VoshTheStampede For Science
5 years agoVoshTheStampede For Science
Apologies for the schedule slip. This is the final part of the prologue. The story of Cecile, Mina, and the mysterious prisoner draw to a (temporary) close. I put spaces in between paragraphs to make it easier to read:
Cecile dreamt. She was running down a long hall, and she was afraid. She looked over her shoulder and saw the pale phantom moving with inhuman speed and grace behind her. Long claws reached out and grasped at her ankles. Cecile cried out, but no sound escaped her lips. So she ran. She ran as fast as her little legs would allow, but the specter never let her gain ground. It was always at her heels, its long sinister tongue darting through needle-like teeth. Its eyes as dark as scorched earth fixated on her, its translucent skin shone like moonlight.
"That's a good girl,' it whispered to her. "Run for me. I love it when you run.'
Cecile was running, but it didn't seem to do her any good. She could feel the hungry ghost getting closer and closer with every fleeting step. Its cold breath was at her neck, the wet stinger tongue brushing against her hair. She could feel its long talons drawing close around her, ready to snatch her up. But she kept running. She had to get away. She had to run and hide, it was all she could do. She was not strong, she could not fight it. And in the back of her mind she knew she could not even run, not forever. Then she tripped, sending herself down a staircase that had materialized out of nowhere.
Cecile's world spun up and over, she lost all sense of direction and the confusion and the disorientation threatened to make her ill. At some point she stopped falling, and everything was silent and still. Her vision eventually righted itself, and she could see she had fallen down an impossibly tall flight of stairs.
At the top stood the phantom. It didn't step down the stairs so much as drift slowly down them, a white leaf on the wind. Cecile felt the urge to run again. She stood and made her way down the corridor the stairs had spilled her into. She was slower than before, like some invisible force was weighing her down. The phantom seemed to snicker at her distress. She pushed herself to move. She had to get away.
Then she saw it: the black cross-shaped box, illuminated by red light. It spurred her to move, she ran, then walked, then crawled to the box. The unseen force threatened to crush her the closer she got to it. On her knees before the great crucifix, she looked up across its polished face. Be All My Sins Remembered was scrawled along the outstretched arms.
Cecile balled her hands into fists. She struck the box as hard as she could, not knowing exactly why she was doing it. Nothing happened, so she did it again. Behind her the phantom continued to giggle to itself as it approached. It was fear and frustration that drove her to continue striking the box. Fear of the phantom, of its outstretched talons and sharp teeth. Frustration at her powerlessness, at her inability to fight or even run. And she hated it. She hated the phantom and everything it represented. There it was, slowly gliding towards her with casual assurance. It knew. It knew there was nothing she could do to stop it.
She wanted to kill it, and not just kill it, but hurt it too. She wanted it to die screaming, and with its final cry she wanted it to know that she was the one who killed it. All she needed was the power to do it.
As the ghastly creature drew closer, Cecile filled her lungs with air. She faced the specter and screamed, long and loudly. It was not a cry, but a shout of defiance. She wasn't going to die afraid. At the very least she would die angry.
The box exploded outward to the sound of thunder. Cecile was deafened by the roar that followed. A great dark form leapt from behind her onto the phantom. With clawed hands it grasped the specter and tore into it. The pale phantom bled scarlet. It shrieked in pain and confusion. With thick, muscled arms the dark beast ripped the phantom in two. Gaping jaws filled with sharp teeth sank deep into the translucent flesh, shredding it effortlessly. The phantom choked and cried, but Cecile felt no pity. When the beast, which bore the vague shape of a man, had finished with its work it roared once more. It turned towards Cecile, its eyes glowing red like the setting sun. But Cecile felt no fear.
This creature, whatever it was, was not a monster to her. It was the manifestation of her fury. It was her weapon, her tool. And as she came to know this, the beast began to shrink before her gaze. She looked down to see it had taken the form of a small snake, curled up at her feet. She picked it up and held it close to her chest. As the snake warmed, it lashed out and struck her in the neck.
Venom seared through her veins, but Cecile bore the pain. She never let go of the snake, even as it struggled and the pain grew more intense. Eventually, the snake stopped its struggle, and it wrapped itself around her like a necklace. The pain receded and Cecile found herself looking into the snakes eyes, which still burned like hot coals.
The snake's tongue flicked out, and it whispered to her "I am the Venom and the Wrath. I am destruction made flesh. As I breathe, others shall die.' This was not a threat nor was it arrogant posturing. It was statement of purpose, an introduction dictating its title and intent. Cecile felt the truth of its words in its voice. The snake's face drew closer to hers, its tongue lashed out and touched her nose. "Could you love me?'
5 years agoVoshTheStampede For Science
Someone during the RWBY finale stream asked for my "dissertation" on how Faunus could have evolved naturally. Sadly, it took me awhile to find the post. So to make it easier to find, I copied the posts and put them in this journal entry:
The animal traits could just be a form of allelic variation (much like eye or hair color, or perhaps more appropriately eye or nose shape). It's also possible that which "animal" a faunus resembles is a function of ethnicity, meaning there could be disparities even within the faunus species (some faunus may consider themselves "more equal" than others). I think the second is more likely, as ethnicity is derived from a consolidation of multiple allelic phenotypes, allowing for more variation between two groups (which could be why some faunus have horns instead of ears). This is the most realistic, non-magical explanation as to why there are different faunus and yet they are all referred to as one species.
Evolution can be as flippant as it is efficient. The only real requirement that a trait is conserved is that it isn't detrimental to the organism. For instance, the horns/ears could simply have started as "extra head growth" or the less-gross-sounding "extraneous cranial feature". Something as innocuous as a bump on their skulls that either wasn't detrimental to survival and was allowed to mutate into multiple permutations at random, or a feature that somehow proved beneficial to their survival and was actively selected for amongst the populace, possibly related to mating habits (horn size can be used as visual shorthand for an animal's wellbeing, big horns = well-fed/ good mating material).
There are reasons the ears/horns could be beneficial other than for mating purposes. It could be a case of linked-genes. The faunus received a selective pressure that favored a specific trait (for example, their night vision, which is notably better than a human's), but the genes for this trait interacted with another (let's say, developmental skull blood-vessel formation). Selecting for one trait had the side affect of producing a new phenotype that was (to the naked eye) completely unrelated. This has been seen in domesticated foxes. While Russian scientists were trying to breed more and more docile foxes, they noticed that not only did their temperament change with successive generations, but so did their fur color. This had the added benefit of making domesticated foxes distinguishable from wild foxes. Now, if having horns or ears became associated with good night vision, and you're a primitive faunus and you want your kid to be able to hunt well at night and avoid predators, you're gonna look for a mate with a quality set of ears/horns.
Note: This post made before the reveal of Sun Wukong. Having a tail (as opposed to some kind of head decoration) is much different in not just appearance but also functionality. This really complicates the issue, since Sun is also a Faunus and not a different species. The only away to keep this in line with the rest of my theory is if I file it under allelic variation. It's a HUGE stretch, but we see crazy amounts of variation in humans all the time (and I'm not just talking simple things like skin, eye, or hair color, but skeletal structure and dietary tolerances). It's still feasible that tail-appendage faunus and head accessory faunus may have been the first divergence in their ethnic variation. Both of these phenotypes could be linked to the night-vision gene (or perhaps another gene like aggressive temperament or agility, we're still not sure just how different faunus are from humans), and they're just different because of happenstance.
In spite of Sun's appearance, I still hold to the theory that faunus are a naturally occuring species until proven otherwise by Word of God (i.e. Monty, Miles, or Kerry).
5 years agoVoshTheStampede For Science
Last week I posted the first part of a story. Two little girls were told the tale of the Black Knight. Now we see what happens one month later, on a quiet autumn evening
The loud crack roused young Cecile from her slumber. At first she merely thought it was thunder, but one look out of her window dashed that idea. The night was cool and calm, with neither rain nor lightning. More noises followed of various volumes, ranging from distant pops to loud bangs. And then shouting, followed by screaming. It was the screaming that woke sleeping Mina next to her.
"What's that?' the drowsy six year old asked, trying to rub the sleep out of her eyes.
Before Cecile could even try to answer the bedroom door burst open. He held a flashlight, and Cecile immediately recognized him as Mister Thom, one of her father's friends.
"Mister Thom, what's happening?' Cecile asked. As Thom got closer she saw what looked like dark red staining his otherwise clean blue suit.
"We need to go, now!' Thom said as he rushed up to turn on Cecile's night light. Then Cecile saw he was holding a gun. Her father owned one like it and he had repeatedly told Cecile to never even touch it without his supervision. She looked to Thom, whose eyes were frantic.
"Get your things, both of you.' He said, he opened up her closet and pulled out two jackets and two pairs of shoes. Now Cecile was getting worried.
"What's going on?' Cecile asked again, trying not to sound as upset as she really was.
"I'm taking you to both to Mina's father.' He said, shoving a jacket and one pair of shoes into Cecile's hands. Cecile heard more bangs from the outside, closer than before. There was no mistaking it now, they were gunshots.
"Where's dad?' Cecile asked. Mister Thom said nothing. Cecile repeated the question. "Where's my dad?' this time tears began to well in her eyes.
"We need to get out of here, right now' Thom said as he picked up Mina, who was still struggling with one of her shoes.
Cecile asked her question once more, crying now, as Thom came to pick her up. And then he froze, his eyes on the doorway.
Thom threw Mina down quickly and brought up his gun. Mina's cry was drowned in the sound of gunfire. Thom got off three shots before a dark form darted from the doorway and onto him. It buried its head into his neck, and Thom barely managed to choke out a scream. Cecile stopped crying and stood still, stunned into silence by the sight.
Mina was the one crying now, and that made Cecile move. She ran to her friend and tried to pick her up, but Mina would not budge. Thom's final words were still fresh in her ears. "We need to get out of here, right now!' Cecile repeated the words to Mina. Mina finally started to move, but it was too late. The creature had finished with Thom, and stood up to face them.
In the dim light of the room it looked almost human. It wore the kind of uniform Cecile had seen in her father's old war videos. Body armor designed to be bullet-proof and provide ample mobility. But as she looked upon its face she knew it was far from human. Its skin was pale, bordering on translucent. Its eyes like black craters in their sunken sockets. It had flat nose and pointed ears, with only the faintest wisps of white hair on its otherwise bald head. Its black lips parted into a wide sinister smile, revealing two rows of pointed red teeth from ear to ear.
This was no vampire. This was a strigoi. In school, Cecile had been told that comparing vampires to strigoi was like comparing Labradors to dire wolves. Here was not a friendly, healthy living being, but a vicious, ancient predator.
It opened its mouth and let its tongue loll out to the side. The end of the tongue split, and a long sharp barb slid out. Cecile had been told before that the strigoi's teeth were merely meant for latching onto their prey. It was the tongue that did the work of draining the victim of its blood, while replacing it with an insidious mutagen that would bring back the lost soul as a fiend. Seeing the stinger was enough to cause Cecile's blood to turn to ice. Then the strigoi began its approach.
Cecile panicked. She tried to get Mina to move but she was rooted to the ground by terror. The strigoi's barbed tongue swept from one corner of its mouth to the other. It seemed more amused than hungry. Cecile didn't know what compelled her to put herself between her friend and the monster, but she did.
The strigoi placed its hand on her head. She could feel its claw-like nails through its glove as it grabbed her. Its jaw slacked and its tongue darted out, anticipating the meal to come.
Cecile closed her eyes, waiting for the pain. But it never came. The strigoi released her. Cecile opened her eyes and saw the pistol leveled at the strigoi's temple. The one holding the pistol was, much to her dismay, another strigoi. This new strigoi was shorter, and had a faint bristly beard wrapping around its chin. Its face was contorted into a grimace.
"Not for eating.' It said. The formerly smiling strigoi withdrew its stinger tongue. The bearded strigoi looked towards Thom. "You turn him?' it asked. The other strigoi nodded. "How many is that?'
"A dozen at least. A few might be too damaged to move.' Their voices were softer than Cecile would have thought, and they had a raspy quality to them.
"Is that enough?'
"It should be. How much time do we have?'
The bearded strigoi pulled back its sleeve, revealing a glowing watch. "If everyone does their jobs, half an hour.'
They both turned towards the girls. Cecile felt incredibly small beneath their gaze, like a mouse in a den of cats.
"Which one?' asked the balding strigoi.
The bearded strigoi was silent, but its eyes moved back and forth between Cecile and Mina. "The blonde one.' It muttered.
"They're both blonde.'
"I know.' There was a twinge of frustration in the bearded strigoi's words. Its tongue shot in and out from between its lips a few times in a manner that reminded Cecile of a snake.
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