Hyper Light Drifter

I wanna preface the below with the understanding that I don’t think Hyper Light Drifter is a bad game. It is demonstrably not. Honestly, my standards are so low at this point that as long it’s not filled with gross loli shit or racist under/overtones, then your game is probably fine in my book. BUT HLD (or Hyper Lightmension Driftunia if ya nasty) has a lot of design decisions that I think are very interesting but that I found myself not agreeing with, enough that I’m making a whole blog-post about it.

For the unitiated HLD is a succesfully kickstarted top-down action-exploration game that is pretty hard to define in terms of its inspirations. It feels like it takes bits of everything from traditonal SNES JRPGs to Zelda to — and I’m sorry to say it — Dark Souls. It has no plot to speak of, really. Sure, you can speculate, but unlike Dark Souls, which has a plot you can piece together with some digging and a Vaati video or two, that’s pretty much impossible with HLD, because there’s not a single line of dialogue in the game outside of tutorials. We’re going to get back to this.

Hyper Light Drifter is beautiful. It’s one of the best looking 2D games I’ve ever played. Every pixel is lovingly crafted and purposeful. The fluidity of the animation as the Drifter cuts through enemies never stopped being engaging as I played through the game. Every setting is distinct in its aesthetic and carried a different variation of the overall melancholic tone that the game provides. The music is also fantastic, with brooding synths that sound like they came straight out of a Blade Runner film but without all the Asian fetishization.

Those are my highlights. But that said, moment-to-moment I found myself frustrated with Hyper Light Drifter.


What’s the Point?

Let’s get back to that part about HLD having next to zero plot. This can be fine as a design decision. Shadow of the Colossus has so little dialogue, it probably all fits on a double-sided 8.5 by 11 sheet. The problem is that even SotC has an easy to understand goal. Obfuscation doesn’t equal a compelling world to explore in. Dark Souls’ environmental design and even its inventory descriptions give you some idea of what’s going on and your place in its world.

HLD doesn’t have this in any way. Why are you going around killing these enemies? What is the village hub you go back to for upgrades? What are these skeletal titanic remains doing in the world? A little bit of mystique is great in getting the imagination going, but you can’t just stop there. There has to be some thread that players can go down to answer at least some of these questions, even if they’ll never be solved fully. It hearkens back to the unforgiving, hostile environments of a game like the NES Legend of Zelda, where everything is out to kill and you don’t really know why, but doggone you spent money on this cartridge and you’re going to finish it. It’s just not something I’m into personally. By the time I fought the last boss, I assumed I was supposed to feel something about the events that followed. But with no understanding of the stakes towards the conflict I had just been through, I just sort of…blanked out.

You Zig, I Zag

“But Mint,” you say with an exasperated sigh. “The plot is just window-dressing for the main focus, which is clearly the combat, you cheeky tart!”

Alright, fair, fair. And I will say that when all the pieces come together, HLD flows in a way that feels great.

Dancing through bullets, dodging past enemies before cutting them down with your sword can be exhilarating…in the right circumstances. But it takes a long time to get there. Combat is stilted and slow unless you upgrade yourself with a particular set of skills from the main hub of the game. It’s totally possible to miss these upgrades. The only reason I knew of them was that I spent a bit of time researching where best to put the upgrade points I had collected after finishing the first dungeon of the game.

The Chain Dash is a move so fundamental to the core of Driftunia’s design that I was baffled that it wasn’t immediately available in the Drifter’s tool-set — it was like having to level up for the block and dodge roll in the original Kingdom Hearts. The same can be said of the Dash Shield, which lets you move through energy shots with the right timing, and the Sword Deflection, which does exactly what it sounds like against enemy projectiles. The game became infinitely more fun after I built this toolkit, but I don’t feel it should have been “built” in the first place. Getting upgrade parts to improve your character is a staple of the action-exploration genre, I won’t argue that. But as I mentioned, with a myriad of upgrade choices to choose from, you might completely miss these skills. Couple this with a lack of i-frames, busy screen-effects, and some bosses that were more a chore than a challenge to fight through, and you have a game that is definitely mechanically sound, but not built with the sort of tempo I’m interested in when it comes to action games.

Image result for not my tempo
forgive me for this one, I recently rewatched Whiplash, heh…

Nooks and Crannies (and more Nooks)

And so we find ourselves in the third pillar of Hyper Light Drifter’s design: exploration. Again, I want to make it clear that I don’t think that any of what I’ve talked about up to this point is particularly bad. It’s just not for me. And this applies with HLD’s exploration as well. A lot of the game’s hidden areas are based on the old-school design philosophy of “bumping into all of the walls until you find a wall that’s not actually a wall.” As you get into the game proper, you’ll find yourself wondering if the forest of trees to your left is actually a game border or a spot that takes you to a new screen just out of reach, with goodies to peruse. I’ll admit that I sometimes felt pretty good about finding these spots, especially as they led to new beautiful areas and bits of currency that brought me one step closer to a new item. But by the end of the game, I was getting a bit tired of it all, bumping into one object after another and destroying every item in every room to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. Some of the secrets are pretty obvious. Others are so obtuse to reach that you’ll find them either out of sheer luck, or by checking a guide.

This isn’t as big a cardinal design sin as the inability to keep track of everything. You’ll find lots of areas that you’ll need to backtrack to after gaining a certain number of keys, and you have no real way of remembering them unless you make a note outside the game, or, again, keep a guide handy. I unlocked two monoliths. How many are there in total? No idea. I didn’t feel any incentive to explore much outside of the critical path because I knew I’d forget where everything was and had no idea how much progress I was making for the extra stuff.


I guess the general thesis I’m making after writing all this is that HLD really wants you to care — about its characters, its world, and its mechanical systems — but doesn’t do enough for it to earn that care. It’s simultaneously aloof and open, wanting you to dive into everything it has to offer but not really giving you a reason — or even, depending on your prior preparation or luck, the tools to do so. I didn’t hate my time with Hyper Light Drifter. But I didn’t love it either. I didn’t feel much of anything, and I think that’s a shame, because it’s a game that, with a bit more time, is definitely something I could see myself loving.

Crowe’s Nest

“Psst…Velvet, wake up.”

“M…what?”

“Wake up.”

“Five…mo…”

“WAKE UP!”

Velvet shot up, slamming her head against the bunk-bed above her. She dived out of covers, drawing her sword and aiming it  out of the Van Eltia’s cabin door.

“What is it? Are we under attack?” she shouted. Magilou stood behind her, arms behind her back.

“Nooooo,” she replied.

“Then what’s wrong!?”

“Oh, I just wanted to see if you were asleep.”

In one swift motion, Velvet went from aiming her sword towards the door to jamming her forearm against Magilou, her sword running its length across her throat. The witch raised her hands, flapping them back and forth.

“Take it easy, I’m just joking. I needed to ask you something.”

“Couldn’t it have waited until morning?” Velvet growled, teeth bared.

“I mean, probably, but where’s the fun in that? Come on, the night’s young! Let’s go to the Crow’s Nest. You like the Crow’s Nest, right? Cause it’s like, your…forget it, it’s no fun if you explain the punch-line.”

Velvet sighed, sheathing her sword and letting Magilou off from the wall.

“Fine.”

Magilou blinked.

“R-really?”

Velvet was already making her way out onto the deck. She didn’t look at the witch as she spoke.

“Yes. I am already awake, and I could use the air. Maybe it’ll prevent me from killing you.”

Magilou shrugged, skipping along to make her way behind Velvet.

The Van Eltia was quiet, the only sounds coming from the creaking within the ship’s wood, and the waves crashing against it. A few lamps were lit throughout the deck, most likely the crew’s sentries posting watch. Velvet pulled herself along the ladder that led to the Crow’s Nest, Magilou following close behind. As they climbed, she could hear a faint sigh below her. Velvet stopped to look at the girl.

“Are you alright?”

Magilou was staring back up at her, a hand on her chin as she rested her elbow against one of the ladder’s rungs.

“Better than you know,” she said, winking. Velvet rolled her eyes, focusing back onto the climb. “I’m just saying, the view is great up here!” Magilou continued.

“We’ll take this shift,” Velvet told the sailor on duty once the two girls made their way to the top of the nest. He saluted, happy to be relieved of the work so he could get some sleep, and made his way down to the deck. Magilou flopped out on the floor, looking up at the stars.

“If you close your eyes, it feels like you’re going to fall off the boat!” she said with strange amount of glee. Velvet eyed from the other side of the nest.

“If you’d like, I can push you off.”

“I feel like we never go more than three sentences without you mentioning the way you want to kill me. Or how much you want to kill me. Or –“

“It’s because I want to kill you. Was this a mystery to you?”

Magilou rolled onto her side, holding her head up with her hand.

“Well, why haven’t you then?”

Velvet flinched, turning away. The witch grinned.

“Well you seem to be stumped by what I feel is a pretty easy question, so I’ll try another one — the one that I wanted to ask you in the first place.”

“Which is?”

“What do you think of the moon?”

Velvet closed her eyes. She stayed like that for a few moments.

“You fall back asleep?” Magilou asked, scratching her back.Velvet exchanged a question for a question.

“This is what you woke me up for?”

“Yes! It’s very important! The moon says a lot about people. I’m a witch, don’t you remember? I commune with it all the time.” Magilou wiggled her arm and spoke the last sentence as if she were telling a spooky campfire tale. Velvet snorted.

“Really? What does the moon say about me?”

Magilou sat up, putting a finger on her chin as she thought. “Well, for one, that you’re a Taurus. You sleep with one leg out of the blanket…hmm, what else…” A smirk crossed Magilou’s face.

“Maybe…that you’re not a fan of red?”

Memories of Aball flashed through Velvet’s mind. She gripped the wooden guardrail that she leaned against so tightly it began to splinter. Magilou snapped her fingers.

“Yep, I thought so.”

Velvet took a calming breath. “You’ve said nothing of note, witch. No one is fond of the Scarlet Night.” Magilou leaned her head on the palms of her hands, looking too relaxed for the conversation that was currently taking place.

“I’d argue you might be less fond of them then most,” she said, her smirk never disappearing. Velvet took a step forward.

“Is there a point to all this?”

“Yes, actually! The point is that you need to be a little more open and trusting.”

Velvet laughed, despite herself. “That’s…quite ironic, coming from you,” she said. Magilou pouted.

“I’m being serious! Everyone needs someone to rely on. Even I have Bienfu, even if the most I rely on him for is as my punching bag.”

Velvet sat on the floor of then nest, meeting Magilou at eye-level.

“I don’t need to rely on anyone. I just need to get my revenge. I don’t really care what happens after that.”

“I see! Well then why are you on this ship then? Why do you take our help? Or are we being used? I mean, I don’t mind being used now and again, but I’m really more of a to–“

“Stop,” Velvet said, holding her hand out before Magilou could continue her verbal tirade. “Our goals aligned. That’s it. Your powers are worth keeping around.”

Magilou was suddenly sitting right next to Velvet. She hadn’t even seen the girl move. She leaned up against Velvet’s shoulder.

“Right. Well, let’s go back to our previous question then: why haven’t you gotten rid of me yet?”

Velvet grimaced, turning her head away. “I think you said it yourself. You’re being used.”

Magilou ran a finger up Velvet’s thigh. A cold sweat ran down her back. A breathy whisper made its way to her ear.

“Do you want to use me right now?” it asked.

Velvet was…conflicted, to put it mildly. All this time she had refused to let herself feel anything, worried that she would be distracted from her goal. But as much as she damned herself for it, she was smitten with this absolute, literal jester of a human being, whose words and actions constantly kept her guessing. Why should she deny it?

“Yes,” Velvet finally said.

Magilou swung a leg over, straddling Velvet as she kissed her with an intensity that caught Velvet off-guard. She accepted it, wrapping her arms around the witch’s waist.

—-

The first crack of the dawn’s rays shown on Magilou and Velvet when they finally woke up. The latter was blushing from head to toe. Magilou yawned, stretching out until she noticed Velvet next to her. A lazy smile lingered on her face.

“Were you that red last night?” she asked, attempting to conceal a snicker. Velvet threw the girl’s clothes directly at her face.

“Dress yourself! And stop stretching out like a deer in morning light, someone down below will see you!”

“Relax you big baby, it’s still dark and the shift doesn’t change for a while.”

“Dress.”

“Alright, alright, I’m going…you know you’re surprisingly pushy for someone who collapses at a literal finger touch.”

Velvet wanted to throw Magilou over the guardrail — for real this time. But someone would see the body. She focused instead on dressing in a blur.”

When the pair made their way down from the Crow’s Nest, Velvet took a few breathes, trying to act as calmly as possible, even if she was anything but. She turned to Magilou.

“You will speak of this to no one. No one.”

Magilou shrugged.

“Sure sure, we’ll keep it on the down-low. I can keep a secret.”

Magilou began to walk away, before Velvet grabbed her by the wrist. She was staring directly at the floor.

“…Thank you,” she finally managed to get out. Magilou was, for once, taken off guard.

“Yeah. No problem.”

She made her way below-deck.

“Remember: no one!” Velvet shouted behind her.

“Yeah, yeah!”


“We totally smashed,” Magilou told Eizen and Rokurou a few minutes later.

art by @double_moonbow

2B to Tea

Another flash fic request! It was hard to find a reason for these two to meet up and smooch at first, but it came together in the end. This isn’t 100% canon-compliant, but that’s okay.

Also I love 6O. She’s so cute!! This was a good request to get. 🙂


The clack of 2B’s heels echoed through the halls of the Bunker. It was relatively empty — most of the other androids were likely at Command, or on a mission on the surface. She couldn’t feel the cold that crept through each section of the base as she passed through, matched with the dark expanse of space that sat outside. 2B didn’t know why the Bunker had windows. Anything that needed to be seen could be through the numerous high-tech sensors that adorned the Bunker’s exterior. But she didn’t see the need in asking why, either. It seemed to have always been this way. And sometimes 2B would look out at the stars glittering out in front of her when she looked out the window. She would never admit it to anyone if they asked, but she enjoyed the view.

2B had a day off. It was a rarity in her line of work, but even androids needed to rest. As her Pod would constantly point out, work with no sign of stopping was detrimental to her performance, which in turn was detrimental to the mission as a whole. She would rather have been back out on the field, but the last thing 2B needed was a reprimand from the Commander. Plus, she had already been tied up with plans at this point.

2B made some cross between a grimace and a smirk when she remembered it. She and 9S were in the City Ruins on reconnaissance when 2B received a call.

“Operator 6O to Combat Unit 2B!” came the sing-song voice on the other end of the line. 2B accepted the communication.

“2B here. What do you need, 6O?”

“Command wanted to notify you that you have a mandatory day off tomorrow!”

2B flinched. “Is it…really mandatory?”

“Yes, 2B! Gosh, a bit of rest wouldn’t kill you you know!”

2B sighed at her operator’s admonishment. “I suppose so. Fine. I’ll report in for my rest day tomorrow.”

There was silence on the other end of the line. 2B frowned.

“You should still be on the line. Signal’s clear,” 9S said, checking his systems.

“6O? Can you hear me?” 2B asked.

“So then 2B…that means you don’t have any plans tomorrow, do you?” 6O said in whisper of a voice.

“What? Of course not. You just told me I have time off.”

“Great! So that means we can go on a date tomorrow, right?”

If 2B were human, she would have broken out into a cold sweat. It wasn’t that she wasn’t interested in 6O — she actually was, though she’d die before admitting it to anyone that asked. She just wasn’t prepared to go on a date so soon. And yet, she had no excuse to dodge the meeting. 2B was caught in 6O’s trap.

“I suppose…I don’t have a choice do —”

Before 2B could finish her sentence, 6O’s high-pitched squeal shot through on the other end of the line, nearly causing 2B to short-circuit. It was more powerful than some of the EMP blasts she had been subjected to in battle.

Yes! Okay, I’ll give you the details later, but we’ll meet tomorrow at 1600 hours! Don’t be late! Operator 6O out!”

The connection closed. 2B was left to look out at the horizon as a breeze ruffled her skirt, too shocked to move or speak.

Thusly did 2B make her way to 6O’s appointed coordinates. She was in a part of the Bunker she never found herself visiting. A pleasant smell was wafting through the door in front of her. This was probably the place.

2B opened the door to let herself in, and found herself face-to-face with…

“What is this?” 2B asked aloud.

It was unlike anything she had ever seen before. Rather than the usual silver and black walls, 2B had found herself in a small room with wooden panels on all sides. Pictures adorned the walls, and light blue and green streamers hung in the rafters above her. A handful of other androids were sitting at different tables, and they had drinks in their hands. This was some sort of…coffee shop?

Before 2B could ruminate further, she saw an overly energetic hand waving towards her from the corner of the room.

“Over here!” 6O called out. She had replaced her usual uniform with an elegant black and yellow dress. She looked more adorable than ever.

Subsequently, 2B felt very under-dressed.

The android cleared her throat, before making her way to 6O’s table.

“6O,” she said, giving a bow. Was it too polite? Oh damn, she was already messing up. 2B tried to bulldoze her way past her paralyzation and sat down.

“Has this place always been here?” she asked. 6O chuckled.

“Yes, silly! The Bunker Cafe has been here forever. It’s a spot where androids can relax when they’re not on the job. You’ve just never seen it because you never take a day off, and when you do you spend all your time sleeping in your room!”

“It seemed like the most optimal use of my time in regards to the mission…” 2B replied. 6O passed the woman a menu that she began to peruse.

“It’s built to mimic the same structures that humans would spend their time relaxing in,” 6O said as 2B examined the menu.

“They sure were strange creatures.” Still, she was intrigued by the whole concept. It seemed that Nines’ curious nature was beginning to rub off on her.

“What are you ordering?” 2B asked. She almost never ate human food, even though she had the capability, because it was unecessary. She figured it best to defer to 6O, who was fascinated by human meals.

“Lunar tea!” the girl replied, grinning. “It’s the best thing you can drink here!”

“I’ll get the same then,” 2B replied. “And a plate of biscuits as well.” She wasn’t interested in them, but she noticed 6O eyeing the ones on a table next to them a few times. 2B could tell she made the right decision when 6O’s eyes lit up.

“Make sure to share!” she said. 2B smiled.

“Of course.”

The Cafe wasn’t exactly busy, so the pair’s tea and snacks came to them quickly. 2B picked up one of the biscuits. It was circular, and had a face baked into it with two large round eyes and a wide grin spread across it.

“Creepy,” 2B said, before taking a bite.

“How’s field work going?” 6O asked. 2B crossed one leg over the other and took a sip from her drink, which was surprisingly tasty.

“Fine,” she replied. “There hasn’t been much in the way of unusual activity. We just perform our usual recon missions before returning to base.”

6O sighed. “I would kill to go to the surface,” she said, pouting. “It looks so beautiful. I wanna see it all in person!”

“Operators have no reason to go to the surface,” 2B said matter-of-factly. 6O stuck her tongue out at the woman, causing her to blink in surprise.

“Haven’t you ever wanted to do something just because you wanted to, 2B? Like yeah, missions are important, but isn’t there anything you want yourself?”

This was the part of 6O that 2B was always thrown off by. She seemed to not have a filter on anything she said, even for an Operator unit. 2B put her hand under her chin in thought.

“I suppose…I haven’t,” she said. “Oh!”

6O leaned forward. “Oh?”

“I did want to see you today. That was for myself.” 2B nodded, content with her answer. She noticed that 6O had covered her face with her hands.

“6O?” she asked, puzzled. “Are you alright?”

Blghhhaa, 2B!” she said, her voice muffled by her hands. “You can’t just say stuff like that out of nowhere!”

“I was answering your question,” 2B said. 6O waved her hands in front of her.

“Just forget about it!”

The two women went on with their cafe meals, chatting about missions they had worked on and Bunker gossip that 6O had heard while on the job. She idly spinned the straw in her tea, staring into its depths when she next spoke.

“I’m glad you said yes to this,” she said, quieter than she usually was. “I was afraid you wouldn’t.”

2B’s eyes widened. “Why wouldn’t I?”

“Well…the last girl I asked out turned me down…”

This was something 2B hadn’t heard about.

“Really?”

6O blushed. “Yeah…I kinda liked her, but…I don’t know, I guess I wasn’t good enough. Sorry, this isn’t exactly a date topic, is it?”

2B shook her head. “I’m glad she said no.”

“What?”

“If she had said yes, I wouldn’t have been able to be here with you.”

6O was near to tears. Her cheeks were flushed red.

“Two-beeeee,” she said, finally letting out a sob. 2B pat the girl’s hand, flustered herself.

“Get a hold of yourself, 6O,” she said as gently as she could muster.

The girls left the cafe twenty minutes later. 2B stretched, letting out a cat-like yawn.

“I have to admit. That was nice.”

“Wasn’t it?” 6O replied, bouncing on her toes. 2B nodded

“I’ll walk you back to Command,” she said.

The pair made their way through the Bunker’s hall. 2B had passed through them numerous times with collegues, but walking with 6O, she couldn’t help but perceive a sort of warmth in them, even if she knew it wasn’t there. She stopped herself from smiling before 6O could notice.

They arrived at the front entrance of Command a short while later. 6O turned to 2B, hands clasped together as she looked more at 2B’s feet than at 2B herself.

“Well, this is my stop,” she said, giving a nervous chuckle.

“It is,” 2B replied. “Oh yes, one last thing.”

2B popped open the containment slot built into her thigh, and pulled out a bright white flower. She offered it to 6O, who gasped.

“Is that…?”

“A Lunar Tear, yes. You mentioned wanting to see one before, so I got one on the way back to Base yesterday. It’s yours.”

2B placed the Lunar Tear in 6O’s hair. It blended brillianty with the girl’s blond locks. 2B took a step back, admiring her placement.

“I think it looks good. What about you, 6O?”

In answer, 6O rushed forward, pulling 2B into a hug before looking up to kiss her. 2B was shocked for half a second, before she wrapped her arms around the girl, kissing her in turn. They stayed like that for a while, held in each others arms, before finally letting each other go.

“I hope you get another day off soon, 2B,” 6O said. She turned on her heel and rushed into Command. 2B watched her leave.

“Me too,” she whispered.

Art by @astronauts321

Bubblegum and Aprajita

Mint, Queen, Bubblegum and Aprajita floating in the air. Mint's having a good time. Queen is worried has heck. Bubblegum is pleased as always, and Aprajita is...well who knows what she's thinking.
Art by @acidbeaker on Twitter.

The Saga of Mint™ has steadily ballooned over the past couple of months. This mostly occurs via random Mastodon posts and LINE conversations with my friend, described as “Lore,” much the same way one would place fake dinosaur bones around the house to later discover for themselves.

"Did you know that mint and queen use bubblegum crisis clips as the backdrop for their concerts. well you do now."

"Fucking hell yes they do" in all caps
It’s that easy, kids

Since Mint’s creation a stream of cast-members have entered the scene. First, there was Queen, Mint’s girlfriend. I want to do a post about her at some point, but she’s my friend’s OC so I’d like to collaborate with her in writing it, or have her make a post on this blog herself (if she gets off her lazy ass to do it. Doubtful!!!).

So instead today I wanna talk about Mint and Queen’s roommates: Bubblegum and Aprajita.

Bubblegum

Bubblegum is somewhat of a mystery to everyone that knows her. It is rumored that she ran an illegal software ring at some point in her past. Some have said that she was CEO of a massive plushie-making corporation. Still others believe that she was Hatsune Miku’s previous vocal trainer. No one knows for sure because Bubblegum is a rather private person, but it doesn’t particularly matter, especially to Aprajita. Much like her roommates, Bubblegum is a staunch anti-capitalist, regardless of what her former inclinations might have been. She runs an Etsy shop out of the group’s house, filled with all kinds of accessories and custom-made sweaters. Bubblegum is exceedingly cheerful, and she uses the depths of her knowledge on all matter of subjects – wherever it may have come from – to provide advice to everyone in the house.

In case you couldn’t tell, she loves pink. She plays the drums, and has a pet bird named Floof, also pink. And as another fun fact, she played a part in how Mint and Queen first met. But that’s a story for another day.

Aprajita

Aprajita is Bubblegum’s girlfriend. She’s from Malaysia, and helps her friend Sunny run a coffee shop around the corner from the group’s house. She’s also an Artist, Graphic Designer, and designated cook for the household. That last point stems from the fact that she’s an amazing chef, and finds the work relaxing.

Aprajita is as quiet as she looks, but that’s often misconstrued as docileness. Anyone who attempts to take her to task with that line of thought will find themselves rudely awakened via acute verbal decimation. She is trust-worthy and strong-willed, nor is she one to ask many questions. Aprajita is as much an emotional rock to the household as Bubblegum is – this is probably why they’re dating. However, there will be days where she’d like to be left alone, which her roommates respect. On days like this, Aprajita gets even quieter than usual, spending time in her room working on some project or another. It never lasts for very long, though, and she’ll be back with her friends soon afterwards.

She met Mint while working as a designer for one of her tours, and two quickly became friends. She also plays the Bass guitar, and has a pet fish named Toothy that she would literally die for. Aprajita is Ace, and her name, color, and design are based on the Blue Pea flower. There is a reason for this.


That’s all for now. There’s more I want to do with Mint and Co. but I don’t know if I’ll implement my ideas anytime soon. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, I’m content in imagining these characters and the world they’re in and having it just exist, without plans for a novel or a visual novel or a graphic novel or any other kinds of novels. They let me feel imaginatively fulfilled when I’m feeling down on other projects, or too beaten up by my day job and physical ailments to do much creatively.

All that said. If you want to make a character in Mint’s little world and connect it to mine, please feel free to do so. It’d probably be fun. Or maybe not. I dunno, I’m not your mom. The app I used for Mint, Bubblegum and Aprajita is here, and actually got updated with a bunch of new stuff today, surprise. If you make one, show me where I usually hang out: @eightbitsamurai

And if you want to see something I’m working on that actually has a plotline and is progressing pretty steadily, check out the Post-KH3 Fanfic I’m writing here: The Foretellers Saga.

Hope you’re havin’ a good one.

It Suits You!





“That’s the stream everyone! Gotta cut it early, Queen and I have somewhere to be!”

Mint took her headset off and placed it on the table, running her hands through her hair. It always got messy when she was wearing it. The stream was good — it was a Tuesday, meaning it was quiet enough that Aprajita and Bubblegum didn’t have to stick around and moderate. And the game she was playing was pretty fun too. But, real life called, and she had to answer.

Mint leapt from her gaming chair, grabbed a nearby brush, and bounced lightly out of her room and across her house’s wooden panels. Her socks masked her sound. Good — she wanted to initiate a surprise attack.

The girl turned left at the end of the hallway and stopped outside the door. Queen, Mint’s girlfriend, could be heard inside, lightly strumming her guitar. Though she wasn’t inside, Mint could picture her face: pink hair masking her eyes, which were probably furrowed in concentration as she moved from one chord to another.

Sun filtered past the awning and through the window, warming Mint’s face. She smiled, turning to open the door to the studio slowly so as to not let it creak. Queen’s back was turned. She crept up on the girl, before letting out a bellow.

“Queen!”

The taller girl leapt off of the stool she was playing on, nearly dropping her guitar. She whirled at Mint.

“What?” she asked, concern written on her face. Mint almost felt bad for teasing her girlfriend, but it was too easy not to. She turned away from Queen, running her fingers through her green locks in a dramatic flourish.

“Brush my hair!” she commanded.

Queen sighed, letting her shoulders relax.

“Hell Mint, I thought someone broke into the place! You almost gave me a heart-attack. What if I dropped my guitar?”

“I wooooould buy you another one?” Mint asked. Queen sighed yet again. She sighed pretty often around Mint.

“Right. Can’t argue with that I guess.” She threw a hand out, gesturing at Mint’s brush in defeat.

“Get over here,” Queen said. Mint hopped over to the girl and sat on the floor, crossing her legs while Queen got back on her stool and began to brush. The girls sat in silence for a moment as Queen settled into a rhythm going through Mint’s sea of hair with the brush.

Mint’s eyes were shut in relaxation when she heard Queen begin to hum. It was the same few chords from before. She opened her eyes to look up at Queen, lost in thought. Mint smiled. Queen eventually noticed, blushing a deep crimson.

“What?” she asked.

“You’re cute when you get so into your work.”

“O-oh.”

“Is this for the next album?”

“Maybe. I’m trying to figure out the mid-section but I can’t seem to get it down.”

Mint stuck a hand out towards nothing in particular.

“Let me hear it tomorrow. Maybe I can help.”

“Alright.”

The pair sat in silence for a moment longer. Mint tapped on Queen’s knee.

“Have you thought about what you’re wearing tonight?” she asked. Queen looked away.

“I kinda thought…I wouldn’t have to go.”

“What!?”

Mint leapt to the air, nearly knocking Queen on the chin as she did so. She flipped around to look at her girlfriend, hands planted firmly on her hips.

“You have to go! I’m presenting an award! And it might be to Miku!”

Queen’s exasperation was palpable. “I know, I know, I just…”

Mint’s expression softened. She lightly lifted Queen’s chin up with a finger, who had resorted to staring at the floor.

“Just what?” she asked.

“I wanted…to wear…a suit.” Queen could barely get the words out. Mint tilted her head.

“That’s it?” she asked, puzzled. Queen ran a hand through the shaved half of her hair.

“Agh, see, I knew you wouldn’t get it!”

“Get what? You gotta tell me Queen!”

“I just…I feel like it’d be embarrassing, you know? But I don’t wanna wear a dress. I want to wear a suit. But no one’s ever seen me in formal clothes before. Just my usual punk stuff. What do they think I’m gonna wear? What do they think I should wear? What if people think I’m weird?”

Mint interrupted Queen’s rambling. She grabbed the girl’s hand and yanked her to her feet.

“Wha–“

“Come with me.”

Mint sped out of the room, nearly yanking Queen’s arm off as they half-walked, half ran to their shared room. She directed Queen to the dresser on the far wall and yanked it open. It was mostly filled with Queen’s things — Mint still grabbed most of her clothes out of her suitcase, since she was too lazy to hang them up after the girls had moved in together.

Mint pointed at the dresser.

“Where is it?”

Queen stared at the dresser, mouth open as if she were about to say something. She looked at Mint, then back at the dresser again. Mint crossed her arms.

“You must have it, if you wanted to wear it, right?”

Queen nodded. She pulled out a black bag that was hanging in the middle of the dresser.

“Put it on,” Mint said.

“What!?”

Mint tapped at her ear. “Huh. I didn’t think I was wearing my headset,” the girl said. “So there’s no audio feedback. Which means I definitely was clear in what I said. Put it on!”

“A-alright.”

Queen went to the bathroom to change. Mint rolled her eyes.

“She knows I’ve seen her undress, and that I’ve undressed her myself, right?” she asked the room’s dead air. It didn’t respond, leaving Mint to huff alone.

She waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Finally, before she thought to go and find the girl herself, Queen came back into the bedroom, dressed in a sharp white tuxedo.

“Sorry,” she said, giving a sheepish grin. “I had to talk myself out of the bathroom. Uh…Mint?”

Mint seemed to have short-circuited. She was, at the very least, speechless. She took a few steps forward, until she was face-to-face with Queen, and reached out to touch one of the suit’s buttons.

“It’s too much, isn’t it?” Queen said, her worst fears realized. “It’s –“

“It’s hot.”

“It’s what?” Queen sputtered.

“It’s. Hot.” Mint looked up to lock eyes with the girl, before getting on her tip-toes to kiss Queen. When Mint backed away, Queen was just as speechless as Mint was moments before.

“Uh, that was nice,” she finally managed to say. “You really like it?”

“Queenie,” Mint said, using the girl’s pet name. “The only thing stopping me tearing that thing off of you is the fact that it’d be a pain to get ready for the Award Show a second time.”

“Wow. You really like it.”

Mint smoothed her skirt down, seemingly more composed. “Sure I do Queen, but do you? It’s your opinion that matters. I don’t want to pull you one way or the other, I just want you to be comfortable. And happy.”

Queen examined the suit on her body again. “I feel…good,” she said. “But I’m still really nervous. I mean, you know me Minty. Big changes, big anxiety.” The girl let out a short laugh.

Mint had a hand under her chin. She wasn’t looking at Queen at all anymore, but rather the wall behind her — or, perhaps even further. Queen knew that when this was happening, it meant the girl was going into overdrive. Finally, her eyes lit up.

“Don’t go anywhere,” she said, before running out of the bedroom. She turned to poke her head back in.

“I mean, get ready to go, but don’t go anywhere!” she said. “And keep the suit on!” she added as she ran out of the house.

It was two hours until Mint returned, and when she did, she shooed Queen away from her. “Don’t look at me!” she shouted as she ran down the opposite end of the hallway and into the bathroom. Queen watched her zoom past.

“Are we…are we still going to the show?” she asked, confused. Mint didn’t answer.

More time passed. Queen looked at her watch. She knocked on the bathroom door.

“Hey, it’s almost time to go, but, I don’t think I’ll–“

The girl was interrupted by the bathroom door swinging open. Mint stood in front of her girlfriend wearing her own suit, cut slightly differently at the cuffs. She twirled for Queen, before ending with a pose.

“Well? How do I look?” she asked her girlfriend, winking.

It was Queen’s turn to short-circuit. She was beet-red this time around.

Mint continued, seeing as her girlfriend was verbally out of commission. “I didn’t want you to be nervous, so I figured, why don’t we match? I wasn’t sure at first, but I think I cut a pretty good figure in a suit, don’t you?”

Queen steadied herself on the bathroom door.

“Yes,” she said simply.

“So, you’ll go?”

“Yes.”

“In the suit?”

“Yes.”

Mint clapped her hands together.

“Great!” she said. And she meant it.

They were finally ready to go. The two girls stood at the front door, putting their dress shoes on. Queen mumbled something, but Mint couldn’t quite hear it.

“Huh? What?” she asked, leaning forward to hear her. Queen looked away before repeating herself.

“I said, ‘what did I do to deserve such a good girlfriend.'”

Mint’s eyes widened. She stared at Queen for a second, before finally speaking.

“I mean, if you got a girl like me, you’re probably not too shabby yourself, right?”

Mint reached up to kiss the girl again, before the two went on their way.

Simple and Clean

You’re 3.99 years old. The wedding you’re at is boring as hell, so your cousin hands you a GameBoy Color with Link’s Awakening inside. The only videogame you’ve played before this is Pac-Man, at an arcade in Egypt. You are in awe. You cannot believe videogames can be like this – they can tell a story, just like the Redwall books that are enamoring you at the same time. You want an N64 on your birthday, and instead of getting Star Wars Rogue Squadron like you planned, you get Ocarina of Time.

You’re 5 years old. You still haven’t beaten Ocarina of Time. You’re only allowed 2 games a year, so you’re trying to savor the experience. Plus, you’re terrified of the Shadow Temple. You are enthralled by this game. It is the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen. You explore every nook and cranny. You finally understand what the phrase “explore every nook and cranny” even means, because you’ve done virtually everything there is to do in the game. You finally beat it. You cry. A lot.

You’re 8 years old. You have a few games under your belt at this point. Besides reading, they’re your favorite pastime. Your mom acquiesces to your passion for the hobby, as long as you’re reading, getting A’s in class, and only playing on weekends. You’re finally getting a PlayStation 2 for Eid-al-Fitr. It’s the first time you’ve ever fasted for real. You’re allowed one game along with it. You pick Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly, having enjoyed the previous games in the series. It’s the first game that’s ever betrayed you. You are crushed. You return a game, for the first time in your life. With your second chance, you choose carefully. You see a game called Kingdom Hearts on the GameStop shelf, and recognize Cloud from Final Fantasy 7 on the back of the box. He didn’t let you down before. You buy it. It is incredible. You love it so much you break your mom’s rules, playing it on weekdays for a brief 20 minutes while she’s away to pick up your little sister. You beat it. You cry. A lot.

You’re 11 years old. You’re getting a game for your birthday. You’re keeping up with the industry now. You know what IGN is, and you like to do the polls on GameFAQs, and print out the walkthroughs. You really want Shadow of the Colossus. Your mom asks the GameStop clerk if the game is violent. Your heart freezes. Is this the end? The clerk looks her dead in the eye, and says “no.” Thank you Jeff from the Aurora Mall GameStop. I hope you’re living your best life. Shadow of the Colossus changes your life. You’ve cried from games before, but not like this. You question things you were certain of before the credits rolled. You realize that games can be more than just entertainment, or even more than just a story. They can change who you are, fundamentally.

You’re 12 years old. You hate middle school. It is the worst thing you’ve ever experienced, and you’ve had an infected lung tissue removed from your body. That’s how bad middle school is. But it’s okay, because Kingdom Hearts II has released. You have grown up, and the game has grown up alongside you. Sora has grown up alongside you. You play it in a rush during your Spring Break. The ending is so cool that you show it to your friends. They don’t care and have never been interested in Kingdom Hearts in their life, but you can’t help it.

You’re 16 years old. High School isn’t as bad. You skip prom to play Portal 2. You don’t like Skyward Sword, and it causes you to question everything you’ve ever known. You aren’t sure if you’re changing, or if the games you’re playing are. Sometimes you’d rather write than play. You have ideas for novels, but you know you aren’t good enough to make them. Not yet. Everyone is talking about Skyrim. Your friends are talking about Skyrim. Your teachers are talking about Skyrim. Your crush knows what Skyrim is. You want to talk to her about it. You don’t. You don’t talk to her at all, actually.

You’re 19 years old. College is…okay? You have money to buy your own videogames now, from your job at the Registrar. Despite that, you find yourself spending less money on them. You don’t find yourself enjoying them much anymore. You replay all of the Kingdom Hearts games in the HD collection. They’re still good. You recognize that they’re silly, but they’ve been with you all this time, and they mean something to you. You think next year might be better.

You’re 20. You hate everything. You hate college. You hate your major. You hate your roommate. You don’t want to do anything. You spend hours lying on your bed. You go to class, sometimes. You stare at the menu screen of Xenoblade Chronicles X, but you never press start. You don’t even know what the point of getting it was. What a waste of money.

You’re 21. You switched majors. You feel weird about it, but you realize it’s for the best, and that you have to make choices for yourself sometimes. You pick up Persona 4: Golden. It’s soothing. A reminder that you can do better, and be better. You move in with your friend from middle school. You have plans to stream together. You never do, but you like living with him, and don’t dread going home.

You’re 22 years old. You think you like videogames again. Final Fantasy XV, Gravity Rush 2, Nier Automata, Tales of Berseria, Yakuza 0: you’re spoiled for choice, and reminded of the quality they can carry. You wonder again if games changed when you weren’t looking, or if you changed when games weren’t looking. You think it might be both. You play every Kingdom Hearts game in order, from Kingdom Hearts to Dream Drop Distance. You hear that Kingdom Hearts III is releasing fairly soon. You doubt it.

You’re 24 years old. Kingdom Hearts III is releasing tomorrow. You wrote that novel, and you’re about to write it again. You don’t live with your friend from middle school anymore, but you stream with him (almost) every Saturday. You’ve reestablished your whole online persona, and feel more comfortable with yourself than you ever have been. Kingdom Hearts III has blot out the sun as it looms over you. You wonder what will come after it’s finished. You feel like a chapter of your life is closing, and it makes you very uncomfortable. You are embarrassed that a videogame about Mickey Mouse is causing you to have a life crisis, but you figure that writing about it might help.

It doesn’t.

But it was still pretty fun.

Ode to Aqua

I’ll be assuming you have a general knowledge of Kingdom Hearts in this piece. I…I have to. It’s the only way to write this in under 10,000 words.

Kingdom Hearts is a series filled with clones, clones of clones, time travel, nonsense dialogue, and a bewildering plot that is debated on GameFAQs forums and Reddit threads to this day. It’s confusing. It’s a mess. I love it.

But underneath the cacophony of discussion about hearts and weird anime-haired lions is Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep. A game that’s so subdued and uncomplicated in its focus, it almost feels like it’s from an entirely different series.

It’d be unsurprising if you haven’t played Birth by Sleep. Released on the PSP in 2010, only the most rabid of fans would be willing to buy the game on such an unsuccessful console. It wouldn’t be until Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix (yes, I know, and I’m sorry) released in 2014 on the PS3 that a larger audience would gain access to the game. Which is great! I consider BBS to be the best of the series, and a large part of that has to do with Aqua, one of the game’s three playable characters.

Birth by Sleep is a prequel to the Kingdom Hearts series, taking place ten years before the first game — in essence, before things got wild. It tells the story of Terra, Aqua, and Ventus, three keyblade wielders that want to become Keyblade Masters alongside their current teacher, Master Eraquis. Their exam to become masters occurs at the beginning of the game, where Aqua succeeds, and Terra does not. This division between the friends sets off a chain of events that basically screws everything up for the whole universe and will lead you to ask questions like, “what’s the difference between a Heartless and a Nobody? and, “wait, so Heartless carry hearts in them, effectively not making them heartless?”

Yeah.

Aqua is a blessing to the Kingdom Hearts franchise. She feels too good for it, if we’re being completely honest. She displays a level of competency that’s pretty much unmatched by any other character in the game, including characters like Yen Sid, who are supposed to me mentors to the series’ plucky gang of Final Fantasy rejects.

It’s refreshing to play a female protagonist that isn’t helpless or weak, and especially important, isn’t undermined by the rest of the cast. On the contrary, Aqua is without a doubt one of — if not the — strongest character in the series, if you take into account what she accomplishes by the end of Birth by Sleep.

By the time credits roll, Aqua pretty much single-handedly prevents the Worlds from being completely swallowed up by darkness. She saves Ventus and defeats Terra-Xehanort, the hardest boss in the game, before letting herself get swallowed up by the Realm of Darkness to save Terra, too. Then she travels and survives through the Realm of Darkness for ten years to find a way out, before helping save the Worlds again by closing the door to Kingdom Hearts with Mickey. In short, Aqua gets things done, and it’s that agency that makes her so engaging and impressive to me.

On top of that, she’s just fun to play. She has access to the most powerful spells in the game and feels more competent than Terra and Ventus. I spent hours grinding for levels to make her deck of commands a force to be reckoned with. Her barrier is the best at defending against attacks from all directions, too. By the time I was ready to face the final boss, I had moves that would essentially clear a room of Heartless in less time than it’d take you to say “Sora, Donald, Goofy!”

In essence, Aqua is the best. She almost (almost) makes up for Xion, Namine, and Kairi’s general lack of agency in the other Kingdom Hearts games – the first is unplayable, the second has been a damsel forever now, and Kairi has barely had a chance to show off her keyblade skills. But there’s one major problem I have with how Aqua’s character is developed.

She’s the Team Mom. Aqua ends up being a baby-sitter for Terra and Ventus. She’s constantly having to help them fix their problems, and provide support for them. She’s pigeonholed into being a maternal figure a lot of the time, especially when you consider her overall lack of impact on the plot up until the end of the game. Sure, you could argue that this is due to Xehanort not wanting her to interfere in his plans for the two boys, but that feels like a weak explanation.

It pains me to say it, but Aqua’s character development feels like an afterthought at times. A Fragmentary Passage, a recent addition to the series that has you play as Aqua during her time in the Realm of Darkness, thankfully alleviates some of those issues for me, as Aqua confronts some of her fears and character flaws in an interesting way. But Birth by Sleep was her debut game. It would have been nice for her to get that sort of depth there. A lot of my love for Aqua stems from the characterization that we the fanbase have given her, in spiteof Nomura’s storytelling decisions, not because of them.

All that said I feel that Aqua shines through these flaws. She’s the heart of Birth By Sleep. Its her sense of justice and loyalty and her ability to kick ass that carry her through to the game’s final moments, cementing her as the true protagonist of Birth by Sleep, a key player in the Kingdom Hearts franchise, and one of its best characters. Without her, I don’t think Kingdom Hearts would be nearly as interesting.

Which leads me to ask Square Enix: please let Aqua, Kairi, Namine, and Xion finish strong in Kingdom Hearts III. With so few female characters to begin with, it’d be a shame for you to fail them so close to the finish line. You’ve had fourteen years to make sure you get it right. Don’t mess it up.

Freelancers Excerpt – Kat and Coretta

Art by @spacegarbage

Pretty much the entire novel is being changed on the Freelancer’s second draft, but one thing I’m pretty sure I got right is the moment Coretta and Kat start dating. It is a pretty good balance of cheese and fluff, in my opinion, and other than changing it to first person, it’s probably going to still go like like this. So here’s a peek!


Coretta offered to take Kat home. The two girls walked through the deserted nighttime streets. Streetlamps shone on the snow, which had settled into a light, windless fall after the group’s encounter. Kat hardly spoke the entire walk. Coretta wasn’t sure why.

They finally arrived at the gate to Kat’s house.

“Alright…see you,” Coretta said.

“Yeah.” Kat walked through the gate, locking it shut behind her.

Coretta pushed past the dumbbells weighing on her chest to say something. As far as she could remember, she had never fought with Kat before. At least, not like this. They had bickered about stupid things, yes – but this was a Fight, with a capital F. And it scared her.


“Hey, um…did I, do something?” Coretta asked, twirling a finger through her hair as she did so.

Kat turned and stared at the girl for what felt like an eternity. It was a look Coretta had never gotten before.

Still scared.

Kat opened the gate again, letting herself through to stand in front of Coretta. Finally, she spoke.

“What you said to that old man, Coretta? I didn’t expect it from you. Are you sarcastic and kind of a grump? Yeah, no one will dispute that. I like that part about you. You’re to-the-point. You like the things you like and hate the things you don’t. Sometimes I wish I were the same. But I didn’t take you to be selfish.”

Despite herself, Coretta flinched at the use of her full first name.

“Selfish?” Coretta asked, digging her feet into the cement. “I’m selfish for not wanting to get hurt in some fight that has nothing to do with me, for people that don’t care about me, with powers I didn’t even ask for? That makes me selfish?”

“Yes, Coretta, I’m sorry, but it does. I get it. You hate this town. I know better than anyone what that feels like, and you know that. But you know something else?”

Kat balled her hands into small fists.

“At least I try. I try to look on the bright side of things. I try to get through, day-by-day, even when it feels like throwing myself off a building would be a million times easier. I try to climb over this garbage dump of a town to see the sky every once and a while.”

Kat took a step forward, looking up at Coretta.

“And you help me do that, Cora. Sometimes you’re the only thing keeping me going. Seeing your goofy, perpetual frown – or better yet, your even goofier smile – is one of my favorite parts of the day.”

“It…it is?” Coretta had turned beet red. She didn’t even know she could do that. Kat giggled.

“Yes, dummy, it is.” The girl turned her gaze downward. “But after hearing what you said back there…I can’t help but wonder if you don’t feel the same way about me.”

“Why?”

“Because it feels like you’ve given up. On everything. You want to turn your back on saving this town. But what if we could do something to make it better? What if we could turn it into a place that accepts us?”

Coretta looked down at Kat. She had never noticed the green tinge in her eyes before today.

“I don’t know if it will, Kat. Change doesn’t happen that easily.”

Kat took another step closer, a mischievous grin spread across her face. “We’ll make things change.”

Coretta scratched her nose, eyes darting in either direction. “I, uh, I don’t know if I need it to change. It’d be great, and you got me, I’m onboard for Operation: Save the Town. But I’m just saying. It’s not a hard requirement for me.”

Kat’s eyes widened. “Why not?”

Coretta shut her eyes tightly. “Because…I have…you.”

Saying each word aloud felt like pushing a boulder up a flight of stairs. Coretta’s eyes remained closed. She was too afraid to open them back up to see Kat laughing in her face. The silence and stillness of the air made it feel like she had drifted off into space.

Coretta was about to open her eyes again, to take back everything she had just said, when she felt the touch of Kat’s lips against hers.

It was so brief, she thought she had imagined it. Coretta’s eyes shot open. Before she could process it, Kat was already closing the door of her house behind her. Coretta stood on the sidewalk, the wind suddenly whipping up, causing snow to stick into her afro.

“…Did that just happen?” she asked, to no one in particular.


If Coretta stared at her phone any longer, it might have snapped in two out of sheer performance anxiety.

A text appeared on the girl’s phone. She swiped it up, eager to see what Kat had said in the group chat.

Except, the message wasn’t for the group.

It was for her.

Coretta felt her heart pounding in her chest, her finger hovering over the message icon. Finally, she tapped it open.

“Can we meet up?”

That…wasn’t as earth-shattering as Coretta thought it was going to be. But it still made her incredibly nervous. There was none of Kat’s usual exclamation points and smiley faces. They were still in “Serious Mode.” Coretta chose her words carefully.

“Yeah, of course. Where at?”

Another minute of anticipation.

“My place. Parents are on business again.”

Coretta’s heart jumped up into her throat. She’d been to Kat’s place before, of course. But things were different now. The rules had changed.

“Alright. Be there in 15,” she responded after a few deep breaths.

“Coretta and I will be there,” Kat responded to the group chat, a few seconds later. “We’ll be a little late.”

Coretta rose to leave. Her mom cleared her throat as she busied herself in the kitchen.

“Are you going to go see Kat?” she asked.

Coretta did her best to hide her blush. “Y-yeah.”

Anne looked the girl up and down, before smirking.

“She finally told you how she feels for real, huh?”

Coretta nearly tripped over her seat.

“Wh-what are you talking about, ma?”

Anne tapped her daughter on the nose with a swift boop. “Sweet child. I am your mother. I held you in my belly for months, and I’ve been taking care of you for four presidential terms since. There is literally nothing on this green earth that I can’t tell about you. Crushes included.”

The burden of her secret turmoil finally lifted, Coretta let out a deep sigh. “It’s weird, mom…it’s like, things have changed. We’ve been friends for so long. I don’t know if we can go back to that now.”

“Do you want to?” Anne asked.

“Yes. No. I don’t know!” Coretta said, throwing her hands in the air. Her siblings giggled at her yet again. Anne hushed them, before lifting Coretta’s chin up to look her in the eye. “Listen to me, kid. If you don’t feel for Kat the same way she does as you, then you shouldn’t lie to her, or yourself. You’ve been stuck to each other like glue for ages now. I don’t think this would be enough to break you two. But. This is something that you can’t take back easily. Be honest with yourself. You have to choose.”

Anne winked. “Plus, Kat’s very cute. You could certainly do worse.”

Coretta ducked her way out of her mom’s embrace, groaning. “I’m going to go before I die of embarrassment.”

“Good luck sweetie! We’re rooting for you!” Anne and the twins waved at Coretta as she closed the door behind her.


Coretta knocked on Kat’s door, gulping as she did so. No response. She was probably in the garden behind the house. Coretta steeled herself, taking one shaky step after another towards the backyard.

She was always so surefooted, so certain of herself. But now it was like Coretta’s whole world was turned upside down. Why was this happening?

Coretta turned the corner. There she found Kat, sitting on the swing chair her parents had built for them when they were kids. Her eyes were closed, her headphones clamping down on her unruly blonde hair. Coretta could see flecks of paint on Kat’s fingers, and in the frilly white blouse the girl was wearing underneath her scarf and coat. Coretta took a few steps towards the chair, gulping. Sensing the girl’s approach, Kat opened her eyes. She gave Coretta a small smile.

“Hey,” she said. It was quite possibly the quietest the girl had ever been. Coretta didn’t know if she wanted to hug her or hop the fence and sprint away, never to return.

“Hey,” Coretta managed to say back. Kat patted the spot next to her. Coretta hopped in, letting the swing carry the two of them backwards, before settling into a comfortable rhythm. Kat turned to her friend.

“We probably…have a lot to talk about, don’t we?” she said, letting out a nervous giggle. Coretta nodded. Kat looked out at the snow-covered garden.

“I…um. I guess I should say I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have just sprung up on you like that.”

“Oh. It’s okay.”

Kat propped herself on one elbow, her hand over her eyes. Her face was red, an embarrassed smile unable to hide itself. “I just couldn’t help myself. I think…I guess I really wanted to do that, for a long time.”

Coretta shifted from one leg to the next. “How long have you felt this way?” she asked.

“When I turned thirteen. I had told you the week before my birthday that I really wanted that poster of Sailor Moon. You know, the one at the place we used to buy comics from? You couldn’t afford it, obviously, because it was limited edition and you were fourteen. You didn’t have any money. But you were too proud to ask your mom for help. So you drew it yourself. From memory.”

Coretta remembered. “It was awful. I’m pretty sure it was the first and last time I ever picked up a paintbrush.”

Kat choked back a laugh. “It was beautiful. It was the nicest, cutest thing anyone outside of my parents had ever done for me. I don’t remember a single other gift I got that day. All I cared about was that stick-figure Sailor Moon poster.”

The wind blew through the swing chair, tousling Kat’s hair.

“I still have that poster,” she said. It was true, displayed prominently above Kat’s mirror, its own special spot free of any other wall decorations.

“You really couldn’t tell I had feelings for you?” Kat asked.

“I dunno…my mom made jokes sometimes, but I thought she was just being her usual self. I’m really bad at this sort of thing, Kat. You could wear a neon sign that said “I Like You” and I’d still question if you were being for real.”

Kat turned her whole body towards Coretta, now looking her directly in the eye.

“I’m being for real,” she said.

Coretta scratched her cheek, unable to meet Kat’s gaze. “Yeah, I can see that now, haha…”

“Are you mad that I kissed you?” Kat asked.

“What? No, of course not.”

“Do you…like that I kissed you?”

“I…I think so?”

“Can I kiss you again?”

Coretta’s heart felt like it was about to burst out of her chest. She came to the sudden realization that she hated being sixteen.

“Y…yes.”

Kat pushed herself over to Coretta. She lay a delicate hand against the girl’s cheek, before leaning in to kiss her again.

Coretta thought she was prepared, now free of the element of surprise. She wasn’t. Even if one were to not count yesterday’s events, this would still be her first kiss. She wasn’t even sure if she was doing it right. But she knew she was enjoying it.

Kat pushed herself back, her eyes trained on Coretta.

“Is this okay?” she asked.

“I…I don’t know, Kat. I really like you. Like, a lot. And I do feel like this is something that could work.” “

But?

“But what if it doesn’t?” Coretta said, rubbing her face in exasperation. “We’ve been friends for five years now, almost six. What if this doesn’t work? What if this – us – what if it ruins that? I don’t want to lose my best friend.”

Coretta expected Kat to be upset, or at least to frown. But she was smiling. “Can I be honest with you?” she asked.

“We just kissed in your backyard. I would like you to be honest for this entire conversation.”

“I honestly can’t picture any part of my life without you, Coretta. Whether we’re a couple or not. I have these feelings for you because we’re so close, you know. Even if you didn’t feel the same. But after what that old man told us yesterday, I just knew I couldn’t go any longer without telling you how I really felt. What with the world ending and all, heh.”

Coretta stared at her childhood friend. The person that seemed to understand her more than anyone else. The one that shared her deepest secrets, and who Coretta could confide to in kind. Who had stuck with her for as long as Coretta could remember. They were partners, a team that could take on anything their crappy town threw at them. And Coretta realized she couldn’t picture a life without her either. “Cora?” Kat asked, waiting for her response. Coretta leaned forward.

This time she was the one that kissed Kat.


Thanks for reading, hope you liked the gay!!!

More Mint

I’ve really been doubling down on my Vocaloid OC, Haruko Mint (or just Mint), and I wanted to solidify some info about her character now that I have a better idea of what she’s like.

So, more background: Mint primarily sings future wave and future funk music. But Mint only sings part-time, or when she’s on tour with Queen. The other half of her time goes to videogames

MWith the negativity, bigotry, and other general garbage surrounding the gaming industry, Mint felt like her talents and upbeat personality would best be served trying to change the culture around videogames. As such, she does Lets Plays online, where she’s extremely popular with the 17-24 age range for women – or at least, that’s what her analytics say.

Mint’s programming lets her plug into the games she’s playing and “become” the character, aesthetically. This is her biggest gimmick as an LPer, and what allowed her to grow her fanbase, to the point that artists even drew art of her as the characters she plays:

She generally likes to play JRPG and Action games, but is known for the occasional FPS as well – even though they aren’t usually her speed. A secret: Mint absolutely LOVES Picross, but it’s not entertaining enough for a stream, so she plays it on her downtime.

Mint runs a tight ship on her channel, with a thoroughly enforced set of rules. Her roommates, Bubblegum and Aprajita, will sometimes mod her channel during Twitch streams, and even play games with her when they aren’t busy. She hopes that her prescense in the industry will inspire other girls to get into gaming, both from a development and content-creation perspective, and to improve the environment for any marganlized person that wants to be part of the industry without being harassed or discouraged.

In light of that aspiration, it is important to know that Mint will take shit from no one. Her infamous fight with a harasser at a Denny’s Parking Lot is proof of this. Nor does she care how that may affect her “image” – she keeps her dented skateboard from that day on her wall, both as a memento to the man she sent to the hospital, and a warning to anyone else looking to mess with her. She is adamant that a person should stay true to their beliefs and mean what they say. She doesn’t appreciate flowery words or too much talk, although this can sometimes get her into trouble with her sponsors.

People often ask: what the heck is up with Mint’s robo-ears? They aren’t ears at all, in fact. Rather, they’re a headset that Mint tends to keep on at all times. Developed for her by Queen, Mint’s headset is extremely high-tech. It exists as a pair of noise-canceling headphones, can be used to take phone calls, automatically syncs up with most of her consoles and auditory equipment for her playthroughs, and lets her integrate with the games she plays. It is her most prized possession.

When Mint is on break, she can be found in the local skate-park, where she’s general grinding her way to relaxation. She picked up the sport a few years previous and enjoyed the freedom and spontaneity it allowed her. Fans looking to score a selfie with the girl would find their best chances there, assuming she’s in good enough of a mood.


That’s all I can think of at the moment, but if there’s more I want to develop of Mint’s story, I’ll make another post! In the meanwhile, here’s a fun page that has all the art of Mint made so far, as well as her hex colors: Refsheet

See ya next time!

Mara and Rubrim – Patreon Story

Mara waited.

She had been sitting on the rock for a few hours now, but had been waiting far longer. Years, in fact, and seven to be precise. It was a lucky number for a lot of people.

Not for her.

Were she not so anxious, Mara could have taken a moment to appreciate the beach spray as the waves lapped up against the shore. The cove was always beautiful this time of year. On a weekday, everyone at the island would be working, and with her free period being the last one of the school-day, Mara was able to enjoy some of the stillness outside, with only the occasional passing car disturbing her bike ride. If you could fly, you’d be able to see how the cove formed into a crescent moon of sorts, almost perfectly. There was supposedly a mathematical beauty that could be applied to geography, but Mara wouldn’t know — it was her worst subject.

She checked her bag for the seventieth time.

Chalk: check.

Prism: check.

Pocket knife: check.

MP3 Player: a very expensive check.

Everything was there, she knew that, but it was the only thing keeping her sane while she waited.

Mara examined her wrist. 8 o’clock. 17 minutes to go.

It was time to start.

She hopped off of the rock, careful not to scuff her uniform shoes in the sand, and trudged over to the cliff wall. It was vined over, but that’s what the knife was for. With a deft hand, Mara flicked it open, cutting away at the foliage until there was nothing but cracked gray rock in front of her. Satisfied, she turned away and took seven steps forward, before pulling out the prism from her pack and laying it down on the sand, making sure the sun would shine on it.

10 minutes to go.

Mara took a deep breath, taking in the smell of the sun as well. No point in panicking — if it wasn’t perfect, it wouldn’t work. Not for another seven years. She returned to the wall, pulling out the chalk. The sigil wasn’t too complicated, but it required a steady hand. Mara didn’t need the Book to draw it — she had memorized it by heart in the past seven years. It dotted itself on every doodle she whittled away at in class. There was no way she was ever going to forget it.

She took a step back, admiring her handiwork. It was perfect, or at least as perfect as she could make it. And with 7 minutes to spare too. Not bad. Mara sat back on the rock. Nothing left to do but wait.

The last seven minutes were agonizingly slow. But it was finally time. The sun touched the horizon. A beam of light shot itself across the ocean waves, straight into the prism. A kaleidoscope of colors burst forth, painting the sigil on the wall in rainbow hues.

A moment passed.

The sun continued to set, but the colors were now burned into the wall. They sparkled, before bursting out, like a switch had been activated. Mara did her best to contain her excitement: it had worked.

The wall began to fade away. In its place stood a girl with brilliant red hair and a grin plastered on her face.

“Did you wait long?” she asked.

“Rubrum!” Mara shot forward, tackling the girl with a hug. She held her like that for at least a full minute, before Rubrum finally yanked free from the girl’s grasp, laughing all the while.

“I take it that’s a yes.”

“Seven years, seven hours and seventeen minutes, to be exact! I’ll be happy if I never have to see the number again. But forget that, come and sit down!”

Mara led the red-haired girl to a blanket she had spread out on the sand. There were two smoothies waiting for them.

“Wow, you’re actually prepared this time,” Rubrum said. Mara pouted.

“Shut up! I was ten last time, I barely knew how to tie my shoes.”

“I’m pretty sure ten year olds know how to tie their shoes, Mara.”

“I will shove you back into that hole if you don’t stop!”

“And miss out on a mango smoothie? You can try.” Rubrum plopped onto the blanket, taking a giant sip from the drink, before letting out a satisfying sigh.

“Ah! I missed this.”

Mara sat down next to the girl.

“What, they don’t have smoothies in your world?”

“They do, but nothing like this.” Rubrum took another sip. “Ours are all about revealing the secrets of the universe, and other such nonsense. I hope when they’re found, ‘add flavor to your food’ sits at the very top. See how dumb they feel.”

“If I had known, I would have brought more for you to take with you,” Mara said, trailing her finger in the sand.

“It’s all good!”

“Oh! I did bring this though.” Mara ruffled through her bag, and pulled out the MP3 Player.

“I filled it up with a whopping 30 gigs of Ska music, just for you. God knows why you like that stuff, but I guess somebody has to. Oh, and it’s red!”

“Holy crap, is that a Zune!?” Rubrum grabbed the music player out of the girl’s hand, examining it closely. “I was looking at these in my Scroll like a week ago! I can’t believe you got me one!”

“I can’t either,” Mara replied, unable to stop herself from grinning. “This was a year’s worth of savings, for your information. Don’t say I don’t do anything for you.”

This time it was Rubrum that put Mara into a choke-hold of a hug.

“Thankyouthankyouthankyou!”

Mara pushed the girl off her. “Yeah, yeah, you’re welcome.”

“I’ve actually got something for you too!” Rubrum pulled her satchel off from her robes, popping it open. She pulled out a green book.

“You said you were interested in flight techniques, so I figured I’d give you my old beginner’s book of runes! It’s really simple stuff, so you can do it, even without the aptitude. Just…make sure nobody’s around when you do it, or they’re going to ask questions.”

“Wow!” Mara took the book into her hands, flipping it open to check the pages.

“Yeah, I think I can make this work. Thank you!”

“Of course! Now take a sip of your smoothie, it’s starting to warm up.”

“Oh wow, you’re right.”

The girls drank and talked, regaling each other of the time they spent apart. Thought it had been so long, it was if no time had passed at all. The sun gave way to stars as the hours passed. They lay on the beach, staring up at them.

“It’s weird,” Mara said.

“What’s weird?”

“That we meet up like this, but…you know, we both look up at the same stars. It’s weird to think about.”

Rubrum snorted. “That’s corny as heck, Mara.”

Pft. Yeah, it is.”

“But it’s true.”

The girls sat in silence.

“Can I really not come see you?” Mara asked. Rubrum got up, the elbow she lent on slightly scraped by the sand.

“You know you can’t, Mara. If you did the Gate would get closed immediately. We’re already brushing up against dimensional law as is. I had to petition the Elders for a year and a half just for them to consider this.”

“I know…but I want to.”

“And I want you to…” Rubrum sighed.

“Fine. I will ask them. But no promises, do not get your hopes up!” she rushed to finish as Mara squealed in excitement. The red-haired girl got up, examining a rock of some sort on her wrist.

“That’s time. I better get back.”

Mara sat up, running her hand through her hair.

“Really? You can’t stay a little longer?”

“Hey, I’m about to ask the Elders to break a ten-thousand year law. We really shouldn’t push it, Mara.”

“Ooookaaaay,” she said, getting up herself. The two girls walked to the cove wall together. It shone its rainbow hues once more.

Rubrum turned to Mara grinning. “Same time, same place?”

Mara grabbed the girl into a hug. “Always. I’ll be waiting.”

Rubrum rubbed her eyes and quickly turned away, hoping that Mara didn’t see. She did.

“See you!”

The red-haired girl stepped towards the wall. And then she was gone.

Mara stood in front of it, waiting. She knew nothing was going to happen — that Rubrum wouldn’t suddenly reappear, that they’d get to go on further adventures together — but it didn’t hurt to wait.

Nothing happened. Mara grabbed her things together, hopped on her bike, and began to peddle. She had no idea what she’d be like seven years from now, but she knew that Rubrum would be waiting for her.

And Mara would be there.


Thanks to WagonStar for this request! If you want me to write a story for you, feel free to subscribe to my Patreon!