Get your fill of sci-fi, science, and mockery of stupid people
* FAQ    * Search   * Register   * Login 
Want to support this site? Click

Quote of the Week: "A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within." - Will Durant, American historian (1885-1981)


All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 71 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3  Next
Author Message
 Post subject: Re: "6 jobs from hell" PostPosted: 2011-11-10 10:50pm
Offline
White Mage
White Mage
User avatar

Joined: 2003-02-12 11:59pm
Posts: 17599
Location: Tahalshia Manor
Actually... that's a pretty decent way to have the old enemies talk. The war is over, now it's time to heal. Part of healing is learning how they have been over the years.



Image

Librium Arcana, Where Gamers Play!
Nitram, slightly high on cough syrup: Do you know you're beautiful?
Me: Nope, that's why I have you around to tell me.
Nitram: You -are- beautiful. Anyone tries to tell you otherwise kill them.

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: "6 jobs from hell" PostPosted: 2011-11-12 02:29pm
Offline
Padawan Learner

Joined: 2010-02-24 11:07pm
Posts: 181
Location: Philippines
LadyTevar wrote:
Actually... that's a pretty decent way to have the old enemies talk. The war is over, now it's time to heal. Part of healing is learning how they have been over the years.


Tell me, is this better?

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

(Snippet start)

I recognize him. I actually recognize that damn face! It’s one of those two Vietcong kids, the one who is aiming that AK at me when I got out of that temple in Cambodia! The one that told me, in English no less (how DID he know how to speak English?) to surrender with a slightly smirking face, just like now. Even now he is wearing the same floppy jungle hat, rubber sandals and green fatigues as those he wore at our first meeting.

But today…he looks older. Way older. I think the Vietnamese kid is now around…five or so years younger than me…wait. Didn’t Annan tell me everyone here died and Ratri told me that except for Annan’s guy, everyone else was raised back from the dead (which I keep ignoring because of…religious beliefs)?

I walked nearer to the VC kid, hearing the Korean’s laughter slowly stop. The important word here is slowly.

I stopped when I was around 6 feet away, at this point not noticing anything else other than the VC kid...the old Vietnamese man in front of me.

“So, how was your life after you let me get away from you guys?” I asked him in wonder and curiosity.

“Do you remember that girl beside me that night in Cambodia, American? Well, I fought hard to keep her alive from her adventurous character all the way until the end of the war, married her and went back to Hanoi, had 3 children while working as a soldier of the Vietnamese People’s Army until I retired as a Major General, I think you Americans call it, and lived a happy life until I died around three years ago”

“What happened?” I asked

“Freak accident. There I was walking beside my wife and buying some presents for our grandchild’s birthday when suddenly one of the wooden supports of the stall suddenly broke. I immediately pushed my wife out of the way but I got hit by the wood on my head in just the right way as to…immediately kill me”

“That…sucks. Especially the part about dying when it is almost your grandchild’s birthday”

“It is just one day before his birthday. They held the birthday at the same time as my funeral, so my grandchild also got more presents from more distant members of the family”

“That’s...very practical of your family” I could not help commenting at this fact.

“My wife is a very practical woman. It’s one of the things I love about her” He smiled proudly at his description of his wife. And then he asked me the same question I asked at first. “And how is your life after you got away from me and Thien?”

I smiled. “After you and your wife let me go, I found my way back into friendly territory, except when I was already walking towards an ARVN patrol , some enemy sniper shot me in the arm. After that, I got home and left the army as fast as I could so I could marry my girlfriend with no more worries. We had two children, and spent most of our lives living happily ever after”

“Happily ever after? Really?” The man asked in a curious tone. I thought for a second what is he asking for, and then it dawned on me what he is thinking about.

“Well, there is the once in a while disagreement, and then there are the kids raising hell when they are babies until they became teenagers”

The Vietnamese nodded, showing he understood what I was talking about. “Yes, it is true that naughty kids and henpecking wives are some kind of karma upon us men for the crimes we had made before marriage”

“Henpecking?” I asked, feeling the laughter starting. The man...stopped talking, finally noticing what he had accidentally let out of his mouth.

And then we both laughed.

I raised my hand towards him for a handshake. “The name’s Herbert Ward from Kentucky, USA”

“Lieu Van Thuc, originally from Bin Phuoc, lately of Hanoi” Thuc said as he shook my hand.

(Snippet end)

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: "6 jobs from hell" PostPosted: 2011-11-12 09:49pm
Offline
Emperor's Hand
User avatar

Joined: 2002-07-07 03:03am
Posts: 7105
Location: Singapura
nice job!



Let him land on any Lyran world to taste firsthand the wrath of peace loving people thwarted by the myopic greed of a few miserly old farts- Katrina Steiner

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: "6 jobs from hell" PostPosted: 2011-11-13 04:29am
Offline
Sith Devotee
User avatar

Joined: 2008-03-14 07:47am
Posts: 3467
there is a saying around here, Vietnamese woman, she like a tiger!

it's a peculiar mix of patriachilism and utter fear of ones wife. you capture it well.



"Aid, trade, green technology and peace." - Hans Rosling.
"Welcome to SDN, where we can't see the forest because walking into trees repeatedly feels good, bro." - Mr Coffee

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: "6 jobs from hell" PostPosted: 2011-11-17 07:13am
Offline
Padawan Learner

Joined: 2010-02-24 11:07pm
Posts: 181
Location: Philippines
Well...I have another part of the next chapter that is bugging me.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
(Snippet start)

Imagine…an old general who has long been behind the desk, is out there in the middle of the field, trying to do basic training or at least something resembling it and all from memory. And no matter the fact that no one else is on the field, the old general feels ridiculous doing it by himself.

Jogging by himself, crawling through the mud by himself…doing drills all by himself…damn
I finally gave up holding the laughter in and let out some of the laughter. I heard someone else snickering, probably Yung Ho.

(Snippet end)
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Is somebody like who I described...doing whatever is done in Infantry basic training...by...himself..

Alright. I will get to the point.

Is what I wrote actually funny if seen from an old veteran's or a ordinary soldier's perspective? It is something that is just bugging me and I don't want to offend anyone from the armed forces with a mistake.

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: "6 jobs from hell" PostPosted: 2011-11-17 11:24pm
Offline
Sith Devotee
User avatar

Joined: 2008-03-14 07:47am
Posts: 3467
yes. the armed forces have a keen appreciation of black humour and ridiculous situations.
Brits especially, I'm not so knowledgeable about the yanks.



"Aid, trade, green technology and peace." - Hans Rosling.
"Welcome to SDN, where we can't see the forest because walking into trees repeatedly feels good, bro." - Mr Coffee

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: "6 jobs from hell" PostPosted: 2011-11-18 12:37am
Offline
is an asshole.
User avatar

Joined: 2005-02-26 08:45am
Posts: 3188
Location: And banging your mom is half the battle... G.I. Joe!
Seriously, dude... Just ask for a couple of people to be test readers and stick to posting full chapters. This snippet bullshit is getting old.



Image

Goddammit, now I'm forced to say in public that I agree with Mr. Coffee. - Mike Wong
I never would have thought I would wholeheartedly agree with Coffee... - fgalkin
Honestly, this board is so fucking stupid at times. - Thanas
GALE ForceFlooring: For a good lay, call...

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: "6 jobs from hell" PostPosted: 2011-11-18 02:09am
Offline
Sith Devotee
User avatar

Joined: 2008-03-14 07:47am
Posts: 3467
i figure it can be cleaned up when it's finished ;)



"Aid, trade, green technology and peace." - Hans Rosling.
"Welcome to SDN, where we can't see the forest because walking into trees repeatedly feels good, bro." - Mr Coffee

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: "6 jobs from hell" PostPosted: 2011-11-18 03:23am
Offline
Padawan Learner

Joined: 2010-02-24 11:07pm
Posts: 181
Location: Philippines
Mr. Coffee wrote:
Seriously, dude... Just ask for a couple of people to be test readers and stick to posting full chapters. This snippet bullshit is getting old.


:oops:

Sorry. I didn't know I could do it that way.

Any volunteers?

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: "6 jobs from hell" PostPosted: 2011-11-18 03:51am
Offline
Sith Devotee
User avatar

Joined: 2008-03-14 07:47am
Posts: 3467
I volunteer Mr Coffee ;)

it was his idea.

send them over to me as well, pagans and Vietnamese are ok but knowledge of appalchian americans and vets is a bit limited.



"Aid, trade, green technology and peace." - Hans Rosling.
"Welcome to SDN, where we can't see the forest because walking into trees repeatedly feels good, bro." - Mr Coffee

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: "6 jobs from hell" PostPosted: 2011-11-18 01:14pm
Offline
White Mage
White Mage
User avatar

Joined: 2003-02-12 11:59pm
Posts: 17599
Location: Tahalshia Manor
I'm as Appalachian as they get.



Image

Librium Arcana, Where Gamers Play!
Nitram, slightly high on cough syrup: Do you know you're beautiful?
Me: Nope, that's why I have you around to tell me.
Nitram: You -are- beautiful. Anyone tries to tell you otherwise kill them.

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: "6 jobs from hell" PostPosted: 2011-11-19 04:40pm
Offline
is an asshole.
User avatar

Joined: 2005-02-26 08:45am
Posts: 3188
Location: And banging your mom is half the battle... G.I. Joe!
Sure, I'll play test reader for ya. I was actually digging the story till you started with the snippet stuff. It's a cool concept and I'm liking the idea of some Appalachian Clint Eastwood style grandpa kicking the shit out of supernatural baddies with an enchanted Kentucky Rifle. just PM what ya got to me and I'll read over it and make suggestions.



Image

Goddammit, now I'm forced to say in public that I agree with Mr. Coffee. - Mike Wong
I never would have thought I would wholeheartedly agree with Coffee... - fgalkin
Honestly, this board is so fucking stupid at times. - Thanas
GALE ForceFlooring: For a good lay, call...

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: "6 jobs from hell" PostPosted: 2011-12-03 02:53pm
Offline
Padawan Learner

Joined: 2010-02-24 11:07pm
Posts: 181
Location: Philippines
I seriously ran into stumbling block after stumbling block, and writer's block after writer's block, but here at last I can present something to you guys and girls. Please tell me honestly, did the quality drop?

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Chapter 6

As the magical elevator stopped and we walked out on to a grassy field, the Irish girl is busy trying to fix the glaring problem in her preparations. But…her next 'logical' conclusion just feels wrong to me, especially after everything that happened in Vietnam and beyond. A case in point is Fiona’s birth. I thought I was prepared, but I missed something. Thank God there is a midwife in town. To make things shorter, we got into an argument on what to do about supplies.

“Now listen here. I am going to provide the food, the shelter, the weapons, equipment and finally, the healing if things go that badly. Problem solved. So there is no need to think about supplies. Why are you still being so stubborn with that backpack? It's only going to slow us down.”

And I interject, at the same time handing back the sunglasses to Ratri “It is not a sure thing if you can provide supplies for us all of the time. I prefer having something non-magical and physical to rely on when that time comes.”

“Why are you so paranoid? The only reason I had you come along with me is for you and our other companions to do what my debtor is asking me to do, and I will just be your magical, divine support. I will NOT be in the line of fire here, you and the other companions are.”

“Have you never heard of the saying that things never go according to plan? You said it yourself, we are definitely going to get into a fight, and I doubt it will be something you are not going to get pulled into.”

“The kind of fight you are thinking of is what I am trying to avoid, so that is why I asked those guys and girls I owe favors and debts to give me something that even a human could do acting as my proxy.”

The argument would have been continuing for the whole day given a chance. Fortunately, the other person who is here with us ended our argument.

“If you two are quite finished arguing over and over, you two might just notice that we are at our destination and that there are other people here.” Ratri admonishes the both of us in a voice I associate with my mother (long dead, may God bless her soul) when she is lecturing me.
Me and the Irish girl shut our mouths immediately, embarrassed to have somebody else see our slowly degenerating argument.

It became more embarrassing for me upon seeing who saw me arguing with Annan. I did not really notice the man with a spear and the Indian man, nor did I even give more than a glance at the two other women there.

No, my attention is pointed at two men who I am absolutely sure had a shared history with me: fighting in Vietnam.

One of them is dressed in an olive drab jungle fatigue (along with an M1 helmet and combat boots) with a patch on his right shoulder that I can still recognize after all these years. I mean, what other unit has a dragon shaped in the number 2? None other than the ROK 2nd marine brigade. And this Korean is laughing at me.

Laughing.

Oh God, the humiliation.

How would you feel if someone who has the justly earned reputation of being bad-ass and is the nearest person you actually know to a real-life Rambo, is laughing at something you did?
Yeah…I am feeling the blood rushing to my cheeks, at which point the Korean guy laughs even harder.
And then I look at the other man…my embarrassment quickly turns into something else. I think the best expression is…what curse did Regina say at that time? Oh yeah…’What the fuck’?

I recognize him. I actually recognize that damn face! It’s one of those two Vietcong kids, the one who is aiming that AK at me when I got out of that temple in Cambodia! The one that told me, in English no less (how DID he know how to speak English?) to surrender with a slightly smirking face, just like now. Even now he is wearing the same floppy jungle hat, rubber sandals and green fatigues as those he wore at our first meeting.

But today…he looks older. Way older. I think the Vietnamese kid is now around…five or so years younger than me…wait. Didn’t Annan tell me everyone here died and Ratri told me that except for Annan’s guy, everyone else was raised back from the dead (which I keep ignoring because of religious beliefs) ?

I walk nearer to the VC kid, hearing the Korean’s laughter slowly stop.

The important word here is slowly.

I stopped when I was around 6 feet away, at this point not noticing anything else other than the VC kid...the old Vietnamese man in front of me.

“So, how was your life after you let me get away from you guys?” I ask him in wonder and curiosity.

“Do you remember that girl beside me that night in Cambodia, American? Well, I fought hard to keep her alive from her adventurous character all the way until the end of the war, married her and went back to Hanoi, had 3 children while working as a soldier of the Vietnamese People’s Army until I retired as a Major General, I think you Americans call it, and lived a happy life until I died around three years ago.”

“What happened?” I ask.

“Freak accident. There I was walking beside my wife and buying some presents for our grandchild’s birthday when suddenly one of the wooden supports of the stall suddenly broke. I immediately pushed my wife out of the way but I got hit by the wood on my head in just the right way as to immediately kill me.”

“That…sucks. Especially the part about dying when it is almost your grandchild’s birthday.”

“It is just one day before his birthday. They held the birthday at the same time as my funeral, so my grandchild also got more presents from more distant members of the family.”

“That’s...very practical of your family.” I could not help commenting at this fact.

“My wife is a very practical woman. It’s one of the things I love about her.” He smiles proudly at his description of his wife. And then he asks me the same question I asked first. “And how is your life after you got away from me and Thien?”

I smile. “After you and your wife let me go, I found my way back into friendly territory, except when I was already walking towards an ARVN patrol , some enemy sniper shot me in the arm. After that, I got home and left the army as fast as I could so I could marry my girlfriend with no more worries. We eventually had two children, and spent most of our lives living happily ever after.”

“Happily ever after? Really?” The man asks in a curious tone, complete with raised eyebrows. I thought for a second what is he asking for, and then it dawns on me what he is thinking about.

“Well, there is the once in a while disagreement, and then there are the kids raising hell when they are babies until they became teenagers.”

The Vietnamese nods, showing he understands what I am talking about. “Yes, it is true that naughty kids and henpecking wives are some kind of karma upon us men for the crimes we had made before marriage.”

“Henpecking?” I asked, feeling the laughter starting. The man stopped talking, finally noticing what he had accidentally let out of his mouth.

And then we both laugh.

I raise my hand towards him for a handshake. “The name’s Herbert Ward from Kentucky, USA.”

“Lieu Van Thuc, originally from Binh Phuoc or what used to be called Phuoc Long, lately of Da Nang.”
Thuc said as he starts to shake my hand.

After our handshake, I take a curious glance at the Korean and then look back at Thuc. He noticed it and immediately introduces me to the Korean.

“Herbert, this here is Cha Yung Ho, from…Pusan?” Thuc looks back at Yung Ho with a confused expression.

“Yes, Pusan” Yung Ho replies to Thuc’s question.

“Like I said earlier, my name is Herbert Ward” I said as I stretch my hand out for him to shake.
Yung Ho took it and then asks me.

“So, from which US unit did you come from? I was with the Korean 2nd marine brigade.”

“I was with the 25th infantry” I answer. And then I asked both of them with a question. “How come both of you are here?”

The two of them looked at each other, curiosity suddenly appearing as to why each other is there at that moment. Yung Ho is the first one to answer.

“I was not only a marine. I was also an aspiring paksu mudang, a male shaman, by the time I was recruited. Being a paksu, I was known to the spirits, and was special in that I am the only paksu or mudang around who had any combat training and experience, recent or ancient, to my great surprise. So, I was the first one approached by Dalsun for this dangerous job.”

“So Daesun is a Korean.” I mutter to myself.

“What about you Thuc?” I asked when I turn to him.

“Well, I am here because the spirits of Vietnam and Cambodia owe a debt of honor to you for taking out that prison temple, and when the goddess you are involved with explained your situation, they decided to involve themselves by sending someone to represent Vietnam and Cambodia in this…expedition of yours.”

“And that’s you? No offense but…we are both old men. The only reason I am here is because I am contractually liable to do so. But you…?” I leave the sentence hanging in midair because I am perplexed at this fact.

“To tell you the truth Herbert, I was also thinking the same thing despite having wishes of meeting you again in a reunion.” Thuc chuckled a bit and then continues his explanation.

“Alright, I will tell you how I got into this. I was there looking out for my family as an ancestral spirit around a week ago when my own ancestors came around looking for me, saying that there is a group of important people who are searching for me. I left looking out for my family to my immediate ancestors and went with the messenger. When I got there I was surprised by who is there. It was a significant portion, if not all, of the top rank and file of every group of supernatural beings in Indochina. I recognized Lieu Hanh, who is with me here today.”

Thuc quickly points at one of the two goddesses I don’t know about and then went back to me.

“And with her there is a very majestic man whose golden colored skin is covered with scales standing beside a beautiful woman with white hair. I asked my ancestor ‘who are those two?’, and he told me it is Lac Long Quan and Au Co, which shocked me. They are the mythological father and mother of the Vietnamese people. There are also others in there which my ancestor pointed out to me; Kaundinya and Soma of the Khmer, Leiyou Ye of the Cham, Khun Borom of the Lao, various boddhisatvas and the most important ancestor spirits of the ethnic minorities of Indochina. All there asking for my presence.”

Thuc is sweating a little by now, with a dazed, awed look present in his eyes remembering that event. I looked at Yung Ho to see what he makes of Thuc’s reactions. It seems he was impressed by what he is hearing. I continued listening to Thuc’s story.

“My ancestor announced that I am here and everyone there looked at me. I was nervous and not sure of what the proper protocol is for greeting deities and spirits so I reverted back to my military training and saluted them as if they are all my superior officers and said ‘Thieu Tuong Lieu Van Thuc reporting as ordered’. I thought I just made a mistake when several eyebrows rose up, but from the edge of my sight, my ancestor looked proud. I held that position for a while since those who I am saluting still did not dismiss me, and it was getting a little awkward since those in front of me don’t seem to be familiar with military protocol. In hindsight I think they are waiting for me to stop saluting. It was not until Khun Borom told me I could stop doing whatever I am doing that I went at ease. Then Lieu Hanh started to walk in circles around me.”

Thuc pauses for a while, and rests his voice for a bit while I and Yung Ho wait for him to continue.

“While Lieu Hanh walked, she asked me some questions, like what do I know about that temple back in Cambodia, or what did I do to you Herbert, and if I still know how to shoot and fight. After I answered all of those questions, Lieu Hanh stopped in front of me and explained what is going on, and then told me that it was decided by everyone that I would be the one who will accompany you on your expedition. I was a little surprised at that arbitrary decision and asked why me, since there are more qualified people around, and I know where to find them. She explained it was better that I be the one to go with you since I already know you and...and since I became a major general, I must be someone who is very, very good at fighting.”

I just stare at Thuc. And then I look at Yung Ho to see his reaction, which happens to be the same as mine. I look back to Thuc and then say “You do know what that sounds like right?”

Thuc sighs. “I know how ridiculous that sounds. They actually think generals nowadays still lead from the front, like the Trung sisters or Alexander the Great. I explained that fact to them, that nowadays, they just direct operations and don’t really fight in the frontlines and that it has been a long time since I have shot at anyone in anger or fought in the frontlines personally. Unfortunately…they said I could just learn the tricks of the trade all over again.”

We both digest that information for a while, and then Yung Ho says in a voice filled with incredulous wonder “They don’t really understand people nowadays, do they?”

“…No they don’t. I am somewhat surprised, considering there is a constant inflow of recently dead people into heaven. But the fact is that the more recently dead you are, the less is your importance in the greater scheme of things, which includes how likely more important spirits and deities listen to you."

"How true." Yung Ho said while nodding.

...I don't like the sound of that, especially since I am a senior citizen. I expect to be treated with respect, not as a kid.

"So," Thuc continues "since I have no other choice and I do want to meet you again Herbert, I spent the last two weeks trying to get myself up to a more reasonable physical state and remembering whatever I could from my own days in training and whatever training I supervised in my days as a senior officer.”

I tried to stifle my laughter, but the image coming into my mind is so…ridiculous that I just can’t help but laugh, however silent it is.

Imagine…an old general who has long been behind the desk, is out there in the middle of the field, trying to do basic training or at least something resembling it and all from memory. No matter the fact that no one else is on the field, the old general has got to feel ridiculous doing it by himself.

Jogging by himself, crawling through the mud by himself…doing drills all by himself…damn.

I finally give up holding the laughter in and let out some snickers. I hear someone else snickering, probably Yung Ho.

When the laughter died down, I see Thuc has his arms crossed in front of his chest, tapping his foot and smiling…like my drill sergeant was that time in basic training when somebody I can’t remember answered something so…wrong that even the sergeant and the whole platoon was at a loss for words.

Finally, he just smiles in this terrifying fashion that makes you feel like…like you just did something so utterly stupid that he just can’t help but smile.

And did I forget to mention that the air felt cold all of a sudden? Like what was a ‘gentle night time breeze’ temperature suddenly turned into a ‘winter on the hills of Kentucky’ one?

Me and Yung Ho immediately shut up as fast as you can say ‘No’ and quickly follow instincts that had been long drilled into us in our time in our respective militaries.

…………wow.

I guess Thuc really got what it takes to be someone high ranking in the army. More power to him.

“Finished laughing guys?” Thuc asks calmly.

“Sir, yes sir.” Both of us respond in the only way we felt we are allowed to. Thuc maintains that smile for a few more seconds, before he lets out a snicker that broke the aura of impending corporal punishment and then lets out a full blown laughter of his own at our expense. I and Yung Ho (from what I can see from the edge of my vision) relax, seeing that all is forgiven and he already had a laugh at our expense in revenge.

“HA-Ha-ha-ha-ha…ha. You should have seen the look on your faces!” Thuc managed to say at last when his laughter ran out.

“I would prefer not to. If only to forget the reason why I did it.” Yung Ho says with a sulking face.
“Eh? You guys laughed at me first when I expected you to not do so.” And at this Thuc shows a face that has faint traces of betrayal on it mixed with a large part of mirth.

“For my part, I apologize for laughing.” Yung Ho apologizes sincerely to Thuc, letting out an air of a teenager who is caught doing something wrong and knows that they should have done better.

“Me too. Sorry about that.” I apologize too.

Thuc waves it away. “It’s alright. It’s alright. No harm really done. Even I find the fact somewhat funny. But surely YOU guys also did the same thing for the last 14 days, right?” He looks at both of us while saying the last sentence.

Ouch. I feel like a hypocrite.

Thuc immediately puts his arms around both me and Yung Ho, saying “Oh come on my newfound friends. Sorry I made you guys feel bad. So how about this? After this whole adventure let’s go find the nearest bar and drink something. And the drinks are on me!” Thuc raise the arm that what on Yung Ho’s shoulder at this declaration. We laugh at this act.

“If you want to get to that bar, then why don’t we start with my the repayment of my debts?” That sentence dragged the mood down.

We all look at the speaker, to see Annan leaning on a black colored staff with a knob at the top, and a strap wrapped around her hand.

Oh Yeeaahh…I forgot.

We all cough and then go into proper, respectable standing positions, embarrassed at letting someone else see us acting like younger, less mature men.

Behind her, Ratri and another goddess shoot apologetic smiles at us for their friend’s interruption of our reunion while the goddess from Vietnam, Lieu Than stood a little behind them along with two other men.

I guess the other goddess is Daesun. She is a teenage Asian (but definitely not Vietnamese) looking girl with long, dark hair tied into a bun as opposed to her other friends who let theirs fall down naturally. She is also dressed in a long shirt whose…the part where it is supposed to be around the waist is instead wrapped around under her breasts, and a long sleeved shirt.

Her costume, compared to her friends, is almost as normal as the clothes my granddaughters wear, except for the color. At a glance, it is white but if I look closer, what is white is actually moonlight shining from the dress. If I didn’t know better (again), I might say that I am looking at the moon shining through that dress.

As for accessories, she has secured her bun with two sticks of wood whose ends are dipped in gold and seems to be the source of the pinecone smell that I started smelling when I looked at her.
I guess that means the sticks are made of pine.

Aside from the hair bun, Daesun is…ok…why did I not notice that before? It must be because I am used to seeing them in everyday life.

She is wearing eyeglasses. And there is nothing strange about them, nor am I experiencing anything strange upon seeing them. A perfectly ordinary pair of spectacles, on somebody not ordinary.

An interesting reversal on the description of strange, I would say.

As for Lieu Hanh, she…looks like a typical (and beautiful) Vietnamese woman I see all the time in the rice fields of Vietnam. And I say the word again, WOMAN.

It could be the feeling of motherly affection I am bombarded with. Or it could be because she has the face of a good wife and mother.

Or if I am honest enough, it might be because she has a bigger bust than the three members of the Modern Human Appreciation club have. But whatever it is, I can only see her as a mature woman.

Moving on, she is wearing a jade green dress (composed of a tunic which is open at the front and a long skirt under it) which gives me the feeling of standing in the middle of a rice field just looking at it, a yellow sash wrapped around her waist from which pearls of a pure white color (so white it starts making my eyes water) are dangling from, and a paddy hat of the same golden brown color as that of rice ready to be harvested. Aside from that, she is wearing no other accessory as far as I can see.

“Since all of you guys have already introduced yourselves, I will introduce your other two co-workers.”

The two men…no. The man and the boy walk towards Annan and stand beside her.

Annan introduces the boy first. “Everyone, this is Connla, son of Setanta, of the land of Letha.” The boy bows a little to acknowledge her introduction.

Connla is... I estimate around 13 years old at most. Red haired with traces of baby fat still present on his face, he is dressed in pants with a tartan pattern, a brown shirt and a tartan cloak. He is also carrying a backpack made of leather, and is holding an oval shaped shield that looks like it is made of bronze with the same circles and spirals as that on the cloak of Annan and a spear around one and a half meters long tipped by a head made of…bone, judging by the white color. Finally, tucked in his belt are a triangular shaped dagger, the likes of which I had never seen before, and a sling straight out of the Bible.

What…the…hell? Why is a kid here?

I look at Thuc and Yung Ho for their reactions, and found them with stony faced expressions at the introduction of this boy.

I look back in front when Annan continues with her introduction. “And this is Javin Buddhapriya Lad of Jhansi.” this time pointing to the man, who bows to us at her introduction.

Javin is a young, bearded Indian man wearing a white turban, a white knee length, long sleeved coat and a white pants. He is also carrying a dark blue colored backpack that looks like the ones used in the Civil war, a percussion cap rifle, and a…muzzle loading pistol that looks like a miniature double barreled shotgun tucked in a sword belt and a saber with a pointed pommel and a hilt which protects the hand, being held in a leather scabbard.

Javin greets us in a British accent “Hello sirs. I am Javin and I hope I am able to be of help to you all in this endeavor.”

I reply “Thank you. I also hope we can work well.” I also heard Thuc and Yung Ho say something to the same effect, but I did not hear them properly since they spoke out at the same time as me.

Connla is the next one to greet us. He does so in some language that I guess must be Irish, meaning that none of us there understood him, especially since up to now everyone is talking in English for convenience’s sake.

The boy looks a little confused upon seeing that we did not understand him, and then turns to Annan obviously asking for a translation.

Annan facepalms, muttering something about becoming forgetful. She then raises her left hand, hold it there for about five seconds while muttering something under her breath, and suddenly snaps her fingers. And then she turns to Connla and say “They can understand our language now.”

The boy turns to face us again and introduce himself again “I greet you again elders. My name is Connla of Letha and I hope to have many victories fighting side by side with you elders.”

“Umm…nice…to meet you.” I said uncertainly, not sure how to tell him and the Irish girl (I will have words with her later) that I don’t want children involved in something violent. From his weapons, I don’t even think he knows what a gun is! Fortunately for the peace of my mind, Thuc is more…outspoken than me.

“May I ask you a question Connla?” he asks in a nice, friendly way. However this tone also emanates at the same time something I recognize as…that of a high ranking officer who found something that is against regulations, which I concede IS what is happening here.

“What is it that you want to ask elder?” Connla said respectfully, likely feeling the same thing as I am.
I wonder how he knows about that.

“Just how old are you?”

Connla blinks, and then shows a baffled expression at this question. He then answers “May I ask why does my age matter? And my age how? My age when I died or how long ago since I was born?”
Age when he died…you mean he died in battle?! Thuc is apparently the only one here to die peacefully…

…Ok…I am now getting really uncomfortable.

“Because even after death I am still a former member of the Vietnamese People’s Army, the army of my country, which is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the rights of a child. I am therefore obligated by both international conventions and by my own morals to object to the idea of child soldiers and any derivative such as warriors and assassins and if possible, to try to prevent the usage of children in battle.”

Talk about undying loyalty. Seen from a particular viewpoint, Thuc sounds like a true and die-hard patriot of his country.

I join Thuc in trying to dissuade Connla from joining Annan’s security detail, not wanting to look like I consent to child soldiers by remaining silent.

“Well, see here Connla, I belong to a religion in which the founder said to cherish and protect children for doing good unto them is the same as doing good unto God. I would not be a good follower and my own conscience would hurt me if I allow a child to go on what could be a potential warzone.”

And then Yung Ho joins in on our objection. “I may not be a Christian nor a Buddhist, but I agree with some of the values they espouse such as taking care of children and teaching them as they grow up into adults. In fact, I am a product of such a system, and so is Herbert here.”

I look at the reactions of the other people in the place. Connla looks amazed at what we are saying. Javin looks surprised. Ratri and Daesun are softly clapping their hands in admiration, Lieu Hanh looks impressed and Annan is scratching her head with an uneasy expression on her face.

Connla is the first to react. “I don’t believe this. You three have something like a geis that compels you to object to children fighting? Unbelievable. Simply unbelievable.” The kid is shaking his head.

Javin is the next to say something. “I was under the impression that child soldiers are acceptable in the West, seeing as in my time the British had drummer boys, some of which are as young as 13, in the army and powder boys in their navy.”

“Military drummers serve only ceremonial functions nowadays Javin. And the British...actually us Americans too, allow 16 and 17 year olds to join the army nowadays but they are not allowed to serve outside the country. Say Connla, what is your age, if I may repeat the question earlier.” I ask the kid.

Connla quickly answers “Seven at the time of my death. But my years of existence would be…more than two thousand years already, so of all of us, I would be the eldest in years.”

Seven. Seven?

Everybody, including yours truly, stare at Connla, and then shift their gaze to Annan who replies with “What?” in a voice full of unease and irritation.

Javin is the first one to say something in that silence.

“I can understand a twelve year old on a battlefield. But a seven year old boy? What kind of addled mind lets a seven year old even hold a weapon when twelve year old boys in my time just have drums?”

“I doubt anyone that young even understands how to take an order in the first place, never mind knowing how to handle a weapon without injuring themselves” I add.

“Alright, I’ll explain” Annan says with an exasperated tone, no doubt feeling pressured by our combined accusing looks. “In Europe, mythological figures always have something memorable or special that basically made them famous. This is evident just by a simple look into the origin of several terms, words and stories in the modern English language. Now, heroes from my general part of the world. Basically they are all famous for doing something, or for special things happening to them, in some cases even in their childhood. An example of those with childhood heroics is Heracles, also known as Hercules. He killed two snakes when he was less than a year old. Another is Connla’s father Setanta, also known as Cu Chulainn. At the age of seven he was literally beating up boys who are older and bigger than him. And he also killed a very, very fierce and very big guard dog and three men in that year. Connla here is just…continuing that tradition, if you can call it that.”

At this point, I am starting to feel lost in this conversation. And if I am lost, surely the others here are also feeling a little bit lost. So we humans just let the divine beings talk without any more input from us.

“Tradition.” Daesun said in a deadpan voice.

“Just because he is someone who would not be out of place in the Mahabharata is not an excuse to give anyone who is not even 10 years old a weapon and say ‘go out and kill someone’.” Ratri says.

“Look, it wasn’t even me who got him killed at the age of seven. It was his father Setanta, and the Morrigan.” the kid at this point sounds like she is grabbing on to anything she can hold on a slippery surface, such is her tone right now.

“Why him in the first place? I am sure there must be a lot of other…heroes in Irish history” Daesun asked Annan in a tone that sounds like she still can’t comprehend what her friend is thinking.
Annan…went silent and looked away from all of us, towards Connla who is smirking a bit. Which raised eyebrows all around.

“Is there something we should know about, miss Annan?” Lieu Hanh asks.

Annan looks hesitant to answer that question. Unfortunately for her, Connla isn’t.

“Well, she owes me a favor from some time ago involving someth…”

“Stop right there Connla! That’s personal stuff!” Annan shrieked, her face looking as red as a face could be when embarrassed by something.

Hearing this, I just can’t help but butt in with an observation that just came into my mind.

“Kid, just how many favors do you owe to other people?”

Annan goes silent again, not looking at anything other than her feet. Her friends look at her with stone-faced expressions. Us humans…except for Connla who is just smiling and standing there…like a kid, are just silently looking at all the goddesses. And Lieu Hanh is the only one to say anything.
“Perhaps a short retreat to Nirvana is needed here to break a bad habit?”

…looks like the Irish kid has issues with promises.

I sure hope her issues doesn’t kill me.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

P.S.

I forgot to thank maddoctor for his/her contribution on things Vietnamese. THANK YOU!


Last edited by kilopi505 on 2013-04-08 11:56am, edited 5 times in total.
Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: "6 jobs from hell" PostPosted: 2011-12-03 03:12pm
Offline
is an asshole.
User avatar

Joined: 2005-02-26 08:45am
Posts: 3188
Location: And banging your mom is half the battle... G.I. Joe!
Much better. Keep writing this stuff.



Image

Goddammit, now I'm forced to say in public that I agree with Mr. Coffee. - Mike Wong
I never would have thought I would wholeheartedly agree with Coffee... - fgalkin
Honestly, this board is so fucking stupid at times. - Thanas
GALE ForceFlooring: For a good lay, call...

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: "6 jobs from hell" PostPosted: 2011-12-03 09:38pm
Offline
White Mage
White Mage
User avatar

Joined: 2003-02-12 11:59pm
Posts: 17599
Location: Tahalshia Manor
My My... Annan really doesn't know what she's doing, does she.

But great story, great update.



Image

Librium Arcana, Where Gamers Play!
Nitram, slightly high on cough syrup: Do you know you're beautiful?
Me: Nope, that's why I have you around to tell me.
Nitram: You -are- beautiful. Anyone tries to tell you otherwise kill them.

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: "6 jobs from hell" PostPosted: 2011-12-05 04:22am
Offline
Youngling

Joined: 2009-07-01 09:38am
Posts: 98
Just one thing. I think you need to watch your verb tenses. It seems to me that you shifted between past and present tense a lot and the reasons, if any weren't always clear. Please note that I'm talking about narrative here, and not the dialogue.

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: "6 jobs from hell" PostPosted: 2011-12-08 01:10pm
Offline
Youngling

Joined: 2010-04-28 10:43am
Posts: 102
Location: Portugal
Holy fuckshit, I just read the first chapter. I'm so subscribing this!

Carry on...

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: "6 jobs from hell" PostPosted: 2012-01-02 11:02am
Offline
Padawan Learner

Joined: 2010-02-24 11:07pm
Posts: 181
Location: Philippines
Well...I am back, and...miraculously managed to put out something in spite of lots of other things getting my attention.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Chapter 7

A few moments ago I learned that Annan has a problem with her promises. Namely, making more promises than it looks like she could deal with.

It kind of sounds like someone who has an addiction with spending more than what they have, a problem that is getting more and more noticeable by the media what with the recent economic crisis.

A few moments after Lieu Hanh makes her comment, Daesun and Ratri thank her for her offer but politely refuse it, saying that they will help their friend themselves. Then Ratri locks eyes with Daesun and makes a gesture towards us with her eyes. Dalsun nods and holds her hand out for something.

Ratri reaches into that sari of hers and pulls out the SKS I bought (I forgot she had it) and gives it to her. After doing so Ratri then goes to Annan, whispers something to her, and they both walk away towards some distance away so they could talk with no one hearing their conversation.

Daesun then faces towards us again with a smile and then says “Umm…sorry about that. Can we go back and talk about the job again?”

I remember what we are talking about again and promptly continue the previous topic of our conversation.

“I still can’t accept a kid into this kind of job” I say to Connla, seeing both Yung Ho and Thuc nodding in agreement from the side of my eyes.

“Elder Ward, please be reasonable. I admit I LOOK like a child, and I DID die when I was a child, but that was a very, very long time ago. I had been in existence ever since I was born for over…more than two thousand years already so…what is that word?...oh! Properly speaking, I am older than all three of you combined.”

“But you are still a child whether you died a long time ago or not. I should know. I died at the age of 21 in 1966 and after all these years I can’t help but still think like I did at 21.” Yung Ho said as his answer to Connla’s justification for ignoring his apparent age.

“Oh that? That is because you have only been dead for a short time. Let me think. 1966 is…only 41 years ago. Well, when you have been dead foras long as I am, you still grow up mentally regardless of your age at death due to the passage of time.”

Yung Ho’s eyebrows rise at that. I also felt my eyebrows rise at that explanation.

“You don’t believe me?” Connla says.

“How do you even grow up mentally in the afterlife?” Yung Ho asks.

Thuc explains it for us, to my and Yung Ho’s surprise. “It is because of interaction with other spirits. And surely even in the Korean land of the dead you guys DO notice the passage of time if you make the effort, do you?”

“Why…yes. Yes we do, although it is in relation to time here on Earth.” Yung Ho answers him.

“Well, since he is never going to be physically mature, he can only mature mentally and that could be done with just social interaction and time.”

“Don’t tell me you will let him in our job?” Yung Ho says.

“Well…only after he answers a few questions I have.” Thuc answers. And then he turned his head to face us, in a way Connla will not see his face, and winks at us.

Yung Ho turned to me and softly said “Is he planning something?”

“I think so.” I answer.

We both watch Thuc walk a little closer to Connla. Then he starts asking his questions.

“So Connla, tell me. Do you think you are a good person?”

“Why of course I am. In fact, I think it was being a good son that got me killed in the first place.”

I blink. How did being good get him killed?

Thuc is thinking of the same thing as me since he asks Connla to explain what he meant by this.

“Father put three different geis on me when I was born. But those geis aren’t backed by magic so I had the option of not doing them. Of course there is the fact that no one and I repeat no one in the land of the Celts ever thinks of violating a geis.”

“You said that word again. What is a geis?” Thuc asks.

“It is something forbidden, not allowed to happen. If you do it, bad things happen.”

Oh. Then geis is the ancient Irish taboo. I get it.

“We call that nowadays a taboo. But what I don’t get is you saying you had three different taboos. Does that mean they are different from person to person? And what does giving a taboo to you mean? Nowadays a taboo is usually something that a whole society says is unacceptable. You don’t get a taboo, you are taught what is taboo.”

“Well…the only geis in Celt society regarding geis is you don’t break them, EVER. And geis…they are given to you by someone, or you are born with one and the druid has to divine what your geis is.”

“Go on.”

“Father put 3 different geis on me that are not backed by magic, so if I want to I could ignore it. But…society will not accept you breaking one, so I am stuck between earth and a…falling sky.”

Connla shudders at those two final words. I wonder why?

“The three geis father gave me are that I cannot turn back once I start on my journey of trying to find him, I can never refuse a challenge and I must not tell anyone my name.”

“What do these geis have to do with you being a good boy?” At this point Thuc sounds like…he’s angry at something.

“Why is he angry?” I ask Yung Ho, who is frowning.

“Because something in the story feels very strange.” He answers.

Surprised at this, I turn back to Connla, listening very closely now.

“Father requested that I search for him when I become seven, alone by myself. I obey it, even when Mother is fraught with worry and is asking me to wait a little bit longer.”

“And how far is Letha from Ireland?” a surprise question that came from Javin, from beside Connla.

“Letha is…part of what you call nowadays France.”

Ok, now I am starting to see hints of what is wrong here. You are asking a seven year old child to go all the way from France to Ireland alone? What is this? ‘Home Alone’?

“So, through my journey, I met many people. Among them warriors who each and every time asked for my name or challenged me thinking they can rob me and easily kill me.”

Horror and anger are starting to form inside me.

“I can’t refuse a challenge, and those who I didn’t give my name to got insulted and challenged me so…I was not involved in any war but I got into more life and death battles than anyone in a war in those times.”

Is his father…Setanta is his name, ain’t it…familiar with guns? I reckon I can do the same thing as Old Jack Hinson did and shoot him in the ass from half a mile away or less if he isn’t.

“So, when I got to Dun Dealgan, my father’s home, I finally felt at rest seeing that I am going to meet my father at last. What I didn’t know was Dun Dealgan is frequently visited by many warriors who are in the service of Conchobar mac Nessa, seeing as father is Conchobar’s best warrior. I was asked my name, but since I can’t say it, the warrior I met felt insulted and challenged me. After I managed to disarm him…well a lot of other men tried to attack me. Luckily I was able to disarm them all. At last, they called someone else. He asked me my name, and I said I am under a geis not to say it so I regret that I can’t tell him that. And then he smiled in a way that even now I can’t interpret and challenged me. We fought…a long time, which is all I am certain of, until all of a sudden he suddenly started glowing with the legendary ‘hero light’. Then I knew it is my father I am fighting, and I threw away my weapons, but he had already cast Gae Bulg and…to make the story shorter he gave me a fatal wound.”

“Forget shooting from a distance. Let’s lynch the bastard. Thankfully, I just happen to know a neighbor who has pitchforks and torches.” I growl softly, so only Yung Ho can hear me.

“If we meet him, Herbert. If we meet him. And I prefer a Garand with a bayonet and a flamethrower. Let’s see that man deal with napalm.” Yung Ho whispers back to me.

I smile.

“And what in that story says that you are somebody who did good?” Thuc asks in a voice that can only be described as neutral.

“I followed father’s instruction until the end. And I also killed a lot of warriors who wanted to hurt mother and my fellow tribesmen by killing me.” Connla answers.

“I see. Well then, next question. Who do you think you are and where are you going?”

“Huh?” Connla looks quite confused with the questions Thuc is asking.

Hell, I think I am getting confused with where Thuc is going with this. ‘Who you are and where are you going?’ Isn’t that more of a question you answer in your teens…oh.

“I repeat. Who are you and where are you going with your life…correction, your afterlife.”

Connla is silent for a little while, thinking about what Thuc said. And then he comes up with an answer.

“I am Connla. A Son. A Warrior. A Friend. A Young Man at heart at first, an Old Man inside today. As for where I am going…I am waiting for something, that is why after all these years I still have not allowed myself to reincarnate.”

“And what is that something? Could it be a girl?”

“To be honest, I think so. It could also be because I want to do something…productive for one last time before I reincarnate and get my memories buried in an endless amount of memories from future reincarnations.”

It is Thuc’s turn to be silent for a while, and then he shakes his head and said “You pass,” and walked back to us still shaking his head.

I myself agree with his sentiment, no matter how much I don’t want to.

Connla clenches his right fist and raised it in the air, happy face and the obligatory almost shout of “Yes” included in his moment of success.

“Really Thuc?” Yung Ho asks. “He is going in with us?”

“He is asking the same questions I am asking myself at my age Yung Ho. So he is more like a 60ish year old man stuck in a little boy’s body. He has a right to come.” I answered.

“Connla is giving me bad memories by him joining this job.” Thuc said, standing in front of us and facing away from Connla.

“What kind of bad memories?” I asked him, curious about what is making him feel so bad.

“The bad memories I am thinking of come from the Cambodian war. I had to…I had to kill children brainwashed by the Khmer Rouge in that war in order to come home alive and see my own pregnant wife alive. I tell you, I felt dirty touching Thien’s stomach, my unborn baby with…with hands stained with the blood of children.”

Thuc didn’t say anything for a few moments, and then he continues talking “At least in this occasion, the person being talked about is just stuck with the body of a kid but is actually older than me…Yeah, I can live with that…I can live with that.”

All I can do for now is give him a pat on his back for comfort.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

With the problem of allowing what appears to be a child soldier into this job resolved at last, though it is an unsatisfactory one, all three of us finally went back to the topic of the job itself. We faced back towards the two goddesses, who I noticed are also affected by Connla’s story but are trying to hide it beneath...less happy expressions than when I first saw them.

Good to know who will be helping you lynch somebody who really deserved it.

“Well, I guess…issues…relating to fellow co-workers are resolved now?” Daesun says with a straight face.

The three…make that four of us if we include Javin, just look at her. And Connla…he happily says yes.

“Well, then we are going to give you three your weapons and show you what is magical about them. First of all, Lieu Hanh?” she looks towards Lieu Hanh, who I notice is holding my SKS.

“Lieu van Thuc, here is your rifle” she gives him the SKS.

Thuc takes the rifle from the goddess, steps away from us and tries to feel the weight of the gun. Then he checks other details, like the bayonet, which did not look THAT sharp or shiny when I bought it, the sights…to make a long story short he did a visual inspection of all the outer parts of the rifle.

“Can I ask for a big piece of cloth?” Thuc asks.

“Why? Are you going to disassemble that? Here in the grass?” I ask him.

“You can never be too careful Herbert.” He said looking at me. Yung Ho, standing beside me agrees.

“Don’t worry. I bought and tested that SKS myself. And I just cleaned it last night.” I said to him.

That surprised Thuc. He looked at the rifle, and back again to me.

“Then why is this not given to you?”

“I have my own gun, which these goddesses here have in their possession doing some magic on it.”

He raises one of his eyebrows at that, look at the rifle in his hands, and back again to Lieu Hanh.

“You holiness, may I ask what is different about this gun than from one I can get from the armory at Di An or any other military base back home?” Thuc asked Lieu Hanh.

Lieu Hanh looked to Daesun and said “this is not one of the weapons I blessed. Can you please explain it Daesun?”

“Alright. Mr. Thuc, the only thing different about that rifle is that Ratri put a little bit of magic on it, so now it will do things no other rifle, except for a magical one, can do.”

“Things such as, your holiness?”

Daesun smile. Grins, to be more accurate.

“Infinite ammo. Indestructible against anything not planet destroying, god level magic or force. No maintenance needed. And it will never jam nor overheat. Ever.”

Thuc just stares at her. Then he says “Pardon me, but may I test your claims?”

“Sure. That’s your target” she pointed to a floating paper…no, not a paper target. That’s a picture of the moon on a bond paper.
...I’m digressing.

I can’t help it, constantly being bombarded with these strange sights.

A picture of the moon floating in midair with nothing holding it around…I reckon a hundred meters away from us.

Thuc politely tells everyone to clear out of the way, takes the safety off and then aims the SKS at the target and goes straight to business.

He’s accurate.

After zeroing the SKS with just 2 rounds, he started hitting the picture’s general center with every shot.

I count the shots as Thuc quickly fired off all the rounds in the stripper clips already inside the…wait a minute. I didn't load the SKS with any clip when I went here.

By now Thuc shot off the tenth round. And then he stops.

“Come on. You know you are just anxious to know if you really are holding something every gun lover fantasizes about in your arms.” Daesun teases him.

Thuc pulls the trigger…and lo and behold, to his and my surprise, it goes off. And I am still counting.

12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19.20.

By now Thuc isn’t even aiming at the target anymore. He is shooting at a piece of ground a dozen meters away from him, wide eyed at this…thing he is shooting.

35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40.

After the fortieth shot, Thuc stops shooting, turned the safety on and opens the bolt, trying to see where the ammo is coming from. I and Yung Ho tried to look at it over his shoulders, also wanting to see…

To find out there is nothing in the breech.

Thuc looked at us and said “My wife will be very, very happy with this gun if she had this during the war. I will be happy if my battalion is armed with these guns. Group 559 will be either be crying in anger because they will lose their jobs or crying in joy that they don’t have to transport that much anymore.”

“No more need to carry more ammunition. You can carry more food instead.” Yung Ho wonders.

“And they will be your choice of food. No more cursed MCI’s. No more heavy things dragging your backpack to the ground. And you can even bring other miscellaneous items, like cigarettes.” I fantasize loudly.

“Or more grenades. You can never have too many of those.” Thuc says.

“Or porn magazines”

Yung Ho stops smiling upon seeing how the both of us looked at him.

“How can a porn magazine save your life in any way?” I retort. Thuc, on the other hand, just stares at him.

“…Just forget that I said that alright?” Yung Ho asks us.

“Alright” Thuc agreed.

In the background we hear Daesun tittering while the others there…did not understand what we are talking about.

Good. No need to corrupt the innocent.

“I assume all our guns will work in the same way?” I ask Daesun.

“Well…the only thing that is common is the infinite ammo trick. Other than that there are some differences in the abilities of each one. Now…the other weapons are coming from Lieu Hanh, so-” And here Daesun immediately bows a little at Lieu Hanh’s direction, as if she is giving the stage to her.

Lieu Hanh held a backpack with both hands, walks forward to Thuc and hold it out for him to take.

Well...it looks like a common commercial back pack that I can buy from the local department store at Hazard. The only difference is it is olive green in color.

Thuc looked at the piece of cloth that says who the manufacturer is and raises his eyebrow at what he sees. He then looks at Lieu Hanh and asks “Did you buy this from back home? I remember my daughter in law buying one of these for my grandson’s upcoming school year.”

Lieu Hanh shrugs and say “Why not? It helps our home. However, it isn’t an ordinary bag anymore. Think of any weapon that could and could not possibly fit in there that is currently in the arsenals of Vietnam, and pull it out of the bag.”

Thuc momentarily stares at her, and then seemingly humors her and opened the zipper, reach in and then stop in surprise. He put the bag on the ground and pulled out a…

How did an RPG rocket fit in there?

Thuc is also just looking at the RPG rocket he just pulled from the bag. Then he lays it down on the ground. He looks back at Lieu Hanh with a puzzled face.

“Go on” she says in response.

Thuc reaches into the depths of the bag again and pull out various things.

There’s three AKM’s, a PKM, another RPG 7 with a launcher this time, a freaking SA 7 portable SAM, five blocks of what looks like C4, ten magazines for AKM’s, a belt of 7.62 ammo, and then another one…

Thuc slowly stops pulling out things from the bag and slowly put the last thing he grabbed down on the grass. He looked at Lieu Hanh, back to the bag, and then back to the goddess and says “This gift is appreciated, your holiness.”

“You’re welcome. And weapons are not the only ones you can get from it” Lieu Hanh approaches Thuc and takes the bag. It seems she is going to give a demonstration.

“You can also get food” she pulls out a little Styrofoam plate with three fried rice balls and a toothpick stuck in each rice ball and gives them all to Thuc, who takes it, thank her, eat them quickly and throw the plate and toothpick away.

“clothes” she then pulls out a neatly folded M81BDU and a pith hat that did not look so different than those I have seen back in Vietnam. She gives them to Thuc who just held on to it.

“and shelter” She then pulls out a mosquito net, a folded up green blanket and a rolled up mattress…made of plant material, either rattan or some kind of grass.

This time she puts them on the ground beside her and then gives the bag to Thuc. He looks really happy with this bag, while Yung Ho looks intrigued and wants one too, it seems to me. The other two guys…are just looking on. I think that means the packs they are carrying must already be doing the same thing.

Well…it looks like we have a magical version of the Star Trek replicator. Quartermasters all around the world will be crying over the loss of their jobs if such a thing where to be released to the world.

“Umm, I have a question here Lieu Hanh. Exactly how does that bag work?” Daesun asks all of a sudden.

This sudden question got the attention of four of us. Why ask something that need not be asked?

“What do you mean Daesun?” the Vietnamese goddess asks.

“Well, is it a bag that creates something according to the wish of the one holding it, or is it more of a tear in space cunningly hidden inside a bag, and you are actually grabbing things from back home in Vietnam every time you put your hand inside it?”

“It is the latter. Is there a problem?” she answers.

Our eyes immediately went to the things that had been pulled out of the bag. The uniform…well, there is actually some Vietnamese writing there. I guess it must have been pulled off somewhere. Thuc looks at the AKM’s and other stuff more carefully, searching for something. I guess he didn’t like what he found because he grimaced and then says “These are all from different military bases in Vietnam.” He even looks at the Styrofoam plate he threw away. There is something written on the plate.

“What is written there?” Yung Ho asks.

“This is from a fast food restaurant that is next to my grandson’s school.”

“So does that mean you just ate someone’s order?”

“…apparently, yes.”

Thuc looks disappointed with the bag. He then looks up and asked “Your holiness, what happens if I put these items back into the bag? Or any other thing”

“The ones you pull from the bag go back to where they came from, while the ones you put into the bag just stay there until you pull them out again.” she replies.

“Thank you” he responds, and then he puts an AKM into the bag. And is surprised by some surprised shouts coming from inside. He quickly drops it and the shouts abruptly stop.

He then put the things back into the bag faster than before. Sometimes, there was a surprised voice from the bag, and the other times there was none. After he put them all back in, he zips the bag close, puts it on the ground and just looks at it with disappointment.

Well, I guess that phrase ‘too good to be true’ applies even to the magical world.

“Hey, if that shouting is someone seeing a gun suddenly appear from mid-air, I guess the VPA will have a new ghost story by this time tomorrow.” Yung Ho jokes to lighten his mood.

Thuc chuckles weakly at the joke, seeing the humor in it. As for me, I smile at the silly idea of Vietnamese soldiers telling ghost stories like boy scouts telling campfire stories.

“So…your holiness, is there anything else?” Thuc asks, seemingly recovered from his brief bout of disappointment.

“Well…I think this would do” She then hands him a sword encased in a varnished wooden scabbard with a swordbelt.

And we see what a sword it was as Thuc pulls it from the scabbard.

It is a single edged blade that has only a slight curvature, the blade is so reflective it’s as if it is a mirror that is made in the shape of a sword and the golden hilt, which I instantly know is made of gold as I see it for the first time, is encrusted with little rubies. No, it’s more like the rubies had been mixed in with the gold when they made the hilt, like...cereals in milk.

Thuc looks pale. He looks up at Lieu Hanh and asks in a quavering way “This isn’t what I think it is…is it?”

“It’s Thuan Thien” she simply replies with a smile.

“Why?” he asks, the reverence in his voice audible even here, a dozen feet away from him.

“Because you need it. How can an old man who is resurrected in his body at the time of his death going to have the strength and abilities of a young man?”

“But Thuan Thien?! I am not worthy…Ho Chi Minh is infinitely more worthy of holding Thuan Thien.”

The way Thuc is acting, it’s as if the sword is a very important religious artifact…wait, is it one?

“Why do you think this sword has to be worthy of someone?”

“Because…it is the sword of Le Loi, one of Vietnam’s greatest heroes…it is the thing that helped establish Dai Viet…” Thuc is at a loss for words with what he is hearing, it seems to me.

“And the sword is begging for one last adventure, one last war. Surely you would not deny Thuan Thien that request, would you?”
Huh? Begging for one what?

“Huh?” is also Thuc’s response while the others look more interested in this part of the conversation.

“Thuan Thien is a sword that has become partially sentient due to time and legend. Don’t you feel it? The sword is BEGGING for another battle, especially in the hands of another Vietnamese.”

Thuc looks at the sword that he is holding with both hands and he does so for…a long time.

After a while, I grow concerned that something strange has happened to Thuc. He is just standing there looking at the sword. I was about to grab the sword away from him when he suddenly looks up at Lieu Hanh, seemingly breaking off from that trance by himself.
“Did it just talk to me?”

“Surprised?”

Thuc can only nod his head in agreement. And I am confused, so…

“What ‘talk’? I didn’t hear anything. Are you suggesting the sword can talk Thuc? Like Prince Valiant’s Singing Sword?”

“It’s not surprising Herbert” Yung Ho answers my question, gaining the attention of Thuc as well.

“What do you mean?” I ask.

“The reason there are so many stories of Japanese swords that emit emotions to the one who wields them in Japanese fiction is because there were real life examples of swords that did such a thing in the past. The only reason why there are none now is because either World War 2 destroyed them or they have been hidden away by the local supernatural community. However, what I am surprised with by that sword you are holding Thuc is that a Vietnamese sword is doing such a thing.”

Thuc’s eyes narrow, and his face looks like he is getting defensive. He is opening his mouth about to say something when Daesun beat him to it.

“Actually, the reason why it’s so rare to hear about non-Japanese weapons getting to that kind of awareness is because Japan IS a developed country. That means they can spread more information from more people about themselves than say…Vietnam or the Philippines. It is also partly because one generation after another of the Japanese fervently believes their swords have souls or something like that. Nothing can help but be affected by that kind of belief, even a goddess like me or Lieu Hanh here. And lastly, weapons that achieve that kind of awareness because of human interaction are also frequently mistaken with genuinely magical ones so nobody really counts even from the beginning.”

“Mistaken with genuinely magical ones?”Thuc asks. “Then ThuanThien…”

“Is really the sword Le Loi used, but it did not come from Long Vuong and is not magical at first. It started gaining awareness when Nguyen Thrai spread the story of ThuanThien being a magical sword. All of Vietnam believed the story, and the sword started becoming an authentically special one, such that Le Loi himself knew fiction became reality when the sword started going through high quality Chinese steel like a very hot gold coin on butter. In the end, Le Loi offered it to Long Vuong at Ho Huan Kiem because he was convinced it was Long Vuong who gave the sword some magic. Pleased with the praise he is getting, he sent one of his turtles and the rest is Vietnamese legend.”

“How did you get it from Long Vuong, your holiness?”

“When the Indochinese community met to discuss paying back our debt of honor to Herbert Ward by sending someone to help him, Long Vuong remembered about Thuan Thien and he said he will lend it to that person we send off to help. But not before he fixes the damage that ThuanThien had over the years of neglect, and not before...his exact words were ‘I will be embarrassed if I did not take this opportunity to turn ThuanThien into the sword our people think I made it in the first place’”

“So…Thuan Thien is remade and is more powerful now than before? Will I have the strength of ten thousand men instead of one thousand men?”

“Thuan Thien is now indestructible as long as there is single Viet alive in the world we live in. It will give cut through anything that is hostile to you, that means an enemy’s swords and their bodies, not mountains between you and your destination. And also you will have the strength, speed and…other attributes of a young healthy man.”

“Just one man?” I ask, wondering what happened to Thuc’s thousand men figure.

“A young, healthy member of the Dac Cong. Anything that says you will have the strength of more than ten men will quickly tear the body of any mortal apart” she replies.

“Dac Cong?” I was unfamiliar with this word.

“The Vietnamese Sappers, I think you Americans call them during the war. They are Vietnam’s special forces nowadays.” Thuc answers my question.

“Heh. Sounds good for you” Yung Ho says to him. In response, Thuc just thanks him. However, he says he has one last problem with Thuan Thien.

“What is it?” the Vietnamese goddess asks in a voice that has hints of exasperation in it.

“I could hypothetically use a spear in combat since it is somehow similar to bayonet drills, which I am familiar with. But I don’t know how to use a sword.”

Lieu Hanh looks at Thuc and then point to the sword saying with a little tone of impatience “I am sorry but please talk it out with Thuan Thien”.

After that, she remained silent.

Thuc bows his head a little, thanking her for all the equipment and then walks forward to stand beside me and Yung Ho, carrying the three things he had been given by Lieu Hanh.

“Are you happy with what you got?” I ask. I am by now anxious to see what has happened to ‘Annie’, and excited to see what kind of equipment I would get.

Honestly, just the bag itself will have me shouting for joy. Never mind an indestructible rifle with unlimited ammunition that will always work perfectly. The only thing out of place for me is the sword, but hey, if the sword acts like one of those performance enhancing drugs you often hear about in sports except it works magically, then I would carry one, just don’t expect me to draw it in actual combat.

“Aside from the bag, I am quite satisfied with what Lieu Hanh gave me. Now I just need to think about the bag’s moral implications.” his mood sour a little upon mentioning the bag.

“Ah, how about this way? The Irish goddess is a goddess of wealth from what I hear from Daesun. You could charge her for all the equipment you will be using from the VPA in solid gold. Just make sure you send the letter along with the gold and the guns back to the base, to explain what the gold is for.” Yung Ho said.

The both of us look at him upon hearing his surprising idea.

“What a bright idea!” I say.

“Is it wise to antagonize a goddess?” Thuc asks.

“It looks to me like she is a little bit desperate to wipe off her debts and favors. She will go along with it just to clear them quickly. Besides, it’s not as if you will need tons of gold. If things go as Annan says, we would not expend a lot of ammo here.” Yung Ho explains.

Thuc nods, thinking about this idea. And then he said “It’s not only brilliant. I might even help with the modernization program this way.” He looks quite happy by now.

“What modernization program?” Yung Ho asks him.

“There’s an ongoing modernization process in the works around the time I died and is surely continuing up to now. So…if I take equipment that are in the process of being phased out, and leave in their place gold, the army will have more time buying equipment and less time finding ways to dispose of the equipment.” Thuc happily states.

“How will you even know what is being phased out?” I ask.

“I have close friends who are still in the army when I died. I also ask questions about what’s new in the army when they come and visit our home sometimes. And I also visit my former workplaces sometimes when I am not looking over my family.”

Yung Ho replies “Well, I am happy for you, still doing something to help your country even after death. Although visiting your workplaces sounds…are you doing that on the off chance you might scare somebody?”

“Thanks. And I am not trying to scare anybody, although there IS that one time I inadvertently caused a tightening of security in the base since I had left the door unlocked and the papers left in plain view on the desk when the one who is currently using my former office always put it in the drawer. But it is for the best.”

“How can that be for the best?”

“The guards ARE slacking off. What if it wasn’t me but a real spy or a saboteur? If I was alive I will scold the guards standing there.”

“Good point.”

“Yung Ho, I think Daesun is waiting for you.” I pointed out to him after noticing Daesun trying to get my attention and pointing at him.
“Oh. Thanks Herbert.” he said while walking closer to Daesun. Once he stopped a few feet from her, Daesun gives Yung Ho a complete M1956 LCE and an ARVN rucksack.

“I can understand the rucksack, but an LCE?” Yung Ho asks her.

“Well…it was what I had been used to seeing on the ROK army, so it is the easiest for me to make. And I am sure that this is what you are used to, so there is no need to copy the latest equipment of the US army.”

“You were considering the US army gear?”

“Yeah but I also considered the fact that it wasn’t what you had been used to, and there have been complaints about MOLLE when I looked it up on the internet. Something about the fragility of certain parts and a flaw in its design, something about the bag hitting the lower back and eventually causing back injuries…so I just decided to stick with what I really know about.”

“...thank you for your kind heartedness Daesun. I really, really appreciate it. Although…I could have just asked Thuc and Herbert about how to wear more modern gear.”

Daesun blinks once, looking surprised. After a moment, she said “Oh. Yeah…I didn’t think about that.”

After another moment of thinking, she shrugs and then said “Well, what’s done is done. I worked with what I know at the time. So, want to know what’s different about this LCE, aside from it being made by divine spirits?”

“It is?”

“Well yes. All of it handmade instead of just taking an ordinary object and applying magic to it.”

“Why?”

Daesun leans towards Yung Ho and whispers something to his ear. After a few moments, she leaned away.

Yung Ho has a pretty happy expression on his face after Daesun whispered. I wonder what it could be?

“So, back to the LCE. The ammo case does not contain ammunition since that problem has already been taken care off. Instead, it will make a grenade. Just think of any type of grenade you can think of, and it will instantly become available in the ammo case.”

“Does it work like Thuc’s bag?”

“No. Everything I give you will magically and instantly make something according to your will. From the ammo case, to the dressing case which will make medical supplies, and the field pack. As for the canteen, the water comes straight from every water source Korea has already purified.”

“What will be the contents of the field pack?”

I think that is a good question.

“Hmm…every kind of ration that the US army had ever used from the American Revolution to the present.”

Yung Ho just looks at her suspiciously.

“US…army rations? Well……” Then he looked at me, looking for help.

“Well, if she said rations from all periods of US history, then that’s a lot of different kinds of food, so the problem of monotony is dealt with. You can even cook something good, just use the cans as an impromptu pan.” I tell him loudly.

With a face that looks like he is placing his life on my words, he turns back to Dalsun.

“Where were we now?”

“The next one is the rucksack. It also works the same way as the field pack however what it produces are not only typical infantry weapons but also…more destructive ones.”

More destructive ones? What does that mean?

Yung Ho also asks the same thing to Daesun.

“I think it will be easier to demonstrate. Please give me the rucksack.” she holds out her arms waiting for Yung Ho to give the rucksack to her.

Once he did so, she opened the rucksack and then puts her arms inside the bag, up to her elbows in this case. Then she looks up at us.

“And now, here is,” she suddenly stopped, suddenly looking at the bag. She then braced herself properly and then pulls.

It is obvious she is not used to the weight of whatever she is pulling. And indeed she will not be used to the weight, since Yung Ho already went near her to help her drag a…a very curiously shaped mortar round.

“Is that a mortar round?” I ask Thuc.

“Don’t think so. It looks more like a huge RPG projectile, a very uniquely shaped one at…what is that yellow symbol?” Thuc suddenly shifted emotions, from being analytical to…frightened. Even his voice sounds freaked out.

I look back at the mortar round and noticed Yung Ho just holding the projectile and not moving at all staring at the…

God help us.

I never wished to see one of those in real life.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So, how is it?


Last edited by kilopi505 on 2013-04-08 11:30am, edited 5 times in total.
Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: "6 jobs from hell" PostPosted: 2012-01-02 11:23am
Offline
Padawan Learner

Joined: 2010-02-24 11:07pm
Posts: 181
Location: Philippines
Oh and before I forget, thanks to Lady Tevar, Mr. Coffee, tortieconspiracy and maddoctor for reading some parts where I got bogged down.

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: "6 jobs from hell" PostPosted: 2012-01-02 11:50pm
Offline
Sith Devotee
User avatar

Joined: 2008-03-14 07:47am
Posts: 3467
laughing my head off.

it's developing nicely. but for this level of firepower, they must be going up against something the size of the world dragon? (or have the goddess got films and reality mixed up?)



"Aid, trade, green technology and peace." - Hans Rosling.
"Welcome to SDN, where we can't see the forest because walking into trees repeatedly feels good, bro." - Mr Coffee

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: "6 jobs from hell" PostPosted: 2012-01-03 09:24pm
Offline
is an asshole.
User avatar

Joined: 2005-02-26 08:45am
Posts: 3188
Location: And banging your mom is half the battle... G.I. Joe!
kilopi505 wrote:
Oh and before I forget, thanks to Lady Tevar, Mr. Coffee, tortieconspiracy and maddoctor for reading some parts where I got bogged down.


No charge, new homie. Good chapter and keep it coming.



Image

Goddammit, now I'm forced to say in public that I agree with Mr. Coffee. - Mike Wong
I never would have thought I would wholeheartedly agree with Coffee... - fgalkin
Honestly, this board is so fucking stupid at times. - Thanas
GALE ForceFlooring: For a good lay, call...

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: I AM BAAAAAACK! PostPosted: 2012-08-20 10:17am
Offline
Padawan Learner

Joined: 2010-02-24 11:07pm
Posts: 181
Location: Philippines
I have finally finished this chapter. THANK YOU GOD!

--------------------------------------------------------------

Chapter 8

I am looking at a nuke. Or what appears to be one.

I am looking at the thing which haunted the childhood of my generation, and the thing which still haunts the world today.

I look at the others. Thuc and Yung Ho are speechless and horrified. Connla and Javin are just looking at us curiously, wondering what are we being spooked about. And Lieu Hanh is looking at Daesun like she just did something crazy.

Which IS the point.

“Daesun, what the hell is that?” I ask, trying to know if she knows what she pulled out of there.

“It’s an M388 nuclear projectile used as part of the Davy Crockett weapons system.” she answers in a matter-of-fact voice.

It’s a real nuke. Damn.

“May I put this…this thing back in the bag Daesun?” Yung Ho asks her. When she nods, he carefully puts it back into the rucksack and slowly let go of it. Once he had let go of it, he slowly steps away from the bag, looking at it in apprehension.

“Daesun, tell me, why do we need a nuke?” I ask the girl.

Daesun looks at us and then said one word.

“Insurance.”

She then looked at the others and continues “I don’t know what you guys will run into out there. Therefore, I am making sure you can fight back and kill whatever chases you.”

“So you are giving these mortals a bag that will instantly make the mortal version of the Brahmastra…out of concern for your friend?” Lieu Hanh sighs, and then said in an amazed tone “If not for the nuclear bomb, I would say that your effort is admirable.”

At those words, Daesun looks at Lieu Hanh just like someone who is guilty of something, an action that had the Vietnamese deity raising one of her eyebrows.

Her next words actually suggest this might be the case.

“I don’t think the other part of the magic that comes along with this bag is going to make you and many other beings happy.”

At Lieu Hanh’s puzzled look, she turned back to Yung Ho and pulled a…

“What kind of gun is that?” I asked Thuc, having very limited knowledge of any firearms introduced later than 1970 since I never saw a need to know much more, especially since I have more important things to do, like work and family.

Thuc’s eyes narrowed trying to look at the gun. Then he started to softly mutter to himself, his words not really audible to me at this point. He then stopped muttering, shakes his head in the negative and looked at me, shrugging at the same time.

“Honestly Herbert, I have no idea other than it uses a STANAG magazine and that it isn’t from any of Vietnam’s neighbors.”

We were interrupted by Daesun giving the rifle to Yung Ho while looking in our direction. Then the next words she says confounded me and Thuc.

“Mr. Thuc, may I borrow an AK-74?”

“You know how to use a gun?” Thuc asks in curiosity.

“I got lessons” she says with a smile at us.

“From where?” I whisper in Thuc’s direction as he is giving the rifle, along with a magazine, to the Korean goddess. The only answer I got from him is a shrug of the shoulders.

To my surprise, she quickly loads the magazine, pulls back the bolt, switches the safety off and had the AK ready to fire in a few seconds.

It is jarring to say the least. Here is this young, cute girl dressed in folk costume, with eyeglasses on to complete the innocent look, handling one of the most iconic and famous guns in the world like a professional.

The next thing that she did reminds me that this isn’t any ordinary girl. While holding the AK, muzzle pointed down at the ground with her right hand, she raised her left one, looked to her left and…

Suddenly, a flat disc as tall as I am and made of silver colored light with Asian looking characters all over it appears out of nowhere around twenty meters away from her, behind Lieu Hanh who was suspiciously looking back and forth between the gun and the lightshow behind her.

“What’s that?” I ask Daesun.

“A cast and forget shield spell.”

I blinked in surprise, both from the claim and some of the words she said.

Why do the words ‘cast and forget’ sound suspiciously like something I had heard in the military?

“...is it something like Star Wars?” I asked, since the only thing like that lightshow I am currently seeing is that from Star Wars, which I had managed to watch…sometimes.

“Yes. This is a magical force field. Now as to what I am going to do, I think it’s simpler to include a demonstration along with the explanation. If you would please step out of the firing line Lieu Hanh?”

Once everything between her and the magical force field is devoid of anyone, she faces us humans, the AK cradled with both left and right hands now while the strap is around her neck, takes a deep breath, and starts to explain, complete with one of her index fingers raised and waving around.

“Now, for the benefit of all of who don’t have any experience with modern magical combat, I will explain the magic force field and ways of dealing with it.”

“Modern?” Yung Ho suddenly asks.

Daesun quickly answered, as if she is in a classroom. “Yes, modern. The supernatural world actually got the idea for magical force fields from the United States in the last century, around the time Star Trek appeared. The first one is made by some Native American spirits, and from them the idea quickly caught on around the world in around a few months. Now, to continue the explanation, a magical force field is any kind of pure magic used for the protection of someone or something behind it from anything that seeks to do you direct harm. And there are only two ways of breaking one. One is to also use magic, this time against the magical force field. The other one is to use physical force against the magical force field. A lot of physical force.”

Surprisingly, the next question of this discussion didn’t come from me, Thuc or Yung Ho but from Javin.

“Your holiness, are you perhaps saying a cannon can destroy a magical…force field?”Javin unsurprisingly stumbled upon the word force field in uncertainty. Not surprising if you consider that with the British accent and the percussion cap rifle, I can guess that he lived in 18th century India, and a lot of words and terms that is frequently used or somewhat heard in modern American English did not exist in those times in America, much more Britain’s crown colony.

Daesun smiles like a teacher, happy that her student is asking questions.

“Exactly. However, it depends on how much magic has been fed, or is being fed into the force field. For example, this,” and she points with her left hand at the magical force field she cast “is a cast and forget force field spell. It’s used when you are being chased or attacked by enemies, and you need some badly needed moment to prepare something offensive against your enemy with very minimal usage of magic. You cast it between your enemy and you, and even if he or she is physically or magically stronger than you by more than a hundred times, they lose a few moments of time because they had to deal with the shield in SOME way.”

“So in other words it is simply dropping sharp objects in the path of someone chasing you?” I said, my mind flashing back to those James Bond movies I watched when I was in Hawaii on the way back home, where Bond managed to shake off his pursuers using some gadgets that had been installed in his Ashton Martin.

“Not exactly sharp objects. More like entire sheets of stained glass” she answered.

Now I understand how this kind of force field is used.

If a sheet of glass suddenly appeared between you and somebody you are chasing, you have three options: Going around it, Stopping immediately and then quickly finding something to break the glass or lastly, Hope you are moving fast enough and are heavy enough to crash through it with minimal injuries or else you will get hurt.

And even if you choose one of those options, your opponent had for a time, blocked your vision so you also had to spend additional time to look for their position, time they could have spend preparing to attack you from another position or to run away.
Daesun continued her explanation.

“Now, the cast and forget type of force field is the weakest kind of force field around, since it is made to only delay or distract the enemy. However, to show you what it takes to destroy one using non-magical weaponry or force, I will fire on my force field with a typical AK 74.”

After saying this, she raises the AK in a firing position and started firing away at the magical shield in semi-auto mode.

By the twentieth shot the light of the force field started flickering every time it is hit with a bullet.

By the time Daesun shot off everything in the magazine, there is…still no noticeable change in the magical shield other than that flickering of the light.

“Thirty consecutive 5.45mm rifle rounds and nothing to show for it.” Thuc comments in a worried tone.

“Actually there is some damage to the force field, you just have to look closer.” Daesun replies. As she said this and turns to us, the shield suddenly moved along with the direction her face is looking at from over there to over here, between Daesun and Yung Ho, and the rest of us.

Upon closer inspection, I see that as she had said there is some damage.

Damage not worth anything in a life or death situation, that is.

“It’s like someone used an ice pick on 1 inch plywood. How does that help?” I said finally, and feeling a little scared myself.
Is this kind of thing what every single potential opponent I will face have readily available? I recall that in Star Wars, force fields need…more firepower than a single person can carry to bring down.

There’s only 6 of us on this job.

“Actually, if this is what 5.45mm rounds do to a magical force field, think about what heavier ammunition can do.” Yung Ho says from the other side.

“Like cal. 50?” I ask.

“Yes.”

“Using anti-tank weapons and rifle grenades from the start is better...but…” Thuc wondered from my side, trailing off at the end.
“But what?” I ask.

“RPG’s aren’t exactly something you can reload quickly, nor are they…something you could aim like a rifle.”

“And considering the fact that they are also explosives…” Yung Ho said but not finishing the sentence.

“We are going to get hurt, a lot, if these shields are too near to us.” I continue from where he stopped.

“Moving back to the original topic,” Daesun said, trying to steer the conversation back to where she wants it “Now, can I have two RPG 7’s and another magazine for the AK-74, Mr. Thuc?”

“Why two, your holiness?” I hear from the other side of the force field that is slowly dissolving, revealing Yung Ho looking at Daesun in curiosity and…I think that is doubt.

“Watch.” she says as she made not one, but two cast and forget magical force fields, at the same time. One is as large as the one Daesun had cast before, while the one behind it is twice as large. After this she takes one of the RPG’s that Thuc gave her and hold it in firing position.

“Firing in three!” Daesun yells as a warning to us. When the countdown reaches one, the RPG fires off into the magical force field. The effect suddenly brought to my mind the image of a talking and walking tank.

‘Where did that thought come from?’

The smaller force field cracked like a car’s windshield upon being hit by a sledgehammer, and yet no pieces broke off or fell from the force field.

I am saying it again, for my own benefit , since I don’t think I really want to believe what I saw.
The force field only cracked and did not break apart into pieces. Something that is just as thick as a sewing thread only cracked when an RPG hit it right in the center.

Then the AK started firing off. This time, the shield is visibly being damaged. This time glowing sparks as little as those made by a welding rod when being used, are falling lazily to the ground like snowflakes in winter, coming from the spots where the bullets are hitting the shield. And even now, the bullets are still turning into something that looks like a fried egg before falling down onto the grass.

The force field finally smashed apart into pieces only when Daesun finally uses the second RPG on it. And even then, the result is not very satisfactory, because instead of lots of tiny pieces going off in that direction, we got 5 large, jagged and cracked pieces that can still fit together like a jigsaw puzzle if you tape them together, getting thrown into the force field behind it, which did not show ANY damage at all.

“So, do you now understand what it takes to break one with non-magical weaponry?” Daesun asks.

“Walking, talking tanks with armor factories in it.” I softly mutter to myself.

“What kind of warhead did you give her? A defective one?” Yung Ho asks Thuc.

“I gave her HEAT rounds, and they are relatively new ones too.” he answers back.

“If I may have your attention now sirs.” We hear Daesun say, trying to not let the discussion digress.

She continues talking after we immediately quiet down.

“Now this,” when she said the word ‘this’, she holds up the assault rifle that she pulled out of the rucksack.

“This is a K2 assault rifle, made by Daewoo Precision Industries as the replacement of the M16 rifle for the ROK armed forces in the 1980’s.”

I heard Thuc mutter “so that’s where it came from” from my side.

“Now, this particular K2 rifle is the 4,444thof its kind made by Daewoo Precision, which I appropriated from the ROK Marine Corps through some friends I made in the past week.”

“What?” Yung Ho looks at Daesun in suspicion and terror, mirrored by Thuc beside me.

“I didn’t steal it Yung Ho, if that is what you are worried about. I asked for it and it was given to me.”

“By who?” Yung Ho persists in asking Daesun, but now seemingly spooked by something other than this piece of information.
“By people in authority.”

Yung Ho blinked a few times, and then his eyes opened wide. Whatever he had been terrified with is seemingly forgotten by this new piece of information.

“What did you do to the Daejang who you got this from? And why does the serial number even exist?” he cries out.

“Actually he is a Jungjang. And I asked for it so he made arrangements and then gave it to me. Don’t ask me why they have a rifle with the serial number 4,444 in their inventory, I don’t know either.” she answered, along with a shrug.

“Are…are you telling me the ROK navy and by extension, the government itself, is now aware of your existence? The confirmed existence of the supernatural world?” he asks in a quiet voice filled with disbelief and growing horror.

“Oh don’t get too scared. Only the Marine Corps headquarters and the 6th Marine brigade knows about me. And they would not talk about it with anyone else, since they do want to keep their jobs, not get discharged for medical reasons.”

“Oh merciful Buddha and all my ancestors, save us from idiots.” I heard Thuc mutter from the side, in a mix of horror and…humor?
I couldn’t agree more with his sentiment.

Imagine if any military force out there had access to even just these simple things that these goddesses are giving us. Or to more examples of magic that I still have not seen. They could now have more of an ability to hurt those above their weight class with no money spent. Oh well, at least this is an ally of the United States…wait a minute.

“Thuc, you aren’t thinking about doing something like helping out the VPA from beyond the grave…are you?” I ask him in a whisper, slowly turning my head to look at him.

Thuc looks at me and gives me a look that says ‘are you kidding me?’

Well, at least Thuc isn’t thinking of doing something like that. The Vietnamese are tough guys to fight against without anything supernatural behind them. I refuse to think of how much tougher they will be if they have magic.

'And yet, why do I have this feeling that I just misinterpreted something?'

“You know, a lot of people are not going to be happy with this news Daesun.” Lieu Hanh states, in a tone that is definitely not amused, from where she is standing.

“Don’t worry. The terms I came up with the ROKMC is that supernatural assistance are only, and only, for North Korea or when something out of context of the ROK armed forces attacks Korea.” Daesun replies.

“I am not referring to that. I am referring to those xenophobic counterparts of ours in Yamato Japan.”

“Oh let them complain. This agreement will not hurt them anyway since I don’t think Japan or Korea wants a round two of the Imjin war. To be fair to the Yamato, not EVERY god and spirit in Yamato Japan is xenophobic, let alone the ancestor spirits,” Daesun paused for a second, and then continues “Only one or two out of fifteen are xenophobic, I think.”

Lieu Hanh suddenly chuckles at this. Then she suddenly asks in a curious tone “Is that from personal experience?”

Daesun nods with a somewhat peeved expression.

That is…educational, I think.

Racism among supernatural communities. Is that crap from us humans or was that already there before we came along?

Daesun suddenly goes back to her exposition about this particular rifle, the peeved look on her face gone with the wind.

‘Now I’m accidentally making puns about the South? This day just keeps getting stranger and stranger’

“Now, this rifle is the first test of this new spell I had created that is now present with everything that will come out of that rucksack and the grenades that will come from the ammo case.”

“What does this new spell do?” Yung Ho asks.

Daesun smiled. And then she walks away from us, until she is around ten meters away.

She then looks in the northwest direction (if you consider what you are facing to be the north), and twenty cast and forget force field spells suddenly appeared, along with another circle of light that feels different from the earlier ones.

That final disc of light looks no different from the other ones, and yet if you look at it, you suddenly feel calm. You suddenly feel safe and scared. You suddenly feel the lust of a lover at night and the loneliness of a widower at night (God knows I always feel that at night these days). You suddenly feel you are looking at the moon.

I look at Daesun, who is slowly glowing with moonlight, even while it is clearly afternoon and the sun is still up in the sky.
Lieu Hanh suddenly speaks up with a very, very interested tone.

“Daesun, what are you going to do with a Sustained Effort force field? Especially one that you are pouring a lot of magic into right now?”

Daesun smiled, looked at Lieu Hanh and said “Like I said earlier, just watch.”

She immediately brings the K2 rifle to bear on the force fields and fired. And what a difference it made this time compared with the AK 74.

The first shot went through 3 force fields before getting embedded in the 4th one, which smashed apart into glowing dust falling to the grass in one second. The first three also started to fall apart on their own, cracks growing until the force field is almost colored white with the number of cracks that appeared. And only then did the stricken things get blown apart into glowing dust by a very gentle breeze.

Then she pulls the trigger again. And again.

In 5 shots, she destroyed twenty magical force fields that can each withstand two RPG shots at close range. The only thing left is the final disc of light which Lieu Hanh called a sustained effort force field.

Here Daesun hesitated for a few moments, looking like she isn’t sure of something. Then she pulls trigger one more time…
And surprises me with a yell of pain and surprise, the kind you give off when you prick yourself with a needle, or when you drop something on your toe. She immediately drops the rifle on the ground while her hands are on both sides of her forehead and her eyes tightly shut.

Thankfully, the rifle did not go off, especially since the direction it dropped at is straight at me.

Something I will thank God for when I go to sleep later.

“Are you alright, your holiness?” Yung Ho asks her in a worried tone.

Daesun is muttering something to herself, and based on her expression I think she is berating herself for doing something stupid, and didn’t notice Yung Ho until he pokes her.

When she looked at him with…blood shot eyes, he hands her a few pills of aspirin taken from his dressing case and his water bottle container.

“Thank you Mr. Cha.” she says in a voice that makes it obvious she is still suffering from a very bad headache.

Taking the pills and downing them with the water bottle, she closed her eyes and took a few breaths while standing better now.

“Damn it, why isn’t the pain going away?” she softly says to herself.

“Perhaps the bullet melting through the force field is the reason for it” Javin comments from where he is standing.
I look at the last force field, which has lost whatever property that makes it very special to the eye, to see a curious sight which I don’t know whether to treat as scary or…something.

The bullet is embedded in the sustained effort force field and at the same time is melting its way through the field towards the ground. While the speed it is melting through is not fast, the sight of what otherwise is an ordinary bullet melting through something you think is at least as tough as the mountain NORAD is under is giving me the creeps.

Suddenly the force field blinked out of existence and the bullet, embedded in nothing anymore, fell to the grass. Upon looking at Daesun, I see her looking better already but not completely recovered.

“Mr. Cha, would you please speculate on what this gun does?” she said with what appears to be an effort at a smile, marred by lingering pain.

“Well,” Yung Ho, confused with this change in the flow of the conversation, tries to answer as best as he can “since that bullet melted through a force field, I believe it is undoing the magic in it.”

“But undoing, or as Ratri calls it, uninstalling anything magical is like pulling the wrong block and ending a game of Jenga. You just pull away until the whole structure dissolves itself apart. Nothing magical…does what just happened.”

“It hurt you even though you are not hit by the bullet.” Yung Ho offers in an unsure voice.

Daesun frowns.

“That is something I honestly did not expect. Any more ideas?” she finally looks recovered, along with a real smile on her face.
When Yung Ho shrugs, she finally continues her question, trying to lead him to something.

“What do we East Asians believe about the number four?”

“It is unlucky because it sounds like the word for death.”

“And if something has four ‘four’ to itself? Like that gun, which is the 4,444th of its kind made by Daewoo?”

Yung Ho opens his mouth to say something, then closed it and looks at what he is holding with a look of horror.

“Now you see? That gun is just like Thuan Thien, affected by the belief of many people it turned into something special. The only difference is this time instead of a few million people believing, this time the belief of more than one BILLION people are behind that gun…so if you compare Thuan Thien and that gun, it would be like comparing a revolver to a minigun.”

“What exactly did that gun do Daesun? Or should I say Daesun-nim?” Lieu Hanh asks suddenly. When I looked at her, I see that she is glaring at Daesun.

Daesun looks at Lieu Hanh for a moment. And then she said “It makes magic and anything that is not normal to a human die or go away in one hit. Didn’t you feel it? Did you not notice?”

“I did. Yet I…as the Americans say it, ‘poolchet’”

“The correct pronunciation is bullshit.” I corrected her.

“And I thank you for that, Mr. Ward.” she said, quickly looking at me. Then she turns back to Daesun. “You can deny someone access to magic, but you can’t kill magic. No one-”

“’That One’ did it” Daesun interrupts.

Lieu Hanh blinks in surprise at those words.

“The God of the Christians and Muslims? That one is different from you-”

“I know that Lieu Hanh. But I honestly didn’t expect something like this when I tried to tap human belief.”

“Excuse me ladies” I interrupt. “What is this about God and killing magic?”

The two goddesses look at me, then at each other. Then Daesun shrugs. Lieu Hanh answers me.

“It was just a very outrageous incident that happened in the past between Yahweh and the Egyptian pantheon. And ‘that One’ did the same thing as this gun did, kill the magic in everything in that mountain…what was it called again?”

“Horeb.” Daesun answers.

“Thank you. Now as I was saying, Yahweh killed the magic in that place and the Egyptians pantheon at the same time. And then raised it back to life a moment later as a lesson. The Egyptians hated Yahweh ever since.”

“I see…I think I know a possible reason why human belief can do the same thing that God did.”

“Really? What is it?” Daesun eagerly asks me.

“Man is made in God’s image by God himself.” I smile while saying this.

I get an awkward silence from them.

“You do realize that you’re saying that to two goddesses from two different religions, right?” Lieu Hanh asks me, not amused by what I said. Daesun and Connla on the other hand are laughing out loud at me. And the others…are just looking at me like I am someone weird.

“Shut up Daesun.” Lieu Hanh yells at her.

“But the idea is funny to me” After saying this, Daesun breaks down into giggles this time.

“You might be humored by it since no one worships you. I on the other hand, am offended by the notion.”

“If I have offended you, then I apologize for the unintended offense.” I sheepishly say to Lieu Hanh.

She just looks at me, nod, and then looks away. I take that to mean she is accepting my apology, however grudging it may be. She then turns back to Daesun.

“I can live with the fact that you managed to make a weapon this deadly to most supernatural beings. What I can’t accept is you lending this to a human.”

“Lieu Hanh, Mr. Cha here is someone I can trust since his family took care of me a long time ago. Besides, I could ask the same thing to you. Why did you and your fellows decide to lend Thuan Thien to Mr. Thuc?”

“We have that big a debt of honor to Mr. Ward here.”

“Not that reason. Isn’t it because Thuan Thien is the most dangerous weapon in the inventory of the Viets that also has a safety switch in case the sword is misappropriated and used against the Viets?”

The last time I have personally seen anyone get shut up so quickly with such an embarrassing expose was…well, it was a man cheating on his wife in Buckhorn, with a mistress in Louisville. The bastard had children with both and…the moment both women found out, especially as it turned out the two are close relatives…it’s ugly.

Very ugly.

And I hope it doesn’t turn ugly here, as Lieu Hanh here is a pagan goddess possibly capable of only God knows what when truly angered.

Thankfully, she took the…expose quite well.

“I don’t know what you are talking about.” she says.

Yeah. Very well, as well as Nixon did at first when Watergate happened.

Daesun smiles. “Yeah, you don’t. Rest assured Lieu Hanh, this particular…weapons system also has a safety switch, in case anyone gives me grief over me not doing so. But I don’t believe I will need to do so since” and at saying this word she looked at Yung Ho. “You won’t be using this on anyone that did not deserve it, will you Mr. Cha?”

“No I will not your holiness.” Yung Ho says in the most serious tone of voice possible.

“So Thuc, how do you feel hearing that?” I whisper to him.

I felt bad for him since…it has to hurt, being distrusted by your role model or god. I know I would feel bad if an angel of the Lord says that God doesn’t trust me.

Thuc just shrugs nonchalantly.

“It makes sense to me if you consider magical weapons in the same way the Russians see their nuclear submarines.”
“What about the Soviet subs?” I ask curiously, wondering how the Russians got into the conversation.
“Political commissars to prevent the submarines from defecting or doing something funny. What, have you never heard of ‘The Hunt for Red October’?”

“I…yeah. I saw that one when it appeared.”

I especially remember the main character named Jack Ryan. Good guy, a great role model for being an American in spite his being a Papist.

I then turn back to watch Daesun continuing her explanation to Yung Ho.

“-thus every weapon you pull from this rucksack, and the grenades from the magazine pouch, will also have the same magic killing abilities.”

“What other kinds of weapons?”

“All the latest man-portable equipment the ROKMC has, along with the Davy Crockett special. That’s why you need to memorize these.”

At that word, she passed a book, which just came from nowhere, to him and continued explaining. “In that field manual are information and instructions for all the different kinds of weapons the ROKMC currently has, since you need it if you are to take a weapon out from that bag.”

“Why?”

“You have to know what the weapon looks like and how it works for those bags to work. Now…did I forget to mention anything?” She mutters to herself at the end.

“Is there any limit to what this weapons system, as you called it?”

Daesun snaps her fingers, saying “I knew I forgot something.”

Turning back to Yung Ho, she starts speaking.

“I tweaked the K2 rifle to make the belief that surrounds it to affect that bag, but there is a drawback. I could apply less magic than usual because of the magic killing effect so you have to remember two things. First, is that you have infinite ammunition, in the sense that you can pull out an infinite amount of fully loaded magazines out of that bag. So you still have to count how many bullets are left in the magazine and reload.”

Thuc nods to show he understands.

That sounds reasonable. The only thing that changed is you can literally pull out fully loaded magazines out of nowhere for as long as you need to.

“Two, any other gun you pull out of that bag is disposable, you can just have the bag make another one. But not the K2 rifle. You can only pull out the 4,444th rifle from that bag. If you lose it…the rucksack stops working. For all intents and purposes, you are disarmed.”

That…doesn’t sound bad. It’s not as if anyone just throws their main weapon away.

“But why, your holiness?” Yung Ho asks.

Daesun shrugs.

“I had a lot of difficulty just making the magic work with that gun. Eventually, I managed to do it, but that gun is…like the clay you use for pottery. You have a kiln ready, you have the firewood there, and the potter’s wheel here along with the sticks you are going to use for making decorations. But it’s all for nothing if you don’t have the clay to turn into a pot.”
Hmm…I understand the topic she is talking about now. Carpentry, my livelihood, is for me something related to the fine arts, so I read up on that subject.

Painting and sculpting didn’t interest me, but of all things, pottery did interest me for some reason. Must be because it is so utilitarian.

I even tried my hand at making one of those Yangshao pots from China.

‘And I made a faithful and accurate reproduction, if I do say so myself’

“Your holiness, I must ask. What defines ‘lost’ in this case?” Yung Ho asks, interrupting my reminiscing.

“Well...leaving it anywhere farther than a kilometer from the bag counts as lost. Another is nothing there is unbreakable, even the rifle.”

“Then I might pull out something defective?”

“No. Every gun that comes out there is brand new and in factory condition. And by brand new I mean ‘just made a day ago by the factory’ new. No chance of anything being defective. But they are also just like normal guns. If a tank runs right over the K2 rifle, it will be just as crushed as a normal K2 rifle will be.”

“So the only difference between this rifle and normal ones are that it kills magic and I have an uncountable number of reloads?”
“More like whatever you pull out of that bag will go through magic like it was nothing, compared to normal ones. Even the Davy Crocket (I shivered as she said this) is like that.”

Yung Ho looks at the rifle, and then at the bag. Then he looks up at Daesun and shrugs.

“Then I will not risk losing the K2 rifle. I will just drag out the other guns…I believe the label is a K1 carbine. Or the infamous M16 in the manual.”

“Well…I guess that works too. …Wait, infamous?” she asks in a puzzled tone of voice.

“The XM16E1.” he said in an unhappy tone.

“That piece of crap before the M16A1? How did you know about it?” I have to ask.

I had this unstoppable urge to ask. Considering he gave the name of the nightmarish piece of crap that killed many of those who used it, I fear the same thing might have happened to him.

Yung Ho grumbles. “How would I not know. We had the same problem with those garbage called guns when the U.S. army gave us some, to replace our outdated weaponry they said. We ended up still using M1 Garands and Carbines all the way until I died in ’66.”
“So, is that the reason you got killed?” Thuc asks from beside me.

I just look at Thuc, amazed at his insensitivity. Which Thuc notices.

“Herbert, it may sound insensitive to you, but from one dead person to another it is just an ordinary question.”

“Restless ghosts and revenants” I said as a challenge.

“Don’t get angry by you asking questions. They get angry by you doing something they don’t like, which could be as silly as simply being alive.”

“…if that is the case, then I don’t have anything more to say about it.”

I gave him that, especially after thinking through what he said and through some horror movies I have heard about. And he is partly right, now that I think about it. From the ghost stories I have heard, ghosts haunt people because they either want revenge or they just felt like it.

“So, Yung Ho?” Thuc went back to asking the Korean man.

“I am fortunate to not die like that.” Yung Ho proudly said. Then he grumbles “I just got shot dead by a bastard of a sniper after a battle was over.”

This is a sentiment I can completely understand, having been shot by one myself in Vietnam.

“Don’t let my wife hear that. She fancies herself a sniper.” Thuc halfheartedly warns Yung Ho, with an amused tone of voice.
“Fancies?“ I ask.

I remember the girl from that night. She has shoulder length hair and a cute face. Very easy on the eyes, now that I think about it. But the most memorable thing is that she is looking at my face but her rifle is aimed at my groin. That…did not feel comfortable.
“Technically she is a marksman, not a sniper. And also, she is…a pretty bad one.”

“Bad one? Then why is she still called the marksman?”

“Because while she hits her targets eight out of ten times, she never managed to kill anyone, despite how much she tries to make her shots kill. They mysteriously just wound the target in either a normal way or an embarrassing way.”

“Define embarrassing.” Yung Ho says in a deadpan tone, something which I am also feeling since I think I know where this is going.
Thuc was quiet for a moment, then he recites.

I am not joking. He recites the next words.

“She accidentally circumcised one ARVN soldier, castrated three others, shot the buttocks of four while two women militia got partial mastectomies. All of those are in addition to the twelve normal gun shots she managed to deliver during the battle of Phuoc Long.”
Let me correct myself. It was worse than I thought, so bad that I can’t say anything in response.

Judging from the silence around me, I think the others also can’t say anything.

“…can we never discuss that again elder Thuc?” Connla asks in a somewhat scared tone of voice.

That tone of voice is perfectly understandable since I also feel it, now that I understand how close I came to being castrated that night in Cambodia.

“What discussion?” Thuc says in response.

And that said everything that needed to be said about that digression.

“So, where did we stop?” Daesun said to regain control of the whole thing.

“We stopped at the rucksack” I answer.

“Well then. Let me ask a question Mr. Ward. Are bayonets still used nowadays?”

I blinked. And then think about it.

“The last time I heard on the news, the British did a bayonet charge in Iraq around…two years ago?” I asked looking at Thuc.
“You are thinking about the Battle of Danny Boy in 2004. And to answer your question, bayonets and knives are still useful in modern close quarters combat.” Thuc answers.

“The British are still doing bayonet charges?” Javin asks incredulously.

“I think it is a British trademark, along with tea” I comment.

“Well if it is still that useful…I guess this would be alright with you Yung Ho?”

And as she said this she reached into a pocket on her dress, and pulls out a…

“Is that a sword made of stone?” Connla asks from beside Javin, and he did so with a very curious and professional way.
As Connla said it, it is a sword made from stone. Roughly carved from what seems to be white marble with veins of green material (presumably jade) all throughout the sword and around 45 cm long by my reckoning.

“Yes. Why? Don’t you have these in your time too? How about you Mr. Lad?”

“I have seen sculptures on temples that show swords. But I have never seen an actual stone sword.” Javin says to her.
“I have seen some stone maces and spearheads before. Except for sling stones, stone weapons are considered as the desperate man’s weapon, something you make when you just lack anything to barter with for even a poorly made iron sword. But a stone
sword…well, it does look like the short swords of the Arevaci but stone?” Connla says in a perplexed way.

“Believe it or not, stone swords were used in our part of the world, and it was quite effective. Just ask the Yamato who died because of imported Korean swords.” Daesun said proudly. Then she continues. “And as for your concerns about easily broken stone swords, this is an ancient and newly magical sword, so that is a moot point.”

“What magic does it have?” Yung Ho asks.

“Well, first off it is also indestructible as long as Pyongyang exists.”

Yung Ho had a coughing fit. And then looks incredulously at Daesun.

Thuc, me and surprisingly Lieu Hanh, pretty much did the same thing, while Javin leaned towards Connla and asked what the big deal is.

To my surprise (and Thuc’s, seeing as he was also looking at Connla) he started giving a very short version of the Korean War to Javin.

“Pyongyang! Why Pyongyang of all places?!” Yung Ho's near shout brings my attention back to the more important conversation.

“It IS near Asadal, isn’t it?”

“Asadal?...How old is that sword?” he asks seriously.

“I borrowed it from Dangun.” Daesun answers with a smile on her face, looking like she is expecting something.

Yung Ho just looks at her.

“Dangun? Dangun the founder of Asadal? Gojoseon? Dangun the son of Hwanung? That Dangun?”

“Yes that Dangun.”

Yung Ho looks at the sword, then back to her suspiciously.

“Surely you must be joking. Why is he using a stone sword in a time when bronze is available? Surely a bronze dagger is the more befitting weapon, as well as the more dangerous one.”

Daesun looks at Yung Ho curiously.

“You do remember that Gaecheonjol is 2333 years before the birth of the Christian’s Jesus, right?”

“Wait. We humans got that right?” Yung Ho asks in a shocked tone.

Daesun chuckles while answering him.

“Yes. While I have to warn you that not everything in every legend and mythological story with humans in it is true, most of them are not wrong either.”

“How about the legend about you and your brother?”

“That is a secret. Now going back to Gaecheonjol, bronze only became available in Korea around 900 years before the birth of Jesus. So science will support me when I say that there are no bronze objects in Korea in Dangun’s time.”

“Oh. I see.”

“Why do you sound dismayed in the first place?”

“…pardon me for saying this but as much as I would like to, I don’t think I can use Dangun’s sword properly. In fact, the only way I know how to use a sword is in a Geommu.”

“Hwangchang killed Baekje’s king with a sword dance. And speaking of Geommu…you do that?“

“It is a folk dance. It’s a stereotype to say that only Kisaeng learn to how to perform it, when the Kisaeng are only the most famous performers of it. And as for Hwangchang, no. That is an assassination, not a sword fight.”

“…you can use it like a machete?...Well, why don’t you try handling it first?”

“…if you insist your holiness” Yung Ho gave in to Daesun's...is that the infamous puppy eyes of something I kept hearing from Annie?
...it must be an effective weapon for debates, seeing as a Korean marine gave in to someone doing it.

Upon hearing this, Daesun let up that puppy eye look and smiles, in the same way your wife smiles upon winning a fight with you. She then quickly hands the sword over to Yung Ho, who takes hold of it in his left hand and then went into a basic knife fighter’s stance.

“It’s light. Very light for something made of stone” he comments in a surprised tone as he slowly made the basic motions that were taught to us in the military.

Which is mostly thrusts and slashes along the nine angles of attack on a human body, namely:

The left side of the defender's head, neck, or torso,

The right side of the defender's head, neck, or torso,

The left side of the defender's torso in the ribs, side, or hip region,

The right side of the defender's torso in the ribs, side, or hip region,

Straight toward the defender's front,

Straight down upon the defender

The defender's lower-left side

The defender's lower-right side and finally,

Straight up to the defender's groin.

“That’s another thing I did to the sword. It is as light as an ordinary dagger, but if it hits your opponent, then that instantly changes into a half kilo of unbreakable, magical jade moving at the speed of your swing.”

So it really is jade.

I didn’t know jade also comes in white colors.

“That must hurt, however I am trained in using a blade which can also cut and slash aside from stabbing, which I can't really do with this sword…and it’s a little bit too long for my taste.” Yung Ho replies. By now, he is moving faster with the sword, and is also doing the whirl movement once or twice.

“Who said the sword is dull?” she asks.

Yung Ho stopped practicing with the sword and looks at her, then back to the sword, then at Daesun.

“The sword is clearly dull edged, your holiness.”

“Give the sword to me for a while.” she says, walking closer to Yung Ho.

After giving it to her, Daesun continues speaking “What you said earlier is what I want your opponent to think. However…“ Daesun suddenly pulls a particularly long blade from grass somewhere around her feet and with one hand brought down the leaf on the sword’s edge.

Surprisingly, the blade split into two despite the fact that she isn’t holding the other end of the leaf. That tells me how sharp that dull looking thing is in reality.

“While unfortunately Morning Calm is not as sharp as Thuan Thien, it is as sharp as an obsidian blade and unbreakable, pretty much better than the ordinary knives issued by any military in my opinion.”

“Morning Calm? Is that the name of the sword?” Yung Ho asks in a perplexed tone.

What is he being perplexed about?

“Yes it is…for the last few days.” Daesun says in a mischievous tone of voice.

Yung Ho sighs and then asks why she named it that.

“Well…Dangun and me agreed that the time the sword got a name is long overdue, especially since he just called it ‘the stone sword’ when he was alive.”

“So you decided to just use one of the other names of Korea for the sword’s name?”

“It’s not me but Dangun who decided to do so.”

“But why that name?” Yung Ho went on speaking, this time in a dismayed tone “‘Land of the Morning Calm’ was given by foreigners, not Koreans. Why use that name instead of Joseon or Asadal?”

“He thought it was funny.”

It was because of these words that I just saw the second most shocked person in my life.

‘The most shocked people I have ever seen in life were…pretty much every bystander on that sidewalk when September 11 happened’
Daesun continued on, ignoring the look on Yung Ho’s face.

“He also said, and I quote, ‘it is true that seeing the mornings of Asadal calm me, hence why I will call the stone sword ‘Morning Calm’. Besides, it is my sword that I am naming, not the land’”

Yung Ho is shaking his head by now, seemingly trying to focus on other things.

“…I am curious as to how you became friends with Dangun in the first place, if I am getting the conversation right.” he manages to say eventually.
“He has what in medical term is called transient insomnia, and it constantly afflicts him a few times in a year-” She stops suddenly at seeing Yung Ho’s look of sheer disbelief, and then tries to answer it.

“Yes, yes, I know that Dangun is the son of the Hwanung, son of Hwanim, who has control over my brother’s light, making Dangun somebody related to sunlight and making him someone who normally would be awake in the day. Shocking, I know. But Dangun proved even a demi-god is not immune to insomnia. Or colds, now that I think about it.”

“…I don’t know whether to thank you or hate you for breaking my vision of Dangun as the great, holy king that he is.”

Daesun started laughing. And laughed. And laughed some more.

“What are you laughing about Daesun?” I hear Connla ask in a…tone that is not far from laughing himself. Upon looking, I see that he really is not far from laughing himself, what with that big smile on his face.

“This is seriously the first time I heard somebody say that in real life. You only read something vaguely like that on web forums.”
“Well you did just troll elder Yung Ho, no?” Connla says to her.

…what did he just say? Troll? What does that mean?

“No I didn’t troll Mr. Cha. I said the truth, I swear it. It just so happens that it sounds like something a troll will make up on the spot. Say, how do you know about online trolls anyway?”

Connla grins.

“I have a Yahoo mail account, as well as accounts in some websites.”

Daesun blinks.

I also blink in surprise.

“How?" I managed to ask before Daesun got her question off, leading her to look at me with some irritation, to which I respond with an apologetic shrug.

One which thankfully she accepts.

“It’s a long story elder Ward, and not one to tell here since we are still trying to finish here. I do promise that I will tell the story later.”

That got me looking at Daesun, who quickly notices it. Immediately she gave the sword back to Yung Ho and takes out something from the front pocket of her skirt.

That something turned out to be five pendants. The pendant is remarkably crude, just an irregularly shaped piece of rock as big as an eyeball with a little eye bolt screwed into the rock. And the thread is made of sinew.

“What is this supposed to be?” I ask, expecting a strange answer after all the other sights.

“Your magical night vision devices.” she answers.

And as I looked at her I saw that she isn’t joking.

“And how much can we see through them if we wear them at night?” Thuc and Yung Ho ask at the same time, which had them looking at each other in surprise and then smiling in amusement.

“If you wear this, every place that is normally dark to you will be bathed in the same light that is regularly available on the lunar surface. This applies whether it is indoors without any windows or you are underground or whether it is a new moon or a stormy night.”

“Won’t we also get illuminated by the sunlight?” Thuc asks the Korean goddess.

“The only ones who will see the light and the resulting shadows are you. Or whoever wears the pendant.”

“Well, that is much better than what I had to work with during VC night operations.” Thuc says with a chuckle.

“Much, much better” Yung Ho agrees with Thuc.

As if I am walking on the moon itself…well Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin didn’t need any night vision devices during the Apollo 11 mission. And the pictures taken on the moon show that there is enough light for a gunfight, although the shadows are big enough to hide someone.

I’d say that’s good enough for me.


Last edited by kilopi505 on 2013-04-06 08:52am, edited 3 times in total.
Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: "6 jobs from hell" PostPosted: 2012-08-20 10:19am
Offline
Padawan Learner

Joined: 2010-02-24 11:07pm
Posts: 181
Location: Philippines
“How do you know what the surface of the moon looks like?” Javin asks Daesun.

I am about to answer Javin when Daesun beat me to it.

“I am the moon, according to the Koreans. So I took the rocks from myself up there, how else? But as for these sirs, mankind managed to walk on the moon in the last 40 years thanks to modern technology. Now…I don’t have anything left to give anyone Mr. Cha.”

That answers the question of why she continually reminds one of the moon….wait what?

“What about Annie? My Kentucky rifle?” I asked at hearing that statement as I received the moon rock pendant from Daesun’s hands.

“It is with Annan, last time I checked. And speaking of Annie, there they are” she said, her finger pointing behind me.

And there is the kid along with Ratri walking towards us from around a hundred meters away.

Ratri looks like she won a verbal argument, and Annan has a grudging look on her face. They were met halfway here by Daesun…who a moment ago is behind…how?…never even moved…

Oh forget it. It’s not worth the effort of having headaches over.

From now on I will just treat these magical things in this way: They just can do these things.

I just wait there and watch as the three walk towards us, discussing something. Then when they got near enough, the kid just reaches behind her and took out a Colt Peacemaker, holding it by the barrel, and gives it to me.

The Peacemaker is the sorriest looking gun I had ever seen in my whole life. The whole thing is rusty. Heck, even the trigger and hammer is rusty. And the handle is made of…this is pearl isn’t it?…oh, I think I get it now.

“Why thank you kid. If I didn’t know any better, you are trying to insult me with this Peacemaker.” I say with a smile and a sarcastic tone as I inspect it.

The pearl embedded handle is lined with incisions which can only be a tally of how many people the previous owner had killed with this gun, and there were…

“Is the previous owner a serial killer of some kind? Because there is a frightening number of lines here that looks like a tally of some kind. And…” I trail off as the rust came off and reveals that it isn’t rust in the first place.

“This isn’t rust. It’s dried blood…Where did you get this, kid?” After saying this sentence I look up.

Annan is looking back at me with a confused and irritated face, while her friends are looking at her suspiciously.

It seems to me that when I inspected the revolver, Annan was looking at her friends denying what I just said.

“It’s a gift from Baron La Croix down in New Orleans when I passed through there on my way from Dallas.” she says.

“Wait. New Orleans? Do you mean the New Orleans Mardi Gras of 1998? Madame Laveau’s party?” Ratri asks Annan in surprise. Daesun at her side also looks at Annan in surprise.

“Yes.”

I sputtered, recognizing the name.

“Marie Laveau the voodoo queen of New Orleans? But she’s been dead for more than a hundred years already.”

“And after her death she became a central figure for voodoo in Louisiana, as well as something like a saint for voodoo practitioners. Practically a deity if you ask me.” Annan answers me.

“But why invite you?”

“Well…the three of us decided to go see that year’s Mardi Gras along with the humans. And apparently it’s very rare for anyone outside of the North American, South American and African supernatural communities to be present so…it was quite an occasion for them.”

I shake my head in bemusement, and then remembering the Peacemaker, go back to the issue.

“Well, if this is a gift to you then I should tell you that this is quite a bad one. Don’t you know that only a New Orleans pimp would have a pearl handled revolver?”

The kid looks genuinely surprised by what I said.

“Is that true?”

“Patton said so.” I said with full faith in what I am saying.

The kid shakes her head.

“I assure you I did not know that before old man, and after this business of ours I will ask the Baron about it. In the meantime, you just have to use it.”

“So you are not going to replace this gun?” I ask in slowly mounting indignation.

“Despite the dried blood that eternally coats the gun inside and out, according to Daesun here it still works perfectly well, not to mention the amount of magic I had already invested in this gun.”

Eternally coated in blood inside and out?

I look down at the part where I just scrubbed the bloodstain off, only to discover that it is coated in dried blood again.
I rub at barrel again, and saw the clean metal surface of the revolver underneath all those dried bloodstains. Then the bloodstain quickly spread over the cleaned surface like...like seeing bean sprouts grow in fast forward.

I didn't dare check the insides of the Peacemaker, sure that a gun this creepy (yes, the gun is starting to creep me out) will have bloodstains inside and out as she advertised.

"And the gun is still functional and accurate? Who on earth is La Croix that he has such a creepy gun?"

"Mr. Ward, I already tested the gun and as Annan said I found it to be both functional and accurate. The only reason that Peacemaker is creepy is because Baron La Croix is one of the Voodoo's gods of death."

"Death? This gun belongs to Death?" I ask, somewhat amazed and scared.

I feel amazed that I would be using Death's Colt SAA. I also feel scared of the consequences of holding the damned thing in the first place.

Daesun answers me.

"La Croix is not Death, he just is in the same business as Death, that of ferrying the souls to the afterlife. And you don't need to feel scared Mr. Ward, Baron La Croix gave it to Annan as a gift. You don't give presents that will harm someone you want to gift something to, right?"

"Right." I answer, now feeling safer from this thing I'm holding. But I still have3 reservations about this gun.

“Well, the gun might be functional but the handle. The damn handle! I refuse to be associated in some way with a pimp Annan.” I look at the kid as I said this.

“I doubt anyone outside America will be familiar with that piece of trivia.”

“But still-“

“I don’t even believe that is true. Maybe Patton just said that for the media.”

“McArthur is the one who loves being in the media's spotlight."

The kid sighs and scratches her head.

"What would it take for you to just use the damn gun?" She asks exasperatedly.

"Take out the pearl grips" I answer.

Annan just shakes her head, takes the gun back from me and looks at it.

And looked.

And looked some more.

And then she looks up at me.

"Better?" she asks me.

I look at the handle, and then look up at the kid with exasperation.

"You really do like to mess around with me, don't you kid?" I say to her.

"Your family did it first, I am just getting my own back." she replies back in the same tone of voice.

Well, at least the handles aren't made of pearl now. They are now just made of the bone of... something.

And did I forget to mention that the scratches are still there?

I had to quickly remind myself that that the gun is not cursed or possessed, it just used to belong to Death or else I would have just dropped the gun to the ground.

"What kind of bone is this by the way?"

"Cattle bone. Any more objections?"

"None" I concede.

I have the feeling that if I persisted, we are just going to end up in a childish game of seeing who can irritate the other more.

And I am not becoming childish in my old age, am I?

"Good. Now where was I…this Peacemaker is indestructible, unlimited rounds of bullets, and every shot is full to the brim with magic. Pretty much nothing special about it except for one thing."

"And that is?" I ask, worriedly looking at how the kid is holding that piece.

The only thing she is doing right is that she doesn't have her finger on the trigger; however she is not only waving it around. It looks to me like she isn't even holding the handle tightly in the first place.

It is only a matter of time until that gun slips from her hands if she doesn't stop doing that.

"This Peacemaker doesn't only shoot cal.45 rounds. It can shoot three other kinds of rounds, all you have to do is think about it."
"The rounds or the guns that shoot them?" I asked, at the same time looking meaningfully at Daesun and gesturing to the gun.

Thank God she quickly understands what I am worried about. She nudges Annan slightly to gain her attention and upon receiving it, tells her to be more careful with the gun or just give it to her.

Thankfully Annan gives it to her and asks Daesun to hold the gun for her. Then she goes back to me.

"The guns that shoot the rounds. I doubt you know what a 75mm round looks like."

She is right. I don't...

"75 what?" I ask in disbelief.

"75 mm round. The ammunition the M4 Sherman uses for its main gun."

"Are you saying that when I think about a Sherman tank, I will be shooting 75mm anti-tank rounds from that Peacekeeper? Just like a Sherman tank?"

"Yes." she said that proudly.

"Do you know the term 'muzzle blast’’?" I asked, wondering where she got this outlandish idea from.

I don't have a problem with an infinite number of AT rounds shooting out from the Peacemaker.

I have a problem with not wanting my bones to snap into two pieces. Or to lose my hearing since the muzzle of the gun is literally an arm’s length away from my face. Or to simply die just from being near the muzzle blast.

“Don’t worry about that old man. The recoil and muzzle blasts will still stay the same as that of a normal Colt Peacemaker. Now, you can shoot four kinds of ammunition, all filled to the brim with magic, with this Peacemaker. These are those used in the Colt
Peacemaker, the Browning cal.50 machine gun, the M4 Sherman’s main gun and the big 16 inchers on the USS Iowa.”

I blink once, and then just stare at her.

“16 inch guns? As in battleship kind of guns?” I hear Thuc say from my side.

The kid nods with a smile.

I stare at her. And then slowly, I give her a slight and respectable smile.

No, I did NOT give her a big smile with all my pearly whites shown to the whole world.

I definitely did not.

As for the reason…why, I think I like this gun. After all, it is not every day you have a battleship supporting you whenever you like it.

“Well it looks like there is something likeable about you after all, kid. Now all I need is ‘Annie’, and a bag that can spontaneously produce things.”

“Bag? What bag?”

Oh yeah, we were arguing about that a while ago.

I point at everyone around me, and then at the bag I had put down beside my leg. And then I grin with the intent of driving a needle deeper into her skin.

“Don’t need supplies? Don’t need anything than the clothes on our back and our bodies? Really? Looks like no one thinks like you.”
Annan looks at the people I pointed out to, looking more and more...dismayed with each backpack and rucksack that she sees. And at seeing Connla also bringing supplies of his own, looks betrayed.

“Even you Connla?”

“I know you can give me food Annan, but I prefer to bring my own change of clothes. And mother insisted on bringing something for emergencies.” he replies.

“I told you.” I say.

The kid just opens her mouth, and then closes it, shakes her head and then mutters loudly to forget about it.

Then she looks at me with a very mild glare.

She definitely knows I am slightly enjoying this.

‘Sucks for her, but she did start the whole thing with Regina and Annie’

“Well, let us forget about that one. Where is ‘Annie’?”

“Here.” the kid said, reaching behind her back and producing ‘Annie’.

I am amazed at what I saw.

“What did you do to ‘Annie’? She looks…”

‘Annie’ the Kentucky rifle looks more...I wouldn’t say new, since I still feel the same age from her, that of a hundred plus antique.
In fact, the only thing that is physically changed from before is the leather strap that is pasted on one end to the rifle’s bit and the other end to the butt. And this leather strap is long enough to act as the sling for the rifle.

'I sincerely hope that it is magic that is sticking that leather strap to the Kentucky rifle, because if it is actually some kind of adhesive...I will make things ugly'

What is different now is…

It’s…it’s seeing the girl you love after being separated from her for so long with no communication with each other in those intervening years. And upon seeing her after all these years you saw that she is…more mature, more ready for life with you, and everything you and she wants to say had been communicated in the instant that you locked gazes with her.

And I am not joking with that. I did feel that ‘Annie’…communicated with me.

Giddy at the thought that she will be used in war again, by the descendant of the man who first used her and then took care of her for all these years.

Wondering how do I like her new look, and the magic given to her.

Jealous that a younger, brainless and dirty Connecticut hussy just showed her up, with the size of bullets the bimbo shoots out.


…what?

“What Connecticut hussy?” I ask at the gun.

“What?” the kid asks me.

I look at her.

She looks surprised at me, and then looks at ‘Annie’. Then back at me again.

“Oh…you are talking to the gun, right?”

“Yes. Why on earth does ‘Annie’ sound like a Kentucky belle?” I ask in confusion.

Annan shrugged, said that it must be because the rifle is made in Kentucky, and then hands the Kentucky rifle to me.

As I take hold of ‘Annie’, the gun started ‘talking’ to me again.

Happy to work with me and hoping we work as well as she did with my great-great grandfather.

Sorry for the hussy comment, realizing that she should be above such behavior as befits an older gun.

‘No problem’

I think to the gun. And I feel her go happy at that.

“So kid, what’s new with the Kentucky Rifle?”

“Well, she is now an indestructible Kentucky rifle that reloads instantly by pulling the cock back, shoots magical bullets of two varieties and a special magical ability that you can activate.”

“And?” I ask as I sling ‘Annie on my right shoulder.

“One is the regular magical bullet. The other is what I call a time bullet, and its effect is messing with the target’s time.”

“Mess with the what?” I ask.

“If the time bullet hit the target you want, that target will…be locked in a space…let’s put it this way. You ever hunted with that other rifle in your house?”

“Very rarely.”

“Alright. You shoot a deer with the time bullet. The moment the bullet touches the deer, the living deer instantly becomes a deer that starved to death in that exact place, and to add insult to injury the bullet will still do what all bullets do, make a gunshot wound.”

“What if I shot a building? Or a vehicle?”

“Well, time bullets don’t work on non-living things. That is why you have the Peacemaker that can shoot out machine gun and artillery ammo.”

“And the special ability?”

She smiles. And it was the kind of smile that says ‘I am playing a joke on you, at your expense'

“You should ask ‘Annie’ later.”

And this time she grins.

I don’t trust that expression at all. Not at all.

Oh well. I’ll deal with it later.

“Anything else? I now have a main arm, a side arm, and a combat knife. I also have some supplies with me and I can ask one of the others here to hide my weapons in case I need to conceal them. Do you have anything to add to that?”

"So you don't want me to magically upgrade your bag?"

"You didn't say anything about offering to do so. I would greatly appreciate it."

"Well...the sooner you give it to me, the faster I can put magic on your bag. And before I forget to mention it, are you satisfied with the knife you mentioned? I have a magical knife here, straight from my inventory back home."

As she said the last sentence I have already put my backpack in front of her. Upon her mentioning of the knife, I rummage around the backpack looking for it

Upon finding it, I quickly draw the knife and its sheathe from the bag and say at the same time "I am quite satisfied with my bayonet, especially since this bayonet has already killed plenty of zombies, demons and crazy gods."

I was met with stares from Annan, Daesun and Ratri.

"What?" I ask them as I was tying the sheathe to my belt, the knife still in it.

"You do know you are holding quite a cursed weapon there, don't you?" The kid says to me.

I look back at the M7 bayonet at my waist, then back at her.

Then I look at Daesun and then at Ratri, who both nod, confirming what Annan said.

"You are joking, right?" I chuckle as I asked them “You girls are just joking, no?”

“Nope. It is cursed” Annan says.

“Oh come on kid, what curse? I don’t feel anything from this thing here. In fact, my family never said anything about feeling something strange from this bayonet.”

“By family are you referring to those related to you by blood?” Annan asks me.

I think about it as I turned to look at the kid.

Regina and Annie have seen this knife before, many times already. So did Fiona and Arnold when they are still kids…come to think of it, everyone who saw it never said anything strange about the bayonet until now.

“Yes.” I answer in the end. No need to make this longer by mentioning other people other than my family.

“How about your wife Mr. Ward?” Daesun asks this time.

“Mary never said anything strange about this bayonet. She even used this as the kitchen knife that one time the kitchen knife broke.”

Daesun mouths out the words ‘kitchen knife’ and looks at me incredulously, Ratri looks amazed, while the kid asks incredulously “Your wife used THAT as a kitchen knife for preparing food?”

“Of course. What else would you use a kitchen knife for than to prepare food?”

“And your whole family is still alive after eating food prepared with a cursed weapon?”

Ratri quickly elbows the kid and directs an incredulous look at her, while Daesun looked from Annan and then back at me, and made a gesture saying that she is sorry for what was just said.

I nod to indicate that I accept the apology, and then look at Annan, frowning.

I didn’t like the insinuation that my wife is a bad cook, not when nothing could be farther from the truth. Mary was the best cook in Buckhorn, as evidenced by other housewives in town going to her for advice when special occasions come up.

“Well, if we died because of that then my granddaughters would never have existed to piss you off, would they?”

“No they would not.” the kid grumbles. Then she quickly asks to take a look at the bayonet.

“Here.” I said, taking the bayonet from the sheath and handing it to her.

She holds it up at eye level, holding the handle through a handkerchief that she pulled out from her pocket.

A few moments pass.

And after a few more moments she suddenly flicks the knife on its side, and then she hands it back to me and said that I am lucky.

“Because?” I asked.

“Your cursed knife is partly sentient and thinks of you and your family as its masters. If not, the moment you and your family have eaten that food your wife prepared with this knife, you would have died from your intestines rotting away in minutes.”

I wince at the image. And then I shake my head.

“Alright, so I got a cursed bayonet. Is there a problem if I use it as my last ditch weapon?”

“Well, I don’t see any problem. But this thing will not last long if you have to parry another magical blade.”

“Then will you improve it with more magic?” I ask her.

The kid looks up.

“It will take me around two minutes for the unbreakable spell. Then another three and a half minutes to make its curse nastier.”

Then she stopped handling the knife like it was a piece of evidence in a crime scene and holds it properly with her right hand. She immediately winces in pain.

“Easy there little knife. I never picked a fight with you, so stop hurting me.” she says to the knife. At the same time I smell something that is inexplicably both burning and rotting coming from...ouch. The smell is coming from her hand.

A moment later, the kid looks at the bayonet in surprise. Then she yelps and throws the knife to the ground, while she holds her right hand with her left.

The two other goddesses went to their friend’s side and look at the palm, trying to see the damage.

The palm looks very bad. Some parts looked like it is burned into a crisp, and it smells like human skin burning with napalm. The other parts are leaking with pus and smells of something rotting.

Then she did something miraculous. And is curiously and sacrilegiously similar to something Jesus once did in the Bible.

She spits into her right palm, spreads the saliva all over it and then wipes it off with a tissue she got from her pocket, to reveal a palm that is as fine as my own.

As for the tissue? It is stained black with tar, or something that looks like it. I couldn’t really tell since the kid wadded up the tissue, throws it in the air, and the tissue paper immediately burns up in flames. It was quite fast too, since the tissue paper came down to earth as ash.

“You can take it now Ward. I am not touching that knife ever again.” she says with anger in her voice, and glaring at the bayonet.

I carefully pick the bayonet up, considering what I saw it do to the kid, and put it in its sheath.

“Mr. Ward, do you still want to make that knife unbreakable? I am willing to do it, if you can ask it not to hurt me.” Ratri offers from Annan’s side.

“Let that thing break Ratri. It will not do anything good anyways.” Annan says to her friend.

Ratri looks at Annan.

“It is a knife that is angry at you since you cursed two of its masters. Of course it will try to hurt you.”

‘Is the bayonet sentient?’ I think to ‘Annie’ while the two goddesses are starting to argue.

As sentient as before the Indian gave me magic.

‘…that doesn’t really help me here ‘Annie’’

…the bayonet is a 36 year old man in mind.

‘Then how old are you?’ I ask, curious about something.

The bayonet supposedly has the mind of what she says is a 36 year old man. It just so happens that it was also 36 years ago since the night at the temple.

Maybe that fight is what turned the bayonet special and sentient? If so, has ‘Annie’ been sentient these past 194 years?
If so, what happened to the M-16 issued to me by the Government? Is it like the bayonet and ‘Annie’, a sentient thing? Where is it now?

Ladies never like to talk about their age.

‘Then how did you become sentient?’

…if you insist.

Just woke up one day when your father is cleaning me while your grandfather is watching, in the month of July, 1912.

Suddenly remembered everything that happened since the first time I was finished and now has emotions too.

Supposes that your father giving the name ‘Annie’ is what woke me up.


‘Then why didn’t you communicate with father, grandpa or with me when you have been sentient since that time? And why have we never felt anything strange about you?’

Without magic, the best a sentient weapon can do is express emotion to those that see it, and only when it is used and more importantly, when and at who the weapon chooses to do so.

Never been used when I finally became sentient, and more likely to be burned or disposed of by your grandfather and father if I reveal I am strange.


‘…yeah, there is that’ I admitted.

My father and grandfather, and the wives they married were not as bad as those fanatic Christian fundamentalists in the South, especially those Westboro people. But they were very devout people.

They would probably think a family heirloom actually sending them emotions would be something possessed by the devil (while many people here in the Appalachians do believe that family heirlooms do have emotions, that is just the belief, it is not something you actually expect to HAPPEN in real life), and would probably have tried to destroy the thing.

And also never interacted with you since you must be traumatized by that temple in the Far East. Bayonet told me the story. Don’t want flashbacks to that event to happen if I interacted with you.

‘That’s…thank you’

That is one of the most considerate things anyone has ever done for me in my life.

I was suddenly surprised when Ratri snaps her finger in front of me, asking me if I am finished talking with ‘Annie’.

It looks like I lost track of time while ‘talking’ to ‘Annie’.

“Yes. What happened?”

“Well, she can try to tinker with your knife old man.” The kid answered. “But if that thing hurts her, I am breaking that thing in half and then in quarters, and then I will-“

I interrupt her.

“Alright, I get your sentiment” Then to humor her, I look at the bayonet and then order it, complete with finger waving motions.

“Hear that bayonet? No hurting anyone unless I tell you to, alright?” And then I turn towards Ratri and give it to her, saying “Do your thing”

Ratri holds the bayonet in her two hands and…nothing.

She just held it in her hands, looking down at it with half-lidded eyes and her lips slightly moving, while the bayonet is just laying there on her hands.

Then I remember that earlier, she was tinkering with the SKS that Thuc is holding now. She quietly did it while I was debating with Annan about logistics, looking up every now and then from the rifle towards us as we are arguing. And that time she wasn’t moving her lips.

So magic this subtle when used? Is it only when the magic takes effect that something is noticed?

Will I even notice it when it hits me fast and hard?

…well, that doesn’t matter. I have God to help me

“How much longer will it take Ratri?” I ask.

Ratri takes hold of the bayonet in her left hand, by the handle, while her right hand stretches out five fingers. And suddenly it became four fingers stretched out.

I take it to mean four minutes.

“Please don’t disturb Ratri while she is using magic, Mr. Ward.” Daesun says to me.

“Sorry.”

I then look behind me, towards Thuc and Yung Ho, because I really had nothing to do anymore.

We just look at each other for a few moments, not knowing what to say at first.

“So…are you two ready for this?” I finally ask due to a lack of ideas.

“It’s been a long time since I had been in the field Herbert. And a long time since I felt this GOOD.” Thuc said, at the same time doing some stretching exercises. He also looks a little nervous and excited while doing so. “I think I am ready for this.”

Thuan Thien must be at work here. I can honestly say I have never seen anyone my age this…healthy…agile…flexible.

If I didn’t find out I am still as healthy as a 30 year old man, which I sincerely believe is a miracle from God, I would be jealous of him right now.

I look at Yung Ho next.

“I am excited to finish this job.” he says with a smile on his face.

“How come?” Thuc asks, one of his eyebrows rising in the process.

Yung Ho leaned towards us, putting his arms around our shoulders and making us huddle. Then he softly explains the reason to us.

“I am currently being considered as one of the first members of a very newly formed special group by the Korean supernatural community, and I will be evaluated based on my performance here.”

I blink in surprise.

“What special group?” I asked.

‘ and are those Koreans thinking that this will be a FUBAR? God, I don’t want to disappoint Cha but I hope whatever the Koreans are thinking does not happen’

“It isn’t something like a special forces group dedicated to fighting threats to Korea, is it?” Thuc asks in a joking voice, complete with a grin on his face.

I chuckle at the thought.

Magical Special Forces. Right.

“Actually it is dedicated to decapitating the leadership of North Korea and then temporarily taking over the country’s government until reunification is done with the South.”

Thuc’s grin disappeared, and his face turned from one of joking cheerfulness to disbelief at someone’s stupidity.

I blink and asked the first word to come to mind.

“Seriously?”

Yung Ho was looking at us seriously. A few moments later he suddenly grinned.

“Just joking” he says.

We’ve been had.

“Don’t joke like that you idiot!” Thuc yelled as he slaps Yung Ho’s back.

“You have some lousy jokes Cha.” I say, at the same time shaking my head.

“But I had you there for a few moments, didn’t I?” he says with a smile.

Thuc kicks Yung Ho’s feet.

“Hey! What is that for?!” Yung Ho yells in a good natured way.

“From now on I am kicking you every time you spout some lousy joke Kimchi.”

“Kimchi?!” Yung Ho asks, in outraged disbelief and humor.

I snicker, as these two guys started bantering with each other.


“Well you do eat Kimchi, right? Then I will call you Kimchi if you irritate me.”

“I haven’t eaten in the last 41 years Thuc.” Yung Ho muttered, and continues “If you are going to be like that, how would you like it if I call you Lau?”

Lau? Isn’t that the…

I start laughing.

“Figures that the first Vietnamese dish a Korean would mention is a spicy one.” Thuc observes in a deadpan tone. And then he laughs too.

Yung Ho is also starting to laugh.

I finally get myself under control and then looked at the two others.

“How about you two? Get here Javin, Connla.” I say to the two who are standing a little bit off away from us.

“Are we invited elder?” Connla asks.

“Of course you two are. We are in this together” Yung Ho says, jovially and matter-of-factly.

“So tell me. Are you two ready for this adventure?” I ask when they came to our huddle.

“I always go along with her whims.” Connla said in a vaguely resigned voice.

Always? Did he say always?

“I presume that means you and her go back a long way.” I say to him.

Poor guy. Dealing with a teenager for God knows how long.

Connla nods.

“How did you two meet?” Yung Ho ask.

Connla’s eyes shift to look at something behind us three, and then back at our faces. Then he smiles.

“It’s a tale sure to make you laugh and roll on the ground, but…Annan will be displeased, to say the least, if I told you people about it. So…”

He shrugs his shoulders at the end.

The four of us, Javin included here, look towards Annan (who along with Ratri seemed to have mysteriously moved away from us without me noticing), who is looking at us…no…glaring at Connla with an expression that says ‘shut up if you don’t want to face a pissed off woman’.

Connla’s got good senses. And the kid’s got a good intuition.

“And you, Mr. Lad?” Thuc asks him eventually.

Javin look at all of us, one by one.

“I am quite ready for this expedition, although…”

He trails off.

“Although?” all three of us vets managed to ask him at the same time.

Lad looked at the four of us who are listening to him closely, looking like he is mentally debating something.

A few seconds passes, and he makes his decision.

“ I will be honest with you sirs, especially you Mr. Ward. I have a different priority than merely being Annan’s royal guard.” Javin replies.

“And why is that elder Lad?” Connla asks in a curious tone.

“It is a secret-”

“But I insist elder.” Connla interrupts in a very soft, persuading tone, with something else mixed in there.

That something has me and the others blinking and alert, ready for a fight.

“Connla, let a man have his secrets. And what’s with the aggression?” I softly say.

“Is this secret dangerous to us in the long run.”

I pause.

“Can’t argue with that logic.” Thuc says.

Yung Ho can’t help but nod in agreement.

“Do I have to? It won’t put any…” Javin asks and then trails off when Connla looked at him straight in the eyes. And I mean really looked at his eyes.

It was quiet for five seconds. Then Javin breaks the silence.

“…you and her? But she-” Javin asks softly, looking over our heads at Annan, who is standing near Ratri, glaring at my bayonet every now and then while she is talking with Daesun about the…I think it’s the itinerary.

…wait a minute. ‘You and her?’

I quickly look between Connla and Annan, who had stopped talking to Daesun and was looking at us, with suspicion on her face. And at that moment when the kid wasn’t looking at her, the Korean goddess quickly put a finger on her lips in the gesture for silence, along with a wink to us (because I am not the only one looking between the two. There is also Thuc, Yung Ho and Javin). At the same time, I also notice Ratri smiling in amusement as she is doing her stuff.

“She doesn’t know about it.” Connla softly interrupts.

I look at the boy from the past. And one final time at Annan, who is being distracted by Daesun with something.

…I wish him luck, since the kid is oblivious. Also, the kid’s a cute girl, but she isn’t someone I would want my son to associate with in the romantic sense.

In the meantime…I look back at the two.

Javin is still looking at Connla’s eyes. And then he speaks up.

“You are not going to let a man keep his secret, won’t you?”

“If our places are switched, would you Lad?” Connla says in a very protective tone.

Javin pauses for a moment, and then finally, he concedes the point.

“Very well. I have been told that I would meet my wife again only when I go on this expedition.”

“Only when…” I raise an eyebrow at that.

That sounds somewhat like blackmail.

And this looks like it’s the reason he was reluctant to say this to us.

Personal issues. Something you don’t advertise to the world unless you had to, or if it’s just how you are.

Connla slowly winces and looks away.

“I apologize for the offense elder Lad.” he says in an embarrassed tone.

“Apology accepted Connla.” Javin replied with a smile that says he has forgiven him, and held out his hand for a handshake.

Connla nods with an embarrassed smile, notices the hand, and then looks up at Javin.

“What am I supposed to do with your hand?” he asks.

Everybody blinks.

“You don’t know what a handshake is?” Javin asks.

Connla looked at him in confusion, and then his face brightens up in realization.

“Oh. You mean that curious Greek custom where you hold the other person’s hand and shake it when an agreement is reached?”
“Yes” I reply, wondering about what he just said.

Even handshakes are from Greece? I wasn’t aware of that.

Connla quickly takes hold of Javin’s hand with his right arm and shakes it three times.

Well, looks like any trouble between the two has been resolved now.

“Javin, what you just said sounds like something funny is happening.” Thuc says to him.

“No!” Javin said in shock. Then he continues. “Nothing foul is happening. I was just given mercy by the gods. I had been looking for my wife’s reincarnation for 150 years. Constantly searching and waiting…finally, one of the gods noticed me. Five days ago, by my reckoning, the goddess Parvati suddenly appeared in front of me, and she asked me why I am emulating her.”

“That must have been awkward.” I say to him.

I don’t know what Parvati does, but it sounds like something I imagine Jesus would ask those self-flagellants in the Philippines that were featured this one time in National Geographic: Why are they reenacting his crucifixion.

“It is. I answered her that I am only searching for my wife all these years, and no offense was ever intended. She then left me alone for a while.”

“And then?”

“Later, she, along with Lakshmi and some other goddesses appeared and told me they found out where my wife is. But I have to go on this quest to meet her reincarnation. That is when I met Ratri.”

“And when you meet her reincarnation? Then what?” Yung Ho asks him.

“…then I wait, watching over her.”

“That sounds like a stalker” I say.

Javin turns to me and asked what is the relation of hunting to his search for his wife.

I…how do you explain the concept of stalking to a 19th century person?

“Never mind” I say.

I believe other words which he might understand are voyeur or Peeping Tom.

‘…better not explain it like that. He might react badly’

…very well. But someone must tell him someday.


‘I’ll do that someday’ I promise to myself.

“Elder Javin, you know that watching over a reincarnated person can be very painful, right?"

“I know that. A girl can be reincarnated as a boy, another girl, an animal, or even a plant. And I have to see her live a life without me, I know that…but this is my only chance. After this…if I still fail to see her, I will reincarnate.”

At the end, one can see on his face the anguish of a person searching for a missing loved one, and then being told that they only have a few hours left before the missing one is declared dead.

…damn.

“What does she look like?” I ask him, intending to help him keep a lookout for his wife.

Javin shakes his head.

“I am afraid that reincarnation makes recognizing someone by face useless.”

“Then how will you know it is her if you saw her reincarnation?” Thuc asks him with a teary face.

“I WILL know it’s her if I saw her…I’m sorry but that is how it is explained to me.” he says.

That is…so…

‘Cliché ?

said ‘Annie’ to my head.

‘Yes. But for me, this is a new interpretation of love at first sight’

…the whole thing sounded so cliché but…love is love. And some things change with this kind of afterlife.

“Anything we old folks can do to help you?” I ask.

Javin shakes his head.

“How about we make it easier for you to look around you?” Thuc offers.

“How?” I ask him.

“We could walk slower.” Yung Ho says to me.

I look at him with a remark about to spill out of my mouth, when it occurrs to me that what he said IS one way to help Javin look for his wife, since he did say only he can recognize his wife.

That stops me in my metaphorical tracks and made me feel silly.

Unfortunately for me Yung Ho noticed, and looks at me and Thuc (who has pretty much the same silly look as me) with a smug expression that says ‘I know what you just thought of and I am amused by it’.

I change my words.

“I get it Yung Ho so wipe that smirk off, ok?”

“Alright” Yung Ho says in surrender, complete with his two arms up in the gesture for it.

I roll my eyes heavenwards, asking God to give this man a proper sense of humor.

“Speaking of your wife, did the gods say where exactly you would find them? Or any clue at all about where she is?” Yung Ho continues.

Javin quickly replies.

“Lakshmi said that the only way I would not see her is if somebody deliberately stopped us from meeting, and that would be highly improbable since there are very few beings that are willing to defy the combined will of a lot of goddesses.”

Well…I guess in this case that maxim about angry women being more dangerous than hell is literally true.

“So your meeting her is fated already? Willed by the gods?” Thuc asks.

“Yes” he says in a fervent tone of voice.

“Well, here’s adding to those goddesses’ will. I hope God helps you see your wife.” I say to him, partly in prayer and partly in offering any help I could give.

“And as an ancestral spirit, you have my help should you need it.” Thuc says to him.

“If you need to find her using other methods, I offer my services as a paksu mudang.” Yung Ho adds.

Connla gives his offer of help last.

“If anyone tries to stop your meeting with her, I offer my spear and shield to stop them elder Javin.”

As he said this he is looking at Javin’s face, making what seems to be a man to man promise.

Javin looks touched by the outpouring of support, and all he could say to us is one single thank you before looking away from us.
Guess he doesn’t want us to see him wiping those tears away.

“Well, I guess this makes up for the reason I am doing this job in the first place. When do we start?” I said, wanting to let the man see his wife again and for my granddaughters to be safe as fast as possible.

I look at Ratri, just in time since it appears she had just finished her magic.

“I am finished with the bayonet Mr. Ward.” she said as she holds out the bayonet to me.

As I take it, I look for anything that has changed about the bayonet.

For one, there is that black, very barely seen (because one moment it is there, the other moment it is not) ominous line on the point and edge of the bayonet.

The moments when I see it, it looks no different than if someone ran a black marking pen over the point and edge. Yet…that black is ominous, not in the same way that you are scared of the dark not knowing what is out there, but in the same way that I just felt when Daesun pulled that Davy Crocket from Yung Ho’s bag. Or the way that you feel when you are handling a perfectly new grenade. You know that thing could still blow up on you, yet it is assured by the makers that it will not.

Other than that, is the blade and handle. They…they feel as permanent as the Cumberland mountains back home. As if long after human civilization is gone, it will still be there in my home, undamaged by anything nature can throw at a manmade object, for all of eternity.

“Is the bayonet to your liking, Mr. Ward?”

“Tell me this first Ratri. Is what I feel from seeing something magical an accurate gauge of the power of a magical object or being?”

“For the humans, no. You can’t gauge power, but you could feel what is the magical object supposed to do, or what the magical being is related to.”

I nod thinking about it.

“Well then, if that is how it works then I think I am satisfied.”

“So is there anything else?” The kid asks everyone there.

Ratri and Daesun shake their heads. Lieu Hanh seems to be talking with someone through a cell phone while looking at us.
The others, including me, are looking at Annan, waiting.

“Well if there is nothing else, we are going now. See you girls later.” she said to Ratri and Daesun, waving with her left hand as her
right index finger…dips into the air just like you dip your finger into an ink bottle…what is she poking her finger into?

She drags the finger downwards, and a…gap…void with lots of lights just like you see in the night sky opened up just like a zipper.

Once she had it down to the ground, she stepped into the void and looks back at us.

“What are you guys waiting for?”


(CHAPTER END)
----------------------------------------

Thanks to Tortieconspiracy, maddoctor and Lady Tevar for the beta work! THANK YOU PEOPLE! :D


Last edited by kilopi505 on 2013-03-31 10:30am, edited 2 times in total.
Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: "6 jobs from hell" PostPosted: 2012-08-20 11:44am
Offline
Padawan Learner

Joined: 2010-02-24 11:07pm
Posts: 181
Location: Philippines
Also...I had edited all the previous chapters of "6 jobs from hell" to correct some mistakes.

For example, turns out the girl in the Korean folktale who turned into the moon is Daesun, not Dalsun. Also...I think I had changed some of the wrong tenses tortieconspiracy had pointed out. Tortie...did I manage to fix them or not?

Top
 Profile  
 Post subject: Re: "6 jobs from hell" PostPosted: 2012-10-19 09:26am
Offline
Padawan Learner

Joined: 2010-02-24 11:07pm
Posts: 181
Location: Philippines
Chapter 9

The kid’s pretty eager to get on with the traveling. I understand that since I am also eager to get this job over with. Fortunately, I remember something before it was too late to turn back.

“Where’s my backpack?” I ask her.

We both look at where I last put the backpack.

It’s obvious that it wasn’t touched since I last put it in front of her.

I look back at her, wondering how she forgot something that is in front of her.

Annan face palms with her right hand.

“Sorry old man. Senior moment.” she says, embarrassed.

Daesun, Ratri and Connla laugh, while I mentally twitch at this explanation.

It’s not because it was a silly explanation, but because I resent the term ‘senior moment’. Not all of us old folks are forgetful or schizophrenic, damn it. I am still as mentally healthy as my granddaughters.

I am even ready to prove it. Bring on the quizzes and the questions. I dare you!

“Do we have to wait for a few more minutes?” Javin asks in a puzzled tone.

I guess that might be the ‘senior moment’ term. Obviously it did not exist in the 19th century.

“No need. I’m going to magic it up on the way there.” the kid replies as she made a ‘come hither’ gesture with her left hand’s index finger.

My backpack instantly appears, strapped on her shoulders.

“Nothing else is left Mr. Ward?” she asked me as she holds the right strap of the backpack while wearing it.

“Not a thing” I told her as I shoulder ‘Annie.’

“Good. Then let’s…would you guys stop it already?” she complains.

Her three friends are still laughing, though the laughter is slowly dying off.

“What’s so funny about that comment?” I murmur to myself, feeling a little bit offended on behalf of seniors everywhere.
Ratri shakes her head.

“It’s an inside joke among us four.” Daesun replies.

“Yes, inside joke.” Connla agreed, smiling in an amused manner.

Annan rolled her eyes and then starts walking back to the void. Connla immediately followed behind her.


The rest of us fall in file formation behind them, me behind Connla, Yung Ho behind me, Thuc and Javin bringing up the rear.

When the kid has reached the void, she stopped and turns around.

“Before we go in that place, there are a few things you guys have to know. First, unless you are magical or a dead soul, don’t touch the edge that separates the space between worlds and our world. This edge is at least as sharp as a magical weapon.”
To demonstrate, she plucks a long blade of grass and did the same thing that Daesun did with ‘Morning Calm’. The only difference is the other half of the leaf…disappeared into that starry void.

Gone with no trace whatsoever.

“Questions?”

“Do you mind making that doorway larger, your holiness? As it is, that doorway is uncomfortably narrow.” Javin asks.
The…doorway, as Javin called it, is a vertical football shaped hole3 meters high and 1 and a half meter at its widest. But considering that the edges of the doorway are…lethal…

“Make the hole wider, around 2 more meters, kid.” I say to her.

“Alright.” she says.

She took hold of the edges and…pulls back our world..

The resulting sight is very surreal.

It is as if…our world is a very realistic drawing on a curtain sheet. I could even see the creases of reality when she pulled it apart.
In the end, the hole ends up looking like the drawn back curtains in my bedroom back home, a roughly pentagon shaped opening 3 meters high and 4 meters at the widest.

Looking back at us, Annan said something more.

“Second thing you have to know. Whatever you are seeing the space between the worlds as, stop thinking of it like that, or you will get separated from each other and get lost forever without divine intervention.”

“What? What are you talking about? All I’m seeing is a starry void.” I say.

“A starry void? I’m seeing a forest trail Herbert.” Thuc says to me in confusion.

I look back in the same way.

“Yung Ho?” I asked, turning my head towards him.

“A long hallway inside of a palace.” he answers.

“I am seeing a doorway to a mosque.” Javin says to us.

“The longest tent I have ever seen.” Connla says last.

We look at each other in confusion.

“Kid?” I turn towards Annan.

“The space between worlds shows itself as you imagine it to be. For me, I am seeing a footpath in a meadow just like this one in Ireland.”

“We’re in Ireland?” I ask.

I thought we were in some kind of fairy world.

“Cill Eo, Ireland, to be exact. If we goddesses didn’t put up a spell that renders us invisible and silent to mortal eyes, we would be up to our ears with the Gardai’s ERU for illegal ownership of guns. The Cill Eo Post Office is just a kilometer away in that direction.” she points behind her.

I shake my head over this revelation.

“To solve this problem, we are going to walk in file with me in the lead, tied together with this around our waists.”
She produces a rope made of sinew out of her cloak. She ties the head around her waist, and then gave us the rest of the seemingly endless coil of rope.

In the end, except for Annan, we have the rope tied around our waists five to seven times, with a two meter length of rope between each member of the file.

“Now, let’s go people.” she cheerfully said and walks into the starry void…that instantly turns into a footpath in the middle of the meadow the moment she stepped past the line.

Next Connla walks into that meadow. He hesitates after taking two steps into the ‘space between worlds’, looking surprised at something. He then shakes his head and looks at Annan, who shrugged and says to him that what he was feeling is normal.
Then it is my turn to walk into there.

The experience of walking into what the kid called ‘the space between worlds’ is hard to describe, since there was a conflict between what my senses are telling me. My skin was caterwauling that I am stepping on air, even if I can plainly see that I am stepping on very fresh grass and rich, loamy soil.

My skin is also saying that there is no heat and no wind in this place even if I am seeing light from a clear sky at noon and breathing air, although mysteriously I don’t feel cold nor am I suffocating.

Once I had finished entering ‘the space between worlds’, I turn around and tell the others what to expect. Thanks to that, they didn’t get shocked by the sudden sensations their skin is telling them.

After all of us had entered, Annan goes back to the opening and takes hold of the edges like one would hold the curtains. Then she yells out to her friends that she will see them later, and drags the drapes close.

As the edges touched each other, they join together not like the zipper or the curtains that I likened them to earlier, but like two puddles of water on the smooth floor tiles. The fabric of reality went back to normal.

And then we were left there standing in that unreal meadow.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

We had already been walking for around ten minutes or so through the ‘space between the worlds’. While walking, we are also chatting with each other, to help deal with the…uneasiness of walking in this place.

And as for what we were chatting about?

A lot of topics.

“So they laughed because she really IS the oldest person in that meadow?” I ask Connla with a lot of amusement. Behind me, Yung Ho is snickering. ‘Annie’ is giggling in my mind. I didn’t hear a thing from Thuc (behind Yung Ho) or Javin (last in file), but I just know that they are also very amused by Connla’s story.

“Yeah. She is one of the ‘Old ones’, the ones that are there since almost the start of humanity.”

Annan, I notice, is steadily walking towards our destination without a backwards glance at Connla. But at the same time she is listening to the story. It’s obvious if you see how her head is slightly tilted to the left.

“Exactly how old is the kid?” I ask.

Connla looks at me, and then thinks about it.

To my surprise, Annan answers me.

“I became aware 8 centuries before the first damned farmers had settled on Ireland.” she says.

Damned what?

What on earth does she have against farmers? Farmers are honest, decent folk who wouldn’t hurt you unless you force them to.
“What is your earliest memory of that time Annan?” Connla asks in a voice filled with curiosity.

She looks back at him, and then at me. Then she looks forward again.

“I distinctly remember the music and the singing. It was...night, on a place now called Mount Sandel. The only light comes from the fires and the stars and the moon. I also remember the smell of pork, fish and hazel nuts being cooked over the fire.”

“Pork?” I ask.

“Yes. Pork. What did you think the first people in Ireland ate?” she asks in a slightly curious tone.
“Mammoths and giant bisons.”

She scoffs.

“This is the time of the hunter gatherers in Ireland. Pretty much one of the last places to be settled by man in Europe after the Big Ice went north. The mammoths and other giant mammals are long dead by this point in time.”

“Which is when?”

The kid stops walking and looks back at me with an amazed, disbelieving look.

Thankfully everyone else is alert due to the uneasiness of the place, so we didn’t end up bumping into each other.

“Don’t you know it’s a bad idea to ask a woman her age?”

“I know that, but you sure did not act like one when we first met.”

I pause. And then I continue.

“Act like a woman and I will treat you as one, kid.”

She glares at me.

I shrug it off.

She will thank me one of these days for that insight. It’s unseemly for someone who claims to be thousands of years old to act too much like a teenager and no change at all.

Annan stopped glaring and goes back to walking.

We follow her.

“What was that occasion you remembered about Annan?” Connla asks, trying to make the conversation continue.
“It was a celebration of that year’s summer solstice. And it was also when I was first named.”

“First named? So that’s your birthday?”

She nods.

“When exactly is your birthday?” I ask.

“I don’t have the exact date since I am not an astronomer, but I know it is summer. They were celebrating the summer solstice at the time.”

“So what do you do to celebrate your birthday?”

“Well…I just hang around with Connla here, visit his and the Veneti’s little piece of the afterlife. But since I met Ratri and Daesun, it’s an annual vacation to somewhere along with them.”

“So that would be when you got to New Orleans in ’98?”

“Yes. Oh, we’re here.”

I blinked in surprise at the sudden change of topic. I looked beyond the kid, to see a…

A flag of modern Ireland flapping in the nonexistent wind.

“What’s with the flag your holiness?” Yung Ho asks from behind me.

“It’s a marker that you have already reached your destination and you just need to open a doorway from the ‘space between worlds’ into the world on the other side.”

“Is there an actual distance here in the ‘space between worlds’?” Thuc asks.

“If that is the case, then we could have been forced to walk for an eternity or two.” Annan replies.

I shiver in horror at what she said, and felt the same emotion from ‘Annie’.

“Kid” I say in a tone that is demanding some explanations.

“Don’t worry. What’s strange about travelling the ‘space between worlds’ is that distance is of no meaning here. Only time has of any use here, and even then…”

“Even then?”

“You could spend ten seconds walking and then reach your destination at best. At worst, you spend 30 minutes walking until you reach your destination, and we…did it in 17 minutes. Not bad for travel time.”

“So travel time is random, but every traveler is safe here?” I ask.

“Yes.”

“May I ask a question your highness?” Thuc asks from behind me.

“What is it Thuc?” the kid asked while she is starting to make another doorway through the ‘space between worlds’ with her right index finger.

“Why are you making it hard for yourself and keep referring to the ‘space between worlds’ with its full name? You could abbreviate it or make some nickname.”

Annan turns around and looks at Thuc with a blank expression.

I did the same thing a moment later.

“I thought it’s my job to make crappy jokes Thuc.” Yung Ho comments. Then he continued “But you are right.”

Yung Ho turns towards the kid.

“Why are you people making things difficult when you could just abbreviate or make another nickname for this place, your holiness?”

I turn back to the kid, who is still looking at us. And then she speaks.

“I thought that the common infantry man wants the military abbreviations gone and replaced with plain words or something.”
Thuc laughs. I groan, knowing what she is talking about.

“You are talking about the Americans Annan. That’s not the case with the rest of the world.”

“Oh…” Annan says in realization.

“It’s not?” I ask in wonder.

“Not with the VPA.” Thuc grinned.
“Not with the Korean Marines…well…when I was still alive.” Yung Ho says in a ‘thinking about it carefully’ tone.

I envied them at that moment. I really do.

“The reason why we persist with the term ’Space between worlds’ is because it sounds perfectly magical and mysterious to the supernatural community.” the kid explained.

I think I went a little bit slack jawed.

“You folks keep saying that whole mouthful, just because it sounds magical and mysterious?” I slowly ask, not believing it.

“Yes. Yes we do.” she said in a matter of fact tone, and opens the doorway.

Beyond the doorway is…

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Where are we kid?” I ask as we stood on the rooftop of a tall building...several tall buildings that are built to surround what seems to be an open space.

I look around me.

I am looking at a city filled with lights from a multitude of neon signs and lighted tarpaulins where Chinese looking symbols are written and pictures and drawings are painted on, so much light that you can somewhat see the clouds floating in the night sky. Surrounding us are other tall buildings, and the streets are so full of people that it’s like seeing an ant hive.

The only other place that could compare to this city is New York City.

I suddenly remember that there are two people here who are not from the 20th century.

“Connla? Jav…” I trail off at the sight of these two.

They are open mouthed, slack jawed with no restraint whatsoever, and their faces are…awestruck and scared at what they are seeing.

Only comparison I could make is it’s like your first time on an airplane and seeing everything from above, like a bird. You are both afraid and exhilarated.

“Never seen anything like this?” Yung Ho asks them.

“Jhansi was never anything like this. Even Delhi is not like this.” Javin says in awe and fear.

“I have only a vague idea of what cities look like now, based from a game. But this…this beats paintings made of lightning.” Connla says after Javin.

Paintings made of lightning?

What is…oh. Electricity.

So…pictures from the computer? He did say that he does know how to use a computer.

I then notice something amiss.

Yung Ho…does not look happy. He has the face of someone who had seen something distasteful, and is just dealing with it as a professional.

“You alright, buddy?” I ask Yung Ho.

He looks at me, and at Thuc beside me, and shakes his head.

“You recognize this place Yung Ho?” Annan asks.

Yung Ho nodded and said in a voice full of scorn “Japan.”

Japan? We went through that creepy place just to go to Japan?

“Nhat Ban? I mean, Japan? We went through that creepy place, just to get to Japan, you holiness?” Thuc asks in amazement.

…Annie and Regina are right. Friends do think alike…not that Thuc is my best friend…whatever the final F is for in BFF.

Annan walks in front of the group, spreads her arms, and then says “Yung Ho is right. I welcome all of you to Akihabara, Tokyo, Japan.”

And she smiles like an excited teenage girl.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Tell me Annan, how do we look like to these people?” I asked while walking.

Currently, Javin is in front of the group, looking for his wife in the faces of everyone we pass by even though he is bewildered by the sights. Thuc is behind him to prevent Javin getting separated from us.

Yung Ho is beside Connla, doing pretty much the same thing while at the same time trying to answer Connla’s questions about this object (how do you drive a car?) and that subject (why does a store need that much space?). If you ignore the racial differences, it seems to me like a father talking with his son on the kid’s first trip to a city.

It’s something that made me smile, remembering my own first time in a city, and I kept pestering dad about this and that object.
“What were you asking just now old man?” the kid asks, distracted by texting to, presumably, the person who we are about to contact.

“I said what do we look like to these Japanese now with your magic? We didn’t exactly change clothes here, I noticed. I and Yung Ho are still in BDU’s, Thuc is still wearing the VC outfit, and Javin, you and Connla are still dressed in your costumes.”

“To most mortal eyes, you are dressed just like those American tourists over there.” she points out to a group of kids we are about to pass by.

The kids look like they are at the same apparent age as Annan, dressed in American branded blue jeans (JAG’s and Lee’s at a glance), shirts that would not look out of place from those worn by the high school kids in Hazard and Buckhorn, hidden under American branded jackets (If those Dickies labels are for real. Those Chinese counterfeiters are getting better) and wearing the standard white sneakers.

Something suddenly occurred to me.

“Wait. Me. JUST like them?” I say in horror, looking back at those kids, and then at the surrounding Japanese in suspicion.

…Oh God.

I’m a senior citizen for crying out loud. Old people don’t try to look like teenagers, especially when they could not pull it off.

The kid looks at me with a smile.

“Do you want the lie or the truth?”

I just look at her.

“It’s only you old man who is dressed like the typically disliked American stereotype. The rest of us are dressed in sensible AND respectful tourist outfits suited for our age and nationality.”

I stare at her in horror. Then she suddenly said another statement.

“We are all dressed in sensible and respectful tourist clothing. Why would I humiliate you? I have no reason to humiliate you now, nor would I have a reason to since you are acting as a bodyguard.”

…is she fooling around with me?

“Now Mr. Ward, which is the lie and which is the truth? You guess it.”

…she is.

“Annan stop trolling elder Ward and apologize to him.” Connla asks from in front of us.

The two of us stopped walking and looked forward, to see Connla standing and looking back at us, with a face that says he disapproves of what the kid is doing. Behind him, the others are also standing and looking back at us.

“Oh come one Connla. I’m not hurting him.”

“No” Connla said.

The two look at each other.

“We should get moving people. We are in the middle of the sidewalk.” I said.

“Con-“

“No.”

The Japanese pedestrians are walking around our group, some of them sending us disapproving expressions for bothering them.

“We’re bothering a lot of people right now kids.” I said, more insistently now that I am feeling and seeing some stares.

The kid bit her lower lip.

“You have to Annan.” Connla softly reprimands her.

The kid sighed and then says “Oh alright.” She then turned to me and mutters the quickest yet most polite apology I had ever heard in my life.

“Well, if you stop ‘trolling’, whatever that word means, with me or my granddaughters then I would do so. Now can we-“

Annan didn’t let me finish.

She just grabbed my left arm and drags me forward. That promps everyone in our party to move again.

I look at Connla, who is keeping pace on my right side. Upon seeing me look at him, he made an apologetic shrug and an eye gesture towards his girl.

I nod slightly and then sigh.

I thank God that my kids were never anywhere this…disrespectful to me when they were in their rebellious phase.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“Where ARE we going Annan?”Connla asks Annan with a lot of discomfort evident in the tone.

We had already walked a few hundred meters from the building we had come from. And if I remember our route correctly, we walked straight, and then when we reached a crosswalk comparable to Times Square, we went right, and then walked straight, following the sidewalk until we had reached a street that goes left.

And that street leads straight to a gate towards a…palace gate of some sort.

“We are going to Kanda Shrine over there, one of the oldest shrines in Japan.”

“So we are going to meet your debtor in that shrine?” I ask.

“Yes.”

After that we walked through the gate and enter the grounds of the shrine to stand in the center.

It was a big square plaza, with 4 red colored buildings: on in front, one to my right, one to the left and one to the rear and left. Between the left building and the rear left building is a tall blue building…which I am not sure if it is just an office building built next to the shrine or it is owned by a shrine. There are also 7 big trees in the shrine, along with 2 statues of…I’m not sure if those are supposed to be lions or dogs…if those are dogs then I want one.

These dogs look like they could tear a grizzly bear into shreds.

Oh look…there is another statue to my rear right, with 2 stone posts to its front. The statue…is of a mustachioed guy with a…hat, I think.

Around us are dozens of Japanese wearing…since WHEN do you wear business suits to your place of worship?

Tuxedos, in case of a wedding? Yes. To Church? No!

And…is that a priest waving his wand like object over a few computers? With all those corporate looking types bowing behind those computers…

Oh. Now I understand.

They are asking for blessings.

This must be the real secret behind Japan Inc. Nothing is more powerful than belief in God (or gods and spirits) after all.

“This is a very impressive temple, although not as impressive as Varanasi itself.” Javin comments.

“What’s in Varanasi?” Yung Ho ask.

“Varanasi is a city of temples.” Javin said.

“He’s right. Practically every street crossing has a temple. In fact, Varanasi has the highest density of gods and heavenly beings anywhere in the world because of those temples.”

“You have been there, your holiness?” Javin asks her.

“Ratri invited me, Daesun and Connla there. Practically introduced us to everyone she knows.”

“So this is not the first time you have been to a modern city Connla?” I ask him.

“No it is not. But I did not see anything outside the temples. We traveled through magical…gateways?” Connla turns towards Annan with a questioning look.

“Portals.” she says.

“Like that weird elevator we used a while ago kid?” I asked, thinking back to that magical elevator we used to get from Buckhorn lake to Cill Eo.

“Yes. Now…where is that guy?” she mutters to herself.

“The creditor, your holiness?” Javin asks.

“Yeah” she started looking around the Kanda Shrine grounds.

“What does he look like Annan?” Connla asked her, starting to look around as well.

“Big ears, slightly limp and a black colored hat that kinda looks like a clown hat.” she says.

All of us start to look around.

Hmm…exclude anyone of the female gender…

…not that guy with hair dyed blonde…

…not that corporate looking guy either…

…eyeglass wearing college kid…

…a Latino tourist couple…

Aside from the people from the computer blessing ceremony, and the other worshippers and tourists I just noted, there is nobody else in the temple but us.

“Hmph. Nowhere here. Ok, let’s call him.” the kid says.

“Why didn’t you do so earlier?” I ask.

“It’s his business hours. He has to attend to his worshippers first before guests, you know? Speaking of business…where are the other two guys here? If there is a blessing or occasion, one of them has to be here and yet…”

Again she looks around, this time with worry in her features.

“The gods that are supposed to be here are not here?” Thuc asks.

“Yes. Better call him now. Gather around me people.”

Annan looked around as we stepped closer to her, looking as if she is trying to see if anyone is looking at us.

Apparently satisfied, she raised her right hand and snaps her fingers…and nothing hap-

I notice the priest jerk and look at us in surprise.

The corporate personnel looked at us…and then looked around, as if they…they couldn’t see us...it’s the same trick Ratri used back in Versailles.

But this time, someone can see us while everyone else cannot.

All of us are holding our breaths, waiting for the priest’s next action. Suddenly Annan stepped forward and waves to the priest. Upon seeing her, the priest stopped looking suspicious of us, smiled at us and nods like he met someone he knew…wait a minute.
“Does that priest-“

“Shinshoku. Shinto priests are called Shinshoku.” the kid interrupts me.

“Alright. Does that Shinshoku know you? And how come he can see us?”

“Well yes. He has seen me before when I asked Leech man here for a favor-“

“Leech man? If you are talking about who I think you are talking about, your holiness, then that’s cruel to him” Yung Ho interrupts the kid. And then he muttered “Even though he is a Japanese.”

“Naw. That’s what he told me to call him as a nick name. We’re actually close enough acquaintances to joke around with each other. Ebisu here calls me Miss D-cup.”

“D-cup? What are you talking about, you have A-cup breasts.” I respond without thinking.

…I shouldn’t have said that. Everyone is looking at me with raised eyebrows.

“You would know how to tell bra sizes if you have a daughter who just keeps growing every year.”

“How big is your daughter?” the kid asks, some…jealousy evident in her voice.

“Like my wife, she’s ended up a C-cup.” I reply in embarrassment. And then to ward of the embarrassment, I ask her “What about you? What is that D-cup thing about?”

The kid looked at Connla and frowns.

“An embarrassing joke that has been going around for years already no thanks to this guy.”

Joke?

Connla looks like he realized something.

“Are you referring to Da Chich Anann?”

Annan glowers at him.

“I already apologized for that a long time ago Annan-“

“And I am still being made fun of by some for that.”

“And you let this Leech man call you in reference to that?” Connla asked with some anger, incredulity and some…jealousy, which Annan did not notice.

“…that’s why he told me to call him Leech man. He’s a fun loving, lucky, muscular, child friendly guy and one of the greatest fishermen of all time.” she says in a matter of fact tone.

“And I suppose you like to marry him one of these days huh?” Connla says in anger.

And then he realizes what he said and pales up.

The kid blinked and just looks at him.

And the rest of us pray for him from the bottom of our hearts.


Last edited by kilopi505 on 2013-03-31 05:55am, edited 1 time in total.
Top
 Profile  
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 71 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3  Next

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Patrick Ogaard and 4 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group