Look at me, trying to be all official. This is just a really, really long note to my readers, those of whom who have read the repost of RDF Life might recognize the format. Yes, I'm aware that this violates FFN's rules, but again, I'm hoping they don't notice, and planning to append a little in universe document at the end of it, so I can say there's at least a bit of story here.
So, if this isn't a story chapter... what is it? Well, it's sort of my thoughts on this work. Maybe it's pointless ego stroking, maybe it'll be interesting, but the point is, I had to write it, and for good or il, now you get to read it.
Seriously getting on with things, I think this story was a learning experience for me in a whole bunch of ways. For one, it showed me my limitations, and some compulsions that, perhaps, I shouldn't let rule me as much as they do. For another, I've learned NEVER to rely on half-remembered facts to begin a story's development, and finally, I've figured out that I kinda suck at Nanoha-style fight scenes.
To explain all of this, except for the self-explanatory fight scene problem, I should probably begin with what I originally intended to do. Long ago, I read the amazing "Grand Tour" series of stories, written by Drunken Grognard. If you haven't read them, then seriously, go do so as soon as you're done reading this, or before then, if you want. They're some of the most awesome multi-crosses I've ever had the pleasure to read, and the top-gear Mid-childa special is bloody brilliant.
Anyways, a concept in his story was the "Bradison Empire," which he described as a "Gender-flipped sort of TSAB." The description wasn't entirely accurate, but it got my mind rolling, and I wanted to try the concept. Since I'm, well, me, I decided to do it as a Ranma crossover, and the horribly titled "Magical Boy-Girl Martial Ranma" was born. No, I'm not making that title up, and anyone who's had this fic alerted since the beginning can show you the story alerts to prove it. That was my first mistake, but by no means the only one.
I began hammering away on the story immediately after getting the idea, and asking Grognard for permission to nick the concept, which I currently can't remember if he gave or not. Of course, two problems came up immediately, and both of them involved Nanoha continuity. The first, I noticed immediately. My primary and secondary Beta readers hadn't heard of the series. This meant that any continuity mistakes I made wouldn't be caught until the fic hit the public, and possibly even not then, since my primary audience was Ranma fans, and I alienated a lot of the Nanoha section due to the fact that the story was full of OCs.
The second issue was that I hadn't watched Nanoha in half a year, and unlike, say, Ranma or Evangelion, where I had seen the show enough to be able to rattle off obscure facts without thinking, Nanoha was a new fandom to me. This resulted in getting a bunch of things wrong, such as ages, the class of the ship used in the series, (I identified what was basically a heavy battleship as a scout,) and magical physics.
By the original chapter 4, I hit writer's block so hard that I now secretly sort of think it was my subconscious going "Hey, idiot, why not look this over before shooting yourself in the foot any further?" During this period, I ran across JSB. Well, more accurately, JSB was a friend I'd known for a good while beforehand, but I DIDN'T remember he was a serious Nanoha fan... which is a rather good indicator of how bad my memory is, since he introduced me to the series.
When he read the original story, picking it apart for continuity errors and issues, well, most of chapters 2-4 were complete write-offs, half of their internal segments needing rewrites either because I'd gotten something just plain wrong, or future segments of the story that depended on them didn't work. This wasn't even to mention that one of my Betas didn't particularly want to read it because the crossover didn't interest him, so the chapters had a greater than usual grammar error and awkward scene count.
Quick confession here, while my work can't be described as perfect on ANY occasion, most likely the only reason it's remotely readable is because of the Betas who keep me honest. Also, I do not mean to insult the one Beta who did review all of the chapters, James Axelrad. He's very good, but he's also only human, and everyone misses a few issues every once in awhile.
Anyhow, while doing the revisions that resulted in at least the rough versions of what are now the prologue to chapter 3, the original plot got dropped. For one, unless I wanted to rewrite a good portion of the stuff that was left, the ship that had arrived couldn't be the STAB's version of the Asura/Arthra, since it was far too small, and the power levels exhibited in some of the fights were slightly too low to compare to season 1 Nanoha. This resulted in a whole new plotting session, which gave rise to a new narrative arc, and this was where that 'compulsion I really shouldn't keep entertaining' came from.
Basically, the new plot only really got interesting around A's, but I was afraid that if I just skipped to it, starting again and filling in necessary backstory as it came up, I'd screw things up. This resulted in me resolving to finish up the original season arc, but the fact that I wanted to get onto A's meant I also rushed it severely. Unfortunately, I didn't pick up on THIS problem until I hit chapter 6, and realized that the readers hadn't seen Akane or her sisters in the last three weeks of story time, and despite being in three major fights so far, Marle was little more than a cardboard cutout.
In addition, the narrative pace had pretty much been set, like that bus from "Speed." If I tried to slow down now, I'd screw what flow the story had left up so badly that it'd pretty much be dead. At least, this was my thinking. If I was actually right or not... *Shrug*
In the later chapters, I managed to somewhat solve the one problem, the one with narrative speed, though as was noted by reviewers, Chapter 7 was still extremely fast, and the plot required Chapter 8's events to hit when they did. I was sort of pushing it to allow the day recovery period, but if I hadn't, it would have been completely implausible that Ranma would have been up to fighting anything stronger than a distracted Kuno, being in three battles in one day.
Of course, the cardboard characters thing was still an issue. I hope I've alleviated it somewhat with Akane, Kasumi and Genma, along with possibly Fate if I'm lucky, but I know that a lot of the other cases are pretty bad still. This is one of the limitations I mentioned. Back in one of my older stories, "Officer Sato," I introduced a new character who had a prominent post, Kimiko Nagisa. Going strictly by reviewer opinions, she was pretty good, but there was a reason for that. I had time to build her up. She appeared, and I added traits to her until I had a character I could work with as though she were a canon one.
In the case of this fic, that didn't happen. The Typhon showed up, and it was filled with people. Then, there were Fate, Mow, and someone who may as well have been new, this fic's Nodoka. They pretty much all hit at once, and I wasn't able to actually define any of them, really. Fate and Marle were the closest, but even then they had holes, and most of the crew of the Typhon were schrodinger's characters. Also, aside from info dumping to Ranma off screen and returning Raising Heart, let's face it, Mow did next to nothing, a rather humiliating fate, pardon the pun, for a familiar who was supposed to be equivalent to Arf.
This had a LOT to do withe the pacing issues, and a little to do with how they were introduced. I have no doubt that if I'd slowed the heck down, I'd have gotten most of the characters right, maybe even managed to flesh out some secondaries like Nanoha itself did with Ami, but even in that case, the sheer number of important new people who showed up at once meant someone was probably still going to be shafted. So yeah, large amounts of OCs at the same time, Note to self: NEVER DO THAT AGAIN!
The last thing I can think of to bitch... erm, I mean bring critique at, is that when the fic changed directions, a lot of things became inconsistant, because I usually depend on knowledge of previous scenes to help me keep internal consistancy, and the jumble of events meant that I couldn't do so anymore. Well, Nodoka's Precia, so she wasn't there, so Ryu didn't happen. Wait, um, did Saffron happen or not? Okay, so some of Fate and Ranma's abilities are based off of the Senken arts retooled as magic, um, didn't I mention the Yama once before? ARGH!
Okay, so at least for now, I'm done raking myself over the coals about this story. By all means, if you readers have more things to complain about, please join in. It's really and truely the only way fanfic authors will learn to do what we're doing better, and barring serious profanity, racist insults, or threats, if we don't agree, we can just shrug it off.
The question to ask now is, what's going to happen next?
Well, Next is A's, of course. I'm pretty sure Nanoha fans have figured out what that last scene means by now. For starters, I am not going to rush through A's like I did the first season. It was the arc I WANTED to write, after all, and even though there's another arc I want to write after it, and hope it'll be epic, A's should be enjoyable.
In addition, A's should have fewer new characters for me to be overwhelmed by. There are only two OCs to keep track of for most of the events, and one of them is sort of an OC in name only. A's will also be the arc in which Nanoha's cast reappears, and I mean the whole group. There will be Starlight Breakers.
There will still be Nanoha-style fight scenes with a good possibility of being poorly written, but you can't win 'em all, right?
In other words, it won't have many of the problems this arc had, and I'm sorta debating if I should tell new readers they should look this over first or jump right in. Will it have new problems? Probably, but there's only one way for me to find out, and it's to start writing the thing.
Good bye for now, readers. Thank you for reading, and have a great day!
SPECIAL FEATURE, the history of the Space Time Administration Bureau.
Note: This document contains possible spoilers for the A's arc, but also explains the main differences between the STAB and its canon equivalent, the TSAB. You can take it or leave it, as the info will most likely become more readily available as the story progresses.
Possible STAB Mid-Childan History.
TSAB Record File 0068-02-14-1552, Infinite Library, Mid-Childa Prime.
Space-time Administration Bureau - History.
Compiled by Researcher Yuuno Scrya.
Due to the ability of Time-space manipulating engines to transcend dimensional barriers, it has been seen many times over the TSAB's explorations of the universe that multiple variants of a single planet can exist. This is the case with the planet that gave rise to the Space Time Administration Bureau, hereafter known as the STAB. In almost every way, their planet, currently designated Mid-Childa Beta, paralleled the development of our own, from the first tribal structures and locations to the founding of the planetary government. The main difference between the two is that their relative Universal time scale is displaced from our own by approximately 7.25 years. This didn't really have an effect on the planet, until their first gradual steps into space travel. Due to the timeframe mismatch and the relative movements of the universe and the milky way galaxy, the planet was in a far different portion of the political power structure it emerged into. Indeed, this is why we never learned of it until the Book of Darkness incident, as they were separated from us by the entirety of the Ancient Belkan empire.
As is readily available from a cursory study of our own records, when we first gained the ability to travel faster than light using dimensional drive engines, we found our path relatively unimpeded. True, we bordered Belka, however there were several dozen light years all around us that were as yet unclaimed, and that we occupied with colonies in short order. Mid-Childa beta was not so lucky. They emerged a small way inside of the borders of Belka and were unable to expand, however they were mostly left alone by the Belkan empire due to the fact that they made good trading partners, and the empire felt it would do more damage to the planet conquering it than it was worth.
This all changed when the Unification War began. After the loss of Belka, the Saint King believed that all territory within the empire should be completely unified, and then it should be expanded. As a world that naturally bore sentient life, Mid-Childa Beta became a prime target.
Fortunately for the inhabitants of the planet, the Unification war was a multi-front offensive, and they were deemed less of a threat than Mid-Childa Prime and other large border nations, at first. True, they were being attacked from several directions, but the attacks had started small, and were beaten back, much being learned about space warfare in the process.
Knowing that the attacks were going to get worse, Mid-Childa Beta's government decided to shift the planet to a more military footing, channeling all of the resources they could spare into material production and soldier training. This worked, virtually the entire small nation's production pitted against a distracted and larger force, but it took a toll on their culture. The Unification War lasted for centuries, and by the end of it Mid-Childa Beta's entire government was basically a military dictatorship, decisions being made almost solely based on their likelihood of helping the war effort.
When the war finally ended with the disappearance of the Saints' Cradle, Mid-Childa Beta was actually capable of gearing down from its war footing, but it left nearly indelible marks on their culture. For starters, their higher government offices are still made up of high ranking military officers, and when the STAB was formed, its primary role was focussed much more on defense than the exploratory and policing role the TSAB tends to take.
Their technological and magical expansion were also slowed dramatically, as due to the tremendous losses they had taken in the war, they tended to have a near unconscious prejudice against Belka and Belkan technologies. Unlike us, they never took in refugees from the empire, merely tending to leave the planets they settled on untouched, but brutally hammer down any attempts for them to re-emerge into space.
They do not have an institution such as the Belkan Saint Church, and several of the advances we originally made using salvaged Belkan technology did not occur to them. They tend to balance this out with a much freer approach to the use of Lost Logia, studying them in high security labs rather than locking them down the way we do, and a willingness to attempt things that we would find immoral. For example, the research into Artificial mages and magical enhancement is not forbidden there and is apparently still ongoing.
Their individual magical and technological power level is relatively low, however due to a tendency to use gunboat diplomacy to make it clear that they won't take incursions into their space lightly, their fleets are much larger than ours, containing at last count five Arthra sized vessels and attendant fleets, along with several dozen medium and light cruisers, and a scout group about fifty strong, all armed.
As of now, the diplomatic situation between the TSAB and STAB is somewhat tense due to our differing policies and some paranoia on their part, but there seems to be no reason why we cannot eventually form a lasting alliance for the benefit of both