Short Story: The Theory Behind the Missions

Some alphabet soups that will appear in this short story:
TED – Training and Education Department
DD – Department of Defence
R&D – Research and Development

 

Shadow’s missions could be divided into three types: education, protection, and collection.

Education missions came from TED, and had her play all kinds of roles from example to predator for the sake of bringing up stronger and smarter Fighters to defend the city.

Protection missions came from DD, when squads had to venture into dangerous territory for their missions, or when a stranded squad needed help getting home. There weren’t many Fighters, so every one was a precious asset.

Collection missions came from R&D, and often involved collecting monsters, dead or alive. Preferably alive.

Out of all the different types of missions she received, the last type was the most challenging. Monsters were called monsters for a reason, and it wasn’t just because of their grotesque looks.

But she did it anyway, tying to avoid causing as much harm as possible, because R&D had a theory. Their theory was that these monsters actually used to be human, and just like how they had been turned from humans to monsters, there might be a way to turn them back.

Whoever came up with that theory must have been a genius saint at seeing the good in people, because looking at the monster before her now, Shadow could see nothing else but a dangerous threat.

She braced herself for battle as the monster did the same.

Time to bring you home.

They pounced.

~End~

 

Genre: fantasy

Short Story: A Monster of a Mission

Theo had seen hundreds of monsters since he started working as a Fighter, but he had never seen one so huge. 

It towered over them, even when crouched on all fours. The teeth that protruded from its mouth was longer than Theo’s arms and it dripped with who knew what. The monster huffed a cloud of smoke, and he could feel the heat all the way from where he stood.

This was their mission today.

For all his strength, Theo felt insignificantly small before the monster. Where would he even start? The monster’s matted hair looked impenetrable, and if he wasn’t careful, just one swipe from those massive arms and it would all be over.

“Ezra, split up and see if you can expose any weak spots,” Vice-Captain said.

Ezra nodded and created copies of himself.

“Eileen, Captain and I will support Ezra and keep the monster where we want it to be. Thomas, Theo, you’re our spotter and hard hitters. Thomas go left, Theo go right. Help us if we’re in danger, if not conserve your strength. Once we have an opening, hit it hard and fast. Got it?”

That was right. He wasn’t alone. His flustered thoughts settled into determined sharpness.

“Got it.”

“Let’s go team!”

“Yeah!”

~End~

 

Genre: fantasy

Part of the Defenders of the Wall universe.

Short Story: Fragile Things

For Theo, who had super strength, everything was fragile. Almost everything he owned was damaged in some way. His pillow had a busted corner from when he grabbed it too hard. His door had stress fractures from when he knocked it closed. His clothes had mended patches from when he’d tugged them on in a hurry.

And those grooves on the side of the bottle? Those were definitely from that time when he frantically caught it right before it dropped off the city wall.

“No. This is mine,” the delinquent said. His buddies eagerly backed him up.

Theo wanted to scream. Here he was, an S class Fighter who regularly fought monsters twice his size outside the city wall, getting robbed by delinquents. Again. Why?

Well, the situation might be similar, but he was different now. His seniors had spent the time to give him special training sessions and sacrificed dozens of glass cups precisely for moments like this.

He still hesitated before the first grab. People were fragile things, and unlike glass, he couldn’t brush things off if they break.

He would just have to be extra careful.

Theo reached for his bottle. When the delinquent moved it out of reach, he gently but firmly held the delinquent’s arm in place. The delinquent’s buddies hit and pulled him, but Theo stood firm and focused on the delicate balance of strength he needed to pry his bottle free without breaking anything.

Finally, he had his bottle once more. The delinquents, now empty handed, turned tail and ran.

It was an anticlimactic end, but he got his bottle back and he hadn’t been locked up by delinquents again. That was something worth celebrating.

~End~

 

Short Story: Squad 11

Lucy envisioned a close knit squad, every member working together in sync with just a glance or a gesture.

Reality presented her with a group of awkward strangers.

Well, she had been warned that being a captain wouldn’t be easy, but she accepted the role anyway. With the responsibility came power, and with her power, she would pull these fragmented individuals into the team she envisioned.

She clapped her hands once. The sharp sound startled her new members’ attention onto her.

“Welcome, everyone, to Squad 11. It’s our first day together, so we’re starting with a cooking competition. You have two hours. Cook me something delicious. Winner gets to be my vice captain.”

~End~

 

Part of the Defenders of the Wall universe.

Genre: slice of life

 

Short Story: PLANs

There were plans. Prepared, discussed, and practised in the safety of their training room within the city wall.

Then there were PLANs.

Please
Let us
All
Not die

20% skills, 30% reflex, 50% chance, 100% effort to squash the panic down and 0% time to hold a strategy meeting.

It wasn’t possible to have a plan for every single thing that could go wrong on a mission, but the feeling of terror could be replicated. And once they got used to fighting under emotional duress, they would be able to react and survive better when missions went wrong outside the wall.

At least, that was what the training specialists said, and the Fighters would believe them more if they didn’t cackle with glee as they showered the capture the flag field with glitter bombs that smelled like pungent poop.

For a week afterwards, the Department of Defence was very sparkly and… fragrant.

Truly, the most terrifying monsters weren’t the ones outside the wall.

~End~

 

Genre: fantasy

Short Story: Never Ending Race

Genre: slice of life
DD – Department of Defence

 

It was almost a rite of passage for new Fighters to try and uncover the enigma which was Shadow. None of the seniors expected actual success, but it was always funny to watch their juniors’ attempts to outsmart and corner Shadow, DD’s number one Fighter.

The more opportunistic seniors harnessed the curiosity by incorporating Shadow into their training.

“Practice these skills and you could sneak up on Shadow.”

“We’re going to learn some manoeuvres as a squad. When you’re ready, Shadow has agreed to spar with us. Work together so we can have a good fight.”

Shadow, herself, accepted the challenge with good humour, taking the chance to train herself too. It was a never ending race. As the rest of the department improved with each wave of new blood, Shadow rose to the challenge, in turn challenging everyone else to come up with more creative ideas and skilled execution to take her down.

Who was Shadow?

No one knew, but they would keep improving until the day came when they could catch her and ask.

~End~

Short Story: A Question of Leisure

Have You Ever Wondered | This Girl | A Pioneer’s Life | A Friend In Need | A Change of Pace | An Unexpected Side | A Question of Leisure | Promised View

Genre: slice of life

Just because he was recuperating in a new place didn’t mean this girl stopped being curious. When he recovered enough to participate in conversations again, the barrage of questions returned.

“What do you do in your free time, mister?” the girl asked.

“Check my defences,” he said without hesitation.

“I meant hobbies, not work.”

He thought about it. “Check my defences.”

She made a face. “Really?”

“Doesn’t hurt to check them more often. They’re supposed to keep me alive.”

“Didn’t stop that,” she said with a look at his midsection, which a few weeks ago had a gaping hole.

“I would be dead without them so they still did their job.”

“But that’s still work,” she complained.

He shrugged. “Staying alive is a full time job.”

Her lips twisted into a displeased pout, either aimed at him or his situation. He saw that pout a lot, even before he got hurt. There were a lot of things he did that she disagreed with.

He looked up at the ceiling and sighed. Fine. She deserved a little more.

“I like watching the sky,” he said, “Space is precious back home, so there isn’t a lot of empty space. If you look up, you’ll only see tiny patches of sky in between the buildings. One reason I accepted the job was because i thought if worked outside, I could see the sky.”

And what a sky it was.

The girl said nothing. He looked down from the ceiling to find her staring out the window. Before he could say anything, her attention snapped back to him.

“I know some good places. I’ll bring you there when you’re better.”

He wasn’t sure if they had the same idea of what would be considered ‘good places’, but with her ability to go places most people couldn’t, there would surely be some great sights.

“Sure.”

~End~

Short Story: An Unexpected Side

Have You Ever Wondered | This Girl | A Pioneer’s Life | A Friend In Need | A Change of Pace | An Unexpected Side | A Question of Leisure | Promised View

Genre: fantasy
Features characters from my previous stories. You’ll want to read them first.

With meticulous precision, she measured each component into the bowl. The only sound she made was the gentle tapping of her spoon against the bowl.

This girl, whom had popped in and out of his life the past couple of years to pour questions on him like a heavy downpour, was unexpectedly calm in her own home.

“I’m the oldest. I have a reputation to keep,” she said when he pointed it out.

“Is that so?” Ideas stirred in his mind.

“I know what you’re thinking. Don’t bother. Everyone already knows,” she said with a calm dignity that was nothing like the mischievous girl he was familiar with.

She grinned, and the mischievous girl was back. “Don’t worry. Most people meet my calm side first, so you’re still special.”

She set the mixing spoon down. He sat up to receive the bowl and tried not to make a face. Even here, medicine tasted terrible.

“Last dose tomorrow, then we’re done,” she said as she packed the bottles into a box.

“Looking forward to it.” He handed her the empty bowl in exchange for some water to wash the taste away.

Drowsiness hit right after he laid back down on the bed, another trait that was shared with medicine back in his home city. Gentle hands pulled the blanket over him as he sank into sleep.

“Get better soon, mister.”

~End~

Short Story: Not a Normal Day

Genre: slice of life, fantasy
Features the team from Mission Gone Wrong.

 

On normal days, Theo arrived to work on time, if not slightly early.

This was not a normal day.

First, he accidentally destroyed his alarm clock instead of just snoozing it. Because of that, he missed his ride and had to dash madly to work.

Then, on the way to work, a building cracked and a part of the roof slid to the footpath. His training kicked in and he twisted around to catch the falling rubble before they injured someone. With the same strength that destroyed his alarm clock, he moved the pieces aside to clear the road.

By then, he was really late, and when he finally reached his squad’s training room, it was to the sight of the rest of the team standing outside. Of all the days to be late, it had to be the day latecomers were actually punished.

“How long do we need to stay outside for?” he asked his seniors.

“We can go in any time. We just don’t want to,” Thomas said.

“Vice-Captain’s having a conniption,” Eileen said.

“Say it as it is. He’s throwing a hissy fit. Captain has to deal with it because he’s the captain but the rest of us are staying out here where it’s safe,” Thomas said.

“What happened?” Theo asked.

“Someone ate his snack stash,” Eileen said.

Theo immediately looked at Thomas. Thomas groaned.

“You too? I didn’t eat Vice-Captain’s food.”

“Then who did?”

“If we knew, we wouldn’t be here,” Thomas grumbled, “Better get comfortable. Vice-Captain doesn’t sound like he’s going to stop for a long time.”

After all that rushing, it didn’t seem fair that this was the day that he hadn’t needed to rush after all, but, well, such was life. He placed his things on the floor where the others had left their belongings and settled in for the wait.

~End~

Short Story: A Change of Pace

Genre: fantasy
Follows after A Pioneer’s Life and A Friend in Need.

The land of beyond the wall was the land of monsters, they were brought up to believe. It wasn’t wrong. Monsters did prowl the wasteland outside. What they didn’t teach in school was that there were other cities out there, all fighting against the monsters in their own way.

While he recuperated in the girl’s guestroom, she shared about her own city. Instead of concentrating all their attention on one big city, they expended by planting new, smaller cities nearby, each with their own defence force. The people were different too. Back in his home, only a few had super strength of powers. Here, everyone had their own special power and played their part to defend their city.

She also talked about underground cities, of cities built aboveground out of reach, of cities that travelled the wasteland as nomads. Some had special tools that were like poison to the monsters, some had their own tamed monsters that could fight against the wild monsters, all had some unique way to protect themselves.

“Does anyone else know about this?” he asked.

“The nomads would know. They go everywhere,” she said, “We’re actually really, really far from each other. I only know because my power is to travel very far very quickly. I’ll show you around when you get better.”

For a long time, he had been anchored to his house and the immediate area around him. He wouldn’t mind a change of pace.

“That sounds great.”

~End~

Have You Ever Wondered | This Girl | A Pioneer’s Life | A Friend In Need | A Change of Pace | An Unexpected Side | A Question of Leisure | Promised View