My only contest entry, as well as my single contest victory is Derelict. I had thought for a while about a plot to the "write anything about Android 17", and I knew a lot of people would be doing things revolving around Cell. That was pretty cliché, and Cell being the positively boring character he is, it just didn't interest me. I remembered that Gero had been retconned into the original DB (he was never mentioned as being in there until his appearance in DBZ which was rather lame). Thereafter, I wanted to include Dr. Flappe, who was an otherwise useless character. Honestly, I don't know of a single fanon other than Derelict that features him at all, least of which in an important role.
After that, I knew that I wanted to have Android 17 be uninterested in communication, so having him being hunting was a way to keep in in the conversation. It was also important to note that 17 wasn't at muscle tower to destroy it. He was there because he was hunting a beast. The destruction of the tower later on simply showed that 17 was done with the Red Ribbon Army. He didn't want or need help. That was the most important thing to convey. Red Ribbon Army or no Red Ribbon Army, he didn't want to be with either.
It took me a long time to write this story, more so than usual. I spent days working over the wording for each sentence. I must have read over it a dozen times. I was actually on vacation in Arizona when I finished this story, which I remember quite vividly. I would spend downtime in the hotel reading over and correcting what others would probably call insignificant details, for hours. I don't know of a story which I have put more effort into, and the only comparison could be the first chapter of Spindlerun. But that is also why it's one of my favorite stories. I don't have a single problem with any of it, the plot, the writing, or anything, which is incredibly rare. Even in In Requiem and Spindlerun, when reading through them, have always had sections I want to change, slightly. Not so here.
The beast, furry and brown, meandered forward through the blizzard unabashed; its long snout carefully treading through the low-lined snow, sniffing and feeling out its course of reckoning. So it was not in panic, but in blind instinct that this creature came down in a light trot into the valley. The landscape was barren, wasted, placid; no winds that blew heavily over the towering spires above had managed to enter into this respite. They could not, for the cluster of mountain teeth crowned the entirety of the valley in walled protection; as if in a giant, natural “keep out“ sign. That was not to say this valley was a cozy oasis, however. There were no signs of life - and few trees stood around, indeed only two or three great oaks, leafless in décor gave off any sense of perception against the blanketed white.
Sunset came quickly onto the valley even as the animal pressed on. Over this, the cold shadow of night crept in, and the beast, sensing it, quickened its pace. For some time the thing went in this burst, ripping the snow apart, in flail and fall. Moreover, such a tumble was considerably loud. Almost obnoxiously so. Were anyone taking an evening stroll in the area, be they even the oldest and deafest of men in the whole wild world, they would have heard the beast enter the valley.
Digging its clawed toes deep into the peeking tail of a knotted branch, the creature stopped itself. It stopped fully, remarkably unshaken from the awkward sprint just moments before. Instead, wasting no time, it buried its nose in the snow, searching out fervently for food. Food must be found. Starvation would be counterproductive to self-preservation; not to mention it was late. Even a creature such as this one knew that. But unfortunately, not two minutes into the grand forage, the beast became rigid. It paused as it raised its head, pulling its ears back and growling; a defensive gesture against a new foe. Rightly so. For in its path was standing a man. And silhouetted against the setting sun behind him, he stood defiantly; his figure covered in a faded brown overcoat.
Pointed at the creature, he held a long, sleekly wooded rifle on faded metal in his hands. He was otherwise unmoving. His hair hung black, wild and full, and it covered most of his gaunt face. Yet his veiled features shone out his blue eyes, piercingly calm even as he cocked the bolt for his shot. This intimidation motivated only a baring of teeth in answer.
The man stared a moment, then lowered his rifle and smiled, “Stupid beast! How could you think fighting me would do you any good? Really, you can‘t win. You have no chance against me. So run away. Go on, run for your life. Make this game a little fun.”
Without warning, he lifted his weapon and fired.
The harmless gesture worked its will over the animal, frightening it with a loud bang. The animal conceded its position and bolted away. The hunter himself was ready for this, having already stocked his gun on his back to give chase. And give to chase he did.
But as he ran in dogged pursuit, the hunter caught his leg on something and tripped over himself. He fell face first onto the ground; though upon landing, he seemed more puzzled than annoyed as to why he had fallen. A tricksey trick, he needed to know. But before even one thought could be given to this, a sudden new voice rose up without warning; but it was not threatening, nor was it angry. It simply held in it that annoying air of stark curiosity.
“Muscle Tower. The Red Ribbon command post for General White. And if I may say so myself, quite the impressive piece of architecture. It’s a shame it was built by such an evil group.”
The hunter paid this speaker no notice, being too busy with his own thoughts. He stuck his hand into the snow and felt around, until at last his fingers gripped onto the cold piece of metal which had so rudely uprooted him moments before. Returning the gesture, he raised it out of the ground with incredible speed, creating a small crater in-wake. The thing was old and frozen, though its form could still be made out; on it, etched in black paint were two letter Rs, imprinted on a soft red background. Besides that, there were no other markings. But there needn’t have been. For the man’s eyes widened as he saw the imprint; he stood back up, dropped it, then proceeded to back away from it all. As if even being near the thing caused him some kind of pain. Behind him still, the other voice did not notice, and instead continued.
“I will make a wager that you are… number 14? Perhaps 15. Gero shouldn’t have taken that long to perfect it… But this has been many years. Who knows what he‘s managed to cook up in all this time?”
It was a short, white haired man. His talk was lively, animated even. Strange for someone of his fragile appearance. How he braved this cold, in naught but a large overcoat and a pair of black boots was utterly preposterous and illogical, though not altogether relevant. Indeed, the first man had not given heed to this other one at all, until the latter had mentioned Gero. At that word, he stopped his ignoring.
“How do you know Gero?” he breathed out quietly.
“My name is Doctor Flappe. I used to work with Doctor Gero a long time ago, in that very tower that now sits in ruin beneath your feet. But was I close? 14? 15? Which was it, now?”
“17,” replied the hunter, tersely.
“Android… 17. I didn’t think Gero would go that high. I see that I don’t know many things at all. You must be his latest and most powerful creation.”
“But you’ve been here for quite a while. The people in town have been whispering about a lone man wandering the forests, since last month. They said he was wearing the old Red Ribbon insignia, wandering around late into the night. My eyes may not be what they used to be, but you can‘t fool me, 17. I can see your insignia.”
“What about it, old man?”
“I would guess you have come back to this place to search for your roots, your history… your home. If you are Gero’s android, he should have told you about this place. There was a time when he and I slaved together, probably for years, producing android prototypes for the Red Ribbon. The ideas we came up with here led, ultimately, to your creation.”
“Maybe you should go back home, Doctor. This cold seems to be messing with your circuits. I’m not part of the Red Ribbon army. I’m not here searching for clues. They don’t matter to me. I don’t care about that.”
“Very well,” replied Flappe. He slid up against a tree to support his shaking knees, which had become more pronounced in this waiting cold. Taking this time to himself, Android 17 turned back around and sighted his rifle, looking for the prey he had been successfully tracking until but a few moments ago.
“What do you want now, old man?” 17 spoke up, feeling Flappe watching him.
“Gero…I know he can be brash at times, but he was a brilliant scientist. Misguided, yes, but a genius nonetheless. How is he? ” Flappe asked, quietly.
17 kicked up the snow, refreshing his vision. He clenched his teeth, to steady his aim, “He had an accident. He’s gone now. You’ll be the one to join him if you ask again.”
“Dead. I see. That is unfortunate. Of course, his death is not a bad thing for the world. Not really, anyways. Just look at the tower. When it was destroyed, our town was given new life and we were free to live in peace. Now the remnants lie buried and forgotten in the snow. I think the same could be said about Gero. He was your tower. And now he‘s gone.”
“How many other androids did you and Doctor Gero make here?”
“Too many to count. We may be geniuses, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t make mistakes. Heh. Countless mistakes, to be more accurate. But 8 was my last. I haven’t been in the loop for a long time.”
With utter indifference, Android 17 chinned up his rifle to his face. He aimed through the dark fog in the distance, his eyes racing, and blurred blue as he searched for something moving, something alive. This was still a hunt, not a history lesson. He would make that clear.
The prey had hidden itself behind a fallen tree; a far off one covered in snow. Only the keenest of eyes could have noticed the small inconsistencies in the wood’s deep ridged texture and picked out a creature among it. 17 fired off; once again, it was only a flushing out technique. And it worked. The creature sprinted out, panicked and defenseless. Though it was a merely a black and weaving speck in the distance, 17 clicked back the bolt with his thumb and hovered his finger over the trigger.
It was no matter.
“Android 17, you don’t have to be part of the army, or part of Gero. But you don’t have to be all alone out here either. Come, come back and stay with me for a while. I have a big house, plenty of food, and of course you can meet your older brother. His name is Android 8. Please. He would absolutely love your comp-”
The rifle let out a second shot, jolting the surroundings into silence with it. One, long and mournful croak leapt up far away from a dying beast realizing its fate. Soon it ended, and the winds and other natural sounds retook the valley. As if nothing had happened. 17 wiped the barrel of his weapon clean, then put it away. Upon doing so, he took to the air, because, after all, androids can fly.
“Please… let us help you. You aren’t a bad person, we aren’t bad people. What do you say?!” cried out Doctor Flappe, in desperation.
17 did not bother turning to look Flappe in the eye, as he spoke in retort, “I’m fine on my own.”
With that, the android flew to the spot where he had dropped the piece of metal. It was easy to see such an unnatural piece of human craft up against the dull earth. 17 threw his arms out, forming a ki ball in each one. The two were blood red, burning hot - so much that the snow below the android’s feet began to melt at once.
He raised them over his head, then threw the duo at the RR target. The detonation not only melted away the snow, but completely blew away the earth with it. Plumes and pillars of fire shot up, combusting and reacting with the myriad of unknown RR goodies below. The heat and light became nearly unbearable; though the sun itself was nearly set, the valley was momentarily relit. Explosion after chain-reacted explosion rocked the ground, and shot debris into the air. Steel melted, wood turned to ash, the memories turned to shadow. And when the smoke let up, Muscle Tower was gone once again.
In the distance, Doctor Flappe, powerless, watched Android 17 (who had in this time reached his prey) shoulder his kill, then leave.
The old man himself stayed for a while longer, even as the snow began to fall again. He watched intently as it slowly covered up the exposed, cooling crater. One last time. Finally, Flappe became aware that the sun was fully set; it was now dark. Sighing to himself, or perhaps at himself, the doctor gathered himself up and began his slog home.
- This story of mine was unique in that it was the only one I have created which I had named it (Derelict) before coming up with any plot details. In effect, the name was the basis for the idea.
- The first sentence references Mr. Rogers with "furry and brown".
- A part of 17's dialogue, "You’ll be the one to join him if you ask again.” is a reference to the Radiohead song, 'High and Dry'.
- I never originally planned to show any of the beast's perspective until I thought up using the phrase "furry and brown" above. That alone compelled the writing to include the beast a more prominent character (where before he was not going to be).
- Being 1999 words long (the most words it could be without going over the contest's limit) was purely coincidental, as I was at around 1995 when I finished, and adding in the last word (alone), fixing some awkward sentences, plus "the end" did it.
- Due to me writing most of this story on vacation, I spent a lot of time working on the plot during long car rides and such, which I've found to be one of the best ways to come up with ideas.
- While being a story I wrote on my KidVegeta account, I think Derelict is a strikingly Brady Patrick-esque tale. Plot-wise, being but a brief moment in time, purely character-driven, this really should have been a BP story. The mere fact that I used it for a contest, and did not give it a title starting with S is what prevented that.
I am very happy with how Derelict turned out, and I think it's one of the greatest things I have made. I'd give it an S in terms of rating, as I really enjoyed the wording of all the writing, the dialogue between 17 and Flappe, and the inclusion of the beast, and the emotions tied to him. While I don't think this story is as emotional or dramatic as some of my others, I do like its outward simplicity.
<---- Part 8
Part 10 ---->