The Arena (epitaph)

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The Arena (epitaph)

Postby Jack Rothwell » May 4th, 2011, 4:02 am

Hey, hey, some serious explanation needed here before I kick this thing off. 'The Arena' was a pass-along story on the Jack (webcomic) forum years and years ago that snowballed into a complete mess. Everything about it was badly-executed, badly-thought out and ceaselessly repetative. But as a lad of 19 (and wannabe author) I involved myself in this cross-dimensional incoherant brawlfest, maybe out of a desire to improve my writing skills, maybe out of a desire to belong to a creative project.

To say things ended badly would be the understatement of the century. I eventually got so sick of the power-gaming and lack of structure, consultation or solution to the odds the pc's were facing I just called it quits and let the writers drive themselves off a cliff.

But this morning I woke up with an idea in my head. An idea to give the old demon of the arena some closure, an excuse to try out a new style of writing and push the creative boundaries a little. And, of course, an excuse to take the piss out of the problems that pass-along stories face.

I'll try my best to give the readers an understanding of what happened before, but I'm pretty much winging this and breaking a lot of my usual writing rules. So, if anyone has criticism or suggestions they would be welcome. This is an attempt to depict two old characters of mine negotiating their way through that old mess, searching for a plot and a resolution.

Anyhow, enough stalling...



The Arena (epitaph)

Arc groaned and buried his face in his hands. It had all gone wrong, all of it. Ever since he’d come to this blasted place it had been one fuck-up after another. Now the entire pocket-dimension, a sinkhole in existance, had become warped, corrupted and packed sardine-tight with enough monsters to populate a Justin Beiber concert.

“That’s an anachronism…” He muttered.

It had started so innocently; just a badly-thought out concept where authors could work out their power fantasies by killing each others characters over and over in a consequence free environment. Cypress and the rest had had their fun, pogo-sticking over each others skills by pulling new powers out their arses whenever the situation seemed appropriate. And what a shower of characters they were. Arc stifled a smirk when he thought of Foddercat; the immortal, schizophrenic mess who claimed that his very soul belonged to an inexplicably powerful dragon called Maaz, who was able to supply God-like intervention from one reality away as easily as most people could make a telephone call. The plot-hijacking, power gamer who got into a fist-fight with another narrator’s character (who’d been too talentless to even come up with an original creation) Akuma…and won. His band of inexplicably powerful friends who'd parachuted into the narrative to take on entire armies by themselves. And Foddercat's weapon!? Jesus! A crossbow that could shoot anything? Missiles? Force bolts? Fucking unicorns? Why couldn't it have shot some sanity? And what about the originators of this place? Had they ever explained where the arena came from or how they got their dragonball-esque powers in the first place?

‘Maybe the lack of established rules caused the situation…’ The Angel thought to himself as the door to the room he’d locked himself in shuddered with impact once again.

Where had it all broken down? Had it even been going well? Was it David’s fault? Mr Hopkins had created such a damn good online comic that it would make sense his readers would take a post by him as a major plot point. But that was the problem; there’d been no plot in the first place. There'd been no follow up post either. Just a mention of some creatures arriving and the writers taking that to mean something called ‘The Shadow Cloak’ had turned up and started throwing wave after wave of more and more powerful monsters that their creations were able to defeat despite being outnumbered literally hundreds to one. Of course, there’d been casualties, but in a pass-along story where death was treated as an inconvenience it hardly made a difference. All the while The Shadow Cloak warped the arena, corrupting reality to the point…

“Where I now know I’m a character trapped in a nonsensical plot…”

“What?”

“Nothing, Markus, don’t worry about it.”

Poor kid. This had been his first story and was likely to be his last, he’d been as battered and abused as the rest of them. Fuck, one time he’d even been trapped in some kind of Labyrinth rip-off crystal ball without his author even being consulted for permission. Arc reached out and ruffled the lad’s hair, trying to smile reassuringly to ease his fear.

“What are we going to do?”

“I’m working on it.”

The door buckled; the Angel really wished he still had his sword but that was gone too; thrown into a hole in reality that that bloody cat-man had summoned apparently with the power of his mind. Now it was just a matter of time before the beasties broke in and tore the pair of shreds.

“Ahh well... at least we’ll just go back to Heaven afterwards.” He considered the idea. “Or the author’s graveyard, never to be seen again, most likely.”

“Arc?”

“Yes Markus?”

“How come… erm…”

“What is it Markus?”

“How come… you know… if people's Gods were sticking their noses into this place, our God never bothered to help at all?”

“Markus?”

“Yes Arc?”

“Stop pointing out the holes in the plot.”

“Sorry Arc.”

An claw-ridden arm chose that moment to punch a hole in the door and start flailing rabidly around. Arc stepped forward, grabbed it, and poured holy fire over it's skin. The creature shrieked and pulled back. The smell of burned flesh was appalling.

“Hurt one of them, at least.” Arc sat back down next to the younger Angel, folding a wing around him and pulling him in close for comfort.

“If only there was a way…”

“It doesn’t matter.”

“It does! We could’ve won this thing if it wasn’t for… for…”

“Ridiculous odds and overpowered villains turning up and ruining the balance of everything?”

“Yeah! If only there was a hero who could restore it.”

Arc’s eyes glazed over at the Seraphim’s idea. God damn it. That was it.

“Markus…” He whispered. “You’re a fucking genius.”

“I've never heard you swear before."

“It’s ok. The structure of this thing has completely broken down, I can act out of character at the drop of a hat now and no-one will even notice.”

“Why am I a genius?”

"Because you've figured it out. There IS a hero who can fix this. Think about it. Who's the one person who can overcome any obstacle, pull secret powers out of nowhere and ensure that no matter how unrealistic the situation or insurmountable the odds that victory is always achievable?"

"You don't mean...her?" Markus replied, trailing off with more than a touch of unnecessary anime-esque drama.

"The one and the same. The scourge of pass-along stories everywhere." The Angel met his comrades eyes. "Mary-fucking-Sue."

(TBC)
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Jack Rothwell
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Re: The Arena (epitaph)

Postby Jack Rothwell » May 17th, 2011, 12:16 pm

"Are you sure?" Markus gasped somewhat effeminately.

Arc merely nodded in response. It was a risk, there was certainly the chance when such a being was drawn into the narrative that he and Markus would be regulated to being sarcastic background characters there for the purposes of injecting humour into the scene while Mary did all the work, but it was a risk he was willing to take. And there was the fact that they had about thirty seconds before the door caved in besides.

"All right. Stand opposite me. Take my hands and focus."

"Why?"

"It gives the whole thing a sense of ceremony. Makes us look like we're doing something useful while the writer drops the character into the plot, you ready?"

The younger seraphin did as he was bid, taking Arc's hands with a homoerotic undercurrent, staring deeply into his eyes and pursing his lips.

"Stop that."

"Sorry Arc."

The older angel shook his head in disapproval and then began to recite the words buried deeply in the subconscious minds of created beings everywhere.

"Ok. Try to look attentive: 'Oh, all-powerful fan-fic writers, who bend the reality of webpages across the internet, who play petty games of oneupsmanship and make backhanded comments to each other through the medium of their creations, hear us pray. We call on you to loan us the power of your favourite daughter, the balance breaker, the army killer, Mary Sue."

"Amen."

For dramatic purposes the door chose that exact moment to give up to the demon's assault, a multitude of warped beasties from the discount vaults of narrative imagination came piling into the room. Markus shrieked in terror, Arc reached to his hip for a weapon that was no longer there.

"Oh Christ! We're fucked!" Markus cried.

"Relax, this is meant to happen."

Sure enough, the mob charging the celestial suddenly halted their advance as they struck an inexplicable invisible barrier. A purple mist condensed out of the air itself, several of the monsters began to shrink back in fear.

"Hey Arc! We did it!"

"Stand back, there's an over-the-top entrance coming."
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Re: The Arena (epitaph)

Postby Jack Rothwell » June 8th, 2011, 4:30 pm

OOC I had the mary-sue test open and was going down it like a checklist while I was writing this bit :)/OOC

Reality itself buckled like a sheet in strong winds as Mary Sue made her entrance. There was a slicing noise and the mist parted and dispersed, along with three of the demon's heads from their shoulders who'd wandered too close to the authorian summoning.

Standing in the place of the incantation the Angels had made was a young woman surely no older than sixteen. She was exceptionally beautiful, lean almost to the point of anorexia, with deep, wide, green eyes that seemed to draw in the light and reflect it in a myriad of colours.

"Hope the writer's been reading his dictionary for this description." Arc muttered as the woman turned, her lacquered, knee length skirt and long black hair streaming behind her as she launched herself into the mob like a pointy hurricane without a backward glance.

"My God..." Markus whispered. "That's the Szun Ko Sen sword technique. I thought that style had been lost for generations."

"It was." Arc replied with a remarkably straight face and level tone. "She is the last of her bloodline, the distillation of a thousand warrior genes, the youngest to ever master the art."

"How do you know all that?"

"It's all in this pamplet." Arc said, holding up the white rectangle so his friend could see. "Says here she can also play the guitar."

The sounds of violence intensified in the corridor beyond as the monsters beat a retreat from the blade whirling teenager. Arc dimly noticed that despite the lack of air current in the warped mess the arena had become the woman seemed to move as though she were caught in a wind tunnel. Her hair and clothes always flattened in a way that showed off her young, nubile curves and gave him the distinct feeling that he might not be going back to heaven when this tedious ordeal was over. The last demon fell inexplicably screaming Mary Sue's name even though the scaly creature had no phyisical way of knowing what it was. Arc shrugged internally, if they were going to see this through until the end continuity breaking plot twists would have to be the order of the day.

The woman re-entered with a downcast expression on her face, the crimson blade trembled in her hand and a solitary tear rolled down her cheek. Arc rolled his eyes in exasperation, Markus, on the other hand, took the bait and asked.

"What's wrong?"

"I was just thinking about my... tragic past." Mary replied.

"Tragic past?" Markus asked, pointedly ignoring Arc dancing around in the corner of his vision, waving his hands to signal him not to pursue the line of questioning.

"My parents were murdered when I was three years old." She replied, her big eyes glazing over as she launched into an attention whoring narrative. "In the night they came. A hundred swordsman of the White Lotus Clan."

"Isn't that from Kill Bill or something?"

"Hush."


"I fled into the forest of our estate, alone, with nothing but my hair pin to defend myself with... it was there I killed my first man."

"At THREE?"

"Shut up Arc, this is enthralling stuff."


"The following days passed in thirst and starvation until, one wretched, stormy night, I found a cave. It was there I met the old man..."

"Who told me of my destiny..." Arc muttered, now thumbing idly through the pamphlet as he'd completely lost interest.

"Who told me of my destiny..."

"To destroy the great evil..."

"To destroy the great evil that threatens this world. To honour my father's name." The young woman (did we mention she was exceptionally beautiful?) sniffed and dabbed the tears from her big fucking eyes with a lace handkerchief. Arc swore he could hear Evanescence playing in the background.
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