Rideable Minecart High School, and other short stories

Bernadetta von Varley

Bluebird; Even If Happiness Is Close By...
Another short Fire Emblem: Three Houses story, but weirder this time. Doesn't really directly spoil anything but it makes more sense if you've finished the Golden Deer route. Still going to put it in spoiler tags though since I'm not sure if I'd characterize as a spoiler or not exactly and the game is still new and you should play it.

Spaceship Orion
The sky was thick and hazy with smog, dying it a sickly yellow and, with her having been forced out of the climate-controlled train terminal, filtering into the young girl's lungs as she breathed and choked on it. Just walking in this air, her hair had begun to feel gritty and dirty. She felt overwhelmed, her body by the air, polluted far beyond her skin's ability to cleanse it, and her mind by fear, anger, and sadness. Her mother held her hand as they walked, and she looked up.

Even in a clear sky, she thought, the graphene cables would appear to stretch into eternity.

She was afraid of the unknown she was about to leap towards, angry at being forced to leave her home behind, and sad that she might never see it again. Even a hundred thousand moons from now, were she to live so long, it might not be possible to return.

Mercifully, they stepped through the doors into the filtered air of the base station. She could breathe somewhat clearly now as they lined up, the foyer filled with people in queues snaking around it from the ticket gates. It was hours before finally they approached the gates themselves, her mother and father going through as she was waved towards another gate. The man at the booth asked for her hand, and she held her palm out in front of her, calling forth from her blood a sigil that she suspended in the air, criss-crossed lace with wings outspread in flight.

He checked his computer screen to cross-reference it with her file and, oddly cheerful for what to her felt like such a emotionally charged moment, informed her that her ticket had been confirmed and her account charged, before waving her through the gates with instructions for which concourse to proceed to and a 'have a nice trip'. She pouted as she was reunited with her parents and they started up the stairs towards the second floor from the top where their gate was situated.

As they stepped off the staircase and walked towards the waiting area, she could see outside through the glass windows the elevator car, a huge circlular structure several stories tall sitting in the middle of the ring-shaped terminal, clinging to its cable. She pressed her hands up against the glass, peering out, and felt another pang of sadness thinking about how it would soon carry her far away.

It felt like it was all too soon that the boarding call came over the loudspeakers and they lined up again, walking through the long bridges that connected the concourse to the car. They took their seats by the window, and to take her mind off things she tried to engross herself in the safety card left in the pocket beside hers, going over its dreadfully boring, carefully-worded instructions on how to fold the seat flat to sleep in and what to do in the event of an emergency, the latter doing nothing for her nerves. By the time she looked up from it, she noticed her mother had left. She glanced to the next seat, feeling a little relieved that her father was still in his seat, leafing through a magazine.

Her mother soon reappeared, carrying a plastic bag in her hand, and sat down again. She evidently noticed the displeasure on her daughter's face.

"What's wrong, sweetie?".

"You left."

She gave a half-hearted smile and tossled her daughter's long, green hair. "I only went to buy a few things. You know I wouldn't leave you alone". She reached into the bag and took out a dessert in a plastic container. "See, I went and bought you your favorite pudding."

"Hmph". Despite her attempt to seem unimpressed, she took the pudding and the spoon her mother offered her with it, a bit of happiness and innocence back on her face, and her mother smiled again, more warmly this time, as she popped it open and took the first bite. She felt the electric motors come to life and the car begin to move, slowly at first and then faster and faster.

They climbed higher and higher into the sky as minutes turn into hours into days. It was four days and three nights before finally the elevator reached its peak and they disembarked into another vast terminal. Walking over panes of glass in the floor and looking down through them, she felt speechless awe and a dizzying fear of falling, looking down towards home from thirty six thousand kilometers up, floating in the heavens.

Even from here, she could make out that all-encompassing yellow haze. She could now see how the thickest of it covered only patches of the planet, though its thin, faint glint was everywhere.

From there, they filed through a labyrinth of corridors that felt so tangled she couldn't quite tell where they had passed from the station into the vessel itself, only a faint feeling that there was now no more turning back as she realized the subtle changes in her surroundings. Finally, they had reached a long corridor, the cold dark of space visible from skylights high above, its wall lined with little cells, only large enough for a person to comfortably lay down but well enough appointed with beds for the long journey ahead. Many of the doors were already closed, and a only a few others were still filtering in and getting comfortable before shutting theirs.

Her mother tapped her on the shoulder and pointed to one of the cells, the warm golden light and the crisp linens on the bed looking inviting. Just looking at it, she yawned, and her mother laughed. "Here's your compatment."

She knelt down and wrapped her arms around her, kissing her cheek and running a hand through her hair. "Don't worry, it will feel just like it's tomorrow when we wake up, and mommy and daddy will be there too. We'll find a new home together, ok?". She squeezed her a little tighter. "Goodnight, Sothis."

Her father tossled her hair as well. "Sleep tight."

Her mother released her and stood up, and Sothis nodded. "Goodnight."

Shields slowly slid over the skylights, and the bright lighting in the corridor faded to a low, warm orange as Sothis crawled in to bed and closed the door, before slipping out of her clothes and stuffing them haphazardly onto a shelf in the wall. She pulled the covers up and rested her head on the pillow, glanced at the little control panel at the back of the cell and fiddled with it, getting the temperature just right and, satisfied, turning down the lights. The knob clicked, and they went totally dark. It wasn't long before she nodded off.

For an incalcuably long time they flew and she slept, dreams coming and going and then fading out of memory. It was serene at first, and remained so for her even through the fear and the darkness that came.

Sothis opened her eyes, squinting as soon as she did, no longer accustomed to the bright sunlight. In fact, she had scarcely seen such a brilliantly bright sky, pale blue and obsctruted only by fluffy white clouds hanging over it. The chirps and squeaks of some manner of small creature filled her ears, and her whole body ached.

With her hand she shielded her eyes, and began to look around, first examining the spot where she lay. Metal, twisted and charred, and torn linens lay with her, though somehow her clothes, still sitting on the remains of a shelf, had survived mostly intact, and she drowsily pulled them on. Surveying her surroundings more broadly, she saw more wreckage as well, and found she had fallen in a field of dead grass amid a large, barren canyon. The grass felt brittle, crunching as she ran a hand over it, and the air felt dry as a bone. She felt a desperate need for a drink of water, and it scarcely seemed possible for there to be life in this world.

Suddenly, she was afraid. Faint memories ran through her mind, though whether they were truth or simply a half-remembered dream she couldn't tell. All she knew was that she had a deep feeling of being alone, and a sense of loss for something she could no longer quite place. And that even still, she didn't want to die. And even more so, she didn't want to die still alone. She looked down at her hand. The grass felt different now, and the tiniest bit of green had returned to the very tips of its blades, as if her touch had given it back life.

She struggled to her feet, and wondered just kind of world it was that she now made her new home.

And the notes;
Wrote this on a whim after kinda going down a rabbit hole. I happened to see someone tweet about the cover art for the SNES game Phalanx. I thought I remembered seeing it before and went looking for more about the game and found an AVGN video about it and happened to see a comment on the video mentioned a song called Spaceship Orion by the Ozark Mountain Daredevils and looked that up. Besides the song itself I found a music blog analyzing it and mentioning the lyrics being about leaving a planet that's become uninhabitable, which I honestly somehow hadn't realized. I've been thinking a lot about the prehistory of Fodlan and fic ideas I have involving it, and listening to the song I came up with this.

Bernadetta von Varley

Bluebird; Even If Happiness Is Close By...
This isn't content anyone asked for but it's content I thought of.

I started a third playthrough of Three Houses tonight and needed a name for Byleth. I've been using names from all the half-finished conlangs I have laying around and ended up doing the same again, reusing a name that I gave to an RP character elsewhere, and that got me thinking about what house all of my characters would choose if they played the game. I feel like it's not something anyone else would be interested in since it's so self indulgent and silly and I almost feel like at this point I'm too disconnected from my OCs to say for sure but I thought it was fun to think about so I'm going to post it anyway.

Granya would probably pick Golden Deer. Blue Lions would appeal to her sense of morality but she would identify more with Deer being a bunch of (seemingly) easygoing, good-natured, and quirky merchants and peasants (well, the majority of their students are still nobles, but still). It never became relevant in our campaign so I never really came to a decision on what her sexuality was or what she would look for in a partner so I don't know who she would consider S supporting.

Umeko wouldn't play Fire Emblem. After getting browbeaten by Subaru, Ran, and Ringo into trying it, she would pick Black Eagles as seemingly the default route. She would become progressively more terrified by the game's events and possibly give up after chapter 8 or chapter 9. If she made it to chapter 11, there's a good chance she would have missed the condition for the route split, and even if she had she would find both Edelgard and Rhea too scary to make a choice and would finally give Subaru her Switch back and stop playing.

Subaru would be torn between Black Eagles being the gay rights house and Golden Deer being the meme house. Would probably lean towards the Golden Deer because they're the more lighthearted crowd. Would not be disappointed by Claude embracing his inner shonen anime hero and overcoming evil with the power of friendship and memes at the end of Verdant Wind. Given how much she loves Umeko being shy and moe I think she'd probably like Bernadetta and be a little disappointed she couldn't marry her as F!Byleth. My personality isn't anything like Subaru's but apparently we have basically the exact same taste and it's making me wonder if I'm just basing this off my own personal bias.

Ran is gay and wants to watch the world burn. Automatic Black Eagles Edelgard picker. Sees Hubert as a kindred spirit, but given her crush on Subaru might rather marry someone more bubbly and less literally (figuratively) dracula, but all of the normal F/F options in Three Houses are extremely depressed and F!Byleth can't marry Annette who is maybe the bubbliest character (although post-timeskip she gets kind of depressed too since Blue Lions lol). So she probably S supports Edelgard, Hubert, or since she does just want to watch the world burn maybe Sothis. She lowkey likes both Edelgard and Rhea more as characters on the routes that go against them because she thinks it's cool how vicious they are.

Yasuko wouldn't play Fire Emblem and wouldn't let her friends make her play it. Also she was the least developed of the main cast as a character so I don't know who and what she would like. Watching Ran play through Black Eagles she might have a natural bias against Edelgard because her (Yasuko's) family is rich as fuck.

Ringo plays Fire Emblem partly because she's a huge RPG addict and partly for the fanservice (favorite/kindred spirit characters; Nina and Soleil from Fates). Is a big enough shitposter and enough of a problematically stereotypical sex-crazed bi girl probably bi for Claude enough to pick Golden Deer and probably S supports him. Possibly enough of a fujo to be a bit annoyed that M!Byleth can't marry Claude even though she wasn't going to play as M!Byleth anyway. Her Felix/Sylvain doujin will be available at Winter Comiket this year. Canonically she would be 18 now so it's definitely an R-18 doujin too.

(Seriously though in hindsight I'm not sure what exactly I was thinking writing Ringo. I feel like Ran was also kind of a stereotype, but I feel less uncomfortable about how I wrote her as a crazy lesbian because I eventually did figure her out as a character with how her creepy persona is just partly her having a quirky sense of humor and partly a defensive mechanism for her because she has trouble connecting to other people. Actually I'm not sure sure how much sense that makes when that's the thing that drives people away from her but whatever.)

Shiori is more into PC (and mobile, since her secret guilty pleasure is cute girl gacha games) gaming than console and prefers FPSes and the like to RPGs/strategy, but if Ringo talking about it got her interested enough she would definitely have been reading all the pre-release info and might (I think most people did?) assume Blue Lions are Order. She wouldn't like the boar prince though if she got to know him (in common with a certain other tsundere), and would like Edelgard for how no-nonsense she is and how she doesn't take bullshit, so would maybe lean Black Eagles. Edelgard might be too much of a rabble-rouser for her though, so she's a semi-reluctant Church route picker. Too closeted to admit it to her offline friends but she has a fetish for twintail girls and would be salty F!Byleth can't marry Hilda. Spent real money on orbs to pull Hilda in FEH; she's her lead unit and Summoner S support now.