May. 18th, 2012

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When Susanoo had ordered Saori to visit America to see what the land of the mysterious Perry was like, the newly reincarnated storm goddess had nearly panicked. She’d avoided it for several years as the encroaching outsiders had required her to keep a close watch on her small shrine. The prospect of leaving her homeland, to go to a new world that no other god had been to was unsettling, and to do so alone and unaided was petrifying. Saori’s trip had passed uneventfully, and she’d arrived in San Francisco without difficulty in the early summer of 1866. As unsettling as it was, Saori had found California to be a lively place. The others who’d travelled with her had all come to immigrate, and to blend in Saori had taken up the image of a poor immigrant out to seek her fortune. The American customs agent had given her a strange look when she’d spoken to him in English, but had shrugged it off when she’d said she was a sailor’s daughter.

The first few days had been quite striking, wandering the streets and exploring the odd new world. It wasn’t long before she’d fell in with a group of Americans who seemed genuinely friendly and interested in what they called “Oriental” culture. She’d been taken in with promises of employment and interesting new experiences. It wasn’t long before they revealed themselves to be false friends, attempting to offer her up to a brothel, a common practice with regards to Chinese and Japanese immigrants at the time. The would-be profiteers found themselves beaten and bloodied, with the brothel set ablaze by a sudden thunderstorm while Saori fled the scene. Eventually, the confused goddess had made her way to Chinatown, where she met men returning from work on something called the Trans-Continental Railroad. It didn’t take her long to tire of city life and set out on her own along the tracks, drawing odd stares from immigrant and native alike. Anyone who dared impede her was met with a beating worthy of legend. After seeing her knock out a man four times her size an American had given her a curious nickname, the “Celestial Firebrand,” and told her that she should’ve been born a redhead. Not knowing what it meant, she’d smiled and bowed, moving on.

Eventually, Saori found her way to Arizona, walking along the tracks like a vagabond from one of the great fables. Out of every single place on the planet, this was the one that Saori hated most. Deserts, of all the horrible places for a storm god to find herself, were quite possibly the most difficult for her to deal with. The suckling dryness of such places had never, ever been her forte, and being here on business from Susanoo made her like it even less. The heat sapped her energy, and periodically she had begun to have to stop and head into a town to find shelter from the arid landscape.

Her most recent stop was a fairly sizeable mining town known as “Silver Bell.” The town wasn’t unlike many of the others she’d visited along the way, save for its relative isolation and its reputation as a den of thieves. Of course, being a foreigner, Saori had no idea of the town’s ill repute. When she first walked in down the main street, a large number of people stop what they were doing and simply stared, eyes narrowed at the lone “Celestial” woman who’d crossed their path.

“Hey, what are you doin’ all alone out here, little lady?” one man hooted from the front of a saloon, while a few of his friends cackled like a swarm of crows. “Lost? Lookin’ fer more o’ yer own kind? We don’t got none o’ yer yella types out here. And we don’t want none o’ ‘em either.”

“Sir, I’m not looking for anything more than water,” she began, but immediately stopped when the swarthy individual hopped off the wooden and began to swagger nearer, adjusting his oversized belt. He was easily twice her size, wearing denim breeches and a roughspun cotton shirt, stained with sweat. A scraggly blonde beard sprouted from his chin, and above a pair of beady blue eyes was a rough mop of golden hair. Metal spurs and a holstered pistol jangled with each step.

“I don’t care what yer lookin’ fer. Ya’d best be getting’ yer scrawy yella behind walkin’. Less’n o’course yer lookin’ fer me. Up close yer not as bad as some a’ them other Calico Queens,” he chuckled.

That immediately set Saori on the defensive, the goddess taking a martial stance, ready to stomp this insolent man into the dust. Her reaction drew a chorus of laughter from all the men around, while the big man merely patted his holster.

“I got me a shootin’ iron, missy. Best drop the act. A little celestial like you’s like ta get hurt.”

“You think me unarmed?” Saori asked, a dangerous glint in her eye as she altered the position of her fingers into a “pistol” shape, causing even more laughter from the gathering crowd. The big man took another step forward, and was immediately struck by a bolt of lightning, leaping from the divine champion's fingertips, blasting through his body and into the sky. He fell with a gurgle, sizzling.



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August 2015


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