"Long Weekend": A Short Story

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"Long Weekend": A Short Story

Post by Robert Frazer on Fri 4 Dec 2009 - 23:15

"An emergency of unprecedented scale seizes the Agency when a cyborg goes missing. All leave is cancelled as the entire Agency descends on Milan- a city of fashion & art, and gutters & back-alleys too - to hunt for their errant ward, before Padania does..."

Normally I don't like to update stories in instalments and instead prefer to post them entire, but "Long Weekend" became a project much larger than I originally anticipated. I've been plugging away at it, to the detriment of other work, for over a fortnight now and it's sprawled out to over 20,000 words - rather than walloping you all over the head with an anvil of text, it's probably best to take a more gradual approach here!

Also, you might only be able to bear this story in small doses, because I have to say in all honest self-evaluation I'm not happy with it at all. It's rambling, there's too much dialogue, it's more an anthology of incidents than a coherent plot, and it gets very didactic in places. Still, I can't discard this after putting in the time, and if it crashes and burns at least it makes a bit of light.

As always, comments and criticism are much appreciated - and here, probably needed!

Fanfiction.net

Chapter One - Friday Morning

Chapter Two - Friday Afternoon

Chapter Three - Saturday

Chapter Four - Sunday

Chapter Five - Afterwards

DeviantArt

One - Friday Morning

Two - Friday Afternoon

Three - Saturday

Four - Sunday

Five - Afterwards

Enjoy!


Last edited by Robert Frazer on Mon 4 Jan 2010 - 19:52; edited 6 times in total

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Re: "Long Weekend": A Short Story

Post by Kiskaloo on Fri 4 Dec 2009 - 23:38

Solid opening. Good

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Re: "Long Weekend": A Short Story

Post by Professor Voodoo on Fri 4 Dec 2009 - 23:58

I'll echo Kisk here...I've gotten through the opening "noise" passage and I'm once again struck by how consistently good your narrative prose is...embarrassing for a dialogue specialist like myself.

I am aboard ship tonight, getting tossed around by bad weather, so I'm happy to have the rest to read in my rack when I knock off shift...
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Re: "Long Weekend": A Short Story

Post by Alfisti on Sat 5 Dec 2009 - 8:17

Excellent as always mate. I think my favorite part of it was actually just watching (reading? it felt like watching) how you had Lorenzo handle the different personalities in the briefing room. Somehow you had time for everyone but also managed to neatly convey the gravity of the situation.

It looks like being a very long weekend for all involved.

I'd love to add some form or criticism... but I always find it hard to pick holes in your work, though I do note the inner continuity nut making themselves felt again

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Re: "Long Weekend": A Short Story

Post by Professor Voodoo on Sat 5 Dec 2009 - 22:52

I read the first chapter last night, and I admit you've got me hooked. You've got a real "nail-biter" going on here, Robert.

Spoiler:
The introduction, what I called the "noise" passage, is loaded with great metaphor that sets a mood that's easy to relate to. We've all been awaked in that fog of half-consciousness that Lorenzo is feeling, and rudely been kicked into sensibility by some random crisis, usually something that will mean staying awake for the next 48 hours or more.
I'm not sure the apostrophe in front of the word "phone" (denoting that it is a contraction of telephone) is really necessary.

As the story shifts to the "lecture theatre" (I like that term) you have an entertaining, flirty exchange between Avise & Priscilla. Although the references to Italian products (Armani suits, Fatip shaving razors) seemed a bit tacked on I wish this exchange had been longer...I guess because I really like dialogue. On the other hand, making the exchange longer would have blown the rapid pace you have going.
When Lorenzo arrives the shift in point of view (from Avise to the Chief) is done cleanly. The premise on which "Operation Painter" is based is one I like...elimination of Padania weapons suppliers (I'm now glad I sent Elio & Marisa to knock one out as their debut mission). The story meanders a bit as Lorenzo considers the personalities of 3 handlers who have experienced recent losses (Jose, Marco, Bernardo). I had to read it a few times, but I decided that I like that. Staying focused completely on the briefing would have been dry, and offered no few opportunities to use that descriptive prose you're so good at.
Then, a sharp word for Avise...I wonder if that is foreshadowing a conflict between the two...and speaking of foreshadowing, the cryptic reference to a security breech must be leading us somewhere.
Lorenzo ends his briefing with a bit of a bombastic line "There is a time bomb ticking in Milan – a bomb with a fuse that’s not measured in seconds but drips of fright, anguish, torment and grief" but I think it's okay because he's going for a big finish.

You really caught me off-guard with the second part. I was beginning to like the homeless character that helps Dona under the bridge...and then you kill him off! That's the way it's supposed to be done though, set your audience up and then punch them in the gut!
I'm glad you debuted this story when you did. My next episode will reveal the names of the 3 remaining "bomb squad girls," and one of them was named Donna...too close to your Dona. It was easy to give her a new name at this point.
I eagerly await the next installment!
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Re: "Long Weekend": A Short Story

Post by Robert Frazer on Mon 7 Dec 2009 - 22:53

Thanks for the comments, everyone, it's much appreciated. I regret that I don't have the time to respond in detail at the moment, but in the meantime here's Chapter Two.

It may be a week or so before the next chapter can be published - I've actually finished the final chapter, but that's not much use when the intervening two still have sections missing; as I've a lot of work coming up this week (enough side-scan sonar traces - imagine looking at a TV without an aerial, only with worse reception - and squinting at borehole textures to make me go crosseyed. Fun.) it'll have to go on the backburner for a short while.

Anyway, don't let my glum griping drag the story down at least. Enjoy! Smile

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Re: "Long Weekend": A Short Story

Post by Professor Voodoo on Wed 16 Dec 2009 - 22:51

Another success Robert, you're driving me nuts waiting for the next chapter here.

Spoiler:
First off, you really nailed my Marisa & Elio characters. She's just the type to concoct and relearse a line to make herself sound witty. Elio's gruffness with her is spot-on as well. The only thing I could nit-pick here is that a dive mask is not generally refered to as goggles. Minor point...everyone knew what you were talking about. Mari happens to use a ridiculously expensive Aeris CompuMask, with the dive computer built right in for hands-free viewing.

On to Dona's section...these are where I feel a quiet build-up of real tension. The line her training whould lead her to safety is the first indication that she has an agenda of her own beyond mere wandering.

The next section is classic Henrietta. Her inability to receive Giuseppe's morse code message because she's mooning over him is a great touch.
Your emphasis shifts to Jose as they ambush their pursuer...his attempt to play the "hard-ass" seems appropriately forced. Constanzo's slang seems noticeably British, not Italian, but since the story is written in English it fits I guess. The focus is on character, not the specific words.
As they release Costanzo you have a great Jose "character moment" where he views Dona's situation with pity, seeing her in need of rescue. Doubtless there are more hardened members of the search who consider their objective to be Dona's elimination, but this thought has never crossed Jose's mind.
Henrietta's reaction when he ruffles her hair is just like her. As much as she desires contact with her handler she wants it on her terms.

Moving on to Draghi...man, you're throwing all the characters into this aren't you? This has the potential for a major blow-up at the climax. I like how you filled in a lot of the blanks in his character...background stories are some of the most interesting to me.

Moving Dona's character from the dank riverside and cloistered backstreets into a brightly lit park was a surprise, I liked the visual though. She put away 4 sandwiches? Jeeze...I see Marisa has some competition in the eating department!
A nicely done dialogue section (between the PRF terrorists) closes the story; notably clever was Lauro catching the "news chopper" on the wrong side of town. He's not a confident character, but he's smarter than he seems.

I've tried to avoid unproductive fawning, but as usual your work sets a standard that leaves little to pick at. Hope you make it through the work week with sanity intact (side-scan sonar...what is it you do, if you don't mind me asking). Cheers.


Last edited by Professor Voodoo on Sat 19 Dec 2009 - 22:00; edited 1 time in total
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Re: "Long Weekend": A Short Story

Post by Alfisti on Sat 19 Dec 2009 - 2:48

Sorry it's taken so long to comment, been trying to get back up to speed after a week out of the loop.

Spoiler:

Though the Professor is probably better set to comment on his characters than I am, but as I've been folling his writing pretty closely as well I will echo that you've done a good job with them.

I also loved, LOVED the little section where Dona's looking for clothes and the section on appearance. That's one of the reasons I generally portray Monty as being immaculately turned out, even after an all-nighter. The way a person presents themselves helps put them in a frame of mind, and how people perceive them... that I enjoy. The only nit-pick here would be that (unless it's a jewlery store or something similar) those smaller shops rarely have a security guard... it's an overhead they don't need and the staff can generally see the entire shop anyway. However I do see the reason that you put it in, how those seemingly inconsequential actions affect the rest of your stories is one of the things I like about your work.

And the continuity nut strikes again huh? (opera). The street urchin kind of reminded me of Nobby Nobbs, but I liked the character, and the whole confrontation. I did wind up mentally giving him a Cockney accent though. I did like that you mentioned that Henrietta and Jose had drilled the "hard" act... otherwise I may have questioned 'Etta's ability to pick up on some of the subtlties of what Jose was doing, or for that matter: what would have happend if she got to "twenty"?

I have no idea what Dona had "just been doing" whilst eating baguettes and folding paper... I assume all shal be revealed later


Sounds like you've got an "exciting" week planned anyway... try not to leave us on the cliff-hanger too long though huh?

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Re: "Long Weekend": A Short Story

Post by Robert Frazer on Tue 22 Dec 2009 - 18:48

Whew! After a full fortnight out of the loop, it's good to be back in action! Very Happy

I've got a lot to catch up on, I know, from comments here to all of the E-Mails and PMs that Alfisti has sent me about PLH in the meantime (sorry! Embarassed ).

Before I do, though, two items:

-One is Chapter Three: Saturday, which I've ground out over the intervening time.

-Secondly to address Professor Voodoo's question about what I do for a living: I'm actually in a related field, or in the process of getting to it. I'm currently studying for a Masters in Maritime Archaeology, with the ultimate intention of pursuing a career in it (whether academic or attached to a commercial firm as a marine surveyor) once I'm done. I do have a diving qualification - although it's just basic PADI Open Water and I haven't used it in well over a year - although as part of this I'm going to be building it up to a professional level, as I'm pretty keen on marine fieldwork. My current project is a geoarchaeological survey of the submerged landscape Wootton-Quarr coastline in the Isle of Wight (not too far away from where the Mary Rose sank), which is unfortunately less exciting shipwrecks and buried pirate gold prised from the clutches of Davy Jones, and more...



Those black spots on the left might or might not be submerged fenceposts.

Truthfully though, the seascape of the Solent is pretty interesting, and marine transgression/regression (sea level rise/fall) over multiple glacial periods has gouged out some very interesting features, going back to when the English Channel was just a river and the North Sea was fertile and green "Hodderland".

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Re: "Long Weekend": A Short Story

Post by Professor Voodoo on Tue 22 Dec 2009 - 19:56

Welcome back!

Robert Frazer wrote: to address Professor Voodoo's question about what I do for a living:

Small world! I'm a marine surveyor in the Gulf of Mexico, although my specialty is not side-scan sonar (it's sub-sea acoustics). All my training has been on the job...I've never taken a degree.

I did "fly" a side-scan towfish for about a month while deployed down to Aruba, but it was a pretty grim job (we were searching for a dead body). Pic related; the towfish we used...


I just copied the new chapter to my folder...I'll be reading tonight when I get off watch.
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Re: "Long Weekend": A Short Story

Post by Alfisti on Tue 22 Dec 2009 - 20:49

Robert Frazer wrote:Whew! After a full fortnight out of the loop, it's good to be back in action! Very Happy

I've got a lot to catch up on, I know, from comments here to all of the E-Mails and PMs that Alfisti has sent me about PLH in the meantime (sorry! Embarassed ).

Haha, welcome back mate. Yeah, I wasn't too sure how often you checked your gmail. I know I only check mine about once a week... if I'm feeling particularly dedicated sweat Hence the PM as well.

*sigh I envy you lot being able to go diving. I'm Asthmatic, which pretty much rules that one out for me (or so I've been told)... maybe I should start throwing myself out of perfectly good aeroplanes instead.

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Re: "Long Weekend": A Short Story

Post by Kiskaloo on Tue 22 Dec 2009 - 21:22

Great stuff! You really have a way with setting a scene.

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Re: "Long Weekend": A Short Story

Post by Alfisti on Tue 22 Dec 2009 - 21:40

Another excellent chapter man... and the plot thickens.

Spoiler:

"The bullet on that tray, though, is a third-inch magnum round. Not
continental, as you may have guessed. In fact,” Donato held up one page
of the book before Lorenzo, “it’s used in particular by the British
Army’s L96A1 sniper rifle.”

...so the Poms are possibly taking an interest in the Cyborg program? That's interesting to me as it would fit in neatly with some ideas I've been working on for the Jethro+Monty fratello.


Other than that: I again find myself at a loss as to picking holes in your work. I did particularly enjoyed the scene with Petra. The feeling of sadness that she describes, I remember feeling something very similar walking around one of the Concorde prototypes in Paris. It was fairly recently after the planes had been taken out of service and I was the only one in the exhibition hanger at the time and there was just that sense of something that should have been loud and active now being consigned to history. The memory of that feeling, mixed with your prose made the whole thing incredibly palpable. If I closed my eyes I felt I could almost reach out and touch the buildings.

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Re: "Long Weekend": A Short Story

Post by Professor Voodoo on Thu 24 Dec 2009 - 17:18

"Donatello, my girl...I'm afraid I've just gone and done something very stupid."

I know I'm taking this out of order, but Mario's last words have such gut-wrenching impact.
As usual it's impossible to nit-pick at your work, so I won't. Nit-picking is as unproductive as aimless fawning, so I offer you my observations, which inevitably sound more like the latter.
Spoiler:

No matter who writes the scene, Yu, or one of us fanfic authors, it is always a delight to see Rico having fun. I don't know what it is about that character but Yu must love her as well...some of his most striking art is of Rico. Perhaps because she is so free of angst, rebellion, and conceit she just seems to deserve her small slice of happiness more...even when it is found in a simple puddle.
Your implication that Jean enjoys flying fits well with his character...hanging above his world & everyone in it speaks to his control issues. Maybe that's why he does not like the sea...you are never really in control there (as I write this I am being rocked by 10-12ft waves).
Since we already know what has happened to break the Mario-Dona fratello the "flashback" segment serves more to provide insight into their relationship. I like her using a kid's rucksack as a weapons bag...instrument cases are so cliche.

Hillshire & Triela in the piazza for a political rally was well timed to provide a bit of relief after the grim record of Mario's death. His "take the high road" debating style is very much in character, but I suspect it's ineffectiveness may hint at your own political leanings, especially after reading your clue about where Avise stands (in the other thread).
Triela's frustrated pragmatism provides a nice comic levity to this scene...
Incidentally, Alessandro's views on the government "bribing the citizens with their own money" provides a conterpoint argument to Hillshire, without having the two argue face to face. It shows that the SWA is a hodgepodge of different backgrounds and ideals...nicely done.
Alfisti has already provided eloquent comment on the warehouse scene, his comparison with the preserved Concord airliner sums of the nostaligia for the promises of the past very well. There is a line in a song by the American vocalist Meatloaf that says "The future's just not what it used to be."

Draghi being civil with Lorenzo? He's up to something, and Lorenzo knows it.

"I don't want any parents!" My reaction was the same as the telephone operator. It seems Dona's conditioning is breaking down, causing her to recover unhappy memories (confirmed by the segement that shows up later).
I was a little surprised by Lorenzo's squeemishness at Mario's autopsy table...I guess I had imagined him as a bit of a hard-bastard who had seen it all a dozen times over. Your characterization of Donato is great...a bit reminicent of Rachelle Belleau's numbness at the sight of so many dead bodies.

I admit your inclusion of Marina in the Agency mausoleum brought an imaginary tear to my eye. Very nice of the SWA to consider her a member in full standing despite the fact that she never lived past training. I'm not quite up on the whole "Pia" story though...she's a video game character, right? Your context seems to suggest that might be the ultimate challenge in a FPS...a fellow cyborg with a rouge handler that you must defeat. I'm pretty hopeless when it comes to video games myself.

What...now the Brits are involved!? How the hell are you going to tie this all up with only two episodes left?

So a junior member of the clerical staff drops the ball on their best chance of finding Dona yet. I doubt anyone else could have done better...maybe sit Giuse down at the phones, he seems like the only one capable of calming down a hysterical cyborg. Your mention of the Secrets Act document was a nice touch. While everyone is surely aware that they run the risk of an "accidental" hit & run death arranged by Jean Croce should they flap their jaw, the government will still demand it's piece of paper. My military service required me to sign secrecy agreements that I'll be bound to as long as I live (and they didn't even tell me shite).
The idea of a lower level clerk making a small mistake is the touch-off point for a project I'm still planning right now. I'd like to make it an open collaborative effort (I'll edit and tie it all together) in order to pack a ridiculous number of OC characters (that's redundant) into one episode. More as it develops...

Fermi & Gabrielli only appeared in a few episodes of the canon, but the are two of the most popular characters in fan fiction. I can not help but think that Draghi assigned them the sewer detail as subtle punishment for their friendliness toward Section 2.

Dona in the park was another brilliantly heavy emotional gut-punch. Set the audience up with levity, then knock them down. You start off so lightly, with the cyborg delighting in word-play, she even joins in on a pick-up football game, aaaaaaannnddd...then she beats a boy to death with her bare fists. This rule about killing anyone who sees you working is getting damn inconvenient for a lot of people!
As you close with Priscilla & Amadeo, I expected to see her a bit more sympathetically frantic. Perhaps if it was one of the cyborgs she knew better was missing...or maybe you're suggesting that she is "hardening" as a character. Claes gets a mention, I wonder if this is foreshadowing and we'll get to see what she's up to during this mess.

The story terrific, keeping up a tense vibe while maintaining good pace. If I could be so bold as to suggest anything, let's see a role for your own characters...we haven't seen Avise since the briefing, and Agapitha has yet to make her first appearance.
No matter who's in it I'm looking forward to the next chapter!
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Re: "Long Weekend": A Short Story

Post by ElfenMagix on Thu 24 Dec 2009 - 17:33

Though I have only read bits and pieces of it, I like what I see.
Just been too busy with finishing up my story, school finals and a nasty headache that wont go away. RF you have done quite well with this series!

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Re: "Long Weekend": A Short Story

Post by Robert Frazer on Thu 24 Dec 2009 - 20:07

Alfisti: wow, I'm impressed by your sensitivity as much as I'm glad that I was able to inspire a response. Part of archaeology is heritage management and both restoring the discarded and maintaining historical character alongside the pace of modern life and needs, so the sort of depth that you're evoking is very encouraging, thanks!

Voodoo on Lorenzo's squeamishness: Fair point really, he wouldn't be so green around the gills, although as an office body maybe he hasn't been at the sharp end of affairs for a long time. I can't really be totally authentic about reactions in this sort of scene as I've actually never seen a body in the physical flesh, not even my grandparents when they passed on - yeah, I've been a bit sheltered - but there were plenty of lurid training videos back when I was in the TA and I felt a degree of difference between a neat gunshot corpse to someone... dispersed by a landmine, which I suppose is similar to the sort of sensation Lorenzo is feeling here.

On Pia: Yes - although it's not been released outside Japan there's a GSG videogame (albeit a pretty basic one - if I remember rightly it was packaged free with Japanese Il Teatrino DVDs), and Pia's the antagonist in it. Her handler Earnest is a Padanian sleeper agent. When he absconds, Pia follows - and she loyally obeys her handler and fights the rest of the Agency even though Earnest's only interest in her is to deliver her to PRF scientists who can get to work on her with a can opener and find out just what makes cyborgs tick...! When Earnest is eventually killed, Pia even goes into BERSERKER MODE in rage. The events of the game are totally self-contained and not even obliquely mentioned anywhere else in GSG, but as Alfisti knows well the continuity nut in me is always twitching and wanting to tie absolutely everything into a great interconnected canon. I tend to place the videogame somewhere in that four-month summer timeskip when Pinnochio was hiding out in the vineyard, but then a problem with that is that when Angelica dies after that arc the doctors say that she'll be the first cyborg killed in action and aaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrgggghhh...

The playground scene: sorry, I could have communicated this better - the opening part wasn't meant to be light, but broken and splintered, trying to look on 'the bright side of life' but it sounding hollow - the laugh at the end wasn't a nice one. The children's arrival suddenly lifts her up as you say, but then another logic bug in her crumbling programming - you say "I'm sorry" before you're going to kill an interloper - sends her back down again.

Priscilla's personality: you have another good point, I haven't represented her fully accurately. On reflection I could have emphasised her distress at the newspaper headline a lot more.

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Re: "Long Weekend": A Short Story

Post by Professor Voodoo on Thu 24 Dec 2009 - 21:36

Robert Frazer wrote:
I can't really be totally authentic about reactions in this sort of scene as I've actually never seen a body in the physical flesh,
My response is below, not a spoiler but hidden anyway because it's a bit macabre. Read it some other night...not on Christmas eve.
Spoiler:

My job, unfortunately, has placed me in the position to literally zip the body bag closed on a few unfortunates. Lucky for me the ones I've found have been intact, that's not always the case when you search for bodies in the water. The smell is something that sticks with you though.
Personally, I can handle the corpses themselves with no issues...they don't say much and never complain. What's rough for me is talking to the families who are sometimes present for the search. The grandmother of a 12 year old girl drowned in the Mississippi River, the parents & grandparents of a young guy killed in a boating accident in Texas, they're always tremendously appreciative for the help and your technology, but what do you say to them? Some searchers can really draw satisfaction from the closure they provide to the loved ones, but I'd rather just do it in an anonymous capacity. That's never my decision though.

Sorry, maybe I was just blowing off some steam there.


I tend to place the videogame somewhere in that four-month summer timeskip when Pinnochio was hiding out in the vineyard, but then a problem with that is that when Angelica dies after that arc the doctors say that she'll be the first cyborg killed in action and aaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrgggghhh...
Okay...the desire for ultimate continuity is making you crazy...take a deep breath have a few shots of your favorite "conditioning." Regarding the first cyborg killed in action; isn't it the official position that Elsa died in action, or has everybody just given up on the bullshit cover story?

The playground scene: sorry, I could have communicated this better - the opening part wasn't meant to be light,
No, you're right...that scene does start off like you say, I just remembered it wrong. Sorry, it's a little hard to concentrate right now...I wasn't kidding about those rough seas, where getting our asses kicked out here.

Priscilla's personality: you have another good point, I haven't represented her fully accurately. On reflection I could have emphasised her distress at the newspaper headline a lot more.
No point in making her a frail, overly emotional nut-case. Sure she was distraught when Angelica passed away, but that was her Angelica. Maybe Priscilla is just a little distracted today because she finds Amadeo annoying...
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Re: "Long Weekend": A Short Story

Post by Alfisti on Fri 25 Dec 2009 - 8:34

Robert Frazer wrote:Alfisti: wow, I'm impressed by your sensitivity as much as I'm glad that I was able to inspire a response. Part of archaeology is heritage management and both restoring the discarded and maintaining historical character alongside the pace of modern life and needs, so the sort of depth that you're evoking is very encouraging, thanks!

Call me sentimental, but I loathe seeing perfectly useable equipment/buildings/whatever going to waste simply because someone wanted to trade up to a newer model or couldn't be bothered fixing it or shat all over historical value on their way to a quick buck. There's a couple of really awesome old warehouse type buildings in the CBD, red brick and sandstone that are being demolished to make way for apartments. They're being built by Delphin too which means they'll be the cheapest crap you ever saw. The Ikea furniture of buildings: pretty on the outside but ultimately thinly veneered and packed with newspaper.

I also notably hate seeing things go unused.

I think it may be genetic: my family is well known for fixing things rather than replacing, even if it's an economically bad idea (which is how we wound up spending almost four-times a the 33's value repairing it rather than replacing it)... or for that matter why I still use film cameras from the 60s and 70s, have a valve powered amp and so-on.

It's also probably how Monty wound up with a vintage PPK rather than something a bit more modern/practical.

Either way your passage really did hit me in a sensitive patch.


BTW: still wondering if it's ok for me to post that PLH pic on dA (since as far as I'm concerned it's now your property not mine)... figured I'd leave posting it here to you.

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Re: "Long Weekend": A Short Story

Post by ElfenMagix on Fri 25 Dec 2009 - 10:49

Robert Frazer wrote:On Pia: Yes - although it's not been released outside Japan there's a GSG videogame (albeit a pretty basic one - if I remember rightly it was packaged free with Japanese Il Teatrino DVDs), and Pia's the antagonist in it. Her handler Earnest is a Padanian sleeper agent. When he absconds, Pia follows - and she loyally obeys her handler and fights the rest of the Agency even though Earnest's only interest in her is to deliver her to PRF scientists who can get to work on her with a can opener and find out just what makes cyborgs tick...! When Earnest is eventually killed, Pia even goes into BERSERKER MODE in rage. The events of the game are totally self-contained and not even obliquely mentioned anywhere else in GSG, but as Alfisti knows well the continuity nut in me is always twitching and wanting to tie absolutely everything into a great interconnected canon. I tend to place the videogame somewhere in that four-month summer timeskip when Pinnochio was hiding out in the vineyard, but then a problem with that is that when Angelica dies after that arc the doctors say that she'll be the first cyborg killed in action and aaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrgggghhh...
As a long time Pia Fan, there were 3 parts to the video game, released on 3 separate CDs as stand alone games. I have been scouring the net on as much information on the characters as much as possible and much of that is here as placed by me, LoC, Triela (who owns a copy of one of the games) and the others. From what was gathered, the game happens before or after Elsa kills Lauro, and CD 1 happens before Cleas is created. In dialog during one of the fight scenes with Henrietta on the first CD, Pia is stated as saying to her, "We have been friends from the very beginning!!!" It was a long winded rant about how and why she cares for Ernesto as must as Henrietta cares for Jose and that Henrietta should understand how and why Pia was running away with him- knowing full well that the Padania Scientists would kill her in dissecting her - a fact she already knew.

The time slot of the game would make Pia as the first killed cyborg of the series. But wording in the Manga makes it tricky. Dr. Bellisario (sp?) stated that Angelice was the first cyborg killed in action. But Lorenzo stated to Ms Petris and Mr Dragni that Angelica was the first cyborg killed in the line of duty protecting her handler. Hence there is a difference. Pia dies as a rouge unit, though she was protecting Ernesto as she was programmed too do. The whole Ernesto/Pia incident reeks of cover up by Section 2.

Strangely, Pia is apparently killed on CD 1 in the final scene when she fights Henrietta, and the grenade she was using exploded, collapsing on them. Henrietta barely survives this (depends on how much health status you have when you get to this point) when both cyborgs are dug out of the ruins. But she makes a comeback on the second CD, and Ernesto gets whacked on this one. Did Pia survive? Who knows. On CD 3, both Pia and Ernesto is killed, this time in the ending gun battle. Pia dies first from blood loss, followed by Ernesto who was remorseful about the whole ordeal, as he begins to see the error of his ways.

As an OC, I use them as still agents of the SWA, but have them as mercenaries and reward claim jumpers on any and every opportunity Ernest can find. In this they are very useful, and playing Pia as a character, I play her like the game as one of the most dangerous cyborgs in the collective. In short, she is/was vicious! Weapons of choice: as per the game- Dessert Eagle .50 Cal. Mind you, Olga uses the Dessert Eagle as well, but uses the smaller .45 or 10mm pistol.

Adding more fodder to the conspiracy, when Jean talks to the handlers about Angie's death, there is a guy sitting down near Hillshire with long white hair and in a white suit. Some (including I) have speculated that this is Ernesto in canon. As per the game, only Ernesto has long white hair wears a white suit.

I am one of the few who argues that the game is part of the canon material and should be part of it. I'm glad that there are more here in agreement with me on this as I had fought this battle alone for so long. Even among Pia fans, heated disccusions still plague the forum as to where in canon Ernesto and Pia belongs.



Hope this answers your questions on her.

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Re: "Long Weekend": A Short Story

Post by Kiskaloo on Fri 25 Dec 2009 - 13:31

I grudgingly accept in my OC universe that Ernesto and Pia did exist, but were killed, since if you take Rico's comments in Chapter 4 absolutely literally, there were 11 Generation One fratellii and so far Yu Aida has shown 10 (assuming we back-date Chiara's first appearance to Chapter 18 where we see the back of a girl with short black hair).

I'm sure Section 2 buried the Ernesto/Pia incident deeper than they did Elsa and Lauro. Bad enough for a cyborg to whack her handler, but far worse for the enemy to get their hands on a cyborg. Forget the "reverse engineering" part (I doubt Padania has the resources to make one, themselves) - announcing to the world the Italian government had turned little girls into "mindless murder machines" would tear the government apart - and perhaps the Republic, as well.

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Re: "Long Weekend": A Short Story

Post by Robert Frazer on Fri 25 Dec 2009 - 23:23

It's been a low-key Christmas this year to say the least - I didn't even go outside, not even to Mass (to my shame). I spent pretty much the entire Christmas Day at the dinnertable or on the sofa - in addition to the turkey we've put away two films, three or four Christmas television specials, and a full anime DVD.

With it being a quiet day, then, I thought that I may as well wrap up "Long Weekend". I'll give it a few days' break before putting up the final chapter, which is really a very long and talky epilogue, but to start off with:

Chapter Four - Sunday

This chapter also features a cameo of Kiskaloo's Kara.

Before anything else though, a confession: I actually never really intended to make anything of the mortuary scene and Donato's revelations about the bullet - it was really there just for colour and to add a little mystery to spice proceedings, rather than having any actual plot significance. However, because people have been responding to it a lot more than I expected, I decided to add out a small section giving it the element some closure. However, on reflection, I don't really like it - involving too many higher powers meddling in the Padania-Agency conflict seems to diminish the girls, really. Either way, there it is.


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Re: "Long Weekend": A Short Story

Post by Kiskaloo on Sat 26 Dec 2009 - 13:20

What impresses me the most about your work, Robert, is your ability to "set the scene" in the writer's mind with only a handful of lines of prose. When I read your work, I "see" the scene in my mind which really helps bring it home. This is something I'm totally unable to do. I can set the scene in my mind, but it never translates to the page.

rusty-spring and I often come up with Top Gear challenges for our OC's (Kara and Laine). And they sound great as we're tossing the ideas back and forth in chat because we see it unroll in our minds. So I took a stab at writing one where they raced from Michele's apartment in Milan to the Victoria Memorial in London (Kara in a plane, Laine in her Camaro and Triela and Claes on the TGV+Eurostar) that just happened to have them hit London at the same time as the TG-Three were doing their "London Race" film shoot. And god if it wasn't the dullest thing to slog through. Everything that made it awesome in our minds was missing on the page so it was just four girls connecting on flights and trains and motorways instead of an epic race across the continent and the English Channel.

So I admire - and envy - your talents. Yes Indeed

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Re: "Long Weekend": A Short Story

Post by Robert Frazer on Mon 28 Dec 2009 - 14:08

. And god if it wasn't the dullest thing to slog through. Everything that made it awesome in our minds was missing on the page so it was just four girls connecting on flights and trains and motorways instead of an epic race across the continent and the English Channel.

In that sort of situation, Kiskaloo, I find that it's best not to be too specific. Don't write a narrative of the race - "then they went here, then they went there" - so much as describe its character - "Kara felt exhilarated as she knew she was well ahead". Here in 'Long Weekend' a search pattern was drawn up over Milan, but I haven't drawn up a colour-coded schematic of interconnecting inspection routes so much as pick out a selection of prominent incidents. Don't focus on the "connecting on flights and trains and motorways", except where it's a relevant backdrop for a dramatic event (Kara took the 1015 to Annecy instead of the 1145 to Geneva! Hilarity ensues!).

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Re: "Long Weekend": A Short Story

Post by Professor Voodoo on Mon 28 Dec 2009 - 14:36

Robert Frazer wrote:
Kiskaloo wrote:. And god if it wasn't the dullest thing to slog through. Everything that made it awesome in our minds was missing on the page so it was just four girls connecting on flights and trains and motorways instead of an epic race across the continent and the English Channel.

In that sort of situation, Kiskaloo, I find that it's best not to be too specific.

The way I would tackle this is as a comedy of errors...Top Gear being the model to fashion it on.
Kara is stymided at the airport by logistical problems and an overly officious aviation authority that can't believe a 16 year old has a solo pilot's license.
Laine starts out strong but a punctured tire in Southern France highlights the difficulties of getting parts (and rare tire sizes) for a foreign car in the middle of nowhere. She winds up on the back of a chicken truck.
Triela & Claes start out in self-satisfied, champagne sipping comfort, but end up driving each other insane and getting kicked off the train for a cyborg wrestling match that destroys their first class sleeper cabin.

My thoughts on Chapter 4 coming today, Robert...do I actually need to tell you it was great?
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Re: "Long Weekend": A Short Story

Post by Robert Frazer on Mon 28 Dec 2009 - 21:19

Well, that's that! "Long Weekend" ended up ballooning to a scale and required an investment far beyond what I originally envisaged it being, but now that I look back at it I think that the additional effort has paid off. I hope that everyone finds the ending worthwhile.

Chapter Five - Afterwards

One point about Avise's final line in the penultimate section: I've mentioned this in other threads, but for readers who don't know, despite the fact that he criticises Hilshire for his "sense of guilty obligation", it's also a fact that guilt - good old Catholic guilt - features prominently in Avise's own past. I'm going to get to grips with it in a later story, but in the meantime a synopsis:

Avise's guilt has nothing to do with his career as an Army officer (he left as a Major). Those who live by the sword die by the sword; anyone who picks up a weapon is setting himself apart. Avise has made his peace with that; he has no regrets about killing, nor will he blame God if he ever takes a bullet himself - it's the life of his choice (and their choice) and he's prepared for the consequences (and so should they). Instead, his sense of guilt is more personal.

Avise is a widower. Calandra, mentioned in passing back in the briefing section of chapter one, was his wife. Calandra committed suicide due to a severe case of post-natal depression; in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, Avise in his grief came to utterly despise his infant daughter - "this mewling bundle, this swollen worm, this sack of stodge, this bloated tumour hacked from Calandra's bowels, this shifting carbuncle whose punctures oozed shit and vomit, this huddle that was warm like putrescence, this creature, this thing - had killed his wife" - and disowned her, giving her up into anonymous care. This act also pretty violently estranged him from the rest of his family who reacted with varying degrees of horror and disgust.

As time went on, though, Avise came to be overtaken by a sense of guilt and self-loathing over what he admits himself was a selfish abandonment of his daughter, compounded by the creeping belief that he was indirectly to blame for Calandra's death: always volunteering for things - important to be keen and enthusiastic! - he was always absent when she quite obviously needed support. The power of guilt almost crippled him - which is half of the reason why Section One talent scouts flagged him as a potential handler!

Avise's essential loyalty will never be in question - he would never want to jeapordise his relationship with Agapita. Agapita is his grace, his relief. The cyborg is his new daughter; his second chance; his shot at redemption; his blessed merciful opportunity to get it right this time. That said, his relationship is still fairly distorted from conventional parents and offspring! After a life giving orders, Avise relates better to the fratello heirarchy and Agency work (so he doesn't have any aversion to putting Agapita in harm's way - some parents help their teenage daughter prepare for prom night; A&A stand together to fight Padania!).

EDIT: clarifying a few details


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Re: "Long Weekend": A Short Story

Post by Professor Voodoo on Mon 28 Dec 2009 - 21:20

Okay...I'm back.

From what I've read of his work so far you've got a good bead on his character Kara. She's certainly been taught to enjoy the "finer things" in life and she's not ashamed of it.

The way you've spaced the words a few times in this story is interesting. It conveys Dona's feelings of abject misery in striking fashion.
Moving ahead (or above) to Jean-Rico there's more of your famous descriptive prose. I particularly like the very accurate reference to the seatbelt taking a strain as the helicopter maneuvers...very evocative of what flying in any small aircraft feels like.
You've started this chapter off with shorter sections too...it serves to speed the pace and hint at an approaching climax.

The setting for your showdown over the inert Dona seems to be a nod to the American Western genre. The windblown steets of a dusty ghost of a town, the buzzards circling overhead...it's all there (is refering to the car as a saloon a double entendre?). It's ironic perhaps, that most of those western movies were actually filmed in Italy.
The exchange between the Padania squad members (including a slick reference to Earnest) sets the stage well, although the dialogue seems a bit...courteous...for a car full of killers. Everyone seems to get their turn to make a paragraph long speech...it seem sto me there would be a lot more yelling and interruption from this bunch.

"Need a coffee" ...is that going to be Avise's signature line? Of course, he does always legitemately need a coffee whenever we see him. Agapitha's ditzy optimism, contrasted against Mancini's frustrated but patronizing tolerance make for a great dynamic. The observation about the cyborgs still looking sharp while the humans show the strain of 3 days on their feet was clever too.

My favorite part of the whole chapter is where Avise gets angry at Agapitha for not showing initiative...then stands around talking about it while Hillshire is thinking "Let's go, already!" Hmmm...wonder where Agapitha learned her bad habits?
While your work has not featured outright comedy yet, it does occasionally hold a humorous comment on human nature.

Question; How do you reconcile the fact that Triela knew Agapitha before her conversion? Was Triela's mind partially wiped...or is she just professional enough to keep her mouth shut about the truth?

The climactic fire-fight seemed to end very quickly, but then there's the unexpected stand off over Dona's body. Thieri's feeling about talking to a cyborg...one of Them...captures the surreal nature of the situation. Agapitha's agonizing moment of conditioning conflict just extends the weird nature of the story's climax. I'm surprised she was able to get up so quickly after a bullet directly to her head...Triela got knocked out with a possible concussion just from Pinocchio's fist.
Nice reference to the penguin joke as the policewoman celebrates her short lived victory...

I have to admit I'm confused by the next section, with "Seamus" and the sniper. Is it a memory dream Dona is having?

Altogether a chapter that meets your usual high standards...I look forward to the "epilogue" as you call it.
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Re: "Long Weekend": A Short Story

Post by Kiskaloo on Mon 28 Dec 2009 - 21:57

Robert Frazer wrote:Well, that's that!

Epic story. Just epic.

Words fail me at the moment, but I'll note they sure as hell didn't fail you. Awesome!

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Re: "Long Weekend": A Short Story

Post by ElfenMagix on Mon 28 Dec 2009 - 22:19

Rob, it was great. Just one little pet peeve which desperately needs to be fixed. Actually 2...

AGNUS DEI

ANGELICA

MMII-MMV

Remembering my Roman Numerals, that would 2002 - 2005. That would make Angie 3 years old. She was at least 9 or 10 when she died. About 7 when she came in; unless you are counting cyborg years for her. I would disagree on that because evidence seems to show that Triela was there for almost 7 years, and Angie being the first cyborg, was there before Triela.

Secondly, as Marco's Fratello/Sorella, she inherits his last name of Tongi. I will agree that she was an angel from god.

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Re: "Long Weekend": A Short Story

Post by Robert Frazer on Mon 28 Dec 2009 - 22:23

Kiskaloo: well, thanks very much, it's certainly much appreciated! Smile

Elfen: Yes, it's in cyborg years, I was assuming that activation would be her formal 'rebirth'. Also, thanks for the history of the GSG games earlier in the thread, it was quite informative.

Voodoo:

The way you've spaced the words a few times in this story is interesting. It conveys Dona's feelings of abject misery in striking fashion

I did draw some inspiration for the second section from your own depiction of conditioning helping to moderate the cyborgs' hypersensivity - now the effects are starting to fade, all the senses are assaulting Dona and it's just getting to be too much.

It's ironic perhaps, that most of those western movies were actually filmed in Italy.

I have to admit that I'm quite fond of Sergio Leone flicks. Wooh-oo-ah-oooooh... wow-wow-waaaaaaaahhhhh....

although the dialogue seems a bit...courteous...for a car full of killers. Everyone seems to get their turn to make a paragraph long speech...it seem sto me there would be a lot more yelling and interruption from this bunch

Fair point.

"Need a coffee" ...is that going to be Avise's signature line? Of course, he does always legitemately need a coffee whenever we see him.

It might well become it... and I sympathise. Whenever I'm away with the Army I'm always in a perpetual state of sleep deprivation - when getting up at 0545 is considered a lie-in! Guh?

How do you reconcile the fact that Triela knew Agapitha before her conversion?

Triela's fully aware of Agapita's past, it's Agapita who had the mind-wipe. Agapita wants to at least try to get on well with everyone, but for some queer and unfathomable reason (to Agapita) she just can't seem to find Triela's good side, and the youger girl's coldness confuses and somewhat distresses Agapita. What's she doing wrong?

captures the surreal nature of the situation. Agapitha's agonizing moment of conditioning conflict just extends the weird nature of the story's climax

In most firefights, unless the enemy are rolling out RPGs and anti-materiel rifles the cyborgs will usually have the odds heavily stacked in their favour, so this was a conscious attempt to mix things up a little.

I'm surprised she was able to get up so quickly after a bullet directly to her head...Triela got knocked out with a possible concussion just from Pinocchio's fist.

Mmm, point... but then again, in the Florence Uffuzi fight near the start of the series, Rico takes a bullet to the head and doesn't so much as flinch. I suppose that this is just something that's made to serve the needs of plot.

...or, Pinnochio's just that awesome to take out a cyborg with one punch. cheers

I have to admit I'm confused by the next section, with "Seamus" and the sniper. Is it a memory dream Dona is having?

Ah, this was the section that I was having doubts about. It relates back to the mention of the bullet in Mario's autopsy - originally that was just there for flavour and to spice proceedings with a hint of mystery (and maybe leave a plot hook to hang a future story off of), but as people seemed to be responding to it so well I decided to add this section here to give it some closure in the story itself; the sniper was preparing to intervene in the Agapita-Triela gunfight, only for another third party to stop him doing so. I agree that it's a bit scrappy, I was never really happy with it - I'll probably rewrite it, or delete it altogether.

Thanks for your comments again, Voodoo.

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Re: "Long Weekend": A Short Story

Post by Alfisti on Wed 30 Dec 2009 - 6:44

I think the thing that actually sticks with me most out of both these last two chapters is the section with Draghi writing his report. First the procrastination, which read really well actually. It was disjointed but for some reason felt the same as when you're finding stuff to do that you really don't need to to avoid a task. The report itself: you could see him fighting with himself to not doctor the facts but also wanting, trying to slant it so that it seemed like a Section 1 success... and failing notably as well.

I'm going to try not to repeat anything Voodoo's said, but I don't blame Kara for dousing the radio sharpish =P

Ever since you gave me Agapita's backstory back when I first joined here (and subsequently read "See Naples and Die) I've been wondering how Triela would react to her... now I know, and I think her reaction's understandable, it's interesting also to see Triela being portrayed as not-so pragmatic in this case. My only concern there would be how much she's likely to act as a memory-jogger or Agapita's former life as Mimi? I mean, they have to keep Mario away from her, and Hillshire also tries to keep him clear of Triela for similar reasons (or at least did). I just wonder how it would effect Agapita having a fragment of her former life interacting with her (however coldly) every day.

Irish Nationalists or not... I'm still interested to know what the Poms were doing there. I imagine Jethro's going to be pretty pissed if he ever finds out they were there though, he's got his hands full enough without the Agency suddenly deciding not to trust the English.


All up, outstanding work again.

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Re: "Long Weekend": A Short Story

Post by Kiskaloo on Wed 30 Dec 2009 - 14:14

Professor Voodoo wrote:From what I've read of his work so far you've got a good bead on his character Kara. She's certainly been taught to enjoy the "finer things" in life and she's not ashamed of it.
Alfisti wrote:I'm going to try not to repeat anything Voodoo's said, but I don't blame Kara for dousing the radio sharpish. Razz

Good

I'd love to see what would come from taking a longer crack at writing Kara, Robert. Yes Indeed

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Re: "Long Weekend": A Short Story

Post by Professor Voodoo on Sat 2 Jan 2010 - 1:33

I'm a little slow with this, but I figure everyone's been pretty busy with the turn of the New Year...

You definitely set a very creepy tone as Lorenzo views Dona through the glass. The juxtaposition of her intense eyes against the teddy-bear bandages was particularly striking...I could almost feel the silence in the room.
The exchange between Bianchi & Lorenzo keeps that tension going, I like how you presented the entire scene from Lorenzo's point of view instead of switching back and forth.
"...something about the doctor irked Lorenzo immensely..."
So not even the Chief likes Bianchi much. Although he's presented as a positive character in the canon it seems like fanfiction writers like presenting him as a pretty dislikable guy...you present a pretty realistic reason why.

The scene ends with uncertainty about Donatello's future...I think I like that though. Even if you don't update us on her eventual status in a future story, the ambiguity of her fate is very realistic, especially at this early stage in her recovery.

Your joke about Draghi's e-mail In-box really sets the tone for you next scene. He's frustrated, he's bored but still procrastinating, but eventually he has to write up "that report." The report is written tersely & professionally, but you can feel his annoyance at having to type (I assume he's typing) the word "success." He does manage to sneak in a dig against Section 2 though!

For me the highlight of the whole story was the long exchange between Avise & Hillshire.
"...when he discovered that Triela had suffered harm too, he had despised Agapita, as if she had deceived him."
That's a very powerful sentence! It surprised me, but it's an emotion that fits his attitude (as it's presented in the canon) perfectly. His guilty suppression of those feelings is also "very Hillshire."

Avise is turning into a complex and interesting character. He sometimes seems very affectionate toward his cyborg, but his annoyance at Agapitha's injuries is more "Jean-like" than anything. Is his phrase "shackled to the bed" a metaphor, or is she actually restrained to keep her from making things worse?

Your observation about the decorative shrubbery around the hospital entrance is another clever touch...I don't know if it was your intent, but to me it speaks of the over-thought nonsense of bureaucracy. Avise's comment about them “Small but perfectly formed” is a great double-entendre.

Avise & Hillshire's debate started off a bit awkwardly, but once you got rolling it became the climax of the chapter. Side note; I kind of imagined Mancini as being a bit hair-trigger sensitive about his religion too...maybe as a result of the company he typically works with. I touched on that in my episode 7, Elio worries about how Avise will react if a nun is assassinated.

I'm not sure how "unflappable" Hillshire's Teutonic bearing is...frankly I find him one of the more emotional adult characters in the story...he's certainly one of the most likely to do something reckless.
"I love her for who she is, purely and exactly, and not the fantasy of what I’d like her to become.”
That line is a terrific, stinging reference to how Hillshire feels about Triela...placing the weight of his lingering feelings for Rachel on her shoulders.

"Saint" Mancini...is that a nickname the other Section 2 agents have given him? If so I'll have to incorporate it.
The final line in the scene closes it out perfectly...a vague reference to Mancini's lost wife & daughter. I trust Hillshire does not know that story?

The decision to present the entire funeral scene in narrative without a word of dialogue was effective in setting a mood of foggy detachment...similar to what one really feels at a funeral for someone you didn't know that well.

Your comparison between Agapitha & Marisa's attitudes toward the ceremony was great...Agapitha should still be in the hospital, but wouldn't miss it for the world...Marisa has to force herself just to set foot inside a church! It really presents the cyborgs as individuals with widely differing personalities.

I like that you didn't get bogged down with an explanation of every single character at the funeral, Lorenzo's observations about his subordinate's uniforms are enough...so he considers Priscilla "quite fetching," eh? There's a dirty old man hidden inside the Chief it seems! (The first sentence of that paragraph has Lorenzo's name as Lauro.)

You really close it all out poetically with the reading of the names (nice reference to Irma), and give the whole tale an understated but powerful final line. It also means you opened chapter 1 and closed the story from Chief Lorenzo's perspective, giving it a nice "full circle" effect.

Altogether a great story...over 28,000 words, but still over too quickly. I hope you don't take too long a holiday before favoring us again!
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Re: "Long Weekend": A Short Story

Post by Robert Frazer on Sat 2 Jan 2010 - 15:57

Alfisti:

The report itself: you could see him fighting with himself to not doctor the facts but also wanting, trying to slant it so that it seemed like a Section 1 success... and failing notably as well.

Sometimes I wonder if I've been a little too simplistic in depicting Draghi as the frustrated rival, but then that's how he's shown in the manga itself.

I've been wondering how Triela would react to her... now I know, and I think her reaction's understandable, it's interesting also to see Triela being portrayed as not-so pragmatic in this case.

Yes, I think that Triela was developing something that, if not quite a friendship, was a degree of familiarity and affection with Mimi - and she's intimately associated with events where Triela recovered her past memories and became more self-aware and conscious of her will, too (as well as snogging Hilshire...!). Seeing Agapita - a bastardised half-Mimi who doesn't even like sports - would feel as though the world's trying to drag her back after making progress in her developing self, and tarnish the memory of occasions that were fairly momentous for her

My only concern there would be how much she's likely to act as a memory-jogger or Agapita's former life as Mimi? I mean, they have to keep Mario away from her, and Hillshire also tries to keep him clear of Triela for similar reasons (or at least did). I just wonder how it would effect Agapita having a fragment of her former life interacting with her (however coldly) every day.

That's... a really good point. I'm going to have to think about how to address this one. sweat

Voodoo:

I'm a little slow with this, but I figure everyone's been pretty busy with the turn of the New Year...

Good grief, Voodoo, you don't need to apologise! Not at all! There's no deadline on enjoyment, and I wouldn't want this sort of thing to ever be a chore. Take as long as you want to comment, or even not at all if you don't fancy it. Besides, I was a wee bit tipsy on New Years' Night...

"Tell yer wot... next story... Aghep... Agip... Ag*BURP*ta... gets inflated... to be BIGUR DAN DA MOOOOON! Then we can drop her on allov Padainya! Phroblhem solved! RHHHHHHHAAAYYYY!" *THUD*

So not even the Chief likes Bianchi much. Although he's presented as a positive character in the canon it seems like fanfiction writers like presenting him as a pretty dislikable guy...

True, although we're seeing Lorenzo's view of Bianchi rather than Bianchi as he actually is here. I have to confess that I'm probably using Lorenzo as a mouthpiece for my personal prejudices as well (although it's not just soapboxing, I think that it fits with the setting too). I know that it sounds ridiculous, like a child being afraid of his first booster shot, but nonetheless the idea of psychologists 'messing with my head' is a little unsettling.

He sometimes seems very affectionate toward his cyborg, but his annoyance at Agapitha's injuries is more "Jean-like" than anything.

Yeah, Avise dearly and ardently loves Agapita but he's still mixed up more in the 'officer-soldier' aspect of the fratello than the 'father-daughter' one, it'll take time to adjust his frames of reference.

Is his phrase "shackled to the bed" a metaphor, or is she actually restrained to keep her from making things worse?

The former, he's just speaking figuratively. After a career rushing about here there and everywhere, poor old Avise has been conditioned to be the sort of man who finds it difficult to lie back and relax - he'll jump quickly in and out the rain-locker, not run a bath and have a long soak.

kind of imagined Mancini as being a bit hair-trigger sensitive about his religion too...maybe as a result of the company he typically works with. I touched on that in my episode 7, Elio worries about how Avise will react if a nun is assassinated.

I wouldn't say that Avise is a god-botherer - I don't think I'm cruel enough to inflict that sort of character on the Agency! He's religious but definitely not the priggish type who'll demand a full half-hour to say Grace before dinner or complain that there's not a crucifix mounted in every room - don't be like the pagans who'll fill the air with their many words, and in any case when you've made a career out of killing people (and truth be told, he quite enjoys fighting - he was quite eager to go to Iraq as it was a rare opportunity to be part of a real war, and he came back satisfied) you can't be the world's most pious Christian no matter how many times you go to Mass. So, from day to day religion isn't an issue with him. Still, you've accurately identified his sensitivity -he's led a competitive career and doesn't respond well to criticism; he gets, if not belligerent, then quite tetchy and defensive if he senses that he's being questioned, as is the case with Hilshire in the story.

I'm not sure how "unflappable" Hillshire's Teutonic bearing is...frankly I find him one of the more emotional adult characters in the story...he's certainly one of the most likely to do something reckless.

You have a point - thinking back, there's him taking on the Camorra single-handedly so Triela didn't have to in Vol. 10. I was perhaps falling back on the German stereotype in this part.

"Saint" Mancini...is that a nickname the other Section 2 agents have given him? If so I'll have to incorporate it.

No, I don't think that it'd be a general nickname - Hilshire's just endured Avise preaching at him, and he still thinks that Avise is just lost in vain and arrogant self-assurance and so uses the 'Saint' sarcastically on that occasion.

I trust Hillshire does not know that story?

No, he wouldn't. Chief Lorenzo (and possibly Jean as the senior handler, although I'm not sure) would know Avise's background because he's privy to the handler's personal file, but it's a private burden for Avise so he wouldn't advertise it to anyone else in the Agency. Now that he's with Agapita though the weight of guilt is lifting off of him and so he may start opening up about it in the future.

Your comparison between Agapitha & Marisa's attitudes toward the ceremony was great...Agapitha should still be in the hospital, but wouldn't miss it for the world...Marisa has to force herself just to set foot inside a church!

Heh, and probably only after a lot of cajoling from Elio I imagine - "it'll be done in less than an hour! Don't be awkward, or you'll be demoted to snorkelling for the next fortnight!" Wink

Incidentally, sorry to bring this up Voodoo, but if you don't mind my asking why do you put that extra 'h' on the end of 'Agapita'? Is it the proper spelling? I didn't know.

and give the whole tale an understated but powerful final line.

Thanks for that. I do have a real interest in funerary culture - I'm not sure that the way we tend to airbrush death out of life today is entirely healthy for a society - so I'm glad that it was able to have an effect.

Altogether a great story...over 28,000 words, but still over too quickly. I hope you don't take too long a holiday before favoring us again!

Thanks for reading! I've actually already made a start on the next story, but once I'm back from holiday tomorrow it's straight back in to work so it may not be ready for a few weeks yet. It's going to be rather more light-hearted than 'Long Weekend' - the working title is 'Wham, Bang, Fizz, P.o.W.'

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Re: "Long Weekend": A Short Story

Post by Professor Voodoo on Sun 3 Jan 2010 - 3:30

Robert Frazer wrote:
Sometimes I wonder if I've been a little too simplistic in depicting Draghi as the frustrated rival, but then that's how he's shown in the manga itself.
It would be nice to fully develop every character in the story, but you'd be tackling a project of Tolkien-esque proportions. You did provide a little backstory about Draghi's family...that's more than anyone else has done.

There's no deadline on enjoyment
Most prostitutes would disagree with that...

Besides, I was a wee bit tipsy on New Years' Night...
Sounds good! I had kind of a laid back night, but as it happened an old friend was in town so we hung out drinking (Dec 31st 2009 was the 250th birthday of the Guinness company, so that auspicious event guided our choice of libations) and talking about diving expeditions we'll probably never get the chance to take.

"Tell yer wot... next story... Aghep... Agip... Ag*BURP*ta... gets inflated... to be BIGUR DAN DA MOOOOON! Then we can drop her on allov Padainya! Phroblhem solved! RHHHHHHHAAAYYYY!" *THUD*
Good story...can't wait to read it!

Yeah, Avise dearly and ardently loves Agapita but he's still mixed up more in the 'officer-soldier' aspect of the fratello than the 'father-daughter' one, it'll take time to adjust his frames of reference.
I like the idea of a developing realtionship much more than that of static characters that do not learn and change as a result. *Blasphemy Warning* That's one of my criticisms of the canon series...there's a lot of interesting characters, but very few of them grow as the series progresses.


I wouldn't say that Avise is a god-botherer...you've accurately identified his sensitivity
Is that the UK term? "Bible-thumper" is more common here in the US, it is kind of a pejorative term though. No, I didn't get the impression that Avise was obnoxious about his faith...in fact I picture him as having a reasonable sense of humour about it.

- thinking back, there's him taking on the Camorra single-handedly so Triela didn't have to in Vol. 10.
He also charged into that warehouse in Amsterdam with only a medical examiner as back-up.


Incidentally, sorry to bring this up Voodoo, but if you don't mind my asking why do you put that extra 'h' on the end of 'Agapita'?
Seems I was just screwing it up. Thanks for pointing that out before I published anything with her name spelled incorrectly

I've actually already made a start on the next story, but once I'm back from holiday tomorrow it's straight back in to work so it may not be ready for a few weeks yet. It's going to be rather more light-hearted than 'Long Weekend' - the working title is 'Wham, Bang, Fizz, P.o.W.'
Are you taking a full blown stab at a comedic story? Whatever it is we're looking forward to it!
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Re: "Long Weekend": A Short Story

Post by Robert Frazer on Mon 4 Jan 2010 - 19:50

Just a quick note to say that I've uploaded mirrors of the chapters to my DeviantArt account, which can be accessed if Fanfiction.net is inoperable for whatever reason:


One - Friday Morning

Two - Friday Afternoon

Three - Saturday

Four - Sunday

Five - Afterwards

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Re: "Long Weekend": A Short Story

Post by Robert Frazer on Mon 4 Jan 2010 - 20:01

Sounds good! I had kind of a laid back night, but as it happened an old friend was in town so we hung out drinking (Dec 31st 2009 was the 250th birthday of the Guinness company, so that auspicious event guided our choice of libations) and talking about diving expeditions we'll probably never get the chance to take.

I have something of a funny story with Guinness... a few years ago now, I was crewing on a yacht delivery from Cork in Ireland to Largs in Scotland, and we moored up in Bangor in Northern Ireland for an overnight stay. We went ashore for a drink and hey, this is Ireland - you've got to drink Guinness, right?

So, the landlord pours out the drink, but then stops an inch from the rim of the glass, and says, "I'll bring it to you."

I look puzzled and say, "but it's there, can't I just take it now?" and I promptly reach over, pick it up and walk back over to our table, while behind me the landlord looks as though I've slapped him.

Now, the trouble is, I'd only recently turned 18 and I'd only just started drinking, so I didn't know about the whole "it takes 278.78927 seconds, turning eight times widdershins and doing the hokey-cokey while french-kissing a mongoose to pour the perfect pint" lark that Guinness insists on, and everyone else was quick to wonder what wild thing I was embarking on once I sat down again.

It's lucky that it's a funny story, actually, and not the start of a riot... sweat

Suffice to say, since then I've stuck to bitter.

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Re: "Long Weekend": A Short Story

Post by Alfisti on Mon 4 Jan 2010 - 21:37

Robert Frazer wrote:
Sounds good! I had kind of a laid back night, but as it happened an old friend was in town so we hung out drinking (Dec 31st 2009 was the 250th birthday of the Guinness company, so that auspicious event guided our choice of libations) and talking about diving expeditions we'll probably never get the chance to take.

I have something of a funny story with Guinness... a few years ago now, I was crewing on a yacht delivery from Cork in Ireland to Largs in Scotland, and we moored up in Bangor in Northern Ireland for an overnight stay. We went ashore for a drink and hey, this is Ireland - you've got to drink Guinness, right?

So, the landlord pours out the drink, but then stops an inch from the rim of the glass, and says, "I'll bring it to you."

I look puzzled and say, "but it's there, can't I just take it now?" and I promptly reach over, pick it up and walk back over to our table, while behind me the landlord looks as though I've slapped him.

Now, the trouble is, I'd only recently turned 18 and I'd only just started drinking, so I didn't know about the whole "it takes 278.78927 seconds, turning eight times widdershins and doing the hokey-cokey while french-kissing a mongoose to pour the perfect pint" lark that Guinness insists on, and everyone else was quick to wonder what wild thing I was embarking on once I sat down again.

It's lucky that it's a funny story, actually, and not the start of a riot... sweat

Suffice to say, since then I've stuck to bitter.


...and people wonder why I'm not much of a Guinness drinker.

Personally though I've always enjoyed the theatre of watching someone who knows what they're doing (or at least subscribes to the wank) pour a pint or mix a cocktail. Stella's another one that seems to have an overly elaborate process.

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Re: "Long Weekend": A Short Story

Post by Kiskaloo on Mon 4 Jan 2010 - 21:39

I love tending bar at parties I (co-)host, but I admit to lacking any sense of "flair".

But then, I figure you're there to drink, not watch me fling bottles around. Smile

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Re: "Long Weekend": A Short Story

Post by Professor Voodoo on Mon 4 Jan 2010 - 22:19

Kiskaloo wrote:I love tending bar at parties I (co-)host, but I admit to lacking any sense of "flair".
But then, I figure you're there to drink, not watch me fling bottles around.

I always enjoyed bartending back when I was in the military...unfortunately in our squadron bar that also meant you were the DJ, which I did not relish. Still, a bar is the only business I could ever see myself owning.

Since Robert bared his soul, I will be supportive and offer my own "Embarrassing Guinness Story," which I believe is #8,674,212 in the archives:

My buddy & I were drinking at a pub just off Bourbon Street in New Orleans when an Anheuser-Busch sales representative comes in and starts buying free Budweiser for the whole place. He notices the two of us sitting at the end of the bar, still paying for our Guinness, and approaches; "Hey, fellas, I'm buying free Budweiser for the house...it's free."
Now, I don't remember saying this, but my buddy swears I did, and the barmaid confirmed it the next time I visited. Allegedly, I looked this guy straight in the face and replied "Budweiser is what you give little girls for their tea parties."

Unbelievably, I did not get punched in the face that night...

*UPDATE*
Apperantly Enrica was a heavy Guinness drinker too. In chapter 57 we see a trophy on her bedroom table...

obviously, this is some sort of prize for winning a stout-drinking competition.
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Re: "Long Weekend": A Short Story

Post by Robert Frazer on Sat 9 Jan 2010 - 8:55

Yes, the judges were so utterly wasted on liquid bread that they couldn't even get the trophy the right way around... "ah fergeddabaatit, s'harp, s'oirish enuff." Wink

Although that said, I can actually perfectly visualise Enrica hopped up onto a stool in a bar, surrounded by empty glasses, pulling at a bottle and with a mountain of cigarette butts in an ashtray beside her, vowing dire vengeance between swigs against "that succubus Sophia" for stealing away dear brother Jean... "ah'll gerrer, dat bhitch, jus' yu wait..." Laughing

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