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You had consecrated
the concord
between me, and all that was
before.
You had sanctified, bourn
witness
and so ended a pogrom
abhorred,
a felling of self as by
hubris,
hewn to a terror'd great
sword.
And what should greet me
this morning,
what gift to me fate might
afford--
but downy white, shielding
abs'lution,
the embrace of a gentle
snow storm.

Updates (Of the Brief Kind)

Journal Entry: Sat Nov 8, 2014, 4:49 AM


So it's NaNoWriMo and I've kicked it off by editing and adding to two chapters of Radical, as you might have noticed.

Unfortunately, I don't have time to read everyone else's submissions or to submit regularly-- not for the next two weeks. Two 8 page papers, two scholarships to write, meetings on statistics skills and jobs and oh a moot court competition and--.

Well, the list of duties goes on.

In any case, I hope to be back after all... THAT. Best wishes to all of you as you endeavor to live through the month.

Coffee will see us through.

(I hope).

I. The Bureau of Lost Persons
Econphilos

The Martian Capitol

 

 “Still can’t believe it. An intern. In this department. Yah, Latiif! What do they want to do, scare the up and coming generation away from police work?”

Police Commander Faruq scowled down at his Wisp© watch’s second, dour reminder that he needed to find an assignment for the schoolboy that bureaucracy and all its silver-limbed foolishness were dumping in his lap.

The watch said he had to do it before the morning was out. The watch didn’t realize what it was asking. He hadn’t known what he was asking when he programmed the tech the night before.

This department,” he repeated, more glumly. The missing persons division of Econphilos’s investigative bureau was what one might call a formality, an acknowledgment that people did indeed go missing in the capitol’s labyrinthine maw. It was consulted by everyone from fearful parents to vengeful employers and a few, pitying crime divisions. But the truth of the matter was that there was very little Faruq’s division could do about a case that wasn’t destined to sort itself out anyway. They were underfunded, undermanned, and poorly manned at that.

Simply put, Faruq commanded the hole where careers crawled to die.

You could read his own career in his office. There was a hard-mat portrait of a blest proud underdog from one of Mars’ four prouder Islamic city-states, his shoulders equal to the burden of an Assistant Director’s stripes in the Civilian Bureau of Intelligence. Beside it stood a plaque he’d been given for completing rehabilitation after his stroke. The marvels of modern medicine had restored him to cognizance with little more than gimpy memory and a scattered wit. Yet, as a dartboard rendition of Councilor Spyridon Mavrok’s face hanging on the office door betrayed, that hadn’t spared Faruq demotion. During his rehabilitation the political cogs and favours had been churning in Parliament. Given his dulled edge, he was doomed to comfortable but premature retirement here, with the rest of his motley band of misfits.

God have mercy on us; no one else will.

Electric images of his wife and daughters flocculated between the bars of a silver frame on his desk. He rubbed at a smooth, blunt jaw, trading its sight for their memory. And, in remembrance of them, he was struck by inspiration, by possibilities, by a decidedly new idea.

Yes… she hadn’t been into work for some time. And if interns were good for something, it was most certainly fetching things—or employees, as it were. And if the intern really was staying, then he’d best get acquainted with the department’s horrors early on.

The Police Commander was rarely subtle in his dealings with himself—as with all his relationships he trusted implicitly that integrity would bind it together firmest. For the present, he beamed with self-satisfaction and flicked at the windows littering the plasmatic surface of his desk until he found his intern’s contact specs.

A few drums of his fingers later, and he had handed one Georgie Grey what was like as not the hardest task of the youth’s inconsiderable life.

 

 

Georgie Grey did not feel like she was on a mission. She did not, in fact, feel much like a schoolboy at all.

So far as Georgie Grey was concerned, carving a path from home to college when she reached her so-called adulthood and having to annex the looming campus to the demesnes of the familiar… that had been torment enough. Commander Faruq, she knew, thought she was a brash and boastful youth, like her peers. But she was not, and could never be. Even now her heart was twitching alarmingly in her chest as though to shake itself free of the nightmare that was Econphilos. Econphilos: a city which from birth she had known better than to try and master entire, electing instead to let it keep her in the cage of its palm, in the few districts that life’s little vicissitudes wouldn’t let her hide from.

Faruq’s impromptu missive and its binary demands, near killed her. Not only was he driving her away from her meticulously plotted route to his office, but the task he’d given her was as terrible as they came.

She reeled and swayed as a perambulator belt trundled her along. She reeled, and she gawked desperately at the directions her Wisp© Watch was projecting over her palm, tapping occasionally at one of the callouses marring skin and screen to plead again with her inbox to send a change of orders, cancellation—mercy.

It was no avail. Her Wisp© instructed her to step off Econphilos’ gliding thoroughfares. She tried to avoid staring down at the auto-traffic a city story below and carry on. Vertigo plowed her stomach. When it passed her recovery was not at all evident to the crush of anons surrounding her. Georgie’s long, lanky legs and disproportionately thick trunk had ever swayed with perfect, permanent imbalance. There were times, like now, when she almost loathed them.

Econphilos, Mars’ triumphantly self-asserting capitol, did not welcome the intern’s eager but awkward smile or round cheeks. It didn’t welcome her at all. She’d been ordered to head into the 15th District, too oft dubbed Gallows, and it, too, didn’t believe in her ilk, in well-tended offspring careworn to fragility.

She knew this only in a vague, unformed, mostly instinctive sense.

She wished that her boss, too, knew. But every time she tried to think up an excuse for the earthy dark visage that lowered at her from his Google profile all her feelings unraveled and she felt she could do nothing but babble if she tried to explain herself.

Georgie glanced skyward, at the translucent climateric dome engulfing the city, and she tried to remind herself that her doubts were natural. That there was always something bigger than her and that it couldn’t so bad because she’d lived with it painlessly enough so far. The deep breath she took did her more good than the sophistry.

Indeed, as Econphilos’s civilian walkway declined Georgie felt she was sinking into her own depths.  She hesitated, unaware of the stream of commuters parting agitatedly about her as she peered ahead with an almost obligatory sense of guilt. Guilt, because she at once tread over and was confronted by the sprawling metallic waste that was Gallows.

Every creature had its squeamish bits, tucked away beneath its skin, and every city had a slums. When your city happened to harbor the last, stubborn vestige of laissez faire governance in the galaxy this truth was bound to look uglier. Not that Econphilos lacked welfare programs—no, there wasn’t a single man starving on Mars unless it was of his own will. What Georgie looked out over was poverty of the spirit. These were people who preferred the alternate reality of makeshift CFAS’s to the stares they would garner trying to find escape in the supposedly welcoming communities that littered neighborhoods like Georgie’s. People who, even on Mars, which had city-states that were more or less collectives of outcasts that neither Anthropeden nor Europa would give voice, couldn’t seem to find place. They were, to be frank, freaks, fools, and madmen. Race, creed, gender… those people could accept, these days. But if they thought your head was cracked, and if you opted to use your liberty to keep it that way…

That was a generalization, perhaps. There were some oldworld sects, ethnicities, and religions that didn’t have real place in any city and wound up haunting their slums, instead. It was just that usually those groups joined up with the Romani Alliance and became nomads. Not that Georgie Grey thought wandering was a life for anyone, mind you...

Shaking her head, feeling vertiginous again just thinking about leaving the city, Georgie Grey hustled along. Thankfully, she didn’t have to go deep into the Gallows. Her assignment required she brave a lean and looming tenement just off the main beltway— a tenement as tidy and hornetcombed and grey as though it were the glass-paned shelving in a morgue.

It was one of those subsidized places where half the residents were the staff, where Econphilos’s council had managed to seal a few of its more problematic citizens for less cost than their trouble would have been. Georgie managed a sheepish smile at the dull man loitering outside. He was smoking a roll and sweeping the walkway with agonizing deliberation, and she was trying to convince herself that his jerky movements didn’t mean anything.

She failed, of course. But that didn’t matter because by then she’d slipped through the auto doors, and she’d made it, whatever that meant.

Now, now the only way was forward.

Georgie was, in fact, so determined by then to finish her quest that she didn’t notice her Wisp© flashing. She didn’t notice that Police Inspector Faruq had tried to make precisely the frantic cancellation call she’d been hoping for all along.

It was a brilliant day for her sense, as of her own resiliency.

It was about to be a terrible one for just about everything and everybody else.

Georgie Grey had checked the floor and apartment numbers a dozen times before she left home that morning, just to spare herself the possibility of looking foolish or uncertain when she arrived. The girl braced herself outside the door to 602, having recently stumbled out one of many chutes meandering up and down the calc-carbonate complex, and she swallowed. She tried to convince herself that her boss wouldn't lie. To convince herself that she was, in fact, fetching a fellow employee and not a criminal. Violent criminals weren't even in Faruq’s department--.

‘Stop fantasizing.’  Georgie pressed the bell, cringing with anticipation and regret. But nothing happened. An agonizing minute and a half passed while she tried to mould her face into something polite, just in case someone was sticking his—or her—eye through the peephole.

Then, torture of tortures, Georgie realized she’d have to press the bell again. In so doing she’d either look impatient, or else she’d have failed and this entire ordeal would have been for nothing.

She rang again. More silence followed. And Georgie panicked inside—she couldn’t do it, she thought, she couldn’t ring a third time because she didn’t have the heart. But if she didn’t then how could she hope to report back to the Police Inspector in earnes--?

The door opened.

Georgie blinked.

At first she thought it might have been a shadow that answered—and not one of those jagged, prim, and daunting shadows, either—it was more like a gloom. If ever there were a company that manufactured shades, this would have been the waste fished out after a particularly heinous malfunction, jammed in the conveyor belt, frayed and ephemeral…

Defunct.

But no. This was a woman, mostly. She had hair that might have been more disheveled save for the grease slicking it, and her face was a sallow plain dominated by the dark rings haunting her languor-lidded eyes, but she was a woman. You could tell, in the end, because the coats of black she was wearing didn't quite prevail to hide her hips.

The woman-or-so-Georgie-supposed didn't say anything. Just studied the intern dimly from where she slouched as though said intern was a particularly uninteresting cloud billowing across her horizons.

"Erm—does Specialist Rona Ullien live here?" Georgie hazarded, willing the subatomic forces that be not to kill Schrodinger's cat, that this wasn’t her quarry.

"I’m Coronach Ullien," spoke the woman in a brogue as distant and desultory as her appearance.

Georgie cursed God's dice.

The woman leaned against the frame of the door, toying with the anachrostic cigarette in her fingers, and frowning at it. “Faruq’s operating at an unusually ambitious pace, t’day. Then, s’little surprise considering as we’ve our first case in eons…”

Georgie blanked. There was a searing, hyperfocus-glint in Coronach’s pupils, so long disused it appeared foreign to the Investigator. As though she had powered on for the first time in years.

“Ah, so y’don know. Then this must be a mistake on his part…”

“He asked me to request that you appear at work today…”

“Early this morn’.”

“Ah—yes.”

“Mmm…” The woman paused, and if Georgie weren’t so tall might have gazed out over her head. “Y’look to be suff’ring, ling’ring there in the hall. Do try t’make yourself comfortable.” Coronach turned smartly on her heel and retreated into her apartment, leaving Georgie to gawk a moment at the door swinging ajar and puzzle at whether the words, too, were an invitation or a contradiction.

In the end, she had little choice but to venture in. The apartment met her dismal expectations. The floor was matted, full of dints and dents and divots, and the accommodations went beyond ascetic. One low, short couch littered with papers (and Georgie near-shuttered at what a waste this second anachrosm was when there were fiber films to act as surrogates for hundreds of thousands of documents a piece) constituted the only furniture, save a full ashtray.

There was no entertainment complex, no briefing box next to the door, no decorations holo or otherwise save for a picture on the stand. It didn’t scroll through images—it displayed only one, small, rather delicate black man turning to flash the camera a sardonic expression. His profile was flush with motion, as though his elbow might just jut through the frame. The icon was by no means a cheerful one, but it contrasted so severely with the stillness of the room that Georgie found herself glancing about for signs of a C.F.A.S. interface stashed nearby. Only reality junkies were supposed to live this way, so far as commonly held opinion had it.

Speaking of which, Coronach emerged. She was brushing her teeth, but ordered around the foam: “Check ‘ur Wi’scht.”

Georgie scrabbed to glance at her wrist, biting her lip as it flashed three new alarms at her. When she spread out her palm she saw that they were all from Faruq.

“He’s a good man—b’scattered, ‘ese days,” Coronach mumbled, before resuming her brushing. “Well, ‘ou’ll ‘ee ‘im oon enough.”

“Scattered?”

The investigator spit in the kitchen sink, throwing her brush down in after. “This week’s the anniversary’ve m’husbands death. An’ the case… fortunately m’not bad off, t’day.”

“Case?”

“Mmm. Won’t corrupt you. Wait f’briefing.”

“Briefing.”

“Yes, it’s a real, big case this time.”

“R—really--?”

“Yeah. ‘Stronomical odds.”

“Ah--.”

“Jikes. W’don’t. Dark humor, thinking t’world might need us.”

“So you were saying Faruq doesn’t want me to--.”

“Too late f’all of us now. M’quiet’s broke.”

Coronach flashed her cell at the door to lock it and walked out. She still had an old model from before everything became implant or accessory. They were popular on Mars. Anything to deny the technological invasion that had transformed Earth—now, Anthropeden, one big, giant, biocybertelekinetic--.

The investigator was drifting unconcernedly down the hall, and Georgie realized she was supposed to be following after.

Rushing, she dashed past the portrait of--.

--anniversary’ve m’husbands—

Georgie doubled her pace, but she sealed the smoke-blurred, airless crypt behind her carefully, heart pounding in her chest.

And that was how she met the remnants of Coronach Ullien.

Radical [1.1]
Just trying to get SOMETHING down between the horrors of a busy junior year and career searching. Progress on this is the only facet of my cyclical routine that convinces me time is passing.
   --I hope to be more responsive to everyone on here, too. The lot of you deserve it. But the time. Ach, the time!
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0. Cinder
Cosm, capitol of Kolkander
Fifth State in the Europan Confederacy

“You might as well say what you mean, Yura.”

As always, as ever, Rad’s voice gripped the old climateric plant. It tugged at everything there, every dripping wire and gutted machine, and their sudden, vivid presence lent gravity to his demand.

That demand was straining the conversation well past the point of breaking. But by then a break was so long overdue that no one reacted save, perhaps, to give up on trying to warm the dilapidated shop floor with a smile. Rad had let Yura drag their crippled exchange on for the better part of an hour. Only then had he stirred. And it was just like him, too—to recline his head over the back of his sorry excuse for a sofa watching, ever watching that he might rise and dash all Yura’s hopes in a blaze of gloried cynicism.

To her credit, Yura didn’t surrender the conversation or her earnest. “I do think you’re wrong to stay here,” she insisted. “That’s exactly what I mean—what’s the point of learning from all the books I bring for you if you aren’t in the system?! Without a record you can’t get access to--.”

“Records are easily counterfeited, and cheaply bought. A pristine mind is not.” Rad smiled coolly. “I believe what you mean to say is that you think I’m on-the-fritz. A paranoiac. But you’re wrong. My fears are quite real—it’s not that I mistrust your beloved Kolkander, per se. I don’t doubt it’s full of well-intentioned… citizens, like yourself. It’s the system that concerns me, and the history of mankind is generally one of incompetence, of the system running itself.”

Cinder’s stubby fingers slipped at the rivets joining together the heating element she was trying to put back together. She was crouched on the scaffolding of the second floor, and she used the excuse to glance down at her friends below. Rad had leaned in to brush aside the hoard of braids that lay over the vitals monitor implanted in Yura’s chest and tap it emphatically. Cinder had an identical, pulsing green device under her kimono, streaming “all’s well’s” back to the city security system; everyone on Europa did.

Everyone but Rad.

Yura frowned at him uneasily; his arguments were too familiar to unnerve her, but the dark glint in his eye, daring her to call him mad, was not. “If you dislike Kolkander’s ideals so much you should try to change them from within. But I think you’re exaggerating. We’re a--.”

“Secular society, yes,” Rad laughed, drawing away from the comely young woman. Cinder turned her face back to the broken heater and rubbed her hands together to try and circulate the blood. “But Yura, even the most banal man would find, if he chanced to glance back over his life, that our race tends to live like poetry. All that we have done and all that we are we either score into our environs or else seek out in the scenery as a comfort. We leave a trail of metaphors in our wakes, glimmering under the dusty veneer of reality like broken toys, shed skins… Kolkander’s founders were no different. And I think it’s little wonder that they settled the glacially thawing wastes of Europa. That the planet itself seems to afflict us with their ideals.”

Manipulative bastard, Cinder thought dourly to herself as she tucked her right hand between the  warm folds of her belly and breast and pushed her goggles back up with the other. I hate it when he gets like this. Fine when the silver-tongued youth was winning the patronage of pheta-slingers (modern medicine had done away with the need for any supplementary narcotics trade, or so Rad liked to smirk). Fine when it was her; she was immune to the tidy patterns, the meaning he could contrive from even the sparsest, most contrary of datum, and her and Rad deserved each other.

But Cinder never meant for Yura to get attached to him. The only contact Yura was supposed to have with anyone had been supplying passcodes to the databases Rad wanted to access because Cinder’s secondary coursework was in the sciences, and he needed the keys to political facts and figures.

At the time, Yura had seemed the ideal target; who knew it was possible to be generous and clever? It had been shocking when she worked out Cinder’s motives, shocking to realize that Yura had found her way to Rad step by inductive step-- as it turned out, she was the security commissioner’s daughter, sprung from a bloodline gen-engied for high empathy and intuitive ability.

Rad, of course, had delighted in the twist of fate.

“To cap it all, you’re fixed on her!” he’d teased after Yura had found them, rustling Cinder’s orange crop of hair peevishly. “Absolutely fixed!”

“She’s the kindest person I’ve ever met.”

“And are you blushing? That’s your affection talking, then… ah, she is a pretty one, though. You know, if I wanted I could woo her… and doesn’t the thought get you all glitched up? Normally, you have a remarkable capacity for hiding how you feel, for a girl your age.”

“It’s between you and her, isn’t it? If it happens? But she isn’t someone you should toy with.” Cinder had tried desperately at the time to tell herself it wasn’t true, that Yura couldn’t… and Rad, he hadn’t seemed concerned by her words, or even the circumstances.

“Do you know why you’re my only witness, my only… confidant?” he’d pressed, all-too-conscious of the cruelty in his praise. The conversation had circled back to him, like always. “Well? It was because ever since you were born into this crackpot society you knew the only place a dockrat like you could have power was in those tiny mechanical boxes of yours. Inside a computer. And it was settled for you then in the real world, wasn’t it? You were a thing apart, and you weren’t going to do anything here, in that real world. It doesn’t matter what you want from it all, what you might wish to change, you simply won’t do it. You can’t.”

Like any clever boy with pent-up ambition, Rad had it all figured out. He was down on the second floor bullying Yura with a tale about her “degenerate” society so he wouldn’t have to confess that he’d been excluded from birth. And, hard as it was for Cinder to see it through his cruelties, he’d woven the tale about her so that he could give himself an excuse to trust in something. That she endured his abuse… well, it was only after such episodes that she ever saw him relax.

Was it right, wrong, indifferent to let him? Cinder couldn’t make sense of it. Her notion of realism was a handful of paralyzing detail, a hoard of atomized truths too formless to bring understanding. She was Rad’s opposite, and they deserved each other.

But Yura…

“No, Rad,” she interjected, just as he glided down on the cusp of another speech to kiss her, and Cinder could hear him sigh for irritation. “No, that’s not good enough. I’m not as gullible—you don’t care when it’s the pheta-slingers you’re throwing in with who’re corrupt, so why mind Kolkander’s rule, or even Cosm’s city council? Someone like you isn’t going to be tainted by them. And going legit is too smart for you to pass up on—just living on Cosm’s fringes you’re exposing yourself to ambient radiation. There’s something else you’re hiding, some reason they wouldn’t let you in.”

The climateric plant fell still.

Cinder rose and twisted, searching out Yura’s expression with dread. The commissioner’s daughter had her lips pursed, and her black eyes challenged Rad. Indeed, she was not supposed to know about the pheta-slinging, had only ever been allowed here, in Rad’s hideout, for a reason…

Something had changed. Cinder felt the proverbial rug slipping out from under her. Rad, he drew back from Yura with a cautious expression, and its gravity only confirmed Cinder’s fears.

“You’re wrong,” he said, his eloquence fleeing him.

“You’re lying,” Yura returned with hurt. “You’re lying, when all I ever wanted was to help you.”

“Arrogant of you, when I’ve made it quite clear I didn’t need it.”

“You wouldn’t admit it if you did! I told you if you needed registered my father could see to i--.”

“But I didn’t want you to see to i--.”

“You didn’t think it would work!” Yura exclaimed triumphantly. “Because--!”

“Yura,” Cinder’s voice cracked, betraying her as it lodged behind the heart stuck in her throat. ‘For fuck’s sake,’ she wanted to add, ‘How could you have figured it out--?!’ But this wasn’t her world. Her voice had done naught but distract the two below, like the pattering of a ghost on their sill.

“—because you’re a convict,” Yura finished with relish. “You must have escaped by tearing out your vitals monitor, and--!”

Rad scoffed at her derisively, even as Cinder slumped against the railing of the scaffolds above for sheer relief. “A convict, at eighteen?! Are you out of your mind?!”

“I figured you were in a juvenile facility, which would make it easier to…” Yura coloured.

“I already told you my parents hid me away, and wisely so,” he pressed. “And then died of that… ‘ambient’ radiation you spoke of. With any luck I’ll join them. But come to think, if you’re so very concerned about it, then perhaps you shouldn’t come here anymore.”

So Yura had shaken him, too. Cinder might have felt vindicated that someone could move him, if only Yura wasn’t staring at Rad the way she was, with the threat of his turned back carved into every line marring her smooth face. He was, after all, Rad, the dark and mysterious, the brooding. Rad, with his silk tongue and deft hands. Rad, the ultimate crusade. How could Cinder have expected any girl to keep from his snare, even this one?

“But I don’t mind, if it’s to see you--.” Yura tried, desperately.

He rolled his eyes at her. “—to drown me in your self-righteous prattle, you mean? Excuse me if I’ve wearied of the sight of you, to say nothing of the sound.”

“You’re just afraid--!”

“You’re the one who’s afraid right now, I think. Shivering, even.”

“It’s just cold; the heating element--.”

“Oh, yes. I’m sure Cinder will be willing to leave even her precious repair jobs if it means escorting you home,” he snapped nastily. “So why don’t you go on?”

It was the first time Yura had glanced at Cinder all day, and her expression was apologetic. “I will not. Not until you cool down.”

“Oh, but I’m perfectly cool,” Rad insisted. “You’ve outlasted your usefulness; for a long time now you’ve just been entertainment. And now your incessant complaints have ceased to entertain me. I know it’s hard to accept that the perfect tuning Kolkander’s white coats gave your senses could have deceived you, but--.”

“Rad, I’m going to help you whether you like me or not.”

The boy stopped abruptly, and something ugly streaked over his face. “You what? Is that a threat?”

“No. It’s a fact. You convinced me, just now.” Her voice was somber. “You can’t live like this, here. And given your age it’s almost too late to--.”

“Yura,” his voice softened all at once, conciliatorily as he reached out to her. “Perhaps I was too hasty. There’s no reason for you to be, also…” But she drew back, finished with the game.

“I’m not.”

“Consider--.”

“There’s nothing more to consider,” her words struck him, cold, hard, and flat.

“You will not go to your father!” It was the first time Rad had shouted, and Cinder’s stomach dropped again as she glanced at his knotted back where it peeked through the thick fabric of his kimono, at his sickeningly prominent shoulders.

“Yura, he’s right--,” she began, but Yura still wasn’t listening.

“I will, Rad!” the girl hissed. “I will and you’ll see that everything can be perfectly--.”

“Nothing can be perfect for someone like me!” he barked in return. “Swear that you won’t! Swear, you glitched--!”

“No!” Yura twisted toward the exit. “Goodbye, Ra--.”

Her voice erupted out of hearing with a deafening crack.

Everything snapped, contracted, fell limp with a thud against the mortar shop floor.

Cinder landed hard as she was wrest from one reality to the next, and she felt her blood slick the scaffolding under her limp hands as though in offering to close the dimension behind her. But she didn’t stare back, she stared ahead. She was… staring. She was staring and staring, and she couldn’t see anything through--.

Crimson. A haze. Then frantic pleading. No--. “They’d have found me! You know what they do with radicals, the ‘rehabilitation’ they--! She would have told them I mentioned radiation, and when they saw the stumps on my back I’d have been--! Like a lab rat--!” Cinder turned down her head to regard the voice. Her eyes were empty, and Rad flinched back as though she’d struck him.

“Cinder, I had to shoot!”

His was a cruel magic; his voice, his vision fused everything, and truth tore through her like the searing stark-head beam of a lazergu--.

“—BASTARD!” Cinder hadn’t known she could scream, but scream she did as she rushed to the scaffold stair. She heard Rad’s boots pounding in flight for the one, the two blind instants it took to leap down the metal rigging. Yet somehow she was still stricken when she veered about to find him gone, lost to a floating city adrift in Europa’s frigid seas. He’d left nothing more than the angry red glow of Yura’s vital monitor behind him. And, glimpsing that, Cinder fell to her knees.

“Bastard!”

Somehow, she couldn’t stop screaming, damning, retching his name.

“Glitching, plastifaced--!”

Somehow, she couldn’t so much as face the body at her side.

Rad, you viral fucking…!”

It was security that lifted Yura from the filthy mortar. It was security that recognized the youth buried in that pale, dead corpse and cried out for grief. It was security that pulled Cinder together and set off on the hunt for Rad.

Cinder… she couldn’t do a thing.
Radical [0]
The prologue, set fifteen years before any of the action starts. I typed the end in a bit of haste to see if that would infuse it with a jarring effect-- you can be the judge of whether I succeeded. Critique is especially appreciated here, with draft I.
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First, you deserve a world of commendation for the patchwork nature of this intriguing young woman's mind. A sociopathic "predator" with a big old emotional band-aid spliced into the base of her skull. I see a lot of promise in this character, and I'm looking forward to seeing how you develop her. In particular, I wonder how unique 'personalities' will work with her species of sapiens. Does qualitative individuality require a temperament, a definitive set of emotional dispositions? Or can such a thing emerge through the learning process, through the variations in reasoning that come as a result of having developed different ideas and associations between them? Questions questions...

A small critique in that vein might be that you want to be careful about how you portray the 'emotions' injected into her by that E-plug. The dissociation that she experiences seems a natural consequence of the kind of being that she is. But the question arises how her actions can be influenced by that E-plug if she doesn't have a robust experience of the drives it's implanting in her. Further, in the dull moments inbetween or after the destruction of that E-plug, its interesting to consider what it will be like for a creature with flat affect to recall real FEELING, however induced. As a mere illusion, truly? That would be a simple solution. But there are several possibilities to consider...

I also wonder-- was it intentional, this giving her a rather subtle sense of humour, or was that merely the narrator's voice leaking into the character?

But all this is to say nothing of the fact I'm waiting on an illustration of what looking at past, present, and future all simultaneously looks like. It's a fascinating concept, and I can't help but think that setting the scene might have been a neat place to introduce it. Criss-crossing images of this convention with lectures on past ones, overlapping settings that disorient the reader before you pan out of our subject's head to reveal her in her current milieu. Or some such.

Mainly, my critique is meant to say you've done a FANTASTIC job here, and you shouldn't be afraid to give this idea more play and attention for the sake of being precise about the kind of being and phenomenology you're introducing.

deviantID

tatterdema1ion
Christina
Artist | Student | Varied
United States
I'm a human being, and that is all you'll ever need to know.

If you have questions or requests for critiques then I'm open to accepting notes.
Interests

Updates (Of the Brief Kind)

Journal Entry: Sat Nov 8, 2014, 4:49 AM


So it's NaNoWriMo and I've kicked it off by editing and adding to two chapters of Radical, as you might have noticed.

Unfortunately, I don't have time to read everyone else's submissions or to submit regularly-- not for the next two weeks. Two 8 page papers, two scholarships to write, meetings on statistics skills and jobs and oh a moot court competition and--.

Well, the list of duties goes on.

In any case, I hope to be back after all... THAT. Best wishes to all of you as you endeavor to live through the month.

Coffee will see us through.

(I hope).

If you are given a selection of prizes to choose from, you'd select 

44%
7 deviants said Love
19%
3 deviants said Happiness
13%
2 deviants said Immortality
13%
2 deviants said Power
6%
1 deviant said Omnipotence
6%
1 deviant said Utopia

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:iconv-lee-croasdell:
V-Lee-Croasdell Featured By Owner Sep 10, 2014  Professional Artist
Thank you so very, very much for the watch. I am honored!
Happy Happy..Onion 
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:iconjake-sjet:
Jake-Sjet Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Interesting. Might I ask what prompted the name change and what it might mean?
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:icontatterdema1ion:
tatterdema1ion Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2014  Student General Artist
Xerxes. It's an ahhh pseudonym I picked up for a competition, owing to the fact that there's a certain character I've always admired and which codifies all that I should remember about my personal faults and all that I should accept... so yes.
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:iconjake-sjet:
Jake-Sjet Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Huum, from a random Google search I can but say one thing: all that glitters is not gold. More often than not its CGI.
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:icontatterdema1ion:
tatterdema1ion Featured By Owner Mar 19, 2014  Student General Artist
Yes typing in Xerxes does get one some interesting results...
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