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1  Original Writings / Announcements / Re: Original Writings is dead! LONG LIVE ORIGINAL WRITINGS!! on: December 18, 2008, 08:31:52 pm
Hey Kentai, it's been a while.

I still poke my head in here from time to time, though it's been a while since I've had the time to read or write much...

J.
2  Creative Writing / Critiques Corner / Re: Changing Sides (Shadowrun Fan-Fic) on: November 07, 2008, 01:01:20 pm
Yeah, it's pretty much a write up of what the player wanted for the character... this being her first character ever, it was full of cliches.

I tried to weed some out, but when they're so thick, it was pretty hard to get them all...  Smiley

Thanks for reading and reviewing after all this time.

J.
3  Original Writings / Announcements / Re: Original Writings is dead! LONG LIVE ORIGINAL WRITINGS!! on: November 03, 2008, 05:49:18 pm
That is the true question.  If we are the last ones left standing, then no matter how well-intentioned a forum revamp would be, it'd ultimately be a likely waste of effort.  Would we seek to redo a forum like this one and try to somehow draft enough people to make it intersting once more, or would we move this thing to a social site (like Facebook) as a Group and try to track down more like-minded people with more free time than common sense might typically dictate?

If we decide to implement a rating system, we should develop a strucutre for it, so we don't have meatheads giving stories a 5 out of 5 for "Appropriate use of Cheese" or some other nonsensical rating.  Tongue

J.
4  Original Writings / Announcements / Re: Original Writings is dead! LONG LIVE ORIGINAL WRITINGS!! on: October 31, 2008, 08:43:18 pm
We may need two boards... a critique board with some guidelines (what do you want the reader to focus on, etc) and maybe just a reader board.  Post a story, let people read it and rate it.  No critiques, just a rating system (On a scale of 1-5, rate plot, characters, settings, SPAG, style, etc).  Maybe a brief statement of what you thought, and so forth.  Then if the story has a consistantly low characters score, the writer but post a link to the story with a pointed question, which could prompt a pointed critique (why are my characters being rated as weak?).

I like the idea of a Concept board, where people can post a short plot outline and ask for guidance on how to get from A to B, ways to flush out their characters, etc.

While collaborations, etc didn't work, I like the idea of a random writing board where there can be writing challenges and little jokey exercises in the pursuit of of fun, while still indulging out pasttime in some small fashion.  Smiley

Hobbies are always a good topic of discussion, as people are typically passionate about the things they do in their free time.  Hopefully, we would get enough visitors to generate a decent discussion base (having a discussion about something like 40K is well and good, but if there are only three people and we all play different armies, there really isn't much to discuss...).

I've written more than my share of fan-fic, most of it Shadowrun.  I'd be happy to share it with other readers, if people would be willing to read fan-fic from a fandom they might not be familiar with...that is the trick with fan-fic.  Smiley

I think the ideas you've come up are sound and could form the basis for a solid writing community that isn't die-hard like some of the writing sites out there...

J.
5  Original Writings / Announcements / Re: Original Writings is dead! LONG LIVE ORIGINAL WRITINGS!! on: October 28, 2008, 02:51:39 pm
I think the idea is sound.  There are several sites out there for posting stories and getting feedback.  A place for refining ideas isn't a bad thing, especially if any one has aspirations of publication (if an idea is only half-baked, the story, no matter how well written, will seem weak).

As for a means of tightening the community, as some of you here might have noticed, I am no longer on MSN... my workplace blocked it and it isn't installed at home.  I am on Facebook, though.

I'd be interested to hear some more details baout what you had in mind.

J.
6  Original Writings / Announcements / Re: Original Writings is dead! LONG LIVE ORIGINAL WRITINGS!! on: October 15, 2008, 01:22:16 pm
Believe it or not, I'm still here.  Between medical problems, family and work, I have had no chance to do anything creative.  I have written I think one short story since I participated in NaNoWriMo last November... call it literary burnout, I guess.

I would have posted my short story, but history has proven to me that posting Shadowrun fiction here is rather fruitless, since no one really reads it.  With the demands on my time of late, I haven't been able to devote the needed time to properly review any of the new posts from the newcomers either.

Regardless, I still poke my head in here from time to time and I'm open to suggestion as to what we could do to re-ignite some kind of spark for the boards...

J.
7  Creative Writing / Critiques Corner / Changing Sides (Shadowrun Fan-Fic) on: June 06, 2008, 08:35:19 pm
Hey everyone...long time, no post.  Life's been insane lately, which is why you haven't really heard from me.  It's been six months of reviewing and editting my NaNoWriMo novel with very little else in the writing camp for me of late.  Since I'm still muddling through the refining process of my novel (it ain't ready for the masses yet), I took a break to write up a character back story for a friend of mine who recently got into Shadowrun.

She really liked it, so I figured I'd post it and see if any one else does.  I'll do my best to review some of the new stuff around here as part of the old pact...  Smiley

So, here it be, for any who are interested...

Changing Sides

“Beware the man with nothing, for he has nothing to lose.”

   “What are we looking at?” Luc asked, as he finished strapping on a bulletproof vest.  His dark eyes swept the landscape to try and take everything in.  Lone Star’s Seattle Division was surrounding a derelict old house on the eastern outskirts of the downtown core.  The locals were hunkered down in their homes, knowing that these situations typically ended messily.  He rubbed the dark stubble that lined his jaw, save for a line where no hair grew, thanks to a heavy scar inflicted by a suspect some years ago.  It was the only blemish to his otherwise handsome features.  An HTRT had shown up, which told Luc one thing:  shadowrunners.  He ran his hand through his black hair and forcefully exhaled.  This would not be a good night.

   “Last report says we have three hostiles inside, at least one of them is Awakened.  All heavily armed,” Murdoch said with the deadpan of a man who’d seen this scenario all too often.

   “What’d they do this time around?”

   “No specifics coming from anyone.  All we know is that one of our boys tried to pull them over for speeding and they started shooting.  They managed to plant a tracer on their vehicle before pursuit was called off.  And here we are.”

   “If the high-threat boys are here, why do you need me?” Luc asked.

   “Their mage is going in with the team to subdue any magical threats.  Your job is to go around back with a group of officers and lay down a net to make sure no one slips away in the carnage.  You armed?”

   Luc drew his Ruger Thunderbolt and nodded.  “Whenever you give the word.”

   “Consider it given.  The team’s going in from both sides any minute.”

   Luc motioned to a cluster of officers.  “You guys are with me.  Just let me provide us with some cover.”  The Lone Star mage bowed his eyes and muttered a few words of prayer in Arabic; a modern version of Persian scripture.  A faint voice spoke within his mind.

   “What is my purpose, magus?”

   “To conceal us from evil-doers who wish us harm,” he replied, shifting his perceptions to the astral plane.

   A point of astral light blossomed before him and transformed into an ahura, a Zoroastrian angel.  “I shall serve you, child of Ahura Mazda, and shield you from evil.”

   The spirit curved its wings around the group of officers and they vanished from sight.

   “All right, use your commlinks to trace each other’s movements.  We’re circling around the back.”

   The invisible group of officers crept around the back of the house, where one of the HTRT strike teams was readying themselves to bash down the door.  One cop fired a gas grenade in through a window and waited for the grenade to detonate before slamming the battering ram through the door and pouring into the house.

   A flurry of comms chatter flooded over the airwaves as the police frantically relayed tactical information about the house just before gunfire erupted.  Muzzle flash and the painful cry of officers echoed in Luc’s ears.  “Officers down, I repeat, we have officers down!”

   “Combat medics are on standby.  Clear out the ground floor of hostiles and we will tend to the wounded.”

   “One suspect is down.  The other is retreating upstairs.  We are proceeding with caution.”

   Gunfire continued, as the Lone Star response team pushed their way up the stairs to the upper floors.

   “Second suspect is down.  Tracking the third…”

   A blast erupted from the upper floor as a fireball blasted out the window.  The team of officers in the rear moved aside as the charred bodies of two officers fell to the lawn, thrown out by the attack.

   “Mage sight!  We have confirmed mage sight!”

   Luc went over to the fallen officers and saw the tattered remains of a gold banner on one of the men’s shoulder.  “Murdoch, this is Sharif.  The HTRT mage is dead.  What do you want me to do?”

   “Our boys need back up…the mage is pulverizing them.  Get in there!”

   Turning back to the rest of the officers, he said, “Don’t let anyone through this door.  Switch to ultrasound, in case this guy goes invisible.”

   Luc charged into the house, seeing the medics tending to the wounded and the corpse of one of the runners, lying eyes wide in an expanding pool of blood.  He stealthily made his way toward the stairs and crept upwards, his pistol drawn and held out in front of him.  He saw an officer lying on the stairs with lesions on his face and a thin tendril of blood rolling away from the eyes; a sign of mana damage.

   “The level of magic I’m seeing in the wounded shows someone of either extreme power, or a possible focus addict,” Luc said subvocally over the police channel.

   “Copy that.  Just be on your guard.”

   He finally reached the top of the stairs and saw the walls were heavily scorched and the bodies of fellow officers lay at the center of the impact.  He could hear other officers muttering nonsensically in another part of the house, probably in the clutch of a confusion spell of some form.

   He heard gunfire beneath him as the medics were suddenly under attack.  “Fire spirit!  Hey, Sharif… we could use your imaginary friend down here…” one man said frantically.

   Luc telepathically spoke to his spirit.  “I require your aid.  Doctors are under attack by an enemy spirit.  Please deal with it.”

   The spirit materialized in front of him and spawned an enormous sword.  “As you command, magus.”

   The spirit dropped down through the floor and the gunfire stopped as the two spirits became engrossed in their own battle.  He stepped forward to try and aid the officers in the grips of an illusion, when the floor groaned loudly under his weight.  He winced as his location was betrayed and the runner mage flew out of a nearby doorframe.

   The runner was hyperactive, his eyes practically bulging from their sockets and he was draped in foci.  His bloodshot eyes settled on Luc and he quickly launched a blast of flame toward the officer.  Raising his off hand in defense, Luc blocked the spell only inches away from impact.

   It was soon apparent that this mage had tweaked his spell formula to make his flame attack sustainable, rather than a single shot and he held the blast of fire on the cop with a psychotic grin on his face.

   “I can keep this up all day, pig!  Can you?”

   Luc felt a blood vessel in his nose pop and the warm stickiness of blood ran freely down his upper lip.  He couldn’t block this attack indefinitely.  “No, I can’t.  But, I can multi-task…”  He raised his Thunderbolt and squeezed the trigger, blasting the enemy mage with a cluster of bullets.  He yelped in pain as the bullets struck him on the hip, shattering his pelvic bone and wrenching him sideways.  The spell the runner was concentrating on collapsed and Luc shook his head to clear the ringing that had begun in his ears.

   The runner began yelling incoherently, strung out from whatever drugs he was on, and he cast a healing spell to repair the damage.  He wasn’t far into the spell when one of the officers came out from one of the rooms, after shaking off the confusion, and slammed the butt of his shotgun into the runner’s head.  The addict mage finally lapsed into unconsciousness and fell to the ground.

   “Goddammit, I hate mages…” the cop said, before sheepishly looking at Luc.  “Present company excluded, of course.”

   Luc simply nodded and leaned heavily against a nearby wall.  The officers that survived the attack began going over the house and removing the corpses of the runners.  The mage was mage-masked and handcuffed before being roughly dragged off to jail.  As one of the runner’s bodies was carried out, Luc heard something fall not far from where he was recovering.  Something had fallen out of a pocket of the dead man.  After searching for a short while, he found the small glass cylinder of an optical chip.

   “Is this what they stole?” he thought aloud.  He popped the chip into his commlink and tried to open it.  The file was heavily encrypted, but the runner had succeeded in decrypting some of it.  A garbled mess of indecipherable icons popped up, but there was some data there: a list of disjointed names and numbers.

   “What did you find?”

   Luc looked up and saw Rick, his usual partner making his way up the stairs.  “One of our dead runners dropped this.  Not sure what the hell it is though.  The encryption on it appears pretty thick…my commlink can’t even properly render this thing.”

   “It must be pretty important for these assholes to want to die for it.  I’ll send it over to Jeremy and see if he can’t figure out who it belongs to and what we’re dealing with.  In the meantime, go home.  You look like ****.”

   Absently wiping the blood away from his nose, Luc looked up at his partner and smirked.  “Gee, thanks.  I’ll catch you tomorrow.”

   He patted Rick on the shoulder before heading out of the house and getting a lift home from one of his coworkers.

***

Two weeks later

   “Oh, come on…” Lexi said, “It’s not that bad.”

   “Not that bad?  Our backyard is a glorified sandbox already.  If we add a patio onto the back, there won’t be any grass left.”  Luc returned.

   “Like we have grass to begin with…that’s why I’m thinking about a patio.  Anything will make that patch of dirt look better.  You just don’t want to do the work on it.”

   “Can’t dispute that one,” Luc said with a smile.

   “Lazy bum,” his wife chided, with a smirk.

   The Lone Star officer peered over his shoulder to look at his sleeping daughter in the back seat.  She was lolled over to one side, her curly brown locks dangling off her shoulders.  The green eyes she had inherited from her mother were closed tight.  Savannah had been a bit unruly, but overall had behaved well enough while they had shopped at the local home improvement place.  As a reward, they had gone to McHughs for dinner, before picking up a few groceries on the way back.  At long last, she had spun down and finally fallen asleep.

   “She out?” Lexi asked.

   “Out like a light,” he said.  “After the day she’s had, she should sleep well tonight.”

   “What do you feel like doing tonight?  I don’t think there’s anything on the trid worth watching…”

   “I was thinking about some wine, low lighting and an absence of clothing might fit the bill.”

   “Luc!  Savannah’s in the car…”

   “And she is totally unconscious.  So, is that a no?”

   “I didn’t say that…” she said, playfully.  “Let’s get this stuff home and the little one to bed before we get too far forward in our thinking.”

   Luc looked over at his wife.  She was perfect, at least for him.  She wasn’t as curvy as many men liked their women, but her smile lit up her face and her eyes were a dark shade of emerald that had captivated him the moment he first looked into them.  Her blond-brown hair shrouded her face.  Her hair style was simple, but he liked it that way.  Savannah’s curl had come from him (his hair was naturally wavy, but Lone Star dictated he keep it short, so he hid it well), but her colour was a middle-of-the-road shade between the two of them.  She knew his job was dangerous but approached every day with a smile and was always happy when he came home.  His marriage was blessed and he knew it.

The old Ford pulled into the driveway and as the commlinks of the owners drew close, the outside lights turned on and the hologram popped up on Luc’s projector, prompting him to disable the house alarm.  He keyed in the passkey before minimizing the frame and having the car open the trunk.

   “I’ll take Savannah upstairs to bed and you grab the groceries, all right?” Lexi asked.

   “Sounds fair to me.  The kid weighs a ton,” he said, making his way around the back of the car.

   “So do all those bags and I only have to make one trip,” she said in victory.  She scooped up the sleeping girl and turned to Luc.  “See you inside, with the wine all set.”

   He smiled as he started gathering up the grocery bags.  She hadn’t been kidding when she said they were heavy.  He had tried to gather them all up so he wouldn’t have to come back, but ultimately, he decided he couldn’t do it in fewer than two trips.

   Cradling the bags in his arms he slowly walked to the front door of the house and used his left foot to push the door open.

   “It’s no wonder I’m putting on weight if the food weighs so…”

   A wall of flame burst outward from the house, tossing Luc across his front yard as if he weighed nothing.  Groceries sprayed across the lawn, several items burning from the blast.  He landed hard on his back, dazed and burning, staring up at the stars above.  He was oblivious to the pain at first, but as the world came back into focus, the pain from the burns hit him like a freight train.  He tried to sit up but his seared skin tore as he tried to make it bend, causing an involuntary scream of pain.  The smell of his own burning hair and flesh seemed distant, as he tried to shake off his disorientation.

   He let out a guttural inarticulate scream, as he fought his way to his feet.  His neighbours began to gather in the street, gazing awestruck by the sight of Luc’s house engulfed in flames.  “Lexi!” he bellowed, as he began moving toward the house.  “Savannah!”

   A secondary blast ripped through the house, as something combustible caught the blaze and burst.  “Lexi!”  Luc charged toward the house before colliding somewhat painfully with Henry, one of his neighbours.  “Let me go!  You have to help me!”

   “I am, Luc.  You go in there and you’ll die.”

   “Lexi and Savannah are inside.  I have to get them out of there.”

   “There’s nothing left in there for you to rescue.  I’m sorry…”

   “No!” Luc screamed at the fire.  The pain reasserted itself and the officer passed out as Henry pulled him away from the collapsing husk of his home.

***

Eighteen Days after the fire

   “Welcome back, sunshine,” Murphy said, as he strode into Luc’s hospital room.  “How are you feeling?”

   At first, there was no response, but eventually Luc replied, “I’m itchy.”  After the fire, he had slipped into a catatonic state that wasn’t quite a coma, but it was enough to place him on feeding tubes and bedpans.  He had undergone reconstructive surgery, which had replaced much of the damaged skin, but he still had extensive burn scars up his left side; the side that took the first blast from the house.  He lay in traction, wrapped in bandages and unable to really move while the skin grafts took hold.

   “That’s to be expected, I suppose.  You’re fuckin’ lucky, you know?”

   Luc snorted.  “Lucky?  You have a strange definition of luck, Murph.  So, are you the official liaison for Lone Star, come to check on me?”

   “Nope.  They’ll be showing up a little later, when you’re closer to checking out.”

   “Then what are you doing here?”

   Murphy dropped his jovial attitude and studied the floor briefly before looking back up at his comrade.  “I, uh…I figured you would have some questions and I know the shrink they’ll be sending out to check on you will dodge the answers.  I figured you deserved better.”

   Luc wanted to nod his thanks, but the effort made him wince.  “How’s the investigation going?”

   “To be honest, it’s stalled.  There was nothing left after the explosion…no evidence to go on.  We know it was a pro job…audio detonators rigged through your own security system to several charges all around the house.  Plastic explosive at key architectural positions…whoever did this was well trained.”

   “Wait…audio detonators?  It was triggered by a voice command?”

   “Not so much, as it was trained to recognize a specific voice…probably yours.”

   “So, when I called into the house to Lexi, I…”

   “Triggered it?  Yeah…probably.”

   Luc clenched his eyes shut and berated himself for not kept his smartass comment for later.  At least if he was inside the house when he had spoken, he wouldn’t be here, alone.

   “When’s the funeral?” he asked, through clenched teeth.

   “Whenever you’re ready.  The company’s paying for it, of course.”

   “Hang on a second…” Luc said, his eyes working away, as he mulled over details, “If there was no evidence left over, how do you know my voice triggered the bomb?”

   “An educated guess, given what else has been happening.”

   “What’s happened?”

   “We’ve lost a few good men while you were out,” Murphy said with sadness.

   “What?  Who?”

   “Jeremy in our computer division met with a nasty hacker during a simple overwatch job and got brain-fried.  Rick was targeted by a drive-by and was gunned down in his own driveway.”

   “They killed my partner too?”  Luc clenched his hands, despite the pain it caused.  The pain rapidly subsided, as the machines wired to him detected the pain and injected a liberal dose of pain medication.

   “We went back to the site of that runner job you were last involved in and found that someone had been in there and had removed some hardware from the scene after the shoot-out.  There were cameras implanted in the fixtures of that house.  One camera saw you and Rick going over the contents of a chip you pulled off one of the runners.”

   “I remember that…Jeremy’s name was dropped too,” Luc muttered as realization dawned on him.

   “Exactly.  To top it off, the chip was moved to our computer processing center and the police convoy was attacked by well-armed thugs.  Guess what was taken.”

   “Dammit…”

   “Whatever was on that chip was enough for the owner to contract out on the lives of all witnesses.  In your case, they missed.  We’ve got you entered in here under a pseudonym to prevent another attack on your life.  Unfortunately, with the chip gone and everyone who has seen it dead, we have no leads.”

   “What about the runner I took prisoner?”

   “He was too unstable to keep in captivity and you know company policy on unregistered mages without a SIN, right?”

   “****.  They aren’t dropping the case, right?”

   “Of course not.  They never give up on their brothers.  But don’t expect a fast response on this.  The trail’s gone cold.”

   Luc nodded slightly as the pain killers kicked in and a light-headed euphoria took hold.

   “Listen Luc, I’ll let you get some rest.  I’ll catch up with you when you’re out of here.  If anything comes up, I’ll let you know.”

   Murph looked down and the borderline-unconscious man in the bed and shook his head sadly.  There would be a lot of emotional rehabilitation required to get him back into service and making a man wait to learn about who was responsible for an atrocity would not go over well.

***

One month after the fire

   Luc stormed into the Lone Star precinct and headed straight for the captain’s office.  Several of his colleagues looked up and were ready to applaud his return when they saw the look on his face.  Instead they turn back to their work and cautiously glanced over their shoulder toward the angry mage.

   He threw the door open and stepped inside the chief’s office.  “What the hell is this I hear about my case being shelved?”

   “Welcome back, Luc,” the chief said, ignoring the outburst.

   “I was told that the company didn’t turn their back on their brothers.  So much for camaraderie, huh?”

   “Close the door and sit down,” the chief ordered.  The mage threw the door closed but remained on his feet.  “Good enough.  You think you’re the only one who wants answers?  Your family, Rick’s family and Jeremy’s family all want answers.  And you know what we’ve dug up since this **** hit the fan?  Absolutely nothing.  We cannot devote as many resources to this as we have been.  Too much happens in this city on a daily basis.  It’s not like we’re putting this in a box and shoving it into a corner.  We simply have to lower its priority, so that the daily business of protecting Seattle can get done.”

   “Then assign the case to me.  I’ll take care of it.  Call it a special assignment, if you want.”

   “You know the company policy on personal involvement.  You are at the crux of this case and your judgment will be clouded.  I can’t assign the case to you and you know it.”

   “I don’t give a **** about company policy!  Give me the case.”

   The chief carefully studied Luc momentarily.  “Did you ever meet with our prescribed grief counselor?”

   “I don’t need a goddamn counselor, I need results.”

   “I disagree… you can’t return to duty until the psychologist okays you and deems you mentally fit for duty.  Nothing will happen for you until that happens.”

   Luc glared at the chief.  “You’re going to prevent me from looking into my own wife’s killer?!”

   “Jesus, Luc…how many times do I have to spell this out for you?  I’m bound by compa-“

   “Company policy…you know what?  This is what I think about your ‘company policy’.”  Luc reached into his pocket and placed his badge on the chief’s desk.  “If Lone Star isn’t going to do the right thing, then I’ll do it myself.”

   “Now hold on, Luc.  Don’t do anything rash…”

   The chief never got to finish his sentence, as the mage turned on his heel and fled the precinct in anger.  The chief slumped in his seat and looked toward the door.  “Good luck, Luc.”

***

   “C’mon!  Higher, Daddy!”

   Luc smiled as he pushed Savannah on a swing in the playground.  He loved Georgia this time of year.  The scent of peach blossoms was in the air and the pounding of the waves of the ocean could be heard at the beach not far away.  “Your mother will freak out if you go much higher.”

   “Please?”  Savannah pleaded, her curly brown hair swaying in the wind and green eyes wide in the ‘puppy dog’ look.

   “You’re high enough, sweetie,” Lexi said from a patch of grass not far from the playground.  She was in the process of arraying a picnic before they went down to the beach to look for sea shells.  “Besides, lunch is almost ready and I don’t want you up there all afternoon.”

   Luc kept his daughter’s momentum going long enough for the picnic to be dished out.  He then slowed her swinging so she could hop down, only to be snatched up and placed on her Dad’s shoulders.

   “Run Daddy!”

   “Run for a half dozen steps?”

   “Yeah!”

   Shrugging, he ran over to the picnic with Savannah giggling the whole way.  He scooped her up under the arms and swung her down for a ‘crash landing’ on the blanket.  Luc sat down beside Lexi and surveyed the spread.  “Prepare enough food, you think?”

   “You know how picky the munchkin is.  I made something for each mood.”

   “You cater to her too much,” he said, shaking his head.  He smirked at her when she stuck her tongue out him and proceeded to help himself to the food laid out.

   The three ate in relative silence, enjoying the sun, the ocean breeze and the good food.  The second Savannah was done, she sprang to her feet.  “Can I go play some more?”

   “You just ate!  Just let your food settle before you go running off again,” Lexi said.

   “I dunno, maybe some quiet time for the two of us is just what the doctor ordered…” Luc said with a wink. 

                     Lexi responded with a swat to his shoulder.  “Don’t get any ideas, mister.”

                     “Too late.”

   “What are you guys talking about?” Savannah asked.

   “Nothing, sweetie,” Lexi said, with a glare directed to Luc.

   “Do we pack up and make our way to the beach?” he asked.

   “Sure, that sounds like a good idea.”

   The family packed all their belongings back into the cooler they had carried everything in and began the walk toward the ocean.

   “I’m glad you suggested this place,” Luc said.  “It’s fantastic.”  He ran a hand across her cheek and felt her soft skin and brown hair brush over his hand.  He leaned in and planted a kiss on her lips, feeling the waxy feeling and smelling the slightly sugary smell of her lip gloss.

   “You’re welcome,” she said, fixing her green eyes on his.

   “That’s gross,” Savannah said, sticking out her tongue.  “Can we go swimming now?”

   “Sure thing.  Let’s go,” he said.

   “Yay!”

   As they began walking to the beach, a bright green box spontaneously appeared in front of him.

   Visitor at the door.  Commcode registered as: Donna.  Open Door?

   Sighing, Luc said, “Pause playback.”  The beach of Georgia, his wife and daughter faded away to nothing, as the basic grid of his commlink filled his vision.  He disconnected from the sim module, wiped away the tears he hadn’t been aware he’d shed and stabbed the open door button.

   The door to his ramshackle apartment unlocked and Donna strode in.  She was the chief’s secretary and the two had been good friends while he was on the force.  Now he was using what little money he had to investigate the death of his family, but she was also keeping him apprised of the Star’s progress.

   “Nice décor…” Donna said, as she surveyed his lackluster living accommodations.  When she studied her former teammate, his eyes were cold and detached, he had let his normal five o’clock shadow escalate to a raised stubble and his hair was now shoulder length, showing off its natural wave.

   “Have they made any progress?” Luc asked.

   “No, and now that you’re no longer with the Star, it’s a lower priority.  You’re just a citizen, rather than a company matter.”

   “I **** hate corporate politics,” he spat.

   “I’m keeping tabs on Rick’s and Jeremy’s cases, since they will lead back to the same perps.”

   “Thanks, Donna,”

   “How’s the private investigation going?”

   “It’s not,” he said dejectedly, “I’m going to be spending more time investigating other people’s problems, just to keep a roof over my head.”

   “That’s what happens when you act rashly.  You’re in over your head.”

   “I can’t go back to the Star.  The red tape will prevent me from ever learning anything.”

   Donna shrugged.  “Sorry I can’t be of more help.”  Her eyes wandered over to a desk that was littered in paperwork.  On a corner of the desk were a pile of slap patches.  Some were used, but some were brand new.  The new ones were labeled as pain killers; fairly potent ones.  “Are you still having pain from the blast?”

   “Some days,” he said.  “It comes and goes.”

   “I thought the doctors said everything was healed and you wouldn’t have any more pain.  Just the scar.”

   “Well, he lied,” he said, wincing and clutching his side.

   “I see…”

   “Unless you have any ideas on how I can learn more information, I’d better get back to work, Donna.”

   She silently turned away and walked back toward the door.  As she got to the door, she paused and looked back at Luc.

   “What now?” Luc asked.

   “There may be a way to do your own investigation and make money at the same time…”

   “Really?  How’s that?”

   She walked back into the room and lowered her voice.  “You aren’t going to like it.”

   “I don’t like the way things are already, so why don’t you just tell me?”

   “Become a shadowrunner.”

   “What?!  The people that kill officers every day and mindlessly kill innocent people… you want me to join them?”

   “Not all runners are like you describe.  The good ones never dirty their hands with killing unless they must.  You know first hand how resourceful the shadowrunners are.  Those responsible for the death of your wife and daughter live in the shadows.  That much is certain.  You simply need to infiltrate their world, find the triggermen and through them, learn who ordered the hit.  The side of the law can only dig so far.  You need to look at it from the lawless side.  You can also make some money along the way…maybe hurt those corps you hate so bad a little bit.”

   Luc was about to dismiss the idea outright, but Donna had a point.  Those who knew this kind of person best where the kind the Star couldn’t track.  Perhaps he could make the difference by attacking the shadows from within.  Justice, his own way.

   The way it should be.

   “I’ll think about it,” he said and looked up at Donna.  He smirked, “How are you just the chief’s secretary?  You’re pretty good at this.”

   “Hey, I listen to what goes on in the precinct and the limits they face.  They already have some undercover guys in the shadows, but a lot of them go through Stockholm Syndrome, so they minimize the influence the underworld has, by making assignments short.  This could be as long term as you need it to be.”

   “Thanks again, Donna.”

   “Don’t mention it.  It’s good to see you smile again, even if only briefly.”  Donna walked to the door and glanced back.  “If you do this, don’t get in too deep.  Always remember which side of the fence you stand on.  We’re the good guys, no matter how justified your work in the shadows would seem.  I’ll send you contact information for a known fixer to get you started.”

   “How do you have contact information for someone in the shadows?”

   “Trade secret,” Donna said.  “He’s a stand up guy and has connections across North America.  He should get you started on your search.”

   Luc couldn’t say anything more, prior to Donna stepping through the door and leaving him to plan for his future.  Before he could focus on his entry to the shadows, he had a beach to visit.

   He sat back in his chair, activated his commlink and pressed resume.
8  Original Writings / Creative Discussion / Re: Including Religion on: February 21, 2008, 09:58:55 pm
The disappearing one returns!  Ahem...anyways...

To be honest, the taboo topics often provide some of the most interesting reading.  I say take the idea and run with it.  If the concept offends, they simply won't read it.  But heaven forbid someone approaches it with an open mind...  Wink

When it comes to imagination, there is little that is untouchable...and religion ain't one of em.  Smiley

J.
9  Creative Writing / Critiques Corner / Re: Introductions, And a Story to Chew Up on: January 10, 2008, 06:28:22 pm
Wow... I am slacking off... good eye, Bakerman.

Insomniac
10  Creative Writing / Critiques Corner / Re: Introductions, And a Story to Chew Up on: January 09, 2008, 04:27:19 pm
Well, I've been greatly absent of late, thanks to a rather insane life (and the Wii consuming what little free time I have left).  That aside, I'm here to weigh in with my 2 cents.  Draw from it what you will.

Opening:  The opening certainly is an attention grabber.  Non-human attackers!  It tells the reader to expect an alien attack of some kind and labels the story, which is what you need the opening to do.

Conflict:  It's good that you mention a war without putting us in the thick of one.  Seeing the emotional impact of being a city under seige can be just as interesting to read as a the battle itself.  With a story piece this mall, we've only really seen bit characters rather than a protagonist, so we don't really know anything about those who will carry the story.

Plot:  Not much has been revealed about the overall plot at this point.  We saw some poor sap get vapourized and a bit of the subsequent investigation, but can't see the overall picture yet.  You mention non-human attackers, but we've seen no trace of them thus far (save for the aforementioned vapourizing).  Though for a longer story, your current pacing is rather good.  You're not dragging your heels, nor are you racing to the finish.

Setting:  Description of the setting is a little light.  The reader sees nothing outside of the little spotlight you focus on and we see little of the local ambiance.  Describe the interior of the bar in more depth, describe the houses on the streets and the streets themselves.  This is a city under siege and we should see exactly what kind of impact that has on these people.

Characterization:  We are getting to know a few of the characters little by little.  Dalton is appearing like the protagonist at this point, as we seem to know more about him than any other character at this stage in the game.  He comes as a naive, green officer.  So long as he doesn't remain so obviously green and evolves steadily over the course of the story, his demeanor won't get irritating.  We know little about the other characters we've been introduced to, so they appear to be little more than supporting characters at this point in the story.  We haven't met the antagonist of the story yet, so currently these unseen attackers fit the bill.  We know nothing of their motivations, so it's too early in the story to judge on the quality of villain.  Smiley

Dialogue:  The dialogue is plausible and human enough.  It doesn't feel stilted and seems to flow fairly naturally.  You need to ensure to separate dialogue from different speakers, to ensure we know who is speaking what lines.

Point of View:  You've gone with the omniscient third person, which is probably the best method for a story like this.  You've done a good job of using chapter breaks to separate major changes in viewpoint and it should serve you well enough as the story progresses.

Show vs. Tell:   You've done fairly well thus far at not glossing over events too much.  You aren't just telling the user about the history of this siege or skimming major story points, but instead you are walking us through events, which makes for far more addicitive storylines.  The one thing I would have possibly put more detail into is the death of the governer.  If your early comments summarize the style of weaponry and this was an orbital rail gun that was fired, there would be far more collateral damage to the surrounding landscape than just a glowing crater.  At the speed those projectiles travel, a shell the size of a pop can would have been partially liquified from the friction of the air, the target would have been little more than vapour and the pavement would also likely have become a liquid state as it sprayed outward.  Nearby cars would be badly damaged and damage to nearby homes.  There would have been a shockwave that shattered windows (if there are any left, depending on how frequent this kind of "accident" occurs) for a good distance.  Give us a brief snapshot of the devastation this kind of attack would inflict on the city to really drive home the overkill...  Wink

Formatting:  The format of the story is solid.  Paragraphs aren't too long and there's plenty of white space to break up the whole "wall of text" issue.

Spelling and Grammar:

Only one thing I noticed...

Koroleva launched into like a tiny rocket - Missing word?  (...launched into him like...)

Considering I'm a total spelling and grammar nazi, you've done good.  Smiley

Style:   Overall, your writing style is solid and with a few minor revisions, this could be a great story to follow along with.
11  Original Writings / Announcements / Re: Welcome! on: December 13, 2007, 03:02:11 pm
Hey.  I'm Insomniac.  I've been grossly absent for a while now, but hopefully I'll be back to full positing speed again in the new year.  Between writing a novel, having surgery and now my wife getting rather ill, there hasn't been much time for me to post.

But my busy life aside, welcome to the site.  Hope to see some of your stuff and maybe I'll even get a chance to read and critique some of it in the new year.

Insomniac.
12  Original Writings / Creative Discussion / Re: A new form of challenge... on: October 24, 2007, 01:51:38 pm
There is an Author Search Option that shows up when site traffic is a little lower, but I don't see that happening any more any time soon.

Have you posted on the forums?  If I can find your post, I can add you into the buddy list.  Smiley

J.
13  Original Writings / Creative Discussion / Re: A new form of challenge... on: October 23, 2007, 09:27:35 pm
For those that have registered, post your forum name here so I can add you to my writing buddy list...

I go by Shadowrunner13 over there.
14  Original Writings / Creative Discussion / A new form of challenge... on: October 10, 2007, 02:05:26 pm
Well, the site has fallen kind of dormant again, so here's a thought...

This year, I was looking at participating in the NaNoWriMo competition (NaNoWriMo = National Novel Writing Month).  The gist of the challenge is to write a full 50000 word novel in the span of 30 days (Midnight Nov 1 - Midnight Nov 30).  It might not necessarily be good, but it gets people to challenge themselves to write heavily and consistently, to produce a novel...a feat many have difficulty seeing through to completion.

I was curious...I know many here are students and aren't likely to have a whole lot of free time, but is there anyone on here that might be interested in trying the challenge?

http://www.nanowrimo.org/
15  Creative Writing / Critiques Corner / Re: The Better Life on: September 26, 2007, 06:34:37 pm
Yeah, I hyphenated it, to better emphasize it.  Smiley
16  Creative Writing / Critiques Corner / Re: The Better Life on: September 24, 2007, 09:19:28 pm
Trid is a Shadowrun term as a short form of trideo, which itself is a short form for tri-diemension video.  Sorry about that...

I should probably hyphenate the term line-up... I'll try and clarify that sentence.

I wanted to try and write a generic piece of fiction that non-Shadowrun people could read and follow along with.  I missed that one bit of slang, so I may clarify that one as well to make it more generic.

Thanks for the review!

J.
17  Creative Writing / Critiques Corner / Re: The Better Life on: September 24, 2007, 08:29:46 pm
Made those couple of revisions.  Thanks for those.

I wanted the rich guy fantasy to be a little cliched, since it was a false experience, made in true Hollywood style.  His desire to be famous is a by-product of slotting too many of those chips.  His perception of reality is a little distorted...unfortunately, that's a little hard to convey without just telling the reader (which is a no-no). 

Thanks for the review.

J.
18  Creative Writing / Critiques Corner / The Better Life on: September 21, 2007, 10:01:28 pm
Another piece of Shadowrun fiction from me... I've been having issues finding time and motivation to write of late, so this stuff is convenient and simple.

Hope it makes sense and doesn't suck.



James Hill loved his life.  He sat in the back seat of his Rolls Royce Phaeton limo, as he sipped on a 48 year old wine and watched the holographic video display his rapidly increasing stock portfolio.  He was rich and getting more so every day.

Life was excellent.

The limo pulled to a stop and after a short while, his door opened.  “We’re here, Mr. Hill,” his chauffer said.

James stepped out of his car and smoothed out his imported silk jacket.  The perfumed air of the interior gave way to the stench of the city.  Removing the rose-coloured glasses from the bridge of his nose, he surveyed the crowd before him.  Many of the city’s lesser denizens stood in line, waiting for their chance to gain access to the club that stood beyond this throng of humanity.  After scanning the line-up, he strode over to the bouncer and nodded.

The troll outside Club Infinity nodded.  “Evenin’ Mr. Hill.  We saved ya a place by da bar.”

James gave a curt nod of approval and slid the man a few nuyen for his troubles.  Inside, the Club was a pulsing, writhing entity with countless arms in the air.  Peering inside this moving menagerie, grinding hips, groping hands and glowing nanotats all whirled together in a dizzying display of primal desire.

Just the place he wanted to be.

He slid into the crowd, making his way through the enormous group.  As he slid through, people parted to let him pass.  Many of the men nodded cordially.  The women ogled him as he slid through.  They knew he was rich and they all wanted a piece.

As he arrived at the bar, the bartender slid a scotch beside him.  “Your usual, Mr. Hill?”

“Yes, thank you, Bill.”

James turned away from the bartender and studied the crowd.  Most of the club-goers were a total bust.  Much too low brow for him.  He turned his attention to the edges of the club.  Those who clung to the walls were there for a reason.  Many weren’t social types: awkward geeks, pudgy girls, particularly ugly people… there was one particularly shady group in the corner with a suit.  Perhaps it was a shadowrun team or a mob meeting of some kind.  Regardless, it wasn’t what he was after.

He had hung out in the bar for a while and polished off a few scotches, but nothing seemed to strike him.  He was about to pay his tab and give up for the night, when he saw what he wanted.

A radiant woman strode out from the crowd, heading for the bar.  She was naturally blond, thin and dressed to the hilt.  She was wearing a white dress that was somewhere between elegant and indecent, with a leg slit that went almost to the waist.  Her legs were long and lean and she had a beautiful figure.  Probably a C or D cup… the best body money could buy.

She strode right up beside James and leaned against the bar beside him.  “Good evening.  You’re James Hill, aren’t you?”

Flashing his best smile, James said, “Yes, I am.  Is there anything I can do for you tonight?”

“Perhaps,” she said, with a sly look on her face.  “I was hoping to find a good time tonight, and so far I’ve struck out.  Do you think you would be capable of showing me a good time?”

“I think I can manage that,” he said.  Wiring the barkeep his bar tab, he reached behind him and placed his open hand on the bar.  Bill placed a card key in his waiting hand.  “You’re usual suite is prepared.”

James led the buxom beauty back behind the bar into a series of private rooms at the back of the club.  Swiping the card in front of the lock at the far end of a hallway, the door opened, revealing a tastefully furnished bedroom.  James led her into the room and sat down on the bed.  “Want a drink before the entertainment?”

“Why put things off?”

He turned around to watch her dress slide to the floor, revealing her perfect, naked body.  “I couldn’t agree more…”

He stepped over in front of her, ran one hand over an exposed breast before sliding his tongue into her waiting mouth.

Suddenly, there was a loud buzzing that hurt James’ ears and the room went dark.

“Wha?  What happened?”

A new smell replaced the smell of her naked body and her perfume.  The rancid stench of vomit mixed with garbage filled his nostrils and James gagged against the odour.  He would have thrown up, but he had nothing to evacuate.  The **** that had built up rapidly melted away, as he pulled himself back to his feet and looked around.

He stood in a darkened alleyway, standing in a mountain of garbage thrown out by a nearby restaurant.  He looked down at himself and saw a filthy grey shirt with more stains than the original colour and a torn and unclean pair of jeans.

“No!”

James rummaged through the garbage and found his old Sim Module.  With shaking hands, he pressed eject and pulled out the chip that was inside.  The glass cylinder was blackened on the inside; the Better-Than-Life chip had burned itself out.

“Bastard lied to me!  It didn’t make it to the end…last time I buy from him…”

On wobbly legs, James staggered out to the street and sat down, placing an old fast food container in front of him.  His leg involuntarily bounced and his right hand had a visible tremor, as he looked imploringly at the night life that surrounded him.  All the pedestrians avoided eye contact with the wild-eyed homeless man that squatted outside Hong’s Chinese Cuisine.

Seeing a man in a suit, James reached forward.  “Please sir!  A few nuyen to feed a hungry man?”

“**** off, ya junkie,” the man spat, as he carried on without pause.

“I’ll show you all,” James muttered to himself.  “I’m bigger than all of you!  I’m James Aaron Hill and one day, I’ll be famous…”
19  Creative Writing / The Blackboard / Re: The Awesome Rant Thread [So swearific your head will explode from the swearing.] on: September 10, 2007, 02:11:11 pm
Um...riiight.

One thing I will say.  I have Metroid Prime 3 (came out in North America already).  And despite the unusual rant, you are correct.  Buy it.  It's awesome.

J.
20  Creative Writing / Critiques Corner / Re: The Bloodstorm Fang (Warhammer 40k) on: August 29, 2007, 06:11:05 pm
OK, I finally scraped up a few minutes to put together a review.  Keep in mind that all my observations are done by me trying to be unbiased and uncolored in my approach.  Which was hard, since I'm a Dark Eldar player myself and always enjoy reading stuff that embellishes an under-played force in 40K.  Smiley

So without further ado, the wall-of-text-review by yours truly (formerly known as ArchonSildarax)...

Opening

The opening certianly drives home that the story is done from a narrative view.  The malice and violence espoused by the narrator is enough to tell the reader a little about the character they are reading about which is a good course to take.  While it doesn't foreshadow anything to come, as more of a flavour piece than an actual story, this is not detrimental to the flow of the tale.

Conflict

There wasn't much conflict, save for the description of the actual battles in the arena.  The story was simply a telling of a tale.  The only contrast in the story came from Baczal.  His calm and detached demeanor was a welcome contrast to that of Archon Skaanti.  The amount of conflict could be bumped up by adding some internal strife to the Archon's tale...worry about failure, or by a two-pronged betrayal of what was to come... some crack in his wall of confidence.

Plot

The plot was simple and, given the Dark Eldar, very likely.  One thing that can be assumed, but isn't explicitly stated is why Skaanti wanted Heirox dead.  Yes, he advocated peace (an out-of-character prospect for Dark Eldar, to be sure), but if Skaanti was acting on Vect's behalf, surely there was a reason.  Baczal also told Skaanti, "It will succeed, but you will not get what you desire." yet the reader never finds out what that is.  Another thing that's a bit jarring is the shift in perspective when the Mandrake kills Heirox.  Everything to that point is narrative from Skaanti's point of view but suddenly we shift.  Perhaps retooling this so we see it from Skaanti's perspective would aid in clarity.

Setting

Commorragh is a wonderous city, concealed in the warp, yet there is little actual "fluff" regarding it in the Warhammer literature.  I think your depictions of it do it justice, while not drowning us in all the details.  One thing I noticed was the use of the "magnoculars" by the Archon.  This seems like an archaic, mon-keigh term.  While the story reads like the mon-keigh is being told this tale, when Skaanti asks Baczal for them, he should probably use a different term.  The Eldar race holds the inferior races in contempt, so they wouldn't likely use one of their terms.  Design and describe something really sci-fi...an ocular implant that works similarly, or maybe a thin polymer film that forms itself to the user's head when held before it, so it can transmit magnified visual data, audio feeds and possibly even broadcast the emotions of the target(s).  Be inventive and make it distinctly Dark Eldar in stlye.  They are advanced and malicious...  Smiley

Characterization

There wasn't much characterization in the story.  Skaanti comes more across as an antagonist than the protagonist, thanks to his distorted and violent view of the galaxy.  If anything, the reader is more likely to identify with Baczal, since he has a code of honour and duty that he follows.  And despite a general disdain for his employer he upholds his side of the bargain.  We know nothing of Skaanti's motivations.  All we know about him is that he REALLY enjoys killing and that he works for Asdrubael Vect.  As the story's main focus, he could use a little more depth.

Dialogue

The dialogue worked all right.  Most of the story was told through narration, but what dialogue was there did help in showing us more about Baczal.  Skaanti comes off as an egotistic megalomaniac (which I suppose is accurate for an Archon), but Baczal shows that he is trained and reserved, merely by the way he conveys himself.

Point of View

Touched on this briefly...you were all in one perspective for 95% of the story, but switched for one section.  I recommend writing that one piece from the same perspective, to keep the piece consistant.

Show vs Tell

You managed to avoid using vague descriptors, which is execllent, although you could have described the arenas of Commorragh a little more vividly.  Does the smell of blood hang heavily in the air?  Can we hear the cries of agony and the tearing of flesh of those in the pits?  Put the reader in that arena and immerse them in the experience...

Format

Formatting was good.  White space between paragraphs and the paragraphs aren't just walls of test.

Grammar and Spelling

The spelling and grammar looked fine.  I was able to follow the story and nothing caused me to double take and re-read something for it's meaning.  Good job here.

Style

Overall, the story was all right.  It's certainly a flavour piece, since there isn't really much of a story being told here, per se, save for the orchestrated death of an Archon.  This might be the root of a story, but without having any real motivation laid out save for a controversial stance by said Archon, it's hard for the reader to formulate an opinion on Skaanti or his actions.  Filling in some of the questions and making Skaanti a little more accessible for the reader will go a long way to helping this one.
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