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Creative Writing Share your fan fiction, stories, poems, essays, editorials, song lyrics, or any other related written work. All written must be your creation. Start a new thread, and keep replying to that thread as you add on more chapters. Anyone can join in at anytime.


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  #31  
Old 12-06-2011, 03:58 PM
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Default Re: Chapter Four - Television

Quote:
Originally Posted by Misheard Whisper View Post
The last dream Ren remembered having was the one with the Glameow with an afro. The feline Pokemon had led him through a maze of candy canes and lollipops before finally turning on him and trying to eat him.
Suddenly I am reminded of Madoka Magica. DON'T TAKE THE SOUL GEM, REN!

Anyway, I really liked these last few chapters. Four provided some good insight into the other side of Championdom; like Ren pointed out, lots of stories feature children aspiring to be the very best, like no one ever was, but few of them ever consider what happens afterward... and not just because none of them ever get far enough in the storyline either, heh heh. To be perfectly honest I am kind of side-eyeing the mystical side quest with Elly, but there's really no room to judge right now, because it's just so new.

One thing I particularly like about this story is Afro Glameow Steven. He's definitely got good characterization, and it enjoyable to watch too. Definitely hoping he shows up more.
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(For the longest time I was telling myself that I would come back to PE2K once I had something artsy and cool to contribute... but that's too much effort. GIRA IS BACK!)

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  #32  
Old 12-08-2011, 10:48 AM
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Default Chapter Seven - Golden Dream

Ren went tumbling headlong into nothingness. It was the strangest feeling – somehow it seemed as if he had left his body behind. No, he decided, it was more like he had been physically ripped from his body and dragged into . . . wherever he was now.

His surroundings were pitch-black save for a handful of stars scattered randomly around on all sides. He didn't seem to be moving very fast, but then again, he could hardly tell, because there were no points of reference from which to gauge his speed.

Abruptly, a light appeared ahead of him, and this was moving very fast indeed, hurtling towards him at great speed. He barely had time to register a square hole like the one Elly had pulled him through earlier before he was sucked through it and catapulted onto a patch of soft grass.

Sitting up and rubbing his head, Ren examined his surroundings. He was sitting in a field of soft, lush green grass that was nearly a foot tall. Next to him stood Elly, looking bored and unruffled, and about fifty metres away was the edge of a verdant forest. The sky was a sharp, cool azure, and there was not a cloud to be seen. A soft zephyr blew through, alleviating what gentle heat the sun put out. The world was silent but for distant birdsong.

Puzzled, Ren stood and looked behind him. Grass, plain, unbroken grass, stretched as far as the eye could see in all directions, interrupted only by the forest that fell away on either side of a point almost directly in front of Ren.

“You decided to come along after all, then,” Elly said, sounding as if she wouldn't have been particularly bothered if he hadn't.

“Course I did,” Ren said, brushing grass off the seat of his jeans. “I was hardly going to stay back there, was I?”

“You could have just left, you know,” Elly said.

“You told me I couldn't leave!”

“I said no such thing. You could have simply returned to the first ring the way you came.”

“What . . . the little square hole? But that wasn't there . . . was it?”

“Of course it was,” Elly said contemptuously. “You really are slow, aren't you? You didn't even think to look behind you that whole time?”

“I was . . . kind of busy with the nightmares and the fighting and the running and the jumping and the not dying,” Ren grumbled.

“A real warrior is always aware of his surroundings,” said Elly, looking absently up at the sky.

“You sound like a fortune cookie,” Ren told her. “So . . . I could have just jumped back through that hole at any time?”

“Not at any time. If you do that while the Iehkti'na urum'na dar'sni-laku are around, they'll follow you through, and we're all doomed if that happens.”

Ren snorted. “I'm sorry, but it still sounds really weird when you say that.”

“Well, unless you have a better name for them, I'm going to keep calling them what they're actually called!” Elly snapped. “Honestly, how immature are you? Steven was weird, but at least he acted his age.”

“Well, maybe Steven had some damn idea what was going on!”

“Maybe you would too, if you'd listen to anything I said! I must have explained everything to you already. You just don't pay attention! You're useless!” Elly hissed vehemently.

Taken aback, Ren sat back down with a fwump. “Told me everything already, you say,” he mused, trying to ignore the rise in his strange companion's temper.

“Well, pretty much. Anyone with half a brain could work out what's going on from what's happened so far, combined with all I've said since I picked you up. So you tell me. What's the significance of that pendant you wear around your neck? What's your job in this world? Tell me that, and then we can go see the elders.”

“Elders?”

“Yes, the elders. They will formally recognise you as the new yehktira, but I'm not taking you anywhere until you prove to me you have half a brain by piecing together what you already know.”

Ren nodded. The opportunity to think was a welcome one, and he did his best to ignore Elly's piercing glares as he tried to get his head around what had happened to him so far. If he was still asleep, it was the weirdest dream he had ever had, not to mention the most realistic. Of course, if it was all just a dream, it was possible that none of it was actually happening and it had no significance whatsoever.

No, he decided. That was just his fancy. There was little doubt that this was deadly serious. Steven had given him the Dreamlight, and then he had instructed him to expect someone who would explain further. Although she was somewhat lacking in the explanations department, Elly had essentially done just that. And why had Steven handed over the Dreamlight? It means that you are currently the person in the Hoenn region with the highest spiritual power.

“You want me to be the yehktira . . . because I have the strongest yehkti in the region,” he said slowly.

Elly nodded as if she had been expecting as much. “Go on,” she said.

“The yehktira''s role . . . is to hold the two worlds together, and to protect the real world-”

“Don't say that!” Elly snapped.

“I'm . . . sorry?”

“The 'real world'? Do you have any idea how naïve that sounds? Your world is no more real than mine!”

“Well, then . . . to protect the physical world from the . . . Iehkti'na urum'na dar'sni-laku,” he said, making a real effort to pronounce the name. It felt horrid and alien on his tongue, making him want to somehow spit it out.

The corner of Elly's mouth curled slightly. “You're getting there. Now add the two together and tell me what you get.”

Ren's eyes widened. “D-don't tell me . . .”

“Ah, he gets it!” crowed Elly with a grin. “Oh, the look on your face!”

“You want me to come here every night and fight those . . . things!” he exclaimed, getting to his feet and glaring back at her.

“That's it,” Elly said, shrugging. “Got a problem with that?”

“Hell yes, I have a problem with that!”

“Oh? Go on..” Elly's smile dropped, and her eyes became as hard as chips of emerald once more.

“I don't want to risk my life fighting ghost-things in my dreams all the time! That's not what I signed up for when I became Champion!”

“It's unfortunate,” sighed Elly, “because I don't much like working with brats from the physical world either. The trouble is, we need a yehktira here to hold both worlds together. But whenever the yehktira is here, the Iehkti'na come too. So either they never reach your world, but we let both worlds collapse on themselves-”

“-Doesn't sound too promising-”

Or we bring the yekhtira here, hold the worlds together and fight the Iehkti'na as we go.”

“I see,” Ren said. “No, I actually get that. It's infinitely preferable to having both worlds destroyed, but . . . why does it have to be me? Get Steven to do it! He managed for six years, didn't he? Why not just have him carry on?”

“That won't fly,” Elly said, shaking her head. “Regardless of physical strength or mental capability, it is always the one with the strongest yehkti that we want as our yehktira. The stronger the yehkti, the stronger the bonds holding the worlds together and the harder they are to break, so we must have no less than the best. Unfortunately for all involved, 'the best' this time around happens to be a brat with an attitude problem.”

“Well, what if I don't want to be the yehktira?”

“Then every night, I slip into your dreams and drag you, kicking and screaming, into the second ring. I tie you up and sling you in a corner, then I beat the crap out of the Iehkti'na myself and put you back when I'm done!” she growled, putting her face right up next to Ren's and looking directly into his eyes with an intensity that made him shiver. “Does that sound good to you?”

“I don't dream every night, though,” Ren countered.

“Oh, you do. People with strong yehkti like yourself have dreams every single night, even if you don't remember them. I'll have access to your mind every time you close your eyes to go to sleep, and as soon as you enter REM, you're mine.” She grinned predatorily, and Ren flinched.

“You're . . . just going to threaten me into it, then?” Ren asked, trying his level best to look her back in the eyes. It wasn't easy; they were extremely pretty eyes, the kind that made you want to lower your gaze in deference. Combined with the fact that she was glaring at him like a hungry Mightyena, he thought he was doing pretty well just to stay upright.

“If that's what it takes,” she whispered, and an unpleasant shudder ran down the length of Ren's spine.

Reluctantly, he broke eye contact. “Fine,” he said. “If that's how it's going to be, then there's no helping it.” He was backed up against a wall, and he knew it.

“So we're agreed, then?” Elly said, stepping back smugly. “You be our yehktira, and in return, we don't let the Iehkti'na tear you apart?”

“Sounds about fair,” said Ren, who was, if he was quite honest with himself, on the brink of panic. Hold it together a bit longer, he urged himself. You can flip out later, when you're awake and safe.

“Good. Looks like you might have a bit of common sense after all. Now, you can come with me.” She turned and marched off towards the forest, swishing through the grass and looking oddly cheerful. Bemused, Ren jogged to catch up to her.

When they reached the edge of the woods, the shadow of the first trees looming over them, Elly turned and put a finger on his lips. “From now on, you do not speak until I tell you that you can. At all. Understood?”

Ren nodded. What's that for? he wondered, but decided asking would break the 'no talking' rule.”

“Excellent. Come with me, then.” Elly led him off down a path that had been worn between the trees. The enormous trunks soared into the sky on either side of him, but there was still light filtering through from behind him. As they moved ever deeper into the forest, though, the canopy grew thicker, and it got darker and darker, until he was having trouble seeing where he was going. Stumbling over tree roots in the blackness, he longed to ask Elly if she had a light. Oh, right, the 'no talking' thing, he thought wryly. Dammit.

Ren swore inwardly as he stumbled forward again. His eyes were just beginning to adjust to the blackness when he noticed that it was starting to get lighter. Gradually, he realised that he was able to see the path in front of him again. Well, at least I won't trip again. The light filtering through the trees ahead was a pale shade of blue – almost white, but still tinged with enough colour to be slightly painful to the eyes.

They passed a tall, gleaming marble column, and Ren felt his ears pop as if he had just taken off in an aircraft. Suddenly, the forest was full of noise, and there were people everywhere. Ren blinked and stopped walking. He wasn't in a forest any more – he was in a city.

A city made of light. The clear sky from outside the forest had returned, and the sun shone directly onto one of the strangest settlements Ren had ever seen. All of the buildings were made of white marble, but the ground between them was carpeted in rich, verdant green grass. Motes of light seemed to float around in the air like dandelions on the breeze, but whenever Ren tried to focus on one, it eluded his eyes.

The buildings were all small and elegant, none more than one story tall. As they passed, curious residents stopped to look. Ren sighed. He thought he might at least have gotten away from being the centre of attention in his own dreams. The people he saw were a motley arrangement. There were old people, children, men and women in a fairly natural ratio, but the manners of dress varied as widely as did the faces of the people.

They must be spirits too, Ren realised. There was a man in a suit of medieval armour, his plumed helmet tucked under his arm, calmly discussing something with a shaven-headed man who wouldn't have looked out of place in a biker gang. A man wearing a white toga was standing on a raised platform and declaiming loudly in a language Ren couldn't understand. Among his audience were a toddler holding a doll, a wrinkled old man and a young woman in a silver jumpsuit.

Everywhere they went, the sunlight caught and reflected off the corners and faces of buildings, sending rays of light dancing everywhere. The grass was soft under his feet, and despite evidently being well-trod, displayed no signs of decay. Flowerbeds of pink and blue were snugly tucked away between buildings and on the sides of the 'roads', as far as they could be called such. There were no cars, no buses, no traffic lights.

Looking behind him, Ren expected to see a forest. Instead, he saw the inside of a massive, shimmering blue cylinder that rose all the way to the sky. With a start, he realised that he could see it in front of him, too; the entire settlement was encapsulated by this unreal creation, shifting and flowing like water, held in place by some unseen force. At its highest, it melded seamlessly into the cyan sky, leaving only a haze behind it. And it, like everything else, seemed to exude light – pure, shining light that was just soft enough to look at directly without being blinded.

Ren shook his head silently, unsure if he was still forbidden to speak. He had never in his life been so sure that he was dreaming. He noticed that Elly was watching him with a half-smile on her face, a hint of smug pride in her expression. He smiled back tentatively and was rewarded with a sharp frown. Rolling his eyes, he looked back to his surroundings.

There was certainly no shortage of places for the eye to rest. Not only were the people the most varied group he had ever seen in one place, but the edifices between which they strolled were almost as diverse. While they were all single-storey buildings fashioned from gleaming marble, that was all they had in common. Some were squat and blocky, others rounded like domes, and still others were elegant cottages. Ren would have thought the material quite restrictive in terms of construction, but evidently there was some other force at work here, for the denizens of this mysterious wonderland had managed to fashion walls, roofs, and doors all from the same stone. The engineering must have been a logistical nightmare, he thought as they passed, of all things, a log cabin made of rolls of white stone. Most of this shouldn't be physically possible, he decided, shaking his head at an A-frame house made of the same.

His head was whirling. This was certainly the strangest dream he had ever had, Afro Glameow included.

“Here we are,” Elly said brightly. Her mood, which had been steadily souring since he met her, had lifted considerably since they had arrived in the third ring. It was especially noticeable here, surrounded by her own kind.

They had stopped in front of one of the taller structures in the town – a classically-sculpted temple, with elegantly fluted columns supporting a low peaked roof. Friezes decorated the rim of the building, Ren noticed as he carefully stepped between the flowerbeds in front of the steps that led up into the temple proper. The friezes depicted scenes of battle – warriors in armour slaying indistinct figures that he identified as Iehkti'na dominated the decorations, though there were others he didn't recognise.

Elly led him up the steps and between the columns into the temple proper. The interior was cool and dim, in complete contrast to what Ren had just seen. Light filtered through apertures in the ceiling, casting dregs of light onto the floor like pools of white gold. At the far end of the temple was a raised dais,upon which stood five marble thrones in a row. The one in the middle was the only one that remained unoccupied – the others were already filled. Two men sat on the right, two women on the left. Were these the 'elders' Elly had spoken of? They didn't look that old to Ren. None of them could have been older than forty – one of the women was barely older than he was.

“Oh, good, everyone's here!” Elly said, smiling.

Ren frowned. There's still an empty chair . . .

“Wait here,” Elly said, directing Ren to a spot on the floor that looked no different from any other. When she was satisfied with his position, she darted off behind a column and disappeared.

Nobody moved or spoke. Ren took the opportunity to examine the four people – were they actually people? What was he supposed to call them? – sitting on the massive thrones in front of him.

On the left were two men. The one furthest from the centre was short, pudgy and bald, smiling serenely as he watched Ren. The other was taller and extremely broad in the shoulder, with a sharply trimmed black beard wrapping around his face from one hairline to the other. His features were square and stern, but there was a regality in the set of his eyes that could not be ignored. Both men were wearing gold robes with intricate silver trim.

To Ren's right, on the other side of the unoccupied throne, sat two women. Next to the empty throne was a tall, stately woman with her blonde hair pulled tightly back, accentuating her high cheekbones and slim face. It was hard to judge her age from her features, but she didn't appear to be older than thirty. She watched Ren with a sort of amused interest, as if he were something vaguely entertaining that had mistakenly wandered into her field of vision.

Further to the right sat another woman, who looked to be barely older than Ren. The first thing Ren noticed was her hair. It was a strange colour, somewhere between gold and green, and it cascaded freely down her back as she sat on the edge of her throne. What Ren could see of it shimmered almost imperceptibly, confusing his eyes. Other than her hair, it almost looked as if she was related to the woman sitting beside her; she had the same slender face and figure, and she was watching Ren in a similar curious fashion. When she saw him looking, though, she winked at him cheekily. Ren looked away reflexively, suddenly remembering Elly's words. You think I'm the same age you are? Don't make me laugh. I've been here in this world for centuries. It was probably true of the others – even more so these 'elders'.

Both of the women were wearing delicate robes of diaphanous silver weave, inlaid with golden patterns of flowers and vines, as if in complete opposition to the costumes of the men. The fabric shifted and glittered whenever they moved even slightly, confounding Ren's eyes even further. He felt that if he had to see one more thing shimmering like that, he would pass out – if that was even possible within a dream.

“I apologise for the delay,” said Elly's voice from his right. Ren glanced around and his eyes widened. Elly had reappeared from wherever she had vanished to, wearing the delicate silver of the elders, although her robe seemed to have far more gold woven into it than the others'. She noticed his shocked stare and demanded, “What are you looking at?”

Ren shook his head and looked down at the floor, hearing a quiet giggle erupt from the throne to the far right.

Elly harrumphed and swished across to the dais, seating herself easily in the largest of the five thrones. “Now that we are all present,” she said, “why don't we begin?”
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  #33  
Old 12-11-2011, 02:15 PM
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Default Re: Champion Game {Chapter 7}

Once again, a very admirable chapter in the story. The world of dreams is epic.
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  #34  
Old 12-12-2011, 02:25 AM
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Default Chapter Eight - Approval

Chapter Eight
Approval

“First, introductions,” Elly said calmly, ignoring Ren's flabbergasted expression. “Shall we start with the boys?” For a terrifying split second, Ren was reminded of his first teacher at school.

“Lucius Balthazar,” said the bald man cordially, nodding in Ren's direction with a smile. “It's a pleasure to meet you, yehktira.” He had a noticeable accent that rounded his vowels slightly and rolled his r's. Unsure whether he was allowed to speak yet, Ren nodded back respectfully.

“Bartholomew Elsin,” said the bearded man, his eyes seeming to pierce Ren's own. “Vice-head of the elders' council.”

Ren expected Elly to skip her introduction, but she spoke up nonetheless. “Felicia Darkstorm, head of the council,” she said.

“My name is Salinthia Silverwood,” indicated the tall woman next to Elly. “And this is my sister-”

“I can introduce myself!” the girl with the green-gold hair snapped. “I'm Cecilia Silverwood,” she said to Ren, inclining her head gently. “As you heard, I am Salinthia's younger sister. It's truly a pleasure to meet you, new yehktira. Steven has told us all about you.”

“Introduce yourself to the council, yehktira.” Elly's voice rang out coolly.

Ren fumbled awkwardly. Suddenly he was expected to speak? Oh well, he thought, resigning himself to the fact. Might as well make the best of it. “My name is Ren Goodwin,” he said, his voice ringing from the walls as he made his best effort to project it throughout the temple. “I am most honoured to make the acquaintance of the council of elders, and I hope to serve you well as your new yehktira.” He didn't know where the words came from – they sounded false, even to him – but the council seemed pleased. Bartholomew Elsin nodded appreciatively, and Salinthia Silverwood leaned over to whisper in Elly's ear.

Elly bit her lip before speaking. “The council desires your pledge, Ren Goodwin. Will you, until such time as one arises who is stronger than you are, serve as our yehktira to the best of your ability?”

Ren sensed that he was being given his last chance to turn away – as if he could at this point. Trembling slightly, he nonetheless stood upright and firmly declared, “I will.”

“And do the members of the council approve of the appointment of Ren Goodwin as the new yehktira?” Elly asked formally. “Let it be witnessed that he has been legitimately found to possess yehkti of a higher level than his predecessor, and as such he is qualified for the position.”

Lucian Balthazar spoke up first. “I see he is ready to take on the position, and so I give my approval.”

Ren couldn't help but shiver. This was all happening very fast, and he was almost asleep standing up to begin with. If he let himself relax, he sensed, he would collapse onto the cold marble floor.

“Ren Goodwin,” rumbled Elsin. “First I must know. Do you take on this position of your own free will, asserting you have not been coerced or in any other way influenced towards your decision?”

Ren fought the urge to glance at Elly – Felicia, he corrected himself – keeping his eyes fixed on the big man. To be honest, once Elly had presented him with his choices, there was no real way he could have refused. He didn't like it, especially as it had been sprung on him so suddenly, but that was just how things were sometimes. Sometimes you have to make choices that determine the future at the drop of a hat, his father had once told him. Sometimes it's your own life, sometimes it's someone else's. But whatever the case, you have to take the choice that's best in the long term. Just because you don't think about it for as long doesn't make it any less important or more foolish.

“I made my choice of my own free will, sir,” Ren agreed. “I couldn't have refused in good conscience, anyway.” That much was true. As much as Ren wanted nothing to do with the whole affair, Elly had made it abundantly clear that the world was doomed if he refused. How could he have refused after that?

“In that case, I also submit my approval,” Elsin said, apparently satisfied. As Ren's eyes flicked over to Elly, he noticed that her cheeks were a little flushed, although none of the other elders seemed to have noticed.

“I, also, have no objections,” said the older of the two sisters after a few seconds' pause. “Felicia, what is your opinion?”

“I brought him here, so I have had ample time to consider his suitability for the position. I deem him capable, and so I also approve.”

“I noticed you were gone for quite a while,” Cecilia said slyly. “Surely it shouldn't take you too long to pick up one human? What took you so long?”

“I don't like your tone, Silverwood,” Elly said coldly, fixing the other girl with a glare that could have split rock.

“Alright, alright!” Cecilia said, raising her hands in a gesture of surrender that was quite at odds with the michievous grin on her face. “It's none of my business what you get up to with our yehktira while nobody's looking. If you want to sneak off and b-”

“While I do not share my sister's suspicions as such,” Salinthia cut in smoothly, “it is true that we were expecting your return earlier. Did something happen?”

“Ah . . . yes,” said Elly, blinking as if suddenly remembering. “The Iehkti'na found us. Three of them, and quite strong, too.”

“They shouldn't have been able to sense your presence,” Elsin rumbled, “provided you took the usual precautions.”

“Of course I did, Elsin,” Elly said. “But that means that it must have been Ren that they sensed, and that means-”

“We all know what it means, Felicia,” Balthazar interrupted her calmly. “We can discuss it later, however. For now, I believe all that remains is for one more person to give her approval. Miss Cecilia?”

Ren had been watching with some confusion as the strange assortment of spirits in front of him rallied back and forth. Despite being hundreds of years old, there were a couple of them who certainly didn't act it.

“I don't have any problems with him,” Cecilia shrugged, eyeing Ren thoughtfully. He shivered involuntarily and looked back to Elly.

“Then it is done,” the black-haired girl said. “Ren Goodwin, you are officially our new yehktira.”

“I don't feel any different,” Ren commented.

“There's no physical change, moron,” Elly said, stepping down from her throne and approaching Ren. On either side, the other elders followed suit.

“So . . . now what?” he asked.

“Now, I think, you wake up,” Salinthia said gently. “That's probably quite enough excitement for one night.

“It can't be morning already!” Ren exclaimed.

“Time works differently here, boy,” Elsin said patiently. “There is no concurrent flow, no correspondence. The hour or so you have spent here took place in less than five minutes of your time.”

“What? That's impossible!” Ren protested.

“You should know better than to call anything impossible by now, yehktira,” Elsin said.

“That's right,” Elly said. “Nothing is impossible. Still . . . I'm sure you have many questions. For now, though, we shall return you to the first ring. From there, you'll wake up normally. Think about everything that's happened, and tomorrow we can discuss it further.”

“What, now? But I-”

“You're going,” said Elly firmly. “I know it's probably a lot for you to deal with, so take a day to have a break. Talk to Steven about if you like, or just, you know . . . think about it.”

“I'll take him back!” Cecilia offered brightly, suddenly appearing at his side. She had somehow managed to change into a short red dress that wouldn't have looked amiss on one a Nimbasa City catwalk. She had tied her voluminous hair back as well, and if it hadn't been for its unusual colour, she would have looked quite normal, albeit extremely pretty. “Elly's got some work to catch up on, I'm sure, seeing as she's been busy having fun with our little yehktira here.”

“Are you looking for a black eye?” Elly scowled.

“Ooh, I'm scared!” Cecilia giggled, hiding behind Ren and peeping over his shoulder. “Protect me from the crazy girl, Ren!”

Ren sighed. “Are they usually like this?” he asked Elsin, who was watching with some amusement as the two girls continued hurling taunts at each other.

“Oh, whenever they're not on the job,” Elsin said. “I have no idea why, but as soon as they get off the thrones . . .”

“It's just a way to relieve stress,” Salinthia said with a benevolent smile. “Wouldn't you get a bit restless after seven hundred years on the council?”

“S-seven hundred years?” Ren's jaw dropped as he took another look around at the members of the council. None of them looked seven hundred years old – least of all Elly and Cecilia, who had both by now degenerated into helpless laughter. “You're kidding, right?”

“What, did you expect a bunch of creaky, wrinkled old folks?” Balthazar laughed. “Our appearance has not changed in centuries. There would be no reason for us to age like humans if we are not. Our existence permits us to live forever unless we are killed, yet what would be the point in that if we slowly became too decrepit to move? So we sit up on our thrones and speak of heavy things in heavy voices, but once we step down, we must enjoy life as much as we are able. The Iehkti'na cannot find us here, so our life is one of peace. Our only real concern is holding the worlds together, and that, of course, is why we need you.”

“You make it sound so simple,” Ren said quietly.

“Oh, it is,” Balthazar said genially. “You are like the glue that holds both worlds together. If we do not reapply the glue every night, then both worlds fall apart. It's as easy as that, yet it causes us so much strife. But you should leave now. This is a lot for you to take in, I'm sure, so you should return to your own world for now.”

“He's right!” Cecilia chimed in suddenly, breaking off her increasingly heated argument with Elly and slipping her arm casually through Ren's. “Shall we go?” Without waiting for a response, she lifted her hand and drew a circle in the air. Ren, realising what was about to happen, tried to step back but failed to escape the sonic shock that rippled through the air. He swore under his breath as Cecilia pulled him into the portal, but his words were snatched away from him by the sudden acceleration.

With a thud and much creaking of springs, Ren landed back on the bed in his room. Cecilia was already standing by the window, seemingly engrossed by the view. “The human world is so pretty,” she said wistfully.

Ren got to his feet and joined her, watching the waves sparkling at the bottom of the cliff and beyond. “I don't know about that,” he said. “Your world's pretty nice too.”

“Perhaps,” she admitted, “but you get a little tired of it before long. It's hardly changed in seven hundred years. You can't leave the city, because the Iehkti'na are out there. The barrier . . . the blue wall you would have seen as you came in? It keeps them out, prevents them from sensing us, but at the same time . . .”

“It keeps you in,” Ren said softly, completing her sentence.

Cecilia smiled. “Yes . . . I'm glad you understand. Humans are so lucky. Even if their lives aren't as privileged as ours, they have freedom we don't. I'd rather spend eighty years in your world than a thousand in mine. You can go anywhere you want, do whatever you like. You can see a thousand places, meet a million people, each one individual and unique.”

“And in exchange, we get old and die,” Ren reminded her.

“Sounds like a fair trade to me,” Cecilia said. “What's the point of living for hundreds of years if you can't enjoy them? I've spent seven centuries on the council, and all I've done in that time is continue to protect the yehktira. Is there even any meaning in that? No offense, of course!”

“None taken,” Ren said charitably. “Well, I mean . . . man, I don't know, Cecilia.”

“I wouldn't expect you to know the answer to something I've been asking myself for hundreds of years,” she said, laughing, but there was a touch of bitterness in her voice. “I'm sorry. I'm being silly. I didn't come with you to complain. I came to mess with Elly's new boy-toy.”

“B-boy-toy?” Ren spluttered. “What are you talking about?”

“Aha, you're getting all red,” Cecilia said knowingly, prodding him in the chest with her index finger. “You two took sooo long to arrive before. Now 'fess up. What were the pair of you up to?”

“What do you mean, what were we 'up to'? We weren't 'up to' anything!”

“Uh-huh,” she said, clearly unconvinced. “You know what? I'm not buying Elly's story about the Iehkti'na appearing. They shouldn't have been able to find you, especially as it was your first time in the second ring. It usually takes them at least a few nights to get used to a new yehktira and start attacking in force. It was a pretty poor cover story, to be honest. So . . . ?” She left the question hanging in the air.

Ren shifted uncomfortably. “So what?” he asked.

“How was she?” Cecilia asked with a mischievous smile.

“I don't know what you're talking about,” Ren said firmly, “and I really think I should be going back now.” Cecilia was beginning to make him uncomfortable.

“Oh, no . . . not until you give me the details! I'm not letting you go that easy.”

“You just want to tease her, don't you?” Ren sighed.

“So what if I do?” Cecilia pouted. “Come on, spill!”

“Nothing happened!” he insisted. “She brought me into the second ring and started to explain what was going on, but we were interrupted by three of those Iehkti'na things. After we killed them, she brought me into the third ring and essentially made me repeat everything she'd told me so far, just because she didn't think I was smart enough to remember it,” he recalled, somewhat miffed. “It wasn't until after that that she brought me to the council.”

“Hmm,” Cecilia droned flatly, not sounding terribly convinced. Abruptly, she danced back and sat down on Ren's bed, exhaling lightly through a thoughtfully twisted mouth. “At least your stories match . . . and that does sound like something she would do, but come on. I've never known Elly to be one to hold back. I mean, sure, you're a little younger than she normally goes for, but age doesn't really mean anything when you're seven hundred years old.” She kicked her legs absently, gazing at the ceiling as if it held some special interest for her.

A sudden, disturbing thought struck Ren. “Hang on . . . she didn't . . . with Steven?” He found himself unable to complete the sentence, but Cecilia seemed to follow him well enough.

“Oh . . . are we jealous?” she cooed.

Ren frowned, feeling his face heat up slightly. “Don't be absurd. I was just curious . . . no, you know what, forget it. I don't care anyway.”

“Steven was too stuffy for her. For me too, for that matter,” Cecilia sulked. Then she brightened considerably, a slightly predatory grin starting to form on her face. “You look fun, though,” she mused.

Ren sighed and rolled his eyes. “Just send me back to the first ring, will you?” he asked hastily.

“Aw, am I making you uncomfortable, sweetie?” Cecilia teased. “Well, all right. If you don't want to talk about it.”

“There's nothing to talk about!” Ren reaffirmed. I'd rather take my chances spending the rest of my night with Afro Glameow, he decided in exasperation.

Cecilia grinned. “All right, then. But if you ever do need to talk about it, you know where to find me. Or . . . I know where to find you,” she corrected herself as she drew another portal on Ren's bedroom wall – a silent one this time.

“That's reassuring and not at all creepy,” Ren said with a straight face, crossing the room to enter the portal.

“Of course. Now, look. Tomorrow night, when you go to sleep . . . one of us will be along. It'll most likely be one of the elders, but it might equally be someone you don't recognise. You'll be able to tell them from an Iehkti'na if that's the case, though, so don't worry. The horrible things can't talk.”

“Good to know,” said Ren.

“In all seriousness, Ren,” Cecilia said, “go back to your world and just take a day to get used to the idea. I know this seems huge right now, but it's your job whether you like it or not. Trust me, it's easier if you learn to like it.”

“You sound exactly like Steven,” Ren said, pausing with his hand an inch from the portal.

“If he said that, he probably stole it from me,” Cecilia said. “Say hello to him from me, by the way. He was a good yehktira, and I liked him, even if he was a bit . . .”

“Stuffy?” Ren suggested with a smile.

“Don't tell him I said that!” Cecilia warned him, grabbing his arm to prevent him from leaving. “Alright? Not a word.”

“Got it,” Ren said with a smile. “I'll see you tomorrow, then.”

“Maybe,” she said. “I might not get to the second ring tomorrow. We'll see. Have fun.” Swiftly, she leant forward and planted a kiss on his cheek before nudging him in the back so that he fell forwards. The instant he touched the portal, he was sucked into it, once again falling, out of control, down, ever downwards . . .

Fwump. He's back in the candy maze. Afro Glameow hisses at him from the other side of an enormous lollipop before stalking round it to glare at him with sharp yellow eyes. “Ah,” Ren says awkwardly, the spot where Cecilia's lips touched him still tingling strangely. “Hello.”
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Old 12-13-2011, 02:04 AM
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Default Re: Afro Game {Chapter 8}

Once again a good chapter. I actually forgot to read chapter six, so I had only a glimpse of what was going on XD
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Old 12-16-2011, 04:18 AM
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Default Chapter Nine - I Think The Cat Has A Problem

Chapter Nine
I Think The Cat Has A Problem

Advancing on him slowly, Afro Glameow yowls indignantly, seemingly furious at having its prey snatched away earlier.

All right,” Ren sighs. “What's your problem? You want to eat me again? Come and try it.” He suddenly feels a lot braver than he did before.

Afro Glameow hisses uncertainly, slowing its advance and eyeing Ren warily.

Yeah, that's right. Sod off. I haven't got time to deal with you,” Ren tells it, stepping forward threateningly. His furry nemesis skitters backwards, but then rallies, slinking back and forth in front of him as it tries to judge whether or not he was a threat . . .

“Ah!” Ren sat up with a start. He was back in the hotel room, he realised momentarily. Struck by a sudden thought, he glanced over to the other bed, where Natasha's sleeping form was clearly visible. He breathed a sigh of relief and lay back down.

The room was suffused with early-morning light that was doing its level best to fight its way past the heavy curtains. Ren allowed his head to sink back into the luxuriously puffy pillow with a sort of relief. It was nice to be back. He took a deep breath and let it out all at once, allowing his heart rate to return to normal.

That was officially the strangest, most screwed up dream I have ever had, he decided. For a brief moment, he toyed with the notion that it had been just that – a dream. But it had been too real, too vivid to deny. He had to accept that it had actually happened, and as a result he had to accept the legacy that Steven had handed to him.

It won't stop me from giving Steven an earful when I see him next, Ren thought wryly. He felt a little cheated that he had had such a responsibility thrust upon him without being told about it. While he understood that Steven could hardly have announced the existence of the world of dreams to every Trainer who challenged him, he couldn't help but feel a little resentful at not having been given any choice in the matter.

As if reacting to his very thoughts, his Pokenav buzzed on the bedside table. Ren snatched it up and pressed the talk button. “Hello?” he said quietly, glancing across at his still-sleeping cousin.

“Good morning, Ren.”

“Arceus, Steven! Are you watching me?”

“No.” Steven sounded puzzled. “What are you talking about?”

“I literally woke up thirty seconds ago!” Ren hissed. “In any case, you still have a lot of explaining to do.”

“I see,” Steven said. “You had better come over here right away. Talk to the concierge, and he'll have a car brought round.”

“Fine,” Ren said, rolling his eyes. “See you when I ge-” The line went dead. Ren stared at it for a minute, but then simply shook his head in disgust and rolled out of bed to wake Natasha.

Half an hour later, Ren found himself in Steven's 'conference room' again, Natasha once more left in the care of Katrina Stone. Ren yawned and looked at his watch again – still only quarter to seven in the morning. It was ridiculously early, and even though Ren had fallen asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow the previous evening, he was still somewhat tired. One part of his mind wondered if it was a side effect of the strenuous activity within the dream, but that shouldn't have had any bearing on his life in this world . . .

Ren snorted as he listened to his subconscious ramble on. Here he was, less than eighteen hours after Steven had first hinted at the existence of the other world, and already he was taking it for granted, factoring it into his musings as if it was some kind of constant.

“Cecilia says hi,” he said at length, once he had realised that Steven was unwilling to break the silence between them.

“You didn't have any problems with her, did you?” Steven asked.

“Not particularly,” Ren said. “Why?”

“Oh, nothing really. She's a wise elder, and I've never seen anyone treat a wound like she can, but she's a terrible flirt.”

“Oh, that,” said Ren, waving it off uncomfortably. “I noticed.”

“Not bothering you, then?”

“Nope.”

“Good.”

The two of them lapsed back into silence for a minute. Ren chewed his lip and stared absently at the ceiling as Steven fiddled with his cufflinks. He had lined up so many things he wanted to say to Steven before coming, but now, none of them seemed worth saying. Most of them appeared childish, even to the mind that had spawned them. Why didn't you tell me? It's not fair! I don't want to do this! You can't make me do it! In the privacy of his own head, he raged against Steven and everything he stood for, but he couldn't bring himself to say them. Most of them, he realised with a shock, were exactly the same as his protests against appearing on Hoenn Buzz the previous evening.

Ugh, how could I have been so immature? he chastised himself. I must have sounded like a little kid!

“About the television appearance last night-” Steven said suddenly, but Ren cut him off.

“No. Don't even – no. I'm sorry about that fuss I raised. In hindsight, it was probably the worst way I could have reacted. I was immature and stupid, and I apologise. I wasn't thinking properly.”

Steven smiled knowingly. “Funny how a night travelling between worlds affects one's world view, isn't it?”

“Huh? What do you mean?”

Steven didn't reply immediately. Instead, he leaned back in his chair and focused on a spot on the wall. Ren followed his gaze, but there was nothing there except a stretch of plaster, much the same as the rest of the room. “Do you know why people like me, Ren?” he said at length.

“What?”

“I don't mean to be egotistical, but I've noticed it. So have you, I'm sure. I seem to get along with people a lot more easily than others.”

“I . . . guess you could say that,” Ren said. While Steven Stone was hardly a poster boy for friendliness and sociability, he had noticed a certain magnetism about the former Champion that was difficult to explain.

“I wasn't always that way,” Steven admitted. “Six years ago, before I became Champion, I was quite the opposite. It's not like I was a horrible person, but . . . I shut people out. I was polite where I needed to be, but I saw no reason to actively engage with other people. That changed the first time I put on the Dreamlight.” He fell silent once more, staring off into the middle distance with a look on his face that Ren would have called wistful if he didn't know better.

“It changed? How did it change?”

“It made me think,” Steven said simply, returning his attention to Ren. “I realised that there was something bigger than me, and that in turn brought me to the realisation that I was being petty. I said to myself: Steven, there's another world out there, full of people who would dearly love to have the freedom you do-”

“Cecilia gave you that speech too, huh?” Ren said. Somehow he was unsurprised. “But yeah, I follow you. She's right.”

“That was when I decided I was going to make the most of my life,” Steven says. “Call it corny, or cheesy, or whatever food-related idiom you desire, but I figured I was going to live every day to the fullest. That, Ren, is what I was talking about when I said the Champion had to be accessible. It's a bit of a jump, but it's essentially the same thing. The way I see it, there's no reason for you not to go along with the whole publicity deal.”

Ren frowned. “You don't need to convince me. I've resigned myself to that. Hell, I've resigned myself to everything. At first, I was a bit put out, understandably, but . . . after thinking it all over for a while . . . I haven't got a choice. But anyway, I'm pretty content to go with the flow for a while.” Being back in the real world was refreshing, Ren realised, and Salinthia had probably been right to suggest he return to think about it. His mind worked more clearly, and it wasn't such a terrifying prospect any more.

“Are you sure?” Steven said worriedly. “It's a dangerous job, being the yehktira. Every night you get pulled into the second ring, and you can't leave until all of the nightmares have been destroyed. If you leave just one alive, it'll follow you back to the first ring and out into our world, so you can't take the chance. It's not like you can just put in an appearance and then leave. You know that, right?”

“Well, I'd kind of figured as much,” Ren said, shrugging. “But that's fine. The spirits will protect me, after all. And I certainly handled that one last night pretty well, if I do say so myse-”

“What? The nightmares came last night?” Steven said sharply. “They shouldn't have been-”

“-able to sense my yehkti, I know. I heard,” Ren finished. “Whatever the case, they were there and they were nasty. Elly and I dealt with them, though.”

“Elly?” Steven said, apparently not recognising the name.

“Um . . . Elly? Felicia 'Elly' Darkstorm, head of the council of elders?”

“Felicia . . . I never heard her refer to herself as Elly. Nor did anyone else, for that matter. How strange.”

“Perhaps it's just a phase,” Ren suggested. “For all we know, she changes it every time there's a new yehktira.”

“They're . . . strange beings,” Steven said. “I want you to be careful, Ren. They're very old, and very wise, but living for so long has driven them slightly mad, I fear. They will not harm you – of course, you are the only thing holding their world together, as well as our own – but you cannot rely on them. They will protect you with their lives, of course, but . . . they work in strange ways. They are fickle, and while their dedication to keeping you alive may never waver, they are certainly more than capable of making your life hell if you offend them.”

“Speaking from experience, are you?” Ren asked, smiling amusedly as Steven averted his eyes.

“Yes, I am,” he admitted quietly. “To this day, I don't know what I did, but there was a period of a month or two where they were as cold as ice with me. It didn't make for pleasant dreams.”

“Do you know what happens if the yehktira does die?” Ren asked suddenly, voicing something that had been on his mind ever since he woke up. “Surely it's happened at least once.”

Steven shook his head. “No. In fact, until relatively recently, being the yehktira was not much of a risk at all. About twenty years ago, I hear, the nightmares were little more than an annoyance. The purpose of the yehktira was only to step into the second ring every night and refresh the bonds holding the world together. The nightmares, when they did appear, were easily dealt with; they were small, weak creatures.”

“So why the change?”

“I don't know. I don't even know if the elders know, but if they do, they never told me. From what I heard, there are massively powerful nightmares in the third ring, but they can't get through into the second ring for some reason. It's these things which the spirits are hiding from in their little forest glade, by the way. But only the little ones, apparently, could get through and plague the second ring. Even in the six years that I've been yehktira, I've seen the average size of the nightmares grow and grow. If it keeps up, they're going to be impossible to deal with.”

Ren sat and absorbed this information for a minute. It certainly didn't bode well for his future as yehktira, that was for sure. He was just starting to reconsider his acceptance of the role when his Pokenav chimed loudly from his pocket. “Ah – is it alright if I answer this?” he asked guiltily.

Steven nodded. “Go ahead. It's probably important.”

Ren couldn't tell if he was being sarcastic or not, but answered the call anyway. “Hello?”

“Good morning, Ren.”

“Ah, Uncle Roger. How are you? How's the holiday going? You can't be done already.”

“Well, actually . . . about that, ah, I kind of made a mistake with the bookings,” Roger admitted bashfully.

“I see,” Ren said, rolling his eyes.

“So, um, we had to check into a motel with a very early check-out time. We're about to get on a train back to Slateport. Where are you at?”

“I'm still in Rustboro,” Ren said. “Natasha's doing fine, by the way. She's a little quieter than usual, but she seems to be having fun. But never mind that – what sort of motel makes you check out at-” - he glanced at his watch - “seven o'clock in the morning?”

“A very, very cheap one,” Roger said. “Listen, what are your plans for the rest of the day? Are you able to meet us back in Slateport, or will we have to come and pick Natasha up from there?”

“I'm not sure,” Ren said. “Let me check.” He covered the mouthpiece and addressed Steven. “Can I go home after this?”

“I don't see why not,” Steven shrugged. “I don't have much more to tell you that you can't hear from Felicia or the others.”

“Yeah, I can be there,” Ren said. “Natasha and I'll catch the midday express, so we should be in at about one thirty, I think.”

“All right, Ren. Thank you again for taking care of our little girl.”

“It's not a problem, Uncle Roger,” Ren said. “She's been good. All right, I'll see you this afternoon.”

“Tally ho!” his uncle chuckled with slightly more enthusiasm than was strictly necessary before hanging up.

“What sort of secret conference room gets Pokenav reception?” Ren asked directly, raising an eyebrow at Steven. “I could have set this thing to record and broadcast our conversation live to anyone I wanted to.”

“Good point,” said Steven, frowning worriedly. “I really don't know what my father was thinking . . . but considering his company invented the things, I imagine he'd have some sort of coverage against them. Still, that doesn't matter. Do you have anything else you wanted to ask? I imagine you do.”

“Actually . . . no,” Ren decided. “I think the best thing to do would be to let the rest of it come as it comes. Besides, I don't have anything to ask you that I couldn't just bug Elly with later.”

“You almost make it sound like you enjoy annoying her.”

“I could get used to it,” Ren said. “She reacts interestingly when you piss her off – which is remarkably easy to do.”

A slight smirk twitched at the corner of Steven's mouth. “You're a canny one, Ren.”

“I do my best. But I really should be going – I want to go and visit Roxanne at the Gym before we catch the train. Maybe we'll even have time for a battle.”

“I suppose that's fair enough. Are you feeling restless from the lack of battling? It's only been three days.”

“Yeah, but I've spent the last five years of my life battling several times a day. It feels weird to go for even a day or two without a good battle. I've hardly even let my Pokemon out, let alone used them.”

“All right,” Steven nodded. “Here's what we'll do. Go over to the Gym now – you might be able to catch Roxanne before the first challenger of the day appears. Then catch that express back to Slateport, and do whatever you like for a few days. You'll be going to the world of dreams every night, of course, so take it easy. On Thursday, there's a Pokemon Contest on in Mauville City that I think you might be interested in.”

“A Contest?” Ren asked, frowning dismissively. “I don't really like Contests, so I'd rather not go. Unless . . .” he said slowly, catching the look in Steven's eye, “this is one of those publicity things you were talking about?”

“You're learning,” Steven said, nodding. “The Champion is not just a representative of Pokemon battling – he needs to be an ambassador for all those who work with Pokemon. Showing up at a Contest or two will aid that image. And besides, it won't be all bad. Bella's going to be there, if I remember rightly.”

“What, competing? I didn't know she was a Coordinator.”

“No, she's not. She'll just be watching. I was going to go along with her, but I've got business to take care of. Think you can stand in for me?”

“Sure, I guess. So, Thursday in Mauville, huh? I can be there.” Inwardly, Ren sighed. It didn't look like he was going to be able to spend that month at home with his mother after all. He'd just have to settle for being there as much as he could. He was determined to at least spend his birthday at home the following week.

“Thanks. I think Bella's quite fond of you, Ren.”

“Wh-what?”

“Oh, don't look so frazzled,” Steven chuckled. “You know what I mean. In any case, this works just fine. I suddenly have somewhere I need to be.”

Ren hadn't even noticed that the ex-Champion had been checking his phone under the table. “What, at seven in the morning?”

“Yes,” Steven said somewhat ruefully. “It seems that since I stepped down, I've suddenly become the most popular man alive. Strange how that works. Yet still, I must leave. Apparently, it's urgent.” He stood and pushed his chair back, reaching out to shake Ren's hand.

Ren took it, slightly confused. “Um . . .”

“Best of luck, Champion,” Steven said sombrely. “I know you have inherited a heavy burden, but I think you can handle it. We may not have the opportunity to meet like this for a while – I get the feeling both of us are about to be even busier than we ever thought was possible. I'll put my old PR team at the League in touch with you, and they'll help you organise the Champion side of things. But of course, the yehktira side . . . must be revealed to nobody, regardless of how much you trust them. All right?”

“I got it,” Ren said. He did, strangely. He knew he should, by all rights, still be freaking out. It was entirely possible that he was just in shock, but he didn't think so. He saw things with a strange clarity that he had not experienced before. “I got it,” he repeated, almost as much for his own benefit as it was for Steven's.

It had been true what he said, Ren reflected as he retrieved Natasha from Katrina Stone again. He did want to go and battle someone all of a sudden. The main reason, though, was that he wanted something else to take his mind off what had happened over just the last twenty-four hours.

“Are we going home now, Ren?” Natasha asked as they stepped out of the Devon Corporation building.

Ren shook his head. “Not yet, 'Tash. We're going to see Roxanne first.”

“You mean your girlfriend?”

Ren sighed. There was no real point in arguing – he knew Natasha wouldn't listen – but at the same time he didn't really want to leave it open. “No, she's not my girlfriend,” he said, hoping he could leave it at that. “Now, Steven said he'd call a car around . . . oh.”

A large, now-familiar black car was parked right in front of them, the driver standing to attention beside the open door. “To the Rustboro Gym, Master Ren?” he asked with an indulgent smile.

“Ah . . . yes,” Ren said, ushering Natasha into the car and putting one leg in after her. “Thank you.”

“Of course, sir,” the driver said, closing the door behind Ren. A few moments later, the engine purred into life and they pulled out into traffic.

“So, how did you get a Gym Leader to be your girlfriend?” Natasha asked. Ren sighed. This was going to be a long trip.
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Old 02-08-2012, 07:57 AM
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Default Re: Champion Game {Chapter 9}

It is a great game, the funny points and plots shows me a lot!
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