Friday, December 24, 2010
Imagine yourself in a car traveling down a highway at 90 kilometers an hour. Now imagine that, while you could be actually doing that speed, or even faster, you can't, because the moron in the vehicle in front of you brakes for every turn, even on a straight stretch, because they've never driven through a mountain pass. I did such a thing. I drove yesterday, for eight hours, and spent roughly four of those hours raging behind novice drivers who were given a permit to operate a vehicle who have no idea how to actually drive for the conditions that exist. Congratulations, you passed! Here's your license, not go pretend you actually know how to drive by pretending you're a grandmother in a Studebaker going 30kph instead of the posted 100kph. Oh, and upon realizing that there's cars backed up behind you because you're going so damn slow, slow down more! I wish I could install spikes into my truck and get a permit to ram people who drive like retards.
Friday, December 17, 2010
You know what I hate most about the Christmas season? Santa Clause. Go on, say it. I can hear people saying boo, saying how respectable he is as a holiday institution. That he's great bringing us all these gifts and it's a wonderful time. Go blow it out your ass. Just more shit on the pile. Truth is, it's as though people just decided that it's okay for a what could considerably be a pedophile in a giant red outfit to walk around, possibly molesting their children, all under the guise of giving them gifts. Why not candy, too? I bet he's got a van or something somewhere; you know, a little side-job here and there being kind and generous all year around. But it's just that, Santa is a serious creeper. "Hey there, little Sally, what would you like for Christmas?" I'm sure she wants a pony, but I bet Santa wants to give her the chub he's got forming in his pants as the little kid squirms while counting on her fingers all the items she, as a properly raised consumerist wants. He's a hardcore creeper. He knows when you're sleeping? When you're awake? This sounds so badly like a stalker I think any parent in their right mind would be getting a restraining order done up, not inviting him in for milk and cookies. And if he knows so much, why isn't he in with some government agency providing valuable intelligence to fight terrorists? Nope. Can't do that, but he will happily watch your kids ... all the time. Even when they're alone in the bathroom in the tub. Yeah, just great. Oh, and the whole naughty/nice thing? Do you really think he should know who's naughty and nice? I mean, honestly, a man of that caliber, who is already a hardcore creeper probably just wants to know who all the "naughty" girls are so he can exploit them, never mind the whole elf business. Little people toiling away building toys for Christmas? Sounds like a sweatshop built upon the backs of a large number of Filipino immigrant workers. Maybe Mexicans. Regardless, exploitation. So, you've got a guy who's basically using slaves to run an organization that keeps tabs on your kids, what they're doing, when they're awake or sleeping, and it's just fine and dandy to put the child that is YOUR responsibility on his lap for picture time. This sounds like a bad B-rate movie horror flick gone wrong. And it is wrong. Santa doesn't bring gifts. He brings the heebie jeebies with a big dose of "get the fuck away." Seriously. Know what's even worse? Parents happily give more attention to what is essential a pedophile in a suit instead of, say, a martyr who died so that they could live. Where's the logic in that? Some might not agree with the second, but come on, why the fuck do people even go for the first one? Santa as an entity should be raising the hairs on the back of ones neck, the whole thing just sounds so wrong.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Yuri backpedals, eyes wide in stringent shock. "What!?" He yells, stepping forward now. Aggressive, alpha, predatory, hunter. "WHAT!?" Fists slam into a desk before convulsing fingers grip the edges and throw the construct with more physical force than the look of a gentlemanly older man he'd so cultivated would be capable of. Brent backpedals as Yuri approaches him. "Look, man, look, it's just not working out." "Is not working out!? You-!" Yuri spat, his language jerking into something altogether foreign. Brent has his hands up to appease or calm Yuri, only the older man backhands him strong enough to bawl him over. He shakes his head, hard, trying to find grounding. His neck is smarting something fierce. "We come to this city, you promise us much. Now you wish not to fulfill deal?" "Look, man, Yuri -- it's..., it's just, what you're doing man, it ain't right." "Is not right? We give you money, weapons, power, you give us...minerals. What is hard?" "Have you even fucking looked outside, Yuri!?" Brent shrieked. "Is beautiful, yes." "You can't fuckin' destroy the city, man! It's wrong!" Yuri falls silent. Brent waits, watches, feels his gut turning. He's starting to smile wickedly, like this is a game, a joke with a punchline he isn't getting. "Yuri, are you even listening to me?" The wrenching in his stomach becomes reality as a blade shivers through his spine into his abdominal cavity. He's falling now, eyes staring at a ceiling just as disturbed as the landscape outside. Craters everywhere. And Yuri, he walks over to stand above him, a monolith. "You understand little,... Brent. We do not care about your cities, only resources." He then nods and Brent never sees again as a foot connects with the base of his skull.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Dvor is still talking with the older gentleman. They're ironing out details of the exchange, deciding on a place and time for the drop point. He's asking about the technology that will be received as payment for the transaction. Outside, the rumble of diesel engines quakes in the night, echoing with the onslaught of the disturbed reverberations as trucks pass by not even a hundred meters from the meeting place with seacans straddling their frames. A horn bellows as a cargo ship begins to cast off farther down at a different pier. Crisscrossing slashes of lightbeams cut through the darkness that feels heavy with fumes. Yosef coughs as a flicker of a spark erupts from his lighter and he inhales deeply on the cigarette. His face becomes subsumed in an orange glow a moment before being drowned in a small eruption of smoke. Dvor is talking, explaining that the technology needs to be handed over, and soon, or there may be repercussions. But the old man isn't paying any mind to the threat, only molesting a dull brass coin in his fingers. That silence extends, awkward, frustrating, perhaps irritable as that man places a reassuring hand upon Dvor's shoulder. "I'm afraid you misunderstood my intentions," he says. "I said I was going to take it. All of it." Dvor turns his face to reply, only as his head turns, it crumples beneath a sudden surge of light and noise. Green/black blood, grey bone with grey matter and what looks like computerized parts all smudge together in macabre art painting a scene on the floor as Dvor's arms go slack and his legs give as his dead body collapses in on itself in a heap. The old mans attention turns. Yosef stands at the doorway, the stub of a cigarette clutched in his hand. His face is set in rage, almost impotent. He shifts, trains, but Yosef is moving. Outside, away. Another display of shock and awe ripples through the muffled night. Only there is no shuffling off of a mortal coil. "You missed, boss."
Wednesday, November 03, 2010
The white static of an overcast sky scudded over the bustling port. A dark parapet wavered off in the distance, the musings of a storm slowly percolating forward. Later with the onset of evening, the usual rumble of the cranes removing cargo from the ships on Pier 19 to be loaded onto trucks and ferried off ground to a halt with the shift change in process. White spotlights came on, drowning the darkness in some sections as evening turned to night in a slow parody of death. Yosef danced past a forklift and through the maze of sea-cans. A little further in, into and out of pools of light amid the sudden beginnings of renewed hustling, and he arrived at the warehouse. Through a sliding door and past holes that glinted beneath the light pollution burning at the edges of shadows with vigor, he checked over a number of carry cases piled together. His crew was opening some, pulling the contents out of the foam packing. Behind him, an older man was being shown about the varying displays of technical force application. He was grandfatherly, Yosef thought, but his motives were fairly clear in this regard -- a need for the application of will to make known a resolute disposition that force would indeed be used as the ultimatum. The means would make for a rich end for some, and a dead end for others. He heard Dvor talking. "This you will like. Is railgun, but better. Fires two foot long self replicating explosive nanites. Kinetic blast, it acts as primer, trigger, for self replicating explosive. You can destroy whole city block with one shot." The man nodded as Yosef passed by, moving toward another case. Looking over the markings, he opened it and glanced at the weapons inside. Styled after an assault rifle and chambered for what looked like a twelve-gauge slug. SD20s. Nasty business, those. Shockwave rounds capable of pulverizing most anything through blunt force alone. If those didn't sell, well, Yosef didn't know what would. "You will like these," Dvor began again, going on about some new gadget that would pulverize the tallest skyscraper and the most heavily armored vehicle. Capable of turning them into disfigured corpses, twisted amalgams of metallic polymer constructs mimicking a functional form no longer. There was definitely an allusion to macabre artwork in there, somewhere. The old man, he nodded again. "I'll take it," he said. "Which ones?" Dvor asked. "All of it," he replied with a glint. Yosef spun his right arm around in a quick circle over his head, calling for everything to be packed up and moved. Dvor and the man were now talking details while Yosef moved the materials out. Outside, the rustle of machinery echoed as the whine of a diesel motor rose and fell, churning. A few liftgates were lowered, doors opened, equipment loaded. It would be dropped off at a location yet to be decided -- Dvor and the old man were deciding that now. Yosef just liked the fact he'd be getting paid. Who cared who died or what got destroyed? Who cared...
Monday, September 27, 2010
(22:49:31) Wolf: Okay, here's a thought. Let's break down exactly what a duel is into the core components that make it up. Intro 1; it usually defines the setting and places the main protagonist. Generally it implies that the character specified is looking for a fight (or interaction of some kind, action or story based). Intro 2; this is done by the antagonist who provides a counter-balance. The setting is further defined, redefined, or expanded upon by the second character to suit that char's outlook. This acts as the introduction to any kind of conflict between the two characters and sets up how the series of events (responses to the interaction) will take place. Attack/Counter 1; the initial poster will then respond, and based on how the antagonist introduced himself, this could lead to either an attack (if the antagonist didn't do one himself in his own intro) or a counter. Attack and counter, as verbiage, can also signify an exchange of threats, condescending conversation, arrogant, supercilious interchanges or even a weaving of story into the exposition. Situationally dependent on the characters/writers involved. Attack/Counter 2; this is lead by the antagonist, who upon being attacked (physically or otherwise) will move to counter the initially engaging motion. This can also be where, if the action is more drama and story-involved, be where they begin diving into the depths of character development. However, if it is an actual fight, will be where the antagonist moves to counter, evade, turn aside, or parry the incoming attack from the protagonist. The conflict will most likely escalate at this point after the opening attacks have been done. With the counter 2 comes either the attack 2 or 3 (situationally dependent). Again, the story, or action, will be moved forward by these events. Now, taking a step back to look at the scenario so far, it isn't the protagonist that drives the motion of the encounter, but whoever is playing the antagonist, as they provide the main source of conflict. This is because the second poster/writer is foreign, and by interjecting their own ideals/imagery into the scale of the tale, create that conflict. The conflict needs not be actual combat. It just is by the mere presence of the second individual affecting and changing events for the primary character, the protagonist, just by showing up. Attack/Counter 3: again, there is an escalation of force. This will either be actual attacks/combos/counters or in the continued story-telling. The conflict most proceed forward, and the protagonist will respond to whatever the antagonist presents. Conversation, actions, thoughts, motions -- all of it leads the protagonist along on an invisible leash. Through this, the antagonist actually leads even though they did not create the initial setting. Attack/Counter 4: it follows that the antagonist will continue the onslaught, conversationally or through combat. At some point, either through a series of events, there will be resolution, as there will always be in any kind of story or tale. The problem with dueling, however, is that duelists/writers always feel the need to get the last word in. Sometimes they might decide upon a limit to their interaction, or other times, if they cannot reach a resolution, will ask a third party (judge) to provide an outside resolution even though the characters are not properly resolved in their conflict. If you think about it, all duels follow that formula. You can't NOT follow it. Whatever exchange takes place, there will be a form of conflict. You can postpone the actual fighting, but there will be an exchange regardless, either story defined or generalized fighting. In this regard, dueling is somewhat stale in its turn-based medium (23:08:47) StarryKnights: We will do better. We will improve the duel. Higher level dueling, almost but not quite it's own story. Imagine Preamble/The Alliance. There's conflict, or going to be, but it's largely a story told through not-antagonists interaction. What I want to do is toned down, more streamlined, but still separate from a duel in the traditional sense. For instance, I've thought a very long time about how to twist the intro post protagonist role on its head. (23:11:37) Wolf: You mean have the protagonist lead instead of the antagonist? (23:11:52) StarryKnights: Where the intro may create its own setting, but the intro maker is the antagonist of the story. Such as, there is a mall. The antagonist is the sniper entering the mall to shoot people. Antagonist first, then protagonist. (23:12:29) Wolf: I think many people think of the antagonist is the reactionary force, but in reality, they aren't. They are the dagger piercing the world created by the protagonist and forcing the protagonist to react to the antagonists dance. It's a simple idea, but I've never really seen it done. (23:13:14) Wolf: I form the idea of protagonist as the person who creates the intro, regardless of moral vibe (23:14:39) StarryKnights:
Hrm. You are correct, it can be viewed that way.
(23:15:19) Wolf: The antagonist is merely such because they provide the conflict for the antagonist. Moral compass has nothing to do with the labeling, at least not in my mind.
(23:15:46) StarryKnights: Perhaps then it should be more like a dance where the lead changes, where neither is consistently the antagonist or protagonist. Although, the protagonist is generally considered the hero, or goodly. The main character.
(23:16:15) Wolf: I'm aware of that. I think that's a fallacy based on English teachers.
(23:17:08) StarryKnights: So you propose that the protagonist is some kind of neutral force which the antagonist acts upon like gravity to a interstellar dust cloud?
(23:17:17) Wolf: Yes.
(23:17:37) StarryKnights: I shouldn't say neutral. Untouched force?
(23:17:46) Wolf: Something like that, yeah.
(23:17:53) StarryKnights: A roaming army of death can't really be called neutral in any sense.
(23:18:18) Wolf: The antagonist acts as the force that pulls the protagonist in. A force that cannot be denied or ignored. Pretty much the train wreak that railroads your RPG.
(23:21:02) StarryKnights: However, dueling the way I've seen it has been someone standing around going "I await mine enemy." With said enemy showing up in their intro.
(23:21:29) Wolf: Yeah, still conforms, though, because they are reacting to the arrival of the enemy.
(23:22:02) StarryKnights: I've not seen an intro where the protagonist goes after the antagonist, is the source of conflict, along with creating the battle arena. Perhaps that's because the general thought in GameFAQs RPing, and RPing in general, is that doing such is too presumptuous, doesn't give the other RP'er enough control of the situation.
(23:24:34) Wolf: Probably. I think it's because of the way posting is set up, too, which leads to the way it follows the same formula. There must always be a singular intro.
(23:26:48) StarryKnights: A lot of this has to do with perspective. A different kind of duel would have the antagonist be willing to enter a world outside of their own, as they would in a RP. Limited effect on their environment. A traditional duel has the protagonist write from a relatively limited perspective...in the end it boils down to a single area for the first to take place. It doesn't matter if they create a whole universe, the antagonist can still utterly change it in their own intro.
(23:28:10) Wolf: Yup.
(23:29:03) StarryKnights: For the idea I have, the protagonists creation has to altered minimally. The storyline needs to trump the world building. You and I duel. I create the stage, but anything you add onto it will only further elaborate on the set involved, not add new pieces or twists that change the purpose of the stage. The protagonist is carrying extra water in this situation, because they can't rely on other to do the world building work for them. They need to fully elaborate and detail the battleground involved, or well enough that there will be no question it's a forest with a giant, uncuttable giant tree in the middle.
(23:31:33) Wolf: XD
(23:31:36) Wolf: True enough.
(23:32:08) StarryKnights: The antagonist's ego is important, here, as they have to be willing to let go enough control to view the duel closer to a RP. Perhaps we can't redefine the duel, but we can refine it, certainly. First, flip the way the intro is handled. The intro details not only that there is some kind of conflict wanted, it starts the conflict as well as defines the stage as a whole.
(23:35:01) Wolf: Instead of interjecting the antagonist as the method of conflict.
(23:35:11) StarryKnights: Exactly. Attack/Counter 2. The problem I have with dueling now, and you encountered years ago, is that there is too much chatting during it. Storyline and combat must be separate. Real combat is quick, brutal, and instinctual. The duel as commonly executed is full of purple prose and introspection. I think you hit the nail on the head with Stent in this respect. Quick, detailed and technical, with limited wandering off the rail.
(23:38:10) Wolf: Yeah. Never mind the rants I did in regards to that filed under FDB. Combat is fast and brutal. The flowery introspection which often-times takes place detracts from the actual fighting, and in some ways, ruins it. You can be a class A act, top-notch writer, but if you destroy your ability to fight by thinking too much, you're as good as a coward who runs from battle. True fights don't have people thinking.
(23:39:11) StarryKnights: What I tried to do with the last section of my intro for Preamble is attempt to do a combat situation where there is no chatting, just doing. Not perfect, but I'm far more comfortable with it than I am with the way I used to do combat scenes.
(23:39:56) Wolf: Well, that's the point of the whole thing. Animalistic instinct is what drives combat. Rational thought usually takes a backseat unless you've been trained to have your body react leaving your mind open to interpret.
(23:40:26) StarryKnights: That's the whole point of training. Turning non-natural reactions into instinct. I have no idea how to pull apart a gun and put it back together without a guide. You can do it in your sleep.
(23:41:55) Wolf: Well, not in my sleep, but I can do it and chat about something else while I do it.
(23:42:21) StarryKnights: Another reason working with you is optimal, since you've had real life experience. I could mimic it in a respect, sure, but you'll always be able to write it a bit better. That's my weakness. No real life experience. You understand the guts. I write well, but if you ask me to break it down and explain why I write good, I'd fail pretty miserably. It's more instinct with me.
(23:44:17) Wolf: I couldn't properly explain it well, either. It is an instinct. It's like artists that draw. They can show you, but only through rigorous practice can you attain the same level.
(23:44:54) StarryKnights: True enough. I feel we need to change the attack/counter relationship, along with the combat storyline relationship. Or, rather, "fix" them as they currently are implemented in dueling. Attack/counter is a very rigid way to fight someone, almost like a move in an RPG where you only find out a second or two after the attack whether it worked or missed.
(23:47:38) Wolf: You mean how the whole thing is rather disjointed?
(23:47:46) StarryKnights: Yeah. Basically.
(23:48:12) Wolf: It is a turn-based battle system, though. I think there-in lies the problem, but it can't be helped.
(23:49:21) StarryKnights: That is the problem, and I'm not sure if anything can be done to mitigate the situation. Perhaps introduce a concept of continual flow. While there's an attack/counter, there's something else going on at the same time.
(23:49:50) Wolf: That'd work. But how would you introduce something? We're have to get back out there and duel to show examples.
(23:49:54) StarryKnights: Maybe one guy's throwing a grenade at the enemy, another moving to take a secondary position. The grenade is the toss up, while the secondary position is the continual flow aspect. This is where more detail is required overall. Most duels have guy 1 and guy 2, and it's centered on them. Here, it's not centered on a single person.
(23:52:09) Wolf: Would also require a certain, limited amount of surrender in regards to character control.
(23:52:22) StarryKnights: Elaborate.
(23:54:31) Wolf: To gain that form of continual flow would probably, I think, require surrendering partial control of ones character to the opponent. Like, you set up your attack, and end before finishing, allowing me to finish your attack and the motions you went through before going into my own attack, which I never quite conclude. It's a similar formula, but then it could, sort of, keep everything moving.
(23:56:15) StarryKnights: Like the grenade.
(23:56:21) Wolf: Yes.
(23:56:34) StarryKnights: An acceptable loss in comparison to what is gained.
(23:57:03) Wolf: The style is almost...Mix like. Not quite True anymore, is it?
(23:58:18) StarryKnights: RP'er discretion, therefore ego and skill, is very important. For instance, it would help the storyline if I could knock you to the ground, then pull my weapon back for a kill. Your post, you knock my sword aside, have a dagger going at my gut by the end of it.
(00:00:46) Wolf: That actually sounds like a fun scenario. Less control, but more fluidity, and possibly, a far better story overall. Quicker action sequence, too. Probably leads to shorter posts. This would solve a lot of the conundrum of over-long dueling posts, which generally is unnecessary and superfluous.
(00:01:59) StarryKnights: I don't think a single style truly encompasses what I'm aiming for. A lot of it depends specifically on the lack of sharply defined rules and a lot more on the writer's to know the limits in a given situation. For instance, the above scenario. I know not to stab you, and you know not to have the knife gut me, though you've bashed my hand aside by some method, possibly crippling it.
(00:03:56) Wolf: Definitely a Mix style. Would have to give it a new definition.
(00:04:35) StarryKnights: Let's review what we have so far. The protagonist is the main stage setter, as well as the main source of conflict. It is very important to define the stage well, while not completely snuffing out the ability of the antagonist to elaborate upon the stage.
(00:05:34) Wolf: Current dueling falls too much into a "same-old" predictable pattern where the antagonist retains far too much situational control of the formula, and possibly, the outcome.
(00:06:38) StarryKnights: Attack/counter scenario is more fluid, a more "mix style" as you say, where limited control of the actors are allowed in a situational basis. Needless to say, the duelists on all sides need to be willing to take injury and have their pretty boy characters fucked up. Storyline and combat segregation. Not purple prose introspective bullshit between pulling the sword back and stabbing someone with it unless the character is having a complete meltdown during the battle and is going to be useless anyway.
(00:08:58) Wolf: That pretty much covers it, doesn't it?
(00:09:04) StarryKnights: Neither the antagonist nor protagonist control the flow of the storyline, ideally, but the protagonist will in this scenario have a bit of an advantage given.
(00:09:57) Wolf: The reason Mix got it's name because it took elements from Cheez (preemptive auto hits) and True (not describing full attack damage). This uses the idea of Mix (with small auto-hits and character control) with something else that is new to the idea.
(00:10:42) StarryKnights: In a perfect world, people would know to die and such styles wouldn't be needed...people would take and give on a relatively equal basis. Means to an end. This conversation is the culmination of an idea I've had for years, but neither had the mindset or proper opponents to test it on. Attack/Counter 3: While any good story is going to have a climax, it can't be easily defined if it's going to be any good. The problem with most duels, I find, is that the attacks get bigger and more ridiculous as the battle winds on. While a realistic battle is going to have both sides wearing out, getting weaker until one runs out of poop to shovel.
(00:13:02) Wolf: Yeah, because nobody wants to lose (both the match or their character). It follows a simple escalation of force rule.
(00:13:22) StarryKnights: Or, God forbid, one side or another retreats or starts gorilla warfare. Again, it goes back to being too predictable. Partly because of what you said, people don't like losing characters or having them crippled (Requiring a shift in ideas and plans), partly because most people aren't creative enough to be willing to change their ideas midstream. Like real combat. When shit hit the fan, you didn't Hulk out and keep doing the same thing over and over, you changed tactics to keep from being killed. Because, it's reality. Reality is something sorely lacking from duels as a whole. You have to understand your character is not God, and besides a few special powers, is generally not much harder to kill than a normal person when weaknesses are known.
(00:16:16) Wolf: I'm a proponent of a bit more reality in dueling, but there are...persons who disagree with me.
(00:16:26) StarryKnights: See, example: Ice person. Just because you control ice, does not mean you can create ice swords and ice armor. You do not innately know how to make a sword using your ice power. That requires training and years of experience. Same with ice armor. Are you immune to your own ice powers (Required secondary abilities). Hell, Bioshock 2. Little Sisters. Heal quickly, their bones don't automatically fall back into the correct position. So correcting a fucked up limb requires breaking the bone again..and again... This is different issue related to people not thinking out their characters on deep levels, but becomes apparent in duels when people take a relatively broad power - pure darkness, for instance - and can do anything with it. Again, the ice person. If they lack immunity to their own ability, they can severely damage themselves if it gets out of control. Which, in the midst of combat, is likely. Besides, the ideal route for killing someone with ice powers is getting close enough to them that you freeze their chest. Ice swords not only require the ability to make the sword, BUT also the ability to use it. Swords take many years of experience to use proficiently.
(00:21:29) Wolf: Ice swords would also shatter pretty quick.
(00:21:35) StarryKnights: Yeah.
(00:22:19) Wolf: Mind you, you don't want to completely remove the superpowers, otherwise it isn't completely interesting anymore. But definitely needs to be balance.
(00:22:39) StarryKnights: Regardless. Predictability during the 3rd cycle is boring. Again, model it after real life combat to an extent, plus superpowers. Real combat has a flow to it. Things happen that change the flow, and thus tactics used. Improvised explosive goes off, takes out the guys who're going to cover for you while you take out a house full of squishy terrorists. You need to change something in the formula, or you're going to end up getting raped from the flanks. Ending: Has to be flexible. A lot of this has to do with a general lack of goals in duels. No point A to B, no obtain Naked Gold Monkey Butt Statue. Predictably previously in the duel is at its worst, here, since it's here that the previous movements will have the most impact. Then again, given that most duels go through with neither side taking meaningful damage...the ending itself is worthless since nothing is really fought or died for.
There must go a goal for both sides. Both must be willing to die or be several injured for the goal. Predictability and cliches must therefore be avoided to prevent the ending from being cheezy. A series of checks and balances must be in the duelist's mind during each round of combat. "Is this move predictable?" "Should my character be able to dodge this/take minimal damage?" "Are my forces being overwhelmed by the enemy's forces? If so, can I turn a disadvantage into an advantage by changing my tactics?"
It's important to de-emphasis on main characters. Because it encourages ego, predictability, and limits what can be done with the stage that's been set. More people controlled, I feel, the better the duel will be to an extent. Also requires higher skilled players, of course.
Monday, July 26, 2010
The place was disgusting. A projects styled, reject of a building done up in plycrete. The glass was stained, same with the building. Runny blotches of goo and lubricant and other unnamed chemicals that collided together to create a strong, wafting perfume that overpowered her delicate sense of smell. It was in the battered quarter of the city that was Argul, and the Baajin would have left the vehicle, only circumstances changed. Suddenly the driver was crying, hands held in the air in that "I'm not being threatening" kind-of way as the vehicle went dead. Defensive mechanisms came into place as scanners came online. They didn't broadcast, only pulling in the information of the pings assailing her. It was all outward information, blasting against her and she took it in like a sponge. Failsafe systems began to become active. She was expendable -- her data, however, was not. A dormant system within came online. It echoed a moment, fleeting, a call into a level of quantum timespace strata beyond mere dimensional twisting. A superstring vibrated and reality echoed a moment, seeming to shiver like water after a rock had been tossed into it. The Baajin simply pushed her duffel in with a quick warning transmission about the circumstances before the eddie collapsed in on itself. The data would already be in the hands of her handlers by now. The driver, though, he was still bubbling tears. "I didn't mean it," and "I surrender" and "It's all her fault! She did it!" Stent had underestimated the citywide tracking system, and although she had uploaded monitoring software of her own, apparently it had been found and destroyed or outright firewalled into place with no means of communicating to her that her own impending doom was at hand. She was calculating even now as the driver slid the door open and flopped out, hands above his head, eyes streaming and bubbling about how he had never meant to abet and abide a known criminal. He was a good man, so he said. Law following. Pudgy as he was, the Baajin could not fault him his cowardly behavior. But she had two options as well -- surrender or die. Her armor was interfacing and informing her that the information being blasted at her were messages: surrender or be destroyed. At least, it was something along those lines. She moved, slowly, the door swinging open in that graceful, semi-pneumatic and soundless way. She stepped out, slitted eyes blinking slowly as a prehensile tail swung and a forked tongue flickered about. Tastes like death, she thought. "Go home," she said. "I've got nothing for you." And then...she died. The systems within her began to turn off failsafes. Power surges started, and with all the failsafes off and the overload started, the time between the shut off and the erupting explosion were near simultaneous. From the sky is was a column of light as the last vestiges of the alien forcefield kept the majority of the blast and redirected it. Then everything was consumed. All that was left was an expansive blast of superheated air that immolated the nearby, groveling driver. He fell, slumping as his body turned into a consumed husk. The only thing left where Stent had been standing was a massive, empty epicenter of a blast drilling several hundred meters into the ground and quickly filling with water. --- The group had gathered in a small shack along a provincial road in ill repair. A backroad off the beaten path that had grass overgrowing at its edges, the pavement worn down to look like a glued together mesh of broken up rocks. The shack was up a path. An old log cabin, again in ill repair. The windows were tattered fragments with glistening sharp edges protruding upward and outward from the frame. The door, too, was laid to waste, sitting ajar with the upper portion smashed off. Around an old, dilapidated table with one leg shorter than the rest they had assembled, five in all. On the table was a holographic, scrolling map, covered in various spiraling concentric lines with numbers representing varying heights. More lines down in grids ran along, also annotated by ascending numbers preceding by two letters. Cities were done in red with the name above it. Green suffused some areas -- forests -- while lingering blue lines slashed waveringly through. The area highlighted was called "Argul." They saw the continent wide-city with all its streets, boulevards and alleys. A complete representation of buildings, their names, heights and possible security was detailed away on the semi-organic map in pop-up scrolling boxes when a building was highlighted. The view kept shifting as the four brainstormed routes into the city as well as handpicking targets of interest. Some wouldn't even be noticed. Others, though, those targets would inspire a lot of attention. Both from media and possibly even a military response. Stent was motioning to the Naruda Argul tower. The monstrosity that towered into the stratosphere. She volunteered herself for it, knowing it could quite well be suicide. The others weren't quick to agree, but this one Baajin was well trained, almost better than her three sisters. Their target list assembled, they began drawing out extraction routes as needed. Falsified documents and information that would stand up to the most serious scrutiny were passed about. By dawn they would be in the massive city-state that was Argul. From there on, all they would have left would be their wits. --- She watched from a rooftop through the enhanced vision of her inserts the explosion as her sister died. A great funeral pyre. She noticed dozens of others in surrounding buildings who had yet to be evacuated from the area due to standing orders of the state legislature were watching, too. Some even had cameras, probably news crew. She could already see the spiel coming down the pipes from that one -- Confederacy blunders big. There would definitely be questions about what had been going on, why the military had been called in, and if it was related to the rumored murders. Heads would role, inquiries would be made, and tax-payer money would be wasted to assuage someone's ego or fears or even both. But for her, it was horrible. She had lost a sister. But there was no mourning the loss of life -- tragic though it was, this Baajin would graciously accept the mantle of precious life she still had. Accepting of her sisters death, she moved on. Kajil was quiet, forked tongue flicking in the dusk and tasting the disaster. She knew her sister well -- there would have been no foul ups. The handlers would have what they needed. Beyond that, well, Stent was expendable, like they all were. Returning to the interior of the apartment, Kajil began to apply the cosmetics and dermal masking tech that would make her appear human. Gone would be the multitudinous scales that could flash in various shades of orange, yellow, red and black. She affixed a nose to her face to cover up her lack of one. Contacts for her eyes. An adhesive tongue to hide the fact hers wasn't human. Her sinuous, prehensile tail would be glued to her back with a special adhesive as well. Ears, follicle implants. Kajil looked like a tall, leggy brunette by the end of it with sharp, blue eyes. The attire the people of this planet wore made that all the easier to disguise and hide herself away. The monitoring programs that she had inside the city data nodes informed her of police coming up the floor, clearing people out. Final checks in place, the Baajin packed a few sparse clothing items and some make up, mostly for appearances, as the door burst open. "Police" came the shout. She appeared in the hallway looking up toward the entrance. A sergeant and two constables in their blue livery stood firm. "Ma'am, this building is to be evacuated immediately." Kajil read his badge. Sergeant Watkins. "Yes. Well, just give me a moment to gather a few things." A moment later she appear with a small bag as if for an overnight stay someplace. One of the constables offered to carry it for her and she obliged. No point in making a scene that she was a big girl, especially since anyone of the rich stature would expect the police to carry their things for them like stewards. Down the opulent hall to a lobby packed with other like persons all dressed in the latest fashions circa a year the Baajin had never heard of. The constable apologized as he handed her back her suitcase before following his sergeant off to collect another few persons from another deluxe suite. Everyone in the lobby was complaining as they were shuffled into elevators and brought down. Kajil found herself crammed into close proximity to an elderly couple. The man smelt of booze and "fine" tobacco. The woman of anxiety and fear. Together they nearly overpowered her sense of smell. The click, the ding, the rumble and the doors slid open. Police were down there with a number of security checkpoints set up. Mobile scanning equipment. Everyone passed through. Kajil did as well. She handed off her papers and ID card airily. It read "Ms. Dawn DuMont." The card went through the scanners. Unobtrusive forensics took a swab to her throat. The DNA showed up human belonging to the individual in question. Credit portfolio and spending habits were also brought up. She was a well-off upper-class woman. Even walking through the corridor of invasive scanners revealed a human woman. Her luggage followed along beside, going through a series of invasive scans designed to reveal the contents, all of which showed them to be woman's clothing and necessities, along with various little dainties, some of which made some of the younger constables bawdy with insidious looks. She reached the end of the line where the constable who had taken her ID handed it back to her and told her to have a very fine evening and that she would be put up in the Galacia Hotel over in the Pemberton Quarter. That was roughly two hundred kilometers away. A multitude of cabs was outside waiting, and even for their number, multiples of the opulently rich were filed into the vehicles without regard for whether they wanted to be in proximity to one another or not. Kajil found herself sitting beside what in human terms would have been a handsome man, if not for his air of arrogant superiority. Opposite were a couple young and tittering woman, probably trust-fund children. "What was that explosion? Did you see it?" "Went straight up into the sky! I think I saw soldiers down there." "You think maybe terrorists?" "Terrorists?" the man snorted, moving his attention from the window of the now moving cab to the two girls. "In this day and age? Not likely." "Then what of the murders, huh?" "Political posturing." "Posturing. You think someone is trying to oust another?" "Yes," the man said. "Those murders were intentional. Someone, somewhere, is scheming this even now. In the end, some department head is going to find him or herself out of a job and someone will take their place. Same thing in the political circle. Just wait, there'll be resignations soon. Always happens." Kajil remained silent. It wouldn't be long until she was at her new residence, and she had much to do. --- The space within the Byorentu System did not stay empty for long. The vast reaches around the rock that had became the headquarters of the Joint Alliance was quickly filled up. At first it was just ships -- warships, cargo ships, and construction vessels of every shape, type and nationality. Every species was represented in the growing armada that ringed the system, and with the construction of the Monolith coming along, the next stage was put into effect. A shipyard for the construction of new warships along with science facilities were built in a sprawling manner covering whole sectors and arcs of the system. A massive, hazardous minefield of industrial endeavor. About the systems sole gas giant, Jyural, a series of science and mining facilities were build, draining off the rare and precious gases and their isotopes to be put to military use. The main shipyards was a long, third-ecliptic ring about the entire system, set up so as to avoid collision from other celestial bodies. About the sun itself, the advanced technologies of the Dalaquen Sovereignty Pact were put to use building a giant ring that would slowly rotate about, drawing off excess energy to create a system wide shield. Using wormholes, they could instantly power every facility within the system, straight down to The Monolith and the Gateway itself. There were other stars on the list to harvest as well. Fleet Commander Amarouk Visarett was touring one such facility that was nearing completion. Just another out of thousands, tens of thousands really, and those that were completed were already building warships. The labyrinthine corridors had wall panels off with wiring and cables and crystal memory strands interspersed within. Technicians were going over these doing finals checks before bolting the panels into place. The whirr of bolt guns attaching said panels to the wall made for a high pitched and prevalent echo. A visual inspection really wasn't necessary. It was all pomp and protocol, really, meant only to satisfy someone higher than him that things were progressing well. He watched as people snapped-to as he walked past. He saluted in turn, a massive furred fist drawn across his chest in return. A series of aides followed him like a paper trail. Other high ranking officers who were more audacious in how they acted toward the non-commissioned troops of the Joint Alliance. But his mind wasn't on the task. Information was being sent to him via the Intra-System Solar Datanet. It was a field report from the INTDIV NAVMAR agent, Daek'tar. There was also a summary by the intelligence division about the data. So much it would take days for the quantum algorithmic computers to sift through it all and find what was needed. Appended was a memo requesting more personal with data management and information analysis skills. Amarouk authorized the request, sending it on to his own office and requesting one of his Galandrian aides go over the information and find the suitable persons necessary, preferably of DSP origin. He wondered what Valorian was up to. There was always something, some new scheme or plan. If the information they had was all they needed, then the Joint Alliance would know what Valorian was up to. They didn't interfere with him -- that wasn't the point of the operations. Merely to keep watch. Valorian was one of a few people outside the Aka'eehnLaa to be classified as a threat. And while most threats need not be neutralized if they didn't move in any way of making good on their threatening nature, Valorian was of a kind that he could invariably change his mind about certain aspects of an unspoken treaty. It wasn't even that he was that large a threat, either; just another interesting individual who could make things more interesting if he so chose. It did, however, make Amarouk somewhat nervous, if the Vadasian could even properly comprehend the human emotion. What was more, there was a secondary memo attached -- Daek'tar was dead. She had been found out and had sent off the data in question before enemy agents had surrounded her. She had committed suicide rather than being captured. Amarouk made a religious motion with his hand, which the technicians saw and recognized for reverence. Amarouk made a mental note, appended it to an internal memo and sent it along the right routes. There would be a proper Vadasian memorial for the dead Baajin. They were still to new a species to have created any proper culture yet. Appended was another set of instructions for the remaining INTDIV NAVMAR agents to continue on, and if necessary, retreat. Amarouk had liked Stent as an agent. She had been extremely competent, and although she lacked a bit in the personality area, she had caught the Fleet Commander's eye for her abilities and efficiency. The Vadasian hoped there wouldn't be any more needless bloodshed, but at the same time knew it was more than likely to happen. In a way, he suddenly felt sorry for the soulless creatures that the Baajin were, and what they had been tasked to do. --- It was the usual upheaval. Politics. All ruthless politics. Just business as usual. It was surprising that anything in the country ever got done, let alone the people who did live there continued to do so. Economic turmoil cost people jobs, but also led to opportunities. And while the government continued to play its games (if it could even be called a proper governing body), external forces continued to strip Volutia of its resources. Invading forces of labor that came, brutalized the land, took what they wanted, and fled. The in-fighting meant that nobody ever really paid much attention to the fact that the massive "country" that was Volutia was a loosely knit group of malcontents each looking to rip each others throats out. It made for a people who would gladly roll over and let outsiders have what they wanted -- as long as the price was right. Olek sauntered through what could be the remains of the Volutian capital. A massive, molested wreak of a city spewing black smoke and cringing inward like a broken thing. Once proud buildings sagged inward under the strain and weight of their own lack of structural integrity. Hunched, weakened buildings looking like the people cluttered in the streets like trash, skulking in the shadow of the mountains afraid of the light. The Gothic architecture was mangled and smeared with so many substances that a forensics test would be needed to identify them all. Gargoyles that were horrifically disturbed in their visages stood at odd angles, some missing pieces as repair was overlooked in favor of embezzlement. It wasn't his kind of place, but it was the place to strip-mine. He was here mostly as a relations officer for the fictitious company that was stripping the planet of all their resources directly under the noses of the people who lived on it. Soon they would find themselves living in a dust bowl with no means of getting away. A place so drained as to collapse into itself. The starvation rates would grow exponentially once the task was complete in the next three months or so. Olek didn't care. These people were outside his universe, they didn't belong to the Joint Alliance. He felt no shame for the empty and desolate. He approached a building, tall, ornate if not a little on the ostentatious side. It was the only place that seemed hallowed ground, and the only building on the street that wasn't in ill-repair. Up the steps two at a time, he moved in through the gilded glass doors into a reception hall with vaulted ceilings. Footfalls clicked against marble floors that were a combination orange, cream and a red-pink color. He approached with certainty the circular desk situated in the center of the expanse overshadowed by overlarge and overbearing men in black suits. A woman offered up a basilica of pleasant resentment -- a smile -- before asking him his purpose. Olek offered up his own disdained smile before saying Null Calvert. Her eyes widened a moment, surprised, the smile wavering like a mirage in the desert. The hallucination reasserted itself while she thumbed through a massive tome of a book before arriving with the information that, yes, Olek was expected, and that yes, he wasn't to be brushed aside, else bad things might happen. The receptionist motioned with her hand at one of the guards and he lowered himself so she could speak into his ear. Olek, whose hearing was far more exceptional than these people probably thought, heard everything. "Take him to Director Calvert. Do not let him out of your sight until he has met with the Director. Understood?" The giant man nodded before coming around the counter to escort Olek toward the only elevator on the floor. The doors slid open and the two men slid inside. The doors closed. There were a number of buttons, but the large suited monkey pushed a sole button. Olek didn't complain, keeping his back to the big man. Show him that the Vadasian wasn't afraid. Eventually, after an agonizing number of silent moments spent under the atrocious siege of invasive music piped in from invisible speakers within the former prison, Olek and his unwanted companion made their escape. The number said it was the two-hundred-forty-third floor. A hard right and they began to walk. Olek counted out a few hundred meters before they arrived at a set of doors that were ajar. Inside was an older man, slim, tall and extremely stern. A white shock of hair cut short and crystal blue eyes set deeply in an unforgiving, frowning face. Those eyes directed themselves at the grunt behind Olek. "You can leave." The guard excused himself, closing the doors behind. Calvert turned his attention on Olek. "So good of you to come, Julian," Calvert said. His tone suggested the opposite. "Yes, Director. I was just, oh, concerned," Olek said, looking about Calvert's office. A massive arched window looked toward the South with bookcases against the wall, red carpet running the length of the room from the door to the desk and its five chairs with statues of ancient and terrifying looking creatures standing freely about the room. "About what, Julian?" "Just rumors. Gossip, really. Something about the Rii Confederacy. I heard they're offering to accept Volutia into the fold, become another cog in the massive bureaucratic machine. I found it amazing that they'd be so interested in such a backwater and out of the way planet." "And what does this have to do with me?" "Oh, come now. You can't have that short a memory, especially when it concerns our deal." "I remember." "So what are you doing about it, Null? Or will I have to find someone else?" Calvert sighed a moment. "The people are restless. Half of them want an end to the war in the streets with the gangs and the warlords. You have seen the state of this world and its people, haven't you? They want it to end. But the other half, they fear outsiders. They believe the Confederacy will only bring a return to the ancient war." "Which means?" "Which means that the negotiations for joining the Confederacy are a tad tricky at the moment, Julian. They want full discloser of everything on Volutia. They want to do an audit, Julian, learn who is crooked and who isn't." He laughed. "They fear our ties to certain parties, parties much like yourself." "The Confederacy must be kept off Volutia, Null. I don't care about tricky. You'll do it." Calvert nodded. "You forget, Julian, that were the Confederacy to gain access to and jurisdiction of Volutia, my own personal days as Director would be numbered in the negatives." "Then make sure they stay off planet, Null." Olek walked toward the doors and exited. There was no need to negotiate with Calvert. He'd do what was necessary, or he'd die along with everyone else on this planet. --- Null Calvert was shaking when Julian left the room. Visibly so. The impudence of that man drove Calvert to the very edge of his sanity. Of course the Rii Confederacy must be kept at bay! The judicial courts would have a heyday with his financial records were they to get their paws on that, nevermind the other corrupt bureaucrats. They'd all be tossed into the fire to burn, publicly no less; locked away on penal colonies with the other scum of the universe. And the crooks? The Rii Confederacy would have difficulty locking everyone away on this planet. It already was a penal colony in its own right. The Confederacy would just be shipping everyone away from one prison to another; but they'd do it, oh how they would. And all in the name of good, in the name of progress, of banishing the evil from the world. Julian wanted one of the old cities off to the South, Voldengrad. He'd talked about moving the people out and taking the city. Peaceably. Null would have said no, but the money. So much. And surprisingly, Julian had moved the people out peaceably, then locked down the entire region. It was the old capital. What the man wanted was unknown, but he wanted it. Null normally wouldn't care, except Julian was constantly paying him visits to make sure the Confederacy didn't show up to crash the party. That's how he'd said it, too, initially. Null began to wonder what it was that Julian wanted in the area, because it hadn't been more than a month or two later that the Rii Confederacy came knocking, talking about peaceful negotiations that would bring the people of Volutia into the fold, to increase their level of life to the standard of all persons in the Confederacy. It seemed so much like the Confederacy was following Julian, or wanted him. Who knew, maybe the Confederacy was moving against Julian in the background and was merely making small-talk as a pretense. Calvert didn't believe it, but it was enticing to many people. If it weren't for the fact that the Confederacy wanted so much information about the goings-on of Volutia, they might have already entered. But anyone with an inkling of power knew, and understood as Calvert did, the implications of the Confederacy stepping foot on the planet. Mass trials. The judicial system wouldn't even pretend to be fair. Open and shut cases, summary trials that were more farce then actual trials with the ability to defend against the onslaught. He wouldn't stand for that, not in the slightest. Sighing, he walked toward a mirror. Smoothing back his frazzled white hair, he readied himself to meet one of the Rii Confederacy dignitaries with their military attache. This would be interesting. He went to his desk, depressed a button and said as smoothly as he could, "Show them in." --- 'I remember,' he wrote, 'the few odd times Valorian and I were together. Hazy memories, memories that happened, but not quite. Like watching a play in Huzgibar. The actors are real, the act is fiction.' There was a pause, then the scribbled notes continued. 'He spoke grandly. Not simply, as I might have expected him to. No, he spoke like a man possessed of a million lives and a million experiences to tell. He didn't do quaint. Nor did I. Probably why we spoke to one another. He kept speaking about an object, but my memory, even with neural-subconscious aid, cannot dredge the depths for what it was. But it was important. I know if I were to hear of it, it'd all come back. That's a pretty big if. But I'm willing to make a bet on it.' 'I don't much care for if's, either. They're worrisome. They wear at the soul, the mind; the antithesis to morale. Anti-everything. But, I do know, that with time, I will remember. The memories will come, first a trickle, like the beginnings of a mighty river before I am drowned in the onslaught of my own fickle remembrance. I will know, and at the moment they return, I will fear. Because knowledge brings more than power -- it brings fear for who else may know, and how they may use their own knowledge.' 'I fear greatly.' --- Kajil checked herself in the mirror. She appeared as a tall brunette with dark brown eyes. Clad in the pompous dress the locals of 'her' status wore, she ventured out. Well aware of the security nodes, she had unleashed an ASAI, an almost-sentient-artificial-intelligence (since actually sentient intelligences of the digital were banned for multiple reasons) that would follow her through the digital world and disrupt those scanners. The code was multiplying as well, embedding itself deeply into each node hub. It would require a complete removal of the physical system to get rid of it. As long as there was something there, the code would self-replicate. The perfect virus. It wasn't that what Kajil was doing would be too open to scrutiny. With the disruption to the security nodes, a disruption not likely to be noticed, she'd be able to move about freely. She descended the elevator at a cool clip, the numbers for the floors flickering like a spastic in the thralls of a seizure. It reached zero with a ping and she stepped out. A massive lobby complete with a few guards. She waved at a few that she knew liked her, blowing a kiss or two and giggling -- all for show -- before slipped through the glassed-arch doors. Outside, she smiled at the doorhop before taking the steps down to the sidewalk where another man in uniform stood, holding the door to a cab open. "The Bellingham, please," she called in a clear voice. The automated system picked it up and pulled off into the traffic, moving at an easy clip. While it wove its way through traffic, Kajil pulled out a hand mirror and checked herself over. Might as well make herself look more like a woman. After what seemed a horrifically long time, the taxi slowed to a halt. It demanded credits before she could leave, which she deposited appropriately. Stepping out onto a grand, tree-lined boulevard, she looked up. And up, and up. The Bellingham was what one would consider an exclusive club. Almost a high-end club, it was just low enough that every day police officers were likely to be found in it during their off hours. Inside it was all dazzling lights done up in soft tones flashing back and forth. Brightly lit, it seemed like an exclusive club. She wandered her way through the tables like a medieval labyrinth, each island its own oasis with drinks and people leaning in close. Colorful concoctions, both the drinks and the garments, fluttered about the room like birds in a tropical paradise. The mawkish dialogue sputtered like a broken sink valve splurged everywhere intermingled with perverse, girlish giggling. The dance floor was alive with the thrashings of the rich, the famous, the bored, and the purveyors of easy women. Kajil avoided it. What she was looking for was a special kind of man. She recognized a number of officers here and there, done up in their uniforms still, having come from work to throw away money at drinks bought for women in the hopes of scoring. She was looking for a special kind of someone. An officer with enough rank to know what might be going on, and drunk enough not to have the presence of mind not to stop his own slathering tongue. It was an eventuality that she would find him. A man by any other name, celebrating like any other man. Oh, how most everyone was celebrating. The news had broke the story that the individual that had instigated the murders had been caught by the military arm and killed in action. The massive explosion was detailed as action against the villain. The end result was a panel of personal talking about how the fight had gone and that in the end they had needed to result to powerful weapons to subdue the terrorist. That was what they were labeling it, now. Not just some random murderer, but a terrorist. But Kajil knew better. Even more, she knew that the man she stalked toward knew better too. Moving into the seat next to him, she turned and smiled demurely, batting fake lashes with practiced movements. He was already inebriated, heavily so. He smiled back, sloppy, gushy. His badge identified him as an officer. Kajil's intel informed her that he had been the second in command on the investigation at the Naruda Argul. He would have answers, and all she needed was to entice them out of him. He bought her a drink. She made small talk. Oh, how he personally had solved the case, and how he had informed the military arm himself. So boastful, so easy. She made the appropriate noises when he talked of his accomplishments that had led to the death of the terrorist in a parking lot out in the Darvaigh District outside a run-down apartment complex. Slowly, though, she managed to wheedle more information out of him. A man -- a creature. His boss, Donavan, had called him Greyfield. A man with pull. Unsure of his origins or whereabouts. She watched his eyes, the way they flicked a certain way -- fear, distrust, apprehension -- when he spoke of this Greyfield. Was he the key to them having found Stent? Or was there a bigger picture and Stent had merely stumbled into the limelight only to be caught in the resulting act and attempt to fumble her way through a play where she didn't know her lines? No, Kajil thought, there was more to this. This man, this Greyfield, he sounded dangerous. And the fact that she was told that he had personally witnessed the only man who could have possibly been a witness to Stent's incursion into the Naruda Argul commit suicide, that implied something. Didn't it? More questions than answers. It didn't help that there was now a military ship somewhere out there watching Argul. He continued to talk, though. Kajil listened. They weren't sure how Stent had infiltrated. They still wanted answers themselves. And what was more important, what information had the terrorist gotten away with? Had the terrorist transmitted it? Oh, he said he'd solve it, eventually. But it wasn't as pertinent now that the terrorist was dead. Kajil offered to buy the man his next drink, a small favor. The drink was brought over, she paid the bartender, and deftly dropped in a small, minuscule pellet. It would destroy all memories implanted within his head for the past two hours plus stop the formation of any short-term memories. He'd think it was the booze. It was a precaution. Excusing herself as if going toward the washroom, she made for the exit. Hailing a cab, she made to for her apartment. There was still a lot to accomplish. --- Morning broke like a splattered zit on the face of a planet ruined in the mire of political corruption. Proud spires jolted up from the planet surface, wrangled about the engineering feat of internal superstructure resplendent in form and function. From orbit, a giant circular dome peppered with more towers urged upward by sheer will and engineering design. The dome, in truth, was the main spaceport for all of Argul, a honeycombed structure of internal bays and massive jointed, folding apertures combined with suspension fields for the larger cargo and cruise vessels. Naruda Argul. Kajil watched it and the sky-skimmers that circled with warning hazards flashing and warning away pedestrian traffic. The police were still there in full force, and with the arrival of the Rii Confederacy, their own brand of military justice machines flirted in and about the much slower police ones. She understood that it would be suicide to even attempt a re-infiltration of the building in its current state, and with the planet currently in lockdown there was no leaving either. There was however a small glimmer of hope for her investigation of what had happened: Greyfield. It was an interesting enough name. A simple scan of public directories yielded nothing, and using remote programs infiltrated into public terminals, the only thing she turned up were men in blue suits with dark glasses. They came by and ransacked every terminal looking for the culprit. She sat in an open bar on the roof of a tall building looking across with enhanced vision to watch as the police force swept in and began a forensics investigation. A small smile faded behind a tall glass of something fruity and fizzy. At best they'd find the remnants of the program and the fragmented pieces of code that had once been its whole. Putting it together wouldn't yield an origin, only a massive question, but Kajil couldn't be careless. One officer began to gesture manically. He was jamming fingers at neighboring buildings. She'd worn out her welcome, and with that, gathered her purse and ambled toward the exit. Paying, she smiled welcoming at the man before hitting the elevator with two other couples. She began to flirt with one of the men whose girl began to scowl. The buzzer pinged, the doors opened, police rushed in. IDs were taken, but she appeared part of the group. They were allowed to leave as the police shambled into the elevator and ascended. She caught a cab with them, much to the other two girls chagrin. It was definitely a method of evading. --- Harsh breath, back and forth as lungs fought for oxygen. It shouldn't happen, some logical portion of the mind still intact reasoned. My blood is so full of machines that the feeling that I'm short of breath shouldn't be there. But the primal, the animal in him was panting, body screaming in pain as he rushed up the slope. The crest and red triangles flicked over moving objects. He was already pulling on a mental trigger, left arm coming up and moving of its own accord. Combat programs guided him like a machine designed to let him think when it was necessary. A blast of coherent energy jumped the distance in the fraction of time it took to blink. Indicators began falling, red triangles flickering away to yellow exclamation points. Other triangles refused to leave with return blasts bustling in expansiveness like an angry wasp cloud. Stinging bits flung everywhere. He felt himself shaken. Both physically and mentally as something to a side of him exploded. Diving, he began scouring for snipers. Ranged sensors pinged the area, looking for blotches more dense than others. Disturbed air, disturbed harmonics. There, five kilometers distant in a high tower. The chatter on his COMM was alive, and then: "Jameson! The fucker got Jameson!" Fire was concentrated on the area where sensors reported the sniper being, only something else happened. "Incoming," was one of the two warnings, the first being a klaxon in his ear. It took that moment, that fixated second of actualized thought to percolate into realization as to what the warning was. Incoming enemy mortar fire. There was no sound, just the ping of disrupted air, the vibrant discord of a warbling quantum string. The explosive force, however, whipped out several indicators on his map. Five down. Shield overloads combined with a disruptive flechette field. The rounds penetrated the armor maybe a pico-meter, enough to upload the virus that would overload the system. Instant kill. Information began to infiltrate the minds of the soldiers moving along the battlefield as Overwatch provided coordinates for the mortar position. Eight kilometers off, East-Northeast, relative. Already assignments were being randomized and parties were gushing over the ground to take flight on anti-grav thrusters at speeds that would put them into position within seconds. The sniper struck again as the first mortars had fallen, taking out Kregov as he flickered into the air amid a burst of his anti-grave field. The tower exploded, a thin cloud trailing away from it. Missile strike. More red triangles began to wink out. He jumped into the air, anti-grav coils catching and thrusting him a half kilometer forward where he landed. A yellow point next to him turned red. Fake death, buying time. Whatever it was, he acted with visceral precision. The enemies bioarmor split in half as coherent energy washed up and out his hand to eviscerate the opponent in question. Warnings were screaming again. Enemy lock. Overwatch was pinpointing and assigning vectors. Friendly mortar fire. He fed all power to shields as the enemy attack washed overhim. The HUD flickered red. Icons showed power fluctuations. He'd nearly been killed. And just as quickly as that attack had happened, Overwatch suddenly had the enemy positions locked down. Positions known, numbers known. It went from being an offensive action to merely a police-mop-up action as accurate trans-dimensional lasers from Overwatch fired through the quantum strata to disable or kill the various enemies. Overwatch, a semi-cognizant entity fused with a Vadasian mind and dumped into a quantum strata invisible to the eye. Any motion, any action, it becomes aware of it and the possible outcome those actions have. It has influence over all troops and disseminates its findings down to the lower levels, increasing the chances of survival. The system was a bit of a joke, though. Like all living beings, it could be distracted, and although it provided invaluable information when it worked, when it screwed up, the troops found out the hard way. But today, today was a good day for Overwatch. A good day for everyone. When the dust cleared, the troops began to pull out. Overwatch oversaw the transition as the troops fled through the dimensional gateway. Eventually, Overwatch too, warped out, leaving a newly killed system to languish in the throes of its distress beacons. --- "She's here, Sir," the aide said. "Send her in." A tall, lithe creature walked stolidly into the office. She had the trademark scaled skin of the Baajin, her multitudinous scales flickering to varying shades between orange, red and yellow. She was distressed, that much Amarouk could tell. She ducked her head in a casual salute despite the flickers of multicolored scales. "Sir," she began. "And what can I do for you, Special Operative Deak'tar?" "About the Killjar Operation: I have the data, sir." "You've handed it off, I presume?" "Yes, Sir. Your technicians said they should have the information sifted in approximately a week." Amarouk nodded and dismissed her, telling her to report to mission control. Valorian, what were you up to? --- Stent walked out of Fleet Commander Visarett's office and down the hall. That had gone better than she'd expected. The FC had been briefed about how she'd broken cover to escape and faked her own death. Using a system overload as cover, she'd created a dimensional gateway inside her suit that shunted her across the planes of existential universes into her own, destroying the suit she had been wearing it, scrambling to machine down to the lowest quark level. She was certain the explosion would have been massive. Entering operations, she looked around. A ping on her internal netcom informed her that her mission had been updated. She'd be going back to run interference, and soon. Her compatriots needed extraction, most likely. She would facilitate that with minimal casualties if at all possible. And another lost of ECHO would not be allowed. The Baajin moved out of ops toward the gateroom.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
The hobbled form flirts into the room like smoke. It penetrates, like a fog, encompassing all. The room is filled with his being, corporeal or incorporeal -- it's hard to tell. Then, colliding like an implosion, a darkness erupts from beneath the doorjam. Blown back on hinges, it saunters in with a kneejerk spasm. Glazed over crystal orbs of indeterminate depth glance about the room. Dead, deep pools -- only they hold no meaning in this undead form. A vast deepness, like the unknown chasm in the earth. Serving no purpose, and like a hole in the ground, provide no light. It lacks a soul, or perhaps, it is a soul? Its jaw works back and forth, unhinged, handing from strips of flesh and a gurgling flush from the system. A disquiet, unease, it filters through the ambiance of the room. Floorboards creak with each shuffled step. Casting about, inflexible hands crack as joints long since neglected fracture back into motions once taken for granted. Searching, scrabbling, it falls to knees long since worn by the abuse. Tears slithered down cheeks turned to mired dust. Sluicing between the craters that mark his face, arms extend upward in a room where no light exists. A form of ventriloquism occurs as he cries out with a voice no longer his own. The speaker, unknown even as the creature weeping screams, cries out. "Please," it says, a broken record repeated idly with scratched, hypnotic vibrations. The floor oscillates, then; a bridge caught in a crosswind before it caves inward. It falls, thrown into the abyss as it is cut by splintered, wooded flooring and its own internal agony. Throat constricting, it vomits as it falls and the vertigo rises. And just as quickly, the glade reaches up grassy knolls and freshwater streams to catch the incumbent denizen bound by gravity to fall from heaven. The body crunches against the ground with satisfying freshness, like celery hit by a stick. The crumbled shape of the creature dissipates, condensing into rain before oozing into the ground. Toxic, the grass about it begins to die, plagued by the disease of the creatures self-realized pain. A tree shatters as it explodes from within. The creature, a living timebomb turned to reality, steps forth with renewed purpose, if not demoralized by its fate. The shambles of its life is reflected by the shambles of its person as thorns rise from the ground to imprint themselves on the creature. Twisting about its body in macabre artwork, they spiral into a form of tattoos before stitching the hanging jawbone back into its face. With new vigor, it looks about. Down at hands marred with dirt and feet suspended at the length of what was once the burned out husks of legs. Flesh wounds repaired, it looks at the disjointed world about it. A red-orange-pink sky casts a stack contrast at the floating entities that circle about the creature. Ruined buildings and wild bushes populate all. Crumbling stone walls that bleed black blood and cry in the howl of a relentless wind eat at his soul. Nearly consumed, it searches for the comfort of shelter. Vagrant rebukes pound into the indomitable wind, spoken with force and understanding of identity. Repulsed and offended by the voice carried over by the harried creature, the wind retreats to another island to scream obscenities at the form huddled beneath the overhang of a maladjusted branch beset by the creatures own nefarious toxic force.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
So, I forgot to do something. I forgot to talk about the events directly after my move. My parents helped me, they hauled one trailer, I the other. It was quick, and by the second of June my folks had left. Well, the power went out for us that night...and no one else. There was a limiter placed on the power because the previous tenants had failed to pay their utilities bill. We were paying for that... But that got fixed the next morning. For the first couple weeks, out of myself and my two roomies, I was the only one with a job, so inherently, I got to pay for everything. That's balanced out now (kinda). Then there was the fact that I didn't get a landline (phone) until the 17th of June and didn't get internet until the 25th of June. I had signed up for both on the 2nd of June. That's...way to long to wait for either. Never mind me attempting to get my license changed over (and needing a bill for that, which I had to wait until near the end of the month to get) or that I get to play taxi as I'm the only person with a vehicle and a license to drive it. Still waiting on my two roommates to get bus passes. At least one of them has a bike. And my job? I get to deliver stuff to people who are, quick seriously, crazy. Or just straight up odd. Very, very odd. But, it'll be fun.
Monday, June 28, 2010
So, I moved...and I've started working. I work as a delivery driver, primarily. A fancy title comes along with it. I've been working even though the store isn't officially open. And in that time, I've done two deliveries. The first one was just a TV, nothing special. The second...well. My second delivery was two children's bedroom sets -- one white, one dark. It was while I was setting up the white one up stairs that my tale begins. There was a small child, a girl of perhaps four years. She was jumping about the room excited to watch as I set up her new bedroom set. As I'm attaching the headboard to the bedrails, I begin to talk to her: "Excited to be getting your new bed?" "YES!" "You like the color white, or the other color downstairs?" "White is my favorite color." "So what do you think of the dresser? Pretty cool, eh?" "It's awesome!" "I've got some pretty cool furniture myself. My dad and I built it." "What's your daddy's name?" It is at this point that I should have clued in and shut up. But I didn't. To me, it was a harmless question by a four year old. So I told her my dad's name and asked her what her father's name was. This was the response: "I don't know my daddy's name." Oh... But, she followed up with: "I'll go ask!" Then I hear from the bedroom: "Mom, what's my daddy's name?" A moment later, she returns to say: "My daddy's name is Bob!" Yeah. Note to self, to mention anything about parents. Could be a touchy subject. Especially, as I found out, if the woman has had five kids from five different men. Bad indeed. As an aside, though, I'll have another post up in the future about what's been going on in the past month.
Tuesday, May 04, 2010
So, there are events that I failed to mention in the previous post that happened. On the 1st of April, I put the check for my monthly rent in the box where all the building tenants put their checks. Sealed away in an envelope including what apartment number I am, etc. Well, I included with it a written note informing my landlady about my intention to move out, but that, barring complete catastrophe of events, would be leaving. I did make light of the fact that I was expecting failure, and that I would give her more information as I had it, such as if I were to be leaving fo' sho'. My landlady, in her infinite wisdom, took that as gospel, and even though I said that it would be likely that I might not be leaving, she began taking orders on my apartment. I was unaware of this, and of course when the job fell through and the housing plan fell apart and my life appeared to be in a downward spiral, I had my roommate call and tell the landlady that, in fact, no, we wouldn't be moving. I hadn't given proper written notice to move, but a written notice of a plan to move barring failure of certain parties that I had vested interest in. Yeah. Well, I got a lovely phone call from my landlady -- she was going to kick me out of my apartment on the 30th, regardless, because other people had lined up to take my apartment and were under the assumption they would inherit it from me and my roommate for possession on the 1st of May. Oh my. Oh deary me. So, not only did I lose my job in the town I wanted to, I was having to ask for my current job back from my employer, did not have a housing option even available in the town I wanted, and was looking at getting kicked out of my apartment. So, I went from having a job and home to having no job and most likely no home. Definitely steps in the correct direction. Well, my boss offered to take me back. The landlady, after some discussion offer to put me and my roommate up in a one-bedroom apartment in the building that was open. So, we'd be getting kicked out earlier. But, I wouldn't be jobless and homeless, so, looking up. But, I've discovered a trait I have -- when it comes to survival, I'm extremely lucky. I may not come out ahead, but I'm never at a complete loss. On the appointed date when I was to be kicked from my apartment with my roommate, we got a call from our landlady. The person who wanted our apartment bailed. So, end result? I still have my job and my apartment. I still want to exchange them for a job and apartment elsewhere, though. But that's a tale for later...
It's been eventful, these past few weeks. I'm not sure what's going on. Mess is the definitive answer, screwed up being the secondary answer; and, of course, there are tertiary answers that follow a similar vein in methodology. The short version? I want to move and I want a new job since the current one is in line with gouging out ones eyes with a spork. The long version, well, it's the attempt to obtain those two things, which of course leads to the answers. Mind you, the answer isn't so much an answer as a descriptor of what the true answer should be -- a tale of woe. Not really, but yeah. It started some time ago. I decided around the turn of the year from the old to the new, more current one, that I wanted to move. While the thought had been burning a hole in the back of my head for a while, sitting and smoldering on the backburner, it didn't truly come to the forefront of thought until sometime in February. At which point I began slowly putting things together. Time passed, and as it did so, I began to make plans. Simple plans, at first, but growing more grand as time flew by with the spinning of the clocks hands in their merry-go-round fashion. However, it would be far from merry. The first step was to decide upon a time. The time, I believe, was set in stone. Not true, but hindsight is a wonderful irony in itself. I wanted May 1st to be that day. My D-Day. My wonderful, poignant day where the culmination of my efforts would be wound into the toy monkey with cacophony, cymbals clanging away to sound off my accomplishments. But a monkey I was, led astray by a banana -- in a sense, at least. The second step, of course, was to find lodging. I began my search online, looking for houses and apartments and townhouses and all forms of roof-over-my-head places that might accommodate myself and the entourage coming with me. This is where the banana comes in: somewhere along the line, I got it in my head, like a whisper from a devil, that I should buy a house. Mind you, I began to look at this scenario, and after what seemed an eternity, the idea seemed sound. The foundation, I would later find, was not. As all things go, there is an eventuality. I made my attempt and reached out. I went to the town, set myself up on a blind date with a Realtor, and a quick round of speed-date-resume-pushing. The results appeared wonderful, like a lab tech looking at some fungal growth. There was potential. I was offered a job, I found a house, it all looked up. Then I went to the bank and discovered my first true hitch in the plan. They wouldn't give me a mortgage. I ended up returning home, defeated, but not downtrodden. I was revising the plan with new information for a new offense. A visitation to the bank back home with my parents yielded better results. I could get the mortgage -- it would only require my parents to refinance their own home to loan me the cash. This of course set off warning bells, because now the stakes were much, much higher. Nevermind that the government had just passed into law that morning that all exchanges of land, in the form of a home, required a twenty-per-cent down payment. Ooh, big ouch. While I was working my head around this new backhanded and tactical maneuver by some unseen enemy attempting to oppose my move, the place that had offered me the job called stating that they needed someone, and badly, and because I was not in that town and wouldn't be for four more days, I was fired, and some other twit hired. Suffice to say, my hopes were dashed like a ship on the shoals of unseen danger. But, I kept a stiff upper lip and whored out my resume online to various places that were hiring in the area I wanted to move to. I kept my fingers crossed -- and it payed off. I heard back from a couple. We set up appointments for me to drive back there to conduct interviews at appropriate times. I emailed people who were renting apartments and townhouses, as opposed to buying, and found that I would be able to set up a time to view these places. And then the irony of the whole thing comes in: the people who offered me a job, then rescinded the offer, called me up to ask if I could work. Turned out that the person they hired to replace me was a wash-up. They wanted to know if I could work, and when. I told them that their previous call threw a wrench in my plans and that I wouldn't be back for another two weeks, but thanks anyway. This of course brings things to the here and now. Now I'm still going for interviews in a couple days. I've still got my fingers crossed, knocking on wood, and, you know, praying a bit. Can't hurt, right? Finalized results may vary, like with drug doses, but there's always that sense of euphoria if you get it right.
Friday, March 19, 2010
Normally my nights aren't so eventful at work. Usually, when something happens, it generally isn't that noteworthy. Tonight, however...well, it was eventful. The first thing happened as I came off my first break. A coworker was taking a Drive-Thru order. The woman wanted a steamed milk. Not difficult by any means. She wanted espresso in it. Again, no difficult, but odd, since a latte is steamed milk with espresso already in it (and is cheaper than getting a steamed milk and adding espresso). And finally, what made this whole ordeal interesting enough to contemplate -- she wanted a medium of these...in a small cup. I'm somehow supposed to jam it into a small cup. She goes on at length, no less, about how she wants this medium steamed milk -- add espresso -- in a small cup. My coworker is stumped. I had to literally tell the woman that it was technically impossible unless she somehow had a device to bend space-time to force larger objects inside smaller ones. That shut her up. A man came behind her with an order of his own, and when he got to the window, told me the woman in front of him who had made these demands was a lunatic, and that he didn't envy my job. We had a laugh. However, this second bit to my night is what really takes the cake. About nine-thirty, a woman came through. She ordered a couple large coffees. I put them together and came to the window. Repeated the price I had on the speaker box, and then promptly felt my jaw slide open a bit. When she came up, I noticed the woman was pretty good looking. Literally a smoking hot blonde. She had a nice pair of legs, too. In fact, I followed those legs up to where they connected with her torso only to find she wasn't wearing any pants. None. Not even any underwear. The only garment she had one was a jacket. That's it, and even that wasn't done up all the way revealing some very, very nice assets. At this point I tried my best to keep a straight face, not make comments and maintain eye contact. She was stone-faced, although blushing profusely. She paid in cash, hurriedly took her coffee and drove away. Never before have I had a woman come through Drive-Thru wearing only a jacket that came barely to her waist. I've heard of being in a rush and forgetting your pants, but everything else? Yeah...maybe it was a dare? Either way, she was pretty cute when you look at it...all things considered. I'm gonna stop there.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
It's a morning like any other. My usual habit is to shower first and then sit down and eat a bowl of cereal. Nothing grand or exciting, just what I do. Well, on this particular morning, as I sit down and begin to eat, I see a woman. She's walking past my window. See, I live in the basement of my apartment building, so my windows are at ground level. When this woman walks past and turns to look at me, she sees me quite clearly at my kitchen table with a spoon jammed halfway into my mouth. She just stands there a moment, looking at me. I can almost see gears turning, steam sprouting and hear the call of a foreman demanding more power from the engines and to damn the torpedoes. That little percolation of thought comes together and she smiles at me. Very, very creepy smile, no less. Doing a quick sideways look out of the corner of my eyes, I'm checking to actually see if it is me that she's smiling at. Oh, but she's got to approach my kitchen window to knock almost politely on it. I've still got a spoon in my mouth and a bowl of corn flakes in front of me. I open the window. "Hi," she says. "Uh, hi?" "Um, do you think you could help me? I need to move this thing up the stairs to the third floor and I can't lift it." "Can I finish my breakfast first?" She agrees, so I agree. I close my window and resume eating as she disappears back the way she'd come. What a way to introduce yourself to a neighbor. The item, in the end, wasn't that heavy. Although the look I got while eating breakfast, yeah, that was still somewhat creepy. I should probably eat with the blinds down.
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
When I visit my folks place, I generally make it a habit to park behind my dad's truck in the driveway for the simple reason that the car departs and returns far more often, and I'd like to be able to leave whenever. Well, this little episode is partly my own fault for not cluing in, but also my dad's. It's Sunday, I head over to the folk's place just before we go to church to say hi. I notice there's no car, so I assume that my dad has left to go pick up a couple people he always does on Sunday, so as per, I park behind his truck. Once inside, I instead find out that one of my sisters has taken the car out of town. I chat with my dad a moment before he informs me he's going to go pick up the aforementioned persons. It is at this point that I should have realized I would need to move my vehicle, but no. It is also at this point that my dad would notice my truck is behind his and come get me to tell me to move my vehicle, but no. It is at this point that as my dad gets into his truck, he'd properly check all mirrors, shoulder check and whatnot to make certain there's nothing behind his own truck, but no. It is at this point that my dad backs into my truck with his own. A moment later, he walks into the house. Somewhat amused, somewhat annoyed, somewhat angered. All of the above rolled into one brewing thundercloud. "Uh, I backed into your truck." There was definitely annoyance on my part. The truck, for the most part, is fine. The front bumper, however, is skewed a bit. Twisted along its center axis like a face looking to a side and down partly.It's noticeable, but not too noticeable. It'll get fixed, eventually. My dad said he'd get it fixed. I just need to get the damage appraised, which I'll be doing tomorrow, although probably not by East End Autobody. I don't think I'll be parking behind my dad's truck anymore.
Sunday, March 07, 2010
So, I had this hilarious phone call the other morning, sometime around nine. Bit of back-story before the call. I work late afternoons, so don't get off work until about eleven at night, so when I go home, I usually spend time to unwind. This means I don't get to bed until about two in the morning. So as a general rule, I don't get up before ten. Phones calls before that time illicit an unusually grumpy attitude. Well, the first call happens at about eight thirty. Nobody on the line, they just hung up. It happens a couple other times. By the four time, I put the phone by my bed. It rings again and I'm barely awake, phone's next to the bed. Rings, I pick it up. Woman's voice on the other side. Says, "Hello, this is East End Autobody. We're calling to inform you that your Dodge is ready." I'm not even really thinking at this point, just running on autopilot. "I don't own a Dodge, though." Before the woman can even respond, I add in "but if you want, I'll come by and pick it up." At which point, I hear a long bit of silence, then the drooling sound of "uhhh," before finally stopping at the corner of "Sorry" and "Wrong Number." She just hung up. I went back to sleep. Later on, though, out of curiosity, I checked my caller ID. East End Autobody called three times. Yeah, great...
Friday, February 19, 2010
Monday, February 08, 2010
Oh, she stands there before the mighty a moment. Eyes glazed over crystal orbs of indeterminate depth. Deep oceans -- but they hold no meaning. The vast deep more like the unknown of a massive hole dug into the earth. They serve no purpose and like a hole in the ground, provide no light. Merely mediocre mandibles masticating maliciously. Open and closed like shutters in the wind, her jaw flaps away with her gum squashed up against molars. Read the menu, hum and haw. Read some more. Whatever percolations are happening in her mind to create a coherent, sibilant thought appear to groan on more slowly than the drip of the coffee pot. A hand moves to her hair and begins to curl it about a finger. Is this supposed to make her look coy? A child yanking on knots with a comb. The continued creaking of her jaw, the sluice of saliva over teeth and the irritating sucking sound at the top of her mouth combined with the gum infuriates. A man approaches. He stands next to her, but lacks the kind of nuance that would indicate proper intelligence. "Combo," he says, like the world holds any actual meaning. A conjurers trick occurs -- voices amid dolls. What form of ventriloquism it may be, their mouths moving but the sound coming for an altogether different location.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
When I'm not working under a tyrannical oppression (Tim Hortons), I moonlight at the local Sears doing deliveries. Main reason is because my older brother owns the place and he sometimes needs a hand. Plus there's less stress overall, and even bad deliveries are still better than obnoxious, bad customers at Timmy's. This tale starts about a week ago. We (that being my brother and I) were supposed to drop off a stove and fridge at quarter two five in the evening. We were a bit late, but when we showed, house lights were out, no car in the driveway. Get things ready, and we wait. My brother calls the woman, gets her house number. We hear the phone ringing inside and nobody answering it. Of course. So, he calls back to Sears, asks an employee of his to get her work number to try that. Well, turns out the place she works at closes at four, so there shouldn't be any reason on why she isn't there. At ten after five, he calls it and we move on with the next delivery. When we returned to Sears, she called, asking why we weren't there. By this point, we're done for the evening and she has to reschedule. Fast forward a week, and this bit starts to truly take shape. Well, this time she is there. Now, in the previous week, I had accidentally dented the bottom of the fridge with the dolly. Completely unremarkable and wouldn't affect the units ability to cool things. Well, as we get the fridge off the van and my brother is pointing this out to the woman, she says that an employee says that we could switch the direction the door on the fridge opens, but with that comes an assembly fee. She'd forget about the dent (and any money that might have been taken off) in exchange for doing the door reversal. "Sure," my brother says, "no problem." Get the fridge in through the front door, sliding it into the kitchen, which is at the front of the house. I'm thinking how this might be a fifteen, maybe twenty minute job. In and out. Even with the door reversal, shouldn't take too long. Well, inside the kitchen comes the first hiccup. "Uh," I say, "the fridge is too tall for the slot." I can hear my brother saying "what?" as he looks at the spot in question. The cupboards were too low by a half inch to get the fridge in. Oh, damn. Well, my brother has the bright idea of unscrewing the cabinet and pushing it up the wall an inch or so to make room for the taller unit. "Get the drill and socket set from the van," my brother says. Only as I'm about to head there I realize, and so does he, that we had forgotten those very tools back at the store. Damn. Got a screwdriver, though! So, while my brother toils with a screwdriver, I call my dad up and ask him if he can't run to the store and pick up the tools for us. He says sure. We eventually get the drill, but in the meantime while we're waiting we pull the old fridge out and load it on the van, along with the old stove. Put the new stove in, which the woman is concerned about because she thinks it might not fit because the fridge didn't. Dad shows up with the drill, and things seem to be moving along again. Hurrah, cheers, drinks on the house and all that, right? Nope. After unscrewing the cabinet, it's sticking in place due to paint, so we actually have to smash it out of place without damaging it. That was great. Slide it up the wall, hold in place while my brother screws it into the wall again. Slide the new fridge in. Now comes the fun part: the door reversal. There were more screws, clips, hooks and insertions to be made on this door in such a complicated manner I thought some military tactician had come out to say "surprise." The whole system was extremely and unnecessarily convoluted. I hoped that the engineer who designed the system was proud of himself. Just getting the door off, and the freezer door off, was a chore. Getting it back one wasn't as bad, but still. The end result was a job that should have taken twenty minutes, max, take an hour and fifteen minutes. And yet, even for all that, it still doesn't come close to my worst delivery...