Kiskaloo's Concept Folder

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Kiskaloo's Concept Folder

Post by Kiskaloo on Mon 17 Feb 2014 - 0:54

I've been in a general writing slump for about three years now, with my last major work - Pactio - completed in late 2010. Since then, I've published three short stores - one in 2011 and two in 2012 - but nothing since. I've not been lacking for ideas, however none of them have been able to go much beyond the initial concept stage. 

As such, it has been suggested to me that I maybe post them here to see if others have any ideas that may help me move forward on them.

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Re: Kiskaloo's Concept Folder

Post by Kiskaloo on Mon 17 Feb 2014 - 1:01

First up is a story generated by an episode of the show Chasing Classic Cars that had as it's location the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance and included a small segment on the "Cars and Coffee" event held there.

The idea was that Michele and Monty were sent to try and secure some information from an industrialist involved with the Mercury satellite launched by Italian magnate Baldo de Moratti from Alfisti's And the Adventure Continues.. story - specifically the chapters "Moonraker" and "Cosmic Girl".

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“French Press”

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GRAND HOTEL VILLA D’ESTE
CERNOBBIO, COMO, ITALY
LATE MAY

 
 
Walking the grounds of a car show was not high on the list of things Monique “Monty” Blacker would have preferred to spend a sunny spring Saturday doing, yet that is where she found herself this morning in the company of Michele Pagani. By protocol and conditioning, Monty made time for the adults of the Social Welfare Agency when requested and required to do so, though she’d acquiesced to Michele’s request the previous day partly because he was the adult she found best able to put up and was the closest Monty had to a friend in the Agency.
 
The Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este was a revival of the original "Coppa d'Oro Villa d'Este", which had also been held on the grounds of the Grand Hotel Villa d’Este in the 1920s and 1930s. One of the most glamorous car events on the Continent, the focus on classic and vintage cars somewhat hampered the draw of the event for the general public. The commune padri, seeing the success events like Pebble Beach and Amelia Island had brought to the coffers of the businesses and tax receipts of their communities, had worked to expand the appeal and the demographic of the Concorso by hosting secondary events before, during, and after the main event. One of these was the first annual “Cars and Coffee” gathering on Saturday morning to allow car enthusiasts to gather in the Parco di Villa d’Este across the Via Regina to kick the tires and enjoy a cup of fine coffee in the Italian tradition.
 
At least the man knows his coffee, Monty noted, taking another sip from the Wedgewood & Bentley Buckingham Coffee Cup. Michele imported the beans from a coffee shop in Brisbane, Australia and Monty had to admit that their blends were both distinctive and excellent. The boot of the coupe they’d arrived in did not serve as effective a picnic table as the back gate of a Range Rover, but Michele made do the best he could, having laid out a tablecloth upon which he’d placed a basket of fresh croissants and fruit and sweet baker’s cheese pastries Michele had prepared that morning.
 
That Monty accompanied Michele and not his own cyborg Kara came down to the fact that while Kara had training and experience in espionage, that was Monty’s raison d'être and Michele needed the best available today. It also didn’t hurt that Monty dressed as if it was still the 1960s and her body type perfectly accentuated the designs of that decade and therefore complimented, rather than contrasted, with the classic cars on display, including the one Michele had brought.
 
To Michele’s eyes, if there were two cars Monty Blacker was meant to step out of, they would be the Ferrari Daytona and Jaguar E-Type. He did not own an E-Type, but he did own a 1969 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 coupe. More commonly known as the Ferrari Daytona, his example sported deep “Blu Sera” paint with “Tobacco” brown leather. And he knew Monty had the pefect ensemble – one that paid direct homage to one designed by André Courrèges in 1965 for sale through the Harrods department store in London. Said ensemble consisted of white patent leather boots, topped by a bright yellow A-line mini dress with high neck in a heavy wool fabric, belted at the waist to match the boots and a bone wool single breasted coat, cut to match the hem of her dress. It was, to his eyes, the perfect outfit for her to “get her spy on”.
 
So when she came down from the guest bedroom that morning dressed in a sleeveless full body suit dominated by orange with a white stripe down the center than flared into white leggings past the knee tucked into her trademark white gogo boots, there was only one car that would match with that outfit, her “infrared glasses” and IWC Ocean 2000 wrist chronograph.
 
And that car was the Jensen Interceptor S.
 
Hand-built in the West Midlands for a decade between the mid-1960s and mid-1970s, the Interceptor was a sporting GT designed by the coachbuilder Carrozzeria Touring in Milan. In 2010, Jensen International Automotive was formed to take original Jensen Interceptor IIIs and rebuild them from the frame up into a modern 21st century GT. With the engine and transmission from the current generation Chevrolet Corvette and updated suspensions and handcrafted luxurious interiors, the new Interceptor S now drove and handled as well as it looked. Fortunately for Michele, one his friends was a collector of classic British motors and he had a Jensen Interceptor S in his collection so one phone call later…
 
Monty accompanying Michele had been the idea of Monty’s handler - the Blacker fratello’s rare presence in Rome necessitated by scheduled servicing - 20,000 kilometers in the case of their Audi allroad and 2,000 hours in the case of Monty. She and Michele had driven up from Rome to Milan the night before and Jethro would be following that afternoon after recovering the Audi from the local dealer and stocking it for the drive to their next destination. Another reason for his suggesting she go with Michele is that it would mean Michele owed them a future favor and for a fratello that so often operated away from the support structure of the Agency, favors could be a currency more valuable than gold.
 
“Is that fresh wienerbrød I smell?” a tall, fit man with dark hair that matched his dark suit asked in impeccable English with only the slightest hint of an accent as he approached the pair.
 
“It is indeed. May I interest you in some and a cup of coffee?” Michele offered.
 
“Thank you,” the man replied. “Jan Poulsen,” he added, extending his hand.
 
“Michele Pagani. And this is—”
 
“Monique. His niece,” Monty replied, highlighting her natural French accent.
 
“On my sister’s side,” Michele added, handing over a cup and saucer.
 
“I feel we have met before…” Jan noted to Michele as he nibbled on a glazed apple pastry.
 
“I believe it was at the Ambrosetti Forum last September,” Michele suggested. Said forum was an annual economic conference held at the Grand Hotel Villa d’Este that brought together heads of state, ministers, Nobel laureates and businessmen to discuss current challenges to the world's economies and societies.
 
“Ah, yes. You were with the Prime Minister’s party,” Jan recalled. “You had a lovely young Asian woman with you.”
 
“My assistant,” Michele answered.
 
“Of course,” Jan nodded. He finished the pastry and coffee, handing the plates and cup to Monty.
 
“Thank you for the refreshments. I would like to return the favor later this afternoon, if I may.”
 
“We’d be delighted,” Michele replied.
 
“Excellent. The Alfa Romeo 33 Stradale is mine. Say we meet up there around noon?”
 
Michele nodded. The two shook hands and then Jan headed off.
 
“He’s the one?” Monty asked once Jan was out of earshot.
 
“Yes,” Michele replied. “President and CEO of the Tendaän Corporation. He supplied a number of the components for your friend Moratti’s satellite – including the optics.”
 
“And Rome believes he was in league with Moratti on Mercury?” Monty asked, referring to the surveillance satellite disguised as a communications bird she’d sabotaged at the ESA Spaceport in French Guiana.
 
“That’s what we’re here to try and find out,” Michele noted.

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Re: Kiskaloo's Concept Folder

Post by Alfisti on Mon 17 Feb 2014 - 5:34

Nice mate, though I take it Jan didn't make it to Moratti's (literal) launch party... either that, or he's not letting everything on...

2000hrs sounded a bit short too but, actually taking a moment to work it out, that is pretty close to three months... I figure J+M can stretch it to six, but come in around the three to four mark if they can so they've always got some leeway.

More thoughts when I get the chance.

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Re: Kiskaloo's Concept Folder

Post by Kiskaloo on Mon 17 Feb 2014 - 12:33

@Alfisti wrote:Nice mate, though I take it Jan didn't make it to Moratti's (literal) launch party... either that, or he's not letting everything on...

I was thinking that with Jethro and Monty having eliminated the threat at the Guiana Space Center, the Agency's involvement was now over and the investigation into Moratti and his associates (like Jan) would have been tasked to other internal and external agencies (AISE, AISI, GAT, etc.).

As such, I kind of figured it was mostly serendipity that drove the decision. Jethro and Monty were available for the next 48 hours before they headed off to follow Anasetti's trail as he was now the threat. Michele had the cover to attend the event (he's exhibited at earlier Concorsos) and he and Monty can effectively work together on such an assignment.

I usually come up with the story title before anything else and then write the story to reflect said title. So I chose French Press because Monty is originally from France, she's good at subtly interrogating people and it's a play on coffee paraphernalia. So the idea was that she and Michele would subtly try to secure information on Jan's involvement with Mercury and pass that on to the teams now working the investigation.

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Re: Kiskaloo's Concept Folder

Post by Alfisti on Tue 18 Feb 2014 - 5:59

It does make a certain amount of sense that the continuing investigation into Moratti would be handled by a different agency. Intelligence gathering/interpretation is not, after all, the SWA's primary focus/skill base (oddly enough, something that comes up in the chapter I'm currently writing). That said, considering the competition between agencies for funds and the like, it would be easy enough to swing things such that the SWA decided to play its cards closer to its chest.

In terms of the original comment though, I was thinking more that Jan could not have been at Moonraker for the party, otherwise he would have recognised Monty, and Monty him. Either that, or it was so busy she did not spy him and he's not letting on he's recognised her.

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Re: Kiskaloo's Concept Folder

Post by Kiskaloo on Tue 18 Feb 2014 - 10:10

@Alfisti wrote:In terms of the original comment though, I was thinking more that Jan could not have been at Moonraker for the party, otherwise he would have recognised Monty, and Monty him. Either that, or it was so busy she did not spy him and he's not letting on he's recognised her.

I was operating under the idea they'd never seen each other before, though the latter could have interesting possibilities (not that he was there, but that Moratti and he spoke about her).

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Re: Kiskaloo's Concept Folder

Post by Il Direttore on Tue 18 Feb 2014 - 12:02

My thoughts: 

This sounds like a classic set up for a Bond flick, actually. Skilled young agent and more experienced older agent show up at a party, make social waves by being particularly suave/cool/good at poker/have a really nice car/all of the above, make friends with target, take target down. Cue fight scene, car chase, and explosion. 

On the one hand, this may not be what you really want to do. From what I'd guess based on Pactio, you'd rather focus on the character interactions. On the other hand, Bond Flicks are ALWAYS fun to read and probably to write. 

Maybe the story could be about making friends with Jan? Several segments/chapters of getting steadily closer to the man, and then segment/chapter six is the heel-face-turn? It could be interesting seeing the way Monty and Michele bounce off each other as they try to work together to be friends with Jan, as there are surely some operational difference that would come up.

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Re: Kiskaloo's Concept Folder

Post by Kiskaloo on Tue 18 Feb 2014 - 12:58

@Il Direttore wrote:This sounds like a classic set up for a Bond flick, actually. Skilled young agent and more experienced older agent show up at a party, make social waves by being particularly suave/cool/good at poker/have a really nice car/all of the above, make friends with target, take target down. Cue fight scene, car chase, and explosion.

I was kind of thinking something lower-key, mainly because Monty is not a combat cyborg and if they were planning a fight, he'd have brought Kara or Laine.

Then again, Michele and Monty did come in a Jensen Interceptor...


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Re: Kiskaloo's Concept Folder

Post by Il Direttore on Tue 18 Feb 2014 - 13:09

What if they WEREN'T planning a fight? What if they expected Jan to be somewhat forthcoming, and they could ninja!Monty or something the rest? Maybe they're going along, everything's peachy, and then it turns out that Jan actually did recognize Monty and thought something was fishy? It's not out of the question for him to go "what the hell?" and play close to the chest, and then realize that all is not well and start to get ready to bail. 

Maybe you could do a thing where Michele is like "did you see him at the launch party?" and Monty says "No" and then later when they're tied up Monty has a small crisis or something? I don't know Monty as well as I'd like, but something that shakes her confidence would be interesting to read.

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Re: Kiskaloo's Concept Folder

Post by boomer_gonz on Tue 18 Feb 2014 - 16:26

I like the idea and the setup is superb. I also like the idea of the whole operation going smoothly (a little too smoothly) and then suddenly a situation arises where they need to act harsh and quickly.

Monty: Just once; just bloody once I'd like a plan to not take the piss!

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Re: Kiskaloo's Concept Folder

Post by Alfisti on Wed 19 Feb 2014 - 4:15

@boomer_gonz wrote:I like the idea and the setup is superb. I also like the idea of the whole operation going smoothly (a little too smoothly) and then suddenly a situation arises where they need to act harsh and quickly.
Honestly, knowing Monty, things going smoothly would probably make her almost more suspicious than if they were not.  Razz

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Re: Kiskaloo's Concept Folder

Post by Alfisti on Sun 23 Feb 2014 - 0:38

Ok so, as promised, more thoughts...

And he knew Monty had the pefect ensemble – one that paid direct homage to one designed by André Courrèges in 1965 for sale through the Harrods department store in London. Said ensemble consisted of white patent leather boots, topped by a bright yellow A-line mini dress with high neck in a heavy wool fabric, belted at the waist to match the boots and a bone wool single breasted coat, cut to match the hem of her dress. It was, to his eyes, the perfect outfit for her to “get her spy on”.
 
So when she came down from the guest bedroom that morning dressed in a sleeveless full body suit dominated by orange with a white stripe down the center than flared into white leggings past the knee tucked into her trademark white gogo boots, there was only one car that would match with that outfit, her “infrared glasses” and IWC Ocean 2000 wrist chronograph.

And that car was the Jensen Interceptor S.
Why does part of me suspect that Monty's guessed what Michele was expecting, and has thrown him a curve-ball on purpose?

Oddly enough, this is an outfit that I designed and then never used, so it's good to see it getting an airing.

For the record, I would love to have an Interceptor... but the fuel bill would bankrupt me.


“Monique. His niece,” Monty replied, highlighting her natural French accent.
 
“On my sister’s side,” Michele added, handing over a cup and saucer. 
Actual niece this time I'm presuming?  Razz 



“Yes,” Michele replied. “President and CEO of the Tendaän Corporation. He supplied a number of the components for your friend Moratti’s satellite – including the optics.”
 
“And Rome believes he was in league with Moratti on Mercury?” Monty asked, referring to the surveillance satellite disguised as a communications bird she’d sabotaged at the ESA Spaceport in French Guiana.
 
“That’s what we’re here to try and find out,” Michele noted.
I shall keep this in mind should I feel the need to expand on that particular storyline at some point... so long as Mary hasn't been through and killed everything already.


Nice mate.

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Re: Kiskaloo's Concept Folder

Post by taerKitty on Mon 24 Feb 2014 - 23:35

A bit late to the party, but I really enjoyed French Press.  In my best impression of Alfisti, here are my thoughts:

By protocol and conditioning, Monty made time for the adults of the Social Welfare Agency when requested and required to do so,

... under protest, I'm sure.

Michele imported the beans from a coffee shop in Brisbane, Australia

Brisbane... why does that sound familiar?

It was, to his eyes, the perfect outfit for her to “get her spy on”.

Nice, both the description, and the summarization.

So when she came down from the guest bedroom that morning dressed in a sleeveless full body suit

Well, that's not bad, either.

the Blacker fratello’s rare presence in Rome necessitated by scheduled servicing - 20,000 kilometers in the case of their Audi allroad

And Monty needs her oil changed, too. =)

“That’s what we’re here to try and find out,” Michele noted.

A good way to end an opening - we have the situation, we've met the main players, and we have an open-ended invitation for the reader to read on.

===

Now, as to where it goes from here.  I like the idea of Monty being recognized, but not mentioned as such.  That's much more Bond-ian: the villain trying to be sly, smug, and the such.

Monty's not a combat cyborg, so you could do some classic James Bond deathtraps.  She could have a set of lockpicks hidden in her heels, or her lipstick could be formed around a small cylinder of plastique - not enough to blow out a building, but enough to destroy the lock of a door.

I'm not familiar with the Moonraker, but it might be good to do some tongue-in-cheek paralleling with either the Fleming novel or the Broccoli film of the same name.

Also in the same vein of doing James Bond proud, remember to have some of the following:

- Exotic locations

- Non-combat competitions, such as challenges at the poker table (chemin de-feur, actually), or betting on horses.

- Over-the-top henchmen

- Beautiful women throwing themselves at Michele.

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Re: Kiskaloo's Concept Folder

Post by Alfisti on Tue 25 Feb 2014 - 3:13

@taerkitty wrote:Monty's not a combat cyborg, so you could do some classic James Bond deathtraps.  She could have a set of lockpicks hidden in her heels, or her lipstick could be formed around a small cylinder of plastique - not enough to blow out a building, but enough to destroy the lock of a door.
Hmm... J+M don't tend to be much for gadgets, and much of what the SWA tech-department tries to issue them tends to wind up "accidentally" left on the compound.

She does carry lockpicks though.

For the record, "Moonraker" was one of the AtAC chapter titles, as well as the name of Moratti's Bond-villain-eque Swiss Chalet featured in said chapter.

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Re: Kiskaloo's Concept Folder

Post by Kiskaloo on Tue 25 Feb 2014 - 11:17

@taerkitty wrote:Now, as to where it goes from here.  I like the idea of Monty being recognized, but not mentioned as such.  That's much more Bond-ian: the villain trying to be sly, smug, and the such.

Monty's not a combat cyborg, so you could do some classic James Bond deathtraps.  She could have a set of lockpicks hidden in her heels, or her lipstick could be formed around a small cylinder of plastique - not enough to blow out a building, but enough to destroy the lock of a door.

I'm not familiar with the Moonraker, but it might be good to do some tongue-in-cheek paralleling with either the Fleming novel or the Broccoli film of the same name.

Also in the same vein of doing James Bond proud, remember to have some of the following:

- Exotic locations

- Non-combat competitions, such as challenges at the poker table (chemin de-feur, actually), or betting on horses.

- Over-the-top henchmen

- Beautiful women throwing themselves at Michele.

I really wasn't planning a classic "Bond film" type of story mainly because I figured Monty was too smart to get herself involved in such a thing.  Wink I also wasn't sure it was something Alfisti would approve of her getting into.

But your and Alfisti's comments do give me something to think about.
 
 
 
And thanks for the feedback on Tokyo Drift, Il Direttore.


Last edited by Kiskaloo on Tue 25 Feb 2014 - 18:57; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Kiskaloo's Concept Folder

Post by Il Direttore on Tue 25 Feb 2014 - 13:48

*nodnod* I've been running into a lot of the same problem lately, actually, so I thought I'd share what I'd learned from others and through my own experiences.

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"We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too."

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Re: Kiskaloo's Concept Folder

Post by Kiskaloo on Sun 27 Apr 2014 - 18:48

So for a change-up I took a shot at doing some conceptual work on a Rehabilitation Branch entry, unfinished as it is.

PDF Version

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ONE

SOUTH TOWER
MARRIOTT MARQUIS HOTEL AND MARINA
SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA
LATE FALL

 
 
Michele Pagani watched an amphibious assault ship sail past his hotel room balcony on her way to her mooring at Naval Base San Diego in the south. Across San Diego Bay two of her larger Nimitz class aircraft carriers stood proud at their piers on Naval Air Station North Island. A soft breeze blew in off the Pacific Ocean, working with the warm temperatures to banish the haze off towards the horizon.
 
The clatter of his iPhone vibrating on the glass top of the table next to him broke him out of his thoughts. He swiped the glass and saw the iMessage informing him his escort and ride had arrived at the hotel. Michele texted his acknowledgement and left his suite to ride the elevator down to the tower lobby and walked to the main lobby that connected both towers. It took him only a few seconds to identify his escort thanks to the khaki Navy Service Uniform he was wearing.
 
“General Pagani? I’m Lieutenant Henderson. I’ll be escorting you to NMCSD, sir.”
 
“Excellent. Lead the way, Lieutenant,” Michele replied. He followed the naval officer outside and settled into the right seat of a black Ford Taurus with government plates. They exited the hotel onto 1st Avenue and drove north before turning onto C Street, which they then drove east before heading north into the urban forest of Balboa Park and Naval Medical Center San Diego.
 
In the mid-2000s the United States became aware of the Social Welfare Agency, the fratelli and the cyborg program. Some speculated it was one of the many SIGINT programs run by the NSA while others thought that the various technology trades made for the benefit of the SWA had laid a trail. Whatever the reason, groups within the US quickly saw the value of having a cyborg program of their own and this program - christened The Rehabilitation Branch - was modeled in part on Section 2 of the Social Welfare Agency and the two agencies started to formally share information and technology on cybernetic enhancement of pre-teen and teenage girls.
 
Lieutenant Henderson turned onto the access road and flashed his staff credentials at the security gate and the guard on duty verified that Michele was on the Official Visitors List for the day. Once cleared, they proceeded to the staff parking area across from Building 2. Once inside, Henderson signed Michele in at the Reception Area and both men walked through the Adolescent Clinic to a door identified only by a plaque with a four-digit number just above a security card reader.
 
A white corridor extended beyond, with more doors identified only by numbers with a security reader beneath them. Michele followed Lieutenant Henderson two-thirds of the way down and stopped at one of the doors. He ran his card through the reader, waited for the light to change from red to green and hear the click of the lock disengaging, and then opened the door, the thickness of which did not go unnoticed by Michele.
 
Americans liked things large and that extended to their hospital rooms. The large windows and lack of furniture did lend the room in general an airy feel, which made the equipment clustered around the single bed seem like a physical barrier separating the patient from the rest of the facility.
 
Hovering over that equipment stood one Doctor Edward Kostas, director of this particular facility of the Rehabilitation Branch of the US Department of Homeland Security. His full beard and glasses gave him a professorial look and his deep tan implied he was able to spend a fair bit of his time out of the office, something the medical technicians back in Rome seldom seemed to have time for.
 
This was Michele’s first time meeting the doctor in person, his previous interactions performed over videoconference during the selection and configuration process for the cyborg he would shortly be taking custody of.
 
“Welcome to San Diego, General,” Kostas greeted.
 
“Michele, please,” the Italian replied, taking the physician’s extended hand in his own.
 
“Here she is,” Kostas stated, indicating for Michele to step forward. He did so and looked down on the sleeping form of a fifteen-year old Japanese girl. Unlike his first cyborg, the girl in the bed was pure Japanese in ethnicity and parentage, though she’d been born in Torrance, California to parents who themselves were natural born American citizens, making her what was known as a sansei, or third-generation American of Japanese descent.
 
“What languages does she speak?” Michele asked and Kostas looked a bit uncomfortable.
 
“Since we limit ourselves to American citizens, they all speak English so unless there is a specific reason to do so, we generally do not imprint them with any other languages during the conversion process. Some cyborgs speak other languages from their former lives and that carries forward, but that’s not the case with Kumari. So if you were hoping for Italian or Japanese language skills, that’s probably going to be limited to food items and slang.”
 
“Fair enough,” Michele said. His English and Spanish were both excellent so there would be no issues with communication with his cyborg or for the mission ahead and if he felt she would benefit from another language, there were plenty of quick-learning options. 
 
“If you’re ready, we can activate her,” Kostas indicated and Michele nodded his head.
 
The doctor flicked some switches and turned some knobs on the machines next to him and within moments, Kumari snapped awake and popped up like a monster in a teen horror movie, an image helped a bit by her long, dark hair that partly hung over her bangs and down her back. Michele noted that, unlike the Italians, the Americans appeared to cover their cyborgs in a hospital gown.
 
“Identify yourself,” Kostas ordered.
 
“Kumari Shiratori. I am unit series 053; block 8; age set 15; attempt 1. I am an agent with the Rehabilitation Branch, Department of Homeland Security, on temporary duty assignment to Brigadier General Michele Pagani of the Italian Air Force.”
 
She spoke with a soft, gentle voice that reminded Michele a bit of Claes.
 
“Do you recognize General Pagani?”
 
Kumari nodded, raising an arm and pointing it at Michele.
 
“Excellent. We’re going to let you get dressed and then we’ll be back. You’ll find your clothes in the closet,” Kostas noted, indicating a sliding door in one of the walls.
 
The two men excused themselves and stepped into an adjoining room, Kostas dimming the one-way mirror to allow Kumari her privacy. He turned to Michele and waited for his opinion.
 
“She’s a stunner,” Michele noted.
 
“We don’t choose our candidates on the basis of their looks, but I’d be lying if attractiveness didn’t play any role in the decision or the conversion. Speaking of which, our conversion and conditioning process is based on those originally developed at the SWA, though we’re a bit less stringent with the latter.”
 
Michele nodded his understanding. “Training and skills?”
 
“As with the SWA, we load a general compendium of weapons information along with basic firearms knowledge and operational proficiency. Of course, she’ll need formal training with specific weapons and as with anyone, the more she practices the better her proficiency. At your request we also gave her a basic understanding of budō and bujtsu, however you will need to train her in the specific martial arts you wish her to know.”
 
“Seems to be all pretty standard,” Michele noted.
 
“I imagine this is all routine for you, having already worked with cyborgs for years and served as handler to two of your own,” Kostas observed.
 
Before Michele could reply, the speaker overhead crackled into life.
 
“I’m ready, Doctor Kostas,” Kumari reported.
 
“We’ll be right in,” Kostas answered over the intercom and he turned off the dimming function to reveal Kumari in a white sleeveless dress with sailor collars and twin rows of three decorative buttons embossed with white anchors down the front, black socks that ended just below the knees and black patent leather t-strap Mary Jane pumps.
 
“You look lovely, Miss Shiratori,” Kostas noted when he entered the room and Michele nodded.
 
“We need to run some final tests to ensure everything is working properly, then we’ll release you into General Pagani’s custody,” the doctor added and Kumari nodded.
 
Michele didn’t know if it was coincidence or if someone had been listening, but there was a knock on the door and a Filipino male in a junior enlisted Navy Service Dress uniform with the rank insignia of a Petty Officer First Class on his collars entered.
 
“General, PS1 Panlasigui here will walk you through her documentation so if you would follow him, please,” Kostas requested.
 
“This way, General,” Panlasigui requested and they went down the hall and into a small office dominated by rows of metal filing cabinets that allowed just enough space for a desk and two chairs. Michele took the chair across from Panlasigui who removed a manila folder with a thick sheaf of papers inside.
 
“Normally, we have the handler adopt the cyborg for legal reasons,” Panlasigui explained. “Since this is only a temporary assignment, your cover will be as Kumari’s general legal guardian with a term of six months. This will give you responsibility for her personal well-being and provide you the ability to take her across State lines and outside of the country as necessary. This is an identification card issued by the State of California. In general she won’t need to use it, but be sure she has it on her at all times and also be sure to keep this copy of the court order with you at all times because as a foreign national you can expect questions from authority figures as to why she is with you. Her passport number has been flagged as a VIP so if you have any issues when travelling internationally, contact Dominica Reyes and she can engage with State to clear it up. If you intend to travel to a country that requires a Visa for US Citizens, she’ll see that it is issued expeditiously. Do you have any questions?”
 
“I do not,” Michele replied.
 
Panlasigui placed the folder and documents inside a manila envelope and handed it to Michele. They then returned to Kumari’s hospital room.
 
“She’s ready to go, Michele. Here is my card with my direct and personal lines. I am available 24-7 should you have any issues or questions,” Kostas stated.
 
“Thank you, Doctor.”
 
“PS1 Panlasigui, Lieutenant Henderson is waiting in the lobby to take them back to their hotel. Please escort the General and Miss Shiratori there.”
 
“Yes, Doctor.”
 
-----------------------------------------------------------------
 
“Are you hungry?” Michele asked once Lieutenant Henderson dropped them off at the hotel.
 
Kumari nodded her head.
 
“What would you like for lunch?”
 
“Mápó dòufu.”
 
Having never heard of it, Michele looked it up on his smartphone, surprised to find it was a Sichuan dish of tofu in a spicy chili- and bean-based sauce, as he considered himself well versed in Sichuan cuisine. Another search identified that the restaurants that served it were all clustered north of the city and he asked the valet to have his car brought up. He’d chosen a Ferrari 458 Italia Spyder due to the fine weather and once on I-805, rocketed north in the light traffic to the restaurant.
 
When asked how spicy she wished her mápó dòufu, Kumari had held up five fingers so Michele expected serious heat when Kumari held up her spoon for him to try a bite. Yet even though his personal motto when it came to spicing of “if I’m not crying, the chef is not trying” did not prepare him for the spice level on this dish, which he expected swallowing molten lead might feel like. Kumari, however, devoured the dish, the closest thing he’d seen to an expression of happiness on her face. As they headed for the car after the meal, Michele picked up on a sense of distress from Kumari.
 
“Are you feeling alright?” he asked.
 
Kumari nodded, but Michele still sensed she wasn’t comfortable with something. That feeling grew as they drove back to the hotel, and he became concerned that perhaps the food had not agreed with her, yet when they pulled up onto the hotel drive and handed the car over to the valet, she looked relieved. She’d looked much the same during the drive to the restaurant, but had perked up once they were inside.
 
As Michele passed the king bed, Michele wondered if that might prove an issue, however Kumari showed him it would not be by removing her shoes and lying down, almost instantly falling asleep.
 
“Good idea,” he noted. Over the previous three days he’d flown close to 30,000 kilometers and the crossing of nineteen time zones had given him terrible jet lag and his mind felt as foggy as San Francisco International.
 
His week had begun at his apartment in Brisbane, boarding an Emirates airline Airbus A380-800 to Dubai, where he connected to another Emirates A380 to Milan. From Milan he had driven to Rome to meet with the Prime Minister at the Palazzo Chigi. It had been years since Michele Pagani had been required to drive through the warren of streets that crisscrossed the Eternal City and the experience on the drive in had been as stressful as he’d remembered.
 
Now in this third term as President of the Council of Ministers of Italy, the years had not been kind to his schoolyard chum though only those who’d known him for as long as Michele had could detect the subtle cracks in the persona Renato presented to the country and world at large. The Italian government’s battle against the separatists of Padania and the Five Republics faction, now tagged by the media as “The Years of Blue”, continued to rage. However, new threats were raising their head and the clandestine side of the Social Welfare Agency had been tasked to take them on, as well.
 
One of those threats was the drug trade, especially cocaine. The 'Ndrangheta, or “Calabrese Mafia” after their stronghold in the Calabria Region, had become the most powerful – and one of the most violent – criminal organizations not just in Italy, but the world at large, over the past few decades and by some reports their illicit activities accounted for a measureable, if small, percentage of Italy’s Gross Domestic Product. A fair amount of the cocaine distributed throughout the European Union entered via the Calabrian port of Gioia Tauro and they were also deeply involved with the producers in Columbia and the distribution cartels in Mexico.
 
Within the past year, reports started to reach the US government that those Mexican Cartels, perhaps as a pre-emptive measure, were seeking to obtain their own cybernetic technology, ironically in part through corrupted contacts within the Rehabilitation Branch and medical firms working on developing and producing cybernetic parts for the RB.
 
This brought the governments of the US and Italy together to enter into an agreement to cooperate on a mission in Mexico to disrupt the cartels efforts to secure cyborg technology. The Rehabilitation Branch found itself temporarily in the situation where it had more cyborgs than handlers and a former SWA operative now working as the head of the RB branch office in Chicago, Marcus Moretti, suggested that feelers be extended to the SWA to see if they could provide someone to temporarily serve as a handler until a permanent assignment could be found.
 
As he had done almost a decade prior, Prime Minister Renato Pisano went to his school-hood chum Michele Pagani and asked him to become a temporary handler to Kumari Shiratori. And because he was one of Pisano’s oldest and closest friends, Michele had agreed.
 
After agreeing, Michele drove back to Milan, dropped off his car, and boarded his third Emirates A380 to New York’s John F. Kennedy International. From New York, he settled into the back of a Mercedes S Class that drove him to Washington D.C. where he met with James West, the Rehabilitation Branch Chief of Staff, and Dominica Reyes, his right-hand woman and the person who he’d been communicating with in regards to his assignment and Kumari.
 
As the man who determined who was hired and who was fired, James had thoroughly vetted Michele’s resume and bona fides. His conclusion was that Michele had the skills and the experience to make an excellent handler, but he was not comfortable with the fact that his loyalties lay with Italy and his presence here was because it was felt by those higher up The Chain that closer cooperation between the Rehabilitation Branch and the Italian Social Welfare Agency would benefit both.
 

Removing his shoes and belt, he settled down on the opposite side and within moments had joined Kumari in sleep.


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

TWO

SOCIAL WELFARE AGENCY COMPOUND
TWO DAYS LATER
 
 
 
“I’m surprised you said ‘yes’,” Elio noted.
 
“To be honest, so was I,” Michele replied.
 
“Well, we both know the influence ‘old friends’ can exert, don’t we,” the Director of Special Operations, Section Two observed, indicating the office around him. Unlike the Prime Minister, Elio Alboreto did show the effects of his job, though Michele assumed a fair bit of the additional grey hair he’d added since they’d last seen each other was thanks to his cyborg Marisa.
 
After Rico had killed Giacomo Dante in La Maddalena, Jean’s appetite for revenge had finally been sated and he accepted the position of Director of Special Operations, Section 2 more out of a sense of obligation to Lorenzo than desire. Lorenzo was an astute enough observer to recognize this and within six months offered him the directorship of a new intelligence agency he was putting together. As a close friend of Pieri Lorenzo and Monica Petris as well as a senior handler, Elio had been the natural choice to become the next head of the agency.
 
“I was under the impression that the Rehabilitation Branch had their own facilities to train their operatives,” he added a moment later.
 
“Yes. There are a number of military and law enforcement training facilities in Northern Virginia that they make use of. However, I’m more familiar and comfortable with Italian institutions so they cleared me to bring Kumari to Italy to get her ready before we spin up our mission.”
 
Elio nodded, having been fully briefed on the plan when he’d accompanied Michele to the Palazzo Chigi to see the Prime Minister the previous week.
 
“It was so much easier when it was just us with the cyborgs,” Elio noted.
 
“I’m surprised we kept it quiet as long as we did, but now I fear we might be at the cusp of a new arms race,” Michele observed.
 
“An arms race using children,” Elio added.
 
“Children have been on the battle field since Antiquity,” Michele noted.
 
There was a courtesy knock on the door, which opened to admit Priscilla Meleori, her cyborg Jay Valentine, and Kumari.
 
“Your cyborg has some…interesting…ideas about food,” the blonde analyst and handler informed him. “Lucky for her it’s ‘Wacky Wednesday’,” she added, referring to the cooking team on duty today who were big believers in the concept of “fusion cuisine” – the combining of elements of various culinary traditions into new concoctions.
 
“So I’ve noticed,” Michele replied, remembering their lunch in San Diego.

-----------------------------------------------------------------
 
 
Before heading back to their hotel in Rome that evening, the fratello drove over to the far side of the compound where the church, bell tower and cloister and chapter house of the old monastery were located.
 
“What’s in here?” Kumari asked as she and Michele approached a building with an ornate door crowned by a stained glass window.
 
“Ghosts,” Michele replied.
 
“Ghosts?” Kumari said, immediately moving behind Michele.
 
The inside of the monastery’s mausoleum was spotless - the Agency cared for its dead as well as it did the living.
 
“There shouldn’t be any spiders,” Michele added.
 
“Spiders don’t scare me,” Kumari remarked.
 
That earned a wry grin from Michele, and he made his way to a section and slowly ran his hand across a specific row of plaques.
 
Angelica Toni…
Kara Michelle Pagani…
Fleda Claes Johansson…
 
Surprising everyone, including herself, Claes had almost reached her tenth year as a cyborg before her brain finally gave out, outliving not only her Generation One sisters, but also the first tranche of the Second Generation girls. The Medical Branch hoped that the data they had collected over that time would allow them to extend the lives of the current tranche of Generation Two girls beyond the current average.
 
“Who were they?” Kumari asked, leaning forward to read the names.
 
“Think of them as your sisters-in-law,” Michele replied before turning and making towards the exit.
 
-----------------------------------------------------------------

THREE

SOUTH OF PUERTO VALLARTA
JALISCO, UNITED MEXICAN STATES
FOUR MONTHS LATER
 
 
 
The Bentley Continental GT coupe pulled off the main highway and onto a parallel road, approaching a stout security station. Responding to a signal sent from the vehicle, the heavy gate rolled back and high-resolution cameras confirmed the Jalisco State plate was on file while another used facial recognition to compare the face of the driver to a list of those registered as residents of the community, quickly finding a match. The smartly dressed security guard on duty tipped his hat as the sleek coupe drove by. The vehicle continued down a private road, turning off to pull into the underground garage of a house set into the hills overlooking the Bahía de Banderas, or Bay of Flags.
 
Unlike the high-performance sports and grand touring cars that made up Michele’s garage in Milan, the garage here included the armored Bentley, a Jaguar XJ Sentinel armored sedan and a Land Rover LR4 Sentinel armored SUV. Michele’s vehicle choices for this mission were dictated both by the need for armored protection when travelling in territory under cartel control and by Kumari’s dislike of high-performance sports cars, finding them in general uncomfortable and loud.
 
Kumari removed a CFRP rifle case from the trunk and slung it over her shoulder using the strap. This had been their third hit against the leadership of the Sinaloa Cartel, the largest and most powerful of the Mexican drug cartels and one of those seeking cyborg soldiers.
 
Handler and cyborg climbed a set of stairs into the main sitting area. Constructed from white concrete and floor-to-ceiling glass windows and designed by a San Diego architect for a Mexican banker, the house spanned almost 3400 square meters over three stories. Belying the open-air nature of the design and construction materials, security dominated the design in acknowledgement of Mexico’s high crime rate. Located in a secure housing complex with it’s own private security force, the house had been built deep into the hillside and the cliffs surrounding it were impassable to all but the most skilled climbers, who would have to pass lines of motion and seismic sensors as well as a battery of security cameras during their ascent. The glass that made up the walls was actually a high quality thermoplastic polycarbonate designed to provide both excellent transparency and ballistic impact resistance. The white concrete included steel reinforcing bars and para-aramid synthetic fibers to provide strength against impact shock and explosive overpressure.
 
Unfortunately for the banker, his arrest for corruption and money laundering meant that he never took possession of the home and instead would be living inside a much smaller concrete and steel domicile for the next couple of decades. The home’s location, security and privacy made it a perfect base of operations for the fratello and a purchase contract was quickly drafted and signed.
 
Puerto Vallarta and Jalisco State sat south of the “Golden Triangle” of the Mexican States of Sinaloa, Michoacán and Durango, all of them major strongholds of the Sinaloa Cartel and their associates. As a major tourist area, the police presence was extensive and the transportation infrastructure made it easy to travel both within the country and without.

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


What? I like donuts! - Betty Suarez
If I die before my time, go on Oprah and tell the world 'I liked kittens'. - Veronica Mars
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Re: Kiskaloo's Concept Folder

Post by Thescarredman on Mon 28 Apr 2014 - 19:13

Off to an excellent start here, Kisk. I hope you continue to find inspiration in this story.
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Comments : .
Mario Bossi would make a better handler than Marco Toni. Come to think of it, so would Christiano.
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Elizaveta didn't jump - she was pushed.
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Sofia was pregnant. It would have been a boy.

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Re: Kiskaloo's Concept Folder

Post by Alfisti on Wed 7 May 2014 - 5:57

So, thoughts...
“If you’re ready, we can activate her,” Kostas indicated and Michele nodded his head.
 
The doctor flicked some switches and turned some knobs on the machines next to him...
"And this is the this is the machine which goes 'bing!'."  Incoming! 

Sorry, it was the first thing that I thought of.

That said, the Americans seems to have the whole wakeup process more rehearsed and standardised than the Italians' "turn up and read the paper until the drugs wear off" approach... maybe it's a cultural difference.  Razz 


“I imagine this is all routine for you, having already worked with cyborgs for years and served as handler to two of your own,” Kostas observed.
This particular sentence feels a bit awkward and info-dump-ish, just a bit too long. Perhaps cut it down to "...having served as handler to two of your own."? I dunno, could be a personal thing as well.


Yet even though his personal motto when it came to spicing of “if I’m not crying, the chef is not trying” did not prepare him for the spice level on this dish, which he expected swallowing molten lead might feel like.
I remember going to a Sichuan restaurant once, pretty good, but I get the impression that some of my mates probably would have agreed food wise with Kumari.


The Rehabilitation Branch found itself temporarily in the situation where it had more cyborgs than handlers...
I bet Lorenzo envies their budget greatly.


As he had done almost a decade prior, Prime Minister Renato Pisano went to his school-hood chum Michele Pagani
If Michele's not careful, he's going to still be running errands in a walking frame...  Razz 


“Yes. There are a number of military and law enforcement training facilities in Northern Virginia that they make use of. However, I’m more familiar and comfortable with Italian institutions so they cleared me to bring Kumari to Italy to get her ready before we spin up our mission.”
Monty: Just make sure to keep her away from anything particularly sensitve. Who knows what the Americans have built into her.


“Ghosts?” Kumari said, immediately moving behind Michele.
I take it she's picked up Noel's fear of the supernatural?



Interesting start. I'll admit I don't know enough of the RB to make a lot of comment regards that end though.

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Re: Kiskaloo's Concept Folder

Post by Kiskaloo on Wed 7 May 2014 - 9:05

@Alfisti wrote:So, thoughts...
“If you’re ready, we can activate her,” Kostas indicated and Michele nodded his head.
 
The doctor flicked some switches and turned some knobs on the machines next to him...
"And this is the this is the machine which goes 'bing!'."  Incoming! 

Sorry, it was the first thing that I thought of.

That said, the Americans seems to have the whole wakeup process more rehearsed and standardised than the Italians' "turn up and read the paper until the drugs wear off" approach... maybe it's a cultural difference.  Razz 

I used John234’s wake-up sequence with Amsel and Luce as the model.

@Alfisti wrote:
“I imagine this is all routine for you, having already worked with cyborgs for years and served as handler to two of your own,” Kostas observed.
This particular sentence feels a bit awkward and info-dump-ish, just a bit too long. Perhaps cut it down to "...having served as handler to two of your own."? I dunno, could be a personal thing as well.

Noted.

@Alfisti wrote:
“Ghosts?” Kumari said, immediately moving behind Michele.
I take it she's picked up Noel's fear of the supernatural?

Yes.

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If I die before my time, go on Oprah and tell the world 'I liked kittens'. - Veronica Mars
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Re: Kiskaloo's Concept Folder

Post by Kiskaloo on Sun 17 Aug 2014 - 10:44

So a couple of things have me thinking about Claes again...

Claes: 

...uh, anyway...

In my Idyllic Lives series, Claes has left the Agency and started living a new life. The first story of that series, Graduation Day, takes place a couple of years down the road. I came across this picture on konachan.com and used it for a scene in my W.I.P. Path of (Be)Longing where Claes remembers when she left the Agency to start her new life:



I've been thinking of possibly expanding that scene into it's own story that would anchor the beginning of the series. The road kind of reminds me of the path leading to/from the Agency (where Triela walks after Naples in Volume 10) and the girl, as all girls with glasses and long dark hair, reminds me a bit of Claes.
 
 
 
It's no secret that I think Encouragement of Climb | Yama no Susume is wonderful. It's the visual equivalent of petting a sleeping kitten or hugging a puppy. With the latest episode (#6), they added a spoof segment that has me thinking of a story about "show and tell" during Home Room with it being Claes' turn:


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Re: Kiskaloo's Concept Folder

Post by Thescarredman on Sun 17 Aug 2014 - 11:11

Classroom Show and Tell. Sounds like a promising entry for Crazy's collab thread.
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Comments : .
Mario Bossi would make a better handler than Marco Toni. Come to think of it, so would Christiano.
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Re: Kiskaloo's Concept Folder

Post by Alfisti on Mon 18 Aug 2014 - 5:44

Show and tell sounds like fun. Claes should be fine, but I'm a little worried about what some of the others might bring in.

Priscilla: Thank you Claes. Next week is... oh God... Marisa.

*General Groans*

Marisa: What? I just brought in a ring last time, a Padan's ring.

Priscilla: The ring was fine, it still being attached to a hand was not.

Marisa: I know, and it was awesome... But Elio's been checking my bag after each mission ever since.


OR


Monty walks in through a side door and stands at the front of the class.

Monty: I'm never doing this again. *Turns to tutor* Ok, I've shown, and I've told. Now, if you don't mind, I have some actual work to be getting on with.

Walks out again.

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Re: Kiskaloo's Concept Folder

Post by crazyidiot78 on Mon 18 Aug 2014 - 8:23

Beatrice- and this is my show and tell.  Holds out a box.  Go ahead and open it up CI

CI- um ok..... his face slowly paling..... Beatrice is this what I think it is.......

Beatrice- yup for show I brought in one of my special homemade presents that the padania just love to receive......

Triela- moron.... Rushing to the front of the room she launches the box out of the window..... You stupid idiot what the hell is Bernardo teaching you... are you trying to get us all killed.

Beatrice- um no..... you really didn't I would use something that dangerous

everyone else- yes.....

Triela- argh ....... what am I going to do with you.....

Beatrice- returning to her seat whispering to Claes.. is Triela on the rag again

Ferro- slamming the door open..... CI my office...... Now..... an angry rainbow colored Ferro roared.

CI- would you believe me if I said it wasn't my fault.... and I'd be happy to replace the outfit that Beatrice's little stunt destroyed...... It was quite fetching on you..... Oh and Beatrice.... detention, no chemistry, and no fireworks for a month

Beatrice....... nuts.....

Ferro.... um ok.......

Henrietta- me next.... the small girl called out thrusting her hand in the air.....

CI- alright..... what do you have to show.....

Henrietta- these.. pulling out a stack of photos.....  CI staring at Ferro's but....... CI ogling Ferro while running..... CI asking Priscilla for help with Ferro... Ferro blsuhing at CI's stupidity.... Ferro.......

Ferro- is still here and what does Jose think of your voyeuristic tendencies


Henrietta-....... um..........


CI- Henrietta you fail today's assignment and I will be confiscating those pictures........


Ferro- yes thank you Henrietta, takes the pictures


CI- nuts


Henrietta- whispering- I still have the negatives


CI- hehehehe


Ferro- class dismissed and CI i think its time you had another lesson on life here at the agency

CI- ouch time

Ferro- something like that

Petra- wow I didn't take Ferro for that kind of woman
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crazyidiot78

Male

Forum Posts : 1534

Location : Mongolia.... that is all

Fan of : Claes

Original Characters : none at this time

Comments : Me- So I used Naruto as a way to explain how viruses destroy cells in class ...... ok that as odd...... but it actually worked.

Me- I feel like a secret agent man, as my wallet now has six different currencies in it

Me- It has come to my attention that it is impossible to buy liver in Mongolia because it is bad, but it is perfectly ok to buy salt sheep heads

Registration date : 2010-01-10

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Re: Kiskaloo's Concept Folder

Post by PolosElite23 on Mon 18 Aug 2014 - 10:53

@crazyidiot78 wrote:CI- ouch time

Ferro- something like that

Petra- wow I didn't take Ferro for that kind of woman
 Wuh? LOL ROTFL

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


In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
----
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.

-Stanzas 2+4 of Invictus by William Earnest Henley
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PolosElite23

Male

Forum Posts : 913

Location : Ohio, USA

Fan of : Triela, Hillshire, and Angelica

Original Characters : Various

Comments : A journey of a lifetime starts with a blinking cursor.

Registration date : 2013-06-05

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Re: Kiskaloo's Concept Folder

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