Somewhere, Evil plots.
Evil is always plotting. This is in its nature.
Because times are tough, and real estate is a good business.
This is where you laugh.
Ahem. Well, regardless of the activities of Evil lately, other things are still afoot elsewhere. Very strange and doubtless nefarious things, things that are terrible, insidious. Downright shady.
"Hey," one would say, "you know what would be cool?"
"What?" another would ask.
"Doing it like an award show."
This is how these things get started.
Studies show that there is roughly a 98% chance you --yes, you, right there-- are sitting in a chair right this very second. What isn't so established is that at the moment --yes, this moment-- you are in a very nice chair, of the theatre variety, but not the sort where one is likely to find stale popcorn between the cushions. Actually, there's no popcorn to be had anywhere in this place, which some might call a crying shame and others an outright crime, and while there are concession stands of a sort, they are very far away. And you don't want to be seen eating anyway, because, look, you're on TV.
Wave hi to mum.
On top of the distressing absence of typical theatre amenities, the surroundings --notably the curtains and lamps and other decor for which such words as "lush," "elegant," "baroque," and "expensive" probably apply-- seem to suggest, in crudest lay terms, that you please hold on to your gluteus and whatever you drank earlier, because this is going to keep you here for a while.
And that's even before you get to the stage. The multi-tiered and gloriously lit golden platforms and swooping curtains and an enormous backlit screen. A podium of someone's idea of modern art, a mic or two.
Oh, and there are a lot of you in the audience, of course. It's a very big theatre and very many seats. Rows and rows. Tiers and tiers. And all sold out, of course, many months ago. But you have preferred seating up by the first block, naturally.
Beneath the stage, the orchestra pit, where an assembly of the finest from the Shangri-lan Pops sit and tune. Until the slender conductor with the even thinner fingers takes the stand, and taps his baton just like all right conductors should.
He pauses for a moment, glancing over you, all of you, and seems to grin.
And then the baton leans into a graceful swoop, and the orchestra starts to play.
Betcha never figured Chin Yisou for this sort of thing, didja?
Oh, and most of those people around you? Shikigami, courtesy of Go Dougan. Come on, this site isn't that well-known.
Damn, there goes my fourth wall.
With a crescendo of the strings section, the lights around you dim, and the stage almost seems to glow. Pool of light in a sea of darkness. And stage right, the curtains shimmer and part, as that announcer man we all recognize but don't know informs us in that calmly enthusiastic tone,
"Ladies and gentlemen, your mistress of ceremonies... The Goddess of Mercy, Kanzeon Bosatsu."
At which point someone blows a whistle and screams about the censors.
In a huff, the mistress of ceremonies goes backstage again and returns with what is very obviously someone else's coat, covering over things even a five-second broadcast delay can't do much for.
Arriving at the podium ahead of the music and brushing an expensive hair style out of hir eyes, Kanzeon Bosatsu, the Merciful Goddess, Bodhisattva of Heaven, regards the mic in distaste and tries to put on a service worker smile like se'd been coached ten minutes ago.
"I'm getting paid an awful lot of exotic slave boys for this," se informs the audience.
Not very successful coaching, it should be noted.
"Good evening," se attempts again. "Welcome to the First-Annual 'Echoes from the West' Saiyuki Fanfiction Awards Show. Write-up. Thing.
"We are here tonight," the Goddess of Mercy continues, "to recognize the influence and achievement of some of the Western World's greatest in online Saiyuki fandom. Most notably, those that have contributed to the written word of fandom, reinterpreting to their own unique grace and style the story and characters that join us together here as brethren tonight.
"Tonight we will be noting the work of young authors in four categories: Best Slash, Best Multi-Part, Best Author and Best Overall Fanfiction. Awards are granted as voted by the members of the fandom themselves after a lengthy process of nomination and selection. 'Echoes from the West' has been blessed as host to a wealth of excellent work and talent, and tonight we highlight those that have been marked as exemplary, inspiring creative element."