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The Bad Seeds (15)

Discussion in 'The Story Board' started by Matt A, Nov 17, 2005.

  1. Oh look I'm...

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    Believe it or not, some of us like and appreciate exposition, especially when it's the best--if not the only--way to get through a chapter.;)
    There was a more vulgar term that I was going to use, matching up against "balls up" and "belly up," but I don't think the censor nor the mod stick would allow it.:sweat: :p :evil:
    Could that be because you don't entirely know either???:p
    You don't necessarily have to. When we think too much about it, none of us want to say our mothers are perfect. But that's not point my point. This is: if Felix was ridiculously fawned over by his mom when he was an infant, told "no one going to love you as much as me," then he may think the same thing about all women, that they're tender but powerful goddesses like his mum was... thus explaining, to a certain extent, his attitude toward women.;) By the way, Freud also said that men want to have sex with their mothers, so you can see why I'm using his logic sparingly, because incestuous desires don't apply to Felix (as far as we know:evil: ). I might've completely walked off on the wrong tangent there, but I hope I made myself clear.:) :anime:

    PS- What's a "he-ho"?
     
  2. Matt A

    Matt A Smile. Or Else.

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    Exactly. Besides the jokes involved, the reason why I gave Scratch this role was to give her some more screen-time: her original apperance, though memorable, was to be her one and only, and I felt she deserved more than just being a cameo. As you said, no bad thing.:)

    It's what I like to call the "KISS" rule: "Keep It Simple, Stupid". In other words, the more complicated a plan is, the more likely it is to go completely arse over tit.;)

    And besides, as we've already established, the Omega Force don't really go in for keeping things sensible. That, and mayhem is fun.:p:D

    That's a good point, actually. Even when villains are better-funded, -equipped, -trained and -numbered, they still manage to get beat through some gaping hole in their plans. Evil masterminds just don't think everything through.:(:p

    With the Academy specifically, I've tried to indicate a few times throughout this story that their connections are indeed their main weapon. They have so many officials bribed or blackmailed, or just kept ignorant, that anyone with the power to remove them has someone else tying their hands. 'Course, the Omega Force aren't afraid to knock a few heads...:evil:

    Indeed it is.:D But I wouldn't say Newton's a traitor (or is she?:p), just intelligent and willing to do her homework. The password gag in particular is partly her lucky guess, but mostly an excuse for me to do a bizarre Lost reference.:p

    As we already know, Ghost + guns = mayhem, and mayhem + fiction = much fun.:D:evil:

    If you want to get technical about it, I only put the M16 in there so that the armoury contains all three guns Ghost "demonstrated" in 'One Man And His Guns'. Though actually, there's one I missed by mistake, so forget that.:sweat: I imagine there's an SA80 in there as well, but frankly, I've heard lots that it's really a bit crap.:sad:

    I don't dislike exposition: in fact, I'm quite keen on it. I just like to see it dressed up a little, and I didn't feel I'd done that here.:sad:

    Probably not, no. But since when has that stopped me?:p

    Actually, I know precisely what's going to happen. It's just that Felix doesn't, and I don't intend to tell you.:p

    No, I get you, and it's actually quite a good point.:)

    Personally, I've always thought of Felix's parents as distant, more interested in the "neuclear family" as a status symbol than as something of intrinsic value. Probably explains his borderline-pathological need for attention.;)

    I'd say Felix's approach to women isn't so much goddess worship, as that he just has a soft spot for a pretty face. He obsesses over Newton as much as he does because he thinks he's found a kindred spirit.:)

    "Man whore". To put it bluntly.;)

    Well, I shall try to not dissapoint. Though you might have to wait a few days.:sweat:

    -Matt A-
     
  3. Oh look I'm...

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    First, I can't believe "Man whore" got through the censors!:eek: *ducks at sight of mod stick* Please no thwack!

    Clearly:p , but I'm glad you saw my point anyway.:) To reiterate, how mothers treat their sons becomes what the son wants in a woman: e.g. complete devotion for some, undying companionship for others, or something else entirely.:evil: What I was saying before is that I was curious to see Felix's mom, because she might share some of the same traits as Newton: strong-willed, sexy, but still not going to take any bullsh*t.;) Think we might get to meet her? Anyhooz, I'm resting the case there, just so you know, before I get thwacked with the [strike]Mod[/strike], er, Matt stick.:p ;)
     
  4. ArtificialIdiot

    ArtificialIdiot Doktor Aies

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    Yeah, but that's the thing with super hero teams - They come up with these plans, that just basically seem to be 'Smash the bad guys through the entire city and damn the consequences!!!' and occasionally, as a goodwill gesture will try and 'lead them somewhere else' to 'avoid harming civilians'. I really dunno why they bother, as it never usually stops them smashing them through office buildings, knocking down buildings, throwing around cars, etc. I dunno if this is what you were trying to get at with the Omega Force, but really, the only difference between the Force and anyone else is - They're honest about it. :p

    So what you're essentially saying is... The Academy is a coroporation?! :D

    (A cheap shot at megacorps, I know - But I couldn't help it.)

    I think that's one of the only maths equations anyone should ever need! And it was a clever link, even if you did miss one out - But don't believe everything you hear about the SA80, most of the stuff about it being crap comes from the models before the A2 version, and it seems it's popular over at the ARRSE (ARmy Rumour SErvice :p) forums... But then, maybe it's only good in the hands of soldiers with a sense of humour. :sweat:

    You never have yet! So don't start now, for the love of God! :p
     
  5. Matt A

    Matt A Smile. Or Else.

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    Well, "man whore" is a technical term. Kinda.:p

    Maybe she'd be like that, maybe not. Strong-willed, certainly, but I've never imagined her being as personable as Newton is. At any rate, I'm glad you raised the subject, 'cause it's definitely worth pondering.:D

    But, on the other hand, I don't intend to ever provide a definitive answer. One thing I was sure of from the very start of the story was that I wouldn't tell you much about where Felix came from: not to be enigmatic, but because it's just not essential to know. And besides, as you've just demonstrated, I've dropped enough hints for y'all to create your own theories.;)

    Actually, that's precisely the point I've been making. I mean, there was that time when Felix got smacked round the head with a tube train.:p I'd add further thoughts, but you've pretty much covered it: surely someone would complain about the amount of collateral superheroes cause...;)

    The Academy isn't run for profit - come to think of it, I'm not sure where their money comes from:sweat: - but yes, I agree with the sentiment. The way I see it, we haven't progessed beyond medieval feudalism: the only difference is, instead of being controlled by the lord of the manor, we're controlled by the chairman of the board.:sad:

    For someone who claims to not be gun-savvy, you know far too much about this sort of stuff.:eek::p

    So no pressure, then.;):sweat:

    -Matt A-
     
  6. Oh look I'm...

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    Yeah, that, or some of us don't have lives.:p
     
  7. Matt A

    Matt A Smile. Or Else.

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    Well, there's always that, I suppose.:p

    On that note, I have some good news: after a three-week break, I finally have a new chapter for you. I apologise for yet another significant absence on my part: university started again a fortnight ago, and I'm now busier than ever. It sucks, it really does, but one just has to do the best one can with what one has.:sad:

    So, is this chapter the best I can do? Probably not. On the plus side, it's back into the main story again, and a fairly lengthy action sequence for you to get your chops around. On the minus side, it's about twice as long as I'd intended, and accordingly of far less clarity. But I'm not dissatisfied with it, really: it's just kinda average.:shrug:

    Still, that's enough from me. It's half-one in the morning, I need to get up in six hours, and I could really do with getting this posted and going to bed. So, here's the chapter:


    Chapter Thirty-Five: The Suicide Squad

    The art of fiction-writing has many unwritten rules, of which one of the most key is this: the protagonist must never have things easy. If there’s a point where they aren’t in conflict with someone or something, then the story grinds to a halt. To keep the reader’s interest, you have to keep the trouble coming.

    This perhaps explains the current situation. You know the brilliant, effortless plan we just came up with? The one that was to have us storm the Academy, shut down all the Claw-Bots and then blow the place up, all without encountering any kind of resistance? Well, that’s just gone out the window.

    Picture the scene, if you will.

    Me, my three mates and four of the Omega Force (I’ll explain where Poltergeist is in a sec) are stood at the entrance to the British Museum. In front of us is two-hundred feet of stone plaza, then a few steps up to the massive Greek temple façade of the museum itself. I imagine you know what the place looks like: if you don’t, go Wikipedia it or something.

    Now, here’s the interesting part. The entrance to the museum building is a thirty-foot-high glass panel (with doors, naturally)…or, at least, it was. The glass panel, and the stone frame surrounding it, have been ripped clean out of the wall, and now consist of lots of tiny bits spread across the steps and plaza. The two fifty-foot columns either side of the door have received the same treatment, the part of the roof they once held up now sagging alarmingly.

    We already expected this, and we already know what did it. The problem is that we expected the Claw-Bots to be long gone from here…and they aren’t. Two are fighting over who gets to leave the building first, a third is awkwardly tiptoeing down the steps, and a forth and fifth are stood in the middle of the plaza.

    So much for doing this quietly. Or at f**king all.

    Okay, before I go any further, I should explain a little something. The reason why Poltergeist isn’t here is because he’s busy being our pack-mule. A key facet of his powers is that when he does his “demolecularising” thing, he can make other objects go with him into his not-there state: the clothes he’s wearing, for example. At this point in time, as well as his clothes, he’s also transporting the several tonnes of plastique we’ll be using for our demolitions. It’s near-effortless for him, and though it leaves us one man short, it’ll be of great help for we differently-gifted eight.

    That’s the little something explained. Now back to the story.

    The eight of us stop to admire the Claw-Bot force opposing us. The ‘Bots, evidently confused over how we aren’t running for our lives, stop and stare back.

    Shockwave whistles in appreciation. “I think we’re gonna need a bigger boat…”

    Gunslinger shrugs. “This doesn’t change anything.” he says, spieling on cue. “Our objective is inside that building. All we have to do is get past these ‘Bots. We need to take them down if we can, so that they don’t attack us from the rear, but they aren’t our primary goal.”

    So he says. The way I see it, if we don’t destroy these five mega-bastards, then they’ll tear us limb from limb. And I do not want to f**king die.

    “So, does anyone here have a plan?” Newton asks.

    “Yeah.” Gunslinger says. “Go kick some arse. Any way we can.”

    This is so f**king stupid.

    “Okay. Let’s do this.”

    With his command issued, Gunslinger kicks off into the air on his jetpack. Angel flies after him a second later, Flora and Sonic following on foot.

    Ghost turns to the rest of us. “Alright then. Are we gonna go get ourselves horrifically murderised?”

    I shrug. “You got any better ideas?”

    “No.”

    At the other end of the plaza, the fight has started. Amongst other things, the ‘Bot navigating the steps was so anxious to join in that it went too fast, and promptly overbalanced and fell over, and the two ‘Bots inside have let their impatience turn into a brawl with each other. Oh yes, and Flora has pulled a small forest’s worth of twenty-foot vines from the ground, ready to belt things with.

    “Fine. Let’s just get on with it.”

    The four of us run into the fray. As you should know by now, I’m not unused to this sort of thing, but right this second, I’m absolutely terrified. This battle may be eight trained supers against five dumb-ass robots, but us eight are a fighting force without a plan. And the last time I tried to fight someone without thinking, I nearly died from a 650ft fall: this time, the likely method of death won’t be as fun.

    On the other hand, I now have some better tools to work with. With our powers not being of much use against the ‘Bots, me and Ghost have been allowed to use a selection of the ‘Force’s armoury. I have an M16 (the A2 three-round-burst model, apparently), whilst Ghost as an M79, a SPAS-12 combat shotgun and a PSG-1 sniper rifle. Surprise, surprise. It’s quite funny actually, seeing these three huge guns floating around in mid-air: to better aid his own survival, Ghost has taken off his suit, hat and trenchcoat, instead just relying on the invisible skin-suit that is his basic covering.

    I’d go into more detail about this, but I’m aware that I’ve just wasted nine hundred words on build-up for this fight. So I’d better get to the point.

    The four ‘Force are busy with their range attacks, flying/running around the ‘Bots and getting in shots wherever they can. Gunslinger is letting rip with his two Desert Eagles, Sonic is throwing around his sound blasts, and Angel is using rubble, paving slabs and even lampposts as her ammo of choice. Flora’s forest of vines, each twenty-foot long and thick as my leg, are twatting anything in sight. Like all the other times these two forces have battled, none of these attacks are causing any significant damage, but the three ‘Bots involved (the stair one has gotten back up, in case you’re wondering) are so desperate to kill something, so busy running round in circles trying to get a hit in, that it won’t be long before they trip over their own clumsy feet.

    Me and my three mates – I really should think of a collective name for us – draw up next to a clump of half-a-dozen vines. They’re wrapped around a ‘Bot just in front of us, trying to either tear off its metal plating or slap it about the face. The ‘Bot is trying to pull away, snapping at any vines it can reach, but they’re re-growing as fast as it can cut them.

    Newton uses her powers to lift the ‘Bot up a few centimetres, putting it off balance just long enough for Shockwave to throw a punch. It gets flipped over onto its back, crashing down onto the paving. The vines take advantage, clawing away harder than ever. Two of them finally get a hold, pulling up a corner of a metal pane on its neck. Gunslinger wheels by above our heads, pumping a few bullets into the exposed circuitry before moving on.

    Whilst the ‘Bot is still struggling to get back up, Ghost pulls out his PSG-1. The M79 would be better, but his target is only twenty feet away, and even he wouldn’t do something that would so obviously kill us all.

    Right then. Time for me to do something.

    I lift up my M16, formerly dangling from my right hand, and take aim. I want to hit inside the open plate, do some internal damage, but my shooting skills aren’t great, and even if they were, this ‘Bot is thrashing around too much. So when I fire, the three rounds ping harmlessly off its arse. The gun shakes in my hand like I’m in an earthquake, and it’s eardrum-burstingly loud even over the cacophony of everything else, so this is kinda funny. I immediately fire again, only to receive a low click and no action.

    Huh?

    “Piece of f**king junk.” I grumble, throwing the jammed M16 at the ‘Bot. F**k, it’ll probably do more damage. Trouble is, Ghost decides to fire his rifle at it, the bullet piercing a nearly-full magazine and blowing up its contents. The explosion is considerable: in fact, not only does it throw the two of us off our feet, but it also rips a hole in the ‘Bot’s torso. Shockwave and Flora are straight in there to inflict internal wounds, Sonic running in to add some damage of its own.

    The plant/air/sound attack obviously hits the right circuit boards. The ‘Bot’s legs, previously flailing in the air for all they’re worth, suddenly go limp. It’s beak is still thrashing around, but to all intents and purposes, this thing is paralysed and out of the action.

    One down, four to go.

    Despite the six paragraphs of description, this ‘Bot was taken down in no more than twenty seconds. A hell of a lot to pack into such a short time-frame, but to be fair, we do have the Stormtrooper Effect on our side.

    Me and Ghost quickly get back to our feet. I can still feel the heat of that explosion.

    “Next time,” I say, “warn me before you do that.”

    Ghost goes to reply, but a scream cuts him off. You remember the two ‘Bots fighting with each other indoors? Well, that fight is evidently now over, as one has ripped the other in half and chucked the bits down the steps. The torso end, maybe deliberately, clouted Flora in the side on the way down, throwing her to the ground. Despite her size, she’s a hardy little lass, so she isn’t dead, but she’ll be out of it for the next few minutes.

    It’s two down and three to go, but now we only have seven men. And now Flora’s unconscious, all her useful vines just fall to the ground.

    Claw-Bots aren’t really tacticians, so instead of capitalising on this advantage, the two ‘Bots left on the plaza just stop and stare. They’re covered in dents, bullet holes and burn marks, maybe not serious injuries, but it’s still understandable that they’d now turn to caution. And, oddly enough, us seven also stop and stare in return. We suddenly have a stand-off on our hands.

    Or not. Angel is hovering in the air just behind me, so I can hear her mutter what sounds like “enough is enough”.

    Suddenly, there’s a loud grinding sound from the museum entrance. Everyone and –thing on the battlefield can only look in horror as, with much noise and dust, Angel telekinetically rips an entire pillar from its housing. It’s a view so insane that I can’t even describe it. It’s just…a fifty-foot stone pillar, hovering in the air.

    Then she does her real party trick. The pillar comes crashing down onto one of the ‘Bots, piledriving the thing with the force of a speeding truck. The ‘Bot is instantly flattened by several tonnes of stone, and though this happens a good twenty metres away, the impact is still strong enough to throw me to the ground. Again, there are just no words for this moment.

    Three down, two to go.

    The one remaining indoor ‘Bot picks this moment to finally run outside and join in. This is extra significant because, with yet another pillar gone, the roof also picks this moment to finally give way. The entire section over the door, a twenty feet in every direction, crumbles and collapses. With a roar straight from the mouth of hell, many, many tonnes of stone come crashing down onto the steps, the unlucky ‘Bot’s annihilation quickly obscured by a huge cloud of dust. I curl myself up into a ball as the dust rolls over me and spreads across the plaza. Such is the force of it, I actually get pushed a few metres across the ground.

    Can you believe this was the work of the nutter who once belted me with a tube train? Actually, you probably can.

    The dust and the noise begin to die down after a few seconds. We all slowly stand back up: Gunslinger and Angel, who had use their flying abilities to avoid the mess, coast back down to ground level. The doorway to the museum is nearly obscured by rubble, an impromptu tomb for the unlucky ‘Bot underneath. A previously unnoticed sound from beyond the plaza walls indicates that the final ‘Bot has decided to run away. Good call, mate.

    Five down, none to go. And all in about two minutes. Niiice

    Gunslinger walks over to Flora, who’s just starting to come to.

    “Are you alright?” he asks.

    “Yeah. Did we win?”

    He shoots a semi-evil look at Angel. “Pretty much.”

    He helps Flora to her feet. The ‘Force are pretty experienced when it comes to combat injuries, so she’s able to carry on standing without further assistance.

    Gunslinger turns to face the rest of us.

    “Well done, everyone.” he says. “But this job is only just started. We need to keep moving.”

    Angel steps forward, obviously about to start clearing the rubble. However, Newton quickly sticks out her arm.

    “No way, sister.” she says with a dry smile. “You’ve done enough.”

    Angel glares at her, but doesn’t say anything.

    Newton points her hands towards the rubble. Like Moses parting the Red Sea, it falls away to either side, rolling to a stop after a few metres. The doorway is cleared.

    We all start walking up the steps and into the museum. We come to the entrance hall, which is big, empty and surprisingly dark. A wide staircase is thirty feet to the left, and a large giftshop thirty feet to our right. But our route is ahead of us, where three high archways have been carelessly knocked into one by the many ‘Bots.

    Beyond that is the central courtyard, a massive space of blindingly white stone which the museum is built around. The space is covered by a roof of glass panels, and the majority of it belongs to the huge round building in the centre. A library, I believe, and with some pretty interesting stuff for those consider books their thing. Wide stairs curve round either side, but again, they’re not where we’re going. Our destination clearly lies inside the library itself, on account of how the huge doorway has been blasted into something even huger.

    Even before we get inside, we can see the reason for this. The circular desks in the centre have been ripped apart, thirty-feet of floor having caved in to form a truly massive hole. You know, before it looked like a warzone, this place was pretty impressive, a classic library writ large: hundreds of desks for studying, thousands of fancy-looking books lining the walls, a blue-and-yellow vaulting ceiling curving into a high dome.

    It’s quite sad, really. I’ve been the British Museum a few times before, and even when I was furious at being dragged round the place by my parents, I still couldn’t help feeling a certain awe at the grandeur of it all. Now it just looks like someone tried to blow the place up. Even with his worship of death and carnage, I’d always thought Jefferson had more respect for culture than that.

    We walk inside the library, and peer down into the hole. The pieces of floor form a rough slope, almost a bowl shape, going down about twenty feet. A round tunnel, another twenty feet across, goes off to the left.

    “This must be where the ‘Bots came from.” Gunslinger says, as if it wasn’t obvious. “The Academy is down that tunnel.”

    “Well, they sure know how to make an entrance.” Sonic says dryly.

    Gunslinger shrugs. “Come on. We’ve still got a lot of work to do.”

    We all make our way down the slope. I nearly lose balance, but aside from that, we reach the tunnel without incident. It’s lined with smooth grey concrete, the only feature being florescent strip lights in the ceiling at about thirty-foot intervals. Considering the usual brightness of the Academy, this is surprisingly dingy.

    The tunnel takes a sharp turn to the left after only a few metres. After that, it’s a straight so long that the end is beyond view, with a gentle slope downwards. The Robot Plant is underneath Trafalgar Square, so based on my mental geography of London, this should take us about ten minutes.

    The walk is a silent one, each of us internally psyching ourselves up for the fight to come. If what happened outside was anything to go by, then we’ve grossly underestimated the Academy’s defences, but we’ve gone too far with our mission to turn back now. And even if we hadn’t, there’s too much at stake to just give up. Whatever’s at the end of this tunnel, we’re just gonna have to deal with it.

    On a slightly odder note, part of me is just amazed by this tunnel. I already knew the Academy had put a lot of effort into their Evil Plan, but it must’ve been quite something to get all this machined out without anyone catching on.

    Eventually, the tunnel stops sloping, swinging back to horizontal just before a sharp right turn. We round the corner to find, about twenty metres away, the huge parade hall Newton showed me this morning. From the inside, it looks even more colossal and empty than it did from the outside. The only features are the window way up in the far left corner, and a huge set of double doors on the far wall.

    Well, these aren’t quite the only features. Another seven Claw-Bots are grouped in the middle of the hall, and this time, they aren’t alone. Two humans are with them, strapped into huge mechanised suits that closely resemble their underlings: imagine the Power-Loader from Aliens, only twice the size, and you’re pretty much there. These two are clearly the ones in command here.

    But this isn’t the problem. That honour belongs to the identity of these two generals: Magick and-

    “Well, isn’t this grand?” Miss Vert calls out. “I see you’ve brought friends.”
     
  8. Oh look I'm...

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    WTF? No replies in five days? What's this world COMING to, Mattie?!!:eek:

    Anyhooz, I'll spout my half pence about the chapter. It was enjoyable, as usual, but I'll regrettably have to give this one a "B" rating, mainly because the story didn't advance too much and there wasn't much development at all. Some good action all around, and it's nice to see Felix on his toes again; the stress of the situation is really what kept me going.;)

    It was also very interesting to be reminded just how dangerous the Claw Bots are. Just when you think you can predict those darn things, they up and surprise you with a flurry of doom that makes you hide behind your rival-turned-ally.:p It still funny to see the Omega Force work hand in hand with the Academy's pseudo-worst seeds, but then again I'm not one to judge.;)

    At this point, I can't help but be worried for the "climax" of this novel. Don't get me wrong: I'm eagerly awaiting the massively chaotic battle like a wet-diapered toddler on Christmas Eve, but things are being way too built-up, even for you, Matt. We've spent, what, some eight-odd chapters getting to the finale (which is not even here yet), and no one else is worried about the payoff but me?:eek:

    Well, it could be nothing. It could be just me getting jittery about stuff I usually get jittery about.:sweat: Vert's sure to appear in the next chapter, right? Maybe then things will start to wrap up... but I've been wrong before...:shrug: :eek:
     
  9. Matt A

    Matt A Smile. Or Else.

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    I know, I know. Everyone seems to be off at the moment, which sucks.:sad: Still, one reply is better than a slap in the face with a wet fish.:p:)

    Don't worry, I know this one didn't have any development, and nor was it supposed to. It's simply "the night before the morning after", if you get my drift. All I wanted was a cool fight scene to get our heroes/villains into the Academy, and into their run-in with Vert. 'Nuff said.

    And it seems I accomplished my aim. As you've probably figured by now - and as I had him say directly at the start of this chapter - I don't like making things easy for Felix. In fact, I positively revel in his suffering. So putting him in danger is kinda the whole point here.:evil:

    Exactly. The Claw-Bots are, it must be said, something of a tight-rope: making them dangerous enough to be a genuine threat in their own right, but not making them so dangerous that our heroes/villains wouldn't actually be able to beat them. Personally, I think I swung a bit too far towards the "beatable" end this time, but seeing as you don't seem to agree, I'm happy.:D

    And neither are they, apparently. Still, this is just one of those "enemies uniting in the face of a greater threat" situations: like X-Men 2, if you want an analogy. Odd as it may be, this is a situation that necessity demands, and I'm sure they'll be back on their usual terms once this is all over.;)

    Actually, I think you're onto something. The ending has had me worried since day one, as endings always do: I think it's a good 'un, and I wouldn't have started this story if I didn't, but there's always a risk no one else will agree. After all, I'm the only one who knows where this is going, at least in the 100%, absolute clarity sense. Obviously, I can't discuss what's going to happen, so you'll just have to trust me on what I'm doing. The ending simply can't be anything other than worth it.:sweat:

    It won't be the start of the wrap-up, no. The beginning of the beginning, maybe, but that's all.;)

    Either way, she will be in the next chapter. If that's the next chapter I write, or if I go with another Lost Chapter, I don't know, but we'll just have to see.:shrug:

    -Matt A-
     
  10. Oh look I'm...

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    Ah, yes. I see.;)

    However, there was something I actually forgot to bring up. Here it is:
    To some degree, I both agree and disagree with that statement. While, yes, it does good to keep the readers' interest, I believe that throwing tons of curveballs at any given protagonist is done so because of a very different motivation: I will call it the "Guitar Slayer motivation"!!! MWAHAHAHAHA!!

    Now, granted, before any of you go ahead and thwack me, hereth me out. The moddie known as The Guitar Slayer has been known (I'll point this out if I have to, :evil: ) to be an advocate of making Mary Sue accusations, which is mainly where I decided to coin the phrase from. Basically, the Guitar Slayer motivation of writing is to make your character--or, in most cases, the protagonist--have so many problems or "inadequacies" that many readers forget, or never recognize, how unbelievably awesome the character is. Then, once they've overcome said inadequacies, they're fully allowed to shine in the glory because they didn't have an EASY time dealing with it.

    By quick definition, a Mary Sue is a character inserted to resemble, on some level, the author, and is smarter, stronger, funnier (optional), and cooler than any other characters. The Guitar Slayer considers this a bad thing. Ergo, the Guitar Slayer motivation is to avoid a thwacking by making dear Felix not godlike by writing how he can't just stroll in and kick everybody's arse who opposes him (although, subtlely, that's exactly what he's doing). Whether or not you agree with this assessment is not the point.
    :evil::D:D

    The point was that I wanted to point out a shallow but mildly humorous observation.;) Carry on, my duckies.:p
     
  11. The Guitar Slayer

    The Guitar Slayer 1965 to Eternity

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    Heh. I'm an internet cult figure based upon my critiques of Mary Sues on little Ol' TZ. Fascinating.

    Any rate, I generally don't advocate the use of Mary Sues because, frankly, they're a shortcut to thinking. "Oh, it's believable because that person is ME. SEriously."

    I have thrown up one or two Mary Sue tests in the past, and will continue to do so, being as by virtue of taking the test, it makes you think about your character and your motivations behind writing this.

    So please, don't take this the wrong way. I would hate have anyone engaged in a debate with me to be made kraven by the idea of the mod thing...

    The misspelling was intentional. I'm watching.
     
  12. Oh look I'm...

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    Truthfully, it's not just you. Remembering the whole "Draco's Love" incident, SilverKnight and klammed pointed out his use of a Mary Sue as well. The slaying of guitars, however, sounds like a much scarier motivational thing that the others, which is why I figured your name attached to this was the most befitting.;) :evil: :p
    You know, I find that you say that to be quite interesting. Recently, I took an English class where we were reviewing an Hispanic female author--the name escapes me at the moment. What was weird was that this woman only wrote (and I mean, only) about her life and her experiences. Each one of her books or short stories featured her (or a character like her) as the protagonist. Every other character in the story utterly loved or was fond of her (the protagonist character), and she seemed smarter and more adept for solving life's problems than anyone.

    When we went over that in class, I remember how much certain people disliked the concept of a Mary Sue. However, many well-known and successful authors have done this self-inserting technique (maybe not in a fanfiction, but still) and were commended for it. Some people praised their writing as being "amazingly self-inflective" or whatnot; some readers loved the way the characters were written. And, here's another interesting point: her character overcame every adversity like it was NOTHING--or, at least, it seemed like nothing.

    What I find interesting is that this technique is okay when writing original fiction but is terribly scorned at in fanfictions. At some level, that baffles me entirely. So, like I said, I wanted to point out a shallow but mildly humorous observation: fanfiction authors MUST go out of their way to write a character with blatant flaws and weakness, rather than simply writing from their hearts and souls. Of course, "The Bad Seeds" is not a fanfiction, so I'm not even sure if this ramble applies here.:sweat:

    EDIT: It should be noted that the aforementioned Hispanic female author did not write her fiction to describe "a perfect life," as the above comments imply, but rather her experiences growing up as an Hispanic in a English-speaking culture, the United States.
     
    #292 Oh look I'm..., Mar 1, 2007
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  13. The Guitar Slayer

    The Guitar Slayer 1965 to Eternity

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    The thing is, people try to pass Mary Sues off as awesome, "totally not based on me" characters or try to throw in stuff like "she...has one eye! yes, one eye!" in order to give them a minor flaw so as offer a counter argument again being Mary Sue.

    If you're going to give someone a flaw, it would best be a believable one and one that does affect the character's relationships. Everyone being jealous of them because of the awesomeness is not a flaw -- it's bad writing. Not everyone in the original universe loves each other unconditionally (unless it's Care Bears or My Little Pony), so why would there be absolute harmony with this new person? Or, why would a normally stoic character ditch their stone facade in order to get jiggy with this new person while they can't even tolerate the presence of their friends of many years at times?

    http://www.springhole.net/quizzes/marysue.htm

    Never can have too many of these lying around. I think I should make it part of my sig.

    As for the authoress you describe, if it's autobiographical, then yes, everything is "Mary Sue" by quiz standards, but she would be the main character anyway. That doesn't really apply to original works; of course the protagonist is going to be a quasi-Mary Sue by default. That said, there can be some original fic characters that are disgustingly Mary Sueish versus characters that, while based on real people, don't grate. There is a different and a line between them. You may not see it as such, but when readers comment/complain about it, it is a concern. The quizzes I supplied in the past are brainfood -- something to gnaw on a bit to consider. Outrightly rejecting them is like rejecting feedback from a live subject. There is some basis in every criticism, no matter how cutting it may come out to be.

    It is more forgivable to say, "Yep. It's me, super-pimped. Read if you want" than to deny deny deny.
     
  14. ArtificialIdiot

    ArtificialIdiot Doktor Aies

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    Wow, I come back after a bit of an absence to find that this thread has turned into something of a debate on Mary Sue's. :eek:

    Well, I'll read up on that later! First the story. Sadly this is more a random list of things that made me smile than an in-depth critique, but hey it's probably what you've come to expect from me anyway :)

    First thing's first, I think you sell yourself short. ;) What could indeed be average is saved by the main character himself, Felix's wry observations during the whole team building 'Yeah! We can do this!!!' scene are golden! Especially 'This is so f**king stupid.' As much as the last few chapers highlighted the simularities between Gunslinger and Felix, this one highlights their differences. Especially in approaching a problem and their confidence in themselves - They both have it, it's just one's an optimist and one's a realist.

    I also love the way he mulls over not having a collective name, that made me smile, especially the way it was put! It makes it sound like they're going down the pub, not fighting evil robots.

    The fight outside, inside or around a museum is a classic super hero staple, I never quite understood why though. And the sheer amount of damage done to our history and culture by both sides always makes me die a little inside (drastic, I know - But I am a history student!). I suppose super heroes, by their nature, are a very out with the old, in with the new concept - So it makes sense for them to constantly defile history.

    One thing that did take me off guard, but is in no way a bad thing, is the reference to the 'the huge parade hall Newton showed me this morning', mainly because of the time stamp. It's easy to forget how much has happened in one day, and being reminded kinda put things into perspective.

    And I'm always a fan of the word 'Murderised', it's right up there with 'killed to death!'. Plus points for Ghost! And welcome back to Miss Vert, always turning up where she's not wanted. :p

    As a PS, in regards mybeing gun-savvyness - It pays to know at least some of your stuff when writing things like Happy and Slitch. True there wasn't much gun porn or fire fights in the first story (there was going to be, but I skillfully avoided them to get the ending I wanted) but they'll come. It's Shadow, they *have* to come! ;) Although, Felix firing the M16 (proven in the story to be the worlds heaviest paperweight! :D) shows that you're not so bad yourself! Don't you just hate people in films and on TV who are instant master marksman and never seem to worry about kickback?
     
  15. Oh look I'm...

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    Yeah, about that quiz, I found out that its definition is pretty wide. More like, "See if you're character is NOT a mary sue!!1!" Heck, I even put in Lex Luthor from Smallville, and he's one too.:sweat: Generally speaking, the name alone puts you in the red, which I think is unreasonable, to a certain extent. I mean, many authors use their own names and shouldn't get condemned for it (Laura Ingalls Wilder comes to mind).

    Basically, for all intents and purposes, reading a "Mary-Sue" becomes a problem for me when the character rocks at absolutely everything. I may or may not have a problem with the character hooking up with a canon character, but that really depends on the context.:sweat: I don't see the big issue with "having a sordid past", but I guess you might because it's something that you've come across more or less a million times, which is more than enough reason to be irritated with it, rather than simply seeing anything cool with a "gut reflex" of proclaiming it a "Mary Sue" because it fouls up in just one of the categories.

    Anyhooz, that's pretty much all I have to say on the subject. I'm far more interested in seeing new chapters of The Bad Seeds than discussing the theoretical probability of finding Mary Sues in literature, original or fan fiction notwithstanding.
     
  16. Matt A

    Matt A Smile. Or Else.

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    Y'know, it's always nice for someone to use your thread as an excuse to philosophise. Or at least have an intelligent discussion.:D

    Still, I'm afraid I don't have much to contribute to this one, as most of my thoughts on Mary Sues have already been covered here. For the most, I don't really mind MSs, as a person who has achieved God-like perfection can have some good story potential: for example, if they suddenly develop a weakness, or if they find an equally-perfect rival, or even if they're not God at all but are just making everyone think they are, etc etc. There's a lot of stuff you can do there, if you put your mind to it.

    My own problem here, I suppose, is when people create MSs just because they want to be super-powerful and super-cool, and they feel fiction is their only method of achieving that. I mean, you'd be better off taking a few martial-arts lessons, or learning some decent pick-up lines, or something else that would be of benefit to your own person: otherwise, it's like just watching sports on TV, when you could be out there playing them and having some fun.

    'Course, MSs are something of a grey area anyways. I mean, I put Felix through the Litmus Test that Guitar Slayer linked, and he came out with a score of about 38. Considering how much fun I get out of torturing him, I wouldn't really call him a Mary Sue.:sweat:

    Anyway, that's about the only particularly intelligent, or at least seemingly intelligent, things that I have to say on this subject. But I have some other things I need to reply to, so let's get to that.

    Pretty much, yeah. And besides, general observations are easier to reply to.:D

    Well, on my understanding, 90% of all artists (as a profession, not as a talent) think they're crap. And the ones that don't usually are crap. Still, I thank you for your appreciation, however misguided it may be.:p:D

    Anyway, Felix's observations. Though I do like rubbing him on the grindstone, if only because it's funny, one thing I will always appreciate about Felix is that he always has something to say. If there's something cynical, bizarre, disgusting or otherwise unhelpful, I can have him come out with it, and everyone finds it funny. It's great.:D:evil:

    I'd say they're both realists, for a certain value of the term. The way I see it, it's simply that Gunslinger has a very strong moral code, and whilst this often makes him antagonistic and destructive, he can always be relied upon to keep fighting; Felix, on the other hand, barely has a moral code at all, which doesn't make him loyal or corageous, but does make sure he'll come out of most situations in one piece. However, whilst they both looked at this fight and saw two completely different things - the former that they might just win, and the latter that they didn't stand a chance - what unites them is that they both knew it had to be fought.

    It's quite an interesting dilemma, really. I mean, the fight was won by Angel going nuts and nearly caving in the roof...but if she hadn't done this, all nine of them might've died. The question is, as it always is, when does the price of survival become too high?

    Yeah, I kinda liked that detail too. I've always found it a little annoying that Felix, Newton, Ghost and Shockwave have never had their own group name: always using "us four" or "me and my three mates" is starting to get a little cumbersome. I'm not sure why I haven't done something about it yet, on account of being the author an' all, but there you go. Either way, I got to have Felix address it, which is something.:)

    I'd never realised that museum fights were that common. I suppose it's the different types of rooms and objects you get, variety being the spice of life an' all that, or maybe just the extreme level of property destruction. I'm not a history student, but it is still a subject I'm very interested in, so yeah, continuous blowing up of ancient artifacts does annoy me as well. As I had Felix (kinda) comment.:crying:

    And besides, the Omega Force aren't known for being restrained. After all, they did tear up a ten-mile stretch of the M4, and a large part of Westminster tube station. And let's not even start on the Academy...;)

    I suppose it is kinda odd. Four months has gone by before we reach chapter eight, and the last third of the story is set across just over twelve hours: not exactly consistent, I admit. Still, this is the structure I chose.:shrug:

    Indeed. 'Murderised' and 'killed to death' are two of my favourite terms.:D

    Double indeed. After a building-trashing duel with five Claw-Bots, having two of the Academy's worst nutcases be holding the fort is about the only way to make things worse. And rest assured, I have plans for this one...:evil:

    Personally, I just file that kind of thing under "suspension of disbelief". Still, considering some of the comments you've made, I thought it the decent thing to honour the complexities of firearms at this juncture. And the idea of Felix being so excited about getting to play with guns, only for him to cause more damage when he actually threw it, was just too funny to pass up.:p:D

    -Matt A-
     
  17. Matt A

    Matt A Smile. Or Else.

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    This here, believe it or not, is my next chapter. Frankly, I've given up apologising over taking so long with these: it's pretty much a fact now that I just can't write often enough. Maybe once uni's over for this year and I'm in the summer holiday, I'll be able to work faster, but I ain't holding out much hope. Still, I have a chapter for you all now, and that's something.:)

    This is the fourth Lost Chapter, set between chapters twenty-four ("Only Fools And Heroes") and twenty-five ("That Hollow Feeling"). I've called it Chapter G rather than Chapter D simply 'cause it was supposed to be placed later in the sequence, but because of something that I wanted to include in chapter thirty-six, I thought I'd bump it up to here instead. And I kept the old letter for no other reason than that I could.

    As for the actual content, I'll say only one thing: this is very, very strange.

    Well, that's all from me. Enjoy...


    Lost Chapter G: Needles pt. III

    Partly because it’s interesting, but mostly because I just can’t think of anything better, I shall kick off this chapter with a paradox: Max the Londoner says that “all Londoners are liars”. I imagine you’ve figured this one out already, but I need to fill some space, so I’ll explain it anyway.

    Think about it this way. If Max is a Londoner, and all Londoners are liars, then that makes him a liar too, and so he’s lying about all Londoners being liars. This means that, being a Londoner too, he isn’t lying, and so all Londoners are liars…but this means that he’s then a liar, and so he’s lying about all Londoners being liars. Ergo, the whole sequence begins again, and finds itself trapped in the never-ending circle of its own cleverness. There is a solution, if you’re tricksy enough with words to spot it, but my point kinda depends on this paradox going unsolved, so I won’t mention it.

    And my point? Just this once, I do have one, but I’ll leave you to figure it out for yourselves. Here’s a hint: I didn’t mention this paradox just because it’s a paradox.

    Now that’s out the way, I can get onto something a little less vague and annoying. I’m currently, as in “right this second”, holding a fairly large house party down at Roehampton Lane. Yes, in a house I don’t own, but what exactly do you expect? Anyway, things are turning out pretty good: Newton, Ghost and Shockwave are here, along with a dozen or so Academy people they know, and a dozen or so Roehampton Uni people I know. Seeing as I’m a fake Uni student, I can’t have any of the Roehampton people know I live here rather than on-campus – many real students live off-campus, admittedly, but I’m taking no chances – so I’m having Ghost pretend the house is his. He’s cool with this, partly ‘cause people tend to believe a guy with superpowers, but mostly ‘cause the host always gets so much more attention.

    (As for the Academy people, the ones who know me from before…well, we’ve just been careful to invite only those few who wouldn’t automatically f**k me over. If anything happens, then that’s fine: you can only plan so much.)

    Don’t worry, this chapter isn’t one long party description. As the title hints at, this is about one very particular thing, and I intend to skip the party stuff and go right for it.

    So, here’s the deal. It’s about half-past eleven, and the party is reaching its apex. The music is blaring, the drink is flowing, the guests are meeting and flirting, all is generally happy and fun. The neighbours in their equally big and posh houses are unlikely to be impressed, but Ghost has been told what to say if they come round with pitchforks – he’s a paid house-sitter for the owners, and they authorised this party before they left – and by the time anyone puts two and two together to make three, even I will be long gone from here. Like I said, all is fun in the world.

    The 10’ mahogany dining table, probably worth a few bob, is being used to hold all the drinks. We’re operating a “bring your own” policy, and the guests have sure as hell delivered: there’s two or three bottles of pretty much every alcoholic beverage you can name, and a smattering of non-alcoholic ones too (letting the side down, really). I take one of the clear plastic glasses from the mountain next to the drinks, and pour myself a vodka and apple juice. It’s a very nice drink, actually. I leave the house, with ¾ of the party’s crowd and music, walking through the open patio doors into the much quieter garden.

    It’s a very nice garden. It’s a square of about fifty feet, high-walled on each side, split into thirds with the raised patio, well-kept lawn and wildlife pond. There’s long flower beds lining the edges, filled with a variety of random flowers I can’t name, and a thirty-foot pine tree in the back left corner. It reminds me a little of the garden my parents have, but I don’t mind that very much: gardening is one thing they can do well.

    I walk over to the back of the garden, and the wooden bench sat on the far side of the pond. There’s another person sat on it already, a girl, but she isn’t someone I recognise. I sit down next to her, and start quietly sipping at my drink. It’s cold and dark, but I’ve never been one to care about either of those. Everyone inside the house carries on partying, a nice little spectacle to…well, spectate.

    After about a minute, in which the girl doesn’t even react to my presence, something very unsettling suddenly occurs to me. This girl is quite short and bony, looking not much over fourteen-fifteen, with messy brown hair down to her waist. She’s wearing dark blue jeans and a shapeless grey cardigan, and it’s this that catches my attention: if this girl is who I think she is, then the last time I saw her, she was wearing something very different. And if she’s who I think she is, then she’s…

    “Magick?”

    The girl turns and looks at me blankly. This doesn’t bode well, and it bodes even less well when, a few seconds later, she smiles.

    “Yup, it’s me.” she says. “Hard to believe, isn’t it?”

    Yes, especially seeing as she’s yet to inflict major Grievous Bodily Harm on my arse. I think this might already be her personal best.

    Still, I’m not about to say that.

    “Well…” I say. “it is a bit…you know…weird. You know, the-”

    “The shockingly normal get-up? The fact that I haven’t tried to kill you yet?”

    I nod dumbly. “Well…yeah.”

    Magick smiles again. “I know. What can I say? I felt like a change.”

    “A change.”

    “Yeah. I’m allowed one of those, aren’t I?”

    Mr/mrs/ms/miss reader person, is this confusing you as much as it’s confusing me? ‘Cause even my meta-fictional overlord narratory aspect can’t make sense of this.

    (And whilst I’m still thinking about it, why do women get three different titled to choose from? It seems a little greedy, if you ask me.)

    “Yeah, you are.” I say after a pause. “It’s just a bit unexpected. I mean, I didn’t even know you were coming tonight…speaking of which, why are you here?”

    Magick nods. “I heard about this on the grapevine, and I thought I’d crash. I hope you don’t mind.”

    Right.

    I suddenly realise I’m still holding my drink, and take a chug to compensate. A little bit spills out from the sides, going down my chin. Magick laughs: not the insane, “I’m going to eat your children” laughter she usually does, but something genuinely joyful, almost child-like. I’d be embarrassed if only this wasn’t so f**king weird.

    I nod back. “Why would I? The more, the merrier.”

    I pause, not sure of how to say what I want to say next.

    “F**k, I’ll just be honest about this. Have you had a complete personality change or something? The last time we met, you were a little…well, insane.”

    Magick smiles a third time, almost a grin. “Yeah, I know. I just woke up last week and thought, “what the hell am I doing?” I’m eighteen years old, and I’m still playing with dolls, and still dressing up. It’s for different ends, I admit, but all the same, I should be beyond that kind of stuff by now.

    “And you know what? How many friends did I have as a result? There was the three – now two – people I lived with, but I think that was only because we had to see each other every day. Take it from me, Wildfire, being a psychotic, pain-loving hell-b*tch doesn’t make you very popular.”

    I could’ve told her that ages ago.

    “Hence the new you.” I say.

    “Exactly.”

    “So it’s been a big week for you, then.”

    “That’s an understatement.”

    “And how’s it going so far, if you don’t mind my asking?”

    “Not too bad.” she says with a laugh. “Most people are the same as you. You know, not sure if they’re hallucinating all this. But it’s completely real, and I have to say, I’m definitely feeling better about myself.”

    I’d never imagined Magick to be the secretly-self-loathing type. But in case this is a hallucination after all, I shan’t ask.

    Finally, there’s silence. I finish my drink, of which there wasn’t much left anyway, and put the glass down behind the bench leg. Whilst almost forgotten about in that conversation, the party inside is going strong as ever. They’ve just switched from some random indie-rock balls (Kaiser Chiefs, if memory serves) to a bit of hardcore Roni Size. Niiice…

    After a few minutes, Magick slowly exhales, as if preparing herself for something.

    “I forgive you.” she says. “For stealing my dolls. I was pissed at the time, but as you can tell, I’m not the same person now as I was a month ago. Besides, you’ve already received a little more punishment than I would like.

    “And for what it’s worth, everyone knows you didn’t kill Psyker. You were just doing something you had to do, and things didn’t go according to plan. Accidents happen.”

    “Thanks.”

    “Don’t mention it.”

    Truth be told, that does mean a lot to me. Psyker’s death is one of many things that’s been playing on my mind as of late. For more details, see the next chapter.

    “So,” I ask, “are you pretty much a Good Person now?”

    Magick laughs. “Hell no! I’m still with the Academy. I’ve just been looking for a new alias, that’s all. I’ve always liked circuses, so maybe something from there. Knife-throwing, perhaps. As for a new name, I’ve always liked ‘Curtis’ myself. It just sounds kinda cool, no?”

    “Yeah, it kinda does.”

    I’m still feeling a little weirded-out by all this. Only three months ago, this chick tried to murder me, and now we’re having an intelligent, mature conversation. Anyone care to explain?

    There’s one question left to ask, so I ask it. “Do you know what happened to Scratch? I heard from the grapevine that you did her in.”

    “Wildfire, you can hear anything from the grapevine. I didn’t do anything to her. I heard that she left over girlfriend trouble.”

    I raise an eyebrow. “I didn’t know she was a lesbian.”

    “That was the trouble.”

    “Oh.”

    There’s another few seconds of silence. The one who eventually breaks it is me.

    “Do you want to go inside and get a drink? I don’t know about you, but I need an urgent alcohol injection.”

    Magick, or Curtis, smiles once more. It almost feels normal now. “Yeah, sure. Why not?”

    I don’t think you need to see the rest of this scene. I’ve given you what you need to know, so instead, I shall just provide you with a final thought. You know that paradox I provided at the start? Well, I still don’t intend to tell you how that relates to all this Magick/Curtis sh*t, ‘cause you should’ve figured it out by now. It’s not terribly difficult: you just need to realise that I included it, not just because of the linguistic trickeries, but because of the topic it used. That’s all I’ll tell you. ‘Cause if you can’t think for yourself, then frankly, what the f**k are you worth?

    Perhaps that’s the point.
     
  18. ArtificialIdiot

    ArtificialIdiot Doktor Aies

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    Well, the paradox certaintly is interesting! I think I know the solution to it, but it sounds a wee bit too simple (as all my solutions to these kinds of things do, and they always turn out to be wrong :p) and you said it didn't matter, so I'll leave it at that.

    The change is an intriguing one, and I can't help but feel it's an ominous moment for our Felix - Especially because this Psycho ***** has been tormenting him since pretty much day one! Is this a genuine change? Is it just a form of mental torture to confuse everyone and worm into thier good books, wreaking havoc from within? An important plot point? A casual throw-away, character building referance? Only time will tell - I just hope it tells sooner rather than later.

    As for how the paradox links into the story, I think I got that too... Although Felix might be right and I'm not worth a ****, but then, can't believe everything you hear on the grapevine. ;)

    And yeah, what is the difference between miss and ms. anyway? I had a teacher who insisted on 'Ms.', but I never saw the difference...
     
  19. Matt A

    Matt A Smile. Or Else.

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    Actually, if we’re thinking along the same lines, then you are right (which is obvious, but whatever). Like Felix said, the solution is pretty simple, if you can think about it the right way.

    Well, this where I have to make a confession: I have no idea how the paradox ties in. I think I did when I first wrote it, but once I finished the chapter, I’d totally forgotten. I’ve re-read it a few times, but no, I don’t think the memory’s coming back…which is why I had Felix be so damn vague about it. He can be so handy sometimes.:p

    And no, the grapevine can’t be trusted.;)

    Actually, she only tortured him the once. It just happened to be highly memorable.;)

    But that’s irrelevant. Yes, that discussion was supposed to be ominous, but perhaps not in the biggest sense: it was supposed to be an extra kicker for Felix’s subsequent conscience-wrangling, giving extra ammo to the idea that being a bastard ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. So yes, it’s ominous, but only as a package with all the other omens…if that makes any sense.

    Don’t worry, it shall come sooner: right now, in fact. Truth be told, it’s mostly the last point: to give Magick another scene before the end, and also a bit more personality beyond “psycho sadist witch”. That, and it was funny.

    And considering how enigmatic I like to be, why am I being so direct about it? Because, as the above explanation indicates, it’s not a big point. The more I’d fuel your speculations, the more annoyed you’d (probably) get when you found out the weren’t relevant. Again, it’s one of those elements I threw in for “background texture”, not to mention the joke.

    The way I’ve been told, the issue is that “miss” and “mrs” are signs of marital status, and some women (or many: I’m not sure of the numbers involved) feel that marriage isn’t a relevant part of how they should be addressed. Hence “ms”, a mid-point between the two titles. But, of course, whilst ms doesn’t necessarily indicate whether you’re single/married, it’s often a give-away that you’re either a jaded divorcee or an anal-retentive.

    Everything has a catch, after all.;)

    -Matt A-
     
  20. Matt A

    Matt A Smile. Or Else.

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    Hello there, one and all. Just when you thought it was safe to come out from behind the sofa, here I am again.:evil:

    You know, I can't quite believe it's been six months since my last chapter. There's no particularly complex explanation for the epic delay: I just ran full-on into a major-league case of writer's block. The kind where it takes a whole day just to write a simple e-mail, and spending six hours playing computer Solitaire seems preferable to the story you actually want to write. In the end, I guess I just gave up trying to do something about it.:sad:

    This also explains why I haven't dropped in reviews for anything for so long. I offer my most humble apologies for that one. I'll try and resolve the issue soon-ish, but I don't want to promise anything these days.

    But anyway, I'm here for other things. As you can probably guess, I finally got my finger out last night and finished off another chapter. The first 2/3 had been sat in my hard drive for the last few months, but like I said, it's taken me this long to work up enough enthusiasm to do the rest. It must be said, it does feel good to have achieved something at long last.:D

    Still, the chapter. I have to admit, it probably doesn't quite justify my half-year absence, but never mind. It's another Lost Chapter, and more of a collection of semi-related incidents than an actual cohesive narrative: must like The Bad Seeds itself, really. Nevertheless, I think it has some charm to it.:)

    Seeing how none of this makes a jot of sense to me, you can definitely tell how long I've been away. But you know what? I'm here to post another chapter, and there's been enough ceremony already. Let's just get this show back on the road...



    Lost Chapter D: Rock, Meet Hard Place

    You know, it’s nice to be popular. Sounds obvious, I admit, but if there’s one thing I’ve learnt, it’s that some people treasure anonymity more. People can be strange like that. But I guess it doesn’t matter here, ‘cause personally – and hey, I’m what this little speech is all about – I can’t get enough of being Man of the Hour. A psychologist would say that’s because I have a pathological need for attention, but I disagree: I just like being liked, being respected, being counted for something. Not so much having the spotlight on me, but more having contributed what’s on the stage. If that makes any sense…

    …And even if it doesn’t, I shan’t elaborate. I have other things to cover.

    For example, Ghost. Four days ago, as you’ve noticed, he kinda beat the living sh*t out of me. I guess I should be annoyed about this, but I’m not, and there’s three reasons for this. 1: there’s no lasting damage. The bruises have already faded, and my broken nose will be healed by the weekend, so this isn’t a fight that will stay with me in that sense. 2: I know Ghost very well, or at least as well as anyone knows anyone round here, and I know he wasn’t being malicious about what he did. He’s just a very…emotional guy, and he’s a natural at getting carried away. I can forgive him.

    And 3: I’m still popular. Which is weird, I know, as for people like us, getting so soundly thrashed is supposed to make you a joke. But just like Newton and Mr Kensington, I seem to have achieved the Teflon Effect here, ‘cause not a single f**ker cares. This is an anomaly I’ve thought about a little, and here’s the way I see it: I stacked up an absurd amount of Man Points when I beat the Omega Force (and I still don’t know how I managed that), and seeing how an invisible man is so difficult to fight, losing to Ghost hasn’t used up very many. I mean, I’m still the guy who took down five superheroes single-handedly.

    Oh yes, and there’s also 4: Psyker and Mr David, the only two people seriously unhappy with me, have taken my recent defeat as a sign to get off my back. They’re still jealous of my popularity, I can tell, but now they’ve seen I’m not quite such a jammy git, there isn’t such a need to keep my ego caged up. Okay, it’s only been four days, so not hearing from them doesn’t necessarily mean anything, but I prefer to think more optimistically. I don’t need enemies like those two.

    Either way, life is now officially Good. Which, as I shall now point out, leads to its own problems.

    Here’s how it is. This is Wednesday night down the Rose, and like the other hundred-odd people packing out the joint, I’m here for the same reason as always: to get indecently drunk, and then pull some fit chicks. ‘Nuff said. My usual drinking companions of Newton, Ghost and Shockwave are off doing other things (the latter two are bowling, I think), so tonight, I’m sharing my corner table with someone a little more unexpected. Her name, which may or may not ring a bell, is Miss Louise White, and she is my Psychology lecturer.

    Before you say anything, yes, I know how dodgy this sounds. But don’t worry: round here, student-lecturer relationships are strictly encouraged.

    So, who is this Miss White? She’s in her early 30s, pretty in a hard-to-pin-down way, and whilst skinny, has got that way through exercise rather than not eating. If you want to get picky, the only thing that detracts from her looks is that she’s blind in one eye – she’s never explained why, though the funniest theory is that she was in a duel with a snow leopard – and whilst I’m not about to mock the disabled, that pink-grey orb of hers is really creepy. Looks-wise, the only other things of note are that she’s one of the very few attractive red-heads, and even when sat in the Rose, she has a thing for suits sharp enough to cut air. It’s an odd collection of traits, I know, but there’s no denying she’s a good-looking woman.

    Personality-wise, she’s a whole other matter. As befits someone who teaches con tricks for a living, Miss White is so completely twisted that she can probably see the back of her own head. She isn’t unpleasant, just immensely cunning, and sure as hell not someone to lock horns with. As I’ve already learned to my cost – an incident I shall explain another time – if she wants you for something, you can bet it’s more than she lets on. So why she’s taken a seat at my table, I don’t know, but it’ll be interesting finding out.

    Okay, I’m now officially Rambling. Let’s leave all this introductory sh*t – it’s been over 800 words, after all – and get to the good stuff. We’ll see what Miss White has to say for herself…

    “Here’s the really funny thing.” The Rose, busy as ever, is filled with a pea-souper of overlapping conversations, but her delightful lilt is easy enough to hear over the din. Miss White’s voice, like her suit, is razor-sharp, the kind of refined English accent that turns 90% of men into love-struck puddles. I imagine she knows this, and uses it regularly: it’s certainly working on me.

    “Society is filled with protective figures. Policemen, soldiers, doctors, teachers, firemen, security guards, journalists, superheroes…even politicians, to a certain extent…their job is to watch over the “common people”, to make sure that the world runs as it should, and if anything does go wrong, that it is dealt with quickly and with little fuss. They’re the watchmen, the guardians of moral and legal order.

    “But then again…doctors let patients die untreated, because they care more about lowering waiting lists; soldiers go crazy and massacre civilians, because no one told them how hard their job is; journalists write about the Beckhams’ dietary plans rather than the sh*t we need to know, because their retarded readers would rather read the gentle stuff; policemen let the murders and rapists run free, because the paperwork takes too long to fill in; politicians court rent boys and take backhanders from businessmen, because they’d rather go mad with power than do the governing that’ll keep them at the top. And superheroes…well, f**k, have you seen the amount of sh*t the Omega Force blow up just to stop one bank robber in a silly outfit?”

    Well, yes.

    Miss White takes a large gulp of her drink, a tar-black Guinness. I really don’t know how people drink that sh*t.

    “Or, to put it a simpler way…who watches the watchmen?”

    I don’t give an answer. Not just because it’s a rhetorical question, but also because it’s Miss White: I can guarantee this isn’t her big point.

    Lo and behold, she carries on talking. “That’s why our job is always the best one to have. We’re not the watchmen. In fact, we’re the exact opposite of watchmen. We’re the ones who destroy, who cheat, steal and kill. The watchmen have it so bad because everyone expects them to be noble, the one thing they struggle at, but no one expects us to be anything other than complete and utter bastards. Aside from, I don’t know…child molestation, we can’t do anything that will genuinely appal people, ‘cause they’ll just go “oh, they’re villains, they’re supposed to rob banks and blow up buildings”. Unlike the local council who lets someone build a hundred houses on that nice field across from you, in return for a healthy cut of the eventual sale profits, we’re not betraying anyone’s trust when we do things we really shouldn’t.”

    I feel I should contribute something here. “So the only way is up, basically.”
    Miss White smiles. This only increases my hope that, once this monologue is over, her grand plan for me is lots of sex.

    “Exactly.” she says. “Because everyone expects us to behave appallingly, we villains are free to do what we like, and how we like to do it. Our job, simply put, is the one where you’ll most likely to be happy.”

    There’s a few seconds of silence, and then Miss White takes another sip of her Guinness. She appears to have made her point, at least for now.

    And, frankly, it wasn’t worth the wait. I’ve heard this “hedonism-as-imperative’ thing before – it’s my own philosophy, for starters – and you don’t need to spend ten minutes getting to that f**king point. But I won’t raise this issue, if only because potential sex is on the line.
    On the other hand, her speech must have interested me more than I thought, because it’s only now that I realise my own glass is empty. Seeing as I usually chain-drink on these kinds of evenings, being so utterly oblivious to a lack of alcohol is just plain unnatural. I must rectify this situation, immediately.

    I push my chair back a little way, then stand up. “I’m going for another drink. You want one?”

    Well, it’s only polite.

    Miss White smiles again. “Yeah, sure. Thankyou. Another Guinness, please.”

    “It’s coming right up.”

    I thread my way through the crowds towards the bar. As usual for this time of night, it’s pretty rammed, with at least three times more people than chairs. It’s not sardine-can busy, not quite anyway, but you definitely notice how busy it is. I’d go into more detail, but frankly, this isn’t exactly relevant to the story at hand.

    So I’ll skip on.

    I eventually get to the bar. Surprisingly, it’s fairly empty at the moment, with only a dozen or so people propping it up. I join their ranks, leaning over the wooden bar-top in that time-honoured Trying To Catch The Barman’s Eye style. Even with three bartenders (only one is male, so barman is a misnomer) and only twelve customers, getting noticed is harder than it appears.

    After thirty seconds or so of waiting, someone calls my name. Over the noise of everyone else, not to mention the ever-present jukebox (this time, some vanilla R‘n’B number I can’t place), I only just hear it.

    “Hey, Wildfire.”

    I turn to the right, where the sound came from. Standing a few feet down the bar is yet another person I wasn’t expecting to see tonight: Scratch. She looks much the same as always, the only change to her last appearance being a Nightwish T-shirt rather than a Slipknot one. What she wants with me, I’ve no idea, as with only one notable (and already noted) exception, we’ve kept our distance from each other since we first met.

    “Er, hi.”

    Scratch walks closer, until we’re side-by-side. She’s already holding a drink, a pint of a beer I can’t identify (it says Heineken on the glass, but that doesn’t mean anything). She takes a big gulp, then puts it down on the bar.

    “You do realise Miss White’s trying to pull you, don’t you?”

    This doesn’t surprise me, for two reasons. The first is that being blunt is kinda Scratch’s raison d’etre. The second should be a little more obvious.

    “That’s pretty much what I was banking on, yes.”

    Scratch smiles. It’s not quite so beguiling as Miss White’s grin, but it’s still pretty. “Just making sure. She’s obviously put a lot of hard work into this subtle approach of hers, considering what happened when she tried a direct one.” I haven’t forgotten, and sadly, I think I never will. “I’d hate to see her efforts go unacknowledged.”

    Based on her tone, I think she’s being genuine with that comment. However, her choice of words rings a few alarm bells…

    “Scratch, what are you trying to say?”

    She rests a gloved hand on my arm, which would be a pleasing gesture for anyone but her. I won’t brush it off, for a variety of reasons.

    “Well, let’s just say…I have a vested interest in how your conversation turns out.”

    “Who for? Me or her?”

    Scratch laughs, almost derisively. “You, of course.”

    She lowers her arm just as one of the two barwomen stops by. I don’t know her name, but she’s young, blonde and fit as f**k, so the rest doesn’t much matter.

    “What can I get you, hon?”

    Sadly, her Sarf Larndarn accent is fingernails-on-a-blackboard. I guess you can’t have everything.

    “Er…a pint of Fosters, please.”

    “Sure, hon.”

    The barwoman heads off to the nearest dispenser, and I turn back to the puzzle that is Scratch. By this point, it’s pretty obvious what she wants, but I’ve absolutely no idea why: if it was anyone else, I wouldn’t push my luck and ask, but this girl is a special case.

    “Umm…” I pause for a second, gather my words. “Scratch, I was under the impression you still hated me.”

    Scratch smiles, touches my arm again. “I think I’ve been under-appreciating what you have to offer.”

    Yes, of course.

    You remember a few pages back, when I said that being Popular can be a problem? Well, this is one of the reasons why. The Academy being what it is, there’s a very high gold-digger contingent round here, and suddenly becoming successful turns you into honey to their bees. This mostly leads to lots of easy sex, which is okay with me, but these kinds of girls can turn very nasty when they think they’ve Caught you…and, of course, if you Turn Them Down, they’ll get even nastier. It’s a hassle I kinda don’t need.

    I think you can see where this is going. And, in a moment of realisation that hits my chest like a ram, so can I.

    Here’s how it is:

    1.Scratch is pulling me because she’s a gold-digger.
    2.Miss White is pulling me because, as is now all-too clear, she’s also a gold-digger.
    3.If I sleep with one, then by not making the contrary choice, I will offend the other. It would be suicidal to make an enemy of either.
    4.If I sleep with neither, then I will offend both. If they unite against me, I’m even more of a dead man.
    5.Whatever I do next, I’m f**ked.

    You get the general idea.

    Apparently, according to leading literary theory, I should go into more detail on this point. Describe my every thought, movement and sensory doohickey related to the predicament: give you 100%, 360º picture of everything that’s going on right here, right now. This is all well and good, creating greater reader immersion and all that, but honestly, I shall do no such thing. One, because it’s too much effort, and I really can’t be bothered, and Two, because this is the point where the barwoman returns with my drink.

    “Here you go, hon.”

    “Thanks.”

    The barwoman walks off. I pick up my Fosters and take a gulp. Frankly, alcohol is so much more important than description.

    This situation is starting to get awkward. Which is why I’m very grateful when my bladder gives me an escape plan.

    I turn to Scratch. “I need to take a piss. I’ll be right back.”

    She nods. “Sure. I’m not going anywhere.”

    Is that a promise or a threat? I shan’t ask.

    Leaving my pint on the bar, I turn and head off for the toilets. They’re in the far corner, the one opposite the exit, just down a short corridor. This corridor, unlike the rest of the pub, has a carpet, lots of reds, blacks and golds in a pattern that makes your brain go funny when you look at it. Or that could just be the alcohol. Anyway, I manage to keep my eyes away from it, quickly reaching the end, and the door that says “Gentlemen”.

    The toilet looks like any other pub PC, with the cheap white tiles, the low-power lightbulb, the large condom vender and other obligatories. The urinals are on the left, the sinks and hand driers on the right, and then the cubicles at the back: five of each, all cheap and grimy-looking. Also, this being a guy’s public lavvy, the scent of ill-aimed piss hangs heavy in the air. It doesn’t sit well on my brain.

    Considering how much money the Academy has, it’s a bit of a mystery why this place looks so horrible, but I won’t wonder too much. Maybe they just wanted it to look the part.

    I go over to the urinals, unzip my fly and do my stuff. It’s funny, but there are times when you don’t realise how badly you need to pee, until you actually start peeing.

    And then I hear it. There’s a noise from the middle cubicle, a long, loud and generally gratuitous snorting. Up until now, I thought I was alone in here, so it kinda makes me jump.

    No prizes for guessing what all the snorting was all about.

    You know, I’m amazed I haven’t discussed this subject yet. The Academy still being what it is, this place has quite a nice trade in exotic substances, the Head Shed quite often trucking in a lot of narcotics by itself. Cannabis and cocaine are the favourites, though you also can find plenty of ecstasy, amphetamines and LSD if you’re in the mood for it. There’s no particular legal or social stigma to it here (quite the opposite, in fact), so you won’t be surprised to find people skinning up, laying out or popping off, even in the oddest of circumstances. In lectures, for example, like my Science lecturer Mr Gregory. Even Ghost, not always regarded as cresting the social wave, is known to enjoy the odd line of the mystical white stuff.

    So why this cubicle guy, whoever he is, is snorting coke in a toilet is an unknown. He doesn’t exactly need to hide. But then again, some things are just a matter of habit.

    Personally, I’m not a big drug user. I’ve had a few spliffs, and there was that one experiment with MDMA, but that’s about all. Cocaine in particular has never really appealed: going through all the effort of getting some for a high that only last ten minutes, however good that high may be, doesn’t really strike me as worth it. And I’ll save heroin until I feel like going down the inevitable Tunnel Of Oblivion.

    But anyway. Aside from ganja and MDMA, I’ve kept away from narcotics. Where I come from is a fairly sleepy place, but all the same, I’ve seen too many people break themselves apart over the whole business. Sure, if I’m at a party, and there’s something exotic going around, then I won’t say no, but I’m in no hurry to go out and acquire myself a habit. I find it easy enough to just ignore the whole scene.

    ‘Sides, my drug of choice is a little more legal. As Lennon said, all I need is love…

    Just kidding. It’s alcohol, actually.

    Which brings me back to this “cokehead in a cubicle” situation. I finish peeing, zip up my fly. And it’s when I’m at the sink (always remember your etiquette, gentlemen) that the cubicle door opens. Walking out, calmly rubbing his nose, is Psyker.

    Oh god no.

    There’s no chance of avoiding him. Contrary to what you’d expect, my heart isn’t thumping, but only because it seems to have kinda stopped. I do my best to keep cool, but I’m fooling no motherf**ker.

    “Oh, hi.” Psyker says. He’s too calm, especially after just having snorted a line. “Having a nice night?”

    “Not too bad.” Luckily for me, no matter how scared I am, I can always get a word in. Plus, that’s a reply so standard as to be almost rote.

    “Good, good.” There’s a pause, like the cosmos itself taking a breath. I’m so going to die.

    “Tell me, Wildfire.” Psyker says, still too calm. “Have you ever seen a man get skinned alive?”

    What the f**k?

    “Er…can’t say I have, no.”

    Psyker smiles. Yup, I’m going to die. “Well, I have. Believe me, it’s very much overrated. ‘Course, I can’t speak for those on the receiving end, but, you know, it’s not terribly interesting. All the blood and screaming gets monotonous after a while.”

    The scary part is, it’s not hard to imagine Psyker learning this through active experience. Well, actually, the really scary part is imagining him demonstrating it on me, but you get the general idea.

    I suddenly realise that my hands are still under the running tap. Working on the basis that it’s best to just act nonchalant, I pull my hands away from the water, give them a shake and walk over to the drier. I press the button a few times, but no air. Figures.

    “My apologies.” Psyker says. “I find it so hard to hear over those things.”

    That figures too. And I’m still going to die.

    I won’t bother to question what this is all about. I know he’s only trying to intimidate me. Frankly, I’d rather not give him the satisfaction, but I’m not sure I have a choice.

    Psyker continues. “As I was saying…yes, skinning people alive. I don’t suggest you try it, Wildfire. For one thing, I’d hate to see you get in trouble with the Principal. I’m lucky that way, of course, what with my ability to pull the man’s brains out through his nose. But even so, that’s something you only get to do the once.”

    You’d only need to do it the once, motherf**ker.

    Psyker cracks another grin, something just totally wrong on every single possible level. “Ah, I just thought I’d share that with you. Have a nice night.”

    He walks off towards the main door. As he passes me, he puts a hand on my shoulder. I damn near jump through the roof.

    “I’ll be seeing you, Wildfire.”

    “Is that a threat or a promise?”

    It’s a second before I realise I just said that. Well, that’s it, I’m now definitely going to die. So long, cruel world.

    Psyker shrugs, retracts his hand. “Yes.”

    “Huh? That’s not an answer.”

    “Yes it is. Just not a particularly helpful one.”

    The lunatic supreme smiles once more, then leaves the room. After a few seconds’ careful breathing, in which I thank every deity I can name that I didn’t just meet a horrific end, I have another go with the drier. It still isn’t working, so I just wipe my hands on my T-shirt. Etiquette be damned.

    I leave the toilets myself, and head back out into the pub. The bustle and noise of the place, almost forgotten about on my loo-break, is like walking into a brick wall. There’s so much going on it almost hurts.

    Nevertheless, I take the time to give the pub a detailed scan. Thirty seconds’ careful looking tells me that Psyker has left the building, and at last, I can relax.

    Or not. Towards the end of my search, I notice that Scratch is still at the bar, gesturing at me to come over. I must admit, in all the excitement back in the toilets, my little who-shall-I-f**k-and-who-shall-I-annoy dilemma had totally slipped my mind. Joy of f**king joys: right now, this isn’t entirely the last thing I need – take a wild stab as to what that would be – but it’s awful close.

    But you know what? I don’t much care. Compared to what just happened to me, the whole business with her and Miss White is decidedly f**king trivial. I mean, I’ll annoy at least one of them either way, but if I do get a shag in tonight, all I’ll do is annoy Psyker, a nutter with both the motive and means to some appallingly gruesome things to me. I thought I’d got the man off my back, but evidently, no such luck.

    I give a friendly wave to Scratch, then walk off towards the exit. She scowls at me, but doesn’t follow. As I reach the door, I see Miss White, sat at her table on her lonesome. She gives me a smile, and I smile back, but don’t approach. I glance back at the bar to see Scratch already talking to another guy, some punk type. A guy in a black trenchcoat, holding a bottle of Corona, sits down at Miss White’s table.

    I turn and walk out the door. Yes, one and all, it's nice to be popular.
     

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