Author Topic: Queen of the Smoky Skies (Or: Petite Monarch Among the Alternate Shaded Skies)  (Read 2122 times)

You know that feeling you get when a brick of inspiration hits you after reading a sufficient amount of TV tropes?

Queen of the Smoky Skies: Act 1

The location was at a sparsely wooded plain, coordinated at a dozen or so miles from the Hakurei Shrine, a small cranny of space seldom threaded upon by man or youkai alike, out of focus from the rest of the land. A few stone bricks, ruins of what might have once been part of an outpost, lay strewn across the heavily overgrown grassland, almost consumed by the voracious vegetation. Every now and then, a wild rose bush of radiant ruby poked out, standing in stark contrast to the faded greenish brown of the surrounding area, but this was a relatively uncommon occurrence.  Indeed, it could be said that this patch of earth was nothing interesting in particular, and unto itself, it was uninteresting, but the focus of the day was not the silence of a rural plain, yet rather the unusual spectacle occurring upon the plain itself.


A massive figure cumbersomely plowed across the dense greenery, the occasional crunch of a brick of stone being smashed and then tossed aside accompanying the whine of sprockets pushing two bulky, iron threads in order to propolse itself forward. It stood nine feet tall, far larger then any wild animal one would find in the area, and towering over the squat, malnourished, bonsai-like trees that managed to survive the competing grassland. The machine was composed of solid metal, a steel box mounted on a rectangular chassis, all riveted together and crowned with a pyramidal red roof of wood inscribed with various symbols, ending in a metal spike on the top. A shimenawa was wrapped around the iron beast, so as to further discourage any youkai that still remained unfazed at the being's foreign and boisterous appearance. Two guns, a cannon extending from the center of the square turret and ending in a cylinder so as to make it appear like a hammer, and a smaller, subtler tube mounted to the right of the larger one both jutted from the front of the vehicle, like the trunk of a bull elephant, ready to meet those foolhardy in challenge with a barrage of lead and energy.

The tank continued kicking up grassroots and stones, lazily heading towards the denser foliated portion of the area at a steady pace of a few miles per hour, the occasional jolt of running over a particularly large boulder causing further noise, followed by the scattering of a few sparrows hearing up the commotion in the distance.

The sun settled down as the vehicle pushed forward still, this time navigating through the denser packed trees of a forest. For about an hour, it seemed as though it moved aimlessly, moving through an area with seemingly no path or reason, until the trees gave way to a dilapidated, rotting bridge, stretching over pond-fettered marshlands which buzzed with flies and croaked with frogs. Large scorch marks riddled the  wooden mass, small sections having given way and fallen into the pondland, which itself contained various fragments of rusted machinery of undetermined origin. Moving through the bridge anyway, the old structure managed to support the war engine in spite of its apparent despair, creaking yet standing firm. At its end, two forked paths stood amongst the by then rather tall tree life, one directed northern, the other eastern.

Standing idle for a few moments, the tank chose the northern path, fading into the darkness of the woods as the moon rose to prominence in the sky. Yet another hour passed, and the machine trudged through bushes and vines before finally reaching its destination, nested deep within the confines of the forest, to the point where it was virtually indistinguishable from the rest of the overgrowth from the outside. Grinding to a halt, it stood in front of a gate which could have easily been mistaken for the side of a cliff, covered in creeping roots and stones with only a barley legible yin-yang symbol to mark it. A minute passed, and suddenly, the sounding of a tremor even louder then the tank's engine sounded off within the immediate vicinity, the wall coming to life and slowly but surly descending until it fully sunk into the earth, revealing a passage large enough to contain the entire Hakurei Shrine and then some, leading into a seemingly endless hall of bizarre specifications. *

Wasting no time, the vehicle passed through the gate and through the hall, its tracks making contact with the steel tiling of the floor, which extended for several miles in every direction until colliding into a brick wall at its left and right, the front of the area seemingly ending into a void of darkness. Like the bridge, scrap metal and dysfunctional machinery littered the area, as well as damage to the tiles and missing sections which indicated that something had occurred some time ago. Iron girders and stacks of new tiles also appeared in select areas, indicated at some attempt of repairs since then, and a few paths had been cleared amongst the piles of junk, which at times was piled higher than the tank itself.

Having parked for the final time near a span of oil drums, the tank's engine died down, the machine gradually grinding to a full stop. At this location, several more tanks of similar design stood parked in a neat row, a particularly large tank of red, black, and white standing in the middle of the column, polished to a mirror-like sheen in contrast to its dirt-caked peers.

 A hatch from the left side of the previously parked machine opened up, releasing a wave of steam as three figures tumbled out of it and onto the cold floor.

The first was a man of a stocky build, followed by a lanker younger man and a third creature unlike either of the two in appearance. The men wore outfits that would be considered outlandish even in the context of Gensokyo, the larger man wearing a wok on his head like some sort of helmet, while his peer wore a cooking pot with two shards of steel crudely welded to it so as to resemble horns. They wore faded overalls patched with leather and resewn several times over over white, yet dirtied shirts. Bow ties adorned their necks, the bow of the younger man embroidered with gold and generally more elaborate then the simple tie of the larger man. The being that accompanied them was shaped akin to a sock puppet, a ghostly figure with two beady eyes and a disproportionate mouth, from which a long, drooping tongue hung. The only thing that adorned the bakebake was a hitaikakushi of old newspaper, the symbol "奇" scrawled on it with a black marker.

"Rika-sama is going to turn us into you, and you into target practice when she learns what happened!"

The lanky young man was visibly nervous, the eye not hidden under his shaggy chestnut hair squinting to the point that it appeared closed. The ghost next to him was using two stubby limbs to try and press off the foul taste of engine exhaust from his tongue.

"Thiffs wafs your resfsponssfe abffility, capfftian. Oh gosfh, Rifka-samfa is goinfg to be so-"

The heavy man interrupted the bakebake as he twirled his long, ebony mustache around, picking off stray bits of dust, his voice laden with the faintest hint of a Russian accent.

"For goodness sake, pull your tongue in before you start speaking, spirit! Because of you, I'm going to be demoted back to foot duty!"

The trio bickered and argued amongst each other for the next ten minutes, oblivious to the small figure standing right in front of them, wielding a piece of chalk and a wrench in each of her hands.

"And what do my brave, infallible warriors have to report that would make me want to demote them, if I might be allowed to ask?"

Rika glanced down upon her minions with the cheery expression upon her face betraying her tone of voice. She was wearing violet today, including the horned cap which she only reserved for special occasions, usually regarding the testing of one of her weapons. Despite standing somewhat shorter than even the lanky man, she commanded a presence that overwhelmed the three to the point where they bowed on instinct.

"I happen to be in an unhappy mood today, and would feel far, far happier, if I say so myself, if you told me the good news that a lovely Rika-sama such as myself deserves after working long and hard trying to perfect her machinery, unlike some people who get all the power in the world for simply being born."

The largest man stood up, and gingerly explaining, pointing at the bakebake.

"Er, well, you see Lady Rika-sama, Most Lovely Genius of All of Gensokyo, we were patrolling the countryside for outsiders to bring mercy upon like you have done so yourself in most benevolent fashion, as you have advised us to. I'm sure today would have been the day that we found an outsider with the mechanical knowledge of the outside world you so longingly crave, but he had other plans regarding what would happen. Yes, he, letting his stomach get the best of him despite not having the need to eat, wandered out of sight in search for food, forcing us to go looking for him, as it would be in bad taste to lose a spirit that you, in your greatness, had intrusted to us."

The man took a deep breath.

"It was then, when we came across a village, a place that we heard of, but never until then had seen. Before we could retreat, dozens of people caught sight of us, and flashes of light pelted us as we tried to flee away. By the time we managed to throw them off, we found the ghost fleeing from a stray bird."

Rika's smile reclined until it became a frown, and she slid her wrench into one of the uncountable pockets adorning her dress.

"Thank you, Evgen, you may go now."

The man nodded, bowed yet again, and bolted from the area as fast as his legs would carry him. The young engineer girl then turned her attention to the two remaining.

"And as for you, Katsuro, Daisuke, I can't help but say that I expected more from you two, especially given your prestige rank, Katsuro."

The lanky man gulped and adjusted his bow tie.

"I- I'm sorry, Rika-sama! I'll-"

"Don't you know how much trust I put into you when  I gave you that bow? I thought you had what it took to command one of my precious, precious tanks. I thought you knew that you couldn't show it to those uncouth, manky peasants of the western village. And Daisuke, you said that you'd only try your best to help him!"

Rika's eyes started to well with tears, and she threw herself onto her knees.

"I *sniff* I...WHAAAAAAAAA!"

Her tears pooled onto the floor, the duo giving themselves panicked glances as they anticipated what would happen next. A massive quake shook the ground and a wind blew from the distant void, the faint sound of two humongous wings flapping in the air echoing throughout the premises.

Writer's Banter:

And we kick off the story with a cliffhanger! Anyways, things marked with * shall be explained in the bottom of the page they're posted in, with this case of * indicating a link to optional atmospheric music fitting for the area. Anyways, here's to hoping I don't forget this thread (and forum, for the matter) exists, because there really aren't that many stories featuring everybody's favorite engineering genius, eh?
« Last Edit: November 24, 2013, 09:45:14 AM by Propman »