By James Wylder, oh come on like you expected it to be by someone else at this point? It's a freaking 10,000 Dawns holiday story who else is it gunna be by?
Art by Bri Crozier, who is really damn talented if you didn't notice. Why do they keep working with us? Probably their immeasurable kindness.
The garbage was moving.
Ashlyn Oswin squinted at the shifting trash, waiting for a rat to come out of it. She liked rats, they were underrated mammals, and right now even a feral one would improve her mood. Disappointingly, it was a human hand.
"Oh," she vocalized as if someone in the universe's editorial department could hear her and revamp her day to be more interesting.
The woman attached to the hand was not a normal woman, not that that meant a lot when you could pay for you favorite genetic and surgical enhancements on demand, though the thrill had eventually been lost for most folks on Earth. This woman wore a white track suit, remarkably unstained by the trash, win a single glowing blue stripe going up the legs, sleeves, and side. the jacket was open to reveal a blue shirt. She was an athletic beanpole, her light blue hair was tied back in a ponytail, and along with her matching light blue eyes stood out
against her pale white skin. Ashlyn however focused on two things: the tennis ball sized orb floating above the lady's shoulder, and the Katana in her left hand.
The woman pulled herself up, then hopped out on one food, doing a little hopping shake to get the rest of the trash off. The orb then ran a light over her, and the remains of the garbage she hadn't gotten vanished from her.
"You," the woman opened, pointing her sword at Ashlyn, "where am I."
"Why were you in the garbage, and why do you have a sword?" she asked calmly.
The lady stepped forward, eyes narrowing. her eyebrows and eyelashes were light blue, like it was their natural color... "Answer me, your answer could mean the difference between life and death for your world."
Ashlyn sighed, "Really? I mean, not that I'm not up for that sort of thing, but I was on my way to grab a cake."
"Cake can wait."
"A terrible way to live your life."
Their confrontation was interrupted by a glowing portal made of magical sigils appearing on the wall, and another woman flying out of it, and smacking instantly against the other wall of the alley, and landing in the trash pile tracksuit had fallen in.
"Ah," Ashlyn said, keenly picking up on the obvious pattern.
Tracksuit pointed the sword at this new arrival, and the edge of the sword glowed the same blow as the lines on her suit.
The new arrival, also covered in garbage, was however a bit of a let down on the threat department. She was wearing roller blades, had a packed backpack, and a can of spraypaint in her brown-skinned hand. Her black hair was neatly cared for, aside from the garbage. She looked like a teenager, and threw her hands up in the air at the strange woman pointing a sword at her.
"What's that in your hand?"
"In a can?"
She lowered the sword, "Alright, what is going on here?"
Ashlyn clapped her on the shoulder, "Finally you're catching on. No one here has any idea it would seem."
"I sure don't!" Rollerblades said.
Ashlyn coughed, "Hey blade lady, could you, uh..." she gestured at the garbage all over rollerblades.
"Yes," she replied curtly. The orb zipped over to her, and the light panned over her, wiping the garbage away. This turned out to be good timing, as white light appeared on the wall in a circle, and a fourth woman stepped out, in a red beret and gray uniform, eating sandwich.
They stared at her.
She stared back.
"Hi," she said.
"What's up?" Ashlyn asked.
"Saw a portal to an alternate reality, thought I'd check it out."
Tracksuit raised an eyebrow, "Just...casually?"
She looked back and forth between all three of them, "Is that wrong? I mean I was already taking a walk."
"I mean did you know how you'd get back?"
Ashlyn sighed, "Throw yourself in the garbage pile."
Beret checked out the garbage, "No thank you?"
"Everyone else did it. Tracksuit here can get you all cleaned up afterwards."
"My name is not--"
Beret looked at the pile, looked back, looked at the pile, and handed Ashlyn her sandwich, then threw herself in the pile, got out, and was immediately cleansed by the orb.
"Alright, now that we all did that."
"Did you throw yourself in the pile?" Tracksuit asked.
"Of course, right before you arrived," she lied, "Now what are we all doing here in this alley?"
* * *
Around the corner, a fifth woman was looking at her watch, looking back at a black pyramid the size of a fist, and then looking out the window. She grumbled, and then it something hit her, she bolted up, cursing, and scrambled out the door of the cafe yelling "Shit shit shit."
She slid around the corner, and ran into the alley behind the cafe, where four women were standing already. Panting a little, she tried to get into a mysterious looking pose, put a little smirk on her mouth, and with a laugh (and some panting asked, "So, I assume you wonder why I gathered you all here today?"
"She's the one who dropped us all in the trash?" Tracksuit asked, swirling her sword around.
"No, hold up! You're all here for a very important reason, I just got the co-ordinates a bit wrong. I'm used to working with negative numbers and..." she took a deep breath, and posed with her hand under her chin, "Regardless of my error, I have an offer for all of you, all five of us share something in common?"
"Garbage?" Rollerblades asked.
"No, Miranda, what we share in common is that we've been wronged."
"By who?" Ashlyn asked, "Other than you who threw us in garbage?"
"By the narrative!"
* * *
The Tourist slammed a book down on the table. Ashlyn reached forward to pick it up, “10,000 Dawns, by James Wylder? What kind of a book is that, his last name is spelled wrong.”
"That book," she said, "is the end result of the drafts of your lives. All of us, in some way or another, were destined for better times. To be illustrated! Be on merchandise! Be featured in unpublished cardgames! But no, all of you, all of us, got cut out, replaced, or ignored. You, Pathway, what's your job?"
Pathway crossed her arms, "I am traveling with a great hero to save the universe from the Numbered."
"Yes yes! And do you ever get there?"
She raise an eyebrow, "Well of course not, because time goes forward linearly, and we haven't gotten that far."
The Tourist pulled her sunglasses up so Pathway could see her roll her eyes, "No! No no no. You never reached that because you were in the first draft of 10,000 Dawns, when Mr. Wylder was in High School. And in that draft, it wasn't even a novel! It was a roleplaying game! You were the preset character who went along to guide the player characters along their path. He even named you Pathway, so creative. Tell me, what's the name of that great hero?"
She paused, and then a silence emanated from it.
"Well it could be a lot of things."
"What's your relationship to this hero?"
"They're my best friend, and maybe more."
"Then. What. Is. Their. Name."
The tourist put both hands palms up at her side, "Hmn?"
"...I don't know."
"Exactly! And you," she turned her attention to Miranda, "You used to actually be the protagonist! The hero of your own story!"
"I...am the hero of my own story? I'm trying to defeat the gods, and Zeus, as part of the cult."
The Tourist waggled her finger, "Nuh uh! You get relegated, in a rather different form to being a minor character who works with Johnathan Vice--"
"John!" she lit up, "Can you pick him up too? I'd love having him around."
She sighed, "No. This is a girls only comedy holiday event. Let me finish. Mr. Wylder made you a minor character. Instead he replaced you with, of all people, Graelyn Scythes. Graelyn! Her first name doesn't even make sense! How is that Russian?"
Ashlyn raised a hand, "Oh there's a story behind that, see--"
"I didn't ask for you to retcon it into making sense, Ashlyn! And let's talk about you, how about? Your role in the novel is you show up in a flashback where you break up with Graelyn. That's it."
Finally, a good reaction, she looked absolutely offended, "That's it? What? No, I'm absolutely a major supporting character at the least. The least!"
"Nope. Though you did get a single spin off story before they forgot about you again."
Extending her arms and spinning around the empty cafe, the Tourist grinned, stopping in a pose to point at Shona, "And then there's you, the surprise hit popular character from 10kd! And how many times did you show up?"
Shona shrugged, "No offense, but I don't...really care?"
She threw her arms up, "And that's why they love you...are...are you drinking a bubble tea? Where...where did you get that?"
Shona shrugged yet again.
"Dammit, this is why they love you. But again, you disappeared! They couldn't even capitalize on golden characters like you. They're nitwits!"
Ashlyn stood up, "And who are you exactly?"
The Tourist spun again, landing this time in a dark and brooding pose. "I am a member of a powerful race of beings called the Elders. We ruled our universe from the sidelines, but mostly we were just really really bored."
"So like the gods?" Miranda asked.
"Like the Firmament?" Ashlyn added.
"Like both. Because as the drafts changed, the names changed, and eventually, I turned into...this!"
She pressed a button on her wristwatch, and two images were projected on the wall, both of an eccentrically dressed brown skinned woman, but not the same one, but somehow maybe the same one.
"Lady Aesculapius. My replacement. Look how cheerful it is. Beautiful illustrations though, Anne-Laure Tuduri and Johannes Chazot really should be commended. But I digress. When the Firmament was making the 10,000 Dawns, they made several drafts, trying to get the elements they wanted correct. They didn't delete those drafts though, just sort of...locked them away. I realized that I was trapped in an unfinished universe, and I escaped! I looked for meaning in it, and traveled to a universe where the 10,000 Dawns were, ridiculously, a book series by a talentless hack who managed to get a bunch of actually talented people to team up with him to make some stories, and read them. Oh the things I learned...And I thought...this isn't fair? This sucks? I don't want to live like this and I deserve attention!"
"Very modest," Pathway said.
"I thought so."
Miranda raised her hand, "So...what exactly is your plan?"
"We team up! The five of us work together to try to get everyone's attention again! We deserve to be featured characters in the narrative of the universe, and if some idiot is writing stories about people he used us as stepping stones to get to, we should at least get a piece of commissioned art?"
Shona called out from between a mouth of chips, "I literally have no idea what you're talking about."
"But I'm bored so I'm in. Why not."
Ashlyn stood up, "I'm absolutely in. This is unfathomable. We kidnap James Wylder, and force him to write something else."
The Tourist raised both hands up, "Maybe, but I think we have another option first, if the rest of you are in."
Miranda tapped her roller bladed foot against the floor, "...yeah. Yeah I'm in. Let's make some noise!"
Pathway screwed her mouth up, "Do I have...an analog in the final story?"
The Tourist shook her head, "No, there wasn't really a need."
She slowly nodded, "Then I'd like to die with my name on at least one person's lips. I will come."
Ashlyn crossed her arms.
The Tourist crossed her arms too.
They firmed their brows.
"Alright then, Tourist, how exactly are we going to do this?"
The Tourist snapped, and a black pyramid the side of a dinner plate popped into being, green lines running along it's surface. It dropped to the floor, and grew till it was large enough for a doorway to slide open.
"I didn't mention? I have a ship that travels through narrative. All of the 10,000 Dawns is at our fingertips, and outside it too if we get bored. So then...where should we go first?"
* * *
Miranda skated another circuit around the catwalk around the main room of the pyramid. It would have been a lot easier if it was a circle, but she could use the railings to swing the corners so it wasn’t too bad. Even so, she could tell that everyone watching her from the lower level had the same thought: why exactly did this ship have a catwalk there. Did it aesthetically look cool? Yes. If there was a camera crew, would it let them get a lot more cool shots than if they were all trapped on the ground floor? Also yes, But as it was there was a stairway that led up to the catwalk, and the catwalk led to no other doors.
“So uh, why?” Shona finally had the nerve to ask.
“It is a prototype,” The Tourist answered. “Who knows.”
Ashlyn leaned against what she assumed was a control console, “So then, what’s the first step of this big plan, miss Tourist?”
The Tourist laughed, and made a fist, their fears reflecting in her sunglasses, “Well first of all, miss Oswin...could you get off the coffeemaker that things kind of expensive, you can even make lattes with it.”
Shona cooed, “We could open up a coffee shop!”
“Maybe later! Our first step is to take over the broadcasting center on the View, and to broadcast out to the multiverse that were here, we’re queer, and we’re ready to party!” She pumped her fist in the air waiting for applause. None came.
“What’s the view, and are we sure we’re all somewhere on the LGBT+ spectrum?” Ashlyn asked.
“Anyone not?” Miranda called down. Crickets.
“I really need to get those bugs out of here, even if they amplify rhetorical effects,” the Tourist mumbled, “alright then, what is the View? Why, it’s the place at the junction of infinity! Travelers from all over the multiverse hang out there! So what do you say, with your help, we’ll send a message to all the people who have never heard of us!”
Finally, she got the reaction she wanted.
* * *
Well, it figured things wouldn’t go as planned. Ashlyn had gone clubbing, and was now making out with a girl at a milk bar. Pathway had joined a sword-fighting contest, and was dueling Cyborg Mushashi Miyamoto, again. Shona had eaten four donuts and was taking a nap next to her now. Miranda was participating in a roller derby competition. Which, well, at least was entertaining to watch, even if Shona had fallen asleep.
“Go Miranda!” she yelled, completely dispassionately. She didn’t need the encouragement anyway, the girl was like if you gave a bulldozer gymnastics lessons, flipping over people, smashing past them. At least the day wasn’t a total waste. The Tourist didn’t know the rules, but she did know that Miranda had won, because the big light up sign said “WINNER” and the ref was holding her hand up while she stood on a podium. Subtle hints.
“Now Miranda,” the announcer asked, “you can ask for anything within the View as your prize. What do you wish?”
She stood dumbfounded, and probably would have said something like “a cola”, if the Tourist hadn’t yelled out, “Hey! Ask for the keys to the broadcasting room!”
The announcer’s face fell, “Oh. Can...can they ask for that?”
A team of lawyers checked, and as their faces fell rinkside, the Tourist let out a whoop. Victory! Accidentally! But she’d take it.
* * *
The five of them sat at a desk, looking out at the 4D cameras. Makeup was done. Lighting was perfect. Time to tell everyone who they were.
“Hello multiverse, and all of you reading at home. My name is the Tourist. You might not know me, but you will. Along with my new friends Ashlyn, Pathway, Shona, and Miranda, we’re the new heroines of this story! We’re taking over. So you’d better get ready. You may have forgotten us, you may not have even known about us, but today, on this day where you should absolutely take everything you read on the internet at face value*, you’ll remember us! Watch out, because our adventures are just starting.”
*do not do that
THE FORGOTTEN HEROINES OF 10,000 DAWNS BIG TAKEOVER
A NEW ONE-DAY EVENT SERIES WITH ART BY BRI CROZIER
FEATURING NEW STORIES BY
ARCBEATLE PRESS APRIL FOOLS 2020
Copyright 2020 Arcbeatle Press and James Wylder
"The View" is the creation and property of Jake Black, used with permission.
Any resemblance to persons living or dead, fictional or real, or events past or present is either purely coincidental or done firmly within the grounds of loving parody.
Any attempt to use this story to make weird claims on a wiki argument thread should probably be grounds to ignore any other arguments from the user making those claims forever. Just saying. It's an April fools story, I mean really.
Poet, Playwright, Game Designer, Writer, Freelancer for hire.