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Don't be offended at the title. "Teenagers" is just my way of saying "people who write unprofessional/shallow stories." Not all teenagers write shallow stories, it just sounds catchier.... Anyway.

The first thing I want to make clear is: I'm not talking about anything mechanical in this deviation. Grammar/spelling is important (obviously), but that point has been beaten to death by people on the internet already. My purpose, as always, is to talk about the stories themselves, regardless of the way they are communicated. Whether it be through written word or on-the-spot narration, I believe there are certain tricks to telling good stories. Not rules, mind you. Tricks.

I don't believe that telling good stories is about what you "should" do, rather than what you shouldn't. Example: people generally hate Mary Sues, right? Well, sometimes I notice things that are "like" Mary Sues, in the sense that they're equally as shallow/unprofessional ways of telling stories. The purpose of this deviation is to point them out. I won't be talking about Mary Sues or self inserts in this deviation. This is about things that tend to go more unnoticed (I already have deviations about those anyway).

1. Thinking that "most" = best

Sometimes people who write think they're making "the best story ever," because it's the MOST dramatic, MOST dark, MOST romantic MOST (insert your choice of adjective here). Having the most of something doesn't equate to it being the best. Think of it like salt.

2. Unbalance

Do you ever read a story, and it feels like there was a big hole in it? Maybe it was a tragedy that focused on nothing but tragic events. The author got carried away in their emotions and didn't create a well-rounded world for us to care about while the sad things take place. Sure, sad things are sad, but that is no accomplishment of the author. It would be MORE sad if the audience had a well-created world to be sad about in the first place.
In fanfiction, the writers have the advantage of writing about something that people already care about. That's how a lot of people with barely any imagination can get so many people to like their fanfiction stories. "Hey! Let's take the Once-ler and find a way to drench him in blood! It sure took talent to think of that!"
Never judge someone's imagination by how popular their fanfiction is. Never...

3. Narcissism

Sometimes people consider themselves to be a certain way. They write certain genres or about certain themes for the sake of adding to their self-proclaimed image. They use their stories as stepping stones (a lot of times without even realizing it) to show off in front of other people. A lot of times it's in the little things, strategically placed to look innocent or humble. "The woman shook her head in admiration at *insert-person-that's-supposed-to-be-like-them's-name.* 'That girl sure is *insert-their-choice-of-adjective!* We may never understand her!"

4. Abusing character roles (sort of a Part 2 of Narcissism)

I want you to think about Belle from Beauty in the Beast for a minute (the Disney version). If you're familiar with it, think of the song sung by the villagers about her in the beginning. Has anyone else ever noticed something...odd about it? The villagers are singing about how different (or "weird") she is, all because she reads books and acts like... well, the average girl you'd meet every day on DeviantArt. Meanwhile, if you met one of those villagers in real life, you'd probably think of THEM as the strange ones (first of all, they're abnormally nosy, all bothering to sing a big song about a perfectly normal girl whose personal life they REALLY bothered to have apparently looked so much into... o_O).
Okay. I understand that can be a strategy in story telling (using the background to add to the general effect of a certain thing... i.e Belle wanting a break from her boring life).
I bring this up however, mostly as a warning. I don't know how...um... healthy it is, that a lot of teenager girls these days really seem to think they're sooo great that they write stories about themselves and use other people as tools to look good. They make people (sometimes fake, sometimes real) in their stories impressed far too easily by themselves (or certain things) sometimes to the point even of contradiction. It falls into the same attitude as the narcissism example.
Sometimes it goes beyond, "Oh, a cute little Disney story," and gets really narcissistic and vain.
A story will suffer if it's written for anything besides the pure pleasure of writing it. Ulterior motives distract from making it the best it possibly can be. Not to mention, nobody likes being used as an audience for people who can't stop shining the spotlight on themselves. (It needed to be said).
Furthermore, Disney movies are corny. It's a fact. That's why we like them. The point is simple: if you are writing a CORNY story, feel free to use their little trick of making the whole world conform to one character/theme (heck, make everyone burst into song about them!) If you're NOT writing a corny story, avoid it at all costs. It's a cheap trick, and it's no substitute for actually making there be something special about whatever character/thing you're trying to make something special about.

Fun fact: "Bully" characters are possibly the biggest form of abuse to story-telling. This can be in the form of a snooty, popular girl at school who picks on the main-character we're supposed to feel sorry for, or in the form of unreasonably/obsessively cruel bullies who are far from even borderline realistic. They're the classic example of cheating in a story; the cheapest way to make other characters seem special or victim-ly.



5. Pretty feelings

Did you ever put on an Owl City song while you were writing/drawing and think something like: Lalalalalala, beautifulness, and the dreams and the beautifullness of the wonderful outerspace, flying through the sky and the shooting stars lalala!
Yeah, we could tell.
No, seriously, it's fine to get your inspiration from wherever you want. Just make sure that while you're getting all into the music that you don't let the emotions that the song brings you be your only guide.
Sometimes people get REALLY excited about their characters or a story they're making up and draw all this beautiful art of it, and you're like, "Hey! That's an amazing picture of the main character on a shooting star! So... when can I read this?!" Then you see the story, and think, "...this is it?"
Don't fall into the trap of thinking that your emotions are the story. A lot of people who listen to music while they write make this mistake, though that isn't to say that listening to music when you write is always automatically bad.



To conclude this, there's really only one thing I want to say. Write because you like to. Write about things you like no matter what they are and force them to fit together. Write about things that you like and wouldn't be too ashamed to show your friends or family. Odds are, if you're too embarrassed to show it to the people you know best, it's not coming from the heart. I don't mean "your emotions" as your heart. It's not really YOU if it's something you're embarrassed of. Embarrassment can be a sign that you know deep down your story might be a wee bit... well, stupid.
And then there are the people with no dignity.......

I love feedback. If anyone has anything interesting to add, I'd be glad to hear!
See my other posts about writing:
How Not to tell a Story makingfunofstuff.deviantart.co…
What really defines Mary Sue makingfunofstuff.deviantart.co…
A list of cliches in story-telling makingfunofstuff.deviantart.co…
Common problems with self-inserts makingfunofstuff.deviantart.co…
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  …Priscilla.

  I will keep you safe.

  I will keep you company.

  Do you remember all those years ago – when we first met? I remember it perfectly. I was so very close. So very, very close to my last shred of sanity snipping. And then I saw a peculiar little girl in white dress – you. Your left hand was occupied by a tattered doll. Your right was wet from wiping your tears. Your eyes began to water again, but I caught it for you that time. I still had a shred of humanity left, gnawing at my heart's strings to care for you, to pity, and to comfort. You were scared by my face, but I mustered a smile, and told you not to fear. You told me that you were lonely, that you were unloved.

  And from that point on, I never left your side.

  Do you remember all those years ago – when I saved your life? I remember it perfectly. The cursed fellow had threatened you, and I had intervened. You were bigger, but still, I needed to protect you. He chased you up the tower, calling you a monster, saying you needed to disappear. And then he drew his rapier. I had never moved faster in my life than I did grabbing that awful man by the brim of his ebony vestment. I had never acted as instinctively as I led him to the window. I had never whispered as softly as I did to you of reassuring, and to him of the pain of death. I had never been more deafened than by his scream as I cast him away.

  Take away upon your black wings, bishop, for your mistress commands it.

 Do you remember all those years ago – when you saw my face for the first time? I remember it perfectly. Soul of black I had retrieved, and offered it to the gentle flame I did. My flesh was deep and wrinkled no more. I turned to you, and you seemed shocked at my form. You were my height, and we were both exceedingly young. I could even remember a flicker of attraction…but no. I refused desire. My love for you was of parent to child, or of sibling to sister. And it was good that I refused, for you grew, oh so very fast. Soon, you towered above me, and regardless, I still guarded you with my life.

  I made a promise to you, Priscilla. I promised that I would never let you see darkness.

  Do you remember that short time ago – when the people gathered? I remember it perfectly. Ariamis gathered, and desired your pure blood. How shocked I was. How scared you were. They hurried to the theatre, where you and I often met. How ready I was. How well-hid you were. The crowd broke through, and I met them head-on. How ravenous I was. How aghast you were. Ariamis fell to my feet. How alive I was. How frightened you were. After I finished, I ran to you, and embraced you.

  I fell the entire city as the ax man does the forest. I was invincible.

  You would be safe forever.

  Do you remember that short time ago – when I found the red rock? I remember it perfectly. I had slain anyone that came near you. Everyone was a threat, as everyone was present at the theatre that fateful night. And then you began to cry, for you were lonely again. I did everything I could to comfort you. Yet you ran from me, from your sole friend, terrified. So I brought new friends. I tempted those with Lifedrain to pursue me, as their master tempted them with the very art they wielded. I brought many new friends for you to meet.

  I will do anything in my power to keep you safe, Priscilla.

  Do you remember the fall of Ariamis? I remember it perfectly. The city crumbled under the assault of the Crimson Ones. All through the onslaught, you sought me. You found me in the theatre, and I greeted you merrily. But then you turned your blade on me. Your beautiful scythe sliced the air beside my head flawlessly. I was blank. My only friend wanted me dead. I begged you to stop as I evaded cut after cut. You screamed at me, calling me a monster. You claimed I was nicer when I looked to be a monster. You called all humans monsters. And then I held my weapon to receive a blow from the elegant scythe.

  And that was perhaps the greatest mistake I ever made.

  Your immense size…It threw me an admirable distance.

  And then, you hooked your foot under my torso, and threw me off the edge with it.

  When I finally landed, tears fell from my eyes as I felt my body fade, and the fiery ring burn brighter…

  …I am back, Priscilla. I have come to fulfill my promise to you…

  …As long as it is within my power...

  …You will never see the Age of Dark…

  …My dear friend.
A short story about the Painted World of Ariamis, and it's fascinating inhabitant, Crossbreed Priscilla.

I say "fascinating" because unlike other bosses in Dark Souls, Priscilla lets you walk away without a scratch, only if you return the favor. Therefore, I made a little connection to the character and Priscilla.

*NOTE: This is in no way real Lore. Only a theory that was expanded into a writing.*
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The Empty Child

I hide
I hear everything too loudly
I am falling apart
I grew up too fast
I am still a child
I cannot stand still
I see every detail
I panic
I cannot remember what I'm doing
I talk about dinosaurs and doctors and darkrooms
I cry for no reason
I do not have the ability to cry now
I see the world differently
I wish you saw it like me
I have a puzzle to put together
I wonder if you'll help me
I hear a song and must sing it
I see a picture and must take it
I see a world, a broken world
I want to fix that, too
I want to play
I need to work
I close my eyes and fall asleep
I remember everything
I forget my head
I stand in blue light
I see the world in shades of blue
I am lost
I have been waiting for you
I am the empty child
Are you my mommy?
Another poem, this one about my life with autism.

UPDATE: As of 10/20/12, this is my most favorited piece! Thanks everyone!
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His girlfriend just dumped him
some freshmen just jumped him
his life’s got him stumped and he’s so depressed
so now he wears makeup
to hide all his screwups
he says life is pain… we’re not impressed

same pain, different poem….

CHORUS:
We’re all being whiners
let’s put on eyeliner
your life’s on a timer in Emo 101
her converse, his girl pants
My Chemical Romance
so many depressed bands in Emo 101

mood: apathetic
he’s feeling poetic
but all those cosmetics can’t help him write
he’s drinking and cutting
with boys now he’s smutting
the world doesn’t get him so he cries all night

same pain, different poem…

We’re all being whiners
let’s put on eyeliner
your life’s on a timer in Emo 101
her converse, his girl pants
My Chemical Romance
so many depressed bands in Emo 101

don’t forget to scream out… on the very last note….

later that school year he’s not glad to be here
he’s pouting cause someone called him feminine
the story’s just begun, he’s not the only one
Like Chester and Mike, they’re all CRAWLING IN THEIR SKIN…

(I feel like tacos.)
I said

We’re all being whiners
let’s put on eyeliner
your life’s on a timer in Emo 101
her converse, his girl pants
My Chemical Romance
so many depressed bands in Emo 101

(chorus again once)

her converse, his girl pants (same pain, different poem)
My Chemical Romance (same pain, different poem)
so many depressed bands in Emo 101
Don’t be such a whiner (same pain, different poem)
take off that eyeliner (same pain, different poem)
you’re all shitty rhymers in Emo 101
Okay, so I looooove Bowling for Soup... especially the song Punk Rock 101. Sooooo.... I was bored and procrastinating and wrote a parody.

NOOOOTE!!1 I actually have nothing against emos... seriously I don't. I just... had to. ...um, sorry if I offended you? But I was making a joke. I make fun of things I like (including myself, quite often) so please don't take it personally...
And I know I make a comment about their rhyming skillz... I like emo poetry, okay? I only put that in there because it was one of the few sensible words that rhymed with timer. (yeah, so... iiiii'd be the shitty rhymer in this scenario. XD) It's from the point of view of someone who hates emos. AKA not me exactly. XD

Punk Rock 101 (and thus, the tune for this song) (C) Bowling for Soup. Go listen to it. NOW.
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Luffy vs. Popeye by Dimension-Dino

Ray: Alright, the combatants are set. Let’s settle this debate once and for all.

Steel: It’s time for a DEATH BATTLE!!!

--

All was calm as a massive galleon cruised across the ocean's surface, its lion-head bowsprit and straw-hat wearing Jolly Roger noticeable anywhere. From its deck, one could hear merry music from a fiddle, and the members of the crew either singing or dancing along to it.

Joining them in the festivities was the captain of this ship known to all as "Thousand Sunny". That captain was none other than the famed Straw-Hat Luffy.

The song came to an end and the skeletal fiddler took a bow, his art complete. If he had a proper face, he would have smiled at the cheers.

“WOW!” Luffy said with a broad smile, “Play it again!”

Yet as the crew celebrated, a simple-looking steamboat was coming across their path up ahead. At first, the crew paid no mind to it. That all changed because, just when the skeleton was about to draw his bow across the strings of his instrument, another tune cut across him, catching the immediate attention of the ship's captain.

The song in the distance sounded a little something like this...

I'm Popeye the Sailor Man
Popeye the Sailor Man
I'm strong to the finich,
‘cause I eats me spinach
I'm Popeye the Sailor Man

I'm one tough Gazookus, which hates all Palookas.
Wot ain't on the up and square.
I biffs 'em and buffs 'em and always out roughs 'em
but none of 'em gets nowhere.

If anyone dares-es to risk me fist,
It's "Boff" an' it's "Wham" un'erstan'?
So keep "Good Be-hav-or", That's your one life saver
With Popeye the Sailor Man.

I'm Popeye the Sailor Man
Popeye the Sailor Man.
I'm strong to the finich,
‘cause I eats me spinach.
I'm Popeye the Sailor Man!


Luffy growled in frustration. Not only did he not like the music (for reasons beyond even the most brilliant mind in the world), but it had cut off a perfectly good song from Brook.

“HEY!” Luffy shouted, hoping the owner of the boat would hear him, “You’re interrupting our music!”

On receiving no response, Luffy was prepared to put an end to it personally. One of his crew, a gorgeous redheaded woman, seemed to sense this.

“Oh no,” Nami said, shaking her head furiously, “Don’t even think about it. Just leave the ship alone, it’s not even attacking or bothering us!”

Too late. Luffy had pulled back a fist and sent it rocketing at the ship, creating a massive hole in its side. It slowed and then slowly began to sink.

On the sinking ship’s deck, the man singing the song was not amused. His surprisingly-twisted face twisted even more as he looked around for what had caused his vessel damage. Popeye squinted and then spotted it: a massive galleon, the only one around for miles.

“Why those no good, stinkin’ pirates! I needs to teach ‘em a lesson they won’ts forget!” Popeye growled, then dove into the sea and swam towards the ship.

Back on the Thousand Sunny, Luffy nodded with satisfaction. “Good. I hated those guys.”

“Wha?! You didn’t even know them!” Nami snapped, trying not to scream at her captain. Sometimes what went through his mind was beyond any of his crew.

Something tapped him on the shoulder and Luffy turned around…only to have a fist nail him in the chin. The resulting impact sent him careening into the air and he sailed in a massive arc to land with a “thud” and a dust cloud on an island off in the distance.

“Don’t get yer hopes up, kid, ‘cuz I ain’t through with ya!” Popeye added, then dove back into the sea and swam after him.

Nami was shocked at what she had seen. She had been through some crazy stuff, but this was new even to her.

(meanwhile…)

Luffy pulled himself out of the sandy shore of the island and looked around. “Where am I? And what just happened? Last thing I remember is this fist coming into my face…”

“Hey! You!”

Luffy turned to see Popeye storming towards him, stopping a few yards away, his fists clenched. Not quite sure what to make of this guy, Luffy tilted his head to the side curiously.

“Who are you?” the Straw-Hat captain asked.

“I’m Popeye the Sailor man.” Popeye answered, tooting his pipe like a whistle twice, then asked, “Who are you?”

“My name is Luffy, and I’m gonna be the King of the Pirates.” Luffy answered with a smile.

“Pirate,huh?Guessitmakessensewhyhesunkmyboat…” Popeye muttered (without even moving his lips at that), then returned to his normal voice, “Well, for wreckin’ my boat, I gotta hurt ya, kid.”

“You wanna fight?” Luffy asked, then put up a fist and smiled again, “Well, bring it on! I don’t plan on dying today!”

“Bring it on, ya little squirt! It’s time for me to roughs ya up!” Popeye said, hunching forward ready for battle.

The time had come for a showdown for the world’s most powerful pirate and the most powerful sailor: a battle to determine the King of the Seas.

FIGHT!

“Gum-Gum…” Luffy pulled back a fist, then threw it at Popeye on an elongated arm, “Pistol!”

The fist flew forward like a bullet and Popeye only just managed to sidestep it. As Luffy retracted his arm, Popeye actually followed it, pulled back a fist of his own and slammed it into Luffy’s visage.

Luffy’s neck stretched backward, taking his head with it and snapped back into place…only to meet Popeye’s fist yet again, resulting in the same event again, and again, and again in a comedic fashion.

Luffy had had enough and, the next time his head stretched back on his neck, he saw a nearby palm tree, opened his mouth, and latched his teeth into its bark. After a moment of tension, in which Popeye wondered just why Luffy’s head wasn’t coming back for a good “biffin’ and boffin’” as he put it, Luffy’s body shot backward so fast that it seemed to teleport.

Luffy let the recoil of his body returning wear off, then launched his rubbery fist at Popeye again. Popeye evaded yet again, but this was not Luffy’s intention. He actually opened his hand to latch onto a boulder behind Popeye, pulled himself back a bit, then let go.

“Gum-Gum…” Luffy said, extending his free arm, “SICKLE!” Popeye’s eyes widened as Luffy’s arm slammed into his neck at high speed, sending Popeye into the rock behind him.

Popeye hit the rock with enough force to leave an imprint of himself, yet the groan he emitted as he peeled off it gave an indication that he survived. Luffy was not going to let up, though, and latched onto Popeye, his rubbery arms and legs wrapping around the cockeyed sailor’s limbs.

“Gum-Gum…” Luffy said, pulling back his head, stretching his elastic neck to gain momentum, “BELL!”

Moments before Luffy’s head rocketed back, Popeye had an idea. He pulled back his own head (not as far as Luffy’s, though) and the two craniums collided. The vibrations form the impact coursed through both of their bodies and, while Luffy didn’t complain in the slightest, all Popeye did was grumble at the pain…and showed no sign of injury.

“Okay, ya little runt, how’s about I heat things up?” Popeye said, then turned his corncob pipe upside down, took a deep breath, then blew into the pipe.

Rather than emit a huge cloud of smoke, the corncob pipe emitted a small flame akin to a welding torch. The flame jetted out, striking Luffy right on the shirt. The part that was struck quickly burst into flame and Luffy, with a yelp, sprang off and began trying to put it out.

Popeye shook himself loose, then charged Luffy and sprang into the unlikeliest place one would imagine: right under Luffy’s shirt…where he seemed to disappear. Luffy stared, wide-eyed, at what the sailor accomplished and searched under his article of clothing wildly for his opponent, yet he was nowhere to be seen.

Tap, tap…

Luffy turned to his right, feeling someone tap him on the shoulder…and was met with a fist to his face from a familiar, anchor-tattooed arm. Mentioned arm then retreated back to where it came from: just under the right part of his collar. Luffy grabbed at it, but only found empty space. Yet, as he pulled back after grabbing thin air, the same muscular arm popped out from under his sleeve and pinched his nose, as though honking a bike horn.

After a split-second of surprise, Luffy quickly got the idea and grabbed the arm. “A-ha! I gotcha!” he exclaimed in triumph.

“Oh, no ya don’t.” Popeye replied from inside Luffy’s shirt, “I’ve got YOU.”

Luffy raised a brow, then attempted to pull the legendary sailor out of his shirt. One could imagine his shock, though, when he stopped for a second and an even stronger force pulled his arm further down his shirt. Luffy gritted his teeth and pulled with all his might, yet couldn’t dislodge Popeye.

Luffy’s straining halted when, suddenly, he lost his grip on Popeye’s wrist like he was holding a greased eel and, comically, fell flat out on his back from the change of force. Popeye hopped out, then prepared to sock it to Luffy from above only to see his rubbery adversary roll backward and stretch both his arms behind him.

“Gum-Gum…BAZOOKA!”

At the peak of their back-stretch, both of Luffy’s hands sprang forward and slammed into Popeye’s midsection. The sailor bent forward, the wind getting blasted from his lungs, then rocketed backward into the lightly-wooded area further inland.

Popeye landed, noggin-first, into the trunk of a palm tree then fell to the ground like a plank of wood being dropped. He picked himself up, then jumped slightly as a pair of hands grabbed a pair of trees not far from him.

“Gum-Gum ROCKET!!!”

Popeye wound up a punch just as the arms retracted, slinging Luffy at Popeye like a bullet. Before Luffy came too close, a fist planted itself firmly into his chin. Luffy flew up in an arc before falling back to the ground, his still-elongated arms comically falling onto him in a rubbery heap.

Luffy freed himself of the tangled mess of his arms, then pulled back his right leg like he was ready to kick a soccer ball. “Gum-Gum STAMP!” When Luffy threw his leg forward, everything from the calf down extended forward like a spear, Luffy’s sandal-clad foot nailing Popeye right in the chest.

Popeye’s back slammed into a rock and, when he looked down, he saw a very distinctive footprint in his chest. After mumbling something about how expensive it would be to get removed, he jumped into the air and came back down, spinning in a reverse-pirouette to drill into the ground below him.

Luffy stared, wide-eyed in wonder, at what Popeye had just accomplished. “WOW! What kind of fruit did he eat?” he asked in astonishment.
Luffy felt something coming, then hopped out of the way just as Popeye burst from the ground beneath him. Popeye’s fist hit air as he sprang out, leaving him open.

“Gum-Gum SHOTGUN!” Luffy said, throwing out a fist, then twanging it. It looked like multiple fists had struck from just one arm.

Popeye merely reached out and seized Luffy around the wrist, halting the twanging. “You’re a slick one, rubber-boy, but let’s have us a little fun now.” With that said, Popeye raised Luffy’s arm, then brought it sharply back down like a whip, sending a wave right down the length of the arm.

The resulting force flipped Luffy on his back with a yelp in surprise. The next moment, he was tugged right at Popeye, who proceeded to twirl Luffy around like a lasso (even going to the liberty of performing a few tricks worthy of wild-west cowboys) and tossing him away.

Luffy landed, cat-footed, on his feet and made the conclusion that, in his current condition, he wasn’t going to win. He closed his eyes in focus, then snapped them open as steam began to flow from his legs. In the blink of an eye, he was right in front of Popeye and before the mighty sailor could comprehend it.

“Gum-Gum Jet Stamp!”

Popeye rocketed backward, his eyes not even catching just what had happened. All he knew was that he felt like he had been hit full in the chest by a charging train. As he tumbled to a halt, he only had time to get up before he caught sight of something.

His corncob pipe almost fell out of his mouth as a giant fist, comparable in size to a massive tree trunk, raised itself high into the air. “Gum-Gum GIANT PISTOL!”

Popeye yelped in surprise, then ran as fast as he could to the side just as the giant fist flew at him. The fist smashed through the ground like it was cheap glass, then retracted. Popeye took quick advantage of his opponent’s need to retract and, as the giant arm deflated and retracted back to its owner, Popeye held on tightly, hitching a ride to his rubbery opponent.

Popeye hopped off the appendage as soon as Luffy was in sight, then threw a flurry of punches at Luffy. Much to his frustration, Luffy sidestepped each attack as if he knew it was coming.

Luffy decided to put an end to Popeye’s assault and shouted, “Gum-Gum BALLOON!” With that, Luffy’s entire torso inflated into a giant, flesh-colored ball. The minute Popeye’s fist made contact with it, it bounced off. The recoil sent Popeye stumbling backward, and Luffy seized his chance.

“Gum-Gum JET GATLING!” Luffy leaned forward and his arms were suddenly a blur that began to pummel Popeye, who could only put up his arms to shield himself…if only a little bit.

“I can’t stands no more!” Popeye managed to get out before the punches broke past his defense and sent him flying backward.

Popeye skidded to a halt and now knew that, if there ever was a situation for his trump card, that situation was “NOW”. “Alright, you got a few circus acts. Guess what? I gots a few, too.” Popeye said, ready to meet this challenge with one of his own.

Popeye reached into his abnormally-deep pants pocket and pulled out a large tin can labeled “Spinach”. He gave the can a good squeeze until it burst open at the top, its green contents flying into the air. It came back down right into Popeye’s gaping mouth.

After munching down on the spinach for a brief moment, Popeye swallowed and the effects of eating his greens were instantaneous. His whole body flowed with a new energy and he flexed his muscle, forcing a bicep up to preposterous levels.

As for the metaphorical image you see in that muscle every time Popeye eats spinach? It was Goku firing off a Kamehameha.

Anyhoo, Popeye saw a pair of hands had reached just behind him and seize two trees behind him and had a good idea as to what was coming. He braced himself, his whole body composition morphing to resemble a Popeye statue made entirely of brick.

“Gum-Gum Jet Rocket!”

Luffy collided with Popeye at sonic-speeds, intent on finishing him off here and now with a powerful headbutt. One could imagine his surprise when, rather than send Popeye into agony and/or death, he ricocheted off with a bell-like “dong”. Popeye seemed completely unscathed while Luffy lay on his back, clutching his now-aching skull.

It was truly odd to him. Most of Popeye’s previous blows hadn’t even hurt him at all, yet he just now withstood one of Luffy’s stronger attacks AND did something that managed to hurt him.

Luffy roared back to his feet and unleashed another “Gum-Gum Jet Gatling” on Popeye, hoping to pummel him again. Popeye’s response was to wind up both of his fists and actually MIRROR him. The sailor man’s fists were now also blurs and met Luffy fist-for-fist.

Luffy, now really starting to get ticked that this guy was matching him, pulled back his fists and called off the attack. He then twisted his right arm like a corkscrew and shouted “Gum-Gum JET RIFLE!”

The Jet Rifle flew at Popeye…who merely reached up and caught his fist without wavering. The energy behind the arm’s now-spiraling form was suddenly released, resulting in Luffy spinning around like a propeller before sailing off to his right when Popeye let go.

Luffy landed on his feet, then forced as much air into his arms as he could. “Gum-Gum GIANT GATLING!”

Popeye put both of his thumbs in his mouth, took a deep breath, then actually mirrored Luffy again. In seconds, both his anchor-tattooed arms were the same size as Luffy’s. Again, Popeye had the Strawhat Captain matched move-for-move.

Then Popeye opened one of his hands and caught Luffy’s own by the wrist. With a “flick”, Luffy was catapulted high into the air before slamming back down on the ground. Next thing he knew, he was jerked towards Popeye and before he could put up any adequate defense, Popeye’s other gigantic fist slammed into him.

The resulting impact sent Luffy tumbling across the ground, skidding to a halt on a sandy beach. If his Gears wouldn’t work, then he’d have to use his ultimate techniques. It was time for using some Armament Haki.

Luffy stretched back an arm, the area from his fist down to his forearm turning the color of a cannonball, then shouted “Gum-Gum BULLET!”

Both of Popeye’s eyes widened as a pitch-black fist slammed into his visage, sending him rocketing into the air. Yet, as Popeye flew above the treetops, he was readying a counterattack. He twirled his pipe around until it faced his feet, took a deep breath, then exhaled out his smoking utensil as hard as he could.

A jet of flame erupted from the rather small object and, within seconds, Popeye had halted his backward-going momentum and flew forward like a rocket. Luffy shrieked in surprise as Popeye came at him with a barrage of punches to the pirate’s face. Normally, this would be no threat, but the Observation Haki seemed oddly ineffective. This was because of Luffy being completely caught by surprise and the fact that Popeye (and every punch he threw) was, somehow, moving far too fast for that particular form to be effective. Worse still, just like the last time, Popeye was somehow managing to hurt Luffy with pure blunt force alone…without Haki, no less.

Popeye only halted his barrage of punches only to sock Luffy full into the air with a sharp uppercut. While waiting for Luffy to come down, Popeye took his right wrist in his left hand and twisted his whole arm until it resembled a large piece of rope. Then, as Luffy came down, he slammed it into the pirate captain’s midsection, pinning Luffy to a tree. As an added effect, his twisted arm untwisted, spinning Luffy fast enough to buff the bark off the tree…and eventually splinter it under the force.

Luffy hit the ground, but was back on his feet, fuming with rage. “Gum-Gum…” Luffy’s fist grew to giant proportions yet again, only this time it was pitch-black with the Armament Haki, “ELEPHANT PISTOL!” With that exclamation, Luffy threw his fist forward. He'd like to see the anchor-armed sailor top THIS.

Popeye spotted the giant, obsidian hand coming at him like a gigantic cannonball, ready to blow him away, yet did not attempt to move out of the way in the slightest. He wound up a fist, spinning it fast enough that it could have been a propeller. When he was fully wound up, and Luffy’s fist was inches away from splattering him all over the island, Popeye launched his fist forward, making contact with the black surface.

A tremor went down the entire length of the arm and, for a split second, nothing appeared to have happened. Then the black surface of the arm actually cracked like an eggshell. Just a few appeared at first, then it spread and spread quickly until the Armament Haki literally shattered like glass.

The force of the impact jarred Luffy to the point that he fell on his seat. He then charged Popeye, his legs pumping him as fast as he could go. As he ran, he stretched an arm behind him that started out pitch-black, but quickly turned bright gold before being completely engulfed in flames.

“Gum-Gum REDHAWK!”

Too late.  Popeye spotted him, saw his flaming appendage, then took a deep breath and blew as hard as he could. The resulting flow of air was comparable to a hurricane wind…if it was much, MUCH stronger. Not only did the winds slow Luffy to a crawl, they also extinguished the fire on his arm like he was blowing out a birthday candle.

“Yes,birthdaywishesandall.Timetofinishyaoff,squirt.” Popeye grumbled, then socked the oncoming boy in the chin again, sending him up into the air once more.

This time, he made sure this would be the last time.

When Popeye spotted Luffy coming back down, he dug his fingers into the ground and pulled as hard as he could. At first glance, one would think that he was going to pull open a crevice in the ground.

WRONG.

Popeye pulled and pulled when, with a paper-like ripping sound, the very page you are reading this fight on tore right across the page. “Let’s see ya come back from THIS, ‘soon-to-be King of Pirates’.”

Luffy was just coming back down when he spotted oblivion awaiting him where he intended to land. He yelped as he fell down the crevice, then reached up with an elongated arm and just grabbed the edge of the tear.

Popeye spotted him and emitted a disgruntled growl, but then rubbed his hands together as an idea came to him. “Oh, look! Piggies!”

Popeye walked over to Luffy’s fingers, then wedged his thumb under his index finger. “This little piggy went to market…” With a “twang”, he pried the finger loose and Luffy’s eyes widened.

“Gum-Gum Pistol!” Luffy shot his other arm in an attempt to dislodge Popeye or get another grip to help himself up.

“Quit it, ya little whelp!” Popeye said, casually swatting the rubbery limb away, “I’m tryin’ to count piggies! This little piggy stayed home…” He pried Luffy’s middle finger loose.

“Gum-Gum Rocket!” Luffy said, his arm retracting, ready to spring him up and headbutt the cockeyed sailor…only to be met with the same fate as his hand.

“I said ‘cut it out’!” Popeye said, grouchily, socking Luffy back down to dangle from his last two fingers. “THIS little piggy had roast beef…” Luffy was now dangling from his pinky and could only watch in horror as Popeye said the last six words he would ever hear.

“And this little piggy had NONE.”

Popeye dislodged Luffy’s final finger and the captain of the Strawhat Pirates fell off the page into the whiteness of oblivion. His screams died down as he fell…forever.

“Hey, author! Stop bein’ so grim!” Popeye shouted, “And patch this up, will ya?”

Oh! Certainly!

At that point, a human hand with a sewing needle and thread went to work. Within a few seconds, it had patched up the page. To make sure it was safe, Popeye set foot on it: sturdy as a rock.

Popeye sighed in relief, then dove into the water. A brief moment later, he had hauled the entire wreckage of his boat out of the water and set to work repairing it.

K.O.!!!

--

Steel: (pause) What the heck did I just see?

Ray: I’m not entirely sure, but at least we have a winner. While Luffy is, without a doubt, one of the strongest people to have ever taken to the sea, Popeye’s savvy, cartoon-level durability, and spinach ultimately triumphed.

Steel: Luffy would not likely make the connection of Popeye’s strength and spinach (even if he DOES sing it in his song) because Popeye saves it as a last resort. Plus, the entire thing played out like a Popeye cartoon.

Ray: Luffy would make short work of Popeye when he was in base form, Gears Second and Third and his Haki would ensure that. However, when Popeye ate his spinach, his strength, speed, durability, and powers exceed that of ANY One Piece character.

Steel: How do those stats hold up? For starters, Popeye was strong enough to move the entire EARTH, which (as “Goku vs. Superman” stated) means he can lift up to 6.6 quintillion tons, exceeding just about ANY of Luffy’s feats of strength. Taking into consideration that Armament Haki can be broken with enough force, this means that Popeye is MORE than strong enough to break through it.

Ray: Popeye also once flew from the moon to Earth in under five seconds. This means that his top speed is at least Mach 13, but it IS likely that he can go faster; fast enough to fight past the effects of Observation Haki. Popeye has also dealt with supernatural entities, like ghosts and genies, so the Devil Fruits would likely mean nothing to him when spinach-fueled.

Steel: And before you bring up the Conqueror’s Haki, Popeye has both a strong will and a power level equal to, or greater than, that of Luffy’s. Crack your own Dragonball Z joke here.

Ray: Now, we can argue about feats of strength, speed, and all that. In the end, it cannot decide what either Luffy or Popeye are capable of. They’re both great heroes known for getting out of dire situations with their fists alone. The difference is their character. Luffy is not, has not, and never will be invincible. He has limits, obvious weaknesses, and his story is partly him overcoming the problems to make himself stronger. Meanwhile, Popeye’s is different. When a situation is dire, he uses something to make him capable of doing whatever needs to be done. In short, Popeye is as strong as he needs to be.

Steel: Going “Goku vs. Superman” again?

Ray: What? Look at it and tell me if it isn’t similar.

Steel: I-(pause) Wow…you’re right.

Ray: So, what happens when you pit a guy known for pushing his limits against a guy who has no real limit as to what he can or can’t do? Well, only Luffy has limits to begin with.

Steel: It was a good fight, but victory was just too much of a stretch even for Luffy. Now let's prepare to clean our inbox of all the nasty e-mails we're, undoubtedly, going to get from the One Piece fans...

Ray: The winner is Popeye.

LUFFY…
+More than powerful enough to match Popeye in base form
+Harder to hurt as a whole
+Haki and Gears are formidable
-More exploitable weaknesses
-Even at best, cannot match spinach-fueled Popeye
-Sometimes reliant on crew/friends in dire situations (I stress the term “sometimes”)

POPEYE…
+A force to be reckoned with, even in base form
+Just plain hard to kill
+No truly-debilitating weaknesses to be taken advantage of
+Spinach…need I say more?
+Achieves the impossible on a day-to-day basis
+More used to getting himself out of situations
by peachnewt

If soft vore or m/m is not your thing, leave now.  These characters are my own creation.  Do not steal or copy.  

It was night, and the three men were dressed in a variation of forest gear; Reese in forest camo like a happy camper, Louis and William in a darker, tighter version of climbing gear.  Except for the keypad at the entrance, the cave looked like any other mining shaft, dark, cold, and endless.  The code at the entrance had a leeway time of two minutes before it activated the alarm to Kole's headquarters.  Reese got it cracked in 34 seconds.  

"When I'm good, I'm good," he whispered triumphantly.   

"Great, now move it," said Louis, merging seamlessly with the pitch shadows.  

"Good luck," said Reese to the younger agent.  "I'll save you a donut."  

With a salute to the red haired safecracker, William followed his partner into the cave, flicking on his flashlight as he went.  There was nothing but rock walls.  He caught up to Louis at a fork in the tunnel, sunglasses off, perusing the map.  The circles under the blonde's gray eyes were darker than ever.  

"Cetz, how's the reception on your end?" asked Louis through the SkySprechts.   

"Fine, we're getting you two loud and clear," said the Head of Watch Two.  "We don't know what kind of fancy gadgets Kore has hidden there, so keep base communications to a minimum."  

"Got it."  

The both signed off.

"Which way do we go," asked Will as he shined his light on the map.  

Louis glared and pushed Will's arm down.  "Left.  Whatever you do, don't point that flashlight in my face."  

"What's wrong?"  

"My eyes hurt, okay!"  Louis stalked away, leaving Will to follow.  


***


Louis drew his breath slowly, looking at the air detector every five minutes.  He tried to ignore how the stone walls were getting lower and narrower as he passed.  He could feel the earth swell closer to him, eager to break the wooden beams holding it up, and bury him to never see the light of day.  

*Keep moving*, he told himself.  *Fanboy is right behind you, and you don't need to freak out in front of him.*  

An hour later, he and Will came upon the first chamber stacked with boxes and crates.  According to the labels they were guns, but the number of them was startling.  Will, the one in charge of accounting for the things found, took out the camera and snapped a picture of the crates.  To Louis's relief, the camera used a glowing, slow light instead of a heavy flash, and looking away was easy enough to do.  

They passed three chambers, their path going higher into the mountain, and the number of crates was growing.  Will geeked out at an item that looked like a lightsaber, until Louis pointed out it was a high-powered flashlight.  

Louis froze as he uncovered a steel box.  "Shit."  

"What is it?"  

Louis motioned to the box.  "Look at what they got their hands on."  

Will looked at the contents with a frown.  It looked like a large motherboard, and at every inch a clear cylinder capped with metal laid across it, like florescent bulbs on a ceiling.  "What is it?"  

"The prototype that spawned the BTs," Louis spat.  

"What's so dangerous about a BT?  It's basic scanning and medical equipment."  

Louis's lip curled as he shoved the prototype back into the box.  "The BT was no miracle to medicine when it was first created.  It was originally a pulse emitter that fried the skin off your bones, and that was just the first prototype.  Like a tanning bed on steroids.  Version two could emit a stronger pulse; fry the neurons in your brain.  And now Kore's got version three."  

Will was taken aback.  "But, this is a prototype.  Its obsolete technology compared to the later, more sophisticated versions the Watch has."  

"The sniper rifle might be more sophisticated than the musket, but the musket still does a hell of a lot of damage."  Louis discarded the box and continued on, checking his air gage.  It was green, but it was sneaking closer to yellow.  William looked thoughtful as he followed behind.

"You know a lot about BTs for someone who hates them," said Will.

Louis kept silent, wanting to find the virus and leave.  

"Were you on a mission involving them?"  

"My first mission," said Louis.  "And I saw how they were originally meant to be used."  

After another hour of trekking through the mine, Louis and Will had to put on their masks, the sensor glowing yellow.  Finally, they came to the chamber holding the virus.  Louis had a bad feeling.  The seamless vial was suspended over a table in the center of the chamber, lit up by fiber optic wiring.  He glanced at his partner and waved his hand towards the vial.  

"Go ahead, Fanboy.  Get it and let's go."  

"I don't think it'll be that easy," said William, his voice wary.  "This set up is like the opening scene of Raiders of the Lost Arc."  

"And people wonder why I call you Fanboy.  Stay here."  Louis walked around the edge of the chamber.  

Nothing else in the caves had alarms or traps; the same was probably true with the virus.  

Probably.  

Louis approached and with a flick of his wrist snatched the vial.  All was normal and he slipped it into the canister on his belt, and then side stepped towards the chamber entrance where William waited.  

Then the ceiling fell upon them.  


***


Rachel looked over her latest data from Louis's test and then rubbed her tired eyes.  In a room underground with the bunkers, she sat with Retten's equipment that had been confiscated from the Freewill Compound.  She and Cetz were the only ones with keycards to the room.  Tables were littered with the twisted wires and panels from the room that had caused Louis's curious ability to shrink.  But no matter what she did, she could not make heads or tails of them.  

The smell of coffee drew her attention away from the equipment.  

Cetz held up two mugs.  "Figured you could use a pick me up."  

"That and more," she said as she accepted a mug.  She remembered Will's comment that she should switch to tea instead of coffee so she didn't get run down so easily.  "If you're down here then all must be quiet upstairs."  

"Haven't heard a peep from Louis or Will, so no news it good news.  Kore's weapons depot might be massive, but he is an idiot when it comes to thorough security."  Cetz took a seat next to the Med Tech.  "How's it going with Louis's tests?"  

"I'm finding out more things about his ability, but I still have no clue as to how Retten managed to do it to him.  The files you gave me were helpful, but it's the missing file that's the key to all this."  

Cetz nodded as he sipped his cup.  "File 391.  We should consider the information lost."  

"Unless we can get Retten alive and talking," said Rachel hopefully.

"And that leads to my next question.  How goes it with the transmitter?"  

Cetz was referring to the tracker Rachel had cut out of Will's body in his last mission.  The tracker had been broadcasting not only to the men chasing Will, but to Retten as well.  Louis, who would have foamed at the mouth for a chance to get back at that man, had been kept out of the loop, as had everyone else.  It had been the best lead to Retten's next hideout, an old townhouse, but it had been abandoned for hours, along with the receiver.  

"Now that Grant has it deactivated he's been looking through the components, trying to find out the manufacturer, but he's been coming up empty.  I've had Finance Tech dig through the rent on the townhouse.  Cash for all payments, but they're going through the serial numbers and other connections."  Rachel waved her hand to Retten's broken machine.  "I haven't found any connections in this stuff between Retten and Watch One yet, but we still have Doctor Massaru looking through staff pictures and audio clips."  

"You still reporting that he has a severe infection?"  

"Yes, and Massaru is playing the part of the suffering patient well.  He'll continue to have poor health until we can find out who's the leak."  

"And let's hope Will and Louis will come back with some damning evidence from Kore's weapon's depot."  

Rachel finished her cooling coffee in a single gulp.  "Are you going to tell them about the leak when they get back?"  

"I should.  It certainly won't make their day any better.  But they're walking around in an uncharted cave full of weapons for madmen and looking for a deadly virus.  How much worse can their day get?"  


***


William uncurled, rising from the floor mostly unhurt save a few deep bruises.  He blinked the dust out of his eyes, waiting for the air to settle and searched for the flashlight he had dropped.  A bright yellow light came from the air sensor.  He had managed to keep his mask on during the cave in, but his breath was still labored.  The last image in his mind was that of Louis looking up, the rare sight of terror on his face, and it twisted in Will's gut.  Finding the flashlight, he pointed it at the pile of rubble that separated him from the virus chamber, and Louis.   

He tore at the rocks with his gloved hands.  "Louis!  Louis, can you hear me?"  

There was no response on the SkySprechts.  

After a minute of digging he heard a shaky gasp through the communicator.  

"Will!" whimpered Louis.  

"Louis!  Are you okay?"  

Louis' voice was frail, so unlike the demanding voice Will was used to.  "I take it back; this is a worse place to be."  

--Continued in Part 4
Under My Skin Part 3

Will and Louis enter the caves, and find them to be unstable the hard way.

No direct vore in this chapter, but things will only get harder for our heroes.

Previous Part 2: [link]

Next Part 4 --> [link]
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Names                    Meaning
Beelzebub               Lord of the Flies                                           2 Kings 1:2, Matthew 12:24
Belial                      Worthless                                                      2 Corinthians 6:15
Devil                       Slanderer, Accuser, Cutting through               Matthew 4:1, Ephesians 6:10
Ha Satan                 The Accuser, Adversary                               Job 1:6 Matthew 4:10
Lucifer                    Lightbearer                                                   Isaiah 14:12                     
Satan                     Accuser, Adversary                                      Job 1:6 Matthew 4:10

Titles
A great fiery red dragon                                                                      Revelation 12:3
A Liar                                                                                                 John 8:44
A Murderer                                                                                        John 8:44
A Roaring Lion                                                                                   I Peter 5:8
An Angel of Light                                                                               2 Corinthians 11:14
The Accuser of our Brethren                                                               Revelation 12:10
The Adversary                                                                                    1. Peter 5:8, I Timothy 5:14
The Deceiver                                                                                      Revelation 12:9
The Dragon                                                                                        Revelation 20:2
The Enemy                                                                                         Matthew. 13:39  
The Father of Liars                                                                             John 8:44
The god of Ekron                                                                               2 Kings 1:2
The god of this Age/World                                                                  2 Corinthians 4:4
The Great Dragon                                                                               Revelation 12:9
The King of Babylon                                                                           Isaiah. 14:4
The King of Tyre                                                                                 Ezekiel 28:11-17
The Prince/Ruler of Demons                                                                Matthew 12:24
The Prince of the power of the Air                                                       Ephesians 2:2
The Prince/Ruler of this World                                                             John 12:31
Satan who deceives the whole world                                                    Revelation 12:9
The Serpent of Old                                                                              Revelation 20:2
The Son of the Morning                                                                      Isaiah 14:12      
The Spirit that now works in the Children of Disobedience                   Ephesians 2:2
The Tempter                                                                                        Matthew 4:3
The Wicked one                                                                                  I John 5:19
This was not a pleasant list to make and I debated rather or not to post it.

Before anyone gets any ideas I am NOT promoting demons or trying to glorify them!

But everywhere one looks, including here on DA, one sees tons of pictures and stories about demons;
and hardly any of them are accurate and even less are Biblical. :(

Demons Do in fact exist and are not to be taken lightly!
They are evil deceiving spirits whose purpose is to deceive and destroy.

Their leader, the Devil, exists as well. He feels only one emotion, hate and he exists only to destroy.
And yet most people know nothing about him or else they treat him like a fairy tale, or even view
him as something positive.

As Christians we are called to take part in spiritual warfare, but in order to do that we need
to know our enemy and above all we need to now GOD’s Word!

Here then is a biblical list of some of the titles of Satan.
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by peachnewt

If soft vore or m/m is not your thing, leave now.  These characters are my own creation.  Do not steal or copy.  

Over the course of the next week, Watch Two kept a sharp ear and eye out for any other Freewill factions.  None showed up.  Whatever the cult group had been planning, it had gone to dust with Watch Two's interference.  Cetz breathed a sigh of relief and then had staff carry on as usual.  There was still much equipment to go through.  And there were daily trips back to the compound, each van coming back with a fill load.  

On the third floor, it could have been a repeat of the scene from a week ago.  Louis came into the Watch, grumbling under his breath about traffic and idiots on the road.  His eyes, hidden behind a pair of lightly tinted grey sunglasses, were dark, wanting to snap like a whip at anyone who looked at him oddly.  Then he saw William standing next to his desk with a large mug of steaming coffee, and a quiet smile on his face.  Louis paused, his eyes narrowed.  

The surrounding agents expected another shouting match, and tensed for the onslaught.

Louis took the mug.  "Thanks," he mumbled.  

"You're welcome," chirped William before going back to his desk.  

The blonde agent settled down with his coffee, noting the whispers amongst the rest of the agents, but saying nothing.  His smile was hidden behind the lip of the coffee mug as he took a sip.  He had meeting with Rachel in the afternoon; another one of her infuriating checkups that had started a week ago.  But it didn't seem so bad now that he had his coffee.  

It wasn't until the coffee was finished that he saw the design on the other side of the mug.  


---


William pinned an online newspaper article he had printed out onto the corkboard in the office area.  He stepped back with pride.  

"One less evil in the world."

"WILL!" Louis roared as he stomped towards him, the offending mug in hand.  ""Kiss me I'm cranky"?!"

"Oh, I thought you'd never ask!" replied William before yelping and running down the hall.  Louis followed close behind, yelling obscenities and waving the mug as if to use it as a deadly projectile.  

Reese shook his head as he watched the two run out the office area.  "Like Roadrunner and Coyote."  

"Meep meep, thpppppt!" said Beni.   

She looked at the page William had pinned.  

"Downtown Deli Closed by Mass Food Poisoning"

---

William took part of his lunchtime off for his daily visit with Massaru, who was still recovering from his wounds.  The healing was slow, but the Indian doctor took it with great patience and a smile.  He seemed to the exception to the rule that doctors made the worse patients.  Massaru waved Will in with a grin after a nurse set down his meal tray and the two continued their conversation from the day before.  William had a homemade sandwich, not chicken salad, while Massaru had pasta.  They switched desserts, sharing a pudding and homemade brownie.  

"How long has it been since you've seen your son?" asked William.  

"A little more than a year.  He would be in his last year of college by now.  The memory of him and my wife were one of the few things that kept me going while under Freewill."  

"Do you know where he is?"

"With his mother I suppose.  Last thing I heard from her was that he was getting serious about a girl."  

"How serious?"  

"On the edge of asking permission for her hand in marriage from her parents.  Old fashioned, yes, but a bit of a tradition amongst us Devis," said Massaru with a smile.  "But that was almost six months ago.  For all I know he's already married."  

"Maybe some small Devis on the way?"  

"Maybe.  Speaking of relationships… I heard from the nurse about that mug you gave Louis.  You know I warned you against that."  

William grinned around his spoonful of pudding.  "I know.  But seeing the look on his face was priceless."  

"You enjoy antagonizing him, looking like a… "idiot fanboy" as he calls it.  Why?"  

William shrugged.  "He's in need of something to trigger that temper of his before it grows too big.  Maybe if I can get under that I can reach his sense of humor."  

"You think he has one?"  

"I've heard him laugh before.  He can do it again.  And I… you know how in grade school, boys would tug on girl's hair or push them.  It was their way of saying "I like you".  I think me and Louis are kind of like that, I tease him because I care about him."  

Before long William's lunchtime was up.  He lingered at the doorway.  

"If you want I can look up your family and see where you son is.  The databases are massive; if there's any way of finding out what he's doing the Watch can do it."  

The doctor smiled.  "I would be grateful."  


---


Cetz and Rachel were the only other ones in the testing area of the Medical lab.  It was a dimmed to half light, and the BT-10 scanner was humming away when Louis entered.  

"The lab rat has arrived," he growled.  "What kind of torture have you got for me today?"  

"Strength testing," replied Rachel indifferently as she checked something off on her clipboard.  "And then seeing your reactions with different types of light."  

"Great," drawled Louis as he took his shades off, his eyes squinting at the brightness of the lab.  He sat on a table and Cetz stood next to him, his voice low.   

"You still don't want to tell Will how you really got back to normal?"

"Normal?"  Louis stared hard at the florescent lighting and his stature suddenly shrunk to below three inches, making him barely a toy on the table.  "You call this normal?"

Having seen Louis shrink dozens of times before, Cetz was not phased.  "Don't change the subject.  You'll have to tell him someday."

"Yeah… someday, when the information is needed, not before.  We still don't know if this is permanent or if it will fade away."  

Cetz shrugged and went back to helping Rachel set up her equipment.  Louis, alone on the wide plane of the table, felt isolated.  He rubbed his eyes.  

*How long can I keep this from Will?*


---Man on the Inside END
Man on the Inside Part 12 Epilogue

The aftermath of the Freewill mission. Will has lunch with Doctor Devi, and the reason's behind Louis's medical exams are explained.

Yeah, y'all are gonna hate me for this. But I'm going to leave the story like this; open-ended, capable of so much more... but that's it.

This is not the end of me writing about Will and Louis. I hope one day to come back to these characters. I have SO many ideas for them, and I've already hinted at trials and tribulations in their near future. It would be crazy to leave these guys hanging. But that's it. FOR NOW. ^_^

Until I can get my time together to write more, please enjoy the chapters I have posted.

First Part 1: [link]

Previous Part 11: [link]

EDIT - Next story Under My Skin : [link]
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MERCENARY

Chapter 1: Blood is Beauty

Release One: Pages 1 - 3

THE COLD AIR in Baron Rorke's study did little to calm his nerves. He was expecting visitors this night and they were not the best of company. A shiver of dread ran down his spine and he spent most of the twilight hours staring out of a large window which stood behind his writing desk. It was amazing, he felt, how quickly a man could become attached to a life of luxury; only to be made painfully aware of how easy it was to lose it. War was always a frightening thing, even more so when one had the knowledge and sense to realise that it was no longer an exercise of glory, but a simple festival of bloodshed and cold murder. In war it did not matter if you impaled a stranger on the edge of your sword, such a thing would be punishable in any city or country, but in times of war it became an accepted norm. If the man in front of you wore a different colour, then it was alright to kill him, it was alright to rip him apart for he was an enemy. That was the twisted reality of combat and looking back on his memories of the field; the Baron wondered how he had ever considered such a thing to be glorious. Instead, he found himself almost repulsed by the thought of spilling another man's blood. It is difficult to understand the frenzy that grips a man. War is a mere keyword for destruction, it is a word of power that transforms a rational man into one without morals; who still believes himself to be just. The Baron sighed; it would do him no good to think about such things. Instead, he had to focus on the present. No longer was he the confident, barrel-chested youth with the strength of an Ox, but no less were his responsibilities even in his old age. Somehow, though he could no longer lead or inspire his armies, he would have to protect the peace that he had obtained and doing so would require a sacrifice. A sacrifice, he repeated to himself. The balding, grey-haired man that was reflected in the window seemed to smile. I will pay any price, he thought to himself, if I may enjoy these days of peace and stability. Marina will be getting married next spring, the lucky boy is a rich merchant so she'll have little to worry about. Marco on the other hand will be heading off to the Royal Knights academy in autumn and it will be four years before he graduates. Until then, I must keep things the way they are, I must keep things from changing, at least until they can all stand on their own. The Baron smiled wryly as he saw the irony in his current situation. He had participated in the War of Unification as naught but a commoner, with nothing to lose and everything to gain. Now he was a noble lord who had all he desired, but stood to lose it all. Fate can be both humourous and cruel, he chuckled to himself, in the end it seems as though my life has come full circle. Once I had nothing and now I desire nothing. All that is left to me is to maintain this existence, at least for awhile longer for the sake of my children who have no need to dirty their hands. Rorke shivered again, it was a cold night but he had been instructed not to make a fire. They would not come if he made a fire…

    Rorke was about to slip comfortably back into his own reverie, when the doors to his study burst open without warning. He was shocked at first, but the Baron quickly straightened his back and stood firmly. He had been informed that they would enter his home in such a manner and he had prepared himself to receive them. The air in the room seemed to stagnate immediately as though its movement were no longer permitted. A thick miasma of gloom and despair settled over the entire area and Rorke's mind grew troubled. Nerves, worries, fears of his childhood, all of it began to scurry forth like spiders from the dark recesses of his mind and the very act of swallowing his own saliva became difficult, as though something hard and lumpy had been caught in his throat. A cloaked figure appeared in the previously empty doorway, it was a slender and graceful individual that seemed to glide into the study. It was accompanied by a giant, armed from head to toe, that stood just two steps behind it, his presence making the entire room seem small and cramped. The first of the two figures, the normal sized one, pushed back the hood of its cloak and instantly the atmosphere of gloom vanished. Rorke found himself staring now, at one of the most beautiful women he had ever seen in his entire life. Her skin was flawless, unblemished and perfect; lips as red as the finest of roses. Her eyes sparkled like green pools of mystery and power and her long dark hair appeared to be as soft as silk. Her entire body seemed to carry the promise of forbidden pleasure and though the cloak hid it from sight, Rorke was painfully aware of the temptation that lay beneath the thin veil of cloth. This lady, is an enchantress! he thought to himself, trying desperately to fight against her charms. She is definitely a wielder of the arcane arts

    "I am as you believe me to be," the figure responded, seemingly reading his thoughts. Her voice was rich and melodious and it seemed to soothe Rorke's heart and mind, his suspicions of her falling away immediately.

    "I-I greet you," said Rorke, feeling slightly breathless. He thought that he should probably offer them a handshake and show them due courtesy, but his legs simply refused to obey him. "Forgive me for my lack of manners; I seem to be unable to approach you."

    "That is fine," said the lady, her lips curving into a confident smile, "A worm has no right to touch me in the first place. Arghast is the only one permitted contact, aren't you?" The lady turned to smile at her companion, who remained silent with just the barest nod to acknowledge her statement.

    Rorke found himself unable to look directly at the lady without feeling a shameful amount of lust and so he averted his eyes away from her, settling upon the giant. This man was indeed a titan and he easily dwarfed his female companion by a large margin. He appeared to be about seven feet tall, perhaps slightly under, but his muscular physique combined with his heavy armaments to multiply his size and make him very intimidating. Rorke thought that he looked like a walking fortress and that nothing in the world would have an easy time in trying to topple him. Rorke shivered as the idea of facing someone like him in the field crossed his mind. It would be an utterly terrifying experience with the only options being retreat or death. It made him glad that he long since retired from the field. Still, a part of his soldier's instinct remained with him and before he knew it, Rorke was doing a mental identification of everything the giant was carrying. Amongst the various plates of armor, Rorke noted the following arms:  one pair of battle axes, with a vicious serrated edge on each one, strapped across his back for easy access; several throwing knives, holstered around his waist, all curved in an unnatural manner; one batch of throwing axes, heavy headed and hand-made, hanging freely from his belt and within quick reach of his right hand. Rorke couldn't particularly quite see it well, but the giant also appeared to be carrying a large shield-like object across his shoulders. Rorke thought that he might have a closer look at it, but his gaze was forcibly torn away and brought back to focus upon the lady.

    "A worm should not be averting his sight from one as beautiful as I am," said the lady, walking slowly toward the Baron, her hips swaying gently with each step. "Am I of no interesting to you?"

    The Baron's breathing quickened and he felt his heart beating faster, but this wasn't excitement, this was fear. "No m'am," he stammered, using a polite title despite the lady being obviously younger than him, "I meant no disrespect."

    "But of course you didn't," said the lady, reaching out with her right hand to stroke his cheek gently. "I did not permit it after all."

    The Baron's thoughts began to grow cloudy, the lady's touch was so soft and warm and her scent was heavenly, it made him hungry, hungry to be close to her.

    "Would you like to be my newest toy?" asked the lady.

    The Baron was about to answer with a loud 'yes', when he was thankfully brought back to his senses by a wicked curved knife that flashed in front of his face, embedding itself all the way down to the hilt upon his writing desk. The armoured giant approached him and retrieved the knife, the Baron blinking blearily at him. "My apologies," the giant rumbled, his voice sounding like a rock-slide, "my sister finds it difficult to avoid playing with those who are…inclined to temptation."

    "Ah, I see," replied the Baron, the fog slowly lifting from his mind. "That's dangerous," he muttered lamely, his brain not quite functioning.

    Arghast had just barely sheathed his weapon when he was violently knocked to the ground by his female companion. "Do not interrupt me!" she shrieked at him. Arghast seemed unfazed by her temper tantrum and got to his feet with a shrug, "you may now resume your explanation sister."

    The lady scowled at him and turned back to face the Baron, "I am Akara, the Pale Mistress of Death. This armoured giant, as I've said before, is my brother Arghast. We are the Seekers and we are willing to offer our services as long as you can pay the price."

    Rorke nodded and shook his head, trying to clear it in vain, "I-I do have what you seek here." He reached for the drawer on the left side of his writing desk, digging around in it for a glowing purple crystal. This had been a gift from a powerful mage during the war and Rorke had kept it with him as a sort of lucky charm. He was told that it contained powerful magic, but he was obviously unable to use it. "Will this be enough for you m'am?"

    "Ah, such a pretty bauble," smiled Akara, as she raised her right hand and waved at it, causing the crystal to leap into the air and soar into her waiting palm. "Oh yes, this will do very nicely. I haven't seen this one yet!"

    "Is it one of the memories we seek?" asked Arghast, folding his arms across his chest.

    Akara shook her head and pocketed the gem, "I have no way to tell for the moment brother, I will have to examine it with my magic. However, before we can play around with it, I do believe that we owe it to our dear Baron to fulfil his request. After all, he has already paid us a handsome price. Now tell me my dear Baron, what do you wish in exchange for this?"

    "An end," said Rorke as the fog that clouded his mind cleared away. "I desire an end to Baron Torval's life, for I know that he intends to attack my lands come spring. I-I cannot afford to lose what I have and though my army could hold him, I would prefer not to have unnecessary casualties on my end. If Baron Torval is killed however, his chiefs will begin to fight amongst themselves and my lands will be safe for a few years to come."

    Akara smiled, but it was an expression without warmth. It reflected only her cruelty and her desire to inflict pain, "as it has been requested, so too shall it be done." With a quick swirl of her cloak, a surge of dark magic filled the air and both she and the giant vanished, dissolving away into the taunting shadows. When it was done, Baron Rorke's hair was left standing on end and he felt as though his very soul had been violated. In the end, he wound up sitting in his study until dawn the next day, unable to move, think or sleep. All I needed was a sacrifice right? With this, everything will end and my children will be safe. No more will I need to get anything dirty, no more, no more…

-Chen Yuan Wen, 1st September 2012
If you enjoyed this lovely little fantasy and would like to see more original works like this, don't forget to click the fave button :3.

Author's Comments:
As promised ^^ Here is a story release. I'm actually re-writing mercenary, since my writing skills have upgraded a little bit and I am looking to practice more on setting the scene mood and using good imagery. I probably should submit to groups to get more feedback, but this took longer than expected and so nyeeeh >3< I'll do it with the next release xD

Enjoy everyone ^^ and don't forget to thumbs up for original literature (not that there's anything bad with fan fiction but let's try to give some credit to original ideas xD).

-Captain Chenbeard of the Black Fedora Pirates :iconwordofchen:
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Dear OCD,

I won't die if I stop counting my steps. Each step is unique, and therefore can't be counted. Each surface is not a planet, each room is not a galaxy and each house is not a universe.
Nobody will get killed if I don't keep count of how many times my fingers hit the Enter button, or how many times I tap my phone before I slide it open. I don't have to touch that headset eighteen times before I put it on, and there's no need to count the strokes of mascara I take on every morning.
I don't have to clean my hands the very second they feel dirty, or oily. My iPod is not something that has to be kept sterile at all times, and I won't be killed by the germs on it. My phone is just as dirty, as are my clothes.
The dining plates can be placed between each other, there's no real need to put the white ones together, and not let the blue ones touch the red ones. They are all made of the same material, and there's no need to create systems in everything. The world isn't like that, not even mine.
Yes, there are trams that do not arrive at time. There are twenty-seven red cars in the city, and one car is not two, even though there are two people in it.
There are people with dyslexia, and their grammar isn't always 110% correct. Nobody will die if they misspell a few words here and there, 'cause humans make mistakes.
I would like you to leave me and my thoughts alone.

Yours sincerely,
Tora.
But the pancakes make me anxious.


Based on ~iamganontheumbreon's Letter to OCD [link]

I did my own. And I'm tired of counting. But I can't fucking stop.
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