The episode faded back in to the teenagers in their balloon, both still screaming in alarm.
"Steer Izzy! Steer!" Izzy cried out.
"What do you think I'm doing, Topher?!" Izzy replied as she tried to steer the balloon.
The scene flashed back to the train as Mal stood outside the door to the forward car, stomping his foot on the coupling pin. As he tried to break the pin and set the rear cars free, Ezekiel jumped back over the gap and grabbed the edge of the roof, to Mal's displeasure.
"Like I was going to make you leave me in the dust!" Ezekiel told him as he pulled himself back up to the hail-battered roof.
Mal grit his teeth angrily, then began to climb the rear ladder. "If your clone was more useful, he would've already prevented you from being here," he said as he got back onto the roof as well, and faced down Ezekiel.
The two looked up, and the helicopter descended into view hovering above them at pace with the train.
The musical note icon promptly appeared, the two dings signaling the contestants of what was next.
"I pride myself on my timing," Chris said impishly into his walkie-talkie.
"ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!" Topher, Izzy, Ezekiel, and Mal said as one, the former pair on the right half of a split-screen and the latter pair on the left.
"You know the answer to that by now!" Chris answered with a broad smile on his face.
[A rock and roll guitar riff kicked things off as the camera zoomed away from the helicopter, then panned down to Ezekiel and Mal as the song began.]
"Throughout the season, you laid low; took us all out of the show!"
[Ezekiel sang, grabbing his enemy by the hand and pulling him to his side into a close dancing position. He glared sternly at the malevolent one as he sang, and Mal rolled his eyes.]
"Now it's time for you to leave; I won't deal with a pet peeve!"
[He lead them a step to his left, then back to his right, then violently shoved Mal towards the gap between cars. As he finished the line, he listened to the thud of Mal's landing.]
"Look who's getting cocky! You think you're the bomb, gag me!"
[Mal began as Ezekiel over confidently ran back along the top of the train, the camera cutting to the troublemaker following behind from under the train.]
"Don't think that you can stop me! I'll always sting just like a bee!"
[The camera cut back to Ezekiel as he continued his run, reaching the front of the car and jumping across only for Mal's hands to reach out and grab him by the ankle, causing him to trip and slam down on the roof of the next car. Mal then climbed up, and finished his line with a mocking grin.]
"I'm gonna make it! You can't stop me now, just you try!"
[The two boys sang together, a riff leading to an image of a GPS device lowering onto the screen. It showed two parallel train tracks, a blue train icon on the left and a yellow icon on the right which Ezekiel and Mal promptly jumped onto as they sang at each other, pausing between lines to bob their heads to the beat.]
"Our fortune's waiting! It's time for you to say, bye, bye, bye!"
[The two 'trains' came along a large rock on the left and a cow skull on the right, which the two boys promptly jumped off to grab and admire while they continued their song. They then turned around and threw their chosen weapons, Mal ducking under the skull and Ezekiel dodging the rock. With startled looks on their faces, they finished the line and jumped off the bottom of the GPS screen.]
"I always knew I'd make it here; even after I caused some fear!"
[Izzy sang as the scene cut to her, then zoomed out to show Topher listening to her sing.]
"And since I'm in the Final Three; we better watch out for that tree!"
[The two bobbed and tilted their heads happily in time with the music, then Izzy looked forward again and noticed the large tree they were flying right toward. She promptly tugged on the fuel line, but was unable to get the balloon up in time. The camera panned past the balloon as Izzy was heard saying "No!"]
"You're gonna make it! They can't stop you now, let them try!"
[Topher sang as the scene switched to them flying over the GPS screen. Another tree came up in their path, but the fanboy leaned back and they easily swerved around it.]
"Our fortune's waiting! And they can kiss it all, bye-bye-bye!"
[As they continued over roads and rivers and the spaces in between, they came across an angry black bear. It growled and swiped at them, but Topher leaned forward and they avoided it. At the end of the line, the girls bobbed their heads to the music again.]
"You're going down, you don't deserve to win!"
[The melody became something more tango-like as the scene cut back to Mal and Ezekiel on top of the train again, in dancing position once more and turning around at the midpoint of the line.]
"You irritate me and get under my skin!"
[As they moved to turn around again, Ezekiel tripped his 'partner' so that he stumbled, then punched him hard enough to send him reeling off the train entirely, Mal crying out "Noooooo!" as he fell.]
"I'm gonna make it! They can't stop me now, let them try!"
[The view switched back to the GPS screen, showing Ezekiel smirking on his train while Mal, now on the ground, looked at a black horse standing behind him. Just as he moved off-screen, Izzy and Topher flew onto it, singing along with Izzy as they instantly locked eyes. Ezekiel became nervous, however, as his train suddenly turned and took him off-screen entirely, leading the flying duo to bob their heads to the music between lines.]
"Our fortune's waiting! It's time for you to say, bye, bye, bye!"
[Ezekiel's departure was short-lived, however, as the train soon brought him back on screen as the next line began, much to Izzy and Topher's shock. Even worse for them, the train was moving faster than the balloon, so it soon managed to outpace them and Ezekiel waved before passing under a set of power lines and off the GPS screen. The music ended as the scene moved back to the real challenge, the eyes of Topher still closed from a few final head bobs while Izzy's were wide open.]
"Topher?" Izzy said in rapidly rising panic as she saw them approaching the power lines. "Topher?!"
Topher finally looked ahead again, and the duo screamed.
"Update time!" Chris said as the scene flashed to the helicopter, now hovering in a storm-free sky. "According to the latest da-ta, Ezekiel is the only one still moving towards Hawaii!"
The scene flashed back to the inside of a passenger car as Ezekiel dropped down outside the rear door and walked in. "Yes!" he said, eyes on his walkie-talkie. "Million dollars, here I come!"
A shout caused him to turn around, Ezekiel Clone behind him menacingly.
The camera zoomed outside as Ezekiel was heard screaming, and the shot panned rightward to Mal on the back of a charging black steed. "Faster!" he said, urging his horse forward as well as the herd that was following them. "Oh Ezekiel," he called out with a dark smile, "I'm coming!"
Another flash took the scene to the parachute of the makeshift balloon hanging across the power lines. A few crackles of electricity were heard, and the whole thing exploded. The camera cut to the right to catch Izzy fly on screen and land painfully on her butt.
"Topher?" she asked in a pained voice.
Topher wheeled himself on screen and said "I'm okay," brightly. "Now let's get back in the air!"
Izzy sighed. "No chance," she said while pointing to where the balloon had been. The camera briefly cut to the crash just in time to see the parachute burn to a crisp.
"This is not good," Topher said as the camera cut back to them.
"So we have to find something else. But what?" Izzy wondered.
Topher looked from her and then back toward the crash. The camera cut to a small stand a little ways away with a large striped firecracker on its front sign and a slender white man with a hook for a hand and an eye patch manning it, then back to a pensive looking dirty blond.
"Is Izzy giving up?" Chris asked as the scene cut back to his master GPS, the red dot now stationary. "That is so not her," he added in annoyance.
Ezekiel Clone advanced on a wary Ezekiel inside another empty passenger car.
"I don't want to hurt you. We're basically the same person, even if you are feral." Ezekiel backed into the next door just then, then quickly spun around and flung it open and fled to the next car before Ezekiel Clone could react.
The alien growled and gave chase.
Ezekiel howled away from his clone as the two continued their chase, the camera showing it through the windows before cutting inside just as the real boy reached a dessert cart. "Quit chasing me!"
He grabbed two eggs and threw them at Ezekiel Clone, the yolks blinding his eyes. A pie was thrown as well, and this knocked him off.
Ezekiel sighed in relief as he held a pillow, until Ezekiel Clone tackled him and the feathers inside the pillow spilled out and covered the scene completely.
The box of fireworks was tossed in front of Izzy as the scene moved back to her. Topher wheeled on-screen and said "We're back in business."
"How did you manage to get this?" Izzy asked. "Not that I'm complaining."
"I gave the man running the stand DVD's of the first and second seasons in exchange for the fireworks," Topher said.
"You had DVD's all this time?" Izzy responded.
"No time to talk!" Topher told her. "Let's get these fireworks on my chair and fly!"
"Topher," Izzy said, "that is incredibly dangerous and crazy," she frowned before grinning wildly. "Let's do it."
The two smiled at each other.
"Yes," Mal whispered into his steed's ear, "keep running!" The horses were now running alongside the train, and the ruthless troublemaker was smirking confidently.
That is, until the perspective changed to a head-on view and Ezekiel burst out of a train window and was able to land on the back of a rather startled horse, and he and Mal looked at each other with utter shock. "You again!?" they shouted.
Mal turned his gaze forward. "Hurry up, horse!" he told his mount, the camera changing back to side-view as his horse sped up.
"Do as he says!" Ezekiel chimed in, trailing behind him but still ahead of the rest of the herd.
"Wooww," Chris said as the shot cut to the screen of his GPS device, now showing the blue and yellow dots heading forward at an even pace. "They just don't seem to really want it that bad, hmm? But barring any life-ending accidents," he told the camera as it moved to show his face, "I guess they're our Final Two-wait a sec!" he interrupted himself, his eyes going wide at something on his screen. He looked around outside, and the shot zoomed out just as a familiar pair of excited cries echoed through the air.
Izzy shouted as she and Topher flew by tied to Topher's wheelchair, the chair shooting off fireworks as they rocketed up past Chris's helicopter.
"Izzy's still in it!" Chris announced dramatically. "Like a phoenix burnt to a crisp, before rising up anew!" The shot cut back to the two flying on their makeshift rocket, and he corrected himself with "No wait, that's Topher! Anyway, it's a dead heat, people!" he told the camera.
"I can do this for the rest of my life!" Izzy said excitedly.
"And look!" Topher pointed out. "There's Tijuana Beach!"
"Lean!" Izzy said excitedly. Both leaned back, and the chair angled downward.
"I will squish you like a bug!" Ezekiel shouted as the scene cut to him and Mal racing along the beach on horseback.
"I will pluck you like a chicken!" Mal retorted.
The camera changed to a head-on perspective as an off-camera shout of "Look out!" from Chris caused both boys to look forward in shock.
Chris screamed, the camera inverting to show the two rapidly approaching a finish line in the sand, the host below it waving his arms. The two lead horses skidded to a halt with a panicked whinny, but the momentum caused Mal and Ezekiel to be launched forward over the banner. Chris looked back as they landed with a thud.
The camera cut to the two lying on the beach next to a dock, Ezekiel on top of Mal so that the two were face-to-face. "Get off me!" Mal shouted, shoving Ezekiel off as Chris arrived on the dock.
"Uhh, I still have a race to the million going on," Chris told them. "You interested? Hawaii's over there," he pointed as a few heavier notes began the music's increase in intensity. "Grab a boat, head to the big island, and-"
As he spoke, a faint whistling noise heralded the arrival of the rocket wheelchair and its passengers in the distance behind Chris. The chair crashed into the sand and sailed to the dock, the host quickly running out of the way. Topher and Izzy screamed in terror as they skidded along the beach, only to hit a large rock and be thrown into the air both flying toward the boats.
The camera cut in close as they landed in the middle boat gracefully.
"We made it!" Izzy said excitedly as Topher got to his feet.
"The GPS says Hawaii's over there!" Topher said, pointing off in the distance as he started the engine and sped the boat off.
"And Izzy plus one takes the lead!" Chris announced.
Mal and Ezekiel ran down the docks, heading for the last two speedboats.
"I really love this show," Chris said with a small smile as he watched the race unfold.
The footage skipped ahead to the three boats nearly even as they raced across the Pacific Ocean, constantly vying for the lead. Mal's boat rammed into Izzy and Topher's from the side as it passed by.
"Where'd you learn how to drive? A demolition derby?" Izzy insulted Mal.
The shot cut to Mal, his confident smile fading when her boat was rammed into. He looked to his left, the camera zooming out to show Ezekiel alongside him.
"These aren't bumper boats, wimp!" Mal told Ezekiel who rammed him further away.
Ezekiel continued on for another few seconds before looking down and gaping, the perspective changing to show a small leak in his boat.
"Guys, do you see a leak in your boat?" Ezekiel asked the duo.
"We are doing perfectly fine, so no!" Izzy responded.
Ezekiel picked up a large swordfish that had somehow been in his boat. Not wasting any time, he used it to plug the hole in his boat. "And I am back in the race!" he shouted victoriously.
The shot zoomed out again as Mal passed the others by. He laughed at their disadvantage and carried on. "Doofuses!"
The shot cut to a large naval mine floating on top of the water; a hapless seagull landed on it, causing it to explode just before Mal's boat passed through the area, the boy screaming in fear.
Cutting back to the other two boats showed Topher and Izzy in the lead. Ezekiel managed to get the upper hand and sped ahead of the two.
"Anything a girl can do, boys can do just as much!" Ezekiel said.
"You might wanna take a look ahead!" Izzy called out.
Ezekiel looked forward and gasped. He ran straight into another naval mine, launching his boat into the air just as Izzy and Topher passed by.
Mal was shown looking back with delight as he approached their destination, but a sudden sputtering from the engine caused him to look bothered. "I'm out of gas!" he exclaimed.
"Pathetic!" He promptly took an oar from the boat and began to row.
The scene moved to the beach, where the other former contestants, Josh, Blaineley, Bruno, Luna, and Ron had assembled to await the arrival of the Final Three plus two. A deep and dramatic riff played as the camera panned across them looking either sad, annoyed, or angry next to Chris. The camera pulled back and panned further over to the right, and just as it hit the beach, Mal's boat arrived.
"And just like that, I win!" Mal chanted, rushing off to dry land.
"Mal makes it into the Final Two!" Chris announced. "One question remains," he told the camera, "who will Mal battle?" The malevolent one rushed in front of the camera and grinned smugly. "Ezekiel, or Izzy?"
As he spoke, another boat was shown approaching, the camera zooming out to reveal it as Izzy and Topher. "We did it!" the psycho hose beast cheered. A further outward zoom showed that their boat was just a few yards away from shore, drifting idly towards it...
And then came Ezekiel's scream of terror, and moments after, his boat. It landed bow-first on top of Izzy's, splintering it and launching all three teens towards the beach. They landed off-screen with a thud, and the camera cut over.
"Oh, wow," Chris said in shock, looking over the forms of Topher, Izzy, and Ezekiel alongside Mal, "that's what you call a tie, people! I'd go to the slow-mo to declare a winner," he said as the camera moved in for a close-up, "buuuttt...we'rrreee...kinda outta time," he said, deliberately extending a few syllables.
"WHAT?!" the four declared in shock.
"Yup!" Chris told them. "We are totally, completely," the camera zoomed out to show the entire cast, most of them staring at the host in disbelief, "undeniably...out..of..time...aaasss..ooofff... riiigghhtt...abooouuutt...NOW!"
The Final Three groaned, and the series' capstone theme began to play.
"So come back next time to find out who battles who," Chris said, drawing the camera's attention back off the four on the beach. "And see someone finally win the million! Or die trying," he shrugged impishly. "Right here, on Total! Drama! World Tour!"
(Roll the Credits)
The scene opened to the beach back in Mexico. Ezekiel Clone arrives at the beach and sniffs the air. He then sees a raft and an oar lying on shore, coconuts on top of the raft.
Drooling in excitement, Ezekiel Clone scurries over to the raft and pushes it into the water. He then jumps on and grabs the oar, paddling as fast as he can into the sunset.
Next Royal Road Patreon u/KieveKRS
providing the Trash certification of quality! Everyone thank CFK for their contribution!
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“Are you sure about this?” Comms called through the short-wave, Willin’s headset crackling only slightly louder than the pouring rain. It was distorted and covered the timbre of his voice, but it worked.
He checked the batteries on his guns, both pistol and rifle topped off. The pistol was secured into the holster on his hip, the rifle slung across his chest over the heat-plate designed to dissipate any plasma that might hit it. His armour wouldn’t do the best against kinetic armaments—it was never designed to go against a railgun—but military personnel were rarely given those anyway. Too inefficient.
“As sure as I can be,” he replied, checking his harness. Two spare batteries, four ration packs, water, the transmitter that fed into his headset, some assorted tools for unlikely scenarios, and a knife tucked into his boot. The footwear was typically used for traversing hostile environments or boarding operations—the material thick and cumbersome—but it worked just fine for him. He had gotten used to wearing it.
He opted not to bother with the helmet. It would limit his senses in a place like this, the EW field making even the most basic function disorienting. Tech adjusted the physical scope on her rifle, though her favourite weapons were the two Compact Anti-personnel and Rapid Discharge systems she had attached to her hips—the CARDs being designed to switch between rapid-shot clusters to suppress a wide area, and a single-fire mode better suited to more precise requirements. The larger weapon was mostly for show—there was hardly a reason to carry an Anti-Material Rifle to begin with—but it didn’t hurt to counter possible armour.
The purple-furred female’s true weaponry rested both on and under her armour, her augments and the equipment linked to them making her a mobile Electronic Warfare platform. Though much of her abilities would be limited in scope here, she was still more than capable of supporting him. He would be relying on her to dissuade any action against them, as well as using her modifications to keep them in the loop.
She looked like an oddly-coloured female, but she was closer to a walking EMP and scanner rolled into one.
“Short-wave is stable, if a bit distorted,” Willin continued, flicking some of the water off his fur. “Tech will try to keep the signal clean, but no promises. Comms, Nav, you two are keeping the craft warm and ready.”
“Understood, Leader,” Nav replied, their androgynous voice warbling slightly. “Estimated time-frame?”
“Long enough for you two to figure out the ration-packets.”
Comms laughed over the headset. “Nav would rather lick the floors.”
“Just don’t get too distracted with each other while we’re gone,” Willin teased through his smirk, Tech rolling her eyes at him.
“The same could be said for you, Leader. Don’t get too caught up making ‘friends’ with the locals.”
“Or Tech,” Nav added dryly. Their tone hovering between annoyance at the jibes regarding Comms and Nav’s occasional fling, and amusement at the suggestion Tech was interested in pursuits of the flesh with the crew at all. She might be, but she had a habit of dropping the thermostat of whichever room belonged to whoever made the comment, so it was safer to just assume she was off-limits.
“Cold room,” Tech responded casually as she adjusted her audio interface, Nav sighing loud enough for it to be picked up. Comms laughed in a way that suggested he was thankful for Tech’s assistance in ensuring Nav would be seeking a warm bed for the moon. Willin shook his head, hoping that they didn’t need to extract in any particular hurry.
It was easier to get in the air when your two remaining crew weren’t otherwise occupied
“Batteries green. Supplies green. Short-wave sufficient,” he reported, receiving confirmations from Tech. “Operation is to establish communication with local Grand Hunter and receive compliance, information on other packs, and facilitate reintroduction to structure.”
“Alternative is to report pack as non-compliant and pursue other Grand Hunters,” Tech added, repeating what they went over earlier. “My augments are heavily limited, but we should be able to deal with it.”
“Are you sure that you two can manage hostilities?” Comms asked, his voice faltering slightly. Though they had been assigned to the scout craft at random, they had grown rather close as a unit over their time. If it wasn’t for the professional obligations prohibiting it, they might have all decided to move into a den together—they were that intimately familiar with each other. As it was, they would likely be reassigned to serve elsewhere after their current mission was complete.
Such was the life of those like them.
“Tech has more equipment under her fur than our ship has installed—weakened or not,” Willin assured the male. He shot a pointed look at the female. “She’s also under direct order
to return in the event things become too dangerous. Alone, if required.”
Tech scowled, but nodded anyway. Comms grunted their understanding. “Leader?”
A moment of pause. “Nothing. Come back, okay?”
“Will do my best, Comms. Nav, keep an eye on him.”
“It will be done, Leader. Stay safe.”
He placed a paw to his headset, hovering over the button to cut the transmission. “You too.”
“Ready to go?” Tech asked, slinging her AMR over her back and re-securing her CARDs. Willin double checked his auxiliary equipment, hoping that he didn’t need to use any of it. Nodding, he gestured for her to follow, the two leaving behind the craft to slip into the woods.
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“Something up?” he asked, raising a brow at Tech. The female was fidgety, restless and scanning their surroundings more than required. She might have heard something, but the thunderous hiss of rain drowned out most everything—it was part of the reason they waited for it.
She wore a reluctant expression, her eyes flickering to the silver and gold trees for a moment. “Prox’ is going wild.”
“Proximity sensor effected?” he queried, feeling the weight of his weapons tug on his body. Tech nodded.
“It’s weak. I think the ‘spike is messing with it—along with everything else—but it’s reporting…a lot.”
She shook her head, a paw twitching over a CARD. “Not until we go past them.”
He joined her in looking around, shaking off water uselessly. “Wildlife?”
Willin shrugged. “The message mentioned that it was different.”
“Details would have been nice,” she grumbled in return, waving her paw to get him moving again, though she kept one on her weapon.
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“Visual,” he reported, lowering the rifle from his shoulder. “Anything?”
Tech shook her head, still on a swivel. “Prox’ is still lit up, but at this point it might be less distracting to shut it off.”
“Keep it. Rather have it telling us things are around all the time than miss something big because we got annoyed.”
She sighed, tapping her audio interface twice to change the song she had playing. “What do you see?”
“Low fences, but dense buildings. Lots of traffic despite the weather. Looks like they’re used to it. Think they know we’re here?”
“Doubt it. Gear?”
He shouldered his weapon to look through the scope. “No guns, but lots of melee. Armour seems to be a mix of leather and metal. Can’t say what kind.”
Tech pulled her AMR to look, Willin shifting to keeping lookout. “No guns…” She shot him a look. “I’m not sure if that’s reassuring, or worrying.”
He shrugged. “The less I need to get shot at with, the better.”
“The goal is to not
give them reason to.”
“Well, I can’t be perfect all the time.”
Tech laughed, the banter easing her nerves. “You’d have to start, Leader.”
With a roll of his eyes, he patted her shoulder with the back of his paw. “Let’s get moving. Diplomacy doesn’t do itself.”
The purple-furred female sighed, likely biting back another quip as she nodded.
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It went better than expected. So far, anyway.
They had approached the settlement proper, received what could be described as a ‘lukewarm’ welcome, then were told to follow several Lilhuns donning black leather and far too many daggers. Their escorts kept a close eye on the guns that they brought, but no one had made any comments about them yet. It was encouraging, but also worrying.
“Still nothing?” he muttered, quiet enough to not be heard by the others, but loud enough for Tech. She seemed hesitant, glancing over to one of the taller structures as they passed through, but gave a subtle shrug.
“Static is messing with my augments,” she grumbled. “Could be none, could be a few snipers. I can’t tell.”
He exhaled heavily. It was a bit of a blessing that her modifications were working at all, but it was easy enough to see that she felt bare without all the little tweaks she had gotten used to.
Willin never actually got the chance to learn all the tricks she was capable of—it was against policy to ask and she never saw fit to talk about it—but of the ones he did know; her proximity sensor, jammer, and ship integration were her favourites.
It was hard to board her ship if she knew where you were, locked up your gun, then spaced the room you were in, all without closing her game. He was pretty sure she was disappointed that she had only gotten to do that once.
“New ones, the Grand Hunter will see you soon,” an escort informed them as they drew near the Atmospheric Entry Craft that acted as a den for the one they were here to meet. They didn’t know the name yet, nor were they given the chance to do more than say why they were there. He had gotten as far as saying he was from the United Military before the people welcoming them scurried off to get someone else.
He busied himself by inspecting the buildings leading up to the AEC, some being a respectable three floors. Newer constructions seemed to differ in method, the beams a charred ashen colour rather than the same odd silver wood. Why they had elected to burn the materials, he didn’t know, but it seemed to be what they decided to do.
A surprising amount of the population carried a curved stick over their shoulder, the ends tied together by a string. Some attached lengths of a similar material to their leathers, one end made with a small loop as it dangled. The catch they carried to what looked to be a hunter’s lodge suggested it was used during their hunting, but he couldn’t fathom how.
Dragging his attention from the crowd, he eyed the large shuttle.
The massive main doors looked to have been damaged, though a structure had been attached since, leaving the stuck-open entrance to seem less like the result of a hard landing. The gentle hum of the internal power generation was absent, the required energy for what was still working being drawn from large solar panels that had been installed into skylights in the ceiling. The cloud-laden weather dimmed the light that illuminated the inside, but it was serviceable enough. Whatever power was produced, it was being funnelled somewhere that wasn’t servicing the majority of the craft.
Wide halls were populated by Lilhuns and spotted with doorways, the majority propped open since they were programmed to shut in the event of a power outage, lest explosive decompression eject whomever was occupying the room—along with anyone nearby in the hallway, should they be so unlucky.
It was customized, that much was obvious. Several rooms that would have been sparsely populated with anything other than beds were instead modified into training rooms and gyms. Densely packed barracks contrasted against large storage areas filled with various goods, pelts and metal weapons lining various shelves. Newer accommodations had been installed for more of those curved staffs, smaller pointed sticks stacked in piles nearby.
They progressed deeper and deeper into the confines of the shuttle, the common sight of the local pack trickling away, none seeming to have business this far in. Gruffer and more observant Lilhuns became the only people they saw while the hallways narrowed into tighter quarters, what might have fit cargo vehicles now only allowing a few shoulder widths, doorways becoming less common. The wary eyes and darkened clothing paired with the occasional dyed fur of those they passed—black seeming to be the dominant colour.
“In here,” an escort grunted, jabbing their jaw towards an isolated door. A paw was held out as they tried to step forward. “Weapons.”
Tech’s paw twitched towards one of her CARDs, the act of Willin relinquishing his pistol and rifle stopping her from snapping it into rapid-fire and burning the air with plasma. She glared at him for a few seconds before doing the same, the escort smirking.
“You will have them returned. The Grand Hunter is not so desolate as to pilfer the possessions of those who come merely to speak.”
He wasn’t worried about it. The guns were coded to them and Tech could fry them if it came down to it. Well, he wasn’t sure if she could do it with the warp-spike messing with things, but the lock should be enough. The knife in his boot went unnoticed, so it wasn’t like he was completely unarmed anyway.
Tech followed suit, subtly glaring at him the whole time. He shrugged, there wasn’t much they could do about it. They were the ones seeking an audience with the most influential person here.
Satisfied, the escort pulled the door open, the quiet whirring of the unpowered servos accenting the air. They revealed a larger office adorned with little but the most base necessity, a wood and steel desk covered in papers, a chair seeming to be the only extravagant item within—though it was purely for the ergonomics, rather than any aesthetic reason—and the male sat upon it was leafing through a collection of documents while twirling an orange needle-like object in his paw.
The distinct lack of any guards to protect the Grand Hunter was surprising, but that took a back seat to the owner of the room.
Dark grey fur, a clouded eye that retained its sharpness, scars peeking beyond the confines of his leather clothing—the thick hides sporting metal scales sewn onto them. An ear flicked in their direction, the membrane cut at several points. He placed down his papers, leaning forward in his chair as he clasped his paws on the desk, a friendly smile donned that failed to convey anything but malice.
“Greetings, new ones,” the male offered in a cheery tone, the low rumble and gravelled texture of his voice carrying both humour and curiosity. He focused on Tech for a moment, his eyes narrowing over the affable expression before he regarded both of them equally. He gestured to the seating opposite of his desk some small distance away. Close enough to meet, yet far enough that it was made abundantly clear who was in charge.
Willin bowed his head politely, walking the distance and sitting where he was provided. Tech followed suit after a brief hesitation, her unfocused eyes snapping to him with frustration. His raised brow was met with a longer blink—her augments were reporting something that made no sense again.
“Now then,” the dark grey-furred male said, moving some of the documents on his desk to a stack. “What might bring you to me?”
“Forgive me, Grand Hunter…” Willin opened, prodding for a name.
The male simply maintained his attentive posture instead of providing. Willin adjusted his sleeve and decided it was more important to continue than dig for information that he could get by asking anyone who lived in the settlement.
“As for why we’re here; we represent the United Military, responding to a distress call. We have forwarded the request and were tasked with ascertaining the state of affairs before the fleets arrive to assist.”
The Grand Hunter nodded. “Yes, that much I could have surmised from your clothing alone.”
Tech raised a brow as the dark green-furred soldier forced a smile. “Of course. More specifically, we would like to speak with you about what you know of the others of your station, as well as discuss the reintegration of your pack.”
The smile of the grey-furred male widened. “You wish to make a deal?”
Tech’s gaze flickered to several points in the room, her brow furrowing as she jettisoned a huff in frustration. Willin took a moment to consider his plan of action, nodding when he didn’t see the harm.
“I believe we can come to an arrangement. Within reason, of course.”
The Grand Hunter chuckled as the needle he was playing with disappeared at a flick of his wrist. “Of course, of course. Deal, agreements, arrangements, contracts.”
The emphasis on the final item tickled something in the back of Willin’s mind. “Itemize it. What do you seek of me? It is rather disorganized to ask without quantifying, no? So…messy.”
“We want information on the other packs. Who leads them, number of members, where their settlements are,” Tech stated tersely, ignoring the disapproving glance Willin gave. “We also need to work on integrating those packs back into the UM—preferably with yourself setting precedent.”
The male’s face grew thoughtful. “As well as forgiveness, though that will cost quite the amount.”
Willin frowned. “Forgiveness? For not knowing your name?”
The Grand Hunter returned a blank stare, a dangerous grin spreading slowly. “Tell me, new ones, do you know of Avalon?”
Tech’s face hardened, her answer slow and cautious. “We do, though only through description.”
The male’s voice fell low. Quiet, yet powerful. His elbows on the table suddenly felt like a far greater threat than any armament. “Do you know the debt your superiors have incurred?”
“I don’t believe we have even had the chance to introduce ourselves,” Willin interjected, noticing Tech’s discomfort, her eyes darting around the room nervously.
“You need not,” the Grand Hunter remarked smugly. “You are forbidden from giving your names, no? Locked behind titles of station, merged and scattered at the whims of your masters. Soldiers who do not exist, yet sit within my office.”
Tech pawed for a CARD, forgetting that she had been disarmed at the door. Willin felt the weight of his knife pull on his boot. The male chuckled as he leaned back in his chair.
“But, given that you did not flee, I will give the benefit of the doubt regarding the debt. Though, it will make offering you more than your lives difficult.”
“What debt?” Willin pressed, receiving a flippant wave of the male’s paw.
“It matters not. I have more pressing matters than hearing why I should join the ranks of that which I supersede.”
“Matters such as?”
The Grand Hunter raised a brow. “You are being given the opportunity to leave whole, new one. I advise you to accept.”
Willin shook his head, ignoring Tech’s pointed look. “We need information. From the message we received, not everyone is as well off as you, and we intend to amend that. What can we trade for it?”
The male clasped his paws over his stomach, passively humouring them. “What do you offer? You may seek the details of the others, but I am not inclined to merely supply it.”
“Supplies, priority cooperation when the UM arrives.”
A chortle sounded out. “We are self sufficient. Such matters little.”
“Is there anything you would want?”
The Grand Hunter smirked, placing a paw on the table as the other produced another needle—this one a more yellow hue, the specifics of its shape blurring as it spun between his claws. “Your superiors asked me a favour. Data. How far could they push the Lilhun body before ligaments broke, the mind following shortly after? How twisted can we shape the psyche of kits?”
The temperature of the room seemed to chill, a twitch of the male’s lips pulling his muzzle into a slight snarl.
“They sought my kit to participate, after a time. Unfortunately, her will aligned—despite my reservations. In return, she would be wiped from the records. Ephemeral, never having existed to begin with. Never suffering the whims of those who became drunk on sending my Blades to their end, never finding their other.” The gravel to his voice turned to broken glass. “Yet your betters violated the agreement. Broke the contract
. They pulled her into your service, hid the fact from me, and had the gall to fabricate a story to coincide. Were it not for a particular series of favours I was owed, I would have been still planet-side in our system instead of here.”
The dark grey-furred male smirked, his demeanour relaxing. “It seems she has found what she sought. Without need for my meddling, at that. A shame, really. I had several competent males selected—those who could wield what she had become. Those who might give her what her blood-mother failed to gain.” He paused for a moment, a fraction of longing piercing through the scarred exterior. “Regardless, all I would have wanted has been gained. She is content, and I am crafting that which shall accept her when she is ready. Your military will only muddy that which I have achieved, were they to dig their claws into my work.”
“Their actions are separate from ours,” Willin countered, thankful that the impending conflict had seemingly resolved itself.
“Grand Hunter,” Tech addressed the male, an eye flicking to the ceiling for a fraction. “We were able to see that there are a fair number of settlements, but we need the information to do our job.”
“And your task would interfere with my own,” the grey-furred male reiterated, a polite—if bored—expression returned.
“What if we could ensure that it didn’t?”
The disinterest in the male’s eyes slipped into curiosity. “You seek to trade sovereignty for information? You hold such power?”
“We do,” Willin confirmed, surprised that Tech would offer. “Though you would be disregarding the support of the United Military, we could arrange an agreement of territory on this planet. It’s not as if we could populate the entirety of it within several of our lifetimes anyway.”
The Grand Hunter stared, each moment more uncomfortable than the last. Eventually, he smirked. “Information and the disregarding of the sins your betters inflicted upon me, for sovereignty…and a singular favour.”
“Indeed,” he replied confidently, reaching into his desk to produce writing implements and paper. “You see, my kit has pledged herself to someone of curiosity. I thought him worthless. Weak. Yet he has performed a duty befitting her Sheath, and I suppose I should reward it.”
Scribbling ceased, impeccable penmanship crafting a contract that was slid forward on the tabletop. He continued after gesturing for Willin to approach.
“Seek him last, give him what information you have gathered, then heed his request,” the male said through his smirk. “I do so look forward to seeing what becomes of it.”
The dark green-furred male perused the document, stipulations and all finely articulated, as if the Grand Hunter lived and breathed transaction. A few points needed to be addressed, mostly possible abuse cases within the fine print, but it was surprisingly fair. There was some worry about the otherwise excessive cost of breaking the contract, but Willin figured that it would be reasonable enough considering the circumstances.
Signing, he gestured Tech to do the same as a witness, the two of them representing the UM for all intents and purposes. It was hardly the first time they had made agreements like this, though trading such a large area on a planet they held no prior influence on was a first.
The Grand Hunter confirmed the terms and conditions with them one last time, smiling when they both nodded.
“Good! Now, for what you seek.” The male rummaged through a few drawers, producing a series of papers that were lined over the desk towards them. “The non-aggression treaty, as well as what my Blades have observed from their scouting.”
Willin read over each, the documents sorted by Grand Hunter, then by who they had under them. His brow raised at a few reports, but questions could wait. The male seemed happy to let them read, so he wanted to take advantage of it. Tech scanned over everything when Willin was done, her augments allowing her to commit the information to a digital memory for future reference back on the ship.
“There are quite a few names marked with this,” Tech noted aloud, pointing to a symbol next to several of the Grand Hunters and their extended packs. The grey-furred male nodded.
“Those have been eliminated or subsumed.”
Willin frowned, parsing the documents again. Mi’low, Toril, and a few others were designated as such. Looking through, only about four seemed to be free of the distinction. He looked questioningly to the male, a grin returned with a separate stack of paper, titled with a single name.
The notation was rather dense, though not in information that Willin was expecting. Instead of settlements or High and Low Hunters, it was laden with mentions of those belonging to the previously marked Grand Hunters. His eyes widened as he connected the dots.
“Hasen is trying to be a Master Hunter.”
“Correct,” the male confirmed cheerily. “He is integrating other packs into his command and eliminating those who refuse. It has become quite an issue as of late.”
Though Grand Hunters could be assigned the moniker by owning territory and a willing pack—assuming they have the force required to defend it—a Master Hunter must own magnitudes more. It was typically achieved by integrating Grand Hunter packs and their subservients through mutual benefit, but taking it by force was a lesser used method.
Given that he had already either taken or purged several, it wouldn’t be a stretch of the imagination to assume he would press it to include here.
Willin heard Tech curse under her breath, their promise of sovereignty obligating them to interfere. To allow a member of the military—stranded or not—free action against the grey-furred male’s territory would be the same as endorsing it, now that they were aware. It would be hostility by the UM in all but name, and the consequences that had seemed somewhat extreme before now hung over their heads like an executioner’s axe.
A dark, deep chuckle broke the two of them out of thought. “Contracts
, new ones,” the Grand Hunter started, a cold Void pooling in his eyes, “are not to be thought trivial. Do not break them.”
“It was a trap,” Tech snarled, jabbing a claw at the report in her paw. “You set us up.”
“Did I?” the male asked innocently. “You offered self-governance, non-interference, and non-aggression.”
“You withheld information!”
The Grand Hunter smiled, a shiver sent down Willin’s spine. “You agreed without doing proper research.”
Willin held a paw out to stop Tech from storming the male. “The contract is signed, Tech.”
“It’s invalid!” she snarled at him, receiving a cold look in return.
want to be the one to tell command that we allowed damn near genocide of a crew we were here to assist, just because we were too stubborn to adhere to an agreement?” he countered calmly. “This ‘Hasen’ is wiping almost a year's worth of survival, botanical, and every other specialized knowledge gained, just because he wants to control a section of a planet. This doesn’t change anything, it just means we know what we’re going into.”
“I like him,” the Grand Hunter opined with a grin. “He sees the value that my proposition offers.”
“What’s stopping us from just tearing up the contract right now and leaving you to your fate?” Tech barked.
“Your companions in your craft—quite the ship, might I add—would be a notable starting point.”
The two of them paused, eyes widened. The dark grey-furred male laughed again.
“Your proximity sensor has been reporting since you landed, no?” he asked, pointing to the equipment on Tech’s harness. “It must have been rather vexing, yes? Is it the warp-spike? Is it some army of the unknown? The uncertainty of never confirming what it tells you. The whispers of doubt that follow.”
“I’m surprised you recognized what it was,” Willin replied with a level tone. He didn’t like where this was going. The male offered a smile.
“Wildlife here is especially elusive. Skittish. Ceasing all motion while predators are near and silencing themselves.” Tech and Willin exchanged a glance as the male waved a paw dismissively. “It makes for rather intensive training for my Blades. To hunt without disturbing them. My kit was a natural in such regard, but others have slowly approached such a threshold.”
He folded his paws on the desk. “Your ship is currently being observed by them now, weaponry trained on the defences you thought so adequate. Surely you noticed the lack of guns, yes?”
“The distress message mentioned the lack of them was due to how urgent evacuation was,” Willin added cautiously.
“Yes, quite. I made sure to lock the armouries after taking enough to establish my power,” the male confirmed with a half-shrug. “Among those were rifles not dissimilar to the rifle that the purple one there brought with her.” He leaned back in his chair. “Sufficient to pierce the hull and whoever occupies the space behind it, no?”
Tech’s eyes unfocused, snapping to Willin with a fear behind them. The Grand Hunter spun his quill, unconcerned by the events.
“Your short-wave has been temporarily disabled. You can not warn them.”
“Threatening us to compliance?” Willin asked without emotion to his tone. He needed to keep things from escalating.
“Ensuring you understand the consequences of your actions,” the male replied plainly. “When one barters with Avalon, know that breaching such is grounds for death. Of you, and whoever I need to send with you.”
“They didn’t sign this,” Tech argued, kept in line by Willin’s demeanour.
did,” the Grand Hunter returned coldly. “Honour your signature, or regret such in the Void.”
Tech took an enraged step forward, stopped when her throat pressed against a dagger that was slipped in from behind. Willin felt the pressure of a knife to his own.
“Patience, new ones.”
“You took advantage of the interference to sneak assassins into the room?” Willin noted.
“No, my Blades were always here,” the male refuted lazily, nodding at Tech. “She noticed, but was unable to trust what her equipment told her.” He chortled for a moment. “Quite the annoyance, proximity sensors. I feel rather blessed to have the warp-spike rendering them little more than meaningless noise.”
“So this is it? You kill us now, our friends when they refuse to cooperate, then steal what we brought?”
The pressure on his neck faded with a wave of the male’s paw, the assassins being nowhere to be seen.
“Of course not!” the Grand Hunter exclaimed, his voice returning to its affable cadence. “You now know how futile it is to go against me. Fear not, I see no merit in hindering you. As long as you honour your portion of the contract, I will honour mine. It is a certainty that Avalon was founded on.”
Tech rubbed her neck, glancing questioningly at Willin. He gave the male a wary glance, but closed his eyes to concede. They were just going to get everyone killed if they tried to back out of something they had already agreed to.
“Then we have come to an understanding,” the dark grey-furred male announced happily. “As a show of faith, do you have any questions where I might provide clarity?”
The two soldiers glanced at each other, Tech begrudgingly giving Willin the floor. He gestured to the smallest stack of papers. “Who is this? There’s next to nothing about him. Are you withholding information against your contract?”
The Grand Hunter smirked. “That, new ones, is all I could gather from my Blades.”
“You have Lilhuns disappearing in the room a moment after holding a knife to our throats, and they couldn’t scout a settlement?”
“Isn’t it interesting?”
“Enthralling,” Tech commented dryly. The male tapped a claw against his head.
“Think, new ones. What might render my Blades little more than a mild inconvenience?”
Willin’s eyes narrowed. “Other Blades? Better Blades?”
The dark grey-furred male held an expectant smile. “None have been seen, save for my kit.”
“Your kit’s mate is the Grand Hunter? I don’t see one Blade deterring this many,” he admitted, flicking through the pages. Overt, covert, and disguised. None got very far.
“Thus why I believe the male is owed a favour,” the Grand Hunter explained. “I gave them four Blades as a gift. They have become more.” A predatory look of elation cracked through the veneer. “There exists no better Sheath than a Blademaster. Let alone one who surpasses my methods. If she is to succeed me, I would rather no other to accompany her.”
“Says here that he’s an alien,” Willin noted aloud, trying not to voice his surprise. “I’m skeptical.”
“Oh, please do be. It will make hearing about what he asks of you that much more amusing.”
“Any ideas what he might look for from us?” Tech spat, still irritated.
“Oh, I might have an idea,” the male answered cryptically, sliding a small tablet of silver wood across the desk. Willin picked it up to inspect it, two foreign scripts scratched into the surface. With a questioning glance, the Grand Hunter nodded, Willin stashing the tablet into a pouch. “He seeks that which others might not, for reasons as foreign as he himself is. I have little doubt that something related to that trinket will be his wish.”
“Then why visit him last?” the purple-furred female pressed.
“Because it will influence his decision.”
“Which is enough reason for us,” Willin declared with a warning scowl at Tech. She held his gaze before looking away in annoyance.
“Then our meeting is finished,” the male announced, gesturing to the door. It opened, the whirring of servos giving way to the distant ambient chatter of the hallway. Two of the black leather-clad escorts entered the room and awaited them.
“Is there anything we should know that may have not made it to the report about him?” Willin asked before leaving, turning naught but an ear for the response.
The Grand Hunter hummed for a moment. “Do mind your manners surrounding his kit,” he offered. “Or do not, it matters little to me if you survive past honouring the agreement.”
Tech stopped at the doorway, glaring at the male as Willin exited. “We never did get your name.”
His brows raised in interest. “You saw my signature.”
“I would rather hear it from you,” she insisted coolly.
A toothy smile spread over the male’s muzzle. “Grand Hunter Trill; Blademaster of Avalon, Sire of Phantom
, and—if I remember correctly—the Weighted Scale, Aspect of Balance.”
“’May he who barter with the Void fear its ire,’” she recited, conviction in her words.
“’Yet he who uphold bathes in its blessing,’ yes,” Grand Hunter Trill replied with a knowing look. “Consider it, new one. To be crushed under the obligations you fail to upkeep, or revel in that which you covet. Do be warned; though I let you and your party leave—” his eye gained a sharp edge. “You are never beyond my influence.”
“May the sun treat you well, Grand Hunter,” she replied tersely, spinning on her pad to leave. Willin glanced back as he waited for her to pass him, seeing nothing but the door closing behind her.
Their weapons were returned, each in the same state as they were confiscated, save for a familiar knife. He scowled as he shifted his footing to reveal that the comforting weight had been removed from his boot. He begrudgingly accepted the blade, tucking it back into the sheath as the Lilhun smirked at him, his mirth at the dark green-furred male’s displeasure evident.
They were escorted out of the shuttle, a pause afforded long enough for Willin to flick up his hood before they continued to the outermost edge of the settlement. As soon as they were outside of the fence, their escorts turned and quickly faded into the buildings.
A crackle came over the headset.
“Leader! Tech! We thought something may have happened,” Comms shouted into the earpiece, genuine worry coating his words.
“Were you unsuccessful?” Nav added, the sound of a small distance between speaker and microphone suggesting they were sharing.
Willin adjusted the strap of his rifle and started walking, Tech following after a lingering glance at the settlement. “We got what we came for, but it might have cost us.”
“It was simply a meeting, no?” Comms asked to clarify.
“If you can call being strung along by an Aspect ‘simple,’ then yes,” Tech growled.
“Balance,” Willin provided through a sigh. “Weighted Scale.”
“Receive your heart’s desire at a heavy sacrifice,” Nav commented after a moment, likely referencing something. “What did you give them?”
“Sovereignty and a favour to be paid out to another Grand Hunter.”
“That does not seem too unreasonable,” Comms voiced curiously.
“We’ll talk about it when we get back. I have a feeling that the hole was dug too deep to see the bottom quite yet.”
“There’s a battle brewing,” Tech notified the crew, adjusting her audio interface. For once, it was completely silent. “We got dragged into it.”
The short-wave fell silent.
“What do we do?” Comms questioned quietly, the crackle of the distortion pitching his voice slightly.
Willin snorted, exhaling slowly.
“We made a deal with Avalon, Comms. We honour the contract.”
Next A/N: Folded and made a Patreon. You can do the thing there, but i don't have anything to offer. Gonna move the rare AI Gen character art to it though, since it's the best i can offer.
I know this is a really annoying post, and please don't let me hurt anyone's enjoyment of the season, I'm just ranting.
This season was over 13 hours long; season 1 was under 5 hours. And yet, I feel like all of the character arcs were nonexistent, rushed, or just plain bad.
-Jamie's arc re: his dad was well done. His relationship with Roy was well done. This last episode seemed to just randomly bring back liking Keeley as a plot device for Roy, though.
-Roy became a diamond dog, but the moment didn't feel earned at all. We haven't seen him wrestling with needing advice but being unable to ask for advice. If we saw more of his breakup with Keeley last season and him feeling alone, this might have worked. He should have gotten to give Higgins' speech about asking for help; receiving the speech just means he never actually progressed until then.
-Keeley just kinda did stuff all season. I don't get what the writers were going for here, so maybe I'm just missing something. But the point seems to be "value strong friendships and personal growth/success over tying your identity fully to a romantic interest". Which, firstly, is constantly contradicted by Keeley ignoring and then halfhearteadly apologizing to Rebecca, and, two is contradicted by Beard's arc, and, three, didn't feel earned at all. The show was so concerned with the will they/won't they and love triangle and Jamie/Roy friendship that it didn't actually show Keeley making any of those realizations or that progress.
-Sam had no arc. No development with Rebecca, no final note on the restaurant or politics, which was given a substantial amount of time. He responded calmly to Edwin Akufo in S2 and then did the same thing in S3. That scene was long, pointless, and used for cheap laughs/callbacks with the glass in the pasta. Then, at the end, he just kinda makes the Nigerian team in a montage.
-Dani had no arc or development. He became mean as an inside joke to world cup fans and then became nice again. Totally out of character and a lot of screen time dedicated to a glorified fourth wall break with no real consequences. The Mask of Zorro joke was not funny or clever enough to be worth that much time.
-Zoreaux had no arc. I thought the Van Damme thing was a clever starting point for a mini-arc, except it was just overused as a joke. I heard "actually, it's Van Damme" like 15 times this season. Again, so much screentime meant none of the jokes or storylines were kept tight.
-Isaac's big moment was kicking a ball hard. Remember S2, where they picked his character, tightly explained and then creatively solved a conflict, and then that solution had an effect on the club? The pillow fight in Amsterdam was a clever callback but took up so much screen time, turned Zoreaux into a pervert, and also didn't really develop any characters.
-Beard's arc was about independently making choices and creating his whole life, I saw the thread on this. Except...the Ted backstory bomb was dropped last episode. Three seasons of Jane conflict and constantly turning his trauma into jokes and having Higgins address it led to...not much. The ending was played as a spoof of rom/coms, which is more of an endorsement than it should be, especially given the show's constant homages to rom-communism.
-Trent had no arc. He was already won over by S1 E3. Getting himself fired last season was a fantastic beat as the start of a larger arc, but it went basically nowhere - Trent respected Ted and mostly understood why his methods worked, and he still does. We got nothing from the book. Hell, Ted made the biggest change to the book. I get that he assisted others with their arcs, especially Colin, but he was set up to be so much more than that. Why was Rebecca so opposed to him being at Richmond in e1 if he'd go on to not even have a hint of a possible negative impact on anything?
-Rebecca's was a disaster. Holy hell did the psychic and the boat plot lines take up so much time. And they end with a 15 second meet cute with boat guy who just happens to have a daughter? Not emotionally satisfying or earned at all, just the writers making another cheap callback. "Hey look at this thing we did? Remember when we did that?"
-Slowly phasing Dr. Jacob out during the match was weird. A good arc would have been Michelle actively realizing that a partner sharing Henry's passions was more important than a partner being good to her - would have made her a more compelling character and been a more satisfying way to get rid of Jacob. Yes, this was kind of, sort of implied, but the show dropped the bombshell about him dating her ten episodes earlier and then didn't do much with it. It was an extensive, unnecessary, and annoying way to push Ted towards going back home.
-The show did a great job of tackling sensitive issues around masculinity and mental health in S1 and S2. In S3, Ted got rid of his anxiety by breathing, Dr. Jacob got described as being "borderline unethical" despite everyone on this sub rightfully calling him a worse human being than Rupert, and Jane's repeated emotional abuse and manipulation of Beard was always either a joke or brought up and then brushed off. S1 and S2 made tight, concise points; S3 brought up issues to seem deep but didn't feel like putting in the effort to address them in a nuanced and effective way.
-To get ahead of one possible response: Ted dreaming everything is a terrible fucking ending. Maybe it means less plot lines were horribly butchered, but it instead means those plot lines just weren't resolved at all, which is worse.
-Colin's arc was good. Every scene with Colin was amazing. Good job, writers.
-Nate's arc was solid. I have quibbles about the treatment of his dad, because a lifetime of emotional neglect and abuse can't be settled in a 2 minute conversation the way the show's other conflicts can, but whatever. The apology to Will and then Ted was great.
-Rupert's end was fitting. Also well done.
-Shandy, Jack have been discussed to death. Barf.
It's very late and I'm very annoyed, but I really hope some comments will give me another perspective. I'd like to find out what I'm missing about the finale before I flip out. I really wanted it to be satisfying - I got a little teary eyed at the ends of S1 and S2, and I gave S3 as much of the benefit of the doubt as I could - but I got basically nothing here. All the callbacks are cool, but callbacks alone ring hollow after a season the length of 6 movies. The show desperately wanted to be an hour long character-driven drama and didnt seem to deliver for almost all of those characters.
For our campaign I’m playing a female Shadar Kai named Civri Broe. (Dnd beyond suggestions I liked the pun sound.)
She has long but tied black hair, red eyes, and pale white ish blue or grey skin. Trying to meet that ethereal beauty and death look the lore describes. She wears medium armor and I’ve always pictured it closer to the classic lotr elf ranger then a full fighter in plate.
So far she’s got the basics, long bow and longsword, plus a few daggers. One “prized” weapon is a Greatsword with a hooked end she got in a haunted cave.
Part of the lore my group liked from the 5e Shadar Kai is the effects the shadow fell realm has on Shadar Kai. When art shows then in the material world they’re similar to other elves, inhumane Beauty and grace, athletic and dexterous.
But when in the shadow fell they’re routinely drawn more scarred, worn down. Like a runner who has no excess fat.
I wanted to play on that twist with Civri, so I tried to do it with her class.
her echo is a reflection of her other self. Instead of an exact copy of her material plane appearance for instance, it’s how she’d look in the shadowfell.
Only unique thing in terms of that is her group as a whole managed to roll extremely low strength, while she started out strong at 18, so the running joke is she’s treated as the jock elf so far.