For a company that does computer animation. They do good work.
The sound of his footsteps echoed down the deserted corridor, their lonely tune matching the depression and desperation in his heart. Five years and three hundred million credits and he were reduced to hoping that a nineteen year old girl could succeed where others failed.
It proved to be fantastical, a turn of events that Rear Admiral Claudio Reyes, head of Fleet Intelligence, would never had dreamt of. Several men and women, all soldiers who’d been critically injured, had volunteered for the program, which lead to each failure eating at Claudio until a black hole filled his heart and it’d swallowed all his emotions.
Not that he was without them, mind you, otherwise he wouldn’t wrestled with the decision on whether or not to risk one of his newest bodies on a former gladiator slave. No, the question about what to do with her and her ruined body had become a priority and that’d taken over his life for the past week.
Of course, he chided himself, none of this would’ve happened if you’d not approached her in the first place.
Lord only knew how ridiculous he looked on Arino when he asked for, and received, a private meal with her. It was something almost unheard of, an event reserved for only the greatest of the gladiator Master Champions…and one that she’d earned many times over.
The woman in white shirt and black pants convulsed several times before dropping to the concrete as if a puppet with its string cut. One of the soldiers ran up and then knelt down to check her for weapons.
Sergeant Mason Williams started to approach, not taking his eyes of the young girl. She was beautiful; her silver hair shined in the sunlight and her high cheekbones and slightly rounded chin combined with her slightly pale skin to give her to appearance of an angel who’d descended from heaven. Incredibly, despite the situation, his manhood started to grow slightly until he looked away.
My God, he thought, I’m getting a hard on for some spy.
“Sergeant!” A soldier snapped. “The prisoner’s isn’t breathing!”
“Medic!” He snapped.
A cold chill ran down Williams’ spine as he watched the medic race over and then kneel beside the pilot. This couldn’t possibly be happening! If that woman died, then he’d be in serious trouble with Command for using a taser on her instead of just taking her into custody.
“Sarge,” another man said. “I think you need to come over here.”
“What is it?”
“Better to show you.”
The medic backed off a bit to give him room to kneel down beside the woman’s prone form. When the woman fell, she hit her head on the concrete and a small piece of skin hung loosely from her temple and it revealed something strange. A normal person’s body, especially their head and face, was full of blood vessels, which meant head wounds tended to bleed a lot, and this one did. However, instead of the normal thick, red flow of blood, a thin red colored liquid ran from the wound and then pooled around her head.
“If that’s blood,” the medic said, “Then she’s got the worst case of hemophilia that I’ve ever seen.”
“If that’s not blood, what is it?”
“My guess is some sort of red fluid meant to simulate blood, but that’s not all.”
“Here,” the medic used an infrared thermometer to scan the pilot’s forehead. “Look at this.”
“One hundred fifteen degrees?” Williams said. “I thought a normal body temp was ninety-eight something.”
“Within a degree or so, yes,” the medic said as he used a gloved hand to wipe the fluid away. “Notice something?”
Williams wasn’t one to be taken by surprise by much, twenty years in the military and being in several war zones took the ability away, but this discovery made his heart skip a beat. Normal wounds have red flesh underneath once the top layer of skin got peeled away. Except this one gleamed under the light of the sun and he looked at it and then at the medic.
“Uh huh,” the medic said.
“What the hell do we have here?”
“I don’t know.”
Williams never took his eyes off the girl as he raised his radio up to his mouth and then pressed the transmit button. “Command this is Sergeant Williams. We have the pilot in custody.”
“Bring her in then,” came the crisp reply.
“I don’t know about that. We have something strange here.”
“She’s got metal under her skin.”
“So?” The woman said. “Plenty of people have steel plates.”
“And a body temp of one hundred fifteen degrees?”
“Are you shitting me?”
“Ok, I’m contacting General Thomas at the Defense Research Center for orders. This is now within his purview.”
“And don’t let anyone near her, Sergeant. And I mean it. If anything happens to her, you’ll wish you’d never joined the military.”
The communications was cut.
“You heard the woman,” he said. “Let’s keep her secure.”
Alex couldn’t believe his luck when it came to his golf time. Once again he was headed out for the links when the call came in about the strange woman at Andrews Air Force Base. This one, however, intrigued him far more than did the one in the sealed lab because it looked human, while the other one vaguely did.
And the fact that the woman, or whatever she was, could fly a fighter at Mach two created a mystery that even the old soldier found impossible to resist. Throw in the fact that the craft came from the orbiting ship and it made from a match made in heaven-or hell if she proved to be dangerous-for the eggheads. Maybe the being on the table in front of him could shed light on the one below that they hadn’t found a way to activate yet.
From the safety of the observation room the General watched the eggheads work and couldn’t help but start to get excited. Military technology always needed to advance to keep up with the growing threats around the globe, and the woman’s body could potentially be a treasure trove of information. Not only for new weapons but about the people who made her and whether or not they were a threat to mankind.
He activated the com. “Are you sure they can’t feel anything?”
“Her skin is synthetic,” the lead researcher said. “So, I’m sure that she can’t feel it.”
A scientist rolled a cart over to where they secured the woman’s prone form. Even knowing that the thing on the table was unconscious and probably couldn’t feel pain didn’t keep Alex from wincing as the researcher ran a scalpel around the circumference of the woman’s arm. Once done, he peeled the skin off, exposing the metal skeleton underneath.
“Amazing,” he said.
“Look at the details,” the scientist said. “It mimics our body to the minute detail. Ligaments, tendons, joints…”
Alex had to agree that it was indeed an amazing sight to see. The fact that someone, somewhere was able to make a mechanical body that mimicked the human form to such an extent boggled his mind. How many lives could be saved if they could send artificial people to the warzones to fight instead of flesh and blood soldiers?
Those and a thousand other thoughts ran through Alex’s mind as he thought about what to tell the President. A finding like this couldn’t be kept from the Chief Executive, but that didn’t mean he needed to tell the man everything. Yes, it was dishonest as hell but what the current administration didn’t know sure wouldn’t hurt them.
Although, he thought, it could possibly cost me my commission and pension.
“General,” a researcher said. “You need to see this.”
“What is it?”
“It’ll be easier to show you.”
He motioned to a guard to escort him before heading for the door. Just because the woman was unconscious didn’t mean she would stay that way and keeping someone around to defend him sounded like a good idea to Alex.
Although, he thought, could a bullet actually stop something like her?
“What do you have?” He asked as he approached the table.
The woman was borderline beautiful, and young enough to be his daughter, which did make this operation a bit tough on him. Her silver hair, almost the color of an anime character, and athletic frame reminded him more of a college student than someone from another planet. And what made things worse was God only knew how strong she’d been once awake.
“There’s a small port on the back of her head. We missed it earlier because it was covered by her hair.”
“What do you think it’s for?”
“If I had to hazard a guess, it’s for a computer interface.”
“Do we have a way of connecting to it?”
“It’s much like a USB port,” the scientist said. “But I don’t know if it’s wise to link something like this to our computer network.”
“What if we put her onto a closed system, one that doesn’t have any connections to the rest of the base or outside world?”
“That could work.”
“Make it so,” Alex said. “I want to know what that thing thinks.”
“It might take a little bit.”
“Just make it happen. I don’t care how long it takes.”
The anime series Coyote Ragtime Show is one that I’ve fallen in love with. And it’d not because of the good guys, but because of April, who is the leader of the 12 sisters (12 android assassins). While she’s tough, there’s more to her that makes her interesting. The little mannerisms, the body language and facial expressions shows so much about her. I took the time to look up the Japanese version of this episode and then the English-and her character is developed better in the English version, which doesn’t normally happen with anime.
This is a YouTube video someone made that shows the best moments of April. And the song ‘Bad Company’ is a good choice too.
I think folks should watch the video and then check out the series and see just what it is about her that’s so good.
Combat veterans will tell people that on the battlefield, sleep is fleeting and when they did get some, it was always with one eye open. It’s much the same way for assassins; we never know if the police are coming or if someone will try to kill us because we’ve eliminated targets.
This was the case tonight as I lay in bed looking at the ceiling, with my pistol in my hand. I can’t stop thinking about that assassin, and only a fool would believe that Julia was her name or that mine was Jessica, and whether it was bad luck that we encountered each other or did she hunt us out. Either way, the identity of at least one was known, which left me with the problem of what to do about it.
Gunfights on starships didn’t normally happen; that was something only seen in the movies. Even the military shied away from them unless absolutely necessary because the risk of hull ruptures preyed upon their mind. That meant the girl would have to make direct contact because there wasn’t a chance I’d let Lacey stop eating at communal tables. And when the killer did make her move, I’d be ready to care of her.
Lacey, damn her, is sleeping like a baby and snoring like a chain saw. How one human being can be so relaxed while being pursued beat the hell out of me. People have said that I’m cold as ice and don’t have any emotions whether it’s doing a job or being pursued but Lacey doesn’t have nerves of steel like me, she’s just plain stupid.
Either way, I’m stuck having to protect her and all I want to do now is go back to my apartment and eat Chinese food. At least there I could go back to being an assassin and not have to sit back and try to be a bodyguard to a dumbass bitch who didn’t have a clue how serious of a situation she’s in.
Its times like this that I love to take walks to give myself time to chew on the problem. However, that’d leave Lacey alone in the room and I’d be exposing me money maker to unnecessary risk. Second, I’d hate to have to face Janice after letting Lacey die and explain how we didn’t get the money promised. That’s one conversation I’d rather not have.
Fuck it, I thought as I entered the luxurious warmth of the shower.
Yes it was a risk to leave Lacey unguarded but I needed the time to myself. The number one rule in assassinations was to keep your identity a secret, yet this girl had decided to throw it away. That was just one of many unanswered questions that were rattling around in my mind as I exited the room.
The liner’s owners took great care to make the concourse and atrium beautiful, and that included how it was light during the “night time” hours. Streetlamps, each made to look like an oil lamp, lit the walkways and Christmas lights were wrapped around several of the trees. It made for an area that proved to be both peaceful and romantic at the same time; in fact, I bet even at this hour that there were couples having sex back amongst the shrubs and grassy openings.
A voice in the back of my mind screamed at me to be careful as my senses went onto high alert. If the other assassin was awake, this would be the perfect time to make a move. The area was dim, keeping a person from seeing more than a few feet into the trees, making it a great location for an ambush.
While anyone looking would see a non-threatening teen girl out for a walk, I was anything but. Since firearms were out of the question, nothing kept me from carrying a knife and its hilt bounced against my back as I walked. Let the other woman come; it’d be a fatal mistake.
Its times like this that I wonder what life would’ve been like if Dad hadn’t died. Of course the cold streak that allows me to be such a good killer would’ve remained, but would I have chosen the course Tom put me on? I’d love to say that it wouldn’t have but that’d be a lie. While it would’ve taken some serious work to keep my activities a secret, I still could’ve pulled it off.
Not that it mattered now; Dad was dead and Tom trained me to be a killer. It’s who I am and I doubt I could function in any other job now. Besides, could a normal everyday job allow me to make the kind of money being an assassin did? The answer would be no.
Going back to Earth wasn’t high on my list of things to do. Because I eliminated Tom’s cadre, thus saving the Darbytown Police Chief embarrassment, he allowed me to escape to another colony. In return, we’d agreed on the condition that I’d never come back to my home, which basically exiled me from ever visiting Dad’s grave.
Dad was a good man, everything that Tom wasn’t, and while I don’t think about him much, I do miss him. Birthday and Christmas were the best time of year; we’d get together, have dinner and just enjoy the day together. And he always knew how to give the perfect gift for every occasion.
Tom had always been cold, aloof and borderline assholish to me when I was growing up, so the thought of having to live with him had upset me as Dad slowly weakened from the cancer. I doubt any of us truly knew what my uncle was capable of until the night of the funeral and Tom raped me for the first time. This went on every day for three months until I’d learned enough from my training to have him begging for his life one night. From then on, he kept his hands off me.
Training to be an assassin is hard work; something that takes more than one day or one person. To be successful, I needed to know martial arts, marksmanship and how to hack into security systems of all types. So, Tom’s cadre of corrupt cops each handled a section of my training.
It didn’t take long for the five of them to realize I had natural aptitude for killing, and they made sure to take advantage of my cool nature. While most people would rebel against such manipulations, I reveled in it and my skills continued to grow to reach what you see today. So, in many ways I owe my success to Tom, which to be honest galls me to no end.
I round a bend and to my surprise the assassin is sitting on a bench with her legs pulled tight to her body. It makes the young woman look younger and vulnerable; almost as if she were an older version of me from the Tom years.
“You don’t need a weapon,” she said. “I’m unarmed.”
“Don’t mind me if I don’t believe you.”
“Can’t blame you.”
“I’m so glad you see it my way.”
“You know that you don’t have the slightest chance of protecting your little friend.”
“Bitch, I’m good at what I do. You won’t get close enough to kill her.”
“Give it up, Mareth,” she said, “you’re up against something bigger than you.”
“You know, I always wanted to go big game hunting.”
“I don’t know if you’re stubborn or a whole lot dumber, but adults are playing here. Keep sticking your nose into it and it’ll get chopped off.”
“I always wanted a nose job. This thing is entirely too big.”
“This is your only warning, Mareth. If you don’t back out, I will kill you.”
With that she gets up, turns her back to me, and then walks away. What the fuck? Did that bitch have so little respect for me that she wasn’t afraid of getting a knife to the back?
I’m tempted to run up and ram my knife into her back and kill her, but I’ve got the feeling it wouldn’t work. She was right: there was something bigger going on then I’d been told when taking on the job. And I doubt seriously that Janice lied to me either, which leaves one option: Lacey’s playing me.
If that was the case, what did the little rich bitch have to hide? And who the hell hired the assassin? To be honest, she’s frighteningly confident and skilled, almost as if she worked for the government. Christ, I hope not because that opens up a can of worms I do not want to deal with.
When I get back to the room three hours later, I’m relieved to see Lacey up and preparing for breakfast. Maybe if I’m lucky the girl will tell me what’s going on if I badger her enough. More than likely, she’ll just deflect the questioning and leave me in the dark as usual, so I stop and send a quick text message to Janice.
“Good morning,” Lacey said.
“That depends on your definition of ‘good.’”
“I had a little encounter with our assassin this morning.”
“Oh, is she dead?”
“No, but I’d like to know why she’s telling me I’m involved in something bigger than I know.”
“Damned if I know.”
“Fuck you, Lacey. Goddamn it, you do know what’s going on! I need to know if I’m going to protect you.”
“Now you listen to me, Mareth,” Lacey’s tone is colder than ice, taking me by surprise. “I’ve told you everything there is to know. Just do your goddamn job and go back home.”
“I don’t know who’s fucking worse,” I grumbled. “You or that prick Tom. And you know what happened to him.”
“Are you threatening me, Mareth? If you are, that’s not good for your long term health.”
With that, Lacey stormed into the bathroom and slammed the door behind her. Where the fuck did that sudden cold streak come from? Yes, I know that Lacey isn’t who I thought she was in school, but up to that moment she’d been some ditzy playgirl. Now, she shows that she can piss ice water and I’m not sure what to do about it.
My computer vibrates to let me know that Janice has answered. The message is brief, to the point, and I raise both eyebrows before closing and then storing the message. It would be useful later.
Since I have nothing better to do, I take a seat and wait on Lacey. Knowing her, it’ll be another hour at least before she’s ready to go to breakfast so might as well get comfortable.
Exactly one hour later Lacey exits the bathroom and starts to get dressed. My instincts are screaming bloody murder because all signs of the coldness from before is gone and it’s been replaced by the ditzy childishness of before.
“Ready for breakfast?” She asked.
“Yeah, I’m starving,” I lied.
It’s not often that someone gets the drop on me, but when they do it’s always a doozy. Soon as I open the door, something heavy hits me in the stomach, making me stagger as my breath rushes out in one large wave. Metal gleams in the bright lighting before the pistol slams into the side of my head, causing my vision to black out for a moment, and I fall to the floor.
The Asiatic woman steps over me and then starts to move towards Lacey, who freezes. Simply breathing is a challenge as I try to overcome the pain in my stomach. What the hell did that bitch hit me with? A two by four?
“It’s over,” the assassin said. “You should’ve stayed on Mather Nine and made this easier for both of us. Now I got to kill Mareth too and my bosses aren’t going to like that.”
Today I decided to take most of the day off from writing and allow my head to clear. As I did this, many things came to mind and I thought them over. First off writing isn’t for the faint of heart. Even the best-selling authors get piss poor reviews on works that end up being classics. Thus, a good writer needs to have a thick skin and not let every negative review get to them.
Second, write for the audience, not another writer. Another writer will always end up being more critical of your work than the average reader and sometimes it can do more harm than good. Same thing goes for writing on the forums and letting the amateur writer try to tell you what’s wrong with it. This definitely becomes the blind leading the blind.
Third, things are made overly complicated by many beginning writers. The trap they fall into is trying to write something that’ll be considered both a literary classic and have legendary workmanship. Instead of shooting for the stars and failing miserably, it’s sometimes better to shoot for Jupiter and write a good story and not worry about whether is the best written story. There’s plenty out there that suck ass and still sell good. Don’t get me started on that shit called Twilight.
Fourth, the mark of a mature writer, whether he or she has been published yet, is the ability to write stories and characters that are totally unlikeable. Mareth is one of them for me. There’s nothing good about her; in fact, she’s rotten to the core. But she’s still enjoyable to write. Who doesn’t like writing a bad boy or bad girl character?
I could go on for hours writing down my thoughts but I’m not going to bore you. Hopefully you can glean something from and be able to move forwards as a writer.
As I sit here and write this I find myself thinking about the state of writing and the people trying to start out in it. There are several forums out there, some are better known than others but it seems that there is a plethora of either the blind leading the blind, or just plain bad advice. And the one that is the worst? The self-described expert. Now they don’t have to come out and call themselves that, but their words do it for them.
This is a recipe for disaster on so many fronts and in some ways it’s become comedic to read. First off the threads alone are both sad and illogical. One I read lately: “How Do I Make My Emotionless Character More Likeable.” The poster then goes on to mention how his character loved a woman before she was killed and he sought out revenge. Ok, someone loved another person; that’s an emotion right as is seeking revenge. See the illogic of the post?
The list goes on and on especially in either characterization of general writing threads. Most time folks are always asking how to make x-character be x-way. Easy! You write them that way. I have 6 main characters I have created…and the sixth just popped into being based off the opening line to a short story. Each has a distinct personality.
Talia: Warrior, leader, arrogant at times, ill-tempered when dealing with fools, carries a sinister undertone beneath her honor and commitment ideals.
Methos: warrior, very loving and protective of her sisters, bombastic, bi-sexual, smart ass to the core. Always ragging the other three about having to save them.
Crios: warrior, pragmatic, loves to follow Talia, the most level headed. Decent tactician.
Dannae: warrior, Doctor, scientist, tech wizard, quiet and low-key, doesn’t revel in taking another beings life, strong fighter when necessary
Micki: teen, serving her conscription period in military, tactical genius, hates military life, riddled with self-doubt, needs friends to keep her believing in herself.
Athol: teen, female, sexually abused by uncle, assassin, cold as ice, loves to kill, moody, obstinate, sarcastic, arrogant, always planning ahead, foul mouthed.
There you have it, six different characters, each different, all with their own personality. It’s not that difficult; all folks need to do is spend less time on forums and more time writing.
Which brings me to the self-described experts. It is obvious that it seems they don’t have any substantial writing of their own to do or they wouldn’t be on forums trying to tell others what to do.
I know what you’re going to ask: “If you’re seeing this, doesn’t that mean you’re posting and not writing?”
Actually, no, I’m not posting. The who’s who of morons can be entertaining to read when I need to get away from the final read through of my Talia novel and writing about Athol. So, in all honesty, that’s what I’m doing.
To make a long story short, if people want to succeed in writing, they need to be writing not constantly posting on forums where the blind lead the blind. If help is truly needed then look around on the Internet and find a mentor. If you’re story is non-violent, then I can recommend someone that could mentor people if she has space.
And as usual, keep writing people!
This is the start of my non-Talia novel involving Micki. The first section is the new section I’ve rewritten. The second part is the old section.
They say that protocol trumps everything in the military, that respect for the command structure and everyone in it is a soldier’s primary non-combat responsibility.
This simple little fact was what Micki Brandon kept telling herself over and over as she stared at the older man sitting behind the desk. She stood ram-rod straight, waiting for the order to relax, while the minutes continued to tick past.
What does he want this time? She thought. Is there something else he wants to lord over me? Or is there a fresh round of insults coming?
How someone with the disposition of a porcupine made command of any starship proved worthy of debate between Micki and her friends. While they glowed over the Captain and his teaching style, she had only negative stories to share. To her is seemed almost as if the man went out of his way to make her miserable.
“Micki you disappoint me,” he said finally.
Make sure to look at the prescribed six inches over his head, she thought.
“I’m sorry, sir.”
“I don’t get you,” Captain Alric Patton said as he rubbed the bridge of his thin nose. “Command has eyes on sending you through the command program and you act like it’s the plague.”
“I’m sorry, sir,” she said, “but as you know, I’m serving my required two years. I don’t, at this time, wish to make Fleet my career.”
And here’s the old:
Micki Brandon looked at the man sitting behind the desk and sighed. What did he want this time? Was there something else he wanted to either lord over her or insult her with this time?
How he ever became the captain of a starship, much less command the training ship Barton, beat the mud out of her. The Captain loved to let her know of every little mistake she made and then remind her of it a thousand times. Frankly she didn’t know if he was trying to make her a stronger cadet or cause her to cry. At this moment it looked like crying was the front runner.
A scar ran down his left cheek, which emphasized every facial gesture Captain Alric Patton made. His hair had turned gray long before Micki ever saw him and, in her opinion, age had done nothing but make the man crankier. Of course, she could be wrong, but at this point who knew?
“Micki you disappoint me,”
She looked at the wall the prescribed six inches above his head. “I’m sorry, sir,”
Patton rubbed the bridge of his thin nose. “I don’t get you. Command has eyes on sending you through the command program and you act like it’s the plague.”
“I’m sorry, sir,” she said, “but as you know, I’m serving my required two years. I don’t, at this time, wish to make Fleet my career.”
1. Star Trek II: The Wrath if Khan
2. Return of The Jedi
3. Back To The Future Trilogy
4. Terminator 2: Judgement Day
5. Alien 1979
One of the hardest parts of being a writer is taking that final step to getting yourself published. Why is this so? Believe it or not, it’s where you spend the most time.
I know you think I’m crazy, but it’s true.
While actually writing the story takes time, it’s the hard copy edits, etc that eat up your time more than anything else. And let’s not forget the final massaging.
Now the final smoothing can be anything from a simple looksee to check for errors to giving it a final rewrite to get things in the perfect spot. Either way, that’s what eats up your time.
So, when you’re at this point, like I am, take heart and don’t give in. This is where the professionals are made and the chaff cleared out. Ones who don’t truly want to be professional won’t make this step.
So, hang in there.