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Messages - Operative13

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Develop Your Story / Re: Project Serentedia - Week 7
« on: January 30, 2023, 03:00:16 AM »
Week 6 Voting is now closed! Stay tuned for announcements!

Develop Your Story / Re: Project Serentedia - Week 6
« on: January 28, 2023, 09:01:14 AM »
@Suuper Keep in mind that the author's intentions don't necessarily mean it's the "right" choice. Sometimes I pick another option simply because it's fun to write about  8) That's the great thing about this project: there are no right or wrong choices.  ;)

I'll be curious to see what the voters choose this time around...

Develop Your Story / Re: Project Serentedia - Week 6
« on: January 28, 2023, 08:07:38 AM »
Voting for Week 6 ends tomorrow! Be sure to get your votes in soon!

Develop Your Story / Re: Project Serentedia - Week 6
« on: January 26, 2023, 10:03:37 PM »
@legomaestro It's good to see you taking an interest in the story! I hope you'll be invested enough to stick around!  8)

Indeed, it is the calm before the storm. The choices you decide early on will have a dramatic impact on the course of the story. If you're familiar with the idea of going back in time, moving a chair, and altering the course of history, well, this would be it. As the pieces of the story comes together, the choices become more clear, and more dramatic.

We are still in what I like to call the introduction of Serendetia. This is where you formulate the world and develop relationships with characters. Building the stage of the grand performance! Be careful how you build that stage though... depending on your choices, you could be setting our protagonists up for success or failure.  :ninja:

In regards to our two protagonists, they are both equal, souls taken from the same cloth. They both have the same amount of investment, and so I have no preference over one or the other. I build them out just as any other character in the story.

In terms of writing each part, it depends. Some choices don't have full impact until later in the story, so that gives me time to plan and prep and write out the current scene within a few hours. Other times, the choices have a sizeable effect for the immediate events and that takes more effort on my part to convey that change, give-or-take a day or two.

Overall, I'd say this is one of the tougher projects I've undertaken, given both the time constraints and the preparation that needs to happen, but it's one I enjoy seeing the growth in, especially as more people take interest in the project and participate in the weekly votes! There's nothing better for a creator than for others to enjoy one's labor of love  ;D

Show your support for the project by participating in the votes each week, and share the project with others! The more the merrier!  ;)

Develop Your Story / Re: Project Serentedia - Week 6
« on: January 24, 2023, 08:49:46 PM »
What a delay! I haven't written this much in quite awhile, being caught up in the extravagances of character development and worldbuilding. Typically I try to get these posts up the day after the poll closes, but sometimes time to develop is better called for than a rushed post. Perhaps it should be expected to give a day or two's delay for that extra-crisp development...  :-\ I'll leave it to you guys to decide whether you prefer to have the polls up pronto or don't mind the wait as I polish up details.  ;)

We also have our second cryptic poll in the story, so choose wisely  8)

Week 6

Leah eyes the window seat and promptly takes her place, causing eyes to turn and a few muffled giggles nearby. A quiet space all to herself, and no one to bother her. Just what she needs. Leah looks around her new space, catching the glimpses of curious gazes. They turn away right as she meets theirs. She hears the giggling again, and spots the group of girls sitting just a few rows away. One of them waves at her, which Leah responds with an uneasy smile.

The teacher then speaks out. “Alright settle down, class!” He then turns to one of the students seated next to Leah. “Class Rep Sasamoto, please take care of Miss Takami and bring her up to speed with our lessons.”

“Yes, Teacher,” a boy with sleek glasses in the seat next to Leah answers. He briefly glances at her before returning his focus back to the blackboard. Leah looks back and notices deep scratches and seemingly faded writing and colors on the sides of his desk.

“Class, please open your books to Chapter Seven,” the teacher instructs.

The bell tolls, and Leah stretches her arms after some long, tiresome lectures. She looks out the window down at the students walking back inside after an exhaustive exercise routine in the hot sun, everyone chatting away in enjoyment. She couldn’t say the same for herself. She had been away from classes for so long, she became rusty at her note-taking skills. Half the things the teacher spoke of never clicked, and she was certain there were things that were covered that Leah simply missed out on.

“Whose bright idea was it to put me back in school?” Leah moans. Her stomach begins to growl. She looks around to see students pulling out their homemade lunch, including the class rep Sasamoto. She never brought her own meal, and it never occurred to her that she needed to.

“Excuse me?” asks Leah.

Sasamoto continues to open up his packed lunch. Perhaps he didn’t hear her.

“Class rep?” she says again.

He finally turns to her. “What is it?”

“Is there a cafeteria around here? A place I can get food at?”

“There’s vending machines, but they aren’t that filling,” he bluntly answers.

“Great… snack food…” Leah groans.

“You didn’t pack anything?”

A disgruntled sigh escapes her. “I’m used to just going up to a line and having whatever the cooks made served to me on a platter. I’m guessing you guys don’t do that around here.”

Sasamoto shakes his head. “If you’re hungry, you can have some of mine.”

Leah’s face lights up. “Really!? It’s no trouble, is it?” Maybe she won’t starve the rest of the day.

“Not at all. I need to finish up and head to the student council room anyways. We’re making plans for the upcoming summer festival.” Sasamoto breaks out another pair of chopsticks and hands it to Leah. She looks at it strangely, wondering how to hold it.

“Do you have a fork with you by any chance? Or a spoon?”

“You don’t know how to use chopsticks?”

“Nope!” Leah proclaims with a grin. “Never had.”

“It’s quite easy. It’s just like holding a pencil, but two of them.” He begins clamping up and down in the air with his chopsticks.

Just then, a loud noise blurts out from the other side of the room. “Yeah, teach that foreigner a lesson!” A roar of laughter erupts from the group of hooligan boys, with their slick hair, shabby uniforms, and curt gestures.

“Hey new girl! Why don’t you come over here and leave the class rep’s food alone? He must be starving!” another hollered.

“Yeah we’ll give you a nice big meal! It’ll fill you up for days!”

The boys break out in laughter again, congratulating themselves on the crude jokes. The other girls nearby roll their eyes and call them idiots, but this doesn’t seem to dampen their spirits in the slightest.

“What a bunch of turds!” Leah exclaims, rolling up her sleeves. “Someone ought to put them in their place!”

“Let it go, Miss Takami. They’re not worth the effort,” Sasamoto says.

“They’re not going to stop unless you stand up to them.”

“I’m serious. Don’t take this any further.”

Leah looks at Sasamoto and then at the boys. After a few moments, Leah drops down back to her seat, still steaming.

“Jerkfaces…” she mutters.

Sasamoto then hands her a rice ball wrapped in seaweed.

“What’s this?”


Leah takes a hold of the rice ball, curiously studying it before taking a bite. The soft, salty texture floods her tastes, and she is taken aback by the simple, yet savory meal.

“Wow, this is good,” she says, already eyeing the next rice ball.

“You like it? There’s more if you want…”

Leah doesn’t hesitate to snatch the next two rice balls and gobble them down.

“...it.” Sasamoto chuckles. “Maybe next time I’ll bring something else for you to try.”

“Oh, you don’t have to. I’ll just have my brother pack some meals for me. I can’t wait to have some good old Western-style food!”


Leah nods. “He’s always taken care of me since I was a kid. My parents were always away at work, so they never had the time to spend with us. His cooking is the best! I should treat you to his special three-decker cheeseburger sometime. Enough calories to burn a hole through your heart!”

“That sounds terrifying.”

“But it’s absolutely to die for!”

Sasamoto looks at his wristwatch. “I should get going. I’ll be late to the meeting.”

As Sasamoto gets up to leave, Leah blurts out.


He turns back to her with an inquisitive look.

“Thanks. For the meal. I thought I’d say that before you go.”

He smiles. “You’re welcome, Miss Takami.”

“Please, call me Aya.”

Back at the apartment, Talon gets into the van with Mr. Takami, who then starts the engines.

“So, where are we off to?” Talon asks.

“I have errands to run around the city, so we’ll be out all day for it. It’ll be a good time for you to learn the ropes of the job.”

“Something your mob boss needs?”

“He’s not just some boss. Mister Minami is a respected leader of Kubozaki. The Minami family built this city from the ground up. Everything here is because of them. They’ve watched over Kubozaki for generations and they’ll continue to do so.”

“Is that how they see themselves?”

“It’s how it is. Kubozaki was little more than a fishing village before Mister Minami’s great-grandfather turned it into a metropolis. You don’t get to build skyscrapers by playing the nice guy. You gotta fight to get what you want.”

“I’m not fighting anyone, am I?”

Mr. Takami chuckles. “For now. First thing’s first. We’re off to meet one of my acquaintances.”

“And then what?”

“Then you’ll do whatever we need you to do. Whatever it is when we get there.”

“You still haven’t told me where we’re heading.”

What shall come next? Take the Week 6 Survey here!

Develop Your Story / Re: Project Serentedia - Week 6
« on: January 23, 2023, 04:10:26 AM »
Week 5 Voting is now closed! Stay tuned for announcements!

Develop Your Story / Re: Project Serentedia - Week 5
« on: January 22, 2023, 08:03:33 AM »
@Suuper As it so happens, I do in fact attach the artworks to the corresponding weeks, so feel free to re-explore the previous weekly posts to see the artwork!  8)

The only caveat would be the latest chapter, since it would be insane to put out an art piece hours after the voting closes  :sure:

Develop Your Story / Re: Project Serentedia - Week 5
« on: January 21, 2023, 11:11:39 AM »
Voting for Week 5 ends tomorrow! Be sure to get your votes in soon!

Welcome Center / Re: Hey, I... may give a little introdution of myself
« on: January 17, 2023, 07:48:10 PM »
Welcome to MR! It's always exciting to see new faces around here!

Forums are a great place to get feedback on your work while letting you create a space of your own to organize and categorize your work. I know I was skittish myself on sharing some of my ideas on MR when I first joined almost 8 years ago, but eventually I came to understand that whatever topics you choose to create, you own it! So think of your topics as basically setting up shop for whatever conversations you'd like to have. It's definitely an improvement over having a one-sided comments section on a blog post or a low-effort chatroom, which what makes forums a great medium to fill that niche of serious, in-depth, yet casual conversations!

Can't wait to see what works you have in store for us soon!  8)

Develop Your Story / Re: Project Serentedia - Week 5
« on: January 16, 2023, 06:29:44 PM »
Whew! This one was particularly a hard one to tackle! We nearly had a split vote this week up until the last day or so, so it really came down to the wire which parts were going to play out  :ninja:

On another note, we now celebrate Project Serendetia's first month since launch! Thank you everyone who's been with us so far, and I hope I can continue making stories that'll pique your interests!

As part of that evaluation, I'd like to ask for some feedback on what you all think about the project so far, and what'd you'd like to see moving forward. If you have time, please fill out the Month 1 Community Survey!

You might have noticed the artwork that gets included for each previous week's update. They're done by one of my talented artists over at the Caesarea team, and it is indeed a huge effort to coordinate all the details to make such excellent artwork on a weekly basis. This is by no means a cheap endeavor. Everything is paid for out of pocket (including the artwork for my previous projects). While this was fine for the first few years, eventually I've had to make a few cuts to make things sustainable. Even this, however, is not guaranteed...

If you'd like to support the project and the team at Caesarea, I've opened up a Patreon where you can pledge a small sum to help keep us afloat. I've set the options to just $3 for now, as I can't promise any benefits at this time, but if I get enough support and this project takes off, I'll definitely be considering new perks to add to the table as a show of gratitude! And of course, I'm always happy to hear feedback wherever it may be!

Thank you all once again for a successful first month of Project Serendetia, and I look forward to yet another month with you soon!

- Op

Develop Your Story / Re: Project Serentedia - Week 5
« on: January 16, 2023, 06:07:47 PM »
Week 5

Talon clenches his fists. He could feel the Boss’s shrewd eyes bury into his skin, waiting for an answer. He turns to Mr. Takami, hoping for some hint on what he should say, but the man only returns a stern look. All eyes in the room had their attention towards him, anticipating his response.

Would Leah approve of what he was about to say? Probably not. But if he wants to gain the Boss’s trust, the first step would have to be honesty.

Talon looked up and met the Boss’s gaze head on. “I’ll tell you everything, but first I must ask if it can be between just the three of us. You, Mr. Takami, and myself.”

The Boss raised a brow. “The Minami family does not hide secrets from one another. How can there be trust if there is always something to hide?”

“Even so, the people that are after me and my sister… they’re relentless. They have connections everywhere, even in places you’d never suspect. They followed us all the way here, to Kubozaki.”

“And I’m supposed to be scared of a few foreigners? Don’t make me laugh!” the Boss bellows.

“Boss, it’s best that you hear Mr. Talon out,” says Mr. Takami.

The Boss stops his haughty demeanor upon seeing the seriousness of his face. He looks across the room and then waves his hand. Although some express concern over this breach of conduct, the Boss promises to reconvene them after he hears what the young Talon has to say. The banquet guests leave, with only the Boss and his trusted guards left to listen.

Talon explains his predicament, just as he had done with Mr. Takami the other night. He explains the murder of his parents, how they were chased and escaped death several times before ending up here in Kubozaki. The Boss sits silently, hearing out all of Talon’s details, until the young man concludes his story.

The Boss merely grumbles to himself and strokes his stubble. Talon sits anxiously, darting his eyes back to Mr. Takami, wondering if he’s done the right thing. It doesn’t appear the Boss is all that upset… but he isn’t pleased either.

“Fuji, please take Mr. Talon back to his sister. I’d like to speak with Endo alone.”

In another guest room, Leah lays upon a couch, apparently hung over. She perks her head up upon seeing Talon enter with Fuji right behind.

“So? How did it go?” she asks.

“Better than I hoped.. I guess,” says Talon.

“You guess? What happened after I left?”

“The Boss wanted to know why we were there in Kubozaki. They’d already looked us up, and apparently our records showed up clean.”

“No duh. We didn’t do anything before all this… mess happened. So then what? You didn’t say anything to upset him, did you?”

“...I might have.”

Leah blinks.

“The Boss wanted to talk with Mr. Takami after I had told him everything.”

“You did what!?” Leah exclaims, nearly falling off the couch. She uprights herself and takes up the ice bag on the table to hold against her head. “Talon, we can’t expect to go into hiding if we’re telling everyone our life story here. And that’s not to say who else could be in cahoots with the bad guys.” She sees Fuji giving her a stare through his sunglasses.

“You said you trusted me about coming to the Mafia for help. They’re giving us their help, Leah. The least I can do is show we have trust in them.”

“There are better ways to do it, you know…” she grumbles. “What next?”

The door slides open again. It’s Mr. Takami.

“Mr. Takami!” the two siblings exclaim.

“How’d things go?” Talon asks.

“The Boss isn’t pleased. But he isn’t mad, which is a good thing. I’d say he’s rather caught off guard by your forwardness Talon.”

Talon chuckles upon hearing that. Maybe it did work out.

“I still say he’s a bozo for doing that,” says Leah. Talon eyes back a peeved look.

“I’ve worked out the rest of the details for the two of you. Talon, you’ll be under my supervision. As a member of the Minami family, you’ll be expected to pull your weight like the rest of us.”

“And not get into any trouble, right?” Leah asks.

“That deal I can’t make, now that Talon’s brought up more problems than the family wants to handle. The Boss made it clear to me he doesn’t want to get tied up in some foreign problem. I’ve negotiated that if the two of you can make it worth his while, he’ll give you the protection you need. You’ll get to live out the rest of your lives here in peace, here in Kubozaki. In return, you’ll repay your debt to the Minami family for their kindness.”

“And if we don’t?” Talon asks.

“Then nowhere in Kubozaki will be safe for you. I’m sorry, but it’s the price you pay around here.”

“I knew it…” Leah snarks. “...there’s always a catch, isn’t there?”

“We start tomorrow.”

“And what about me?” Leah asks. “Am I coming along?”

“You have school tomorrow,” Fuji suddenly interrupts, bringing forth a uniform. A dreaded cloud suddenly appears over Leah.

“I am not enjoying this one bit…” Leah groans as she stares up at the large clock above the school entrance.

“A good education is essential to becoming a lady,” Fuji says from the driver’s seat.

“I haven’t been to classes in months! I’m going to be laughed at for being the oldest in the room.”

“You have assassins trying to kill you and your top concern is embarrassment.”

“If you put it that way…” Leah sees the students in their cleanly-pressed and well-kept uniforms file into the entrance. “...I stick out like a sore thumb.”

“Sore thumb?” Fuji asks.

“I’m a foreigner. There’s no hiding my face in that crowd.”

“You’ll be safe in school. The Minami family can attest to that.”

“As if I need any reassurance from a crime family that a school is safe to go to…” Leah takes a deep breath, steps out of the black car and heads into class.

The bell tolls across the hallways, signaling the start of lessons. Leah enters a classroom with the sign “2-3” printed overhead, and the entire class turns to face the board… and her.

“Good morning class!” the teacher announces. “We have a new transfer student with us today from overseas! Miss Takami Aya!”

The class gasps as they see Leah for the first time. She stretches out a smile, though she can’t help but irk at the idea that they gave her Mr. Takami’s name.

“We have a few seats open. Pick whichever one you like and let’s get started with today’s lesson.”

Three seats in the back row sit open. One is next to the back door, though it was surrounded by a group of rowdy boys. Another in the center with a group of gossiping girls, and finally the window seat where some quiet classmates sits.

What shall come next? Take the Week 5 Survey here!

Develop Your Story / Re: Project Serentedia - Week 5
« on: January 16, 2023, 03:03:41 AM »
Week 4 Voting is now closed! Stay tuned for announcements!

Develop Your Story / Re: Project Serentedia - Week 4
« on: January 14, 2023, 05:17:14 PM »
@Suuper Glad you could make the vote!

Aye, I would love to include more descriptions, but for the sake of time and schedule, I have to minimize those additions and drill down more on the story. If this was a more formal project with a thorough plan and outline, I would have done so much more to bring out the world. But alas, priorities dictate I have to choose one, or I won't be able to consistently deliver quality to everything. Dialogue is what encompasses most stories, and it happens to be one of the easiest aspects to write on. So dialogue it is!

When the project gets enough traction, I might consider revisiting it and fleshing out the scenes with the care and attention it deserves. So let people know about the story they can take part in!  8)

Develop Your Story / Re: Project Serentedia - Week 4
« on: January 14, 2023, 02:01:49 PM »
Voting for Week 4 ends tomorrow! Be sure to get your votes in soon!

I encourage it! It's always interesting to see the thoughts of an author as they pertain to their work. Why characters are written the way they are, why situations play out as they do... not only is it a good exercise in creativity, but it also builds one's reasoning and deductive skills, skills I definitely advocate other writers to bring to their stories  8)

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