Time for another Art Round-up, Which has sadly been most of the little content added to this site. Mr. Terzich apologizes for the content drought, but he’s been busy on moving some gears in the background and should really be drawing pages for the webcomic. Feel free to yell at him about it. This week we get this image because artist ΛMӨΣBΛ had said a while back that he’d do a picture of The Metal and finally worked it into his daily warm-up. We thank him for this gift that perfectly captures the playfulness of The Metal!
Remember to send us any fan art or the like of Ex Dynamis Chaos related images so we can re-host them and spread the love back to the artists.
We haven’t had an Art Round-up in awhile, likely because updates have been slow this year. But hey, were here with another. This week we get this image because artist Jaden Bricker was looking for some art to practice inking on and Mr. Terzich was happy to oblige. He gave him plenty of images to choose from, but pencils for this recent model of Anon Keisura stood out and that was the one he wanted to do. Hope you enjoy this picture and consider giving Jaden’s stuff a look over on instagram.
Remember to send us any fan art or the like of Ex Dynamis Chaos related images so we can re-host them and spread the love back to the artists.
It has been a couple of weeks since I had escorted Na to Carnaska and it will be within the hour that I am on the coastline of Elrid. I really didn’t want to make yet another trip to Fortna this time of year, but I had already made a promise to be here for this date and a promise is a promise. You know Anna, for someone who is supposed to be free as a bird you sure are running around that planet a lot for other people lately. Oh well, with port coming up I better get dressed.
Geh’shah is an interesting city spanning ten miles along the shore and another ten along the southern side of the Kalhardi Mountains. With the mountains being insurmountable to most caravans and the airspace north of them off-limits to foreigners, this port is the primary trading center between Kalhard and the rest of the continent. And because of the transit it also has the highest concentrated population of Yuzeima outside of Kalhard; they make up nearly forty percent of the city.
Of course, the sheer number of Yuzeima running around along the shoreline, in articles that could hardly even pass as swimwear, as I make my way toward the upper district never ceases to irk me. That could be me too dammit! I’ve collected so many luxurious bathing suits throughout my travels and any time I get to come to one of the only places on the planet where my exquisite taste could truly be appreciated she makes me wear a modest dress. And all to be a good example at that. As if I’m not going to change immediately once we are back on the ship. Whatever, I’ll keep humoring her. Especially considering she hasn’t heard the news yet.
I tap on the doorframe with the back of my hand, since they never kept the door shut anyway, and yell into the house, “Ahoy, is anyone home!?”
“Annacelia? Annacelia Maris Riknia, my baby, how are you doing!?” Before I could blink, a red-headed woman with a figure like my own and standing six feet and three inches tall wrapped herself around me and began nuzzling my cheek against hers as one does to a puppy.
“I was fine mom,” I struggle to mumble out, “until you started suffocating me.”
“Oh, I’m sorry!” she says as she releases me. “It’s just that you haven’t stopped by in months and I was beginning to worry. You know, sailing the seas isn’t nearly as safe as traversing the skies. There are a lot of monsters and dangerous people out there. And I mean far more dangerous than a pirate armada. Oh, is that a new dress? I love the lace on it.”
“Thanks,” I respond with an attitude, “I hate it.”
That was probably the wrong response. Now she’s rattling on about how it is important to dress in such a way that you treat yourself with respect so others do as well. Seriously, I already do. I have less respect for myself now while wearing something I normally wouldn’t than when I’m commanding a fleet of nearly one hundred ships in whatever pleases me. Besides, look at this hypocrite saying all this while wearing a revealing outfit herself.
Yoko Keisura, my mother, was at one time the best airship pilot on the planet. It’s actually how my parents met since Sutel was in the need of someone with that exact expertise. She won’t talk about her life before they met, but they had some crazy escapades back in the rebellion. Now, she doesn’t even pilot anymore. The board thinks she’s “too wild” to be placed behind the helm of a passenger vessel. Mom seems more than content being a stewardess these days, just so she can stay close to the old life. She even got her twin sister into it as well ever since she moved over here. You should see these two identical women in their skimpy pink uniforms standing next to each other. Of course, I can tell them apart. I can always tell which one is my mom. But I can only imagine how the passengers react when they are on the same flight plan and they see one walk through one door just for the other to come in from the opposite side of the cabin. Thankfully, Aunt Suru isn’t around at the moment because I don’t have the patience for more tears than necessary at the moment. All I have to worry about is the twerp.
“Hey mom, where is DeciaZ?” I ask, trying to diffuse her rant.
“Last I checked he was out back training,” she answers. “Do you want me to call him in already? I figured you’d at least stay for supper before you guys headed out.”
“Don’t worry, I’m not planning on leaving until the morning,” I assure her. “My crew always likes a good night on the town with all the lovely ladies here. Keeps morale high. Don’t worry, I’ll go grab him. There is something I need to tell both of you and I’d rather get it done all at once sooner than later.”
Strolling into someone’s yard, even of my own family, brings out an uneasy feeling these days. I spend so much of my life on the ocean that any enclosure reminds me of the unpleasant memories of growing up on the ranch. It’s more of a garden than anything, barely smaller than their house, with no real walls and only shrubs and trees acting as a partition between them and their neighbors. It’s an uncomfortable feeling of being trapped. Too far attached to your own property to the point that you and generations of your family will live and die right here. I just can’t deal with that level of attachment. I regularly give away my ships down the chain of command just to get away from my old rooms. I’ll admit that I let some tears slip out when I heard of Sutel’s death, but nothing was more satisfying to me than knowing that old house burned down to the ground. It was only built the year I was born, yet it was still around for far too long if you ask me.
“Yeeeeeee-aaaaaah!” Something screaming dives out of a nearby tree and pegs me square in the shoulder. I try to respond, but it immediately slides into the bushes before I can snag it. It can’t weigh more than fifty pounds and this dirt impression on my dress appears to have tread marks like a shoe.
“DeciaZ, you little turd!” I irritably snarl. “I’m already in a bad enough mood wearing this Bob awful dress, so don’t add to it and come inside now.”
Ouch! He flies out of a bush and punches me in my rear before zipping up a tree-like some sort of rodent. DeciaZ is my youngest brother and a bit of a trouble maker. Mom left Sutel when she was pregnant with him and as far as I know, the twins don’t know he exists or vice versa. I probably should have told them years ago. I should probably still tell them now. I honestly couldn’t care less about Sutel’s reasons for the secret if I tried, but mom’s wishes on the other hand I respect. Still, growing up without knowing his father isn’t an ideal situation for a young boy, especially a little prankster that scares away all of mom’s dates. Closest thing to a male role model he has is our cousin Anon, but I’m not even going to say that’s been a positive one. The guy gets in bar fights all the time and has even convinced the kid that a military career is a sound future. Why anyone would want to sign away their freedom to people that only have their own best interests in mind is well beyond me.
Thunk! Jumping out of a tree, DeciaZ uses my head as a springboard and flips back into the brush yet again. Okay, now I’m livid. As my other siblings would inform you, I have no patience for little monkeys. Focus girl, where is he coming from? A rustle at my four. Yeah, I got something for you little brother. I twirl around more swiftly than he expects and stare the brat dead-on as he leaps toward me.
“Tabashneh!” I shout at him while pointing. A hair-thin bolt so dark it appears bright shoots from my finger to his body and DeciaZ immediately loses all forward momentum plummeting to the ground.
“Agh, why can’t I move?” he cries out.
“Oh little brother, it’s because you now weigh twice that of what you did prior,” I cheekily respond.
“Wah- what!?” he asks, bursting out into tears.
“I understand that your undeveloped brain may have trouble comprehending this, but try to keep up,” I continue. “I cast a gravity spell on you; specifically one of the second rank. What that means is that I modified the attraction between you and the planet we are standing on two-fold, so instead of roughly twelve meters per second per second it is now around twenty-four. You might be limber and acrobatic, but your body isn’t developed enough to even attempt supporting twice that of what it normally handles.”
“I- I don’t know what you’re saying! Please just make it stop!” He screams while clearly in deep pain.
“Do you regret attacking your mighty and powerful sister, Anna?” I question already knowing the answer.
“Yes! I’m sorry!” DeciaZ wails almost incoherently.
“Fine. I’ll let you off the hook this time.” I say while snapping my fingers to release the spell. I begin to the door, but he is still lying there crying. I took it off, so get up already.
“Anna,” he yelps, “I don’t think I can move. Everything still hurts and my right arm is all wobbly.”
Dammit. I think I broke some of his bones. Why did I let my anger get the better of me, he’s only seven? It’s like a switch flips and I start enjoying the suffering of others. Even if they are family. And he needs to be ready for the academy soon. He can’t afford to wait for those bones to heal up. Mom is going to kill me… or worse. Death could actually be preferable. Come on, come on, think… Oh yeah, I still have time for that!
“Achoran!” And as I let out that word, a soft white glow surrounds DeciaZ. His crying stops right away and is replaced with the sounds of popping and cracking but in reverse. His bruises fade away, the seams on his clothes tighten back up, and his hair fluffs back to its normal shape.
“Wow, what did you do!?” He questions in complete awe.
“I used a reversion spell,” I reply while catching my breath. “I returned you to the state you were before I crushed you. Don’t get used to it. I can only revert back a few minutes or so and it takes a lot out of me. I’m pretty much tapped dry after that.”
“Thank you, Anna,” he meekly states with his head held low. “I’m sorry again for making you mad.”
I don’t want there to be more trouble than there already is so all I say is, “It’s okay, just don’t tell mom about this. Or else you may not have a big sister to make mad for much longer.”
He smiles and nods before running back inside. And that was the least stressful part of coming here. I can already tell. We still have to get through dinner and the bad news. Why is this my job? Why did I have to be born first?
Slowly, I stroll back through the garden to the threshold standing between me and my duty. Gulp. I’m trembling a little. I haven’t trembled at all in years and I’m in naval battles on a weekly basis. I’m caught off guard by a drop of cold sweat rolling down my back and accidentally bite my bottom lip in reaction. Dammit, I’m not good at this personal stuff. Why do people think I live out on the open seas? I didn’t even like Sutel, but I know she still has some feelings for him. They may have split, but you don’t have kids with someone three separate times if there wasn’t something there. I don’t even like dealing with my own emotions, let alone those of other people.
I step through the door and immediately she could tell something was wrong. It might be a funny look on my face. It could be that I’m sweating more than I realize. Whatever it is, my mother knows. It’s her job to know when something is up.
“What’s the matter, Anna? You look ill,” she says to me with a serious tone.
“Dad’s…” I mumble out, “dead.”
“What… did you just say,” she questions since I was not speaking clearly enough.
“Dad’s dead! He’s de-” I can’t finish my words. Suddenly, I feel my back slam into the nearest wall with a tight grip crushing my throat. It’s my mom. She’s still on the other side of the room, but her hand is stretched out toward and her eyes look empty. It must be her magic around my neck.
“How did he die!? Who Killed him!?” She bellows
“I… I don’t know. I wasn’t there.” I respond while beginning to have trouble concentrating.
“Why weren’t you there!” She yells back without wasting a second.
“I was at sea for months!” She knows my life. She isn’t blaming me for this, is she? Sutel is the strongest person I’ve ever met and I’ve been all around the world several times in my time as a pirate. There is no circumstance where I’d be any help against whatever could kill him. I’d have wound dead, too.
“What of Rascal!? Nanoson!? What happened to them!?” Her voice keeps getting louder, almost impossibly. The neighbors would be throwing a fit if they weren’t already scared to death of her.
“They… they’re fine. Ras-cal is fixing the ranch.” It’d be easier to reply if I could breathe, but she is not a person that can be reasoned with when she gets like this.
“Fixing the ranch!?” She lets out in shock.
“It burnt down when dad died. Maybe in the fight… or after.” I don’t even know the details to tell her. I just have whatever Na told me.
“Where is your brother, Anna!? Why didn’t you bring him here!?” She’s grown so loud that DeciaZ has started crying and she hasn’t even noticed.
“He doesn’t even know you’re alive,” I squeeze out. “The plan was to go to Jagan.”
“You took him to that bastard’s house!?” Oh, now she’s really angry.
“Not exactly.” Why did I just say that? I should have lied. That flinging motion hits my body once again as I slam into the ceiling.
“I’ll ask again; where is your brother, Anna!?” If my vision wasn’t blurring, I’d swear her eyes were on fire.
“He’s in,” I start already anticipating the coming pain, “the rainforests of Carnashka.”
Slam. I’m sure I’m on the floor now. Gravity is starting to feel the right way in my head. The breathes are becoming shorter and longer in between.
“You left your little brother in a jungle!?” She whales frantically. “It’s bad enough you just allowed Makell to run off when he was five, but you lose Nanoson now, too!? Do you even give a single shit about anyone but yourself, Anncelia!?!?!?”
I’m pretty sure I’m going to die here. This may very well be the last straw. My mother loves me, I know she does. Still, she’s always had an uncontrollable temper and I’m certain part of her blames me for many of our family’s troubles. When I was born, Sutel became obsessed with me, spending all his time teaching me everything he could and forgetting to give her attention anymore. Then when she left, I was the de facto woman of the house. So when Makell ran away, it was my fault. When news came in that Sheereport was set aflame and she was certain from the report that Makell did it, by extension also my fault. When Nanoson had his episode that got our family’s business barred from trade with the Herminian Empire, that too was my irresponsibility as I split beforehand and didn’t prevent it. And now that Sutel is dead, it must also be my fault. Everything is my fault.
Vision is fleeting, as is my consciousness, but faintly I hear a second voice pick up. It goes, “Stop! Stop it, Mommy!! Stop!!!” It was little DeciaZ, tugging on her sleeves to stop his mother from picking on his big sister. Eventually, his voice breaks through and her glazed over look faded from her face as she let go of my throat.
“Oh, I’m sorry darling,” she softly says changing her demeanor immediately as she turns around to console him. “Did Mommy scare you?”
She doesn’t even bother to heal my wounds. That selfish bitch. Whatever, I’ll hold my tongue. After this last errand, I’m officially off the hook with her and have no reason to come back until I mentally get over what happened here today. For now, I’m skipping any more family time and going back to my ship for the night to eat and then sleep in my own bed. This family doesn’t deserve me anyway.
Overall, it’s a nice evening. The crisp coastal breeze pressing smoothly up against my cheeks is a much need relief from the nightmarish sauna my mother calls acceptable attire. That’s fine though. I may have had to wear this dress for our get together, but I had an eerie feeling I wouldn’t be able to bear the whole night. Just a few buttons and… damn that one’s always hard to reach. There, I’m free. This season’s swimwear, straight from Muron. I’m on one of the best beaches in the whole world, might as well enjoy my walk back to the boat. I’ll fold up and leave this outfit on a bench though. I may hate it, but the shop I stole it from had it priced at eight hundred Krela. That’s a couple weeks pay for some of these people. It’ll be my charity for the week.
It’s too bad I didn’t leave any sooner. It’s about an hour to midnight and the few other people strolling about are up on the streets, lit dimly by lamps, as the scuttle homely from their favorite bars. Meanwhile, down here on the beach there is only myself strutting barefoot through the sand. I was sorely hoping to meet a stud I could kidnap for the night. Even just running into someone going the same way to shoot the shit with would have been nice. Not a soul in sight.
Wait. Did I just hear my name?
Yes, that’s definitely my name. As if a rodent were saying it.
“Anna, wait up!” I turn and see him stumbling through the sand while dragging a chest I had gifted him for his birthday last year. I wasn’t around enough to make out it was my brother by his voice, but seeing the moonlight reflecting off his shining silver hair and ruby eyes is all anyone needs. I don’t even know where he gets that from. Mom’s got deep reddish colored hair with eyes that burn like the sun and the rest of us take after Sutel with crystal blue peepers and a head of hay. Maybe it has something to do with Sutel’s other side, but that would only explain the hair. Those eyes have always confused me.
DeciaZ approaches me while wearing a bizarre sailing outfit not too different from what our cousin Anon wears the infantry is being shipped from place to place on deployment. At least it is black and gold with green accents and not that tacky pattern Fair Trade Union forces our kin to fashion. DeciaZ probably doesn’t even know those are our family’s colors either. He’s just seen me wear them enough that he thinks they’re what cool people wear. I think he kind of looks like a dork to be honest, but he’s a kid so I can let it slide.
“Squirt, what are you doing?” I ask him rather displeased.
“I um… I’m ready to go,” he says shifting his feet nervously. “See, I got all my stuff packed for school right here in that trunk you gave me. Mommy said I had to take the skull off of it if I wanted to bring it to school though. I hope that doesn’t make you mad.”
“I’m not mad,” I reply. Not at you anyway. But Mom knows these institutions and probably just doesn’t want you to get in trouble. There more pressing concerns. “We’re leaving tomorrow. Why aren’t you at home sleeping?”
“I’m scared Mommy will hurt me,” he said with the most earnest look he’s ever given me.
“That’s ridiculous, kiddo,” I try to assure him.
“But she hurt you really bad,” he snaps back.
“So, I’ve hurt you pretty bad,” I respond callously.
“Yeah, but you fixed me after,” he quivered.
He’s right though. I definitely got temper from my mother and it’s a part of me that I resent. It’s not even so much the damage it causes either that I mind, when the person deserves it. But how can I know if they deserve it if I’m not cool and collected? My kid brother though has never deserved anything so bad that I’ve administered to him and every time I’ve fixed him after. It’s usually just a scrape, a bruise, or a mild burn, but today was the worst I’ve ever done, yet I was sorry and made everything alright. Not once has my mother ever apologized for anything she’s ever done to me and she stopped damage control after I turned ten. I don’t know what it is that happened to her that made her this way, but I can’t let myself become like her. I can’t be trapped like that.
“Okay, boy,” I say to him softly. “My guest-chamber wasn’t going to be prepared for you until the morning, but my bed is big enough for the two of us. You better stay on your side though.”
I may be hitting the sack, but we might as well make the most of our time and head out tonight. Kelly doesn’t really sleep at night anyway and he is more than capable of navigating us out to course. I hope this kid can get to sleep with the wave rocking. Na didn’t seem to have any problem. Speaking of, I do feel a little guilty about what I did to him before now that Mom brought it up. I wonder how he’s doing.
The is a story I’m making for the 100th Jump Tezuka Manga Contest, which is open internationally for the first time. Because I’ve been working this diligently, I haven’t been able to work on the webcomic or just about anything else for the site. Since the post will be publicly available on the site anyway and you can submitted any previously published, non-commercial work, I will uploaded pages to this gallery, for free reading, as I finish them. Because it is for a manga contest it is entirely in black and white and read from right to left. This is the (mostly) English version, but there is eventually be a Japanese translation as well. Hope you enjoy this wacky story.
Hope you enjoyed the read. Please consider sharing this story with someone else you think might enjoy it and possibly check out the rest of the website.
Ahoy there! The last contest was a lot of fun and I, Malcolm Terzich, have decided that we’re gonna do this thing Quarterly. I think the easiest way to line that up for me is to have the deadlines on the Solstices and Equinoctes, which means this contest will be as tight as the previous (a bit under two months) to meat the Summer Solstice. That’s why this time around, to get that Summer feel even if most of us are still trapped at home, the theme of the contest is “beach”.
What does that mean, you may ask? Well, I’ve personally participated in tons of fan art contests in the past and they all become boring because it’s always just a “draw a character” and occasionally there will be a theme for the how to draw the character. I ain’t about that life and I’m not going to force you to be either. If you want to just draw an Ex Dynamis Chaos character in a swimsuit, that’s perfectly fine. I’m not tying your hands down. But the more creative you can be the better. You don’t even have to draw a character at all. You can enter any art that uses either locations, creatures, objects, symbols, motifs, or whatever from Ex Dynamis Chaos and make something that fits the theme “beach”. If you don’t want to draw a character it could be something like monsters attacking a beach or what you think a beach inside a Subspace Highway looks like. It can go in any direction you want. The updated rules will be as follows.
It has to be an easily recognized form of art. Not just to me, who is still fairly artsy despite not considering myself an artist, but to the audience.
It needs to depict at least one aspect from Ex Dynamis Chaos that the audience can easily pick up on. As stated before, it can be a character, a creature, a location used in the stories, a machine or any other object, symbol, or motif that is used in the stories. If we can all tell the piece is related to EDK, go wild.
This piece has to have been made specifically for this contest. We’ll have no way of knowing if it’s something you previously finished and never posted or if you had a WIP you just got around to completing, but no entree that has been published in any form prior to this post will be accepted. You may publish work for this contest anywhere you wish after you complete it, as that will show it was posted after this contest began.
All entries must be PG-13. Obviously not everything EDK related even falls cleanly into this category, but because this is a community contest open to the public we want this to be a generally family appropriate competition. I’ll be fairly lenient, but use your best judgement please. No explicitly sexual content, though themes are okay. No uncensored nudity. Any gore shouldn’t be too visceral, cartoon gore is perfectly fine. If a good parent wouldn’t let their teenage child see your piece, submit something else.
Collaborations are allowed, but the prize must be shared evenly amongst the team so it probably isn’t worth it. Sorry, just being honest. Your group must also have a name or an identifier, like a band does, since it will count as a single artist.
Multiple submissions are allowed as well, but each artist (individual or group) may only win once. Entering multiple times does increase your odds of winning, but if more than one of your pieces place only the highest placement will count and it’ll skip to the next unique artist after that.
All entrees must be submitted by Saturday, June 20th of this year . To submit, post your art or a link to it on Twitter tagging @exdynamischaos and the hashtag #EDKartcontest along with title and/or subject of the piece and the names of all contributors. If you would like to submit a larger resolution image and don’t wish to host it elsewhere to link, or include more information than would fit in a tweet, or just don’t wish to use Twitter, you can also send submissions to me via email at email@example.com by the deadline. I’ll repost all off Twitter entree with credits using the EDK handle, as well as posting them in the discord as well.
All entrees will be voted on by the public over a period of five days after the deadline. This may quickly become a popularity contest, but I ask you to absorb as many of the entrees as you can and search yourself for the one that speaks to you the most for whatever reason. Maybe it’s the most technical piece, the funniest, or the coolest subject. After votes are in, 1st through 3rd places will receives awards. All entrees will be included in credited posts on the site, but the three winners will have a blog post dedicated to them to say something about themselves or to plug their own projects if they wish.
The grand prize winner will not only receive a full color commission of their choice, but you will become part of Ex Dynamis Chaos through an official 4 page short where you get to decide plot (which editorial supervision). But unlike last time, your short must fit the “beach” theme. It can either be an insert of yourself or an original character of your creation (also with editorial supervision) that does something adventurous and/or meets your favorite EDK characters. And because the character will exist in the world from that point forward, you may even see them in a cameo or two at a later point in time. It can even be the same character as before if you were a winner previously. Don’t worry if you aren’t much of a writer, I can help polish it up and the sequential art will be taken care of by me.
The second place winner will receive a full color commission of their choice from myself. It does not have to be Ex Dynamis Chaos related (this also applies to the commission portion of the prizes for 1st and 3rd place). It does have to fit the same PG-13 requirements of this competition though. Since it is a community event, I have to be able to share the final product. The commission will be fairly high resolution, traditionally inked, and digitally colored. It can have some text or word art and can be treated as a single panel of a comic if desired. You may also decide if you want to fit a standard set of dimensions if you plan to use it for something: comic page, two-page spread, desktop wallpaper, phone wallpaper, etc. Just let me know which one you need.
The same things as the second place prize except without any color. You get a traditionally inked commission of your choice. Aside from color, all the same rules apply as above.
Anyhow, I hope you choose to enter and enjoy the competition. Be sure to share this with your friends. The more the merrier. And if this you all like this, we’ll do more in the future!
Ahoy there, everybody! I’m so happy with the turn out for our first community contest. As few as it may seem, there were more than I was expecting and I hope we have even more going forward. To speed things up, immediately after this post I will be dropping the rules for the next contest. This way you’ll have as much time as possible to work an entry into your busy schedule. Until then, let’s announce our winners!
The Grand Prize Winner
The winner of the Grand Prize, a four page short of their design drawn by Malcolm Terzich as well a full colored commission, is the inspiring Bergmite with a wonderful illustration of pop-idol Laney Lin. Bergmite didn’t have much to say on it other than “Oh wow thank you!” You can follow for more art at these social media locations:
For the second place prize of just a full colored commission, we have the magnanimous John Dillard with his rendering of Yoko Keisura. He is currently working on a comic property of his owner called “the Buckler” and you can see more of his amazing art on his social media and him creating in action at this youtube channel.
And for our third and final prize, a black and white inked commission, goes to the mysterious Evan HoTep with his portrait of Anna Riknia. He’s on a mission to challenge yellow-bellied artists to an old-fashioned duel, including other contestant Rick Piper. You can follow his antics over at his twitter.
And that’s the deadline people! Thank you everyone who submitted entries, whether you made it in time or not. Even though late entries won’t be accepted for voting, we’ll still retweet them on Twitter and add them to the next Art Round-up after the contest concludes. Below is every entry available for the poll of which will be placed at the bottom of the post. It is okay if you already know who you plan to vote for, but please consider taking the time to appreciate each entrant’s hard work on your way down.
Well, that’s all of them folks. Maybe give them another once over to make sure you really soaked them all in before casting your vote. Okay, We’ll just assume you gave them enough thought. The link to the poll will be directly below. Please don’t share it around directly and use the link to this gallery instead. It’s not just help our metrics, be assured. It is to keep this as fair to all participants as possible since you have to scroll past the gallery to get to the poll. This poll will run up to the 30th of this month and results will be posted on the 1st of May. Thank you and vote honestly.
Terzich’s Note: So that the story can continue uninterrupted, I will be continuously posting chapters as they are finished. However, I want to keep the format consistent and will be posting this like it is one book. That means All of the Act II chapters will be added here instead of separate posts. I’ll be sure to notify everyone via social media when to check back to this page for new content.
Also, this follows the content of the novelized version of Act I and thus contains potentially confusing spoilers for those only reading the comic. Read ahead at your own risk.
Episode 13 – Point of View
“Holy shit, I wasn’t expecting it to explode,” hollered out a mid-toned, slightly rasp, feminine voice from within the smoke.
“Metal! Is that you in there!?”
“Who the hell else would it be? There was no one else stuffed in there with me.”
“It’s just…” Sentri let out as the smoke disappeared, “You don’t quite seem like you.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
The Metal’s perception finally caught up with the rest of the world as the inner ear ringing caused by the blast settled down enough to hear the vocal change. The Metal looked down for a quick once over and realized -she- was quite different than before. Her hair was just a bit longer, features quite softer, and weight redistributed from evenly throughout to two places in particular. Her gi top was not designed to accommodate The Metal’s new assets, so she had to quickly put her weights back on just to keep them in place when moving about.
“What?” Buck interjected
“I can hardly even tell I’m wearing these?”
“There’s no way, those things weigh a ton. I’ve felt them myself.”
“I kid you not, these weights feel light as a feather.”
“Get over here, you imbecile,” said Pitaya as he grabbed The Metal by the collar and whisked her over to a fancy station in the corner of the lab that was somehow still in working order. He sat The Metal on one of his many titanium folding chairs and stuck a lot of nodes upon various spots of her body.
“Well doc, is it dysentery? Am I not makin’ it to Oregon after all?”
“Can you ever be serious?” he asked rhetorically before going over the results. “Well shit… yeah, um, you’re apparently female down to the genetic level and your vitals are at peak performance. By Odin’s beard, how is that even possible?”
Everyone turned and gave The Metal looks of confusion.
“What? Suddenly switching genders like magic isn’t the worst thing that can happen to a person. It’s actually kind of interesting, to say the least. Besides, if it happened one way then there has got to be a way to get back. But in the meantime, we have a fight to finish.”
“My lab has been utterly trashed twice now and you suddenly became a girl. I don’t think I have enough fucks to give anymore. You have fun with your stupid tournament, I’m going to my room and dealing with all this in the morning. I’d be grateful if you all took your leave.”
He left through the main entrance, slamming the door behind him. From a distance, they could faintly hear Pitaya screaming, “WHAT!?!?!?!?” at the top of his lungs. Kavi split as well, without the ability to contain his laughter. The others were still crowded outside the torn up lab, discussing as they do.
“So…” Sentri murmured
“The world keeps spinning. We keep to the schedule. The final round takes place on the Chinese New Year, so I have most of Winter to figure out how to change back. We’ll take the weekend off and get started.”
“Yo, you’re taking this rather well.”
“Eh, it’s not the first time I’ve been a woman, believe it or not. That said, be at my place Monday morning or I’ll make you regret it.”
This weekend was considerably dull compared to the last couple of weeks. Probably a nice change of pace for everyone except the lunatic they tend to follow around. Monday morning came and they all showed up. It was hard to tell just when The Metal was joking or not about this dilemma, so everyone nervously smiled and nodded at everything. Sentri even brought his family along. Always assuming for the worst with The Metal, he figured it would take much longer than she expected and it’d be best if his family just stayed at her place for the time being. It’s not like she doesn’t have the room. No one really knows how The Metal managed to do it, or exactly how legal it was for that matter, but she somehow got her own dojo in the middle of town. It was the traditional kind that had a large house attached to the training hall, a bunkhouse for visitors, a garden with a pond, and a ten-foot wall around the entire property sealed off by a single oak gate. The Kidd, Sentri, and Buck found her in the same place The Metal was most days she wasn’t running around causing trouble: the training hall.
The Metal was wearing a traditional Chinese style uniform like the ones they wore on their way to Hong Kong. Luckily for her, almost all of her clothes were unisex anyway since The Metal insists on wearing some type of martial arts related outfit any chance it comes up. The floor of the hall was covered in metallic dust and shreds of dense fabric from custom heavy bags she tore up before they arrived.
“You seem lively at least, bro.”
“Despite some unforeseen side effects, the machine seems to have worked. I feel stronger and more energized than ever.”
“Well, I’m glad you’re not letting it get you down much. So, where do we start?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“There’s a gig there that might turn into a lead if we do a good enough job.”
“It’s a start and beggars can’t be choosers.”
The group split up to separate rooms to unpack their bags just so the could repack them with the essentials: a week’s worth of clothes, falsified documents, Electromagnetic Psionic arms, concealable melee weapons, pocket-sized explosives, and of course fruit snacks. By noon, they were all gathered in the yard waiting for The Metal to inform the team on the travel plans.
She didn’t say a single word just standing there grinning with her hands in her pockets. Then, The Metal let out a snide laugh as she looked up into the sky. Everyone else cocked their heads up to see what was going on when from within a large cloud emerged a titanous machine covered in a strange alloy that looked like jet black gold. It was a big as a high school football stadium and shaped like some sort of boat with odd-looking cannons all along the deck. The thing appeared to suspiciously hover in the air without any blades, jets, or other known forms of propulsion, but it was almost as if you could see light slightly bending around several large disc-like structures scattered across the outer hull. It was an airship unlike any man had yet seen.
“Jesus Christ, what fresh hell is that!?”
“Remember when you asked what the Chrysanthemum was? Well, there she is. First of her kind, Dreadnaught Class Airship – Prototype 1.”
“I can’t believe you actually managed to make an airship that wasn’t just full of hot air.”
“Well, it wasn’t just me. Joe and I worked on this project together up until he dipped out with it. But we hashed things out after that trouble in Hong Kong. I agreed to let him continue to captain the ship since he already has a functioning crew and he’s agreed to fly me places whenever I need to travel a long distance.”
“Wait, bro… Joe has a crew?”
The ship held its position once it was only a hundred feet about the dojo and released what appeared to be a dingy roughly the size of a tank that hovered down to retrieve them. The vessel docked neatly into a storage bay at the bottom of the Chrysanthemum that was deserted aside from them. Knowing her way around, The Metal led the group to a shaft that bypassed the other decks straight to the bridge where Joe would be awaiting them. After climbing several stories and reaching the first sign of life since they entered this cold mechanical monstrosity, all but The Metal found themselves in a confused state of being both simultaneously surprised and yet not at all after seeing the crew.
Dressed in what could only be described as a sultry parody of a sailor’s uniform, the bridge was littered with Nekomimi operating the instruments, cleaning the floors, and scurrying around preparing a buffet table for their captain’s guests. There must have been at least twenty in the chamber with a couple of them in different, yet equally revealing, uniforms that made it clear which ones were the officers. The catgirls varied in all number of fur colors and builds, with the exception of anyone being the slightest overweight as Joe has always had a loathing disgust toward the obese. And just as the newcomers to the ship were distracted, the captain’s chair swiveled around revealing Joe smirking with a twisted satisfaction for the life he built here.
“Welcome to my ship, I hope you enjoy your stay amongst the classiest crew ever to fly the high skies.”
“Bro, You’re entire crew consists of catgirls?”
“Oh yeah, they’re all rescues.”
The Kidd, Sentri, and Buck all jerked their heads toward The Metal after he spoke of the crew as if they were pets.
“What? Joe and I literally rescued them… from practical slavery. Not every orphan that gets turned into a Nekomimi gets to work a nice job like package delivery or commentary for fights. Some have to do very dirty things. So when this airship project grew big enough that we needed a crew to operate it, I sneaked in and broke some of the girls loose. The genetic modifications actually help them learn new skills very quickly.”
“That and I have a thing for catgirls.”
The Metal shrugged and nodded to Joe’s statement while everyone else just shook their heads. It wasn’t a long trip from Dallas to Crete due to the speed the Chrysanthemum was able to obtain, but neither The Metal nor Joe the Short bothered to inform the others about that fact. At their leisurely pace, it took The Kidd, Sentri, and Buck about ten minutes to walk to the guest quarters. After only ten minutes of settling in and playing games, they heard Joe on the PA system saying, “This is your beloved and majestic captain speaking. We will be entering Greasy airspace in just five minutes. Please be in the drop bay by that time as we are only slowing to a hundred and twenty miles per hour and you don’t want to miss your stop!”
“Wait, Kidd… your brother is joking, right!?”
“Yeah, sure,” He replied while getting up and jolting toward the door. “The guy we all picked on for years is joking about kicking us out of a moving ship going over a hundred miles per hour.”
“But it’s Metal’s ship, too. He wouldn’t let him…”
Sentri and The Kidd stopped just long enough to send a stern and disappointed glare toward Buck before continuing down the hatch.
“Shit, you’re right. That asshole probably thinks this sounds fun.”
The guys shoot down a ladder and scurry to find their way through the winding corridors lined with cables and pipes. The Kidd darted through mostly fine, hollering to get the nekomimis working on the innards of the ship to move out of the way. Sentri trailed just behind him but had some trouble ducking around the pipes since this ship was constructed by two people that stand only five and a half feet tall who wouldn’t consider much the difficulty someone over six feet would have navigating the tighter maintenance tunnels. And slugging behind both of the was Buck, who had no issue with the size of the tunnels yet still found himself tripping and crashing into everything thanks to his klutzy nature.
Entering the drop bay just within the given time frame, the guys spot a nekomimi crewmember standing by the open hatch with four parachutes hanging from her arms. They sprint over to her to grab their chutes and right before they get there she tosses them out the bay door. The stopped dead in their tracks, absolutely floored by the sheer gall of this action, when The Metal came up from behind them. Laughing like the mad man she is, The Metal spun around as she passed them, shouted “training never stops, boys”, and flipped backward out of the ship while saluting them.
“No way,” Buck hollered to the others. “I’ll just sit this one out-”
Before he could finish what he was saying, Sentri kicked him through the hatch. They couldn’t hear it, but they were positive Buck was screaming, “Screw you!” The Kidd shot Sentri a bewildered look.
“We don’t have time for that right now. We have to catch those chutes.”
The two of them leaped out to the airship and narrowed themselves to try and catch up to the bags tumbling through the air. Unsurprised, they noticed The Metal was already scooping up one of the chutes just as they joined the dive. She slung the straps over her shoulders and extended her limbs out to catch as much air as possible to slow down. The others were quickly gaining on him and the other packs. It took Buck a bit to reorient himself in the air since he was so violently kicked out. Maybe a bit too long. The packs kept the same velocity as the ship after being thrown out with The Kidd and Sentri who dropped out at the same speed being able to line up with their targets. Buck, on the other hand, fumbled through the air at the speed of the airship minus Sentri kicking him in the opposite direction and was way too far off the path to catch up.
“Son of a bitch!”
She undid her top, which despite looking like a traditional silk kung fu saam was as heavily woven as her usual gi, and spread it out with her arms to increase her wind resistance. Hanging back, she caught up to Buck and took the chute off her back.
“You’re welcome!” The Metal screamed at Buck as she put the pack onto him and pulled the cord before he had a chance to adjust.
“I hate you!”
She rolled her eyes as Buck yielded away from her to safety. Everyone else already had a deployed parachute, but The Metal still needed to catch the last one. She saw it and tried using her sail-like top in different positions to glide toward it. The air whipped across her face pulling her hair tightly back as she dove as fast as she could to grab the bag. She reached her hands forward and just as The Metal grasped the straps in her fingers she realized that she had run out of time.
The others landed on a nearby beach and saw The Metal crash headfirst into the Aegean Sea. Quickly removing their chutes, they scurried to the water to see if she was alright. They began wading in and screaming for The Metal, but several meters off she rose out of the ocean as if she walked all the way to shore. She had her top off, fully displaying her normal training weights and a bikini top underneath, so could ring as much of the water out of it as possible.
“Jesus Christ, Metal! Are you okay?”
“Oh yeah,” she said before spitting out some water. “I’ll manage. This is just another reason why I always wear a swimsuit instead of normal underwear. Always gotta be prepared for the worst.” She then took off her pants to ring them out as well.
“So,” The Kidd asked, “What now?”
“Now,” The Metal replied, pulling her slightly dryer clothes back over her body, “We take a ride all the way across the island Chania where we’ll meet up with an old friend of ours. Luckily, one of us keeps a plethora of various currencies in their hammerspace”
It took them roughly two hours to make it from where they landed in Heraklion to their destination in Chania. They had to hoof it some of the way due to the construction of some large scaffolding covering in lights and draped with black curtains taking up the entire road in front of the hotel to which The Metal said they were heading. And that’s when it clicked for the rest of them. They couldn’t understand a word of Greek written on the two-story-tall promotional poster, but they the person on it and the only two words that mattered: Laney Lin.