S1| Ep24: The Turning of the Wheel (Fragments + Summary)
January 8, 2016
Author comments/summary in [brackets]
A great shadow blotted out the sun. The giant, with its blue, blue eyes, gazed down upon the land. Around it, the sky darkened with smaller Dolls: older models, forgotten models, masks faded with age, limbs rusted over.
“We’re gonna die, we’re gonna die…” muttered Hadil.
Mok had left them behind, no longer raving, but suddenly silent and impassive, unseeing: loping in the direction of the lake as if driven by some greater entity. Fortunately, he’d left the shack unlocked, and the other rebels must have left with their leader or were occupied elsewhere, for the clearing was entirely empty of other signs of life.
It was downright eerie, to be honest. But Hadil refused to let herself dwell on the rebels’ disappearance. If the rebels were gone, it was their only chance to escape.
Unfortunately, Tuyet’s condition seemed to have worsened. She hadn’t passed out yet, but the color of her face was now almost as bad as Mok’s had been.
Most terrifying was the continued silence. Why wasn’t the military taking action? Were the other students safe? Sure, they’d probably submerged by now, but if the giant packed as much power as Hadil suspected it did, she doubted even the school’s defenses could hold for long.
Something rustled out from the tangled growth of the trees, and Hadil bit back a scream. Beside her, Kikue whirled around.
Hadil blinked. “Kaneshiro? What are you…”
The medic boy’s face was grimmer than ever. His gaze locked at once onto Tuyet, supported by Kikue and Hadil on either side.
“Put her down.”
[blank space here for more dialogue]
“Don’t touch me… cursed bastard…”
“Do you want to die?”
“Can you really help her?” Hadil interrupted anxiously.
But Kaneshiro did not reply.
[Eguzki desperately works on her injuries. Hadil and Kikue attempt to discuss their next move. Kikue actually has some suspicions about Eguzki that she now voices, but I have to be honest, I can’t remember exactly what she knows or more accurately, what she thinks she knows at this point, because I changed my mind a lot on this and haven’t gone back to check what’s actually seeded in the earlier text. I am pretty sure it had something to do with the nephew rumors, but it could have been something else. Eguzki is surly as usual but seems to find her accusations kind of amusing. At this point they’re interrupted, though.]
“He will regret taking that stone…” said Tuyet.
“Who, Mok?” said Kikue, ears perking.
Hadil frowned. “I didn’t see it anywhere on him though. Didn’t he just use it in that cavern or whatever?”
“He forced that monster awake with it. He needs it still. But it won’t be enough. Not when he wasn’t chosen.”
[Eguzki retorts something along the lines of, “No, he’s just cursed. As are we all.”]
* * *
Intan sat stiff as a statue inside her Doll, waiting for orders. She, Marius, and Rusli, along with a group of former Dragons, had been assigned to take down the giant.
[insert action scene here]
[hahaha I can’t tell you how often I write that in my drafts]
[More seriously, apparently I’d planned for Intan, Marius, and Kikue to take down Mok via teamwork, but I know I ended up reordering scenes so this got scrapped. Oh, and despite their teamwork, I think Mok’s, er, issues, end up causing his real downfall, as Tuyet predicted. Most of the Dolls they’re fighting against actually appear to be unpiloted, i.e. all the random strange models Hadil notices in the earlier scene; only a few are actual human rebels. The working theory of the military is that they’re all somehow being controlled by Mok in the giant Doll.]
The giant, whirring and whirring, emanated a strange, ear-splitting noise. Intan screamed.
[blank space here, I must have either intended a bit more action or some more hinting at malfunctioning weirdness]
Intan heard in her mind then a man’s voice, whisper-soft —
“Forgive me, Miqa… I couldn’t…”
[This is indeed the same Miqa mentioned in “Smoke Break.” It may be of interest to note that her name was originally Meilan very briefly back when this was a more futuristic/hard SF setting. Uh. Not that I’m admitting anything about the actual setting now.]
The giant spun slowly to a stop. Intan breathed a sigh of relief.
[Some cannon fodder start to celebrate over the radio, which of course dooms them to death by sudden explosion. Intan realizes one of the Dolls has turned on their own ranks and started shooting down as many other Dolls as possible — at first it seems people think it’s finishing off the other pilotless Dolls that were accompanying the giant Doll, but it’s actually targeting captain units.]
[She and everyone else very swiftly recognize the Doll as Rusli’s. Episode break probably would have been here.]
* * *
“Lord Rusli! What is the meaning of this?”
“What is the meaning of this, you ask?” said Rusli, his voice tight and unnaturally calm. “Captain Mok is dead. He has failed in his objective. And I mean to see things through in his place.”
“You and your scheming father –”
“Don’t speak to me of my father!” shouted Rusli. “My father is a fool, power-hungry and self-serving. If he knew what I’ve done –” He laughed.
“Enough nonsense! Your Clan is nothing but traitors!”
[Whoever that poor person is gets shot down. Intan confronts Rusli — note that she’s always sensed something off about him, and ironically she likes him much better now that he’s being honest. But she is trying to gauge his intentions in this scene. Rusli, however, is convinced that she wouldn’t understand. Which she probably wouldn’t. Still, she’s not nearly as upset at his treachery as she is at this twisted element of his nature that’s been pinging her all year… which she seems to now think is being amplified somehow.]
* * *
[Meanwhile…. Eguzki and the girls encounter some stray rebels. I think they were trying to meet back up with the Headmistress. The rebels… probably trying to regroup after Mok’s death.]
“You — from the Academy? What are you kids doing here?”
“They’re the spies the captain caught!”
[They’re nicer than they seem, especially since Mok’s death was… well, not unexpected, but apparently they weren’t expecting him to go down quite that quickly, and they DEFINITELY weren’t expecting Rusli to step right into the middle of the mess either. The leader of the group, a woman, is pretty upset because she seems to know exactly what Mok has left undone, and it’s NOT what Rusli thinks it is.]
[Tuyet’s not really surprised, by the way. She figured he had to have been the one who sold her out — she’s not THAT reckless hahaha. She just didn’t think it was all that important to mention it, since there’s nothing they can do about it at this point. In fact, I’m pretty sure she and the Headmistress had already suspected him for a while and have been deliberately trying to draw him out — I know I hinted at this at least a little bit in earlier chapters, but not sure exactly how clear it was and no longer remember who knew what, lol]
[Eguzki has been pretty stunned by this revelation, in contrast. Although he’s never felt all that comfortable with Rusli’s kindness, Rusli was, in a strange way, one of his only real connections.]
[Not that it matters, because in all the confusion, the giant Doll has come to life again, much to everyone’s horror]
[Even weirder, the Doll starts to speak?!?]
[… Oh, it’s just the king’s voice broadcasting over the battlefield.]
“The king! The king has come!”
“The king? But they said he had died!”
The rebel woman snorted. “If he were dead, would things have come to this? If he were dead, the captain would have never — it would all be over by now!”
“No,” said Tuyet suddenly. “It would not. The death of the king would solve nothing.”
“Don’t –” growled Kaneshiro.
“What does it matter now? It’s true. And you and I both know it. Or you wouldn’t have done the Headmistress’s bidding so loyally all this time –”
Kikue stared hard at the two of them.
[I do believe Kikue has by now figured out that the “Nine Dragons” are an empty honor, but there are a few students whose loyalties genuinely do lie with the Headmistress on a very personal basis. Tuyet’s obviously one of them, as is Eguzki. Unless I changed my mind at some point or accidentally wrote something contradicting this, there is exactly one more major character in the Headmistress faction.]
[Just how sincere is Tuyet’s loyalty? Well, I know I hinted otherwise with her backstory and with her underlying bitterness, but believe it or not she’s deeply, genuinely loyal, and might very well be considered the Headmistress’s right hand woman/future successor at this point, not that either of them would admit it. But that’s irrelevant to the story at hand~]
[On that note, in case you’re wondering, of the two second-year students who remained artificially off screen throughout this season, one was Tanaquil Gushiken, the much younger half sister of the Gushiken head. Her actual loyalties are kind of interesting, but I’d intended for that all to be dumped in the second season. There are three or four major political factions within the academy — yes, for various reasons, they soft recruit as early as possible and most people are pretty well aware that the academy is mainly a place for networking/making connections, hence the existence of sponsors for certain students — but I don’t think I managed to convey that at all because Intan doesn’t care. 😄 Weirdly, I think Hadil’s fellow villager Gisela and her connection to the Ouyangs was the only good example I managed to sneak in. This would have all come into play later.]
[… Did I ever reveal who Intan’s sponsor was? I’m guessing I didn’t, because that’s also part of the more political subplots that would have been explored in more detail later.]
[Ahem, back to the story.]
[Kikue realizes it’s useless to confront them, and instead grills the rebels about Rusli’s role in all this. But they have no idea either. Apparently Rusli was the mole, but he only communicated directly with Mok. And why the hell Mok tolerated him no one knows, because it’s common knowledge that Mok HATED the Ruslis and, as I think/hope I seeded sufficiently earlier, refused to recruit anyone too young, because he was determined to be better than the Headmistress in that sense.]
[It’s Hadil who suggests that his hatred is probably exactly the reason why Mok let Rusli play spy. The perfect revenge, in a way. Though of course she has no idea why he wanted to take revenge on that family.]
[… I don’t know if anything I posted before contradicts all of this, but that’s the way I always intended things to play out.]
[It all ends with a deeply upset/flustered Eguzki suddenly saying that he has to go and running off on his own. Again.]