Shame is simply a parody of my previous story, Slaved. There's not a whole lot I want to say about this one. The comparisons between the two stories are not things that I will reveal here - that would be a silly thing to do, but I do want to give some sort of commentary.
I have only scant memories of where this story's concept came from. On my ASLD notepad document, I had listed three possibilities for DLC for The Brady Patrick Collection - two of them being the Piccolo and Salza stories. The other was going to be one about Jaco that I eventually incorporated into the end of chapter 1 of A Quest for Booty. I believe this story came to me only a few hours before it was written. I was thinking about the things I wanted to do in this collection, and one thing I definitely wanted to attempt was parodying myself, particularly the emotive, character-driven style of The Brady Patrick Collection, which not only influenced all of my later writing, but influenced other authors, such as Destructivedisk with That Magic Feeling. I approached this story from the unusual position of wanting to mock such stories.
I had Slaved open in another tab while I wrote this story, making sure that certain parallels were maintained. Indeed, Shame turned out to be 678 words long, which is only 10 words less than Slaved. I began writing on November 2, 2016, and I wrote from 1:33 am to 2:18 am of that day, finishing the first draft of the story in that time. I was drunk while writing this story. I then edited it from 3:15 am to 3:43 am. After that, the story was complete, making it by far the fastest one-shot completed in ASLD.
I'm going to take a slightly different approach in my endnotes for this story, as I don't want to reveal all the parallels between Shame and Slaved. I will hint at some, but there's really not a lot I want to say about this story, for revealing the magic in it will essentially ruin it. However, there are still some important things I need to talk about. With that in mind, let's get to the endnotes commentary.
A bird cawed. The sun sunk behind a broken wall of skyscrapers. The halls emptied. I was alone. Grimacing, I stretched my neck; waves of pain radiated out from my sore shoulder. My collarbone was broken… and for what? They had all laughed at me. Three Brench snakes, all of ‘em. And I had wanted to be just like them.
I don’t belong. What does it matter if you’re strong, if everyone’s against you? I would’ve won. I did win. And then… the viper-faced one played a dirty trick. It wasn’t fair. I let out a scream that echoed throughout the city around me. On this bleak, dark-marble platform overlooking the rest of the outpost, I was utterly alone. Well, except for the golden statue of Prince Kuriza. Gold didn’t look right on an Arcosian.
I punched the wall, cracking it, sending a shockwave through the stones, shattering several windows. Biting my lip, I refused to vent my pain. A few hours in the rejuvenation tank would fix me. That’s all I needed.
I had thought they were my friends. I’d won my spot fair and square. I wasn’t the fastest guy on the team… but I was dependable. My fastball was unrivaled, my loyalty unwavering. Why did they do that to me?
Ahead, in a cloud-worn sky, firebirds flew, their chests lucent with orange or yellow flames as they gathered in swarms of thousands to feed on wind-borne grain. A lonesome bird of prey howled mournfully from across the city. I shivered with excitement.
In dishabille, I stood. I wanted to run out there, to throw myself into the swarm and make the birds disperse wildly as I vaporized them with a single flick of my wrist. I could put on a show for this whole city. But I was in tatters. My armor had been shattered – my black undersuit was ripped and pulled tight.
The summer tempests were on their way. I had researched this world before coming here. This was supposed to be the start of a new life for me. Now all the information I had absorbed seemed to matter little. The firebirds flocked with elegance and restraint, and all I could do was kick the dirt and stub my toes.
It was good to be alone. If someone else was here… especially one of them… there would be blood. No one disrespects me. Not like that. I was promised a spot on an elite team. Not this.
Blood dripped from a tear in my glove. Sunlight reflected off skyscrapers and shone with angry precision on my battered body. It was a bloody disgrace.
My scouter beeped – a crimson flicker in the near darkness. I gasped, in spite of myself. “Kid, you there?” the gravelly-voiced captain spoke. “Hey, kid? Eh…? Alright, well, when you get this message, I want you to return back to base as soon as you can. Understand me? It was a misunderstanding, okay? Burter was just playing around. He was having fun. He didn’t mean to hurt you. Come on, Jeice, don’t be like that. Come back. We’ll talk things out like men.”
He hadn’t meant to hurt me. I felt my fingers contort into fists. Ignoring the pain, I tried to slow my breathing. It was no use. The firebirds were engorging themselves upon drifting feed high above the outpost, their shrill cries blending together in a constant, rising roar. My cheeks burned. Grey towers stood erect, some swaying ever so slightly.
I wouldn’t be like them, I swore to myself. Even if I had to die first. I wouldn’t be like those fuckers.
Pulling an empty wrapper from my pocket, I watched the chocolate crumbs tumble to the marble floor, some getting carried far away by the wind. I’d get him back for this. If it was the last thing I ever did, I’d get him back for this. “Burter, I’m coming for you,” I whispered under the wind. “No one steals my chocolate and gets away with it.”
But in that lonely city, no one heard me.
- This story's name is related to the parodying of Slaved.
- I love Burter's viper face.
- The only rule of war is that there are no rules.
- "Gold didn’t look right on an Arcosian." - I don't remember writing this. Great line, though, especially since it's in reference to Kuriza's statue. The statue itself is gold, not the boy. The statue is a mere representation, but I think it does work in terms of foreshadowing. I've since had at least one of my Arcosians unlock the golden form that Frieza unlocks in Dragon Ball Super, but I haven't decided yet if I'll give Kuriza the form or not.
- The firebirds are a species of animal native to the planet. I probably spent more time coming up with their biology than anything else for this story.
- There's a sense of miyabi tied to the firebirds, I think.
- Impending summer is an uncommon theme for me. Usually autum or winter is impending if any season is at all.
- In Slaved, the big reveal is that the narrator is Vegeta. In this story, that is not the case. I have Jeice's name introduced slightly earlier, and his big last moment where he professes eternal revenge on Burter is instead the parllel moment to Slaved. This is an example of anti-climax. The fact that the reveal in this story - the grand reveal - is simply that Burter ate Jeice's candy bar, leading to all his emoting and whatnot, is rather funny to me, and I think it's a better twist than the one I did in Slaved. But of course this is just my opinion.
- There is a sense of the overwhelming indifference of the buildings, which is the indifference of the city itself bearing down upon Jeice. The feeling of loneliness is felt like a sense of oppression. This aggressive sense of loneliness was another unusual stylistic choice in the narrative.
- The floating feed is similar to the floating trees in A Shadow on the Wind. The firebirds themselves, being an important symbol of this story, are necessarily positioned in the sky to be both distant from and positioned over the city.
- While this story is essentially parody, the backstory I came up with for Jeice, with a few scant details thrown in, is satisfying to me. It's a canon-following story, so the stuff in here's valuable to me, at least in terms of Jeice's backstory. This would obviously take place shortly after he joins the team, indicating that Burter joined before him. We get no mention of Recoome, though (and of course Guldo joins much later than the other four). I didn't mention Recoome because I didn't want to deal with that issue, but I assume now that he was not a member of the team yet, as of this story.
- "I wouldn’t be like them, I swore to myself. Even if I had to die first. I wouldn’t be like those fuckers." - this part only works in my opinion because it comes just before the candy-stealing reveal.
I like this story. The aesthetics are nice and subtle and the comedy is refreshing. Just because it's a parody story does not mean I neglected world building and characterization. It's a short story, so the content doesn't warrant much discussion, but that does not mean that the content itself is defective. I am satisfied with how this one turned out. I'll give it an A.
<---- Part 72
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