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Mokrie Dela
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#1

Posted 05 January 2014 - 11:08 PM

The air was filled with the perpetual dancing of snowflakes to the angry backing track of howling wind. The snow did a fine job of hiding the barren landscape, disguising the dead world under a perfect sheet of white innocence. It was a lie of sorts, but a lie people chose to believe. No one wanted to clear the persistent snow and reveal the scarred ground that lay comatose beneath. Ignorance, as they say, is bliss.

The snow hung in the air like fog, restricting vision to just a few feet. Through the haze a figure emerged, materializing into focus like a supernatural deity. The figure was of a lone man, trudging through the deep snow with long boots suitable for the task, his movements practiced and fluid. His body was encased in a set of combat armor, once white but now faded. A long, grey duster atop flapped in the wind. The man’s face was hidden beneath a Power-Armor helmet spray-painted a metallic white, the eyes dark and lifeless, giving the figure a robotic appearance. Even his hands were hidden, with gloves that had metal plates attached.

The men hated gate duty, but they all had to do it. One of the pair slapped his colleague and nervously nodded toward the incoming man. Both guards were dressing in simple clothes and basic armor, layered against the cold, with a torn sheet acting as a scarf that wrapped around their necks and faces.
"It can't be," one of the men mumbled underneath his face-wrap.
"Sweet Jesus, it is... What do you think he wants?"
The guard just shook his head. He reached up with a gloved hand and pulled the scarf down, grimacing against the cold, swallowing his fright.

“Hold up, there!” he ordered with as much authority as he could manage, despite his nerves. He felt like he was giving an order to God. Well, he thought, he practically was.
The lone man slowed, approached and finally stopped, standing a few feet from the guards.
“What’s your business here?” the guard asked.
The man didn’t answer. Instead he just stood there. Through the mask, the guards couldn’t tell if he was staring, but they could feel he was. They felt the black, soulless eyes reach deep into their hearts, which pounded with anxiety. The two guards shared a brief look each one wishing for the other do do something.
“No tourists,” the second guard finally said, allowing his arm to fall away from his body slightly. The lone man’s head turned a fraction, likely looking at the guard’s weapon – a long Thermic Lance. His head returned, seeing the other guard with an assault rifle. Despite the two weapons, he showed no reaction; instead he remained motionless.
Again the guards exchanged glances, but this time the visitor did move. He stepped forward, quickly, his left hand flying out from inside his coat with a Samurai Sword in the gloved fist. The blade arced wide to one side. The guard's eyes went wide.
With no hesitation, the man thrust the blade forward, piercing through the leather-based armor with a pop, tearing through the layered cloth with a soft ripping sound, and plunging into the guard’s chest cavity a squelch. The second guard – the one armed with the Thermic Lance – flinched at seeing the death of his colleague. He lifted his melee weapon and motioned it toward the murderer.
The man saw the movement, and had expected it. With the guard impaled on his sword, he brought his right hand from his left hip and fired a single shot from his silenced pistol. The bullet hit the guard in the forehead and with a soft puff he fell to the snowy ground. The man withdrew his sword, wiping it on the guard’s clothing, and replaced it in its sheath, which hung on his hip. He holstered his pistol too then crouched and searched the two bodies.
After taking everything of value, he turned to enter the settlement. He paused at the door for a moment, looking back at the fallen men. He turned and once again crouched down, the mechanical sound of his breathing the only sound he made. He picked up the Thermic Lance and weighed it. Then he spun it round in his hand, first in a circle then a figure-of-eight before swiping it diagonally down and stabbing it outward. With a pleased nod, he picked up the guard’s harness and with it, slung the weapon over his shoulder, holstering it on his back. He then entered the settlement.

He knew the layout well. Once inside he ducked behind a shack. He wanted to avoid the center of town, where he’d likely be seen. He moved on, knowing his destination and what route to take to avoid confrontation. He could hear the distant chatter, voices he recognized, spoken by men he knew. He skirted the town, staying close to the outer wall, and hidden by the ramshackle buildings that, despite their appearance, were sturdy enough to survive the harsh weather. The snow was working in his favor, though his footprints might eventually be seen. Perhaps no one would pay attention to them, or the snow might cover them up, but he couldn’t count on that.

His objective stood in front of him after just a couple of minutes of skulking. He watched it for a moment, making sure there were no patrols nearby. Content, he moved forward and approached the front door, careful to check no one saw him.

The door creaked open and he stepped inside. Two surprised faces stared at him and, for a second, considered questioning his presence. Before alarm could set in, though, the pistol was out and pointed at the men – who had been sitting at a table, a pack of dirty playing cards slung over the scratched wood. Without a word, the intruder pointed the men toward the jail cells, which stood at the back of the building and held only one prisoner. The two men stood, intimidated by the metal man and his mechanical breathing. Without a word of protest, and with much fear of the man, they obeyed.
After stripping the men of their guns, and pointing them at the metal bars, he watched them unlock the cell door. He waved them inside with his gun. The man, still nonspeaking, pointed at the only prisoner and crooked his finger. Rather sheepishly, and somewhat weakly, she got to her feet.

The infiltrator tied the men's hands together and gagged them. Then he turned to the woman and waved for her to follow. While he was imprisoning the captives – the irony of which he found comical – the woman had retrieved her possessions and dressed in her own clothes. The man, standing by the door and looking out, found it strange that they had kept the items and not sold them on.
He watched for a moment. Then he waved at the female and they exited the building, disappearing into the white mist.

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The Pizza Delivery Guy
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#2

Posted 05 January 2014 - 11:53 PM

Oh hell yes I've been waiting for this.


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#3

Posted 06 January 2014 - 03:29 PM

This first chapter was to put it simply great, It's the sort of chapter that I can read and enjoy over and over again. When I first read it I was like 'What the hell is happening' and then when I next read it I slowly began to understand the events happening. Then I read it again and spotted subtlety. The fact that the men had not sold their possessions? Why? Will this be explained later on in the story?

 

Also I find it weird to have snow in a fallout world. It certainly explains that it could be Christmas to an extent but again even if there was snow, it should have certain amounts of radiation right?

 

Overall, I really enjoyed this chapter. I loved every single bit of it and another thing. You do describe the effects in a story very well, a lot of detail was put it into describing the environment and the kills.

 

Looking forward to seeing more, Mokrie. Keep up the good work. :^:


Mokrie Dela
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#4

Posted 06 January 2014 - 06:42 PM

Oh hell yes I've been waiting for this.

 
:D
I hope it lives up to your expectations!
 

This first chapter was to put it simply great, It's the sort of chapter that I can read and enjoy over and over again. When I first read it I was like 'What the hell is happening' and then when I next read it I slowly began to understand the events happening. Then I read it again and spotted subtlety. The fact that the men had not sold their possessions? Why? Will this be explained later on in the story?
 
Also I find it weird to have snow in a fallout world. It certainly explains that it could be Christmas to an extent but again even if there was snow, it should have certain amounts of radiation right?
 
Overall, I really enjoyed this chapter. I loved every single bit of it and another thing. You do describe the effects in a story very well, a lot of detail was put it into describing the environment and the kills.
 
Looking forward to seeing more, Mokrie. Keep up the good work. :^:

Thanks
Yes, everything is explained. This event occurs mid story, so all is clear the
I was going for that feel - the mystery etc. hopefully this chapter throws a dozen questions at you, all of which will be answered.
Glad you liked it. Thanks for reading :)

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#5

Posted 06 January 2014 - 09:46 PM

There's a little too less Fallout as couple of names don't make it, but I am definitely going to read the next story. Keep it up Mokrie. 


Mokrie Dela
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#6

Posted 06 January 2014 - 10:42 PM

I'm not following you ty, what do you mean?

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#7

Posted 06 January 2014 - 11:40 PM

I meant that I didn't feel any Fallout atmosphere in your story. Only thing that connect it to the FO world was couple of names (Combat Armor, Power Armor, Thermic Lance, etc.) without actual connection in the world or story. I know it's just the intro made to ask some question for which answers will be given later, but at current point this story could happen everywhere and anytime. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying it's bad or something, but I don't actually felt Fallout there. Probably this will change when the story will unwind. 

 

I also believe you don't have to use all these names around. I know it's Fallout world and you want to make some connections, but I believe it would be better to rely on the atmosphere of decay and death hanging in the air when people are still fighting to be alive despite all odds than throw some random name here and there and counting on it to do rest of the job. 

 

I hope I made it a bit clearer. 


Mokrie Dela
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#8

Posted 07 January 2014 - 12:46 AM

I get you now. To alleviate your concern, such things are a reoccurring theme and will feature. I don't want to simply drop lists of names for no reason. For example, the people in this prologue: there's no need for names yet. It's an intro, as you said.
That "fallout" feeling, while disappointing it's not evident in the chapter, I think is strong in the story. I think i agree with you about the decay: perhaps i should have described the town more, but I kept it vague, because the bad weather is restricting vision, and everything's kinda hazy. I wanted that reflected in the narrative.

Your input is appreciated, and I'll bear it in mind when i write/read/edit the rest!


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#9

Posted 07 January 2014 - 07:59 AM

 

A long, grey duster atop flapped in the wind

AW SH*T WE KNOW HE'S A BADASS NOW!!!1!!

 

And how can it flap in the snow? shouldn't that weigh it down or something?

 

 

“No tourists,” the second guard finally said,

How many tourists do post apocalyptic communities encounter?

 

Also, I think this guy is way too stealthy and agile for wearing a massive suit of armour, he's like a ninja, yet he's massive and weighs a ton with that suit. The power armour makes people into walking tanks, it weighs you down and your movements are much slower, its more for soldiers than for stealthy infiltrators. I would assume he's wear light camouflaged gear with a heavy coat for the snow. If there is stealth power armour in the games or whatever, you can email me at idontgiveash*[email protected]

 

Good overall, felt very Metal Gear Solid rather than FO, what with the gun porn and sneaking around in the snow. But let's see where this goes.


Mokrie Dela
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#10

Posted 07 January 2014 - 01:35 PM

It flaps because there's a strong wind. The tails of such a coat would not remain motionless, even with snow on them. I have a heavy leather coat that stretches to my knees. I wore it in the snow last year, and the wind still made it flap. I know I played up on the old stereotype with that image but hey :p

 

Tourists: The guard doesn't mean literally Japanese photographers. He means that the location is not keen on casual visitors. Besides, there are people in the FO world that travel, many "tourists" flock to New Vegas, in fact.

I'm going to re-read the chapter, because I feel i've either miswritten it or you've misread.
The man is not wearing Power Armor (T-51 etc). He's just wearing the helmet. His actual outfit is closer to that of the rangers in NV - sort of combat armor, but with a coat to guard against the cold. I had thought about the outfit, but I thought he could move easily enough in combat armor. He's not Sam-Fishering his way behind the backs of guards, though. He's walking normally in the beginning, then simply staying out of sight.
I'm guessing that wasn't clear :(


Ziggy455
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#11

Posted 12 January 2014 - 03:21 AM

The air was filled with the perpetual dancing of snowflakes to the angry backing track of howling wind. The snow did a fine job of hiding the barren landscape, disguising the dead world under a perfect sheet of white innocence. It was a lie of sorts, but a lie people chose to believe. 

 

This whole opening bit didn't pull me in much. The first line seems forced and the word perpetual kind of gets rid of the flow a little. I think what bothers me more is that I'm not getting a distinct image of a snow-barren wasteland. You've told us it's there but I'd like to envision it myself. Describe the desolation, the snow-covered skeletal remains, the burnt out black husks of cars. It makes seeing the world a whole let better when you show a little of it. 

 

The snow hung in the air like fog, restricting vision to just a few feet. Through the haze a figure emerged, materializing into focus like a supernatural deity. The figure was of a lone man, trudging through the deep snow with long boots suitable for the task, his movements practiced and fluid. His body was encased in a set of combat armor,

 

This is the problem with a lot of fanfiction. Splicing in names and equipment isn't forbidden, but sometimes it comes off as a little bit cheesy. If you are setting it in the Fallout universe, then let the reader nod along. It intrigues them much more to figure it out for themselves what he is wearing with only you giving hints. This could be the same with weapons, because what if some readers don't know what Combar Armor or a Thermic Lance look like? I want to see a visual image of the man.

 

once white but now faded. A long, grey duster atop flapped in the wind. The man’s face was hidden beneath a Power-Armor (My previous point applies here.) helmet spray-painted a metallic white, the eyes dark and lifeless, giving the figure a robotic appearance. Even his hands were hidden, with gloves that had metal plates attached.

The men hated gate duty, but they all had to do it. One of the pair slapped his colleague and nervously nodded toward the incoming man. Both guards were dressing in simple clothes and basic armor, layered against the cold, with a torn sheet acting as a scarf that wrapped around their necks and faces.
"It can't be," one of the men mumbled underneath his face-wrap.
"Sweet Jesus, it is... What do you think he wants?"
The guard just shook his head. He reached up with a gloved hand and pulled the scarf down, grimacing against the cold, swallowing his fright.  I really like this line, it's very cool, and gives me a good image of the men in all their normality, they're no heroes. 

“Hold up, there!” he ordered with as much authority as he could manage, despite his nerves. He felt like he was giving an order to God. Well, he thought, he practically was. Nothing wrong here, just try to space each line of dialogue as it makes reading it a lot easier. Nobody wants to read a jumbled up, massive block of text. 

The lone man slowed, approached and finally stopped, standing a few feet from the guards.

 

“What’s your business here?” the guard asked.

The man didn’t answer. Instead he just stood there. Through the mask, the guards couldn’t tell if he was staring, but they could feel he was. They felt the black, soulless eyes reach deep into their hearts, which pounded with anxiety. The two guards shared a brief look each one wishing for the other do do something.  This is awesome. It gives off a real creepy essence, as if a guy coming out of the freezing cold and staring at you through a mask isn't weird enough, the sense that he continues to do so seems eerie. However, this is only a preference: a simple nod to the only sound being of the wind would of made it appear just a tad creepier because the reader is getting that pause themselves, they feel that tension rising themselves.

“No tourists,” the second guard finally said, allowing his arm to fall away from his body slightly. The lone man’s head turned a fraction, likely looking at the guard’s weapon – a long Thermic Lance. Show don't tell, I am a fallout fan but haven't played in quite a while so a Thermic Lance is lost on me.  

 

His head returned, seeing the other guard with an assault rifle. Despite the two weapons, he showed no reaction; instead he remained motionless.

Again the guards exchanged glances, but this time the visitor did move. He stepped forward, quickly, his left hand flying out from inside his coat with a Samurai Sword in the gloved fist. The blade arced wide to one side. The guard's eyes went wide.

 

Space each paragraph or space-press five spaces for an easier format. 

With no hesitation, the man thrust the blade forward, piercing through the leather-based armor with a pop, tearing through the layered cloth with a soft ripping sound, and plunging into the guard’s chest cavity a squelch. The second guard – the one armed with the Thermic Lance – flinched at seeing the death of his colleague. He lifted his melee weapon and motioned it toward the murderer.
The man saw the movement, and had expected it. With the guard impaled on his sword, he brought his right hand from his left hip and fired a single shot from his silenced pistol. The bullet hit the guard in the forehead and with a soft puff he fell to the snowy ground. The man withdrew his sword, wiping it on the guard’s clothing, and replaced it in its sheath, which hung on his hip. He holstered his pistol too then crouched and searched the two bodies.

[SPACE]
After taking everything of value, he turned to enter the settlement. He paused at the door for a moment, looking back at the fallen men. He turned and once again crouched down, the mechanical sound of his breathing the only sound he made. He picked up the Thermic Lance and weighed it. Then he spun it round in his hand, first in a circle then a figure-of-eight before swiping it diagonally down and stabbing it outward. With a pleased nod, he picked up the guard’s harness and with it, slung the weapon over his shoulder, holstering it on his back. He then entered the settlement.

[SPACE]

He knew the layout well. Once inside he ducked behind a shack. He wanted to avoid the center of town, where he’d likely be seen. He moved on, knowing his destination and what route to take to avoid confrontation. He could hear the distant chatter, voices he recognized, spoken by men he knew. He skirted the town, staying close to the outer wall, and hidden by the ramshackle buildings that, despite their appearance, were sturdy enough to survive the harsh weather. The snow was working in his favor, though his footprints might eventually be seen. Perhaps no one would pay attention to them, or the snow might cover them up, but he couldn’t count on that.

His objective stood in front of him after just a couple of minutes of skulking. He watched it for a moment, making sure there were no patrols nearby. Content, he moved forward and approached the front door, careful to check no one saw him.

The door creaked open and he stepped inside. Two surprised faces stared at him and, for a second, considered questioning his presence. Before alarm could set in, though, the pistol was out and pointed at the men – who had been sitting at a table, a pack of dirty playing cards slung over the scratched wood. Without a word, the intruder pointed the men toward the jail cells, which stood at the back of the building and held only one prisoner. The two men stood, intimidated by the metal man and his mechanical breathing. Without a word of protest, and with much fear of the man, they obeyed.
After stripping the men of their guns, and pointing them at the metal bars, he watched them unlock the cell door. He waved them inside with his gun. The man, still nonspeaking, pointed at the only prisoner and crooked his finger. Rather sheepishly, and somewhat weakly, she got to her feet.

The infiltrator A bit of mystery, I like it.  tied the men's hands together and gagged them. Then he turned to the woman and waved for her to follow. While he was imprisoning the captives – the irony of which he found comical – the woman had retrieved her possessions and dressed in her own clothes. The man, standing by the door and looking out, found it strange that they had kept the items and not sold them on.

He watched for a moment. Then he waved at the female and they exited the building, disappearing into the white mist.

 

As an opening scene it's very good, there were a few things I nitpicked but they can only make your work better. I really loved this an an opening, regardless of the flaws it sets the story in motion. I want to know who this man is, and why he's risking his life for a slave. Some of it is clunky, but it works well overall. I can't wait for your next chapter, you're really improving your skills regardless of it being fanfiction.

 

Also I'm trying to wonder where this is set, Canada? Oregon? The snow could be in Alaska but I don't know, you give a conveyance that the snow is fresh so it could be back in the Mojave or DC for all I know right now. Alas, only the story will tell me. 

 

Let's see how this story pans out, I can see you've put effort in so let's see where you go with it! 


Mokrie Dela
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#12

Posted 12 January 2014 - 03:39 AM


I want to know who this man is, and why he's risking his life for a slave. 

That's exactly what I'm going for most.


    Also I'm trying to wonder where this is set, Canada? Oregon? The snow could be in Alaska but I don't know, you give a conveyance that the snow is fresh so it could be back in the Mojave or DC for all I know right now. Alas, only the story will tell me.


You'll be surprised. ;)


Some excellent points there Ziggy. Best of all this scene reoccurs later in the story, (it's one of those mid-story prologues) so I might rewrite with your points, as well as trying to remember them for the other chapters. I'm glad you posted and pointed them out.
 

Most importantly though, you've fallen for my little trap - wanting to know about this mysterious man. I'm glad you liked the scarf imagery and the creepiness :)

 

 

regarding the description of the wasteland - this does all appear later. This opening i wanted a different point of view, a more, hazy vibe, more mystery. the lack of specifics is meant to reflect the readers' unfamiliarity, which is meant to, ultimately, make people say "i need to learn more". I wanted this character, the mysterious infiltrator, to be that question mark (later on in the story you'll laugh at this statement :p). I wanted the intrigue to pull people in.

Fair point about the specifics of the armour and thermic lance - i see and understand and agree with your points
i wonder if i should edit the post or just move onward....?
 


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#13

Posted 12 January 2014 - 03:43 AM

No, there is no point in editing it now. I can understand your points and what you were going for, just in your next chapter, revert back to this and see which parts of the story you yourself don't agree with and try to implement them in the next part. Ask yourself, Am I showing enough? And feel free to sling it to me before you post it as I'll read it and get back to you quite quickly. 


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#14

Posted 12 January 2014 - 03:55 AM Edited by Mokrie Dela, 12 January 2014 - 11:26 AM.

That's a kind offer, which i may take you up on.


Your feedback is appreciated and I hope you enjoy the rest when it's here

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#15

Posted 20 January 2014 - 05:18 PM Edited by Mokrie Dela, 20 January 2014 - 09:44 PM.

Part One

 
Origin

 


Chapter One – Same Old, Same Old

 

 

The grey walls appeared to stretch on for ever. Spaced at regular intervals were wide, metal, hydraulic doors, each one housing a different family.
Maggie Rose saw her daughter out of the door, which closed with the usual hiss as the child headed to the classroom. The child looked back at the door, knowing that it did not lock, but feeling somehow condemned and alone by it. She walked down the long and empty hallway. Specialized lights bathed her in artificial sunlight, which seemed to make the child’s pale skin glow, a stark contrast to the royal blue jumpsuit that she wore.

The hallways were silent except for the constant and gentle hum of the Vault’s systems resonating throughout the huge structure and the gentle taps of her tiny feet as she dawdled.
She passed more doors, behind which she envisioned happy families, each one respected and valued. Every day she made the same quiet, lonely journey to the classroom. She was in no hurry. She walked with her head down like a defeated criminal being marched down death row. Her copper-colored hair was tied back in a short ponytail and seemed to glow in the artificial sunlight. It was like a warning light, informing everyone she was present, and she hated it.

 

Finally, though not late enough to be marked as tardy, she walked in to the classroom. She quickly went straight to her desk, which was at the very front. She heard snickers and whispers from the other children that usually accompanied her entrance, like her own personal, soul crushing anthem. She did her best to ignore them, as she did every day, sitting down with a mournful sigh.

 

Attendance was taken, and the lessons started. Her only tactic to combat her daily trials was to throw herself into the work, her mind soaking up every detail as it was offered. She reveled in the medical and scientific subjects, finding joy in them that almost undid the cruel words of the other kids. She liked history too, somehow feeling as though she could relate to people of a world long gone. Perhaps that was pity, she wondered, and how she would welcome even pity into her own life.

 

She spent much of her private time reading books and holodisks, trying to paper over the cracks of pain with a concrete made up of information. Perhaps it was a distraction, or perhaps it was a substitute for having no friends. She felt strong relief when she returned home to spend the evening with her mother. The first thing she did at the end of the school-day was to wrap her arms around her mother’s waist. He mother would always rest her hand on her head before leaning over to hug back.
But there was none of that during the days in the classroom. Quite the opposite, in fact. She was ridiculed, for reasons that escaped her. She was frustrated; how was it she understood biochemistry and the mechanics that ran their home, but she could not work out why she was the target of the children’s cruelty?

 

While the children sat behind her, scribbling cruel notes and sketches and whispering jokes at her expense, she worked hard to fill her mind with every scrap of information she could manage. Information was her only companion. The few children that didn’t make fun of her tended to avoid her as though she was a leper, leaving a void that had to be filled with something.

 

Morning recess came around, and the children flocked out of the classroom. Some headed for the synthetic playfield while others spreading throughout the corridors. She did not eagerly follow. She didn’t want to spend time with such horrible people. Instead she tried to remain in the classroom, reading or writing. Sometimes, however, the teacher would insist that the child played with her friends, condemning her to the social hell. When the classroom was closed to her, she would seek out a quiet corner to sit and read or write, with varying degrees of success. The school sector was not designed to have many out-of-sight recesses. There was simply nowhere she could hide without venturing into the other areas of the Vault – that would see her swiftly returned to the classroom by security, and the last thing she wanted or needed was to draw attention to herself. At times, she wished she could become invisible.

 

Lessons would continue throughout the day and her only enjoyment came from learning interesting things – things that most either ignored or to which they half-listened with very little interest. Toys didn’t interest her, though she did place great value in her weekly night of board games with her mother. Chess was her favorite. It required foresight and planning, where cunning triumphed over blind luck.

“You’re a child,” the teacher once said patronizingly. “Go and enjoy it.”
 

Instead of playing, she regularly borrowed books and holodisks from the classroom or the science or medical areas. She would read the holodisks on the computer until her mother insisted she stop, lest she damage her eyesight. She had no friends, so her only solace was the pages of the books or the digital holodisks – a computerized storage device, which stored a vast range and array of data, from videos, to sound recordings to simple text.

 

Lunchtime would come, sometimes quickly, more often after a long, tiring morning. Every day she would walk into the canteen on her own, select her lunch and sit at one of the few empty tables. She’d hear the laughter and the speaking of the other children, and long for company of her own. On bad days, someone would throw bits of food in her direction, but that was rare; most were hungry enough to actually eat.

 

One day she noticed a shortage of tables. One had been broken somehow, and it leaned against the back wall. Another was absent for reasons unknown to her. She would usually just eat her lunch quickly, keeping her head down, and that usually worked.
The shortage of tables, however, made confrontation inevitable.

 

The tray was slammed down in front of her, but she resisted looking up.
“Having fun with your imaginary friends?” the voice mocked. “Are they carrot-tops too?”
“Leave me alone,” she said weakly, knowing it would make no difference. In fact, she'd known it was a mistake as she said it.
“Why should we? We need to sit and eat.” More trays landed on the table.
“Oh no,” another voice sang sarcastically. “There’s not enough room.”
“Yeah, you’ll have to get out of here. Look, even your imaginary friends have gone away!” The children laughed. Perhaps it was because she was the victim, but the girl saw no humor or intelligence in their taunts.

A hand reached out and flicked over the plastic cup, spilling her drink all over her lunch. Before she could react, someone shoved her off the edge of the bench, and she fell to the floor, with a loud slap as her skin came in contact with the tiles. Heads turned and most laughed.
 

The physical pain wasn't easily ignored but it was the pain inside that was worse. She stood, trying hard to hide her emotions, but she couldn’t; she was already sniffling as tears welled in her eyes. She turned from the laughing kids and ran. She managed to hold the first sob off until she was in the hallway, away from prying eyes. She ran on, away from the school area, and didn’t stop until she found herself somehow in the engineering section, standing in front of one of the pumps.

She saw her face in a polished panel of metal and wiped her tears away, stifling her sobs.

Why me? she asked silently. What have I done to them? Why is the color of my hair, or the paleness of my skin a problem?

 

She was utterly miserable. What had she done wrong that made her deserve this? She collapsed onto her backside, her eyes still staring at her reflection, hating what she saw. She stroked her red hair, again asking why she was different. She wanted to tear it all out and had, at times, tugged violently on it until it felt like her head was going to split open. At that point she usually broke down, and it was usually in the bathroom, where the sound of the shower masked that of her crying.

 

Her mother’s hair was golden, and it flowed like the locks of Venus. In her eyes, her mother had a regal beauty, one that emanated from deep within her nurturing soul. The child had evidently inherited her mother’s vibrant hair color, though her hair was a slightly darker shade. Her mother looked at her with pride in her eyes. She often said how beautiful her ‘perfect daughter’ was – was that a lie, the child wondered. Something to spare her feelings? The child didn’t see what her mother saw. Her preadolescent reflection was that of a hideous monster, ridiculed by the populace and self-loathed.

Her mother kept hammering home the point that she was beautiful, but all parents said that, didn’t they? She didn’t know what it was that made everyone hate her, but that had to make her a horrible person, didn’t it? After all, how many friends did she have? Only horrible, ugly people had no friends.

 

A few minutes passed and her tears retreated fully. She found it comforting down with the machines, with the whirring and clunking and humming. The technology that had such an important role was the product of clever minds – minds she adored. Surrounded by the machines incapable of emotion, she almost felt like she belonged.

 

Lessons resumed for the afternoon, and her feelings were suppressed once again as she forced herself to think of the work. The remainder of the day was split between mathematics and then history. They had learned of mankind’s last great war and the events that led up to it. With resources running low and tensions running high, something had given and, for two hours, missiles rained down across the entire world. Everything was destroyed. The last of the human race sought shelter in huge underground bunkers – called Vaults. That was her home. In some ways she thought of herself as the Vault, surrounded by hell itself.
Alone and trapped.

 

Finally the school day ended and, well after everyone else, she left the classroom. She often requested extra lessons, but the teachers rarely allowed her more than half an hour – they wanted to go home too, they said, and she understood. Even ten minutes was enough; the other children, eager to get home for dinner or just to be away from school, wouldn’t hang around for long. The classrooms quickly fell quiet, the hallways empty. This was her favorite part of the day.
Peace and quiet.

 

The walk home was almost always lonesome, and she welcomed it. Although the loneliness was often crippling, she’d rather be alone than with anyone who hated her. She wished for just one friend, but alas, her wishes were unanswered.


Tycek
  • Tycek

    Being a bastard works.

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#16

Posted 20 January 2014 - 07:44 PM

I am probably not the best critic here, but your title says it all. Same old, same old, but I can repeat what I said before. Maybe it's me, but I don't feel it, as this story could happen in typical school everywhere in the world. Few steel walls, pneumatic doors, and machinery doesn't make this a Fallout for me. It's not bad as a story, but the whole "Let's make fun out of red headed girl is a bit played out" and it lacks something falloutish. 

 

This is typical teen school problems story, which could happen in FO world as well, but I feel like it doesn't exactly fit there. 

 

To not be all negative I really like the language you're using there. I always feel like my is swift like a swing of a hammer, but yours is actually quite light and easy to read. 


Mokrie Dela
  • Mokrie Dela

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#17

Posted 20 January 2014 - 10:05 PM

I'll take the latter compliment.

This chapter's very much setting the scene to be honest. The characters need to be introduced, and that might make for some slow parts. I'll welcome any advice on how to make it feel more "falloutish", however.

 

Regarding the bullying - there's a cause and effect running here, in trying to build up the characters. Much of the girl you're meeting here, comes from a real place. Personal experiances and stuff like that.

Hopefully your concerns will be addressed in future chapters - as i said, feel free to PM me some advice on how to make it feel more Fallouty. Perhaps I've envisioned it too much and lacked putting the detail on the page.

 


Eminence
  • Eminence

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#18

Posted 21 January 2014 - 07:20 PM

Ziggy has touched on this, but I just want to clarify before diving into the actual text itself: in terms of your paragraph spacing, you're being inconsistent. There are two ways to space paragraphs: to indent the first line, or to double-space, leaving a line break between the two. What you do here is use a double-spaced line break to separate your major chunks, while using a single line break to break it up at other points, e.g. after a line of dialogue. The result is this:

 

"It can't be," one of the men mumbled underneath his face-wrap.
"Sweet Jesus, it is... What do you think he wants?"
The guard just shook his head. He reached up with a gloved hand and pulled the scarf down, grimacing against the cold, swallowing his fright.

“Hold up, there!” he ordered with as much authority as he could manage, despite his nerves. He felt like he was giving an order to God. Well, he thought, he practically was.
The lone man slowed, approached and finally stopped, standing a few feet from the guards.
“What’s your business here?” the guard asked.

 

Frankly, this makes no sense. Why is there a larger gap between 'swallowing his fright' and 'hold up, there'? You can only do one or the other. Either go with single-spaced line breaks and indented first lines, or double space everything. It'll look different, and more spaced out, but consistency is key.

 

Anyway! That's really neither here nor there; it's got nothing to do with the actual writing. I'm just gonna cover the prologue for now: inside the quote you'll find close-reading notes, with some broader thoughts at the end.

 

 

The air was filled with the perpetual dancing of snowflakes [1] to the angry backing track [2] of howling wind. The snow did a fine job of hiding the barren landscape, [3] disguising the dead world under a perfect sheet of white innocence. [4] It was a lie of sorts, but a lie people chose to believe. No one wanted to clear the persistent snow and reveal the scarred ground that lay comatose beneath. [5] Ignorance, as they say, is bliss. [6]

 

1 – Opening with a description of the weather is a pretty well-worn trope of fiction; a lot of people recommend you steer clear of it, if I remember correctly. If you’re going to do it, you really have to pull out all the stops to make it unique and engaging. ‘Perpetual dancing of snowflakes’ is verging on an interesting image, but there’s something inconsistent about it: do snowflakes really ‘dance’, for example? It’s stretching it a little. First things first, though: unless there’s a real reason to start with passive voice, I’d switch it around. ‘Snowflakes danced in the air...’

2 – Howling wind is not a ‘backing track’. This description – appropriating a technological term used in music/film production etc. – feels out of place.

3 – Multiple issues here. You can’t ‘hide’ a barren landscape, really; it’s either barren or it isn’t. If something hides it, then it’s not barren anymore. Sort of. I get what you’re going for but it’s a little off. Another issue, though, is this: how do we know the landscape is barren? You’re telling us too much. All we see is the snow; anything could be underneath.

4 – Again, telling us too much. This is a nice image – the ‘perfect white sheet’ – but less is more, and that’s all you really need to tell us. It’s definitely not ‘white innocence’; that’s far too in-our-face.

5 – Too broad and generic, and also muddled. A lie ‘of sorts’? Is it or isn’t it? What people? Do they really care about clearing the snow or is all this just a figure of speech?

6 – This line really gives the narrator a sense of character, which I’m not sure is carried through the rest of the piece – begging the question, why does it appear here? I’m not sure it’s necessary for the narration to make this sort of broad, clichéd statement. To what end is it used?

 

The snow hung in the air like fog, [7] restricting vision [8] to just a few feet. Through the haze a figure emerged, materializing into focus like a supernatural deity. [9] The figure was of a lone man, [10] trudging through the deep snow with long boots suitable for the task, his movements practiced and fluid. [11] His body was encased in a set of combat armor, once white but now faded. A long, grey duster atop flapped in the wind. The man’s face was hidden beneath a Power-Armor [12] helmet spray-painted a metallic white, the eyes dark and lifeless, giving the figure [13] a robotic appearance. Even his hands were hidden, with gloves that had metal plates attached.

 

7 – Okay, so we’re back to this again? It’s a nice image, but repetitive. If I’m honest, this is also a stronger opening than the previous one; you could potentially cut out a lot of the first paragraph.

8 – Whose vision? Where are we? What are we looking at?

9 – This is a bit of a nothing simile, because the thing you’re comparing it to – the supernatural deity – is abstract, if nonexistent. It’s also too heavily-laden with the subtext of this character being either supernatural, or a Christ figure, which, if it’s supposed to be foreshadowing, is coming on way too strong.

10 – I’d try to mention this immediately when introducing the figure, as opposed to doubling up on the description.

11 – I don’t think you need to spell out that the boots are ‘suitable for the task’; just tell us what they are. The ‘practiced and fluid’ is nice description, though – it begins hinting at the character, and their preparedness for this world.

12 – Again, I think Ziggy touched on this, but I’m not a fan of this name-dropping stuff. It’s a cop-out. Instead of doing the hard work to describe what we see, you’re just riding the coat-tails of the game, and expecting the reader to know what to picture based on the item.

13 – Now that he’s a man, don’t go back to calling him a ‘figure’. You can’t return to vagueness after becoming specific.


The men [14] hated gate duty, but they all had to do it. One of the pair [15] slapped his colleague and nervously nodded toward the incoming man. [16] Both guards were dressing in simple clothes and basic armor, layered against the cold, with a torn sheet acting as a scarf that wrapped around their necks and faces.
"It can't be," one of the men [17] mumbled underneath his face-wrap.
"Sweet Jesus, it is... What do you think he wants?"
The guard just shook his head. He reached up with a gloved hand and pulled the scarf down, grimacing against the cold, swallowing his fright.

 

14 – What men? I thought we were looking at the ‘figure’ walking through the snow?

15 – Seriously, what men are we looking at?

16 – And now we’re looking at the ‘incoming man’? The ‘figure’? There are two issues here. One is that the lack of pronouns makes it extremely difficult to decipher which characters we’re looking at. But the real issue is that you’ve introduced these guards without giving us, for lack of a better term, an ‘establishing shot’ of them being there. We jump from a thinly-described ‘barren wasteland’ of snow, to a figure emerging through the haze, to two abstract men. It’s difficult to get a handle on what mental image we’re supposed to create. It may seem obvious, but – what are they guarding?! They’re on ‘gate duty’. So describe the gate! What’s behind it? Where are we?

17 – Again, more careful selection of pronouns here could save a lot of headache. We’re dealing with three ‘men’, which can get confusing fast. This one should definitely read ‘one of the guards’. More specifically, it would be good to try and distinguish between the two guards, so that when the dialogue begins flowing, we know what’s going on.


“Hold up, there!” he ordered with as much authority as he could manage, despite his nerves. He felt like he was giving an order to God. [18] Well, he thought, he practically was. [19]
The lone man slowed, approached and finally stopped, standing a few feet from the guards.
“What’s your business here?” the guard asked.
The man didn’t answer. Instead he just stood there. Through the mask, the guards couldn’t tell if he was staring, but they could feel he was. [20] They felt the black, soulless eyes reach deep into their hearts, which pounded with anxiety. [21] The two guards shared a brief look each one wishing for the other do do something.
“No tourists,” the second guard finally said, allowing his arm to fall away from his body slightly. The lone man’s head turned a fraction, likely looking at the guard’s weapon – a long Thermic Lance. His head returned, seeing the other guard with an assault rifle. [22] Despite the two weapons, he showed no reaction; instead he remained motionless.
Again the guards exchanged glances, but this time the visitor did move. He stepped forward, quickly, his left hand flying out from inside his coat with a Samurai Sword in the gloved fist. The blade arced wide to one side. The guard's eyes went wide.
With no hesitation, [23] the man thrust the blade forward, piercing through the leather-based armor with a pop, tearing through the layered cloth with a soft ripping sound, and plunging into the guard’s chest cavity a squelch. [24] The second guard – the one armed with the Thermic Lance [25] – flinched at seeing the death of his colleague. He lifted his melee weapon and motioned it toward the murderer. [26]
The man saw the movement, and had expected it. With the guard impaled on his sword, he brought his right hand from his left hip and fired a single shot from his silenced pistol. The bullet hit the guard in the forehead and with a soft puff he fell to the snowy ground. The man withdrew his sword, wiping it on the guard’s clothing, and replaced it in its sheath, which hung on his hip. He holstered his pistol too then crouched and searched the two bodies. [27]
After taking everything of value, [28] he turned to enter the settlement. He paused at the door for a moment, [29] looking back at the fallen men. He turned and once again crouched down, the mechanical sound of his breathing the only sound he made. [30] He picked up the Thermic Lance and weighed it. Then he spun it round in his hand, first in a circle then a figure-of-eight before swiping it diagonally down and stabbing it outward. With a pleased nod, he picked up the guard’s harness and with it, slung the weapon over his shoulder, holstering it on his back. He then entered the settlement.

 

18 – Again with the heavy religious imagery. I’m not sure about it.

19 – Be aware that you’ve made the decision to align the reader with the guards’ inner monologues. Is this what you’re going for? Would it be more effective for us to be distanced from them?

20 – This is a nice image.

21 – But this not so much. ‘Black, soulless eyes’ is very bland and obvious description.

22 – We now seem to be privy to the lone man’s thoughts, too, but I’m not getting a strong sense of POV from anyone in this scene. I don’t mean literally in terms of getting their inner monologue, but just in terms of where we’re viewing the scene from: it’s all very vague.

23 – The very act of saying this implies a sense of hesitation. If he doesn’t hesitate, then don’t hesitate in the description. Get straight to it. Have your prose take on the same rhythm as the scene.

24 – The prose here betrays the scene. It seems shocking and unpredictable, but structuring the sentence around three pieces of identical description (with a pop, with a soft ripping sound, with a squelch) becomes quite formulaic, and a little bland.

25 – This recalls the fact that there’s no way to distinguish the guards. You shouldn’t have to butt in halfway through an action scene to remind us that he’s the one ‘armed with the Thermic Lance’ – everything about it slows the scene to a halt.

26 – I don’t think there’s any reason to throw in this extra pronoun here, ‘the murderer’. For one, it confuses matters in a scene where we’re already struggling to convey the characters. More importantly, it implies a sense of judgement on behalf of the guard; that is to say, it’s as though his perception of the lone man has changed, and now he’s saying “you murderer!” But if we’re to assume that this is a cold, ruthless, violent world... well, nothing’s changed, really.

27 – There’s a lot of very, very precise detail here: right hand, left hip etc. It’s a bit too choreographed. Try to just give a sense of the action, rather than describing every tiny detail of it; with so much detail, it’s hard to get a sense of which piece of information is the most important. The best image here, for me, is the guard falling with barely a sound into the snow. I’d focus on that and try to figure out how best to convey it, rather than trying to convey every tiny little motion.

28 – What does he take? This is where I’d like more description: how does he search them, what does he find, etc. It’s an opportunity to tell us about him and the world, as well, especially in terms of what he might leave behind – what does he deem to be of value?

29 – Again, by this point, I feel like we should have a far clearer image of the settlement he is approaching.

30 – This sentence is pretty clumsy, owing to the repetition of the word ‘sound’. Also, re: the mechanical breathing, is he actually a robot, or what? This is intriguing, but a little more specificity would be helpful.

 

He knew the layout well. Once inside he ducked behind a shack. He wanted to avoid the center of town, where he’d likely be seen. He moved on, knowing his destination and what route to take to avoid confrontation. He could hear the distant chatter, voices he recognized, spoken by men he knew. He skirted the town, staying close to the outer wall, and hidden by the ramshackle buildings that, despite their appearance, were sturdy enough to survive the harsh weather. [31] The snow was working in his favor, though his footprints might eventually be seen. Perhaps no one would pay attention to them, or the snow might cover them up, but he couldn’t count on that. [32]

 

31 – This is a very vague snapshot. We know nothing of the town, there’s barely any detail at all. Now we’re inside and you’re skimming over it even more. It really needs more detail if you’re going to take us inside with the character.

32 – This is another nice image of the snow hiding his footprints; I think you could perhaps elaborate on it a little more. Have it actually come into play in the story, as opposed to just being a brief musing by the character?
 

His objective stood in front of him after just a couple of minutes of skulking. He watched it [33] for a moment, making sure there were no patrols nearby. Content, he moved forward and approached the front door, careful to check no one saw him.

 

33 – Once more, what are we seeing? What is ‘it’? What is the objective? I get the sense that you’re hiding things on purpose, but in this case it feels like a bit of a cheat. If the character sees it, we need to see it.


The door [34] creaked open and he stepped inside. Two surprised faces stared at him and, for a second, considered questioning his presence. [35] Before alarm could set in, though, the pistol was out and pointed at the men – who had been sitting at a table, a pack of dirty playing cards slung over the scratched wood. [36] Without a word, the intruder pointed the men toward the jail cells, which stood at the back of the building and held only one prisoner. The two men stood, intimidated by the metal man and his mechanical breathing. Without a word of protest, and with much fear of the man, they obeyed.
After stripping the men of their guns, and pointing them at the metal bars, he watched them unlock the cell door. He waved them inside with his gun. The man, still nonspeaking, pointed at the only prisoner and crooked his finger. Rather sheepishly, and somewhat weakly, she got to her feet. [37]

 

34 – Door of what? What building is it? Where are we?

35 – Now we’re privy to the thoughts of random passers-by. I’d question this.

36 – All this detail comes too late. Tell us what we see – that they’re playing cards at the table – the moment we walk in, not later on.

37 – I think we could do with a quick description of the woman after ‘the only prisoner’, as opposed to revealing who the prisoner is in the next sentence. It’s like you’re trying to cloak her in mystery for just a little longer – but to what end?


The infiltrator [38] tied the men's hands together and gagged them. Then he turned to the woman and waved for her to follow. While he was imprisoning the captives – the irony of which he found comical [39] – the woman had retrieved her possessions and dressed in her own clothes. The man, standing by the door and looking out, found it strange that they had kept the items and not sold them on.
He watched for a moment. Then he waved at the female and they exited the building, disappearing into the white mist.

 

38 – Ziggy liked this, but I’m not a fan. You’re using too many different pronouns to describe the same character, and for me, a little more consistency would work better. Is he the intruder, or the infiltrator, or the lone man, or the metal man, or what?

39 – Signposting irony like this just feels a bit tacky. And it’s not very comical, so it makes me question the character. He seems to be painted as a ruthless wanderer – yet now he finds this situation humorous? I’d think a little harder about what a brief insight into the character’s mind, in this way, tells us about him, and whether it’ll send the right message.

 

Overall, I think this is well written, and crafted at times with close attention to detail, but it's also quite clumsy in parts. I really, really wanted some more concrete information about what we're seeing, especially in terms of the town – and super-especially once we were inside. You can still do that while retaining an air of mystery and intrigue, if that's what you're going for.

 

As for hooking us in, I think the very end of the sequence did that well. We're left with four main questions: who's the guy, who's the girl, why's she imprisoned, and why's he come to rescue her? The answer to question two, I assume, comes in the chapter you've just posted; the rest remain, like your proverbial dancing snowflakes, up in the air.

 

I think this is a strong central hook, but it could do with a little more jeopardy. I wanted to see more of the girl's immediate response, so that her character – and the lone man's, by extension – begins to be elucidated, if only a touch. What's more, I think you spend far too much time building up to this moment; if this rescue/breakout is the crux of the prologue, then the rest is largely irrelevant, and it makes the chapter as a whole feel quite laboured.

 

I agree with others in that it doesn't feel overly rooted in the Fallout world (a notion that grows in the more recent chapter, but I'll touch on that at a later date). The snow-covered barren landscape more easily recalls The Road than Fallout, but that's not a problem: it's an interesting setting. But this is just a teaser, so it has much room to expand into the established world.

 

As it is, it's an interesting moment, but it's a little dragged out. If you only take one thing away from everything I've just said going forward, then let it be this: in terms of the pacing of both the scene itself and of the prose, try to pin down what you're going for, and then make everything work towards that. If the scene is supposed to be swift and violent, then describe it as quickly and briefly as possible – make the scene on the page short but sweet, and give the prose just enough detail for us to understand what's going on. Conversely, if the scene is supposed to be slow and reflective, go in the opposite direction: give it some length (unless it's boring, but then you have a problem with the scene) and make the prose a little more contemplative.

 

As I say, I'll be back asap with a similar reading of the next chapter. Until then, get working on the third!


Mokrie Dela
  • Mokrie Dela

    МОКРЫЕДЕЛA

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  • Joined: 01 May 2009
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  • Most Talented Writer 2015
    Most Talented Writer 2014
    Most Talented Writer 2013
    Best Story/Poem 2013 "The Storm"
    Story/Poem of the Year 2011 "Justice in Flames"
    Story/Poem of the Year 2010 "City of Lies"

#19

Posted 22 January 2014 - 12:56 AM Edited by Mokrie Dela, 22 January 2014 - 05:28 PM.

Some excellent points, Em.


I understand the spacing now. It was a bit unclear in my head. I had previously used the double space to separate scenes or some sort of shift, but tried to do so with each paragraph to make it easier to read - in doing so, i've confused myself a little.

Some good points about the description, and now i agree with "too much" information. I can see it - it's my old problem of viewpoint again - the reader can't see my eye, only that I give them, and in this case, unlike me, they don't know what the snow covers up. I think I was trying to give the reader a sense of familiarity, which is probably counter productive in this instance.

The "lie of sorts" was supposed to be a metaphor but i don't think it's come off.

 

The character in point 6 i think comes from that fallout narration that Ron perlman (sp?) does - and yes, i think that was something from a previous writeup that editing missed.

9 - i think perhaps "ghost" would have been better - deity was supposed to hint some degree of power or something.
10 - school boy error.

 

12 - nothing less than an oversight on my part.


14 - I think this is part of my style - perhaps one that needs addressing?
I tend to quickly change and, instead of gradually showing new characters, I do so abruptly. I'll admit, i thought it was more interesting to make the reader suddenly see there's these two men.

17 - good point

18 - this is a sort of foreshadowing, or back-to-front reference. I was trying to give the impression that this was no ordinary man, but a sort of legend. People know him, and some may liken him to a god or devil, in a weird way. His word would be listened to and if he gave an order, it would be done....

19 - this is my old nemesis again. I thought i'd sorted this. evidently not. This chapter is that all seeing eye viewpoint, and i think that made things complicated.

30 - damn, i should have thought that. The helmet's got a air-filter in. Grr, i should have mentioned that.

32 - That is something i have planned for future scenes.

34 - again with my abrupt change thing.

37 - in short, spoilers. This scene occurs mid story, and i felt it the perfect opening scene tbh. I didnt want to start with the usual stasis, but with an actual event.

38 - i get you; establish a moniker for him and keep it.

39 - Hmm. I think the problem is again mixed viewpoint. I should keep it vague, and then on the revisit (which will be rewritten, not rehashed) use the character's POV.

As for hooking us in, I think the very end of the sequence did that well. We're left with four main questions: who's the guy, who's the girl, why's she imprisoned, and why's he come to rescue her? The answer to question two, I assume, comes in the chapter you've just posted; the rest remain, like your proverbial dancing snowflakes, up in the air.
Well I'm overjoyed the questions you've asked - they're exactly what i wanted.
The answer comes later, yes, but not immediate. This might be a concern, but there's a backstory that i want to show, and not to just report on like a small town newspaper.

Fair point about The Road - one thing i took out of reading that was the sense of hopelessness. As much as i struggled with the language, i did learn a lesson from it.


"Get working on the third" - i've got a dozen chapters done. They all need edits however, and all the above points will likely need addressing.

That's one thing I am not good at - i talk a lot about editing and proof reading, and I'm good at that from a technical/grammar point of view, but the more intricate parts of it - pretty much all you've said (none of it was grammar) - taking those words and adapting my edits/writing with them in mind.... that i struggle with.

I will re-read all you've said in the hope that something sticks.
You mentioned what Tycek did about it not feeling "falloutish" - and i would welcome some advice on that, too, either here or PM.

Thanks for the feedback :)

 

 

EDIT
I'm tempted to just lock this and start a fresh with a rewrite....





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