Crossroads of Destiny

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Alfisti on Fri 26 Aug 2011 - 8:54

Ok, as previously promised... further thoughts:

Head pounding with the force of a thousand drums, Melanie groaned
weakly. Pain and nausea wracked her body with equal intensity as her
eyes slowly fluttered open, revealing a pale blue sky laced with wispy
clouds. She had been laid out on her back, with what felt like a rolled
up jacket placed under her head for cushioning. The branches of several
towering coniferous trees cut across her vision, their tight clusters of
deep green needles waving in the stiff, ever-present breeze...
Nice "coming around" sequence for the start of the chapter. You really do get the sense of each of Melanie's senses kicking in as she's slowly able to take stock of her situation.

"You did," Jacob grunted sourly. "And you're damned lucky I managed to grab you and haul your ass back to safety.
I note Jacob leaves her little breakdown afterwards which, if I remember correctly, was the thing which actually knocked her out... umm... out. An urge to protect his cyborg from that, or a need to mull over it before deciding what to do about it... or a little of both?

"Actually, I'm probably just as much to blame as you are. I should never
have allowed you to walk out onto that ridge in the first place."
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think this is damn-near the first time Jacob has openly questioned his own actions infront of Melanie?

The indelible and unavoidable laws of Murphy
Monty: Really, really don't like that bloke.

Another half-kilometre on, Melanie pulled up short, ears straining, all
of her senses suddenly on the alert. There was a faint rustling coming
from further up the trail, the sounds of leaves crunching, twigs
snapping and branches clacking together as they swung back and forth
with a force that was contrary to the gentle breeze filtering through
the forest.
At first I thought this may have been the GIS commandos come back to find the fratello... either of their own accord or on orders from perhaps Jean, since at the end of last chapter he apparently had somewhere he wanted to send them.

...which makes me suddenly wonder about those hikers.

This was the first time Melanie had ever been away from the comfort and safety of the agency's closed compound environment.
I imagine the first time out is both exciting and scary to any cyborg, in varying ratios.

she must be getting close to her eighty-thousand kilometre tune-up by now."
Trust Allison to put it in automotive terms Razz

It wasn't until after she had finished talking that the full import of
what she had just said struck her. She froze, eyes widening slightly in
alarm. Telling a bunch of strangers randomly met that Jacob was her
father was one thing, but to tell him to his face that she had referred
to him as such was quite another! What if he took offense to her calling
him dad?
I'll admit my first thought was that she was scared Jacob had used a different story, blown their cover and Melanie was blaming it on herself. That her first concern is about Jacob's response to her calling him her "father" certainly speaks volumes of where he head is and where her concers lie.

Melanie helped Jacob erect the small, dome-shaped three-man tent
Yeah, they'd definately want a three-man at least... I'm firmly of the opinion that the people who work out how many people a tent can hold are calculating on midgets.

Tearing open the steaming pouch in his hands, Jacob emptied its contents
onto his plate. The strong spices of the tarragon chicken assailed his
nose and he quickly dug into the meal.
Bleh, extra washing up... eating out of the packet is where it's at Razz

But, just like his memories of Sophia, the three weeks he had spent in
that filthy hole wasn't a time he eagerly looked back on.
Monty: Trust me, it was no cakewalk from this side either sunshine.

Now, instead of a jealous cyborg, he had a panicky, suddenly over-protective one.
If Melanie ever does meet Monty I'll be interested to see what her reaction to her after this is... still lingering jealousy perhaps... grattiude? *shrugs*

"Never apologize for doing your job, Corporal," Jacob barked on instinct.
I'm not sure it would make Melanie feel any better to know that he's like that with everyone.

"So then what happened?" Melanie asked eagerly, her amber eyes shining
with a rapt awe that had her leaning forward slightly. Her plate was
clutched tightly in both hands, the remains of her dessert completely
forgotten.
Excellent battle sequence as usual mate... though I'm going to have to disagree with Voodoo here: I think it was quite a good place to wrap things up. The high-action part of its over, at least for Jacob... I think if you tried to run it longer, at least at this moment, it would risk starting to drag as the reader comes down off the adrenalin high.

So, after explaining to them how my decision to help the convoy ended up
saving the lives of a GIS team that was a part of the troop convoy,
they agreed to make a detour from their mission to pull me out.
Grudginly I'm sure on the part of at least half of the concerned party...

"Did they ever catch the mole?" Melanie asked anxiously. A strange
expression settled over her face, the look of a slow, smouldering anger
beginning to build up deep beneath the surface. The idea of a spy having
given information to terrorists, information that had very nearly
gotten Jacob killed, infuriated her.
An interesting parralell of course with the current potential situation inside the SWA... which again almost got Jacob killed Razz


Another excellent chapter mate. Looking forward to the next.

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by ChaosKin640 on Fri 26 Aug 2011 - 10:33

That Melanie chose that instead of "brother" or "partner" provides an interesting clue into how she sees the relationship evolving.
It was more of a quick strategic decision on her part. Saying that she's out hiking with her father was the most realistically believable story in her opinion. Calling him her brother might have invited more questions about him, opening up more possibilities for her to mess something up. And simply calling Jacob her "partner" would likely have come off as rather odd.
It seems to "cut out" at an odd point though
As Alfisti mentioned, I ended the flashback there because it was the natural end for it. Jacob's battle was over and with the last look passing between him and the GIS commando, there was the mutually accepted truth that Jacob needed to be left behind for the good of everyone else. That parting of ways was an end not only to Jacob's fight on that day, but ultimately of his entire old life. I could have dragged it on for another few paragraphs, describing how exactly he ended up being taken hostage(he gets cracked in the head with the butt end of an AK47 and knocked out, by the way), but it wasn't really necessary.
I note Jacob leaves her little breakdown afterwards which, if I remember
correctly, was the thing which actually knocked her out... umm... out.
An urge to protect his cyborg from that, or a need to mull over it
before deciding what to do about it... or a little of both?
The former. If she doesn't remember having almost crushed his ribcage, then there's no point in his bringing it up and reminding her of it. Jacob may be a jaded, ill-tempered jackass, but he's not new to the cyborg handler game. He does still remember how to handle the more delicate aspect of the cyborg-handler relationship. It's just a matter of whether he cares enough to utilize that knowledge. In this case, reminding her serves no purpose, other than to potentially upset her again and delay them even further.
...which makes me suddenly wonder about those hikers.
... ...
Trust Allison to put it in automotive terms Razz
That and it seems to be the generally accepted metaphor used around here as well.
Yeah, they'd definately want a three-man at least... I'm firmly of the
opinion that the people who work out how many people a tent can hold are
calculating on midgets.
Well, I know for a fact that the sizing classifications don't take your backpacks and other gear into account, so that where most of the room is lost. When I was in Scouts, the general rule of thumb was that the tent should be for one person more than who will actually be sleeping in it. I.E. 3-man for 2 people, 4-man for 3, etc.
Bleh, extra washing up... eating out of the packet is where it's at Razz
True, but some of those ration packs only become edible when out of the pouch. Namely, the mac-and-cheese. That stuff is absolutely vile eaten straight from the packet, but on a plate, it actually becomes palatable.
If Melanie ever does meet Monty I'll be interested to see what her
reaction to her after this is... still lingering jealousy perhaps...
grattiude?
That would depend entirely on how much time I allow to pass before said meeting occurs. Most likely, by the time it happens, Melanie and Jacob's relationship will have stabilized and she would be clear-headed and secure enough in her partnership with Jacob to appreciate what Monty did for him and be grateful for it.
Grudginly I'm sure on the part of at least half of the concerned party...
I get the feeling that Monty does everything grudgingly. Unless it entails doing paperwork in a hotel room next to Jethro, or in the passenger seat of the Audi and again next to Jethro.

Thanks for the comments everyone, always appreciated. I won't make any estimates on when the next chapter will be finished as, to be perfectly honest, I've gotten a bit lazy and haven't been working on it as diligently as I should be.

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Alfisti on Fri 26 Aug 2011 - 11:02

@ChaosKin640 wrote:
Trust Allison to put it in automotive terms Razz
That and it seems to be the generally accepted metaphor used around here as well.
Yeah, on that front: it probably bears remembering that you're in a forum full of rev-heads as well Wink

@ChaosKin640 wrote:
Bleh, extra washing up... eating out of the packet is where it's at Razz
True, but some of those ration packs only become edible when out of the pouch. Namely, the mac-and-cheese. That stuff is absolutely vile eaten straight from the packet, but on a plate, it actually becomes palatable.
Eh, your rations are obviously different to ours. The general rule of thumb with the ADF ration packs we used in cadets were A) Get the C-Rats... they were the best of what was available. Which meant if you were an NCO you went through the ration supplied before anyone else got there and took all the C-Rats out. and B) Rations taste best cold, fill you up more hot and are best not looked at (actually the C-Rat main meal, some sort of misc-meat stew, was bloody delicious cold).

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by ChaosKin640 on Sat 15 Oct 2011 - 7:04

Okay, as promised, I finally have the next chapter finished, proof-read, beta-read and posted. Thus, you can find it here

P.S. Oh yes, and for the relevant passage (you'll know which one) I offer this statement:
Legal Disclaimer: The thoughts and opinions expressed by the characters contained herein do not reflect the thoughts and opinions of the author. Thank you.

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Kiskaloo on Sat 15 Oct 2011 - 12:47

@ChaosKin640 wrote:Oh yes, and for the relevant passage (you'll know which one) I offer this statement:
Legal Disclaimer: The thoughts and opinions expressed by the characters contained herein do not reflect the thoughts and opinions of the author. Thank you.

Frankly, I loved it. The handlers all come from diverse backgrounds so it makes perfect sense they would not all consider each other "beloved brothers in arms".

Robert Frazer originally considered having Avise somewhat antagonistic towards Michele because of his wealth and the idea that he joined the team because of his long friendship with the PM as opposed to earning it on merit as a field operative.

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by ElfenMagix on Sat 15 Oct 2011 - 22:42

Well done.
Spoiler:
For the same reason, Fernando would like to see Michele and Kara live in a low income housing project with only $1000/mo to live on and no access to friends, family or opportunities to get more money and cheat though Kara working at the local Mikey Dee's, Booger King or that slut Wendys would be her only option to add to their ordeal. Until then he respect them for what they can do and not the money they have.

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Alfisti on Sun 16 Oct 2011 - 1:23

Nice mate, always fun to watch someone get the rant on Very Happy

More thoughts to come.

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Professor Voodoo on Sun 16 Oct 2011 - 4:25

Chapter 14: A Plan Unfolds
Many were the nights he had spent silently stroking Sophia's hair as she trembled and wept, caught in the throes of the omnipresent nightmares that all of the cyborgs suffered.
The fact that Jacob is now seeing Melanie in relation to Sophia (even if he backtracks in the next paragraph) is a big jump for him.
well, they said that every girl should have at least one set of nice, fancy lingerie to help make them feel pretty."
Elio: I do hope you're limiting these conversations to the older girls. I absolutely do not need Marisa trying to convince me she needs €300 lingerie to help her "feel pretty".
But (Kara) had absolutely zero sense when it came to the value of money.
Handler swap scenarios run through my mind. I'm sure I'm not the only one who'd love to see Kara spend a whole week under the command of one of the "cheapskate" handlers. In exchange Melanie or perhaps tremec's Helen could spend a week with Pagani.
Michele is just as bad as she is. I remember one time when Marisa accidentally set his Lamborghini on fire, completely destroying it, and he just shrugged it off like it was no big deal and bought another one."
Marisa: Aww man...I thought that incident was limited to the forum. Now that it's part of somebody's story it's "Official"!
for Michele to act as if he had just knocked over a glass of water
Michele: To be fair...Doc Bianchi did hook me up with some very nice tranquilizers, which may have influenced my mood.
Jacob and Lupa, a fellow handler, had had a difference of opinion on the planning of a joint mission. While out on the firing range one day, they had gotten into a rather heated argument on the subject, close enough for their cyborgs to overhear. The next day, and for nearly a week afterwards, Sophia and Gattonero had been cold death towards one another.
This is a very believable observation. I dare say even Henrietta & Rico would go to war with each-other if they saw their respective fratelli fighting.
Melanie, having picked up the sounds several minutes earlier, had been hesitant to approach, worried that it might be another group of hikers and not wanting any more awkward encounters. But upon seeing Jacob's eagerness, she must have realized suddenly what the voices meant and who they must belong to, as she also quickened her step to keep pace.
That's a clever passage. Melanie's initial instinct was correct, but picking up on Jacob's body language causes her to alter her reaction. A potential bad habit forming?
She hadn't known quite what to expect from the small bundles Angelo had slipped into the fire at first, feeling both curious and apprehensive about the strange name.
Making her the first person in the history of the SWA to be eating a foiled wrapped "hobo stew" while wearing €300 underwear.
"Next time, we'll see about planning something closer to your agency headquarters," Raphael said thoughtfully.
When I read this line I thought he was suggesting an urban hunt through Rome...
"I got them during the Power Plant battle at New Turin."
Interesting twist on canon...I take it from their appearance earlier in the story that Henrietta & the other Gen 2's are also survivors in your timeline.
"I would have though every one of you girls would know all about New Turin."

Melanie squirmed slightly in embarrassment, feeling as if she had been caught not having finished an important homework assignment.
With all she's been through one can hardly blame Melanie for not reviewing all the old mission reports. I think that's probably something the girls are encouraged to do, but not as a formal requirement. That provides the author maximum flexibility when deciding how much his cyborg knows about the Agency's past.
"Protect me from what?" Jacob scoffed with a harsh, barking laugh. "From tripping over a root and falling on my ass?
In addition, Melanie isn't up to full-strength as a combat cyborg either...Jacob might actually be safer on his own.
"Speaking of which, if these little training exercises become a regular routine for us, we're going to need to come up with a nickname for you, too."
This whole scene is an interaction that I'd love to see more of. A cyborg rarely gets the chance to converse with a non-Agency adult without her handler present & the fact that this GIS commando is closer to her age than Jacob's just adds another layer of complexity to the conversation as Melanie wonders how formal or casual she should be with this man.
Looks like the pace is about to pick up as various plot-lines begin to converge. Looking forward to the next installment!

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Alfisti on Sat 22 Oct 2011 - 1:13

So, as promised.... extended thoughts:

Well that's just fucking perfect, Jacob growled silently to himself, cursing his own self-destructive stupidity. Waking up with a hang-over is just what I need.
Ugh, camping hangover... so not a fan. That said, these first few paragraphs seem to indicate that Jacob is becoming more aware, or at least more willing to admit to, his problem.

tightly cocooned in her sleeping back.
Sleeping back?

"You know damned well what I mean; where did you get…get…those?" he
demanded, feeling suddenly awkward and flustered as he struggled against
the rising tide of heat suffusing his face. He flung out one hand as he
talked, waving haphazardly towards her, indicating the lace-trimmed red
and gold silk bra that Melanie had on.
Hot and flustered because of having to talk about undergarments... or because there's only one reason she could possibly have decided to wear lace whilst hiking in the mountains.

He should have been angry; he should have been upset.
I dunno... I've sometimes wondered if Michele's even capable of getting mad.

And for Michele to act as if he had just knocked over a glass of water
is not only an insult to the car itself, but a spit in the face of every
person who has grown up idolizing everything that those cars represent.
And it pisses me off.
I take it Jacob would quite like to own a supercar?

Breakfast was a simple affair of oatmeal, small square loaves of
ration-pack bread that, while still soft, tasted as though they had been
baked and packages at some point just prior to the outbreak of the
Vietnam War
Well that certainly sounds better than the cereal bars that came in ours... which were generally regarded as being included as spare armour plate.

This was, after all, her very first training exercise on
wilderness tracking. This was precisely the time when she should be
making mistakes, rather than when their lives might be on the line.
Monty: (most of whom's training could be classified as "on the job") Well, that's certianly nice for some then isn't it?

"No, you were not," Luciano stated flatly, earning reproving looks from
the other three men that he pointedly ignored. "Neither of you were
paying attention to where you were going; so I guess our little detour
ended up teaching you two valuable lessons. There's something to be said
for that."
One of the downsides (upsides?) of being the senior man: sometimes you have to make sure the lesson is remembered.

That said, I get the impression he's not just referring to Melanie here.

"I got them during the Power Plant battle at New Turin."
Nice to know where the story is fitting in with canon... or not as the case may be (lets see where Yu goes), rather than, you know: avoiding the subject

"That sounds awfully convenient Jacob," Luciano said slowly, his face
taking on a pensive, sceptical expression. "Stelvio is the largest park
in the country and you just happen to run across the very four people
we end up getting ordered to hunt down and arrest?""I couldn't
believe it when I realized who Jean was talking about either," Jacob
conceded with a slow, understanding nod. "But as far as I'm concerned,
it's about damned time our enemies found out what it feels like to get
fucked around by Murphy's Law."
Got a chuckle out of this... don't you just hate it when things start sounding too convenient in your own stories Razz
They had set a hard pace in an effort to cut down the lead that the
couriers had on them; a pace that she could tell Jacob was having
trouble maintaining.
I start to wonder if this training exercise might do Jacob as much good in terms of getting him back in the saddle (so to speak) as it will Melanie's training and experience.
You're doing a really good job of having Jacob and Melanie's relationship change incrementally. Enjoying it mate, looking forward to the next.

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Kiskaloo on Sat 22 Oct 2011 - 9:24

@Alfisti wrote:
He should have been angry; he should have been upset.

I dunno... I've sometimes wondered if Michele's even capable of getting mad.

Kara: "Let's just say my middle name is not exactly a secret around here..."

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by ChaosKin640 on Sat 22 Oct 2011 - 20:59

@ Voodoo

The fact that Jacob is now seeing Melanie in relation to Sophia (even if he backtracks in the next paragraph) is a big jump for him.
Which becomes something of a sticking point for him. His natural instincts are to start drawing closer to Melanie as he did with Sophia, but he resists out of the stubborn to remain a jaded, embittered old bastard. Less risks that way.
Elio: I do hope you're limiting these conversations to the older girls. I absolutely do not need Marisa trying to convince me she needs €300 lingerie to help her "feel pretty".
Uh...I kind of got the impression that Marisa isn't the kind of girl who would remotely want to "feel pretty" in that fashion. She may prefer skirts over slacks in a deluded effort to present herself as being at least marginally "girly", but I can't see her going that far in the effort to deny her undeniable tom-boy personality.
In exchange Melanie or perhaps tremec's Helen could spend a week with Pagani.
Oh I'm sure handlers such as Michele would jump at the chance to pamper them outrageously. However, while I can't speak for Tremec's Helen, Melanie would feel decidedly uncomfortable with such unrestrained attention and indulgence. Both of her contributing baseline personalities, Minaka's and Quinn's, grew up in simple, reserved households. Quinn was born and raised in the middle of the jungle to a tribal culture. Even after 80,000+ years, she still prefers that simpler, more minimalistic lifestyle.
Marisa: Aww man...I thought that incident was limited to the forum. Now that it's part of somebody's story it's "Official"!
Uh, yeah....sorry about that Marisa. Unfortunately, I needed an example to illustrate the point Jacob was trying to make and your little…incident with Mr. Pagani’s Lambo fit the bill perfectly.
Interesting twist on canon...I take it from their appearance earlier in
the story that Henrietta & the other Gen 2's are also survivors in
your timeline.
Yes, they are all still alive. Primarily because I started this project before the New Turin arc started and they were killed off. Considering the important role both Henrietta and Triela play in my opening chapter, I can't really just go back and change things to suit canon.

@ Alfisti
Sleeping back?
Fixed.
Hot and flustered because of having to talk about undergarments... or
because there's only one reason she could possibly have decided to wear
lace whilst hiking in the mountains.
Uh, definitely the former. I think he's still a little too hungover for the latter to have occurred to him. Although, there's a possibility that it was subconsciously a part of Melanie's decision to wear them.
I take it Jacob would quite like to own a supercar?
Well, his father was a small-town mechanic. So he probably grew up with the appropriate calendars hanging on his bedroom walls.
That said, I get the impression he's not just referring to Melanie here.
No, he is not. He's definitely talking to the both of them there.
Nice to know where the story is fitting in with canon... or not as the
case may be (lets see where Yu goes), rather than, you know: avoiding
the subject
Sigh, yeah. I dare say Yu's latest chapters have thrown a rather sizable wrench into many of our fanfictions. We can either scramble to adjust, or just give up and pull the old AU card. I admit to some fanboyism where Triela is concerned so I'll be damned if I'm going to have her killed off from the very start of my story just to keep in line with canon.
I start to wonder if this training exercise might do Jacob as much good
in terms of getting him back in the saddle (so to speak) as it will
Melanie's training and experience.
Absolutely. This entire incident does, in fact, end up being just what Jacob needs to start pulling his head out of his ass. Seeing Melanie perform with genuine competence in a real-world combat situation is what finally sparks his willingness to start seriously treating her as a potential partner.
Enjoying it mate, looking forward to the next.
Great, thanks Alfisti (and everyone else too). I'm actually flying through chapter 15 rather quickly so I might have it done as early as first week of November. I'm working on the choreography for the battle right now, which should end up being the bulk of the chapter.
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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by ChaosKin640 on Sat 29 Oct 2011 - 4:31

Okay, as I said last week, I did indeed fly through writing chapter 15. My muse seemed to be in a particularly good mood and everything just flowed out beautifully. And so, without further ado, I give you all Chapter 15
Special mention goes to Professor Voodoo for his help in getting me past the little hiccup I had with FF.net earlier. Thanks again.
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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Professor Voodoo on Sat 29 Oct 2011 - 8:55

@ChaosKin640 wrote:Professor Voodoo for his help in getting me past the little hiccup I had with FF.net
The only reason I knew that was because I ran into the exact same problem .

You didn't waste any time banging that one out...saved to file...reading today.

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Alfisti on Sun 30 Oct 2011 - 4:06

Excellent... thoughts to come...

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Professor Voodoo on Tue 1 Nov 2011 - 2:07

Chapter 15: Cracks in the Wall
She waited, studying Angelo's face, feeling a surge of pride as he grinned and nodded approvingly. "Very good. You're right, this is a boot print. You have good eyes Melanie; I think even I might have missed this one." Melanie blushed at the unexpected and probably undeserved compliment, glancing away hastily.
In the last chapter I began to suspect an amorous fondness (close friendship at the very least) developing between Melanie & Angelo but I suppose the events of this chapter put a halt to all that.
She had spent over an hour sitting with Raphael, working with him as they went through the monotonous process of tying dozens of strings, cut from the spools of synthetic jute twine, to the netting.
Evocative of Henrietta sewing her damaged blouse in Chapter 2.
Jacob sidled down to kneel in front of her and she tilted her head back to allow him to smear her face and neck with camouflage paint.

"And I want that back; so don't go snapping it off in someone's skull, got that?"
This is why we can't have nice things...
She could smell the acrid stench of the discharged gunpowder clinging tight to the woman's body, as well as the slight charring of her skin around the wounds from powder-burns.
I'm surprised this isn't sending her into a flashback.
"You think Balašev's German contact somehow found out he'd been arrested and sent in a team to conduct damage control? Cut all ties to Balašev that could trace back to him?"
The Section Two mole raises his or her head again?
You're black ops, for Christ's sake; there's no such thing as jurisdictional boundaries for us.
Monty: Jurisdictional what? What is he talking about, Skipper?
Jethro: (facepalm)
A low kick to shatter the knee or femur of the man closest to Melanie would drop him and then a backhanded slash across the throat to finish him. After that, the final man could be dispatched either by a disembowelling strike, just below the edge of his body armour, or by another rapid stab to the eyes or throat. Fast. Easy. She could do it. All she need was Jacob's signal and she would pounce and…
This is one of my favorite elements of the chapter...a quick look inside the mind of a dangerously eager to please cyborg.
Blood filled Melanie's mouth as her fangs ripped through the arteries, the hot, sticky spray washing all across her face and chest.
Marisa: Whoa...the SWA laundry staff is gonna flip when you turn those clothes in!
Seriously, from Angelo's unexpected death to Melanie's animalistic re-lapse into Quinn the entire fight scene was brutal and unflinching. The battle just starts out on the wrong foot and ends with another uncertain cliffhanger.

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by ChaosKin640 on Wed 2 Nov 2011 - 8:27

I'm surprised this isn't sending her into a flashback.
Well, she is in mission-mode at this time, so the extra burst of Conditioning-fueled emotional stability is likely helping to override whatever subconscious impulses she might otherwise be suffering.
The Section Two mole raises his or her head again?
...Perhaps.
Marisa: Whoa...the SWA laundry staff is gonna flip when you turn those clothes in!
Jacob: Uh...I think we'll just be burning those instead. I know a lost cause when I see one.
Seriously,
from Angelo's unexpected death to Melanie's animalistic re-lapse into
Quinn the entire fight scene was brutal and unflinching. The battle just
starts out on the wrong foot and ends with another uncertain
cliffhanger.
I'm not going to lie, this was probably my favorite battle scene to write since Triela's fight during Ch01. I just love how it all came together; from the moment Melanie snaps, building up to that final moment when Quinn's buried instincts break free.
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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Alfisti on Fri 18 Nov 2011 - 7:10

So (finally) as promised: extended thoughts...

@ChaosKin640 wrote:Melanie smiled thinly, recognizing the slightly challenging tone in
Angelo's voice. He was testing her. "It can't be. If it were an ibex
track, there would be signs of gouging in the dirt from the front of its
hoof. Plus, the track is too big to be from a hoof. This looks more
like something stepped down and then slipped slightly, scrapping the
dirt and pulling the rocks free."
I see you figured out what time period you were going to start this chapter at. Showing Melanie's growing knowledge of tracking and her growing relationship with the other commandos is a nice and effective way of showing the time passing here... far more effective that a simple "a few days later". This way you actually get a sense of that block of time and things having happend through it.

And on the commandos' part, they were only too happy to teach her.
I get the impression that, at least in fanon, certain components of the GIS have sort of collectively adopted the cyborgs...

"I could radio back to Marcelo if you like," Melanie offered in response
to Angelo's comment. "Save you the trouble of having to talk to him."
I'm trying to work out if Melanie's feeling more confident after the last few days and is having a dig... or if she's just being cyborgishly helpful and adorably innocent here.

Also, as a side note: it could possibly use a linebreak between the explanation of the last few days and the rest of the "present" period text. I'll admit it took me a minute for it click where the timeline was seated.

There was something distinctly…expectant in their gazes, as if they were
relying upon her to be some hidden ace up their sleeves in case
something went wrong.
I guess sort of understandably too, considering how your universe's version of New Turin went down... anyone who hasn't worked with the cyborgs closely could well expect them to be some sort of unstoppable force of nature.

"Because I'm the only one who can afford to get shot in order to take them in alive," she replied flatly.
Monty: Marisa, Agapita.... you... I don't understand why you all seem to be in such a hurry to get yourselves shot.

"Melanie, what the Hell are you doing? What's going on down there?"
Jacob hissed into her earpiece, his voice carrying blended tones of
irritated anger and nervous fear.
Memories of Sophia?

Melanie assembled her rifle, laying out on the folded out, padded bag
Part of me wonders if she'll be allowed to keep it now...

Unable to do more than twitch weakly, Melanie could only watch,
horrified, as Angelo dropped away, falling the over one hundred feet to
the valley floor. She could only watch as he hit the ground flat on his
back, the dull thud slowly drifting up to her.
I'm wondering how this will effect her later down the track... is it going to make her think twice or be reluctant to drop into "sniper mode" again... particularly if it comes down between that or being able to protect Jacob in an instant.

Kicking out viciously, he knocked the rifle from Melanie's hands,
sending it tumbling through the air, over the edge of the cliff.
...guess she won't be keeping it.

The ghosts of hidden memories churned just beneath the surface of her subconscious and the sound of evil, malicious laughter...
Minka's memories... or Quinn's? Or a little of both?

I think I've just been shot, she muttered to herself confusedly.Somebody shot me. Some cowardly little laisjeq was hiding in the trees and just shot me! I hate getting shot!
It took me till a few paragraphs later to realise this was the start of Quinn surfacing... overall I think you handled Melanie's morphing into Quinn's persona quite artfully. I can't speak for others, but I only realised what was happening once it had actually happened. Then looking back you could see the markers; excellent stuff. Guess the "laisjeq" should have been a clue.

Also, the whole thought kind of reminded me of what was apparently an actual quote by a British Officer during WWI, who's last words were, quite litterally: "Blast, I am done for... shot, through the body..."

Straightening, Melanie sniffed, tasting the air for signs of her prey's
scent. She caught it easily, the air reeking of his panicky fear.
Glancing about, she could see the residual trail of his body-heat
disappearing deeper into the undergrowth....

...This time, rather than pursue her prey on the ground, Melanie clambered
up the trunk of a large, rough-barked tree, pulling herself into its
upper branches. Gazing down upon the forest floor, she could see the
bushes shaking and waving as the man forced his way through. If he was
smart, he should have stopped moving, doubling back to make his way
slowly through the trees until he was downwind of her, eliminating two
of her methods of tracking. But then, panicky prey rarely acting with
any level of intelligence.
Tell me I'm not the only one who read/mentally watched this entire sequence in... well...



...Predator vision?

Nicely done mate.

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by ChaosKin640 on Sun 20 Nov 2011 - 9:57

Hey Alfisti, always glad to hear from you.
I see you figured out what time period you were going to start this
chapter at. Showing Melanie's growing knowledge of tracking and her
growing relationship with the other commandos is a nice and effective
way of showing the time passing here...
Yeah, once I figured out where I wanted to start, the rest of the chapter's beginning fell right into place. I knew I would figure it out eventually and your advice was definitely appreciated.
I get the impression that, at least in fanon, certain components of the GIS have sort of collectively adopted the cyborgs...
Well, given the way Major Sale's crew treats "Laprotto", I'd say that Triela certainly set the example that I followed here.
I'm trying to work out if Melanie's feeling more confident after the
last few days and is having a dig... or if she's just being cyborgishly
helpful and adorably innocent here.
Umm...the former, I'd say. Angelo is the first person outside of Agency staff that Melanie's ever had close contact with and the exhilaration of that new experience has broken down some of Melanie's emotional barriers, allowing her to become friends with him so quickly.
Also, as a side note: it could possibly use a linebreak between the
explanation of the last few days and the rest of the "present" period
text. I'll admit it took me a minute for it click where the timeline was
seated.
Linebreak thrown in.
Monty: Marisa, Agapita.... you... I don't understand why you all seem to be in such a hurry to get yourselves shot.
You know, ironically enough - and this is something I've thought about before - given how much money it takes to build and train each cyborg, coupled with the reduction in operational lifespan that comes with each major repair job, the handlers are who should realistically be the ones paid to jump in front of a bullet to protect their cyborg. I mean, GSG already plays the moral grey-zone - its one of the key selling points of the series - so despite their professional experience the handlers are, by and large, expendable. Just something to think about.
Memories of Sophia?
Most definitely.
I'm wondering how this will effect her later down the track... is it
going to make her think twice or be reluctant to drop into "sniper mode"
again... particularly if it comes down between that or being able to
protect Jacob in an instant.
In the short-term, perhaps. However, in the long-run, it could and will force her and Jacob to work out their relationship issues and start building a cohesive partnership.
Minaka's memories... or Quinn's? Or a little of both?
Minaka's most prevalently. She's flashing back to the abuse she suffered in the brothel.
It took me till a few paragraphs later to realise this was the start of
Quinn surfacing... overall I think you handled Melanie's morphing into
Quinn's persona quite artfully.
Thank you. I must say that I myself love the way the mental transformation came out. I am very pleased with the entire passage and it's probably my favorite one to date.
Tell me I'm not the only one who read/mentally watched this entire sequence in... well...Predator vision?
Weeeeeelll...Quinn is a member of an evolved predatory hunter/warrior race, so I guess the comparison is there to make. But just so we're clear on one point: Quinn would rather die than have to rely on some pansy-assed shoulder-mounted laser cannon to kill her prey for her. As you can probably tell from this chapter, she prefers the...up-close and...um...personal approach.
Nicely done mate.
And thanks again, Alfisti. Hopefully this will serve as the inspiration I need to get off my lazy ass and start working on the next chapter again.
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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Alfisti on Mon 21 Nov 2011 - 4:00

@ChaosKin640 wrote:
Monty: Marisa, Agapita.... you... I don't understand why you all seem to be in such a hurry to get yourselves shot.
You know, ironically enough - and this is something I've thought about before - given how much money it takes to build and train each cyborg, coupled with the reduction in operational lifespan that comes with each major repair job, the handlers are who should realistically be the ones paid to jump in front of a bullet to protect their cyborg. I mean, GSG already plays the moral grey-zone - its one of the key selling points of the series - so despite their professional experience the handlers are, by and large, expendable. Just something to think about.
This could probably be applied to cyborgs as well, the abridged laws by David Langford:

  1. A robot will not harm authorized Government personnel but will terminate intruders with extreme prejudice.
  2. A robot will obey the orders of authorized personnel except where such orders conflict with the Third Law.
  3. A robot will guard its own existence with lethal antipersonnel weaponry, because a robot is bloody expensive.
Jokes aside, I guess the flip side to that argument is that (outside of fanon) a cyborg becomes somewhat useless if their handler is killed, which would represent a wasted investment anyway. Claes, is of course the exception here, but even her role is more like down-cycling rather than reusing under a new command and thereby getting a full return on money expended.

Weeeeeelll...Quinn is a member of an evolved predatory hunter/warrior race, so I guess the comparison is there to make. But just so we're clear on one point: Quinn would rather die than have to rely on some pansy-assed shoulder-mounted laser cannon to kill her prey for her. As you can probably tell from this chapter, she prefers the...up-close and...um...personal approach.
Yeah... sorry about the shoulder-mount; unfortunately that was the only bit of footage from the movie I could find. Razz

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

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