Men-at-Arms

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Men-at-Arms

Post by Officer_Charon on Wed 20 Oct 2010 - 4:21

This is merely a resting point for tidbits of stories that I'm going to be working up... right now, I have merely the vaguest of outlines in my head, and only a few completed scenes. I don't ANTICIPATE this becoming another "here is my new fratello, R&R plzkthxbai" (not to knock any of the work that anyone else here has put into their writing; I just don't want to seem like I'm recycling a hackneyed concept.

Also, it would appear that my personal laptop has USB issues, so the work that I have on my thumb drive is currently inaccessible to me - I shall have to wait until the planets align, my baby sleeps, and I have a few glorious free moments at home to toss up any work that I can come up with there. Writing at work has, as of late, not been terribly productive (Stupid crime. Don't you know who I am?)

So, without further rambling (All: THANK GOD) ... Shadduppayouface... I shall start scribbling as I go. Bear in mind that, unless specifically noted, the stuff going up here is RAW, and subject to as much creative criticism as you desire to throw at it. I don't claim to be an expert in ANY field, but I have a bit of knowledge in a great many subjects. Not so much a Renaissance man as a late Medieval one. *grins*

*****
EDIT
*****

Men-At-Arms now resides on FF.Net, subject to the whims and vagaries of the fan crowd! *winces in anticipation*
http://www.fanfiction.net/s/7878015/1/Men_at_Arms


Last edited by Officer_Charon on Mon 27 Feb 2012 - 21:14; edited 2 times in total

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Si vis pacem, para bellum

"The two loudest sounds you will ever hear from your weapon are the *bang* when it's supposed to go *click* and the *click* when it's supposed to go *bang*." -Unknown

"220 horses, I got a gun, a siren, a tank full of city gas. Don't you love it?!" - Ofc. Maurice "Bosco" Boscarelli, Third Watch
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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Officer_Charon on Wed 20 Oct 2010 - 4:48

Jean was livid. Hillshire could tell - his face was carefully composed and not showing any emotion outside of the clenched jaw. His words came crisp and concise. "Hillshire, ask the cowboy just what he thought he was doing, getting involved with the incident? His actions put the Croce/Henrietta fratello at risk, to say nothing of terminating all the participants! We can't interrogate dead men, and none of the bodies had usable intel on them!"

Hilshire turned to the white-faced man who sat, slumped over, against the clean-up crew's van at the disembarkation point. His left hand and cheek were bandaged, with some seepage through the white gauze. In his German-accented English, he relayed Jean's words, filtered so as to avoid revealing anything about the SWA's full scope of operations.

Dull gunmetal eyes looked back up at Hillshire, and with a sinking feeling, he recognized the emotions behind it. Or rather, the lack of emotion. It was the same look he'd had when he realized exactly what had happened to Triela after Rachelle had given up the last of her life saving a girl she didn't know.

<"You can tell that filio di putana,"> began the man, baritone voice husky, <"that all I did was kill the bastards who took my wife and child from me. If that stronso has a problem with vengeance, he's going to be upset. I'm not done yet."> He took a shuddering breath, but held his eyes up.

Some of Hillshire's wry amusement must have shown on his normally impassive face, because pale became mottled red immediately. <"And just what, pray tell, is so god-damned funny?!">

Hilshire waved a gloved hand in a conciliatory motion. <"My friend, if there is anything that the young man other there understands, it's revenge.">

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Si vis pacem, para bellum

"The two loudest sounds you will ever hear from your weapon are the *bang* when it's supposed to go *click* and the *click* when it's supposed to go *bang*." -Unknown

"220 horses, I got a gun, a siren, a tank full of city gas. Don't you love it?!" - Ofc. Maurice "Bosco" Boscarelli, Third Watch
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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Professor Voodoo on Wed 20 Oct 2010 - 5:08

Hmmm...interesting. I'll assume this teaser is pre-assignment of cyborg. Curious to see how this develops, although your handler will have to learn Italian quick.

Alternately...a handler who is weak with Italian with a cyborg conditioned to speak it fluently might be interesting...


Last edited by Professor Voodoo on Wed 20 Oct 2010 - 18:21; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Officer_Charon on Wed 20 Oct 2010 - 5:11

This is immediately following a scene that I've written out - I don't even know if this character is going to HAVE a cyborg - he might end up with the Section 2 Tactical Team (alongside Giorgio and Amadeo)... like I said, this is an evolving concept.

Although, I must confess that the idea of the language barrier HAD occurred to me.

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Si vis pacem, para bellum

"The two loudest sounds you will ever hear from your weapon are the *bang* when it's supposed to go *click* and the *click* when it's supposed to go *bang*." -Unknown

"220 horses, I got a gun, a siren, a tank full of city gas. Don't you love it?!" - Ofc. Maurice "Bosco" Boscarelli, Third Watch
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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Alfisti on Wed 20 Oct 2010 - 5:48

Officer_Charon wrote:This is immediately following a scene that I've written out - I don't even know if this character is going to HAVE a cyborg - he might end up with the Section 2 Tactical Team (alongside Giorgio and Amadeo)... like I said, this is an evolving concept.
Now that would be an interesting perspective to get on the SWA. There'd be some avenues of thought to persue along how someone would react, not to put to fine of a point on it, playing second fiddle to a bunch of little girls.

Also: amused at Hilshire reffering to his boss as a "young man".

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Officer_Charon on Fri 5 Nov 2010 - 3:59

Worked up the first scene of what may prove to be my contribution to the full panoply of Gunslinger Girl fanfiction. Criticism, constructive or otherwise, is welcomed - it's been a _HOT_ minute since I've written anything for other's consideration that wasn't submitted anonymously, and I would like for this trend of mine to continue. As such, be brutal, but be fair. That's all I ask. *chuckles*

Spoiler:
A pristine blue sky oversaw the sparkling waves of the ocean off
the beach near Taormina's town center. In the air, one could hear
overjoyed tourists laughing and playing, whilst a market near the piazza
centro played host to numerous merchants hawking their wares, both
agricultural and merely cultural, determined to gouge as much as
possible, with both parties leaving with smiles on their faces.

It was against this idyllic summer backdrop that a young girl
walked, wearing a sundress that complimented her shoulder-length
chestnut hair, and carrying a violin case. Slightly ahead of her was a
tall, dark-haired son of Tuscania, dressed in loose summerweight clothes
of a fine cut, appropriate for a young heir catching some needed
relaxation. Both were wearing sunglasses, the girl's looking somewhat
out of place on her, as though she were borrowing someone else's attire.
She paused for a second, hands clasping the violin case in front of her
as she pondered something for a moment, before apparently coming to a
resolution and skipping forward to catch up with the young man, who had
kept walking forward along the warm sidewalk.

Noticing that his companion was lagging, he turned to her.
"Henrietta, is everything alright?"

Henrietta caught up with the man, and her face lit up with a
dazzling smile as she responded with youthful exuberence. "Of course,
Giuse! The sun is out, everyone's having a wonderful time, and I'm
getting to spend today with you! How could everything _not_ be
alright?"

She threw her arms wide, her wrist effortlessly supporting the
weight of her violin case as she spun gaily, giggling happily as she
pondered the many things she was going to try and do with Giuse. While
the fratello was ostensibly here on business, following up on
intelligence about the presense of a mid-level Mafioso gaining strength
in the region, Henrietta was never one to pass on the opportunity to
spend leisure time with her beloved handler.

Looking around them, it seemed to be impossible that the
intelligence that Special Operations, Section 1 had been receiving could
be accurate... Taormina served little function other than as a
historical tourist attraction. The views were spectacular, with Mt.
Etna's majesty rising in the background, a streamer of steam visible
today emerging from it's cone. In the other direction, the pale azure of
the Ionian Sea reflecting the sunlight in dazzling ripples.

When Section 1 had processed the intel and fleshed out a
potential target list, they had handed the data to Section 2, seperating
themselves from the "ghouls n' goblins," (as one rather odd analyst had
termed the handlers and their fratelli). Chief Lorenzo had delegated the
deployment to Jean Croce; this esteemed crusader against the Padania
Republic Faction had deemed it to be beneath his interest level, and
permitted his brother Giuseppe to take advantage of the location to
sneak in a working vacation.

Which was how the Croce/Henrietta fratello came to be entering
the Piazza Duomo, as much enjoying the tourist-filled crowd's ebb and
flow as they were making notes of such points of interest as the local
poliziotti scattered around the famous square. It was a well-known fact
that local police in Sicily were as much in the pockets of the Mafiosi
as their municipalities, so it paid to keep an eye on them when
operating on the large island.

Henrietta looked past the one poliziotto in particular and saw a
man smiling and laughing, looking at his wife attempting - and failing -
to put a straw hat on their adorably-smiling daughter, who couldn't have
been more than 6 years old. Her coffee-brown hair glinted in the sun as
she shook her head back and forth, comically avoiding her mother's
repeated attempts to cover her from the sun. Henrietta smiled warmly at
the sight.

Then she ducked for cover, grabbing Giuseppe and pulling him
behind a heavy stone planter, just as the explosion she had detected
igniting on the side of the piazza washed overhead, spewing chunks of
masonry in advance of a masssive fireball.

Giuse stifled his yelp of surprise, switching to his business
mode as secondary explosions scattered shrapnel about the piazza,
hurling tourists to the ground with terrified screams. Part of his mind
noted 'these aren't timed... they're igniting with the flow of the
crowd. Some sick bastard is watching this and detonating when the crowd
runs to a certain point.'

Henrietta had withdrawn her trusty FN P90 from it's violin case,
her eyes scanning the crowd for threats. Her eyes locked on to the
family she had been looking at before the explosions. The part of her
that was not looking for what Giuse, and herself, had already figured
out noted with horror that the man, whose face had been so happy moments
ago was now contorted with agony that had nothing to do with the stumps
of fingers missing from his left hand. Instead, he was curled over two
limp forms at his feet, as though trying to figure out which to try and
revive first, and knowing that it would be futile in either case.
Henrietta's brief assessment told her that, and inside, a small part of
her, seperated from her dispassionate "business mode" wept for the little
girl who had been giggling less than a minute ago, and who would never
giggle again.

As she began scanning again, she noted out of the corner of her
eye that the man shook his head, and reached over to the fallen body of
the poliziotto, and retrieved his Beretta 92 from his holster, and the
two magazines from pouches on his belt.

"Giuse! The man there has a pistol - he just took it from the
officer's body!" Henrietta relayed her findings to her handler, trying
to keep as much of the piazza in view whilst still keeping this unknown
quantity in view.

"Is he a threat, or a cowboy?" Giuse asked, trusting Henrietta
to keep the stranger in view while he looked for a possible vantage
point for the bomber to be observing the carnage. A nearby church
steeple was looking promising...

After watching the strangers actions for a moment, Henrietta
responded "He looks like he's looking for something... I think he's a
cowboy,"

Giuse groaned. The last thing he needed was some unknown factor
to foul up an already bad situation. "Leave him be, for now. I need you
to head over to that church bell tower... I think our bomber's there,
but even if he's not, the height will let you observe better."

"Right." With a definite course of action directed by her
handler, Henrietta's face hardened even further, her eyes narrowed, and
she sprinted across the square, juking back and forth between pieces of
cover as she advanced on the tower. A flurry of explosions ahead of her
path indicated that she was probably moving in the right direction, but
she wasn't going to get there just yet.

Giuse squinted at the tower, the sun having started descending
in the sky, placing the church in sharp silhouette. He heard movement
next to him, and noted that the stranger was next to him behind the tall
planter. Giuse got his first solid look at the man, and noted that in
addition to two fingers on his left hand being pulped flesh, his upper
body was peppered with chunks of masonry, and his face had a truly
horrific slice running from his chin, alongside his right eye, which was
squinting, up to his temple.

The man spoke, his voice ragged, with a slight American accent.
"Sir, I see the tower. The man up there... uh... bomb... ah..." his
frustration was evident as he struggled with his lack of control of
Italian. Giuse nodded, and spoke in lightly-accented English.

<"Yes, signore, the bomber is in the tower. I don't know if
there is another."> He decided to humor the man for a moment. <"Have you
seen anyone else?">

The man's face, a mask of pain, hardened for a moment.
<"Signore, I see noone else right now... but you're right."> The
stranger scanned the piazza for a moment, before stopping his search at
a nearby alley. "Two men!" he snapped in Italian. "Left, moving!"

"Henrietta! To your left!" Giuse shouted. Henrietta snapped her
head and weapon to that angle, spotted one emerging from cover, and
ripped off a 5-round burst that took him in his legs and lower torso.
The man, dressed in casual clothes, dropped screaming. He was silenced
by a single round from the stranger's tactically-acquired Beretta,
the 9mm hollowpoints being quite sufficient to splatter his brains across
the ground.

The second target reacted by hurling himself behind another
planter, firing a quick volley of shots from his weapon, a small
submachinegun that Giuse's mind absently noted as sounding like a 9mm.
The shots spattered around the stranger's location, who hunched lower
behind the planter. Giuse waited for the burst to stop, the leaned
around, spotted the target, and snapped off several shots with his
FiveSeveN. Two struck cleanly, apparently shattering the target's
shoulder and causing him to drop his SMG. When he fell, clutching at the
disabled limb, Henrietta dispatched him with a perfunctory double-tap in
between his squinting eyes and his screaming mouth.

After ensuring that no other foot-mobile threats were in the
piazza, Giuse looked up at the bell-tower. Henrietta, after completing
her own scan, did the same. Giuse's ersatz brother-in-arms lay, leaning
up against the shredded planter, grimacing as adrenaline processed out
of his system, and the pain of his injuries became that much more
apparent to him.

Henrietta's head snapped to the right. "Giuse! One man fleeing
from the tower! White male, green shirt, tan pants, with a backpack!"
She raised her P90 to her shoulder, and added in a calmer voice "armed
with a pistol."

"Shoot to wound only!" Giuse ordered. "We need him alive!"
Henrietta responded with an affirmative noise, and stitche the ground
around the subject's pumping legs. Three... six... twelve rounds, and
down he tumbled, limbs flailing like a wasp hit with bug spray, his
voice wailing and warbling in a language that Giuse didn't immediately
recognize; it wasn't Italian, English or Slavic in origin, was all he
could determine.

"Well done, Henrietta," Giuse praised, his eyes fixed on the
target. Henrietta glowed with the praise, her attention slipping for a
moment before she resumed following Giuse's lead, her face hardening as
she ensured her P90 had a fresh magazine. The fratello approached the
subject, who had given up his plaintive cries and had begun attempting
to drag himself away from the carnage left in his wake.

As the pair's attention was appropriately focused, neither was
paying over-much attention to the area they had already cleared - until
a single sharp report silenced the groans of their subject and dropping
him to the ground. Henrietta whipped around, training her SMG on the
cowboy, who half-stood, leaning against a savaged tree for a firing
support, his now-empty Beretta held in his hand before him. A look of
intense satisfaction suffused his features, before he slumped against
the tree completely and slipped to the ground, unconscious.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Si vis pacem, para bellum

"The two loudest sounds you will ever hear from your weapon are the *bang* when it's supposed to go *click* and the *click* when it's supposed to go *bang*." -Unknown

"220 horses, I got a gun, a siren, a tank full of city gas. Don't you love it?!" - Ofc. Maurice "Bosco" Boscarelli, Third Watch
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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by ElfenMagix on Fri 5 Nov 2010 - 10:27

Well Done, Charon!

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Kiskaloo on Fri 5 Nov 2010 - 10:41

Indeed.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Alfisti on Fri 5 Nov 2010 - 11:30

Officer Charon wrote:As such, be brutal, but be fair. That's all I ask. *chuckles*
Ok, I'm going to take that as permission to crit you like I would someone at university.

You've written more than a few reports in your time haven't you, because that's a little what this, to me, is reading like.

Don't take that the wrong way, because it's a damn good story. I didn't actually intend to read and review stuff tonight, but I started and couldn't stop, you're 90% of the way there. What it needs now is that last 10% of spit, polish and indeed flourish to help immerse the reader in what you're writing.

In some ways it's almost a little too structured, particularly once things get busy... there should be a bit more feeling of mayhem. You've started with a relaxed feeling of a balmy day which works well, but the change to action just isn't quite jarring enough. I think it should just be a matter of restructuring some sentences and removing words to fix though. For example:
Then she ducked for cover, grabbing Giuseppe and pulling him
behind a heavy stone planter, just as the explosion she had detected
igniting on the side of the piazza washed overhead, spewing chunks of
masonry in advance of a masssive fireball.
First up, I'd throw an elipsis on the end of the paragraph before. It's an indicator that this train of thought got derailed.

That's also a very long run-on sentence to be starting action with. Perhaps something like "Henrietta was already dragging Giuseppe behind cover as the first explosion washed overhead, heavy masonry being swept ahead of the massive fireball. Secondary explosions hurled terrified tourists to the ground and added to the rain of shrapnel assulting the heavy stone planter Henrietta had chosen as the fratello's protection.

Giuseppe stifled his initial yelp of suprise as his business mind kicked into overdrive..." and so on.

Further down:
Henrietta had withdrawn her trusty FN P90 from it's violin case,
her eyes scanning the crowd for threats.
Could become "Henrietta's trusty FN P90 was already in her hands, her eyes scanning the crowd for threats."

You get the idea. As I've said before, I'm no writer, but at the moment I think you're trying to get too much detailed description and finite sequencing of events into what should be action oriented areas. At the moment it feels to some extent like you're documenting an exciting event that has happend, rather than letting the reader live the exciting event. A lot of the action sequence I should point out is very good, but it's the little bits where you seem to still be writing reports that prevent it from becoming truly emmersive.

Nit picking:
- "Five-seveN" doesn't have capitalisation on the "s" of the seveN I believe.

Ok, that aside, the story is excellent. I was particularly fond of the two paragraphs where you were describing how Jose and 'Etta came to be where they are. In a short space of time you've neatly managed to set the scene and give us a brief overview of who the SWA are, what it does and how it's structured.

Etta's character is also well portrayed, particularly her carefree "happy to be with my handler" attitude at the start.

Henrietta's head snapped to the right. "Giuse! One man fleeing
from the tower! White male, green shirt, tan pants, with a backpack!"
She raised her P90 to her shoulder, and added in a calmer voice "armed
with a pistol."
I really liked how this was written too. Somehow it just seems right that 'Etta's calmer as soon as she's back in a fighting stance and it makes a good transition from her more girly mode to business.

Anyway, I know there's probably a heap of stuff I've missed, but that's what struck me straight up. Very much looking forward to seeing more from you.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Officer_Charon on Fri 5 Nov 2010 - 18:36

Thanks for the critique, Alfisti... that's exactly the kind of stuff I was looking for. Part of the stilted tone might be because I would write a sentence or two, then have to do something (either with the baby at home or a call at work), which would interrupt the flow, part of it comes from, as you say, only writing reports for the last few years, and in part because when I used to write regularly, I had a distressing tendency towards what I now recognize as purple prose.

I appreciate the commentary, and will see what I can do to adjust fire accordingly. More as it develops!

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Si vis pacem, para bellum

"The two loudest sounds you will ever hear from your weapon are the *bang* when it's supposed to go *click* and the *click* when it's supposed to go *bang*." -Unknown

"220 horses, I got a gun, a siren, a tank full of city gas. Don't you love it?!" - Ofc. Maurice "Bosco" Boscarelli, Third Watch
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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Alfisti on Fri 5 Nov 2010 - 22:02

Officer_Charon wrote:Part of the stilted tone might be because I would write a sentence or two, then have to do something (either with the baby at home or a call at work), which would interrupt the flow, part of it comes from, as you say, only writing reports for the last few years.
Eh, I know the feeling of only writing a sentence or so at a time. I ran into a similar problem writing, well, reports for university. That however was a matter more of loosing concentration rather than having to do somthing else. The issue with that is that you loose track of what you said and feel the need to lead into what you're writing again next time you pick it up.

Honstly, the only way I know of to combat it is to read the whole thing through a couple of times, and by that I mean when you're awake and interested. Forcing yourself to read through tired will let you pick up things like gramatical errors, tense issues or where you've changed a sentence around and missed a bit. However it's not so crash hot for getting the flow right, at least that's what I find. I catch a similar issue scripting comics as well, I do a lot of editing at the writing stage, but things only really start to fall together once the drawing starts. Suddenly the writing's in context and you can see where some bits may not be required or where you may need to bridge between panels with a sentence or two.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Professor Voodoo on Sat 6 Nov 2010 - 17:13

It was against this idyllic summer backdrop that a young girl
walked, wearing a sundress that complimented her shoulder-length
chestnut hair, and carrying a violin case. Slightly ahead of her was a
tall, dark-haired son of Tuscania, dressed in loose summerweight clothes
of a fine cut, appropriate for a young heir catching some needed
relaxation.
Very nicely set scene.
they had handed the data to Section 2, seperating
themselves from the "ghouls n' goblins," (as one rather odd analyst had
termed the handlers and their fratelli).
Clever, I'll have to remember that.
Henrietta looked past the one poliziotto in particular and saw a
man smiling and laughing, looking at his wife attempting - and failing -
to put a straw hat on their adorably-smiling daughter, who couldn't have been more than 6 years old. Her coffee-brown hair glinted in the sun as she shook her head back and forth, comically avoiding her mother's repeated attempts to cover her from the sun. Henrietta smiled warmly at the sight.
I wonder if Henrietta relates to other children or they are just another element of the background for her...I tend to think the latter.
Then she ducked for cover, grabbing Giuseppe and pulling him
behind a heavy stone planter, just as the explosion she had detected
igniting on the side of the piazza washed overhead, spewing chunks of
masonry in advance of a masssive fireball.
I like the fast transition. You set us up with a cute scene and then blow it up for maximum impact on the reader.
Henrietta had withdrawn her trusty FN P90 from it's violin case,
her eyes scanning the crowd for threats.
Considering what's just happened I dare say a 10 year old with a machine gun might be enough to push already terrified civilians into a total panic!

a small part of her, seperated from her dispassionate "business mode" wept for the little girl who had been giggling less than a minute ago, and who would never giggle again.
That line does seem a bit over the top.
"Is he a threat, or a cowboy?" Giuse asked
I understand the term, but would Henrietta?
The stranger scanned the piazza for a moment, before stopping his search at a nearby alley. "Two men!" he snapped in Italian. "Left, moving!"
So this "civilian" knows what to look for, and may not be all he seems.
he tumbled, limbs flailing like a wasp hit with bug spray,
That's a creative simile.



Very entertaining so far...I look forward to the next installment!

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Officer_Charon on Wed 17 Nov 2010 - 7:01

Next scene! I'm re-visiting the first scene, taking everyone's commentary under advisement... after all is said and done, I'm hoping the complete final product with be more cohesive. Or should I just write up everything all at once and push it out like that?

Spoiler:
Jean was livid. Hillshire could tell - his face was carefully
composed and not showing any emotion outside of the clenched jaw. His
words came crisp and concise. "Hillshire, ask the cowboy just what he
thought he was doing, getting involved with the incident? His actions
put the Croce/Henrietta fratello at risk, to say nothing of terminating
all the participants! We can't interrogate dead men, and none of the
bodies had usable intel on them!"

Hilshire turned to the white-faced man who sat, slumped over,
against the clean-up crew's van at the disembarkation point. His left
hand and cheek were bandaged, with some seepage through the white gauze.
In his German-accented English, he relayed Jean's words, filtered so as
to avoid revealing anything about the SWA's full scope of
operations.

Dull gunmetal eyes looked back up at Hillshire, and with a
sinking feeling, he recognized the emotions behind it. Or rather, the
lack of emotion. It was the same look he'd had when he realized exactly
what had happened to Triela after Rachelle had given up the last of her
life saving a girl she didn't know.

<"You can tell that filio di putana,"> began the man, baritone
voice husky, <"that all I did was kill the bastards who took my wife and
child from me. If that stronso has a problem with vengeance, he's going
to be upset. I'm not done yet."> He took a shuddering breath, but held
his eyes up.

Some of Hillshire's wry amusement must have shown on his
normally impassive face, because pale became mottled red immediately.
<"And just what, pray tell, is so god-damned funny?!">

Hilshire waved a gloved hand in a conciliatory motion. <"My
friend, if there is anything that the gentleman other there understands,
it's revenge.">

Turning to Jean, Hilshire relayed the - again, edited - rebuttal
from the stranger. The blond government agent sat for a moment,
pondering. Finally, he started asking questions, the man answering
monosyllabically. Hilshire recognized with a start that he had answered
several of the same questions a few years ago, after he had gotten past
the concept that the girl who would become Triela had been remade.

If the man realised that he was being given a job interview, he
showed no signs of it as he told about his time with the United States
Marine Corps, then later as a police officer in the state of Georgia.
When he was done, Jean sat, pondering for several moments. Then he
pulled out his cell phone, pressed a single number, and after a few
seconds began speaking softly in clipped sentences. Hilshire ventured to
guess that it was Chief Pieri on the other end of the conversation.

His time with both the Polizei and Interpol had taught him the
fine art of listening to conversations whilst looking to be
uninterested. Straining his ears, he could pick up part of what Jean was
saying. "No... not as a handler, I agree... Tactical response team? ...
Possible, but he would need to be accepted by them... Very well, sir."

Hilshire composed his face as Jean turned to him, giving a
single curt nod and walking away towards his Mercedes. Hilshire groaned
inwardly: this poor bastard had no idea what he was signing himself up
for. He motioned for Triela, who came forwards with her shotgun slung,
muzzle down over her shoulder. She looked quizzically at the man, then
back to Hilshire, who returned her look with a slight crinkling at the
corner of his eyes - the merest hint of a smile showing in his demeanor.
Triela relaxed as slightly as Hilshire had smiled, enough to allow
herself to examine the stranger more closely.

He was tall - not in the same manner as most were to her, but
with the telling signs of having received a well-provided upbringing,
replete with many nutritious meals. The frame under the shredded
clothing suggested bulk without excess, neither in fat nor in muscle.
The eyes above the bandages were an odd gunmetal gray-blue, dull and
lifeless at the moment as he sat lost in his reveries. The stomach
suggested that his body was perhaps going prematurely to seed, but was
not yet lost to the ravages of the typical American overindulgence.

Triela cleared her throat sharply, and the man looked up dully.
<"Sir?"> Inwardly, she winced. She _hated_ the way her voice sounded in
English - half-Italian, half... something else, also fluid and musical
like Italian, but with a harsher edge. <"My name is Triela. Please, come
with me?">

His face remained unresponsive. Triela knew she was speaking
correctly; he just wasn't hearing her. She thought for a moment.
Hilshire wanted her to take him to the transport van to head back to the
SWA -that much she had read in her handler's demeanor. Using her
initiative, she surmised that it would probably not be in her best
interests to put in him the transport van unconscious, so that ruled out
a whole host of options that she felt more comfortable employing.

Instead, she tried another tack. <"You want to help us kill
terrorists?" This provoked an immediate response, as the stranger's eyes
snapped into clear focus, centering directly on her own. She felt an
almost palpable arc leap from his gaze to her, and stifled the urge to
gasp at it's intensity.

"Yes, signorina," responded the man in an icy tone, "I would
like very much to kill terrorists. I go with you, I can?" At her
relieved nod, the man stood. "Bene... molte bene. I come with you now."
Despite his stilted, accented Italian, Triela could get the sense of
exactly how much this man wanted this opportunity. With a start, she
realised that the look in his eyes looked very similar to that often
seen in Jean Croce's.

As she thought about that, she shivered as she walked the man to
the non-descript grey van. 'There's two of them,' she thought,
suppressing a shiver as she opened the vehicle's sliding side door. The
man wordlessly entered and sat in the rear seat. As she waited for
Hilshire to collect her so they could leave. She turned to the man and
asked him what his name was.

He sat quietly for a moment. Then, oddly enough, he chuckled. It
was a fractured sound, devoid of mirth, but with a fair share of warmth.
It reminded Triela of Hilshire's occasional musings on the nature of
those around them, or whenever he'd make an observation on a co-worker
when there was a joke to be had, but the joke wasn't funny. "Call me...
John Darme," he said. Then he leaned his head against the window and
said nothing else. Triela raised one slender blond eyebrow, but did not
press the issue.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Si vis pacem, para bellum

"The two loudest sounds you will ever hear from your weapon are the *bang* when it's supposed to go *click* and the *click* when it's supposed to go *bang*." -Unknown

"220 horses, I got a gun, a siren, a tank full of city gas. Don't you love it?!" - Ofc. Maurice "Bosco" Boscarelli, Third Watch
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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by ElfenMagix on Wed 17 Nov 2010 - 13:30

Out of frying pan and into the fire...
Very well written.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Professor Voodoo on Thu 18 Nov 2010 - 3:31

A tense installment...quite a bit different from the action filled last chapter. More complete thoughts later but suffice to say I look forward to more...

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Officer_Charon on Thu 18 Nov 2010 - 6:28

Wanted to shift gears... something I've noticed about situations where I've had to do a bit of high-speed moving and shaking... after the initial wave of adrenaline lets off (during which I can never quite seem to SHUT. UP. *wry smile* is that there is a very definite "crash." The more dangerous the situation, the bigger the crash.

Needless to say, John's crash, combined with the shock of losing his family in the blink of an eye, has hit him right between the eyes... to the extent that he hasn't - quite - realised that the person speaking with him is as young as she is.

In looking over the text again, I notice that I've perhaps implied this only too vaguely - the perils of writing in the third person from an external viewpoint, as there would be no real way for Triela to know what was on John's mind...

Then again, while such was my intention, this was also written during the tail-end of a 20-hour day. YMMV. *grins*

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"The two loudest sounds you will ever hear from your weapon are the *bang* when it's supposed to go *click* and the *click* when it's supposed to go *bang*." -Unknown

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Alfisti on Fri 19 Nov 2010 - 23:21

Excellent work Charon... much more flowing and less report-like as well Very Happy

I guess the thing that struck me as odd that the SWA would be considering recruiting this bloke so soon after he'd blown a mission for them. Pick him up shure, he's seen 'Etta in action, but to me at least it seems like a fast transition between approaches, particularly for Jean. That said, I can also think of any number of explinations or followons to make it more believable, I'll be interested to see how you play it.

Other stuff: great characterisations. I liked Hillshire's listening in on Jean, and Triela weighing her options on how to handle "John". Her preferred response seemed nicely inline with her often "hit it harder" approach to problems.

Oh, and worst-French-pun ever. Naturally I thought it was hilarious Razz

Looking forward to reading more. There seems to be a bit of branching out from writing purely about the fratelli at the moment, seeing the SWA from the perspective of its adult, human fighters should be interesting. Keep it up.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Kiskaloo on Sat 20 Nov 2010 - 0:36

Alfisti wrote:I guess the thing that struck me as odd that the SWA would be considering recruiting this bloke so soon after he'd blown a mission for them. Pick him up shure, he's seen 'Etta in action, but to me at least it seems like a fast transition between approaches, particularly for Jean.

I don't know. Jean was pretty quick with offering Hilshire a job or (supposedly) shooting him for his knowledge of the program. So I could see him deciding "we recuit him or we kill him".

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Alfisti on Sat 20 Nov 2010 - 0:50

Kiskaloo wrote:
Alfisti wrote:I guess the thing that struck me as odd that the SWA would be considering recruiting this bloke so soon after he'd blown a mission for them. Pick him up shure, he's seen 'Etta in action, but to me at least it seems like a fast transition between approaches, particularly for Jean.

I don't know. Jean was pretty quick with offering Hilshire a job or (supposedly) shooting him for his knowledge of the program. So I could see him deciding "we recuit him or we kill him".
By the same token though, Hilshire by that stage had been around the SWA, even the public face of it, long enough to have hand background checks run and for the Agency to get some handle on him as a person. Long enough for them to decide that he'd be an asset at least. John on the other hand, though obviously handy with a gun, has so far managed to blow a mission for them through letting his emotions rule his actions (which Hilshire was also guilty of for a bit there as well).

Lets just say that, in Jean's position, I'd see little reason to bring him in for anything other than security purposes at this particular juncture. That and perhaps a slight feeling of empathy.

As I said, I think it can be made to work and I hope it does. But I think Charon's going to need to be careful how he handles it for the situation to remain credible (says the bloke writing about a casino heist in Monaco sweat ).

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Kiskaloo on Sat 20 Nov 2010 - 1:46

Alfisti wrote:As I said, I think it can be made to work and I hope it does. But I think Charon's going to need to be careful how he handles it for the situation to remain credible (says the bloke writing about a casino heist in Monaco sweat ).

Yeah, but you have Monty and Kara in it, so that automatically makes it too cool to care about credibility. Wink

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Professor Voodoo on Sat 27 Nov 2010 - 7:56

In his German-accented English, he relayed Jean's words, filtered so as to avoid revealing anything about the SWA's full scope of
operations.
Relaying because Jean can not speak English...or because Jean can not be trusted to speak tactfully?
<"that all I did was kill the bastards who took my wife and
child from me. If that stronso has a problem with vengeance, he's going
to be upset. I'm not done yet.">
Lot of impact in that line.
he told about his time with the United States
Marine Corps, then later as a police officer in the state of Georgia.
Ah...drawing from experience. An effective strategy. Elfen bases characters on himself and people he knows as well. I think Danjo did that with Britney too.

Straining his ears, he could pick up part of what Jean was
saying. "No... not as a handler, I agree... Tactical response team? ...
Possible, but he would need to be accepted by them...
Interesting phased introduction to the SWA.
"Yes, signorina," responded the man in an icy tone, "I would
like very much to kill terrorists. I go with you, I can?" At her
relieved nod, the man stood. "Bene... molte bene. I come with you now."
Good job of getting across struggles with the language barrier.

Call me...John Darme," he said. Then he leaned his head against the window and said nothing else.
Incidentally, Jandarma is also the name of the Turkish conscript military police force (like their Carabinieri). Well written chapter, allowing the reader a bit of a breather after the action of the previous one. I look forward to the next installment!

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Officer_Charon on Tue 14 Dec 2010 - 20:24

Next part, cranked out in between calls. Hope it flows well!

Spoiler:
After a tense ride in the van to the local branch office in Catania, John was escorted by Triela and Hilshire away from where Jean was heading, instead being seated in an interrogation room. John looked around for the camera as his escort left, found it just above the closing door, in the corner. Having taken care of the preliminaries, sizing up the room, John sat back in the provided chair, noting idly that it was remarkably comfortable for being in an interrogation room.

As he sat back, the events of the last few hours began to flood his mind. 'Not here... not now,' he told himself sternly. 'Later. There will be time later, when THEY aren't watching.' Ignoring the prickling in his eyes, the slight blurring in his vision, and the thick lump in his throat, John forced his breathing to steady.


On the other side of the two-way mirror, Hilshire and Triela sat, watching. Triela looked scornful. “Awful cold for a man who just lost his wife and daughter. You'd think he could at least shed a tear.”

Hilshire shook his head slightly. “It's not that simple. He doesn't know who we are or everything that's going on. I don't know if he saw everything that happened in the piazza, but we can assume that he saw Henrietta in action. So he's got a lot of stuff on his mind. From what Giuse and Henrietta reported, he knew what he was doing handling a weapon, so that would support his assertion that he was in law enforcement and/or the military. It looks to me like he's got himself in some sort of 'business-mode,' much like how you cyborgs are when on-mission.” Hilshire paused to reflect, noting the tension in John's shoulders. “He's not cold, he's just focused. At least,” he amended, facing Triela again, “that's my read on it.”

Triela looked at the tall American, face thoughtful. “I can see how you get that... the question is, why hasn't Jean just sent him on his merry way? Why are we sitting here, babysitting a potential security leak?”

“Because,” said Jean as he opened the door to the observation room, “right now, I can use him.” He finished coming in, and closed the door with the coffee-colored leather briefcase that he was carrying in his left hand. “He's seen a cyborg in action, which means he already knows too much. The only options I have at this point are to tie up the loose end, or to bring him in. He's shown weapons-handling skills, however much the manner he displayed them may infuriate me. And, most importantly, right now he wants to kill whoever killed his family. Which may or may not be Padania at this point; either way, his desires mesh well with the SWA's goals. And so long as we can keep him pointed down-range, I can use him.”

Hilshire raised an eyebrow at Jean's cold, matter-of-fact assessment of the situation. “But would we just hand him a cyborg? Without any kind of background check?”

Jean snorted. “Please, give me some credit for operational security. And even if the SWA had a cyborg ready for a handler, which we don't, right now, I don't think this... 'cowboy' would be a good choice. However, as it happens, the SRT has an opening. Providing that his background check through the Americans shows no major discrepancies... we can have this one fighting for us with a minimum of trouble.”

“Providing, of course, that the SRT accepts him,” Hilshire noted cautiously. “Most of them have been together since the beginning. They're still reeling from their losses in the Dante... incident.” Hilshire noted Jean's jaw clench at the mention of the person who was proving to be a most dangerous foe. “They may not appreciate an outsider being foisted on them.”

Jean smiled humorlessly. “Leave that to me.” With that, he turned and exited the observation room, entering the interrogation room.


John looked up as the door opened, and saw the blond who had spoken with him earlier. He noted the lack of expression on his face, which served to back up his initial impression that here was a very cool fish. He wasn't sure that he liked this man very much, but he had gathered enough information to know that if he wasn't the boss, he was at least the highest one on the totem pole for this strange group of operatives. What was left of John's quiet side continued trying to work out who these folks were, even as Cold Fish began speaking. The young lady who had called herself Triela walked in behind Cold Fish and began translating. The tall one with the glowering face stood just outside the room, looking Teutonic and imposing. John ignored him, and focused on what Triela was saying.

<“Signor Croce says that our group is willing to work with you, based on what you said earlier. He says that if you accept our offer, you will be given a chance to back up your words about getting revenge on those responsible for today.”>

John's eyes narrowed. 'Dammit, not NOW!' He cleared his throat, but his voice remained thick and husky. <“I don't even know who 'We' are, miss. If 'We' can help me, then I might want to work with 'We,' but I need information, first.”>

Triela spoke in brisk Italian back to Croce, whose eyes hardened. John really didn't care, at this point. Either he was going to get a chance for revenge, or he was dead. Either way, he had a feeling that Croce had already made up his mind what he was going to do.

Still, he couldn't help but jerk slightly when Croce lifted his briefcase suddenly, placing it on the table, edge towards him. John didn't SEE anything that looked like a barrel, but still... He relaxed slightly when Croce placed the case flat, then popped the latches, opening it and extracting a dark brown folder that practically screamed “OFFICIAL.” John noted idly that it must be a government thing; his Marine Corps Service Record Book was the exact same shade.

Croce placed the folder in front of John. In the top center was the Italian Coat of Arms, in black; below which was an insignia that he didn't recognize. The text below read “Agenzia di Benessare Sociale – Sezione 2.” He raised an eyebrow. 'Social Welfare Agency? Aren't they the ones with all the wonderful international medical treatments? Saving kids who are beyond help?'

Croce was still looking at him as he turned his gaze upwards. John wasn't sure, but he thought he detected a hint of satisfaction in his otherwise expressionless gaze. Looking him in the eyes, John asked simply “If I working with you, I can kill these bastards?” Croce nodded – that was DEFINITELY satisfaction. “And if no I say?” Croce's face hardened, as did Triela's. John suddenly noticed that Triela's rather sharp waistcoat had a bulge at the small of her back, and wondered if he might have pushed it too far.

Croce spoke slowly, deliberately, making sure that John's limited Italian could get his meaning. “We hope you will say yes,” he stated simply.

John nodded slightly. <”Capito. E vero, ho capito.>”

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------


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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by ElfenMagix on Tue 14 Dec 2010 - 20:48

Very well written, Officer Charon. Great story and plot too.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by theprodigalson on Tue 14 Dec 2010 - 22:54

Loved it. I am very much looking forward to what you do with this character.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Professor Voodoo on Wed 15 Dec 2010 - 0:06

As he sat back, the events of the last few hours began to flood his mind. 'Not here... not now,' he told himself sternly.
Supressing the PTS...this is going to cause John big problems later. I love how you're setting this up.
Triela looked scornful. “Awful cold for a man who just lost his wife and daughter. You'd think he could at least shed a tear.”...“He's not cold, he's just focused. At least,” he amended, facing Triela again, “that's my read on it.”
I'd guess Hillshire & Triela are both a bit off on this...more like not ready to deal with it.
the question is, why hasn't Jean just sent him on his merry way? Why are we sitting here, babysitting a potential security leak?”
A rather cold euphemism for a bullet in the head!
“Because,” said Jean as he opened the door to the observation room, “right now, I can use him.”
Triela: D'oh! Caught talking about the boss when I thought he wasn't listening!
And so long as we can keep him pointed down-range, I can use him.”
As observed above, you really are good at using metaphor in dialogue, Charon.
as it happens, the SRT has an opening.
SRT?
John really didn't care, at this point. Either he was going to get a chance for revenge, or he was dead. Either way, he had a feeling that Croce had already made up his mind what he was going to do.
Despite the language barrier John seems to have a good read on the situation. I trust that's going to be a consistant element of his character?



Your first installments have left me curious to see more, Charon. Hope to see the next chapter soon!

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Alfisti on Sun 19 Dec 2010 - 10:22

John looked around for the camera as his escort left, found it just above the closing door, in the corner.
A relief to see? The presence of a camera would suggest that this is a room used for, uhh, "legitimate" interrogations.

“Because,” said Jean as he opened the door to the observation room, “right now, I can use him.”
Good read on Jean I think... and also a nice way of tying up some of the previous concerns over why the SWA was willing to to recruit "John" so quickly.

And, most importantly, right now he wants to kill whoever killed his family.
I imagine Jean can feel at least a little empathy here, I wonder if that could be colouring his decision making process a little. Revenge is a classic and powerful story, but can pan out in a multitude of differt ways. I wonder how closely John's reactions will mirror Jean's and if the latter will be suprised if John's later reactions differ from his own.

And even if the SWA had a cyborg ready for a handler, which we don't...
A cyborg, or an opening for a new fratello. My read on the SWA was that a role was created, then a handler chosen and then the cyborg, at least the finishing of the cyborg undertaken with the handler's input... rather than: Here is your cyborg, don't loose her, they don't grow on trees.

However, your story, and it does help add extra weight to Jean's argument.

John looked up as the door opened, and saw the blond who had spoken with him earlier.
Between John and Nicco, Triela seems to be helping recruit a fair few staff members of late. Wink

John noted idly that it must be a government thing; his Marine Corps Service Record Book was the exact same shade.
Neat way of reminding the reader of John's background.


Definately looking forward to seeing more.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by ChaosKin640 on Mon 20 Dec 2010 - 7:02

The presence of a camera would suggest that this is a room used for, uhh, "legitimate" interrogations.
I wouldn't be so sure of that one Alfisti. Cameras can be turned off, remember.
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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Alfisti on Mon 20 Dec 2010 - 7:29

ChaosKin640 wrote:
The presence of a camera would suggest that this is a room used for, uhh, "legitimate" interrogations.
I wouldn't be so sure of that one Alfisti. Cameras can be turned off, remember.
Yeah, but it's still more hopeful then no camera at all. Sometimes you've just got to take what you can. Wink

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by ChaosKin640 on Mon 20 Dec 2010 - 8:04

True true. I guess there's something to be said for naive wishful thinking eh?
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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Alfisti on Mon 20 Dec 2010 - 8:31

ChaosKin640 wrote:True true. I guess there's something to be said for naive wishful thinking eh?
Indeed, though I think he's safe (even if he doesn't know it yet): they want to recruit the bloke, not sic Nina on him. Razz

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by ChaosKin640 on Mon 20 Dec 2010 - 8:52

Lol, fair enough I suppose. Although, funny you should mention that, as Nina is featured in my next chapter...um, getting her "fingers wet", shall we say? Evil
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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Officer_Charon on Mon 10 Jan 2011 - 4:07

New piece, smashed together today after a moment of inspiration. Of course, this has COMPLETELY wrecked the direction other tidbits that I was sketching out, but I think it works better for what I'm trying to work up.

Now, to come up with a title! *grins*

Spoiler:
Once he got to the hotel room, with the admonishment that he needed to stay in there for the rest of the night, John finally allowed his walls to come down. At this point, he didn't care if there were bugs planted and an entire team dedicated to watching him for the evening – grief can only be delayed for so long before the levees holding it back must be demolished. Withdrawing his wallet, John flipped open a section of clear plastic, his gunmetal eyes scanned the photographs contained therein, before they became obscured as the tears welled. A single, raw sob bypassed his lips, and with his pain now vocalized, everything burst forth.

After a period of time that felt like hours, but his hotel room clock impossibly only registered as 45 minutes, the tears stopped, leaving crimson-ringed eyes dry and abraded in their wake. The sobs receded, replaced by raw lungs and throat, and sore abdominals. The pain... remained, but had been covered by something that managed to dull it to the point where it wasn't stabbing into his soul.

A wry chuckle, incongruous in the suddenly-silent room, erupted at the thought. 'Now's not the time to be waxing melodramatic,' John thought. With his initial mourning passed, he was able to function. Stifling a sniffle that made him irritatedly harken back to childhood, John pulled out what he had initially identified as a “new-hire” packet for this “Section 2.” Knowing his Italian reading skills were barely passable, and filled with comprehension errors, he approached this task with some trepidation, before noting with surprise that what he was beginning to read actually continued in English.

'A bilingual government agency? Am I in Canada?' He cocked one thick eyebrow before continuing to read. As he continued, successive paragraphs in the introduction indicated that due to a large number of “professionals” (their term) being hired to the Social Welfare Agency (“Henceforth referred to as the SWA”), for ease of translation an English version of the literature was provided by the SWA. “However,” the packet admonished sternly in bureaucratese, “all personnel MUST demonstrate proficiency in tactical Italian before being permitted to enter an Active Duty status.” John nodded his head at the common sense there, which helped to start resolving his questions as to why he was even being considered for this, given his limited language ability. Obviously, this was something that had been dealt with before.

For the next hour he slogged through the literature, being without anything else to do other than brave Italian television. Occasionally, he would have to set the papers down for a moment, close his eyes, and retreat into memory for a few minutes, before he would be able to continue on. 'It's all part of the mission,' he started telling himself. 'I can work through this – I've done it before, I can do it again. This is all part of the mission: getting back at those rotten sons-of-bitches.'

Before he could finish reading everything, there was a knock at his door. Snapping out of his latest reverie, John raised his oddly fatigued body from the bed and stepped to the door. Standing to the hinge side, he leaned over and peered through the peephole. The - normally quiet - paranoid part of his mind began yammering in his ear, urging caution. “Who is there?” he said, grimacing at the ragged tone to his voice.

“Baggage service, sir,” came the cheery reply from the individual on the other side of the door, who was sporting a shoulder-length haircut over a “dressy-casual” outfit of polo shirt and slacks, topped with some expensive-looking sunglasses. He had, sitting behind him, what appeared to be John's suitcase, left at his hotel in Taormina.

John's eyes narrowed. “Leave it,” he said, voice changing to a gruffer tenor. He scanned his room rapidly for something he could use as a weapon, seeing only the desk chair as a remote possibility, and cursing his lack of situational awareness.

“Oh, no sir! The _Agency_ requires me to give it to you personally!” The voice remained cheerful, but there was a definite accentuation of the “Agenzia.” Catching on, John said “Do you have a... erm... work badge? Name badge?

<”Si signor, I have an ID card,”> said the man, a note of satisfaction entering into his lightly-accented English, and he produced a folding wallet-type badge holder, which opened to show a simple picture ID, with holographic seal, showing his name to be Amadeo Rossi, employee of the SWA, Section 2. He then flipped the fold back, showing a plain white plasticard ID, with a badly-printed photo of the same man, IDing him as Massamiliano Bossi, of the Agenzia di Bagaglio Hotel. John raised an eyebrow, then chuckled slightly. Just the thing that a low-budget, fly-by-night company would provide in order to give their people an air of “legitimacy.”

“Okay then,” John said, opening the door slowly, taking in his unexpected guest. “Come in. It is very dangerous for tourists, yes?”

“Yes sir,” said Amadeo/Massmiliano, lugging the small suitcase into the hotel room. John looked expectantly into the hall, but did not see any other bags.

<“Where is the rest?”> he asked, closing the door. Amadeo dropped the suitcase on the bed, rolling his shoulders back and rocking his neck back and forth, cracking vertebrae.

<”In storage. You do not need to worry about it for now.”> He pointedly ignored John's hardening expression, and continued on. <”Per Director Croce, you should be reading your handbook for now. I see that you've already started.”>

John pushed aside his initial irritation. 'Focus on the mission,' he reminded himself. “Your English is very good,” he essayed.

Amadeo gave a small smile. <”And your Italian is not bad, for a beginner. You also speak with a slight Sicilian accent...?” He left the question hanging in the air.

<”I was once stationed at Sigonella, for a short time,”> John answered, after trying and failing to respond with the proper Italian. This was going to be more than a little frustrating.

<”Military?”> asked Amadeo, sizing up the taller man with a more studied eye. Certainly, anyone could wear a military-style buzz-cut, though few did, even in the military...

<”Marine Corps,”> John answered, face unable to restrain a prideful smirk. “Like the San Marcos?” he tried, then immediately regretted it at the hardening of Amadeo's face. 'Whoops... what did I say?' he thought.

<”The San Marcos Regiment is... not... the same as your American Marines,” Amadeo replied hotly. <”We have a history going back hundreds of years, before America was anything more than a colony! To compare the two...”>

John held up a conciliatory hand. <”Hey hey hey! I meant no offense... it's just that I've worked with San Marcos before and...”>

Amadeo sniffed slightly, before coughing into his hand. <”It is... fine. In any case, we are with the Agenzia now. It is a different time, a different group. The mission is more... specific.”> His face hardened. <”What do you know of terrorists?”>

John raised an eyebrow. ”I am an American. After September 11th, you ask me this question?” Even in the – admittedly decreasingly – unfamiliar Italian, the cynicism dripped off of every word.

Amadeo shook his head. “I do not mean your Arabic enemies, although it is good that you recognize that not everyone in a war wears a uniform.” He sat at the desk, kicking his heels up on the corner. John noted that at the small of his back, revealed by his untucked polo shirt hanging at a different angle, was the hilt of a sheathed knife of impressive size. “I mean people like Ireland's IRA, like Italy's own Red Faction... like Padania.” This last came out with a dark, guttural spitting of consonants. Whoever Amadeo was, it was evident that he held no love for someone who John only vaguely knew as a political faction.

He could only shake his head, then attempt to put this new information in a context he recognized. “You call Padania like IRA... they are the same?”

Amadeo's mouth twisted slightly, and he wobbled a hand back and forth. “Almost... Padania is not like a military, like the IRA tried to be. They think that North Italy should be separate from the South. It is about money...”

“What isn't?” quipped John without thinking. The two shared a dry chuckle, the earlier brittleness starting to erode as John's place in the grand scheme began to be outlined. As the conversation went on, John was able to get a more concrete idea of just how bad the Padania were making things for the Italian government. He also noted that the more Amadeo talked, the less he spoke in his excellent English, and the more Italian, which became easier for him to follow, albeit with occasional pauses for a translation of an unfamiliar term.

“So now, we come to us, the Agency. The government already had the medical teams doing the research for the prosthetics – the... artificial arms, legs and organs,” he amended at John's quizzical look, before continuing. “From there, it was not so long before they began looking at making complete cyborgs. At first, they used adults. They were... not successful.” Amadeo winced. “I was hired about that time. I saw the results of the first experiments. It was... not pleasant.”

Something chirped in Amadeo's pocket, and he blinked. “Ah, excuse me! I forgot...” He reached into his pocket and withdrew a flip cellphone, pressing a single button on the keypad. After a moment, John heard a chipper-sounding female voice through the speaker. “Tourism Assistance Agency, how may I direct your call?”

Amadeo's voice became smoother, and he winked at John as he spoke. “My beautiful Fallen Angel of Love, it is I, your fellow Agent of Love, checking in with our newest friend and reporting all is well.”

John wasn't quite sure how to spell everything that came out of the speaker, but it reinforced his opinion that Italian was a FANTASTIC language to chew someone out in. Whoever this “Fallen Angel of Love” was, she had a commanding ability with some of the saltier aspects of Italian rhetoric.

“I mean, seriously, Director Croce could have been behind me,” finished the Fallen Angel. Amadeo had the courtesy to at least look abashed.

“You're right, Priscilla.” His face became serious for a moment. “In any case, both I and the new guy are fine. I will be enroute to the field office shortly, once I finish briefing him.” He hung up the phone, giving John a small shrug and a 'What can you do?' expression. John cocked an eyebrow. Amadeo chuckled ruefully. “Italian women are... not shy about telling you when they think you are being foolish. That was Priscilla, one of our Intelligence agents. She has been with the Agency longer than I have. There were about 10 of us at the beginning, doctors, operators, drivers, and agents. It was small, underfunded... but cozy. Then we got our first successful cyborg. Angelica.” His eyes grew distant, and John thought he detected a slight mistiness to them.

Amadeo shifted in his seat. “Angelica was... special. With her, we learned what we needed to do to make the cyborg program work. She taught us a lot... and not just about the program.”

“Was she... like that other?” asked John, matter-of-factly. “Was she a child?”

Amadeo nodded. “I told you that we tried adults first? When that... failed, the doctors started checking their notes and figures, trying to see what went wrong. At about that time, they got a call about a young girl who had been very badly hurt by her father... the bastard tried to kill her for insurance money.” Amadeo's face hardened as he spat out the last, and John felt his own do the same. Never pleasant to be reminded of how low some could go. He couldn't even DREAM of doing that to his... 'Dammit, not AGAIN... not NOW. Mission, mission, mission...'

Amadeo coughed into his hand, then continued. “Almost at the last minute, they began to work on this girl, who was not supposed to survive this accident. Everything was wrong with her, both inside and out. The doctors... fixed her. Replaced what was broken with prosthetics – you remember this word? - and gave her special medicine to help her mind adjust to her new body. It was a long process, but once we saw that everything was working with the first operations, it was decided to try and go the full route with the cyborg plan.”

John's face fell as he saw where this was going. “So... the Agency uses these children as... agents?”

Amadeo shook his head sadly. “The agency takes those who are basically dead... and gives them a new purpose. These girls have all, without exception, been at the end of their lives, in one form or another. The Social Welfare Agency has given them a new body, a new set of skills, and a new purpose. Not one of them has regretted it.”

John sat there in silence, his mind churning. Then he spoke, his voice husky. “Where do I fit in? Am I to work with one of these... children?”

Amadeo shook his head. “No... the Agency does not have a cyborg for you. However... it is not just cyborgs in Section 2. There is also the – the SRT – a tactical response team that comes in when an operation is larger, when a couple fratello aren't enough.”

“Fratello?” asked John, starting to see the picture.

“Cyborgs and their handlers are called fratello,” explained Amadeo. “Because they look out for each other like siblings. Get it?” John nodded. “When their velvet glove isn't enough, the SWA puts on a fist of mail. That's us. We train with special weapons and tactics and practice knocking the shit out of the Padania and any others who stand in our way. We are the heavy hand, the big guns.”

He stood, stretching. “And we want you to be one of us. Get some sleep. Tomorrow, you come to Rome. Once your security paperwork clears, you'll be training with us.” He walked to the door, opened it slightly, then paused and turned back to face John. <“Welcome to the SRT, marine.”> Then he walked out, leaving John sitting on the bed, at a loss for words.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Professor Voodoo on Mon 10 Jan 2011 - 4:23

Releases from both you and Alfisti within 24 hours...our cup runeth over!

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Alfisti on Mon 10 Jan 2011 - 5:42

Another great read Charon. You're rapidly becoming one of my favorite authors here.

More thoughts to come later.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Kiskaloo on Mon 10 Jan 2011 - 10:06

Awesome stuff!

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by MP5 on Mon 10 Jan 2011 - 19:57

Awesome as always, Officer!

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by theprodigalson on Mon 10 Jan 2011 - 21:10

Great read. Its been said, but I really like the SRT angle you are playing with your work. Its refreshing to read without all the assumed Fratello drama, and John seems like a great way to pull it off.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Professor Voodoo on Tue 11 Jan 2011 - 11:47

Even if it did throw the course of your story off, this is your most creative chapter yet.
After a period of time that felt like hours, but his hotel room clock impossibly only registered as 45 minutes, the tears stopped, leaving crimson-ringed eyes dry and abraded in their wake.
Really good wordplay & imagery here.
John nodded his head at the common sense there, which helped to start resolving his questions as to why he was even being considered for this, given his limited language ability. Obviously, this was something that had been dealt with before.
Let's see...other than Robert F.'s Avise Mancini, how many Italian OC adults do we have?
he produced a folding wallet-type badge holder, which opened to show a simple picture ID, with holographic seal, showing his name to be Amadeo Rossi, employee of the SWA, Section 2.
I think you're the first person to have given Amadeo a surname. Rossi...it suits him.

Elio: Any relation to...?

Amadeo: (groaning) No, I am not related to Valentino Rossi.
<“Where is the rest?”> he asked, closing the door. Amadeo dropped the suitcase on the bed, rolling his shoulders back and rocking his neck back and forth, cracking vertebrae.

<”In storage. You do not need to worry about it for now.”> He pointedly ignored John's hardening expression, and continued on. <”Per Director Croce, you should be reading your handbook for now.
By "the rest" I assume John is referring to his dead wife & child's baggage. Lorenzo might be doing him a favor by keeping it locked away for now.
<”I was once stationed at Sigonella, for a short time,”> John answered,
Wow, I haven't heard that name in a long time!
<”The San Marcos Regiment is... not... the same as your American Marines,” Amadeo replied hotly.
This detail makes Amadeo feel very Italian to the reader (at least sterotypically Italian). His knife fight with Georgio in chapter 11 establishes him as a bit of a hot-head.

He also noted that the more Amadeo talked, the less he spoke in his excellent English, and the more Italian, which became easier for him to follow, albeit with occasional pauses for a translation of an unfamiliar term.
Better than any other author on the site you tackle the issue of language-gap...it's a highlight of your style.
At first, they used adults. They were... not successful.” Amadeo winced. “I was hired about that time. I saw the results of the first experiments. It was... not pleasant.”
Hmmm...now there's an angle I hadn't considered. A while ago I theorized that cyborg animals had been created as test subjects (nothing useful in combat operations...just lab rats & such) and that Lorenzo's German Shorthair Pointer might be the culmination of these experiments. Adult human experiments are a chilling twist.
John's face fell as he saw where this was going. “So... the Agency uses these children as... agents?”

Amadeo shook his head sadly. “The agency takes those who are basically dead... and gives them a new purpose. These girls have all, without exception, been at the end of their lives, in one form or another. The Social Welfare Agency has given them a new body, a new set of skills, and a new purpose.
Using Amadeo, who is just a bit player in canon & most fanfiction, to explain the secret of the SWA is a novel touch and the highlight of this chapter. Was this the moment of inspiration you referred to?
Not one of them has regretted it.”
Another interesting philosophical question. Has anyone ever really asked the cyborgs if they regret it? Are they even capable of that? Rico's indecision in chapter 4 seems to suggest that they can have doubts.

Am I to work with one of these... children?”

Amadeo shook his head. “No... the Agency does not have a cyborg for you.
That's an interesting angle. I know you mentioned back in October that he might not become a handler. Making John a member of the support team opens up all kinds of options for him...and dispenses with the need to spend a lot of time developing a second OC character. You've got me hooked...I shall watch this space with curiosity.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Kiskaloo on Tue 11 Jan 2011 - 12:08

Professor Voodoo wrote:Let's see...other than Robert F.'s Avise Mancini, how many Italian OC adults do we have?

Kara points proudly to her handler. Smile


Professor Voodoo wrote:Hmmm...now there's an angle I hadn't considered. A while ago I theorized that cyborg animals had been created as test subjects (nothing useful in combat operations...just lab rats & such) and that Lorenzo's German Shorthair Pointer might be the culmination of these experiments.

I also figured they started with primate augmentation and then went to human trials, but the girls were the first subjects.

The manga has noted that the goal is to get the prosthetics to work on adults, but it's never been said that they were never tried on adults, just that children adapted better and that 16 was the outer edge of acceptable age. Which implies they might have tried them on older people in the past.


Professor Voodoo wrote:Another interesting philosophical question. Has anyone ever really asked the cyborgs if they regret it?

In Monaco after the Geneva mission, Kara was quite implicit that she was thankful for what Michele and the SWA had done for her.

Within the manga, Triela seems to feel that it was a good thing.


Last edited by Kiskaloo on Tue 11 Jan 2011 - 12:14; edited 3 times in total

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by ChaosKin640 on Tue 11 Jan 2011 - 12:09

Let's see...other than Robert F.'s Avise Mancini, how many Italian OC adults do we have?
Both my OC's Enzo and Costante are native Italians. Oh yeah, great chapter, by the way. Razz
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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Officer_Charon on Tue 11 Jan 2011 - 16:26

Honestly, having Amadeo explain everything just happened to be a case of "he was there, at the beginning, so why not?" *wry chuckles*

The adult experimentation seemed to be logical, to me, as a natural follow-on to the requisite animal experimentation. After proving that the concept could work, in theory, on organic tissue, I can see them making the rounds of terminal patients in hospice care, or something similar, calling for volunteers for potentially life-threatening treatments. As we so often see, in real life as well as television, the sick and critically-injured will often grasp at any straw, fighting for life. I know I would - Death comes to all, but you can make the bastard work for it!

However, I should think that ANY medical practices would prefer to use adult volunteers before attempting the procedures on children - it just seems like that's the natural order of things, in this world.

The idea of the dual-language instruction manual actually came from some dialogue in YOUR story, Professor... in the Patchwork Fratello, you had the handlers speak of "It's not a matter of where you're from, but showing that you have the ability to keep secrets." John's background has not been fully explored yet, beyond a vague outline, but for right now, his hiring is more along the same lines of Hilshire's introduction to the SWA's Special Operations section - exposure to the operations is a fait accompli, and rather than throw away a perfectly good tool (both are proven lawmen, with a background in operations), the SWA will use them to further their agenda.

Rest assured, I have no intention of making John an agent, operator, supercop, or Roger Ramjet super-soldier - like John McClaine, he's simply a cop who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and has come out of it with scars and a reputation for Getting Things Done.


Thanks to all for the comments! I'm on a Crime Scene Security detail today, so in the midst of keeping tabs on the scene, I'm going to be sitting, twiddling my thumbs. Let's see if I can crank out some more... the juices are still simmering. *chuckles*

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Professor Voodoo on Tue 11 Jan 2011 - 18:20

Kiskaloo wrote:
Professor Voodoo wrote:Let's see...other than Robert F.'s Avise Mancini, how many Italian OC adults do we have?
Kara points proudly to her handler. Smile
D'OH! How did I forget Michele Pagani?
ChaosKin wrote:Both my OC's Enzo and Costante are native Italians.
Now I did remember those two, but I was thinking about primary characters...Jacob & Melanie for you. MP5 has created over 9000 fratello pairings...I can't remember them all but I don't think a single one is pure Italian.
Officer_Charon wrote:Rest assured, I have no intention of making John an agent, operator, supercop, or Roger Ramjet super-soldier - like John McClaine, he's simply a cop who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and has come out of it with scars and a reputation for Getting Things Done.
I think we have the trailer for the film version of your story...imagine Don LaFontaine's voice;

In a world where child super soldiers existing at the cusp of technology battle seperatist terrorists for the very soul of Italy, John Darme is simply a cop who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and has come out of it with scars and a reputation for Getting Things Done. (cue action montage)

Oh wait...LaFontaine's actually been dead for over two years. We'll find someone.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by MP5 on Wed 12 Jan 2011 - 0:23

Professor Voodoo wrote: MP5 has created over 9000 fratello pairings...I can't remember them all but I don't think a single one is pure Italian.

Matthew: Ay yo, Voodoo! You disrespectin' my boy Alonso?! He O.G. Italian, straight outta Maranello, word?

(About halfway down that post, right after Becky. Also god, that kind of hurt to write.)

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Kiskaloo on Wed 12 Jan 2011 - 0:55

Professor Voodoo wrote:
Kiskaloo wrote:
Professor Voodoo wrote:Let's see...other than Robert F.'s Avise Mancini, how many Italian OC adults do we have?
Kara points proudly to her handler. Smile
D'OH! How did I forget Michele Pagani?

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by ElfenMagix on Wed 12 Jan 2011 - 15:21

Now that I am back online, I can say, Great work, Charon!

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by MP5 on Wed 12 Jan 2011 - 21:26

John Darme... what a punny name. Naming him after the word for a French policeman, are we?

Spoiler:
'John Darme' sounds like 'Gendarme'='Policeman'

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Officer_Charon on Thu 13 Jan 2011 - 4:44

That would be the intent, aye MP5. *wry chuckle*

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Alfisti on Fri 14 Jan 2011 - 7:15

Kiskaloo wrote:
Professor Voodoo wrote:D'OH! How did I forget Michele Pagani?
Man picks up the tab three visits in a row and he gets no respect! Razz
Jethro: That's probably because he was silly enough to get stuck with the tab three times in a row. Razz

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Alfisti on Wed 19 Jan 2011 - 9:41

As stated before mate: another excellent chapter.

Officer_Charon wrote:this has COMPLETELY wrecked the direction other tidbits that I was
sketching out, but I think it works better for what I'm trying to work
up.
I think we have a thread for that...

John flipped open a section of clear plastic, his gunmetal eyes scanned
the photographs contained therein, before they became obscured as the
tears welled.
Great moment for an insight into how well "John" can control his emotions and how hardened he is. Even though he made up his mind to let the grief out, he needs a catalyst for it to happen.

for ease of translation an English version of the literature was provided by the SWA.
...and French, and German, and Arabic, and Japanese....

“However,” the packet admonished sternly in bureaucratese...
Haha, laugh out loud moment. I'm sure Monty speaks it fluently.

'It's all part of the mission,' he started telling himself. 'I can work
through this – I've done it before, I can do it again. This is all part
of the mission: getting back at those rotten sons-of-bitches.'
Hmm, interesting phrasing here. Though John is apparently driven by revenge, he also seems to be completely cogniscent of that fact and willing to utilize it as a motivator. Contrast, say Jean (or even, possibly moreso after his antics during and after Venice: Jose), who also gives the impression of being driven by revenge. However, there it seems to be more a case of the rage controlling the person rather than the person utilizing and harnessing the rage. I'll be interested to see how that develops for John.

<”The San Marcos Regiment is... not... the same as your American
Marines,” Amadeo replied hotly. <”We have a history going back
hundreds of years, before America was anything more than a colony! To
compare the two...”>
Ahh, dented Italian pride. John'll need to be careful not to say such things infront of Avise... unless he feels like being given a three hour lecture with an exam at the end...

Whoever Amadeo was, it was evident that he held no love for someone who John only vaguely knew as a political faction.
Everyone has their own problems... I guess because we're fans of the GSG series we get wrapped up in their (Italian) fight. It's easy to forget that, for most people and governments outside of Italy, the Padania are little more than the odd news snippet.

but it reinforced his opinion that Italian was a FANTASTIC language to chew someone out in.
I reckon French would give it a run for it's money...

“Welcome to the SRT, marine.”
Classic ending line. "And now the adventure REALLY begins, because the rabbit hole indeed goes deeper."

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Officer_Charon on Fri 15 Apr 2011 - 22:42

Jesus... has it REALLY been this long... sorry about the delay, y'all... that writer's block is something SERIOUS. On the plus side, even though this is merely a tidbit, I can feel the flow returning. More forthcoming sooner.

(EDIT) Updated with corrected spacing...

Spoiler:
A night's fitful rest left John bleary-eyed and fumbling for the
coffee pot at the wee hours of the morning. His arms would occasionally
seek out another form, his sleep-and-medication befuddled mind would
attempt to sort out everything that had happened in the last 24 hours,
and the force of everything would hit him across the shoulders like a
2x4. After breaking down each time, he would eventually drop to sleep
again, to repeat the cycle over and over.

Finally, he gave up on the possibility of getting any rest, and
resigned himself to fighting his demons. He knew that time would dull
the grief's harsh edge, and he longed for the pain to start receding. In
the meantime, he fortified himself with caffeine, and studied his face
in the bathroom mirror.

After blinking groggily at his reflection a few times, he
essayed a half-smile. <"Mon ami, you look like crap."> Between the gauze
pad on his cheek, with a few rusty dots indicating it was due for a
change, his bloodshot, red-rimmed eyes and sallow complexion, John had
to admit that he'd looked better. <"What better way to go to a job
orientation?">

He left the coffee pot on the hotplate to "distill" while he
took a shower, doing his best afterwards to apply ointment over his
still-painful stitches and re-cover them with fresh gauze. This was
exacerbated by his awkward left hand, itself still red and raw around
the sutured remains of his ring and little fingers.

He glanced at the stub of his ring finger, focusing on the band
of skin at it's base that remained paler than the surrounding flesh,
even accounting for the redness remaining after the medics had taken
care of him. His other hand reached for an envelope that had been
included in his luggage, an envelope that jingled as he picked it up and
dumped it's contents on the counter next to the sink. Three bands, two
gold and slender, one dull grey-silver and much larger tumbled out. His
mind past the point of expressing itself, he dully picked them up, his
earlier jocularity completely dismissed. Reaching for his neck, he
removed the fine beaded chain that was draped there, the tinny clacking
of the tags at the end of it sounding like a hollow, mirthless laugh.
Unclasping the chain, John dropped the three rings onto the chain,
refastening it and placing it back around his neck. His right hand
clasped around the impromptu pendants for a second, before he shook his
head, hardened his expression, and resumed his preparations for the
day.

After ensuring that his face retained no stubble from his shave
in the shower, John dressed in a manner that he had gotten used to in
recent years: sturdy tan pants, billed as "tactical" by their maker,
green rigger's belt, dark t-shirt with a design (this one being a
dragon with wings spread wide) and a short-sleeved sturdy workshirt,
blue in color. Completing the ensemble were a pair of his old Marine
Corps suede boots, with a reinforced safety toe.

His preparations mostly complete, he began packing up his
suitcase, double and triple-checking the room to ensure that he had
everything, and staging it by the door. After all drawers, chairs and
tables were checked to ensure nothing was left behind, he sat in the
office-style chair at the writing desk and read more of his new-hire
packet.

He wasn't reading for long. After but a few pageturns, there was
a knock at his room's door. Standing with a sigh, and a sudden
realization of just how badly his legs and face were aching, he walked
to the door. After a similar exchange of tradecraft from the previous
day, a "Giorgio Bianchi" (Funny, John thought, he doesn't look blond at
_all_) helped him with his baggage down to a waiting Alfa Romeo 159,
done up in standard-issue Nondescript Charcoal Grey(tm). Giorgio wasn't
especially talkative, which suited John's state of mind perfectly.

After a brief ride to Catania's bustling airport, John noticed a
narrow-bodied turboprop with an odd wing configuration that he didn't
recognize sat on one side of the tarmac was loaded with John's luggage.
As John boarded the aerial limousine, he noted that several others were
already onboard, including Triela and Jean, as well as the pair with
whom he had shared a firefight - was it only yesterday? John looked at
the young girl with the shoulder-length hazelnut hair who was gazing
adoringly at the man next to her, who smiled indulgently. John wasn't
sure, but he thought he saw a touch of strain to the young man's face,
as though he wouldn't mind being somewhere else right then.

Triela glanced at John as he finishing boarding, and nodded her
head in greeting with a small smile, a smile which grew slightly broader
when John had to duck to avoid striking his skull on the overhead. The
other girl glanced up, and her eyes widened in recognition. Her
"fratello" looked up as well, and he stood from his chair, extending his
hand. "Glad to see you're not too much the worse for wear. I'm Giuseppe
Croce. Call me Giuse - everyone does. This," he indicated the girl next
to him, who smiled brightly at the attention "is Henrietta, the other
half of my fratello. She makes sure that I don't work too hard." The
brunette blushed lightly, and looked down at her hands.

John kept his face neutral. "Call me John Darme. It seem I will
be working with you?" His head turned to scan the cabin again, noting
that the tall dark-haired man next to Triela raised his eyebrow at the
statement. John met his gaze levelly, without rancor or challenge, but
also without shrinking from it. To John's surprise, the man gave a small
smile, and shook his head sadly. John made a mental note to follow up
with that at a later time, when he had his bearings.

Giuse gave a small smile. "Perhaps, although perhaps not with
the fratelli... it sounds as though the Director intends for you to join
the SRT. We do work with them, sometimes. Not often... the fratelli are
more for covert operations." He gave a small, almost Gallic shrug.

John nodded. "I understand. It can be that we will work together
again sometime." His face hardened. "I would like very much to kill
terrorists with you and Miss Henrietta." He looked over and gave
Henrietta a warm smile. She smiled back, then sat back and watched
Giuse as he continued.

"Over here is Victor Hilshire, partnered with Triela." Hilshire
nodded dourly, and John wondered if he'd imagined that small smile a
moment ago. Hilshire's craggy face seemed to be more used to frowns and
firmness than moments of friendship. He noted it and looked at the hatch
as a final figure walked through it. 'Another cyborg,' he noted,
observing the small frame, covered with baggy clothes, and crested with
an unruly thatch of flax-colored hair over a pair of startlingly blue
eyes.

"Rico," said Jean without preamble, "has everything been
loaded?"

Rico smiled brightly, dimpling. "Of course, Jean. Nothing's been
left behind, and Mr. Pagani will be coming on board in a minute. He
sounded like he was talking to Kara on the phone, and she sounded
mad!"

Jean sat there, stone-faced, as this report was delivered in an
upbeat manner that John found himself struggling not to smile at, in
spite of his somber mood. He wondered who Kara was, and why it would
matter if she was mad with this "Mr. Pagani." After a moment's
consideration, Jean simply nodded and said "Sit down and buckle up then,
Rico." Rico smiled again and took the seat in front of Henrietta,
whereupon the two began to chat amiably. John started when he realised
that they were talking about Henrietta's firefight in the same tone that
most children their age would discuss clothes or television shows that
they enjoyed.

Some of his discomfiture must have shown on his face as he sat
down across from Giuse, because the handler leaned over. "You become
used to it," he commented, performing another of those Gallic shrugs.
"When you realise who they are, where they came from, and how much they
honestly seem to enjoy the work... it's something that we Handlers have
had to adapt to. Not... everyone seems to learn this, however."

Before John could inquire more on that subject, a tallish man in
an impeccably tailored suit jacket boarded the aircraft, a mildly-
harried expression immediately replaced with a more composed one. "My
apologies everyone... Kara is most put out at being left behind on this
run, and seems to feel that she should be able to ignore doctor's orders
about her shoulder. This will be addressed later on." Jean nodded
curtly, and the man, who John assumed must be Michele, went to the
command cabin without further delay, snagging a radio headset as he did
so.

His mind buzzing with the new information, as well as the
leftover input from the previous day, John leaned against the bulkhead
of the aircraft. Concentrating on working through everything, he closed
his mind in concentration.

He was asleep before the engines began spooling up.


Last edited by Officer_Charon on Sat 16 Apr 2011 - 0:37; edited 1 time in total

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"The two loudest sounds you will ever hear from your weapon are the *bang* when it's supposed to go *click* and the *click* when it's supposed to go *bang*." -Unknown

"220 horses, I got a gun, a siren, a tank full of city gas. Don't you love it?!" - Ofc. Maurice "Bosco" Boscarelli, Third Watch
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