Chapter 11

“Zot Control, this is General Kip. I’m preparing for a landing,” the Lunar announced.

Not that there was any need for anyone on the Tower to do something to facilitate his landing. He just didn’t feel like getting shot down out of the sky for not announcing his approach. The Tower did have its defenses, mostly geared towards invaders of the mechanical types.

Humans were learning to use airships, after all. It wasn’t a risk they could afford to take.

Kip’s little pod ship was nothing like the gangly wooden airships the humans made. Maybe it was lack of human imagination, but they literally re-designed sailing ships, the kinds made for the water, and repurposed them into ships that sailed on air.

If it works, it works.

Kip’s ship was much different. It was small, sleek and made of metals that were not all found on the Blue Planet. Humans were only beginning to grasp the basics of machinery, so their interest in metal had mostly been in forging weapons. They had no idea the treasures their planets held in resources and materials alone.

Inside, the ship hummed with sleek screens, many colored buttons and a neat folding glass dome for the cockpit. Kip was especially proud of this innovation, and loved to listen to the soft sound of metal whispering over metal as the top folded back over his head.

The landing within the Tower was uneventful. Kip pulled off his goggles, dropped out of the cockpit and stretched his arms over his head as the pale light of Zot met his eyes.

After a moment, he turned to head back to his quarters. He needed time to think about all he discovered – the run-in with the mercs had side-tracked him from his original goal. He was no closer to solving the mystery of what happened to Ben’s family than before.

I don’t know what I’m going to tell him. I can’t keep putting this off, though. The boy is only going to think worse of me if I break his trust on this promise.

Kip didn’t have much time to ponder the situation before a sharp voice shouted his name. Turning, the mind mage saw the furious form of TsuMe glaring death and destruction in his direction.

At first, Kip wondered if he was busted for his unauthorized trip to the Blue Planet. On a second look, he saw that Alert had fixed itself to TsuMe’s shoulder, clutching with an expression that could be mistaken for adoration… if the bot wasn’t a machine.

“KIP!” TsuMe demanded. His whole rigid pose spoke of barely contained violence. “Get this thing off me before I blow it to bits!”

The Alert didn’t seem to notice. It continued to cling to the General’s shoulder, peeping happily.

It was so ridiculous that Kip couldn’t help but break into laughter. The laughter, however, was cut short when TsuMe snarled sharply.

“I MEAN IT!”

“Alright, alright.” The mind mage turned to the bot with a gentle tone. “Alert, shouldn’t you be on patrol right now?”

Alert just drooped with a heartbroken expression. It emitted something that sounded close to a human whimper.

“Come on, get back out there.”

The Alert turned to do as it was told, but not without tossing a last, longing look at the ruffled TsuMe. The warrior just acted as if nothing at all had happened.

Kip had never seen anything quite like it. He knew that the Alert was acting strangely since the last reboot, but signs of affection – very human-like affection – boggled his mind.

The machine was only designed to patrol and report. It shouldn’t have emotional capacities.

“Only you would make such a defective machine,” TsuMe grumbled at him.

“It’s not a defect, it’s a feature!” Kip responded cheerfully. “Besides, it was working perfectly until you zapped it.”

“Don’t blame me!” The warrior crossed his arms with a grouchy look. “You were supposed to fix it.”

“I did fix it! But you can’t send a jolt like that through the AI and expect it not to have a few bugs after the fact.”

Then came the accusation. “I bet you fixed it like that on purpose.”

“What? Me? Would I do something like that?” The mind mage just grinned innocently.

This earned Kip the famous TsuMe “whatever” face.

He gave a wave in return, spinning away on one heel. “Well, let me get back to the co-op room and–”

“Hold on,” TsuMe stated in a no-nonsense tone. “Where have you been?”

Kip paused, trying not to let expression show on his face. It’s not as if what he did was wrong. He just didn’t want Zemus to know about his trip down to the Blue Planet, and especially the topic of his investigation. The mind mage didn’t know how much he could trust the other Lunar.

“You went down to the Blue Planet, didn’t you?” TsuMe said simply.

“Just a quick scouting mission.”

“Without the capture troops?”

“I was in town. I’m not going to bring those beasty things there.”

TsuMe fell silent. He was now giving the “not convinced” look. Kip could feel the sweat beading on his brows as he tried not to squirm under the dark, frightening gaze.

“What did you learn that made a solo trip to the Blue Planet worthwhile?” the warrior prodded, taking a different approach.

Kip took a different approach, too, trying to knock the conversation off the tracks. “Besides the fact that humans are overbearingly stupid sometimes?”

“That’s nothing new,” TsuMe agreed, taking the bait. “Why? What happened?”

“Oh, a group of them thought they could waylay me for whatever reason,” Kip answered, trying to keep it offhand.

Down the hall, he could hear the peeping of the scouting Alert as it returned to them. The mind mage’s attention remained focused on his exchange with TsuMe, trying to talk his way out of his situation.

“You’re kidding me. They tried to jump you? I hope you gave them a thrashing,” the warrior grumbled.

“Nah. I don’t thrash unless I have to. Unlike you.” Kip frowned.

He could hear the Alert’s peeps sounding louder.

“Your loss,” TsuMe shrugged. “It’s doing them a favor. Someone needs to teach the humans where their place in the solar system is.”

Kip felt the Alert tugging at his elbow in attempt to get his attention. Pushing that aside, he responded, “Something tells me you’re not too fond of humans.”

“They’re nothing but a bunch of ignorant knaves,” the warrior grimaced. “Their bodies have grown too big for their tiny little brains.”

Alert’s peeping was almost too loud to continue to ignore. When it didn’t earn Kip’s attention, the machine drifted to TsuMe, and tugged sharply on his coat sleeve.

The General turned with a looming leer that could melt even the most stout machine. He snarled, “Get off me before I turn you into scrap metal!”

The poor Alert recoiled in a stare of horror and fear. If it could cry, it might have burst into tears right there.

“Alert, didn’t I tell you to be on patrol?” Kip prompted with a sigh.

The single eye suddenly lit up with a warning red glow, the alarm sounding through the hallway.

:WHEET! WHEET! WHEET!:

TsuMe clapped his hands over his ears, snarling in pain, “Great! It’s broken again! Kip! Do something about this machine!”

But the mind mage was seeing something different. “What the… We’ve got some sort of incoming.”

Alert’s eye began to project images on the wall. Three flying shapes, moving towards the Tower. As he watched the approach, Kip could make it out – flying chocobos. Three of them. And three riders.

“I don’t believe it,” he muttered. “It’s those humans again.”

“I thought you said you took care of them? How did they find the tower?” TsuMe glared.

“I don’t know!” Kip stammered. Suddenly, the one little trip to the Blue Planet had turned into something much more dangerous.

“We’ve been undetected up until now. You and your little expeditions to the planet!” The General eyed him sharply. “All it takes is one human to go back and spill it to the rest of them.”

“I know. I know.”

“Master Zemus is going to be furious.”

“You’re going to enjoy that, aren’t you?” Kip sighed.

TsuMe paused for a moment, peering at him. Something in his eyes was different. They seemed lighter and gentler for just that moment. Then, his brows lowered.

“Actually, I’m going to enjoy thrashing some nosey humans,” the warrior said, balling his fist with a smirk. “What Zemus doesn’t know won’t hurt him.”

Kip blinked in disbelief. The way that TsuMe always referred to Zemus as “Master” just left him to believe that the warrior reported to the dark mage.

This… is an unexpected turn. TsuMe is going to cover for me?

“As long as we capture the intruders, I don’t see why this has to be a big deal.”

“TsuMe…” Kip made a motion to offer his thanks. But it was cut short by the warrior’s usually gruff demeanor.

“Shaddap and get yourself in gear.” TsuMe was already going to his quarters, most likely to grab his weapon.

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25 thoughts on “Chapter 11

  1. Typo:”Aert’s peeping was almost too loud to continue to ignore.”

    I have been enjoying reading this immensely. I have also mostly been ignoring my temptations to proofread.

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  2. Part of the lack of commenting might be that most of the regular readers have seen this before in the comic, so while the written chapter provides some more insight, most of the story line isn’t really new. That being said, I know that I read it and enjoy the updates even though I don’t normally post on it. Due to this, I am not sure if you should base how many people are reading and enjoying it based on who comments on it. If you do get past the point where you dropped off the comic, you might start getting more comments then, though I don’t know for sure.
    I do hope that you keep going though. I like the insight the story gives into each person’s thoughts. That is one thing that you normally don’t get when something is in comic form. 🙂

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  3. It’s okay. I’m not trying to grouch about comments, but I do want to get a feel for whether I should put time into this project, or another… or another… or another…

    Time is too much of a limited resource for me. 😦

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  4. Please do proofread. If I put it up like that, it’s because I missed it in my own proofreading, and I’m not likely to see it unless someone else catches it.

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  5. As I noted, this was kinda an experiment, so I wasn’t sure how it was going to be received. I’m not trying to beg for comments, but I am trying to prioritize what projects I’m working on this year.

    I still have Runne to write, and we have another on the backburner that we haven’t released yet due to art assets being time-intensive. I want to know where I should focus what extra time I have.

    It’s not just comments I watch. I have a full analytics plugin on this site (and all of my sites), so I know everything about the kind of traffic I’m getting. How many folks stop by, what they look at, that kind of stuff. So I’m basing my assessment on traffic as well as response. 🙂

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  6. That makes sense. It always amazes me with how much you have going on. It is a lot of work and pretty impressive.
    Neat about the analytics plugin. I still think that Zot might get less traffic than Ruune or Wayrift until its ‘reboot’ status is over. Reboots tend to slow down the traffic from what I have seen on other sites. I could be totally wrong though. -_-;;
    I guess my thoughts are that I would like to see it finished, but I would understand if your time would be better put to doing other things currently. I would read anything would write and put up. 🙂

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  7. Thanks, Kimi! 🙂

    You might be right that once I got into newer non-comic stuff, it may take off more. I’ll have to wait and see what I’m in the mood to do this year.

    I wrote this partially because I had such a plot block with Runne that I couldn’t proceed writing Runne last year. I wanted to get SOME writing done for something, so I decided to try a different direction and expand on the original Shimmer story.

    Now that the Runne plot is no longer blocked, and we’ve brainstormed some really awesome things for that story, I was questioning whether to focus all my NaNo time on that story or split it between the two. I think I’m going to be doing Camp NaNo again this year, splitting the writing between the two months… because hitting 25K in a month twice a year is easier than pushing 50K in one month during November, which is a crazy month sometimes.

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  8. Both things make sense. I would go with whatever is ‘flowing’ better plot-wise (as in easier to write). November is a crazy crazy month. @.@ Splitting makes much more sense than doing it both at once. Does make me wonder why they don’t have it in January or March, since those are slower months with less holidays (and more bad weather that you don’t want to go out in). Always impressed with your dedication.

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  9. Reading this short novella was enjoyable. I found it shortly after I discovered / caught up on wayrift and would love to see more of it.
    Kip was among my favorite characters seen in wayrift and it fulfilled that fix, until just now.
    I hope to read more as time goes on!

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  10. Kip shows up all over the place in Wren’s stories. If I remember correctly, he is one of the only ones that shows up in all of Wren’s stories. He might be the only one with Runne being written now too. Otherwise Aur shows up in all the stories as well (I don’t think he will show up in Runne though). I really liked ‘Coming of the Darkstar’ and it gave a nice back-story, so if you haven’t read that, you might check it out from the link on the Wayrift site.

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  11. Thanks for your thoughts, Miyto! Glad that you enjoyed this story, and that you like Kip. He can be pretty crazy in all his incarnations! 🙂

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  12. That’s true. Kip does show up in almost every story. I don’t think Aur will be in Runne, or at least, I don’t plan on him being there!

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  13. While I love following all of your stories, this may actually be the one I’m MOST interested in seeing the continuation of! So please do continue it at some point ^_^

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  14. I would love to see this continued, especially the relationships between Kip/TsuMe and Kip/Ben. (Kip POV is the best.~ <3)
    However, I understand if you don't want to focus on it right now. Nothing's worse for writer's block than a story you don't want to be writing. ^^"

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  15. I actually have a lot of fun writing this, so it’s not that I don’t want to write Zot. It’s also not that difficult to write, since I’m pulling from an existing script/story and putting it into narrative.

    Just gotta prioritize what project I should work on this year, and hoped to see where people’s interests lie! Thanks for letting me know! 🙂

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  16. I’ve been loving reading this version of the story! I’d love to see it continue, but do what it is that you have time for! 🙂 Support either way. I was delighted to come back from my trip and find so much new material to read and look at.

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  17. I’ve also been reading this pretty recently since I just discovered Wayrift in the last week.
    I really like how this story is going. It’s also fun for the fact that I have a picture already there instead of having a shifting image of who the character is.
    Also, I have no idea as to the specifics of what happened in Zot or what Golbez did as a matter of fact.
    Thanks for your work!

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  18. I’d very much like to see more. I love this (in a sort of I’m gonna cry cause I know that really bad things are coming sort way).

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  19. I used to read Shimmer years and years ago. I think I started reading in 2006? Anyhow Shimmer and Dreigiau were my favorites of your stuff, Aywren, so I’m glad I finally checked back in after the hiatus on the reboot of the comic. It looks like I’m very late to the party but I wanted to let you know how excited I am this project exists in some form. Even though it’s been a while since you’ve had time to write a chapter, I know you’ll keep returning to this over time, so I’m happy to wait. In the mean time I have all the previous chapters to read! Thank you!

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  20. Thanks for reading and commenting, Gwinna! I did want to write some more this year, but I had so much going on by the time the NaNos arrived that I didn’t get a chance. I’ll try again next year as I do want to finish this story one day!

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