Secret Santa 2020 - Story collection

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Hacksorus
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Re: Secret Santa 2020 - Story collection

Post by Hacksorus » Fri Jan 01, 2021 4:17 pm

Thanks a lot for the kind words, guys! Made my day. This all turned out much better than I thought I could have reasonably hoped for.
Yes, I could have stated the prompt as "write a story about taking personal initiative." That would have meant almost exactly the same thing, and it would have made your job easier. Prof wanted to send you a briefing, but I specifically requested that she give you no help whatsoever unless you directly asked for it. Auftragstaktik, as a concept, is about trusting the initiative of those you have issued orders to. It means being minimal with specifics, and letting people read your intent and exercise their own creativity in how best to fulfill it.
You specifically asked that I not be given any unprompted help? That's hilarious :lol: I can get why you might have wanted to do that though, there's no easy answer for how you'd apply that concept to this context. I suppose seeing how I'd mediate that's all part of the fun. For my part, I might have leaned overly much into the whole military/chain of command thing, and Kenji's delusions seemed my best hope of making that work. I can see how the student council might have been the other obvious pick, especially if I took the prompt a little less literally. Shizune can be a bit pushy at times, but she already gets a bad rap. She's no military commander.
I'm glad you brought Shizune into the story, as that was exactly what I was hoping for. Shizune's agony is that she wears the face and attitude of an autocrat, but wishes for others to take initiative. She's always pushing, and always lonely. She's trying her damned hardest to get people to care about the council and for her own boyfriend to make love to her, but she has to berate people or tie them down to get them to do a thing. But the face of the seemingly uninterpretable, it is possible to choose love and service, and to generate the correct meaning from vague signals.
Admittedly it sounds like you have a much better understanding of her character than I do :lol:. I read through a bunch of scenes from her route in an attempt to represent her well, but you point out details here that I wasn't specifically trying to account for, yet make sense to me. If what research I did was enough to represent her well in this short scene, then I'm happy. I'll do my best to capture her true spirit in any future occasions I may write with her, as well.
He's a soldier who displays excessive initiative, without sane orders or guidance. Here, too, Hisao takes initiative and control over an dynamic situation, interpreting the needs of his command wisely. Kenji, I imagine, is a deeply lonely soul. I appreciate how Hisao appreciated his humanity.
I'm with you on that one. It is easy (and often fun) to treat him like a meme, but at the end of the day he's still human. Besides, I think humor usually goes over better when it's grounded in reality anyway.
If you don't mind me asking, how was the process of interpreting and researching the prompt? What was the timeline of events like?
Nothing too special, really. I was amused, surprised, and slightly panicked when I first got the prompt, but I had already decided I was doing this one on my own. Then, I pretty much just spent 20-30 minutes reading up on the internet until I felt comfortable I had a decent understanding of the basic concept. I already had a working idea of where I wanted to take the story and it was going to be a short one anyway, so that seemed sufficient. I spent more time than that on learning more about Kenji and Shizune (and how Hisao might have been influenced by a lot of time around Shizune) so I could do my best to represent them well.
Today I am proud to be a Canadian. Thank you for your representation of our great nation and our spirit to endure against all inanity. It is a long cultivated gift, brought by our geopolitical position. The world is a mad place, but it can be beautiful. You are truly wonderful, and I couldn't ask any more. God bless.
I shall never forget your words, honored fellow Canadian.
the Shizune part almost made me to like the character, and the Kenji part was so humane for Kenji it was almost uncanny. Really good job.
Thanks, happy to hear it! Admittedly I also find myself preferring the other girls a lot of the time, but I still love Shizune. None of the routes are perfect, but they're all special to me. As for Kenji, you might be surprised how much humanity is there if you look for it.
Auftragstaktik very good. Enjoyed. Especially Kenji.
Thanks! Happy to hear praise from someone whose works I've enjoyed over the years myself.

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Feurox
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Re: Secret Santa 2020 - Story collection

Post by Feurox » Sat Jan 02, 2021 9:09 am

brythain wrote:
Fri Jan 01, 2021 10:58 am
That's a lovely story. So they went over the sea to Skye, eh?
Aye, where the Sea meets the Skye I think Bry old boy.

I can only echo Britain's sentiment, that is indeed a lovely story Scramblers. It reminds me why I reached out to you in the first place, your mastery is superb - one can feel every sentence inside themselves. I really mean it, your prose is jaw-droopingly beautiful. I in particular LOVED Akira's flashback to the office drones joking, it is as though you write the feeling I so desperately wish I could explain. Nostalgia doesn't do it justice.

I'm rambling, but I really adored that tale. Wonderful.

(Lap recommended I read it, and what a recommendation it was!)

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Mirage_GSM
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Re: Secret Santa 2020 - Story collection

Post by Mirage_GSM » Sun Jan 03, 2021 1:54 pm

ProfAllister wrote:Reading your annual Secret Santa pieces really makes me wish they weren't the only fics you've written here in ages...
As I've said before the most problematic step for me is always coming up with an idea, and this helps me skip that step. If there are any stories left open - and so far there seem to be quite many - I can take up maybe one or two more, but personally I don't consider myself nearly as good a writer as many others here...

As for the other stories written so far:
Twain - Short and bittersweet.

Dear Hisao - I remember the beautiful picture from the "original" request, and I was wondering while reading the story whether it might have been the inspiration for this story. I'll see if I can still find Fink's email somewhere to point him to that story - if it even still works...

Simpathy for the Devil - This is one prompt I'm glad I didn't get, since I would have been at a total loss as to what to make of it... Well ewwritten, though.

To be Chilled and to be Warm - Nice bit of bromance :-)

Auftragstaktik - Okay, I'm German, and I had to look that word up, because I never heard it before. Literal meaning would be a bit of tactics that someone has been ordered to come up with, so I guess it makes sense in a way. I also would have thought of Kenji first with that prompt, though once they got to the student council room I expected them to unpack the Risk game with Hisao selling it to Kenji as a secret feminist tactics training tool. :-)

Still - Thank you for not going with Karla. That would have been weird. Fitting that the prompt came from Maosh. I think I spotted some nods to his Akira story in there - not sure if intentional or otherwise.

Let it Snow - Thanks for the diabetes warning. I always love it when some little-used characters get some... well love.

and of course Rising Steam
Thank you very much for this story! Of course I'm biased, because it was written for me, but it was all I hoped for and more*, and it's the one I liked most of all the submissions so far. It resonated a lot, probably because it picked up similar themes as Catharsis - and with a happy ending at that!

There are several reasons why I chose this prompt:
First, I gave out a similar prompt for a previous Secret Santa, but that one was never completely finished, so I wanted to give it another go in slightly more open version. I'm glad I did.
Second, I almost always specify non-main characters for Secret Santas to get more variation, since otherwise 80% of all stories will feature only main characters. The "three or more" was just a bit of an added challenge.
Third, I did specify "people" and "NPCs" instead of students because I wanted to leave open the option of using faculty members. I didn't want to specify faculty members and I didn't even really expect anyone to pick up on the distinction, so I was pleasantly surprised to find you had managed to put Yuuko into the story :-)

Also I would be interested in what your first two rejected ideas were.

*I swear I only noticed your introductory post (and it's almost identical wording) after I wrote this. I took the liberty to change the link in the index to that post instead.
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
Sore wa himitsu desu.

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Craftyatom
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Re: Secret Santa 2020 - Story collection

Post by Craftyatom » Mon Jan 04, 2021 12:03 am

Mirage_GSM wrote:
Sun Jan 03, 2021 1:54 pm
Thank you very much for this story! Of course I'm biased, because it was written for me, but it was all I hoped for and more*, and it's the one I liked most of all the submissions so far.
I'm glad you enjoyed it! I got rather worried about it partway through writing, but it seems like overall, people thought it was good. In fact, I used the phrase "everything you wanted and more" specifically to allude to the fact that it felt like it might be going off the rails a bit, and so it might contain everything you wanted, and then more that you didn't! I do think your prompt was good, just that I probably had more trouble with it than the average writer here.
Mirage_GSM wrote:
Sun Jan 03, 2021 1:54 pm
It resonated a lot, probably because it picked up similar themes as Catharsis - and with a happy ending at that!
I'll admit to never having read Catharsis, as far as I can remember - I'll have to give it a look. But yeah, it's rare that I write a story without a happy ending - Feurox and I are constantly at war with each other over it :P
Mirage_GSM wrote:
Sun Jan 03, 2021 1:54 pm
I took the liberty to change the link in the index to that post instead.
Thanks! I'd never gotten around to using the "start" url format (despite having seen it used in Sisterhood), so you've helped me jumpstart that a bit.
Mirage_GSM wrote:
Sun Jan 03, 2021 1:54 pm
Also I would be interested in what your first two rejected ideas were.
  1. Akira drives her boyfriend out to the vacation house in Hokkaido, hoping to spend a week relaxing alone with him. Once they arrive, they realize that Hideaki was asleep in the back seat the whole time. (I ended up dropping this one because none of those characters are actually "from Yamaku".)
  2. A silly NSFW idea. Basically, a similar setup to what I actually ended up writing, except that Rika and Saki consider their reduced lifespans to be excuses to embrace hedonism. It's not Saki's rich uncle who gets them those rooms - rather, a collection of internet sponsors rent out the place in order to meet up with the young women after dark. This promiscuity is poorly-hidden from Natsume and Naomi, who end up having a difficult conversation with them about it, and who themselves have different opinions on the matter. It would've been very ironically bad.
Main route: COM(promise)
One-shots: Crafty's One-Shots (Dark Winter Sky, Dreamy, Path of Least Resistance, Project Blue Curtain, and more!)
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Mirage_GSM
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Re: Secret Santa 2020 - Story collection

Post by Mirage_GSM » Mon Jan 04, 2021 8:33 am

I'll admit to never having read Catharsis, as far as I can remember - I'll have to give it a look. But yeah, it's rare that I write a story without a happy ending - Feurox and I are constantly at war with each other over it :P
I'm strongly on your side on this one :-)
Almost all of my stories have a happy end of some sort - with one notable exception...
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
Sore wa himitsu desu.

Downix
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Re: Secret Santa 2020 - Story collection

Post by Downix » Tue Jan 05, 2021 12:03 am

I know I'm late. Sorry I'm late. Was given too good of a prompt and wound up overwriting it. After I realized I was going overboard, I cut it down to size.

Victim: FrauPerchta (Insanna)

Prompt: Hisao wakes up the day of Iwanako's confession after experiencing the entirety of a route, if not longer (your choice), with full memory of what has or will happen. What does he do?



Running through an airport. Or in a field of dandelions. Was I in front of a bakery? Maybe in the afterglow of a night of passion? Falling off the roof? Celebrating graduation?
Damn, why is my head so fuzzy?
The beeping comes to me first. Did I mess up and land back in the nurses office? No, the smell is wrong. The old musty smell of a brick office is missing. Instead the old anesthetic of a hospital.
It takes several minutes for my eyes to start working, and even then it's too bright. The room feels familiar, like a memory I'd tried to forget.
I try and remember yesterday, and the answer I get back is almost multiple choice. A girl sitting on some steps, another girl yelling in my face, watching yet someone else walking away in the rain. Nothing makes sense.
Then the itchiness along my sternum draws my attention. Running my hand up, I find bandages under the hospital gown, rather than the scar tissue I'd grown accustomed to. Surgery, again?
An organic sound, barely audible over the machinery, finally pulls my eyes over, and the sight is absolutely impossible.
"I-iwanako?" I get out, my throat dry.
Silently, the girl sits there, her eyes never moving from some spot on the floor. If not for a slight flinch, I'd think she didn't hear me.
Letting my eyes wander, the room finally becomes familiar.
"Back… here?" I say quietly, recognizing the room as the one I was trapped in for months, before everything… which things?
Tea time with a blind girl, chess with a wallflower, running, working on art, sign language with…
For a moment, I try out some signs, remembering them in detail. But then again, was it just a dream?
"What day is it?" I finally ask.
"S-saturday. You had… I asked you… yesterday…" the timid girl next to me stammers out before bolting out of her seat. "I'll go get a nurse…"
Grabbing her hand, I stop her from leaving. "Yesterday? You, in the snow, that was yesterday?"
Not looking at me, she hangs her head and gives a slight nod.
"Wow," I get out, letting her go. "Um… Iwa… y-you can stay. I mean, I'd like you to stay."
She hesitates, clearly unsure, before sitting down again, returning to her previous state.
Yesterday?
Was… everything some kind of messed up dream?
A squeaky voiced kid hiding behind cokebottle glasses pops into my mind, with conspiracy and money owed.
The very thought made me break out laughing, causing the timid girl next to me to nearly jump out of her seat.
Finally looking at me, Iwanako's shocked expression only makes me laugh harder. After a few seconds, she stands back up again, saying, "Nurse, right…"
Grabbing her hand again, I stop her from leaving. "No no, I'm fine, it's just… I'm alive. It was a heart attack, wasn't it?"
Unable to speak, the girl just nods, her eyes wide as saucers as she tries to understand what she's looking at.
Then the memory of that room, the room I am now inside again, hits me. The months of solitude, of depression… and then recovery. The knowledge that my life isn't over sinks in, with those fragmented, contradicting memories.
"The nurse will be here soon anyways to check on me, so no need to rush off. I think I need to tell you something, and it's best I get it over with, so please?" I tell the girl whose been next to me for I don't know how long.
Not sitting down, she just turns to face me, clutching her hands awkwardly in front of her.
"What happened, happened. It changes things, okay? Whatever you were about to ask, I understand if this changes it. If this changes things, I understand. Feel free to walk out, no hard feeling, okay?"
Biting her lip, she considers, looking at the door, then at me. Calming herself down, she asks, "Is that what you want?"
"No, but I'm not going to guilt you either. This wasn't your fault," I try and convince her. "It happened, and we have to move forward, alright?"
A flash of red hair, sad eyes, standing there in the rain comes to mind.
"And if I don't want to walk out?"
Surprised, I am lost for words for a moment, before saying, "Then feel free to ask. I'm right here. I can guarantee I'm not going anywhere for awhile."
Memory of romance, heartbreak, and being an idiot, all surge forward.
Behind her eyes, a clear debate wages, before a decision is made. "Hisao, You see... ...I wanted to know... ...if you'd go out with me...”
I expected her to run away. To be mad at me, or be afraid. Instead, I see the resolution in those eyes. While my heart's all a mess, there is one point of certainty. She's waited for me. For her, a day. For me, a lifetime it feels like. A chance to start over, before… what I'm not certain.
"Sure, I'd like that," I tell her.

My memory of solitude is rapidly replaced as friends come to visit. Instead of lonely days by myself with a silent figure who eventually leaves, every day is occupied.
And always there, the girl at the beginning. It takes her a bit to relax, but she eventually does. By the end of the week, a major shift happens.
"Hisao," the doctor tells me. "Going forward we have a few options. Your heart attack exposed an underlying condition, called cardiomyopathy, and caused another issue, a long-qt arrhythmia. We have several options here, from medication to more surgery. Normally, this would be up to your parents, but your father has given me permission to discuss treatments with you."
"But, why?" I ask, confused. This didn't happen before.
The doctor shrugs. "He said something about you being energetic enough to be able to make the decision."
Stunned, I listen to the options. In the end, I elect for the surgery, to install a pacemaker. It will require regular checkups, but I will not need to undergo the pile of drugs I remember from that strange dream or vision after my heart attack.
I also tell Iwanako of it, leaving out the rather embarrassing details and the girls themselves. She checked and discovered that Yamaku is a real school. I guess I'd heard of it somewhere, and filled it into my dream.
By March, my parents arrive, telling me it is time to leave. The whole concept feels weird. No new school, no moving to Sendai, a triumphant return to my old classmates, a girl at my side. Yet, it all feels so surreal at the same time.
High school romances end as they ever do, due to immaturity and inexperience. In our case, Iwanako and I made it halfway through out first year at University before we drifted apart. I suppose it should be expected.
Graduating with a degree in science and my teaching certification, combined with sign language, job hunting was still tough. Few schools nearby needed anyone. On a whim I checked with my university advisor, and had a familiar name appear on my desk.
And so…

"Mr. Nakai, glad you could make it. I know it's unusual attending a Christmas party before you start working somewhere, but I figured this would be a good chance to meet your new co-workers," the principal tells me as he guides me into the meeting room it was being held in.
"I understand, Mr. Katayama," I tell him as he proceeds to glance around the room.
Oddly, only two teachers' faces from my dream ever were clear, and neither of them I see in the room. Well, it was just a dream, so what am I expecting.
Being introduced as the "new 1st year science teacher," is certainly exhausting. Within an hour I find myself outside in the hallway, catching my breath.
It takes a few moments to realize I'm not alone. When I glance over, I find myself lost in a pair of blue eyes behind sharp glasses. Without realizing it, I sign out, "[Hello.]"
The blue haired girl blinks in surprise, before a sharp smile sets in, signing back, "[And hello to you too. Are you new here?]"
"[I start next semester,]" I tell her, still in disbelief. "[And you?]"
She smirks a bit. "[Here for a friend, her plus one. We both went to school here, and she thought to drag me along.]"
"[It's good to have friends like that,]" I sign back. "[I'm Hiao Nakai.]"
My heartbeat starts to skyrocket as I read her reply.
"[Shizume Hakamichi.]"
In the corner of my eye, a vaguely familiar pair of golden eyes, framed by brown hair, appears in the doorway before vanishing moments later.
In a moment of clarity, the dream comes crashing down on me.
"[Are you okay? You look like you've seen a ghost,]" Shizune says, her features shifting to concern.
I shrug it off. "[Just, something familiar. Hey, want to go do something?]"
"[Oh, and what do you want to do?]" A flash of curiosity strikes her eyes as she looks at me over the rims of those oh so familiar glasses
I consider a moment, and an idea strikes.
"[Know where we could find a game of Risk?]"

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Mirage_GSM
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Re: Secret Santa 2020 - Story collection

Post by Mirage_GSM » Tue Jan 05, 2021 12:20 pm

Wow, that was one heck of a prompt. I can definitely see how one could be tempted to "overwrite" it.
The final product is very concise. The story was short, but it didn't feel as if it was missing anything. You could even have left out the last part, but it fits in very well.
Just bad luck that the one he had to run into was Shizune... :-)
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
Sore wa himitsu desu.

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