Crossroads of Destiny

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Alfisti on Sat 2 Oct 2010 - 10:24

Kiskaloo wrote:
Alfisti wrote:Erm... when's Halloween?

October 31st.
Thanks... it's not something we really celbrate over here so I've no idea.

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by ChaosKin640 on Sat 2 Oct 2010 - 18:47

What?! No Halloween in Aussie-land? Sacrilege! What are the children supposed to do for their annual teeth-rotting sugar-overload candy fix? Razz
Oh well, just kidding Alifisti; but anyway, take your time, I'm in no rush. I'm willing to admit that uni work is slightly more important in one's list of priorities.

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Robert Frazer on Sat 2 Oct 2010 - 19:23

Do they do Guy Fawkes Night (5th November) down in Oz at all? I've never been particularly enamoured with Hallowe'en myself, really, I've always preferred the bonfires.

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Alfisti on Sat 2 Oct 2010 - 20:31

ChaosKin640 wrote:What?! No Halloween in Aussie-land? Sacrilege! What are the children supposed to do for their annual teeth-rotting sugar-overload candy fix? Razz
That's what birthdays and, in Brisbane at least, Show Day are for. =P

Robert Frazer wrote:Do they do Guy Fawkes Night (5th November) down in Oz at all? I'venever been particularly enamoured with Hallowe'en myself, really, I'vealways preferred the bonfires.
Sadly we don't really do that one either, which I'm slightly more cut about. Halloween never really did much for me either, but a solid excuse to light stuff on fire? That I'm well down for!

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Professor Voodoo on Tue 26 Oct 2010 - 1:47

Chapter 02: Rebirth of a Warrior

Well-kept grass, left to grow slightly longer for the winter season, was just starting to show signs of renewed growth with a faint greening to be seen in the otherwise sere brown lawn. It wouldn't be long before Galeb Ramsey, the agency's silently diligent and perpetually pleasant groundskeeper would be out tending to the lawns, trees and flowerbeds with tender, loving precision.
Great way to set the scene as one of rebirth/resurrection...and it's great to see Ramsey show up in another's story, thanks.
"Please, for the love of all that is civilized in this world, tell me that there is something actually in that coffee."
At first I though Michele was suggesting that Jacob "Irish it up" a bit, which might not be such a good idea considering the alcoholic tail-spin he's just pulled himself out of!
"So I guess I shouldn't bother inviting you to martini night then?" Jacob's only answer to that was a dangerous glare.
Traditional dry martini's or the currently popular "anything goes" definition? With Michele I suspect the latter.
Rounding a corner, Jacob and Hillshire were forced to stop short as a small cluster of giggling girls pattered down the hall in the opposite direction, intent on the cafeteria and lunch beyond. Jacob cast a disapproving glare at the girls as they slipped by;
I like the little clues as to Jacob's mood...much better than just bluntly coming out and telling us how he feels.
The room beyond the door was an excellent reflection of the man who occupied it. Simply furnished with tall mahogany bookshelves that lined the back wall, a glass-fronted liquor cabinet nestled in one corner, Pieri Lorenzo's office presented an image of simple, understated elegance.
Lorenzo is a character that we see quite a bit of in canon yet know little about. That allows us fanfic writers a lot of latitude but also leads to some wildly varying interpretations of the man.
It was an aura of quiet dignity and unspoken resolve that Jacob often saw mirrored in Lorenzo's old friend and colleague Elio Alboreto, one of Jacob's fellow handlers.
Nice of Jacob to think of him that way. In my own mind's eye I contrasted Lorenzo against Elio. Lorenzo, leaner, sharp minded and subtle...a natural politician who must balance his power with likeability to inspire the loyalty of his section...while Elio is more of a blunt instrument, twisted & scarred by years of violence (and drug abuse). Both men certainly know their whiskey, art, cigars & classical literature as you imply, but Elio is the more burned out of the two.
"Melanie's ultimate goal will be to serve as the agency's dedicated "man-hunter", as it were. She will also be required to provide dedicated extreme-range sniper support."
Setting up a show-down between Melanie & Jacob versus the Section Two leak perhaps?
Triela is a martial-arts expert, after all and you don't see Victor throwing-down with her in the sparing ring, do you?"
"I suppose you have a point there, sir," Jacob admitted
I can imagine Triela being a tiny bit embarrassed in front of the other cyborgs when Hillshire's fighting prowess comes up in conversation. All the other handlers have years of military or intelligence operative experience, but Victor was a police investigator tasked with public relations.
His hand trembled slightly as he reached into the pocket of his khakis shorts. He withdrew a small, silver-plated hipflask, unscrewing the top and taking a quick swig.
Oh...perhaps there was something in that coffee! The contrast you make between Lorenzo's suit and Jacob being dressed so informally is noteable and says a lot about Mehrandish.
All around her the sinister whispers clung and clawed at her, trying to drag her back down into oblivion. She fought them off, thrashing and screaming.
She snapped awake with staggering force, her body jerking upright in bed.
An even more traumatic wake-up than Petrushka's!
The dress-code might be pretty relaxed around here, but they do tend to frown on you girls running around naked.
I do not doubt that it has actually happened at least once.
Padding over to the dresser, her feet slapping quietly against the floor tiles, Melanie pulled open the drawers, finding an almost dizzying array of clothes in dozens of different cuts and styles.
From her clothing to her weapons choices Jacob seems very eager to have his new cyborg make her own choices. An avoidance of the responsibility of picking things himself, or is he that eager to have her operating independently as fast as possible?
She knew the room was empty, but for some indiscernible reason, she couldn't shake the idea of being watched.
According to the wake-up procedure in Robert Frazer's stories...she is being watched.
With a slight, panicked yelp of alarm, she felt her foot slip out from under her, pitching her backwards to land with jarring force on her backside. She winced in pain as her tail-bone slammed against the hard tile. She sat there, stunned for several minutes, legs splayed out in front of her, cotton panties dangling uselessly in her hands.
I picture this scene set to slow, somewhat clumsy music. Definitely one of the funniest scenes I've read.
Wavy black hair spilling down her back almost to her waist, Nina was dressed in a simple white t-shirt trimmed in blue around the cuffs and collar tucked into a knee-length, mustard-yellow, tartan-patterned pleated skirt. A thin trim of white lace ran around the skirt's hem, matching the lace trim at the top of thigh-high dark blue stockings that showed above the tops of knee-high black leather boots that laced up the front. A pair of dark gold ribbons tied in perfect bows and set just above and behind her ears completed Nina's outfit.
Jeeze! Nina doesn't put much stock in subtlety, does she? I like how you've cast her as the cool girl who intimidates the just-activated Melanie.
She wrapped her hands around the slim glass carefully, raising it to her lips to take a small, experimental sip. Finding the sweet blend of tastes to her liking she quickly gulped the rest down, sighing happily as she lowered the glass back down.
A bit of Quinn, who has never had Earth food, showing through? I guess it's just more likely that tasting something for the first time with enhanced cyborg senses would be a real head-rush.
Melanie was taken aback by the bitter fierceness in Jacob's voice and she quailed slightly under his withering glare. "Oh…uh, ok. I'm sorry; I didn't mean to upset you Jacob. I understand."
For a freshly hatched cyborg Melanie's language & conversation skills seem to be rather advanced. One might expect shorter sentences and "Yes, Sir" "No, Sir" answers from a brand new cyborg.
Inside, the only other occupants were a pair of support staff members. One was a tall, broad-shouldered man in his mid-thirties, with short blonde hair that was swept back from his forehead and a thin chin beard.
Marco or Alessandro?
Melanie was slightly torn in her feelings. On the one hand, she was slightly disappointed that she wouldn't get to keep the gun she'd been using and had grown somewhat attached to. On the other hand however, she felt a powerful thrill of joy surge through her at the prospect of Jacob giving her a brand new weapon, straight from the box. It would be wholly and completely hers, with her handler as the only other person to have ever touched it.
In both canon & fanfiction the girls get heavily attached to their firearms...it must be one of the common elements of their conditioning.
"Hey! Where the Hell do you think you're going?" Jacob demanded angrily,
I know he's having a difficult time accepting a replacement for Sophia but Jacob is going to have completely traumatized his new girl before she see's her first combat.
She stammered out a response, feeling the sudden need to defend herself. "I…I wasn't…doing that. I was just…the way they're moving: it's amazing; so smooth and fast. Their balance and precision is perfect."
Seems like seeing something she's impressed by could provide a cyborg with the motivation to make it through those difficult first few days when nothing seems to work right...in Melanie's case it appears to be martial-arts.
With her conditioning tailored to turn her into a tracker and sniper, there was no reason for her to be so strongly instinctually drawn to the martial arts. Which meant it had to be some lingering remnant of her old personality bleeding through the mind-wipe.
Again, a bit of Minaka or Quinn shining through?
Those two were more than just soldiers, more than simple assassins. They were warriors. And something inside her, some buried instinct hidden in the darkest recesses of her soul whispered up to her that, so was she.
That would seem to suggest it's Quinn.
Melanie's design incorporated...the capacity to slip herself into a kind of "hibernation" mode that slowed her pulse and respiration to extremely low levels. This allowed her to remain almost perfectly still for several minutes at a time, vastly improving her natural accuracy. The downside was that it would take her almost a full minute to bring herself out of the trance-like state, leaving her momentarily vulnerable as she switched between the two modes.
A very creative strength/weakness balance which could be used as an interesting plot device.
Staring into her earnest, almost desperate eyes, Jacob felt himself wanting to give in, if only to make her happy.
Hmmm...is Mehrandish melting a bit here?
Shrugging his shoulders dismissively, Jacob relented and gave in. "Alright, fine. At least you picked one of the best rifles here." Melanie's face lit up at his words, a beaming grin splitting her face from ear to ear.
Rico tailed him faithfully, her Dragunov SVD marksman rifle slung over her shoulder, the end of the barrel topped by its slotted flash suppressor poking up above her blonde head.
In the military they taught us to carry our rifles barrel down, but I suppose that wouldn't work for the diminutive Rico and her long rifle. Cute touch.
"I'm going to assume that you're still interested in avenging Sophia's death?" Jean asked quietly once the two men were out of ear-shot of their cyborgs.
That could be difficult when your young trainee's have cybernetic ears! A hundred yards should do it. Appropriate that Jean, who has no compunctions about revenge himself, approaches him with this.
"Hillshire may be one of the best we have, but he can't be trusted. Not with this. As difficult as it is to accept, the simple fact is that his loyalties are and always have been exclusively to Triela, not the agency."
As much as it pained Jacob to admit, Jean was right. If not Triela's own conditioned allegiance to the SWA keeping her leashed to the Italian government, Hillshire would have taken her and vanished a long time ago.
Good observation, I dare say you're right.
"My thoughts exactly," Jean said with a sardonic grin of his own. "Now let's get back. And just so we're clear, your cyborg is not to know anything about this. They can barely be trusted to keep their emotions in check at the best of times. We can't afford to have her throwing suspicious looks at everyone she comes across."
"Not a problem."
I wonder if it might be harder for Jacob to keep a secret from Sophia, whom he had bonded strongly with.
"Never mind what I thought. I was just expecting something…worse."
"What could be worse than this?" she demanded, her shame flashing to irritated anger. "My stupid body isn't working right! How can I be of use to you killing terrorists if I can't even tie my own shoes?"
It's easy to forget how much we depend on muscle memory when dealing with everyday situations like balance, writing and trying a pair of shoes. Placing that in the cyborg's context makes this one of the best passages in the chapter.
Elio experienced a slightly different issue with Marisa's shoes...she got used to her body quickly enough but literally did not know how to tie shoelaces, having never owned shoes with laces in her previous life.
"You're a combat cyborg, I'm sure you'll hurt the tree more than it will hurt you. And yes, five laps of the compound. You said yourself you're having problems with your coordination; the best way to get used to using your body is to, well, use it. So get moving."
Besides, you should be able to see in the dark, Miss Tracker.
Flicking off her slippers with her toes, Melanie squirmed around until she was able to slide under the sheets, instantly flipping herself about to wrap the thick, down-filled comforter tightly about herself. She moaned in rapturous delight as the new warmth of the blankets slowly seeped into her and, curling into a tight foetal position, slipped instantly into blissful slumber.
A charming image to close the chapter with. I look forward to the next installment!

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by ChaosKin640 on Tue 26 Oct 2010 - 7:38

Hey, thanks for the comments Voodoo. You're definately welcome on my inclusion of Ramsey. I made the conscious decision right from the start of this whole project to have as much inter-weaving of different OC's as possible. Just my own humble efforts of tying all of our individual works together. And just to point out, Jacob is still very much an alcoholic. He is prone to take quick nips at his flask every now and then when he's feeling stressed, irritated, or just when the shakes start to hit.
Nice of Jacob to think of him that way. In my own mind's eye...Elio is more of a blunt instrument.
True, but I've always pictured Elio in my mind as, while definately grizzled and scarred by the events of his life, at least maintaining the appearance of that quiet dignity.
An avoidance of the responsibility of picking things himself, or is he that eager to have her operating independently as fast as possible?
Definately the former. I've mentioned it before, but Jacob is suffering from a rapidly dwindling capacity to care at all about much of anything.
A bit of Quinn, who has never had Earth food, showing through? I guess it's just more likely that tasting something for the first time with enhanced cyborg senses would be a real head-rush.
Um, mostly the later there in this case. Although, Quinn does have a bit of a sweet-tooth, so that could be contributing, heh.
Marco or Alessandro?
Uh, neither, I think. I'm pretty sure I had in mind the guy who drove Guise & Henrietta back to the agency at the end of the first ep. in the anime.
Hmmm...is Mehrandish melting a bit here?
I believe Alfisti is the one who made the comment about the almost bi-polar relationship between Jacob & Melanie, which is very accurate. Jacob is a man in conflict. His past experiences have left him horribly jaded and unwilling to open up and get close to her, but it is still in his natural core personality to want to bond and nurture, much in the way he did with Sophia, despite having suffered the death of his own son. It's a duality that I plan to have him struggle with a lot.
Placing that in the cyborg's context makes this one of the best passages in the chapter.
Thanks Voodoo, it was certainly my favorite section of the chapter to put together and write.
Besides, you should be able to see in the dark, Miss Tracker.
LOL, good point.

Anyway, again, thanks for the comments Voodoo. And I should have chapter 4 posted on schedule by the end of the month. Oh, and this is a bit belated, but thanks also to MP5 for the comment you left of FFnet; definately appreciated. it was a pleasure borrowing Allison & Brian for the chapter and I'm glad you're okay with it if I do so again. I'll admit that I have something of a soft-spot for Allison myself, perhaps because I so approve of her taste in cars, particularly the EVO you have her driving for the WRC mission. As a Lancer owner myself, I can definately relate to their appeal. And yes, Nina is most definately a bitch with a capital "C", if you get my meaning, Wink Just wait until chapter 6 when I have her indulge in her, um...shall we say..."extra-curricular" activities? with a captured Padania-employed weapon's smuggler. Just to give you a hint, it may or may not involve the use of a metal pail, a rat and a butane blow-torch.
I would be more than happy to include Allison & Brian again, but don't expect any of the boys to make appearances. I mean absolutely no offense to you or anyone else here in the forums with male cyborg OC's, but that's just not something I have any real desire to include in my story.

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Professor Voodoo on Tue 26 Oct 2010 - 9:23

ChaosKin640 wrote:I made the conscious decision right from the start of this whole project to have as much inter-weaving of different OC's as possible. Just my own humble efforts of tying all of our individual works together.
To that end do you mind if I give Sophia a mention in the last scene of The Palermo Round-Up? It's just a mention at this point, but I'd like to begin incorporating Jacob & Melanie as I learn more about them from your stories.

I've always pictured Elio in my mind as, while definately grizzled and scarred by the events of his life, at least maintaining the appearance of that quiet dignity.
Marisa: Quiet?! You should have heard him yelling at me when I got caught sneaking off compound to the service plaza down the highway! (see Robert Frazer's Wham, Bang, Fizz, POW) The whole compound must have heard me getting chewed out!

Despite Mari's opinion, you're right of course, he does carry himself with dignity, which makes his rambunctious cyborg a great counter-point to him.
I'm pretty sure I had in mind the guy who drove Guise & Henrietta back to the agency at the end of the first ep. in the anime.
Ah...possibly Alfonso...is this him?

I mean absolutely no offense to you or anyone else here in the forums with male cyborg OC's, but that's just not something I have any real desire to include in my story.
You had Alpha in this chapter.

Reading more tonight...

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by ChaosKin640 on Wed 27 Oct 2010 - 5:37

...do you mind if I give Sophia a mention...
By all means Voodoo, go right ahead. Just so you know, timeline wise, I have the raid mission where she's killed set in November, with the mission where Beatrice & Silvia both died in January/February of that same year. In terms of Sophia's personality, I picture her as a more outgoing version of Henrietta, but without the emotional instabilities. She was a Gen 2, after all.
Ah...possibly Alfonso...is this him?
Yes! That's the guy, exactly. Thanks for finding him, Voodoo.
You had Alpha in this chapter.
Um...good point. Touche there, Voodoo, touche. sweat
In my defense, Alpha is rather unique in the fandom universe, as far as male cyborgs go. He'll be the only one I make mention of then. Mostly because of his role as the instructor of the elite CQB class that I intend for Melanie to eventually become a part of.

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Alfisti on Wed 27 Oct 2010 - 10:30

Well, I said I'd review your latest chapter once uni had finished... well, uni's finished so...

ChaosKin640 wrote:Her relaxed, casual clothing was in stark contrast to Melanie's ownoutfit of charcoal gray camo-patterned cargo pants, black Kevlartactical vest over a plain black shirt and combat boots.
Interesting that Jacob has her dressed in tactical gear, not what the cyborgs generally seem to wear into battle... an offshoot of how he lost Sophia? Or his he really that concerned about her clumsiness.

Choking back a wave of bitter self-recrimination, Melanie tore theempty clip from her gun and began fumbling around for a new one.
I like how you build up Melanie's frustration with the situation. It gives it more impact than having her start swearing on the first mishap. And each mistake builds on the last one. It adds to the theme you've run through this chapter that a lot (not all, but a lot) of the problems she's having are in her head rather than purely physical.

"Jeeze Melanie, you're heart rate is through the roof; you keep goingat that pace and you're going to have a panic attack or something.What's with the rush, anyway? You got somewhere else you have to be?"
Actually the perpetually upbeat Allison's probably the best partner Melanie could have on this particular run. I know plenty of other cyborgs who would not have been so forgiving at loosing the chance at getting a good time... canon and fan-created.

Actually, I really like how you kept it ambiguous as to whether this was an actual mission or a training run through the start of this chapter. It certainly puts an emphasis on how important these things are to Melanie.

However, and this is just my personal feeling, I think you may have dragged it out a bit too long. Eventually the ruse just starts feeling drawn out ceases adding to the effect of just how important this is to Melanie. For me it was after she shot the "little girl" that it felt about time to wrap it up and lay bare that it's a training scenario. Keep the action sequence going by all means of course though Very Happy

Jacob sighed, closing his eyes and tilting his head back to rest on oneof the wooden support posts holding up the tower's shallow-peaked roof."Frankly Brian, from what I've been seeing of Melanie's performance,there's not exactly anything worth defending. Like Jean said: might notbe fair, but it's the truth."
Monty: Nope, it's fair. The truth is always fair.

Just so long as it's being viewed completely dispassionately...

Again though you've proven that Allison and Brian were the perfect fratello to juxtapose Jacob and Melanie against.

Melanie, like every other cyborg, Allison included, is an investmentmade by Minister Petris on behalf of the government. Between theinitial conversion process and the continuing training regimes requiredto field our girls, it costs almost seven-million Euros to achievecombat-readiness for each cyborg.
It might just be a personal thing, but I always like when the economic and political realities of operating an organisation like the SWA are laid bare. I think it's an angle that doesn't get enough attention.

Also, repeatedly amused at the wildly varying estimates of how much a cyborg costs to build... I believe Robert pegged it at around 200 million Euro. Now trying to nail that one down could make for an intersting forum discussion.

"Gotcha. But I'm warning you right now Jean: there isn't a whole lotmore I can do that I'm not already doing. We're already logging inalmost three times the amount of range time as any other fratello."
And that'd be the sound of a man trying to put a square peg in a round hole by hitting it harder... and now so engrossed in the idea of hitting that square peg he can't even concieve the idea of going to find a square hole.

"Well then, you listen to Allison's advice Melanie. She has a damnedgood head on her shoulders and she knows what she's talking about mostof the time."
Little bit of dry humor is all that's needed to show the mood's lightened a bit.

"I don't know Melanie," Brian said, shaking his head contritely. "I'msorry, but I don't. But maybe you should consider the possibility thatyou're doing this to yourself."
I take it Brian's been mulling this over for a little... because that seemed like a fast change of tack.

Finally Jacob's anger boiled over and with a sharp, vehement curse, helashed out. "God damn it, Melanie! I know you're not an idiot; I'velooked over your regular school course-work and you do just finekeeping up with all of the other girls, so you're not some kind of aretard."
Nice approach for Jacob there... talk about a backhanded compliment. But it does speak volumes of his frustration again and, in someways it's worse than telling Mel she's useless, because now he can push guilt buttons as well.

"I recommend running," Jacob replied flippantly, stuffing his handsinto the pockets of his cargo pants. "Consider this your punishment forfailing your training exercise."
Snap...

"It's not that bad," Melanie said defensively, the burning flash in heramber eyes proof of her conditioning clamping down on her mind at theperceived attack on her handler. "He didn't really yell at me any morethan what I was expecting and I'm just tired from having had to sprintalmost the whole way, is all."
Heh, I was wondering when the conditioning was going to kick in here.

"Well, maybe Melanie can train herself to slip into some kind of, I don't know, quasi- sniper mode."
"Quasi-sniper mode?" Melanie exclaimed, one eyebrow arched, face scrunched up in an expression of extreme scepticism.
Another weirdness of cyborg life I guess... talking about how you use your conditioing the same way others would talk about, say, fixing a car or doing their hair. I'll be interested to see if there's any substance to what they're saying or if it's just the ramblings of teenagers hypothosising.
"Your handler Brian," Melanie replied smoothly, smiling in smugsatisfaction. "You just stood there looking all dirty and dishevelled."
Glad to see she's not all mope.
She was, however taking her time with the second cup, explaining whenMelanie asked about it that the first was merely a quick-shot to levelher out and refuel, whereas the second was more for actual enjoyment.
Girl speaks truth... the first only wakes you up enough to realise you've not got enough caffiene in your system.
"Shut up and bring me coffee," she hissed, her soft melodic voicecracking with the lingering effects of sleep still clinging to herthroat.
Wow, cranky Kara... now there's something you don't see often.
A sharply hissing, venomous snarl made Melanie aware of the other'spresence and she stopped short, head flashing towards the voice as shehurriedly backpedalled several steps. Less than two feet away, hergreen eyes glaring at Melanie with indignant loathing and contemptuousdisgust, Nina stood with feet planted shoulder-width apart, her tray offood held up high, out of the way.
I take it Nina's just generally spoiling for a fight... because somehow I think getting in each others way in day to day life probably isn't something the cyborgs need to worry about. What with the catlike reflexes and generally heightened senses. Yes Mel's out of it but it wouldn't have been difficult for Nina to dodge.
Melanie's head snapped back sharply as the edge of Nina's now emptytray smashed into the underside of her chin, sending her staggeringback several paces. She hadn't even seen Nina bolt up from the ground,snarling in fury.
Marisa: Give her a chair! Someone give her a chair!
"You fucking little cunt," she hissed, eyes blazing with green fire. "How dare you? You filthy, useless, defective piece of junk! I'll kill you, you God-damned broken reject!"
Still vicioius, but in an entirely different way now that she's lost the advantage... I take it Nina's someone used to having the upper hand.
"Don't thank me, Melanie," Triela snapped crossly. "I should never havehad to get involved in the first place. What is the matter with you,attacking her like that?"
A new role for Triela... but I guess with the influx of OCs it's hard to be "big sister" to that many girls. It's a good and logical direction for her actually, starting to fill the role of a competent and senior NCO. I imagine she'd still be the same girl around the Gen 1s, but a more detached and heavier hand is perhaps more fitting for dealing with the Gen 2s.
"Ah yes, well, the glories of hindsight, eh? Don't worry though Jacob, I definitely intent to have a little…talk with her."
Dare I ask... because, and especially with the following line, that could be taken a couple of different ways. As I'm sure, from what else you've said of this pair, it's supposed to be.
"She's mine to waste Barone. I'll see you around." The other man'sreply was delivered to Jacob's back as he strode off down the corridorwithout waiting for it.
Another good insight to the many different levels Jacob's working on. Despite his frustration with his charge he's still not quite willing to give up on her.
"Then I guess I'll just go find Nina and tell her she's won then," Jacob snapped, his tone dripping venom.
...and that'd be a square hole.
"Now that you seem to have made up your mind, get going. You've stillgot twenty-six laps to go." With only a fiercely determined nod as heranswer, Melanie staggered forward, pressing on with her gruellingpunishment.
This is one thing I do like about Jacob, he's following through. He's proved his point to Mel, but he said 45 laps and she's damn well going to do 45 laps.

Seriously man, another awesome chapter. I can't wait for the next one... for the first time ever I actually care when Halloween is.

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Kiskaloo on Wed 27 Oct 2010 - 10:37

Alfisti wrote:Interesting that Jacob has her dressed in tactical gear, not what the cyborgs generally seem to wear into battle... an offshoot of how he lost Sophia? Or his he really that concerned about her clumsiness.

I was pleased to see someone else dressing their cyborgs properly for a mission. Good I understand the need to "blend in" when operating in public, but for all my assaults against "remote" targets, the girls and handlers were always in tactical gear.

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Alfisti on Wed 27 Oct 2010 - 10:47

Kiskaloo wrote:I was pleased to see someone else dressing their cyborgs properly for a mission. I understand the need to "blend in" when operating in public, but for all my assaults against "remote" targets, the girls and handlers were always in tactical gear.
Heh, well you've already seen Monty's "tactical" outfit... which essentially means she's dressed in black and openly carrying. I imagine Jethro's much the same. For them though it's just another practicality: tactical vests and gear in general is just bulky and difficult to hide for border crossings and the like.

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by ChaosKin640 on Wed 27 Oct 2010 - 11:39

Yay, more comments and reviews. I'll admit that I have been rather eagerly awaiting your input Alfisti. So let's just get right into it then.

Interesting that Jacob has her dressed in tactical gear,
This is mostly a product of Jacob's own training. He was an NCO in the army and then a Spec. Ops. man for several years, so his thinking in regards to anything mission-related tends to default to standard tactical gearing and equipment. Also, because of Melanie's role as a sniper/man-tracker, most of their priority missions are going to be in the kind of remote environment wilderness where full tactical gear is pretty much manditory anyway, so she might as well get used to it now.
I really like how you kept it ambiguous as to whether this was an actual mission or a training run
Yes, thank you! That was exactly the angle I was going for, so I'm really glad that came across. As for the ruse maybe being dragged on too long, I'll admit that I may have had some similar feelings when I was actually writing it, but the desire to just press on and keep writing made me just gloss over and ignore that part. Then, when I had the time to go back and adress the issue, I'd forgotten all about it, sweat So, oops. I'll go back and see what I can do about cleaning things up some.
Also, repeatedly amused at the wildly varying estimates of how much a cyborg costs to build
Yeah, I kind of just pulled this one out of my ass. I thought I remembered someone else on here ballparking it at around the same while i was writing so that's what I went with. Although, Steve Austin cost the Americans 6 million to rebuild back in the 70's, so who knows, maybe I'm not too far off, Razz
...any substance to what they're saying or...just the ramblings of teenagers
I might decide to expand on this idea as a way of helping her concentrate. As things stand at the moment though, this is just teenaged ramblings.
Glad to see she's not all mope.
Nope, Melanie definately does have a backbone in there, as evidenced by the whole fist-fight with Nina. It's just a matter of her being able to stop feeling sorry for herself long enough to remember it's there and find it.
Wow, cranky Kara... now there's something you don't see often.
Speaking in Kara's defense: she was, after all, really tired.
I take it Nina's just generally spoiling for a fight
More of an arrogant expectation that people will get the hell out of the way for her, with all possible haste.
Still vicioius, but in an entirely different way now that she's lost the advantage... I take it Nina's someone used to having the upper hand.
Yes indeed. But more to the point, Nina also simply delights in being as vicious as possible in as many different ways as possible. As I said a few posts back, I'll be providing some in-story examples of Nina expressing the full depths of that fact while on mission. Without spoiling too much, I'll just say that Nina is the agency's self-appointed interrogation expert. And when I say "self-appointed", I mean that she's entirely self-taught in the methods and procedures of torture. She actually went out of her way, during her own free time, outside of any training requirements, and learned how to torture people. She's good at it, and she enjoys it. A lot.
Dare I ask... because, and especially with the following line, that could be taken a couple of different ways.
Oh, don't worry, that little comment is explained a bit in chapter 4.
he said 45 laps and she's damn well going to do 45 laps.
Damn straight. She is still being punished, after all.
Right it's looking like I'm on schedule to have the next chapter up before the end of the month. I've got about a scene-and-a-half to write once i finish up the one I'm working on right now and after some proof-reading and a look over by my beta-reader, it'll be up on FFnet. And again, thanks for the comments.
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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Alfisti on Wed 27 Oct 2010 - 20:17

ChaosKin640 wrote:Yeah, I kind of just pulled this one out of my ass. I thought I remembered someone else on here ballparking it at around the same while i was writing so that's what I went with. Although, Steve Austin cost the Americans 6 million to rebuild back in the 70's, so who knows, maybe I'm not too far off, Razz
Yeah, but by the same token you could buy a Corolla brand new for three grand in the 70s as well. Razz

I might decide to expand on this idea as a way of helping her concentrate. As things stand at the moment though, this is just teenaged ramblings.
It would certainly be an iteresting avenue to explore, though I don't know how the doctors would feel about cyborgs messing with their work. I guess on at least one level I'm a bit lairy of the idea of the cyborgs being able to manipulate their own conditioing. It is, afterall, a measure intended to control them, not for them to control.


More of an arrogant expectation that people will get the hell out of the way for her, with all possible haste.
...a trait she shares with Monty, though possibly reworded to "get the hell out of her way". Monty doesn't expect people to do stuff "for" her, just to be sensible enough not to slow her down... which includes doing what they're damn well told when they're told to do it. Difference being of course that Monty's jaded enough to be entirely unsuprised with the planet proves itself too stupid to do so.


Still vicioius, but in an entirely different way now that she's lost the advantage... I take it Nina's someone used to having the upper hand.
Yes indeed. But more to the point, Nina also simply delights in being as vicious as possible in as many different ways as possible. As I said a few posts back, I'll be providing some in-story examples of Nina expressing the full depths of that fact while on mission. Without spoiling too much, I'll just say that Nina is the agency's self-appointed interrogation expert. And when I say "self-appointed", I mean that she's entirely self-taught in the methods and procedures of torture. She actually went out of her way, during her own free time, outside of any training requirements, and learned how to torture people. She's good at it, and she enjoys it. A lot.
Ah, ok... I didn't realise she had undertaken it as an, uhh... extracurricular activity. I was under the impression that she'd been built and conditioned to be good at winding people up.

he said 45 laps and she's damn well going to do 45 laps.
Damn straight. She is still being punished, after all.
Yeah, I'm just glad you didn't go the chummy "you've learned your lesson, now come inside for hot chocolate and cookies" approach... which I've never been a fan of.


Right it's looking like I'm on schedule to have the next chapter up before the end of the month.
Which means, by my count, you have three days (after this one). I'm holding you to that. Razz

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by ChaosKin640 on Wed 27 Oct 2010 - 22:53

I'm holding you to that.
LOL, duly noted.
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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Kiskaloo on Thu 28 Oct 2010 - 0:57

Just finished Chapter 02 and 03. Seriously good stuff. I'm going to need to raise my game in the re-boot of Pactio.

I promise deeper comments tomorrow.

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Professor Voodoo on Thu 28 Oct 2010 - 6:00

Just read Chapter 3.

Worst Day Ever...for any cyborg. Excellent job Chaos...full review coming soon!

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by ChaosKin640 on Thu 28 Oct 2010 - 6:54

Thanks for all of the comments guys. I know its been said before by plenty of other people, but I feel that it can never be stressed enough and that's the fact that the feedback is always appreciated.

Worst Day Ever...for any cyborg.
Yeah, I definately can't be accused of pampering my girl, that's for sure.
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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Professor Voodoo on Thu 28 Oct 2010 - 7:36

ChaosKin640 wrote:
Worst Day Ever...for any cyborg.
Yeah, I definately can't be accused of pampering my girl, that's for sure.
When I wrote the origin story for my Marisa, Robert Frazer said...
you're not just kicking the puppy here: you're kicking it with a toe-blade, then as it's suffering, putting it into a sack with other wounded puppies and repeatedly dunking them into a pool of sewage before drying them out on hot coals, and then tipping them out into a pit full of starving necrophilic beastialists.
I don't think he'll mind if I recycle the quote...it certainly fits here as well.


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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by ChaosKin640 on Thu 28 Oct 2010 - 7:54

...then as it's suffering, putting it into a sack with other wounded puppies and repeatedly dunking them into a pool of sewage before drying them out on hot coals, and then tipping them out into a pit full of starving necrophilic beastialists.
Nina: *taking notes* Ooh, I'm liking where this conversation is going. Please continue, this is giving me ideas for the next Padanian I get my hands on. *grins evilly*
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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Professor Voodoo on Thu 28 Oct 2010 - 22:56

ChaosKin640 wrote:
Nina: this is giving me ideas for the next Padanian I get my hands on. *grins evilly*
Or the next new girl to arrive at the agency...

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Robert Frazer on Fri 29 Oct 2010 - 12:11

Referencing Nina - personally I think that Alfisti has the better idea to make her Section Two's designated interrogator, rather than just being an enthusiastic amateur. Many cyborgs have 'gimmicks' - Beatrice's bomb-sniffing and so on - to fulfil particular strategic needs, and a cyborg's conditioning means that she won't have any moral qualms, or be unable to stomach it, and cry off. Perhaps her especial enjoyment of the infliction of suffering could be something that she's developed herself, either through her own personality or an unforseen complication of the conditioning process, but I think that at least the seed of it should be planted by the Agency.

The one problem with this is that it might provide an excuse for Nina's antagonism - "it's not my fault I'm a vile bitch, I was made this way" - but I don't think that that's insurmountable. I think that, if anything, it actually makes her attitude even more reprehensible by providing something to contrast it against. The Agency wants her to smack prisoners about in the interrogation room - but everything outside of it is her consciously and willingly revelling in it.

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Kiskaloo on Fri 29 Oct 2010 - 13:03

Robert Frazer wrote:The one problem with this is that it might provide an excuse for Nina's antagonism - "it's not my fault I'm a vile bitch, I was made this way" - but I don't think that that's insurmountable.

The one thing I dislike about Yu cranking up the "moe" factor with the later volumes of the manga and -IL TEATRINO- is it makes the girls much more creepy as they perform their functions.

Witness Rico beating that one guy in the early volume of the manga when her character design was still "normal" compared to that same scene in -IL TEATRINO- when she is now this wide-eyed smiling moe-blob.

In the former, she's just doing Jean's bidding to get some answers. Seeing a little girl beating on a guy is disquieting enough, but in the latter, she looks like a psychopath that is taking great pleasure from beating the guy bloody.

Not sure we've seen a character sketch of Nina yet, but as she's described and the outfit she is wearing in the dining room, I imagine she would pass in public as an attractive girl from a "good" family - someone Franca would be happy to fight for.

But her looks and clothes might be what makes her effective. When she walks into the room in a nice dress and boots, the subject doesn't take her seriously because she looks like the daughter of a well-to-do family. After she's shattered the subject's arm in three places with those boots, said subject is likely going to be very talkative.

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Professor Voodoo on Sat 30 Oct 2010 - 0:05

Chapter 03: Dagger's Gaze

The bullet ripped through the air, leaving a thin distortion wave that was just barely visible to Melanie's cybernetically enhanced eyes.
Cool touch...I didn't care much for the Matrix movies you're probably referring to, but little visual elements like that help construct a mental picture.
Much to Melanie's dismay, the bullet went slightly wide, grazing almost harmlessly along the side of the man's face. In desperation Melanie squeezed off two more rounds, both missing their lethal mark.
Opening the chapter this way gives the audience a good iea of how much time has passed since the last chapter. Melanie is at the point where she's starting to do complicated drills but she still isn't fully proficient with her pistol.
That old woman probably wouldn't survive to be evacuated to a hospital and that little girl would spend most of her life traumatized from the memory of being shot. Twice.
While it's obvious to the reader that this is a training simulation; the way you presented it (with no acknowledgment that it is not real) demonstrates how seriously Melanie is taking this. A very good choice.
Melanie twisted her mouth into a sour frown at Allison's brief lecture. It was more than slightly ironic for Allison, who could – and would if her handler Brian allowed her – drink her own body's weight worth of caffeine per day, to begin touting the value of patience and of taking things slow.
I'd noticed that too...Allison is usually not the most patient & subtle of cyborgs...it's a funny exchange.
"Now then," Allison chirped, her face reverting to its almost standard beaming grin, her eyes flashing with mirth. "If you've calmed down enough, what do you say about us finishing this up? We've got history class later, remember?"
Another cute juxtaposition, only at Section Two would this be a concern, where firearms & knife fighting is balanced with homework & teddy bear collecting.
Jean stared down at the grainy colour monitor..."Pathetic Jacob. Absolutely pathetic.
A callback to the first season anime? I'm picturing the same room where Jean told his brother that Henrietta was "average."
Brian seethed with indignant fury, his broiling anger causing his North-Irish accent to thicken considerably, mangling his Italian almost to the point of being incomprehensible.
Good touch; in the forums and our fictions we often lose sight of the face that Italian is the de-facto language of the SWA.
"And how long did it take for you to get Rico up to agency standards?" Brian asked scathingly,
Minor point, but Jean did tell Raballo that Rico adapted to her body quicker than others because of her background.

Then again she is a Series One, so there's a different set of metrics.
"How long do I have until you recommend to Petris that she make the call to scrap Melanie?"
Jean said nothing for a time, carefully studying the other man. Then, "Three weeks.
Well that just sets the tone for the rest of the chapter, doesn't it? It's true, you certainly aren't pampering your character.
"Who told you that?" Brian demanded fiercely, giving her shoulders a slight, forceful shake. "Who told you that you're useless?"
Good tour-de-force from Brian.
Brian's youthful face set into the stern, lecturing look of a father scolding a recalcitrant child caught in the act of some mischievous deed.
Clever wordplay...the word recalcitrant is not out of place here, but it's more often used when referring to machinery...and Melanie is after all part machinery.
"Well then, you listen to Allison's advice Melanie. She has a damned good head on her shoulders and she knows what she's talking about most of the time."
"You're darn right I…what? Hey, wait a minute! What do you mean, "Most of the time?" I always know what I'm talking about."
Great laugh here. You've really emulated the way MP5 writes his Brian character...casual, teasing & somewhat led along by his ebullient cyborg, yet quietly forceful with her when the need arises.
Jacob had to admit, was that while she might not be able to actually use the damn thing with any degree of accuracy, Melanie was certainly dutiful in taking care of her weapons.
So there is progress, even if Jacob doesn't admit it.
In his mind, any emotional problems a person had to work out were best done in the company of a few trusted friends and an equal number of trusted bottles of booze.
Plenty of which occurs amongst the SWA staff I trust.
"Well then, I can't see there being anything left to discuss. You have history and math classes next, don't you?"
Melanie replied quickly, eager for the chance to escape what had become an exercise in abject misery for her. "Yes sir."
Ironic, since for most cyborgs or even normal kids the classes would be the abject misery. It speaks volumes about Melanie's state of mind at this time. I wonder; once Melanie does start making progress toward her combat goals will she still have positive feelings about her academic classes, since they were her only respite during the difficult early days?
Jacob's custom rebuilt seventy-two Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme
A curious choice for Italy, but you provide an explanation for how it got there.
Crestfallen and miserable, all of the previous good-mood she'd harboured after talking with Brian crushed and smothered away and with tears slowly coursing down her face once more, Melanie choked back a whimpering sob. With fierce, brutal determination, she managed to nod stiffly, rasping out a weak "yes sir," before spinning on her heel and starting back towards the agency's main compound.
The life of an unloved cyborg...you've really put it across in a striking, convincing way.
If Enzo put me through half the crap that Jacob puts you through, I think I would have either revolted, or more likely simply keeled over dead, weeks ago."
I like Lucretia's line here...the way she says "revolt" sounds vague, as if she doesn't know how she'd go about it, implying that simply keeling over dead is easier for a cyborg conditioned to obedience & loyalty.
"My apologies for interrupting your conversation girls, as I'm sure it's of the utmost importance towards the continuing safety and security of both Italia and all of her peoples, but if you could, I would love to have just a few minutes of your time." Delivered with Michele's customary touch of light-hearted humour, the gentle rebuke came off as being almost playfully teasing, as opposed to mocking or scornful.
Classic Michele...light but verbose. I can see him being one of the favorites of the girls.
Are any of us ever going to be able to write a classroom scene where the girls are not talking through the lecture...or at least thinking about something else?
the next hour of Priscilla's math class passed quickly;
I use Priscilla as the math teacher in my stories as well...she just seems like a natural choice for that.
"No way, with the way you eat, I'll be spending the whole lunch-period just running back and forth with trays," Melanie snipped teasingly, immediately ducking swiftly and spinning out of the way as Allison swiped at her. Again Lucretia had to pause as she was overcome with laughter.
This light hearted exchange provides a nice respite for the reader before things really start to get heavy.
It had begun to rain during history class and by this point the precipitation had increased in strength to the point of a full-blown thunderstorm.
Clever that you make small allusions to the worsening weather through the chapter, so that it's already a given when it becomes important at the end.
"Thanks," Kara croaked, after taking a tentative sip. "And yes, I just woke up. Michele and I didn't get in until four this morning and I had to drive the last hour of the way."
Hmmm...Michele still got up in time to teach his History class. Slacking a bit Kara?
"Obviously not," Nina observed dryly, lip curled back in a sneer. "It's no wonder Chief Lorenzo is thinking about tossing you on the scrap heap.
At first I considered Nina just too evil...almost a caricature of the resident "mean girl," but I'm actually starting to like her. She's just so over-the-top sinister that she's like a guilty pleasure.
Melanie's head snapped back sharply as the edge of Nina's now empty tray smashed into the underside of her chin,
Very cyborg-like to use whatever you have in your hand as a weapon. I like the fact that the fight scene is intense & violent rather than a comical food-fight...it fits better with events that follow.
Back when Marissa first came here, she and Henrietta absolutely despised each other. But they worked out their problems and now they're practically best friends.
Claes: (growling) Yes...those two nitwits had a bonding experience by crashing a van into my garden.
"This kind of behaviour is absolutely inexcusable," Jean said, his voice bearing its typically cold, emotionless tone of rigid professionalism.
Considering a dorm full of headstrong adolescents, all trained to fight and all confident in their power I'm surprised Jean isn't having conversations like this more often. I suppose the cyborgs are conditioned to behave and get along though.
Jacob made his way down to the technological research and development labs; specifically, their metal fabrication workshop.
Metal-shop Tech: Wait a minute...we spend millions of euros developing the lightest, most advanced alloys known to metallurgy and you tell me you want the heaviest stuff I've got?!
Melanie felt as if she was in Hell.
Within the first fifteen laps, Melanie was fighting for each step as every muscle in her body screamed in tortured agony.
As mentioned in the first chapter your text can get a little long in places, but here that fits well. Making the description of Melanie's suffering lengthy takes the reader along on Melanie's journey, allowing us to push through step by step just as your character experiences it.
"You mean I…I really am going to be scraped?" she asked, horrified.
"In three weeks, unless you start showing signs of drastic improvement and can prove to Jean and Chief Lorenzo that you can be a viable field operative, then yes, you will be decommissioned and destroyed.
Jacob isn't pulling any punches here, but I suppose this is a turning point in their relationship. I wonder how this will effect how he deals with his own demons now...i.e. his alcohol dependency.
She'd known it deep down inside that very first day, when watching Triela and Alpha sparring not fifty feet away from where she now lay, that she was a warrior, just like them. That same sensation was back, stronger than ever before and she was again certain of it. She was a warrior. And warriors did not give up.
Some more of Quinn manifesting, I suspect.
Jacob ruined it slightly when he continued on: "You're going to do this same run every day before you go to bed, for a week. If you ever screw up like this again, I'll add an extra ten pounds to the weight in the bag and you'll still have to do the same forty-five laps. Each time you make a big mistake, it'll be another ten pounds. Got it?"
Jeeze, Jacob doesn't mess around!
Melanie smiled to herself, head bobbing back and forth as she silently chuckled under her breath. Totally worth it.
Definitely a striking chapter...possibly the best picture of an unhappy cyborg since the canon Elsa story. I look forward to seeing where you take this...

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Kiskaloo on Sat 30 Oct 2010 - 0:51

Professor Voodoo wrote:Classic Michele...light but verbose. I can see him being one of the favorites of the girls.

Kara: Mio Says Wut?

Professor Voodoo wrote:Are any of us ever going to be able to write a classroom scene where the girls are not talking through the lecture...or at least thinking about something else?

I do have a short "in progress" segment where Michele is ending a history lesson and assigns a paper to be handed in at their next class, but notes he is reducing the size by half since he knows Hilshire is springing a German test on them that same week and he doesn't want them to lose their entire weekend.

The Girls: "Huzzah! Let's go strip the apple orchard bare!"

Professor Voodoo wrote:I use Priscilla as the math teacher in my stories as well...she just seems like a natural choice for that.

I'll need to remember that, as well. I know a few of us offered up possible classes for our OCs to teach in the "Cyborg Education" thread.

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by MP5 on Sat 30 Oct 2010 - 1:25

Nina intrigues me as a character. Now I know that you didn't really throw in any of the guys into your story, Chaos. However, there's a bunch of them in mine, and I would like to see how that might work. I was wondering if I could use Nina, Jacob, Melanie, and Costante freely in 'Tire Tracks and Spent Casings'. I would like to start constructing a highly vitriolic relationship between Nina and TTSC's resident butt monkey, Matthew (look him up in my OC thread, he's an easy target for the girl, I swear).

At least one of my characters has to be constantly downtrodden one way or another, but I normally fail to write that. luckily, I have a semi-acceptable target.

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by ChaosKin640 on Sat 30 Oct 2010 - 5:32

personally I think that Alfisti has the better idea to make her Section Two's designated interrogator, rather than just being an enthusiastic amateur.
She's both, actually. She started as an enthusiastic amateur, but when Costante found out and realized that she had an almost unhealthy natural aptitude for it, he put in to have her training refocused towards the goal of making her the agency's interrogator. There are, however, some deeper reasons behind Nina's desire to choose this path that I have yet to reveal, but I fully intend to do so in chapter 5.
Not sure we've seen a character sketch of Nina yet,
You're in luck Kisk, I actually have a picture that I made up as a reference for her.

Nina

I use Priscilla as the math teacher in my stories as well...she just seems like a natural choice for that.
Yeah, I admit to borrowing from your own stories for this one, Voodoo. Including Priscilla's combat math teacher mode, heh.
Slacking a bit Kara?
Well, I kind of figure that, as Michele is reasonably trusting of Kara's ability to drive unatented, he would have taken the opportunity to nap through that last leg of the trip.
Considering a dorm full of headstrong adolescents...I'm surprised Jean isn't having conversations like this more often.
True, but I imagine the usual run-of-the-mill antics and trouble the girls can into are confined to simple juvenile pranks, which he can grudgingly deal with. Full blown knock-em-down drag-em-out fist-fights, on the other hand, are not.
Metal-shop Tech: Wait a minute...we spend millions of euros developing the lightest, most advanced alloys known to metallurgy and you tell me you want the heaviest stuff I've got?!
Jacob: Then you should have plenty lying around that you aren't using then, right?
Jeeze, Jacob doesn't mess around!
This part I'm actually pulling from first-hand research. A friend of mine in the military told me they actually do this during basic training as discipline. Their rucksacks start at weighing only 70-80 lbs, rather than 120 lbs of course, but the principle is the same and it's what Jacob is drawing from.
I was wondering if I could use Nina, Jacob, Melanie, and Costante freely in 'Tire Tracks and Spent Casings'.
Sure, be my guess MP5. I'm flattered that other people would want to borrow my characters.
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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by ChaosKin640 on Sat 30 Oct 2010 - 7:23

Chapter 4 is now up. And a whole day early too, whoo-hoo!
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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Alfisti on Sat 30 Oct 2010 - 9:25

Professor Voodoo wrote:Ironic, since for most cyborgs or even normal kids the classes would bethe abject misery. It speaks volumes about Melanie's state of mind atthis time. I wonder; once Melanie does start making progress toward hercombat goals will she still have positive feelings about her academicclasses, since they were her only respite during the difficult earlydays?
Actually looking forward to her lessons, or grasping at straws in order to seem keen and useful in front of a discontented handler?

ChaosKin640 wrote:
Robert Frazer wrote:personally I think that Alfisti has the better idea to make her Section Two's designated interrogator, rather than just being an enthusiastic amateur.
She's both, actually. She started as an enthusiastic amateur, but when Costante found out and realized that she had an almost unhealthy natural aptitude for it, he put in to have her training refocused towards the goal of making her the agency's interrogator. There are, however, some deeper reasons behind Nina's desire to choose this path that I have yet to reveal, but I fully intend to do so in chapter 5.
I think I should point out that I actually liked the idea of her having picked it up herself more than her being specifically designed that way. As Robert said, one of the potential problems with her having been built that way is that suddenly the blame doesn't have to come down on her shoulders. Having her pick it up herself speaks more to the character. Having the SWA then expand on that makes a nice counterpoint to the idea that all cyborgs have to fulfill preordained roles. Now there's something revealed itself they can use and they're running with that.

I guess I tend to prefer character to drive interactions and motives rather than technology. That probably shows in my own OCs. There's nothing particularly special about Monty's build, she's on a low conditioning level to give her the chance to be mentally flexible and the techs cranked her power output back to reduce her maintinence requirements, but otherwise she's a pretty boggo Gen2 chassis. The rest of it: her natural agility and balance, work ethic, intelligence, generaly smart-assery and so on are all Monty the person, not Monty the cyborg.

So, on that level I far prefer Nina to be a sadistic, snarky bitch on her own account rather than the SWA's.

ChaosKin640 wrote:Chapter 4 is now up. And a whole day early too, whoo-hoo!
cheers

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Alfisti on Sat 30 Oct 2010 - 10:27

Just read chapter 4... more thoughts when I'm feeling less tired and sunburnt. Except to say:

Spoiler:
Voodoo was wrong... so not the worst day ever. Razz

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Kiskaloo on Sat 30 Oct 2010 - 11:25

ChaosKin640 wrote:
Not sure we've seen a character sketch of Nina yet,
You're in luck Kisk, I actually have a picture that I made up as a reference for her.

Nina

Kara: "I can work with this."

Jacob: "No you cannot. You were a bad enough influence on Sophia, thank you." Smile

ChaosKin640 wrote:
Slacking a bit Kara?
Well, I kind of figure that, as Michele is reasonably trusting of Kara's ability to drive unatented, he would have taken the opportunity to nap through that last leg of the trip.

[Kara has the pedal depressed a quarter of the way, the 6.0L V12 loping along at 2000 rpm, smooth as a lake on a windless day. With the speedometer needle kissing the 160km/h hashmark, she looks over at her slumbering handler.]

Kara: "And Allison wonders why I like large-displacement V12s instead of four-bangers with huge turbos cranked to 9000 revs..."

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Kiskaloo on Sat 30 Oct 2010 - 12:38

ChaosKin640 wrote:Chapter 4 is now up. And a whole day early too, whoo-hoo!

Fantastic stuff, though with all the door-slamming, I am sure there are going to be some grumpy cyborgs at breakfast complaining about interrupted sleep. Wink

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Alfisti on Sun 31 Oct 2010 - 12:07

Kiskaloo wrote:Fantastic stuff, though with all the door-slamming, I am sure there are going to be some grumpy cyborgs at breakfast complaining about interrupted sleep. Wink
Monty: Again, another reason I prefer the handlers' dorm.

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by ElfenMagix on Sun 31 Oct 2010 - 12:33

ChaosKin640 wrote:
You're in luck Kisk, I actually have a picture that I made up as a reference for her.

Nina

Damn, she is also as big a Rachel!

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Alfisti on Mon 1 Nov 2010 - 2:33

Well, I see you made that Halloween deadline with time to spare Razz

ChaosKin640 wrote:He was forced to remind himself that, despite whatever problems Melanie was having, she wasstill a multi-million Euro combat cyborg, with physical abilities wellbeyond those of an average human. Focused as closely as he had been onher faults, he'd forgotten that fact.
This line I think sort of sets the mood for the chapter neatly... that this could be a turning point in Jacob and Melanie's relationship. That to me is reinforced by the events at the shooting range (more on that later). You know what... things might just be looking up.

This late in the day, the firing range was packed solid as people triedto squeeze in as much extra training time as they could before supper.This crowing only added to the overall noise level as handlers gaveinstruction and advice to their individual cyborgs, and small groups ofsupport staff stood back from the firing line, chatting loudly to beheard as they waited their turn.
This was a nice way of setting the mood. I'm not exactly about to go and check, but I think the range is generally written as pretty deserted and a bit cold. This makes it seem communal and almost homely, it also helps portray that community side of the Agency as well rather than just as a cold organisation.

Of course, it also has a nice positive feeling that sets us up for...

Maybe, if treating Melanie like the Series Two cyborg she was wasn'tworking, then he needed to start treating her like a Series One.
...the red herring to get our hopes up.

"No, I'm not," Melanie snapped fiercely...

..."Damn it Melanie, yes, you are!"
Am not!

Are too!

Am not!

Are too!

Am not! Am not! Am not!

Are too! Are too! Are too!

Am not times a thousand!

Silliness aside, again Jacob's actions are those of a man hammering away rather more than trying to find a solution. It speaks volumes to the reader that, though he briefly is looking for answers, by the time he has her fire the gun whilst he holds it he really just seems to be letting off steam.

"I can see that there is definitely something legitimately wrong withyou that we need to have checked out."
Probably the first time ever that's been what someone wanted to hear. Just another strangeness of life at the SWA I guess.

He was getting far too old for this. How the hell did Elio put up withit at his age? With the aid of copious amounts of alcohol, no doubt.
Spoken like a true alcoholic. I'll admit I started to glaze over a bit during Bianchi's psycho-babble, but that's probably a result of lack of coffee as much as anything else.

"Oh yes, I'm fine," Henrietta said quickly, leaning forward slightly inher emphatic effort to assure Melanie that she was indeed all right. "Ijust landed awkwardly and snapped my knee and had to have it fixed."
This whole section brought a smile to my face. That's possibly the most adorable 'Etta's ever been.

"Yeah, no kidding," Lucretia grumbled to herself. "So what happened after? I didn't see you at all the rest of the day."
For some reason I was under the impression that this chapter was on a different day to the fight with Nina... eh.

All I can say is that this is one really full day.

"Who the heck is that?" she wondered, frowning. "It's less than fifteen minutes until lights out."
I take it by the amount of time she spends later in Triela's room and that Lucy's still "up" working that "lights out" is a pretty flexible term.

"Oh, I know what Mr. Mehrandish said," Henrietta said, easing Melanie'ssudden fear. "But actually, I don't think he actually said that you couldn't go, just that you…shouldn't."
This is very sly for 'Etta. Has Marisa been giving her some coaching in how to bend rules?

"Oh, well, um," Henrietta stammered, suddenly flustered and nervous."Oh, I know; Marisa once told me that, sometimes, you need to ignorethe rules and just have fun."
Ah, yes... indeed she has.

For an "icon" of the Agency, I'm sure 'Etta's demeanor is something of a suprise for many new cyborgs just meeting her.

"Has he ever come by to check on you?"
Famous last words.

"He just doesn't know you very well yet, is all," Triela reassured her,reaching out to gently grip one of Melanie's hands and give it acomforting squeeze. "Be patient. It takes some handlers longer thanothers to get used to their cyborgs."
Spoken from experience I take it.

"Why don't you just use a shotgun, like Triela does?" Rico asked suddenly, surprising everyone.
Hmm, kinda curious to see if this particular bit of idle cyborg theorizing will come to fruition. If anything, finding a possible workaround may help placate Jacob later... you know, when he's calmed down enough to actually listen to anyone.

"Maybe, but it still seems to be getting the job done nonetheless. ButI believe you were saying something about how your first week has been?"
That... is gonna hurt in the morning.

I find it interesting that Marco has decided to get his already alcoholic friend drunk, but I guess by the same token Jacob doesn't look like he's going to open up any other way. A little loosing the battle to win the war there?

"You seem to have forgotten the fact that I'm not exactly from aroundhere. I'm a foreign national who's had access to some of thegovernment's deepest secrets. You honestly think they'll just let me goon my merry way if I decide to walk?"
This makes me wonder how Jacob feels about J+M having been partly responsible for getting him into the whole debarcle to start off with. My guess is that there's some pretty solid resentment there right about now.

Suddenly making up his mind, Jacob pulled back, closing and relockingthe door to his room. With a firm, determined stride only marginallymarred by his drunken wobble, he made his way towards the cyborgdormitories, intent on offering sincere apologies to Melanie.
And the inevitable descent where everything starts to fall apart again... poor timing to have an epiphany.

Ten minutes later, Melanie found herself pushing a damp, heavy mop backand forth across the tiled floor of one of the public bathroom.Squinting slightly in the harsh florescent light, she paused in herwork to arch her stiff back in a vain attempt to work out some of theaching pains that were settling deeply into the synthetic muscle tissue.
Maybe she should be talking to Avise for cleaning tips...

Having now relised that these two chapters are all the same day, I rescind my previous comment: Voodoo was right... totally the worst day ever.

The contrast you had between the two though was excellent. The highs and lows inherent in your fratello's relationship last chapter averaged out to a general low for most of the chapter, ending on a relatively (to the rest of their time together) high note. Now you've done the opposite with a generally positive chapter, ending on a distinct low. Looking forward to what you have in store for us next.

Chain yourself to the computer! Mush! Razz

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by ChaosKin640 on Mon 1 Nov 2010 - 5:18

I take it by the amount of time she spends later in Triela's room and that Lucy's still "up" working that "lights out" is a pretty flexible term
I feel that it depends on the individual handler to decide how strictly enforced it is. As far as the agency's schedule goes, light's out is around 10'ish. How well each cyborg adheres to that, and how well she potentially hides that fact from her handler, however, is another matter, Evil
This makes me wonder how Jacob feels about J+M having been partly responsible for getting him into the whole debarcle to start off with.
I don't imagine Jacob would bear any grudges against them. After all, he spent two hears partnered with Sophia, who he loved and adored, between J+M's rescuing of him and his partnering with Melanie. If anything, he would still probably feel a lingering respect and gratitude towards them for having saved his life.
Chain yourself to the computer! Mush!
I intend to, Alfisti. I'm working on the notes for the first scene in the next chapter and unless it ends up growing to the point of deserving its own chapter, the rest of the chapter notes are already finished. So with luck I can start writing in about another week.
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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Professor Voodoo on Mon 1 Nov 2010 - 13:31

Alfisti wrote:
Melanie, like every other cyborg, Allison included, is an investmentmade by Minister Petris on behalf of the government. Between theinitial conversion process and the continuing training regimes requiredto field our girls, it costs almost seven-million Euros to achievecombat-readiness for each cyborg.
It might just be a personal thing, but I always like when the economic and political realities of operating an organisation like the SWA are laid bare. I think it's an angle that doesn't get enough attention.

Also, repeatedly amused at the wildly varying estimates of how much a cyborg costs to build... I believe Robert pegged it at around 200 million Euro. Now trying to nail that one down could make for an intersting forum discussion.
Robert's figure has been steadily climbing...I think he started at €100 million and bumped it up to €158 million when Minister Petris got into specifics about Agapita's construction. It's reasonable to expect that there would be a good deal of variance between "turn-key" cyborg costs. Monty for example had some intracranial damage and possibly some broken bones when she was made into a 'borg, while Agapita had been blown nearly to bits by a bomb planted in the football pitch.

I've never addressed it, but I estimate that Marisa herself was rather cheap since they used parts recycled from her deceased sister Marina...but if you took into account the total cost of putting a diving cyborg in the line-up you'd have to factor in the cost of both girls.

A suggestion for reconciling Robert & Chaoskin's text: The €7 million figure might just be the cost of training, outfitting and support...not construction.


Last edited by Professor Voodoo on Mon 1 Nov 2010 - 14:17; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Kiskaloo on Mon 1 Nov 2010 - 13:48

I've personally never covered it, outside of Quid Pro Quo where some influential Legislative people were hosted by Michele as a thank you for their "continued financial support" via "black" Appropriations bills.

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Robert Frazer on Mon 1 Nov 2010 - 14:37

Robert's figure has been steadily climbing...I think he started at €100 million and bumped it up to €158 million when Minister Petris got into specifics about Agapita's construction.

Yeah, there was no great science to my estimates. My line of thought ran thusly: cyborgs have to be heinously expensive as they're exlcusive, complicated, and far beyond the reach of the ordinary person (or even government subsidy of the ordinary person). Fighter jets are currently amongst the most complicated and expensive hardware of which we can conceive. A Eurofighter costs 63 million euros. However, countries can have hundreds of jets - the cyborgs are far more limited and specialised than that, so there needs to be a greater markup - make them equivalent to two fighter jets! And then dollop on a few extra millions, for good luck.

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Professor Voodoo on Mon 1 Nov 2010 - 15:51

Robert Frazer wrote: the cyborgs are far more limited and specialised than that, so there needs to be a greater markup - make them equivalent to two fighter jets! And then dollop on a few extra millions, for good luck.
That's not even factoring in their collateral damage bill...



Jean: Alright, which one of you is responsible this time?

Melanie: Yay! I'm part of the group now!

Jacob: (facepalm) Oh you are gonna run so many laps for this.

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Kiskaloo on Mon 1 Nov 2010 - 16:16

[ Michele adds another name to "The List". ]

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Professor Voodoo on Sat 6 Nov 2010 - 14:06

Chapter 04: Whispers of Hope, Screams of Betrayal


"Please stop moving around Melanie; it's just going to make this take longer," the other technician said blandly as way of chastisement.

Lot of good imagery in this section...I can easily picture the lab.

Melanie frowned, head bent forward slightly, eyes fixed on a spot on the floor a few feet in front of her toes. "I can't help it; these things itch like crazy."
Just be grateful you don't have chest hair, Melanie.

The second technician handed her a small glass of water that, after accepting it graciously, she began to sip at delicately.
Fruit punch, sport's drink, water...you have made mention of all of these. You're setting up something to do with drinking fluids it seems.

"Well considering that that's your job, Bianchi, I would hope so," Jacob snapped, irritation flitting across his face. Bianchi stared up at him for several moments longer, frowning with piqued disapproval, lips pressed into a tight line.
Being a psychiatrist I imagine Bianchi is analyzing Jacob for faults more than Melanie.

"Why don't you go over what happened down in the indoor range again?

"Alright, alright, fine. So, like I said, we were down in the indoor firing range training…"
And the screen blurs as we go to the flashback...

The first shot ripped forward, punching a neat hole through the target near the upper-left corner of the middle "kill-zone" ring. Jacob felt his heart leap expectantly, suddenly feeling hopeful.

Then Melanie fired her second shot, which went almost completely wide, only managing a tiny nick to the right-hand side of the paper. Her next four shots were just as bad. The close range had changed nothing.
Very true to life & relateable. So often a new idea works on the first try and gets your hopes up, but then falls apart and brings you back down to reality.

Right at the moment she pulled the trigger, Melanie was twitching her wrists away from her line of fire, completely throwing off her aim.
When I read this I wasn't even thinking about the fate of Minaka's mother & sister...I was thinking it was a reaction deeply imbedded in Quinn's muscle memory...perhaps that is how her more advanced space weapons work.

Flinching slightly under the force of Jacob's barked command,
Given how harsh Jacob has been with her so far I'm surprised she's only flinching.

He was getting far too old for this. How the hell did Elio put up with it at his age? With the aid of copious amounts of alcohol, no doubt.
Elio: The copious amounts reefer is just for my arthritis.

Melanie proceeded to throw darts at a series of dartboards in a specified sequence. From what he could see, the majority of her throws had planted darts within the green inner-most ring, with several landing dead-center in the red bull's-eye.
I imagine if cyborgs wanted to play an actual game they'd need to stand about 40 feet away from the dart board just to make things interesting.

"Exactly. Which Melanie proved earlier today that she'd a dismal failure at," Jacob pointed out scathingly, recalling her nearly disastrous performance in the assault course that morning with Allison.
Question; is this still the same day? I'd gotten the impression that a few days had passed since the last chapter closed.

She knew that it was slightly irrational of her, that the technicians were just doing their jobs, but Melanie could still feel their fingers crawling all over her shoulders, arms, chest and stomach, making her shiver uncomfortably.
More than the other cyborgs Melanie seems to be sensitive about nudity and her body (although I suppose Petra did ask Alessandro not to watch while she changed in chapter 42). Is this another hangover from Minaka?

The petit brunette's grey cardigan was slung over one arm, her hair slightly dishevelled above her velvet headband.
Henrietta looking disheveled? The horror!

Rico and Jaime were promised a fellow sniping expert and it would be very rude to deny them their new friend now."
A shout out to Maverick's OC cyborg I gather?

Henrietta's face immediately coloured faintly and she averted her gaze, staring at the ground in embarrassment. "Um, I kind of…fell off the scaling wall while running the obstacle course."

"Oh my God, are you okay?" Melanie asked, her turn now to offer a look of sincere concern.

"Oh yes, I'm fine," Henrietta said quickly, leaning forward slightly in her emphatic effort to assure Melanie that she was indeed all right. "I just landed awkwardly and snapped my knee and had to have it fixed."
Several rounds to the head...snapped knee...finger's torn off and wrong hand installed...between Robert, you & I poor Henrietta has been taking a beating these last few months!

"Can't I at least go long enough to say 'hello'?" Melanie asked, trying hard not to sound pleading.

"No, you can't," Jacob replied gruffly, glaring down at her. "We won't be finished until practically light's-out and we'll be starting again early tomorrow. You're going to need all of the rest you can get. Got it?"

Melanie lowered her gaze to the floor, head hanging as she answered glumly. "Yes sir."
The entire tea-party incident is heart-breakingly embarrassing...a terrific plot device!

Melanie felt an odd tingle of warning shoot up her spine at the look he and Jacob were sharing.

Flicking her gaze over to Henrietta, Melanie found the smaller girl was frowning uncertainly up at Guise, not entirely sure of what to do.
Handler fight! Henrietta is the reason all the benches at the SWA compound are bolted down to the floor.

"It's great to know that I'm not depressed or anything, I'm just a nut-job."

"Congratulations." That smart-ass attitude of yours just earned you an extra ten pounds to your rucksack."
I thought she was just being humorous...and I guess she did too.

Her raven-black purple-tipped hair swung slightly in limp, damp strands from her recent shower at the sudden movement.
Dyed hair? Somebody has a cool, permissive handler!

there was almost seven thousand Euros tied up in the absolute best hardware available. From twin dual-core video cards to eight Gigabytes of memory; from half a Terabyte of hard drive space to the massive thirty-two inch wide, flat-screen monitor.
Are you basing the specs of the computer on what was state-of-the-art in 2006 (the year we're guessing for the Venice battle)?

Also, does Lucretia have internet access in the cyborg dorm? The existence (or not) of televisions, video games and internet access in the dorm says a lot about your interpretation of the Cyborg Warehouse Facility.

"Changed yes, shower no. I'll shower in the morning."

"Whatever you say, stinky."
I imagine this is why we never saw Beatrice having a room-mate.

Melanie shivered suddenly, just managing to cover her feelings of alarm from showing on her face. She'd heard that prolonged use of the conditioning drugs would inevitably lead to addiction, with memory loss being one of the most apparent symptoms. Henrietta was a first generation cyborg, after all.
I really like this paragraph...tying in the canonical decline of the Series One girls with uncertain feelings for your Series Two OC. Might have been a bit more effective if Henrietta hadn't used the phrase "ask again" in the previous passage, which betrays prematurely to the reader that 'Etta does remember the earlier events.

"Oh, I know what Mr. Mehrandish said," Henrietta said, easing Melanie's sudden fear. "But actually, I don't think he actually said that you couldn't go, just that you…shouldn't."
I always thought Henrietta had a sneaky streak hidden underneath all that daintiness.

"Oh, well, um," Henrietta stammered, suddenly flustered and nervous. "Oh, I know; Marisa once told me that, sometimes, you need to ignore the rules and just have fun."

Melanie fidgeted, shifting from foot to foot, still feeling uneasy about the idea.
DANGER ALERT...Marisa's ideas usually aren't good!

"Oh would you just go to their little tea party?" Lucretia called out, frustrated, from within.
I know it's important to the plot to keep Lucretia in the room but it seems a bit un-Henrietta-ish (is that a real word?) to not invite as well.

Claes,... was also in her pyjamas: a simple white lacy nightgown. Her dark, almost blue-black hair was pulled back into a loose braid for sleep.
Good look for Claes...I would like to see one of the resident artists give it a try.

"Triela?" Claes asked lightly with over-emphasized sweetness, not turning around to face her room mate. "Are you trying to call me a witch?"

"Yeah, I'll admit that it was kind of funny," Triela said graciously, fighting back giggles of her own. "But I got my revenge later on. Right, Claes?"

"You kidnapped Sleepy and Caligula and held them for ransom!"

"Stop it!" Henrietta shrieked suddenly, ... "Stop fighting! You're supposed to be best friends and friends don't yell at each other like this!"
My favorite passage in the chapter...a terrific slide from good natured humor into near chaos, halted in its tracks by a very in-character response from Henrietta. One wonders what ransom Claes demanded for the safe return of Sleepy & Caligula...

"Even friends get into fights Henrietta. But that doesn't mean we'll start hating each other."
Rico is probably thinking doesn't she remember how she went ape-shit on me over the broken kaleidoscope?

Rico chirped out of nowhere, "Now kiss and make up!"

Triela chided,"... one of us would have to be a boy for that to work."

"Really?" Rico asked, bewildered. She cocked her head to one side slightly, brow furrowed in deep consideration. "Are you sure about that Triela?"
Rico fishing for a little fan service? We never knew she swung that way...

Claes allowed herself a small smile of thanks as relief and satisfaction burgeoned within her. "Why thank you, Melanie. I took a guess that, given the way you tend to guzzle down fruit punch and sports drinks, going with a blend of sweeter, fruity flavours would be a safe bet."
So I'm not the only one who's noticed.

Henrietta said, giggling. "One time, Marisa ate two whole pizzas. By herself!
Probably true, but I dare say it's Agapita who deserves the crown as the SWA's resident Principessa di Pizza. Agapita is a good deal more prim & refined than Marisa though, so if she were to imbibe two pizzas in one sitting I doubt she'd allow any witnesses.

Henrietta cried, shooting up to her feet, face scrunched up in an angry pout. "I would never stuff my face like that. It's gross and just not lady-like and Guise would be very upset with me if I ever did anything like that!"
Another great Henrietta line...the rambling sentence is exactly how she'd speak when flustered.

"Why don't you just use a shotgun, like Triela does?" Rico asked suddenly, surprising everyone.

Just point it in the right direction and blam!" She pantomimed firing off a shotgun shell as she spoke, flinging herself backwards onto the mattress from the imagined recoil for added effect.

"Hey that's not actually a bad idea," Triela said, giving the matter some serious, critical thought.
I'm surprised Triela did not respond a little more defensively here.

Triela: Hey! It's not that easy! It takes skills!

Cutting off a slice, Henrietta set the piece of cake on a plate and passed it over to Melanie, who accepted it with mumbled words of thanks, before resuming her seat.
I know it's an integral part of the story, canon & fanfic, but does anybody else wonder where the cyborgs get all these cakes?

"Hey, be careful with that stuff, Jacob; I paid a whole ten Euros for that bottle,"

"Then you were ripped off, my friend," Jacob declared in a rough grumble. "This swill is hardly worth five."
Good counterpoint to the expensive spirits usually consumed in these fanfics.

"Regardless of the circumstances surrounding Sophia's death, one thing that can be said is that, when she died, she died knowing that you cared about her. Angelica never had that same comfort. I almost completely shut her out during those last few months. It's something that I spend every single day regretting and I want the chance to make up for that."
In canon Yu only scratches the surface of Marco's emotions post-Angelica. Now that he's started showing up again in recent chapters I wonder if his story will be elaborated upon.

Jacob nodded in agreement, bidding his friend a good night before slipping from the room. He made his way down the corridor, weaving slightly as the world seemed to spin around drunkenly.
This whole scene is an interesting parallel to the tea-party. Refreshments & polite conversation lead to an argument but the parties remain friends.

With a firm, determined stride only marginally marred by his drunken wobble, he made his way towards the cyborg dormitories, intent on offering sincere apologies to Melanie.
The best decisions are always made while drunk. Oh...wait...maybe that's worst decisions.

he found Lucretia passed out in her seat. Her head was resting on one arm that was draped haphazardly across a textbook. Her other arm dangled limply at her side. A tiny line of spittle was leaking from the corner of her mouth and slowly trailing down the sleeve of the dark blue pyjamas she wore to soak into the paper of the book.
Such a ladylike image...maybe one of the artists would like to try...

Lucretia: (panicked voice) NO!

Jacob flashed back to memories of Sophia and the times she would curl up next to him, nestling her head in his lap while she napped peacefully after a particularly exhausting mission. No matter how tired, upset or sore she was, there would always be the sweetest smile curling her lips as she slept. And no matter how tired, upset or sore Jacob himself was, having her there, his hand slowly stroking her soft brown hair had soothed him. Made him feel happy and content.
Evoking one of the core concepts of GsG...the ruthless killer cyborg content to fall asleep with her head in her guardian's lap.

Yelping in sudden alarm, Lucretia tried to pull up short as the door slammed shut with a resounding bang. Unfortunately, the fuzzy pink toe-socks she wore slid along the slick hardwood floor and she quickly found that she was too close to stop in time. Another resounding bang echoed through the air as Lucretia crashed into the door, bouncing back and landing heavily on her back. Bright lights suddenly exploded in her vision as her head rebounded forcefully of the floor, leaving Lucretia dazed.
A glimmer of humor during a serious moment...it lightens things up nicely. I admit I laughed out loud.

"Oh God, I cannot believe this!" she exclaimed, hands raking back through her hair. Lucretia felt her heart jack-hammering within her chest and she had to swallow reflexively against a rising tide of anxiety-born nausea. "I am so, so, so, dead. Melanie is going to kill me!"
This sets up another potential plot line: Will Melanie readily forgive her room-mate or will this put a permanent strain on their relationship?

"Mr. Mehrandish, I can explain this," Triela explained, standing up slowly and carefully, as one would when faced by a wild animal.

"Shut up," Jacob snapped viciously, drawing a noticeable wince from the slim blonde.
Another really good moment...Triela, accustomed to being respected, thinks she has the situation under control but gets put in her place by the angry (drunk) handler.

"No you didn't," she snapped softly, half under her breath.

"What was that?" Jacob demanded angrily.

Melanie sucked in a deep, steadying breath and, gathering her courage, pressed on. She'd opened her mouth and now was committed to her course. "I said, you didn't actually forbid me from going."
You'd think poor melanie would know when to shut her mouth by now.

The woman stared up at Jacob, uncertain of what to do. She had never heard of a cyborg, and that had to be what the young girl staring at the floor behind him was
This passage is a little odd...

The trio of women and the lone man ushered her over and, speaking with sympathetic kindness, gave her instructions on what she could do to help out.
Marisa: Don't worry Melanie...I got sentenced to a whole week of scrubbing pots in the kitchen but that turned out really good for me!

Melanie: How could this possibly turn out good?

Marisa: Umm...free toilet paper?

Well Claes, Melanie mused to herself. He certainly hates me now!
And another chapter ends in misery for Melanie. Looking forward to more!

Melanie: Hey! That didn't sound very nice!

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by ChaosKin640 on Sun 7 Nov 2010 - 9:29

...perhaps that is how her more advanced space weapons work.
Cascades of cheesy 70’s era rayguns are flashing through my head reading this, lol. But seriously, Bianchi is right in that Minaka’s traumatic memories are partly to blame. Quinn’s contribution to the whole snarled mess stems from her almost fanatical loathing of firearms. She hates them with a passion. To her, lethal combat is an art form requiring skill gained over years of training. The idea of a weapon that can be picked up and used by a three year old disgusts her to no end. The only exception to this is with snipers. The amount of skill and training needed to accurately and reliably kill someone from as far away as 1km or more is undeniable and she admits that.
I imagine if cyborgs wanted to play an actual game they'd need to stand about 40 feet away from the dart board just to make things interesting.
And the board would have to move in random patterns at speeds of up to 60mph!
Question; is this still the same day?
Yes, chapters 3 & 4 both take place within the same day.
Is this another hangover from Minaka?
Indeed it is. Minaka did, after all, spend almost 2 years forced to serve as an underage prostitute.
A shout out to Maverick's OC cyborg I gather?
Yup.
...between Robert, you & I poor Henrietta has been taking a beating these last few months!
Oh God, I know! One of us is going to have to give the poor girl a nice long, well-deserved vacation.
Are you basing the specs of the computer on what was state-of-the-art in 2006
Given the nature of hardware pricing, it doesn’t really matter overly much. Top-of-the-line hardware usually costs the same when it comes out, regardless of how powerful it is.
Also, does Lucretia have internet access in the cyborg dorm?
Seeing as how Lucy’s the resident super-hacker, I don’t think it matters whether the girls are supposed to have internet or not; she’s going to find a way to get it, Evil
But to answer your question, I think that, like the lights-out rule, it’s a matter of choice on how strict the girls’ individual handlers are about it. Of course, when you have room mate’s whose handler’s differ on those opinions, it could make for some interesting drama.
Might have been a bit more effective if Henrietta hadn't used the phrase "ask again" in the previous passage
Duly noted Voodoo. It’s a simple fix and I can certainly go back and revise it.
I know it's important to the plot to keep Lucretia in the room but it seems a bit un-Henrietta-ish (is that a real word?) to not invite as well.
Ah, excellent point Voodoo. Henrietta would invite Lucy as well, if only to be polite. Again, as above, it’s a simple fix and I can easily revise it.
One wonders what ransom Claes demanded for the safe return of Sleepy & Caligula...
I think I’ll leave that one to the reader’s imagination, Razz
Rico fishing for a little fan service? We never knew she swung that way...
Lol…actually I was originally considering to extend this exchange, with Rico referencing a strange movie belonging to Alessandro that she found lying around and watched. It involved two young women who got into a vicious fight that left both of them with almost all of their clothes torn off. At which point they decided to apologize and…well…make up. I’ll let you fill in the remaining blanks.
I wonder if his story will be elaborated upon.
If I can find something for him to do plot-wise, then I certainly intend to include him, yes.
The best decisions are always made while drunk. Oh...wait...maybe that's worst decisions.
Drunk logic is the best logic!
Will Melanie readily forgive her room-mate or will this put a permanent strain on their relationship?
I leave that answer to chapter 5.
You'd think poor Melanie would know when to shut her mouth by now.
One would think, wouldn’t one? Quinn’s bit of a smart-ass attitude and strong-willed determination are not serving her well here, are they?
his passage is a little odd...
Yeah, I know. I’ll have to think of some way to clean this up. I blame in on lack of sleep and the desire to finish the chapter.
Marisa: Umm...free toilet paper?
Hey, as anyone whose been camping knows, toilet paper is worth a thousand times its own weight in gold! It’s like cigarettes in prison.
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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by ChaosKin640 on Thu 25 Nov 2010 - 22:35

Great news: Chapter 05 is now on-line! After some caraeful thought and deliberation, I decided to cut the chapter in half, leaving me with a completed chapter almost a week early. The bonus good news is that it means I already have about 1/3 of ch. 6 already written, so it should be coming faster than usual as well. cheers
So tonight in the new chapter of Crossroads, Lucy has herself a brilliant idea, Kara once again plays the karma card and Melanie throws up on the floor.
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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by MP5 on Thu 25 Nov 2010 - 23:36

Brilliant Chapter, Chaos. I generally tend not to play up Allison's Caffeine-fueled side all that much, but I saw great humor in what you wrote.

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Kiskaloo on Fri 26 Nov 2010 - 2:00

Finished my initial pass through and I loved it.

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Professor Voodoo on Fri 26 Nov 2010 - 5:11

Considering what happens immediately thereafter I'd consider throwing up on the floor the least of Melanie's worries! Another excellent chapter, well worth the wait. There's some pretty significant plot developments and some great character moments.

I'll have more complete thoughts as soon as I catch up with Kisk & Charon's latest. Maybe I need to quit my job so I don't get behind reviewing...but it's a long swim back to land.

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Alfisti on Fri 26 Nov 2010 - 9:00

...so I imagine if Quinn hates firearms then the idea of using a scatter-gun where you only really need to aim "over there" would be poison. =P

Like the others have said: another excellent chapter. I started reading it at work on my break and damn near missed the start of meal-service. Of course, I'm always happy to see J+M get a mention as well.

More thoughts to come.

ProfessorVoodoo wrote: Maybe I need to quit my job so I don't get behind reviewing...but it's a long swim back to land.
Seconded, between drawing, writing and reviewing I swear this place takes up the solid majority of my downtime.

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Professor Voodoo on Mon 29 Nov 2010 - 5:06

Chapter 05: What Lurks Within
The fact that every synthetic muscle fibre in her whole body felt as if it had the consistency of half-congealed jelly certainly did not help matters.
You paint a picture a fatigue as vividly as you convey abject misery.
she blindly grabbed a fistful of sweetener packets. Tearing them open one by one, she upended nearly a dozen into her mug before contemplating a second attempt. She was about to raise the cup to her lips when a strangled, panicked shout from behind made her pause. Turning, she saw Allison scrambling towards her, a look of unbridled terror on her face.
"For the love of God Melanie, stop!" the brunette exclaimed desperately,
Melanie's been watching Henrietta sweeten her tea I gather.
You look awful, by the way."
Cyborgs don't mince words!
Yeah well, you try running fifteen miles with a hundred and fifty pounds strapped to your back after only two hours of sleep; see how perky you look then!
Assuming Melanie survives her first few months she is going to become one seriously badass cyborg!
Agapita sat to Allison's immediate left. The slim raven-haired girl was engrossed in eating what appeared to be her second slice of pizza,
Agapita must have been doing some serious politicking to get pizza on the breakfast menu!
Agapita: If your goal is truly important it's worth the effort.
I must leave the final judgment up to Robert but it seems to me you've nailed her character here.
Kara stood up suddenly, waving everyone else to silence.
I do sense a streak of leadership ability in Kisk's girl.
they could at times forget she was trained as an inter-departmental liaison; a role that required careful study of inter-personal relations and diplomacy.
Good observation...it's an aspect of Kara I sometimes forget to utilize.
they all saw Henrietta rushing up to their table. Her hair hung damp and dishevelled, as if she's only given it a few cursory swipes with a brush before hurrying out of the bathroom. Henrietta's crisp white shirt was left un-tucked and a slightly wild, panicky look filled her soft brown eyes.
It must be important for Henrietta to be seen in a condition of less than perfect dress.
"Melanie, you need to get out of here, now! You're in grave danger!"
I find it cute that Henrietta overlooks her own ability to break up a fight between a pair of series two cyborgs without breaking a sweat.
Melanie snapped, cutting the other girl off. "It's not like I can get into any more trouble than I'm already in."
Oh how quickly we forget...
"Well they could always send you in to be reconditioned," Agapita pointed out, immediately shrinking back against the storm of disapproving glowers Kara, Ilaria and Allison all threw at her.
Again...great grasp of literal & straightforward Agapita.
"Melanie," Kara said eventually, breaking the awkward silence. "Nina's injuries aren't from her fight with you yesterday. They're from her handler, Costante."
This is an intriguing direction you've taken this in...there are a number of handlers who give their girl the occasional smack (Jean, Fernando, Elio, Kenichi etc.) but Costante's conduct raised some heavy philosophical implications. I'd thought you were setting this fratello up to serve a certain role, but obviously your plans are more complex.
Henrietta rested one small hand on her fellow cyborg's forearm, speaking with a gentle solemnity that pulled in everyone's attention like iron filings to a magnet.
Neat simile.
I think I've finally managed to convince the Q-Branch mechanics to let me tune up my Evo to Group 'B' specs."
Good line for Allison, but I think she'd know that was impossible. Group B rally cars from the mid '80's were fiberglass & composite shells hung over pure racing tube-frame chassis. They shared nothing in common with the street cars they were supposed to look like, so it would be impossible to modify a street car into one. A good analogy is a post-1972 NASCAR "stock car"...you can't take a street car and turn it into one of them.
For a brief moment, she wondered if anyone would step in on her behalf.
Several people have...Brian, Marco...
Jacob had her scheduled to spend the entire morning training session working on rifles drills. She was genuinely looking forward to it. She only hoped she would be able to stay awake.
"Melanie! Hey Melanie, hold on."
Hearing her name being called insistently, Melanie slowed her pace to allow the person addressing her time to catch up.
The time frame is a little confusing here...we've jumped over the entire range portion of the day and gone straight to afternoon classes I gather?
"What do you want Lucy?" her voice came out flat and toneless; an effect of her effort to maintain a civil attitude.
From the tone of your writing so far we should have known better than to expect a quick & easy reconciliation between the room-mates.
"That's it?" Melanie cried incredulously. "That's you great master plan? 'Don't fail?'"
"Well, there…there's more to it than…than that," Lucretia mumbled, her face beginning to burn in embarrassment.
I always envisioned cyborg plans as being slightly hare-brained...they lead a very strange existence and consequently have a strange outlook on problems.
"Well," Triela said, cracks spreading through her reluctance. "I suppose it wouldn't hurt to just ask him."

When Triela turned back towards them and flashed the trio a quick 'thumbs-up', Kara gave a wild hoot of joy and bounced back to her feet.
What was that about people stepping in on her behalf?
Just under two weeks had passed since her fateful decision to accept Lucretia's plan.
Thanks for the time reference. It might be spoon-feeding, but it's sometimes difficult to keep up to date with your time-line.
If she scored anything under ninety-five, Jacob would chew her out with a savage vehemence that would leave her trembling.
Like I said; she's gonna be one hell of a cyborg if she survives!
Jacob had finally relented on the extra punishments and given Melanie back her nights. She had almost wept with joy. Even better was the fact that, in an almost unfathomable act of mercy, Jacob had given her half of the morning off to sleep in.
This provides as great as sigh of relief to the reader as it does the character...as well as setting up the audience for the gut-punch to come.
"Yeah, Lucy's handler Enzo uses a Super Ninety and its stock does telescope in and out."
The casual chatter just reenforces the last point, it disarms the reader before the impact moment.
There was a dull flash as the light from the open portal glinted off steel and then a resounding clap of thunder inundated all of Melanie's senses with its savage cacophony of sound.
The entire breakdown scene is full of vivid, confusing imagery, with just enough reference to the events of Minaka's experience to give it foundation.
He did however spare a few words of thanks for Michele before the man left. If not for the man's quick thinking and fluency in Japanese, they would likely still be wrestling with Melanie.
Good way to make use of Michele's talents.
if their cyborg ever relapsed into their former identities, trying to use the primary commands in native Italian might not work.
Another taker for Robert's Primary Command idea. It's practically canon by now!
"Exactly," Bianchi replied, nodding his agreement. "With this information, we can start treating Melanie and eventually help her overcome this deep-seeded fear."
"And just how long will that take?" Jacob asked, already knowing what the answer would likely be.
Does Bianchi's treatment now trump Jean's deadline for having Melanie deployable? We shall see I suppose.
You've really come up with a unique approach and an enjoyable tale, Chaos. I hope you don't mind, but it's inspired me to bang out a short scene exploring Marisa's feelings on the situation...
Spoiler:


Following another frustrating day of sniper practice Elio & Marisa walked back along the dirt road that led from the outdoor range and shoot-house to the dormitory (and importantly, the dining hall). They could have easily accepted a ride with Brian McDonnell & Allison, but since it didn't look likely to rain this afternoon the older handler opted for the walk. It afforded an opportunity for him to get in a spot of brisk aerobic excercise (which he was sometimes forced to neglect in favor of more sedentary work), and Marisa never objected to a long walk with her handler, especially after a depressing few hours of mediocre scorecards.

Behind them heavy footfalls approached, and Alboreto turned his head in time to see Melanie jog by with her head hung low & sneakers soaking wet as a result of the puddles that remained from that morning's rainfall. Although she passed quickly the old spy swore he could see tears on her cheeks...a depressingly common condition for her. As the sorrowful figure outdistanced them, growing smaller and smaller in their sight, Elio turned to his cyborg and commented "Jacob Mehrandish is pretty hard on his new girl."

"I suppose" replied Marisa.
It was a rare curt answer from the normally talkative girl, so Elio pushed the issue a bit; "What's the word around the dormitory about that? More importantly, how do you feel?"

The red-headed girl cocked her head to look up at her much taller master. "Everyone feels awful about how hard it is for her...we try to help but sometimes it just makes things worse. I hear Mr. Mehrandish doesn't even let her sleep at night!" She left out the part about Melanie napping in class, unsure about how favorably her handler would view that.

The girl said no more, but Elio knew her body language. She was swinging her shoulders with nervous energy...a sure sign that she had more to say. "Come on, I know that can't be all" he teased, putting a gentle hand on her shoulder, "out with it."

"Well" Marisa finally said, "Elio, if you ever take on another cyborg after I die...that bitch better have her shit together or I'm coming back from the dead to straighten her out."

Elio was taken aback by her answer. Unsure of how to respond he bought a little time by scolding "Marisa, how many times have I warned you about your language? Do you want to wind up borrowing Miss Melanie's canvas ruck-sack for a few laps?"
The freckled cyborg was quite serious, and undaunted by his sharp words; "Begging your pardon, bad words for bad things, Sir." She turned one of his own frequent catchphrases against him. "What I mean is; a cyborg's job is to protect her handler, and right now Mr. Mehrandish is operating without a shield. Sophia was always proud of the fact that her Jacob never got hurt while she was looking out for him, but what would she say now? If there's a Heaven like Agapita is always prattling on about...or a Valhalla, a Nirvana or a Happy Hunting Ground, Sophia is up there right now pulling her hair out because if Jacob went on a mission he'd be in danger."

"Things will get better" Alboreto assured his girl, although he had his own doubts considering the time limit that had been imposed on Melanie, "and nobody is suggesting Jacob go out on any missions until his cyborg is ready to perform her duties."
"I know" Marisa sighed, "and please don't think I'm blaming Melanie for all this...she tries, Elio, I swear she tries harder than any cyborg I know. But thinking about it just makes me worried. I know you're super-tough, and you handled a lot of dangerous bad guys long before I was even born, but it scares me to think about you being vulnerable after I'm gone." The girl leaned against her handler, putting an arm around him & pressing her head into the side of his jacket. "If you ever have to depend on another cyborg to protect you, Elio, promise you won't cut her an inch of slack. If it means keeping you safe I hope you're a zillion times tougher on her than Mr. Mehrandish is on Melanie."

Alboreto put his left arm around her and gave a squeeze. "I'm sure you're all the cyborg I'll ever need," he assured her, "and even after you're gone I'm sure you'll find a way to watch over me."
Marisa scoffed; "Oh don't give me that crap about angels...I get enough of that from Aggie." The militantly anti-religious cyborg stepped clear of her master and declared "If I ever come back from the dead I wanna be a zombie!" Groaning, she held her arms out and took a few clumsy zombie walk steps down the road before whipping around and adding "Or maybe a vampire! Not one of those loser vampires like in those lovey-dovey kissing movies that the older girls watch..I wanna be an old-school vampire who drinks blood, turns into a bat and generally fucks people up!"

"Language, Mari" chided her handler, but he could not scold her any more harshly than that because he was already laughing.

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by ChaosKin640 on Mon 29 Nov 2010 - 6:50

I'd thought you were setting this fratello up to serve a certain role, but obviously your plans are more complex.
My general reference for Costante's character is a kind of blending of Jean and Sandro. As a former spy the same as Ricci, Costante has that ability to blend in and assume a casual, disarming attitude, which he does most of the time. However, underneath he's much more in line with Jean's cold ruthlessness. Costante is a man who suffers very few moral quandaries in the execution of his role within the agency. If there's something he feels will get the job done better or more efficiently he'll do it, regardless of whatever ethics might be involved. And that philosophy holds true with his treatment of Nina. He'll use whatever methods of discipline he feels works best; whether that means beating the crap out of her or bedding her, it's all the same to him.
Good line for Allison, but I think she'd know that was impossible.
Pshaw...this is Allison we're talking about here. She'll find a way. But seriously, my technical knowledge of racing in its various forms is confined to Wiki readings. I was aware that Group B referred to modified race-cars, but that was about it. So those specific details are appreciated Voodoo.
...we've jumped over the entire range portion of the day and gone straight to afternoon classes I gather?
Indeed we have. My apologies if the time-line isn't overly clear. I'll see about throwing in a couple of lines to straighten that out.
What was that about people stepping in on her behalf?
Yeah, I know. I imagine that Melanie is a little self-absorbed with her own misery most of the time, leaving her slightly oblivious to how much people around her are bending over backwards to help her out.
...but it's sometimes difficult to keep up to date with your time-line.
I'll admit, the time-line in this chapter is a little jerky. That's a result of my deciding to change the entire time perspective of the chapter at the last minute. My notes for ch.5 had most of the scenes set as flashbacks, with Melanie looking back at the events of the past 2 weeks. But with the flashback I did in ch.4 I felt it would have come off as slightly repetative.
Does Bianchi's treatment now trump Jean's deadline for having Melanie deployable?
The way i see it working is like this: up until now, Melanie's problems have seemed to be the result of either some personal flaw or inability to retain her training. But now that they know its a psychological issue, and more importantly, one that can now potentially be fixed, Lorenzo is more willing to relax the deadline.
You've really come up with a unique approach and an enjoyable tale, Chaos.
Thank you. As I hope to eventually be a professionally published author, that's certainly encouraging to hear.
I hope you don't mind, but it's inspired me to bang out a short scene exploring Marisa's feelings on the situation...
Not at all Voodoo, bang away. head bang head bang head bang

I may have mentioned this before, but a large part of what drew me to the forum was the ready willingness of everyone to lend each other their OC's.
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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Professor Voodoo on Mon 29 Nov 2010 - 7:07

ChaosKin640 wrote: I may have mentioned this before, but a large part of what drew me to the forum was the ready willingness of everyone to lend each other their OC's.
Agreed...it is a large part of the fun of writing, and reading the work of others.

As far as Melanie, Sophia, & Jacob are concerned, I'd love to use them more, but right now you're laying down some heavy character development, so I'm going to hold off on giving them a major role until you stabalize their characters. I'd hate to do something with them that contradicts something you do in your next chapter.

That said, by your leave they'll still be doing some cameos.

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by ChaosKin640 on Mon 29 Nov 2010 - 7:16

That said, by your leave they'll still be doing some cameos.
By all means, it would be an honour. You never clarified, by the way, if that was my Sophia and Melanie you gave cameos to in ch.3 of Palermo Round-up.


Last edited by ChaosKin640 on Mon 29 Nov 2010 - 18:53; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by MP5 on Mon 29 Nov 2010 - 9:16

I think I've finally managed to convince the Q-Branch mechanics to let me tune up my Evo to Group 'B' specs."

Just curious... which Evo are you referring to? Her Delta, or the Lancer she's currently using in her mission?

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Professor Voodoo on Mon 29 Nov 2010 - 12:24

ChaosKin640 wrote: You never clarified, by the way, if that was my Sophia and Melanie you gave cameos to in ch.3 of Palmero Round-up.
Oh shit, that's a bit embarrassing...I'd forgotten to reply to my own thread. I'll get on that later tonight.

To answer your question, yes that is your Sophia the girls see amongst the stars, and your Melanie who was deployed with Triela, Rachel & the others.

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by ChaosKin640 on Mon 29 Nov 2010 - 15:05

Ok, thanks Voodoo. And to MP5, its Allison's Lancer Evo that I'm referring to. I hope you don't mind, but I couldn't help but give the car its own cameo. The Lancer Evo is one of my favorite cars and even more so now that I'm in sight of actually owning one in another 4-5 years.
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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Alfisti on Wed 1 Dec 2010 - 12:32

Professor Voodoo wrote:
ChaosKin640 wrote: I may have mentioned this before, but a large part of what drew me to the forum was the ready willingness of everyone to lend each other their OC's.
Agreed...it is a large part of the fun of writing, and reading the work of others.
Seconded (thirded?). Though I couldn't say it's something that drew me to the forum (to be honest J+M originally were only created through an urge to be able to join in with the OC shinnanigans) the interplay is one of my favorite parts of the place and is probably one of the things that has kept me in the fandom so long.

I'll admit that, coming from the other direction, I sometimes worry what the oft OC-heavy fiction that comes out of this forum does in terms of its accessibility to outside readers. I know from dA that it can be confusing to some and a turnoff to others. Meh, maybe it'll force 'em to join just to see what's going on. Either way, I know I get a kick out of it. Razz

Aaaanyway... thoughts on Ch5.

ChaosKin640 wrote:Her awkward, shambling gait was reminiscent of something straight out of a zombie apocalypse movie.
Bianchi: Damn, one of the failures must have escaped containment again...

Melanie could see the thick layer of clouds from the day before still blocking out the sky all across the horizon. While it wasn't raining at the moment, the slowly churning clouds promised that it would be days before anyone would see the sun again.
I love how your weather always seems to match Melanie's mood.

Her breath coming in deep, ragged gasps, Allison stood there for several seconds, before panting out, "Please Melanie, for the sake of my sanity, don't you dare drink that."
Just a thought, but there are a lot of "Melanie"s in this section... pretty much every time Allison opens her mouth infact. To me at least it's a little awkward. I mean, if Allison's telling her off then one use of her name to grab her attention would be enough... then it's rant on.

"But if you value your own life, then I strongly suggest you never, ever, say anything like that within Monty's hearing. That girl takes her coffee very seriously."
Monty: Too right, and I wouldn't be drinking it from that awful machine either.

And use real sugar, not that artificial sweetener crap. Tastes just like the real thing my ass
Monty: I don't agree with McDonnell on much but yeah, seriously, that artificial stuff is just God-awful. Raw sugar's best if you can get it.

Not in the mood to eat, Melanie strode across the tiled floor in Allison's wake.
"Strode"? I thought she'd be lucky to make a shamble right at this moment.

Bright-eyed and smiling, she was conversing eagerly with Ilaria, who only seemed to be half-listening.
The ability to half listen to someone and make appropriate noises at the right times is a horribly underrated one. I wind up doing this at work... a lot.

Turning about, they all saw Henrietta rushing up to their table. Her hair hung damp and dishevelled, as if she's only given it a few cursory swipes with a brush before hurrying out of the bathroom. Henrietta's crisp white shirt was left un-tucked and a slightly wild, panicky look filled her soft brown eyes.
This is actually a pretty amusing mental image. Voodoo's already said it, but 'Etta really must be wound up if she's not had time to get herself in order.

Triela: I need a photo of this.

"Melanie," Kara said eventually, breaking the awkward silence. "Nina's injuries aren't from her fight with you yesterday. They're from her handler, Costante."

And agency protocol says that, as long as we're able to do our jobs when we're called upon, our handler's can treat us any way they see fit."
Donato: Christ, we have to fix her up once then we have to fix her up immediately after again.

I actually wonder where the line gets drawn here, because, well... not to put too find of a point on it but Nina's injuries sound expensive. Surely there'd be a point where the brass would step in, if only because a handler's treatment of a girl was costing them too much money. Like, Rico's split lip was one thing; you can weld that shut with a bit of Zap! (or Flash, or whatever you CA glue of choice is... no seriously, it stings like buggery but works) but cracked ribs on a cyborg is going to mean fabricating a new set, putting her under (and hence shortening her useable lifespan as I believe they use the "conditioning" for damn near everything... avoiding drug reactions perhaps?), opening her up and replacing the broken units. Then weld her shut again, use up skin to seal the gap and have her out of action through a recovery period, effectively dropping more cash into the maw for little return on investment. Do that a couple of time and some beancounter's going to have a fit.

For a brief moment, she wondered if anyone would step in on her behalf.
I know you said further up the thread that Melanie was a bit wrapped up in self-pity to realise that people are trying to help her out, but by the same token has she even been in a position to know. Yes Brian gave her some options, but in terms of actual inverveneing with Jacob the handlers seem to have been keeping that mostly amongst themselves.

The slim, raven-haired girl snapped her attention back around, eyes widening faintly. "Oh yeah, that's right. I thought of way to get Jacob off of your back and get back into his good-graces at the same time."
I get the impression that Lucy's another good one for hair-brained (or in this case not-so-hairbrained) schemes?

"That actually doesn't sound like a bad idea," Melanie admitted at last. "It could work."

"What could work?"
Absolutely no point in trying to talk quietly around fellow cyborgs.
Melanie stepped forward to ease the massive door open, receiving a curt nod of thanks from Jacob.
Great moment. It's only a little thing, but it's all that's required to show the reader how much this particular relationship has changed.
only being able to sleep for forty-five minutes at a time was a poor replacement to an actual full night's rest. As a supplement, Melanie had been forced to take up regular infusions of caffeine. Even Allison was left horrified by the sheer volume of coffee Melanie was consuming.
Grind coffee. Fill plunger. Drink coffee... rinse, wash, repeat. The worst thing about those short naps is that they're just enough to bring you down off that happy, hilarious overtired state.
Everything fell quickly into place then, as the remaining faces resolved themselves into those of various support staff members and a few handlers and fellow cyborgs. She recognized Priscilla's worried face, framed by her wavy, shoulder-length dirty-blonde hair.
For all those people to turn up I assume she was out for a bit then...
"I don't know what happened," the man eventually said, sounding angry and confused. "She was perfectly fine one moment and the next, she was freaking out and screaming."
Find a silver lining though: at least his anger seems to be at his own confusion rather than with Melanie. Changing relationships indeed... or are you just going to gut-punch us again? Razz
Another excellent chapter mate, looking forward to the next as usual.

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by ChaosKin640 on Wed 1 Dec 2010 - 23:00

Just a thought, but there are a lot of "Melanie"s in this section...
Looking over the chapter, I see that you're absolutely right. I did overuse her name a bit. I've editted my hard-copy and made the appropriate changes to FF.net so hopefully it reads a lot smoother now. Thanks for catching it.
Monty: Too right, and I wouldn't be drinking it from that awful machine either.
Just out of curiosity, but I'm interested in what Monty's thoughts are on those single-cup Keurig machines. Marvel of time-saving modern ingenuity? Or the Hell-spawned child of Satan himself?
Triela: I need a photo of this.
I'm thinking we could start some kind of candid moment photo-contest or something. So far we've got Lucy passed out and drooling on her textbook, Henrietta dishevelled in the morning and Aggie wolfing down a slice of pizza. I say instant first-prize, no questions asked, goes to whoever brings in a snapshot of Triela asleep and cuddling one of her teddy bears.
Surely there'd be a point where the brass would step in, if only because a handler's treatment of a girl was costing them too much money.
Oh absolutely. That's part of the reason why the girls are so shocked to see that Costante has fallen back into beating Nina. He was pulled aside by the other handlers and Lorenzo and told to find a different way of doing things
It's more a case of Costante having lost his temper and lashed out at her violently, rather than his choosing to revisit old methods. Costante's father was abusive to he and his mother while growing up, hence why it was his default position for disciplining Nina when they first started together.
I should also clarrify that, back when Costante was actively abusing Nina, he quickly became a master at knowing just how far to push things so that she could still operate in the field effectively without the need for constant repairs.
...has she even been in a position to know.
She hasn't yet been in the position to know what the other handlers may or may not be doing on her behalf, no. That comment of her being too wrapped-up in self-pity was more directed at the efforts of her friends and fellow cyborgs. Although, given the mount of influence Kara and Allison have with their respective handlers, for those two at least, it could pretty much be considered one and the same.
I get the impression that Lucy's another good one for hair-brained (or in this case not-so-hairbrained) schemes?
Lucy's been known to knock around a wild idea or two. Usually ones that involve her hyjacking city-wide infrastructure networks for one reason or another.
For all those people to turn up I assume she was out for a bit then...
The deathly shrieks of unbridled terror certainly helped draw attention, too.
Changing relationships indeed... or are you just going to gut-punch us again?
No, I think I'm done with the emotional gut-punches for the time being at least. Too many too often and this story is going to start sounding like a M. Night Shyamalan movie. In the immortal words of Robot Chicken, "What a twist!"
Thanks as always Alfisti. And just to clear up in your first comment. When I said that the inter-play between OC's drew me to the forum, I meant it drew me into becoming active in the forum.
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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by Kiskaloo on Wed 1 Dec 2010 - 23:40

What I'd like to know is what a human handler could do to actually damage a cyborg outside of dropping a safe or piano on them....

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by ChaosKin640 on Wed 1 Dec 2010 - 23:52

Well, Costante is a rather big man, and pretty solidly built. He's no Biff Steele, by any means, but he's large enough to not be intimidated out-of-hand. Costante also isn't adverse to the use of tools to assist him in the inflicting of psysical discipline. And then finally, there's the fact that the emotional pain of having your handler beat you as punishment probably hurts more then the actual blows ever could.
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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

Post by ElfenMagix on Thu 2 Dec 2010 - 0:20

ChaosKin640 wrote:Well, Costante is a rather big man, and pretty solidly built. He's no Biff Steele, by any means, but he's large enough to not be intimidated out-of-hand. Costante also isn't adverse to the use of tools to assist him in the inflicting of psysical discipline. And then finally, there's the fact that the emotional pain of having your handler beat you as punishment probably hurts more then the actual blows ever could.
The cyborgs are 4 - 10 times stronger than a grown man of Biff's strength and stature. Add to that they super speed and their bones are made of carbon fiber. Dropping a piano on them would only make them complain about a headache. Think about it- it took an anti-aircraft gun to take out Beatrice, and she was carrying a cruise missile at the time! I really doubt that he could just smack her about so easily and get her bloody. He's not Jean and she's not Rico.

Smacking a cyborg would not hurt them, even if they got bloody. But conditioning will tell them in that act, they are being punished for doing something wrong and that is all. How the cyborg handles that conditioning is on them. Now if somebody else were to do that, they would be dead meat on the fire.

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Re: Crossroads of Destiny

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