ForumsArt, Music, and WritingThe Way of Moderation has ended (page 566)

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694 posts

really can i be in that when you two make that

13,720 posts

really can i be in that when you two make that

Sorry, but that does not seem likely, considering the nature of both this version and the version we are going to be working on when this is done (whenever that might be).

There is, however, probably going to be another original character tournament with the Moron and Me stamp on it, if you are up for a work of collaboration like this one.
10,822 posts

This is a small scene, but like much of the denouement, it was actually quite difficult to write.

It Won't Change Anything

"You chose not to subside in the face of conflict, instead feeding off that provocation and causing the greatest destruction to this city. Even if you are not as you were then, your crimes cannot be undone. I hence sentence you to permanent banishment from this city."

Cormyn's no-nonsense tone remained rock steady throughout his oration. It was merely addressed to the accused ringleaders and flunkies of the great sacking of Armor City, and the moderators standing around them, but it was delivered on top of the execution scaffold that stood in the middle of the Atrium, in plain view of the users who had gathered to see some closure to the whole sorry episode.

The perpetrators all crouched, hands bound behind their backs, their ankles in shackles. Each wore a uniformly sullen look of aimless rebellion and resentment. But even in this situation, on the brink of declaring a final victory, the mood hung heavy around the moderators. This kind of thing, after all...

"It's unseemly," Dank muttered under his breath, scuffing his armored boot on the woodwork, and thus scoring the woodwork in the process. "Holding a ceremony like this. I preferred making them disappear."

"I guess it's symbolic," Strop remarked, similarly sotto voce. "With the new admin cleaning up this mess of old, and all that you know."

"Easy Strop, I'm starting to feel like a relic now," Her Highness the Queen Carlie half-joked, also under her breath. Strop laughed awkwardly, realising all along the truth they all didn't really want to face but had seen coming. With a population now forty times that when Strop first set hoof within the gates of the city, this was the new regime they needed, and needed to get used to. In the background, Cormyn continued:

"The system of appeals still applies, which is to say you're free to lodge them but seeing as the facts of the case have already been established, the only goal you might achieve is an understanding of why you were exiled. Do not think that this is a means by which you can attempt to regain entry to the city. Our decision has already been made and that is final."

One of the emo smart-alecs, from his crouched position, turned his head upwards and put his best tough face on.

Something was tugging at the back of Strop's head. It was something that had been tugging at his head for nearly two years now, the two years he had served as a moderator, and he remembered vividly, that it was something that he had brought up specifically to Dan and John way back then. And he figured that now was as good a time as any to bring it up.

"Uh, Carlie, don't you think we might need to consider, you know. Something little more permanent than permanent?"

Carlie shrugged: "Sorry, I don't think they're planning to change that policy."

I dunno derp

Strop sighed, "...very well." It wasn't as if he didn't know how difficult it was to implement what he was requesting. Issuing an edict that automatically denied access to persons holding passports from certain regions might block as many legitimate citizens as troublemakers, and in a world like this... well, it was all too easy to forge passports. But he didn't know what else to do, and he thought that somehow, maybe magic, magic that the admins knew, might fix it all. As unwanted as it was, he suddenly remembered his late father, architect of these kinds of grand projects people lived in, saying with unmistakeable pride, "I never failed a single job."

And in that moment, he realised that as he grew older, the role that he took on would mean leaving the roles of others to other people, losing that nebulous idealism as his skillsets became more defined. It was that nebulous idealism that allowed people the luxury of hubristic rhetoric of being able to do anything they set their mind to, and it was merely reality that set tangible limits. Thus he concluded that this was a problem that he had to entrust to those whose role it was to fix them, to trust their decisions for better or worse.

Much as he hated to admit it, then it was only a matter of whether other people understood what his job was or wasn't. Speaking of which, there was somewhere else he needed to be...


Stitches Are a Luxury

by Cen

Strop trotted down the white halls, his white coat whirling around his legs. There was still a lot to do in the hospital, even though most of the people there was mainly staying because the matron hadn't found them yet and kicked them out. Not because they weren't wounded, but most had seen a doctor, and their only new symptom of anything being wrong was the huge amount of whining. So, nothing physical, at least. Even considering what events they had gone through, one a small handful of users had mental issues, most of which Strop suspected had not been caused by the battle as much as them having been conveniently dropped on their head as a baby. Since there was no psychiatrists around, he had referred them to one of the hospitals in a bigger city, and had hoped they could find their way there themselves.
Even so, here he was on his ward (or rather "entire hospital&quot round, checking up on the few that was still badly enough hurt to not go home or to the many housings that had been opened up everywhere in town when the rest of the mods had figured out only Aristocrat Way had suffered enough to make the buildings more or less impossible to live in. Or enter, for that matter.
Instead, many of the top citizens of the city had been relocated in the small, shed like buildings outside the walls where newcomer's usually resided before they got a proper place to live. While the official reason seemed to be that they would be able to live there without risk from wild games, Strop suspected at least one of two of his comrades took a hidden pleasure in relocating the top citizens to such humble buildings.
He sighed and turned a corner, before something made him stop and go back. He wasn't quite aware what, before a certain voice caught his ears through a door left partially open. As he showed it open, a familiar pair of grey eyes glared back at him, still without their usual glass shield.
"Cen, what are yo-" Strop stopped short as he actually got to witness the entire scene. "Ouch."
The nurse looked up from the gash to look at Strop for a moment. "Can I help you?"

"Oh." Strop tore his gaze away and focused on the nurse. "No. I... Was just..." He gestured, "Passing by, and..." And gestured some more, "... So, what is going on here?" At least he landed on his metaphorical feet.
"I was just finishing these stitches." She spoke matter-of-factly, her hands still holding the needle.
Okay, perhaps it wasn't a perfect landing. "Have the patient seen a doctor?" He tried again, trying to sound as professional as possible.
"No. He refused and said he just wanted to get thee stitches, then he would be on his way." The nurse looked back at him with a frown. "The matron said it would be fine."
Strop had opened his mouth before the nurse had been done, but the mention of the matron and her decision made him close it again. Not that he was scared of the ol- ELDERLY porcupine, but he did have a way with being quite, what was the word, horrifying. And especially not someone he wanted to go against. But then again... "This patient have not been examined by a doctor at all? He might have... Other injuries. That needs checking. By a doctor. Like me."
Both the nurse and Cen, who had, until recently been staring at the door with a both empty and sharp glare, looked at him like he was stupid. Or crazy. Or quite possibly both. Strop did feel a little of both, actually, but he didn't let his mask of extreme importance slip. When the nurse didn't move, he decided for the next best action, which in this case was clearing his throat in a loud and important fashion, while continuing to look like he was the boss and should be obeyed.
"Can I at least finish this?" The nurse gestured lightly at the stitch work, while Cen seemed to continue to wonder if Strop has been dropped as a baby and then continuously kicked in the face.
"Oh. Yes. Sure." The ninja horse doctor let out a small laugh, and sat down to wait.

The nurse left the room with a slightly bemused expression, and Strop got up from his uncomfortable seat in the hospital chair. He made a note to himself about finding some funds to get some better chairs, before approaching Cen, who had gone back to staring at the door.
"So... How did you get that gash?" Strop lifted Cen shirt to look at the stitched line running across the others ribs.
"Glass table."
"Apparently having a three hundred pound throw himself and me on it was more than it was designed to withstand."
"A... Three hundred pound..." Strop shook his head in bewilderment. "What does that even mean?"
"That means that someone, with a body mass almost three times mine, threw me at a glass table that then broke. It is not that alien a thought." Cen shrugged a shoulder.
"No, I cut myself with a sword. It was the most convenient place for self mutilation." Cen gave him an annoyed side glance, before going silent and continuing to stare the door down.
"Uh, okay." Strop put the t-shirt back in place. "And... When exactly did this happen?"
"Two days ago."
"Uhuh. And where...?"
"Said man's office."
"Mhmm. I think we both would get more out of you just telling me what happened, instead of us having to go through this, Cen." Strop sat back on the chair.
"I believe I would get more out of getting a bandage on the stitches and then go home." Cen glanced at Strop for a moment.
"That doesn't sound right." Strop glanced back.
"You didn't particularly care yesterday. Just because I needed stitches doesn't change the story."
Strop turned to look at Cen with his most annoying deal-with-it-bro expression he could muster. "It is pretty pathetic to hold grudges like that."
"It is pretty stupid to hold a tournament to get new mods too, but we can't always be lucky."
"You didn't stop me."
"Sadly you kept avoiding the bear traps I put up."
They sat in silence for a bit, the sounds of the hospital somehow making its wait into the room, muffled and barely audible.
"So, what happened?" Strop spoke as the first of them, deciding to look at Cen with his most careless expression.
"I got my *** handed to me again, after fighting for the people I care for, but doesn't care for me. One should have thought I would have learned by now..."
Strop's ears twitched lightly. "But what happened?"
Cen turned his head swiftly to look at Strop, some of that burned in anger and betrayal he had seen during their - argument being quite visible again. "Sai was kidnapped by her ex. She told me, she didn't love me, and they left. Then, after the great battle of stupidity, I went to try and save her. It seemed like a moronic idea at the time, and guess what? It was. First of all because her ex could break my neck like a twig, second because Sai didn't need saving. Then she broke up with me. Then she kissed me. Then she told me to leave. And call her. And in my delusion, I went to the library to ask for a girl-to-English dictionary, and got kicked out for trolling. So, would it be too much of a bother for you to do your ****ing job and but some bandages on the stitches so I don't rip them out by accident, or do I have to get in a car accident for such luxury?"


Awkward Strop is awkward. Also, y u so mean Cen!?

NEXT UP: The clean up of the city finally begins!

10,822 posts

So now we begin the cleanup of the city. It'll take a while. Lots of things have to happen, but we'll get around to that.

A user by the name of Eless suggested this track to me a long time ago, and after some discussion with Cen it seems that it might fit.


And to get you in the mood, it's time to get your gear on!

4,198 posts

What about this?

694 posts

can i please be in this please

13,720 posts

can i please be in this please

Well, write up a short, fitting segment, send it and it shouldn't be too much trouble to include it.
But considering we are just at the end, we can't include you in the plot, so if you really want to be in, that is all we can do.
So, a short, fitting segment about your character interacting with what has happened and what has been announced, and then send it to the email for a check-up.

After all, it might be interesting to get the view of a regular, fairly un-involved character (or at least the untold story of another defender?).
Just make sure to send it either today or early tomorrow.

What about this?

Everything is better with some Quirky Work.
3,776 posts

How far is WoM going? To Ian's retirement? Before then? After then?

13,720 posts

Since the WoM has gotten its own timeline by now, which is quite different from the timeline of this site, the WoM will end before Ian's retirement. A few months from where we currently are in the story, but with the added mix of timelines, it's merely a matter of internet time.

We are currently somewhere in late spring, it will end sometime in the early fall, at a very special occasion.
Then strikes the epilogue, which might more information on the matter of retirements and new mods.

10,822 posts

Sorry about the delays, job applications suck and so does having to fulfill criteria so I don't have to repeat the year lol. Also admittedly this is starting to be a struggle as we're having to tie up some ends that, frankly, contain plot points that we're going to eliminate entirely from the rebuild of this thing.

Yes, there will be a rebuild. More on that later.



With uplifting music and stuff!

With everything else finally out of the way, the work could begin. Hammers flew, knocking the crumbling bits of ruins down to the very ground with the sound of steel on brick. Everybody moved with great gusto, for it was their living quarters, their shops, their livelihoods that they had to break down and build up again, and while it was incomplete their lives were on hold, confined to the great swathes of tents in the camps that had sprung up over parts of the Park, and the fields surrounding the burnt out shell of the Academy.

Elsewhere, business was starting to return to normal, in the environment of activity there was opportunity for trade, for argument, for the creation of wild and whacky edifices that turned upon themselves and collapsed only to be reborn again. And in among this mix, many of the veterans remained, working to restore the city they had lived in and battled for.

For this Strop was glad, for the unique spirit that this city held was not entirely lost. How it might change later, was another matter. And for that matter, some things never did change, such as his inability to find any of the other mods. It was as if they had vanished, once more, just like they seemingly did just before the beginning of the entire affair. He half-thought that he almost missed it, and imagined a characteristically grumpy Dank telling him that he ought to "stop playing dress-up and start working", but perhaps those days were truly left in the long past era that only a yearning nostalgia could evoke.

Now though, through all the clangs and the thuds and the noise of industry, he was content in the moment, with that feeling that all was once again right with the world.

Except it wasn't quite. There was something that had been nagging him, and he suspected that he knew what it was. Or maybe not exactly what it was, otherwise surely he would have said it by now, but rather he knew that he would have to chase the feeling down, and maybe it might become clearer when he got closer.

Yes, that was the way to do it. Like always he'd run down whatever bothered him until it could run no more! With this resolution, Strop trotted off, mallet slung over his shoulder, towards the yet unrepaired residential blocks.


Friendship is Mudfighting

Cen wrote this segment, but Strop takes responsibility for the title, hehehe

The rain was pouring down in metaphorical buckets as Strop made his way over the muddy mess of soaked dirt and the grass that didn't seem quite attached to the earth anymore. The ground was slippery, even to a person with his ninja agility, and his clothes clinging to his limps made his movement no better. When this realisation started to dawn with two hours' delay, he trotted to a halt, looked around the deserted park and took off his ninja mask to properly gulp in the fresh, albeit quite humid, air. Soon after, the unremarkable sound of his fellow running partner could be heard, an unremarkable sound therein that it has been the main sound he had been making since their treck started. Rather than the usual huffing and puffing, it was more of a gasping-for-breath flavour, similar to the sound of someone throwing up their lungs.
At this, Strop turned around and watched the other, obviously less fit, runner get close enough for it to be acceptable to rest. Strop snorted, waiting impatiently for Cen to catch some resemblance of breath.
See, there was something that had been nagging him...
"Something has been nagging me," Strop said. "Ever since I apologised, you have barely spoken a word to me! I thought I had trained you to be better than holding grudges, but apparently not. And then there was those written complaints among the reports, what was that about? Why didn't you come to me about those concerns, then we might not even be standing here right now, in the rain, cold and homeless and without a place with to live that is warm and..." He trailed off, for a moment feeling somewhat redundant somehow, though there should be no reason to.
Cen just stared at him with a mix of dumbfound amusement and a growing urge to violently strangle the life out of the ninja horse in front of him, though the latter was less clear from his expression. "What?" He simply replied, without much vigor.
"I mean..." Strop hesitated, not quite knowing what he actually meant. "I meant you shouldn't hold grudges. It's childish." A nod punctuated this little known fact.
Cen straightened, continuing his stare for a few moments longer, with his hand resting against his chin. "I am not holding a grudge against you."
"You haven't even said anything for the last two hours!" Strop protested, somehow deeming this to be the perfect evidence of his theory.
"You elbowed me in the stitches and then you ran like someone had put your *** on fire." The reply was followed with Cen's entire face moving into an annoyed squint.
"That's not true!"
"It's not incorrect either." Cen paused for a moment, but continued before Strop was able to come up with a witty reply. "I am not holding a grudge against you. I'm just tired, and having a really crappy few days. I'm just not letting it out on little ponies dressing up as ninjas."
"I am not dressed up as a ninja!" Strop snorted. "I am an actual licensed ninja!"
"Then why can I see you?"
"I am letting you."
"A real ninja wouldn't."
"Well, a real FRIEND would."
"Would what?"
"Wo-..." Strop shook his raised index finger with an uncertain certainty, waiting for the cartoon gods to bless him with a witty one-liner, that would end this argument to his advantage.
Any minute now.
Right on the tip of his tongue.
Moments later, he was hit. Not by inspiration, but instead a rather physical fist had jabbed at his shoulder, bringing him back to the very soaked reality he was actually in. He looked at his shoulder, then at the fist Cen had raised with a mostly bored expression, expertly ignoring the implications of what had just happened. Then Cen jabbed at him again.
"What are you doing?" Strop asked.
Strop recieved another push against his shoulder.
"Would you stop that?!" Strop raised his hands and moved away a bit, a frown appearing on his face.
Cen paused for a moment, appearing to be deeply speculating about this order he had been given, before raising his head. "Nope." He jabbed him again.
A sudden wild spark appeared in Strop's baby-blues, something that could probably be compared to that of a wild horse moments before it starts bucking wildly, if it hadn't been because Strop was neither a wild horse, nor accustomed to bucking. Instead, he did the next best thing, which was pushing Cen hard in the chest. Cen stumbled back for a moment, then straightened himself with the silent composure of a man, who had been carrying the dead weight of a freight train for far too long. Strop mused for a moment on this thought, much too poetic for the situation, but before he could make any remark on the irony, he was shoved equally hard by the metaphorical dead weight of the other. Which, as he managed to contemplate, was easily translated to being tackled in the chest.
He lost his footing entirely, hooves slipping in the muddy mess of grass and dirty, and with as much graceful ninja technique he could muster, he flipped backwards to land hard on his butt.
Cen stared at him with a blank expression. Strop stared back in much the same manner.
A sound made him perk up his ears, surprising and unreal as it seemed. It was a snorting giggle, soon to evolve to a roaring laughter. Not that laughter tended to be surprising, let alone unreal, but in this case, coming from Cen, it was the most surreal moment in the entire history of Strop wrecking stuff. He stared wide-eyed at the bizarre sight as Cen doubled over, gasping for breath, before he finally understood the most important part: He was laughing at him.
"Hey!" Strop exclaimed, getting the prompt response of Cen pausing for a moment to look at him, and then continuing much louder than before.
Strop grunted, insulted with this humiliation - somehow he couldn't see the fun in it all - and rose with all glory and grace of a ninja, before continuing where he left off from the previous attempt to stand, hooves finding absolutely no sturdy foundation. In a last manic effort to save face, he moved the entire kinetic energy of the slipping sliding into returning the unwelcomed tackle from Cen. However, as his face at this point was dangerously close to the ground, it wasn't as much a tackle as a mudslide accidentally aimed at knee height.
They both fell onto the ground, a splatter of mud shooting up just to rain down on the squirming pile of arms and legs, all of which seemingly finding a new purpose, a better purpose. That of chocking the owner of the other pair in mud (no homo).
Shoving, pushing and failed attempts to hold the other down followed, neither of the two getting the upper hand in what looked like the wrestling champion ship for hobos, or alternately something that could have looked hot, had the participants been scandily clad women.

"Is this what you do around here for fun?"
Strop turned his head to face a sight that made him catapult Cen off his chest as he sat up from the rather undignified position at the bottom of the two-man pile. This very sight was surprising, curious, frightening and unusual, not to forget chocking, peculiar, terrifying and odd. Or, at the very least, it did take him off guard.
A huge man in a coat, suit (and rather nice shoes, Strop noted) was standing before them, looking something like the mafia boss and the mooks surrounding him. And with that, Strop turned his head just to see something that looked oddly like the stereotypical bodyguard, shaved head, ear piece and everything. What the he-
"Nah, just your regular fisticuffs. Good to see you, though I wouldn't have believed it would be here." Cen rose to his feet and stretched out a muddy hand for the man to shake. The man in return gave him a glare, wrinkling his nose in disgust when a droplet of wet dirt fell on his remarkably shiny shoes.
"No thanks, no today."
Cen shrugged and dried his hand in his equally dirty shirt.
"No, I thought I would repay your last visit." The man adjusted his black umbrella a bit.
"Reminds me, how did you like the new table?"
"I think you scratched it when you delivered it."
"Professional delivery was expensive, and I think it was scratched when I bought it."
"I don't think it makes it much better."
Cen crossed his arms. "Then you should have gotten it yourself. Besides, pre-owned stuff is modern these days."
"Whatever you say." The man rolled his eyes and shook his head a little.
Up until this point, Strop had been sitting in dumbfound silence in the mud, staring wide-eyed at the strange occurrence before him, and neither of the participants had seemed to notice him. So, as a small pause in the odd conversation occurred, he managed to collect as much focus of mind to get to his feet, this time without slipping and falling with ninja stealth. This movement caught the eye of both the humans.
"Oh, right. Max, this is Strop. Strop, Max." Cen said nonchalant, as if Strop should already know this man.
"You are saying that like I should already know him." Strop replied with a pout.
"Well, you should."
The man, Max, looked at Strop with a sceptical expression, nodding at him in a distanced greeting, and turned to Cen again. "He actually wears that regularly? I thought you were joking."
"I rarely do." And such, the conversation carried away from Strop once again, leaving him dripping with mud and rain, and with an stupid expression on his face.
"So, any luck with Sai?"
"No, not really. You know how she can be."
Max nodded knowingly, and neither spoke for a while, caught in deep thoughts. Cen was the one to break the growing awkward silence:
"You were bringing me my glasses?"

As Max made his way back to the bodyguards through the thick mud, Strop was watching Cen silently, until he decided said silence wouldn't achieve anything, and broke it with a hammer.
"Who was that?!"
Cen turned to look at him. "Max."
"I got that. But who is he?" He gestured wildly.
"Sai's ex."
"The guy that punched me in the face, and the reason you have stitches to elbow." Cen tilted his head slightly to look at him over the rim of his new glasses. "You know, that guy."
Strop's expression was without recognition.
"Nevermind." Cen shook his head in defeat, and began walking towards the more firmly grounded part of the city.
"Nevermind what??" Strop exclaimed, following after.
"W-" Strop was cut short by a push to his chest, once against threatening to bring him to actions more alike those of a young colt, and not a ninja-rock-star-mod. He managed to hold still for long enough to see Cen grin at him and accelerate into a sprint.
"Later, loser!"


NEXT: A few miscellaneous things. The WoM tournament is finally formally closed. Some people we're waiting on to get their stuff together so I can get that going should get going!

4,198 posts

Tie up ALL the loose ends.

Strop, I have no idea how you managed to be so active during Uni - especially medicine...

10,822 posts

Hi yeah I know, things kinda stalled again. I'm in the middle of job apps and started neurology and oh my god the first week almost killed me. And my hard drive went funny on me and I almost lost ALL of my wom files. Scary. I better back things up.

I have work again this weekend but hopefully start of next week we'll get cracking again. You may see me doing other stuff beforehand.

694 posts

hello my children its really late wehre ii kive and i m tiedr anf got one of thosse everything id fubny things sowwy for mispelings if ther ia ant

10,822 posts

I'm not sure what that last post was. It looks a lot like a bump.

Well that's okay. But today I have something much better than that for you...


Yeah sorry, I know this is now ballooning way past 3 years, and I could have probably taken a whole year off the time if we didn't count all the time delayed due to me, but (and there's always a but) I had job applications and I have a literature review to do and this really important presentation about a patient so complicated I think I killed an entire Indonesian rainforest printing out all her documentation...

Anyway here's the update. Step by step we march towards the conclusion!


Just When Everything Was Starting to Make Sense

A shapely, alabaster leg slipped out from under the still water's surface, sending barely a ripple as it extended high into the air, languidly waving around. Through the thick haze of the steam rising from the water, it was nearly impossible to see past a single arm's length, but the total silence, save for the occasional drip and trickle of water that echoed around the tiled walls was testament to the absolute serenity of the baths.

Nill allowed herself the indulgence of a long sigh as she slipped further into the water, right to the point where her lips barely stayed above the level. In this position of exquisite slothfulness she ran her fingers over her suspended leg, revelling in its smoothness. She couldn't decide whether the vastness of the hair removal market for ladies was a good thing or the symptoms of a chauvinistic society, but in the thought-sapping environment she was in, she didn't have to care for now. This felt darn good, and that's all that mattered.

The relative coolness of the air around her leg was starting to send shivers up her spine, so Nill finally lowered it back into the bath, whereupon the sudden warmth radiating right down to her bones sent another shiver up her spine. Heaven! In the process she had involuntarily sat up, so she brushed the stray hair from her eyes, put on an imaginary thoughtful pout (she still didn't know if she had the hang of it yet), and pondered.

Nill was in that place of her life where she was really just beginning to discover herself. Despite not knowing what she was going to do next, after the topsy-turvy times of discovering and getting used to those strange bumps and curves, after struggling to get away from the horrid confines of power and authority and abusing it in various inadvertant ways, and the chaos that was the events of the Way of Moderation, she was now in a place of serenity, having come to terms with her new self. And it was empowering. Maybe this was just the ticket to her happiness.

Nill stretched out her hand (she noticed her skin was starting to wrinkle, and wondered whether too much Rose-scented bath salts in the water could do her skin a disservice), and peered between the spaces of her fingers. "I am Nill." She said, experimentally.

"I am Nill," she said again, louder, more confident. "I am Nill, a regular citizen of Armor City." The misty air swirled around, stirred up by her speech. "And I will live my life in this way, enabling freedom in others from the ground up."

It had a reall nice ring to it. Yes, this could work. Nill took a bigger breath, and spoke to the empty baths: "I resovle to go from day to day working with my fellow folk to make the most of our opportunity, without exerting authority or interfering in the purest process of liberty. Because that is what I, Nill, the regular girl, believe in!"

Nill basked in the resounding silence following her declaration. There, she said it, and nothing was going to stop her now.

Suddenly, the surface water barely six feet away from her exploded in a spray of droplets and noise, and two dark figures burst upwards and towards her. In a split second of uncanny clarity, Nill could have sworn she saw a big fat bronze diver's helmet.

Instinctively, she reached to her right, but she didn't have a staff, because that staff was Nemo's, and not Nill's. She would have taken a moment to reflect on every single event of her life and maybe even regretted her lifestyle choices, but it was already too late, and she was grabbed and promptly dunked underwater.

"But you're not even a hitman, silly," a muffled voice from somewhere inside the diver's helmet chided Strop. The ninja horse tried to keep as straight a face as he could for as long as he could, but barely lasted a second.

In between fits of hysterical laughter, he shouted "Right you are, now quick, drop the salts before she drowns!"

Nill managed to twist free of Strop's grip just enough to burst clear of the water. "What the hell guys!" She choked out between frantic breathes. "What are you do-"

That was as far as she got before Strop readjusted his grip and promptly dunked Nill back in the water. "Looks like we were just in time! We heard you were getting adjusted to your new way of life. Can't have that!" he quipped.

"I don't think she can hear you now," the diver reminded Strop.

"You were supposed to be dropping the bath salts in the water!" Strop reminded the diver.

"Oh! Right!" The diver clumsily fished around before producing a sinister looking blue ball, which slipped right through her fingers and fell into the water.

Immediately there was a hissing and a furious frothing, and bubbles quickly obscured everybody's vision. The water turned the same shade of blue as the ball had been as it fizzed and sputtered. Strop suddenly found himself up against a new burst of vigour from the head and shoulders he had been holding down, and he threw himself forward, trying to cover and restrict bodily motion. But as Nill's actions became more and more frenzied, Strop found himself jinking harder than a cowboy on a bucking bronco, and eventually he lost grip as Nill emerged with an almighty roar:


Everyone fell back, shocked. The hair still sat, wet and limp, upon the head, obscuring the face, but the voice had come out at least an octave lower than they had grown accustomed to. Gingerly, Strop reached out and pulled some of the hair aside, and gasped.

"Zophia, I feel stubble!"

Nill stiffened. "What!?"

The diver grasped her oversized helmet and yanked it off, and indeed, revealing Zophia's head. "It worked!?"

Strop nodded vigorously. "Yeah! Feel for yourself, Nill is Nemo again!"

Zophia was about to grope Nemo's stubbly chin when the penny dropped for Nemo, and he jumped up, causing Strop to recoil as he was hit with a sudden exposure-induced blindness. "What the hell guys!!! Explain yourselves!"

"You're a guy again, Nemo, isn't that wonderful?" Zophia clapped her hands together.

"No!" Nemo shouted, still unaware of the implications of the water in the bath only coming up to about his knees. "I mean, maybe... I mean NO! Goddarnit I was just getting used to the changes and not being a mod and thinking that this kind of life would make sense after all and... why? Just why?" He slumped back down into the water and began to sulk.

"I promised I'd tie up every loose end from the Way of Moderation before I resigned as a moderator, Nemo," Strop informed him with a cheesy thumbs up. "And this includes the damage caused by the F-bomb incident."

"Loose end? Is that all I was then?" Nemo pouted.

"Aww don't take it like that," Strop simpered. "You see, since the Way of Moderation hasn't exactly found any new mods and I'm going to be leaving soon, we need as many moderators as we can get right now."

"But I don't WANT to be a-"

"Even if you don't want to be a mod, Nemo, AG needs you, and that's that. And besides, this was an admin decision. Here, I believe you might be needing this." From an unseen pocket, Strop produced Nemo's trousers and shirt, a wolfskin, and a long wooden staff, complete with duct-tape liberally applied to the middle. Nemo stared at it, before tentatively grabbing the staff and wordlessly turning it over.

"Right that's that then!" Strop and Zophia stood and hauled themselves out of the bath and started walking off. "Now that we know that this works, let's go try it on Moe!"

"You were testing it on me!?" Nemo exclaimed, outraged, but was summarily ignored by the other two. "Hey! Hey! WELL SCREW YOU TOO!" After hurling a couple more choice invectives and a bar of soap at Strop and Zophia, he realised that they had already left the baths.

Another two seconds passed.

Nemo stood there, his arms slumped. His brow furrowed for a moment, and then it set. "Hey! You're going to see Moe, right?" Nemo called out, clambering out of the bath and slamming the wolf cap on his head. He donned the rest of his garments as best as he could be bothered, and stumbled back onto the streets of Armor City, one leg still stubbornly refusing to fit into the leg of his trousers.


694 posts

im pretty shoure this is dieing

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