How do you feel about alternate POVs in the main story?
Absolutely NOT!
13.69% 13.69% of votes
Sure, but only dogs/animals.
21.67% 21.67% of votes
Just Girl
16.73% 16.73% of votes
Anything is fair game.
47.91% 47.91% of votes
Total: 263 vote(s)
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A note from Skwrepb

Dear Readers:

Lucky Loves you all!

We're doing well, back under a hundred on the boards and I've managed to not check the Rising Stars for two whole days. I'm quite proud of myself. I was able to get a chapter done today (yay!) despite missing out on my usual Tuesday writing period due to a very vomitous preschooler (vomit is my kryptonite).

Tomorrow, during preschool I'm hoping to get a second chapter done which will put me right on target. If I can devote some Friday time, I'm going to be super entheused and I might get EXTRA CHAPTERS in the bank!

Wish me luck, I wish you luck. ;)

-Jen (Skwrepb)

“I qualified for a class.” Girl said, scratching gently behind his ears, “Only one though.”

Lucky’s eyes drifted closed and he leaned into her hand. “What’s the class?”

“I think I can maybe show you?” She said. Lucky opened his eyes to see that hers had gone unfocused. She made a couple of swiping gestures with her fingers and suddenly Lucky could see her screen.

 

Wild Bulwark of the Hound

Your courageous defense of others defines you. You may be a kind and gentle person, but at your core is steel.

When you open this class, you gain the traits [Caretaker], [Polyglot], and [Defender] as well as the skills [Style: Defensive Stance], [Bulwark of the Hound], [Steady Aim], [Negotiation], and [Defuse]. Additional traits and skills may become available at later levels.

You will gain +3 Endurance, +5 Charisma, and +5 Willpower per level.

 

“Wow. That seems like a lot of traits and skills.” Lucky said as he read it over.

“I know, right? They all seem like they’re really good too.”

“Can you show me?” Lucky asked.

“Give me a minute.” Again she seemed to be touching something only she could see.

 

[Caretaker]

At heart, you care deeply for others and often put their needs before your own.

Everything you do for others is done with love. Food that you prepare grants a buff equal to your level times your rank in the relevant skill. Baked goods, especially desserts, grant an additional moderately effective heal over time.

Lucky’s copper brows shoot up as he reads the first trait. “If we keep getting attacked like this, that could be extremely helpful.”

“I know, right?” She made a few more gestures and showed him the next one.

[Polyglot]

You have been frustrated by your lack of communication with the friends you have been making.

As a reward for your compassion, languages will come more easily to you. You understand and can speak all languages with pidgin fluency.

“That one is different from mine. I had to gain six ranks in languages in one day.” Lucky said.

“I noticed that. I wonder if the System is unique for all of us. It seems strange that I would get handed a skill you had to work so much harder for.”

“It wasn’t terribly hard,” He admitted, “I think being Chosen helped.”

“Most likely.” The [Polyglot] screen vanished and was quickly replaced by another.

[Defender]

The idea that someone else may be injured is anathema.

Allies within 10 yards of you gain a bonus equal to half of your resistances.

“I wonder if that stacks with my aura?” Lucky mused.

Girl just shrugged. “The rules of this System are kinda borked.”

“Whaddaya mean?”

“I mean that the System looks really intricate and detailed and stuff, but I swear it feels like someone is making it up as they go along.”

[Style: Defensive Stance]

You have never considered yourself a fighter, but you would defend those you love to your last breath.

You fight with a focus on defending yourself and others from harm. All resistances are increased by 25% so long as you hold your ground.

“I’ve kind of noticed the same thing.” Lucky admitted as he looked over the next skill. “There’s definitely something behind it.”

“If we could just figure out what it was.”

[Bulwark of the Hound]

You would freely give of yourself to save someone else.

When an ally within 15 feet of you would take lethal damage, they instead gain a temporary impenetrable shield. The shield lasts 3 seconds.

“Holy heck! That’s better than [Interpose].”

“Would have saved you a lot of pain today, Luckarino.” She gently scratched behind his ear. “I wish I had had it earlier.”

Lucky leaned into her hand again and whined just a little. “It’s not your fault I got hurt, Girl.”

She didn’t respond, just pulled up the next skill.

[Steady Aim]

Your practice with firearms has given you the ability to focus completely on a single shot.

You may focus your mind on a single shot, all negative modifiers to the shot are negated and you gain the ability to know exactly where that shot will land.

“This class is really powerful, Girl.”

“And that’s not even all of it.” She said. “I think I should take it. Even though I haven’t seen what else is out there.”

[Negotiation]

You may be kind, but you are nobody’s fool.

You are adept at getting what you want out of any bargaining situation. Others have a more difficult time negotiating against you.

“That could be really useful, especially since you’d have [Polyglot]. I imagine we’ve had it easy so far trying to bring everyone together, but it’s only going to get harder. There’s a lot of people out there and a lot of animals and I’d like to protect all we can.”

“This last one is even better for that,” Girl grinned.

[Defuse]

While you are capable of handling it, you detest conflict.

You have the ability to instantly defuse a difficult situation. Using this skill downgrades all hostilities within 50 feet to Unfriendly.

 

“So, are you taking it?” He asked.

“Probably. It’s a good class, not sure I’d get offered a better one.”

“I don’t know, I wasn’t offered [Howling Shepherd] right away and I feel like that was really the best option.”

“You’re not wrong, but this one just feels right to me.”

“If you feel like it’s your class, take it.”

Lucky left her to her screen as he pulled up one of his own.

 

Territory

Granny Lachlan's Farm

Rank

2

Citizens

86/100

Upgrade Points

2

Citizen Titles

Assigned

Upgrades Available

Councilmember

5

[Base]

Aura

Founder

Unique

[Base]

Defenses

[Fence]

Defenses

Available

[Fence]

Durability

Guard

5

[Fence]

Improve

Quartermaster

1

Healer

2

Buildings

Available Building Traits

[Fence]

[Base]

 

Aura Upgrade [Base]

Cost: 2 Upgrade Points

This upgrade gives your [Base] building an aura. The aura is limited only by your territory. As long as your base is held by allies, all allies within your territory gain a minor health recovery buff. Additional upgrades available.




Defense Upgrade [Base]

Cost: 1 Upgrade Point

This upgrade improves the defenses of your [Base] building. Open this upgrade for a 5% upgrade in base defenses. Additional Upgrades Available.



Defense Upgrade [Fence]

Cost: 1 Upgrade Point

This upgrade improves the defenses of your [Fence]. Open this upgrade for a 5% upgrade in fence defenses. Additional Upgrades Available.




Durability [Fence]

Cost: 1 Upgrade Point

This upgrade improves the durability of your [Fence]. Open this upgrade for a 5% upgrade in fence durability. Additional Upgrades Available.




Improvement [Fence]

Cost: 2 Upgrade Points

This upgrade improves the material construction of your [Fence]. Open this upgrade to upgrade your fence from chain link to stone. Can lead to additional upgrades.



[Base]

This trait can be applied to any building, once applied it cannot be removed. Applying this trait to a building gives the building a moderate upgrade to total health, defenses and durability. Your base building, once assigned, will give access to additional traits and roles.

 

“We really need to dig into the territory sheet.” Lucky said. “There’s definitely some things that will help us out.” He glanced up to find Man and Lobo’s Man looking down at him.

“The others will be right here.” Man said.

Lucky nuzzled against Girl’s leg and then stood up. “Were either of you offered classes today?”

“No.” Man said.

“I wasn’t either, but I heard a couple of the others talking about it. They’ll be joining us after a bit. I’ve put the word out.” Lobo’s Man said. “You’ll have to check in with the dogs and the others.”

“I will, as soon as this is over.”

“Are the coyotes back yet?” Man asked.

“Yes. They got two more of them, but didn’t chase them all the way back to the city. Not that I blame them. Who knows what’s waiting for us in the city.”

“Good, good.” Man said.

“I like her.” Girl said.

“Who?” Man asked, his voice distracted.

“Clash. She seems nice.”

“The coyote?” Man’s brow arched. “She’s a coyote.”

Girl smirked. “I’m aware, Dad.”

Man cleared his throat. “Right, sorry. Anyway, here comes the others. Let’s get this started so we can get this finished. I don’t know about you guys, but it’s been a long day and I’m more than ready for it to be over.”

“Amen.” Steel-Beard said. “So, what’s goin’ on?”

“Lucky called a meeting.” Lobo’s Man said. “I told you that.”

“Sure. So what’s going on, Lucky?”

“We need to make decisions about the territory options right now.”

“I thought we were talking about it tomorrow so we could think about it.” The burly man said, arms crossing.

“No. Not tomorrow. Now.” Lucky pulled up the Improve [Fence] option and showed it to the others. “This is what I think we should spend our upgrade points on. A stone wall will probably stand up better than the chain link if more skitterings come. Also,” He popped up the screen for base and turned it toward them. “We should make the Big House our base. It’ll improve the defenses of our main sanctuary and eventually help everyone recover from anything that might happen. We still don’t know exactly what’s coming with this End. We may have ideas, but we don’t know.”

“What are the other options for the upgrade points? You only have two, right?”

Lucky chuffed out a breath. “There’s defensive and durability upgrades for the fence and the base. I think our best option is upgrading the wall though.”

“Anything else?”

“There’s an aura for the base, it’s a good option, but I think the fence comes first.”

“Show us the aura?” Steel-beard said.

Lucky complied.

“That’s a heal over time, right? That’s a pretty good one too, from what I can tell. Why not that one?” The big man asked.

“Because the skitterings fairly easily knocked our fence down today. Almost like it was nothing.”

“Do we know what we need to do to level up the territory? What if there are a limited number of points or it takes an extremely long time to earn any points at all? If we pass up the opportunity to have a blanket healing aura, we might regret it sooner than we’d regret not updating the wall.”

Seph frowned as she looked from the man with the gray beard to Lucky. “It’s only been a few days, right? You claimed the territory, what, yesterday? Maybe the day before? You’ve already leveled up the territory once, I can’t imagine it’s going to be that difficult to level it up again.”

Rachel’s dark brows drew together above her slate colored eyes. “I’m with Lucky on this one. The area of healing won’t do us any good if we take major injuries. We’ll take less injuries if we can keep the skitterings outside of our walls.”

“We should finish the wall around the Hunting Camp and the passage between before we upgrade the walls.” Lobo’s Man said.

“Would it all count as the same fence then?” Man asked.

“Probably. From what I’ve seen of this System, it seems to play fast and loose with its own rules.” Lobo’s Man said.

“How far out are we from that?” Rachel asked.

“Probably not until tomorrow afternoon, or later.” Steel-beard answered. “Possibly even the next day.”

“Or the day after.” Lobo’s man said.

“That’s too long. They could come for us again tonight.” Lucky protested. “We need to upgrade the fence and right now.”

“Do you think if we add to the fence it will upgrade?” Rachel asked.

“We won’t know until we try it.” Man said. “And once we take this step it’s too late to back out.”

Lucky shook his head. “I’m not sure I can be democratic about this.” His voice was a little bit of whine. “I’ve promised to protect the Flock and the Improved [Fence] is the best way to protect all of you.”

“We agreed to a council.” Steel-Beard said, his words tripping over Rachel as she said, “We’re supposed to vote!”

The big dog heaved a heavy sigh, shoulders slumping slightly. “This is going to be harder than I thought.” He sighed again, shifting his weight from one paw to another. “We can assign roles to individuals in our territory. We can name two healers.”

 

Healer

This is a role given out by the owner of a territory to one of the citizens.

This trait unlocks the ability [Heal] at the level of the [Healer]’s lowest class. All healing skills the designated healer uses are increased by a factor of two.

This role and skills unlocked by this role are forfeit if the [Healer] is no longer a citizen of the territory that granted this role.



Heal

A basic healing skill. Heals a minor amount of damage. Damage healed increases with skill level.

 

“I think we should name Sugar as one of them.” He continued after he showed them the role and the skill it granted. “She’s already got one healing ability and doubling that would definitely be helpful. Those two healers would help us offset the delay of the [Base] aura.”

“What else haven’t you told us about the territory?” Steel-Beard was starting to sound angry.

“There’s other roles we can assign. Five guards and a quartermaster. I showed you the screen. It was on the territory screen.” Lucky’s tone was defensive.

“He did show you the territory screen.” Girl protested.

“Jim, pick four of the men and women you think most capable and we’ll make guards of you and them.” Man said. “As for the [Base], the Big House seems like the most logical building to use for that, no question there.” He trailed off for a moment and looked from face to face, no one objected. “The real question we have tonight is whether the [Base] or the [Fence] should be upgraded.”

“Shouldn’t we discuss more with the rest of the people?” Rachel asked.

Girl snorted, “Isn’t that why you made the council in the first place? So decisions could be made?”

“What are you even doing here?” Rachel demanded. “I get the stupid dog, he’s helping us. He’s the Chosen One, but what are you doing here?”

“He’s not stupid!” Girl’s voice was louder than it should have been.

“Answer the damn question!” Rachel’s voice was rising in volume, the edge of hysteria entering it.

“Whoa, whoa, Rachel” Lobo’s Man grabbed the small woman’s shoulders and turned her to face him. “What’s going on?”

“Don’t you see how insane this is?” Her words were pouring out of her with increasing speed. “This is insane. A dog is making decisions for us. Like he knows what’s best. A dog. Don’t you understand how crazy that is? We’re following a damn dog, like he’s some kind of divine beast. He gets the final word on all this crap. Even if we vote, if we make a decision, he’s got the last word. He’s the one who gets to choose.”

“He’s not like that.” Girl protested. “He’s a good boy!”

“Of course you’re going to say that. He’s your damn dog.”

“Rachel!” Lobo’s Man squeezed her shoulders a little and pulled her away from facing Lucky and Girl. “Calm down.”

“Calm down!? Calm down?” Her voice kept rising.

Girl took a deep and shaking breath, there was a sound like half the strike of a bell and a faint wave of air washed over the dooryard. Rachel started to tremble and Lobo’s Man pulled her closer for a hug.

“Let’s take a deep breath.” Girl said, her voice eerily calm. “We can start again. Lucky, can you tell us why you think we should use the [Fence] upgrade.”

Lucky took a deep breath, “We’ve been attacked here twice, almost three times with that hovering thing. The most important thing we can do is protect the ones who can’t protect themselves. The young and the old. What we have to do is create safety where life can go on, do you understand?” He looked up at Rachel, trying to meet her eyes. She wouldn’t look at him. “We have two healers already, Sugar and myself. Others may have picked up skills with like that tonight or may soon in the future. We can assign two healers, I recommend Sugar and maybe someone with actual medical training. It’ll improve Sugar’s heal, which is already really good, and give her a second one. Then we’ll have three people with the ability to heal. That should be enough to keep us until we can upgrade the Aura. Keeping the enemy out of our den is the first step. They went through that chain link fence like it wasn’t even there.”

“Alright,” Girl said when Lucky was finished. “Mr. Hardison, do you have anything to add or refute?”

Lobo’s Man set Rachel loose, patting her back a couple of times before fully letting go. “That’s well reasoned, Lucky. I’m with you, but the next thing that gets upgraded is that Aura. No contest, yeah?”

“I can agree to that.” Lucky said.

“Okay,” Girl said, still speaking in that strangely calm voice. “Mr. Little? What about you?”

The fierce looking man arched one grey-shot brow down at the girl who had taken control of the meeting. “I’m with Jim on this. No arguments about picking up that Aura next.”

“Dad?” Girl said.

Man was looking down at Girl with a strange expression on his face, but he cleared his throat and answered. “I can see your points Lucky and I agree with most of them. We’ll upgrade the [Fence] first and then the [Base].”
“Ms. St. Johns?” Girl turned to the next person in line.

“We’ve already got the majority.” Seph said. “I don’t disagree with Lucky, but I think we need clearer guidelines on Council business. If he’s going to be autocratic about decisions regarding the territory, we should set limits. Places where he can’t make decisions and places where it’s all in his court. This is a crazy situation.” She flicked her eyes toward Rachel with a little nod. “But it’s also the situation we’re stuck in and we had better make the best out of it we can.”

“Alright. That’s four in agreement. Ms. Anderson?” Girl asked.

Rachel snorted, though the hysterical note to her voice had vanished by the time she spoke. “It doesn’t matter what I think at this point, the decision has been made. I still think that Lucky has entirely too much influence over our community and I don’t think my family would stay here if there were any other options.”

“Has Lucky done something to offend you?” Girl asked, her voice still soothing and smooth.

Rachel snorted again, turned on her heel, and left the meeting.

Lucky chuffed out a breath. “That went well.” He said.

“Was that sarcasm, Luckapotamus?” Girl’s giggle seemed to break the tension.

Lucky shrugged. “Was it? I’ll go ahead and put those upgrade points to use. Man, can you take care of asking the people about class offerings? I’ll see to the Pack. We’ll get together in the morning to talk about it?”

“Sure thing. Don’t keep Isobel out too late.” Man said as he turned back toward the Big House.

“You should probably go with Man.” Lucky said as the others turned to go.

“Not a chance, Luckasaurus Rex. I’m with you. When you go to the Big House, I go to the Big House.” Girl said as she got to her feet, threading her fingers through the fur on the back of Lucky’s head.

“Are you okay?” Lucky asked, looking up at her.

“Fine.” She said quickly, then more slowly, “I’m fine. Let’s go grab a bunch of Granny’s treats before we go find the Pack. There are an awful lot of good boys and girls that need treats.”

Lucky’s tail was wagging so fast it was dragging his entire back end along with it.

“Oooh! Wigglebutts!” Girl said with a grin. “Those are my favorite!”

“Gran’s treats are my favorite.” Lucky was already drooling at the mere thought of it. “Can we get enough for Clash and the coyotes? I bet they’ve never had a treat before.”

“We’ll get treaty-treats for all the good boys and girls, Luckaceratops.” Girl said, “Every single one of them. As many as Gran will let us get away with.”

Lucky could barely contain his excitement.

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A note from Skwrepb

Thank you so much to Kieran Pierce for the absolutely wonderful cover.

I'd also like to take the space to thank my Patreon supporters: Diamondninja, Sams, Louie, Shazzer, HL, Thelon, Robert, Alejo, Dax, Klondike, Not Meep, Raycn, PrinceCorwin and the rest of you who haven't told me how you'd like to be named.

Please take a moment to rate or review! For those of you that have, thank you very much! I've been enjoying the heck out of writing this story and I'm grateful that you are enjoying reading it.

If you want to get a better idea of Lucky's looks, check the spoiler.

Lucky is based on three dogs that I've loved throughout my lifetime.

His coloration comes from Patches, an Australian Shepherd.

His eyes, ears, and tail come from Stormy, a siberian husky/german shepherd mix. (Though one of his ears has fallen and looks like Patches'.)

The final dog, Prince, I don't have a photo of because it was a very long time ago, but he was a Great Pyrenees. I found a good picture on this site . I don't own the image, but here's where Lucky gets his fluffy coat and large size.

Large white dog on a snowy field.

 


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About the author

Skwrepb

  • Iowa

Bio: Hi! My name is Skwrepb (pronounced Jen, I swear). I'm a stay at home mother of three with not enough time on my hands. I've been writing since I could hold a pen and I have so many stories to tell!
I'm an avid reader and The Wandering Inn is what brought me to Royal Road. I have been devouring stories here ever since.

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