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The Way of Moderation has ended (page 566)

Posted Jun 24, '11 at 4:38pm



3,670 posts

a wiseman once told me, everybody poops.


Posted Jun 25, '11 at 1:31am



11,104 posts


bro, i'll take no less than 500 bucks plus the medical expenses...

500 bucks? Hm, 2 days' pay... it's almost worth it.

But +1 internets > medical expenses, you should know that!

Anyway, I am writing the next segment over the weekend. After that, the guys in the plan will know what's happening. If they've checked their email!

Posted Jun 25, '11 at 2:28am



4,696 posts

my love for you knows no bounds, stroppykins <3


Posted Jun 25, '11 at 2:51am



5,718 posts

Right so I just replied to your email....that is all.


Posted Jun 26, '11 at 11:49am



11,104 posts


Cool beans. I'll get back to those tomorrow. But for now, IT'S TIME FOR THE UPDATE.

You'll see little time markers. I've specifically mapped the scene to the soundtrack of choice. I do hope you enjoy it!

The Alleyway Run

A sense of nervous anticipation electrified the air rushing over Strop and DM as Devoidless picked up speed, streaking away from Hermit's "Feeld". Strop, riding tail-gunner, peered back at the converging crowd, and knew that Hermit was in for a world of pain. Somehow, though, he'll be okay, Strop tried to reassure himself, as he fiddled with the string of his longbow, mentally counting the stock of arrows in his quiver. Up front, DragonMistress, steering with her thighs, clutched in her hands a small pouch, tightly shut with a drawstring. In it, were the hundred odd pills, the fruits of Hermit's labour, the key to their salvation.

In the distance, Strop could see the explosions beginning, and the sound of gunfire and artilliery mounting a full assault on a single hovel boomed through the Wilderness. As the twisted trees of wasteland yet to be reclaimed blurred by beneath, Strop closed his eyes, trying to relax for the moment of respite they had miraculously gained.

"Hey, did I ever mention that I'm afraid of heights?" Strop quipped, half-jokingly.

"I don't recall, but now's not really a good time to mention that," DM replied, tersely.

"It begs the question," Devoidless grunted, between flapping his great wings, "as to why you chose to live in that rickety tower for all this time, instead of that nice place at No. 15, Aristocrat Alley."

"Well, I've always made it a habit to confront fears... sometimes they never go away, but you get used to dealing with them." Strop mused.

"I still don't understand," DM looked back, easing for just a moment. "You're a ninja, aren't you?"

Strop laughed. "I'm a horse. Horses like their hooves on the ground. It's... strange, isn't it. Like I was defying my nature."

The relative silence of the howling wind prevailed, and the burning city of AG grew ever closer. Behind them, Strop could see hordes of little flying dots peel away and reform in rows, then grow at a disturbing rate.

"We've got fighters coming in," Strop relayed.

"So it begins," 'voidy murmured, a strange glint in his eye. "Will we make it?"

"They're coming in too fast!"

"Copy that," DM said. "'voidy, think you can shake them in the alleys?"

"Are you kidding?" 'voidy grunted, "It'll be just like the Craglands Canyon back home!"

(0:09) As the wall drew closer, the towers on the walls and the windows in the buildings just behind them erupted in flames and muzzle flash, and suddenly all around them was fire and missiles.

"Well, 'voidy," Strop sang out, his blood once again heating up. "Alot's happened since our lightsaber battle in the courts, huh?"

"It has been a long time," 'voidy roared back. "You'll have to tell me your stories when we get back, alright?"

"Yeah, you bet!" Strop said, nocking his first arrow in preparation. "We're a couple of shooting stars that can't be stopped!"

(0:22) "Let's do this!" DM yelled. They approached from low, skimming over the trees and snapping the tops of their rotting branches in their wake. The trees splintered and exploded as near-misses shot by all around them. At the last minute, DM leaned all the way back, and 'voidy pulled up. Strop's face almost dropped off his skull as he was ground into 'voidy's scales from the intense G-forces. At the top, 'voidy twisted around, and with a fearsome roar, issued a great fireball that completely roasted the facade of the nearest building. It burst into flames. Sooty scales glowing red in the light, Devoidless faced the onslaught, then leaned forwards, diving radically. "I'm going in!"

DM's vision blurred in the face of the dragon's sudden acceleration. "'voidy, pull up!"

But it was too late, and thirty tons of draconic brawn smashed through the corner of the building, showering the alleyway with flaming bricks. Coughing, DM and Strop dusted themselves off, then had to duck as the barrage renewed itself. Impenetrable walls of sound were all they could tell of the projectiles the raiders hurled at them as they wove their way through the alleys.

(0:39) "How many guns do you think, DM?" Strop called out over the screaming din.

"I'd say about twenty guns." DM shouted, her teeth gritted as she guided the dragon through the inferno, still heading full throttle for the walls. "Some on the wall, some in the windows."

No sooner had he said that, then a curtain of silence descended upon them. Strop rubbed his ears, convinced that he had gone deaf, but realised that the rushing wind was still there.

"The guns... they've stopped!" he exclaimed, more as a query than a statement.

(0:47) "Guard the rear Strop," DM called, "And watch for enemy fighters."

Her deduction was crucially accurate. As they barreled down the next alleyway, Strop saw an assortment of three, four, no, six aircraft drop down into the alley behind them, all guns blazing. Immediately, Strop loosed the first arrow, shooting it into the prop of a simple biplane. Smoke billowed out of the fuselage, and engine sputtering, it dropped, crashing to the cobblestone pavement below. Before he could celebrate, even more planes rolled in to pursue them, until Strop's view was even more crowded than the Enigmata Boss Run.

"It's getting toasty back there!" Devoidless warned, as flames licked and bullets pinged off his scaly hide.

"You don't say!" Strop muttered, loosing arrow after arrow, some explosive, some incendiary, watching plane after plane peel off, spouting smoke and flames, only to be replaced by even more, tougher, more advanced models. "I can't hold them off much longer!"

(1:02) "Loosen up, Mistress!" Voidy shouted, his flight growing shaky, his wings grazing the walls as he tried to jinx his 30 ton bulk this way and that in the narrow confines of the alley walls. DM responded by pulling back, and they lifted up and soared into the sky, braking hard before 'voidy reined in his momentum, clambering to the skies once more.

"We'll have to face 'em here! It's time to fight!" Below them, several fighters were taken by surprise, and pulled up too late, lazily looping directly into the dragon's line of sight, where he promptly toasted the lot with a fireball. Strop, hanging for dear life to his tail, whooped. "Nice shooting 'voidy!"

(1:13) "Don't get cocky," DM warned, "There's still more of them."

Sure enough, the three dozen or so aircraft that trailed behind made their way back out of the convoluted alleyways, until the skies were rocked with an aerial battle in full swing. Strop shot as many arrows as he could until his drawing finger grew tired, but even as his arnament of fire, explosion, flashes and nets started running out, to his horror, he found that since no shop was available to upgrade his equipment on the run, he was rapidly getting outclassed. Even as a dozen new plumes of smoke, complete with accompanying parachutes floating towards the ground, punctuated the city's landscape, more planes, with sleek armored shells, masses of gun barrels and whole racks of missiles and bombs, rose up seeking to destroy them. He loosed another arrow, and this time it merely pinged off a fighter jet uselessly. The horror was evident in his eyes, but he knew that somehow, it really shouldn't have come as a surprise.

(1:33) "Take evasive action!" Strop hollered, as sinister sounding bolts of energy started whizzing all around them.

"I'm trying!" DM called, as 'voidy tried to maneuver his ungainly bulk upwards in as erratic as possible a pattern without literally falling out of the sky. Fortunately, having wings that flapped, he was able to control his flight far more than the planes that circled them. One dived too close, and he suddenly lashed out, cutting its hull with the spikes of his tail. But the sheer numbers was starting to wear him down, and a missile he couldn't see or dodge slammed into his flank. He lurched, roaring in surprise, and DM and Strop scrabbled, trying not to come unstuck.

"Go for the clouds," Strop urged, his face mashed into dragonhide. "They can't see us there."

(1:44) With renewed resolve, Devoidless surged upwards again, the ground dropping away. Strop made the mistake of looking back, and felt his stomach wobble. "That's right, I love jumping, but I hate flying!" he shouted to nobody in particular, which turned into a rising moan as the dragon pulled a tight loop and flattened out, spearing straight through a plane that happened to be in the wrong place at the right time. The resulting explosion blinded the pilots right behind, and Devoidless took the opportunity to claw the rest of the way until they plunged into the dark stormclouds gathered above the land of AG.

(1:54) Nestled in the layers of dark cloud, the aerial team took stock. Devoidless coughed several times, trying to catch his breath.

"Are you okay, 'voidy?" Strop called, replacing his now obsolete bow.

"I got a little cooked, but I'm okay!" Voidy called back. Strop poofed his medical kit, seeing if there was anything he could apply to 'voidy's singed hide, but, as expected, a dragon's requirements far exceeded anything his meager first aid could provide.

"Besides, I'm more concerned about getting lost, coz we can't see and all, you know." Anxious seconds passed as they drifted, not sure whether to chance their navigation up above, or brave the predatory craft below.

(2:18) At that moment, as if on cue, there was a faint but distinctive glimmer, and now that the sound of aircraft wasn't constantly screaming in their ears, they heard it very clearly: the whining and subsequent pop and crackling of a firework.

"The fireworks!" They exclaimed at once. DM tightened her grip on 'voidy's neck with her thighs once more, and Strop cracked his knuckles. "Let's finish this!" Devoidless wound up his wings, pitching over and diving once more into the clouds.

(2:28) "They'll be all over us once we break through!" DM warned.

"At least we have the element of surprise!" 'voidy reassured.

"I'll think of something," Strop said, chewing his bottom lip. In his hands, wisps of cloud coalesced to form his banhammer, though he was uncertain as to its usefulness. Still, he had to try.

And then they were through! The city below them beckoned, and they saw the sparks settling barely a few miles away. Devoidless immediately changed course and headed straight for them, and they all prayed that they were heading towards the Freemarket, for at that altitude it was impossible to tell which fire was what.

But no sooner had the view become clear to them than they had become clear to the enemy. Once again the fighters swooped in on them, afterburner trails blazing across the sky, bringing with them the sound of fire and brimstone.

(2:45) "Stay on target," DM admonished 'voidy. Strop, tweaking his ninja senses to the maximum, attempted to fend off tracer bullets and plasma bolts with his ban hammer, but could barely cover the dragon's flanks. He ducked as a fighter jet screamed directly over head, peeling back and coming around again. He covered his ears, and almost dropped his hammer, struggling to bring it to bear as it made another run.

"Stay on target," DM said again, feeling 'voidy twitch as his scales took a few hits. Then he wobbled crazily as a tracer round brushed his right wing, setting it alight.

"STROP!" he roared, "See if you can put that out?"

Cursing, Strop dispelled his hammer, crawling his way along the spines of 'voidy's back as he struggled to maintain control through the onslaught. Grabbing the thumb horn of his wing, Strop managed to swing himself around, and with one hand, started beating at the flames that threatened to ruin 'voidy's lift.

He saw it too late. A rocket, launched from one of the fighter planes, was on a direct collision course for the already weakened wing, with Strop on it. Acting purely by instinct, Strop leapt off 'voidy entirely, summoning his hammer and throwing himself behind it-

The rocket slammed into the hammer, exploding in a spectacular fireball. The shockwave threw Strop's hands off the hammer and winded him, and he fell, turning end over end, towards the ground below.

(3:05) "STROOOP!" Devoidless roared again, this time with much more anguish in his voice. Gritting his teeth, he tucked his head in, ignoring his burning wing and the stinging of his hide. It was near certain death to fall from several hundred feet, and even for a horse of Strop's ability, to take a direct hit from a rocket and then survive that would surely be impossible. When the fighter returned to finish the job, he rolled over, lashing out in fury, and tore the jet to pieces with his bare claws.

"We're a couple of shooting stars that can't be stopped!" he muttered to himself, a solitary tear squeezing out of his eye, before accelerating even faster, trying to put some distance between himself and the remaining three jets, but being jets, the effort was futile, and they formed up on his tail, ready to send him and DM to join Strop in oblivion. The middle one opened fire once more, green bolts of death lancing out-

"No, look!" DM suddenly called, pointing. Behind them, the jet on the left suddenly broke apart, leaving its pilot with nothing but a chair. The rightmost one, caught off-guard wobbled, and then swerved, colliding with the middle one, denting its tailfin and sending it into an endless spiral.

(3:20) And then, floating into view holding a steel bolt almost as large as the bow itself, was the lunatic ninja horse, yelling "Yahoooooo!" Then he started flailing as soon as he realised he had already passed the apex of his flight. Instantly, Devoidless slowed down, reaching out and catching Strop in both arms, as the debris of the last fighter plane slowly scattered to earth.

(3:31) The three, their trial now nearly over, breathed a sigh of relief, turning to watch the blossoming of the great dragon head firework that shone through the smoke. "Look, they did it," Strop breathed.

"No, we did it." DM corrected him. "We all did it."

"Now let's blow this thing and go home!" Devoidless wheeled around, and set forth towards the marker. The escape, the evacuation, the herbs, the marker, somehow, working together, they had achieved great things against greater odds, and, Strop thought to himself, still shaken after his death-defying impression of aerial Tarzan, maybe they might get through this day and save AG after all.

But he didn't want to jinx it.


Posted Jun 27, '11 at 12:54pm



2,354 posts

The Way of Moderation Part Ten: Metal Hyena Man Part Three: The Sound and the Leon

The Ferris wheel and roller-coaster stood against the darkening sky. They appeared to be intact from Leon's angle, but given the state of affairs, it was impossible to be sure. He walked through the dilapidated gates, eying up the park for signs of people. He glanced warily at a pair rooting through the deep freezer of a half-collapsed hotdog stand, but paid them little mind. He watched as one of the annoying blue-hoodied brigands emerged from a poorly-concealed hiding place. The kid stalked over to the looters with an air of cool confidence. He seemed to be addressing them, but Leon was too far to make out his words. Leon shrugged and walked on. He hadn't made it twenty paces when he heard the shrill human voices behind him raise to an impassioned squeal. Flattening his ears, he turned around. Taking care that his armor clanked as much as possible, Leon stomped back to the trio of humans.
"Who are you?" The SHOPS member was first to address him, stopping mid shout.
"Shut up." Leon barked. "I'm trying to have a stroll."
"I'm just trying to stop the looters!" the kid whined.
"Stop? More like rob!" one of the looters piped up. The SHOPS member opened his mouth to reply, but Leon was faster:
"If he takes your stuff, it'll be in the hands of SHOPS. SHOPS will use it for good, so all things being the same, he'd better take it." Leon explained.
"Uh... yeah." the kid agreed. "How'd you know?"
"Basic logic and reason, how about?" Leon scoffed. The kid gawked, eyebrow raised, but said nothing else.
"Righto, carry on, then." Leon waved.
"What?" a looter demanded. "You're just going to let him rob us?"
"Sure am!" Leon gave him a little thumbs up. "I mean, his logic is sound." The looter seethed in silence as the SHOPS member gathered the cans of peaches from the ground. "I mean, you're welcome to take a contrary position if you'd prefer." Leon added. Instantly, the two looters opened to forum for discussion with high-pitched protests and accusations of despotism. With a brief nod, Leon launched into action. A second later, the SHOPS member was laying on the ground, clutching his nipples.
"Hard to get a good grip with these gloves." Leon explained. "Meant to rip his pectoral muscle clean off." Leon made a clawing motion to emphasize his point.
"What was that for?" the kid demanded, rubbing his chest.
"Can't grab cans 'til we sort this out." Leon said, twisting to a sitting position. The SHOPS kid had other plans. He fished a whistle from his pocket. As he brought it to his lips, Leon snatched it. Without a second thought, Leon blew the whistle. He heard the sound of his breath rushing through it.
"Huh." he said, regarding the whistle. He looked up to see the two looters, hands over their ears, faces contorted. The SHOPS member had pulled his hood tightly around his head.
"God that tone's annoying!" one of the looters whined. Chuckling, Leon pocket the whistle.
"Right." He reiterated. "Where were we?"
"You were explaining to this punk why stealing is wrong." the first looter said smugly.
"Now I remember! You were explaining to this punk why stealing is wrong." Leon nodded.
"Uh, me?" the looter seemed a tad confused.
"This is your fight." Leon said. "As your mediator, I'm just here to make sure your discourse remains productive and civil."
"A what?" the SHOPS member looked up at Leon.
"Discourse." Leon stated. "It has to remain civil."
"No, the other thing."
"Look," Leon growled "are we gonna talk about our problems or not? Because the alternative is that the three of you fight for my amusement and the survivor gets the peaches."
"Well," the second looter started "we were picking up some peaches, minding out own business, when this jerk-"
"Cut the hostility." Leon advised.
"Fine, this guy-"
"Please, call him Andy." Leon added.
"My name's Norman." the SHOPS kid said.
"It's not your turn to talk." Leon snapped.
"Norman came and-"
"Andy." Leon corrected. The looter rolled his eyes.
"ANDY came over and started giving us beef about how it was our duty to help the city of AG." the second looter finished.
"Norman, what's your position on this?" Leon asked amicably.
"You over there! Freeze!" A nasal voice screeched from somewhere behind Leon. With a sigh, Leon got up.
"Looks like my friends are here." Norman said smugly. Leon turned to face the cloaked rabble.
"I'll just see if I can do something about that." Leon growled darkly.

A few minutes later, Leon sat again, SHOPS members and looters forming a cross-leggéd circle around him. He wasn't much worse for wear, though his left gauntlet, vambrace, and rerebrace were neatly spattered with little flecks of blood. A bloody-lipped SHOPS member sat across from him, trying his best to look indignant past the hand covering his eye.
"Are we all going to be good now?" Leon asked.
"Yes, mom." Norman sighed.
"Don't you backsass me!" Leon commanded. "Now."
"You realize SHOPS will never let you get away with this." the bloody faced one growled.
"I can see where such discussion would be contrary to their motives." Leon said calmly. Before anyone had a chance for rebuttal, he tossed his head back and cackled.
"Right. So where were we?" He said, mouth snapping shut.
"These jerks have been walking around like they own the place!" the first looter shouted suddenly.
"We're patrolling for raiders!" a SHOPS member countered.
"But you run away when you find any!" the second looter exclaimed.
"For your own good!" the SHOPS member jumped to his feet.
"Hey dude, like, relax, and stuff." Leon protested feebly.
"And you!" the SHOPS member sensed his advantage "Waltzing in here trying to make us talk how you want! What do you think you are? Some kind of moderator!?" The kid advanced, gesturing sharply. Leon jumped to his feet, holding his knife hidden behind his wrist.
"Come on, let's talk this out." Leon growled, slipping into a fighting posture. Without a second word, the kid began to attack. Leon flashed a toothy grin as he watched it all unfold. The kid raised his arm, forming a fist as he did so. Leon began to sidestep lightly as the kid began to swing, elbow extending ever so slowly. In an instant, Leon moved. He stood just out of the punch's path, his knife buried in the attacker's neck.
"Trust me, kid." he growled. "I'm no moderator." The kid fell, emitting a feeble sigh. Leon's cold yellow eyes remained locked on the kid as a spatter of crimson arched across the sky. It came to rest on Leon's cuirass as he wretched the knife from his neck.
"Now then, are we good?" Leon said brightly. He looked around. The SHOPS members stood around him, cracking their knuckles and swinging various weapons presumably drawn from the ether.
"Mother..." Leon swore.

A few moments of sadly necessary violence later, Leon stood panting. The first of the looters sat by, staring at him. Leon turned to him.
"Does this mean I can have the peaches now?" he asked meekly. Leon made a quick but threatening motion.
"Running now." The looter hopped to his feet and joined the rest of the fleeing rabble. Leon looked around him. Four bodies lay around him in varying states of conciousness, ranging from lightly dazed to stabbed in the neck.
"Come on, Marley." Leon growled. "We'd better make our getaway too."

He crossed the threshold of a building, passing under a vandalized sign reading "jewelry 'tore". The building was torn apart, trash strewn across the floor. Leon stepped through the dark refuse, standing above a smashed display case. He pushed the refuse out of the way, looking for anything of value. A fire opal caught his eye. Leon judged the bright stone to be rather low quality, but he felt the inexplicably urge to pick it up. As he was about to lean over, he heard a noise behind him. He whipped around. A demon-faced raider sprung from a dark corner of the room, brandishing a club. Leon quickly dodged to the side, breaking the raider's club arm. As the raider reeled back in pain, it let out a piercing screech. Leon quickly drew his knife and planted it in the raider's chest. A jet of crimson spurted from from the wound, dousing Leon's arms and armor in hot blood. Leon reeled back, allowing the raider to slump to the ground. Forgetting about the fire opal, Leon searched the troll's body. Finding nothing of worth, he stepped back under the pregnant sky. He looked up as he heard a resounding clap of thunder. All at once, the rain began to fall, a single drop followed by a great deluge. The sound of rain filled the air as Leon pulled his hood over his head. His cape was soaked in an instant. His armor gleamed silver as a red torrent of blood and water flowed in a trail behind Leon. As he walked, the bloody water flowed into a stream forming beside the curb. As the rain fell, the water diluted the blood until the thick red became a few vespers of pink in the water. Finally, it disappeared completely as the liquid flowed down the stream.


Posted Jun 27, '11 at 7:33pm



5,809 posts

Has anyone really noticed exactly how completely unlikeable Leon is? Or is it just me who has a common irk with him?

I love his character, but god do I hate his guts.


Posted Jun 27, '11 at 8:30pm



5,718 posts

Has anyone really noticed exactly how completely unlikeable Leon is? Or is it just me who has a common irk with him?

I love his character, but god do I hate his guts.

To a degree I think that is the point. It is the reason that Strop wanted Crimson to win when they were originally going to battle to determine who was going to be victorious. If you look back at his bio on the AG Official Characters thread, he is described as violent, selfish, and petty so all he is doing is sticking to his original personality traits here.

Posted Jun 28, '11 at 2:21am



11,104 posts


The next question is whether there's such a thing as heroically villainous. How will it all pan out, I wonder... better keep your heads up, guys, because your paths will definitely cross again before this day is over!

Also, hm. It's raining.


Posted Jun 28, '11 at 5:21am



4,437 posts

Also, hm. It's raining.

Yes, rain...I wish it actually were here.

Has anyone really noticed exactly how completely unlikeable Leon is? Or is it just me who has a common irk with him?

Much like the way that Jane Campion uses our hate of characters in The Piano to influence the viewer to her point of view. She also uses sex scenes...
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