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The Other Job · She-Ra Short Story ·
Organised by QuillScratch
Word limit 2000–8000
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Jobs and Destiny
Jobs and Destiny

The Battle for Bright Moon felt like a lifetime ago, even if it had been just mere hours, and although they had been victorious, there was still much to take care of, especially after all the effort to save the castle and its surrounding areas without more damage.

Glimmer walked next to Adora—in her She-Ra form, as they picked up odd ends and pieces—her thoughts on the latest battle, the revelation of the Runestone in the Fright Zone and the loss of their friend, Entrapta on top of everything that they needed to do and prepare.

It was almost too much, so she instead focused on the current job, and her muttering companion.

"You know, I used to like tanks before I joined the rebellion," She-ra muttered, "in fact, I still generally like them, just much less than before," She added, picking up the next sixty-five-ton piece of trash in line with one hand and carrying it over to where they were piling the scrap metal and remains of the Horde's attempt to take Bright Moon. "They're really sweet pieces of technology, and a competent commander can do a lot with them and a good head for tactics and terrain retention."

Glimmer marched up next to her, dropping the several smaller pieces of equipment she had fished out from the lake. "I take it circumstances have changed?"

"Well… yes. Now I have to pick up after them."

"Right." Glimmer sighed and glanced around. They had pushed back the Horde with their last, desperate defence, but Bright Moon was going to require a lot of work before the place was remotely close to normal. The walls needed to be rebuilt, the destroyed remains of the attacking force disposed of, the fires put out… still, she couldn't help but smile as she watched the other princesses—her friends—doing their part to make it happen.

After the loss of Entrapta in The Fright Zone, it was good to see the energy and solidarity that flowed between all members of the Princess Alliance as they concentrated their efforts after the long, almost-lost, fight.

Mermista parted the waters to allow guards and volunteers to fish out Horde equipment, while Perfuma encouraged the Whispering Woods to grow strong again, restoring the vegetation where the tanks, robots and armies had trampled it on their way to attack them.

Frosta was currently assisting Spinnerella and Netossa at the castle, working together to clear debris out of the way for an easier time rebuilding. Her mother and the captain were inside Bright Moon, recuperating, while Bow…


She-Ra tossed another robot to the pile and glanced over her shoulder at her. "Yeah?"

"Have you seen Bow?"

Her friend nodded. "Yeah he was… huh."  She frowned and glanced around, blinking. "I thought he was picking up tech, but he's—" Her eyes widened. "Oh my gosh, I think I crushed him with a tank!"

"What?!" Glimmer screeched as the pair ran over to the big pile of scrap metal. "Bow! Answer me!"

"Please don't be crushed!" Adora added desperately, hastily moving the tanks, robots and armor out of the way until a new pile had been erected to the right of the old one. "Come on, come on, Bow! Answer me!"

"Us!" Glimmer shouted. "Answer us!"


"Yes! You must answer our call!"

Adora and Glimmer stopped and turned to look at Seahawk, who was eagerly moving small pieces of metal from one pile to the other. When he noticed their gazes, he slowed down and blinked. "What's wrong?"

"We killed Bow!" Glimmer said. "It's not funny!"

Seahawk gasped. "You killed Bow? But how?" he asked, his hand flying to touch his chest. "Why, it wasn't long ago that I saw him assisting the muralists inside the castle!" He fell to his knees, tears streaming down his face. "Oh, Bow! What cruel fate has ta—"

Glimmer shook him by the shoulders before he could continue. "Wait, you said he was inside the castle?"

Seahawk simply nodded quickly, and she released him. "Come on, Adora, let's go check."

She-Ra nodded. "Sure."

Just as the pair started walking away, the pile of robots and destroyed mechs collapsed behind them, drawing the attention of all the other people working in the vale. She-Ra chuckled self-consciously. "You know… why don't you go to the castle and find Bow? I'll stay here and finish cleaning up?"

Bow leaned in, eyes narrowed as the brush came up to the surface of the wall. "Easy now, Bow… the wall is damaged enough that if you brush too hard the mortar will crumble and there's no way we're keeping that painting intact…"


"Gah!" Glimmer's shout made him and several other people in the room flinch, and he almost dropped his brush. It took him a few precious seconds of desperately bouncing it in his hands to finally be able to grasp it firmly enough to allow him to glance down the long ladder at Glimmer, who was standing below, arms akimbo and tapping her foot angrily. 

"There you are!" She all but growled. "Why are you here? We've been searching for you all this time! You should be outside, helping clean up! What if we throw out some important piece of equipment?"

Bow desperately waved his arms, trying to get his friend to lower her volume, and quickly made his way down the ladder to her. "Glimmer," he hissed in an almost whisper, "you shouldn't be here! This area is closed to the public!"

"I'm not 'the public', Bow, this is my castle!"

"What I mean is, there's people working here on very detailed things a—"

"Mister Bow."

Bow cringed at the new voice and half turned to face the old, hunched robed man making his way towards them, an impatient look in his leathery, wrinkled face. "What is the meaning of this? The painting of the Return of Teela-Na is not going to repair itself, is it?"

"N-no, Master Varnish," Bow said, grimacing. "I was um, just talking t—"

"Ah, Princess Glimmer." Master Varnish's frown was immediately gone. "Thank you for stopping by, but I'm afraid that I was very specific to your mother when I requested we were not interrupted. The work right now is essential for the survival and restoration of our historical paintings and murals. I'm sure you understand the necessity of a more… quiet ambiance for this kind of work."

For the first time Glimmer seemed to notice the other historians in the room, all paused in the middle of their work and glancing in her direction with unreadable faces. "Oh. Um. I-I just came for Bow, he's supposed to be helping outside an—"

"Oh, nonsense," Master Varnish said, wrapping an arm around Glimmer and walking her gently to the entrance with Bow close behind them. "I understand you'd like him to help you, but I'm an old man and I need someone with good hands to work on this."

'Please don't say anything. Please don't say anything!'  Bow thought desperately, glancing from Glimmer's frowning face to Varnish's smiling one.

"But Bow's our specialist with machines," Glimmer argued, making Bow's stomach turn to ice. "His job right now is out there. He should be investigating the mechanica—"

"I understand how valuable he is, your highness," Varnish interrupted. "But even if it looks like anyone could do most of the jobs here, I require the assistance with someone of a… meticulous nature, and Bow's um… mechanical inclinations—" he glanced behind his back at Bow, giving him a questioning look and making him cringe even more "—make him a perfect candidate to be my substitute." His smile faded into a sad frown, and his shoulders sagged as if he were suddenly exhausted. "You wouldn't want this old man to break an arm attempting to climb up that ladder, would you?" He motioned with his hand to the ladder that Bow had been at the top of, several feet off the ground.

"I-I suppose not, bu—"

"I sincerely thank you for your understanding, Princess," Master Varnish said immediately, interrupting her once again. "I promise I will return Bow to you post haste, once he has finished helping me with this project."

Glimmer looked conflicted, and Bow felt for her. Master Varnish was a crafty old man, always willing to use his age and apparent frailty to get away with emotionally blackmailing others to do his whim.

Finally, the princess sighed and rubbed her temple, glaring slightly at Bow. "Fine. I think I can spare him for a day."

"...or two."

Her glare turned to Master Varnish, who wasn't moved at all, keeping his 'gentle-elderly-smile-number-three' in place without flinching.

"Or two." Glimmer sighed. "Fine. Fine. Okay! I'll go. But Bow," she pointed at him with her finger.


"You and I are going to have a talk, understand?"

"Yes, Glimmer!"

And with that, she burst into purple glitter which faded into nothing. Bow released a breath he hadn't realized he was holding. Then immediately sucked in air with a wheeze when Master Varnish turned to face him, a smile number three gone, and replaced by a scowl of disappointment. "Anything you want to tell me, boy?"

"Ah-I, n-no! There's nothing to say, Master V-Varnish! Why don't we go back to our work and—"

"We will speak of this now." Master Varnish rolled his shoulders back, standing straight and adding another head to his stature. His frailty was completely gone as he faced the other curators and historians. "Back to work."

Without a word, and only the shuffling of robes, they were back at their projects, not even sparing them a glance. Master Varnish motioned for Bow to follow him deeper into the damaged section of the castle, until they were well outside of earshot of the others, then further into a side room that had survived unscathed, where he ushered him in before closing the door behind them.

Had Bow not known they were still at Bright Moon, he would have assumed that he was back again at Master Varnish's study at the University, shifting from foot to foot and glancing at all the ancient scrolls, half-fixed paintings, pieces of vases and occasional rusty weapons. He had made the place his own, from the stacked shelves full of scrolls and books, to the sturdy table where he had many, many notes and designs relevant to the renovation outside laid out in apparent chaos.

He shouldered past Bow and took a seat, motioning with his hand at the other chair in the room, which creaked under Bow's weight when he sat heavily on it. They sat in silence for a moment before Varnish shifted. "Bring us some tea, Bow."

Bow sighed, and stood up, ambling over to the end of the room where a portable magical heater waited. It didn't take long for the water to heat up to the perfect temperature and soon he was back at the table with two steaming mugs of Master Varnish's favorite brew.

"So, a mechanical specialist?" the old man asked eventually. 

Bow felt himself slump in defeat. "Yeah."

Varnish shook his head. "It shouldn't surprise me," he said, "your interests were never in the history behind what you were working on, despite the care you took to work on things."

"Yeeeeah," Bow said, rubbing the back of his head, "about that, I would really appreciate it if—"

"What?" Varnish interrupted, narrowing his eyes. "If I didn't tell George that his son is definitely not historian material?" he snorted, surprising Bow. "You've met the man, if I were the one to tell him, and broke his heart like that, he would not be pleased with you, and Lance…" He shook his head. "No, Bow, you'll need to tackle that problem when you face your parents. It's not a weight you should place on someone else's shoulders." He sipped his tea carefully, making sure it was not too hot before humming and taking a deeper drink. "I assume you have plans to visit them?"

Bow cleared his throat. "In a couple of months, yeah."

"And the princess? Does she know anything about your past?"

"No," Bow said, and he looked up, "please don't tell her either. I-I will at some point, it just… never seems to be the right moment."

Varnish shook his head. "You're going to be disappointing a lot of people if you keep this up."

Bow shook his head and sighed. "I know."

"So why did you offer to help, if you knew it would possibly cause trouble with the princess, Bow?" the old master asked.

Bow grimaced and took a sip of tea. Instead of looking at Master Varnish, his eyes strayed to the notes and scrolls on the desk. "I knew you'd need the help. I might've taken that apprenticeship with you out of desperation to hide from my parents, but you did teach me a lot… and without your classes, I wouldn't be able to read or interpret half of what I know of the First One's artifacts."

Varnish scoffed, waving his hand dismissively. "It's technology, Bow, you'd find a way without me."

"Maybe?" Bow ran his tongue across his lips nervously. "But if you hadn't given me that chance, I wouldn't have been here all those years ago when you came for the first restoration of the Moonstone chamber."

Varnish chuckled. "I remember that well… I also remember you were particularly bad at following directions and focusing on your job. I remember you disappearing several times during that first trip, and on every trip since until you moved here."

Bow felt his smile return as the memories flooded his mind. Meeting Glimmer for the first time. Exploring the castle with her, getting caught. Being taught how to use a bow and arrow by a guard. Every return to the castle, where he would spend more time with her than concentrating on his assigned duties. "Master?"


"How come you and the others never chided me over that?" Bow asked, curious. He looked up to see the old man's face as his pursed lips changed into a nostalgic smile.

"Look at us, Bow," Varnish said, "we're a bunch of old people. The few younger ones are dedicated to the craft. We all know this was not your calling, but you worked hard despite that. You earned everyone's respect, and our desire for you to find your own path. When we saw you fiddling with old machines in front of the Queen and Princess we knew where you wanted—no, where you should be, and we tried to encourage that." He chuckled again. "Sometimes we old folk get too preoccupied with what we need to do and deprive the younger ones from their chance to find themselves." He looked up at Bow and shrugged. "And you found yourself here."

Bow gulped as a gentle feeling of warmth spread through his face. "I-thank you."

"Don't mention it." Varnish said. Then frowned. "And I mean it. Really. Don't. Last thing I need is those clowns outside thinking I've gone soft."

Bow straightened up. "Yes, sir!"

"Now." Varnish pointed to the door. "Drink the last of your tea and finish your job. The other one is waiting."

This time Bow smiled and followed instructions before standing up and opening the door. "Yes, sir."

"And Bow?"

He stopped on the threshold, looking back over his shoulder. "Yes, Master?"

"Do tell your parents and friends one of these days," Varnish growled. "It'll make my life easier."

Bow's mouth twitched even as the argument about his parents never listening built up within. But he fought it down with a deep, slow breath. "I'll think about it."

Varnish chuckled. "That'll have to do."

Closing the door behind him, Bow walked as fast as he could back to the mural. The damage wasn't too bad, and he should be able to finish it by the end of the day. Then, he'd have to deal with Glimmer… he grinned. Working with her wasn't just a job. It was destiny.

The End
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#1 · 1
Ooooh, I love getting to see more about Bow's backstory of parents wanting him to be a historian. Even though this basically hinges on an OC, Varnish is introduced and defined in a deft way for such a short span - all of the parts about him talking with Glimmer are revealing in an interesting way, and that leads naturally into his mentor-ish role that follows. I also feel like you had a kind of kinetic style in the beginning where the humorous jokes and moments were ones that I could almost immediately picture taking place in the show itself. Great stuff.

In some ways this feels a little more like a sketch than a full story, but I enjoyed what we got!
#2 · 1
You don't need to put a title at the top, as the site will already do that. In this case, it didn't hurt you, but if you were pushing up against the word limit, it might have cost you some valuable words, particularly in a minific round.

A few editing issues crop up, particularly some speech tag capitlaizations.

In the early going, there's a lot of the same stuff happening over and over again. Lots of removing debris, cleaning up spent equipment. It gets repetitive. Don't deal so much in generalities. Specificity is your friend. Don't tell me someone is "removing debris." Tell me someone is using this specific ability of hers to pick up this specific piece of equipment and do this specific thing with it. A few examples like that paint a fuller picture and allow me to extrapolate the rest than having you give me the fifty-thousand-foot view. You do give me a few specifics, but a lot of it is left vague and thus ends up sounding repetitive.

She-Ra tossed another robot to the pile and glanced over her shoulder at her.

It took me a minute to decipher she's looking at Frosta. You just trailed off about Bow, making me think she'd be looking at him, and you'd just made a typo in using "her." But then suddenly Glimmer is there, and maybe you meant her? This is hard to decipher.

"It's not funny!"

But nobody was acting as if it was...

Bow released a breath he hadn't realized he was holding.

This is the third-most cliched thing in fiction writing. It'd be better if you could break yourself of ever using it.

With all Master Varnish said about Bow not being able to spare even a moment of work, I'm surprised the next thing he does is take Bow away from his work...

This really feels like two stories. The first didn't have much of a point, but the second was a nice exploration of this guy trying to help Bow keep his interests secret. That was a nice moment for them. But little of the lead-up to it was necessary. Just the last bit of it, with Glimmer trying to give him a sense of urgency to help with the outside clean-up and referring to his expertise with tech, would have been enough to establish why the second part was happening. All the rest of it, with the repeated descriptions of people moving junk around and fearing they'd buried Bow, wasn't necessary. Maybe you felt like you needed that to hit the minimum word count, but I think you would have been better served developing the second part a little more instead, maybe having Bow delve into exactly what his position is. Not just tech versus history or trying to find a balance of the two, but also why he doesn't share his parents' strict pacifism.
#3 ·
This is gorgeous.

You know, I had real doubts during the opening scene of this story. And I'll be honest, author: if I were reading this elsewhere, I likely wouldn't have made it past that scene - between the run-on sentences of the opening paragraphs lacking any punch and the "we killed Bow" joke not quite landing (I blame the medium - it would have worked great in an actual episode, imo, but feels off in fic), I really struggled to get into this one.

But oh my god, am I glad I did.

The conversation with Varnish was an absolute delight to read. Soft, caring, and fleshing out Best Boy with just the right level of detail? I love it. Really solid work there, author. I'd quite my favourite bits, but... I'm just gonna gesture wildly at the last dozen paragraphs or so instead. They're pretty great.