Happy Valentines Day! Oh… and here is chapter 43!

Congrats to Zexand for accurately predicting that I was waiting until Valentines Day to post the pin-up art for this month. The $5 and up patrons voted and Robynne preparing for a hot date was the winner so here is Grimay’s art portraying that:

Why would I use a mirror? I have a webcam

Now, who is Robynne prepping for a date with? Well, I leave decisions like that to fanfic writers. Though friend-of-the-story Kamizite, who is running me through a “What if” MGP-RP saw the picture and had another commission from Grimay of Robynne going on that date with her boyfriend from that RP. You can see the picture here. If you’re interested to know what his What-If scenario is you can read about it on this thread in the forums.

But that isn’t the main story. THIS is the main story! Chapter 43 for your reading pleasure! We get to see Robynne analyze a situation and get ready to tackle it! Plus I was able to put a few other details in I think you all might find interesting. I look forward to hearing your comments and theories!

Okay, so, upcoming events. First, Chapter 2 of Villain-in-Distress, my $2 monthly patron reward goes up tomorrow. Probably on that same day I’ll be putting up the poll for the March pin-up picture and the request for questions for the March Q&A. Then the next chapter comes out on March 2nd. The one thing I’m unsure of is the February cannon image… the image I’m asking him to draw is actually form Chapter 44 so, to avoid spoilers, I kind of want to wait until March 2nd to post it. But that means February is missed. I feel that’s okay for the purpose to avoid spoilers as long as we do two in March. Sorry for the disappointment. Robynne getting ready for her imaginary date will have to tide you over.

Lastly, for those of you who missed it, here is the February Q&A link. We talked about a lot, including the tech level of the Ardent Empire and the world of Villain-in-Distress! Also discussed was how there should be a new stretch goal posted soon to get some artwork for Villain-in-Distress so that should be fun. Regardless, thanks for continuing to be the greatest fans an author could ask for.

Later days!

11 thoughts on “Happy Valentines Day! Oh… and here is chapter 43!”

  1. Now I have NEVER seen a monitor that is reflective enough to be even CLOSE to a good mirror before. Unless … ah yes, there it is … of course. She’s got a webcam attached to the top of her monitor. Silly geek-girl. 🙂

    Is that supposed to be the new Candy Crush system? If it is it’s missing the required pinkness. Or did Robynne manage to update the case already?

  2. And now a comment on the story chapter itself.

    YAY! New chapter! 😀

    And um, whooops. I hope someone else gets there FAST! Hurry up Kara!

  3. The problem with being the sneaky type in MMOs is when you get ambushed, it tends to go badly. This is not going to work out well for Robynne, is it?

    Still, nice to see competent enemies.

  4. Robynne, you silly goose, I thought you were a good strategist. You know that monsters have empathokinetic senses as well and can sense you in Spirit Guard form. You also, apparently, knew that you have the slowest transformation time. Why would you just go into the other room, basically right next to the monster, to transform, when you know it’s going to know you’re doing it and you’re super vulnerable. It’s like you went behind a wall 10 yards from a Hunter who probably has Track Hidden and Track Humanoids on. They definitely saw you walk up on the minimap and they heard your stealth sound. You can’t be surprised when they throw a flare at you and go complete Big Red Pet all over you.

    1. Errr, that was supposed to be “went behind a wall from a Hunter etc… in order to stealth and attack him.” Kinda forgot half the thought there. And this comment system not only has no option to edit, but not even to delete.

    2. I don’t think we’ve seen anything in story showing that the monsters van sense the Spirit Guard, have we? I mean, the whole group snuck up on Polygal (who did manage to figure out something was up with Rob, but only after trying to drain him). Rob also managed to completely take Day La Mode by surprise after transforming for the first time.

      I’m thinking the tracking ability here is something unique to this monster, and bot sometging available to all of them. Which, if so…Rob’s in for a bad time, maybe.

  5. And Platicore finally starts doing things the way he should have been from the start if he could always have done this anyways. Maybe it required a certain amount of investiture to make a monster that could do this? This should ALWAYS have been his goal though.

    I don’t think we’ve seen the monster get a preemptive strike like this before either. If she’s based on wireless devices and phones, this could be very problematic. I think she just “muted” Robynne- which means no attacks. Spirit Guard limitations like “transformation is not a free action” and “you MUST call your attacks” are a giant pain, huh?

  6. Oh crapbaskets. She rushed into things now she is gonna get hurt badly. And of course it ends in a cliffhanger. Run faster Kara!!

  7. Hrrm…So this one…Well, okay.
    So between the attack calling& pom pom swaps for weaponry it kinda feels like the Spirit Gaurd are only but so fast right?
    But if this monster follows the theme of how she drains we’re probably looking at something with super speed/ teleport powers, in which case…It boils down to how nasty that initial hit was on Rob& How well she can keep up with it in a fight. Because if she can’t, the only other idea I have is AOE, and uhh, maybe this is just me missing that part, but I think that’s Viv’s job and that means cooking the area the fight happens in because magic fire everywhere.
    If I had to pick one for MVP…I’m thinking basically, this is an ‘evil Serenity’ so to speak, and thus the answer (If LoL has taught me anything) is stun the sucker and slam her while she’s caught. But…Who does that? I mean, Valor is the right class (tank) but her magic is earth and her spells…Not really ‘stunny’, so far. Maybe Charity with barrier trapping…Dunno.

  8. Oh wow, though I read the new chapter the day it was posted, it’s crazy that I’m only now able to get enough free time to sit down and comment. First thing I’ve gotta say is how much I love Grimay’s work… he’s definitely one of my favorite artists that does commissions. It’s not just the skill, either; I really like how he adds so much life to the characters and their environments. Oh, though when I went to his page to look at that RP-related pic, I finally saw the picture of Angela as a professional cheerleader. I know we rightfully have to wait for the next pic because of spoilers, but if you’re looking to post a new pic before then, you could always share that since some others likely haven’t seen it.

    Though on to the chapter goodness. I must say I’m excited to finally see some more action, though the end of the chapter made me feel like those anime episodes or manga chapters that hit you with “To Be Continued” right as things start to be awesome. But I don’t (really) blame you for that, it’s a great way to build dramatic tension. There was enough bit of comedy to be fun and balance out the tension without being distracting to the primary goings-on. More nagging Robynne about cosplaying… I still have money riding that getting Robynne to cosplay as Collider is what will finally wear her down, but all the talk about Dance of Blossoms (I can’t remember the character’s name, though I know it was mentioned before) makes me think that’s going to happen to her at some point too. Poor Robynne, haha.

    Though I always enjoy the comedy dynamics between Cory and Eli, this time Eli’s role reversal had me chuckling the entire time. I had this great mental image of the nigh-unflappable Cory being completely beside himself. I really got into hearing about the experiments Robynne and Vivian were doing on their powers and transformations; I’m glad to see those two follow through on that promise. It’s also a neat way to add in exposition without bogging down the story too much. I hope this continues to come up. (Oh, and was the mention of Robynne speaking with Kara about certain… health concerns… a typo? Or was it referring to a conversation we just didn’t get to see? No big deal either way, just curious.)

    The nature of the new monster intrigues me. I mean, the “why” of Platicore suddenly being able to create such a creature seems to be fairly obvious, because I remember Trace commenting on how strong the Investiture drain she got from Day LaMode was; that it was a color she’d never seen before. That aside, I know Robynne feels that the woman she saw was the monster in disguise, but that doesn’t just seem like power jump, but a jump in technical skill. Part of me thinks that the monster might still have been something the woman was using/holding… and if she was allied with the monster, perhaps that would explain why Robynne felt the way she did. It has, after all, been quite a while since we’ve heard about Trace. Maybe Platicore had her be the main vehicle for the monster… or, for that matter, Platicore promised he’d make Trace a battle suit. What if the monster/golem and the battle suit were one in the same? It’d give Trace what she wanted, and provide a built-in failsafe keeping her from backstabbing him. And since Trace did want to go toe-to-toe with Serenity, I could see her relishing the opportunity.

    Alternatively, the thing with networking cell phones and evil malware offers some potential here that has my reader/writer skills tingling. Is the monster only the malware, and thus able to jump into any cell phone she’s infected and make it her body? Sure, that’s similar to Day LaMode, but considering how effective it nearly was, I can also see Platicore doing it again… like a kid who learns one combo in a game and then just button-mashes his way to victory. And does the new monster learn things from the phones she’s infected? Perhaps she’s broken through the Disconnection Effect and knows Serenity’s real identity. It wasn’t super clear at the end, but if this theory is true and depending on where the attack came from exactly, what if the monster that attacked Serenity was actually Robynne’s own transformed phone. I also wonder if the monster can switch to mass-draining everyone whose phones it’s infected… it could give the monster a *massive* boost in power in exchange for giving up being hidden. Anyway, these are random things that have been bouncing around my brain for the last nine days. I hope you don’t mind my word-dump of monster theory-crafting.

    One of the things I’m looking forward to in this battle is seeing the Spirit Guard start showing some teamwork. (They seem to have great skills in single battle thanks to their instincts, but I can also foresee challenges in working together, which will be determined by their current-day skills more than their past-life instincts.) The first real fight was largely either Tenacity or Serenity fighting Day LaMode one-on-one. But with Serenity already off-guard and having to play on the defensive, it will be pretty necessary for her to rely on Charity’s active participation in the battle. Seeing a mostly close-range stealth character and a long-range magical archer should make for good battle dynamics. It can get even better if Valor shows up. I think it’s a smart way to pull off the battles; the changing team members will make all the battles really seem like fresh experiences, and not everyone being there at once will make for a great way to naturally evolve the dynamics of the fight. Though something I wonder is how quickly the girls can show up… do they travel and then transform, or transform and then travel? Hmm.

    Diving into Investiture in the chapter was something that I liked as well. It reminds me of the “Three Treasures” of Taoism, in terms of the energy every person has: chi/ki/qi, shen, and ching/jing. (From my days first studying world religions, my ongoing martial arts days, and later when researching to write a story with some friends. It never happened, though, because they all bailed.) All that follows is a simplification, and if anyone more knowledgeable than I notices mistakes, please correct me. The Three Treasures are the three types of energy that combine to “make” a person. Investiture seems to be a combination of the three to various degrees, so whether there would be and long-term damage is actually well worth exploring. Ki (or chi or qi, differing names for the same thing), for instance, is the breath of life that actually animates the body… it’s probably best known as the energy used in the Dragonball franchise. Using ki would allow for performance beyond the normal, and improper ki flow results in energy or disease… using all of one’s ki would leave them practically immobile and seemingly lifeless. (Think of the end of certain DBZ battles.) Ki can, however, be completely recovered with no ill effects through rest and food, and sometimes even the environment.

    Shen is almost more interesting, as it is the energy of the mind and would most closely align with the Western notion of the soul. If looking for an example in anime, the best example that comes to mind would the spiritual energy seen in Yu Yu Hakusho. (The chakra in Naruto is supposedly a combination of ki and shen, and the Haki of One Piece is likely shen with certain characteristics of ki as well.) If this makes up part of one’s Investiture, then having it drained would likely cause emotional side effects at first, followed by psychological effects for more long-term draining, and being completely drained would destroy who that person is completely. It essentially would be death.

    The last is ching (or jing depending on which spelling is used), which is a little difficult to differentiate from certain representations of ki. I honestly can’t think of a single example of popular culture that shows ching being used; possibly because part of it deals with sex and reproduction. Leaving that part of it aside completely, it’s arguably the most important of the three types of energy. According to certain Taoist teachings, the primary function of ching is to support and nourish the body. There are two version of ching as well: pre-natal and post-natal. The easier to comprehend is the post-natal ching, which is the energy that supports and replenishes the body on a day-to-day basis. This grows your hair, generates bone marrow, lost blood, etc. Post-natal ching can be regenerated much in the same way as ki, but is different. (To illustrate the difference, imagine someone that chronically appears unhealthy but is full of energy. That would be high ki but low ching. Conversely, someone laconic but very healthy would be high ching but low ki.) The pre-natal version of ching is a reservoir of energy that everyone is born with, and is consumed continuously throughout life. This energy would be what children use to grow, and aging past one’s prime is a sign that one’s supply of pre-natal ching is declining. Essentially, losing pre-natal ching is what causes people to grow old and die when it’s lost completely. So a lot of energy control, dietary/lifestyle restrictions, and efforts in Chinese medicine revolve around conserving pre-natal ching. The Taoist Immortals can, among other supernatural feats, convert chi and/or post-natal ching into pre-natal ching. (Plus, they can’t be permanently killed by practically any means.) So, if part of one’s Investiture involved ching, then if the pre-natal version is drained, it would have long-lasting consequences that can’t be healed by normal means.

    Whew, sorry, I didn’t expect to ramble so much with monster ideas and then get into Taoist supernaturalism like that. If anyone reads all that… well, sorry for the length first of all; even more so if I randomly guessed something I shouldn’t have. But I hope someone found at least parts of all that interesting.

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