Men-at-Arms

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Re: Men-at-Arms

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

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

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

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

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by MP5 on Wed 12 Jan 2011 - 0:23

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

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

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

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Re: Men-at-Arms

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

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

Man picks up the tab three visits in a row and he gets no respect! Razz

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Re: Men-at-Arms

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

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

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Re: Men-at-Arms

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

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

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

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Re: Men-at-Arms

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

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

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Re: Men-at-Arms

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

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

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Re: Men-at-Arms

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

As stated before mate: another excellent chapter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Re: Men-at-Arms

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

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

(EDIT) Updated with corrected spacing...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He was asleep before the engines began spooling up.


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

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Kiskaloo on Fri 15 Apr 2011 - 22:48

Huzzah!

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Professor Voodoo on Sat 16 Apr 2011 - 12:38

Saved...thoughts to come.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by theprodigalson on Sat 16 Apr 2011 - 20:08

Excellent bit of work, as usual.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Alfisti on Sun 17 Apr 2011 - 4:28

Great work as usual mate...

...the loss of his ring finger is an interesting physical reminder of what else he has lost.

More thoughts to come.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Alfisti on Tue 19 Apr 2011 - 4:54

Alright... as promised:

<"Mon ami, you look like crap.">
Liked John's opening line. There's a wry, dark humor to it... along with the choice of words it really helps build his character.

He glanced at the stub of his ring finger
As I said, I like the physical element of the loss of his ring finger as a reminder to us (and him) of his mental trauma. Of course the loss of two fingers is going to make it difficult for him to undertake any large amounts of undercover work (very identifiable and can't be changed)... though I guess the SWA could make up some prosthetics.

His preparations mostly complete, he began packing up his suitcase, double and triple-checking the room to ensure that he had everything, and staging it by the door.
Good habits to get into.

waiting Alfa Romeo 159,
I see you went with the 159. Very Happy

John wasn't sure, but he thought he saw a touch of strain to the young man's face, as though he wouldn't mind being somewhere else right then.
Observant of him.

John started when he realised that they were talking about Henrietta's firefight in the same tone that most children their age would discuss clothes or television shows that they enjoyed.
Only in the SWA could that be considered normal. I'll admit, I often find these "first meeting the cyborgs" moments are among my favorites of a story.

Before John could inquire more on that subject, a tallish man in an impeccably tailored suit jacket boarded the aircraft
Flying in a suit... gotta pay that.

Concentrating on working through everything, he closed his mind in concentration.
Perhaps an indicator of how his work ethic at the SWA will be? Throwing himself into everything to distract himself from the grief?

As I said before, great chapter. I look forward to the next.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Professor Voodoo on Tue 19 Apr 2011 - 11:03

His arms would occasionally seek out another form, his sleep-and-medication befuddled mind would attempt to sort out everything that had happened in the last 24 hours,
and the force of everything would hit him across the shoulders like a
2x4.
Opening up with a reminder of where John is emotionally is good as it's been a while since the last update. Good stuff too, very relatable. The three rings are a bit confusing but I expect that's a plot device you're going to explore in its own time.
sturdy tan pants, billed as "tactical" by their maker,
I like that you placed emphasis on that...I think the term tactical tends to get overused & misused.
Alfa Romeo 159, done up in standard-issue Nondescript Charcoal Grey
Is this the mid-level European sedan you were looking for?
John noticed a narrow-bodied turboprop with an odd wing configuration that he didn't
recognize
Keeping things from John's persepective, with no narrator's knowledge of what model the plane is or who owns it is good.
it sounds as though the Director intends for you to join
the SRT. We do work with them, sometimes.
Not sure which organization you're referring to here.
Rico smiled brightly, dimpling. "Of course, Jean. Nothing's been
left behind, and Mr. Pagani will be coming on board in a minute. He
sounded like he was talking to Kara on the phone, and she sounded
mad!"
Never thought of Rico as much of a gossip but she is doing her job by keeping Jean informed I suppose.
"You become used to it," he commented, performing another of those Gallic shrugs.
"When you realise who they are, where they came from, and how much they honestly seem to enjoy the work... it's something that we Handlers have had to adapt to. Not... everyone seems to learn this, however."
Interesting that Giuseppe gives this warning, since he seems to have the most difficulty dealing with his cyborg & her issues.
Kara is most put out at being left behind on this
run, and seems to feel that she should be able to ignore doctor's orders
about her shoulder.
Geeze...Kara's shoulder sure takes a beating. I've personally had her get hit there twice, now you're on the bandwagon! I like how you handled Jean here too...as long as it's being taken care of he has no reason to comment.

I like the fact that you're throwing John right into the flow of things without a break in the action to introduce him to headquarters. Now all there is to wonder is; where will this "mission" take them? Something to look forward to in the next installment.
Alfisti wrote:Flying in a suit... gotta pay that.
Actually, when flying commercial it's a good move. Flight crew assumes you're a business traveler whose company is too cheap to pay for first class and you get a lot more attentive service (read: free liquor) than the folks dressed as tourists.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Kiskaloo on Tue 19 Apr 2011 - 13:44

Professor Voodoo wrote:
Kara is most put out at being left behind on this run, and seems to feel that she should be able to ignore doctor's orders about her shoulder.
Geeze...Kara's shoulder sure takes a beating. I've personally had her get hit there twice, now you're on the bandwagon! I like how you handled Jean here too...as long as it's being taken care of he has no reason to comment.

Kara: "Shot multiple times in the shoulder. Taken three rounds in the gut. I think Robert had me shot in the jaw. Playing 'Den Mother' between Lucy and Petra. I don't think I need Hazard Pay - I need Hazard Salary!"

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Alfisti on Tue 19 Apr 2011 - 16:35

Professor Voodoo wrote:
Alfisti wrote:Flying in a suit... gotta pay that.
Actually, when flying commercial it's a good move. Flight crew assumes you're a business traveler whose company is too cheap to pay for first class and you get a lot more attentive service (read: free liquor) than the folks dressed as tourists.
That was "pay that" in terms of: as one suit flyer to another. Not to mention that a suit jacket is ultra-useful going through security: just put everything in the pockets and dump the whole thing (neatly) into one of those little trays rather than having to faff around emptying trousers. Besides, as far as I can tell, aircraft airconditioning is set at a temperature to suit someone wearing a jacket anyway.

Though not entirely in line with what I've drawn in the past, you'll note that of late "be-suited" is J+M's standard mode of travel.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Officer_Charon on Tue 19 Apr 2011 - 17:35

Thanks for the comments, guys! As y'all have ascertained, I ended up with the Alfa Romeo based on y'all's input, for which I'm thankful. Believe it or not, I let myself get stuck on that one little bit, going around it, writing other stuff, but continually getting hung up on that, until I made myself sick of looking at my own writing.

Or, maybe, I just used the damned thing as a convenient excuse? *grins*

As an ironic aside, I saw someone driving one of them the other day, coming off of our "Skidaway Island Landings" subdivision (chock-full of people with FAR more money than sense), and had to pull over because I started laughing so hard.

The three rings are a bit confusing but I expect that's a plot device you're going to explore in its own time.

Not really... one ring is his, the other two are his wife's engagement and wedding bands.


it sounds as though the Director intends for you to join
the SRT. We do work with them, sometimes.
Not sure which organization you're referring to here.

The Squaddra di Risposta Tattica, aka the "Tactical Response Team." My wee term for the guys in the SWA who we see training in BDUs and combat gear, rappelling off of buildings and other nicky-neat shit. *grins*

"You become used to it," he commented, performing another of those Gallic shrugs.
"When you realise who they are, where they came from, and how much they honestly seem to enjoy the work... it's something that we Handlers have had to adapt to. Not... everyone seems to learn this, however."
Interesting that Giuseppe gives this warning, since he seems to have the most difficulty dealing with his cyborg & her issues.

At the time, I didn't think too much about it - merely that it was Giuse talking to John, Giuse and Henrietta had been the ones to figure out Elsa and Lauro's deaths, and it was a point that I wanted raised. Looking back on it, my subconscious was doing the driving: Giuse, who will ultimately have the greatest problems, is already starting to show his concerns with Henrietta, and the ultimate cost that his mission will have.

Geeze...Kara's shoulder sure takes a beating. I've personally had her get hit there twice, now you're on the bandwagon!

Well, after figuring out what to do with my storyline after Yu threw all KINDS of a monkey-wrench into my initial rough timeline, I think I'm tentatively placing this one soon after Marisa #6, given that that story was my first exposure to the Cyborg Central Expanded Canon (tm). I'm going to have to go back and do some back-filling on the initial parts of this first chapter to salvage it, but I think I can make it work out just fine.

I like the fact that you're throwing John right into the flow of things without a break in the action to introduce him to headquarters. Now all there is to wonder is; where will this "mission" take them? Something to look forward to in the next installment.

Uhm, back to SWA headquarters. *chuckles* Mon ami, you, of all people, should know that governments do NOTHING until the forms are completed. In triplicate. Everything up to this point has been nothing more than an extended "job interview."

He glanced at the stub of his ring finger
As I said, I like the physical element of the loss of his ring finger as a reminder to us (and him) of his mental trauma. Of course the loss of two fingers is going to make it difficult for him to undertake any large amounts of undercover work (very identifiable and can't be changed)... though I guess the SWA could make up some prosthetics.

Well, given John's rather... uhm... narrow focus right now, I'm not sure he's going to be participating in much in the way of undercover work, anyway.

Besides, missing fingers didn't seem to slow Telly Savalas down much. Why do you think Kojak was always enjoying a lollipop? *grins*

Concentrating on working through everything, he closed his mind in concentration.
Perhaps an indicator of how his work ethic at the SWA will be? Throwing himself into everything to distract himself from the grief?

Pretty much, at this point... I have plans for how he's going to end up, but that would probably be the direction he'd head in at this point.

Also, thank you for commenting on that section in particular... I missed that mis-placed word before. Supposed to be "eyes." *grins*

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


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 13 May 2011 - 0:31

The product of a night working off-duty, with the internet down. Amazing what one can accomplish, when one isn't being distracted, n'est-ce pas? *chuckles*

This section feels as though it's missing something, although buggered if I can see what. Suggestions would be welcomed: perhaps I've spent too much time looking at it, and can't see the forest for the trees?

Spoiler:
"This will be yours, pending the completion of all your
paperwork," Amadeo said with a good-natured smile, unlocking and opening the door with a single motion.

John merely nodded his head, stepping inside the small room,
which was laid out in a very spartan fashion, with a bookshelf, desk and
chair, and single rack, with a storage locker next to the door, all done
in a honey-colored wood. On the wall above the desk was a
corkboard/whiteboard combo, bereft of any sun-bleaching or incompletely
erased marks. Completely unused. New. Virgin.

John cocked an eyebrow at the thought. Amadeo coughed behind
him, startling him out of his nascent musings. John turned and examined
his relaxed visage. He wondered idly if the rest of the team was going
to accept him as readily as the former San Marco.

It had been a short flight from Catania to Rome's Fiumicino
airport. John had woken with the bump of the luxury plane's wheels
striking the worn tarmac, snapped instantly alert in a long-forgotten
instinctive rush to consciousness. He had lowered his hands from where
they had shot up in a defensive posture, feeling acutely self-conscious,
certain that everyone had been staring at him.

Once he had realised that he was not, in fact, the center of
everyone's attention (although Triela was giving him a Look with a
raised eyebrow), he stood, rubbing his head and stifling a curse when he
struck his crown on the overhead. Just that quickly, he'd forgotten the
lesson he'd learned upon boarding the aircraft.

The group disembarked, wheeling their assorted luggage towards
the main terminal. The two smaller girls... cyborgs... whatever... were
still chatting at full speed, laughing in the sun, and giving off an
impression of youthful vigor that was very appropriate, given the time
of year. Triela was watching over them with an indulgent smile, carrying
a large guitar case that seemed at odds with her crisp, no-nonsense
attire that would not have looked out of place on a detective.

The adults were moving with a more subdued sense of purpose.
Once they entered the building, John's long legs had had to stretch to
keep up with the pace set by Jean. Somehow, Henrietta and Rico did not
seem to have a problem, despite their small stature. Instead they moved
through the crowd, propelled by sheer bubbliness. John couldn't help but
curl his mouth into a small smile as they weaved around opposite sides
of a group of besuited businessmen, never faltering in their rapid-fire
discussion - of all things, zoo animals.

From the terminal, to another series of waiting Alfa Romeos, and
a short trip to the outskirts of Rome... John had been unable to follow
exactly where they were driving to, and the convoy had not stayed
together; yet they had somehow all rejoined and entered into a walled
compound through a security gate, manned by a man in a uniform of some
flavor that John didn't recognize.

Which, after meeting up with Amadeo, led John to... what? His
quarters, his shelter, his base of operations for his nascent mission of
revenge? His expression firmed. Whatever this was going to be, he was
doing no good standing in place, woolgathering.

"Thank you, Amadeo," he said absently. The agent started to
speak, thought better of it, then stepped back. He merely said "Get
yourself settled, then dial 3273 on your telephone. We'll be expecting
your call. Even though your paperwork still has to go through, there's a
lot that we can do in the meantime."

John nodded, stepping further into the room and grounding his
suitcase next to the storage locker. "What are we doing today?"

Amadeo gave a small grin. "Quartermaster. You'll need a set of
utilities to train in. You'll be issued a flak jacket and your tactical
gear. After that," his grin broadened, "we'll see what we can find for
you in the armory."

John raised an eyebrow. "A bit sudden, isn't that?"

Amadeo shook his head. "Not at all. You're either exactly who
you say you are, in which case the sooner we get you on the firing line,
the better. Or you're an infiltrator, and you won't survive any attempt
you make here." Amadeo shrugged. "Either way, nothing's getting done
while you're still standing there." He turned, and walked away, putting
his hands in his pockets.

Bemused, John chuckled dryly under his breath, and set about
unloading his suitcase.

* * * * *

It took until the end of the day, but after several trips,
John's storage locker and wardrobe were now filled. In addition to
receiving a complete set of new (still in plastic wrap!) tactical gear,
he had been seen by a perfunctory tailor, who had wielded a tape measure
like a knife blade, rapidly measuring and noting his various dimensions
on a tablet, before tossing several pairs of both jumpsuits and two-
piece utility uniforms in a rather nondescript blue-grey (all bare of
patches, but with several velcro-based locations showing where they
would be applied, when given to him). The measurements were then typed
into a computer whereupon a fax machine's distinctive electronic
chattering commenced.

"There is a tailor's shop in town that does an excellent job,
fitting suits for government use," said the tailor, answering John's
quizzical look. "There is a reason that most agents look like they're
wearing a uniform, even in plainclothes." John nodded sagely, then
carried his new issue back to his room.

His trip to the armory had proven productive, as well. He had
been given a slightly-beaten Beretta 9FS, along with a cleaning kit.
Noting that the vast majority of the pistols in the armory seemed to be
chambered for the European-preferred 9mm, he kept his mouth shut, but
made a mental note to see if he could get ahold of something in a
more... _traditional_ flavor, later. Nothing wrong with 9mm, after all,
but there was something to be said for a round that struck with a little
more "oomph."

Returning to his room, John went through the rituals of every
new-join since time immemorial: fitting his newly-issued gear to
himself, and noting with dismay that nothing ever seemed to be in QUITE
the right spot. Finally shrugging his shoulders, he got the pouches,
straps, and buckles in a "close enough for government work" formation.
It was then that he noticed that the light peering through his mostly-
drawn blinds was painting his room in a deep orange-red light, and his
stomach was protesting it's vacancy most profusely.

'Hrmm,' he pondered, 'now where was that refectory at?' He
stood, knees popping, and dusted off his hands. With routine born of
habit, he put on his previously-discarded work shirt and stepped out of
his room, locking the door behind him.

Walking along the wood-and-plaster hallway, John was struck by
how austere they looked - not in the manner of a barracks, but more
along the lines of a sanitarium. 'But who are the inmates? The cyborgs,
their handlers, or us "normal" ones?'

As he walked, his mind continued to wander, focussing for the
first time on the concept of the cyborgs. 'Are they children, doing an
adult's job? Are they tools, or weapons, to be utilized until they break
down? Are they mindless machines? Are they slaves?' He stopped walking,
standing near an open window that looked out onto the courtyard. Walking
along the brick path towards the archway on the far side was a pair of
short (well, to John, most of the personnel here were short) young
girls, probably cyborgs, one with rather dramatic red hair, the other
with black hair in a boyish cut, topped by a rather incongruous beret.
Both were laughing at some unheard joke, and the black-haired one gave
her friend a playful shove.

"Amazing, isn't it?" piped up a familiar voice from behind him.
John jumped, spun, and cursed inwardly that he had let his guard down.
'That's happening all too much,' part of him groused.

Leaning against the wood paneling of the wall behind him was
Giorgio, idly picking his teeth with a contented smile and half-shrouded
eyes. "It's almost as though they were real girls, isn't it?" he
continued, his expression hardening as the pair in the courtyard
disappeared from view.

"I just ponder that," said John, looking at the archway where
the girls had vanished, willing his heart to slow down. He kept his
expression carefully controlled as the initial adrenaline surge began to
calm down, but there still remained a lingering urge to snap the neck of
the man who snuck up behind him like thief in the night. "I think to me,
'who are they?'" Keeping his expression neutral, John shifted his gaze
back to Giorgio. "What do you say?"

"Me?" Giorgio smirked as he stood up. "I say they're machines,
machines that shouldn't be treated like real people. They aren't real
people. The things these cyborgs could do, if they were in the proper
hands..." He shook his head sadly. "I mean, people like Vic Hilshire
seem to do alright, even though his 'Princess' can get sort of above
herself. But man, can she kill Padans..." He shook his head again. "But
the rest? Give me just one Generation 1 unit... just one! The results I
could get Section 2 would be INCREDIBLE."

He stepped forwards. "But that's not where they've put me,
more's the pity. It's okay, though. We in the SRT do just fine, too,
without the little pampered ghouls. We're a good crew, with a mission
success ratio that is unmatched in Public Safety, anywhere."

John kept his expression neutral, stifling a gulp. Reading the
literature and getting the pep talk from Amadeo was all well and good,
but it occurred to him that the group he was about to join were all
consummate professionals, well-trained in fields that he had only
skimmed the surface of. Many of them had been hand-picked out of Special
Operations units, most likely; men who trained hard, worked harder, and
were capable of feats of strength, endurance and skill that John had
only previously been exposed to through media.

Despite not showing it, Giorgio must have sensed his
nervousness, scenting it like a shark scenting blood in the ocean. He
gave a small smile, devoid of mirth. "And they're thinking is that
you're going to be working with us, recluta? We made it this far without
losing anyone, until Marizio took that grenade. We made those bastardi
pay, not that it did Marizio any good at that point." Each sentence was
punctuated by another step, bringing him closer and closer to John's
personal space. Unusually, Giorgio wasn't talking with his hands,
keeping them low and in front of him, almost like a ready stance.

Part of John knew what this was, and had been readying himself
for it. He knew that he wasn't going to be able to simply waltz into a
fighting unit without being tested. He just hadn't been expecting it
quite so soon.

Before the confrontation could come to a head, one of the doors
leading to the catwalk opened up, and two women stepped out. One was
dressed in a sharp business suit, no-nonsense, with short-cropped dark
hair and shrewd, cat-like eyes. The other was speaking in the normal,
Italian way, with vigor, volume, and vibrancy, her chestnut hair
bouncing as she made her closing point to her compatriot. Incredibly,
she was able to carry on the entirety of the conversation whilst
snatching bites from the crusty baguette stuffed with salami that she
was holding, and occasionally punctuating some important point with.

John blinked as he noted that Giorgio had stepped back against
the wall when the door had opened, seemingly unconcerned with anything
around him. John met his gaze, which told him implicitly 'later.' John
gave the smallest of nods. Giorgio smirked, and stepped away, hands in
his pockets, whistling a jaunty tune.

Exhaling, John let his body relax, leaning against one of the
stanchions as the two women passed, deep in their conversation, before
heading out of the same door that Giorgio had left through. It was a
testament to the brown-haired woman's dedication to her subject (the use
of shopping as a camouflage, apparently), that her point was still
clearly audible for several seconds after their entrance to the next
wing.

John took a few seconds to gather his thoughts, noted that the
door the women had come through appeared to be the stairwell. Reasoning
that the refectory had to be on the ground level, at least, he strolled
down it, passing from the artificial lighting back to the natural, the
summer sunset washing the grounds outside the double-storied dormitory
building with a rich orange-red hue.

Wishing he'd paid attention when he was first walking through
the compound, John looked about, finally seeing an adjacent building
that had a semi-steady stream of people walking in and out of it. It was
the sight of those exiting holding their midsections in a satisfied
manner that made his decision for him.

Well, that, and the sudden snarl from his own. Stifling a rueful
smile, John headed towards the refectory.

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


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 Kiskaloo on Fri 13 May 2011 - 1:23

I like it. It's nice to see how "new people" respond to their first real glimpse of The Agency.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by ChaosKin640 on Fri 13 May 2011 - 1:42

I concur, Kisk; another good installment. It is indeed fun to follow along an outsider's point of view as they first come to familiarize themselves with the agency and its inner workings.

One little thing is niggling at me though: Giorgio's conversation with John. I'm not sure it's strictly in character for him to hold those kinds of opinions about the girls. He and Amadeo have both been a part of Section 2 from Day 1, and while he might not have had the same closeness with Angie as the others, I can't remember any canon evidence of him being overtly condescending towards them, viewing them as nothing more than mechanical tools. Of course, this could just be a part of the "testing" that he's putting John through, watching to see how the new guy reacts.
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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Officer_Charon on Fri 13 May 2011 - 2:02

Honestly, I'm still feeling out Giorgio's character... this could either be an attempt by him at testing John.... or this could be the logical extrapolation of the feelings of a man who's been feeling set aside and belittled by these "pampered princesses" since day one... especially since the SRT has been getting used in conjunction with Section 2 cyborgs more regularly.

I see Giorgio as the tactical version of an "Old Guard" general - set in his ways, with the fundamental feeling that the proven methods are inherently best. Obviously, he's got to be able to overcome part of that to even WORK in Section 2, but I feel, based on some of his comments, that he's really not comfortable with the whole concept of the cyborgs.

Some from column A, some from column B for now, I suppose...

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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 Mon 16 May 2011 - 20:51

all done in a honey-colored wood.

Or a honey-colored wood-effect plastic coating over MDF, at any rate...!

bereft of any sun-bleaching or incompletely erased marks. Completely unused. New. Virgin.

Does the newness of this material indicate that John slipping slipping into a role that was just waiting for someone of his calibre, or that he is as generic and replaceable as the off-the-shelf furniture?

certain that everyone had been staring at him.

Once he had realised that he was not, in fact, the center of
everyone's attention

It's par for the course in everyone's behaviour, evidently, or he just doesn't need to be so up-tight, the Agency won't bite.

Just that quickly, he'd forgotten the
lesson he'd learned upon boarding the aircraft.

Nervousness making you clumsy - he's certainly discomfited.

Amadeo shrugged. "Either way, nothing's getting done
while you're still standing there."

Amadeo and Giorgio both were keen and spoliling for a fight back in the old days - they have the itch to be actual Fighting Soldiers.

In addition to
receiving a complete set of new (still in plastic wrap!) tactical gear,

This serves to illustrate that the Agency is certainly well-equipped - the lockers aren't full of battered third-hand hand-me-downs. All the gear - but do they have any idea?

'Are they children, doing an
adult's job? Are they tools, or weapons, to be utilized until they break
down? Are they mindless machines? Are they slaves?'

Thinking about it, some handlers probably treat their cyborgs in an austere or utilitarian way precisely so that they don't have to wrestle with this question themselves.[/quote]

young
girls, probably cyborgs, one with rather dramatic red hair, the other
with black hair in a boyish cut, topped by a rather incongruous beret.
Both were laughing at some unheard joke, and the black-haired one gave
her friend a playful shove.

Thanks for giving Agapita a cameo here.

I mean, people like Vic Hilshire
seem to do alright, even though his 'Princess' can get sort of above
herself. But man, can she kill Padans..." He shook his head again. "But
the rest? Give me just one Generation 1 unit... just one! The results I
could get Section 2 would be INCREDIBLE.

Section Two is a largely informal group and doesn't really have a clear and codified system of rank - but nonetheless, Giorgio is acutely conscious that he's still after all these years in the unvoiced 'lower tier' and it rankles with him.

Part of John knew what this was, and had been readying himself
for it. He knew that he wasn't going to be able to simply waltz into a
fighting unit without being tested. He just hadn't been expecting it
quite so soon.

Crikey, I can smell the testosterone even on the other side of the Atlantic... Wink

It was a
testament to the brown-haired woman's dedication to her subject (the use
of shopping as a camouflage, apparently), that her point was still
clearly audible for several seconds after their entrance to the next
wing.

A good touch. Something can be conveyed with a look or a gesture as much as with actual words.

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


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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Alfisti on Sat 11 Jun 2011 - 1:25

Ok, finally... I promised something more indepth so here goes:

"This will be yours, pending the completion of all your paperwork," Amadeo said with a good-natured smile, unlocking and opening the door with a single motion.
...riches beyond your wildest imaginings. Actually, it doesn't sound too bad, small but all things considered it could be a whole lot worse.

He had lowered his hands from where they had shot up in a defensive posture, feeling acutely self-conscious, certain that everyone had been staring at him.
Considering a few people in that plane probably have a similar wakeup reflex. I remember in cadets we had a staff (adult) Warrant Officer who had done a couple of tours in Vietnam. The only way to safely wake him up was to stand outside his room, behind the door and poke his foot with a broom handle.

Instead they moved through the crowd, propelled by sheer bubbliness. John couldn't help but curl his mouth into a small smile as they weaved around opposite sides of a group of besuited businessmen, never faltering in their rapid-fire discussion - of all things, zoo animals.
Great description of 'Etta and Rico. Just a little bit of the surrealism of the SWA that John's going to need to adjust to.

John raised an eyebrow. "A bit sudden, isn't that?"

Amadeo shook his head. "Not at all. You're either exactly who you say you are, in which case the sooner we get you on the firing line, the better. Or you're an infiltrator, and you won't survive any attempt you make here." Amadeo shrugged.
I'll admit I'm with John here in that it seems a little gung-ho, particularly for an organization as black as the SWA. Sure he wouldn't survive any attempt he made... but not everyone's looking to.

That said, you've done a good job of keeping the whole thing feeling "right" as it were.

The measurements were then typed into a computer whereupon a fax machine's distinctive electronic chattering commenced.
The use of the fax is a nice detail... it's enjoyably low tech in this organisation of high-technology. The beaureacracy still moves slowly at the best of times and I also guess this is a department that doesn't get a whole lot of attention.

His trip to the armory had proven productive, as well. He had been given a slightly-beaten Beretta 9FS
92FS?

I like the contrast of the gun that's seen a bit of action against all the new gear that John's getting. It's also a nice way of pointing out that, yes, this is indeed the standard-issue sidearm.

'Hrmm,' he pondered, 'now where was that refectory at?' He stood, knees popping, and dusted off his hands.
I'll be honest, I found these sort of "internalised speech" moments threw the flow a bit for me.

We in the SRT do just fine, too, without the little pampered ghouls. We're a good crew, with a mission success ratio that is unmatched in Public Safety, anywhere."
I'm enjoying this more hard nosed character you've built for Giorgio, it spices the whole thing up. Reading through the manga again (omnibusses turned up the other week, but reading time has been quite limited) I can see where and how you're drawing this personality for him.

The other was speaking in the normal, Italian way, with vigor, volume, and vibrancy, her chestnut hair bouncing as she made her closing point to her compatriot. Incredibly, she was able to carry on the entirety of the conversation whilst snatching bites from the crusty baguette stuffed with salami that she was holding, and occasionally punctuating some important point with.
Yeah, that's Priscilla all over.

Good chapter mate, looking forward to the next one. Oddly I never really get sick of reading outsiders' reactions to the SWA on first introduction.

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


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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Officer_Charon on Sun 28 Aug 2011 - 22:06

New part. Short one - don't care... for some reason, this has become torturous to slog through, and if I'm not enjoying it, I know y'all won't. However, I do have a plan for the next bits, with some ideas percolating, so they should proceed MUCH more smoothly. Just needed to chew through this bit of gristle. *grins*

Also, I do intend to post the completed work on FFnet at some point... at least, once it's got sufficient size to be worth uploading... right now, I don't know if there's enough for a decent-sized chapter to work with. Then again... *pondering look*

Spoiler:


It had been a quiet meal. Despite what had appeared to be a
stream of people entering the refectory, they were apparently the last
few people who, like John, had been caught short by various duties.
John's unfamiliar form had attracted some curious glances from the few
employees and cyborgs seated, but nobody had sat at near the stern-
looking man.

The irony was that John had not really been in a bad mood,
despite his encounter with Giorgio - his heavy brow merely made him seem
to be glowering. But with the lack of conversation to distract him, his
thoughts turned inwards again, focusing on the rapidity of change that
he had encountered in a very short amount of time. He kept observing
details that he normally would have brought to the attention of his
daughter, teaching Rebecca about the historical significance of this or
that. Each time, his heart would twinge, and his face would harden.

By the time the remainder of his food had gotten cold - which
was an unusual state of affairs for John in any case: allowing food to
go to waste was anathema - he had worked his mind into a frenzied circle
of thought that didn't show on his taciturn visage. His brain whirling
like a dervish, he had stood sharply, depositing his tray on the wash
rack, and left purposefully, taking long strides in no particular
direction.

Part of his mind was stepping back, looking at the situation
objectively, and John knew that he really should be paying more
attention to this part. He knew, deep down, that any brooding that he
would do on this subject would only invite a deeper depression,
preventing him from functioning, and if he couldn't function, he
couldn't kill the bastards reponsible.

The vast majority of his mind, however, was shouting much
louder, demanding to know answers that would never be forthcoming, to
know why his two greatest loves had been snatched away. The wounds were still too raw, too near for him to seperate himself completely from
them, and the initial numbing shock that had allowed him to operate
tactically had worn off.

The worst part of it all was that he knew the more chance that
he had to brood, the worse everything was going to get. If he didn't get
set on doing something proactive, very shortly, it was probably not
going to go well. The objective part of his mind scornfully denounced
that feeling as overly dramatic. The rest short that portion of his mind
a metaphysical bird and kept ranting in circular logic.

So it was with a blank look of confusion on his face that he met
Amadeo at the door to his room, his casual outfit bathed a dim pink in
the fading sunlight. It took a minute for his mind to get itself out of
the rut it had spun itself into and register what his eyes were seeing,
and a few more for his mouth to operate correctly. "Rossi... need
something?"

Amadeo blinked, then spoke. "You have everything you need now,
correct? Have all your kit, up to speed with the weapons?

John took a second to finish slowing down the cyclotron of his
mind, then replied. "I still need a rifle."

Amadeo chuckled. <"This is my rifle, there are many like it, but
this one is mine.> Full Metal Jacket... I love that movie."

John's face remained neutral. "Amico, I recite that every day
for 3 months. It's as real a mantra as anything." He took a breath, and
calmed himself down some more. "For true, I really do need a rifle if I
am to work effectively with the team."

Amadeo, nonplussed by his new teammate's volatile personality,
ignored the cold first statement, and nodded his head. "Tomorrow, we
train. After you complete a physical fitness test and the obstacle
course, we will issue you a rifle, and in the afternoon, you will have
your first day of range testing. That, and urban operations, will be
your life for the next few weeks."

As he pushed himself off of the wall, Amadeo handed him a cell
phone. "This is your new lifeline. All the numbers you need will be
included on it. If we need you, you will probably receive a call from
either me, Giorgio or Nihad - we're the squadleaders, and until you
finally get assigned a squad, you're to work with whomever needs an
additional body."

John's face had hardened at the information he was receiving.
While he didn't relish the idea of a physical fitness test, he was
practically salivating at the idea of burning some brass.

Amadeo looked him up and down briefly. "It looks as though you
might need to burn off some of that soft living... don't worry. We will
make sure that you will be able to keep up with us." John's ears tinged
red at his acknowledgement that he had not been as diligent as might
have been necessary in the PT department. Amadeo gave him a chuckle and
a good-natured slap on the shoulder. "Not to worry, my new friend. There
is potential there. We'll get it from you."

John gave a nod, ears still burning. Amadeo started to turn from
the door, before halting himself. "Oh yes... there may be some paperwork
at some point tomorrow - we would not be a government agency without the paperwork, would we?" John was forced to concede a small chuckle at that, which brought a natural-looking smile to Amadeo's face.

With an exchange of partings, John stepped back into his room.
Now that he had completed his tasks for the day, his mind was free to
wander. Idly, he found himself rubbing at the still-raw wounds on his
face, assimilating the new sensation of his fingers tracing the length
of the fresh soon-to-be scars.

Like his wounds, his mind was still raw, too. At least he didn't
feel as though he was going to break down this time... plenty of time
for that later. But, unbidden, memories of the last few days kept
returning.

Furiously, he knuckled his forehead. <"This is it, dammit!
Accept it! They're gone... nothing you say or do is going to change
that. It's time to suck it up, get past this weakness, and get down to
the important stuff.">

His eyes, blinking out the last of the stillborn tears, found
the Kydex paddle holster that had been issued with his Beretta, with the
pistol sitting inside it. He grasped the butt of the weapon, broke it
free from the holster's retention systems, ejected the magazine, and
pulled the slide back. After racking it several more times to ensure
that the breech was clear, he methodically slid the rounds from the
magazine, emptying them onto the coverlet on his bed.

After making sure that both pistol and magazine were clear, he
inserted the empty mag, and began dry-firing. Each snap of the hammer
onto an empty chamber resounded in his head like hammerblows on a gong.
It was only when he noted how badly his fingers were hurting that he
realised that he had passed two hours on a rookie exercise.

Ensuring the alarm on his new phone was set, John began
preparing for bed, trying not to let his mind race as it contemplated
this next, exciting, terrifying step in the new direction his life was
going.

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


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 Kiskaloo on Sun 28 Aug 2011 - 23:18

I think it works as a transition chapter. Yes Indeed

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Professor Voodoo on Sun 28 Aug 2011 - 23:23

You write John's introverted moments (and there are many) very well but I get the feeling you're itching to move on with his development...put him in some action and have him experience some character interaction beyond Georgio & Amadeo.

Wherever the next installment takes us I still enjoyed this one. John's response to Amadeo's Full Metal Jacket quote is powerfully understated...that wasn't a movie for me, I lived it.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Officer_Charon on Sun 28 Aug 2011 - 23:48

Introversion in a foreign culture kind of comes with the territory: think of the scene in The 13th Warrior where Antonio Banderas' character begins picking up Norse...



But, yes, I would like very much to get off of the drama high horse and start writing John as something OTHER than angst-fuelled emo-bait. Any suggestions in that regard are welcome

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Alfisti on Mon 29 Aug 2011 - 7:09

As Voodoo noted: you write John's introverted moments really well. I also like the way you write his Italian as still somewhat stilted... maybe he should take up watching Italian movies to take his mind off things and help brush up on it conversationaly Razz However, it's also interesting to see him using his need for revenge to help drive himself, perhaps with time he'll get more efficient about that, knowing when to apply it to stop himself spiraling downward. Of course, in that case he'll need to be careful about going too far the other way.

I wonder if they are actually waiting to see that John can master the basics before they give him a rifle; or does the SWA want more time to get a bead on him before they issue him the more high-powered weapon?

"Oh yes... there may be some paperwork
at some point tomorrow - we would not be a government agency without the paperwork, would we?"
Monty: Oh you don't know the half of it...

Looking forward to, well... watching how John moves forward Razz

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Officer_Charon on Tue 1 Nov 2011 - 4:49

After demolishing some of my writer's block, I've managed to hew a wee addition to my story from it. I have a tentative title of "Men-at-Arms," and once I chew through John's introdcution to the SWA and explaining how he comes to work with them, I figure I'm going to focus it on the actions of the SRT as a whole, rather than John specifically. Time will tell how well this works out.



As an aside, I will occasionally throw shout-outs to author's OC's in my writing. I've tried to get permission for each one, but if I end up overstepping my bounds, or mischaracterizing anyone, y'all please let me know, and I will adjust fire accordingly. The LAST thing I want to do is step on anyone's toes.



Spoiler:
Jean and Lorenzo sat opposite each other in Lorenzo's office,
sipping tea provided by Lorenzo's discrete female valet. Behind Jean,
leaning against the wall with an air of affected insouciance was Amadeo,
while Nihad stood at a relaxed rest position, hands clasped at the small
of his back.



"What are your impressions of him," asked Lorenzo, coming straight
to the point. "Just broaching the subject to Minster Petris gave me a
case of tinnitus. Please tell me that we're not making a collossal
mistake in breaching security this way."


Amadeo kept his small smile. "Honestly, he's a bit raw. More
than a bit, really - Americans always seem to live so soft. But he seems
to have the fundamentals, and we can build on that."


"The important thing is that he's focused. Almost TOO focused
- We're going to have to work to get his anger directed to where it's
not going to affect his concentration during operations. The last thing
we need is a berserker without the control of Conditioning and the
abilities of a cyborg to fall back on."


"I should hope," interjected Jean tersely "that we would not be
having this conversation if you didn't think you could rein him in.
Otherwise, we could always dispatch one of the cyborgs to take care of
him."


Nihad shook his head slightly. "Lt. Croce, the man has just lost
his family a mere two days ago. The wound is still raw. Time will tell
how it will heal, but as long as he has a strong support structure, I
don't doubt that he will do just fine with the team."


Amadeo nodded, his smile slipping into a more serious look for
a while. "I know we may play second fiddle to the Fratelli, but the SRT
will do right by the SWA with this man."


Lorenzo steepled his fingers, brow furrowed silghtly in thought.
Finally, he removed his glasses and knuckled his eyes for a moment
before replacing them. "Very well... I suppose it's something of a moot
point at this juncture, being that Minister Petris immediately informed
the American consulate of the deaths of two of their citizens, and a
third working with the government on a matter of national security.
They're making unhappy noises, and are sending a small delegation there
tomorrow, in high dudgeon."


Jean grimaced. "Unpleasant, but I suppose it's unavoidable,
given the circumstances. I'll get Priscilla working on counter-
intelligence first thing in the morning. She and Olga can draft the
'necessary paperwork' to have ready for the consular attache by the time
they arrive."


Lorenzo grunted. "I sometimes question just how Italian our
agency really is... between the United Nations that the handler's dorm
seems to be, to say nothing of the support staff and medical
personnel..." His brow furrowed again. "I suppose it's the cost of
shielding Italy."


Amadeo chuckled. "Hey, even the Imperium Romanum recruited
foreign auxiliaries!"


"And just look where they ended up," growled Jean. Nihad managed
to remain politically silent - his own Ethiopian heritage not needing to
be mentioned at this time.


Lorenzo stood. "Ultimately, it comes down to how long we can
make use of Darme. If he proves to be a liability... well, we'll cross
that bridge when we come to it. For right now, I want the SRT to
integrate him as quickly and safely as possible. Get him conversant in
Italian - that pidgin that you told me he's making do with isn't going
to cut it. As soon as he's up to speed, get him working in an undercover
capacity, if possible. Supporting one of the Fratelli would probably be
ideal, but we'll slot him in wherever we can fit him."


Amadeo nodded, and stood up from where he had been leaning
against the wall. "You got it, Chief. If we can get him up without
breaking him, it'll be done quickly."


Lorenzo nodded. "Very well then. You gentlemen go ahead and turn
in - I understand tomorrow you're going to run him for a bit?"
Amadeo chuckled. "You could say that."



* * * * *



"MOVE MOVE MOVE! I'VE SEEN GIRL SCOUTS AT A PICNIC MOVE FASTER
THAN THAT!"



Amadeo's voice, all the more startling for coming from the
normally-relaxed operator, sliced through the air, overpowering the
normal sounds of PT rising above the already-warm field. Interested
parties, both from SRT operators and fratelli, observed the self-
proclaimed "Agent of Love" making a decent showing as a drill instuctor
running the new guy through the obstacle course.


John, having managed to let his conditioning slip after several
years out of the military, was not making a good showing, impacting
against the medium wall, rather than boosting up and over it. After
picking himself up several times, he was finally able to skim over,
breathing harshly, low-crawling under the following obstacle.


It wasn't long after this that Amadeo called a halt.
<"Candidato... ATTENTI!"> he barked. Chest heaving, John managed to pull
himself to the position of attention. He marvelled at the fact that he
was still able to stand at all, and cursed himself for letting his
conditioning slip as much as it had.


Amadeo, joined by Nihad and Giorgio, stood in front of John,
shaking his head sadly. "To think that this is what you bring to me,
after I spoke so highly of you. Here I was, thinking that an American
Marine might be something worth speaking about." John's eyes hardened as
his brain caught up with the translation, but he managed to hold his
temper. "Instead, you bring this... lukewarm performance in front of
me... I certainly hope that you're holding something back. I know that
Nihad is going to find it, wherever it may be." John's heart sank - he
knew that Nihad was Ethiopian in heritage, which meant that he'd already
experienced more hardship by the age of 10 than John could ever
experience in his entire life.


To his credit, Nihad kept any trace of expression from his face,
simply saying "At the double, forward... march," and immediately
matching John's jogging pace as they took off towards the far end of the
exercise field.


Giorgio snorted. "Americans are always so lazy... does Lorenzo
really think that the Yankee can match up to our team?"


Amadeo nodded. "So do I, for that matter... he's out of shape,
yes, but he's pushing himself - that much is evident. Assuming his time
in the military was not a complete farce, we should have him remembering
what it's like to work hard within a couple of weeks."


Giorgio looked after the retreating pair. "It's not just that,"
he said after a few seconds. "I wonder how well he'll fit in with the
team once he's back in form. By his own admission, he's never worked in
a high-speed field like ours - not even as a... what do they call them?
'SWAT?' You and I both know that most of our squads are formerly special
forces from the various branches of the military and police. This guy
was an artilleryman! What does he know about infiltration, or squad
tactics? Undercover observation? If he comes in and causes a good
operator to die..."


Amadeo held up his hands mollifyingly. "It'll be okay, mi
amico... You know that we won't let him operate if he doesn't show us
that he can handle it... and I think he will do fine. As I told Lorenzo,
as long as we can keep him focussed, he'll be okay."


Giorgio stood, pondering, then nodded. "Fair enough... so long
as he can hack it, he gets a fair shot, same as anyone else on the team.
Now, on to other problems: Fausto and Paulo are starting to lose
coherency in their room-clearing drills..."


Engrossed in their discussion of tactics and personnel, the two
squad leaders didn't pay any further attention to John's nascent heart
attack as Nihad pushed him verbally on another lap of the field.



*****




After a series of stretches and cool-down exercises, John was
finally released to make his sorrowful, meandering way back to his dorm
room. Chest burning and vision blurred from sweat pouring into his eyes,
John began lurching his way towards a shower and an attempt at some
paperwork that he had just learned was coming his way. As he worked on
controlling his breathing, he looked about with interest at the field
that he had been unable to examine whilst under Nihad's gimlet gaze.



He noted with interest that there were a fairly large number of
young girls - 'Cyborgs, obviously' his brain noted sarcastically - being
pushed through their paces by a tall, impeccably turned-out man with
slicked-back hair, whose clear voice chivvied the stragglers through
their paces with a crisp military demeanor. John noted a redhead with
twin pigtails leap over an obstacle - the same 6-foot wall that gave him
grief earlier - only to clip the top of it with her toe and come
cartwheeling down into the mud obstacle on the other side. This resulted
in some small outbursts of hilarity from her "sisters," which was
swiftly crushed by the cyborg's own drill instructor via a savagely-
cadenced series of push-ups.


It took John a moment to figure out why this scene was sticking
in his mind, during which time the girls completed their corrective
measures and continued on with their obstacle course run. Finally, it
struck him: if these girls had mechanical bodies, why did they need to
exercise?


It took several minutes of musing before a theory constructed
itself sufficiently in his mind to come to a coherent thought process.
'They're given these bodies, but they don't know how to control them
fully, or their brains might need to remap neural pathways to their new
musculature. They're superhuman... but they're not perfect."


Somehow, he couldn't decide if this thought was comforting or
disheartening. He was still mulling this over when he got to his door,
in front of which stood a young woman with shoulder-length hazelnut
hair, dressed in a sharp blouse and slacks. After a moment, he
recognized her as being the highly-animated speaker that he'd seen in
the dorm area the previous day.


With a smile at his bedraggled condition, the young lady stepped
up to John. <"Good morning,"> she began in lightly-accented English.
John shook his head with a small smile of his own.


"Good morning," he replied. "If you please, we try in Italian.
Need to learn."


The young lady's smile broadened. "Very well. My name is
Priscilla Meleori, and I'm with the Intelligence division of Section 2.
I'm here because I spent all night working on some paperwork for you to
sign off on, for the U.S. Government to accept you as being willing to
work with us on a matter of national internal security."


John raised an eyebrow, prompting a drop of sweat to fall into
his eye. He blinked furiously, which rather spoiled the sardonic effect
he was trying for. "I think that make my government... uhm...
"


<"Sospettoso,"> supplied Priscilla, nodding, "And you're
correct. They're not saying anything, but if I were them, I'd at least
be putting your name in a Homeland Security database as a potential
mole from the Italian Government. They've already come to the offices of
Minister Petris, who oversees our operations. We shall have to step very
carefully - for obvious reasons, we're not exactly a well-known branch
of the government."


John gave a hoarse bark of laughter. "You should be English,
with the way you understate." He pondered for a moment. "You have papers
there?" Priscilla nodded, holding them out for John to look over. Both
were managing to overlook the fact that John's workout was starting to
catch up with the air between them. "In English and Italian...
excellent... okay, I think I know how I can word this so that they don't
find anything out... They do not know about the SWA; they know I see a
terrorist attack... if I let them think I am working with government as
witness, it will be ok. I think."


Priscilla nodded again. "That was what we were hoping to do, as
well. Hurry up and get ready to leave - as I said, they are in Minister
Petris' office, and asking for you. They think I am an assistant,
picking you up from a hotel, but we must hurry."


John gave a small nod, then looked at his watch. "15 minutes?"
He gave a small sniff, wrinkling his nose. "Ah... 20?" Priscilla
chuckled throatily.


"I will meet you downstairs in the parking lot in 20 minutes.
Look for the-"


"Grey Alfa Romeo?" John interjected. Priscilla chuckled again,
and nodded. "See you in 20," he replied, opening his door.

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


Si vis pacem, para bellum

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

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

Post by Professor Voodoo on Tue 1 Nov 2011 - 11:31

Officer_Charon wrote:After demolishing some of my writer's block, I've managed to hew a wee addition to my story from it.
Welcome back...glad to see you were thinking of us on your vacation!

Interesting triple point-of-view chapter...the complication of informing the US State Department is a realistic touch that could bear some fruit for future plot lines. More complete thoughts to come...

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Kiskaloo on Tue 1 Nov 2011 - 19:30

Officer_Charon wrote:After demolishing some of my writer's block, I've managed to hew a wee addition to my story from it. I have a tentative title of "Men-at-Arms," and once I chew through John's introdcution to the SWA and explaining how he comes to work with them, I figure I'm going to focus it on the actions of the SRT as a whole, rather than John specifically. Time will tell how well this works out.

Well it certainly started well and I am very excited that the SRT folks are getting some screen time.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Professor Voodoo on Thu 3 Nov 2011 - 6:21

As I said before, this chapter reads as three seperate vignettes from various points of view; which I suppose jives with the direction you want to take this...focusing on the whole support staff and not just John.
"The important thing is that he's focused. Almost TOO focused
- We're going to have to work to get his anger directed to where it's
not going to affect his concentration during operations.
I was half-expecting Jean to be speaking this line, which would have been irony of the first order.
Get him conversant in Italian - that pidgin that you told me he's making do with isn't going
to cut it.
Can't wait to see who his appointed tutor will be.
"MOVE MOVE MOVE! I'VE SEEN GIRL SCOUTS AT A PICNIC MOVE FASTER
THAN THAT!"
Triela: Hey! Speaking as the cyborgs' appointed representative; we resent that.
Engrossed in their discussion of tactics and personnel, the two
squad leaders didn't pay any further attention to John's nascent heart
attack as Nihad pushed him verbally on another lap of the field.
Details drawn from your own efforts to re-join active duty in the Marine Corps?
pushed through their paces by a tall, impeccably turned-out man with slicked-back hair, whose clear voice chivvied the stragglers through their paces with a crisp military demeanor. John noted a redhead with
twin pigtails leap over an obstacle - the same 6-foot wall that gave him
grief earlier - only to clip the top of it with her toe and come
cartwheeling down into the mud obstacle on the other side. This resulted
in some small outbursts of hilarity from her "sisters," which was
swiftly crushed by the cyborg's own drill instructor via a savagely-
cadenced series of push-ups.
The instant I read that the image of Marisa landing hard and coming up covered in mud entered my head...her frustration ameliorated by the fact that she managed to splatter Major Mancini's impeccably shined boots.
They're superhuman... but they're not perfect."
Every Handler: Brother, you don't know the half of it.
"Grey Alfa Romeo?" John interjected. Priscilla chuckled again,
Is that becoming an SWA cliché?
Another fine installment...looking forward to the next.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Alfisti on Thu 3 Nov 2011 - 6:32

That's unusually lenient of Jean: letting Priscilla have the night off before getting John and the SWA's cover together Razz

Liked it mate... more thoughts to come.

Thought to me the title does beg the question to me: will there be a "Feet of Clay" to follow?

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Robert Frazer on Fri 4 Nov 2011 - 22:19

Jean and Lorenzo sat opposite each other in Lorenzo's office,
sipping tea provided by Lorenzo's discrete female valet.

Nice to see 'Tea' get a mention, but quick spelling - "discreet".

"The important thing is that he's focused. Almost TOO focused
- We're going to have to work to get his anger directed to where it's
not going to affect his concentration during operations. The last thing
we need is a berserker without the control of Conditioning and the
abilities of a cyborg to fall back on."

Interesting sentiment. If there's nothing to your life but the job, then you're not dedicated, you're actually a danger, because you can only react to any situation in one violent way.


Lorenzo steepled his fingers, brow furrowed silghtly in thought.
Finally, he removed his glasses and knuckled his eyes for a moment
before replacing them. "Very well... I suppose it's something of a moot
point at this juncture, being that Minister Petris immediately informed
the American consulate of the deaths of two of their citizens, and a
third working with the government on a matter of national security.
They're making unhappy noises, and are sending a small delegation there
tomorrow, in high dudgeon."

Little details like this are important, I think - given how unusual the Agency is, its relation with the wider government is doubly interesting in addition to the usual office intrigues.

"And just look where they ended up," growled Jean. Nihad managed
to remain politically silent - his own Ethiopian heritage not needing to
be mentioned at this time.

Maybe "politely silent" would be better. There's nothing really specifically political here, and "politely" would give a better sense of Jean's constrasting insensitivity.

John, having managed to let his conditioning slip after several
years out of the military, was not making a good showing,

Heh, heh. Ever tried on your old uniform and found it a bit tighter than you remember it? Wink

It's telling that the relentless physical training is "conditioning" of its own kind, and the little details of how best to approach a wall also help to give a sens eof authenticity and authority.

This guy
was an artilleryman! What does he know about infiltration, or squad
tactics? Undercover observation? If he comes in and causes a good
operator to die..."

This aspect of John's background is also interesting, because not every soldier can be a Tom Clancy specops operator, and it promises for a different sort of dynamic. In the specific scene, it also highlights Amadeo and Giorgio's presumptuous condescension towards the "Yankee".


It took several minutes of musing before a theory constructed
itself sufficiently in his mind to come to a coherent thought process.
'They're given these bodies, but they don't know how to control them
fully, or their brains might need to remap neural pathways to their new
musculature. They're superhuman... but they're not perfect."

This is how I've always justified it, too. Also, thanks for giving Avise a cameo.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Officer_Charon on Fri 4 Nov 2011 - 22:31

Thanks to everyone for the checking and reviewing!

@Professor Voodoo: I think I had Lorenzo saying that because he's trying to slip Jean a hint that his own anger is noted by his superiors... Jean, being Jean, missed a trick there.

@Robert: Thanks for the catch... I knew that discrete was a correct spelling, but for the wrong definition. It's a by-product of my British upbringing - I'm never ENTIRELY sure when I'm mis-spelling something, or if I'm spelling it the way I learned growing up. *chuckles*

And "politcally silent" was chosen because of the nature of the conversation... but maybe a re-wording might be in order...

And Avise will appear again - someone as Gung-Ho as him? Oh yeah... he and Agapita will show up agian, I think.

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


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 8 Nov 2011 - 6:30

What's this? An update a mere week later? It's more likely than you might think! Fresh off the presses, hewn from only the most frazzled of late-night synapses, the next addition.



Spoiler:


The consular attache left Minister Petris' offices escorted by
Priscilla, whose friendly conversation threatened to bowl him over with
it's exuberance, leaving him struggling to catch up with her. Which was
sort of the whole point - keeping him distracted and not thinking too
hard about John's role in the investigation of the terrorist attacks,
wondering just why a foreign national was needed to work with the
government to such an extent. It made sense that maskirovka was as much
a part of SWA operations as MOUT and assassination ops.


John looked at his new work permit, noting distantly that it was
made out in his real name. He scowled, and almost crumpled up the single
link left to his former life. Instead, he placed it in the file folder
that contained all such documents, and resumed walking towards his room
with the file under his left arm.


It was official, now. The United States had (grudgingly)
authorized the Italian government to utilize one of its citizens for
tasks "of a valuable service to the Italian people, in the spirit of
NATO cooperation." Maintaining his Inactive Ready Reserve status in the
Corps had not turned out to be a waste of time, after all.


Whatever. It furthered his goals to associate with the SWA.
Their immediate goal was the complete annihilation of the Padania
Republic Faction and its criminal and terroristic associates. To include
the cowardly bastards who took his family away from him.


His left fist clenched hard against the folded bottom of the
file, leaving uneven indentations from the two remaining fingers on that
hand. After some moments of breathing hard ('the nerve of that woman,
going behind my back, behind the SWA's back... the only group that can
do something here, and she's almost blowing their cover?!'), John reined
in his temper, and sat back down in the anteroom chair. Minister Petris'
secretary remained tacitly silent, despite having bore witness to the
Minister's guest's... episode.


It wasn't long before Priscilla's return, her expression devoid
of the chirpy vapidness that she had been displaying, replaced instead
with a more genuinely warm smile. She coughed once she entered the room,
snapping John out of his still-rambling internal monologue. "All ready
to leave?"


"Yes, Miss Meleori. I have my papers. Now, for more training."


Priscilla tsked sternly. "Ah-ah-ah..." she clucked, waggling a
finger. "I have been advised to have you meet some of the rest of the
staff this afternoon. Normally, I would take you to where Amadeo and
Giorgio and the rest of the leatherheads hang out, but most of them have
been tapped for a mission today."


John raised an eyebrow, wondering why noone had told him, before
giving himself a mental slap upside the head. Obviously, he was still
FAR too raw to even be considered a part of the team. He would have to
train even harder - a prospect that his aching body did not relish.


"Instead, I thought it might be a good idea to meet some of the
handlers and their fratelli." John blinked, processing the translation
in his head for a moment, before a brief, involuntary shudder took him.
Concerned, Priscilla's eyebrows knotted. "What's the matter?"


John shook his head. "Please... excuse me. I mean no bad. Is
just... sometime I think to me that little girls should not do this
work. I see little brown-hair girl that first day... she is very good at
this - much better than me. I see blonde with twin-tails - Triela, yes?
- she is very polite, very calm... but her eyes like tiger."


Priscilla's expression softened. "I understand where you are
coming from. I thought the same thing when I first was recruited here
from the Financial Guard. Working with Angelica - Amadeo told you about
Angelica?" Priscilla's expression took on a dreamy look, with a wistful
edge to it. "Angelica was a delight. I saw her file, with what happened
to her before she came to us. With the SWA's doctors working on her, she
was able to move again, to walk, to run..."


Her voice took on a slightly husky tone, and she swallowed
heavily before continuing. "But her mind wasn't able to accept the
extensive prosthetics without serious damage. It was through the use of
the conditioning that she was able to function at all, but it came at
the cost of her identity." Her expression firmed, and she swallowed
again. "But with us, with the SWA, she wanted to help. All she wanted to
do was to work with us. She understood that we had given her this
wonderful gift, and she wanted to pay us back, however she could. She
would sometimes say 'I've been given this chance to help, this life that
brought me Marco and his stories... what kind of person would I be if I
didn't do everything I could to help him?"


John felt himself tearing up, in spite of himself. Priscilla
noted it, and chuckled, despite the fact that her own eyes were far from
dry, themselves. "She does have that effect on people. Always did...
when we get back to the compound, I'll show you where we buried her...
as well as tell you the story of what happened." As she finished the
last sentence, her voice took on a surprisingly hard tone, almost like a
snarl. John was taken slightly aback, until she waved her hand. "Later.
For now," she shook her head, and her voice became more cheerful, "I
think you'd enjoy seeing the girls that we've helped, and the lives that
they live today."


John stood, then thought about something. "Is just girls?" he
asked, double-checking to make sure that he hadn't left any paperwork
behind. Priscilla nodded, and the pair exited the anteroom and proceeded
towards the elevator bank.


"At our compound, there are only female cyborgs. They live in
their own dorm, apart from the handlers and other adult staff. Amadeo
probably didn't talk about them so much, because he and the other
leatherheads usually only work with the fratelli in a support role. To
be fair," she added as the elevator she had summoned during their
conversation arrived with a jaunty *DING* "We really haven't had that
many opportunities to deploy the SRT en masse... they tend to go out in
small groups, acting as undercover support operatives."


John nodded once the translation worked instelf through his
head. "Makes sense... we are a 'secret' organization, n'est-ce pas?"
Priscilla quirked a smile. "Kara's going to love you. And yes,
sending out a group of unmarked paramilitary troops would no doubt get
attention from the public... even in a country with as many 'special
forces' groups as Italy."


John's look of surprise coincided with their elevator reaching
the ground floor, and the pair stepped out, heading towards the main
entrance. John gallantly held the door for Priscilla as she continued
explaining. "Oh, you didn't realise it? Not even counting the military
units like the 'Col Moschin' paratroops and the Navy's COMSUBIN, the
various police forces each have their own counterterrorism or special
forces units... you have the NOCS from the Polizia di Stato, the
Carabinieri's GIS, my Guardia di Finanzia's own ATPI... I shouldn't
wonder that the Polizia Postale don't have their own CT unit hidden from
view, somewhere." John couldn't help but smirk at the idea, and
Priscilla's eye's sparkled at working a small chuckle from the thus-far
taciturn American.


As they finished loading up the Alfa Romeo with everything that
they'd brought with them, Priscilla finished up her tangent. "But the
thing is, the public knows about these units... their takedowns are
published to the media, they march in the parades... we can attempt to
camouflage the SRT by applying other unit's patches, we can try and keep
things low-key, but we both know that things will not always go according
to plan." John nodded, even though his sampling of this particular area
was extremely limited.


"But they train for the big operation that may never happen,
because Mr. Pieri believes in being thorough. And whenever they're
needed, they work in the field with the rest of us. And so will you,
when you're ready." She finished up with a broad smile that reached her
eyes. John made up his mind that he rather liked this feisty operative -
whose personality came off as being genuinely likeable, rather than
annoyingly cheerful, as many such often did for him.


"Buckle up," she said, despite the fact that her own seatbelt
hung by her side. Before John could question her, she turned the key,
revved the engine, slapped the Alfa into gear as though it had
personally offended her, and the grey sedan leapt from it's parking
space as though it was kicked in the trunk by a petulant god-child.


"I hope you like gelato," remarked Priscilla cheerfully as she
dodged Roman traffic, utilizing horn and hands in some Mediterrannean
mantra for parting gridlocked cars that John was simply not privy to.
Remarking that he did, John finally was able to engage his seatbelt, and
siezed the "oh shit" handle above his door with a grip that was just shy
of white-knuckle, murmurming vague oaths and imprecations with each jerk
of the car.


Oh yes, he enjoyed gelato. And Priscilla was going to owe him a
nice big one after this trip.


Last edited by Officer_Charon on Tue 7 Feb 2012 - 6:30; edited 1 time in total

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


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 Tue 8 Nov 2011 - 8:04

I guess John's not acclimatized to driving in Roman traffic yet... no-one from outside Italy probably ever does...

...nicely done mate, I liked your smoothing over of the relations between the US and Italy (or not as the case may be, but a believable compromise from both sides).


Crikey I'm getting behind in my reviewing...

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Kiskaloo on Tue 8 Nov 2011 - 8:43

Alfisti wrote:I guess John's not acclimatized to driving in Roman traffic yet... no-one from outside Italy probably ever does...

Michele: "Some of us from inside Italy never do, either." sweat

Kara: dancin\\'

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Professor Voodoo on Thu 10 Nov 2011 - 2:09

The consular attache left Minister Petris' offices escorted by
Priscilla, whose friendly conversation threatened to bowl him over with
it's exuberance, leaving him struggling to catch up with her. Which was
sort of the whole point - keeping him distracted and not thinking too
hard about John's role in the investigation of the terrorist attacks,
I wonder if Priscilla knows why she was selected for this detail. Is she playing out a well planned role or is the Agency just utilizing her natural personality for what it's worth.
John looked at his new work permit, noting distantly that it was
made out in his real name. He scowled, and almost crumpled up the single
link left to his former life.
Clever way to hint at but not reveal his old identity.
His left fist clenched hard against the folded bottom of the file, leaving uneven indentations from the two remaining fingers on that hand.
John lost fingers in the attack? I missed that...noted for future use.
I thought it might be a good idea to meet some of the
handlers and their fratelli."
I was wondering when you'd be getting to this. In spite of your declared intention to focus on the SRT staff GsG at its core orbits around the girls.
Johns blunt admission that he is (understandably) uncomfortable with using young girls for such work should set up lots of interesting interactions.
I see blonde with twin-tails - Triela, yes?- she is very polite, very calm...
Hillshire: (rolling his eyes) Oh sure, you met her on a good day.
"At our compound, there are only female cyborgs.
Keeping your options open in case you want to bring in boys at some juncture?
we can attempt to camouflage the SRT by applying other unit's patches, we can try and keep things low-key
Priscilla is using a lot of euphamisms for a person just learning Italian tto keep up with.
the grey sedan leapt from it's parking
space as though it was kicked in the trunk by a petulant god-child.
Great simile.
"I hope you like gelato," remarked Priscilla
Isn't that a question on the SWA job application? Looking forward to the next installment!

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


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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Alfisti on Thu 10 Nov 2011 - 5:44

Ok, so I promised myself that I wouldn't let writing rule my life like the comic did. However...

...so in an attempt to break the cycle.

Officer_Charon wrote:Just broaching the subject to Minster Petris gave me a case of tinnitus. Please tell me that we're not making a collossal mistake in breaching security this way.
Monty: ...and so she bloody well should have given you a bollocking; bringing in random strays off the street like that.

Jokes aside: I like that you've put some thought to the potential rammifications of John's joining the SWA, both from security and diplomatic standpoints. Part of me wonders if any of the local CIA are going to now be attempting to keep a closer eye on their errant ex-pat.

The last thing we need is a berserker without the control of Conditioning and the abilities of a cyborg to fall back on.
I wonder if that stuff works on regular humans as well? Are the SRT going to need to start carrying epi-pens of conditioning now as well? Razz

I know we may play second fiddle to the Fratelli, but the SRT will do right by the SWA with this man.
Another dynamic I'm enjoying watching you play with.

"I sometimes question just how Italian our agency really is... between the United Nations that the handler's dorm seems to be, to say nothing of the support staff and medical personnel..." His brow furrowed again. "I suppose it's the cost of shielding Italy."
Perhaps they're following the French Foreign Legion model: will John get Italian citizenship if he sticks around long enough or gets shot? Razz

The other great part about foreigners is that they're highly expendable... particularly the ones that never technically existed in the first place.

As soon as he's up to speed, get him working in an undercover capacity, if possible.
I imagine someone's going to spend quite a lot of time playing tourist?

Monty: Welcome to my world.

This guy was an artilleryman!
Do I forsee a mission with Artillery Agapita and Mortar Mancini in the future?

<"Sospettoso,"> supplied Priscilla, nodding, "And you're correct. They're not saying anything, but if I were them, I'd at least be putting your name in a Homeland Security database as a potential mole from the Italian Government.
Monty: Well I'm glad to see our intelligence and counter-espionage division isn't made up entirely of incompetents.

"Grey Alfa Romeo?" John interjected. Priscilla chuckled again, and nodded.
We may have ballsed that particular reccomendation up as I note Berlusconi was being ferried around in an Audi on TV the other morning... The Alfa is probably much more proletarian though in Italy. Razz

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Alfisti on Thu 10 Nov 2011 - 6:36

...and onto part 2.

"of a valuable service to the Italian people, in the spirit of NATO cooperation."
"In the spirit of"... such a wonderfully useful phrase.

It furthered his goals to associate with the SWA.
Interesting: the SWA sees itself as using John... and as far as I can tell, he sees himself as using the SWA.

"She does have that effect on people. Always did... when we get back to the compound, I'll show you where we buried her... as well as tell you the story of what happened."
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think this is the first time John's seen the softer end of the SWA?

"Makes sense... we are a 'secret' organization, n'est-ce pas?"
I note John's using "we" now.

As usual mate, looking forward to the next one.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Kiskaloo on Thu 10 Nov 2011 - 9:04

Alfisti wrote:
"Grey Alfa Romeo?" John interjected. Priscilla chuckled again, and nodded.

We may have ballsed that particular reccomendation up as I note Berlusconi was being ferried around in an Audi on TV the other morning... The Alfa is probably much more proletarian though in Italy. Razz

Well the official State Car is the Lancia Theta, so I can see why Berlusconi uses an Audi. Razz

Then again, in the GSG World, PM Pisano tools around in a Phantom.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Officer_Charon on Tue 31 Jan 2012 - 7:01

WELL past time for an update, so I toss you this small bone, as I endeavor to figure out how to tie up the couple floating parts that I have.



Ultimately, all of this is going to be edited together, based up y'all's inputs, and tied into one big story. Part 1, as it were. The intention is, as I said, to write a story of the SWA from the SRT's perspective, leading up to the events in the manga that are currently causing me to chew my fingers down to the bone.



Gah! in any case... on with it!



Spoiler:


Surviving the trip without incident, other than the addition of
a few new gray hairs, John noted as he got out of the car that the sun
playing down through the architecture surrounding the piazza was rather
calming - just what one needed after his impromptu introduction to Roman
driving. At times, Priscilla's hands hadn't even been on the wheel as
she kept up three seperate conversations between John, the drivers
surrounding her, and a third party on her cell phone. All while talking
with her hands again. John took in a ragged breath.


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." He extended a hand. "I saw you on my plane, but never got a
chance to make your acquaintance. Michele Pagani, at your service."
John leaned in slightly and grasped Michele's hand, shaking it
firmly, without the stereotypical "contest of strength" that sometimes
emerged from such contacts.


Acknowledging the American didn't feel the need to exert himself
in a pointless show of force, Michele nodded with a slight smile,
releasing his hand.


Catching on to the subtle phrasing that Michele had spoken, John
raised an eyebrow. "It is your plane, signore Pagani?" When Michele
nodded an affirmation, John let out a low whistle, then reddened.
"Excuse me, I am sorry... I just... I never meet someone who own a plane
before."


An older man who bore an slight resemblance to Sean Connery, had
the actor retained his body-building physique let out a rumbling
chuckle. <"Pagani has considerably more than the plane, young man,"> he
said, in an accent that carried more than a hint of Albion underneath
it's Italian overtones. <"I sometimes wonder if he's not secretly bank-
rolling the entire endeavor.">


Priscilla waggled an admonishing finger. "Tut tut, Elio! How is
John supposed to pick up Italian if you carry him in English?"


John managed valiantly to avoid bursting out laughing as the
obvious veteran managed to look both contrite and indulgent at the same
time. He even wrung his hands and looked under his brow at Priscilla,
who gave a broad smile. "I am sorry, Miss Meleori. Please, Miss Meleori,
don't make make stand in the corner."


Priscilla rubbed a hand under her chin. "A girl could get used
to this sort of behavior," she murmured, sotto voce. 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.


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 "In
all fairness, though, she does have a point. If we're going to get you
up to speed," (John noted an assortment of eyerolls and facepalms when
he spoke the metaphor, and wondered if there was subtext he was missing)
"we do have to fully immerse you until you can keep up."
John nodded, his face slipping back into it's neutral expres​sion(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.
Coughing into her fist, Priscilla took a new tack with the conversation.
"Well, you've not really been introduced to everyone yet, so let's make
the rounds! This roguish gentleman here," she said, indicating Sean
Connery's stunt double, who lifted a cup of coffee in acknowledgement, "is
Elio Alboreto. The cheeky beanpole in the back is Brian McDonnell."


Footsteps approached the table from behind the indicated handler
- John noted everyone's body language shifted subtly to a more tense
posture, prepared to react on a moment's notice. After Brian quickly
glanced over his shoulder, however, with everyone else's gaze following,
the group relaxed.


John noted that the two newcomers were an adult male, sharply
dressed without being ostentatious about it, and a teenage girl, dressed
in a similar, modest fashion, her short black hair topped with a jaunty
beret. He realised that he recognized both, even as they approached the
group.


"Agapita, why don't you go see what your friends are picking out
inside?" said the new man. After a brief exchange of glances between the
pair, Agapita put on a smile that was only slightly for show, and
practically skipped inside. The man then turned his attention to the
group, shaking hands with everyone, before his gaze settled on John.


"And who do we have here? Another new-hire, come to sample the
finest gelato in Roma? Well met, friend!" And before John could decide
if he liked the effusive exuberance of the squared-away gentleman, he
was pulled into a very masculine arm-clasp, complete with underlying
test of strength. Stifling an eyeroll, John gave as good as he got,
avoided wincing, and the two pulled back from each other. "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.


John couldn't help it - 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," said John firmly, with a nod of
his head. He managed to successfully hide the throbbing discomfort in
his right hand by keeping it behind his back, held in place by his left
and maintaining that he was merely holding a parade rest stance - not
trying to overcome the effects of someone whose clasp felt as though it
almost cost him several fingers.


"John Darme," he said. Avise's eyebrows raised, took in the rest
of the group (whose reactions were mostly in a "humor him" vein), and
nodded his head slowly. "I... see. Perhaps one day, you may tell me a
tale of how you got such an... interesting name?"


"Perhaps," said John, his expression and tone level.


The awkward tone in the air persisted for a moment, then a
gaggle of young teenaged girls clamored out of the gelateria, each
decrying the merits of their chosen frozen treats.


John blinked at the sudden appearance of the cheerily chattering
youths, who ran the gamut from a short and cheerful redhead, her hair in
pigtails, to a tall, elegant asian girl, her clothing practically
screaming it's price to the world. Agapita cheerily continued a flowing
conversation with the redhead, whom John had last seen performing a
vigorous faceplant into the mud, earlier that day. A modestly-tall
brunette completed the group, and John flashed back to what Priscilla
had told him earlier, about meeting the fratelli.


While he could conceive of a fratello as an abstract, once
again, coming face to face with the reality of the cyborgs in real life
hit him between the eyes like a 2x4. These girls, these... _children_
were lethal special operations specialists - as much, if not moreso than
any Navy SEAL or Green Beret... and here they were, in the middle of
Rome, just off of the beaten path, and enjoying the summer's relaxed
atmosphere like any other schoolchildren.


The girls caught the edge of the remaining tension in the air,
although it was Marisa (naturally) who was the last to catch on, her
voice loud to reach over the combined buzz of the surrounding crowd and
the animated conversations that had petered off around her, without her
notice.


"So I said to him, stick it up your- erk." Her wide blue eyes
flicked around, before settling on Elio, who simply raised one snow-
capped eyebrow. She stifled a nervous gulp, settling instead for a
murmured "whups."


John couldn't help it. The moment was just too perfectly crafted
for any reaction other than what followed. Sitting in his chair, he
tried valiantly to stifle snickers, but they crept past the hand he held
against his mouth. With each brief explosion of hilarity, Marisa's face
would get pinker, her embarassed expression giving way to one of
annoyance. Which, of course, only made it worse.


As John finally succumbed to his sense of humor's bludgeoning of
his psyche, Marisa turned crossly to Agapita. "I don't think I like this
adult very much, she muttered, not nearly as sotto voce as she probably
should have been.


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


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 Kiskaloo on Tue 31 Jan 2012 - 8:52

Brilliant.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by tremec6speed on Tue 31 Jan 2012 - 20:08

This is the kind of literature I enjoy reading.
No, no gun battles (which is cool)
no government intrigue (which is a gas, um I mean that in good way)
and no extreeeeemly EVILE villians (which I luv).
Nope, the The Officer has demonstrated how the scenario of an introduction can be very entertaining. 2 thumbs up!


Last edited by tremec6speed on Tue 28 Feb 2012 - 21:22; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Alfisti on Wed 1 Feb 2012 - 4:38

Nicely done mate, interesting watching John's language barrier get in the way of his interractions with the others.

And of course Mari would be the last to stop talking Razz

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by Officer_Charon on Tue 7 Feb 2012 - 6:34

Wrapping up part one (Tentatively titled "Unlocking"), I have this little entr'acte.

The completely-formatted first part will come after a little review, with a copy sent to a handful of folks for final R&R before submitting to FF.net.

Hopefully this will be the link I need to get the next few parts working and flowing!

Spoiler:

* * * * *

After recovering from his borderline-hysterical giggle-fit, John was
able to politely decline an offer to spend the rest of the afternoon
with the fratelli. At Priscilla's slightly-concerned look, John waved
her off with a wan smile, reassuring her that he was feeling very fine,
and merely wanted a little time alone in the city before returning to
the compound. After receiving bus directions and an address where he
could be dropped by taxi, as well as a bit of spending money (courtesy
of someone's "discretionary spending fund," no doubt) handed over in
crisp, middling-denomination bills from Alboreto, John ventured out into
Rome proper.

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. He passed by the old Roman Forum ruins and let
himself get immersed in the sheer history of the city that had seen
numerous conflicts over the last couple of millennia.

He pondered the tourists - people going about their lives in
ignorance of the powder-keg that the country was becoming. He knew that
when he'd looked into coming here with his family, there had been some
travel advisories, telling of the protests that would occasionally pop
up at random, but like these people, he'd paid them no mind.

Now he knew what was directing the protests, the violence that
would occur on the sidelines, to say nothing of the opportunists who
would seize the chance to make some gains of their own in the confusion.

He had tasted of the SWA's Tree of Knowledge, and it was not something
that he could unlearn.

And, despite the horrible price he'd had to pay to learn it...
John didn't think that he'd want to remain ignorant. Not when he was
poised to be a part of the group attempting to affect the course of this
country, the European Union it was part of, and ultimately the stability
of the Western world.

And the girls with whom he'd had lunch were the linchpins to the
whole design. Reinforced by more mundane, but no less important adults.
Like himself.

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.

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Si vis pacem, para bellum

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by taerKitty on Tue 7 Feb 2012 - 10:58

Very good "hello world" segment. Looking forward to how life in the SRT looks.

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Re: Men-at-Arms

Post by tremec6speed on Wed 8 Feb 2012 - 1:11

Cool, I like it lots! head bang
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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.

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


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 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.




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


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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Officer_Charon

Male

Forum Posts : 1470

Location : Savannah, GA

Fan of : Triela, Claes

Original Characters : John Darme.

Registration date : 2010-09-16
Your character
OC genger: 40

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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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Your lack of planning does not constitute my emergency.
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Alfisti

Male

Forum Posts : 5749

Location : A Town by the Sea, NSW Central Coast, Australia

Fan of : Triela, Hilshire, Priscilla, Ferro

Original Characters : Jethro + Monty

Comments : If in doubt, overdress.

Registration date : 2009-07-21

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Re: Men-at-Arms

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

study



Good

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What? I like donuts! - Betty Suarez
If I die before my time, go on Oprah and tell the world 'I liked kittens'. - Veronica Mars
Scissors of victory! - Yui Hirasawa
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Kiskaloo
A Cat of Many Talents

Male

Forum Posts : 10894

Location : Seattle / Tokyo / Milan

Fan of : Angelica's Smile

Original Characters : Kara Michelle

Comments : The community's international man of mystery.

Registration date : 2008-09-11

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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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tremec6speed

Male

Forum Posts : 1968

Fan of : Lauro and Olga!

Original Characters : Vinson/Helen/Salvatore + Gunther/Ayden. Baddies are a small group of 'techno-anarchists'

Comments : I hope to include a short illustrated fanfic story of both Mr. Yutaka Aida's characters as well as some I've come up with.

Registration date : 2009-08-25

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Re: Men-at-Arms

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