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New Year's Story: An Evening In Xibalba
Sun Dec 31, 2006, 06:59 PM
Post: #1
New Year's Story: An Evening In Xibalba
>> Here's another New Year's Story for you. It's turning into a sort of tradition, and I usually enjoy what comes out of it. The story is much longer this time, more carefully made, trying to fit as much about AnthroAsia in the past year as I could.

A major inspiration was the film "The Fountain", so if things sound familiar, they probably are.

Big thank you to the people who've affected me in so many ways, I never seem to be able to repay you. Hope the new year bids well to you, and those you love. 2007 = 2+0+0+7 = 9 = a time of endings and beginnings.

Again, have a happy new year's day, everyone.



An Evening In Xibalba

Network hum, a spark, the connectedness of being unaware of transition. The entrance is smooth, but slower than usual.

NightPhaser was standing against a tree. A bipedal wolfman, moderately heavy-set, at height of five feet and eleven inches, finely rendered with black, brown and cream fur in dog patterns. His black-furred ears twitch, and he turns his head to see a brown bear of a man. About same height, though taller. A husky, but firm build under the red shirt. PEARBEAR hovered above his head for a few seconds after Night notices him, in soft glowing letters, alerting him from his POV. They meet up a distance from the tree, and Night wrapped his arms around PearBear's shoulder. He toed himself up a bit, and kissed the bear's fuzzy cheek.

PearBear looked around the place, over Night's shoulders. "I know haven't been here a while... but something's different."

Night turned to the side a bit, and looked over the ANTHROASIA neuronet cell. It was a well-manicured park, designed a bit like a Greek Forum, or a theater. Pillars, walls, gateways in various fused styles from Nusantara spirals to Nippon technovogue. The colours were bright, in shades of orange and green in most of the walkable spaces. There were buildings here and there, representations of portals to sections in the cell, or places of special access like the Moderators' Temple and the Art Gallery. There seemed to be a lack of flowering plants, only because the main architecture was of Western design.

"It's just a Christmas thing. It's still here 'cause we like it..."

Flakes of white and bluish gray was falling from a sprite-seeding panel high above them. The rate was neither too sparse, nor too dense. A Hallmark snowfall, fit for mental atmosphere. One of the flakes felt only slightly cool to the touch as it landed on Night's high-resolution paw. It didn't melt, only simply blipping out of existence. Saves bandwidth, for dialons. Perhaps the place will get better software, later.

"...and we're mostly too lazy to change it right now."

"That's okay. It's pretty." PearBear opened his mouth, and let a flake fall to his tongue. He seemed disappointed that it just disappeared.

"Did GT do this?"

Night nodded. "At least the colours and stuff. Programming's all on a:nBig smile:y. But y'know ol' Motocat... self-appointed graphic designer of the AA server cell and associated elements."

"Motocat."
"Yeah. GT. GP. Nevermind."

PearBear laughed under his breath. He noticed that the snow stopped falling. "Huh?"

"It times out. Bandwidth saving measure."
"Mmm."

Night slipped a hand into a pocket of his coat, while wondering if the system chose his clothes by default for the new theme.

"I made this for you."

He held something up: a bracelet chain, with strips of fine felt weaved between the gaps. It looked like gleaming silver intertwined with tactile reds and browns.

"Oh, honey."

Night placed it around his neck, hooked the ends together behind him. "I made it myself. It's just like the one I wear, but differently coloured. It's not the beads you used to have, but I hope this is okay."

"It is. It's beautiful. Thank you." He gave Night a warm and full kiss. Unlike the snowflakes, they both felt it.

"I have something for you, too."
"Really? What?"
"Guess."
"Uh..."
"Come on."
"Um, Philly cheese steak?"
"What...?"
"Tch, alaaaaaah..."
"Just guess."
"I don't enjoy this as much as you do, maybe."

PearBear sighed, and brought out a small plastic-like panel from his pants pocket. He took Night's handpaw and placed the thing on it. "Huh?" Night pinched his fingers into the panel, and pulled it out into a pine-green box. He pried open the lid.

"No. Way." Night picked up the little plastic figurine, and examined it. Up, down, around. His face broke into a mildly insane grin. "Jack Frost and Jack O'Lantern. ATLUS limited editions! K-K signed! SAYANG!"

"Heh." Night hugged the bear all around, which was a mildly constricting experience for the receiver. "Sorry it's just virtual now, but we'll get a real one later." Night smiled, placed the gift between his palms, clapped them together as the data was compressed back into panel form, and slipped it into his pocket.

"My little wolf, and his MegaTen." Night stuck his tongue out at his paramour, who met it with a quick peck.

A subtle, but low sound. The ground seemed to rumble slightly. PearBear was looking about himself.

"What was that?"
"Uhm. Y'know the quake the other day?"
"Yeah."
"Mother Nature's Boxing Day Sucker Punch?"
"That's catchy. I think."
"Thanks... So, the last one totally severed the Axis Mundi network spine. Everyone can only connect to regional servers. The networks are all f*cked up."
"I thought you were gonna say there's a quake in my 'puter, stealing my bandwidth."

Night snorted, smiled at the bear. "They're resetting most of the cells, based on the damage. They say the main cable damage was just the dust trail."

They started walking through the park, as the virtual sun began a slow descent into the horizon. "Somehow, as the year is ending, most of the nets are breaking everywhere else. Like the end of the virtuworld... making way for the next one."

"Anja...?" Night turned towards PearBear, who had a look on his sense-rendered ursine face. "Are you okay?"

Night took a good deep breath of electronic air. "I'm okay..." He notices something, and goes to lean against a pillar holding up the entrance to the Moderators' Temple hall. Like most of the AA cell at the time, it was quiet with activity and data, an anticipatory calm.

"I just wish I'd been free to actually be there with you. Toe-to-toe. Not plugged in." Night crossed his arms in front of him.

"Sayang... it's alright. We had a great time earlier this month, didn't we? We'll have better ones later."
"I could've made the effort..."
"Hey, even if you did, ever think if I wouldn't be free too?"

Night went quiet. "Yeah... yeah."

"I love you."

"I love you, too." One of them held the other close, nuzzled his cheek. "Let's... keep going. Couple of stuff you oughta see."

They walked to a grassy green knoll, which was an unlikely terrain feature anywhere they lived, flesh-side. Night pointed to the sky, which had darkened by then, and brought out the dark veil of virtual night.

"Check that out." PearBear looked up at the cloudless sky, with stars dotting the black velvet. "What am I looking for?"

"Seven stars." PearBear moved his focus from one star to another as Night pointed them out. After the seventh star, he seemed to have activated a macro, and fine lines drew itself onto the sky in his POV, forming an illustration of two embracing persons. A cat and a dog.

"God-slash-Admin kitty, watching over things."
"With boyfriend."
"I call it the bobANDandy."
"The Boba-what?" They laughed, as PearBear asked if the things next to them were panzers.

Night noticed a white-furred fox, small and lithe, near them. "There's Kai." Night waved to him, and he waved back with a hand in black, arm-length gloves. Kai was rendered in the Persona Hari-Hara synchskin Night made for him the other day. His form was black and white, loving and lethal, elegant and unusual, a piece of the androgyny and the darklight. Night notices Kai's partner waiting for him, near a hardware-marked gate. It seems their flesh-selves were both in a similar geographical location.

Night realised he never knows about their trips anymore. "I feel a bit bad about something."

"About what, sayang?"
"I never talk to them anymore. Much less meet them."
"Well you've been busy, right?"
"Yeah, but that's no excuse, is it?"
"Things will be okay. Work'll pass, there's the long break around the corner."

Night's lips went to one side, contemplatively. "Remember when we watched that old hero movie with Brandon Routh, with the guys?"

"Awful seats, though."
"Yeah. And that thing with our guest, almost became an international incident?" The words elicited a mild chuckle.
"What happened to that old Narnia-quality planning?"

Night went quiet for a moment, as he lead the way for them towards some place. "I think you mean 3AM, maybe, but yeah... I dunno." He was silent for a bit more, before PearBear ventured conversation.

"You told me Kyuu was moving to KL."
"And closer to his main squeeze. Also Bobby, though not Andy. Yet."

Night considered this, thinking about how a few of them were moving to the capital. They used to joke about this media university being the general place to find like-minded peers of special interests. The members of this little island on the vast nets were now converging in Kuala Lumpur, as if some strange attractor was crawling over the land, picking up furries along the way. Night thought that he just might be swept up in its vortex too, if he had the will, or the means. Neither yet, though. It's always something for another time.

For while, he thought about the Kali Yuga. About the end days and the end of days. About how people seemed to consistently believe that in their time, things could never possibly be better. The haunting pessimism that was coupled with any golden age.

His contemplation, and PearBear's marveling of one of the public art installments (a vaguely suggestive sculpture made by a regional pink goat) was broken by an animated blur burning a streak through the park. It zoomed past in a flurry of brown, black and little patches of white. Pieces of graphics data floated behind him, sketches of distinct Nipponese flavour.

"Isn't that...?"
"The mangacat from Java."
"What's wrong with the dude?"
"I kinda made a mistake with the timing of my April Fools program." Night scratched his head.
"And?"
"It'll be a few days before the virtual frogs stop chasing him whenever he's online." PearBear laughed, and stuck his tongue out at Night, who wasn't sorry about it at all, apparently.

The pause allowed Night to find his bearings. He grabbed PearBear's hand, and brought him up a set of stone steps. PearBear felt the air change, a strange lightness, as he went higher up.

"We're here."
"We're where?"

Night went and stood under an enormous tree in the middle of the park, encircled by stone paths and benches. The tree was without any leaves, since it was programmed for seasonal change. Earlier in October, it was a crisp oil painting in browns, sienna and yellow. In April, it would bloom in prismatic colours, and much later bear sweet fruits. It was a product of many years and iterations of a genetic algorithm that sampled data from every person, thing and action in this network cell. In a sense, the tree contained a bit of everyone who ever set foot in the AA cell. Keeping them in its strong stem and fine roots and vibrant leaves.

It was also on the highest spatial point of the AA cell. From here, the members could see everything, all the way to the relative edge of the AA cell, a swirling horizon breaking up the crystalline sky and the black shadow of unrendered ground. Even without explanation, PearBear knew this was the center of everything.

"We can watch the wave from here."
"What wave?"
"The reset wave. We're gonna see the place breaking apart and coming back together, be the first people to see the whole thing fresh and updated."

PearBear watched Night smile at him as if he was revealing the best spot to watch some fireworks. He smiled back. "I remember when all it took was some server downtime." Night huffed at this, and motioned for him to get closer.

They both looked over the AA cell, seeing other visitors nearby who decided to stay connected and see the spectacle. When the ground rumbled again, this time stronger and seemingly closer to home, one hand met another's. The horizon began to look like it was on fire, swirls of black flame eating into a sky that crackled and shifted into spectra of colours.

"It's like standing in the middle of a star, while it's being reborn." Night turned his head, and noticed that PearBear was sitting on the grassy ground already. "Or sitting."

PearBear patted the soft earth next to him, and Night sat down. They watched as the swirling fire transformed into a wall of burning light, that began to consume the farthest edges of the AA cell. Pieces of videowalls, sculpture, and discussion clusters disappearing into the brightness.

A tigerman interrupted them, courteously. A rather adorable thing, somewhere between tigerstripe and bearplush. He was wearing a batik-print Santa suit, which only made him a more tempting target for a hug. Nobody quite agreed on what to call him, so he ended up responding to whatever the patrons called him. "Hello, Belang."

"Hello, NIGHTPHASER and PEARBEAR. I'm here to tell you the Karma transform should arrive in about fifteen minutes, and system logout is disabled after that."

"Thank you. We're staying."

The tiger nodded back at them, and went on to inform the rest of the patrons in the server cell of the impending destruction of virtual space and time. Night watched the patrons who were already leaving, perhaps they find a better grace in entering a new year in their own skin.

Nearby, Night managed to catch a young, green dragon with broken horns walking towards a hardware gate with his partner of turquoise blue and white. Only, it wasn't the simple dragon he knew the year before, but a synaesthetic collage of soundvisuals. He heard the dragon as much as he saw him. Must be the college thing taking effect, along with avatar upgrades Night couldn't afford yet.

"I think... it's only us now."
"Good company, though."

Night leaned closer onto PearBear. He held his lover's hand tightly, as the world seemed to crumble away around them. The sky's dark velvet quickly gave way to solar day, spilling light onto the world's end. As the wave approached the center, they could see what happened at the moving wall. They saw the landscape shatter like glass into the light, breaking up into geometrical leaves, falling gently into the sky like a strange autumn day.

They both slid themselves back, closer to the tree, when the ground around them began to crack. Between the seams, spears of solar light spilled into the air. The ground shook, and Night grabbed on to PearBear, as the ground underneath the tree freed itself from the burning world. The lovers held fast to each other, on an island rising into the sky. Towards a tapestry of fractals in gold and burgundy, accentuated by sparks of ignited data.

Night's clenched eyes opened up slightly, as the landmass floated a bit further above the light. He looked over the edge of the island, at the pieces of data marking space with fluorescent streaks, like shooting stars, falling upwards into the sky like prayers. He noticed that PearBear had been watching things unfold all the way through.

"Look." Night pointed at the meteor shower.
"What is it, anja?"
"It's... the archives."

The shooting stars were all the things collected over the year, unearthed in this time of nostalgia by the nova of a timely milestone. Events. Discussions. Explorations. Coincidences. The sparks were little fragments that made Night who he was, both inside and out of the cell. The ones that didn't affect him, definitely meant something to someone who, at any point of their life, spent their time in AA's world.

"Haha... look, that's the time we saw the stallion drift-racing in Tokyo." Night pointed to a screen that was blaring some awful J-pop music.

"Gaya. Mutu. Keunggulan... enough exploding heads... A-hahahaha!" They moved from memory to memory as the fragments passed.

"That's. DanceDog's post."
"I faved one of his stuff the other day."

One of the fragments flew close to them, and Night caught it with a handpaw. "...This is when he left."

Another piece passed close to them, it was so small a record but it was something Night recognised as something he used to type in. He remembers how he stopped getting updates on artisans whose work he respected and loved, the other ones who left. He wonders why it hurts, why he was angry at it, why the circumstance seemed stupid. Night went quiet, and PearBear held his side.

A humble cluster of archive fragments, that seemed familiar. Night reached out, and caught a tail-end, pulling it closer to him. "Hey, that's..." It was a thread, a conversation, a bunch of playful encounters and teasing words. "Oh God..."

Only when PearBear gently wiped away the tears, did Night realise he was crying. He held his lover tight, buried his muzzle into PearBear's chest.

"Memories, they're memories."
"Hmm?"
"The tree is burning away. We were seeing its ashes."

The lovers held each other tight, and leaned back against the tree. A rumble, a shake, the island began to break apart, into the light underneath.

"I love you."
"I love you too."
"I'll call in you in five."

A bright, white light suffusing everything. Space, time and memory obliterated. Space, time and life rebuilt. Things become anew, but remain the same.

On the other side, the clock struck midnight. Two people dream of a kiss under a tree.

No one really knows what happens next, and somewhere in that fact lies a bit of hope.

[ Proceed calmly. ]
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Sun Dec 31, 2006, 09:13 PM
Post: #2
RE: New Year's Story: An Evening In Xibalba
Of Tankats and Catchan.

You should go for :

"Quakes in da hardware,stealing mah intarweb"

Anywho,lovely story.

Happy New Years to everyone.Happy 2007,a better one,a wholesome one.

Wish y'all having a good one out there,partying at clubs or anywhere dancy.

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Sun Dec 31, 2006, 11:57 PM
Post: #3
RE: New Year's Story: An Evening In Xibalba
I know I posted a comment on your blog (since I saw it there first) but I might have a little more to add.

I enjoyed the part where memories came to be. Very nicely done up scene there. And no, I don't believe there was a stallion drift-racing in Japan. It was a case of mistaken identity, me thinks.

Anyway, many good times of PearBear and you together. This dedication also goes out to all other couples here in AnthroAsia.

Have a Great New Year Ahead!

Hollud. Simply, horse.
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Mon Jan 01, 2007, 05:47 PM
Post: #4
RE: New Year's Story: An Evening In Xibalba
Hueeeeeee!! Dang you!! Dang!! X0
Why teh froggies!? WHY!?

*runs for his LIFE*

Let's sing, everyone!! LOL!
Meaoooow meaow meaow meaooooooow!!!!

*thrown with a boot*

MEOOOONGGG!!!! Angry
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Tue Jan 02, 2007, 04:16 AM
Post: #5
RE: New Year's Story: An Evening In Xibalba
Loved it until the end. Thank you Night, for a story well done.

*Feels all fuzzy inside*

Look at what you made me do?! Tongue

-- Delta-HT
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Wed Jan 03, 2007, 04:17 AM
Post: #6
RE: New Year's Story: An Evening In Xibalba
I was walking down a road with Andy when we saw a tigerkit sitting on the grass sobbing and rubbing his eyes. It was just another day if not for the poor lil kitten crying his lungs out. So we approached him, and asked him what is wrong with him. By the way, he had the cutest button eyes we ever saw.

"I don't have a home. *sobs* I've been to places, but none of them feel like one. There was Kellog's, where I am called Tony, but I didn't really do well with a green cockerrel as my parent. There was the Malaysian Coat of Arms, but I am even more underappreciated, standing there all day and night. I am being punished for crimes I did not commit. There was this business with cookies and biscuits, but I was forced to wear pants and my fur dyed blonde. And the games where I was being taken care of for a couple of weeks, and then I'm immediately thrown off the scene when I was no longer needed. *sobs*"

And we said he was a poor thing. I told Andy we should take him, and let him feel treasured, loved and worthy as the tiger he is. The tiger is a living thing, a creature of this world, an animal long with associations to kingship, sovereignty, pride, bravery, skill and beauty and sophistication. He is a creature of the free wilderness, the lone walker of the deep forests, and calls both the snowy expanse and the tropical mountains his home. He is fearful symmetry, God's most perfect creation, and inspiration to some greatest poets and artists that ever lived.

I say he needs a home, where he could feel comfortable with all the creatures in the world. Let he the Most Fearful Symmetry lead us into a glorious year ahead. And let his name resound the majesty of his roar that awakens the very bones of the mountains and the spirits of the long dead. He is Maung most beloved of all, cherished above all else, symbol of our pride, lord of our art for his divine symmetry surpass all things manmade, and the harbinger of success and progress of the spirit of this community!

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