[Fic] The Tenant of Room 404

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Postby BobBQ » Fri Jul 23, 2010 10:37 pm

I miss Sackville. Cars stopped for me at crosswalks there.

Also, I really need to invent a more clever method of writing explicit scenes inexplicitly. In the meantime,


Part 26: The Boundary of Maiden and Mother, Phase C

Magnanimous Hyacinth
Earth Orbit, Third Universal Layer
April 26th, 2016

“Well...” Daebaril raised an eyebrow. “This certainly is not what I expected.”

Renaril cringed. “Mom, what... what are you doing?”

“I wanted to talk to you before you left for work,” the elder Arume replied, stepping into the cabin and closing the door behind herself. “But I see you're going to be late anyway.”

Kang rose from the bed, moving in front of Renaril protectively. “Senior Counselor,” she intoned coldly, “if you feel your daughter is doing anything inappropriate – ”

Daebaril waved her off. “By the first mother, not at all!” the alien laughed, catching her offspring by surprise a second time. “I had almost lost hope that she would ever work up the initiative!”


The complaint fell on deaf ears. “Hm...” the matriarch mused as she looked over Kang's body, seemingly oblivious to the hostility radiating from it. “Renaril, could you put something on and step outside? I'd like to speak briefly with the colonel.”

Her mother's posture made it clear that no arguments would be accepted: Renaril pulled on her bodysuit and zipped it, still glaring resentfully as she walked to the door. “If you,” she muttered under her breath, “do anything to Li – ”

“Please,” Daebaril interrupted reproachfully. “I'm in no mood to incur the wrath of that detestable man today.”

Just when Renaril had convinced herself that there was absolutely no reason to be grateful for the existence of Roland Schuhart, the arms dealer suddenly became a perfect counterweight... Not that she would ever admit it to his face. The door slid shut behind her with another ominous hiss, leaving her alone in the cool, bright corridor. Minutes ticked by, one after another, but she had no watch with which to number them. What was her mother doing in there? What was she telling Kang? Damn her! Renaril screamed in her mind. Why can't she leave us alone?

So engrossed was she in her internal misery that she very nearly missed the noise of the door reopening. “You're a very fortunate young lady,” Daebaril announced, a profoundly uncharacteristic smile gracing her features. “She agreed.”

“Agreed?” Renaril stared at her mother blankly. “Agreed to what?”

“Why, to bear your child, of course!”

The younger Arume's wide blue eyes all but turned into little blue screens of death. “Wuh... geh..?”

“I know it's a little sudden,” Daebaril blithely went on, “but this is a rare opportunity. Do try and make it a pleasant experience for her, won't you?” She waited a few moments to see if her own child's panicked babbling would attain any coherence, pressing on when it didn't. “Anyway, the reason I came to see you in the first place was to tell you that your seed mother has finally been persuaded to take some time off from work. She'll be coming here to visit in ten days or so.” The smile widened. “She would be delighted to hear that she has a granddaughter to look forward to, don't you think?”

Renaril watched her mother's back recede down the passageway in mute horror, then darted back into the cabin. This can't be happening!


Eto Delo Girls' Dormitory
Hong Kong, China

Richardson was awakened – not for the first time – by the sensation of Harrington's fingers probing between her legs. Feeling the comforting warmth of her partner's slim body pressing against her back, she relaxed and let the other gosta's instincts take control with a sigh of contentment.

When awake, it was Richardson who took the lead in their intimate activities. Sleeping, however, intermittently brought out an assertive aspect of her opposite's subconscious which she found both tender and thrilling. It would be a perfect arrangement, she thought, if only Harrington were able to retain some memory of the things she did in the night.

I wonder if she's dreaming about me?

They were just getting to the best part when Richardson was snapped out of her reverie by the sound of the dormitory door being unlatched. Experience told the gosta it was nothing to worry about, while training told her to be alert regardless. Pulling away from Harrington's encirclement, she leaned out and – also not for the first time – promptly bonked her head on the butt of the Springfield which hung from the corner of the bunk above her. The rifle slipped off and hit the carpet with a loud thump, followed by a metallic jangling as a dislodged bandoleer of .30-06 made its bid for freedom.

Sauer! Richardson grimaced, rubbing her forehead gingerly. You were supposed to secure those!

The intruder was Astra. She stood frozen beside the door, wearing nothing but a sheepish grin. If her entrance hadn't woken the others, Richardson had finished the job for her: “Whozzat?” Korth murmured, poking her mussed head out from under the blanket she shared with Borchardt.

“Away making love to the pack leader again?” Sauer sighed in the bunk above Richardson and Harrington. She swung her bare legs over the side and lowered herself to the floor with a quick, fluid movement.

Richardson watched her with concern while Astra scampered off to her own bed. “Where are you going?” she whispered.

Sauer didn't answer. She bent to pick up the '03 and its bandoleer, then went around to the footlocker at the head of the stacked bunks. The other gosta could hear a rustle of fabric and inferred that she was changing out of the shorts and t-shirt she slept in.

“You're going to see her, aren't you?” Richardson pressed. “Even after what she said?”

“Who else?” Sauer reappeared, naked above the waist and with the end of a long strip of coarse fabric loosely wound around her small breasts. “Help me, please.”

A heavy sense of pity fell on Richardson as she left her resting place and finished the binding, Camilla Laforey's overheard words echoing in her ears as she did so: “If you were a boy, Sauer, I dare say I could have fallen in love with you.”


Renaril found Kang sitting on the bed with her dress shirt draped over her shoulders. It took the Arume several seconds to find her next words. “You... Did you really agree to..?”

“I told her I would consider it,” the Chinese women replied modestly. “You oppose the idea?”

“I... well... It's not that I'm totally against it – I mean, I assumed I would have to do it eventually, but... that is...”

“I understand.” The colonel stood up, shedding the shirt in the process. “You would rather wait.”

“I, um...” Renaril had to avert her eyes from the tantalizing display of skin before her. “Actually, I... It's complicated...”

“We still have a little time,” said Kang mildly. “Tell me.”

What Renaril wanted was to indulge her nearly magnetic attraction to the comfort zone formed by her elder's cleavage. She took a step in that direction, then another and, meeting no resistance, eased herself into Kang's waiting embrace. “How much did Mom say?” she murmured, nuzzling her companion's clavicle.

“She explained your... obligations,” Kang answered, gently stroking the Arume's back. “But she said nothing about your personal wishes.”

“I...” Renaril swallowed. “I wasn't born because my parents loved each other. Their genes were compatible, that was all... A lot of Arume produce children that way, for the good of the race, but I... I wanted to wait until I found the right person.” She lifted her chin, finding that Kang's brown eyes, which had been so cold when they first looked upon her, now offered incomparable warmth. “This all must sound strange to you...”

Kang hugged her closer. “Don't be so sure,” she said. “What you're describing isn't so different from arranged marriages based on family interests.”

“Mm...” The alien snuggled up to her partner. “Li, I would be honored if you – if we had a child together, and yet somehow it... it feels wrong to do that.” She drew back, her fingers slipping down Kang's flank and over her hip. “Your strength, your beauty... I can't take them away fro – ow!”

“What are you saying?” the officer chided, pinching her junior's cheek. “Do you think I would turn into a balloon overnight?”

“Well, no... but still – !”

“If this is what you really want,” said Kang firmly, “then I'll do my part.”

To Renaril's ears, it still sounded too good to be true. “Then you... you also want children?”

“It's a responsibility for me as well,” the colonel divulged, “though I've never found an acceptable arrangement before now. I had no male friends whom I could, er, prevail upon, and I wasn't comfortable with adoption or the idea of using a stranger's... material.”

The Arume re-approached her. “Is it really all right if it's me?”

“Yes, although... I'll be honest with you,” Kang went on, a measure of seriousness coming back into her posture. “Your mother pointed out that there are significant practical incentives for birthing an Arume's child – not the least of them being its credit towards our safety from, shall I say, friendly fire.”

“Stop,” Renaril pleaded. “Don't remind me of that.”

“As you wish,” the bigger woman sighed. “The impregnation process is not complex, I understand.”

“Oh yes, it's really simple. We can do it by ourselves... once we're ready, I mean.”

“Then so be it. Your room or mine?”

“Wha..?” Renaril briefly contemplated asking Kang to pinch her again. “You want to do it tonight?”

“Your mother expects us not to waste time. Besides, I...” Kang blushed a little. “I haven't been monitoring myself as thoroughly as I should, but I expect to ovulate in the next few days. Our windows of opportunity will be narrow even if we don't find ourselves distracted.”

“That's true, but...” The group commander bit her lip. “Can I think about it some more? If I don't change my mind, I'll bring the kit when I see you this evening, all right?”

“Of course,” said Kang generously. “My room, then?”


“Very well.” The colonel looked down at herself. “I believe I need a shower.”

“Me too.” A hopeful look arose on Renaril's face. “Can we..?”


Six hours later

Mari felt a little apprehensive. She wasn't sure why – the summons she hastened to answer was neither urgent nor ominous – but she knew the feeling too well to be mistaken. Perhaps it was merely on account of the occasion being her first visit to the 'pattern room' underneath her new employer's offices. Past the vault-like door, however, the room itself was quite plain: a wide space with walls of bare concrete and endless lines of florescent lights. The floor space was divided by long double-sided display cases full of small arms, each specimen accompanied by a card detailing its make, model, year of manufacture, known service history and notable characteristics. There was nothing odd about a military company maintaining a reference collection, but Mari had a strong suspicion that Eto Delo didn't get many orders for Kropatscheks or Gewehr 71/84s.

She found Schuhart on the far side, making notations on a clipboard beside an unfilled case. “We're going to need more space,” he remarked as his visitor drew near. “Might as well open a museum while we're at it.”

Whatever you like, Mari didn't say. “You wanted to see me?”

“Yup.” The scarred man went over to another case and critically inspected the Hotchkiss within. “Are you fitting in all right? Making any friends?”

Those long, bitter days on the Scandinavian front had taught Mari not to make friends quickly. Who knew how long any of them would survive? “Your gosta seem to like me,” she replied guardedly.

“Congratulations,” said Schuhart. “You're one of the 'good people' now.”

There had been gosta in Finland, too – runaways and escapees who sought refuge with the defending armies. They had never been combatants, though: cooks, fixers, companions for those who were so inclined, even, but Mari had never seen one pick up a gun to save herself. This man's adopted orphans were in a class of their own. “Was there anything else?”

“Yeah.” Schuhart turned around, tucking the clipboard under his arm. “Majestic Two sends her regards.”

Mari's impassive hunter face didn't spring up quite in the nick of time. “You..?”

“I know more than I should and less than I'd like,” the man grumbled. “Anyway, she said to tell you that somebody called 'the Butcher of Tallinn' is coming to visit. Kind of a big deal, I gather.”

“A big deal?” Mari sputtered, briefly forgetting that she wasn't in the second layer any more. “Don't you know about her?”

“No,” said Schuhart flatly. “I'm an arms dealer, not Edgar Hoover.”

“Of course not.” The Japanese exile took a moment to calm herself. “She's coming here?”

“Guangzhou, at any rate. Probably going to drop in at the DDUF and AKA, too. Don't know what she's after yet, if anything.”

“Don't worry, she'll find something.” Mari cocked her head. “What is our response?”

“Yui says it's not safe to hit this one, so it looks like we'll be sitting tight.” Schuhart raised his hands before Mari could object. “She knew you wouldn't like that, but she insisted the risks were too big.”

So that's how it is. “Of course... Will that be all?”

“Not quite.” A ghost of a smile passed over the one-eyed man's face. “I said we aren't going to take on this 'butcher'... I never said she would make it back from our layer alive.” He reached into his pocket and took out a fat, elongate cartridge casing. “I reckon it's a job for Hakim.”


“Oh, you wouldn't know him, sorry... He's good at this kind of work – officially retired now, but we pay his pension and look after his toys. The crazy old man still takes the odd assignment for us.”

Mari had seen some true-and-tested madmen in the northern retreat, the second layer's Phil Darwin being a comparatively tame case. “How crazy are we talking about?”

“He has one particular idiosyncrasy,” Schuhart explained, handing her the rimmed brass tube. “He thinks modern weapons make his work too easy, so he won't use anything made after about 1890.”

The arctic stalker wasn't exactly a pinnacle of technological modernity herself, but the .45-70 casing between her fingers hailed from another generation altogether. “What does he use, then?”

“Well, he did most of his last north African tour with a scoped Lebel and then he switched to a Martini-Enfield for a while. I hear he once made a kill with a Tanegashima to win a bet... Anyway, Nereus just fixed up a nice Remington-Lee for him.” The dealer nodded towards the cartridge. “I'm sure he's itching to try it out.”

“On the Butcher?”

“On the Butcher.” The smile came back. “MJ-Two strongly implied that the target is an elusive little beastie. We'll see how well she eludes a five hundred grain slug.”

That's better. “If this Hakim can do it, he'll be saving a lot of lives,” said Mari fervently.

“Suppose so.” Schuhart went back to his clipboard. “Just wanted to give you a heads-up on that... By the way, have you thought of a submission for the next Useless Tip of the Month?”

“No... You?”

“Mine is 'Time travelers suck, stay away from them.'” The man shrugged. “I'll probably lose to Daemon again.”


Sino-Arumic Liaison HQ
Guangzhou, China

Renaril thought about the matter off and on for the rest of the day, to little effect. After turning over the command center to the night shift and seeing the loyal and steadfast duo of Negadael and Eripol off to bed, she went to her room, combed and retied her hair, brushed her teeth, collected the essential package and quietly yet resolutely set out.

The walk to Colonel Kang's door was at once too long and too short. “Li..?” the alien called softly, gingerly applying her knuckles to the dark wood.

The loud clack of the latch nearly made her jump. “Come in,” said Kang, moving aside.

The soldier wore a bathrobe that was at least two sizes too large, which was fine as far as Renaril cared. She stole little glances to either side as she kicked off her shoes and followed Kang to the bed, gleaning whatever information she could about her opposite's personal life. These quarters somehow felt sterile and barren despite being far from empty: the bookshelf was packed from top to bottom, and loose volumes were piled on the desk and bedside table alike. Most of them were in Chinese, which Renaril could still read only fragments of, though a good number bore notable faces on their covers. Were this not such a momentous occasion, she would have laughed at the juxtaposition which appeared to depict Winston Churchill high-fiving Ho Chi Minh.

“So,” said Kang, turning to face her, “here we are. Is there anything you need before we begin?”

“Uh, no... No, I'm all set.” The Arume laid her box on the table next to the bed. “You, um... you have to be wet inside for the implanting to work, so...” It might have been absurd, but she just couldn't bring herself to say 'so we need to have sex first' out loud. Instead she fell back on the dependable standby of body language, unzipping her uniform and letting it fall from her slim frame.

There was no real need for her to spell out her wishes. Kang untied the sash of the robe and let the pale green article slip off her shoulders. What Renaril beheld as it fell away drew a gasp: the pubic hair which had frustrated her earlier was gone, not a wisp of it anywhere to be seen. “Is it all right?” the oriental female asked, her cheeks reddening. “I thought it might make this easier...”

“It's perfect,” Renaril breathed reverently. She gazed in awe for what seemed like all of a minute, only to catch herself starting to reach out unbidden. “Can... Can I touch?”

Her reward was an encouraging smile. “Isn't that the point?”

They drew together almost as one. Renaril curled one arm around Kang's back and stood on tiptoe to kiss her, prolonging the contact as long as she could before reaching down with her free arm. The faintest of tremors ran through the scarred fighter's body as the alien's hand cupped her bare womanhood. Its heat sank into Renaril's fingers immediately, jolting her heart to a frantic cadence. The mound was not perfectly smooth, she realized, but had patches which were almost prickly to the touch.

The fact that she noticed was noticed in itself. “I'm sorry,” Kang whispered once the kiss was broken. “I've never shaved completely before.”

“It's fine,” the Arume insisted, “it's really fine... You didn't cut yourself, did you?”


“I'm glad,” Renaril breathed, sinking back onto her heels. “I hope it wasn't too much trouble.”

“I'll get used to it.” Kang shivered as the alien made an exploratory movement. “Wait...”

Renaril pulled her hand back as if she'd touched a hot iron. “Am I going too far?”

“No, no – I merely thought...” Now the looks of embarrassment were mutual. “Wouldn't this be easier if we were lying down?”

“Oh!” Renaril laughed nervously. “Erm, yes... Yes, it would be.” She released her grasp and stepped back, admiring how the glow from the lamp on the table played over her lover's body – she was definitely thinking in such terms by now – as the other woman lay back on the bed. The soldier made ready to receive her there, but she instead clambered onto the foot of the mattress. Pressing lightly with trembling fingers, the group commander coaxed Kang into spreading her legs wide. “Wow...”

Kang squirmed a little under the intensity of the Arume's gaze. “Is there... something weird about it?”

The alien shook her head vehemently. “So pretty,” she declared. “Like a flower.” Renaril had, in truth, entertained fears that her partner's nether hair concealed some disfigurement left by the colonel's violation in that faraway jungle, but now she knew for sure that those fears were unsupported. Knowing was half the battle, as they said, and it boosted her courage to new heights. Here goes, she thought gamely, running her tongue around her lips. Marshaling her determination to impress the woman before her, Renaril inhaled sharply through her nose and dove in for the kill.


“Eek!” Kang brought her knees together with a beartrap's speed. “Wh-what are you doing?”

Trapped between muscular thighs, the petite one could only look up at her apologetically. “This is supposed to feel really, really good...”

“It doesn't feel good when I'm watching you force yourself,” the colonel sighed, releasing her paramour-apparent. “I must taste awful.”

Renaril shook her head again, even as she scraped her tongue against her incisors. “It's okay,” she insisted, putting on a brave face. “I just thought it would be... sweeter, I guess.”

“Sweeter?” Kang repeated incredulously. “Why would my vulva be sweet?”

“At the academy, the girls with experience always said it would taste like...” Renaril trailed off as she began to remember the sheer number of alleged flavors and the obvious improbability of most of them. “...Sorry.”

“Never mind it,” the Chinese woman opined, sitting up with a grunt. “If I simply need to be lubricated, perhaps I should – ”

“Don't.” The Arume caught Kang's wrist as she reached between her legs. “Please, this is something I have to do.”

“If you're sure.” The elder lay back once more, closing her eyes as she settled onto the rumpled pillow. “But better keep to the basics.”

“Mm.” Pushing away her feelings of self-inflicted humiliation, Renaril flexed her fingers and went to work.

What ensued was not the expected reversal of their morning encounter: the minutes dragged by, but no matter how long the alien caressed, stroked and petted, she failed to elicit any strong reactions. The heat and wetness were there, but none of the moaning or sighing she so wanted to draw out. She might not have even recognized the end when it came, had she not felt those inner walls contracting around her fingers. Kang held her breath as she rode out the orgasm, a constricted grunt escaping her throat when her body relaxed.

Renaril felt cheated, and simultaneously felt guilty for that. “...Can I try again?”

“Not on a night when I need to rise early,” the soldier answered. “I'll set aside some time for us to practice once I come back from Japan, all right?”

“Okay...” The Arume climbed off the bed with heavy reluctance, even though she was back upon it as soon as she had the little box. “I guess it's time,” she said, shivering momentarily with anticipation as she opened the long and narrow package. “Are you really, really sure you want this?”

“As long as you are.”

Inside the box were printed instructions, which Renaril had been sufficiently motivated to read in advance, the white nanomachine capsule itself, and a tube made of translucent polymer. Optional component, the instructions read in regard to that last item. Enhances reliability of conception.

Kang's bemused eyes fixed on the tube as Renaril inspected it. “Is that a straw?”

“Yeah...” Now that she thought about it, it really did look stupidly similar to one of those plastic drinking tubes the forime used: the Arume could just as well have pinched one from the mess hall. Laying the straw down the centerline of her palm, she pinched the outer end between her middle and ring fingers. “I'm putting it in.”

Plan A didn't work out quite as well as envisioned, as Renaril quickly discovered that she couldn't bend her remaining fingers far enough out of the way to attain maximum depth. Close enough, she figured when she was in as far as she could go, and pushed the straw further on its own.

It was not the greatest Plan B ever. “Ow!” Kang yelped as the straw's tip jabbed her cervix. “It's in, it's in!”

“S-sorry,” Renaril stammered, backing her hand out gingerly. Come on! she chastised herself bitterly. Can't I ever stop screwing up? The next phase was a blessedly simple one: plucking the capsule from its package, the group commander popped it into her mouth, bit down and began swirling as much saliva around it as she could muster.


The instructions warned that the compound would have a bitter taste. They in no way prepared her for the vileness she tasted right now. Four-one thousand, Renaril chanted mentally as the mix thickened, five-one thousand, six-one thousand... At ten seconds, the alien bowed her head, pursed her lips around the exposed end of the straw and expelled the slime as quick as was physically possible. “Be right back,” she gasped, springing up at once, and fled to the bathroom.

The aftertaste didn't appreciably abate until the third mouthwash, and it took two more rinses to bring it down to a tolerable level. “Sorry,” Renaril mumbled once she was finished. “That did taste awful.” Returning to her former place, she carefully extracted the tube from Kang's body, put it in the box and put the box aside. “Anyway, it's done,” she announced, offering a wan smile. “You should stay on your back for a little while, until you've absorbed the seed.”

“Of course.” Kang motioned for Renaril to lie beside her, then reached out to the light and switched it off.

The Arume obeyed the summons, pulling up the fringe of the bed's thin blanket behind herself, and nestled against her partner's side. “Good night, Li.”



“Is there a quick way to know if it worked? A test of some kind?”

“Yes.” Renaril smiled in the dark. “But you might feel it right away.”

“Feel it?”

“Mm-hm... With Arume seed, there's – I don't remember exactly how it works, but sometimes there's a reaction. It makes a warm feeling inside.”

“And if I feel that, I'll know for sure?”


“All right... Good night, Renaril.”

The Chinese veteran soon passed into blissful slumber. Her companion lay awake awhile longer, savoring their intimacy until her eyelids began to droop. Only then did she whisper the words she'd recited a thousandfold in her mind yet never before spoken aloud.

“I love you.”

Twelve hours later she would find herself wondering if it had been a tragically premature profession.
Last edited by BobBQ on Mon Jul 26, 2010 3:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby BobBQ » Sat Jul 24, 2010 6:27 pm

Updated the first post with some important stuff.

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Postby BobBQ » Thu Jul 29, 2010 9:15 pm

New chapter of 403 is up, but as you can see it's not posted here. Unfortunately I can no longer justify maintaining the story in two different formats, the more so now that said story is moving into rather risque territory. Watch my sig for updates, or use FFN's story alert function.

Apologies to anyone who preferred reading it on the forums. It's been a good run, but I just can't keep it going.

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Postby Willbyr » Fri Aug 13, 2010 12:17 am

Just thought I'd drop in and say that I have really enjoyed this story. I just finished posting links to Tenant and Pilot at TV Tropes' Eva fic recommendation page; if it's not too much trouble, could anyone interested take a look at the entries and LMK what corrections need to be made, if any.

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Postby BobBQ » Sun Aug 15, 2010 7:25 pm

That's more objective than anything I could have written, so... thanks, I guess.

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Postby Bagheera » Tue Apr 05, 2011 11:13 am

Hmmm. So, having read through Tenant and what we have of End, some thoughts and questions:

First, will we see more to End, or is it effectively dead?

Second, did we ever find out how Tiller can mind control people? I figured he was using Arume tech or something (wasn't familiar with Blue Drop at the time), but when he got Kirov it looked like he was using some sort of superpower.

Overall thoughts on the story: it's a really solid story. It's not really an NGE story and it does have some problems (too much gun porn, too much influence on the part of Smith and Tiller (even if Tiller has an excuse), the nigh-irrelevance of the NGE cast, etc), but it still holds together well. Ironically I think the best part was probably the Zone arc, since that was where you abandoned all pretense of this being an NGE story and just told an original story with original characters. That worked quite well (and Pilot will presumably work equally well, particularly if you brought back folks like Camilla and K-Bar and Boomer, who were awesome).

I'm glad you stuck with it. I just hope we eventually get more of the End.
For my post-3I fic, go here.
The law doesn't protect people. People protect the law. -- Akane Tsunemori, Psycho-Pass
People's deaths are to be mourned. The ability to save people should be celebrated. Life itself should be exalted. -- Volken Macmani, Tatakau Shisho: The Book of Bantorra
I hate myself. But maybe I can learn to love myself. Maybe it's okay for me to be here! That's right! I'm me, nothing more, nothing less! I'm me. I want to be me! I want to be here! And it's okay for me to be here! -- Shinji Ikari, Neon Genesis Evangelion
Yes, I know. You thought it would be something about Asuka. You're such idiots.

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Postby BobBQ » Tue Apr 05, 2011 2:40 pm

View Original PostBagheera wrote:First, will we see more to End, or is it effectively dead?

It's in development hell. The planning is done, but there hasn't been enough time or interest to finish it - more so now that I have four other stories all with readers expecting updates. Finishing End of File as planned would have also spoiled some major plot points in 403.

Second, did we ever find out how Tiller can mind control people? I figured he was using Arume tech or something (wasn't familiar with Blue Drop at the time), but when he got Kirov it looked like he was using some sort of superpower.

Tiller was exposed to an abnormal emission from an Emil Force Drive and developed the ability to perform contact telepathy, like Wakatake Mari in Blue Drop and Harrington in 403. As (un)luck of the draw had it, the effects on his already questionable sanity were far more severe.

Overall thoughts on the story: it's a really solid story. It's not really an NGE story and it does have some problems (too much gun porn, too much influence on the part of Smith and Tiller (even if Tiller has an excuse), the nigh-irrelevance of the NGE cast, etc), but it still holds together well. Ironically I think the best part was probably the Zone arc, since that was where you abandoned all pretense of this being an NGE story and just told an original story with original characters. That worked quite well (and Pilot will presumably work equally well, particularly if you brought back folks like Camilla and K-Bar and Boomer, who were awesome).

At this point, these are pretty much my feelings as well. Camilla is in 403, as are most of the key players from the Old Tokyo arc. K-Bar, Boomer and Roopen will be rejoining the cast fairly soon.

I just hope we eventually get more of the End.

There are going to be some significant revelations in the next couple of chapters of 403, and after that the potential spoilers from End of File will be less of a concern. That said, time constraints are such that the conclusion to the story will probably be a single large chapter, passing over the rest of the epically incoherent battle and jumping straight to the final showdown and its aftermath.

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