The Dominance of Abigale Quinlan – Shard 18

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Disclaimer: This novel contains adult material including sexually explicit activities, strong language, homophobic language, extreme violence, suicide, depictions of trauma, and more. Reader discretion is advised.

The Dominance of Abigale Quinlan
Shard 18: Novus X – Ten Years Later

A light hum of noise percolated throughout the restaurant. The chatting of its patrons, the clattering of silverware against ceramics, and the stomping of shoes against the tiled floor all mingled in the high ceilings before bouncing back down. It was expected, considering the establishment was in the midst of its dinner rush, and its walls were filled with all manner of patrons. Families, co-workers, young lovers, and old friends. Yet, away from the clamor and tucked in the back of the restaurant sat a party of five, their faces beaming and their table positively packed with chicken, rice, salad, hummus, pita bread, and falafel.

The five were Jade Novus, Maxxie Flare, Zoe Xing, Shiaka Kurokawa, and Terra Flare. All ten years older than they were when their ordinary lives became extraordinary, their features slightly mature while still retaining their youthful luster. Except for Terra who, despite being 20, still looked like she belonged in a high school.

Jade’s curly brown hair was at chin length, and she was wearing a cable-knit sweater that wrapped around her willowy frame, with a dark skirt and black leggings underneath.

Maxxie’s once unkempt hair had been tamed into something that elegantly flowed down to her shoulders and onto her black maxi dress with a white vine-like pattern across the skirt.

Zoe’s hair was slightly shorter than it was back when he was a teenager, while his person was dressed in an off-white dress shirt, dark pants, and crimson tie. At age 27, he finally looked his age.

Shiaka’s blonde hair was tucked behind her head with a ponytail that trailed down her back and past her shoulders, where it whisked the back of her cream-colored turtleneck. Beneath that, she wore a knee-length gray skirt that gave way to white stockings.

Meanwhile, Terra was dressed the most showy of all of them, with her dark hair long and straight, some of it flowing over her shoulders and onto her outfit. An outfit consisting of a scoop neck cobalt sweater with baggy sleeves, a tight black skirt that stopped halfway to her knees, and dark stockings that stopped a few inches below.

They all sat shoulder-to-shoulder, around a single table, picking away at their food while stirring up a conversation.

Zoe: “I have to say, Maxxie, I expected something a little more… extravagant for your birthday.”

Shiaka: “He’s right, you tend to go all out with these things.”

Maxxie: “It’s just my 28th. No biggie.”

Zoe: “So, how have things been going for you?”

Maxxie: “Eh, at this point, the route’s pretty much paved for me, and I just walk it every day. The art keeps getting done, keeps getting better, and my numbers keep on going up, even though I try not to pay attention to any of that crap. Well, except the Patreon, because the more money I get, the more stuff I gotta make.”

Jade:Moe money, moe problems. …So, are you going to build upon that hint of ennui, or are you just going to let it lie there?”

Maxxie: “…Okay, fine! At the request of my darling wife, I’ve been starting to feel my age. I gotta use a wrist brace to keep ol’ righty from getting messed up. I gotta do stretches every morning and every night or else my back feels like utter trash. Honestly, the only good thing about this whole aging thing is the development of some more MILF-some traits— mostly around the butt— but I’m not looking forward to things getting worse from here on out. Everything should get better with age, never worse! Hm… maybe I should ask Verde about giving the VD3.0 an AR function—”

Jade: “—My mind just flashed forward to a reality where I’m 50-years-old, looking after a 14-year-old Maxxie bouncing off the walls, hyped up on CHarM tea.”

Maxxie: “Hey! I wouldn’t go a day past 18, because it gets weird otherwise! Besides, even with the vigor of youth once again at my fingertips, I would still have my mature womanly sensibilities and keep my hormones in check. I’m a big girl, I can be responsible!”

Jade: “You can be, but that doesn’t mean that you are.”

Maxxie: “And whose fault is that?”

Jade:Mine. Because I don’t know how to say no to you.”

Maxxie: “So, does that mean I have the missus’ approval to request a feature update from Madame Dusk?”

Jade: “You have her number, you don’t need my permission to call her. Knowing her, she’ll patch in the feature in about three minutes if you ask her nicely enough.”

Maxxie: “Yeah, she’s a real softie like that.”

Shiaka: “So, age regression fantasies aside, you’re still busy with your art and streaming?”

Maxxie: “Yep, same as usual. It would be shaky if not for the good ol’ trust fund, what with web platforms constantly changing crap and making it harder for me to share my stuff with their bad-minded wizardry. Sucks for my art buddies, but not so much for me!”

Zoe: “And what about you, Jade? How’d the 2023 season go?”

Jade: “It’s always a crunch when October 15th comes around, because clients can be flakes or a-holes about getting me everything I need. Taxes are only hard, like, ten percent of the time, but clients run the gamut.”

Terra: “You still like it though, right?”

Jade: “I mean, it’s still a job at the end of the day, but I like the work. I mess around in spreadsheets, dump information into Lacerte, and maintain QuickBooks, while knowing that everything I do directly benefits someone. I’m not super big on all of the video calls, and if I could, would I rather spend all day writing crap and playing games? Probably. But I enjoy being an accountant. It’s pretty simple work most of the time, everything I do has a clear purpose, and I only work 32 hours a week… outside of the busy season.”

Terra: “As always, you make it sound super easy, but all this tax and accounting jargon always goes over my head whenever you try to explain it.”

Jade: “It’s simple when you know it, but obtuse when you don’t. There’s a reason why I had to get a Master’s degree and a CPA license before I dived into public practice.”

Maxxie: “I still think that’s kind of hilarious. After that inferiority complex you had as a teen, you decided to get the most boring sounding job imaginable.”

Jade: “Maxxie, we’ve been over this. My complex came from how I felt that I wasn’t doing enough with my life. I never truly wanted to do anything too impressive or flashy. But after my transformation, landing a skill-based job, and pumping out a few novels, my complex is… well, I still look at other writers with some ‘envy,’ but I just use that as motivation to improve my craft. Point is, I’ve basically found what made me happy, and I plan on sticking with it.”

Terra: “…I’m still not sure if it is appropriate or weird that you are such a straight shooter after everything you’ve gone through.”

Jade: “I’ve been a straight shooter since I was a little kid, Terra. And despite everything I went through, I’m still me. And I’ll always be me. The only difference is that I’m a calmer, smarter, and better adjusted version of the me I was as a kid.”

Zoe: “I think we can all agree with that notion. But it’s always nice to hear that you’re doing well, Jade. I know it’s been years, but I still worry about you having another episode.”

Jade: “Yeah, I try not to think about those for a reason…”

Shiaka: “This seems like a good time to change topics— So, Terra, what about you? Is everything going well with school?”

Terra: “Yep. Things are going fine at Uni, and right now I’m just trying to juggle five classes at once which is, you know, not the most fun thing in the world, but the sooner I’m done, the better.”

Zoe: “I admire your conviction, but you should take time to enjoy the college experience.”

Terra: “The whole ‘partying with young strangers’ thing has never really been my scene, and college is meant to be a place of learning, not leisure.”

Maxxie: “Man, I feel like such a bad sister when you say stuff like that. You’re not going out and meeting people, you’re taking extra classes, you’re a STEM major, and you hate partying in the city. Did I do something wrong?”

Terra: “Maxxie, you only have about 12 friends, you never went to a ‘real college,’ and when was the last time you went to a party with a bunch of strangers?”

Maxxie: “Hey now! I have way more than 12 friends in my art circles! I’ve got an Associate’s in Liberal Arts! …And the answer to question 3 is never! …But if I went away to a university in the city, I would at least try one out from time to time.”

Shiaka: “I’m still a bit surprised that you’re not pursuing a business degree. I always thought that, if you chose to pursue a more traditional career, you would work for Flare Industries and follow in your parents’ footsteps.”

Terra: “Mom and Dad aren’t really involved in the corporate side of things nowadays. They’re still the majority shareholders, but they spend most of their time with the Flare Foundation. And while I could get a good job at the Flare Industries, doing finance or business analytics or whatever, I’d rather do my own thing. Besides, everybody would just think that I got there because of my parents.”

Zoe: “Well look at you and your conviction. It reminds me of when I was slightly younger… and far less tired.”

Maxxie: “Aha! A segue! You might have thought I invited you here just to celebrate my birth, but you’d be wrong! The real star of the show tonight isn’t me, it’s you two!”

Jade: “Yeah, it’s been weeks since we talked. What have you two been up to?”

Zoe: “Mostly just a lot of paperwork and running reports.”

Maxxie: “Besides work stuff, or have you been working 50 hour weeks… again. You know you’re almost 30 and aren’t supposed to do that anymore, right?”

Shiaka: “Were we working 50 hour weeks? It was a bit hard to tell.”

Zoe: “Close, but not quite. You know how we sold our start up back in 2022?”

Shiaka: “After the sale, we were working under contract, running the day-to-day operations, assisting with the transition under the new owners, and doing a lot of arduous admin work. Even though Zoe was at my side, it wasn’t fun.”

Zoe: “But our contract ended three days ago, we got our severance packages, and although we are still on the board, we are no longer employees.”

Jade: “Wait, why would you leave Nigma Soft? You both were making over 100k a year!”

Shiaka: “Well, the package they offered us was very generous, and when you combine the stock and options they gave us, and combine both of our packages…”

Zoe: “It’s over 5 million.”

Terra: “Holy crap… Are you kidding me? Doesn’t that mean you’re set for life?”

Zoe: “It’s not quite that simple, but with our house already paid down, and our retirement accounts both worth over 150k at age 27, I would say that money is going to be a non-issue for us going forward.”

Shiaka: “I mean, we’re still planning on doing things but, until January, I think we deserve a nice little vacation.”

Maxxie: “Good. If there’s one thing I don’t like, it’s wealthy people who don’t work!”

Terra: “Says the woman with a 3 million dollar trust fund who draws porn and plays video games all day.”

Maxxie: “First off, Jade and I make less than 100k a year, and that’s not wealthy! Second, being an artist and a streamer is a perfectly acceptable profession in these modern times! Third, I only play video games three hours a day on average! Fourth, I don’t only draw porn. Only 70% of what I draw is porn.”

Jade: “It’s true, she had me count.”

Zoe: “You have Jade organize your porn?”

Maxxie: “Heck yeah! She’s an accountant, so I get her whenever I need to count things and organize my messy directories!”

Jade: “I still can’t believe how many times you’ve overwritten a template in Clip Studio Paint.”

Maxxie: “Yeah, I— Garf! You got me distracted, Zoe! Third thing, if you aren’t working, and don’t have this huge-ass responsibility over your head, then we need to do it!”

Terra: “You mean pull the VD3.0 out of storage and go on another body swap vacation adventure?”

Maxxie: “…That too! But no, I’m talking about the game!”

Shiaka: “That can refer to… a lot of things.”

Maxxie: “I’m talking about the visual novel! The one we were gonna crank out in the summer of 2015 before things got bizarre and sexy on us!”

Zoe: “Maxxie, that was a decade ago, and… which timeline did we talk about that in?”

Jade: “It was the timeline where Kuro transformed my body against my will.”

Shiaka:Oh! Now I remember!”

Zoe: “Aside from being a visual novel, we never discussed what the game would be, so why are you—”

Maxxie: “Zoe, it’s us. What is the one shared experience that we all have that only like… twenty other people have experienced?”

Terra: “…You want to make a body swap visual novel?”

Maxxie: “I was going to say TSF, but that too!”

Jade: “So, you want to make a visual novel like Press-Switch, Student Transfer, Mice Tea, re:Dreamer, Palladium—”


Zoe: “I would point out how we shouldn’t jump into a project like this without a detailed plan… But it’s been too damn long since we worked on something together. Whatever this project winds up being, I’m in.”

Shiaka: “Same here. After working in software for so many years, I really want to try making a game again. Count me in as your lead programmer!”

Jade: “About half of the things I’ve written have TSF elements to them so… of course I’m going to say yes!”

Terra: “I… Honestly, I forget I was ever AMAB sometimes, and I don’t really think about TSF stuff nowadays, so I’m not sure how much I can add. …But I’m willing to help with… whatever I can help you with.”

Maxxie: “Heh. I expected as much. TSF is in our blood, and we can hash out the details later on. But for now, a toast!”

Maxxie grabbed her glass of water and held it high, inviting the other four to do the same.

Maxxie: “A toast to making stuff and pursuing our dreams, even if it took us a fucking decade before we did anything!”

They all clattered their glasses, drank, and made idle chatter while they continued to pick away at the food before them. They threw out all manner of ideas for what the game could be: its scenario, its hook, sources of inspiration, and more. Conversations billowed and morphed as the minutes gave way to hours, and even after the staff kindly asked them to leave so they could close up, these discussions carried on outside.

This marked the inception of what would grow into an enormous endeavor for these five. A grand and ambitious project beyond the scope of anything they had ever worked on before, and they promised themselves to see it through to the end. 

No matter how absurd. No matter how challenging. No matter how time-consuming. No matter how good or bad the end result wound up being. No matter what, they would pursue their passions and make their dreams a reality.

Das Ende

The Dominance of Abigale Quinlan Main Page
Shard 00: The Novus Logs Volumes 1 & 2
Shard 01: 108 Days Later
Shard 02: Melancholic Mundanity
Shard 03: Another Day; Another Doubt
Shard 04: Fractured Family
Shard 05: Troublesome Tuesday
Shard 06: Despair And Die
Shard 07: The Enigmatic Sickness
Shard 08: The Erotic Fantasy (Osananajimi;Myself Part 3700)
Shard 09: The Egregious Downfall
Shard 10: The Oransen High Massacre
Shard 11: The Dark Metamorphosis
Shard 12: The Dominant Reflection
Shard 13: My Life As Jadigale Novus
Shard 14: Fade Unto Dusk
Shard 15: Re;Birth Unto Jade
Shard 16: Gender Reveal Party
Shard 17: Enter The Three Wives (Psycho Bullet Festival 2222 – Bout 21-2)
Shard 18: Novus X – Ten Years Later

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