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Concrit much appreciated. This is chapter 10 of Cliffton book 1, now edited and hopefully beta-ready. If you are looking for the older version for comparison purposes, it is here Slight warning for rage issues and violence and (maybe) empty threats of additional violence. In other words, Calla.

If you're reading Cliffton for the first time, here are the previous chapters so you can catch up:
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9



When I hear the knock on my door, I'm kind of surprised. No one really comes down here much, and I mostly keep to myself. Not that I really want to be alone, but it's better than the alternative. As long as I'm here in my room, I can't piss anyone off. At least I've got my borrowed weights to keep me occupied.

"Brendan?" a feminine voice calls through the door. "It's Calla. Can I come in? I've got a favor to ask."

"Yeah, come in. Please." Just like that, I'm struggling to keep the excitement from my voice. Company would be really nice, and Calla's the closest thing I've got to a friend in this house. Even if she is scarier than a Lost Souls' Day haunt. Only I've got to wonder. What kind of favor could she possibly want from me?

"So, uh, how have you been?" I ask as she strides in. My face heats up and I curse myself for my lack of poise.

"Well, I'm still a robot," Calla laughs, "and I'm still surrounded by fools. How about you?"

"It's a little lonely down here," I admit. "But, uh, I'm getting in some great workouts?"

Am I imagining things, or do Calla's eyes lock onto my biceps when I say that? What is it with people in this house and my muscles? Not that I really mind if she's looking at them. Only my face is on fire, and her eyes on me aren't helping.

"Y- you said you needed my help." I barely manage to get the words out. "What's going on?"

Yeah, she's definitely staring at my muscles. Hard to tell with her robotic eyes, but her head sort of jerks upward at the sound of my voice. Like she's forcing her eyes to meet mine before she answers. "You used to be a combat instructor, didn't you? When you were in school?"

"Yeah, Kalen and I both did. Why, do you want some fighting tips?"

Oh, man. I know I must sound way too eager. Not only that, but the thought of spending extra time with Calla to teach her only makes my face grow even redder. I sort of wish my bedroom floor would open up and swallow me whole.

"I'm not the one who needs the tips." Calla's eyes glow disdainfully. "Wes and Devin do."

Oh, great. Spending extra time around Devin's exactly what I've been hoping to do. Guess Calla picks up on my reluctance, because she puts a metal hand on my arm. Her touch feels surprisingly gentle.

"Why would Wes and Devin need to fight, anyway?" I ask. Not like it matters, because I'm probably going to end up doing whatever she wants. I'm pretty sure I can't resist her. Guess I know now why Kalen blew up the fence for her.

"Well, if we're going to stop the War - " she begins, but I don't hear the rest over the pounding of my heart.

Going to what? I'm more confused than a guy walking into the theater halfway through a mystery vid. Sure, I know Calla wanted to end the War. Know my brother did too, because that's how we all ended up here. Only I spent my whole life preparing to fight in it, so I can't figure out for the life of me why Calla thinks I'd want to stop it now.

"Wait a second," I say when she's done. "We're going to stop the War?"

"Kalen didn't tell you?" Calla's metal face is expressionless as ever. Still, I can tell she's shocked. "The plan's to stop the War since we're marked as terrorists anyway. He's your brother, so I just assumed - "

"There's a lot of things Kalen doesn't tell me." I wait for the familiar surge of rage. Wait for the monster to creep up and try to grab hold of me. Only it doesn't, not this time. Guess I'm too busy being shocked. Or maybe too busy trying not to blush every time Calla looks my way.

"Well, I understand if you don't want to help us." Calla's eyes dim a little, and I feel oddly sad when they do.

"I'll do it," I don't even really need to ask any more questions.

Might as well help a friend, right? It's not like I can fight now anyway. Not like all my years of faithful service to my people did me any good once that fence went up in flames. Guess I've got no reason not to do whatever Calla asks.

* * * * *

Too bad we can't just train Wes and Devin on our own in secret. Calla wants Kalen's approval, because she's still hoping he'll step up and lead our little group. Never mind the fact he's more stubborn than a herd of mules. Calla's convinced she's got to get him on board, and of course that's not going to lead to anything good.

It's not like that stops me from standing faithfully at her side, because Calla's smart and she'll learn soon enough. Already is learning, if Kalen's inattention is any indication. He's busy fiddling with something - robot workings, maybe? I'm pretty sure he hasn't heard a single word Calla's said.

"Ow!" he yells suddenly, finally looking up. "What was that for?"

Guess he's paying attention now. Calla must have kicked him under the table. With her metal legs and super strength, I bet that hurt. I smile a little behind my hand, because Kalen kind of deserves it. He never listens to anyone.

"Oh, I'm sorry, my foot slipped." Too bad Calla's metal face can't smile, but her tone's amused nonetheless. "I said, we've got to do something about Wes and Devin."

"Huh?" Kalen's eyebrows knit together in confusion for a moment, but then understanding dawns on his face. "Oh! You noticed that, too? Isn't Devin unbelievable? How dare he leave me notes critiquing the way I do his housework! He's lucky I'm tolerating his stupid cleaning rule in the first place."

"What in the murderous moons are you blithering on about?" Calla snaps. "Cleaning rule? I'm talking about their lack of training and discipline. They're like overgrown children, and they got us all arrested on that intelligence mission. Letting them out in public's a danger to us all. What's worse, even they know that - at least, Devin does."

"Um, CallaBot?" Kalen's got that maddening know-it-all tone now. It kind of makes me want to punch him in the face. Bet Calla wants to shoot some of her eye-lasers at him, too. "We have to let them out in public, remember? They're the only ones here who aren't known terrorists."

"We have to let them out in public," I say, "but we don't have to give them free rein. They act like children, but even children can follow rules. At the very least, they should be able to handle some sort of combat training, right?"

My brother actually bursts out laughing, which I sort of understand. The idea of Wes or Devin fighting anyone is pretty comical. Only if a team's as strong as its weakest member, we're about as formidable as a nest of peeper hatchlings right now.

"No, bro, hear me out. They're supposed to be terrorists now, and they need - "

"Wes and Devin? In combat?" Kalen wipes tears from his eyes. "Okay, let's move on. Next idea."

I hate it when Kalen ignores me, writes off my suggestions like they're not worth anything. Seeing him do it to Calla's even worse. Funny how it never seems to get any easier, keeping the monster in check, even though I've fought it all my life. How even the tiniest slight can set it free. Kalen's laughter is all it takes to set my heart pounding and my teeth on edge. I take deep breaths and try to keep control. Watch Calla's impassive metal face and imagine myself that calm, too.

It only sort of works, so I turn and head for the basement door. Better to go down there where it's safe, where there's no one the monster can hurt. Where I've got my weights and a way to let everything out.

"Lands alive, that boy is dense." Calla's voice stops me as I reach for the knob.

"Denser than a hunk of UberSteel." I laugh, thinking maybe I'll be okay now. "He never listens to anyone."

"Always knows better than everyone else, doesn't he?" Calla shakes her head.

Just like that, my heart speeds up again and there's nothing I can do to stop it. My chest feels tight and my teeth grind together hard enough to make my jaw ache. My vision even starts to go a little funny. Guess I really do need to get downstairs while I still can. All these years of fighting the monster, and this is all it takes to slip.

"Gets to you, doesn't it?" Calla sounds far off, tinny.

All I can do is nod, because I'm too overcome by the rage now to speak.

"He drives me insane," Calla admits. "That boy doesn't care about anything."

Thing is, I know that's not quite true. Or at least it didn't used to be. Kalen used to care about stopping the War. Used to care about her and all his friends from the Other Side, more than he ever cared about me. I'd tell her that, maybe, but even thinking about it makes it harder to breathe.

"I don't understand what happened to him," Calla says softly. "He used to be so passionate. It's what drew me to him in the first place, you know. Not that I didn't question the War before I met him, but he's the one who truly believed in what we were doing. Now it's like he doesn't believe in anything, and now's when we need him most."

I think it's the sadness in her voice that makes the world come back into focus a little. Still, I've got to concentrate hard before my breathing starts to even out. Even then, it's a while before my hands relax and my jaw unclenches enough for me to consider speaking. By then, her electronic eyes are on me, glowing with what I'd swear is concern.

"Guess we'll have to lead ourselves, then," I finally say.

"My thoughts exactly." Calla's eyes glow even more brightly. "We're terrorists, so let's start terrorizing someone already."

I'm pretty sure she says something else, but I've got no idea what it is. Too busy noticing her eyes, and how they're not so scary when they don't look like they're about to shoot lasers at me. How they're actually kind of... weirdly beautiful.

* * * * *

Where are they? I shift uncomfortably in my seat. They never make the chairs in these SynthBrew shops quite big enough. Meanwhile, Calla's waiting out in the alley, and she's got to be even more ill at ease then I am. I've nearly convinced myself to abandon the whole plan and leave by the time our contacts walk in, fifteen minutes late. They move in unison, sliding into their seats with a fluid, easy grace that makes me think of Kalen. As if their hair and eyes weren't reminder enough. Blondies.

"Jake?" the one to my right holds out a hand for me to shake. Oh, yeah. It's harder than I expected to remember I'm using a fake name, but I think I recover quickly enough. "Call me Raven. This is Hawk." He motions toward the guy to his left, offering a winning smile. Brings Kalen to mind again, but I try not to hold that against him.

"Birds, huh?" Oh, man. I wish Calla were here, because trying to make small talk with these guys is painful.

"They're not our real names." Raven grins sheepishly. "I'm sure you can understand why. Anyway, is 'Jake' yours?"

He's got me there.

"So, how long have you two known Wes?" I ask, hoping to ease the tension. Right now, I'm jumpier than a twelve-legged kangaroo spider. Too bad making conversation doesn't seem to be working. They're both staring at me with blank looks.

"Wes?" Raven finally asks. "Oh! You mean CommanderCuddles."

Commander... Cuddles? Oh, Wes.

"Actually," Raven continues, "We've never met in person. But we've known each other ten and a half years. That's pretty much forever on the Splinternet, you know."

I don't know, actually. It's not like I can't use a CompuPanel, but I've never really spent a lot of time on the Splinternet. I just prefer the company of real people to words on a screen. Still, Mother raised me to be polite, so I nod and smile.

"Want to continue this on the ride out to the depot?" I ask nervously after a few more minutes of awkward conversation. "I left my robot out in the alley. Don't want it to get stolen." They nod, and we head out to the alley.

Raven walks over to the door of a military-issue van, opens it, and leans inside. A moment later, he holds up a stack of neatly folded uniforms. "One on top's yours. Hope it fits. Cuddles said you were huge, but I kinda thought he was exaggerating."

Yeah, yeah. I'm big. I get that a lot.

Raven's already stripping off his clothes, so I pull my own shirt over my head. Of course, the moment it's off, I feel his eyes on me, and Hawk's, too. Is there anyone who doesn't find my muscles intensely fascinating? I pull my uniform top on hurriedly. It's snug across the shoulders, but it'll do. I turn my back before I change my pants, keeping as much of my body covered as possible as I do it.

No idea how Calla's keeping herself from laughing at this. I kind of hate her right now.

The ride out to the weapons depot's quiet and uneasy. Calla's pretending to be a regular robot, and Raven and Hawk aren't saying much, either. Eventually, they turn up the volume on the van's trackplayer, the screeching sounds of their scrap metal "music" filling the small space. Can't say I'm a fan of that sort of thing, but anything's better than awkward silence.

Sure hope this plan works. Wes is goofy, but he's done his research. Says the defenses on military facilities look tough, but in reality the security staff's overconfident. They'll let in anyone with a uniform and valid ID. We're all wearing uniforms, and Raven and Hawk say they've got IDs. Only I hope they know what they're doing. I've got plenty of time to ponder that as we drive, because the weapons depot's a fair distance away.

Good thing these two have a vehicle. Making this journey on foot would be kind of brutal. Even driving feels like it takes an eternity, but that's mostly my nerves. When we breeze through the security gates, I breathe a sigh of relief.

Too bad my relief's short-lived. Raven climbs over the back of his seat, straddling me before I've even had a chance to remove my safety belt. Cold metal presses against my forehead. My mind races. I can take this guy no problem, though maneuvering's more difficult in such cramped quarters. But what if they manage to draw the troops' attention to us somehow?

"Tell my brother how to shut off your robot, or I'll tell Security you tried to hurt me," Raven hisses. "You don't want that. My father's stationed here. Security doesn't take kindly to people trying to harm the children of military personnel, you know."

"...And if I cooperate?" I'm stalling for time. Pretty sure Security's going to have a field day with me once they realize who I am. It won't matter what Raven tells them. But if I can figure out how to get Calla and me away from the van before they show up...

"Then I'll tell them the truth," Raven says simply, "that you're a traitor who tried to raid a weapons depot."

"If either of you calls Security, I'll kill you both." Calla leaps from her seat, pinning Hawk to the driver's seat with one hand and grasping a handful of Raven's hair with the other. "It's no problem for me to take you two at once. Hawk, I can crush your larynx in a nanosecond, and I can laser your brother with my eyes while I'm doing it."

Only I think it's too late. Troops are already surrounding our vehicle. Guess Calla sees them, too, because she lets go of the bird guys, smashes the windshield with a single blow, and climbs out onto the hood of the van, firing lasers from both eyes in rapid succession. Despite the fact that I'm probably about to go to jail for life, I've got to smile a little. She did this the day I met her, back when she was still -

What I am doing? Waxing nostalgic right now? I shake my head to clear it.

Raven's still seated atop me, but he's dropped his nanoblaster to stare in awe as Calla holds off the troops singlehandedly. She keeps missing, and I think she's trying not to kill anyone. Which means we need to get out of here before the troops realize that, too. I push Raven off me and undo my safety belt. Before he can recover, I've got his nanoblaster in my hand and my boot in his back. I shove it into Hawk's temple, and he squeaks in terror.

"When I say 'drive', get us out of here." I tell him. "Calla, get back in the car!" Miraculously, she listens. She sits down casually in the front seat, and Raven collapses into the seat behind her.

"Drive," I growl into Hawk's ear. He does. The van's tires screech against the pavement as he jerks the wheel around and speeds off. Troops jump out of our way as the van rockets toward them. "When we get to the exit," I tell him, "Don't stop. There's no way they'll let us through." Not sure what we'll do if they've got MegaTanks or something blocking the way, but we'll worry about that when we get there.

Surprisingly, the gate looks exactly the same as when we came in. There aren't even any extra guards gathered there yet. Guess Security here isn't really on top of things. Lucky for us, because that means we might just survive.

"Speed up," I tell Hawk.

Hawk slams his foot down on the accelerator, and the van plows through the gate with a deafening crash. I expect a rain of missiles, perhaps a swarm of robot troops. Surely breaking the gate's activated some sort of automated artillery? Only there's nothing. The van veers shakily away down the road, and no one pursues us at all. Are we really free?

"So, um, where're we headed now?" Hawk asks.

"Might as well take us back to the alley where we started." I glance at Calla. "That okay with you?"

"That's fine." She leans over the back of her seat, pushing her face into Raven's. I can't see her eyes, but I bet they're lit up brighter than the parade floats on Reaping Eve. "You're the one in charge here, right?"

"Y- yeah." Raven swallows audibly and cringes away from Calla.

"Then hear this, leader." Calla hisses coldly. "If you or your family or any of your little friends ever even think about coming after us, none of you will live to regret it. The security system on our home base would destroy you before you came within a mile of it. We've got an automated laser perimeter and an army of attack robots that'd vaporize you in nanoseconds."

Wonder if that's true. It's not like I've spent a lot of time talking to Devin about his security system. Not like I've spent a lot of time talking to him about anything. Apparently Calla has, though, and I'd rather not focus too much on that. Not when thinking about it's already making my pulse speed up. Like he's even interested in Calla anyway. Don't spend a lot of time around the guy, but I've seen the way he looks at Wes.

"...And if you do attempt to come after us." Calla's chilly voice breaks into my thoughts. "You'd best hope the security system finishes you off. Because if it doesn't, I will hunt down every person you love and kill them all. Do you hear me?"

Wow. I almost forgot how scary Calla can be sometimes. Only I'm not scared. I'm a little... um, excited.

I'm definitely not excited anymore by the time the bird guys drop us off in the alley, though. Now I'm just worried. What if someone at the weapons depot identified me? They could have followed us the whole way back. If a random guy like Devin can build the security system Calla described, how'd we escape from a military installation this easily?

Not to mention what's going to happen if Kalen finds out how foolish we've been. Thing is, I'm more worried about that than anything else. Of course, it turns out I'm right to be. Kalen's up in my face before I can even walk in the door.

"Where have you two been?" he demands the moment we're inside. Only I've got a feeling he already knows the answer. A feeling that's confirmed a nanosecond later when Wes's face pops up over Kalen's shoulder, his eyes even bigger than usual and a guilty look on his face.

"What did you tell him, you fool?" Calla turns her laser eyes on Wes.

"I'm s- sorry, Calla!" he squeaks. "It's just... you were gone so long, and I was worried! I tried to call R- Raven and Hawk over our neurovision links, but they didn't answer! I thought you all got caught or something!"

"We did," Calla practically spits. "Because your friends called Security on us. They tried to turn us in for being traitors. You knew them for ten years, and the fact their father served in the military never came up?"

"The military?" Wes echoes softly.

Oh, Wes. Poor guy's too trusting for his own good. Not that I shouldn't have already realized that anyway.

"So, let me get this straight." Kalen shoves his face up into mine, hands on his hips. "You decided to raid a military base, and you brought in strangers to help you - and you did all of this without checking with me or Devin first?" His eyes are blazing. "This is just like you, Brendan - going off half-cocked and never thinking anything through." Of course, he's using that tone, the one that makes me want to punch through rock.

The fire rises up within me and I clamp my mouth shut to keep it inside. Kalen would blame me. Never mind the fact that the mission was Calla's idea, and we did plan, because I have to. Have to work out every detail so I don't mess anything up. Always have an escape route so no one gets hurt if I lose my mind. Meanwhile, Kalen just cruises through life because everything comes easy for him. Who's he to talk about planning?

My nails dig into my palms, fists clenching up of their own volition. I feel my breath start to hitch.

Then I almost stop breathing entirely, because Calla's pulling Kalen off me. She's grabbing him by the shoulders and pinning him against the wall. Doing what I only wish I could do. Watching her should feed my own rage, but somehow it doesn't. My body relaxes and my mind does too. Safe, at least for now.

"Leave Brendan alone." Calla hisses into my brother's face. "I'm just as much to blame as he is, and all we did was try to take action. Someone around here needed to. Besides, bringing in other people was Wes's idea. Are you going to yell at him next?"

Kalen's at a loss for words. He opens his mouth, but no sound comes out.

"Tell him you're sorry. Now." Calla's glowing eyes are scary again. Only they're still beautiful, too.

"I- I'm sorry, Brendan!" Kalen blurts out. "I shouldn't have assumed."

Kalen never apologizes for anything, never has to. Now I'm the one too stunned to speak.

"You really shouldn't have." Calla growls. "Oh, and another thing. Brendan was right. Wes and Devin need combat training. I'm not letting you go until you agree to it."

"Fine," Kalen mutters. "We'll give them combat training. But Brendan's doing it, not me."

Calla lets go of Kalen so fast he nearly falls over. Then she grabs me by the arm and leads me from the room. I just hope she can't see how red my face is... or how I'm suddenly struggling for control in a way that's got nothing to do with anger.

"Who knew you'd be such a damsel in distress?" Calla snickers, but the lilt in her voice makes up for it. It's sort of... affectionate? "I never thought I'd have to rescue a big, brawny man like you, but I'm more than happy to be your knight in shining armor."

"You are pretty shiny." Just like that, I'm grinning from ear to ear. Guess I should probably be embarrassed. I had to be saved by a girl - not once, but twice. But you know what? When I'm with Calla, none of that seems to matter.


(Next chapter is here)

Date: 2013-02-13 01:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] theun4givables.livejournal.com
Oh Brendan. Oh Brendan Brendan. You're falling for her hard, dude, and she's still all metal and shiny.

Still dying at CommanderCuddles by the way. Like a lot. A lot a lot. Wessssssssssssssssss.

I also am laughing at Brendan's briefest flash of jealousy. Seriously, dude? Devin's gayer than gay. Even if he DOES like to be abused, that's not so much an issue right now.

I love how you combined these ideas all into one much stronger piece. :)

Date: 2013-02-13 02:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
What amuses and kind of baffles me is that Brendan doesn't seem to think there's anything weird about falling for a shiny metal girl. He's, um, a strange boy. ;)

Poor CommanderCuddles. You know he felt bad about almost getting everyone arrested (again).

Devin is pretty gay. I don't think Brendan has anything to worry about in that respect, and I'm pretty sure Calla doesn't like Devin that way either. They're just friends, even if there is the whole "I like you because we abuse each other" thing going on between them. It's platonic. Mostly.

Yay! Thank you. I did not expect it to be so long.

Date: 2013-02-22 09:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alien-writings.livejournal.com
I still find it so very hilarious that Brendan chose that moment to check out Calla -- dude, when y'all are in danger is not the time for shiny robot girl ogling. Oh, Brendan, you are falling for her so very, very hard.

And lolol CommanderCuddles. That's just -- it's so very Wes, lol.

ch. 10, scene 1

Date: 2013-03-31 09:49 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jennickels.livejournal.com
This is where I meant when I was talking about Brendan/Calla in that other thread (wherever it was).

Although I loved the whole interaction between the two of them his sudden blushing and the effect she has on him seems early in the story. Probably because their friendship wasn't built up yet which you are fixing.

I thought the whole thing about her looking at his muscles was really cute. Although this feels like a completely different Brendan from earlier chapters. I think maybe seeing him against the chick that's his rival might reveal something about him and his reactions to girls?

Only I spent my whole life preparing to fight in it, so I can't figure out for the life of me why Calla thinks I'd want to stop it now.

I love this. Brendan is conflicted but he wants to please Calla so he's willing to give up everything he's been taught. Although I'd have him do what she asks but still feel really conflicted. He's only doing it because of Calla not because he believes in it. As the story goes on his conviction would grow.

I noticed a lot of you scenes end with a recap of stuff. Like this one. I guess there's nothing inherently wrong with that but it makes each scene feel like an individual little story that doesn't really connect into a whole. Sometimes that is exactly what is needed but when every scene ends like that things start to feel disjointed. There was also the thing I read about readers not being stupid. It was a warning about explaining to much. The reader should be able to figure out what's going on or what's likely to happen by the actions you present. They don't need you to spell it out. That kind of thing.

The end of this scene feels like that--reminding the reader of the very beginning of the book when he lost his chance at the military. they should hopefully realize that already.

I've been trying to think of a way to end that scene better. Just ending with the "I'll do it." Doesn't work either--too short.

The one I thought of was--"I'll do it." I imagine she's smiling on the inside. What is it about her that makes me want to give up everything I've known and follow her anywhere?

Something like that anyway. Or if you want to play up his growing feelings it could be: "I'll do it." I imagine she's smiling on the inside which kind of warms my insides. I am so in trouble.

I did like this line:
Not like all my years of faithful service to my people did me any good once that fence went up in flames.

You should definitely find a place to use it. It pretty much sums of Brendan's screwed up life.

Re: ch. 10, scene 1

Date: 2013-04-01 03:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis42.livejournal.com
Gah, I'm trying to comment but Buffy is distracting me. I'm on season 5 -- that and season 6 are my favorite seasons of the whole thing.

I think it's going to be apparent after I write the story about Brendan and his friend/rival from school that he's super into strong women. And like you said, they'll have a little more interaction before this. But I think a big part of it is if Brendan can fear her, Brendan can also want and respect her.

Playing up the conflict seems like a good idea to me, too. Thanks. Like, I think Brendan is lonely and also kind of intrigued by Calla as a person (and he does fully realize she is one, pretty much from the beginning). But realistically, I don't think he'd turn against something he's spent his whole life working for without some level of inner turmoil. So having that be apparent (not just in this section but also probably during the mission -- like seeing the military base should be kind of bittersweet for him, I
think.

And there's a whole bunch of stuff I've written for him in the middle of the book (at least as it stands now) where he should probably still be conflicted about it. I'm really, really glad you pointed this out.

Maybe I need to research more about how chapter/section endings are supposed to be. This did start out as a bunch of short stories (in its Idol incarnation), so I can't be too surprised if in some ways they still read too short-storyish. I don't know how to make chapter and section ends that aren't so wrapped up but don't feel, like, weak or like they're left hanging. Any ideas or resources on how to do it right? I will look into that, too.

Thanks for your feedback. :D

Re: ch. 10, scene 1

Date: 2013-04-01 05:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jennickels.livejournal.com
I'm trying to go back and answer comments I missed yesterday. If my brain would cooperate and Nora would stay out. I swear it's like she has a 6th sense of when I've finally found what I wanted to say. She walks in at that moment and by the time she leaves I've completely forgotten whatever it was. Drives me nuts.

I wouldn't worry about the chapter/scene endings right now. That's stuff you can fix later. I tend to do the same thing because I normally write short stories so I have a tendency to want to wrap everything up. But when I'm reading...

It is done in published books but, I don't know, mine and some of yours are just too neat it seems. I can't really describe it but I've been working on it with my own work. Trying to make an ending that feels final but doesn't recap everything into a neat little bow. I want the end to flow into the beginning of the next scene.

It's hard to wrap my head around but when I'm reading I notice it. Maybe it's just a preference thing for me. In that case ignore me, lol. Maybe I just haven't been reading enough so I have no idea what I'm talking about.

Anyway, I'd worry about that stuff during a later rewrite.

ch. 10, scene 2

Date: 2013-03-31 11:25 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jennickels.livejournal.com
There was a lot I loved about this scene. like how Brendan is able to control his anger some with Calla around and she's able to calm him down pretty quick. And the tidbit about Kalen always ignoring him.

I also liked their little conversation at the end and how they decide they will have to lead the group themselves.

I really liked this:

"I don't understand what happened to him," Calla says softly. "He used to be so passionate. It's what drew me to him in the first place, you know. Not that I didn't question the War before I met him, but he's the one who truly believed in what we were doing. Now it's like he doesn't believe in anything, and now's when we need him most."

And this sounds much more like the Calla from the beginning. Like a lost, confused teen girl. The story needs more of this Calla.

I think, though, there's too much talking in this scene. Some of it could be cut or shortened to make it move quicker.

Also, you have a tendency to repeat things or do that "spell it out" thing. Like at the beginning when Calla kicks Kalen. It's pretty obvious to the reader what happened, there's no need for Brendan to mention it. And then Calla confirms that in the next paragraph. Major overkill and wordy. You could have Brendan just say the first part (guess he's paying attention now) then go right into Calla's sarcastic apology. Then have Brendan think: she sort of sounds amused. Or something like that.

There's a lot of words you could cut out of this. Maybe try the Back to Basics challenge on it.

Depending on what you do with the chapters before this you could cut the stuff about how incompetent Wes and Devin are. I think it'd be more profound if she wants to do it because Devin said he needed to be able to protect Wes. Although would she admit that to Kalen? Would she try to keep playing up the incompetence?

Also depending on how you make them get caught they could be labeled terrorists by this point they just don't know it. Or maybe they find out when they are interrogated. I guess they could give false information since there's no way to know for sure without the ID chip thing. They'd probably have to do it the old fashioned way with photos and stuff and try and get the other side to help.

AND OMG I so wanted Calla to just explode over him calling her CallaBot. I was so happy when everyone else quit and get why he's still doing it but man do I want her to go all laser eyes on him and make him wet himself. Not that you should put that in the book, that's just my reaction. Depending on how you want the reader to feel that might be good or bad. Although having Brendan blow up at him would work, too. Calla can quiet him with one of her looks since he seems able to see a difference in the way her eyes glow.

Sometimes it feels like the characters reactions to stuff are just... I don't know over the top or silly. Like Kalen bursting out laughing. I mean it's okay for him to laugh at the idea of teaching Devin and Wes to fight but his reaction seems overboard with your word choices. But then again Kalen just seems off whenever he interacts with other people. He's annoying and so far seems to have no point in the story other than a catalyst for the plot.

I think I'm supposed to go cook dinner now. Ugh. I get so stressed out trying to get it all done at the same time. I've been known to have breakdowns while cooking holiday meals.

Re: ch. 10, scene 2

Date: 2013-04-01 03:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
Oh, I like your idea about how to clean up the kicking-under-the-table thing. I do get really wordy sometimes and I need to remember to keep that in check.

I think Devin would be super pissed if Calla told Kalen that was the reason he and Wes needed combat training. So I guess it depends if Calla gets that or not and also whether she feels like protecting his delicate little manfeels.

Wes and Devin can't be recognized as terrorists at this point because otherwise I'm not sure it would be plausible for Devin to get his plot-relevant job. Granted, he's not doing that under his real name and he's also not giving his real name to the troops at the convention, but if they had gotten any recognizable images of him I think he'd be arrested when he showed up for his interview later.

So I wonder if there's a security camera that gets destroyed? Because surely an interrogation room would have a camera of some kind. Huh.

I'm pretty sure I want the reader to have the same reaction you did to Kalen. Unless his character evolves differently on this rewrite. Calla is definitely more human (i.e. less bitchy and mean) in this version than she was in my original. So we'll see. He has a purpose but in my original version of the book he doesn't really start to show more maturity until almost the end. In the last rewrite it was going to be more around the middle.

In the new rewrite, it might be sooner in tiny bits but he is still probably going to screw up majorly around the middle unless that whole thing changes bigtime.

I hope you didn't have a breakdown from cooking!

Re: ch. 10, scene 2

Date: 2013-04-01 06:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jennickels.livejournal.com
Hmmm, I'm trying to think of a good reason why Wes and Devin wouldn't be recognized after the convention.

Maybe security doesn't make it public because they're embarrassed they got away. Whoever interrogated him would probably be looking but he wouldn't want anyone else to know of his incompetence.

Sounds plausible from the way their military is.

Re: ch. 10, scene 2

Date: 2013-04-01 06:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
Depending on what Wes and Devin were able to turn up, they could know where hidden cameras were to take them out. Although unless they did that immediately upon entering the interrogation room, I'd imagine there would be a feed somewhere. And I don't think they have the presence of mind to do that.

The not wanting everyone else to know would work, except Devin's job is a government job, so um. Yeah.

Re: ch. 10, scene 2

Date: 2013-04-01 06:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jennickels.livejournal.com
I'd say have someone hack the system to erase it all but not sure any of them are competent enough for that.

Maybe Calla can fry the whole system with some kind of pulse or laser. Like she hits one of the cameras and it sends an energy pulse to the computers and fries them. Or she sees a power box and hits it as they run out and it fries their entire system.

That's all that comes to mind for me.

Re: ch. 10, scene 2

Date: 2013-04-01 07:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
Devin hacked into government stuff on his own side to change his records, I think. I'm not sure he'd know how to do it on this side. Maybe the Calla idea is better.

ch. 10, scene 3

Date: 2013-04-01 07:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jennickels.livejournal.com
Okay the scene in the cafe is pretty good. The dialogue seems natural. It could be trimmed up some but otherwise isn't bad.

EXCEPT You never explain what they are doing there. I like how you started it just jumping into the scene. That was great but at some point, probably before the contacts arrived, there should have been an explanation of the plan.

I had absolutely no idea what was going on and kept waiting for an explanation.

Then there's the whole weirdness of the mission itself. Which apparently had no point, lol. I know you plan to tear this all up and fix it. Which is good.

I did laugh through the whole thing because it was just... hilarious in it's pointlessness.

So, um, yeah... explain the point of the mission. Let them at least partly do the mission before the contacts turn on them. Then you can let Calla go all bad ass on everyone.

Not sure about Kalen's reaction here. Is this going to be part of him trying to step up or getting cut. Why does Brendan care what Kalen thinks? I'd think Devin would be more pissed at them being stupid and possibly bringing trouble back to the house.

I think the apology thing could be cut. Or at least Kalen should walk away without giving it and then be even madder at Calla for trying to force him. the whole scene feels forced.

Brendan could tell her after, though, how Kalen never apologizes for anything so he didn't expect one then. That could set up for when Kalen eventually (I would hope) apologizes for something later in the book. Also Kalen would probably be all humiliated if Calla tried to force him adding to his pity party.

Sorry this isn't more detailed. I've got 2 different people texting me and the kids coming in every few minutes fighting over stupid crap and wanting to know if they can have candy peeps apples candy ice cream cookies peeps etc. they're driving me nuts. Too much sugar yesterday and not enough sleep last night.

Re: ch. 10, scene 3

Date: 2013-04-01 07:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] n3m3sis43.livejournal.com
I mentioned it's a weapons depot but apparently not that they're trying to raid it. I plan on splitting this chapter so they plan a little beforehand. I think Devin is in on the planning because apparently he can always find stuff about building layouts and security. So he could check the theory that the defenses aren't really that tough.

Brendan cares what Kalen thinks because he's his brother. And because on some level, none of them stop expecting him to lead for a long time. Which obviously needs to be clearer.

I'm not sure about Kalen's reaction in the rewrite because we'll see how he ends up. I think he tries to lead but feels bitter about it so he acts like an ass to Devin and sometimes Brendan. Because as much as Brendan wants to kick Kalen's ass, he probably won't.

Overly sugared kids, AUGH.

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