Dragon Knights Fan Fiction ❯ Dragon Knights Sentai ❯ Auditions ( Chapter 2 )
Welcome to chapter two. This is the third draft and it needs a further edit, but I've been lazy with the rest of the series and I need to kick myself up the arse, so I'm posting it as is. This is the longest chapter in the series. Most of the other ones are about the same length as the prologue.
There aren't any warnings for this chapter, so slip right in.
Alfeegi was the last to arrive, with sunken eyes and dark circles betraying his frantic effort of the previous night. Everyone from the meeting - except for Lykouleon - was lurking outside the ClusterHall Studio, watching Kai-Stern smoke. They casually eyed the strangers that walked past them, wondering if they were auditioning for their series, or someone else's.
"Thanks, Alfeegi," said Ruwalk, to general murmurs of agreement from the others. "I can't believe that you got a venue for us on such short notice."
He grunted, slinking up to the group with his hands in his pockets. "I couldn't get through to every agent and one of them cursed me out of it, but there's a chance that we'll be able to fill the principal roles today." He sighed, relaxing his shoulders and looking tired. "We can hold auditions again later on for minor characters. As long as we fill the five Knight slots today, I'll be happy."
Kai-Stern stubbed out his cigarette and dropped it into a bin, while Tetheus held the door for everyone. He smiled at Cernozura who insisted on taking over from him. Once they'd all filed inside, Alfeegi approached the receptionist and had a brief discussion. He checked the written documentation that she offered him then nodded and smiled.
Turning to the group, he gestured to an unmarked door and led the others through the lobby and down a steep path. Their studio, Studio F, was out of the way, but no-one griped. Despite the distance to their audition room, they started tripping over anxious people clutching portfolios before they'd turned the final corner. Squeezing through the crowd, Alfeegi nodded to a hassled and sleepy-looking kid guarding the door to their studio.
As soon as they walked in the door they broke out in smiles.
"It's amazing. Just a whisper of an audition drags actors out of the woodwork," gloated Ruwalk. "This'll be easy."
"Never say that," murmured Tetheus, pulling a gadget out of his pocket and checking the lighting levels. "It's a good start, at least, but people that manage to attend auditions at short notice obviously don't have any work."
"That means that they'll be available for shooting," argued Alfeegi.
"Or that they're no good," muttered Cernozura, gloomily.
She surveyed the room; a warm space, slightly cramped with five people, a generous camera and a collapsible table set up on one side. She slumped into one of the chairs behind it while Kai-Stern wandered over and fiddled with the camera. A TV screen set onto the wall flashed into life with an image of Alfeegi.
"Hey, Alfeegi," called Kai-Stern. "Say something for the camera."
Alfeegi pouted and posed with a hand on his hip. "Hi there," he purred. "I'm Alfeegi and... Hey! Are you recording this?"
He stamped up to Kai-Stern, the television revealing a smirking Ruwalk as Alfeegi moved from frame.
Tetheus joined Cernozura at the table, lifted up his briefcase and snapped it open. She took a swift peek at what was inside, but couldn't see much except for sheets of white paper. Tetheus grabbed a handful and handed them out to Cernozura and the empty chairs, along with two pens.
"We'll need these," he said, locking up the briefcase and stowing it under his chair. "Alfeegi," he said, looking up at the television screen. "Can you go back to where you were before?"
Alfeegi complied uncertainly. "Now what?"
"Take a step back," Tetheus ordered, his eyes firmly on the TV. "Now shuffle left... stop! Someone lock the camera."
He then rose from his seat and walked over to Alfeegi. "This position gives the best frame on the monitor." He bent down and marked the floor by Alfeegi's feet with chalk. "If someone could tape this spot, then it'll be easier to direct the auditions."
Just then, the hassled kid walked in.
"Thanks for helping me out at such short notice, Ringleys," Alfeegi said.
"You do pay well, Alfeegi, so that's okay," answered the boy. "We've had thirty people show up so far and they're all pumping me for information. How long do you want me to keep registering them?"
"We'll see whoever turns up - that's the plan so far," answered Alfeegi. "I'll tell you if it changes later on."
"Okay," said Ringleys, handing over a sheet of paper. "Here's the list of the first ten applicants. Most of them have photos. When do you want them to start coming in?"
"Give us ten minutes to get settled and work out our game plan, then send them in," replied Alfeegi. "You can tell people that we're casting for a sentai show and that we're looking at actors for all parts."
Ringleys nodded and walked back to the door when Tetheus stopped him.
"Ringleys," he said. "Can you stand over there?"
Puzzled, Ringleys wandered over to the spot where Alfeegi had been standing and which now had an "X" marked out on it in gaffa tape.
"Say your name to the camera," Tetheus ordered him.
"I'm Ringleys," said the lad, peering at the camera. Kai-Stern waved to him from behind it.
"Now look left for a moment... now right... okay that's it. Thank you," finished Tetheus, making notes on the paper in front of him.
"Okay," said Ringleys, returning to the door. He snuck a sideways glance at Tetheus, who remained impassive, then left.
"So what do we actually do now?" asked Cernozura.
"Your first casting?" asked Ruwalk, taking the seat on her other side. She nodded. "It's simple. We film everyone, get profiles, talk to them, make notes on the people we like, gossip about them when they leave. Then tomorrow, we review the recordings and pick our cast."
"That's a lot of tape to go through," she gasped.
"Oh it's all digital now," remarked Kai-Stern, adjusting the focus minutely. "And we don't bother to look at half the screen-tests."
"We might not go through even a quarter of them," muttered Tetheus, who was looking at the list of names Ringleys had given them.
A knock on the door was followed by the first hopeful and the casting swung into action. The format was very simple, so they switched the main interviewer with each new person. Cernozura even took her turn and found herself enjoying it more each time. She kept notes as she went, matching candidates with potential roles: guard, skivvy, peasant, noble, pirate, etc., but hadn't spotted any leads. Kai-Stern had a simple system: he rated everyone on how attractive they were. Ruwalk noted down what colours suited everyone. Alfeegi had a camera-love rating - he watched the television throughout the screen-tests and missed several handshakes that were directed at him, due to his focus on the little screen. Tetheus had the most extensive notes, although they all seemed to be in an obscure shorthand: NEC, TMC, HA, TS and NIAMY.
The day sped on and the mound of notes in front of each person grew. There was still no stand-out lead, although Alfeegi and Ruwalk had started to discuss some of the earlier candidates, when it was the turn of a young man, with short, brown hair. He sidled into the room and blushed when he introduced himself.
"My name's Rune," he said softly, handing over a set of prints that Cernozura dispersed to the others with a kind smile.
"Please stand over here," she said when she was done, leading him to the mark on the floor. "And say your name again."
"Rune," he repeated, before adding his address and contact details.
"Now, talk a little about yourself."
Rune grimaced and wavered, before dragging some personal information out of his memory. "I'm sixteen years old. I've gone to acting classes after school instead of sports or grinds, like my friends. It takes up a lot of my time, so I have to be an actor since I won't be able to get into college."
"There are quite a few schools that have acting as part of the course," interrupted Ruwalk. "If you have a good portfolio, that'll count as part of your entry requirements."
Rune smiled and Alfeegi took over. "So have you appeared on anything before?"
"Oh, I was in a few advertisements, although I didn't have any speaking parts," he said, gaining in confidence as the conversation wore on. His shoulders dropped, which was the first hint of how tense he'd been and the longer he talked, the more he had to say. Alfeegi prompted him with queries about his family and his pets. Meanwhile, Tetheus took one of his pens and started drawing on Rune's photo. Rune's brown eyes flicked between the doodling and Alfeegi and he became less certain again, stuttering at several points.
"Well," stated Alfeegi, turning to Tetheus, "Do you have anything to ask Rune?"
Tetheus proudly held up the photo and passed it to Ruwalk. He'd scrawled all over a full body shot, creating an angry halo about Rune's head that stretched down his chest.
"Aha!" exclaimed Ruwalk, getting out of his seat and rummaging through a box on the floor. "Hang on a second... here!" He pulled out a tangled mass of yellow string then manipulated it, holding it at different points. Kai-Stern offered him a hair-brush and Ruwalk brushed and shook it, until it vaguely resembled human hair. "Would you mind trying this on?" he said, presenting it to Rune, who shrugged and submitted.
"Now, we just need the profile shots again," said Tetheus. "Look to your right... and now your left... perfect."
"Contacts?" asked Kai-Stern.
"I think a blue," replied Tetheus. "Rune," he said, addressing the boy again. "I'm the director for this series and the part we're considering you for is one of the leads." Rune gasped. "You would be playing the Water Dragon Knight and it'd be good steady work for thirteen weeks. Anything after that will depend on whether we're given a second series. What do you think?"
"It sounds wonderful," gushed Rune.
"You would have to wear that wig and a set of blue contacts."
"No problem," stated Rune, emphatically.
"Okay, you'll be hearing from us before the end of the week about the call-back. Thank you for your time," said Tetheus, standing to shake his hand.
"Thank you, sir," he said, swallowing hard and grasping firmly to his hand. He left with his mouth wide open and had to be called back to return the wig.
"We've found our first knight," exclaimed Tetheus, leaning back in his chair. "Thank goodness."
"Are you sure?" asked Cernozura. "He's got no experience."
Alfeegi agreed. "Shouldn't we have a panel for such an important part?"
"It's taken half the day to find our first lead," Kai-Stern pointed out. "Should we waste a potential second, by having him compete with Rune for one of the places?"
Everyone slumped down when they realised how little they'd actually accomplished.
"Now we've two," said Ruwalk. "Rath's already cast, so we only have to find another three."
"It's taken half the day to find one!" argued Alfeegi.
"No, we've more time," said Cernozura. "We can give each knight an introductory episode. If the first two episodes focus on Rune and Rath, then that gives us space to find the other Dragon Knights."
They breathed again and Tetheus clapped his hands together.
"Right," he said. "Who's next?"
"Kharl," read Kai-Stern from the list.
"We've got another cast member," said Tetheus, stretching his arms back behind his head and tipping the chair a little.
"Hmm?" quizzed Cernozura.
"Kharl's a good actor," agreed Alfeegi, who stood up and paced the room, "but I don't think that he's right as a knight. He looks young, but he'd never pull it off."
"No," said Tetheus, shaking his head. "He's our bad-guy."
"I don't know him," Cernozura said, looking at the others for some cues.
"Check him out when he comes in," said Tetheus. "I'll need to know what you think."
Ringleys led Kharl in shortly after that. He was a flamboyant man with a booming voice and he walked straight up to Tetheus and kissed him on both cheeks.
"Mwah. Mwah. Tetheus, darling, what can a RADA trained actor of the highest calibre do for you?" he said, pulling Alfeegi's vacant seat out from the table and straddling it.
"We're considering you for the role of our main villain," said Cernozura, leaning forward. "He's a yokai alchemist, who's utterly selfish and self-serving. Kharl the Alchemist is a bit of a sociopath, who views everyone else in terms of the experiments he can carry out on them. Even your minion, who you're very attached to, is an experiment for you."
"An alchemist?" sighed Kharl. "I've already done twenty villains in a row. I don't want to be typecast! I've been in the RSC for years, darling. I've played MacBeth, Hamlet. I was the Head Vogon in the Broadway adaptation of The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy! 'Oh freddled gruntbuggly'," he intoned. "Thy micturations are to me..."
"Lykouleon's producing us for thirteen weeks," said Tetheus, baldly. "We start shooting as soon as the cast's picked and finish well before the new Shakespeare production starts up."
"Lykouleon's doing a Shakespearian production?" asked Kharl, his upper lip twitching.
"It'll probably be at short notice, as per usual," said Tetheus, raising his eyebrows.
"Yes, yes, Kharl the Alchemist!" Kharl said, waving his hands about and turning away. "I can do it in my sleep. Just give me some good lines and a meaty plot. Hmm, some interest in one of the main characters would be nice," he continued, posing at the door. "I do like those temptation scenes. Something Shakespearian would be nice." He flung the door open and sailed out into the crowd, who were waiting their turn. "Look out!" he shouted, in rumbling tones. "Ack-tor coming through."
"Just to let you know," Tetheus mumbled to Cernozura, "He'll twist the part and make it his own, there's no way to avoid it. But he's very good. We're lucky."
It seemed to fly after that. Knowing that Kharl was on board seemed to have improved the quality of the applicants ten-fold and when Lykouleon finally arrived, seven hours late, he found an ebullient room.
"Sir!" yelled a delighted Alfeegi. "We did it, sir. We found another two Dragon Knights, so we'll be able to film the first episode, which gives us time to fill the other two roles."
"That's great, Alfeegi," beamed the executive producer. "I've been working hard myself." Ruwalk snorted, but Kai-Stern covered for him with a loud coughing display. "There, there, Kai-Stern, anyhow. I had lunch, brunch and dinner with Raseleane and she's interested in our story."
"Raseleane? The singer?" screamed Kai-Stern and Ruwalk together. "I love her stuff. What? Me too!"
Lykouleon swaggered over to a seat that Alfeegi vacated for him. "Yes, she's looking to expand from music into acting and when I explained the concept of the show..."
"What concept?" murmured Cernozura.
"...she almost begged for a part."
"It's a very large scoop to have both Kharl and Raseleane in our show," pondered Tetheus.
"You got Kharl?" gasped Lykouleon, stunned. "Well done."
"We'll need to promote her," said Kai-Stern, stroking his chin. "How's she best used?"
"Villain of the week?" suggested Cernozura. "That way she can come and go as needs be. With her career, she can't commit full-time to a shoot."
Lykouleon shook his head. "The lovely Raseleane as a villain? No, no no. She'll be the Dragon Queen. She's the one who orders the knights off on their mission and appears in soft focus whenever they're disheartened. In fact, she'll need a lot of flouncy dresses and her own make-up person."
"Does she want to sing a song every week?" snarled Alfeegi, with his arms crossed.
"Oh no," bubbled Lykouleon. "Of course not, that'd reek too much of a promotional vehicle, but she will record the opening and closing theme. Do you think that we could get someone hot to write it?"
"I'll see what I can do," sighed Alfeegi, making a note in his PDA.
"Offer them a lot of money," said Lykouleon, poking the poor guy in the side. "I want the songs to sound really good."
"About the knights..." muttered Tetheus.
"Ah!" said Lykouleon, jolting upright. "Yes, about them."
"We've got two," bubbled Kai-Stern. "You'll squee them."
"Squee?" Lykouleon furrowed his brow and looked around to Tetheus. "What does that mean?"
"Sir," said Alfeegi, cutting over their conversation. "One of the guys is good. He's a little young, only sixteen, but the other is perfect. He oozes charisma and has the very essence of..."
"You'll love him, you'll love the look we have for him," interrupted Ruwalk, grabbing a sketchbook from the table and flipping frantically through it. "I have some preliminary drawings done already for his outfit."
"He's certainly inspired me," said Cernozura, jumping in. "He's the hook around which the whole first episode revolves and actually I've this idea for a plot that arcs over the whole series. I want to know what you think of it."
"Before all that, I've something to say," began Lykouleon.
Everyone settled down with big, quirky grins on their faces.
"We've done so well," whispered Ruwalk to Cernozura.
"First of all, I need you to find a Light Dragon Knight."
There was silence. Lykouleon stood up and took several paces away from the table, before facing them again. "Rath doesn't want to play that part. He thinks it's lame." Lykouleon sighed. Ruwalk and Cernozura, Kai-Stern and Alfeegi exchanged glances. Tetheus stared stonily at Lykouleon. "He wants to be the Fire Dragon Knight."
The room exploded.
"But that knocks us back down to two..."
"Really sir, he's so good..."
"If he couldn't even be bothered to audition..."
"Whims of a child dictating a professional shoot..."
"Won't stand for it..."
"It's not right! We've been here all day and only one could hold the screen!"
"Now we have to fire him?"
Lykouleon waited until the initial anger had worn off and then coughed. "I was afraid that you'd cast him."
"Sir, just look at his screen-test," pleaded Alfeegi. "Once you see it, then you'll realise that we can't replace him and that you simply must talk to Rath."
"We'll give Rath a better part," said Cernozura. "He can be... ugh... the Wind Dragon Knight, with the power to... to... revive the dead. And... ugh... be part vampire."
"Yokai," interrupted Tetheus.
"Part yokai, so he struggles with his mission and goes to the dark-side, but comes back." Lykouleon looked doubtful. "Or not," she continued. "He can be the surprise series bad-guy, but it'll be really cool!"
"And we'll put extra sparkles on his costume," added Ruwalk. "Or leather, leather straps. He can wear a red coat!"
"I think that I already broke the Light Dragon Knight idea for him," said Lykouleon, as he shrugged his shoulders. "I'm sorry, guys, but he really wants it. And while his mother takes half of my income every month, the only way I can get back at her is to make sure that Rath loves me more. He's the Fire Dragon Knight. You'll just have to let this other guy down."
"I'll go and call Gil," said Alfeegi, quietly. He slumped out of the room and the energy left with him.
"I'll tidy up here," said Lykouleon. "I have to do my share too. Don't worry. You all head on out and get something to eat. We'll meet at my offices after you're done and discuss the screen-tests and the first episode." He pressed a credit card into Alfeegi's hand and said "I've made reservations at the Fancy Pants, so enjoy yourselves."
"Are you coming too?" asked Tetheus.
Lykouleon patted his belly. "I've already eaten, so don't worry about me. Go. Shoo."
They left him alone in the studio and he pottered about, moving bits of paper, peering through the camera lens and trying to figure out how to unlock it. He ended up sitting in Tetheus's chair and pretending to interview potential film stars. After all this horrendously tiring work, he turned off the lights, leaned back in the chair and dozed off.
The door handle jittered about twenty minutes later. Lykouleon napped on, although his face twitched. Then a series of clicking noises came from the lock and the handle started to turn again. This time, the producer opened an eye and peered down along his feet to the door. With a final click, the handle revolved all the way, the door swung open and a shadow slipped into the room.
"I'm afraid you're too late," boomed Lykouleon. The shadow froze. "Turn on the light, we might as well get a good look at you."
The light clicked on, revealing a young punk in green hair and black clothing.
Lykouleon stepped backwards and started tapping his foot. "Green hair, eh? I guess that must be the fashion with the young people nowadays. So, are you a... what do they call them... goth? Are you a goth, son?"
"No, sir," replied the lad, uncertainly, "I listen to the Clash, actually."
"Good, jolly good," continued Lykouleon, his foot still tapping like a six year old girl in a world record attempt. "You really should have been here earlier, you know."
"I know, sir," said the punk, slowly, "but I couldn't make it any earlier."
"Still," said Lykouleon, his hips now jerking along with his foot. "The production is behind schedule and Lord knows we need another teenager... What's your name, boy?"
"Thatz," said the punk, brazening it out.
"T-A-T-S?" asked Lykouleon, writing it down.
"T-H-A-T-Z," replied Thatz, scoping out the room. "I'm sixteen."
"That's the same as one of the others," mused Lykouleon. "Hmm, I'm part of this production too... I'm the producer. I've already cast two people... I can do screen tests... I've heard them talk about them anyway... How hard can it be? It is my fault they had to fire that other guy..." He stalked over to the camera and fidgeted with it. "Do you know how to make these things work?"
Thatz ambled over to him, clicked a few buttons, flipped a switch and the television screen flared back into life. "I know a thing or two," he said.
"Good," replied Lykouleon. "Now stand over there, on that mark thingy and wow me."
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a book, radio drama and now a motion picture that was created by Douglas Adams. His Dirk Gently novels are absolutely brilliant, although The Salmon of Doubt doesn't really count, since he never finished it - it wasn't even a draft.
Thank you for reading. I hope you liked it. All feedback is appreciated, so please click on the review button.