Before the Saga Circle of Fans (OCs / sports? / Fanon Roulette response)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Lazy K, Jun 6, 2016.

  1. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012
    Title: Circle of Fans
    Author: Lazy K
    Timeframe: very Before
    Characters: OCs
    Genre: sports
    Summary: A young Lellium is introduced to circleball.
    Notes: Written in response to the Fanon Roulette Challenge. The fanon elements used in this fic are the Ellumiwi by Kahara and circleball by earlybird-obi-wan. The bits that seem odd and out-of-place are probably my own invention.

    Circle of Fans

    Although xenolinguists do their best, it is an undeniable fact that something always gets lost in translation. For example, the word elellumiwi in the Lelluim tongue literally means "spring leaves". But when you consider the cosmology of their religion, it becomes apparent that "children of the tree" - or perhaps even "the Nest Tree reborn" - is more appropriate.

    The main problem lies with hidden cultural context, with the assumption that some things are universal and thus do not need to be mentioned. This is why protocol droids are never as useful as a multi-million language translator should be. They lack the experience that comes with lifelong immersion in those cultures. As the philosopher U Kagutet claimed, "Common sense is never as common as it is believed to be."

    Heillyu perched on a repulsor chair in the spectators' ring, wondering if the translator unit was doing its job properly. It had been days since the disastrous Beamnut Incident from which his fellow members of the Committee to Evaluate Offworld Potential had yet to recover. Having seen what mismatching biochemistries could do to an unsuspecting Lelluim, he shuddered to think what other weavers may be casting their nets, so to speak.

    He wanted to stretch his wings for a much-needed shake, but that sort of thing was discouraged even back home. The Tree alone knew what sort of social taboos it might break here. He noticed that the child in front of him - well, probably a child as it was the same shape as the non-Lelluim beside it, only much smaller - had turned around in its seat to stare at him. If memory served, this was not a polite thing to do, thus only done by rude adults and children who didn't know better.

    Some things, then, he thought, are the same. It was a comforting thought.

    Unfortunately, this brought on another round of homesickness as he remembered his nieces and nephews and the chaos they brought with them wherever they went. He would have never thought that he would ever miss that dreadful racket, but in his present state he was.

    Before being assigned to the committee, Heillyu had thought himself a loner. He preferred the company of his computer terminal to his nestmates. He could go for days without engaging another Lellium in conversation. But he had discovered the hard way that it was one thing to be alone by choice, and quite another to have no choice about the matter. He missed his nestmates. He missed his family. He even missed people he was only on a nodding accquiantance with. And while being with the fifty-odd others of his traveling flock helped in a small way, more often than not it only emphasized the fact that they were not clanfolk.

    And now the beamnuts had robbed him of their company, too. The doctors had told him that it would only be a matter of days until the effects wore off and they were safe to rejoin society once more. He had offered to join them in quarantine, but the offworlders had only laughed at what they thought was a joke and told him to go sightseeing or something.

    So here he was, alone in a crowd, being given a double earful of gibberish that was hopefully just literal translations of circleball slang. He fiddled with the repulsor chair's translator settings for a while before giving up with the unfamiliar interface and looking up the game's rules on his datapad.

    The playing field consisted of a wide ring - a large circle with a small circle cut out of it. Four goalposts were placed at equal distances along the outer diameter. To score a goal, a team had to touch the ball to each of the four posts in order, turnwise for one team and counter-turnwise for the other. However, it was only valid if the ball keeper was touching the ball at the same time. The position of ball keeper changed with each goal, rotating among the nine team members. At half time, the teams changed direction.

    Obviously there had to be more to the game than that, but Heillyu hoped this would allow him to understand what was going on.

    A huge cheer went up as the two teams entered the field. They didn't wear uniforms, not exactly, since their anatomies were too diverse, but each player wore his - or maybe her - team's colors. Or perhaps dyed their fur or painted their scales; Heillyu didn't know any of their species well enough to tell. But he was fairly certain that, unlike its parents, the child who was staring at him had his - her - its face painted in the bright yellow and green of one team. It was probably no coincidence that the spectators around him wore or otherwise sported the same colors. And while his own plumage was of an entirely different hue, it was quite possible that offworlders might not notice the difference, or even care.

    It was an oddly comforting thought.

    The two teams lined up in the center circle facing each other, nine players to a team. One player in each team, probably the keeper, had a faint glow around them. Between the two teams stood the referee: a tall, nearly skeletal creature clad entirely in black. He - probably a he, hadn't the announcer used the masculine pronoun to introduce him? - had the red ball in one hand, an archaic noisemaker in the other, and a look on his face that was stern even by Lellium standards. Without a word he bowed four times in the direction of each of the goalposts, as did the players. And as did, to Heillyu's surprise, almost everyone around him. He found himself bobbing his head hurriedly with them, not sure what the ritual meant but unwilling to be left out.

    The referee placed the ball at the center of the field, took several steps back, and put the noisemaker to his lips. Heillyu nearly jumped as a shrill whistling erupted, louder than any unamplifed sound had any right to be. Seemingly unaffected, all the players except for the keepers exited the center circle and dispersed around the playing field. The keepers stepped forward until they were a meter or so away from the ball.

    The entire stadium went quiet with anticipation. Even Heillyu found himself holding his breath.

    Then the whistle sounded again, and the keepers pounced on the ball. Although the holodisplay above the field showed an enlarged view, Heillyu only saw a blur of colors as the keepers struggled for control of the ball. Then the ball shot out, right into the hands of an arachnid creature with at least eight limbs and clad - painted? - in red and black. The arachnid, despite a striking resemblance to the silk spiders of Heillyu's world, moved with the speed and grace of a predator toward the closest post. But before it was halfway there, it turned suddenly and hurled the ball backwards at its ball keeper, who had been sprinting toward another post. It caught the ball effortlessly, but now faced two yellow/green players who had been tracking it and not the ball. Without losing any speed, the keeper seemed to sink into the ground as it went from bipedal to almost quadrupedal motion, sliding under its opponents.

    A loud clang sounded as the ball touched the goalpost, whose color changed from white to red/black. The roar from the team's supporters was deafening, and Heillyu was surprised to note that some of them were quite close. Apparently they didn't all group together on one side for some reason.

    The reason became clear a few minutes later when red/black, despite yellow/green's efforts, touched the fourth post, scoring a goal. Immediately the fans closest to the post stood up. Then the fans sitting directly to their left did so, too. By the time this simple meme had spread to a fraction of the stadium, the ones who had stood up first were sitting down. And thus the wave of red and black circled the stadium, taunting those in yellow and green.

    At the referee's whistle, the ball was ceded to yellow/green, whose keeper was already a handspan away from a goalpost. A couple of lightning-fast passes later the bell sounded, and as one yellow/green headed for the next post. Heillyu had doubts about this tactic since it seemed too obvious, but perhaps that was an advantage as red/black appeared unprepared for it. Yellow/green touched the next two posts with ease, slowing only when red/black formed a wall in a similar brute-force fashion. There was a lengthy chaotic struggle, at the end of which the bell clanged - but the post turned red/black instead.

    Heillyu jumped up from his perch, shouting invectives that would have gone unnoticed even if translated, for most of those around him were yelling similar things as well. Down in the playing field, a creature in a yellow and green suit - not one of the players but clearly in some position of authority - was crying foul and gesturing wildly at the referee. The referee gave him a Look, but blew the whistle anyways for a time out.

    Above the field, the holodisplay showed a slowed-down replay of the scuffle. It stopped several times to circle around to a different angle, but - according to the announcer - it was unclear if any violations had taken place. The yellow/green fans booed and started a turnwise wave in protest, not bothering to sit down this time. Immediately the red/black fans began their own counter-turnwise wave. Heillyu half expected a collision when the two wavefronts met and was disappointed when there was none.

    Three minutes later the referee's whistle sounded, and only the diehards kept standing as the game resumed. Heillyu was one of them, unexpectedly having found clanship among strangers.
  2. Findswoman

    Findswoman The Fanfic Mod in Pink star 5 Staff Member Manager

    Feb 27, 2014
    So glad to see you came through with this—thanks for sharing! I think this is one of the first times I've seen "sports" as a story genre here, so kudos to you for forging some new ground there. You have an interesting concept here with a loner main character going through a particularly lonely period in his life who manages to find a certain amount of "clanship among strangers" in the bustling world of spectator sports. Cool stuff. :cool:

    Just wanted to ask: are the Committee to Evaluate Offworld Potential and the Beamnut Incident your own creations, or preexisting, or a combination of both? What exactly is a beamnut, and what was the incident? (I wonder if a "Notes" section at the end might help.)

    Thanks so much once again for being part of this challenge! :)
    Kahara and Ewok Poet like this.
  3. earlybird-obi-wan

    earlybird-obi-wan Chosen One star 6

    Aug 21, 2006
    Love how you show circleball through the eyes of your OC Heillyu.

    Sports unite characters.
    Kahara, Ewok Poet and Findswoman like this.
  4. Ewok Poet

    Ewok Poet Force Ghost star 6

    Jul 31, 2014
    The structure of this story is so, so good! It starts out like a documentary, almost in the Bellamy style and then it turns into a sports broadcast. And you quote an in-universe Voltaire two paragraphs in!

    The rest, well, Findswoman said it all before me. You totally did justice to @Kahara's fanon and the idea of a loner being less of a loner in the middle of an event is an exciting thing to explore overall.
    Findswoman and Kahara like this.
  5. Kahara

    Kahara Favorites of Fanfic Hostess Extraordinaire star 4 VIP - Game Host

    Mar 3, 2001
    I shall be back with a longer comment at some point, but I just had to say this is fantastic! I love what you did with both pieces of fanon here. [face_dancing]
    Findswoman and Ewok Poet like this.
  6. leiamoody

    leiamoody Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Nov 8, 2005
    This is why it's best to leave sports stories to sports writers...or people with a better grasp of sports than myself. :p

    This manages to perfectly capture the essence of the game while also showing that one can find some understanding even among the most alien sport. Maybe some semblance of belonging as well.
    Ewok Poet and Findswoman like this.
  7. Kahara

    Kahara Favorites of Fanfic Hostess Extraordinaire star 4 VIP - Game Host

    Mar 3, 2001
    Okay, back with a longer comment this time. :)

    Absolutely wonderful use of both fanons. =D= I'm gleeful at seeing the Elellumiwi appear, of course, but I think you did just as great a job with earlybird's circleball game. In both cases, I was really impressed with how you got to some aspect of the of the fanon and made fun and interesting expansions on it.

    Loved this interpretation, which seems spot on to me! Repeating myself a bit, but I'm delighted with the depth and creativity you applied to the fanon material throughout this story. [face_dancing] Really enjoyed the musings on naming and how the full meaning tends to get lost in translation. It's a nice lead in to Heillyu's predicament at the start.
    True. :)

    Oh dear, that sounds like an embarrassing story. :p It seems as though Heillyu's colleagues are in the Cone of Shame. What with the later mention of not being safe to rejoin society and the apparent lack of any serious illness. The fact that the event now has a title probably doesn't bode well for their dignity. ;)

    [face_laugh] The outsider perspective of Heillyu trying to make sense of the events and other beings around him is fantastic; I really like how you've simultaneously given him familiar emotions, but a unique POV. Different culture, different body language, and so on. Stretching wings in a crowded place being considered uncouth, I like that. Makes sense for community living in close quarters. :) (Tangent here, but I like the idea of the repulsor chair for sports-watching. Seems logical for a very small being to use that, both for seeing the match and to avoid getting jostled, stepped on, and generally being at risk in a mostly-larger crowd.)

    As a pretty introverted person, I can imagine Heillyu's feelings here very well. There's quite a difference between temporary, chosen solitude and real loneliness -- and enjoying the former doesn't mean make the latter any easier. And he's of a more gregarious species than Humans, with even more dependence on social bonds. It's fun to see how that both does and doesn't affect his personality. I like that we see him noticing that need for connection here in a "don't know what you had until it's gone" sort of way, but the result isn't to just go back and cling to his flock.

    Nice explanation of the game; it was easy to visualize and Heillyu's beginner understanding of things adds interest.

    Aww! Nifty idea of a pre-game gesture, and Heillyu's determined, slightly confuzzled participation in the audience ritual is entertaining.

    Liked the description of the teams and that it seems to attract a really varied bunch of players. The arachnid player is a cool idea. :D

    [face_laugh] Reminds me of his earlier musings on how some things really are universal. The various displays of the fans bring that home as well; apparently they're every bit as passionate about their teams as their Earthly counterparts! Glad that Heillyu found "clanship among strangers" here. :)
    Findswoman and Ewok Poet like this.