope right?"

He didn't intend to come off as disrespecting a veteran's experience, but after a few months of misery in the trenches, newbies look exactly the same as the established. He didn't want someone fumbling the thing and got themselves killed as a result.

@Hawthorne


Michael thought he'd get overwhelmed by the sight of the trenches after the respite break where the Viscount's son basically went back home to a quiet yet warm welcome by his neighborhood. But it turned out well actually. Mother was correct. Of course he missed the hot bath at home or the maids/butlers giving him pretty much every good meal he deserved, but the recently returned Michael found himself instead immersed in something other than the constant groaning of wet feet or rats crawling around munching at the woods of the parapet.

For a few days, this rugged-looking mixture of a binocular and a periscope had been Michael's project. After meddling with the binocular found on a dead Imperial officer in a raid a week ago, Michael had managed to crack open the thing with his sapper tools and place a tube, or rather two tubes, perpendicular to the binocular, each with mirrors placed at each end perching 45 degrees. It might look like just a poor attempt at replicating something that already existed, but a unique trait of this periscope that Michael was trying to get it to work right is the ability to zoom. That's what had been keeping him occupied for the entire day, as he sat tugged in beside the parapet with the tools either in hands or on the ground next to him. It was way past his shift time. He could feel his stomach poking him to go and have some food in the reserve line, but he suppressed it as he held his breath at yet another plier grip.

"Right..."

This should hopefully work.

He flipped over, being careful not to straighten himself while he was on the parapet out of instinct. Otherwise he might risk getting shot by a sniper's bullet. It doesn't matter how brief it was he might show himself, he had seen people being all cheery one moment and a corpse a second later. But being short does have its advantage that he had more rooms for mistakes. After adjusting himself, he rested the periscope on the dirt, letting the lens peer over No Man's Land. He could see the mounds of dirt and barbed wires, along with puddles of mud water reflecting on the sticky situation both sides found themselves in. But the moment he was waiting for was when he slid those lens beneath forward and backward...

"Yes!"

He gripped his fist in pride. It worked...somewhat. The zooming wasn't very good, not the best amongst the periscopes, and far worse than what a binoculars can afford to magnify, but it worked regardless. He could adjust how much he wanted to see with (relative) ease, and without having to expose himself to sniper fires. Now Michael felt the urge to have this be tested. He probably won't need to wait for long, as this is an observation area, so naturally there should be one or two observers at any given time. They should arrive soon. For now, he'd keep trying to make sure this sloppy patch-up of a tool didn't fall apart when roughly handled.
He's back!

Alexander Kherol

The Last Ascendancy Commander


Once Upon a Time





2450 AD

Earth

The capital of the Ascendancy of Man. The birthplace of humanity. The cradle of the great civilization that prospered on this planet for thousands of years, stretching across the boundaries of the galaxy...

Bah! That doesn't concern her one bit.

All she knew was that this is her new home. Life on Mars was so boring! A spec of red rocks, cold and barren. There were no big buildings or cool things there, only scary machineries and stuffs. Mining minerals on the planet didn't suit their interest, nor was healthy in the long run, especially for the family's young daughter Sarie, who was barely 9 years of age. She was horribly behind in terms of schools, due to the terrible infrastructure of the planet. And that wouldn't sit. Nope, they have to move to Earth. All their life savings were poured into this endeavour, hoping to bring about a brighter future for their little angel. Genius she need not become, just a happy and long life here.

They eventually settled in Alexandria, former Egypt, working in construction, just like back there but with better conditions. Their house was close to those high-rise apartment complexes, completely filled with all sort of commodities close by that one only need to spare 10 minutes of their lives to fill themselves for a week. But in exchange, they would be living close to those spoiled rich kids. Not all of them were bad, but this is the Ascendancy of Man we're talking about. The rich reign supreme, while poor folks couldn't even afford to move across their own planet, let alone a cross-planet trip like this. Looking down on the poor is their pastime. Charity is merely their way of showing off their wealth and fake virtues whenever they like it. They were concerned if Sarie mingled with them. What if they rejected her, casted her aside, bullied her?

Thankfully, they need not worry. Sarie was too full of energy to be shy to them. And those kids, let's just say one of them were actually nice. It was quite a character assassination to summarize it like that, but he's certainly unfazed enough to act however he wanted to.

The first time Sarie met Alexander was her third time visiting the park close by to their apartment. Schools had just finished for all of them, and now they were all gathering at the park to play. This time, they were playing chess, Alexander's favorite pastime. Despite the boredom usually associated with the sport, for some reasons, the kids were excited. Perhaps they wanted a hopeless shot at beating the chess genius of the neighborhood. Or they were genuinely interested. Regardless of what it was what really captured the girl's attention was not the game, nor that he was the leader of the group, almost naturally, directing and dictating the flow of the mood, but what later could be described as 'love at first sight'.

"Hey yall! What'cha guys doing?" With her heavy accent, unabashed and fearless, she approached the group of kids. The ponytailed orange hair, the dark-red plaid shirt, there was no difficulty guessing that she wasn't from there.

"Chess!" One boy declared, in a not necessarily friendly manner. "Do you know how to play?"

"Umm, nah. But can I watch you guys?" Sarie asked.

"No." Another said. "Learn the game first and get in line."

"Hey hey hey." The silver-haired boy in one side of the table said. "Didn't I teach you chess when I want to play it?"

"Y-Yeah, but there were only 4 of us, me, you, Anna and Travel." He said.

"Well, now we have 8." Alexander waved for Sarie to come. "Come, you want to play?"

She excitedly nodded her head before squeezing her way through the crowd to the chair on the other side of Alexander.

"What do you know foremost about chess? Like anything?" Alexander began.

"Ahh, I only know that you have to kill the king to win."

"Kill..." Alexander couldn't help but laughed. "We don't kill kings here, we capture him, so the whole kingdom is without a leader and falls apart. The way you capture a king is to make sure he cannot move anywhere when it is your turn."

"...How does that work?"

"So...it's a turn-based strategy game, where we each move a piece for every turn. Each pieces have their movements and if an enemy piece lies in the way of another piece, you can proceed to capture the piece by moving your piece to it. If a king lies in the way of an enemy piece instead, then it is a check, and you must move your king away or block the path. If you're are unable to do so, then when the enemy's turn is up, he can capture your king and the game ends. It is called a checkmate then. Each piece's movement goes as follows"

"Stop stop stop!" She yelled, clearly lost halfway through his explanations. "I lost you in the middle. Can you go by more slowly?"

"Oh come on, what is this?" Another kid rudely chimed in, only to be stopped by a stern look from the young Alexander. He looked at her sky-blue eyes again with a finger resting on his chin for a few seconds.

"Ok, so think of it like this." This girl was definitely not the brightest, despite Alexander wanting her to fit in the group. He thought a little before continuing "...In front of you are white pieces. So you will go first by moving a piece."

Alexander reached for a white pawn on her side and moved it one square. "That is a turn. Then I move one of my pieces." He took his knight and moved it. "Then you repeat it. That's how the game progress."

Sarie nodded her head twice. Alexander proceeded by picking up both kings. "This is the king, he can only move to squares adjacent to it." He looked up to see the girl staring at him and tilting her head. "Assuming he's here. You can only move to one of these eight squares. That is it."

She nodded again, happy and excited once more. "If a piece is in the way like this...horse here." He placed the knight in a convenient position. "If it is your turn, you can captur- I mean kill this horse. You do so by taking the horse away and move your piece to it. It counts as one turn and now it shall be mine. If it is my turn, I would move away the horse to prevent it from being killed."

"If your king is in the way instead like this horse before, it is a special kind of killing..." He stifled his laughter. It sounded so dumb. "It's called a check. You have to avoid it by moving him away. If he's checked and you can't move him away, like this position." He arranged the pieces once again. "Then it's checkmate! I win in this case. You win if you do the same to my king. You get it?"

She hummed for long, staring at the board.

"There's so many rules..." She groaned. Couldn't say he did not expect this.

"...Ok, then we shall learn as we play!" He declared. "Go on, you can go first."

"Ah...uhhh..." She was taken a bit aback. "...How do I go?"

"You can do whatever you want."

"Anything?"

"Yeah, you remember what I told you earlier?" She nodded. "Just follow that. Otherwise you can do whatever you want. You make your own rules."

"Oh cool!" Sarie exclaimed.

"But please follow it once you made it. No changing halfway through. That's my only request!"

The white-haired boy gave her an ok finger, and she gladly accepted. After a while figuring out the rules for this weird custom game, to the boredom of the other kids around the table, it was finally time to go. The new pawn rules still move like usual, but captures the square in front instead of diagonal. The rook now cannot be captured, but can only move one square each. It does mean castle after all. The knight then moves like the old rook, but still can vault over pieces. The bishop, also moved like the old rook, but buffed to high heaven, now needing two pieces to capture it. The most saddening choice of them all was the queen. Poor queen, completely nerfed to oblivion, can only be in the vicinity of the king. If the king moves, she moves in to take his place, and she can jump over him if need be. The cited reason for this choice was supposedly from her fairy tales story, that kings and queens never leave each other's side. It's romantic for sure, but the poor queen is then mostly delegated to defensive task. But given how broken the other pieces are, it's not that big of a deal for Alexander.

Once the rule was formalized, Alexander didn't wait to start. He already familiarized himself with it and formulated a general idea of what needed to be done. A switch-and-bait tactics to try and cut down the bishops first. The bishops are the queens now, and the sooner they got taken out, the better. And it went perfectly. With a brilliant queen sacrifice, he managed to kill one of the bishops. Another would soon follow with a few moves. Once that was done, Alexander went on the aggressive, and the game ended soon after. Even with the new rules, vaguely heard and explained, he still proved himself a cunning opponent.

"Good game." As per chess tradition, he maintained his etiquette an extended a hand to Sarie. "I'd say...that's pretty interesting."

He didn't want to annoy her with the fact that he pretty much destroyed her. Regardless, she wasn't taking it too well either.

"That wasn't fair!" Sarie said. "You killed your own queen..."

"It is a good sacrifice." Alexander replied. "I used my queen to kill your bishops. It's the strongest piece on the board."

"But why? It's your queen. Your wife! Are you just going to let her die like that?"

For once, Alexander was hit with a hard question. Of course, in a game of power and intellect like this, nothing should be out of the question. But hey, a horrible decision is still a horrible decision.

"...Ok sorry." Not something you often see from him throughout his life, Alexander conceded. "Maybe I'm a bit too cold on that. You can take the win if you like."

She knocked over the pieces on the board anyway. "Nay, it's sooo tiring. Can we play something else instead?"

"Sure!" Alexander happily obliged. "What's your name?"

"Sarie Ayala!" She said excitedly. "I only go first name."

"Love your name Sarie." He said. "Alexander. Call me Alex if you wish."

By now, most of the kids had dispersed, leaving only Alexander and his new friend to clean up the chessboard. But the day was still young. And for young Alexander, he chose to play and associate with whoever he wanted.

"Come on Sarie. Let's go!"
Consider that one a fanfic instead
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