Men-at-Arms

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Alfisti on Wed 15 Feb 2012 - 6:13

Ok, so I promised extended thoughts...

other than the addition of a few new gray hairs
Random handler (take your pick): Don't worry mate, you'll be getting plenty more of those before you leave.

I guess he at least doesn't need to deal directly with the cyborgs on a daily basis...

"I saw you on my plane, but never got a chance to make your acquaintance. Michele Pagani, at your service."
I like the little subtle reminder here that Michele is, most likely... the richest man in the room.

That said, part of me wonders if it's the sort of thing he would drop. While Michele doesn't do anything to hide his wealth, he's never really struck me as the sort to purposely go out of his way to rub it in people's faces either... though some may I guess some may consider arriving at work with a different supercar for every day of the fortnight as parmount to the same thing.

(the one his wife had always told him that made him look angry all the
time... dwell on it later, John). "You have reason... If I cannot even
talk, then I am no good to you. Or me. I will get better. I must."

The group shared an uneasy glance at the suddenly chilly tone.
I assume John didn't actually intend this to come out chilly, interesting to see the language barrier and his own natural dour expression getting in the way of his interracting with the others.

he found himself rather liking the man
whom he recognized as the cyborg's "drill instructor" from earlier on in
the day. "A pleasure to meet you, sir,".
Amusing that, out of everyone there, Avise is the only one whom John addresses as "Sir", a little bit of the Marine in him seeping through I take it. Plus Avise really does suit being called "Sir".

"So I said to him, stick it up your- erk."
"Oatmeal!? Are you CRAZY!?"

Sorry, it's the first thing that sprung to mind... That said, being the last to catch on, or at least the one with the most vocal momentumn is very Marisa.

not nearly as sotto voce as she probably should have been.
I'm fairly certain Mari doesn't have an "inside voice".

John returned to the main streets, and hailed a taxi. He had
training tomorrow: it was time to join the team. One man might not be
able to make a difference, so far as he could tell, but a group, working
in unison, could change the world. And John did not intend to get left
behind
Nice wrap up of the whole thing... it very clearly telegraphs that this is the end of John's "mopey lost" stage... he's found himself a purpose.

Great stuff mate, the whole episode nicely captures a little bit of the SWA, though the encounters are brief it gives a base to build John's relationships with each person from, his initial views, judgements and the like. Looking forward to where you take it.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Officer_Charon on Tue 28 Feb 2012 - 20:00

And we're rolling right along with the first section of Part 2! This section, hopefully, will set the tenor for the remaining installments - I plan to revisit John as a primary character, but he will not be the focus of the series - the team will. Considering working in POV pieces for several of the team members as the series goes on. Who knows - maybe it'll help keep it fresh!

Spoiler:

PART TWO
Unlocking

“Okay gents, this is a simple operation, but listen up, all the same!” Giorgio’s voice, despite being kept to a low volume, managed to cut through the miscellaneous chatter from the nearly two dozen men assembled outside of a defunct fuelling station. After several seconds of mutual hushing, all eyes and ears were focused on the shaven-headed operator. “ It’s a normal 4-corner warehouse. We’ll be going in with a three-team formation: Teams 1, 2 and 3. 1, under Amadeo will cover corner Alpha-Bravo, while 2 with me will cover Charlie-Delta. Nihad’s Team 3 will set up sniper positions on another warehouse to the south, covering Charlie. The south side of the target building has the majority of the rollup loading doors, but there are still some to the north, so don’t lose sight of them!”

He sketched as he talked, the layout of the target building following each of his points. “Interior layout is pretty normal – it’s a single floor deal, so we don’t have to worry about any catwalks above us. Racks are located here, here and here, with a second tier along the north wall, blocking most of the rollup doors there. Over here along the western wall are offices, with some caged storage areas in this corner.”

He changed to a different colored pen. “Upon securing your corners, Team 1 will hold fast, extending along Alpha to cover Alpha-Delta as well. I know I shouldn’t have to say this, but watch your fire lanes – if any of you stronzi hit each other, you’ll have to deal with me, capisci?”

When 1’s in position, 2 will make entry through this single swinging door, after making sure it’s clear. If any of the rollups are open, we’ll use them, too, depending on how many are there. Team 3 will advise of any potential targets at this point. If any of the rollups are open, the assault will commence on my signal, with 3 making their shots. Otherwise, we’ll breach the swinging door, gas and bang, then assault. Points of concern will be the racks – watch for anyone up high there.”

After marking out assault routes, Giorgio finished up the brief. “As soon as all targets are down, check for the explosives, secure any intel, then exit through the north doors. Once everyone’s accounted for, load up in the bus, and we’re out of there.”

He looked up, his mouth curled in an anticipatory grin. “Any questions?” After making sure that everyone understood their roles in the plan, he rubbed his hands together. “Let’s get to it, then. Load up in order 3, 2 1, from the front to rear.” Nihad nodded, gathered up his team by eye, and the stone-faced sniper team boarded the generically-colored tour coach. Giorgio followed with his team, with Amadeo’s bringing up the rear. Once everyone was situated, Olga, seated in the driver’s position and dressed as a member of a tour company, pressed the button to secure the coach’s doors, and with a guttural rumble, the coach pulled away from the station.

After a 5 minute ride, the coach pulled alongside the east side of the neighboring warehouse. As soon as it finished moving, the doors were already open, and the sniper crews flowed out like blue-grey and black water, swiftly moving to climb the ladders towards their location. The other two teams disembarked as well, using the large cinderblock building as cover. Giorgio poked his head around.

Two of the four rollups were open, allowing for a fairly open view into the target building’s interior. But even better, the other two doors were blocked by trailers backed up to them. Excellent.

Moving quickly, and managing to keep the trailers between the door and themselves, both teams moved to the target building’s southeastern corner. Amadeo and Giorgio exchanged a broad grin, only their eyes visible above their balaclavaed and helmeted heads, before their two teams split up. Giorgio had the hard task – his men had to stay below the lip of the loading dock area and move quietly, breaking up into three groups of three as they did so.

In contrast, all Amadeo had to do was hug the eastern wall – no windows were set into it to give his position away. It didn’t take them long to get set up and cover their assigned sectors – Amadeo even had two men to spare to climb slowly up the ladder on the eastern wall.

A quiet crack, almost lost in the background noise of Catania traffic caused Giorgio’s head to whip around behind him. A soft voice from his radio earpiece spoke. “One down on the roof. He was about to spot the two climbing.”

Giorgio double-clicked his mic in response. Nihad was a professional – he knew not to make an unnecessary shot.

Once all routes of fire and entry were secured, Giorgio waited. This was the part that he hated – that moment when you ran through everything in your head, trying to find the holes that were going to get someone killed. Last mission, he thought he’d covered everything, and Maurizio had paid anyway.

Chief Lorenzo’s voice rang in his head. “You can’t plan for everything. Sometimes, Fate steps in, despite everything. There’s no sense in beating yourself up over it – just do the best you can. Nobody can ask more.”

Lorenzo’s would-be consigliore Alboreto - the only handler that Giorgio had time for any more – had put it even more succinctly: “Shit happens. Learn from it, and don’t let it happen the same way twice.”

Nihad’s voice murmured into the earpiece again. “We have 3 targets selected. All teams ready to move?” After a pair of affirmations, Nihad simply responded “Go, go, go.” The third word was almost obscured by nearly-simultaneous muffled cracks.

Giorgio’s legs launched him up and over the lip of the loading dock. He heard the screech of the swinging door being breached by a Halligan tool, and the distressed shouts coming from inside the warehouse as the Mafiosi inside realized what was happening. Giorgio was able to see a group of four standing from a cable spool being used as a makeshift table, littered with cards. As they reached for nearby AK-platform rifles, his own Beretta AR70/90 snapped twice, then twice again. Next to him, Fausto’s own rifle snapped in time with his. All four of the Mafiosi crumpled to the ground, like puppets with their strings cut.

A quick scan of the area showed similar effects amongst the other assembled criminals. A pair came out of the office area, only to by scythed down by rapid, controlled shots. One tried to flee out of the north door, only to be taken by Amadeo’s team. The racks proved themselves to be somewhat unable to serve as firing platforms, as one over-eager shooter plummeted down from amongst the boxes with a scream, cut off by a crunching as he hit the poured concrete floor. A few attempted to get in close to use their knives or clubs, only to find the troopers turning their own weapons against them. The walls and roof echoed with gurgles and muffled screams.

And just that quickly, it was over. “All teams report casualties,” Giorgio barked, even though he could tell by a quick head count that his team was still intact. After receiving similar reports from Amadeo and Nihad, he called for Amadeo’s team to come inside to help with the search for explosives and intel.

Paulo was the one who found the big prize – shipping orders in the form of a bookie’s notebook, found on the body of one of the pair who had been cut down whilst exiting the office. A quick scan showed that, beneath a rudimentary naming code, the small green book showed where in Italy – and in neighboring countries – the shipments of Semtex had been going, on which carriers. “Priscilla’s gonna give me such a kiss for this!” crowed the slender man, his facial scar distorted by the size of his grin.

Giorgio chuckled, then became serious again. “Okay guys, gather up everything. We leave in 3 minutes.” He keyed his mic again. “We’re all good here, Nihad. Get on the bus.” Releasing the transmit button, he continued. “The rest of you guys, head to the door. As soon as the bus pulls up, we’re out of here.”

Once the doors were closed again and Olga pulled away, entering Catania’s traffic as casually as she’d left it, Giorgio allowed himself to take off his helmet and balaclava, scrubbing his hands over his stubbly head. If it wasn’t for the fact that he did so much undercover work, he wouldn’t even bother with the damned thing, but the last thing he needed was for someone to recognize him, on the off-chance that there was anyone left, hidden.

After checking to make sure his weapon was still on safe, he leaned his seat back. “Damn, I love my job,” he said, shutting his eyes and listening to the rest of his team excitedly running through the scrap again.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by tremec6speed on Wed 29 Feb 2012 - 3:40

Great work, action packed although brief. Initial interaction and intros as well as the adjustment experiences of Darme in your previous work was very enjoyable but ah, nothing like reading about a little fire fight to get the juices flowing! While I was reading, I got worked up and started drawing because of it. Read a little, draw a little and so on! head bang

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Alfisti on Wed 29 Feb 2012 - 6:28

Nice chapter mate, usual promise of more in-depth thoughts to come sweat

Short ones though: this made a good introduction to the SRT as a professional unit. It's often too easy to write them off when playing second-fiddle to the cyborgs so much... thanks for the reminder. You did a neat job of winding in a bit of character for Giorgio through it as well, great stuff.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Alfisti on Sun 11 Mar 2012 - 5:56

Ok... extended thoughts:

“Interior layout is pretty normal – it’s a single floor deal, so we
don’t have to worry about any catwalks above us. Racks are located here,
here and here, with a second tier along the north wall, blocking most
of the rollup doors there. Over here along the western wall are offices,
with some caged storage areas in this corner.”
Wow, someone got a really good look at the inside of that.

On another note: I'll admit it took me a second read through to build a picture of the warehouse in my mind... the first time through Giorgio may as well have been speaking Greek. It took the second read through to sort out that the "alpha"s and "charlies" referred to walls so on. For those of us who haven't been to police school it might be worth throwing in a few more visual aids.

Of course reading back now parts of me can't believe I couldn't sort it out the first time, but there you go.

Nihad nodded, gathered up his team by eye, and the stone-faced sniper team boarded the generically-colored tour coach.
That's two "team"s in one sentence. That said: good use of non-verbals, here it suggests both that these people know their roles and know their team leader well enough to be aware of what he wants done.

Ditto actually for Giorgio... there's no doubt as to who's in charge.

This was the part that he hated – that moment when you ran through
everything in your head, trying to find the holes that were going to get
someone killed. Last mission, he thought he’d covered everything, and
Maurizio had paid anyway.
Good moment... both in terms of pacing the story and in showing Giorgio in a different light. So far you've painted him as a bit of a hardarse and not particularly likeable, it's worth taking the moment to show he still cares about those under his command.

“Shit happens. Learn from it, and don’t let it happen the same way twice.”
Sage advice... and very Elio.

Halligan tool
Needed to google that one.

only to by scythed down by rapid
"be"?

Paulo was the one who found the big prize – shipping orders in the form
of a bookie’s notebook, found on the body of one of the pair who had
been cut down whilst exiting the office. A quick scan showed that,
beneath a rudimentary naming code, the small green book showed where in
Italy – and in neighboring countries – the shipments of Semtex had been
going, on which carriers.
Monty: That. Emailed. To me.

on the off-chance that there was anyone left, hidden.
Foreshadowing?


As before mate, really enjoyed this one. One overall nitpick would be that you're occasionally repeating words a little to close to themselves for comfort, but that might just be a personal thing as well. Looking forward to the next.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Officer_Charon on Tue 12 Jun 2012 - 5:32

Jeez Louise... FAR too long here. I make no excuse other than an attack of Real Life that I allowed to kill my writing inertia. Trying to get it kick-started back again. Hopefully I can make it work out!

I've been working on various sections scattered throughout this part - it's far more of a patchwork quilt than the more-linear Part 1, as I'm trying a different approach to writing it. Hopefully we'll see if this different method bears fruit.

For now, a short part!

Spoiler:




Sunlight crept upon the head resting
on the firm pillow, creeping over the still-healing scars on the right cheek,
before bludgeoning the sleeping man firmly between the eyes. With a grumble, he
flopped onto his side, left hand moving to cover his eyes. Unfortunately, the
action was arrested by the ragged stumps where the last two fingers had been
snagging on the sheet, drawing the fabric over where stitches were still
holding flesh together. The resulting shock of pain whiplashed up his arm to
his brain, and he jerked his hand back, as if scalded.



Per Murphy’s Law, there was only one
way this could have ended up.



Rubbing his eye from where his
retreating hand had struck it, the man lay on his pillow and idly contemplated
eating his Beretta, in order to prevent the lousy start to the day from
continuing. It is a testament to his willpower that he only kept the thought in
his mind for 5 seconds.



With a long, sonorous groan, John
Darme pulled himself up from his bed. His body, used to a routine of
relaxation, was making its protests at the previous day’s physical training
known, vociferously. His arms, in particular were making sure he knew that they
were feeling abused. Mechanically, he looked over at his phone, checking the
time, and groaned again, more heartfelt than before, when he saw that there was
still 40 minutes before he was supposed to meet Amadeo on the training field
again. Not enough time to get a decent amount of sleep, but too much time to
start getting ready for the day.



‘So much for your resolve to train
hard,’ a small voice inside sneered. ‘Is this all the memory of Rebecca and
Leah are worth? Self-pity and whining? Get your lazy ass up! You’re not getting
yourself fit to kill those sons-of-bitches who put you in this situation if you
sit there and feel sorry for yourself for doing a little exercise.’



You would be amazed at what a little
motivation can do for a body in the morning. John pulled himself out of bed
without another sound, forced himself to run through a series of exercises
known as the “Daily Seven,” so by the time his alarm went off, he merely felt
elderly. Breathing deeply, and coated with a light sheen of sweat, he changed
into his workout clothes, drank a bottle of water, then stepped out of the
door.



He caught himself humming a cadence
as he stepped out. After a moment to think about it, he continued, changing his
step to match the pace. Striding down the hallway, he found himself driving his
heels, muttering drill commands, following them, and generally getting into the
proper frame of mind until he heard a door open to his right, near one of the
stairwells.



Out strode Avise Mancini, clad in a
full PT uniform, his T-shirt bearing an insignia that John didn’t recognize,
with the word “Bersaglieri” on the left breast, John halted instinctively,
snapping his heels together as he did so, although he managed to halt his hand
before it snapped up in a salute. Avise raised an eyebrow.



“Uhm, good morning, sir!” John
barked. Avise held up a hand in a conciliatory fashion, and laughed slightly.



“At ease, at ease… Just where did
this come from, all of a sudden?”



John relaxed, self-consciously, and
chuckled wryly. “Well… it could be that I never do good with officers, when I
am a Marine. Also, the fact that you take your military life more serious than
the others I meet so far… It seems… appropriate.”



Avise raised an eyebrow again. “Well
now… I can respect that.” His face became more genial. “But you really should
relax! Even if I am an officer, I don’t think you’re in my chain of command, so
it’s really a non-issue.”



John gave another chuckle. “It could
be so… You go for a run? Training?”



Avise nodded. “I help train the
cyborgs, but I would never order them to do something that I could not do
myself. So, I fear that even though it may spoil my reputation as a taskmaster
extraordinaire, I must spend the coin of sweat in order to purchase my
position.” He finished with a grandiose gesture, ending in a pose that left
John looking for a cape fluttering dramatically in the breeze behind him.



John managed to stifle a laugh,
departed after a few more words of chit-chat, then departed at a brisk walk
towards the training field. Whilst enroute, he ruminated on how different the
personnel in this “Section 2” seemed to be. Very few appeared to fit his mental
idea of what a covert operative would be like – most seemed to be sanguine in
temperament, even jovial. Only a couple that John had met so far seemed grim,
or at least quietly lugubrious. He wondered if it was as a result of the work
that they did being so self-satisfying.



As he crunched across the gravel lot
to where the grass of the training field began, he decided that he might try
giving the sanguine attitude a try. At the very least, part of him noted, it
could help prevent him from burning himself out. He’d seen it happen before,
and was in no hurry to meet the same end that he had witnessed.



Another part remarked, somewhat
cruelly, that it was all well and good to think that, but what about Rebecca
and Leah? Would he be able to write off their deaths so casually and simply
move on? To carry on with a smile on his face, even as they lay in ashes in a
pair of urns?



It was with this bitter taste in his
mouth that he met Amadeo, and began the day’s training session. His protesting
body was pushed through another set of exercises – a set that part of his mind
noted as being somewhat less strenuous than the previous day’s – even while his
spirit attempted to recover from the self-flagellation from earlier.



Finally, Amadeo called a halt to
their training. John slouched, trying to regain his breath. “My friend,” Amadeo
began, “it appears to me that your mind is elsewhere today… what’s going on?”



After slowing his ragged breaths
down enough to allow coherent speech, John coughed, then answered. “You can
say… a crisis of faith.” At Amadeo’s quizzical look, he elaborated on his moral
dilemma. The former San Marco nodded, his shoulder-length hair waving back and
forth.



“I see now… I’m afraid I have no
easy answer for you. But I will tell you this: Almost everyone in Section 2 has
been affected in similar ways as you. Maybe not quite as deeply, in some cases,
but we have all been touched by the hand of Padania, or other terrorist groups.
Believe me when I say that your feelings, they will empower you, but do not let
them control you.”



John pondered this for a moment,
before nodding. “I do that, the bastardi win.”



Amadeo gave a wolfish grin. “And we
can’t have that, can we?”



John’s responding grin was spoiled
somewhat by another cough. But the sentiment was clear.




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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Alfisti on Tue 12 Jun 2012 - 5:53

@Officer_Charon wrote:Jeez Louise... FAR too long here. I make no excuse other than an attack of Real Life that I allowed to kill my writing inertia. Trying to get it kick-started back again. Hopefully I can make it work out!
Now there's a sentiment I can relate to... I'm only just starting to get some momentumn back behind my own writing at the moment.

Nice one mate... I was actually thinking only this morning that it had been a little while since anyone updated anything. More thoughts to come when I get a moment.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Kiskaloo on Tue 12 Jun 2012 - 11:29

study



Good

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by tremec6speed on Wed 13 Jun 2012 - 0:44

I like your writing, it's very realistic. Good

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Professor Voodoo on Mon 6 Aug 2012 - 19:05

Okay, I'm behind here. Since you don't have chapter names on most of your installments I'll use the date on which you posted them...
31 Jan 12
Remarking upon his somewhat-harried look, one of a cluster of
gentlemen at the edge of the gelateria gave a small chuckle, and nodded
his head. "Been introduced to Priscilla's... expedient style of driving,
I see."
Just wait until you get to ride with one of the cyborgs.
John let out a small snicker - he couldn't help it. Priscilla's good humor, and the
easy cameraderie of the coterie of handlers made it near-impossible to hang onto the icicle of bitterness that rested within him.
These light moments contrast terrifically against the dark depression you had John in earlier...and I like that you added a subtle callback to those scenes.
The tall, brown-haired man to the rear of the group finished
chuckling, and added with a voice that rested on a bed of shamrocks
I've gotta remember that metaphor...although I thought Brian McDonnell (as per MP5's tales) was red-haired.
a teenage girl, dressed in a similar, modest fashion, her short black hair topped with a jaunty beret.
Arrrgghh! I just wrote an episode heavily featuring Agapita and I totally forgot to reference the beret!
"Avise Mancini, at your service!" He clicked his heels, almost in a chariacture
of a Prussian martinet, to the tune of more eye-rolling from the group.
Priscilla: (whispering) Wait until he starts singing.
These girls, these... _children_were lethal special operations specialists - as much, if not moreso than any Navy SEAL or Green Beret...
It will be intersting to see how John's outlook on cyborgs evolves. It's easy to be blown away by their abilities at first, but unlike the aforementioned SEAL's or GB's they struggle with operating autonomously.
it was Marisa (naturally) who was the last to catch on, ... "So I said to him, stick it up your- erk."
Ah, the "last one talking gag." Tim Meadows was the master of that on Saturday Night Live.

Marisa: Saturday Night what?

John: Don't worry about it...it's on too late for you anyway.

Marisa: That sucks! All the best stuff is on after lights out time!
7 Feb 12
a bit of spending money (courtesy of someone's "discretionary spending fund," no doubt) handed over in crisp, middling-denomination bills from Alboreto,
Michele: Hurrah! Finally something I didn't get stuck paying for!
He spent a bit of time meandering aimlessly, people-watching,
trying not to focus on the families that laughed and took photos of the
various landmarks.
Knowing his potentially volatile emotional state I'm surprised the Section Two group didn't put a tail on him (maybe they did).
28 Feb12
PART TWO
Unlocking
“Okay gents, this is a simple operation, but listen up, all the same!”
Hmmm...could this be the first OC fiction chapter ever written that 1) includes no main canon characters 2)Does not include the author's OC either. Bold move, sir.
This was the part that he hated – that moment when you ran through everything in your head, trying to find the holes that were going to get someone killed. Last mission, he thought he’d covered everything, and Maurizio had paid anyway.
I think in many of our fictions we portray the enemy as unlimited and expendible. Moments such as Georgio is having here serve as reminders that the enemy is not only human but very skilled and trying as hard to kill you as you are to kill him.
Lorenzo’s would-be consigliore Alboreto - the only handler that Giorgio had time for any more
Probably realistic that the SRT team would have at least some chip on their shoulder about the amount of focus the cyborg operators get...the showponies vs. the workhorses of Section Two.
“Priscilla’s gonna give me such a kiss for this!” crowed the slender man,
An important motivating factor for the SRT team?
“Damn, I love my job,” he said, shutting his eyes and listening to the rest of his team excitedly running through the scrap again.
Not much I can say about this one...an interesting peek into the world of Section Two's non-mechanical soldiers. I wonder how much of your own Marine & Police training leaked over into the tractics demonstrated here.
12June12
the action was arrested by the ragged stumps where the last two fingers had been snagging on the sheet, drawing the fabric over where stitches were still
holding flesh together.
I'd say that's a great visual, but it's not really a visual sensation is it? That's something anyone can relate to; being half awake/half asleep and catching an injury you're not consciously thinking about.
You would be amazed at what a little motivation can do for a body in the morning.
This sentence seems a bit out of place, since the chapter is being told from an anonymous narrator's POV.
Striding down the hallway, he found himself driving his heels, muttering drill commands, following them,
Very relatable. I caught myself doing this in Amsterdam's Schipol airport once when irritated by a delayed flight.
you take your military life more serious than the others I meet so far…
He's perceptive...although you really don't need to be that perceptive to profile Avise Mancini.
So, I fear that even though it may spoil my reputation as a taskmaster
extraordinaire, I must spend the coin of sweat in order to purchase my
position.”
Does Avise remember that John is still just learning Italian?
Almost everyone in Section 2 has been affected in similar ways as you. Maybe not quite as deeply, in some cases, but we have all been touched by the hand of Padania, or other terrorist groups.
I think you touch on one of the central themes of GsG here...every character, be they human or cyborg, has suffered some form of damage. While the girls have their physical damage repaired (thereby symbolically internalizing their pain) the humans consciously internalize their issues...either learning to live with it (Jean) or allowing it to tear them apart (Giuseppe).
John pondered this for a moment, before nodding. “I do that, the bastardi win.”

Amadeo gave a wolfish grin. “And we can’t have that, can we?”
The last line implies that for both of them the security of Italy and Europe are secondary to their personal quest (perhaps vendetta).

I like the increased interaction John is having with the rest of his SWA cohorts in these chapters...both canon and "expanded universe." I look forward to seeing him get involved in operations soon.

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


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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Officer_Charon on Tue 25 Dec 2012 - 6:31

Okay! I've been working on this some... the mojo is beginning to flow again...

Here is a teaser for the next part - not quite ready to release it yet, but I REALLY need to get home and get some sleep.

Spoiler:

As John trudged back towards his room, the numbness in his limbs and chest beginning to be replaced by ache, he heard the puttering of a Vespa. Looking up, he saw Priscilla pulling into her usual spot. As she took of her helmet and shook out her hair, John was struck by the thought that it was rather strange, a top-notch (allegedly, John had not yet seen her in action) intelligence operative at a premier covert operations group… and she rides a cheery yellow scooter as her POV of choice. He shook his head. Just goes to prove the saying that “it takes all kinds.”

He pushed on, grimacing as his legs informed him that they did not appreciate the stairs up to the floor his room was on. So focused was he on the grumbling of his body that he failed to notice the figure standing outside his door, hand raised to knock. They turned, showing their self to be a slightly androgynous individual, wearing a poorly-tailored suit.

Something about the individual’s demeanor set John’s hackles up, and he nodded curtly. “Morning, friend. Can I help you?”

“Giovanni diMarco, Section 1.” The proffered hand was shaken, and his limp, clammy grip made John’s skin crawl. “The U.S. consulate has completed their documentation on the disposition of your family – death certificates have been issued. Should you choose to, arrangements could be made to inter them in Italy, but…” he trailed off at the granite-hard look that John shot him. Stifling the urge to swallow nervously, diMarco held out a manila envelope. “I leave it up to you, then. Good day, Mr. St-“

“Darme,” interrupted John huskily, blinking away tears. “My name is John Darme.”

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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

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Alfisti on Tue 25 Dec 2012 - 7:17

Excellent... the writing is happening again; looking forward to the whole thing.

One though: is "operative" the correct word for Priscilla? I'd always pictured her more on the analyst end of things.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Thescarredman on Tue 25 Dec 2012 - 14:54

Hoo boy, I wanna read this.
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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by tremec6speed on Tue 25 Dec 2012 - 19:28

Cool!
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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Officer_Charon on Wed 26 Dec 2012 - 10:01

Priscilla seems to be sort of a Lady Friday with regards to intelligence... not too many analysts go out into the field like she does... she's an operative, but not an operator, if that makes any sense?

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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 Robert Frazer on Wed 26 Dec 2012 - 16:47




I dunno, I think that with a few webbing-straps Priscilla would look well ally.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Officer_Charon on Wed 26 Dec 2012 - 17:16

Need an artist for tacticool Priscilla, stat......

Priscilla: "Oh God... why can't I hold all this operator?"


*giggles inanely* Yes, it's been that kind of day

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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 26 Dec 2012 - 19:16

@Officer_Charon wrote:Priscilla seems to be sort of a Lady Friday with regards to intelligence... not too many analysts go out into the field like she does... she's an operative, but not an operator, if that makes any sense?
Yeah, I see where you're coming from... though I'm going to keep reffering to her as an analyst personally Razz I dunno, she's always struck me as someone happier behind a desk... and I've always pictured her primary role to be that of an analyst. The times she has been seen in the field (at least that I remember) has been either coming in after the fratelli to look for clues, or because she's been interested in looking out for the girls rather than for an operational purpose.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Officer_Charon on Tue 8 Jan 2013 - 6:58

Okay guys, I had to get this out before I go on vacation for a week, because, quite frankly, I'd rather not look at a computer screen at ALL during that time period. It's been a long couple of months, and I'm ready to decompress.

This is not much - it follows on directly after the previous bit that I posted, so it's more like a mini-update than an actual installment, but fear not! More is being worked on. Just trying to piece it all together.

But it was more than a little heavy for me - remember, John started out being based on me, and I'm more than a little uncomfortable writing about the death and funeral of "my" family members. It actually hurt more than a little bit...

I'll be getting back to the squad-based operations and SWA skullduggery in the next part, I promise! I just had to get this part out.

Spoiler:

Stepping off of the boarding ramp an onto the airport concourse proper, John couldn’t help but wince. The sounds and smells were all too familiar, all too fresh in his memory from… oh God, had it really only been a week ago? It seemed as though everything from the boarding ramp onwards conspired to make him feel melancholy: the restaurants flanking the concourse, where he had purchased a snack for his daughter whilst they waited for their flight to begin boarding; the kiosks and shops hawking their trite, overpriced wares that never failed to annoy him at the best of times.

The non-descript man flanking him didn’t help to facilitate matters, either. The Social Welfare Agency’s Section 1 had peremptorily assigned him an escort (John had taken to calling him a “handler,” in a fit of bleak humor) to ensure that nothing happened to threaten John… and that John did nothing to threaten the agency. The two didn’t talk much – the man’s English was decent enough, but he had the temperament of a Doberman with a toothache, and John’s own mood wasn’t much better.

As they went down the escalators to the car rental desk, John adjusted to the surreal experience of hearing his native language all around him again. In previous years, this had always been a source of warm nostalgia for him – now all it left with him was the taste of bitter ashes in his mouth. While his handler went to see about their transportation, John noted an obese man in a black suit with a taller (and more slender) man standing behind him. Despite the coolness of the terminal, the larger man was sweat-slicked. He was also holding a sign with John’s real name marked on it.

Walking over to him, John nodded his head. [“Waiting for me, gentlemen?”]

At the affirmative responses, he stuck out his hand and introduced himself. [“Ray Baker,”] intoned the portly man with an air of solemnity, [“and this is Rick Weeks. Allow me to first tell you how sorry I am for your loss, and-“]

John held up a hand, swallowing frantically at the lump that threatened to climb out of his throat, but unable to do anything about the tears in the corner of his eyes. After a moment of awkward silence, he spoke up, his voice somehow managing to not crack. [“Please, no platitudes. Gentlemen, I thank you for your help in bringing my girls home. We’ll be going straight from here to the funeral home, if it’s all the same to you?”] At their nods, he smiled sadly, thanked them for their time, and agreed to meet them in the arrivals area in front of the terminal, so they could travel in convoy to where perhaps the hardest part of this whole gutrenching process waited.

The drive from the airport to Savannah proper took less time than he thought it would. Weaving through the midday traffic was handled with a minimum of fuss, and they pulled up to the centrally-located funeral home without mishap. The two hearses pulled under the covered portico that led to the “business” section of the funeral chapel. A team of men dressed in somber suits awaited to carry the two coffins inside.

John had been weighing the different ways to handle the arrangements for Rebecca and Leah… ultimately, he decided that he wanted to make sure that their funeral happened as swiftly as possible. Less time to brood over everything. With that in mind, he’d set the date and time of the funeral to coincide with their arrival at the airport. Perhaps rushed, but John couldn’t stand the thought of returning to his house, alone, while his wife and daughter slept alone in a freezer, awaiting his convenience.

Of course, not everyone involved saw it the same way…

Rebecca’s mother had made it to Savannah, no doubt fuelled by righteous indignation towards John as much as a desire to mourn her daughter (Karen and Rebecca’s relationship could have been described as “strained” at the best of times). She was perched in the entrance hall, a plastic sympathetic look pasted to her pale face. Her husband, ostensibly Rebecca’s step-father, was several steps behind her, looking wan.

John’s own parents, on the other hand, moved to intercept him before Karen’s vituperative tongue could strike. John refused to let himself break down now, in front of everyone. It took every ounce of willpower he possessed, instead nodding to everyone and thanking them for coming. His eyes swam with every word spoken by the small members of the mourning party, but he did not allow the dam to burst – not even when his best friend from the Academy came and planted one meaty paw on his shoulder, squeezing it firmly. John simply nodded his head, and told him [“We’ll talk later, man?”] Brian understood, as he always did.

Stepping into the chapel proper, John took his seat, the surreal feeling of detachment coming back to him, as though he was watching someone else go through the motions that he’d been witness to before, but only as a military or police escort. Never as the grieving party.

He decided that he didn’t care for the sensation at all, even as his mind wandered while the preacher spoke words that were meaningless to him. His eyes continually returned to the photos placed next to both caskets – closed, for obvious reasons – and his chest kept tightening up.

He didn’t remember the rest of the service. Nor the trip to the nearby cemetery. Nor the hastily thrown-together remembrance held in a nearby tavern. He certainly didn’t remember exchanging curses with his mother-in-law, nor being dragged away by Brian, cursing in English, Italian and French. He didn’t remember how he got home.

He didn’t remember. But he did. He remembered everything. From first meeting Rebecca in the military, to holding Leah for the first time, her first steps, holding her bike for her as she learned to ride, the karate lessons that she took to like a fish swimming…

He remembered everything.


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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 MP5 on Tue 8 Jan 2013 - 9:17

Brilliantly written, Charon.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by John_234 on Tue 8 Jan 2013 - 18:01

Propelled by sheer bubblyness struck me as some awesome imagery. Simple but descriptive.

Great writing. I'm looking forward to more!

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Thescarredman on Tue 8 Jan 2013 - 20:59

Lump in throat, brother. You really are writing close to home, and I don't just mean Savannah. Great work.
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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Alfisti on Fri 11 Jan 2013 - 8:40

I can see how it would have been difficult to write mate, but I think we can safely say the effort was worth it: very well done.

Part of me wonders if any of these characters will be making another appearance at some later date... whether by John's will or not... or even with or without his knowledge.

Not much I can really pull out as a singular entity to comment on I'm afraid, though I did like the different personalities shown at the funeral, those who understood, those there to help and those there on their... own agendas: there's a dynamic of an actual life left behind there, not just some two-dimensional backdrop.

Looking forward to the next one mate. I realise you're pushing for some happer times from here on, but don't just let this one fade away into the ether either as that would be a crying shame. There's too much here which can be worked with.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Officer_Charon on Fri 2 Aug 2013 - 5:07

OKAY! After a MOST carthartic burst of energy, I have finally figured out how to free John from the situation I put him in last section. No, he's not back in Italy yet, but now I've figured out how to get him there, he will be in the next part. I can hand-wave some weeks now that I've got the foundation laid.

If it seems a little disjointed, it's because I've written, RE-written, edited, chopped, added, tweaked and general fussed with this ONE little snippet for the last few months, whilst writing around it, tring to get it to figure out. It took a conversation with a buddy of mind on something entirely unrelated to give me an impetus to finish this with. Only fair that he gets a little cameo... *grins*

Spoiler:

          “You will be okay, tonight?” asked his “handler” – Fabiano was his name, John remembered idly – and John couldn’t help feeling a little bad. Despite being a Section 1 goon, he was at least putting effort into be a decent sort. At the funeral, he had maintained a respectful distance, not intruding into John’s cresting grief, and deflecting the in-laws whilst Brian had dragged him away.
         John prided himself on not letting a contemptuous sneer cross his face. “I do not know when I will be ‘okay’ again.” He allowed his features to soften for a moment. “But I do thank you for asking. Good night, sir.”
          Fabiano nodded shortly, then wordlessly left the hotel room, leaving John slumped in the office chair in front of the desk, his hand gripping a half-filled tumbler. Deep down inside, there was a voice castigating him, telling him that a) he was wallowing in depression for the sake of wallowing and b) he was every movie cliché possible at this point.
          Despite the voice, he wandered out of his room, headed for the hotel’s bar.
          It didn’t help that he knew the bartender, from having worked off-duty at the hotel as a security guard. She had known him as long as he’d had a daughter, and was as devastated about events as one could expect. After cautioning John that drowning his sorrows probably wasn’t what he needed right now, she went ahead and poured him a tumbler anyway. It always took time with these cases, she knew.
          After several minutes of silently stewing, John noted that the news was on. Idly wondering whether it was the liberal or conservative media putting their spin on things, he watched for a short time.
          After a couple “major” stories from around the U.S., they mentioned in passing about some political fallout in Italy due to increased domestic terrorism, and how occasional right wing protests had escalated into outright rioting in some areas.
          John stared at the screen, and snorted before killing his glass and setting it on the bar. [“What they don’t tell you is that they don’t care who they hurt in these things. They’re maniacs. All of ‘em, even the cops!”]
          [“Well, everyone knows that all cops are corrupt little donut-snatchers,”] rumbled a voice behind him. John spun rapidly on his barstool, then relaxed.
          [“Forgot today was Tuesday,”] he said. His buddy Brian was standing in front of him in uniform, working the shift that he’d asked him to cover while he was supposed to be on vacation. [“Forgot a lot of stuff.”] He scoffed wryly. [“Wish I could forget more.”] He rattled the ice in his tumbler for a minute, then sat it down on the bar.
          For once, Brian didn’t have a joke for the situation. Instead, he sat down next to John. [“Man, you know that I’ve always been there for you. You know that whatever you’ve got going on, you can talk to me about. It’s not just about your girls… I can tell that. Where’s your head at?”]
          John snorted. [“Dude, I don’t even know, any more. You know how much they meant to me… and yet, I’ve spent the last week since they got…”] he paused for a moment, collected himself, then continued. [“Since they got killed… I’ve gotten mixed up in some stuff. Big stuff. Stuff I’ve said I’m not going to talk about, but-“]
          Brian held up his hand. [“If you can’t talk about it, I get it. I’ve been there”] John knew Brian was referring to his own experiences in the Army, during NATO’s time in the Balkans after the nuclear crisis there. [“I don’t get how you got roped into something like that on vacation, but I get that you can’t talk about it.”] He stood for a second, brow furrowed in thought, making his already thick eyebrows appear to shut out his eyes.
          John slumped in his stool. [“I mean… it’s important stuff. Very important. And it’s… related to what happened.”] A pause, to slug back the surreptitiously-refilled whiskey that had been set on the bar. [“And it’s good stuff. It’s a job, and it’s potentially fulfilling… but a touch sketchy, you know? Legal, but…”]
          Brian held his hand up again. [“Man, the less I know about this the better for both of us, I think.”] He paused for a second to ask for a Coke from the bartender. [“I guess you just gotta ask yourself… if it’s related to what happened… could you live with yourself if you DIDN’T do something? Seems to me that you’re in something like a position to DO something about it, whatever it is you’re getting into.”]
          John looked at the drained tumbler, tinkling the ice cubes. [“Is it really… is it really that simple?”]
          Brian chuckled darkly. [“Not everything needs a complicated solution, even if the situation is as fucked up as a football bat.”]
          John pondered for a second, then looked up. His face was still pale, the eyes still red-rimmed, but the set of them that he caught a glimpse of in the mirror was familiar. He’d seen the same flinty eyes set in the face of the man who brought him in to the SWA.
          [“You make a very valid point, brah. Reckon I’ll think about that, on my flight back.”]
          Brian nodded. [“Reckon you will. You gonna be okay, man?”] At this last, he rested his bear paw of a hand on John’s shoulder.
          John stood. [“At some point, yeah. Thanks for the talk. I really needed it, after…”] He trailed off again, that familiar lump starting to work it’s way into his throat, before he could swallow it again.
          Brian squeezed his shoulder before stepping back. [“Anytime, bro. You go get some sleep. Heading back there soon?”]
          John nodded. [“Soon as I finish sorting out the affairs here. Can you do me a favor and keep an eye on the place til I can come back and figure out what I’m gonna do with it?”]
          Brian rolled his eyes. [“As if you even had to ask. Just… watch your ass, man.”]
          John chuckled darkly, then settled his tab. One more exchanged handshake, and he headed up to his room, his resolve hardening with each step. He didn’t know what was going to happen, back in Italy, but he would be damned if he was just going to sit back in the States and let someone else avenge his family.
          Maybe he’d find something else to live for, one day, but vengeance would do for now.


Last edited by Officer_Charon on Fri 2 Aug 2013 - 5:45; edited 1 time 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 Fri 2 Aug 2013 - 5:43

*chuckles* Told you that I'd had some stuff built up... this one follows on directly afterwards.

Spoiler:

          And so it went, after finishing the last of the paperwork associated with his family’s affairs, as well as dealing with the Italian Consulate for a rapidly-processed work visa, John found himself back in Rome. After the initial dust settled, three weeks passed in a blur of training, sore muscles, rapidly-diminishing self-pity, and sleep (precious little of that last being savored.) In the midst of constant motion, John would occasionally encounter a cyborg in passing, but never did he meet up with any other members of the SRT, except to see them training either on the range or the shoothouse.
          That changed one day, when Amadeo finally commented that John’s injuries had healed enough, and his conditioning had progressed enough to permit him to join an intel team on an observation mission. “Your sole job,” remarked the former San Marco as the pair walked from “is going to be to observe what everyone is doing. This is a ride-along only.” His normally cheerful face was stony and serious – ‘Game time,’ thought John, somewhat irreverently. “The more of these that you get to go on, the better you’ll get, and ultimately, you’ll be able to run part of an op by yourself. But for now,” he said, with some of his humor returning for a moment “you’re on probation! How did you put it? [Double-Secret Probation?]”
          John snorted, and nodded his head. “[Yup,] that is correct. So, who do I ride with?”
          Amadeo didn’t speak for a moment, as the pair approached one of the smaller out-buildings that bordered the large parking lot on the south side of the SWA compound. Once they arrived, he indicated a large man standing next to a somewhat battered-looking Lancia of some flavor or another – John was not enough of a car guy to know individual models, yet.
          Besides, he was paying more attention to the man standing at the driver’s side. This was the first time that John had met another member of the team in person, besides the three sergeants. The trooper, wearing an A.S. Roma football jersey and shorts, had his hair cropped close on his large head.  He knew that he was being sized up at the same time, and was determined to make a good impression, so he decided to go for “casual and confident.”
          “Good morning,” he said neutrally, keeping his posture upright and his demeanor calm. Naturally, this did nothing to help him.
          The other team member, a truly massive man – taller than John’s already well above-average dimensions, with shoulders and chest of a much broader girth – looked at him with about as much interest as a high schooler in a particularly dry lesson. “Got your sidearm?” he said, voice sounding as bored as his expression appeared. When John nodded, a small bead of sweat trickling down the back of his neck, the trooper nodded shortly, making his ill-fitting jersey shift. “Get in, then.”
          Without any further commentary, the behemoth sat down in the Lancia, whose seat springs groaned in protest. Nonplussed, all John could think to do was to take the shotgun position in the car in silence. Upon his closing the door, the quiet man started the vehicle, and they drove out of the compound in a sedate manner.
          After 5 minutes of awkward silence, the driver spoke up. “Fausto,” he rumbled, eyes never leaving the road.
          Taken aback again, John could only respond “I’m sorry?”
          Sighing, the man repeated. “Fausto. My name is Fausto.” A hard right turn, with a wailing of horns from an infuriated Fiat driver behind him that he disregarded entirely.
          Nodding in comprehension, John answered in kind. “John Darme.”
          Fausto snorted. “We’ll go with that bullshit, for now. But if you’re fucking going to be on the goddamned team, you need to learn to open up. You can keep up that fucking ‘secret agent’ fake name bullshit if you want with everyone else, but when you’re with us, you’re gonna have to fucking fess up before any of us are gonna trust your ass completely.”
          John’s face darkened, and he started to retort before he bit it back. This was his first glimpse inside the SRT proper, and he didn’t want to screw it up. Too much was riding on him getting onto the team. “It is not a matter of being a secret agent…,” he began, voice trailing off as he attempted to communicate his convoluted thought process on the matter. Made all the more difficult by the fact that he didn’t completely understand it, himself – it merely ‘felt right.’
          Finally, he managed to get the phrasing right in his head, then spent a moment trying to figure out how to translate it in his still-shaky Italian. “It is not about secrets… it is about family.” When Fausto raised an eyebrow, distorting his face comically, John persevered. “My real name… that belongs to my family. My dead family. Until I kill the bastardi who killed them… I do not feel that I can use my name.”
          They continued on in silence for a minute, as Rome’s tourist and commercial districts faded away, and the pair began entering warehousing areas. Finally, Fausto gave a small chuckle. “Okay, I get it. I think you’re being far too damned dramatic, but I fucking get it.” He glimpsed at the rugged G-Shock on his wrist, and changed his tone. “Under your seat is a fucking notebook and pen. Go ahead and pull that shit out – we’re almost to the target area. I’ll watch, you write what I tell you – don’t worry about spelling or handwriting, or shit like that.” Almost below his breath, he added “There’s no fuckin’ way you’d be worse than Carlos, at least.”
          They pulled into a parking lot adjacent to a stack of warehouses. John’s curiosity was piqued. “What is here?” he asked after several minutes of observation of absolutely nothing at all.
          “Our last op in Taormina pulled some intel on an assload of shipments of explosives. They’ve been shuffling the shit through several fronts – one of which is this motherfucker right here in our back yard. We’re here to observe the warehouse, see what we’re dealing with, so Amadeo and Giorgio can come up with an op plan to take the bastards out.”
          Pushing past the initial flinch from the mention of Taormina, John thought for a moment. “Very… uhm… [ballsy] of them.” At Fausto’s blank look, John racked his brains for some rusty slang. “Ah… con i testicoli… coglioni?” Fausto blinked, then chuckled.
          “Yeah. No-one ever questioned their fuckin’ guts, just their fuckin’ brains. These guys don’t seem to be dick-headed Padans, which is a good thing, and a bad thing.” John raised an eyebrow, then grunted inquisitively when he realised that Fausto was focused on the warehouse, and didn’t see him.
          The trooper almost sighed slightly. “It’s good because they’re not fucking about with following Padania’s mission of tearing apart Italy. Bad because we don’t know who these assholes are, or what their fucking mission is. Once we figure that shit out, through the intel, then we’ll have a fucking plan. Got it?”
          John made an affirmative noise, feeling like a squeaky-new rookie again. Not a feeling he’d ever enjoyed.
          With the impromptu briefing over with, Fausto focused his attention back to the warehouse again. John sat in silence for a long while, mulling his thoughts about the group that they could be dealing with. He forced himself to replay the combat in the piazza, remembering what the enemies had said, what the language sounded like. He didn’t really have too solid of an idea; the only thing he could figure out was that it sounded vaguely Slavic, inasmuch as John could remember from the handful of times he’d heard Croatian and Hungarian spoken.
          Their tactics had been decent, for an ambush – they’d obviously put thought into what to do with the secondary charges. But they’d sent only three operatives in. Two were very obviously sacrifices – not normal Mafiosi or even Padan tactics, as neither organization had much use for martyrs. Or rather, Padania tried to keep their martyrs from being sacrificed in anything less than a major operation, which they would immediately take credit for. The Taormina Piazza Duomo bombings, however, remained unclaimed and uncredited, thus far.
          John mulled it over, his mind going around in circles, before he finally stopped, breathing an exasperated snort. Fausto heard him. “What, you’ve never worked a fuckin’ stake-out before?”
          Momentarily nonplussed, John was about to respond when Fausto tensed. John squinted, then saw what had seized the large man’s interest: A non-descript white cargo van, tall-bodied and slab-sided rolled up to the warehouse, pressing the call button on the exterior speakerbox. After an unheard conversation, one of the rollup doors shot up. Fausto snatched his digital camera, almost comically tiny in his huge meaty hands, and started taking pictures. John followed suit, and began scribbling notes on what he saw: “3-tr rax, other vans, lots o OD, camo? X4 w/m boxes (rfl? + ammo) RPGS!!! (with three underlines)” before the roll-up closed with a rush.
          Fausto’s voice was a low rumble. “Am I on drugs, or did I just see fucking artillery in that van?”
          John nodded. “It must be some good stuff, because I saw it too. Several boxes that looked like rifle boxes, LOTS of ammo boxes, and definitely several crates of RPG ammo.”
          Fausto sighed. “I was afraid of that. I’ve gotta call this shit in – Giorgio’s gonna be pissed.” John looked quizzical for a moment, and Fausto explained as he dialed. “We’re gonna have to call in a fratello to work this. Giorgio don’t like working with the girls. I don’t either, but for different reasons. Kids should be able to be kids, you know? Giorgio just don’t like playing second violin to something he thinks is just a fucking showpiece.”
          After Giorgio picked up, Fausto outlined the situation. John could hear a moment of some truly vile cursing on the other end of the phone, then something that sounded like “-gotta move now?”
          Fausto grimaced. “Yeah – from what little we saw, it looks like they’re getting ready to scatter from this spot. If we’re gonna get anything from this location, we’ve gotta move now, and you said today that the team’s all over the place.”
          A few more sentences exchanged, then Fausto hung up the phone. “From the vans we saw inside, it looks like they’re breaking down whatever it was they were working on here. If we don’t take em soon, it’s not going to happen. That means a fratello – whichever one’s on alert status right now. They can respond in 20 minutes or less.”
          John nodded. “Like a fighter on a carrier, ready to launch to intercept attackers.”
          Fausto raised an eyebrow. “Never thought of it like that. Anyways, once Giorgio calls them in, they’re probably going to call us here. He’s gonna round up as many of the squad as are in Rome right now, not assigned to any shit, and we’re going to function as backup. I’ve got a spare vest in the trunk for you – all your shit’s back at the compound, right?” John looked sheepish. “Well, it’s your first op – you didn’t know. Just fucking learn from it and move on, clear?”
          John nodded.
          Fausto chuckled darkly. “Just wait, new fish. You’re gonna see some good shit here in a minute. If we’re fucking lucky, the fratello will leave us something to do.”
          John raised an eyebrow. “I saw one before… are they all so good?”
          “Which one did you see?” Fausto raised the binoculars to his eyes again.
          “Uhm… it was the one in the schoolgirl outfit… Henrietta! That was her name.” John, usually terrible with names, was happy to recall that fact.
          Fausto chuckled again. “Henrietta’s only middling. Depending on who’s on, you might not even have a fucking chance to pull out your pistol.”

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Kiskaloo on Fri 2 Aug 2013 - 7:11


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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Alfisti on Fri 2 Aug 2013 - 8:07

More thoughts to come later, but for now:

1) Great to see you writing again.

2) Awesome work. I loved the "first mission" with Fausto, particularly his commentary on the fratelli and the dynamics within the SWA. I'm really quite curious to see who turns up.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by tremec6speed on Sat 3 Aug 2013 - 2:38

Great writing Officer. I'm excited to see if 'John Darme' will get to jump into the action or watch the child-weapon(s) take on the adversaries! head bang
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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Alfisti on Sun 11 Aug 2013 - 6:46

Ok so, as promised, further thoughts...

“You will be okay, tonight?” asked his “handler” – Fabiano was his name, John remembered idly – and John couldn’t help feeling a little bad. Despite being a Section 1 goon, he was at least putting effort into be a decent sort.
It's all to easy to paint Section 01 as the incompetent, grating, and generally nasty competition, I like that you've given them some humanity here as they are, afterall, on the same side.

I wonder if Fabiano will make another appearance...


a) he was wallowing in depression for the sake of wallowing and b) he was every movie cliché possible at this point.
Well, I don't know about every cliche, but a fair few of them, yes. Razz

The last bit after "b)" though, it feels, I dunno, it feels a little sort and dry, curt even. Personally I would probably have gone for something more wordy "in the great panthenon of movie clichés, he had managed to hit just about every one relevant"... or something. But that's just personal taste.



After a couple “major” stories from around the U.S.
The inverted commas around "major" here do well to express John's, I'm assuming, somewhat cynical view on how "major" they actually are. I like it as a way to start hinting at his changing world view, and that his concerns are starting to err more towards the happenings in Italy than in his own home country.



during NATO’s time in the Balkans after the nuclear crisis
Canon shoutout ho?


“Not everything needs a complicated solution, even if the situation is as fucked up as a football bat.”
Great line, and very true.


Maybe he’d find something else to live for, one day, but vengeance would do for now.
And another excellent line, one quite in-keeping with GsG itself as well.


“Your sole job,” remarked the former San Marco as the pair walked from “is going to be
Walked from where?


Upon his closing the door, the quiet man started the vehicle, and they drove out of the compound in a sedate manner.

After 5 minutes of awkward silence, the driver spoke up. “Fausto,” he rumbled, eyes never leaving the road.
Meet, size each other up, then... no idea where to go from here. It's an interesting character moment for Fausto who, correct me if I'm wrong here, in more familiar company tends to be somewhat louder and more opinoinated?



Bad because we don’t know who these assholes are, or what their fucking mission is.
Jethro: Could they just be looking to turn a quid or two?


Fausto sighed. “I was afraid of that. I’ve gotta call this shit in – Giorgio’s gonna be pissed.” John looked quizzical for a moment, and Fausto explained as he dialed. “We’re gonna have to call in a fratello to work this. Giorgio don’t like working with the girls. I don’t either, but for different reasons. Kids should be able to be kids, you know? Giorgio just don’t like playing second violin to something he thinks is just a fucking showpiece.”
We're seeing lots of different sides to Fausto through here. "Kids should be able to be kids"... I wonder what he thinks of "I'm an adult" Monty...

So... Giorgio dislikes the girls themselves, where as Fausto dislike the way they're used, yes? One of the things I find enthralling about GsG is watching how each adult copes with what they're wrapped up in, how they interract and relate to the girls and so on. The handlers are obviously the immediate front line there, having the most interraction with the cyborgs, and the medical staff who have created them. As a step removed though, but still operating with the girls occasionally and in similar work, I am looking forward to seeing how the various SRT members view their pre-teen counterparts, whether as a whole or as individuals.



I’ve got a spare vest in the trunk for you – all your shit’s back at the compound, right?” John looked sheepish. “Well, it’s your first op – you didn’t know. Just fucking learn from it and move on, clear?”
To be fair, Amadeo sort of told him is primary role was to stay out of the way and not get into trouble. Razz 


 Fausto chuckled again. “Henrietta’s only middling. Depending on who’s on, you might not even have a fucking chance to pull out your pistol.”
As I said before, I'm looking forward to seeing who turns up. I did get a chuckle out of the casual language "who's on"... it's like he's talking about who might be manning a reception desk.


As before: great stuff. Looking forward to reading more...

...I just wish you would sort out your bloody formatting. Incoming!

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Officer_Charon on Mon 12 Aug 2013 - 10:47

I wonder if Fabiano will make another appearance...
Could be... Honestly, I had just wanted to create a throwaway character, but the more I think about it, and thinking on what you had said, I could definitely see about including Section 1 in further installments - apart from Pietro and Elenora, they've not really had a positive presence. Like with any job (especially a governmental one) you're going to have folks who play politics and try and backstab, but most of us just want to get on with our jobs.

The last bit after "b)" though, it feels, I dunno, it feels a little sort and dry, curt even.
Hmm... that's just how I talk, but there's nothing saying that's correct! *chuckles* I'll take it under advisement.

The inverted commas around "major" here do well to express John's, I'm assuming, somewhat cynical view on how "major" they actually are.
There's a reason why I don't follow major news resources... here in the States, unless there is something major overseas that DIRECTLY influences us here, any report on events overseas will be towards the middle or end of the news, if it gets a mention at all.


during NATO’s time in the Balkans after the nuclear crisis
Canon shoutout ho?
Mais naturellement! *grins* I like how the canon has established a major event there that gives the various folks a common reason to be combat veterans, even amongst the international contingent.

Walked from where?
DAMMIT! Thank you - fixed.

Meet, size each other up, then... no idea where to go from here. It's an interesting character moment for Fausto who, correct me if I'm wrong here, in more familiar company tends to be somewhat louder and more opinoinated?
Fausto's channelling a combination of folks that I know, including me, in this. Once I'm comfortable around folks, I can be very... uhm... loquacious in a less-than-PG-rated manner. But only once I've sounded them out and figured out if they offend easily. No sense in being TOO obnoxious, after all - I'm quite good at that on my own, thank you very much!

One of the things I find enthralling about GsG is watching how each adult copes with what they're wrapped up in, how they interract and relate to the girls and so on.
Me too, and the more I sit and ponder on it, the more dimensions of it open up to me. From the medical staff that sees the girls as little toys to work on, tinker with, and perfect, to the psychologists who have to help them acclimate to the various pressures that they must deal with (God help one of them with an existential crisis, if she can keep it under wraps enough to avoid reconditioning...), to the various handlers. The SRT... is going to be interesting to work with.

To be fair, Amadeo sort of told him is primary role was to stay out of the way and not get into trouble. 
An SRT trooper must be prepared for ANY contingency, sir! *chuckles* For their undercover stakeout stuff, I'm treating them sort of like our detectives: anywhere they go, unless they're having to pose directly in public, they've got a vest or SOMETHING close at hand to work with.

...I just wish you would sort out your bloody formatting. 
Eh? What happened?

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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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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Alfisti on Tue 13 Aug 2013 - 5:58

Eh, looking back, the formatting is fine... I'm just too used to having an extra line of spacing between things.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Officer_Charon on Wed 28 Aug 2013 - 5:43

What's this? Two updates within a month? Hoo boy, yez!

Spoiler:


          It was a tense 20 minutes spent watching the group, quietly watching the warehouse, hoping and praying that the rats wouldn’t cut and run before they could be snatched up. John couldn’t remember the last time he’d gotten so exhausted watching nothing happen before. It was with a great sigh of relief that the pair heard a well-tuned engine, shortly before it propelled a dark-colored sedan around the far corner in the stack of warehouses. As it pulled up short and halted, Fausto dialed his phone again. After a short and virulent conversation, he stabbed the hangup button, then paused for a moment.
          Fausto let out a short sigh, then shook his head. “Okay, recluta, no bullshit: where are you at? I need to fucking know if your head’s in this game for real, because if it’s not, I’m not getting fucking waxed because you’re fucked up.”
          John gave him a quizzical look, then his eyes widened. “Giorgio… the others, they are… not coming?”
          Fausto shook his head. “They’re hauling ass to get here, but the nearest pair is still 15 minutes out. Some sort of fucking wreck in the middle of traffic’s got il Centro snarled up like a kitten with yarn. Ain’t nobody getting here quicker, short of a helicopter.”
          He popped his door open then stepped to his trunk, cracking it open and starting to pull out tactical gear. “So, no bullshit: where are you at?”
          John turned to reach for the door latch, and was surprised to find his hand shaking. 10 years as a patrol officer, riot officer, training officer, on top of 4 years as a Marine deployed to a combat zone twice… his hands hadn’t shaken anything nearly like this.
          He made himself grab the door handle anyway. Climbing out, he stepped back, and reached for the spare vest that Fausto had told him about. “I am here. I am ready. What do you have for me?” He indicated the long-gun case that was in the trunk. “I am thinking that my friend here,” he patted his paddle holster, containing his issued Beretta “may not be enough for this group.”
          Fausto shook his head, then pointed his finger at where the sedan had parked. John looked up and saw where a short, trenchcoated figure with cornsilk-blonde hair in twin ponytails was standing up from her own gear bag. John couldn’t suppress an involuntary shudder as he recognized Triela. It was one thing to know intellectually that one of the fratelli was coming out to work the warehouse. It was another thing entirely to see what was, to his eyes, a young, thin teenager wielding an antiquated shotgun with a professionalism that any of his former comrades would have envied.
          She turned, her trenchcoat flaring as she began to move along the 6-foot cinderblock wall towards where the pair had parked. As Fausto began walking towards her quickly, he sealed his tactical vest, and indicated to John to do the same. “Like I told you, we’re the fucking backup. Triela? She’s the best of them. No fucking question.”
          “Hello Fausto,” Triela said cheerily, her melodic voice making John’s ears twitch as he noted how it sounded subtly different from the other Italian he’d been hearing from the others – Fausto excepted. “What have you got for me today?”
          “Good afternoon Miss Triela,” Fausto said, and John blinked at the noticeably different tone. “There’s at least four of them in there, possibly more. They’ve definitely got heavy artillery – we saw a couple crates of RPGs, and it looked like they had several different flavors of rifles in there too.” He stopped, then indicated John to come forward. When John started, he indicated John’s notepad. John nodded, then began to sketch.
          “I did not see a lot. There are several three-tiered racks, with several vans parked inside. There are many boxes, green and camouflaged that can be used as cover, but maybe have ammunition inside?” Triela nodded, showing him that she was following. “There was maybe an office? I could not see more, but the warehouse is not so big, so…” his voice trailed off. Triela gave a small smile.
          “It’s okay, Mr. Darme. I understand that there may be more men in there. I’ll be careful.”
          For a moment, John was puzzled. Fausto shot him in the ribs with his elbow. “She might have done this before – you don’t have to look so worried.”
          “Indeed,” rumbled a voice from behind Triela. John nodded to Hilshire as he approached. “Triela is a professional – these do not appear to be much of a threat, the hardware notwithstanding.” He turned to her, and she looked up at his chiseled, expressionless face. “That said, do exercise some care please. I’d like to get at least one of them alive for questioning, if possible.”
          Triela nodded, then examined the shells on the stock of her M1897 Winchester trench gun. She slid out several red-hulled shells, reached into her trenchcoat pockets, and withdrew an equal number of white-hulled shells. John noted them, and spoke up. “I don’t know the Italian, but… [super socks?]”
          Triela nodded. “Less-lethal impact rounds, yes. Just in case.” With that, she turned, examined the warehouse for a moment, noted the location of the fire doors on the sides with a quick walk in the front, her shotgun slung under her trenchcoat.
          Then, with a sudden explosion of movement, she rocketed towards the walk-up door. Holding her shotgun with one arm, she pointed it at the door lock, fired once, shattering the handle with a breaching round. Racking the slide, she kicked the door in, the force of her artificial muscles sufficient to rip it against the direction of the hinges, and punch it inwards. And then she was in the warehouse. Several booms from the M1897, some shouts that became screams, a few pistol shots, and then…
          Hilshire held his hand to his earpiece. “Copy that.” He nodded his head to the two (well, one and a half) SRT operators. “We’re good, gentlemen.” He strode quickly towards the warehouse. After a moment’s shocked hesitation, John followed. Fausto chuckled.
          “Told you she was the best.” John could only nod as the pair ascended the steps and entered the warehouse, the smell of cordite mingling with the familiar smells of dust, wood, exhaust and entropy that were inherent in almost any warehouse environment. As he looked around, he noted the surprising lack of damage to the environment. Only one of the vans showed any damage – a pair of small-caliber holes in the side panels of a Ford Transit that had been sitting next to a couch that faced a television.
          As he continued to survey the scene, John could almost see the action as it had happened-

          Jump through the breached door. Foot sweep the first guy, cave in his skull on the way down with the butt stock. Fire one round – second guy sitting on the couch turns into pink mist. Reload with less-lethal whilst dodging the surprised shots from the two coming out of the office, finish them off with well-aimed beanbag rounds to the chest, and flex-cuff them rapidly before they can get their breaths back – assuming they would want to breathe with their ribs broken.

- and could only whistle, impressed. Triela stood next to her two captives, who were still gaping and gasping like landed fish. John sketched a salute, and Triela rewarded him with a toothy grin that dimpled her cheeks, making his stomach lurch as he was again caught out by how young she looked.
          This was going to take some getting used to.
          He looked around again, and looked down at an overturned crate where several plastic cups sat next to a large glass bottle. Picking it up, he looked at the label. “Raki… Albanian brandy?” He turned the bottle around, and noted the red flag with the double-headed eagle on the other side. “Yes, Albanian.”
          Fausto groaned. “I fucking HATE Albanians!”
          “Fausto Martinello!” Triela’s voice cracked. Hilshire pointedly did not hear anything that he might be required to enforce as a handler. Fausto looked abashed. “Sorry, Miss Triela.”

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


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 28 Aug 2013 - 7:12

@Officer_Charon wrote:What's this? Two updates within a month? Hoo boy, yez!
That's a good thing.

Nice mate. I'm enjoying how you're fleshing out Fausto and giving him a personality. More thoughts to come.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Kiskaloo on Wed 28 Aug 2013 - 11:41

Excellent work. And indeed, it's good to see the team starting to be fleshed out, as it will help when referencing them in my own works.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by tremec6speed on Sun 1 Sep 2013 - 18:04

Ah, I like reading your unfolding story. The scenes revealed through Darme's observations, is very appealing. GO TRIELA GO!  head bang head bang
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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Alfisti on Sun 8 Sep 2013 - 1:04

So, more thoughts...

dark-colored sedan
Nitpicky, but doesn't Hilshire normally drive an estate? Or is he borrowing a motor-pool vehicle?


“Good afternoon Miss Triela,” Fausto said, and John blinked at the noticeably different tone.
I've said it before, but I'm enjoying Fausto's character and these changes in him when the cyborgs show up. He appears to wear his heart on his sleeve and, in that respect, I guess he's probably a good one to have lead out with to show how throwing little girls into the mix of an adult world is effecting those around them, particularly those who may not have so much contact with the cyborgs. While they may not have the chance to get to know each girl on an individual level, and recognise them as that individual, they are still part of the machine as a whole.

That said: I note you've got the two SRT you described as "fatherly" here... I shall be interested to see how Giorgio's reactions differ.


Then, with a sudden explosion of movement, she rocketed towards the walk-up door. Holding her shotgun with one arm, she pointed it at the door lock, fired once, shattering the handle with a breaching round. Racking the slide, she kicked the door in, the force of her artificial muscles sufficient to rip it against the direction of the hinges, and punch it inwards. And then she was in the warehouse. Several booms from the M1897, some shouts that became screams, a few pistol shots, and then…
Great action moment: short, sweet, to the point... and all the more impactful for it, particularly as we are seeing it from the perspective of someone new to the cyborgs. Aside from Henrietta's antics, I believe this is the first time John has seen (or at least been around) one of the girls in action? One paragraph here has done what a whole chapter of gratuitous explosions and gunfire could not have.


As he continued to survey the scene, John could almost see the action as it had happened-
This passage is a good follow-up. It gives us a bit more detail of Triela's competency but, probably more pertinently, it reminds the reader that, while John may be struggling with a new environment, drastic life changes, a bout of depression and a language barrier to boot... he actually does still know what he's doing.


 “Fausto Martinello!” Triela’s voice cracked. Hilshire pointedly did not hear anything that he might be required to enforce as a handler. Fausto looked abashed. “Sorry, Miss Triela.”
She's taking up mothering for the SRT as well? Razz 

It's another great bit of characterisation for Fausto as well... though I get the impression that, while it may work on him, it might not on other elements of the SRT.


Anyway: another great instalment. Keep it up.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Officer_Charon on Wed 16 Jul 2014 - 12:17

About fucking time? About fucking time.

Spoiler:

          By the time the other responding troopers arrived (including a very sour-faced Giorgio), the scene was properly secured. After Triela, Hilshire, Fausto and John did a complete second sweep of the building, Fausto wordlessly handed John a camera and sketchpad. Sighing mentally, John set about recording the scene forensically. ‘Nothing like being the low man on the totem pole,’ he thought. ‘Again.’ 
         Once everything was documented, the rest of the troopers helped gather everything. Here, John’s lack of Italian proficiency came to his rescue – after all, he couldn’t very well be expected to properly document and catalogue the items if he couldn’t write down what they were, could he?
          Unfortunately, this just meant that he was stuck schlepping. Once the scene was cleared of intel, it was all loaded into a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van that had carried two troopers (one shortish, swarthy, with slicked-back black hair, the other as thoroughly average-looking a man as John had ever seen) to the warehouse. John glanced back at the bay door, to where one of the corpses lay. The troopers had just finished photographing visible tattoos, and were walking out. He looked for Fausto, then asked “We just leave the dead here?”
          Fausto nodded. “Once we’ve got the shit that we need, we leave the shitheads here for the cleanup crew. There’s a group of some fucking fantastic professionals who follow behind us, making sure that there’s no fucking evidence for the dumbass local cops to trip over, in between counting their bribes.” John nodded, suppressing a wince at the mention of police corruption. “We don’t ask their names, they don’t say shit to us. Lieutenant Croce, Ferro, and of course Giorgio can call ‘em out.”
          John nodded thoughtfully. “It keeps it simple. Limits contact. Understood.” He handed Fausto his sketchbook for approval. After examining his sketches of the scene, Fausto nodded shortly, and gave a low grunt.
          “Not bad, new fish. Not bad at all. Looks like you might have learned some shit while you were in the States. Ever work Forensics?”
          John shook his head. “Only patrol. Some riot experience – small, not like you have here.”
          Fausto raised his eyebrows. “No shit? Definitely not bad for not having any experience with sketching a scene, then. Okay… we done shifting the shit out of there?”
          John nodded, indicating where the van’s rear doors had been just closed, and the two SRT troopers were mounting up. Fausto jerked his head towards his car. “Time for us to get the fuck out of here, then.” He raised his voice slightly, and waved a hand. “Thanks for your help, Miss Triela! I owe you a slice of tira misu!”
          Triela waved cheerily, sticking out her tongue. “I think you’ve got me confused with Henrietta, but I’ll take dessert, any day!” Fausto stuck his tongue out in return, then headed to his car, John trotting behind bemusedly.
          “Fausto,” called Giorgio. The tall man halted, then turned to head back to where the SRT commander stood. “G’wan to the car. Gotta talk to the capo.”
          John nodded, and headed to the car, keeping an eye on the wing mirror’s reflection of the pair talking. It was a short conversation, with Fausto’s broad, bluff face keeping a genial expression, and Giorgio’s looking rather sour. Sort of how it always looks, John mused idly. Giorgio regarded John levelly for a moment, said something else to Fausto, who looked back at John with a half-smile, and nodded. Giorgio then left to hop into his own car and drive off. Fausto came back to his battered Lancia.
          “What was that?” asked John.
          Fausto gave him a little grin. “Guess who gets to write the fucking report from this? Here’s a hint: it ain’t fucking me!”
          John looked horrified. “I can barely SPEAK Italian, and you want me to write it?”
          Fausto waved a dismissive hand as the pair put the last of their gear in the car, then climbed into the passenger compartment. “It’s nothing to shit about. I’ll be working with your ass to make sure you’ve got your shit right. Just do your best – ain’t nobody gonna give you shit for it.”
          As he started the car and slapped it into gear, he amended “Much.”

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


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 Thu 17 Jul 2014 - 6:52

It is indeed, about time. 
Fausto wordlessly handed John a camera and sketchpad. Sighing mentally, John set about recording the scene forensically.
I like this exchange, it shows us both men have experience in this work, and know what comes next, without actually needing to say it.

There’s a group of some fucking fantastic professionals who follow behind us, making sure that there’s no fucking evidence for the dumbass local cops to trip over
Again, nice showing of how the Agency operates, without needing to so blatantly spell it out to the reader. Having John as an adult, but new to the SWA, seems to be really helping in that regard, as it gives you someone to ask questions and explain to?

Fausto stuck his tongue out in return, then headed to his car, John trotting behind bemusedly.
...and Fausto's change of attitude with the girls around never ceases to amuse me. I tried to borrow some of that in my own story when writing him.

John looked horrified. “I can barely SPEAK Italian, and you want me to write it?”
"Throw in deep end, see if swims."


Great to see you still writing mate, and I'll take whatever snippets you can churn out. If I may say so though; I fear you may have gone back to some of what you were doing early on, and written parts of John's report for him. Don't get me wrong, the conversation and interplays between characters are great; basically anything where you've been able to bring a personality to bear on the writing. Where you're just covering ground however, it comes across as quite... procedural. It is as if you're documenting the actions, rather than showing them to us, so it reads more like a report than a story. It would probably help to try and hold John's point of view a bit tighter right through, even for the "in between bits" so, for example, instead of telling us "the scene was properly secured", show us John just finishing up securing the scene as the other troopers arrive...

...though, to be fair, doing so is probably going to up the word-count required for those sections substantially.


Still: very much looking forward to the next one.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Officer_Charon on Thu 17 Jul 2014 - 10:41

Heh... well that would make sense, given that all that I've written in the intervening time has either been reports or training paperwork for my rookies. I'll see if I can't punch it up some, thanks!

And, honestly, upping my wordcount can only be a good thing, yeah?

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


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 18 Jul 2014 - 6:11

@Officer_Charon wrote:Heh... well that would make sense, given that all that I've written in the intervening time has either been reports or training paperwork for my rookies. I'll see if I can't punch it up some, thanks!

And, honestly, upping my wordcount can only be a good thing, yeah?
Upping the word count a bit would be good, yeah.  Very Happy 

That said: I can sympathise regarding the cross-pollination of writing styles. I write methodologies and claims for work, and I have to keep my story-writing style from slipping across into what needs to be a, frankly, quite dry document... and vice-versa.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Officer_Charon on Thu 8 Jan 2015 - 21:41

Hmmm... could it be... could it be?!
Chapter 2 is juuuuust about done right now.... AND I've remembered my login info for ff.net. Soooooo.... stand by on the firing line! *grins broadly*

Spoiler:

Sitting behind a table in the refectory, John scratched his head in frustration, glaring at the mostly-untranslated Word document on the screen in front of him. Normally, the place was swimming with personnel, people he could maybe ask for help with his stilted language skills. Now, however, he seemed to have caught it at a dead time. Even the kitchen staff were nowhere to be seen, although the clatter of pots and pans in the rear showed that they were still in evidence… John didn’t want to disturb them, in any case. Some throwback part of his brain refused to beg for help on something that a grade school child could...
Snapping his head up at the sound of the doors opening, John watched as a group of cyborgs walked in. They looked older, which probably made them second generation builds, some that he hadn’t met before... Idly, John watched them, marveling at how they appeared to be nothing other than a group of teenage girls, gossiping about events at school. If he, knowing what they were underneath the skin, was having trouble distinguishing them from their more mundane counterparts, then he could only imagine how much of an asset they would be on a street detail.
As they perused the salad bar, nattering back and forth, the lithe redhead blushed at something that the sullen blonde with the peek-a-bangs had said, and retorted hotly. Watching the group break into a fit of chuckling at the redhead’s discomfiture, John continued to marvel at them, before returning distractedly to his report. Hearing the language was at least putting him in a better frame of mind to try his translation again.
“Uh… sir,” piped up a voice, confused and hesitant from over his shoulder, and he whirled, startled. Behind him stood one of the group that had been at the salad bar – the medium-height brunette with the distinctive freckles. She pointed at the screen with her free hand. “You’ve got that sentence all backwards.”
Blushing slightly, John glanced back, and saw where his grammar had tripped himself up. “Ah… thank you, young lady.”
“Freccia,” responded the cyborg with a smile. Some idle part of John’s mind mis-parsed what she had said.
“They call you ‘Freckles’?” he asked, confused. “That’s a bit rude, isn’t it?”
Nonplussed, Freccia’s face scrunched up in confusion. “Eh, what?!”
Blushing harder, John waved a hand. “Never mind, disregard.” Turning back to his report, he clamped down on his frustration and said “Thank you again, Freccia. As you can see, I have many issues here.”
Setting her tray on the table, and looking at his screen, the teen nodded. “Certainly looks that way… why is half of it in English?” Taking another look at John, her eyes widened. “Oh! You’re the new American, aren’t you?”
John nodded. “And I am trying to work on my Italian. Or rather, I am assigned this, and I am learning that my Italian has far to go.”
“Maybe you would like a hand?” she asked, pulling out a chair next to John and sitting down, picking at her salad as she read over the screen.
“That would be great, thanks!” John said, trying not to let the relief he was feeling wash over his face completely.
Both of them were pointedly ignoring the wolf whistles and catcalls coming from the other three cyborgs that had walked in with Freccia.

* * * * *

Giorgio sat in his shared office space, scowling over the glowing screen in front of him. Occasionally, his fingers would stab out at a handful of keys, then steeple under his chin. Amadeo stood behind him, looking over his shoulder. “Not… horrible, I suppose,” Giorgio allowed. “He at least uses the proper terms, even if the grammar comes off a little stilted. Definitely serviceable, at any rate.”
Amadeo nodded in agreement. “Fausto said that his language skills onscene were clear enough, as well. We’ll have to see how he does in a tactical situation, but that’s just a matter of getting him through a shoothouse a couple times.”
Giorgio tapped his index fingers together thoughtfully. “We could probably run one on Thursday… pass the word to the guys.”
“As for tomorrow… I think it’s time to finally fill the roster officially.”

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


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 Thescarredman on Thu 8 Jan 2015 - 22:11

Excellent. Freccia and the scarred agent are a good match. I dare hope this is the start of something longer ... at long last.
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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Alfisti on Fri 9 Jan 2015 - 7:47

Huzzah! More writing!

@Officer_Charon wrote:Sitting behind a table in the refectory, John scratched his head in frustration, glaring at the mostly-untranslated Word document on the screen in front of him. 
I like that John's working in the refectory. It shows he's not really been assigned a permanent place yet, and perhaps does not feel like being alone by himself... or was he just hoping there would be someone around to help?


@Officer_Charon wrote:“Freccia,” responded the cyborg with a smile. Some idle part of John’s mind mis-parsed what she had said.
“They call you ‘Freckles’?” he asked, confused. “That’s a bit rude, isn’t it?”
I now kind of want to see John start mentally referring to her as "Freckles"...

I really like the portrayal of Freccia here by the way. She comes across as the helpful part of her is battling the shy part.


@Officer_Charon wrote:“Maybe you would like a hand?” she asked, pulling out a chair next to John and sitting down, picking at her salad as she read over the screen.
So now I wonder if Freccia actually can read English, or if she is more just running an Italian eye over John's translations? I mean, I can look at something and go "that's French", or "that's Japanese", but I've no idea what it says (more chance with French than with Japanese admittedly).


@Officer_Charon wrote:...even if the grammar comes off a little stilted.
Well it was checked by a cyborg, some of whom at least seem to have a more proper rather than natural mode of speech.


@Officer_Charon wrote:“As for tomorrow… I think it’s time to finally fill the roster officially.”
Ah, so John's finally been accepted and, I presume, thus is marked the first major story milestone? It's a nice character moment for Giorgio, and for the SRT team as a whole, that he doesn't seem to feel he needs to make an official transmittal or order to get them to the shoot house, just send the word around and they'll turn up.


Nicely done mate. I don't know if it's just me, but this passage seemed to flow better than some of your previous ones. I look forward to more.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Officer_Charon on Fri 9 Jan 2015 - 15:11

The "Freckles" bit comes from my own mistake, when I first read the fan translations... I had forgotten that Freccia meant "arrow," so I thought that Aida-san had tossed that in as a joke. Should have known better. *grins*

Thanks for the commentary. This is the second to last part - the last part was actually written a LONG time ago, so I'm going back over it to see if it still meshes. I tossed in some more to flesh it out, but I'm gonna see how well it all flows before I tack it onto the end and call this one complete.

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


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 Tue 10 Mar 2015 - 18:45

FINALLY.

Honestly, I'd been mostly done with this for a while.... just never found the OOMPH to post it.... as I've written in my closing notes for the version that will be posted (shortly) on ff.net, writing this has become something akin to therapy for me.

Hopefully it can continue to do so.

Spoiler:

          John sat in the training room, listening absently to the conversations that flowed around him, flipping through what appeared to be the Italian version of ‘Soldier of Fortune.’ His limited Italian comprehension was expanding every day – full-immersion learning tended to have that effect on a person. As was the custom of military personnel throughout the world, throughout history, the language was flavored heavily with slang and obscenity, in a variety of Italian dialects. Some, John recognized from his time in Sicily. Most were, however, completely new and foreign, and he found the exercise in attempting to decipher it fascinating. Especially when troopers like Fausto proved to have such an impressive command of the language, with every third word being a curse, and rarely repeating himself.

          At first, he had sat attentively in the room – which was laid out like a classroom, scattered with various training materials and magazines – and waited for something to happen. After he’d been told to report there in an abrupt, and rather curt, phone call from Nihad, he’d tried to do his best to present a good showing as a new trooper.

          That had lasted a couple hours, with others coming and going around him, and generally having a laid-back morning. No instructions had been passed, no orders given, and everyone seemed to be catching up on various sports news. Which was insanely boring to him. Figuring he was being tested, somehow, he had picked up a stack of training manuals and magazines, and gone about trying to improve his knowledge base.

          After several minutes of listening, John noted that the conversations had quieted down somewhat, and he looked up from the article on door breaching tactics to see Giorgio leaning over his table.

          "Guys," he began, speaking in a medium tone, directed at no one in particular. At least, not obviously so. "I've always wondered - what is it about some people who feel as though they simply HAVE to stick around, long after their welcome is worn out?" A couple snickers from around the room - they'd caught onto the thread, all right. Not as many as John had expected, however. Interesting.

          "I hope you realize just how irregular and tenuous your presence here is," he growled gruffly. John's face hardened as the trooper continued. "The fratelli might be a United Nations Expeditionary Force, but the SRT has always been Italian, first and foremost. There's more than a few of us who feel that we don't need some Yankee coming here, poking your nose around, like Yankees always do."

          'Here it comes,' John thought resignedly. The showdown that had been put off for a couple of weeks was going to happen right after breakfast, of course. 'This is not going to be pleasant.'

          Making an effort not to let the tension seizing his body show on his face, he responded calmly. "If you feel that way, caporalmaggiore capo, we can always discuss it outside. If you feel you can make your point quickly." John rolled his head around, cracking his vertebrae. "Otherwise, I have paperwork to finish."

          Giorgio's eyebrows rose up to his cropped hairline. "The coglioni on this one!" he said with a semi-impressed chuckle. He jerked his head towards the door leading to the outside, where the shoothouses lay. "Let's go, recluta."

          Sighing, John marked his place in his book and sat his glasses on top of it. Yep, this was going to hurt.

 
          *        *        *        *        *

          Limping up the stairwell to his room, John leaned against the wall to support himself. His ribs felt a little spongy, and were most definitely tender. Judging from the way he could barely see, his eyes were probably both blackened and swollen. His thighs ached from repeated strikes, his stomach ached from blows received both standing and on the ground; all things considered, he'd rather have received a Swedish massage.

          It wasn't so much that he'd been completely outclassed by the veteran trooper - he knew going into this that his long-forgotten skills in Marine Corps Martial Arts were not going to do him much good, rusty as they were. It was all he could do to block blows and avoid probing attacks for the first thirty seconds or so. Once Giorgio had landed the first punch directly into his solar plexus that he’d been unable to tense his core for, things had gone swiftly downhill.

          But he had never given the bastard the satisfaction of an easy end. Every time he went down, he forced himself to stand up. Every sweep, every stun, every strike to nerve clusters that resulted in white-hot starbursts of agony - all had been borne, withstood, and fought against. Each time, he had dragged himself from the loose dirt, scuffed the blood and sweat from his eyes, and glared at Giorgio, whose expression had changed from one form of satisfaction to another as the beatdown had continued.

          Ultimately, it had been Amadeo who called a halt to it. Giorgio had walked away, to raucous applause from his squadmembers. Amadeo had helped John up when it became clear that the American was having trouble getting his legs steady.

          As he reached into his pocket for his keys, he noted that his right middle finger was bent at an awkward angle. Grimacing in frustration and anticipation, he reached over, set his teeth, and gave a yank. With a sharp POP, the dislocation was corrected with a sunflare of pain, followed by a rush of warmth that was simultaneously soothing and agonizing. He couldn't stop a whimper from escaping as he retrieved his keys from where they had fallen, then opened his door.

          As he staggered inside, closing the door behind him, he absently noted the presence of a piece of paper just inside his room. He blinked for a moment, before deciding that his mind wasn't going to be happy until he found out what was on it. His body protested, but agreed to compromise by collapsing against the wood paneling in the room.

          Catching his breath, he turned the paper over. On it were five words, written in Giorgio's crisp, precise handwriting:

          "Benvenuti a bordo, pesci nuovi."

          Blinking, John sat there for several moments, before deciding that his ribs hurt too much to laugh ironically.

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


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 11 Mar 2015 - 5:55

Huzzah! More writing, and the second chapter done.

@Officer_Charon wrote:Hopefully it can continue to do so.
Here's to hoping. I, for one, certainly don't want this to be the end of it.


@Officer_Charon wrote:The fratelli might be a United Nations Expeditionary Force, but the SRT has always been Italian, first and foremost.
The fratelli really are aren't they? That said, I get the feeling Giorgio's comparison here is not being made wholly just to put John off-balance... at least part of it is actually his opinion coming through regarding where the SWA's personnel should actually be sourced from.


@Officer_Charon wrote:Sighing, John marked his place in his book and sat his glasses on top of it. Yep, this was going to hurt.
I like the couple of measured, precise, movements John makes here, the marking his place in particular, it telegraphs that he a) has the time to do it and b) expects to be able to come back to it... not to mention preventing him from looking nervous. Perhaps more to the point, it marks the height of tension for the passage. It's the half-beat before that is released. Well played.


@Officer_Charon wrote:His ribs felt a little spongy, and were most definitely tender. Judging from the way he could barely see, his eyes were probably both blackened and swollen.
On the bright side, he has access to the best medical facilities.

On a different note though: not actually showing the fight here has worked well, giving the fallout I think makes the point better... very much a case of less is more.


@Officer_Charon wrote:"Benvenuti a bordo, pesci nuovi."
I'll admit it: I had to run that through Google. Just a thought, but it might help to have John translate that in his head for the reader, even if it's simply the English translation in italics on the next line. For those of us who can't speak Italian, we get the gist of what is being said from what is around it, but we're left wondering if we're correct or not, which perhaps dilutes the impact/sense of closing from it.

Either way, it's a great way to close out the chapter. Again: here's to hoping it's only the end of the beginning, with plenty more still to come.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Kiskaloo on Wed 11 Mar 2015 - 8:14

@Alfisti wrote:
@Officer_Charon wrote:"Benvenuti a bordo, pesci nuovi."
I'll admit it: I had to run that through Google. Just a thought, but it might help to have John translate that in his head for the reader, even if it's simply the English translation in italics on the next line. For those of us who can't speak Italian, we get the gist of what is being said from what is around it, but we're left wondering if we're correct or not, which perhaps dilutes the impact/sense of closing from it.

Another option could be to explain it via follow-on text:

"Benvenuti a bordo, pesci nuovi," he stated, formally welcoming John to the SRT as it's newest member.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Officer_Charon on Wed 11 Mar 2015 - 22:37

I had pondered about that... I'll amend a new final line right quick.

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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 Kiskaloo on Thu 12 Mar 2015 - 10:48

You could also let the scene explain the words:

Catching his breath, he turned the paper over. On it were five words, written in Giorgio's crisp, precise handwriting:


"Benvenuti a bordo, pesci nuovi."


Blinking, John looked up to see Giorgio and the other members of the SRT forming around him, large and welcoming grins on their faces.


John sat there for several moments, before deciding that his ribs hurt too much to laugh ironically.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Alfisti on Thu 12 Mar 2015 - 15:19

I dunno. I just think that by extending the line too much you lose the beat of the message: John comes in, reads the message... Beat... The tension releases as we know he's made it, and the chapter ends. I think that by slipping a translation in on its own line that beat is maintained better: John comes in, sees the message... beat... Click, click, click, wheels turning... Ending and resolution.

Plus, as you just noted, it also maintains a "show not tell".

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Thescarredman on Mon 16 Mar 2015 - 22:08

I like the idea of a simple follow-on translation in italics, personally.The chapter is short and to the point. The ending should be as well.

Great job, Charon. Question: Did Giorgio really mean what he said about John being unwelcome because he was an American, or was that just an excuse to test him? Seems like the latter. Your Giorgio has always struck me as a by-the-book sort of guy, but not one who would throw away a useful asset without a good reason.
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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Officer_Charon on Fri 20 Mar 2015 - 16:17

Giorgio's not really "by-the-book," to me, although he might seem that way with his more solidly army background than many others in the SWA - he's always struck me as a guy who has certain expectations of the way things are supposed to go. Cyborgs mess with those expectations - for reasons that may be explored more later. While he might prefer to follow procedures when they point everyone in the same direction, he's also more than willing to discard them in favor of getting things done.

Also, bear in mind the culture - Italians rely HEAVILY on machismo, especially in the more rough-and-tumble groups. A beat-in isn't uncommon in the _US_ special forces groups, so I have little doubt that something similar would be in place here.

And to answer your first question, TSM, Giorgio was just picking an excuse for the beat-in.

...Or WAS he?

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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 Thescarredman on Fri 20 Mar 2015 - 17:36

Guess we'll find out in the next chapter.

Or the next.
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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Officer_Charon on Sat 21 Mar 2015 - 17:16

Rather than start the next installment with a bang, as the other two parts have, I've opted for a slightly different feel. Let me know if it doesn't flow as well, would you?

Spoiler:


          Jogging under the slowly-rising Etruscan sun, the tall, solidly-built man observed where the various trails branched off. Noting which ones appeared to be more heavily-travelled, the man now known as John Darme selected one at random, and trotted off along its rich, brown path. As music continued to shuffle along his MP3 player, he inhaled the rich scents of the dew-studded woodlands that surrounded the perimeter of the compound. His music interspersed with soft vocal reminders of his distance traveled, he allowed every bit of tension built up over the preceding weeks to flow through him and pass out with his slowly accumulating sweat. After some time, he noted how much his chest was burning, and glanced at his watch. With a shock, he realized that he'd been running for the better part of an hour, far more than he had done in a long time.

          'Also, he mused idly, 'I have no earthly idea where on the compound I am... or whether I'm even still ON the compound.' He bemusedly came to a halt slowly, breath heaving, and removed his headphones. Immediately, John could hear the not-too-distant crackle of small-arms fire, which disconcerted him for a moment before he realized that it was too orderly to be anything but the outside range, with its collection of posts, paper targets, and make-shift barricades to practice cover shooting.

          John started heading in that direction, picking trails that branched off towards the sound wherever possible, until he finally emerged from the woodline about 25 meters from the firing line, behind where a selection of cyborgs and handlers were honing their skills. It didn’t take him long to identify the few of the girls that he knew – the taller, twin-tailed Triela, the school-uniformed Henrietta, the pig-tailed, pugnacious Marisa – and their respective handlers standing behind them. He noted how the older Elio Alboreto seemed to be watching the handlers as much as the girls shooting, although John hadn’t heard about any sort of supervisor amongst the handlers.

Then again, he hadn’t really interacted with any of them since his luncheon the day he agreed to work for the SWA. The handlers and their charges operated mostly separate from the Squaddra di Risposta Tattica, which both calmed and disappointed John at the same time. While he was not necessarily comfortable with the idea of operating with children and teenagers – their cyborg bodies nonwithstanding, John still had issues seeing them as anything other than the pubescent girls they resembled – he did find himself curious as to what it would be like, operating with a cyborg partner.

He sat down on a large rock slab, observing the girls taking turns firing down their lanes, occasionally receiving instruction or praise, as necessary. It seemed that Triela was acting as a de facto junior instructor to the younger - and older, John noted, bemusedly - cyborgs, showing them what they were doing wrong and taking a moment to offer advice.

          As she leaned over one of the smallest ('Rico,' part of his mind noted absently), his eyes lost focus for a moment.
 

*        ["Daddy? I should move like this, right? If I don't clear the door fast enough, they can shoot me… so I clear the fatal funnel, slice the pie at the corners, and take down the room in sections."] And then she smiles, sea-green eyes twinkling beneath a mop of amber waves...
*       


          It was too much. He leaned his head against his raised knees and let out a small sob, followed by a larger one, until the tears flowed freely. Memories of a little girl with a delighted laugh bubbled to the surface of his mind, crashing against his consciousness like breakers against a sea wall.

          After several minutes of wallowing in his misery, John scrubbed at his eyes, controlled his breathing, and tried to focus on something else. But he kept coming, again and again, to the girls in the firing lanes.

          ["How can they do it? They're so young... they should be playing, talking about boys, about school and music and sports... not how to do Mogadishu drills."]

          A voice rose softly from behind him - a level, practical alto. ["Theirs not to reason why - theirs but to do or die."]

          Whipping his head around, John fixed the speaker with a steely gaze. Then he softened it when he realized that it was one of the very girls he'd been speaking of.

          Well, perhaps not one he recognized - he was sure that he hadn't seen any girls with glasses on the firing line. And certainly not one wearing gardening clothes and a floppy-brimmed straw hat.

          After a moment of his brain catching up, he realized that she'd spoken in lightly-accented English.

          With a slight nod, he allowed a small sardonic smile to rise to his features, and raised an eyebrow. ["An' it's 'Tommy this' an' 'Tommy that,' an' anything you please. An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool – you bet that Tommy sees!"]

          A matching raised eyebrow graced the features of the bespectacled cyborg. "Dulce et decorum est, pro patria mori."

          John snorted. ["In modern war, there is nothing sweet, nor fitting in your dying. You will die like a dog for no good reason."]

          The girl actually rolled her eyes. "I find Hemingway to be far too cynical. He crossed over through being a realist, descending into outright pessimism."

          John couldn't help himself: he chuckled slightly, and touched his temple with two fingers in a sardonic salute. "Perhaps it is true." He rubbed the heel of his hand at the corners of his eyes, erasing the last vestiges of his loss of control, and stood, looking down at the calm black-haired girl. "I do not believe I have met you."

          She nodded. "My name is Claes; you wouldn't have met me, unless you were a handler. Being that you're not a handler, I can surmise that you are the American that was brought into our ranks after the Taormina bombing."

          John's face erased the sarcastic levity that had come over it during their conversation. "Yes, that was when I was... 'hired.' I found Croce’s recruitment speech to be so motivating, I bent both knee and head in acknowledgment.”

          Claes’ face bore the slightest hint of admonishment. “Jean is a stern taskmaster, it’s true, but he truly does care for us, in his own way. The Agency, too – one has only to look at how rarely he leaves the compound outside of missions to see that.”

          John’s face hardened for a second, before he allowed himself a moment to ponder this. While the Operations Director had always struck him as a cold one, he had only to look at himself as an example that what lay on the exterior was not necessarily what showed the character of a person. He gave a small nod. “It could be that this is so,” he said grudgingly.

          Claes sniffed diffidently. “Far be it from me to disagree with an adult staff member,” she stated with a tone so heavily laden with irony, John was surprised it didn’t manifest as full plate weight in the air between them. He raised an eyebrow, and noted Claes’ expression matched his own. Finally, he gave a chuckle, and raised his hands in mock surrender.

          “Very well! I know when I fight out of my class. I thank you for the lesson, Miss Claes. And forgive my rudeness: my name is John Darme.” He looked at the lanes one last time, noting that the shooting appeared to have tapered off. The fratelli assembled there came together, removing ear protection, and nodding as they compared shots on the targets, playfully ribbing each other about any flaws in accuracy.

          Just like any other operator would.

          John looked back at Claes, who appeared to be gathering up several pots of herbs. “Thank you for talking with me, Claes. You have helped me put things in perspective.” He stood, slapping dirt from his posterior, despite it clinging to his sweaty shorts. “Even if you are misguided by propaganda.” He stuck out his tongue, to show he was not serious.

          Claes raised an eyebrow, then shook her head as she finished collecting her pots. “You are an unusual one, Mr. Darme.”

          John gave a low bow, his face plastered with another sardonic smile. “I am but a humble servant, Miss. May I help you with those, by way of thanking you?”

          Puzzled, Claes allowed several of the pots to be removed from her hands. “That’s three times you’ve thanked me, but I’ve done nothing special, Mr. Darme.”

          His eyes defocused for a moment. “As I said… you helped me put things into perspective… and pulled me out of a funk.” He waggled a finger mock-sternly before he accepted another pot. “But I would caution you about telling anyone else about it.”

          “I wouldn’t dream of it,” Claes answered, deadpan. But the edges of her eyes crinkled with a subtle smile of her own.

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


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 Thescarredman on Sat 21 Mar 2015 - 18:37

The jog to the firing range, and his reaction as he watches the girls at work, was nicely done, Charon, and very credible for a man who's just lost his little girl. Claes sounds a little formal, but that's probably just me: we don't see her talking to adults often in canon, and she's usually on her guard with them - except when she's being snarky or bitter. But she has been known to commit random acts of kindness; coming upon a grown man crying as he watches her sisters at the range might trigger one.
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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by tremec6speed on Sun 22 Mar 2015 - 20:24

Officer, if your story were to be transformed into a picture, we'd no doubt be admiring it's realism, the shades of contrast and perspective, as well as the emotional content that leaves one satisfied and eager for more. In short, well done!
I like that your character is tough, yet not Conan the Barbarian,
(thinking of my rare excursions into story writing, in which I made my own character virtually unbeatable in hand to hand confrontations, now seems over the top to me, to say the least)
your creation doesn't need to rip his shirt off and proceed to bounced heads around 'cause someone got him good and pissed.
The power of this member in the secret organization is his character.
*egli è ammirevole* (he is admirable)
I look forward to 'seeing' Agent Darme in more of your well crafted tales.  
head bang
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Re: Men-at-Arms

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