Paths Not Taken 3

I started this style of post with the second Epsilon story, and have decided to continue it here. It’s a look at the choices NOT taken by you, the audience. Because every time I offer a choice, I do have an arc in my head – and if that choice isn’t taken, it’s either temporarily set aside, or disposed of. What were these aborted arcs? SPOILERS follow, in case you haven’t been reading up to Part 9, and want to be surprised.

GETTING STARTED

LynPlot30. STORY CHOICE itself. The high school story was probably the most set up in my mind – I would have used some old teacher characters of mine (and likely Expona instead of Para), with Alison working in the office. Granted, the supernatural element I was less sure of. The story on the station, with Alice, was the least set in my mind; that’s about all I had.

We got: “Scale factors”, which I had intended to base on the “April Fool” written for me back in 2015. It won by a comfortable margin. I had no characters (aside from probably someone wearing a crown called “Queeny”), or plot (aside from some “invasion”), but I had a basic setting and starting point.

1. KAT. Marginal influence. This vote set the tone for Kat’s future interactions. Would he be more pleased, indifferent, or displeased to be included? We got: Displeased. Ever since then, I’ve tried to portray him as more keen to get the mission over with. His interest in Alijda had always been planned.

2. SCALE CIRCUITS. Major influence. With no problem, Alijda would have attracted someone’s attention upon arrival; with circuit problems, she would have been too large or too small. We got: Effectively, a delay. Without this vote, Alijda wouldn’t have ended up shrinking. We might have still had the DEO, but I’m not sure. We got stealth, but at a price.

3. THE WAY. Major influence. If they hadn’t gone with Larry, they’d have ended up with the government. If they’d gone willingly, they would have met Bonnie early and discussed the situation. We got: The hard way. And I didn’t know what that would be – how do you knock out a teleporter? Without this vote, no fairy dust, possibly no magical items on the world.

4. GET OUT. Negligible influence. We got Larry listening in, which did set the tone of mistrust between Alijda’s group and the DEO (versus a more amicable working relationship). But there would be later opportunities to change that, for better or worse… not that a better relationship ever materialized.

AROUND THE DEO

5. OFF TO… Major influence. Had they gone back to the Epsilon Station, they would have found themselves unable to return by any conventional means. Possibly they’d have had to arrive again before their first arrival, or simultaneous to the “third incursion”. Had Alijda gone to City Hall, I would have had to think about the government’s part in this.

We got: The Department of Extradimensional Objects. I didn’t have a set plan. I vaguely based it on what I’d seen in “Supergirl” and “Agents of SHIELD”.

6a. FOOLED. Negligible influence. First tied vote. Thus two of the results for this latest “April Fool” were seen in Part 6b. Had “someone’s dream” won, Bonnie’s arrival in 6b would have been punctuated with comments about a nightmare.

CScaling

New Drawing!

6b. REACTION. Major influence. First unanimous vote too. Had Bonnie locked them up, they would have attempted a jailbreak (not unlike what ended up happening later). Conversely, had Bonnie confessed, we would have had a revelation – that may still happen, so I cannot tell you what it would have been.

We got: Distraction, in the form of Bonnie2. I hadn’t thought about it beyond the doppelgänger concept. Honestly, the vote blindsided me a bit. I decided I didn’t want to drag the concept out, thus Para’s revelation.

7. POLITICS. Major influence. Had they not interfered, the incursion would have happened, likely preventing Bonnie from returning to HQ, prompting Larry to ask them for advice. Had they tried to warn Queeny, I’d have thought about the government, something I have yet to really do. Instead, we got trouble.

You chose the danger! Again, I had not expected the vote to be so high for that, given Alison’s remarks. I suppose it’s good that things wouldn’t be boring?

WHERE TO NEXT

8. NEXT STEP. Marginal influence. Talking to the government and lying low would have routed back to the prior poll, merely with Alijda much shorter and on worse terms with the DEO. I wonder if it’s the same person who wanted to wait it out both times? Instead, we got more with Bonnie2.

I initially envisioned Bonnie2’s acquaintances as being actors, but once the choice was selected, I thought maybe they should have magic to offset the DEOs tech. And then I was working 12 hour days on the school play, with not really any time to write (I even kept the poll open, not that it did anything). So the new characters became amalgams of those in the play and in an anime I used to know.

9. ABOUT CHRIS. Major influence. I didn’t really expect anyone to pick Andi and the government, but hey, maybe third time was the charm? It would have revealed Bonnie’s confession (see #6b above), while simultaneously putting Alijda in a position of needing to find Chris again before time ran out. Having Chris do the setup was the safe bet – with the downside of possibly getting her arrested after the readings were taken, leaving Alijda in peril again.

Instead, here we are, able to contact Alice, to deal with the shrinking thing – but does Michaela REALLY know where that oboe goes? Oh dear.

I’m curious now whether you saw my hints for any of those alternate paths as you were reading. (For instance, Alijda noticing how she could have arrived out in the open, back in Part 3.) Either way, as always, thanks for voting/reading, and feel free to comment below about that which was unexpected, or anything else that jumps out at you!

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3 comments

  1. This was pretty cool to read. I liked learning what the alternate choices would’ve been like. I must say I’m glad that magical items got included (good job everyone who voted on the “The Way” vote). I like the path that we wound up on. Hopefully we see that revelation.

    I don’t think I noticed any of the hints, but that’s just me…although on a reread, I’m sure I can now, heh.

    I also like that cover art photo on the side. What do you use to do your linearting, btw? It’s not quite solid black when you zoom in, but that may be a stylistic choice.

    Like

    1. I’m so pleased, thanks for letting me know! I’m fine with where we’re at too, though I am a bit surprised we still haven’t gotten to that third arrival yet. And it is a bit hard to say how things might have gone… I’m playing with probabilities. As to not noticing hints, that can be good, as I do like when later items prompt a reread – heck, in some places in “Time & Tied” it’s literally linked that way. ^.^

      As to the art, it’s a black felt tipped pen? Glad you like it! Maybe that means I’m improving. Everything is hand drawn, inked, scanned, and then finally filled with colour. For anyone curious, I go through the whole process on my personal blog in this post:
      http://mathiex.blogspot.ca/2015/12/drawing-my-math-webcomic.html

      Like

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