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Author Topic: Project Serentedia - Week 7  (Read 1447 times)

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Offline Operative13

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Re: Project Serentedia - Week 2
« Reply #15 on: December 31, 2022, 02:18:37 AM »
Just a few days before the Week 2 poll closes! Be sure to get your votes in!
“To give of oneself is the noblest of all acts.”

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Offline Operative13

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Re: Project Serentedia - Week 2
« Reply #16 on: January 01, 2023, 03:06:43 AM »
Last day to vote for Week 2! Be sure to get yours in soon!
“To give of oneself is the noblest of all acts.”

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Offline Operative13

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Re: Project Serentedia - Week 2
« Reply #17 on: January 02, 2023, 03:00:44 AM »
Week 2 Poll is now closed! Stay tuned for more updates!
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Re: Project Serentedia - Week 3
« Reply #18 on: January 02, 2023, 06:39:59 AM »
Week 3

The knocking continues. Leah turns her gaze to Talon, her anxious expression begging Talon to do something. Talon shakes his head, and instead gestures to her to open the suitcase. As quickly she could, Leah unzips the suitcase and methodically begins to pull metal parts from the folds.

Talon watches the door as the thuds continue before suddenly making a stop. Leah reaches over and hands Talon the handgun no larger than the size of his palm, and the two take their positions behind the couch and kitchen counter. They train their sights at the doorway and wait patiently for a few moments before faint clicking noises fumble inside the lock.

Leah begins to squeeze the trigger, but just as the lock clicks open, the voice of an old man calls from outside.

“What are you doing?” a voice says.

“Private business,” the man replies. “Stay out of it.”

“That’s my apartment you’re breaking into, Sir. I suggest you leave before I have to make a mess here.”

“And how are you going to do that?”

Dead silence then fills the air.

Talon and Leah waited for a long while, wondering what was happening behind the door, but a few moments later, the jingling of keys came forth, and the old man’s voice called out.

“Housekeeping!”

They recognize the voice. It’s their landlord from this morning. Leah and Talon looks at each other, and Leah shakes her head.

“Mr. Takami?” Talon called out.

“Ah, Mr. Talon! I’m glad you’ve settled in! I hope Ms. Leah is doing well too. I brought some food.”

 Talon tucked the pistol behind his jeans and walked up to the door. He peers through the peephole to see Mr. Takami in his beret cap and round glasses, lifting a plastic bag up. Cautiously, Talon turns the knob and pulls the door ajar. The smell of cooked fish immediately hits him.

The old man, standing a head-or-so lower than Talon, greets him with a warm smile. “I figure you two must be hungry. You haven’t been out since you arrived this morning!”

Talon sticks his head out the door and glances around the corners.

“The man that was here… what happened to him?”

“Just someone that’s lost his way. But not to worry. I was kind enough to give him the right directions.”

Talon looked at Mr. Takami with a doubtful gaze. He turned to Leah peering up from behind the couch, who also gave the same look. He sighed. It looks like he has to make the call.

“Come in.”

As Mr. Takami enters the room, Leah stands up from her hiding place, but not before tossing her gun back into the suitcase and closing its cover.

“Good afternoon, Ms. Leah! I hope you’re doing well!” Mr. Takami said. Just when Talon closes the door, he draws his weapon towards Mr. Takami, but is immediately grabbed by the old man and flung over his shoulders. Leah cries out for Talon and goes for her gun again, but the old man yells at her.

“Stop right there.”

Leah freezes as Mr. Takami holds a gun to Talon’s head, pinned down between his knees. Mr. Takami takes the time to seize Talon’s pistol, only to toss it towards Leah and get up. Talon coughs and cackles as he finally draws breath.

“Smart… but sloppy,” Mr. Takami comments as he holds up his gun and puts it back in his concealed holster. “Whoever is after you, you wouldn’t stand a chance on your own.”

“You’re not one of them?” Leah asks.

“You’d be dead already if I was. I gave you the keys to the apartment. You’re my tenant now.”

“So you’re helping us, then?”

“I’d like to, if only my tenants would show some respect,” Mr. Takami said as he turned to Talon, just getting back up from the floor. “Honestly, pointing a gun at his landlord, and behind his back of all things... I’ve tossed out tenants for less!”

“I was just being careful…” Talon replied.

“If you were being careful, then you wouldn’t have brought trouble with you home! Now, whatever you two have gotten yourselves into, I want to know every detail.”

After conceding to Mr. Takami’s demands, Leah and Talon helped set the table for the bento dinner, and the three began a lengthy discussion.

The siblings reveal they’ve been on the run for months since their parents were killed by unknown assailants. They don’t know who’s chasing them or why, but they know that whoever’s after them has people everywhere. They’ve been lucky a few times with their lives thanks to some help, but it always seems their assassins have been trailing them just a step behind. They had fled to Kubozaki in hopes of losing them in a foreign land, but now that they’re here, Leah and Talon are lost on what to do next.

“I see…” Mr. Takami says as he folds his arms and thinks. “...these people mean to tie loose ends.”

“What do you mean by that?” Talon asks.

“There’s a few reasons why someone would want to wipe out an entire family. It could be to send a message. It could be for revenge. Some do it for fun. Others because they’re collateral. In your case, this person has spent a considerable amount of time and money to kill you two. This is definitely the work of someone powerful, and from experience, people like that only go to such great lengths if you are a threat to them.”

“Threat? How are two kids a threat? We haven’t done anything to them!” Talon exclaims. “We just want to live our lives.”

“They killed Mom and Dad,” Leah adds. “There’s no way we can ever get back to normal.”

“Your sister is right, Mr. Talon. Any notion that your lives can be normal again is gone. Until the threat is gone, you can never have a normal life again. You have to prepare yourself when the time comes to act. Judging by your actions today, you had some guidance overseas, but clearly it wasn’t enough.”

“What about you?” Talon asks. “You seem to know a few things.”

Mr. Takami smiles. “I’m an old man. What I know now is from a past life, and I don’t intend to break my spine to demonstrate the move I did to you again.”

“Then what about guns? You can teach us that at least,” says Leah.

“Not here. I’d have to find a place for you to train discreetly. We can’t have anyone complaining about fireworks, or else the police will be breaking everything down until they find the source. That’s why people use blades here.”

“Then you can teach us how to use a blade then,” Talon says. “Anything is better than nothing.”

Mr. Takami thought. “I’ll think about it. More importantly, you’ll need protection for the world outside. It’s one thing to fend for yourself, but against the people you described, it won’t be enough. I know some people in the mafia and the police. They can look out for you as you go about your day, but I’ll need your decision on who you want me to pitch to.”

“Why’s that? Can’t you ask both?” Leah asks.

“They don’t get along, especially now with the crackdowns. There’s a big turf war over control of the ports, and no side is willing to back down.”

“I think we should stay away from the police,” says Talon. “We can’t trust them after what they did to us.”

“But the police here aren’t the same as the ones back there, right?” says Leah. ”I don’t feel comfortable having hooligans look after me.”

What shall come next? Take the Week 3 Survey here!
« Last Edit: January 09, 2023, 12:45:03 AM by Operative13 »
“To give of oneself is the noblest of all acts.”

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Offline NO1SY

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Re: Project Serentedia - Week 3
« Reply #19 on: January 03, 2023, 12:52:26 PM »
Yo Op, nice to see that you remain as industrious as ever. I believe I still owe you some reviews for your other projects, but I’ve been rather swamped with work this past year.

This is a cool idea. Reminiscent of old choose your own adventure books from back in the day, only with a bit wider engagement goals. I voted for weeks 1 and 3, but was indisposed for week 2 so missed it. Will try to keep an eye out for future surveys.

A couple of tidbits of feedback: watch your tenses - you keep going between past and present, so pick one and stick with it. Present makes it read like a comic strip in text form (and maybe works with the reader decision making side of things), past makes it read like a novel. Could also do with a bit of a proof read - mostly just a few mis-ordered phrases, maybe a missed words here or there.

Have you got a chunk of these branching storylines already planned out? Seems like a hefty amount of work if you are doing this all through discovery writing. A thing I wonder is if you expect there to be a “correct” choice out of the options presented?

Offline Operative13

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Re: Project Serentedia - Week 3
« Reply #20 on: January 03, 2023, 04:12:11 PM »
@NO1SY Thanks for your support! It's always great to have such dedicated readers around, especially for long projects such as this.

To your questions, I had mention this in an earlier reply that that I don't plan these stories out ahead of time, simply for the reason that it would take an absurd amount of time to do so, especially if the story branches in a way that never reaches a certain path. This is meant to be a one-and-done deal, meaning that whatever path is chosen, that will be the path the story moves forward with. No returns are possible.

This also presents a unique challenge in of itself, in that because I absolutely have no idea what choice the audience ultimately goes with, I can't expect to write out all the outcomes in a unique manner without having to resort to some cut-and-paste. To me that wouldn't be fair for the audience, as it would cheapen the decision they've voted for. All I can do on my end is prep some notes on what might occur, and when the voting is locked in, that's the path I spend my energies on.

There's also the challenge of having this as a weekly voting schedule. If I really wanted to do a proper job, the vote would be held for a week and then it's another week of me just writing and editing. That's a two-week gap and a long time to wait just for a bit of progress. I'm fine with sufficient writing so long as it doesn't detract from the story itself, and there's always the option of going back and editing it afterwards. Thus, it's vital that once the voting ends, I set out to work on the piece with the notes I've pulled together and make the update as soon as possible so that people have enough time to vote for the next week. It's no easy task, but it's what one has to do to keep interest!

As for the story itself, there is no "correct" choice, although perhaps there are preferences I have over others  8). I've already considered that there might be cases that the audience could try to sabotage the story by choosing a nonsensical option, so to prevent that, the pathways are set in such a way that you "change" the story, but never "destroy" it. It has to be entertaining, after all, as it is what the Fates desire! Only when the story begins to reach its climax and resolution that you'll start to see more drastic options appear. What comes of it will be determined by you the audience, but the options are always safer at the beginning.

To make things even more interesting, the options can become cryptic at certain points so that you never know if you've helped or hurt your intentions. This is so the audience can't simply railroad the story in a very specific direction for too long without some risk. There has to be some conflict one way or another. So bear in mind... while you might play the Fates, the Fates have rules too...  :ninja:

So have fun making your picks, and see what comes of it if your choice comes to fruition! I'm already seeing very interesting choices for this week's vote, so spread the word if you want your choice to make it  ;) I am the tie-breaker in the rare case the audience is split.
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Offline Operative13

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Re: Project Serentedia - Week 3
« Reply #21 on: January 07, 2023, 09:08:33 PM »
Voting for Week 3 ends tomorrow! Be sure to get your votes in soon!
“To give of oneself is the noblest of all acts.”

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Offline Suuper-san

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Re: Project Serentedia - Week 3
« Reply #22 on: January 08, 2023, 11:41:37 AM »
Quote
the pathways are set in such a way that you "change" the story, but never "destroy" it
That's an interesting take on generic story development actually, and similar to my random decision making whenever I get stuck on a plot point I write a bunch of possibilities and pick one at random.
I would think even if your story could be sabotaged, it's equally a good opportunity to practice saving a story from the brink of destruction XD
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Offline Operative13

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Re: Project Serentedia - Week 3
« Reply #23 on: January 08, 2023, 05:55:29 PM »
I would think even if your story could be sabotaged, it's equally a good opportunity to practice saving a story from the brink of destruction XD

True, though in some cases there are simply no salvageable options except for a Deus Ex Machina, which you absolutely don't want to use as your go-to solution for a problem resolution every time. If you ever have to resort to that option at any point in a story, that usually tells lack of planning and foresight in my view. Everything should be reasonably explainable within your story if you've done your staging and setup properly.

It's akin to saying "Somehow, Palpatine Returned." There was no buildup or foreshadowing whatsoever, so your audience is left baffled in the undeserved sense. It doesn't help that the story never revisits how that ever occurred in the first place, so the sudden mystery is never resolved at any point, and instead becomes a plot hole. At least in Lord of the Rings, Tolkien makes the effort to explain how Gandalf ever survived his fight against the Balrog, but even that uses a Deus Ex Machina in the literal sense.

I can certainly say that with a CYOA story, if you provide options that could throw the story out-of-whack, then it most certainly will. The best way to avert a disaster is to prevent it altogether. Serendetia has just enough planning behind it that any choice you make will make for an entertaining story for the Fates, especially as it progresses to the point where choices have permanent implications for the rest of the plot, including whether you choose that our heroes succeed or fail. That said, it doesn't have nearly as much planning for the far future in order to keep that open-world sense intact, yet still risks deviating from the plot if I'm not too careful.

I'm more interested in what makes an entertaining story in my readers' view, so vote as much as possible whenever you can spare the extra 5 seconds!  :D

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Offline Suuper-san

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Re: Project Serentedia - Week 3
« Reply #24 on: January 09, 2023, 03:10:45 AM »
Quote
Somehow, Palpatine Returned.
GAH don't get me started XDXD

that's definitely true that you want to avoid Deus Ex Machina.

I suppose if you're keenly in-tune with the story you might be able to notice the plot heading towards a black hole and start to weave in possible ways out via casual mentions of things that aren't notable in their own right.

i.e. a squeaky old house collapses as they escape the bad guy and he gets trapped inside. You didn't know they were going to get stuck in a bad-end route but you happened to casually mention the house being creaky and old previously, which then serves as a way out. Almost like chess-level strategy, always thinking a few steps ahead :D
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Offline Operative13

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Re: Project Serentedia - Week 4
« Reply #25 on: January 09, 2023, 03:11:14 AM »
Week 3 Voting is now closed! Stay tuned for announcements!
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Offline Operative13

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Re: Project Serentedia - Week 4
« Reply #26 on: January 09, 2023, 03:17:14 AM »
i.e. a squeaky old house collapses as they escape the bad guy and he gets trapped inside. You didn't know they were going to get stuck in a bad-end route but you happened to casually mention the house being creaky and old previously, which then serves as a way out. Almost like chess-level strategy, always thinking a few steps ahead :D

Ah, but you see, you would have had some planning already to put that old house in the first place, or else it just becomes a normal house if you fail to mention those details earlier. Trying to patch that detail up retroactively feels like a cop-out, and would pretty much be a Deus Ex Machina in all but the literal sense!

Planning is everything...  :ninja:
« Last Edit: January 09, 2023, 08:56:05 AM by Operative13 »
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Re: Project Serentedia - Week 4
« Reply #27 on: January 09, 2023, 03:28:15 AM »
gah so true  >:(
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Re: Project Serentedia - Week 4
« Reply #28 on: January 09, 2023, 08:38:16 AM »
Whew! This one's a long time... but I'm glad it got done! We're starting to slowly pick up the pace here  ;)

Week 4

Talon raises his voice. “What choice do we have? They have people in their pockets everywhere! You’ve seen what they’ve done to our friends. They pretended like they were there to help, but all they did was just make them disappear, just like they did to our parents.”

“How is it any better than coddling up to criminals?” Leah objects. “You don’t know what they’ll put you up to!”

Mr. Takami leans back against the chair. “I don’t expect you to make a decision now. I’ll admit, it’s a lot to take in in such a short time.”

Talon stares back at Leah, a look of worry in his eyes. “I can’t risk putting you through that again.”

Leah sees his anguish, and turns her head away from him. A few moments of silence, and she gives a weary sigh. “Fine. I trust you...” She suddenly stands up from her seat and yells at Talon. “...but you better promise me you won’t do anything stupid, or get us into any more trouble than we already are! We just want their protection. Nothing else, you hear!?”

Talon nearly falls out of his chair as she scolds him. “I got it, I got it! I promise, I won’t get us into any trouble.”

“About that…” Mr. Takami interrupts. “...the Minami family will expect you to reciprocate their kindness in exchange for providing you protection.”

“Reciprocate?” Talon asks.

“That’s just another way of saying they own us, isn’t it?” says Leah.

“Nothing is ever free, Miss Leah. If you want something, you have to give something in return. The Minami family has ruled over Kubozaki for hundreds of years, and only the most loyal followers may serve in their presence. As Outsiders, you will be viewed with doubt and suspicion, and until you’ve proven your worth, their protection will mean little. Fortunately for you, I still have a few favors I can call for.”

“Then, we won’t need to do anything crazy for them, right?” Talon asks.

“I won’t make any such promises. But I can ask them to go easy on you.”

“You hear that, Leah? I think we can make this work!”

“This still doesn’t sit right with me...” Leah replies, arms crossed.

“It’ll be fine Leah! Whatever comes our way, I’ll make sure we come out unscathed. Even if it is the most powerful crime family in town! We got each other’s back.” Talon proclaims.

Leah lets out a heavy sigh. “Mr. Takami. If you don’t mind me asking, why go through all this trouble for us? We’ve only met a day and you’re willing to do all these favors for us. What’s in it for you? And don’t give such a crappy excuse as us being your tenants.”

Mr. Takami chuckles. “You’ve cleaned the apartment up for me, no? I’d say that’s as good a repayment as I’ll need for today.” He then looked at his wristwatch. “Ah, it’s getting late. I’ll stop by to pick you two up in the morning.”

“Where exactly are we going?” asks Talon.

The old man smiles back. “Why, to the Minami Mansion, of course.”



The next day, Talon and Leah arrive at the massive Minami Mansion, which appears more like a medieval castle than anything. Situated within a lush mountain enclosure, the high white walls and elegant rock gardens astonish the two siblings as Mr. Takami and a handful of men in suits escort them through the paper-thin hallways. Talon and Leah could see shadows moving along the frames, and hear hushed voices behind beautifully-painted dividers.

Then, they arrived at a sliding door. Mr. Takami kneels down along with the men in suits. Just as Mr. Takami told them during the ride over, they were to follow his every move, and so they too knelt down with their legs tucked under.

One of the men in suits pulls open the sliding door, revealing a large room with low tables. Several men and women in a mix of traditional and business attire seated around them, some with strikingly-elaborate tattoos, and at the center of the room, a large symbol consisting of three aqua-green diamonds in a white circle.

A large mustached man at the head of the table before them urges them in. Mr. Takami walks in with Leah and Talon in tow, gets on his knees, and bows with his head down low to the large man.

“Thank you for accepting my request, Boss,” Mr. Takami says.

“The pleasure is mine, Endo,” the Boss answers. He then looks to Leah and Talon, who promptly bows.

“Thank you for accepting us!” the siblings say.

The Boss laughs. “Are these two pups the reason you’ve come out of retirement? I’ve known you for many things, but kids are not one of them.”

“Boss, if I may, I’ve come to call upon my favor,” says Mr. Takami. “I ask that you provide your blessings and protection for the two young souls before you, Leah and Talon.”

The Boss then gives a haughty smile. “Outsiders? Of all the things you could’ve asked, it’s for me to protect two foreign kids? Do you know how stupid that looks on me if I do so?”

The room begins to laugh with the Boss.

“This is my one and only favor. I won’t ask for anything else,” Mr. Takami begs him. He kow-tows even further.

The Boss then drops his smile. “Oh… you’re serious, aren’t you?”

“Boss. You’ve known me for a long time. I’ve never asked anything of you, other than to have served you faithfully for so long. You promised me when I left that if I had anything I needed from you, I could call upon it and you would answer. Here is that promise.”

The Boss gave a loud scoff. He rubs the back of his head, and then curses the gods for this misfortune. He could feel the anticipation from the rest of the room for his decision.

He clicks his tongue, and then stands up.

“Very well, Endo. I will grant you this one favor. But in return, I ask that you come out of retirement to serve the Minami family once more.”

Leah and Talon eye one another. Just how far is Mr. Takami willing to go for them?

“I am honored to serve you again, Boss,” Mr. Takami replies.

The Boss nods his head in satisfaction before sitting back down. He then gestures to the servers, who bring Leah, Talon and Mr. Takami cups filled with a clear liquid that smelt of alcohol.

“Is this alcohol?” Leah asks.

“You must drink the Sake and thank the Boss. It is a sign of respect as they accept you into their family,” Mr. Takami explains.

“I don’t do well with drinks…” says Leah.

“She’s underage,” Talon explains. “And she gets tipsy real easy.”

“You must drink it,” Mr. Takami insists.

Leah gives Talon an irksome look, though Talon knows there’s nothing he can do. He tells her to drink the cup as they ask, and as the room raises their cups, they all yell in unison.

“Cheers!”

In one fell swoop, Talon and Leah gulp down the sake. Talon exhales from the strong drink, but when he turns to Leah, he could see her turning red instantly.

“T-Thank you, Boss,” Leah blurts out, almost kneeling over.

“Keep upright,” Mr. Takami says. “You don’t want to disrespect the Boss by fainting.”

Talon nearly stops to help her, but turns to see the Boss anticipating his thanks. He bows his head and does so.

“There you have it!” the Boss declares. “We welcome two new fledglings into our family: Leah and Talon! As with anyone in the Minami family, anyone that brings harm upon one shall evoke the wrath of the whole. They may be Outsiders, but if one of our own is willing to go through such lengths to protect them, then we shall do so as well.”

“I thank you, Boss!” Mr. Takami cries out, kow-towing once more.

The Boss sees Leah wading from one side to another. He whispers into one of his men’s ears, who promptly gets up to escort Leah out of the room.

“A light drinker, isn’t she?” the Boss jokes to Talon.

“Not a drinker at all, actually,” Talon responds.

“She’s a strong one, for sure. She drank the whole cup!” he cackled. “I would fear a woman that’s willing to put up with what she hates. Now Mr. Talon… what do you have to offer me?”

Talon blinked. “What?”

“No one gets on this island without the Minami family knowing. Everything about you, we know. Where you like to go, what’s your favorite meals. who do you spend time with, everything. But you see there’s one problem… you’re clean. Clear as water. No one is that clean.”

“Boss…” Mr. Takami interjects.

“I’m asking Mr. Talon here. What is it that you’re running away from? And why is it so important that Endo is willing to come out of retirement?”

What shall come next? Take the Week 4 Survey here!
« Last Edit: January 20, 2023, 07:44:08 AM by Operative13 »
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Offline Operative13

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Re: Project Serentedia - Week 4
« Reply #29 on: January 14, 2023, 02:01:49 PM »
Voting for Week 4 ends tomorrow! Be sure to get your votes in soon!
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