FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE - Assignments for NWNV

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FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE - Assignments for NWNV

#1 Post by WritersBlock » 13 Oct 2017, 22:17

NEW WORLDS, NEW VOICES - Pre-Event Writer Assignments

For the New World, New Voices Event Only

Below are seven assignments which include readings and links. All of these are vital to reaching an understanding of what elements go into the writing of a commercially viable literary project, whether novel or narrative non-fiction. There is more to it, as you will learn at the conference, but this is for starters and a good primer.

You may return here as many times as you need to edit your topic post (login and click "edit" at the bottom of your post), even following the pitch conference. Pay special attention to antagonistic force, breakout title, conflict issues and setting.

Quiet novels do not sell. Keep that in mind.

Michael Neff of the NWNV Faculty
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Instructions for Posting Responses

After you've registered and logged in, read the assignments below, click on "Post Reply" on the upper left of the page and enter your responses in the box provided, then click "submit." Once done, your reply will appear in this topic. Please make one reply for all of your responses so the forum topic will not become cluttered.

Strongly suggest typing up your reply in a separate file then copying it over to your post before submitting. Not a good idea to lose what you've done!


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THE ACT OF STORY STATEMENT

Before you begin to consider or rewrite your story premise, you must develop a simple "story statement." In other words, what's the mission of your protagonist (hero/ine)? Their goal? What must be done? What must she or he create? Destroy? Save? Accomplish? Defeated?Defy the dictator of the city and bury brother’s body (ANTIGONE)? Place a bet that will shake up the asylum (ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST)? Do whatever it takes to recover lost love (THE GREAT GATSBY)? Save the farm and live to tell the story (COLD MOUNTAIN)? Find the wizard and a way home to Kansas (WIZARD OF OZ)? Note that all of these are books with strong antagonists who drive or catalyze the plot line going forward. More on that later.

If you cannot conceive or write a simple story statement like those above (which will help define your story premise) then you don’t have a work of commercial fiction. Keep in mind that the PLOT LINE is an elaboration of the statement, of this "primary complication" of story statement. Also, look over the brief summaries of these novels in the Author Connect Deal News. These contain the simple statement, but more elaborated into a short hook.

FIRST ASSIGNMENT: write your story statement.

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THE ANTAGONIST PLOTS THE POINT

Since the antagonist in most successful commercial fiction is the driver of the plot line(s), what chances do you as a writer have of getting your manuscript, regardless of genre, commercially published if the story and narrative therein fail to meet reader demands for sufficient suspense, character concern, and conflict?

Answer: none. But what major factor makes for a quiet or dull manuscript brimming with insipid characters and a story that cascades from chapter to chapter with tens of thousands of words, all of them combining irresistibly to produce an audible thudding sound in the mind, rather like a fist hitting a side of cold beef?

Such a dearth of vitality in narrative and story frequently results from the unwillingness of the writer to create a suitable antagonist who stirs and spices the plot hash. And let's make it clear what we're talking about. By "antagonist" we specifically refer to an actual fictional character, an embodiment of certain traits and motivations who plays a significant role in catalyzing and energizing plot line(s), or at bare minimum, in assisting to evolve the protagonist's character arc (and by default the story itself) by igniting complication(s) the protagonist, and possibly other characters, must face and solve (or fail to solve).

CONTINUE READING ENTIRE ARTICLE HERE: http://www.authorsalon.com/page/general ... iterature/

SECOND ASSIGNMENT: in 200 words or less, sketch the antagonist or antagonistic force in your story. Keep in mind their goals, their background, and the ways they react to the world about them.

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CONJURING YOUR BREAKOUT TITLE

What is your breakout title? How important is a great title before you even become published? Very important! Quite often, agents and editors will get a feel for a work and even sense the marketing potential just from a title. A title has the ability to attract and condition the reader's attention. It can be magical or thud like a bag of wet chalk, so choose carefully. A poor title sends the clear message that what comes after will also be of poor quality.

Go to Amazon.Com and research a good share of titles in your genre, come up with options, write them down and let them simmer for at least 24 hours.Consider character or place names, settings, or a "label" that describes a major character, like THE ENGLISH PATIENT or THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST. Consider also images, objects, or metaphors in the novel that might help create a title, or perhaps a quotation from another source (poetry, the Bible, etc.) that thematically represents your story. Or how about a title that summarizes the whole story: THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES, HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS, THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP, etc.

Keep in mind that the difference between a mediocre title and a great title is the difference between THE DEAD GIRL'S SKELETON and THE LOVELY BONES, between TIME TO LOVE THAT CHOLERA and LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA between STRANGERS FROM WITHIN (Golding's original title) and LORD OF THE FLIES, between BEING LIGHT AND UNBEARABLE and THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BEING.

THIRD ASSIGNMENT: create a breakout title (list several options, not more than three, and revisit to edit as needed).

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DECIDING YOUR GENRE AND APPROACHING COMPARABLES

Did you know that a high percentage of new novel writers don't fully understand their genre, much less comprehend comparables?

When informing professionals about the nuances of your novel, whether by query letter or oral pitch, you must know your genre first, and provide smart comparables second. In other words, you need to transcend just a simple statement of genre (literary, mystery, thriller, romance, science fiction, etc.) by identifying and relating your novel more specifically to each publisher's or agent's area of expertise, and you accomplish this by wisely comparing your novel to contemporary published novels they will most likely recognize and appreciate--and it usually doesn't take more than two good comps to make your point.Agents and publishing house editors always want to know the comps.

There is more than one reason for this. First, it helps them understand your readership, and thus how to position your work for the market. Secondly, it demonstrates up front that you are a professional who understands your contemporary market, not just the classics. Very important! And finally, it serves as a tool to enable them to pitch your novel to the decision-makers in the business.Most likely you will need to research your comps. We've included some great starter websites for this purpose below. If you're not sure how to begin, go to Amazon.Com, type in the title of a novel you believe very similar to yours, choose it, then scroll down the page to see Amazon's list of "Readers Also Bought This" and begin your search that way.

Keep in mind that before you begin, you should know enough about your own novel to make the comparison in the first place!By the way, beware of using comparables by overly popular and classic authors. If you compare your work to classic authors like H.G. Wells and Gabriel Marquez in the same breath you will risk being declared insane. If you compare your work to huge contemporary authors like Nick Hornby or Jodi Picoult or Nora Ephron or Dan Brown or J.K. Rowling, and so forth, you will not be laughed at, but you will also not be taken seriously since thousands of others compare their work to the same writers. Best to use two rising stars in your genre. If you can't do this, use only one classic or popular author and combine with a rising star. Choose carefully!

FOURTH ASSIGNMENT:

- Read Caitlin's Comparables on Author Salon: http://www.authorsalon.com/craft/view/62/
- Develop two smart comparables for your novel. This is a good opportunity to immerse yourself in your chosen genre. Who compares to you? And why?


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CONSIDERING THE PRIMARY CONFLICT - COMING OF THE "AGON"

Conflict, tension, complication, drama--all basically related, and all going a long way to keeping the reader's eyes fixated on your story. These days, serving up a big manuscript of quiet is a sure path to damnation. You need tension on the page (esp in fiction), at all times, and the best way to accomplish this is to create (or find them in your nonfiction story) conflict and complications in the plot and narrative.

Consider "conflict" divided into three parts, all of which you should ideally have present. First, the primary conflict which drives through the core of the work from beginning to end and which zeniths with an important climax (falling action and denouement to follow). Next, secondary conflicts or complications which can take various social forms (anything from a vigorous love subplot to family issues to turmoil with fellow characters). Finally, those inner conflicts the major characters must endure and resolve.

And now, onto the PRIMARY CONFLICT.

If you've taken care to consider your story description and your hook line, you should be able to identify your main conflict(s). Let's look at some basic information regarding the history of conflict in storytelling:

Conflict was first described in ancient Greek literature as the agon, or central contest in tragedy. According to Aristotle, in order to hold the interest, the hero must have a single conflict. The agon, or act of conflict, involves the protagonist (the "first fighter") and the antagonist (a more recent term), corresponding to the hero and villain. The outcome of the contest cannot be known in advance, and, according to later critics such as Plutarch, the hero's struggle should be ennobling. Is that always true these days? Not always, but let's move on.

Even in contemporary, non-dramatic literature, critics have observed that the agon is the central unit of the plot. The easier it is for the protagonist to triumph, the less value there is in the drama. In internal and external conflict alike, the antagonist must act upon the protagonist and must seem at first to overmatch him or her.

The above defines classic drama that creates conflict with real stakes. You see it everywhere, to one degree or another, from classic contemporary westerns like THE SAVAGE BREED to a time-tested novel as literary as THE GREAT GATSBY. And of course, you need to have conflict or complications in nonfiction also, in some form, or you have a story that is too quiet.

For examples let's return to the story descriptions and create some CONFLICT LINES. Note these come close to being genuine hook lines, but that conflict is present regardless of genre.

The Hand of Fatima by Ildefonso Falcones
A young Moor torn between Islam and Christianity, scorned and tormented by both, struggles to bridge the two faiths by seeking common ground in the very nature of God.

Summer's Sisters by Judy Blume
After sharing a magical summer with a friend, a young woman must confront her friend's betrayal of her with the man she loved.

The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud
As an apprentice mage seeks revenge on an elder magician who humiliated him, he unleashes a powerful Djinni who joins the mage to confront a danger that threatens their entire world.

Note that it is fairly easy to ascertain the stakes in each case above: a young woman's love and friendship, the entire world, and harmony between opposed religions. If you cannot make the stakes clear, the odds are you don't have any.

FIFTH ASSIGNMENT: write your own conflict line following the format above. Keep in mind it helps energize an entire plot line and the antagonist(s) must be noted or inferred.

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OTHER MATTERS OF CONFLICT: TWO MORE LEVELS

Consider "conflict" divided into three parts, all of which you should ideally have present. First, the primary conflict which drives through the core of the work from beginning to end and which zeniths with an important climax (falling action and denouement to follow). Next, secondary conflicts or complications which can take various social forms (anything from a vigorous love subplot to family issues to turmoil with fellow characters). Finally, those inner conflicts the major characters must endure and resolve. You must note the inner personal conflicts elsewhere in this profile, but make certain to note any important interpersonal conflicts within this particular category."

SIXTH ASSIGNMENT: sketch out the conditions for the inner conflict your protagonist will have. Why will they feel in turmoil? Conflicted? Anxious? Sketch out one hypothetical scenario in the story wherein this would be the case--consider the trigger and the reaction.

Next, likewise sketch a hypothetical scenario for the "secondary conflict" involving the social environment. Will this involve family? Friends? Associates? What is the nature of it?


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THE INCREDIBLE IMPORTANCE OF SETTING

When considering your novel, whether taking place in a contemporary urban world or on a distant magical planet in Andromeda, you must first sketch the best overall setting and sub-settings for your story. Consider: the more unique and intriguing (or quirky) your setting, the more easily you're able to create energetic scenes, narrative, and overall story.

A great setting maximizes opportunities for interesting characters, circumstances, and complications, and therefore makes your writing life so much easier.

Imagination is truly your best friend when it comes to writing competitive fiction, and nothing provides a stronger foundation than a great setting. One of the best selling contemporary novels, THE HUNGER GAMES, is driven by the circumstances of the setting, and the characters are a product of that unique environment, the plot also.

But even if you're not writing SF/F, the choice of setting is just as important, perhaps even more so. If you must place your upmarket story in a sleepy little town in Maine winter, then choose a setting within that town that maximizes opportunities for verve and conflict, for example, a bed and breakfast stocked to the ceiling with odd characters who combine to create comical, suspenseful, dangerous or difficult complications or subplot reversals that the bewildered and sympathetic protagonist must endure and resolve while he or she is perhaps engaged in a bigger plot line: restarting an old love affair, reuniting with a family member, starting a new business, etc. And don't forget that non-gratuitous sex goes a long way, especially for American readers.

CONTINUE TO READ THIS ARTICLE THEN RETURN: http://www.authorsalon.com/craft/view/97/

FINAL ASSIGNMENT: sketch out your setting in detail. What makes it interesting enough, scene by scene, to allow for uniqueness and cinema in your narrative and story? Please don't simply repeat what you already have which may well be too quiet. You can change it. That's why you're here! Start now. Imagination is your best friend, and be aggressive with it.

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KarlKruger
Posts: 1
Joined: 13 Oct 2017, 23:57

Re: FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE - Assignments for NWNV

#2 Post by KarlKruger » 14 Oct 2017, 00:01

KARL L. KRUGER

NWNV Pre-Event Writer Assignments

I. STORY STATEMENT

A thirteen-year-old son of a former slave finds himself entangled, first only in visions, then in the real world, in an impossible battle to the death in the American Old West with an evil necromancer who seemingly cannot die.

II. THE ANTAGONIST PLOTS THE POINT

Quintus Titus Verrucosus aka Jonathan Kline aka the Grey Man was born July 13, 77 AD. A low-ranking Roman soldier involved in an excavation project in Nineveh by the Roman Legion under Trajan in 115 AD. Subject to a pagan ritual in the ruins of Nineveh where his heart was removed, burnt to ash, and stored in a brass vessel which he terms his “Cor.” So long as the brass vessel remains unopened, he will live. Once the vessel is opened, and the contents released, he will die and his body will turn to ash. The Cor is a puzzle box, or cryptex, and has yet been unopened since no one has figured out the code or sequence of motions to open it. As a Necromancer, he has the ability to animate the dead in the immediate area and command them to do his will.

Quintus has always been behind the scenes of power. Always staying out of the direct limelight, he has been instrumental in the shifting of political power to meet his own desires. He was a member of Louis IX’s court; he was a member of English Parliament. He plans on running for Virginia City Council in 1875 and Senate in Nevada in 1878.

III. BREAK OUT TITLE

1- The Gift of Malachi
2- Malachi's Gift

IV. GENRE AND COMPARABLES

Genre: Middle Grade/Children’s Books/Science Fiction & Fantasy/Historical Fiction

1- SERAFINA AND THE BLACK CLOAK by Robert Beatty; Published 2015 (Disney-Hyperion)
2- THE LIGHTNING THIEF (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1) by Rick Riordan; Published 2006 (Disney-Hyperion)

V. PRIMARY CONFLICT-COMING TO THE AGON

When the Grey Man desires to demoralize the group that he believes has his “Cor,” he does so by visiting them in a series of visions. Somehow Malachi finds himself drawn into each individual’s vision—at first as only a spectator, then as a participant. Malachi must help each of his friends come to grips with their wrongdoings of the past and accept forgiveness for themselves.

VI. OTHER MATTERS OF CONFLICT: TWO MORE LEVELS

INNER CONFLICT
Malachi fights with self-doubt and consistently displays an attitude of optimism despite his circumstances (insults at his place of work, restriction from entering the mining offices and Piper’s Opera House due to his race).

SECONDARY CONFLICT
When the group becomes trapped in the bottom of an abandoned silver mine surrounded by two dozen reanimated dead miners, Malachi must use the lessons he has learned over the last week, combined with his natural ingenuity, to devise a plan of rescue.

VII. SETTING

Malachi’s mother left Georgia with the abolition of slavery at the end of the American Civil War and traveled west. In 1875, Malachi lives with his mother in a one-room shack on the outskirts of Virginia City, Nevada.

Virginia City was known as “The Richest City in America,” where the streets were, at one point, literally paved with silver. The city held all of the western stereotypes with which readers are familiar, but also some surprises which lends realism and instructs the reader on the true nature of the time period.

Malachi walks on the boarded sidewalks of C Street in 1875 Virginia City—filled with cowboys and miners, Civil War veterans and Chinese immigrants. The story progresses to an old abandoned silver mine—filled with darkness and nearly unbearable heat from the earth, stagnant water and the reanimated bodies of miners who died there.

On October 26, 1875, nearly eighty percent of the city was burned to the ground in what has become known as “The Great Fire.” Local historians say that the fire was started by someone accidentally knocking over an oil lantern in the bottom level of Crazy Kate Shea’s Boarding House. Or was it…?

SarenaStraus
Posts: 1
Joined: 25 Feb 2016, 21:23

FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE - Assignments for NWNV - RESPONSE

#3 Post by SarenaStraus » 16 Oct 2017, 18:42

Story Statement:

Find the truth, find the proof; take down Gen Corp

Antagonist:

It was the forcible reprogramming of Kallum Gordon’s gay sister by his mother and step-father that drove Kallum’s father to murder his step-father and lead to the imprisonment of both his parents: His father for murder and his mother for unlawful ReInception. Kallum became a Ward of the state and one of the fallen—a member of the upper class who has fallen to the serving class. Kallum Gordon became Ward 17,362 Bedford NY, a pariah to both classes. Ward’s purpose is to find his sister and escape from New Pangea, not caring who he destroys along the way-- after all, who has ever done anything but hurt him and use him? In his first encounter with Leandrea, he literally antagonizes her, mocking her naïve optimism while tempting her with hints that he possesses information that no Prole should know and that the government and Gen Corp have tried to destroy. At first, Ward is a catalyst compelling Leandrea to find the truth and solve a mystery—who is this boy who knows things he shouldn’t and how did he fall? Could what he hints at about Gen Corp and history be true? However, once Ward realizes that Leandrea is a person worth saving, he tries to stop her—too late and now she must find a way to achieve her goal of taking down Gen Corp while Ward does everything he can to try to stop her.

Other Antagonists and antagonistic forces: Gen Corp. Officer Ashling. Hallyn’s parents.

Breakout Title:

ReInception
ReGenesis

Comparables:
Genre: Sci Fi (New adult?)
Comparables:
Unwind meets Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
A Handmaids Tale meets The Time Machine

Conflict Line:

A young woman, torn between her ideals and the realities of her world, must decide whether she’ll risk everything she knows and loves to expose the truth, even if the that truth might threaten the entire world.

Conditions for Inner Conflict:
Your typical, idealistic college student, Leandrea Justus doesn’t believe in the caste system or in reInception, especially when it’s not voluntary. While willing to protest and speak against the caste system and forced ReInception to her peers, Leandrea’s greatest fear is that Ward is right about her: That she’s all talk and no action. He may be right, especially when taking action could risk not just her own safety, but her parent’s safety as well. With the stakes and risks increasing rapidly and exponentially, can Leandrea trust Ward and, when it comes down to it, will she have the courage to act?

Scenarios:
As she learns the truth about what happened to the world between 2017 and 2127, Leandrea feels compelled to act in support of a Prole rebel group, The Origins, who are trying to take down Genesis Corporation, the creators of the ReInception machine. She believes that the government is framing The Origins in order to justify a campaign of mass ReInception of the Proles, all the while hiding the truth from society: ReIncpetion is not quite as safe as they want everyone to believe, which means that criminals released back into society on the promise that ReInception made them safe are ticking time-bombs. As members of the government, Leandrea’s parents can help, but getting them involved jeopardizes their lives. And taking down Gen Corp and exposing the truth threatens a fragile world peace.

Leandrea is falling for Ward in spite of, and maybe partially because of, societies’ prohibition against relationships between Prole and Echelon. Ward is smart and mysterious. Ward is keeping secrets, like the one about a girl named Kitty who he calls for in his sleep. Like about how he came to know so much when he’s only a Ward of the state. What if she’s wrong to trust him? What if Ward is only using her to take down Gen Corp so that the Proles can rule the Echelon and have their revenge?

Setting:

In the backdrop of the coming together of so many predicted eventualities, a man called Arlo Genesis has invented a technology called “ReInception.” His machine has the capability to modify people’s habits and the Genesis Corporation becomes the most powerful entity in the world. The government begins to use the machine in experiments in Guantanamo Bay to reprogram terrorists to what it believes is great success.

By 2127, New York is both familiar and unrecognizable. Certain institutions persist, such as prestigious universities, like Columbia and NYU and landmarks, like Times Square, while other parts of the Island are hugely altered. The floods in parts of Manhattan, and especially lower Manhattan, that began with Super Storm Sandy become an increasingly regular occurrence and eventually, the city has to embrace the waters. Lower Manhattan is purposely flooded, allowing for waterways to form between buildings and the Hudson and East rivers around lower Manhattan become massive farmed marshes, both to contain the water and for food supply, like fish and kelp. The subway system, largely flooded and unusable, become the primary means for Proles to go around unnoticed and unbothered by Echelon. The lower part of Manhattan becomes known as “The Floods.” The rest of Manhattan is divided into The Above, where Echelon reside, and The Catacombs, where Proles live.

If you were to look out across The Floods, from The Above, you’d see a vast array of interconnected canals running between buildings in lower Manhattan - what used to be Wall Street and Battery Park. Echelon never go here and people live above the flood lines in the abandoned buildings of old New York. There is a beauty that has been created here, with floating indoor gardens in the abandoned glass dome of the World Trade station and large swaths of green from the marshes. Life here for the Proles is better and freer than it is in the Catacombs. But there is also danger here as the structures, under water for so long, become increasingly unstable and the waters and storms can be harsh and unpredictable. People here also don’t live as long, exposed as they are to the sun’s radiation and a depleted Ozone layer that is only just beginning to repair itself.

Echelon live most of their lives indoors, sheltered from the harsh climate changes and the suns radiation. Almost all buildings in the city have domes with rooftop and deck gardens, creating a largely self-sustaining society. If you were to stand at the top of the tallest building and look across mid to upper Manhattan, you’d see a vast expanse of interconnected glass domes and walkways, with some of the domes containing elite bars and restaurants and most containing farms. The sky is now as green as the Catacombs are black. Little light reaches the Catacombs and the Proles live a life based on using the antiquated infrastructure abandoned by the Echelon.

The west coast has become largely uninhabitable - a vast desert with rare rains and the subterranean water supplies depleted. The earthquake that everyone expected for decades finally arrives, but in two pieces, first with a massive 9.0 quake along the Cascadia Subduction Zone in 2018, which wipes out the northern West Coast infrastructure, including Seattle and Portland, with a massive quake followed by Tsunami. This triggers a quake several years later on the San Adreas Fault in California in 2025, a magnitude 7.8 shake that causes massive fires all along the fault and collapsing LA’s infrastructure. With water and electricity shut down for months coupled with the already impossibly arid conditions, the populations largely abandons the West Coast.

Global whether changes that began to manifest in the last 1900s into 2000 become more firmly etched, with seasons of increasingly extreme weather in the North East coast of North America- cold in winter with large sustained snowstorms and hot and dry in summer. Also, the increasing depletion of the ozone layer and the frequent occurrence of super storms renders the coasts unstable. Major East Coast cities must either significantly invest in infrastructure to protect themselves against the storms or they must abandon the cities and move inland. New York survives.

The result is a civil war in the US in the 2030s with the coastal populations attempted to take over the middle states with the large farmlands and safety from flooding. This War Of Coastal Incursion leads to the internment of middle state soldiers and their families, where the government begins to experiment on them using reInception and DNA modification to try to attempt to create stronger humans that can withstand the extremes of the environment. These people are the first generation of the serving class of Proles— bread to be strong and docile with forced mutation over a short period of time in hopes that the changes — strength and docility— can be bread into them.

Within the class structure of the Echelon and the Proles are three factions of quasi-religious significance; Evolutionists, Creationists and Pro-Choice.

Evolutionists believe that the ReInception machine have brought the human race into the next level, with the power to modify such small things as an aversion to exercise all the way up to eliminating addiction, criminal recidivism and mass shootings. As scientists learn more and more about the brain and predicting behaviors, Evolutionists believe that the Genesis machine will bring Utopia to Earth. Evolutionists start reInception on their children from the time bad habits emerge and throughout life.

Creationists believe that we should be what God made us. They don’t allow ReIncepetion modification at all. The Creationist population is smaller than the Evolutionist population, but highly outspoken and religious. They have strongholds in the middle states and what used to be south and central America.

The third faction is Pro-Choice. They are the smallest faction. They are not opposed to ReInception, but they believe it’s a person’s right to choose what is done when they are old enough. They do not modify their children and allow a choice starting at age twenty-one.

Within the Prole class, there are not factions so much as labels. Connors and Connies are former criminals with sub-designations, such as Connor GTA (Grand Theft Auto) or Connie ADW (Assault with a Deadly Weapon). There is also the Ward designation - Wards of the state who are abandoned or orphaned children, or, more often, children of Connors and Connies.
There are few ways to cross the divide from Prole to Echelon, and most involve giving a child with great potential - mental or physical- to the ownership of a company.

People who are Fallen are Echelon who become Prole – pariahs in both castes.

Having perfected their ability to modify human behavior, The Genesis Company is getting ready to move to the next phase - forced programming with the help of the government so they ultimately control the government and the world population. Their vision - One world. One society. One Government. No poverty or over population. No crime. No free will.

billadams111
Posts: 1
Joined: 16 Oct 2017, 21:31

Bill Adams NWNV Writer Assignments

#4 Post by billadams111 » 16 Oct 2017, 21:39

1. Story Statement:
Language is an extraterrestrial virus that has infected the species for millennia, and now it wants to slash the number of language users. Can the tyrant be stopped? Should it be?

2. Antagonist:
A tiny piece of DNA drifted through space for eons and landed on Earth. Splicing itself like a virus into the genetic code of a suitable host, it flourished by providing the innate ability to acquire and use language. It was a perfect symbiosis for millennia until humans and their languages became so prolific that the virus began to lose its identity. To save itself, it begins to reduce the number of language users, rendering millions of people mute and unable to think.

3. Titles:
The Language Virus
The Language Mutation
A Loss for Words

4. Genre and Comps:
Genre: Sci-fi (adult).

Comps:
Suzette Elgin: Native Tongue (1984/2000) New York: Feminist Press, Examines relations between language and thought, language and ethnicity. (See my review at http://www.psi-fi.net/feminist-psi-fi).

Peter Watts: Blindsight (2006) New York: Tor. Distinguishes language performance from its meaning. (See my review at http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2088665341).

Ted Chiang and Eric Hiesserer (2016 movie): “Arrival,” Presents a first contact situation where language is the central challenge.

5. Conflict Line:
A language researcher must reduce the rate of human population growth to satisfy the demands of the extraterrestrial virus that enables language, or billions of people will be stricken mute.

6. Inner and Social Conflict with scene sketches
Inner Conflict:
Robin, an AI android, faces an impossible task, to save humans from losing their capacity for language. As a non-organic being she is immune from the alien language virus but the alien has issued an ultimatum. In her frustration, she wonders, is it really her responsibility to intervene in evolution or should she stand aside and let human destiny run its course?

Scene:
Robin talks with Andy, the only other android, after the alien’s ultimatum. She has promised the alien to significantly reduce the number of human language users in one year, but they don’t know how to do that.

Robin proposes manufacturing ten million additional androids like themselves and infiltrating them into the human population. As androids are non-reproductive, the effect would be to reduce the human population, and therefore the number of organic language users, satisfying the alien.

Andy reminds her that neither of them have been able to maintain an intimate relationship with any human for very long. Legions of additional androids would fare no better. They would be discovered and destroyed.

Robin knows this is true and is devastated. She doesn’t want to face her recent failures in human relationships. Do they have any right to intervene in human destiny? Maybe they should just let it play out.

Andy argues for intervention. Humans will blame someone for loss of language and there will be nukes. They’re not facing a wrinkle in evolution, he says. The species and the planet will be destroyed. They’re facing an evolutionary singularity: game over. He argues that as AI androids, they embody the highest aspiration of the human species to understand itself and therefore must try for a solution.

Robin lists the ways they are imperfect artifacts: deficient in empathy, creativity, and many aspects of human psychology, and not reproductive besides. They are a failed experiment.

They agree they must seek the advice of their creator.

Social Conflict:
Robin is an AI android whose mission is to live undetected among humans and discover the differences between natural and artificial intelligence. But every time she forms a close relationship with a human, the person eventually rejects her. When she tries to explain her android status up front, she is misunderstood. What is the secret of getting along in relationships with humans?

Scene:
Robin’s ex-husband accidentally discovered she was android and was horrified and began hunting her as a Frankenstein monster. She could not understand his motivation or change of attitude. Trying again with a new romantic interest, she vows to disclose the truth about herself early in the relationship.

She and Holly have been intimate for months and the relationship is good. Robin realizes her confession will be a shock, so she illustrates with video of her damaged arm being repaired at the laboratory. It shows clearly that her innards are non-human.

To protect the identity of her creator and the laboratory, she presents the video as being from a recent medical procedure.

Holly is puzzled by Robin’s strange confession and her stranger video. She appreciates the video as an excellent short work of art with great special effects but wonders why Robin insists on showing it.
Robin emphasizes that she is not human, a robot. Holly finally understands, she says, and advises Robin to stay on her meds. Mental health problems are very manageable these days and their relationship means more to her than some medical problem that is obviously under control.

Robin doesn’t understand Holly’s emphasis on medicine, but she takes Holly’s acceptance of her confession as proof that she has finally overcome the hidden bias that spoils human-android relationships.

7. Setting:
Setting Now:
The two android characters reside in Austin, working at the University of Texas in paleontology. They visit their creators in Honolulu, then in a new lab in Hawthorne, CA, an industrial district south of LAX. Additional scenes are set in Washington, D.C., including Georgetown and the D.C. subways and its control room.

This relatively neutral palette of settings in a near-future Earth like our own conserves realism for a story about an extraterrestrial language alien.

Possible Additional Settings:
1. I could set scenes (now only descriptions) in the era of the dinosaur when the alien virus tried, almost successfully, to infect them with language. I could dramatize the Yucatan meteor that killed the dinosaurs.

2. I could dramatize scenes (now only descriptions) of discovering ancient fossils with intelligent markings, in the Morrison Formation in Wyoming and in the Blombos Caves of South Africa.

3. I could set scenes inside the double helix of human DNA where the language virus inserts itself successfully and makes its home.

4. I could set scenes anywhere around the world (Kolkata, Berlin, Manila) dramatizing how children “automatically” acquire the language of their culture without direct instruction.

chhungwrites
Posts: 1
Joined: 17 Oct 2017, 13:17

Re: FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE - Assignments for NWNV

#5 Post by chhungwrites » 17 Oct 2017, 13:21

1. STORY STATEMENT

A werewolf-warlock hybrid and a reluctant witch, both desperate to contain dangerous magic, seek answers to the same question while running from the government agency who might hold the key to the solution: Can one be “cured” of their eldritch powers?


2. ANTAGONIST

Aidan Flannery is the Liminal Tribune -- the most powerful Liminal witch or warlock in the world. Combined with the Elemental and Astral Tribunes, the three form the heart of the Eldritch Guild's government authority -- the Tribunal.

The three sects of magic keep each other in check. Elemental magic binds Liminal magic binds Astral magic binds Elemental magic. Thus, no one sect can become all powerful, and no one sect can destroy another without the third intervening.

Before The Shearing reshaped the world, Aidan devoted his life’s work to keeping the balance of power intact. When the Otherkin factions are forced out of hiding by The Shearing and compelled to negotiate a Pact of Neutrality with humans, Aidan worries about the place that witches and warlocks will have in this new world. He fears that the self-checking sects will also diminish the overall dominance and power of the Eldritch Guild on the global stage, now that humans are involved. His new goal is to find a way to combine the strengths of all three sects into one, no matter the personal cost.


3. BREAKOUT TITLE

Calling Down the Moon
Chains of Silver
Red Witch, Silver Wolf


4. COMPS

Genre: Epic Contemporary Fantasy

Mercy Thompson (Patricia Briggs) meets the Empire trilogy (Raymond Feist/Janny Wurts)

Midway through the Mercyverse, the Marrok lets the world know that werewolves exist. The packs then run into interesting problems with public image (for example: saving innocent bystanders from a troll destroying a bridge = good. Destroying the bridge anyway = bad.) The world in my story deals with similar ramifications in answering the question -- what happens if the world knew that the supernatural exists? Can we peacefully coexist with creatures more mythical and powerful than we are?

And, of course, werewolves galore.

The character story arc of Mara of the Acoma in the Empire trilogy is very much like the overall story arc that is being set up for one of the protagonists in my story -- showing the journey of a timid young woman uncertain of her own power (and, in my case, downright terrified and reluctant to use it) to one who has to make hard choices to come to the realization that her power isn’t a physical manifestation of what she can do, but who she is as a person of character, integrity, confidence, and strength.

I think in a lot of ways, this is why I slapped the “epic” label in front of the more customary “contemporary fantasy” one. I wanted to take the depth and gravitas I love about traditional epic fantasy (Wheel of Time, Belgariad, LotR, Melanie Rawn’s Dragon Prince trilogies 1 and 2, etc.) and apply it toward the pulpy fun times of urban fantasy, and arrive at “epic fantasy with a contemporary/urban setting” twist.

Underworld meets Little Red Riding Hood

OK, I admit, I struggled a lot with comps. A lot. This was by far the assignment I had the hardest time with.

So I threw this one together because there’s a lot of elements from these two that show up in my story as well.

First, the story was inspired by the morality story in LRRH -- listen to your elders, don’t stray off the path, don’t talk to strangers, don’t get eaten by the big, bad wolf. So, of course, the first thing that needed to happen was to turn the wolf into a protagonist. Then force the wolf and LRRH to work together, and let the fun times begin.

Underworld runs into a similar theme in the sense that it’s very much a star-crossed lovers story as well, with the main overarching conflict as the war between two supernatural species. While there isn’t an all-out war in my story, the threat of it looms as the Otherkin factions exist in uneasy truce with the humans. It can break out into an all-out free-for-all cage match at any time, and it’s up to The Powers That Be (or, really, the various governments that exist all around) to make sure no one hits that theoretical red “nuke” button too soon. Or at all.


5. CONFLICT LINE

A werewolf-warlock hybrid must find a way to block himself from the ability to access Moon magic before a rival eldritch sect forces him to accidentally destroy his own kind and tip the balance of power in their favor.


6. MORE CONFLICTS

Inner Conflict

Lone werewolves tend not to survive; they naturally seek out the company of others, or they get overtaken by their beast (the most feral of their three forms) and are then hunted down and executed by one of their own to protect the safety of innocents.

As a subordinate wolf, the only thing Lucas wants more than anything in the world is to be able to return home to his natal werewolf pack. He doesn’t care about finding a mate, reproducing, gaining status, or striking off on his own -- on the contrary, the day he was forced into exile when his Astral powers manifested was the worst day of his life.

However, as he gets to know Scarlet, an Elemental witch, he develops feelings for her that makes him realize that the pack that he wants to return to may not be the pack that he thought he wanted all along.

Scenario:

Lucas and Scarlet have been on the run from LORE for a couple of days. They hide out under a freeway overpass, taking refuge near an encampment of homeless bums. (Lucas surmises that the bums are even more afraid of the authorities than they are, and would in effect act like canaries in signaling incoming danger.)

Lucas knows Scarlet is more exhausted than he is because she doesn’t have the benefit of supernatural stamina and rapid healing like he does. He tells her to rest and he’ll wake her up when it’s time for her to take the watch, with absolutely no intention of waking her. As he watches over her sleep, he realizes it’s been a long time since he’s had anyone to be responsible for other than himself, in the way it once was when he ran with his pack. Uneasily, he also realizes that he has changed so much during his exile and his time spent with LORE that he may not belong in his natal werewolf pack anymore -- in which case, where would he belong? And with whom?

Secondary Conflict

Lucas and Scarlet become star-crossed lovers during their flight from the various authorities hunting them down. The result of their romance is the fated all-powerful witch that Aidan saw in his prophecy when he touched and read Scarlet’s mother -- a child with the ability to adeptly master all three sects of magic. The child will either destroy the Eldritch Guild or unify it once or for all.

Trigger and reaction ... ahem, well, you know. When a man loves a woman ... birds and the bees make beautiful magic together. Fade to black. Yep.

(But, honestly, most of the result happens in the future books, soooo ... does that still count?)

Here, attempt #2:

Caterina de Rossi is a den mate and one-time future mate to Lucas’s dead Alpha brother. When her intended was killed in a territory dispute, Cat realizes she doesn’t want to lead a pack after all. But, as an Alpha werewolf female, her breeding is strictly monitored by the Pack Council (given that she will birth more werewolves), and the Council dictates that she MUST at least breed, even if she goes demilune like another den mate did.

Cat refuses and seeks refuge with the Artamae Pack, an independent pack of outsiders and cast-offs who formed as a last-ditch effort to save themselves. (Without a pack, a werewolf will eventually go insane and die or be killed.) She persuades the Pack leader to allow her to take the artamus vows and subdue her reproductive cycle to serve the pack against the wishes of the Pack Council.

Scenario:

Cat’s next assignment happens to be Lucas’s case. She is ordered to bring Lucas to justice; if the LORE agents fail, then she needs to follow through and ensure Lucas is executed for violating the Pact of Neutrality. She is sent to LORE to supplement the teams hunting Lucas, and tracks him to the home of their former den mates, Ash and Rohit, who are demilune Alpha wolves. (A mated pair of werewolves who live outside of a pack and breed/raise wolves on their own, but still report in to the Pack Council.) She captures Lucas and Scarlet with every intention of turning them in.

Lucas and Scarlet escape. While Scarlet grapples with the LORE agents, Cat chases Lucas through the mountainside forest. As an Alpha, Cat is bigger, stronger, faster and had every advantage to winning the fight. But Lucas has changed; he isn’t as subordinate as he used to be, and he has something greater to fight for. He tricks her into stepping in silver, disabling her temporarily.

The shock of actually losing a fight and becoming scarred by silver jolts Cat into the realization that she is done following orders. She is an Alpha, dammit, and she abides by no one else’s rules.

Later, when Lucas is captured and imprisoned by LORE, he is surprised by a visit from Cat. She shows him the burn scars along her arm, the result of the silver burns from her previous fight with Lucas. She tells him that he didn’t really win the fight; she let him win because she was too distracted. Lucas asks what distracted her, and she replies, “I realized I was fighting the wrong fight.”

She leaves him in his cell, knowing she jarred him out of his self-pity by reminding him: “Make sure you don’t make the same mistakes I did.”

Cat embarks on her own hero’s journey from there, seeking a way to overthrow the strict rules of custom and biology that govern her status as an Alpha female werewolf.


7. SETTING

The world has changed – and it isn’t just because the Yellowstone Caldera erupted or that Southern California is finally and literally its own island.

The Shearing brought the creatures of myth and legend out of hiding to help save the world. When the temblors stopped, aftershocks continued to ripple through the petri dish of human culture. New governments formed in this new world to regulate how vanilla humans intersect with the Otherkin -- with each governing body still trying to hide their internal agendas and politics now that humanity realizes they exist.

Two main Otherkin factions are explored in the first book: the Pack Council (werewolves) and the Eldritch Guild (witches/warlocks). The story revolves around how protagonists representing these two factions work together toward a common goal, while dodging the prejudices and pitfalls of both of their kind.

Lycanthropy is a genetic condition passed down by the mother via mitochondrial DNA. Therefore, females are prized and their breeding -- if of Alpha or Beta status -- religiously monitored. While the outside world views wolves as a patriarchal society, in truth, much of the real moving and shaking happens along matriarchal lines.

For example, it is the girls who are sent to other packs to foster and meet potential mates, thereby avoiding inbreeding. The females battle for hierarchy separate from the males, then choose the strongest male of preference for their mate, so it is the females who dictate the genetic direction of the Pack.

Packs govern territories much like natural wolves do, and each Pack’s Alpha pair sits on the Pack Council. The strongest pair, determined via right of challenge to combat, rules the Council and represents the Pack to the outside world. However, should the pair be deemed unfit to represent the Pack’s interests, the Council may overturn their rule via collective combat. (In essence, a mutiny.) A new ruling pair is then selected from the survivors via the original process of challenge and dominance.

The Eldritch Guild manages the global population of witches and warlocks. Three sects of magic exist -- Astral, Elemental, and Liminal. Like a game of rock, paper, scissors, a witch from one sect can bind and be bound by the witches of the two other sects, thereby keeping magic in balance. The Guild is ruled by a Tribunal made up of the three most powerful witches or warlocks, one from each sect. Each city/region is governed by a local guild, managed by a guildmaster, who keeps tabs on everyone in his flock to ensure they are healthy, thriving, and not participating in criminal activity using their eldritch powers.

Magic is passed on via a double recessive gene, and they do not have to match. The strongest witches tend to be the ones who manifest only one channel, and have received matching genes. For example, Aidan is a double Liminal -- both of his parents were Liminals and passed him the Liminal gene. Parents of different sects can have children who have the capability to manifest dual channels, but most cases of this happening have resulted in weaker abilities in both channels. (The idea of “jack of all trades, master of none”.)

The Elemental sect is by far the most common and well known of the witches. They can manipulate the physical world (via the four elements, Fire/Air/Water/Earth), and is what the typical vanilla human thinks of when they think of witches. Because of their ability to affect the environment, when The Shearing happened, it was the Elementals who raced to the rescue -- literally holding the Earth together as it tried to tear apart as the tectonic plates suffered a massive shift, holding back the tsunamis, cleaning the air of volcanic ash, etc. Without their efforts, the world would have died, and everyone with it. The fallout was that it exposed the world to the existence of Otherkin like the witches.

Traditionally, the best and brightest of the Elementals trained as Blade witches and Blade ‘locks -- each specializing in the hunting and killing of another Otherkin species. For example, a Blade witch carrying a spellblade with an ash wood core specialized in the hunting and killing of vampyres, if needed. This was done to defend Guild territory (mostly in cities and urban areas) from other Otherkin species who thought to encroach or feed on witches, without alerting the vanilla humans to the existence of the Otherkin.

While the Conservatory still continues to train blade witches at a reduced number, Elementals also continue to serve the global community by maintaining the world. The Earth continues to struggle to break apart due to the turmoil in its magnetic core, and the Elementals work around the clock to, literally, keep it together. They have formed an organization known as the Geo Corps and are continually training additional witches as they are born and registered to recruit into the Corps.

Elementals tend to be a brash and bold bunch. Not all of them, of course, but in general. Like the Elements they master, what you see is what you get. Some of them resent being forced to work for the public in the Geo Corps without a chance to do something greater and more individually bombastic with their powers (like becoming a blade witch instead).

Astrals affect the spiritual world. They harness the power of the cosmos to divine the past, present, and future history of objects, travel/communicate with others across the world, and contain Elemental magic. In the past, their gifts were often seen in road-side fortune-teller carnival hacks and shamans. Post-Shearing, the American government organization known as LORE (Legal Otherkin Regulation and Enforcement) has recognized the Astral ability of divination as crucial in their supernatural crime-solving division, and have actively started recruiting and hiring Astrals to join their staff as diviners.

Astrals tend to be a quiet and reflective group. They can be very inward-viewing and forget that the world can use their talents for the greater good.

Liminals affect the mental world. They harness the power of touch to manipulate the thoughts and emotions of other creatures. They can also divine the past, present, and future of creatures they touch. They have appeared in the past as oracles, prophets, and soothsayers. Of the three sects, Liminals number the fewest and their sect politics are the least well known.

Dorano121
Posts: 1
Joined: 19 Oct 2017, 04:25

Re: FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE - Assignments for NWNV

#6 Post by Dorano121 » 19 Oct 2017, 07:34

I. Story Statement
Three girls have to work together to survive after all three are brutally murdered.

II. The Antagonist
Abaddon is a primal force of destruction who was spontaneously created alongside Death and several of their less-powerful siblings - Death and Charon are the only survivors. Her first defeat allowed life to begin on Earth, and every subsequent attempt to break out has led to a mass extinction of life all across the globe. She holds humanity in great contempt because they keep trying to find meaning in things, which is contrary to her very nature. Over the past ten thousand years she has been slowly building her influence in the human world in an attempt to bring down the species as a whole, as a final victory against Death. For most of those ten thousand years, Death and the Reapers have kept her contained within the realm of Abaddon, from where she takes her name (also referred to as Helheim, Hell, Muspelheim, Hades, et cetera), but she has been able to make brief forays into the human world. She is strongly associated with the color red - her avatars wear it, her realm is constructed of red smoke, and her followers are referred to as 'Redcoats' by the Reapers. One of her avatars - constructs used to explore the mortal world - was having an affair with Valerie Loupe's father.

III. Breakout Title
Between the Smoke
Beyond the In-Between
Embers to Ashes

IV. Comparables
Genre: Urban/paranormal fantasy

The Heartbeat Thief by A.J Krafton
Realm of the Death Cult by Lennox Brown

V. Primary Conflict
Brutally murdered and thrown headfirst into the afterlife, three girls must work together with the mysterious Reapers to rescue Death from his sister, Abaddon.

VI. Inner/Secondary Conflict
Inner Conflict: Valerie struggles with her emotions over the death of her abusive parents, her father's affair, and her feelings for Cailyn. Cailyn worries over the father and two brothers she left behind and attempts to reconcile with the ghost of her mother. Mika begins to work through her resentment toward her mother.

Secondary Conflict: Cailyn wants to return to the living world to watch over her brothers. Valerie navigates a budding friendship with the Reaper Nadia.

Sketch:
Since Death had been kind enough to drop us off right in front of my house, I visited my family first. I had just gotten up my nerve to walk up to the front door when a police car pulled up in front of my house. Instantly, I was wary — why were they here, what did they want? — but when the police stepped out of their cruiser I saw their faces; they weren’t the faces of someone coming to make an arrest. They were the faces of someone delivering bad news.

“They don’t know,” I mumbled, the words falling past my numb lips without my consent. “They don’t know.”

“We can come back later, if you want,” Valerie murmured, rubbing my shoulder.

I shook my head and took a deep breath. “No,” I managed. “No, I need to see…I need to be there.”

Valerie nodded. “Do you want us to come with you?”

I shook my head again. “I'll do this alone.”

Valerie took a step back. “Okay. We'll be here.”

I smiled through oncoming tears and gave her a quick peck on the lips. “Thank you,” I murmured, turning around just in time to see the two police knock on the door.

I hurried forward as the door opened just a crack as Devon's face appeared in the small opening. “Can I help you?”

The police looked startled. The taller one cleared her throat. “Hey there. What's your name?”

Devon paused.

“It's okay, Devon,” I murmured, watching him over the second cop's shoulder.

“Devon Howell,” Devon said slowly. “What's yours?”

“I'm Reverend Brand. This is Officer Pawar. Are your parents home?”

“We’re Jewish,” Devon said, his eyes narrowing.

Reverend Brand smiled. “That’s okay —”

“I know it’s okay,” Devon snapped. Officer Pawar stiffened, and I winced.
But Reverend Brand just made a conciliatory gesture. “I’m sorry. That’s not what I meant to imply. But we have some news for you and your parents. I promise, no one is in trouble.”

Devon was silent for a long moment. Then he nodded slowly. “I’ll get my dad.”

The door shut.

Officer Pawar sighed. “Well, that went well.”

Reverend Brand smiled sadly. “This part is always hard. But people are human, no matter their faith, and they deserve the same as their neighbor.”

Officer Pawar grunted. “You always were philosophical.” They sighed. “Between this and the Kathryn Maynard case, I’m going to quit by Christmas.”

“It’s an occupational hazard,” Reverend Brand said lightly as the door opened and my father stepped outside, closing the door behind him.

“Can I help you?” he asked politely, gaze flicking from Officer Pawar to Reverend Brand.

“Mr. Howell? I’m Reverend Brand.” Reverend Brand stepped forward, offering her hand. Dad shook it, returning her smile. When she stepped back, however, she was frowning slightly. “I’m afraid I have some bad news.”

I can practically see the wheels turning. Jake and Devon were both at home, Mom had been dead for years and years…

“Cailyn?” he rasped, licking his lips. “Is...is my daughter all right?” He held up a hand before the Reverend could answer. “Wait. Come inside, sit down. I’ll get the boys.”

Dad left the door open and called Jake and Devon into the living room as the police followed him into the house. I hurried after them and reached for the door handle, intending to close it behind me — but my hand went right through the door. I winced. It felt like I had stuck my hand into a bucket of ice water while it was being compressed.

As Reverend Brand took a seat next to Dad at the table (Officer Pawar elected to stand), Devon emerged from the hallway, shadowed by Jake, who was clutching a tattered paperback he must have read at least a dozen times already.

“Dad?” he asked. “Is everything okay?”

Dad smiled tiredly. “Come have a seat, boys. The police have something to tell us.”

“Is Cailyn okay?” Devon asked, uncharacteristically timid as he sat down next to Dad.
Reverend Brand, to her credit, didn’t duck her head or turn away. She kept eye contact and managed to sound genuinely sorry, whether she was or was not. “There was a shooting at Nobuyuki Hamahi’s house roughly an hour and a half ago. His daughter and Cailyn were both killed.” Now she bowed her head. “I am sorry.”

Dad pressed a hand to his mouth and squeezed his eyes shut. Devon looked like he’d been punched. Jake turned ashen.

Trembling slightly, Dad lowered his hand and began speaking quietly to the table. Devon and Jake joined in after the first syllable. I strained my ears and picked up a few snatches of words in Hebrew. It was what my father often referred to as “the Blessing of the True Judge” and it was said upon receiving news of a loved one’s demise. A small part of me was surprised to hear it.

Dad finished the blessing with a choked sob. Devon reached out to pat his arm awkwardly. Jake addressed the Reverend.

“Can you tell us what happened? Exactly, I mean.”

Reverend Brand nodded. “Of course. What would you like to know?”

“Was it quick?” Devon asked. He flushed as soon as the words left his mouth. “I — I mean —”

“It’s okay.” Reverend Brand smiled at him. I twitched — don’t you dare patronize him — but I didn’t say anything. It wouldn’t have done any good if I had, after all — I was, in fact, quite dead.

“According to our medical examiner, it was very quick,” Reverend Brand went on. “She would have felt very little pain, if any.”

I compared this new information with my own memories of the event — as best I could without losing my mind completely. It fit. There was terror, yes, but no pain. It was oddly comforting.

I still wished it had never happened.

Jake swallowed visibly. “That’s...good,” he managed, hastily wiping away tears. “What’s going to happen to the body?”

Reverend Brand hesitated. “Well, that partially depends on you. Normally, in a murder investigation, an autopsy would be performed. However, many religious families object to autopsies. I believe Judaism in particular prefers that the deceased be buried as soon as possible…?”

Dad nodded, straightening in his chair and opening his eyes. They were still wet with tears. “Yes. Yes, we do. Completely intact.”

Reverend Brand hesitated again. “Since there were two victims, I believe it would be possible to convince Chief Rodriguez to waive the autopsy on Cailyn. Is this an option you would like to pursue?”

Now it was Dad’s turn to hesitate. “The shooter,” he began eventually, “do you think they’ll kill again?”

Reverend Brand nodded somberly. “They show every sign of being a professional.”

Dad nodded. “How long until the...the body is released?”

I assume Reverend Brand answered, but I turned and ran before I heard. I had no wish to hear about funeral plans or bodies.

The door was closed and locked, but that didn’t matter to me. I plowed right through as if it wasn’t even there and stood shivering on the steps.

Valerie looked up as soon as I saw her, sitting on the curb and toying with the zipper of her jacket. “Cailyn?” She jumped to her feet immediately, hurrying over to me and wrapped an arm around my shoulders, pulling me close. I sighed, leaning into her shoulder.

“I wish I could talk to them,” I whispered.

Valerie exhaled. “Yeah. I know.”

VII. Settings
La Cavesa is a small tourist town on the California coast, a few hours north of Los Angeles. The downtown area centers around a massive train station, which is connected and partially converted to a museum. As a whole, the town is fairly low in crime. The north side is more low-income than the south.

The In-Betweeen is the crossroads of all the Planes; it is also the home base of the Gatekeepers under Charon's command. Like most of the other Planes, the In-Between is made of smoke - in this case, dark gray smoke.

The Redcoat and Reaper compounds are extremely similar. However, the Redcoat compound is larger, has more levels, and is very tricky to navigate. By contrast, the Reaper compound is compact and efficiency. Additionally, the Reaper compound is surrounded by actual (albeit grayscale) terrain, while the Redcoat compound is mostly surrounded by red smoke, jagged cliffs, and an indistinct forest.

There are three main players in the Planes - Abaddon, Death, and Charon. Death and Charon have a tentative alliance in matters of Abaddon, but regularly clash over jurisdiction. Charon rarely interferes directly, and his physical form has almost completely merged with the In-Between, channeling his power through the Plane into his Gatekeepers - nigh-invulnerable spirits tasked with guiding the newly dead into the Afterlife Proper.

MaraPowers
Posts: 1
Joined: 18 Oct 2017, 02:40

Re: FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE - Assignments for NWNV

#7 Post by MaraPowers » 21 Oct 2017, 09:25

New Worlds, New Voices Pre-Event Writing Assignments

1. The Act of Story Statement:
Overcome the madness and find out who is invading Atlantis and why.

2. The Antagonist Plots the Point
King Kyliron has been the antagonist through book one. He has clearly been infected by the madness that plagues the city. But we find out more about him in book two. His is a legacy of broken promises, and megalomaniac power plays. His jealousy of D’Vinid, the protagonist drives his madness, and yet we see a vague glimmer of hope for him as we catch a glimpse of the love he carries for his mother. We also see the possibility that he has been controlled, perhaps because of the immense power he carries from the genetics he was created with. But who is controlling him and why? There are a few suspects…

Could it be the legacy of his father? A king who tightened his grip on Atlantis’s freewill and left him to carry on his agenda?
Could he have the madness? The attachment of a hungry, parasitic, psychic/emotional construct left behind by the anger, rage and jealousy of another?

Could he be haunted by the ghost of a demon who seeks to find a human host so he can return to incarnation?

Or perhaps an ancient god?

Thus far we have learned that he’s the main antagonist. He is a rapist and a deceitful coward. Yet perhaps these traits have been bestowed on him; played like a musical instrument by the TRUE antagonist. Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain, please.

3. Conjuring the Breakout Title
Shadows of Atlantis has been the title.
Book one is Shadows of Atlantis: Awakening.
Book two is Shadows of Atlantis: Interdictum
Other ideas:
Avatar of Atlantis
Shadow Atlantis

4. Deciding Genre and Comparables
This part has been challenging for me. The genre of my work has been seen as Visionary Fiction. More generically Fantasy with a Sci Fi bent. An ancient Utopia run by Crystals and alien technology.
a. Part 1984: A Utopia gone wrong. Part Dune: Locals rise against a regime to combat the end of time.

Another option.

b. A Song of Ice and Fire (complex characters and power struggles) meets Shadow Hunters (and elite crew dealing with ancient demonic forces) in Atlantis.

5. Primary Conflict
The story revolves around two main protagonists, D’Vinid and Brigitte. Both follow parallel paths of the hero’s journey. Their plight rests within a larger setting:

“A chronic womanizer meets the girl of his dreams only to find out she is betrothed to his childhood rival who happens to be the dysfunctional King of Atlantis.”

6. Other Matters of Conflict

Male protagonist: D’Vinid. He is a musician who has enjoyed a special existence, lauded for his musical and sexual prowess within the courts of Atlantis. He is deeply flawed, and suffers from a lack of direction in a lazy, self-indulgent lifestyle. He has always been someone who wants to help others, and yet, he hates the attention he gets, because he tends to attract narcissists who need his attention in order to feel important. Chief among them is Kyliron, the new King of Atlantis. Even though Kyliron has had a life of royal privilege, D’Vinid has natural charm and magnetism. Where people fear Kyliron, people adore D’Vinid… especially women. Kyliron longs for the attention that D’Vinid has naturally. When D’Vinid meets Brigitte, who, unbeknownst to him, is on her way to the palace to marry Kyliron, they “hook up” under the sacred eclipse of Atlantis’s main deity, Belial and unwittingly conceive a child.

Female protagonist: Brigitte. She follows her own journey that parallels D’Vinid’s. Though the two protagonists meet in the beginning, they remain separated afterward. They continue to suffer the emotional consequences from their elusive “love at first sight” encounter as she marries Kyliron and becomes Queen of Atlantis.

She is the personification of the plight of women in a patriarchy. The emissary of nature. A physical incarnation of a goddess. Her power is taken for granted as she deals with the heavy-handed abuse of her king. She is locked in the perfect, gilded cage, the archetypal maiden trapped in a tower. But as she evolves, it is she who is able to overcome the madness of the SHADOWS. We learn that it is perhaps her who holds the key to the legacy of Atlantis while she gathers important allies, and learns how to wield the powers she has inherited as queen.

Secondary: The king is not the only one who has his sights set on D’Vinid. He is the avatar of Belial, the one known as the god who gifted Atlantis with all knowledge. Belial has come to help thwart a demonic invasion of the powerful Crystal Grid, which draws its power from the soul essence of the planet. He has also seeded a revolution in the form of a youth movement called the Conclaves of the Children of One. They operate in secret, as their ways (which to them have been merely fun and games) have been banned by royal decree.) Conversely, Brigitte has a call to action to rise in support of the conclaves. As she gathers strength in her new role as queen, despite Kyliron's bullying, she must discover how she can support the rising factions of the youth culture.

Belial uses his cunning to piggyback on D’Vinid’s unconscious to lend aide in the advancing conflict.
But why did he choose D’Vinid? We find out in book 2.

Inner: Both D'Vinid and Brigitte are driven by the unfolding advancement of their powers. While Brigitte has to accept that she is an incarnation of a Watcher (goddess), as well as Queen of Atlantis, and perhaps even the one who must judge its final demise, D'Vinid mut learn accept who he is, and why he is more than he thought was possible.

By Book 2, he has managed to coast through most of book 1 refusing the call of his destiny, despite a path of undeniable catalysts. He is driven by his character flaws, constantly faced with the missing aspects of his psyche. He avoids Kyliron at all costs, trying to escape from the discomfort of their estrangement. Along the way he meets characters who represent the anima of his missing mother, and every single meeting weaves a tapestry of meaning into his identity. But who is his mother exactly? In fact, she happens to be the one who taught Brigitte everything she knows about Atlantis. And now Brigitte carries his child, and she is married to Kyliron.



7. Setting
Everything about this story revolves around the setting. Atlantis.
The physical setting portrays the third age of a vast, worldwide civilization endowed with rich history and fantastic technology, albeit diminished from its previous age.

The philosophical setting creates an ominous overtone, warning of the traps of hubris and arrogance we are faced with as a species.
The characters were created to illustrate the personal drama experienced within a larger context of an advanced civilization heading toward catastrophic demise. There is a general malaise of indulgent ignorance, overshadowed by conspiracy theories from those who warn of impending doom. It is generally believed that Atlantis will last forever. And yet, it actually teeters on the edge of destruction. There is a conflict of interest between those who believe in this impending doom, and those who carry on as if nothing is wrong.

The reader knows that Atlantis is destroyed in the end, which leads to the fun of my project: Laying out the rules of the legacy of culture, using Atlantis as an allegory (perhaps what Plato even created it for in the first place?), and warning of our own impending doom.

Some of the esoterics, mainly Edgar Cayce, said that the U.S.A is currently living out the karma of Atlantis, so I have created a world which mirrors what I have always experienced while living in the U.S. The “assailants” represented by the SHADOWS are merely a reflection of what we are battling now: Destruction by our own hand; the hand of complacence while the world falls apart around us.

annalisaloop
Posts: 1
Joined: 23 Oct 2017, 20:34

Re: FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE - Assignments for NWNV

#8 Post by annalisaloop » 25 Oct 2017, 23:47

New Worlds New Voices Pre-Assignments

SheilaWanite
Posts: 1
Joined: 25 Sep 2015, 21:24

Re: FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE - Assignments for NWNV

#9 Post by SheilaWanite » 28 Oct 2017, 02:33

Sheila Wanite

1. Story statement:

Woman trapped in a small town on a farm, a modern day domestic slave and raising children for a dark entity in human form, learns of her warrior origins, both earthly and other worldly, and purpose for her creation to play a vital role in the upcoming Armageddon on the earth plane.

2. 200 words or less, sketch the antagonist:

A. The Big Cahoona: Avarice – star antagonist. In very short form: Demonic and Shapeshifts into a Black Cobra, can take human form and possess bodies – but is picky with who he possesses.

Avarice is also a son of the original EVE. Learned in his earthly form how to become a Hibred soul willfully wanting to join the dark side, exceptional. Cold blooded Psychopath. Ruthless. He negotiated his contract to be a black snake in charge of other black snakes and for an Arch Demon status (Generals and Administration for the BEAST). Avarice only answers to two entities: one is the Beast. Avarice’s position is just short of the Beast to take over Hell, and wants to rule all: the underworld, earth and other worlds.

Avarice head’s Hell’s legal staff. A competitive “market” for contracting/acquiring souls from humans to meet the ever rising quota. Avarice is the General of such demons, who if they successfully take possession of a human, the human becomes a serial killer. Avarice is an excellent negotiator and rival to Ophaniel.

Extremely important and crucial for him is to “score” Lilith’s soul… In book one, this book, he is a menacing presence, an over shadowing on the pages – though you immediately see him and Ophaniel in the first chapter…

Secondary antagonists:

a. Adam is a temporary or secondary antagonist. There a few “Adam types” though different names, including “good” characters that become converted.

b. Eves – because women can be just plain nast-ee, or nastier than men, especially if psychopaths (according to research and studies). However, a woman raised or trained as an Eve type on the Earth plane in human form, may actually be a Lilith type, and rediscover/change – but never if a psychopath, though. That deal is irreversible.

c. Animal wise, the Coyotes are the bastards of the earthly natural world. The tricksters with no sense of loyalty, even to their own kind. They are wild cards – to fellow animals and humans and various entities. Loyal to none.

3. Breakout Title:

HELL’S CANYON: THE ANGEL OF THE HEARTH

4. Develop two smart comparable for my novel.
HELP!

5. Write conflict line that helps energize an entire plot line and antagonists must be noted.

This book: A woman’s accidental escape from domestic hostage taking through a mortal portal into the heavenly realms causes her rediscovery of what she must do to stop the destruction of the earthly and heavenly worlds while battling various demonic influences - as Armaggedon begins.

6. Sketch out conditions for inner conflict in protagonist.
Sketch out one hypothetical scenario in the story wherein this would be the case:

She’s been abused from human birth on, including with group mentalities and into the “present” day of the novel with the social stratifications, social norms and social culture due to the geography of her location in small town/farm. Ex lover is contracted by Avarice, and purposely impregnated her to solidify a connection, produce sons (which male children are highly sought by the dark side for Armageddon) and seek to destroy her through various means, including destroying or capturing anything she loves or treasures. She is constantly tested to see if she will stay true to her soul sword, her purpose and moral values. Swaying from them has dire consequences for her, as well as all of the earth and heavenly realms, due to her purpose. Temptations are great and many, and explore the psychological dynamics and primitive, dark instincts of the human psychological and physiological form that defy the soul’s purpose.

Example of scenario occurs on page 34 (single spaced printed document) after she has been pulled through the first porthole and into the heavenly realm where Ophaniel – Shapeshifter, White Cobra and Avarice’s “equal” spiritual rival – and she doesn’t know if she is dead or alive. Ophaniel, who she thinks is trying to kill her too, confirms she certainly will die this day, though there is a twist here of course.

As such an example: A very small part of the dialogue in this scene is between Ophaniel and Lilith. Ophaniel states, “Only through death can one resurrect into what they are to be, free of restrictions.” “I have sons,” she says, swallowing. Ophaniel replies, “Even more important as to why you have to die tonight. Death is necessary in order to live.”

He tells her to follow him, she is greatly conflicted and presented with some options: suddenly she sees her sons on earth, is in the living room with them and they sense her presence, and if she chooses to follow Ophaneil, she must leave them (in every sense) with their “demonic” father, Adam, not knowing for how long or when/if she will see them again; or she can follow Ophaniel into the Other Worldly woods where a hooded figure awaits on the edge and she is told she will die.

7. Sketch out setting in detail. Be aggressive with imagination.

I shall let you read the manuscript. <smiles> There are a few settings particularly in the other worldly existence/heaven, including a tremendous cave for the Bear counsel and an ethereal woods. There are Roman type ethereal buildings and fountains, etc, with many rooms dedicated to projects. Details are in the writing.

On the earth realm, it is a modern day setting. A basic, unsuspecting country setting on a quarter of land – however, other geographical areas of the world are involved, such as the Amazon, and the symbolism. Cities are part of the setting in some scenes, and grow more significant later on.

The farm/pasture land has various portholes, and the first is accidentally accessed while Lilith is riding her horse – the horse, which represents “spiritual power”, becomes very important and is initially the mode of transportation through the first porthole that goes below the crust of the earth through the Hell tunnels in order to access the base of the Tree of Life in the heavenly realms. The Tree of Life has a very small rip through it – though this is a dangerous rip – that sucks souls in. The tunnels house many demons that try to attach to the souls, and Lilith. In the heavenly realm, there are rivers with beasts in them, the woods and throughout new beasts and creatures. There is also a contained area where Hades is, and the Beast, somewhat restrained on the heavenly plane…

bartlett
Posts: 1
Joined: 04 Nov 2017, 23:27

Re: FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE - Assignments for NWNV

#10 Post by bartlett » 04 Nov 2017, 23:48

D. Bartlett Blair - PRE-EVENT WRITER ASSIGNMENTS

STORY STATEMENT
Josephine and her grandmother struggle with tragic loss. They are mysteriously transported to Rubus Rhuston, a fantastic and idiosyncratic world, where they fight for survival. Their stories intertwine in a world where mayhem, transformation, mistaken identity and potential disaster await them at every turn. To save their family, they must save Rubus Rhuston by defeating Lillius Notgreese, its despotic ruler.

SKETCH THE ANTOGONIST
Lillius Notgreese is a nubbin, native to Rubus Rhuston. He once attended Ariel Hwwhhoo, an Ithologian and Benevolent Sovereign of Rubus Rhuston. It was her job to oversee the creation of Rubus Rhuston. Lillius was once admired by the nubbins and the Ithologians alike. He was being groomed to succeed Ariel once Rubus Rhuston was Completed and the Ithologians moved on to create another world.
Efrin Endorin, Ariel’s brother, had illegally opened a portal to Earth. Lillius misunderstood the secrecy surrounding Efrin’s actions. He became suspicious of the Ithologians and Ariel. Distrust and uncertainty overwhelmed him. He plotted to rid Rubus Rhuston of Ariel and her kind, and stole her magic and power. This corrupted him further until he became unrecognizable as the nubbin he once was. He named himself Supreme Sovereign of Rubus Rhuston. He became greedy and spiteful punishing anyone who stood against him. He ordered his Beaslewarts (a fearsome race he created from the rats that invaded Rubus Rhuston) to raid other worlds. He was determined to learn the secret of travel between worlds and time, at any cost. He goal was to control the Guide to Rubus Rhuston and to all worlds. He begins to erode the delicate balance between worlds and time.

BREAKOUT TITLE
THE COMPLEAT GUIDE TO RUBUS RHUSTON
In the story the Guide is hidden in the greenhouse and disguised as a book entitled The Practical Guide to Shrubs and Trees by Rubus Rhuston. If this book is published I would love to see it marketed as it’s found in the greenhouse. It would have a false cover over the real cover as if in hiding on the bookstore shelves as it was in the greenhouse bookcase.
Previous titles were BETTER LEFT IN AMBER, and HOWDY DOODY, ROY ROGERS, BUFFALO BOB, AND WONDER BREAD. Both terrible titles in retrospect.
I landed on this because the Guide is both a living guide (someone who shows the way to others), and a guide (a listing, a documentation). In this case, it shows the way to Rubus Rhuston and documents the world of Rubus Rhuston. The Guide also hides within itself. Enriellenstorm, an old crone and the spirit of the Guide, is not revealed until the end of the book.

COMPARABLES
THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO RUBUS RHUSTON is a young adult fantasy novel similar to THE NARNIA CHRONICLES and MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN because in each of these books the characters find adventure in new worlds the accidently stumble in to. They all face overwhelming odds and sinister antagonists that are greedy and hungry for power.

While I wouldn’t list HARRY POTTER as a comparable, it is similar in that there is a logical reason for sequels. Each book in the Harry Potter series is connected to a school year. While in Rubus Rhuston each sequel could be connected to a different world.

CONFLICT LINE
The adventure follows Josephine’s exploits in the fantastic and whimsical world of Rubus Rhuston. Its malevolent ruler, Lillius Notgreese, desires to learn the secret of travel between worlds and time. Foolishly mixing stolen magic and power, he upsets the delicate balance between worlds. Our hero guided by the mysterious Packy Tar must defeat him if she is ever to return to her own world and restore order to the universe.
Other matters of Conflict

Conditions for Inner Conflict for the Protagonist4
Irma’s inner conflict has to do with the guilt she feels for leaving her best friend
Chapter 4 – excerpt, 1971, in the back yard of the Pritchett home, on the Inswick Estate.
She watched in surprise as her grandmother suddenly stood up and removed her apron, yawned, and said, “Goodnight all, I’m going to bed.”
A chorus of good nights and sleep tights followed her out of the room. Josephine saw her grandmother, from where she sat, quietly sneak out the back door. Curious, Josephine followed her, while the others began to fight over a The Brady Bunch on TV.
Why was her grandmother lying about going to bed? She crouched down behind the shrubbery just as the sprinklers came on and stifled the urge to scream. Irma’s greeting to Patrick Tar was barely audible above the thwack-hiss of the sprinklers. He must have been the one who threw the stone at the window. It reminded her of something she saw on an old Father Knows Best rerun.
Patrick was a peculiar looking man with large front teeth, an under-developed chin, and rangy whiskers. He spoke with an accent that could have been British with a side of Maine thrown into the mix. He loved to infuse his conversations with old sayings that he never got right, substituting words that sounded almost the same as the correct word. It drove Josephine nuts, and when she tried to correct him, he laughed and dismissed her, saying, “To each his bone.”
Why didn’t he knock on the front door like a normal human being? This is kind of creepy, the two of them sneakin’ around like teenagers. She strained to hear their conversation.
“Are you out of yer bloomin’ mind?” Patrick said.
“I have to return to Rubus Rhuston tonight,” Irma insisted.
Patrick looked stunned, “Ya can’t just leave em here. Robert ain’t right. They all suffered terribly be for ya moved in, and they’ll cease ta thrive once ya leave em again. Ya must a noticed that Robert’s much better since you arrived.”
“But what about Celia? She deserves more than to be locked up in a tower for the rest of her life. She went from being a child to an old woman in the blink of an eye. She deserves to have a life, doesn’t she?”
“Sure, she does, but not at tha expense of yer whole family.”
“It doesn’t matter, Arthur, there won’t be a family if Celia doesn’t return. I’ve been here long enough to see that much. Try to understand.”
He put his hand to the side of his mouth and said, “Shh! Ya have ta call me Patrick.”
Frustrated she said, “Fine, Patrick, just promise me that you’ll keep an eye on things while I’m gone and don’t let Josephine out of your sight. She’s not like the others.”
“Won’t ya please reconsider?”
“No, I can’t. I lost my son Elton in World War II, my second son Elgin in the Korean war, my husband Mansfield, died of a heart attack and now, my daughter, Ellen. I have my grandchildren and my son-in-law to think of. I’m done losing everything I care about. Celia should’ve returned with me. I think when she remained behind we upset the natural order of things.
“I grew up alone without the only person who really understood me, and I vowed that someday I’d find a way to bring her home. I’ve waited far too long as it is. Maybe, if I correct the past, my grandchildren will not have to grow up without a mother, and my son-in-law without a wife.”
“Ya know there’s no guarantee, if ya do manage ta bring her home, that it’ll fix everything that’s gone wrong in yer life. Fer all ya know ya may be sacrificin’ tha rest of yer family in order ta fix the past.”
“Enough, I’ve given this a lot of thought, and I’ll not change my mind. Please watch over them, especially Josephine, she’s the most vulnerable.”
“If you insist.”
“I do.”
Secondary conflict involving social environment.
Josephine repeats her grandmother’s actions in the greenhouse and finds that she has been transported to another world. A world called Rubus Rhuston, a place she only heard about in the wild stories her grandmother made up.
Patrick Tar, her family’s gardener, has followed her there. Her grandmother is nowhere in sight. She is frustrated by Patrick’s insistence that she disguise herself as a boy named Jocomo Twiggers. She resists his constant direction and tires of his overbearing cheerfulness. She takes off on her own in an underground world she knows nothing about. She gets hopelessly lost and wishes she hadn’t been so stubborn and cynical. She must find her way out and beg Patrick to help her.

SETTING IN DETAIL
The vividness of setting is incredibly important in this novel because it helps the reader understand how Irma’s mind works and it also helps define character and plot.
Chapter 1 – excerpt, 1916, inside the greenhouse on the Inswick estate.
Entertaining herself once more, she curtsied to a rather large potted barrel cactus, choosing it as her dance partner from hundreds of cacti in the sand garden. She whirled the two of them wildly about the room as she had seen her mother and father do at summer cotillions. Mid-glide, she slipped on the discarded flower petals. Her partner bounced off the stone floor, bursting into a spray of pottery shards and dirt before coming to rest on the floor; its stumpy roots upended. She landed with a heavy thud; flower petals enlivened the scene as she lay as one dead upon the floor. Her tailbone hurt, and her left ankle throbbed, but she was certain she hadn’t broken anything. She grimaced as she pulled a large cactus needle from her palm.
She stared up at the stained-glass dome and tried to control her breathing. In the peaceful scene above, water lilies floated on the surface of variegated glass water, and a single white heron balanced on one long wiry leg amid the rushes, purple iris, and little ochre frogs. How perfect. She brushed absentmindedly at a lady bug that clung to her sleeve, and she lost herself again in the emerald and forest green ivy running in and out of the hand-crafted landscape, like the lacings on her mother’s high leather boots. The scene, bordered with intricate tracery and unrecognizable words, was as inexplicable as the two visions that had earlier appeared to her. She watched a Japanese beetle skitter through the air. I couldn’t have imagined the bugs or the disgusting odor. Those were real, not imagined.
Lead crystal teardrops radiated from the center of the dome painting her dress with splashes of color and light. I wish I were light. She lifted her hands and watched the light dance up and down her arms. I wish I could be more like light, a little less solid and stuck in myself. Once Celia leaves who knows what I will become.

thunderpaws
Posts: 1
Joined: 06 Nov 2017, 03:32

Re: FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE - Assignments for NWNV

#11 Post by thunderpaws » 06 Nov 2017, 04:07

1.
A celebrated researcher finds herself caught in another’s experiment and must survive to thwart the release of a mind-altering pathogen upon the unsuspecting public.

2.
Major antagonist:
General Rolton is a retired Navy general, presumably interested in investing in Novosibirsk Institute's new discovery (an apparent pathogen that rapidly "tames" wild animals) due to its potential to help veterans recover from PTSD. However, he also continues to work with the DIA (defense intelligence agency), which is secretly investigating the Novosibirsk Institute due to its a) Russian ties b) shady dealings in the exotic pet industry and other sources of income c) the potential uses of the new pathogen for terrorist interrogation. After witnessing the effects of the pathogen upon animals, Rolton decides to take matters into his own hands to conduct a human "experiment," knowing such trials could take decades through appropriate approved channels. With the help of his unwitting undercover agent, Owen (who has been posing as an older graduate student rotating at the institute for the past year, and also is the love interest of the protagonist), he releases the pathogen upon the Institute. While our protagonist is not initially exposed, she must uncover a) who released the pathogen b) the pathogen's true effects, c) survive attacks from those exposed and d) stop Rolton before he takes the pathogen back to the mainland. By the end of the novel, Rolton himself becomes exposed to the pathogen's effects, which makes him more dangerous and motivates him to release the pathogen upon the unsuspecting public.

Minor antagonists: Her research mentor Dullover who despite supporting her career up to now, starts the book by pulling her funding, which motivates her to agree to go to Alaska to investigate the discovery at Novosibirsk Institute. Unbeknownst to her, Dullover's lab's experiments have been failing, and he suspects he will not pass his next grant renewal. He is trying to steal her lab's research while she is away (she had told him of some exciting results). Unbeknownst to Dullover, Kent had discovered that these exciting results were actually fabrications made by her postdoc, so when Dullover steals them and submits them for his grant renewal, she frames him for falsifying data in the last chapter of the book.

3.
The Taming
The Vulpine Chronicles
The Empathy Plague

4.
genre: technothriller, adult
Comps:
The Fold by Peter Clines
The Watchers by Dean koontz

A rising star in science, Kent, does not believe her own success but must learn to trust in her instincts and intellect if she is to save herself and those around her after the release of a mind-altering pathogen.

Secondary conflicts:
Kent discovers that her new love interest, Owen, aided the antagonist as an undercover agent for the DIA, and she must decide whether to accept his help when he claims to have renounced his commander.

Kent must risk her most prized asset, her mind, by being exposed to the pathogen in order to save Owen.

Kent must deduce the primary affiliations of those around her, in order to know whom to trust and who might try to kill her.


7.
Setting Adak, Alaska
Adak, Alaska is a remote Aleutian island known as the "birthplace of the winds," which only can be reached by plane twice a week. Adak, Alaska was previously home to a naval base, which has since been abandoned. In the story line of the book, part of this naval base is sold to the Novosibirsk Institute, which establishes its new research facility in 2011. The town itself is tiny, with an old, closed down McDonald's and hundreds of abandoned homes that look like primary colored Lego blocks when viewed from the sky. The weather is primarily rainy and windy, with towering mountains abutting the sea.

ErikaLivingstone
Posts: 1
Joined: 02 Dec 2016, 11:02

Re: FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE - Assignments for NWNV

#12 Post by ErikaLivingstone » 06 Nov 2017, 04:36

Assignment 1: Story statement.

Raef must survive long enough to help power a dome that will save San Francisco.



Assignment 2: Sketch the antagonist in 200 words.

The primary evil are 12 human-like “Komodos” built in a laboratory. They are motivated by sex and sadism, and are complicated by a toxic, semi-gaseous substance in place of blood. Any normal humans unlucky enough to inhale this substance slowly go mad.

Over the years the Komodo have bred, and each subsequent generation have unique characteristics, though ultimately a second generation Komodo is watered-down version of the first, and a tenth generation is compelled to be vicious, but is ultimately too stupid to be very effective. There are tens of thousands of them running around all over the Earth.

All twelve of the first generation have committed a long list of sins, but John and Paul are the two primary evils in this book. The longer they live, the more children they create, making human survival less and less likely. But when they find their territory threatened by the Strikes, they poison the water system and destroy the secret convoy carrying the Strikes’ main power source. Paul particularly targets the Strike general, both for her sex and a sense of retribution for famously killing four other members of the original 12.



Assignment 3: Title

Blood Mad
The Cyborg of Coit Tower
They Won’t Let Us Die
(or, perhaps)
Don’t Let Us Die



Assignment 4:

I Am Legend (Richard Matheson) crossed with Vicious (VE Schwab).

(Why: IAL is the story of survival on one’s own in a broken world, while Vicious brings in a sense of heroism with a cost, and a little wry humour.)



Assignment 5: Conflict Line

A young man struggles to survive in a world where genetically altered monsters have killed almost all women, and he must find a way to help build a barrier that will afford one city a chance to rebuild.



Assignment 6: Internal and Secondary External Conflict

Internal
Raef is caught between a rock and a hard place emotionally. He is terribly bored and alone, and seeks the same social comforts that any human would seek, however his past experiences show that each time he accepted love, that person died. And not in a metaphorical sense. They would hug him and they would immediately begin to die. Ultimately, he simultaneously hates and loves himself, and fears and loves others.

There’s one scene early on where Raef happens upon one of the few women left getting handsy with one of his classmates, Graeme. Graeme accuses Raef of being some sort of spy, and Raef allows himself to get beat with a textbook instead of fight back. But his anger at being beaten makes him impatient and intolerant of the other inconveniences in his life, and, in an unusual act of hedonism, he skips school and sleeps instead.

Secondary
In this world, there are the Komodo who destroy humans, and the Strikes who fight Komodo directly. Normal humans can be mercenaries, who cobble together what resources they can to fight Komodo and their worshippers. Meanwhile, other humans have formed a sort of religion around Komodo, believing that Komodo should be accepted as the new rulers, and we can exist happily enough if we just follow their bidding.

Raef initially experiences this secondary conflict through his main social bond, a friendship with a boy named Jake. He’s friendly enough to have struck up a nonchalant friendship with Raef, but when his father is killed by Strikes, Jake considers joining the cult of Komodo worshippers. That friendship means more to Raef than anything in the world, but he risks it, and fights Jake on the immorality of his actions.




Assignment 7: Setting



 San Francisco is a well known city, but less so than the ubiquitous New York. The familiarity of certain landmarks (the malls, churches, fast food outlets) provide creepily familiar places for North American readers to see torn to pieces and desecrated by Komodo. But San F has an incredible climate, which is what ultimately makes it ground zero for the plot. The humidity and sunlight make it an ideal place for a weakened populace to grow in strength, and the abundance of water (even salt water) will cradle them. Office towers become castles, defended from the ramparts. Cars become coffins, parkades become places of worship, hole-in-the-wall restaurants become pyrotechnics labs, and grocery stores become the most secured compounds on the map. The Transamerica Pyramid becomes the apex for the dome that aims to save pieces of mankind, and Coit Tower, a lone white tusk on a decorative hilltop, becomes the HQ for the Strikes, and a place of hope.

lexnemorum
Posts: 1
Joined: 13 Oct 2018, 18:02

Re: FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE - Assignments for NWNV

#13 Post by lexnemorum » 19 Oct 2018, 22:11

NWNV Pre-Event Writer Assignments
FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE: Pre-NWNV Work for Jeremy Mallory (a/k/a Dean t. Sikin)

Necessary Disclaimer: This is where I am right now; subject to change; void where prohibited; your mileage may vary.

I. STORY STATEMENT

Jamie, a wooly-minded graduate student and amateur occultist, must save his estranged identical twin brother Tom and figure out what he is transforming into.

II. THE ANTAGONIST PLOTS THE POINT

Zain carries himself with the gentle certainty of a barber holding a sharpened razor to the lathered neck of his dearest enemy. He wears a bespoke suit stitched with precision by a tailor who went blind in the process. Pale grey eyes have seen many things best left unsaid. The air around Zain carries the faint scent of vetiver, leather, cedar, cypress, and his cigarettes, laced with souls trapped in this plane.

Zain Sakin is the name he chose after he became the Ender. He had been at a dead end in his life before meeting a strange man who wrote a message on him with a viciously sharp fountain pen: This Too Shall Pass. But those things did not pass, and Zain found himself submerged into a current of power extending back in time: the Tide of Endings.

Zain brings endings, whether of events, ideas, lives, or civilizations—Death in all senses. His job has become an intolerable burden that has sapped his humanity and compassion. He desperately wants to find somebody else to take up this mantle, but knows that only the person who kills him will be able to do so, and that he cannot die.

III. BREAK OUT TITLE

Uncanny Valley
As a Stranger Give It Welcome
The Memory Golem

IV. GENRE AND COMPARABLES

Genre: Fantasy (Adult contemporary Fantasy/Dark Fantasy/Adult Paranormal)

Lev Grossman, THE MAGICIANS (Modern setting with a supernatural backdrop; exposure to the wonders of magic that turns to ashes; dorky protagonist)
Tim Powers, LAST CALL (Hidden supernatural world in a modern setting, laced through with myth and legend)
Bryan Camp, THE CITY OF LOST FORTUNES (Hidden demigods and the world of wonder behind the curtains of disaster, and the truths of magic)
Jeremy P. Bushnell, THE WEIRDNESS (Semi-humorous contemporary adult fantasy set in real city)

V. PRIMARY CONFLICT-COMING TO THE AGON

After his estranged identical twin brother begs for help as he transforms into *something*—perhaps the son of an angel—Jamie must also save him from the embodiment of Death tracking him down with singular resolve.

VI. OTHER MATTERS OF CONFLICT: TWO MORE LEVELS

INNER CONFLICT
Jamie has always wanted magic to be real. Now it essentially is, and 1) it passed him by and touched his asshole brother, and 2) it wants to destroy them both. On one hand, he’s jealous of Tom. On the other hand, he wants it all to go away now please.

SECONDARY CONFLICTS
One of the Strange falls in love with Jamie: can he, as a normal human, have a relationship with a supernatural being?

To complicate matters, Jamie and Tom were estranged when Jamie bonked Tom’s best friend and Tom cut them both off, coming off as incredibly homophobic, leading to almost eight years of silence between the twins. They have to work through that, especially with Jamie falling in love right in front of Tom.

And there’s the issue of Tom’s pregnant fiancée, who will soon discover that their apartment was “vandalized” by someone (Tom) summoning an angel—and that her groom-to-be is becoming something inhuman.

To top it off, Jamie is late with his dissertation. Eternal grad student status does not last forever, and his advisor is getting fidgety waiting for him to land on a dissertation project that is actually writeable.

VII. SETTING
Initial visualization: Chicago. Hog-butcher to the world, New Orleans’s little sister. Quintessentially American big city—always striving, trying to grow, and mired in lowered expectations and mediocrity. Difficulty taking off. People try, and that’s how some of them take off and succeed, and some get suckered into schemes and fall.

Sub-settings
—University of Chicago: The “Teacher of Teachers,” where fun goes to die. Regenstein Library, the cubist nightmare; the Oriental Institute (ancient shedu next to the High Church of Economics, and the linoleum offices behind); Bond Chapel (cozy warm wood on the lower half, stained glass on the top half).
—Rotunda: a restaurant in the cupola where Al Capone supposedly had his office; screens of ivy and fern hide the tables of the rich, powerful, and Strange.
—Jamie’s dingy co-op apartment, shared with an Orthodox priest; room filled with books, papers, and closed curtains. Half-forgotten attempts at spells languishing on bookshelves.
—Tom’s apartment, devoid of personality, except for the angelic sigil painted on the wall in the bedroom in wine and ash, and the words in all different languages in the living room.
—Cerise’s shop, a small occult shop on the North Side of Chicago, that smells like sage and frankincense.
—Zain’s offices for Ageisander Industries, the architecture of intimidation on the top floor of a tall building; white marble, black leather, and dark wood, with lots and lots and lots of plate glass really high up.
—Mr. Dawson’s offices, old lawyerly luxury, deep carpets, and a completely transparent cube for a personal office, bounded with only one wall of carved wood.
—Mireille’s mansion, in Kenilworth (land of big lawns and small minds), which is filled with tchotchkes and small items on every flat surface, because every single one represents a secret she is keeping.

EliseForierEdie
Posts: 1
Joined: 21 Oct 2018, 22:25

Re: FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE - Assignments for NWNV

#14 Post by EliseForierEdie » 21 Oct 2018, 22:41

ACT OF STORY STATEMENT

A teenage pickpocket must escape the clutches of a psychopathic, demon possessed gang leader, to forge a life outside of the criminal one she has always known.

ANTAGONISTIC FORCE

For all his life Jack Feldman has dreamed of being a great Lower East Side gang leader, like the Whyos Baboon Connolly and Bill Hurley, who ruled the lower tip of Manhattan when he was a boy. As a teenager, Jack had teamed up with his good friend Monk Eastman, to create the Allen Street Boys. But as their gang has grown in stature and importance, more and more it is known as the Eastman Gang and Monk Eastman has taken over almost all of its operations. Jack has been relegated to mere “kidsman,” the wrangler and keeper of child pickpockets and thieves. Monk sees Jack’s drug addiction and propensity for violence to be a problem, rather than an asset and refuses to give him more repsonsibility. So Jack brokers a double deal with rival gang leader Paul Kelly of the Five Pointers. Kelly demands a pile of cash and Monk Eastman’s head, but promises a fine position in his gang if Jack can deliver. In trying to oblige, Jack is shot and then possessed by a djinni. The lead bullet in the Jack’s leg weakens the djinni’s powers, but also allows him, with the help of electricity, to perform magic. Emboldened, and despite being driven slowly more and more insane and physically unstable by possession, Jack executes his own plan to destroy both Eastman and Kelly, and take over New York for himself.

COMPARABLE HISTORICAL AND FANTASY TITLES

THE GOLEM AND THE DJINNI
THE DIVINERS
THE ALIENIST
THE MUSEUM OF EXTRAORDINARY THINGS
THE STRANGE CASE OF THE ALCHEMIST’S DAUGHTER

Possible Titles For My Book:

The Demon and the Ring
Thieves and Miracles
The Case of King Solomon’s Ring
A Spark of Smokeless Fire


PRIMARY CONFLICT

A teenage pickpocket, seeking to leave her life of crime, falls in with a gang of thaumaturgic archeologists from the new American Museum of Natural History, and must battle a vicious djinni and a psychopathic gang leader, in a quest to recover King Solomon’s Ring and the save New York City from certain destruction.

INNER CONFLICT

Protagonist Nails Manning has fallen in love with her partner-in-crime Tariq Ashie, aka Terry Triple Fingers. But in 1895 New York, love is a perilous thing for a girl on her own. Nails does not want to marry, and does not want to get pregnant, and wants a way out of the Lower East Side gangs. Meanwhile, Terry is considering a promotion in the gang ranks, largely so he can marry Nails and take care of her. Throughout the book, Nails is torn by her need for independence and her love for Terry.

SECONDARY CONFLICT

Nails constantly bumps up against the social, political and physical limitations put on women in 1895 New York. She wishes to live a free and independent life, but biology, society, politics and economics are all against her, constricting and limiting her choices at every turn. She also must battle the deprivations brought about by being born into poverty—lack of education, healthcare, knowledge and opportunity.

SETTING

New York’s Lower East side in 1895 was a neighborhood filled with violence, squalor and crime. The colorful gangs and gang leaders who collaborated with police and politicians to run the various neighborhoods seem like characters from fiction: Monk Eastman, who loved animals and ran a bicycle-riding group of thugs from a pet store on Broome Street, Paul Kelly, the original “dapper don,” who battled the Eastman Gang from his office in Five Points, Kid Twist, who would rise to fame in the early years of the next century as a vicious killer. The war between the gang lords provides conflict and complication throughout the book.

New York’s Lower East side was also home to thousands of immigrants who poured into American in 1895, seeking a better life. The problems of these immigrants, especially of choosing to adhere to one’s culture or of seeking an entirely new identity in the New World, is a running theme. Terry Ashie comes up against this in almost every scene he is involved in, as he compromises the ideals of his Syrian family, in order to make his way as a member of the Eastman gang, and protect the young woman he loves.

New York in 1895 was a study in contrasts, especially when it came to the opulent lifestyle of the very rich, as juxtaposed with the unimaginable poverty of the poor, especially the thousands of homeless children, who lived on the streets. These two populations existed side by side, each occupying vastly different worlds, brushing up against one another only in the most uncomfortable of situations.

New York in 1895 was also a center of scientific and technological advancement. The term “scientist” was still nascent, but the idea that rationality and innovation could advance the human condition was gradually gaining popularity, despite pushback from religious factions. Advances in medicine, electricity, and fabrication were changing the world, and bettering lives everywhere. The new American Museum of Natural History, located in Central Park, was one of several news centers of study and discovery. Its director, Mr. Jesup, heroically sought to collect human artifacts, and animal specimens from everywhere in the world, in a grand effort to save them for posterity and study. In this atmosphere of hope, transformation and investigative enthusiasm, brave explorers and intrepid scientists traveled the world, seeking the novel, the beautiful and the miraculous, for study and for public display.

.

PaxMachina
Posts: 4
Joined: 30 Oct 2018, 04:50

Re: FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE - Assignments for NWNV

#15 Post by PaxMachina » 30 Oct 2018, 23:12

1. STORY STATEMENT

A lifelong slave commando struggles for freedom and identity from an existence of violence and oppression. (While his long lost father has just discovered him!) during his varied international journeys, he experiences his DNA recoded by an ancient mutation that brings agony and the power necessary to combat a nefarious enemy who unleashes a synthetic shape shifting nanobot virus that permanently destroys the mind.

2. ANTAGONIST

Asaker al-Baqadin, possessing a disturbed mentality forged in the fires of macabre family tragedy, embodies a sinister drive for revenge. He leaves behind destruction through his relentless struggle to weaponize a synthetic nanobot that terrifyingly disrupts the genetics controlling the human mind.

A young Asaker became passionate and competent with weapons and martial skills. He reacts to obstacles as existential threats provoking aggressive response. He knows his greatest challenge among many that he must overcome is Kirov Santiago holding in his memory the secret details behind Asaker’s genetic assault weapon. He must hunt down the elusive Kirov before he realizes the consequences of his knowledge.

Asaker’s character arc includes after he realizes his weapon’s effect he concludes it his duty to cleanse the world of many bad people, and why shouldn’t he be paid to do so?

Anecdote (optional?): “Asaker mused there was the matter of the man who had driven his father's reckless greed and his family’s murder. Andross Gastos, of the most evil Napoleron Banque Nationale, living lavishly on Allée Lecouvreur Reclus, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. Asaker knew he would look down that shadow as he made it far darker than Gastos could dream possible”.

3. BREAKOUT TITLE

Book I: MetaMan I: Origins and the Fire of the Will of Asaker al-Baqadin
Book II: MetaMan II: The Hunt for and Adventures of Kirov Santiago

4. COMPARABLES

Book I: The motivation to build a techno-modern nefarious enterprise as earlier prototyped in Steve Zaillian’s ‘American Gangster’ meets a microcosm of a modernistic ‘Game of Thrones’ specifically in the form of what John Truby describes as a ‘four corner opposition’.

Book II: Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne meets Kyle Achilles in Tim Tigner’s Pushing Brilliance meets Richard Preston’s Cobra Event.

5. CONFLICT LINE

Book I: A coming of age slave commando struggles for his freedom and identity out of his lifelong existence of violence and oppression. Also a disturbed nefarious villain relentlessly struggles to build his enterprise to create a nanobot to be weaponized to terrifyingly disrupt the genetics controlling the human mind.

Book II: A former slave commando discovers his newfound freedom lives on a knifes edge as he journeys through a gauntlet of threats as he experiences his DNA recoded by an ancient mutation that brings agony and power to combat a nefarious enemy who unleashes a shape shifting nanobot that disrupts the mind.


6. OTHER MATTERS OF CONFLICT: TWO MORE LEVELS (Inner and Social Conflict with scene sketches)

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6.A. Conditions For The Protagonist Inner Conflict

The conditions for the protagonist Kirov Santiago’s inner conflict were set after slave traders who kidnapped him from his parents at age six in San Sebastian relentlessly worked to brainwash him as the core of his continuous training as one of many slave commandos who operated profiteering mercenary operations.. Under the traders’ fallacious pretense of religious indoctrination Kirov sustained a conflicted life of impersonating submission to the entire religious act in order to stay alive

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6.B.1. Protagonist Core Inner Conflict Scenario

“Kirov had hidden extra food and money he had stolen just the day before inside his wet suit, and felt confident the natural added buoyancy from his suit would supplement his excellent swimming ability to let him reach a remote shore point he had plotted on the navigation map that allowed him to factor the cross-currents and tides he would have to navigate by expending a minimum of energy. Kirov had to fight back and swallow his real fear of not at all knowing what freedom from the madrassa and from Asaker really would be like. Could it be worse than how he had lived the entire life that he could remember?”

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6.B.2. Protagonist (with interacting character) Inner Conflict Trigger and Reaction Scenario

“Within the hour before the mission commenced, Hassan cautioned Kirov that tonight’s sea might be punishing enough to weaken any of the boys into an unacceptable risk. Hassan warned Kirov; anyone in sudden danger of drowning could panic to compromise the mission. Hassan ordered Kirov to shove and hold their head under the water, without remorse, for sake of mercy and stealth. Kirov tried to protest that he should at least try to see if they could be saved, but Hassan countered that any boy Kirov had to drown would understand that their drowning was not only necessary for the mission but also especially an honor for their sacrifice to come at Kirov’s hands. Consequently, Kirov swam behind everyone to watch for anyone deviating in any manner. Over the last few minutes Kirov had been looking directly ahead at Amir quietly struggling to keep up.

Kirov’s eyes jerked over to the sudden movement but it was too late to warn Amir of the whitecap quickly ascending just beyond his peripheral vision to blindside him, collapsing onto his face, and leaving him gagging for spasmodic gulps of air. Kirov recalled Jihadi lore that danger had an affinity for the weakest. Had they remained in their Zodiacs longer, Amir might have had a chance. But in this cold rough water this long made Kirov regret Hassan had approved the skinny boy for this mission. Kirov’s stare drifted to his left to see Amir’s older brother Jamal, who also watched Amir between his own laborious strokes. Despite scant light, Kirov saw the worry pronounced on Jamal’s face.

Only Jamal understood how deeply sick Amir had felt. The madrassa, their religious-themed military training compound, never had a doctor present. So over the last few days, Jamal just prayed to fight back his anguish while Amir’s vomiting expelled more grotesquely after each meal. Yesterday Amir stopped eating because he felt it would stop his sickness and improve his color. That way he could appear fit to Hassan for this mission, and more importantly, to please his Imam and father, Asaker Abu al-Baqadin, the madrassa’s chieftain. Amir so desperately wanted to prove himself that he begged Jamal to secretly eat his rations. Jamal now witnessed, moment by moment, his brother rapidly weakening. Jamal's outward fanaticism for the mission could not compete with the secret guilt that clenched and twisted his stomach. Being closest, Jamal heard Amir’s pained breathing grow louder first.

Amir’s weakened chest muscles icily burned. He felt himself having to push harder on them to pull air into his lungs, but the air would not freely enter. What air did enter felt heavy and lifeless. Suddenly, Amir could no longer push his constricting lungs open. His diaphragm seized but felt as destructive as if it were slowly tearing itself open.

-----

Kirov jolted from how sudden and loud the cold fog reverberated Amir’s gagging cry that sputtered a petite froth of dwindling air and acrid water out from his lungs. Everyone startled at the sudden guttural broadcast. All turned heads to see who might expose their pre-dawn attack on the Serdyukov, the Mistral-class amphibious assault ship that France provisioned under Russian command to transport it’s expeditionary forces to its secretly planned point of assault.
Kirov caught up with Amir but was amazed seeing Jamal swim further away from his brother at the same time. Seeing Amir go helplessly beneath the surface, Kirov knew that Hassan would insist on keeping his head under to drown him as quickly as possible. But witnessing so closely the boy about to die spiked a surge of adrenalin to spring Kirov up over the water, where he thrust out his arm, grabbed the rear collar of Amir’s wetsuit, and yanked his limping head up and out. When Amir’s face cleared the water he gagged and angrily clawed back over his shoulder toward Kirov’s face.

-----

Hassan was far enough ahead that he took a few seconds to turn to and recognize the casualty. He swam back glaring at anyone making eye contact with him, briefly studied Amir with an abject realization, and bared his thick teeth in a ferocious anger.

“Release him Kirov, God summons him.”

“My Hassan, Amir shall drown?”

Kirov watched Hassan’s eyes ratchet larger into a frenzied gaze. He cringed at Hassan’s hoarsely whispered warning.

“I declare God requires him now! Of all my warriors, I could never expect it would be you Kirov -- to set this wretched blasphemy upon our Imam's sacred mission and our path, say I your path to Heaven.”

Upset with intimidation, Kirov broke his gaze from Hassan and faced Amir who he had still been holding buoyant. Kirov suddenly felt Amir had ceased all struggling. Kirov shuddered a lifeless chill from seeing Amir's eyes lock into a trans-humanly glow in agony from the lethal brine that displaced the air from his lungs. With such a cold fright that suddenly made the water around him feel disturbingly warm, Kirov abandoned his grasp. Turning away he swam not daring to look back but winced hearing Amir’s final gurgle as a vanishing echo blanketed under the low fog concealing their approach to their target. Kirov steeled his eyes amid the salt spray to fight back the tears.

Kirov’s shoulder suddenly stung from Jamal’s hard open palm strike.

“Kirov, you should have pressed his head into the water. What if you exposed our mission?”

Rubbing the punch out of his shoulder, Kirov had never felt so incredulous.

“He was your brother Jamal. Why did you fail to take responsibility for your family?”

Jamal’s eyes burst wide. His mouth grimaced in agony before compensating into a rage that unsheathed his rubber handled knife and then high over his head. He lunged at Kirov.

“You blasphemer…unworthy of Jihad…unworthy of the Imam!”

Amid a splash loud enough to turn heads, Kirov whipped his hand to block and seize Jamal’s wrist and torque it back into the arm to release the knife into the deep water. Before the blade sank a meter Kirov had swept Jamal aside with his lean powerful forearm.

“Silence!” Hassan hissed. “Another moment of your drivel and you both die here.”

Kirov flashed a silent wide eyed warning to Jamal, who grasped his own wrist to test if it still functioned properly amid its wrenching pain, before they both swam on.

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6.C. Hypothetical Scenario For The "Secondary Conflict" Involving The Social Environment

Lyn Elle, the flight attendant who attended to Jordan Santiago on eight separate occasions on his trans-Atlantic flights the past year watched and waited until he calmed himself down, pranced over, smiled sincerely, and placed a new handset on Jordan’s fold out table while she whisked away the remnants of the damaged one.

Jordan gestured to the empty glass.

“Time for another if you please Lyn.”

“Jena is counting Jordy. I’d get grief for taking you past three.”

Jordan saw Lyn’s eyes narrow as her frame become rigid.

“I do recognize that, Lyn. Hey, I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable with this, ok?”

Lyn Elle stiffened as she saw Jena, her flight supervisor, approach her with an annoyed stare.

“Not at all sir.”

And she hurried off.

Jordan was surprised. Sir? She never called him sir. Then he saw Jena pass by, sporting a mock smile as she bore down on Lyn Elle. Jena felt creepy to Jordan. It was her eyes. Most times they looked blank as if glass, but occasionally he caught her for just a fleeting moment as if she were studying him like a caged laboratory animal. It also occurred to him that it defied the odds that he had never seen her before two months ago and then she appeared on his last four flights.
As Jordan watched Lyn turn the corner to disappear into the galley, something on the outsized in-flight news broadcast screen caught his eye. The close-up of a young boy-man standing bloodied on a thick timbered pier by the Black Sea. Jordan gasped. As the broadcast personality breathlessly recounted the sketchy account surrounding the capture of the young terrorist who had tried to sink a Russian military ship, Jordan could hear nothing as he went deep inside his memory. Stephan? My supposedly departed son? How can it be you? Just look at you! What has happened to you?

Jordan sprung to his feet, turned and nearly trotted to the lavatory. Inside the pistachio green plumbing capsule, he stared in the mirror, unable to see anything but his eyes, where in a moment they turned to his son’s eyes that grew red with his tears. In the mirror he watched his face agonizing into someone hideous he could not recognize with the realization he had long given up on his son.

-----

Jena had been spying on Jordan. When she witnessed Jordan’s reaction to the screen, she turned her eyes to Kirov’s close-up on a different closer screen. She followed Jordan to the lavatory, and while pretending to tidy up the last seat in the rear, could discern his sporadic muffled gasps. After a minute, she deftly dashed away the moment she heard the door begin to open.

-----

Back in his seat and blinking in trepidation at the screen that by now moved on to filler news, Jordan grasped the new voice handset and punched in a string of numbers.

“Air France? Jordan Santiago here on flight 323 arriving JFK 18:00 hours. I need a seat on your next return flight to Paris with an immediate connector to Lyon.”

Jordan knew he could get some face time with Martin Bodine. He knew Bodine was always a little vague about what he really did for a living; however what he could glean was that Bodine had a hand in running some kind of investigations company, Reyage Directe. Bodine had uncovered amazing information for him in the past. And Bodine owed him since the time he helped him escape some thugs that had surprised them outside the warehouse they had no business being near the first time they met in New York. Could Martin help him find out about his son Stephan? But how could he convince him this was important without disclosing that it that might be his son? How could he be completely certain that it was his son! Everyone, yes everyone had been convinced by supposedly irrefutable evidence that terrorists armed with explosives and machine guns killed his son Stephen along with dozens of other victims in San Sebastian over twelve years ago!

-----

Jena's probing eyes stayed riveted to Jordan. When she witnessed his reaction to the screen she turned her eyes to Kirov’s close-up on a different close-by screen. Now she casually strode past Jordan, pretending to collect trash from the seats behind him to eavesdrop on his conversation with the Air France reservation desk. She returned to her service station in the rear cabin galley, entered a closet-sized private office, left the light off, locked the door, reached into her bra, and extracted a small specially-equipped PDA. She dialed a complex string of numbers and letters, and waited nearly ten seconds for the response.

“Secure line Owl5.”

Jena had never made this kind of call airborne with such a risk of detection. Her heart thumped so strong that she swallowed hard to force a measured hushed tone.

“Not sure what this means. J.S. just abruptly scheduled a return flight. Final destination Lyon.”

She waited for the paused reply.

“Lyon. Interpol?”

“It was certainly a fast reaction. He just stared big eyed at some young man, a terrorist captured somewhere in Russia. Wait, the young man!”

”What young man?”

“The captured terrorist on the screen. Yes, I can see it now. You really have to examine the close up to spot the boy's likeness to Jordan.”

“Are you sure? I saw the boy on the news. But just a glimpse. Poor bugger certainly was filthy bloodied up. Resemblance you say? How can you be certain?”

“Only in the eyes; that’s how. His father’s distinct eyes. No one else I have ever seen has those eyes, except for now. It broadcast on al-Jazeera. Get the video; stop at the eyes and zoom on them.”

“I'll take it from here; well enough done. Forget this conversation and never speak of this matter.”

-----

Colonel Gerimisov pulled over to the roadside and stared through his sunroof far into the opulently blue mountain sky. He vigorously rubbed the back of his neck with the realization. That one was Jordan Santiago’s son alive? Bloody hell the Lieutenant had to spare this one. How much trouble will this Santiago become? Better that I should not spare the boy after all?

Gerimisov made one last call, this time to Tasiz, his freelance asset in Paris. Gerimisov issued a series of surveillance protocols fine-tuned with control instructions that began with Tasiz immediately booking a flight, under non-official cover, to Lyon.


7. SETTINGS

Metaman stories move through a variety of locations. I’ll provide some of the settings via differing scenes that experience their respective settings.

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A. Immersed in the Black Sea - The opening scene finds Kirov, one of our protagonists.

It became more difficult for Kirov to ignore the aching sensation from the chilly sea threatening to cramp his upper legs. The 30 kilograms of tactical assault gear awkwardly swaying across his upper back weighed on every stroke as he swam strong into the outer reaches of the costal tide turbulence. He cursed under his laboring breath they should have rowed longer inside their inflatable Zodiac boats before immersing themselves in this aggravating water. Here where the very deep sea met the shallow shelf it became choppy enough for whitecaps that suddenly sprang up hissing like a cobra to spit burning salt into his eyes.

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B. Georgian Port of Batumi, Waters Edge of the Heavy Ships Pier:

Kirov shuddered from the winds swiftly swirling out from the alpine air mass cascading down the Caucasus highlands that made each minute feel colder than the last. He watched the plummeting chill forge part of the sea mist into crystals that settled into a dull glaze all around him. Each aching minute relentlessly grated into Kirov. It became harder to balance himself in his cramped kneeling position on the prickly iron skin of the 100 year old pier. He felt the rough metal drawing out his dwindling body heat. His lips and nostrils burned from the slimy brine splashing into his face each time another gust burst over the beaten down sea wall. Repeatedly, Kirov felt each breaker’s splash crystallize to an ice skin on his legs and feet that began to feel like it insulated him from the frigid air, until the next breaker splattered him once again before retreating to the sea. His wrists pulsed raw from the taut plastic clasps cinching them behind his back and his ankles scraped into the chains pulled tight around them on one end with the other end clasped to an ancient iron ring welded into the dock.

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C. Vorkuta - Russia, North of the Arctic Circle

The greater visibility of daybreak only intensified Kirov’s dread. He stared at the fanning dawn rays neatly painting their deep purple aura to sharpen the naked ridge masking the horizon. Now soft lavender beams probed between the plump clouds retreating from the southward advancing pressure of crisp Arctic air. To Kirov, the distant rays felt warmer than his surrounding atmosphere. It chilled him to watch how the reckless Spetsialnogo Naznacheniya, or SPETZNAZ, shoved each other into the profuse flames crackling out from their dazzling bonfire.

The SPETZNAZ came to Shestaki for only one thing; live adversary combat training. Once each month Shestaki guards escorted selected puppets to the wide shallow lake within walking distance. The Vorkuta-garrisoned SPETZNAZ maintained their tradition of fighting their puppets while in a natural body of water; and the colder it was then the better it would deaden the staggering effects of the vodka drunk long into last night. And they would find it cold enough to their liking at sunrise.

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D. Baalbek, Bekaa Valley, Central Lebanon

Ancient Baalbek’s first city was built before the Great Biblical Flood by Cain, the son of Adam, whom the Bible states God banished from the Garden of Eden. After Baalbek fell into ruins from the Great Flood, it was re-built by a race of giants commanded by Nimrod, the ’mighty hunter’ and ’king of Shinar’ of the Biblical Book of Genesis.

The giants constructed their Baalbek temples on a foundation of nearly a dozen megalith stones. Many of these foundation stones are still visible today; they average over 1,200 tons and nearly 400 cubic meters in size. Aside from being the largest carved stones on earth, many were so precisely cut and placed together that even today a knife blade cannot fit into the vertical join between them. Accounting for all known and modern science and engineering, it remains a mystery how the megaliths could have been carved, lifted, and positioned so precisely.

It was upon these megalith foundation stones that the Roman Empire, during the reign of Emperor Augustus in the first century BC, constructed the gigantic Temple of Jupiter, the largest temple built anywhere during the entire Roman Empire, including Rome itself. Jupiter’s elegant and large by most ancient standards stonework appears diminutive contrasted to the megaliths they rest upon.

The mythology surrounding the Temple of Jupiter incorporates its standing upon the work of giants and the fantastical powers the giants wielded during their reign. Contemporary scholars debate Baalbek mythology accounts of an extensive system of catacombs beneath the megaliths where Gilgamesh, the self-regarded semi-deity, held orgies and sacrifices in vain attempts to appease the gods in his misguided hope of being invited to join them. The public record holds that nothing larger than smallish caves are found around Jupiter, but the myths persist.

Asaker scanned one final time for spies as he pretended to glance up the columns to the Denticulate Doric scrolls that distinguished their tops as he stepped into an obscure side entrance into the Temple of Jupiter. As he walked past Khan, the alleged clerk most thought was deaf, pushing a cart of artifacts at the rear of the Temple’s modest gift shop, an old key fell into Asaker’s hand. Seeing Khan turn the corner and out of sight, Asaker unlocked and entered an ordinary storage room. At the rear of the room he reached among the many wall hangings and pressed into the side of a wall-mounted façade bust of the image of Bacchus, the demi-god whose namesake is the adjacent temple to Jupiter. Behind a densely packed shelf, a wall panel opened barely wide enough to allow Asaker to enter and stand upon a dark precipice. Asaker produced his small torch and illuminated his steps around a narrow bend revealing steps descending into what appeared an abyss.

Each stair was nearly double the height of any he had ever seen; almost too high for someone even as tall as Asaker. He always marveled how large a human these stairs must have carried. After he reached the bottom, Asaker entered a dank cave and stepped among the rodents that warned of his approach. Asaker emerged from the other end of the cave beneath symmetrically arranged overhead LED lanterns that drizzled their ghostly hue over the vast chamber. Asaker’s vision quickly adjusted to the pale light so his gaze could absorb the twenty-four parallel arches constructed in an evenly-spaced series; each supported by a pair of broad columns slightly inserted into the stone sides of the chamber. At the top of each of the columns at the juncture where they supported the arches were embedded carvings of inhuman faces seething monstrous expressions.

Asaker stared down the length of the chamber toward the sound of the water. The cool damp air from a subterranean stream flowing further back behind the darkness and into the nearby Litani River felt refreshing from the hot dusty flight through the Bekaa valley that brought him to his hideaway. The smell of the damp earth invigorated him; perhaps, he mused, because he knew the damp earth would be his last sensation in this earthly world.

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E. The Head of the Chatibo Glacier at the base of Koyo Zom, in the Yarkhun Valley, 16 Kilometers Northwest of Lasht, the Frontier Areas of Pakistan

The Yarkhun Valley is the location of the climax, battle scene of Book One. It is found at the base of Koyo Zom, the highest peak in the Pakistani Hindu Raj mountain range at 22,546 above sea level. Embedded below the crest of Koyo Zom lies an ice cave that has only recently melted an opening to the outside world, wherein Kirov discovers a 40,000 old cadaver whose anciently yet distinctively transformed body holds the secret that ultimately radically transforms Kirov as well. In this locale we find Kirov rapidly sledding down the Kotal Kash glacier building greater speed with each passing second and into his disruption of a gold for drugs deal that degenerates into a three way shoot-out that ends with Kirov finally escaping to a long awaited yet tenuous freedom.

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F. Usambara Mountain Foothills - North Eastern Tanzania

Kirov and Nanuru warily peered out of their concealment. Kirov’s scan ran throughout the length of the narrow grove until the uneven movement of heads poking out of the stout elephant grass caught his eye. Nanuru glanced over and could tell that Kirov was trying to count the troop of Baboons loosely huddled beneath a massive basalt outcrop. No matter, Nanuru thought, one large male Olive Baboon was plenty reason enough to avoid what would have been a less treacherous walk. Nanuru anxiously sensed Kirov’s ease and judged that he did not yet regard the Baboons with the healthy fear he should have. This European had obviously not lived in Tanzania long enough to know that if given the dark choice of being killed by a Baboon or a much larger Gorilla, a sensible African most willingly would run into the powerful Gorilla’s arms begging for the quick blow to snuff him like a candle. Unlike the fearful Nanuru, Kirov had never traveled with a drunken teenage fool on holiday from somewhere in Europe who cruelly taunted one of the more dominant males. So fast the animal leapt upon the human, clenching long arms and legs around the boy’s neck and chest until his face turned half inside out to fleshy ribbons by methodical slashing from the powerful clap trap fronted by upper and lower pairs of five centimeter Baboon fangs.

The gleaming ball of an ivory moon advanced into the perimeter of the tall trees sheltering the grove, infusing the lingering mist with an ghostly luminescence. When it abruptly emerged over the clearing and drew Kirov’s gaze, he saw the crescent-shaped shadows from its deepest craters mottle its ashen complexion. The lush green Kirov would have seen during the day was now a chalky pallor staining the meter high grass that obscured all but head and shoulders of the largest Baboons gathered down range. The looser rocks resting atop the outcrop and above the gently swirling mist captured the most light and appeared as tombstones that radiated their own light.

Ahead of Kirov ran a well-worn ridge that on most days contained a most often narrow and shallow remote tributary of the Pangani River that he could barely hear swishing over an unevenly rock-strewn bed. The water made muddy from frequent rainfall wash-off cloaked the closely-spaced rocks that gathered over time where the river slowed before an abrupt turn opened to deeper waters. Every Baboon in the troop of course knew every rock so they could easily dance through the water even if a runoff from a harsh downpour for many days powerfully pressed the water upon their legs.

Nanuru licked a finger and raised it slightly above his head. Kirov stepped toward the thick woods lining the river side of the grove when Nanuru grabbed his arm, silently pulled him back into the thicket, and thinly whispered.

“Not that way. We are downwind here.”

“What wind? The air is still.”

“That mist. It rolls out of the river and presses down there. It’s enough to carry your strange smell. Trust me; those Baboons don’t take well to strange.”

“If they are so close together they can not be hunting, so why are they awake?”

Nanuru tried to quickly think of a lie but it fell short.

“Trust me, when they are like what you see there, then you don’t ever want to know that.”

“I don’t know if I trust you. Besides, they look more afraid than dangerous.”

“That’s a deadly mistake.”

“Well then can you tell me why they are afraid?”

“No I cannot tell you.”

“Sounds more like you won’t tell me. What are you hiding?”

“It’s dangerous for both of us if I tell you.”

Kirov looked closely as the moonlight reflected a genuine fear on Nanuru’s wide eyes, which made him smile much more at the idea that just struck him that he appeared to smile at his guide.

“You will tell me or I’ll just walk out there and you and I will see if you can out run me.”

“You enjoy this insanity rattling around in your brain?”

“And you enjoy having placed me in the objectionable position not knowing all of the danger around us?”

“Look we have to steer clear of the river. There may be men watching from the opposite riverbank.”

“Other men? And how are you so sure that we are not alone?”

“Look, give me a break man. I’m trying to get us through private property held by dangerous men as fast as possible, ok? This is a privileged and secret hunting preserve for the wealthy. The owner brings his city boy friends here so they can fantasize they are great hunters. At dawn they will come from over that river wanting to shoot everything that moves. And if they see us they won’t bother to try to tell us apart from those animals. There, are you satisfied if I am killed for telling you this?”

“Why don’t they shoot Lions? I thought that’s where the glory is.”

“There used to be leopards here, but I think they either shot them or drove them off. Now any of the big cats are either too endangered or expensive. Besides, Baboons breed like crazy fuckers – faster than you can reload an AK-47.”

The idea of shooting one of these animals was making Kirov hungry.

“Can you shoot them for meat? They taste good?”

“They shoot them for sport.”

“What is shoot for sport? Soccer is sport. How can killing animals be sport? So you mean to say they kill them because they enjoy killing a type of animal that may not be too distant a species from humans.”

“That’s an absurd idea. Baboons are definitely not related to man. If you have to ask me that, then you cannot understand.”

Kirov looked over the tall grass at the Baboons and shook his head.

“There should be nothing to understand, but maybe they kill them exactly because they are a distant relative. Look there directly in the center of them. The largest one. Look how the other males regard him. He is their Patriarch. They probably have a tribal structure.”

“Yes and that tribal leader your absurdly overactive imagination seems so fond of will shred off our limbs if he sees us; beginning with that smallest one you treasure the most.”

Kirov suddenly became aware of the weight tugging downward in his backpack and got another idea. Disregarding any of the risks, he decided to act.

“I want to move around behind their position, up above that outcrop.”

“Yes let’s get away from the river and out of their downwind.”

Nanuru doubled back leading Kirov in a semi-circle around the grove until their path straightened and they began to move parallel to the length of the grove and the river beyond. As they neared the Baboons they worked their legs strenuously up a rocky path that crested until they reached a clear view of some of the Baboons around the outcrop. Kirov stopped and gently set down his heavy backpack, opened it, and began removing the laser’s electronic components.
Nanuru was astonished. His hoarse whisper sounded like tearing paper.

“You are way fucking crazy? You can’t stop here! They fly up here and be on us in less than ten seconds.”

“This is the place I want.”

“This is the place you want to bleed out of your manhood!”

Kirov clicked in the battery, the last part, and the laser assembly was complete. He nudged the small latex covered toggle that illuminated the pale blue diode LED indicating good battery power.

“Oh, so you are going to play Star Wars with those Baboons now? You pretty boy definitely going to shoot the moon piss them off. Look man, you stay and let me watch them make pale boy sushi with you. I go quietly now."

Kirov stared at Nanuru as he slipped away. In seconds all Kirov saw of him were either his fear or hate widened eyes glaring back one last time out of the dark undergrowth. But once hidden, Nanuru did not move away very far since his orders were to watch Kirov. He found a large Baobab tree over 10 meters in diameter at its base. Its silhouette to the moon-washed foliage presented a giant hand resting on the earth with five main near vertical branches proportioned as stubby fingers. He deftly scaled its wall trunk and was soon hiding securely in his own little portico looming 20 meters above Kirov.

Kirov moved a little to his right to see past the shoulder of one of the younger males and to a clear view to the rear of the largest male. That one stood half a full head over the next largest one. Big target -- good. Kirov pointed the laser end and saw a good line to the read of the fur framed head. Kirov hesitated and felt his hands grow cooler in the damp night heat. This was not a human like at the hospital camp. He recalled the lethal experiments on the rodents. What if he was about to kill another animal; a much more significant animal?

Kirov lowered the laser off aim and to his side and was about to release the battery lock key when a one frightening grunt immediately followed by many others forced his gaze back to the troop. All the Baboon’s noses were straight up in the air and rasping spastically. Kirov licked his finger and raised it. The air movement could not have qualified as wind. But the moisture heavy air did move from behind him like a slow motion wave rolling over him and down into the grove, carrying his scent right to the ever louder Baboons.

The Patriarch jumped out from behind the rocks and was the first to completely turn his torso around toward Kirov. The full moon maintained its slow crawl across the dark liquid sky and slipped behind a dense cloud with a profile that Kirov thought reminded him of the Imam's beard. The grove ratcheted a little darker, but the all the Baboons’ impeccable night vision found Kirov in a second and one by one the animals stood up tall and roared at the human. The din reverberated within the enclosed elephant grass grove, creating an unnerving Doppler effect on Kirov's senses. Instinctively Kirov raised the laser up to his line of sight. He cursed that he had never thought to add even modest gun sights to help steady his now shaking aim. The Patriarch pushed past another male and began his amble up the slope to close on Kirov when he suddenly stopped at the bright green line that ran from this human right to his chest. After a long second the animal felt a stunning sense of barren warmth radiate from his chest throughout his body. When he felt it intrude upward into his brain he throttled his head back and forth from its sense of invasiveness so fast that Kirov did not need much light to see the blur where a head rested a moment ago.

The Patriarch had never felt such a razor sharp pain, as if a part of his brain were pulling away from itself. But it was even more confusing than painful because somehow it did not feel threatening but more disturbing instead to the point of disrupting his perceptions of things around him. He looked back and around at his troop. There among them the other ambitious males who coveted to be him sooner rather than later. They all now appeared less related to him, yet more than ever he felt with a disturbing depth that they all belonged to him. At that moment he realized that they all were his possessions, he recalled the vivid images of the humans with their fire sticks appearing just as the first thin slices of sunshine peaked between the thick tree trunks. In his mind the patriarch tried to run away from the images of how he helplessly watched his possessions, especially the slower very young and very old, destroyed one and again in spurting red mists and collapse and grow cold on the grass run red from them.

A sudden awareness that he had felt completely powerless to protect his possessions seized the Patriarch. This awareness together with recognition the humans would return to kill, as they had often returned before, burned through him into an existential agony. It blazed through his suddenly elevated consciousness and overloaded his mind far beyond what its organic design was ever intended to accommodate. The nearest males peed themselves when they saw their Patriarch's eyes flutter and roll up and back in their sockets. To Kirov, he appeared to be choking on something. Existential physical agony surged through his blood as an incendiary rage melting gaping holes throughout his disintegrating identity. Then suddenly the Patriarch stood straight once again and vomited unintentionally upon the nearest two males. He stopped shaking his head and his eyes regained their function and he rapidly scanned all the other males in his troop with his new eyes, and they saw his eyes were strange and even more fearsome, though not in the violent way they were accustomed to seeing him. For a moment the Patriarch’s vision drifted from his possessions and fixed upon the human directly up the steep rise ahead of him. And suddenly returned the fear the humans would slaughter his possessions again and how he would never again allow that.

The Patriarch burst a bawling shriek that caused nearly every other Baboon around him to defecate and leap back in fright. It rattled Kirov out of his awestruck stare and slammed his focus upon the Patriarch's four prominent fangs grotesquely glistening in the moonlight. Kirov had never seen such a face of rage that grew closer to him and it made his skin sting from its intense prickly sensation that registered the imminent butchery the charging animal was bringing out of the tall grass and directly up to him.

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G. Shestaki Penal Colony and Mining Complex - Vorkuta - Russia, North of the Arctic Circle

Inside the CCTV monitor-cluttered master control room, Colonel Gerisimov scanned the wall of Block C screens presenting various actors of the riot theater appearing only to increase in its organic mayhem. He was a moment too late in hiding a grimace in reaction to close-ups of joy on two inmates faces as they slew a guard who strangely appeared relieved at his fate, as if all danger were finally over.

During his 18 month Eastern Caucasus campaign Gerisimov had seen and smelled from close enough comrades cut to separation at the hands of the merciless Neo-ISIS. However, there was something transcendently grotesque about the wanton feast these barbaric inmates preyed upon the outnumbered guards that made him desperate to avert his eyes from the screens. But he could not be seen weak enough to turn away as he addressed the warden standing to his right. Still he could not resist speaking his mind.

“Warden Dondrenovich, do you happen to have reinforcements, preferably better armed than these uniformed victims that you would care to assign to suppress those animals?

“Colonel Gerisimov, with respect, perhaps you were not apprised of my Systema? And I am surprised that a decorated intelligence officer as yourself could not discern that these so-called guards are impostors who murdered the real guards while they traveled by rail to my facility and then stole their uniforms. Today just happened to be the day I saw fit to resolve this discrepancy.”

“Warden Dondrenovich, I am familiar with the barbaric natural selection process that you deploy as the religion of your mining colonies.”

“No no, you have the wrong idea Colonel. I assure you this is an isolated incident. Just a convenient way to settle the affairs of those guard impersonators.”

Gerisimov stared and absorbed all the monitors reflecting the dozens of killed and maimed men sprawled and crawling on the crimson-stained cold concrete floor of Block C. Affected by the carnage he turned and sneered at Dondrenovich.

“Are you certain you were thorough enough?”

Gerisimov’s sarcasm was lost on the stoic Warden.

“I confess it got a bit out of hand. But perhaps it’s constructive to occasionally allow the men to let off some steam. All within Vorkuta’s natural order, I suppose.
Gerisimov, with his own tension to release, bellowed out each laughing syllable into Dondrenovich’s face.

"Na-tur-al Or-der?"

It was simply Dondrenovich’s numbness from the limitless violence that kept him stoic.

“Well Colonel, think of Vorkuta as a special kind of ecology. Just like an overgrown deep forest. Occasionally you need a raging forest fire to clear away the dead wood just to make room for fresh growth to invigorate it once again. After all, our nickel and copper mines require the strongest men. I regret there is no place among these prisoners for those who can no longer pull their weight. Besides, Norilsk Mining would literally have my head if they discovered I misallocated their prisoner food ration funds to the feeble and the infirm.”

“Yes, my Warden Dondrenovich, I understand you now. You are trying to tell me that even Mother Nature has a scorched earth policy. And so Norilsk Mining is Father Nature?”

Gerisimov found himself also becoming numb, but pushed a resigned shrug.

“Warden Dondrenovich, it is as you require and corporately sanctioned, of course. I am simply here to relieve you of some of your men.”

“Colonel Gerisimov, perhaps in less than an hour, you may have all you want of those left standing. Ha! Indeed they ought to represent true survival of the fittest for your Darwinian convenience, yes?”

“Comrade Warden, I prefer not to wait that long, let’s begin with those two.”

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jsackman10
Posts: 1
Joined: 30 Oct 2018, 23:17

Re: FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE - Assignments for NWNV

#16 Post by jsackman10 » 30 Oct 2018, 23:59

THE ACT OF STORY STATEMENT

Embrace pain to escape suffering

THE ANTAGONIST PLOTS THE POINT

Smile is a teenage Castaway who exploited her Cradler to become a source of suffering known as the Stillborn. She can control the Cradler of other Castaways linked to her chain of pain. This connection is transmitted through her Stillborn’s Birthmark: a black image that arrises over the chest of a Castaway to depict a single eye with its pupil in the shape of a human shadow, crying three teardrops onto a devilish grin. Smile willingly subjects herself to imprisonment within the Crib by Severing her Stillborn’s Birthmark and reducing her Cradler to three Tears because she desires the power gained by being incarcerated in the Crib.

If a Castaway returns the three Tears to the Stillborn, she can resurrect her Cradler and return to plague humanity with the reach of her shadow greatly expanded. Smile is willing to ruthlessly sacrifice an endless number of Castaways in pursuit of these goals and takes great pleasure in forcing them through the torturous chambers of the Crib. She also engages in a disturbing relationship with the Crib itself, conversing with her surrounding prison for perverse entertainment.

CONJURING YOUR BREAKOUT TITLE

SEVERED SMILE
TEARS OF THE SHADOW
CRADLED

DECIDING YOUR GENRE AND APPROACHING COMPARIBLES
Genre: Young Adult Dark Fantasy
SCYTHE, Neal Shusterman
CORALINE, Neil Gaiman

CONSIDERING THE PRIMARY CONFLICT – COMING OF THE “AGON”

A runaway girl and a suicidal boy must face the source of suffering when their shadows turn into entities of protection and transport them into a perilous dimension where the three Tears of its captive wait to be stolen.

OTHER MATTERS OF CONFLICT: TWO MORE LEVELS

INNER CONFLICT

Kylan naturally embodies sensitive strength and quiet confidence. Yet his environment injects his mind with fear and insecurity by projecting attributes onto him that he does not value, such as athletic prowess, traditional masculinity, and intelligence for intelligence sake. Suicidal thoughts lurk in the dark corners of Kylan’s mind. Abuse both at home and in school drive him to entertain death as a viable escape and while he hopes for a bright future, Kylan doesn’t know if he can endure long enough to reach better days. In the Crib, Kylan must find the will to keep going even when life feels unlivable and he discovers this fortitude through fighting alongside Elektra, a girl who has grit to spare.

Elektra’s world degrades her inherent vulnerability, empathy and kindness. She is haunted by both addiction and poverty as her mother’s drug use and destitute childhood have raised her with the terror of becoming trapped in the same cycle of ugliness. Elektra seeks to run away from this fate and is forced to develop hard armor that threatens to overwhelm her innate goodness. In the Crib, Elektra must find the balance between the jaded harshness that has helped her survive and the tender authenticity that will keep her spirit alive. She learns this by forging a friendship with Kylan, a boy whose true self refuses to die.

Kylan’s inner conflict is on full display when a classmate named Eddie Grendel viciously harasses him in the gym locker room for his sexuality and he debates on how to react. The setting’s masculine dominance is immediately at odds with Kylan’s energy and he quickly becomes the target of Eddie’s homophobic abuse, forcing him to respond with either his fists or his head. Kylan chooses his head and combats Eddie’s bullying by engaging in a battle of insults. But he regrets not fighting back with physical strength and becomes conflicted, later choosing his fists and paying the price.

Elektra’s inner conflict is exemplified when she finally decides to run away from her trailer park. In a single night, she comes home to find her mother overdosed and her boyfriend cheating with her best friend. These events cause Elektra to further renounce her softer virtues as weak and to toughen even more in the face of surviving life homeless on the road. It also leads her to eventually become so desperate for help that she loses good sense and falls into a horrific trap.

SECONDARY CONFLICT

Two secondary conflicts involving Kylan and Elektra’s social environments are when he is framed for a brutal attack on Eddie Grendel and she is kidnapped by a sadistic stranger while hitchhiking. Kylan’s affluent community and hateful parents are quick to blame him for the crime and his feelings of suicide rise to meet his doomed circumstances. Meanwhile, Elektra is forsaken by her worthless status and she must resort to savage means.

THE INCREDIBLE IMPORTANCE OF SETTING

The Crib is a sentient dimension alive with the single purpose of holding the Stillborn and reducing her Cradler’s soul into three Tears, keeping Smile from humanity by neutralizing her within itself for as long as possible. Comprised of a sterile white abyss to quarantine the Stillborn and three perilous chambers to guard her Tears, the Crib possesses a voice, three-dimensional personality and the ability to adapt to any Castaway actively trying to subvert its insides.

Smile’s evolution into becoming the Stillborn causes the Crib to come into existence. Serving as the effect to her cause, the Crib is a manifestation of the Stillborn’s karmic accountability, acting not as a crusader of justice, but rather an equalizer of humanity’s good and evil. The Crib is morally ambiguous and can be merciless when it comes to hunting Castaways who are forced to steal the Tears for Smile. Blind to those who possess the Stillborn’s Birthmark, the Crib cannot directly interfere with Smile’s Castaways and relies on the machinations of its three interior chambers to kill them.

The Crib’s first chamber is a three-story house designed to exploit a Castaway’s worst fears. Ruled by the monstrous psychologist, Dr. Foster Goth, the house’s middle level serves as his office and contains many dangerous furnishings such as a chandelier capable of sucking Cradlers into its crystal and a library filled with traumatic memories collected from past Castaways. Dr. Goth splits Kylan and Elektra apart by forcing them into the two remaining levels of his lair. The lower level is a subterranean underworld resembling the high school locker room where Kylan endured incessant bullying. Its plumbing erupts into chaos and threatens to drown Kylan, his ultimate nightmare. The chamber’s upper level is modeled after the bedroom where Elektra’s past kidnapper held her captive. A blazing fire consumes this bedroom and tries to burn Elektra to death, her greatest fear. Each level is home to a faceless doppelgänger of Kylan and Elektra called a Simulacrum. These two Simulacrums guard a pair of black skull keys which Kylan and Elektra must recover in order to unlock the first Tear kept in Dr. Goth’s golden vault.

The Crib’s second chamber embodies familial pain. It takes the form of an elaborate dinner party hosted by four agents of the Crib who are impersonating Kylan and Elektra’s parents. These impersonators prey on the Castaways’ wounded relationships with their real mothers and fathers while secretly poisoning their Cradlers into submission. The dinner gradually descends into chaos and each course brings the conversation closer to a murderous climax. Kylan and Elektra must survive the meal in order to get their dessert, the second Tear.

The Crib’s third chamber memorializes the defeat of every Castaway who came before Kylan and Elektra. A defiled black abyss bookending the Stillborn’s pure white abyss, the third chamber is filled with a slum of ghoulish tents and these tents are home to the Souvenirs: living replicants of fallen Castaways. The final Tear is concealed within the body of one Souvenir and it can only be reaped through death.

PaxMachina
Posts: 4
Joined: 30 Oct 2018, 04:50

Re: FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE - Assignments for NWNV

#17 Post by PaxMachina » 31 Oct 2018, 06:32

1. STORY STATEMENT

A lifelong slave commando struggles for freedom and identity from an existence of violence and oppression. (While his long lost father has just discovered him!) During his varied international journeys, he experiences his DNA recoded by an ancient mutation that brings agony and the power necessary to combat a nefarious enemy who unleashes a synthetic shape shifting nanobot virus that permanently destroys the mind.

2. ANTAGONIST

Asaker al-Baqadin, possessing a disturbed mentality forged in the fires of macabre family tragedy, embodies a sinister drive for revenge. He leaves behind destruction through his relentless struggle to weaponize a synthetic nanobot that terrifyingly disrupts the genetics controlling the human mind.

A young Asaker became passionate and competent with weapons and martial skills. He reacts to obstacles as existential threats provoking aggressive response. He knows his greatest challenge among many that he must overcome is Kirov Santiago holding in his memory the secret details behind Asaker’s genetic assault weapon. He must hunt down the elusive Kirov before he realizes the consequences of his knowledge.

Asaker’s character arc includes after he realizes his weapon’s effect he concludes it his duty to cleanse the world of many bad people, and why shouldn’t he be paid to do so?

Anecdote (optional?): “Asaker mused there was the matter of the man who had driven his father's reckless greed and his family’s murder. Andross Gastos, of the most evil Napoleron Banque Nationale, living lavishly on Allée Lecouvreur Reclus, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. Asaker knew he would look down that shadow as he made it far darker than Gastos could dream possible”.

3. BREAKOUT TITLE

Book I: MetaMan I: Origins and the Fire of the Will of Asaker al-Baqadin
Book II: MetaMan II: The Hunt for and Adventures of Kirov Santiago

4. COMPARABLES

Book I: The motivation to build a techno-modern nefarious enterprise as earlier prototyped in Steve Zaillian’s ‘American Gangster’ meets a microcosm of a modernistic ‘Game of Thrones’ specifically in the form of what John Truby describes as a ‘four corner opposition’.

Book II: Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne meets Kyle Achilles in Tim Tigner’s Pushing Brilliance meets Richard Preston’s Cobra Event.

5. CONFLICT LINE

Book I: A coming of age slave commando struggles for his freedom and identity out of his lifelong existence of violence and oppression. Also a disturbed nefarious villain relentlessly struggles to build his enterprise to create a nanobot to be weaponized to terrifyingly disrupt the genetics controlling the human mind.

Book II: A former slave commando discovers his newfound freedom lives on a knifes edge as he journeys through a gauntlet of threats as he experiences his DNA recoded by an ancient mutation that brings agony and power to combat a nefarious enemy who unleashes a shape shifting nanobot that disrupts the mind.


6. OTHER MATTERS OF CONFLICT: TWO MORE LEVELS (Inner and Social Conflict with scene sketches)

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6.A. Conditions for the Protagonist Inner Conflict

The conditions for the protagonist Kirov Santiago’s inner conflict were set after slave traders who kidnapped him from his parents at age six in San Sebastian relentlessly worked to brainwash him as the core of his continuous training as one of many slave commandos who operated profiteering mercenary operations.. Under the traders’ fallacious pretense of religious indoctrination Kirov sustained a conflicted life of impersonating submission to the entire religious act in order to stay alive

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6.B.1. Protagonist Core Inner Conflict Scenario

“Kirov had hidden extra food and money he had stolen just the day before inside his wet suit, and felt confident the natural added buoyancy from his suit would supplement his excellent swimming ability to let him reach a remote shore point he had plotted on the navigation map that allowed him to factor the cross-currents and tides he would have to navigate by expending a minimum of energy. Kirov had to fight back and swallow his real fear of not at all knowing what freedom from the madrassa and from Asaker really would be like. Could it be worse than how he had lived the entire life that he could remember?”

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6.B.2. Protagonist (with interacting character) Inner Conflict Trigger and Reaction Scenario

“Within the hour before the mission commenced, Hassan cautioned Kirov that tonight’s sea might be punishing enough to weaken any of the boys into an unacceptable risk. Hassan warned Kirov; anyone in sudden danger of drowning could panic to compromise the mission. Hassan ordered Kirov to shove and hold their head under the water, without remorse, for sake of mercy and stealth. Kirov tried to protest that he should at least try to see if they could be saved, but Hassan countered that any boy Kirov had to drown would understand that their drowning was not only necessary for the mission but also especially an honor for their sacrifice to come at Kirov’s hands. Consequently, Kirov swam behind everyone to watch for anyone deviating in any manner. Over the last few minutes Kirov had been looking directly ahead at Amir quietly struggling to keep up.

Kirov’s eyes jerked over to the sudden movement but it was too late to warn Amir of the whitecap quickly ascending just beyond his peripheral vision to blindside him, collapsing onto his face, and leaving him gagging for spasmodic gulps of air. Kirov recalled Jihadi lore that danger had an affinity for the weakest. Had they remained in their Zodiacs longer, Amir might have had a chance. But in this cold rough water this long made Kirov regret Hassan had approved the skinny boy for this mission. Kirov’s stare drifted to his left to see Amir’s older brother Jamal, who also watched Amir between his own laborious strokes. Despite scant light, Kirov saw the worry pronounced on Jamal’s face.

Only Jamal understood how deeply sick Amir had felt. The madrassa, their religious-themed military training compound, never had a doctor present. So over the last few days, Jamal just prayed to fight back his anguish while Amir’s vomiting expelled more grotesquely after each meal. Yesterday Amir stopped eating because he felt it would stop his sickness and improve his color. That way he could appear fit to Hassan for this mission, and more importantly, to please his Imam and father, Asaker Abu al-Baqadin, the madrassa’s chieftain. Amir so desperately wanted to prove himself that he begged Jamal to secretly eat his rations. Jamal now witnessed, moment by moment, his brother rapidly weakening. Jamal's outward fanaticism for the mission could not compete with the secret guilt that clenched and twisted his stomach. Being closest, Jamal heard Amir’s pained breathing grow louder first.

Amir’s weakened chest muscles icily burned. He felt himself having to push harder on them to pull air into his lungs, but the air would not freely enter. What air did enter felt heavy and lifeless. Suddenly, Amir could no longer push his constricting lungs open. His diaphragm seized but felt as destructive as if it were slowly tearing itself open.

-----

Kirov jolted from how sudden and loud the cold fog reverberated Amir’s gagging cry that sputtered a petite froth of dwindling air and acrid water out from his lungs. Everyone startled at the sudden guttural broadcast. All turned heads to see who might expose their pre-dawn attack on the Serdyukov, the Mistral-class amphibious assault ship that France provisioned under Russian command to transport it’s expeditionary forces to its secretly planned point of assault.

Kirov caught up with Amir but was amazed seeing Jamal swim further away from his brother at the same time. Seeing Amir go helplessly beneath the surface, Kirov knew that Hassan would insist on keeping his head under to drown him as quickly as possible. But witnessing so closely the boy about to die spiked a surge of adrenalin to spring Kirov up over the water, where he thrust out his arm, grabbed the rear collar of Amir’s wetsuit, and yanked his limping head up and out. When Amir’s face cleared the water he gagged and angrily clawed back over his shoulder toward Kirov’s face.

-----

Hassan was far enough ahead that he took a few seconds to turn to and recognize the casualty. He swam back glaring at anyone making eye contact with him, briefly studied Amir with an abject realization, and bared his thick teeth in a ferocious anger.

“Release him Kirov, God summons him.”

“My Hassan, Amir shall drown?”

Kirov watched Hassan’s eyes ratchet larger into a frenzied gaze. He cringed at Hassan’s hoarsely whispered warning.

“I declare God requires him now! Of all my warriors, I could never expect it would be you Kirov -- to set this wretched blasphemy upon our Imam's sacred mission and our path, say I your path to Heaven.”

Upset with intimidation, Kirov broke his gaze from Hassan and faced Amir who he had still been holding buoyant. Kirov suddenly felt Amir had ceased all struggling. Kirov shuddered a lifeless chill from seeing Amir's eyes lock into a trans-humanly glow in agony from the lethal brine that displaced the air from his lungs. With such a cold fright that suddenly made the water around him feel disturbingly warm, Kirov abandoned his grasp. Turning away he swam not daring to look back but winced hearing Amir’s final gurgle as a vanishing echo blanketed under the low fog concealing their approach to their target. Kirov steeled his eyes amid the salt spray to fight back the tears.

Kirov’s shoulder suddenly stung from Jamal’s hard open palm strike.

“Kirov, you should have pressed his head into the water. What if you exposed our mission?”

Rubbing the punch out of his shoulder, Kirov had never felt so incredulous.

“He was your brother Jamal. Why did you fail to take responsibility for your family?”

Jamal’s eyes burst wide. His mouth grimaced in agony before compensating into a rage that unsheathed his rubber handled knife and then high over his head. He lunged at Kirov.

“You blasphemer…unworthy of Jihad…unworthy of the Imam!”

Amid a splash loud enough to turn heads, Kirov whipped his hand to block and seize Jamal’s wrist and torque it back into the arm to release the knife into the deep water. Before the blade sank a meter Kirov had swept Jamal aside with his lean powerful forearm.

“Silence!” Hassan hissed. “Another moment of your drivel and you both die here.”

Kirov flashed a silent wide eyed warning to Jamal, who grasped his own wrist to test if it still functioned properly amid its wrenching pain, before they both swam on.

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6.C. Hypothetical Scenario for the "Secondary Conflict" Involving the Social Environment

Lyn Elle, the flight attendant who attended to Jordan Santiago on eight separate occasions on his trans-Atlantic flights the past year watched and waited until he calmed himself down, pranced over, smiled sincerely, and placed a new handset on Jordan’s fold out table while she whisked away the remnants of the damaged one.

Jordan gestured to the empty glass.

“Time for another if you please Lyn.”

“Jena is counting Jordy. I’d get grief for taking you past three.”

Jordan saw Lyn’s eyes narrow as her frame become rigid.

“I do recognize that, Lyn. Hey, I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable with this, ok?”

Lyn Elle stiffened as she saw Jena, her flight supervisor, approach her with an annoyed stare.

“Not at all sir.”

And she hurried off.

Jordan was surprised. Sir? She never called him sir. Then he saw Jena pass by, sporting a mock smile as she bore down on Lyn Elle. Jena felt creepy to Jordan. It was her eyes. Most times they looked blank as if glass, but occasionally he caught her for just a fleeting moment as if she were studying him like a caged laboratory animal. It also occurred to him that it defied the odds that he had never seen her before two months ago and then she appeared on his last four flights.

As Jordan watched Lyn turn the corner to disappear into the galley, something on the outsized in-flight news broadcast screen caught his eye. The close-up of a young boy-man standing bloodied on a thick timbered pier by the Black Sea. Jordan gasped. As the broadcast personality breathlessly recounted the sketchy account surrounding the capture of the young terrorist who had tried to sink a Russian military ship, Jordan could hear nothing as he went deep inside his memory. Stephan? My supposedly departed son? How can it be you? Just look at you! What has happened to you?

Jordan sprung to his feet, turned and nearly trotted to the lavatory. Inside the pistachio green plumbing capsule, he stared in the mirror, unable to see anything but his eyes, where in a moment they turned to his son’s eyes that grew red with his tears. In the mirror he watched his face agonizing into someone hideous he could not recognize with the realization he had long given up on his son.

-----

Jena had been spying on Jordan. When she witnessed Jordan’s reaction to the screen, she turned her eyes to Kirov’s close-up on a different closer screen. She followed Jordan to the lavatory, and while pretending to tidy up the last seat in the rear, could discern his sporadic muffled gasps. After a minute, she deftly dashed away the moment she heard the door begin to open.

-----

Back in his seat and blinking in trepidation at the screen that by now moved on to filler news, Jordan grasped the new voice handset and punched in a string of numbers.

“Air France? Jordan Santiago here on flight 323 arriving JFK 18:00 hours. I need a seat on your next return flight to Paris with an immediate connector to Lyon.”

Jordan knew he could get some face time with Martin Bodine. He knew Bodine was always a little vague about what he really did for a living; however what he could glean was that Bodine had a hand in running some kind of investigations company, Reyage Directe. Bodine had uncovered amazing information for him in the past. And Bodine owed him since the time he helped him escape some thugs that had surprised them outside the warehouse they had no business being near the first time they met in New York. Could Martin help him find out about his son Stephan? But how could he convince him this was important without disclosing that it that might be his son? How could he be completely certain that it was his son! Everyone, yes everyone had been convinced by supposedly irrefutable evidence that terrorists armed with explosives and machine guns killed his son Stephen along with dozens of other victims in San Sebastian over twelve years ago!

-----

Jena's probing eyes stayed riveted to Jordan. When she witnessed his reaction to the screen she turned her eyes to Kirov’s close-up on a different close-by screen. Now she casually strode past Jordan, pretending to collect trash from the seats behind him to eavesdrop on his conversation with the Air France reservation desk. She returned to her service station in the rear cabin galley, entered a closet-sized private office, left the light off, locked the door, reached into her bra, and extracted a small specially-equipped PDA. She dialed a complex string of numbers and letters, and waited nearly ten seconds for the response.

“Secure line Owl5.”

Jena had never made this kind of call airborne with such a risk of detection. Her heart thumped so strong that she swallowed hard to force a measured hushed tone.

“Not sure what this means. J.S. just abruptly scheduled a return flight. Final destination Lyon.”

She waited for the paused reply.

“Lyon. Interpol?”

“It was certainly a fast reaction. He just stared big eyed at some young man, a terrorist captured somewhere in Russia. Wait, the young man!”

”What young man?”

“The captured terrorist on the screen. Yes, I can see it now. You really have to examine the close up to spot the boy's likeness to Jordan.”

“Are you sure? I saw the boy on the news. But just a glimpse. Poor bugger certainly was filthy bloodied up. Resemblance you say? How can you be certain?”

“Only in the eyes; that’s how. His father’s distinct eyes. No one else I have ever seen has those eyes, except for now. It broadcast on al-Jazeera. Get the video; stop at the eyes and zoom on them.”

“I'll take it from here; well enough done. Forget this conversation and never speak of this matter.”

-----

Colonel Gerisimov pulled over to the roadside and stared through his sunroof far into the opulently blue mountain sky. He vigorously rubbed the back of his neck with the realization. That one was Jordan Santiago’s son alive? Bloody hell the Lieutenant had to spare this one. How much trouble will this Santiago become? Better that I should not spare the boy after all?

Gerisimov made one last call, this time to Tasiz, his freelance asset in Paris. Gerisimov issued a series of surveillance protocols fine-tuned with control instructions that began with Tasiz immediately booking a flight, under non-official cover, to Lyon.

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7. SETTINGS

MetaMan stories move through locations at a healthy pace. I’ll provide some of the settings via differing scenes that experience their respective settings.

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A. Immersed in the Black Sea The opening scene finds Kirov, one of our protagonists.

It became more difficult for Kirov to ignore the aching sensation from the chilly sea threatening to cramp his upper legs. The 30 kilograms of tactical assault gear awkwardly swaying across his upper back weighed on every stroke as he swam strong into the outer reaches of the coastal tide turbulence. He cursed under his laboring breath they should have rowed longer inside their inflatable Zodiac boats before immersing themselves in this aggravating water. Here where the very deep sea met the shallow shelf it became choppy enough for whitecaps that suddenly sprang up hissing like a cobra to spit burning salt into his eyes.

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B. Georgian Port of Batumi, Waters Edge of the Heavy Ships Pier:

Kirov shuddered from the winds swiftly swirling out from the alpine air mass cascading down the Caucasus highlands that made each minute feel colder than the last. He watched the plummeting chill forge part of the sea mist into crystals that settled into a dull glaze all around him. Each aching minute relentlessly grated into Kirov. It became harder to balance himself in his cramped kneeling position on the prickly iron skin of the 100 year old pier. He felt the rough metal drawing out his dwindling body heat. His lips and nostrils burned from the slimy brine splashing into his face each time another gust burst over the beaten down sea wall. Repeatedly, Kirov felt each breaker’s splash crystallize to an ice skin on his legs and feet that began to feel like it insulated him from the frigid air, until the next breaker splattered him once again before retreating to the sea. His wrists pulsed raw from the taut plastic clasps cinching them behind his back and his ankles scraped into the chains pulled tight around them on one end with the other end clasped to an ancient iron ring welded into the dock.

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C. Vorkuta - Russia, North of the Arctic Circle

The greater visibility of daybreak only intensified Kirov’s dread. He stared at the fanning dawn rays neatly painting their deep purple aura to sharpen the naked ridge masking the horizon. Now soft lavender beams probed between the plump clouds retreating from the southward advancing pressure of crisp Arctic air. To Kirov, the distant rays felt warmer than his surrounding atmosphere. It chilled him to watch how the reckless Spetsialnogo Naznacheniya, or SPETZNAZ, shoved each other into the profuse flames crackling out from their dazzling bonfire.

The SPETZNAZ came to Shestaki for only one thing; live adversary combat training. Once each month Shestaki guards escorted selected puppets to the wide shallow lake within walking distance. The Vorkuta-garrisoned SPETZNAZ maintained their tradition of fighting their puppets while in a natural body of water; and the colder it was then the better it would deaden the staggering effects of the vodka drunk long into last night. And they would find it cold enough to their liking at sunrise.

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D. Baalbek, Bekaa Valley, Central Lebanon

Ancient Baalbek’s first city was built before the Great Biblical Flood by Cain, the son of Adam, whom the Bible states God banished from the Garden of Eden. After Baalbek fell into ruins from the Great Flood, it was re-built by a race of giants commanded by Nimrod, the ’mighty hunter’ and ’king of Shinar’ of the Biblical Book of Genesis.

The giants constructed their Baalbek temples on a foundation of nearly a dozen megalith stones. Many of these foundation stones are still visible today; they average over 1,200 tons and nearly 400 cubic meters in size. Aside from being the largest carved stones on earth, many were so precisely cut and placed together that even today a knife blade cannot fit into the vertical join between them. Accounting for all known and modern science and engineering, it remains a mystery how the megaliths could have been carved, lifted, and positioned so precisely.

It was upon these megalith foundation stones that the Roman Empire, during the reign of Emperor Augustus in the first century BC, constructed the gigantic Temple of Jupiter, the largest temple built anywhere during the entire Roman Empire, including Rome itself. Jupiter’s elegant and large by most ancient standards stonework appears diminutive contrasted to the megaliths they rest upon.

The mythology surrounding the Temple of Jupiter incorporates its standing upon the work of giants and the fantastical powers the giants wielded during their reign. Contemporary scholars debate Baalbek mythology accounts of an extensive system of catacombs beneath the megaliths where Gilgamesh, the self-regarded semi-deity, held orgies and sacrifices in vain attempts to appease the gods in his misguided hope of being invited to join them. The public record holds that nothing larger than smallish caves are found around Jupiter, but the myths persist.

Asaker scanned one final time for spies as he pretended to glance up the columns to the Denticulate Doric scrolls that distinguished their tops as he stepped into an obscure side entrance into the Temple of Jupiter. As he walked past Khan, the alleged clerk most thought was deaf, pushing a cart of artifacts at the rear of the Temple’s modest gift shop, an old key fell into Asaker’s hand. Seeing Khan turn the corner and out of sight, Asaker unlocked and entered an ordinary storage room. At the rear of the room he reached among the many wall hangings and pressed into the side of a wall-mounted façade bust of the image of Bacchus, the demi-god whose namesake is the adjacent temple to Jupiter. Behind a densely packed shelf, a wall panel opened barely wide enough to allow Asaker to enter and stand upon a dark precipice. Asaker produced his small torch and illuminated his steps around a narrow bend revealing steps descending into what appeared an abyss.

Each stair was nearly double the height of any he had ever seen; almost too high for someone even as tall as Asaker. He always marveled how large a human these stairs must have carried. After he reached the bottom, Asaker entered a dank cave and stepped among the rodents that warned of his approach. Asaker emerged from the other end of the cave beneath symmetrically arranged overhead LED lanterns that drizzled their ghostly hue over the vast chamber. Asaker’s vision quickly adjusted to the pale light so his gaze could absorb the twenty-four parallel arches constructed in an evenly-spaced series; each supported by a pair of broad columns slightly inserted into the stone sides of the chamber. At the top of each of the columns at the juncture where they supported the arches were embedded carvings of inhuman faces seething monstrous expressions.

Asaker stared down the length of the chamber toward the sound of the water. The cool damp air from a subterranean stream flowing further back behind the darkness and into the nearby Litani River felt refreshing from the hot dusty flight through the Bekaa valley that brought him to his hideaway. The smell of the damp earth invigorated him; perhaps, he mused, because he knew the damp earth would be his last sensation in this earthly world.

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D. The Head of the Chatibo Glacier at the base of Koyo Zom, in the Yarkhun Valley, 16 Kilometers Northwest of Lasht, the Frontier Areas of Pakistan

The Yarkhun Valley is the location of the climax, battle scene of Book One. It is found at the base of Koyo Zom, the highest peak in the Pakistani Hindu Raj mountain range at 22,546 feet above sea level. Embedded below the crest of Koyo Zom lies an ice cave that has only recently melted an opening to the outside world, wherein Kirov discovers a 40,000 old cadaver whose anciently yet distinctively transformed body holds the secret that ultimately radically transforms Kirov as well. In this locale we find Kirov rapidly sledding down the Kotal Kash glacier building greater speed with each passing second and into his disruption of a gold for drugs deal that degenerates into a three way shoot-out that ends with Kirov finally escaping to a long awaited yet tenuous freedom.

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E. Usambara Mountain Foothills - North Eastern Tanzania

Kirov and Nanuru warily peered out of their concealment. Kirov’s scan ran throughout the length of the narrow grove until the uneven movement of heads poking out of the stout elephant grass caught his eye. Nanuru glanced over and could tell that Kirov was trying to count the troop of Baboons loosely huddled beneath a massive basalt outcrop. No matter, Nanuru thought, one large male Olive Baboon was plenty reason enough to avoid what would have been a less treacherous walk.

Nanuru anxiously sensed Kirov’s ease and judged that he did not yet regard the Baboons with the healthy fear he should have. This European had obviously not lived in Tanzania long enough to know that if given the dark choice of being killed by a Baboon or a much larger Gorilla, a sensible African most willingly would run into the powerful Gorilla’s arms begging for the quick blow to snuff him like a candle. Unlike the fearful Nanuru, Kirov had never traveled with a drunken teenage fool on holiday from somewhere in Europe who cruelly taunted one of the more dominant males. So fast the animal leapt upon the human, clenching long arms and legs around the boy’s neck and chest until his face turned half inside out to fleshy ribbons by methodical slashing from the powerful clap trap fronted by upper and lower pairs of five centimeter Baboon fangs.

The gleaming ball of an ivory moon advanced into the perimeter of the tall trees sheltering the grove, infusing the lingering mist with an ghostly luminescence. When it abruptly emerged over the clearing and drew Kirov’s gaze, he saw the crescent-shaped shadows from its deepest craters mottle its ashen complexion. The lush green Kirov would have seen during the day was now a chalky pallor staining the meter high grass that obscured all but head and shoulders of the largest Baboons gathered down range. The looser rocks resting atop the outcrop and above the gently swirling mist captured the most light and appeared as tombstones that radiated their own light.

Ahead of Kirov ran a well-worn ridge that on most days contained a most often narrow and shallow remote tributary of the Pangani River that he could barely hear swishing over an unevenly rock-strewn bed. The water made muddy from frequent rainfall wash-off cloaked the closely-spaced rocks that gathered over time where the river slowed before an abrupt turn opened to deeper waters. Every Baboon in the troop of course knew every rock so they could easily dance through the water even if a runoff from a harsh downpour for many days powerfully pressed the water upon their legs.

Nanuru licked a finger and raised it slightly above his head. Kirov stepped toward the thick woods lining the river side of the grove when Nanuru grabbed his arm, silently pulled him back into the thicket, and thinly whispered.

“Not that way. We are downwind here.”

“What wind? The air is still.”

“That mist. It rolls out of the river and presses down there. It’s enough to carry your strange smell. Trust me; those Baboons don’t take well to strange.”

“If they are so close together they cannot be hunting, so why are they awake?”

Nanuru tried to quickly think of a lie but it fell short.

“Trust me, when they are like what you see there, then you don’t ever want to know that.”

“I don’t know if I trust you. Besides, they look more afraid than dangerous.”

“That’s a deadly mistake.”

“Well then can you tell me why they are afraid?”

“No I cannot tell you.”

“Sounds more like you won’t tell me. What are you hiding?”

“It’s dangerous for both of us if I tell you.”

Kirov looked closely as the moonlight reflected a genuine fear on Nanuru’s wide eyes, which made him smile much more at the idea that just struck him that he appeared to smile at his guide.

“You will tell me or I’ll just walk out there and you and I will see if you can out run me.”

“You enjoy this insanity rattling around in your brain?”

“And you enjoy having placed me in the objectionable position not knowing all of the danger around us?”

“Look we have to steer clear of the river. There may be men watching from the opposite riverbank.”

“Other men? And how are you so sure that we are not alone?”

“Look, give me a break man. I’m trying to get us through private property held by dangerous men as fast as possible, ok? This is a privileged and secret hunting preserve for the wealthy. The owner brings his city boy friends here so they can fantasize they are great hunters. At dawn they will come from over that river wanting to shoot everything that moves. And if they see us they won’t bother to try to tell us apart from those animals. There, are you satisfied if I am killed for telling you this?”

“Why don’t they shoot Lions? I thought that’s where the glory is.”

“There used to be leopards here, but I think they either shot them or drove them off. Now any of the big cats are either too endangered or expensive. Besides, Baboons breed like crazy fuckers – faster than you can reload an AK-47.”

The idea of shooting one of these animals was making Kirov hungry.

“Can you shoot them for meat? They taste good?”

“They shoot them for sport.”

“What is shoot for sport? Soccer is sport. How can killing animals be sport? So you mean to say they kill them because they enjoy killing a type of animal that may not be too distant a species from humans.”

“That’s an absurd idea. Baboons are definitely not related to man. If you have to ask me that, then you cannot understand.”
Kirov looked over the tall grass at the Baboons and shook his head.

“There should be nothing to understand, but maybe they kill them exactly because they are a distant relative. Look there directly in the center of them. The largest one. Look how the other males regard him. He is their Patriarch. They probably have a tribal structure.”

“Yes and that tribal leader your absurdly overactive imagination seems so fond of will shred off our limbs if he sees us; beginning with that smallest one you treasure the most.”

Kirov suddenly became aware of the weight tugging downward in his backpack and got another idea. Disregarding any of the risks, he decided to act.
“I want to move around behind their position, up above that outcrop.”

“Yes let’s get away from the river and out of their downwind.”

Nanuru doubled back leading Kirov in a semi circle around the grove until their path straightened and they began to move parallel to the length of the grove and the river beyond. As they neared the Baboons they worked their legs strenuously up a rocky path that crested until they reached a clear view of some of the Baboons around the outcrop. Kirov stopped and gently set down his heavy backpack, opened it, and began removing the laser’s electronic components.

Nanuru was astonished. His hoarse whisper sounded like tearing paper.

“You are way fucking crazy? You can’t stop here! They fly up here and be on us in less than ten seconds.”

“This is the place I want.”

“This is the place you want to bleed out of your manhood!”

Kirov clicked in the battery, the last part, and the laser assembly was complete. He nudged the small latex covered toggle that illuminated the pale blue diode LED indicating good battery power.

“Oh, so you are going to play Star Wars with those Baboons now? Definitely going to shoot the moon piss them off. Look man, you stay and let me watch them make pale boy sushi with you. I go quietly now."

Kirov stared at Nanuru as he slipped away. In seconds all Kirov saw of him were either his fear or hate widened eyes glaring back one last time out of the dark undergrowth. But once hidden, Nanuru did not move away very far since his orders were to watch Kirov. He found a large Baobab tree over 10 meters in diameter at its base. It’s silhouette to the moon-washed foliage presented a giant hand resting on the earth with five main near vertical branches proportioned as stubby fingers. He deftly scaled its wall trunk and was soon hiding securely in his own little portico looming 20 meters above Kirov.

Kirov moved a little to his right to see past the shoulder of one of the younger males and to a clear view to the rear of the largest male. That one stood half a full head over the next largest one. Big target -- good. Kirov pointed the laser end and saw a good line to the read of the fur framed head. Kirov hesitated and felt his hands grow cooler in the damp night heat. This was not a human like at the hospital camp. He recalled the lethal experiments on the rodents. What if he was about to kill another animal; a much more significant animal?

Kirov lowered the laser off aim and to his side and was about to release the battery lock key when a one frightening grunt immediately followed by many others forced his gaze back to the troop. All the Baboon’s noses were straight up in the air and rasping spastically. Kirov licked his finger and raised it. The air movement could not have qualified as wind. But the moisture heavy air did move from behind him like a slow motion wave rolling over him and down into the grove, carrying his scent right to the ever louder Baboons.

The Patriarch jumped out from behind the rocks and was the first to completely turn his torso around toward Kirov. The full moon maintained it's slow crawl across the dark liquid sky and slipped behind a dense cloud with a profile that Kirov thought reminded him of the Imam's beard. The grove ratcheted a little darker, but the all the Baboons’ impeccable night vision found Kirov in a second and one by one the animals stood up tall and roared at the human. The din reverberated within the enclosed elephant grass grove, creating an unnerving Doppler effect on Kirov's senses. Instinctively Kirov raised the laser up to his line of sight. He cursed that he had never thought to add even modest gun sights to help steady his now shaking aim. The Patriarch pushed past another male and began his amble up the slope to close on Kirov when he suddenly stopped at the bright green line that ran from this human right to his chest. After a long second the animal felt a stunning sense of barren warmth radiate from his chest throughout his body. When he felt it intrude upward into his brain he throttled his head back and forth from it’s sense of invasiveness so fast that Kirov did not need much light to see the blur where a head rested a moment ago.

The Patriarch had never felt such a razor sharp pain, as if a part of his brain were pulling away from itself. But it was even more confusing than painful because somehow it did not feel threatening but more disturbing instead to the point of disrupting his perceptions of things around him. He looked back and around at his troop. There among them the other ambitious males who coveted to be him sooner rather than later. They all now appeared less related to him, yet more than ever he felt with a disturbing depth that they all belonged to him. At that moment he realized that they all were his possessions, he recalled the vivid images of the humans with their fire sticks appearing just as the first thin slices of sunshine peaked between the thick tree trunks. In his mind the patriarch tried to run away from the images of how he helplessly watched his possessions, especially the slower very young and very old, destroyed one and again in spurting red mists and collapse and grow cold on the grass run red from them.

A sudden awareness that he had felt completely powerless to protect his possessions seized the Patriarch. This awareness together with recognition the humans would return to kill, as they had often returned before, burned through him into an existential agony. It blazed through his suddenly elevated consciousness and overloaded his mind far beyond what it’s organic design was ever intended to accommodate. The nearest males peed themselves when they saw their Patriarch's eyes flutter and roll up and back in their sockets. To Kirov, he appeared to be choking on something. Existential physical agony surged through his blood as an incendiary rage melting gaping holes throughout his disintegrating identity. Then suddenly the Patriarch stood straight once again and vomited unintentionally upon the nearest two males. He stopped shaking his head and his eyes regained their function and he rapidly scanned all the other males in his troop with his new eyes, and they saw his eyes were strange and even more fearsome, though not in the violent way they were accustomed to seeing him. For a moment the Patriarch’s vision drifted from his possessions and fixed upon the human directly up the steep rise ahead of him. And suddenly returned the fear the humans would slaughter his possessions again and how he would never again allow that.

The Patriarch burst a bawling shriek that caused nearly every other Baboon around him to defecate and leap back in fright. It rattled Kirov out of his awestruck stare and slammed his focus upon the Patriarch's four prominent fangs grotesquely glistening in the moonlight. Kirov had never seen such a face of rage that grew closer to him and it made his skin sting from its intense prickly sensation that registered the imminent butchery the charging animal was bringing out of the tall grass and directly up to him.

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F. Shestaki Penal Colony and Mining Complex - Vorkuta - Russia, North of the Arctic Circle

Inside the CCTV monitor-cluttered master control room, Colonel Gerisimov scanned the wall of Block C screens presenting various actors of the riot theater appearing only to increase in its organic mayhem. He was a moment too late in hiding a grimace in reaction to close-ups of joy on two inmates faces as they slew a guard who strangely appeared relieved at his fate, as if all danger were finally over.

During his 18 month Eastern Caucasus campaign Gerisimov had seen and smelled from close enough comrades cut to separation at the hands of the merciless Neo-ISIS. However, there was something transcendently grotesque about the wanton feast these barbaric inmates preyed upon the outnumbered guards that made him desperate to avert his eyes from the screens. But he could not be seen weak enough to turn away as he addressed the warden standing to his right. Still he could not resist speaking his mind.

“Warden Dondrenovich, do you happen to have reinforcements, preferably better armed than these uniformed victims that you would care to assign to suppress those animals?

“Colonel Gerisimov, with respect, perhaps you were not apprised of my Systema? And I am surprised that a decorated intelligence officer as yourself could not discern that these so-called guards are impostors who murdered the real guards while they traveled by rail to my facility and then stole their uniforms. Today just happened to be the day I saw fit to resolve this discrepancy.”

“Warden Dondrenovich, I am familiar with the barbaric natural selection process that you deploy as the religion of your mining colonies.”

“No no, you have the wrong idea Colonel. I assure you this is an isolated incident. Just a convenient way to settle the affairs of those guard impersonators.”

Gerisimov stared and absorbed all the monitors reflecting the dozens of killed and maimed men sprawled and crawling on the crimson-stained cold concrete floor of Block C. Affected by the carnage he turned and sneered at Dondrenovich.

“Are you certain you were thorough enough?”

Gerisimov’s sarcasm was lost on the stoic Warden.

“I confess it got a bit out of hand. But perhaps it’s constructive to occasionally allow the men to let off some steam. All within Vorkuta’s natural order, I suppose.
Gerisimov, with his own tension to release, bellowed out each laughing syllable into Dondrenovich’s face.

"Na-tur-al Or-der?"

It was simply Dondrenovich’s numbness from the limitless violence that kept him stoic.

“Well Colonel, think of Vorkuta as a special kind of ecology. Just like an overgrown deep forest. Occasionally you need a raging forest fire to clear away the dead wood just to make room for fresh growth to invigorate it once again. After all, our nickel and copper mines require the strongest men. I regret there is no place among these prisoners for those who can no longer pull their weight. Besides, Norilsk Mining would literally have my head if they discovered I misallocated their prisoner food ration funds to the feeble and the infirm.”

“Yes, my Warden Dondrenovich, I understand you now. You are trying to tell me that even Mother Nature has a scorched earth policy. And so Norilsk Mining is Father Nature?”

Gerisimov found himself also becoming numb, but pushed a resigned shrug.

“Warden Dondrenovich, it is as you require and corporately sanctioned, of course. I am simply here to relieve you of some of your men.”

“Colonel Gerisimov, perhaps in less than an hour, you may have all you want of those left standing. Ha! Indeed they ought to represent true survival of the fittest for your Darwinian convenience, yes?”

“Comrade Warden, I prefer not to wait that long, let’s begin with those two.”

-------------------------------------------end-------------------------------------------------

Perfictional
Posts: 2
Joined: 28 Nov 2017, 02:28

Re: FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE - Assignments for NWNV

#18 Post by Perfictional » 01 Nov 2018, 01:36

Seven Short Assignments: The Tracks


1. STORY STATEMENT:

Elizabeth Wells, reserved, apathetic, and driven to be a journalist, boards a train to New York-- meeting the start of a deadly outbreak, three armed survivalists trying to play god among the sick passengers, and a polar opposite as an ally: all of which boil down to journalism gold.


2. ANTAGONISTIC FORCE:

Everett Sharpe has been obsessed with the end of the world since he was just a child; building his entire adult life around the possibility of an apocalypse. It's only at 35 that the dream becomes a reality aboard the train, and Everett takes it as a perfect opportunity to indulge in his fantasy and massacres anyone he believes infected.
Even better is when this event brings him to meet Elizabeth, who he immediately takes a perverted interest to because of her nosiness during the killings. He spares her from violence at first, intrigued by her courage, but then she betrays his trust. In retaliation, he attempts to kill her— but she lives. Everett targets her a multitude of times after, becoming fascinated when she escapes him every time, thus making her the new subject for his obsession.
The end of the world means nothing to him, now, unless Elizabeth is in it.

3. TITLES:

1. The Tracks (working title as of now)
2. End of The Tracks
3. Dead in Our Tracks

4. COMPS:

My first comparable is The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R Carey because of the similar plague mechanics-- both novels using fungus as the chosen type of pathogen. And given that a majority of the story takes place on a train, my second is Snowpiercer, written and directed by Bong Joon-Ho.

5. PRIMARY CONFLICT:

When a young journalist with a deep fear of men faces a deadly epidemic, three crazed survivalists who want to stop it with slaughter, and a risky plan to escape the continent before its collapse, the last person she'd want as an ally is a man-- but that's exactly who she gets.

6. SECONDARY CONFLICTS:

Internal: Having been raised with few friends and a cold home life, Elizabeth learned to put the I, and not much else, in everything. Her mother, scarred by her father leaving, raised Elizabeth to be wary of men, but accidentally left her with an aversion to everyone. She'd become accustomed to putting her blinders on, and putting her empathy in a box titled not my problem. But as more and more deaths unfold around her, she begins to realize she turns a blind eye not out of self-interest, but out of fear to intervene-- and that gets under her skin. Given his obsession with her, Elizabeth holds power to sway Everett's decisions, and that gives her every chance to change her ways; but is it worth facing her fears when staying blind is so much safer?

Social:
Charlie Colton is the epitome of morality and compassion, while Elizabeth is… not. As a result, conflict ensues. The two attempt to make each other see from the opposing perspective; Charlie trying to gain Elizabeth's trust to show her the value in compassion, while Elizabeth relentlessly insists survival is a solo act. As a result, the two accidentally switch ideals. Charlie begins to lose faith in humanity, himself, and the morals he'd followed his whole life-- plummeting quickly into despair without his beliefs. Elizabeth's outlook of gray indifference shifts, and she starts to question if she's good or bad, but the answer convinces her that she and Everett might not be so different after all.

7. SETTING:

The idea of witnessing the world ending through a window was the main inspiration for The Tracks, so the first primary setting is a train. With many people stuck aboard together, changing scenery just beyond the windows, and the outbreak confined inside with our characters, it makes for a unique stage to set the plot. No getting on, or off, until it stops-- or crashes. They must play the hand their dealt.

The second location is an evacuated Chicago; powerless and people-less, that they must navigate through once off the train-- filled with eerie clues as to why everyone is gone. Without the train, they gain freedom, but lose speed, safety, and comfortable travel-- making the rest of their journey mainly on foot. The playing field has leveled, and the windows no longer protect them from the elements of the outside world.

The third location brings America back to its roots for a finale: New York. Quarantined and crawling with military officials, off-limit areas, and more infected surrounding them than ever before, the characters must navigate the increasingly hostile environment to make their great escape from the continent.

PaxMachina
Posts: 4
Joined: 30 Oct 2018, 04:50

Re: FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE - Assignments for NWNV

#19 Post by PaxMachina » 01 Nov 2018, 02:20

Re Title: "Dead in Our Tracks", has a Jack Reacher feel; IMHO the best of the trio.

PaxMachina
Posts: 4
Joined: 30 Oct 2018, 04:50

Re: FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE - Assignments for NWNV

#20 Post by PaxMachina » 02 Nov 2018, 23:24

Preview: Re: FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE - Assignments for NWNV

1. STORY STATEMENT

A lifelong slave commando struggles for freedom and identity from an existence of violence and oppression. (While his long lost father has just discovered him!) During his varied international journeys, he experiences his DNA recoded by an ancient mutation that brings agony and the power necessary to combat a nefarious enemy who unleashes a synthetic shape shifting nanobot virus that permanently destroys the mind.

2. ANTAGONIST

Asaker al-Baqadin, possessing a disturbed mentality forged in the fires of macabre family tragedy, embodies a sinister drive for revenge. He leaves behind destruction through his relentless struggle to weaponize a synthetic nanobot that terrifyingly disrupts the genetics controlling the human mind.

A young Asaker became passionate and competent with weapons and martial skills. He reacts to obstacles as existential threats provoking aggressive response. He knows his greatest challenge among many that he must overcome is Kirov Santiago holding in his memory the secret details behind Asaker’s genetic assault weapon. He must hunt down the elusive Kirov before he realizes the consequences of his knowledge.

Asaker’s character arc includes after he realizes his weapon’s effect he concludes it his duty to cleanse the world of many bad people, and why shouldn’t he be paid to do so?

Anecdote (optional?): “Asaker mused there was the matter of the man who had driven his father's reckless greed and his family’s murder. Andross Gastos, of the most evil Napoleron Banque Nationale, living lavishly on Allée Lecouvreur Reclus, in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. Asaker knew he would look down that shadow as he made it far darker than Gastos could dream possible”.

3. BREAKOUT TITLE

Book I: MetaMan I: Origins and the Fire of the Will of Asaker al-Baqadin
Book II: MetaMan II: The Hunt for and Adventures of Kirov Santiago

4. COMPARABLES

Book I: The motivation to build a techno-modern nefarious enterprise as earlier prototyped in Steve Zaillian’s ‘American Gangster’ meets a microcosm of a modernistic ‘Game of Thrones’ specifically in the form of what John Truby describes as a ‘four corner opposition’.

Book II: Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne meets Kyle Achilles in Tim Tigner’s Pushing Brilliance meets Richard Preston’s Cobra Event.

5. CONFLICT LINE
Book I: A coming of age slave commando struggles for his freedom and identity out of his lifelong existence of violence and oppression. Also a disturbed nefarious villain relentlessly struggles to build his enterprise to create a nanobot to be weaponized to terrifyingly disrupt the genetics controlling the human mind.

Book II: A former slave commando discovers his newfound freedom lives on a knifes edge as he journeys through a gauntlet of threats as he experiences his DNA recoded by an ancient mutation that brings agony and power to combat a nefarious enemy who unleashes a shape shifting nanobot that disrupts the mind.

6. OTHER MATTERS OF CONFLICT: TWO MORE LEVELS (Inner and Social Conflict with scene sketches)

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6.A. Conditions for the Protagonist Inner Conflict

The conditions for the protagonist Kirov Santiago’s inner conflict were set after slave traders who kidnapped him from his parents at age six in San Sebastian relentlessly worked to brainwash him as the core of his continuous training as one of many slave commandos who operated profiteering mercenary operations.. Under the traders’ fallacious pretense of religious indoctrination Kirov sustained a conflicted life of impersonating submission to the entire religious act in order to stay alive

6.B.1. Protagonist Core Inner Conflict Scenario

“Kirov had hidden extra food and money he had stolen just the day before inside his wet suit, and felt confident the natural added buoyancy from his suit would supplement his excellent swimming ability to let him reach a remote shore point he had plotted on the navigation map that allowed him to factor the cross-currents and tides he would have to navigate by expending a minimum of energy. Kirov had to fight back and swallow his real fear of not at all knowing what freedom from the madrassa and from Asaker really would be like. Could it be worse than how he had lived the entire life that he could remember?”
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6.B.2. Protagonist (with interacting character) Inner Conflict Trigger and Reaction Scenario

“Within the hour before the mission commenced, Hassan cautioned Kirov that tonight’s sea might be punishing enough to weaken any of the boys into an unacceptable risk. Hassan warned Kirov; anyone in sudden danger of drowning could panic to compromise the mission. Hassan ordered Kirov to shove and hold their head under the water, without remorse, for sake of mercy and stealth. Kirov tried to protest that he should at least try to see if they could be saved, but Hassan countered that any boy Kirov had to drown would understand that their drowning was not only necessary for the mission but also especially an honor for their sacrifice to come at Kirov’s hands. Consequently, Kirov swam behind everyone to watch for anyone deviating in any manner. Over the last few minutes Kirov had been looking directly ahead at Amir quietly struggling to keep up.

Kirov’s eyes jerked over to the sudden movement but it was too late to warn Amir of the whitecap quickly ascending just beyond his peripheral vision to blindside him, collapsing onto his face, and leaving him gagging for spasmodic gulps of air. Kirov recalled Jihadi lore that danger had an affinity for the weakest. Had they remained in their Zodiacs longer, Amir might have had a chance. But in this cold rough water this long made Kirov regret Hassan had approved the skinny boy for this mission. Kirov’s stare drifted to his left to see Amir’s older brother Jamal, who also watched Amir between his own laborious strokes. Despite scant light, Kirov saw the worry pronounced on Jamal’s face.

Only Jamal understood how deeply sick Amir had felt. The madrassa, their religious-themed military training compound, never had a doctor present. So over the last few days, Jamal just prayed to fight back his anguish while Amir’s vomiting expelled more grotesquely after each meal. Yesterday Amir stopped eating because he felt it would stop his sickness and improve his color. That way he could appear fit to Hassan for this mission, and more importantly, to please his Imam and father, Asaker Abu al-Baqadin, the madrassa’s chieftain. Amir so desperately wanted to prove himself that he begged Jamal to secretly eat his rations. Jamal now witnessed, moment by moment, his brother rapidly weakening. Jamal's outward fanaticism for the mission could not compete with the secret guilt that clenched and twisted his stomach. Being closest, Jamal heard Amir’s pained breathing grow louder first.

Amir’s weakened chest muscles icily burned. He felt himself having to push harder on them to pull air into his lungs, but the air would not freely enter. What air did enter felt heavy and lifeless. Suddenly, Amir could no longer push his constricting lungs open. His diaphragm seized but felt as destructive as if it were slowly tearing itself open.

-----

Kirov jolted from how sudden and loud the cold fog reverberated Amir’s gagging cry that sputtered a petite froth of dwindling air and acrid water out from his lungs. Everyone startled at the sudden guttural broadcast. All turned heads to see who might expose their pre-dawn attack on the Serdyukov, the Mistral-class amphibious assault ship that France provisioned under Russian command to transport it’s expeditionary forces to its secretly planned point of assault.

Kirov caught up with Amir but was amazed seeing Jamal swim further away from his brother at the same time. Seeing Amir go helplessly beneath the surface, Kirov knew that Hassan would insist on keeping his head under to drown him as quickly as possible. But witnessing so closely the boy about to die spiked a surge of adrenalin to spring Kirov up over the water, where he thrust out his arm, grabbed the rear collar of Amir’s wetsuit, and yanked his limping head up and out. When Amir’s face cleared the water he gagged and angrily clawed back over his shoulder toward Kirov’s face.

-----

Hassan was far enough ahead that he took a few seconds to turn to and recognize the casualty. He swam back glaring at anyone making eye contact with him, briefly studied Amir with an abject realization, and bared his thick teeth in a ferocious anger.

“Release him Kirov, God summons him.”

“My Hassan, Amir shall drown?”

Kirov watched Hassan’s eyes ratchet larger into a frenzied gaze. He cringed at Hassan’s hoarsely whispered warning.

“I declare God requires him now! Of all my warriors, I could never expect it would be you Kirov -- to set this wretched blasphemy upon our Imam's sacred mission and our path, say I your path to Heaven.”

Upset with intimidation, Kirov broke his gaze from Hassan and faced Amir who he had still been holding buoyant. Kirov suddenly felt Amir had ceased all struggling. Kirov shuddered a lifeless chill from seeing Amir's eyes lock into a trans-humanly glow in agony from the lethal brine that displaced the air from his lungs. With such a cold fright that suddenly made the water around him feel disturbingly warm, Kirov abandoned his grasp. Turning away he swam not daring to look back but winced hearing Amir’s final gurgle as a vanishing echo blanketed under the low fog concealing their approach to their target. Kirov steeled his eyes amid the salt spray to fight back the tears.

Kirov’s shoulder suddenly stung from Jamal’s hard open palm strike.

“Kirov, you should have pressed his head into the water. What if you exposed our mission?”

Rubbing the punch out of his shoulder, Kirov had never felt so incredulous.

“He was your brother Jamal. Why did you fail to take responsibility for your family?”

Jamal’s eyes burst wide. His mouth grimaced in agony before compensating into a rage that unsheathed his rubber handled knife and then high over his head. He lunged at Kirov.

“You blasphemer…unworthy of Jihad…unworthy of the Imam!”

Amid a splash loud enough to turn heads, Kirov whipped his hand to block and seize Jamal’s wrist and torque it back into the arm to release the knife into the deep water. Before the blade sank a meter Kirov had swept Jamal aside with his lean powerful forearm.

“Silence!” Hassan hissed. “Another moment of your drivel and you both die here.”

Kirov flashed a silent wide eyed warning to Jamal, who grasped his own wrist to test if it still functioned properly amid its wrenching pain, before they both swam on.

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6.C. Hypothetical Scenario for the "Secondary Conflict" Involving the Social Environment

Lyn Elle, the flight attendant who attended to Jordan Santiago on eight separate occasions on his trans-Atlantic flights the past year watched and waited until he calmed himself down, pranced over, smiled sincerely, and placed a new handset on Jordan’s fold out table while she whisked away the remnants of the damaged one.

Jordan gestured to the empty glass.

“Time for another if you please Lyn.”

“Jena is counting Jordy. I’d get grief for taking you past three.”

Jordan saw Lyn’s eyes narrow as her frame become rigid.

“I do recognize that, Lyn. Hey, I’m sorry if I made you uncomfortable with this, ok?”

Lyn Elle stiffened as she saw Jena, her flight supervisor, approach her with an annoyed stare.

“Not at all sir.”

And she hurried off.

Jordan was surprised. Sir? She never called him sir. Then he saw Jena pass by, sporting a mock smile as she bore down on Lyn Elle. Jena felt creepy to Jordan. It was her eyes. Most times they looked blank as if glass, but occasionally he caught her for just a fleeting moment as if she were studying him like a caged laboratory animal. It also occurred to him that it defied the odds that he had never seen her before two months ago and then she appeared on his last four flights.

As Jordan watched Lyn turn the corner to disappear into the galley, something on the outsized in-flight news broadcast screen caught his eye. The close-up of a young boy-man standing bloodied on a thick timbered pier by the Black Sea. Jordan gasped. As the broadcast personality breathlessly recounted the sketchy account surrounding the capture of the young terrorist who had tried to sink a Russian military ship, Jordan could hear nothing as he went deep inside his memory. Stephan? My supposedly departed son? How can it be you? Just look at you! What has happened to you?

Jordan sprung to his feet, turned and nearly trotted to the lavatory. Inside the pistachio green plumbing capsule, he stared in the mirror, unable to see anything but his eyes, where in a moment they turned to his son’s eyes that grew red with his tears. In the mirror he watched his face agonizing into someone hideous he could not recognize with the realization he had long given up on his son.

-----

Jena had been spying on Jordan. When she witnessed Jordan’s reaction to the screen, she turned her eyes to Kirov’s close-up on a different closer screen. She followed Jordan to the lavatory, and while pretending to tidy up the last seat in the rear, could discern his sporadic muffled gasps. After a minute, she deftly dashed away the moment she heard the door begin to open.

-----

Back in his seat and blinking in trepidation at the screen that by now moved on to filler news, Jordan grasped the new voice handset and punched in a string of numbers.

“Air France? Jordan Santiago here on flight 323 arriving JFK 18:00 hours. I need a seat on your next return flight to Paris with an immediate connector to Lyon.”

Jordan knew he could get some face time with Martin Bodine. He knew Bodine was always a little vague about what he really did for a living; however what he could glean was that Bodine had a hand in running some kind of investigations company, Reyage Directe. Bodine had uncovered amazing information for him in the past. And Bodine owed him since the time he helped him escape some thugs that had surprised them outside the warehouse they had no business being near the first time they met in New York. Could Martin help him find out about his son Stephan? But how could he convince him this was important without disclosing that it that might be his son? How could he be completely certain that it was his son! Everyone, yes everyone had been convinced by supposedly irrefutable evidence that terrorists armed with explosives and machine guns killed his son Stephen along with dozens of other victims in San Sebastian over twelve years ago!

-----

Jena's probing eyes stayed riveted to Jordan. When she witnessed his reaction to the screen she turned her eyes to Kirov’s close-up on a different close-by screen. Now she casually strode past Jordan, pretending to collect trash from the seats behind him to eavesdrop on his conversation with the Air France reservation desk. She returned to her service station in the rear cabin galley, entered a closet-sized private office, left the light off, locked the door, reached into her bra, and extracted a small specially-equipped PDA. She dialed a complex string of numbers and letters, and waited nearly ten seconds for the response.

“Secure line Owl5.”

Jena had never made this kind of call airborne with such a risk of detection. Her heart thumped so strong that she swallowed hard to force a measured hushed tone.

“Not sure what this means. J.S. just abruptly scheduled a return flight. Final destination Lyon.”

She waited for the paused reply.

“Lyon. Interpol?”

“It was certainly a fast reaction. He just stared big eyed at some young man, a terrorist captured somewhere in Russia. Wait, the young man!”

”What young man?”

“The captured terrorist on the screen. Yes, I can see it now. You really have to examine the close up to spot the boy's likeness to Jordan.”

“Are you sure? I saw the boy on the news. But just a glimpse. Poor bugger certainly was filthy bloodied up. Resemblance you say? How can you be certain?”

“Only in the eyes; that’s how. His father’s distinct eyes. No one else I have ever seen has those eyes, except for now. It broadcast on al-Jazeera. Get the video; stop at the eyes and zoom on them.”

“I'll take it from here; well enough done. Forget this conversation and never speak of this matter.”

-----

Colonel Gerisimov pulled over to the roadside and stared through his sunroof far into the opulently blue mountain sky. He vigorously rubbed the back of his neck with the realization. That one was Jordan Santiago’s son alive? Bloody hell the Lieutenant had to spare this one. How much trouble will this Santiago become? Better that I should not spare the boy after all?

Gerisimov made one last call, this time to Tasiz, his freelance asset in Paris. Gerisimov issued a series of surveillance protocols fine-tuned with control instructions that began with Tasiz immediately booking a flight, under non-official cover, to Lyon.

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7. SETTINGS

MetaMan stories move through locations at a healthy pace. I’ll provide some of the settings via differing scenes that experience their respective settings.

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A. Immersed in the Black Sea The opening scene finds Kirov, one of our protagonists.

It became more difficult for Kirov to ignore the aching sensation from the chilly sea threatening to cramp his upper legs. The 30 kilograms of tactical assault gear awkwardly swaying across his upper back weighed on every stroke as he swam strong into the outer reaches of the coastal tide turbulence. He cursed under his laboring breath they should have rowed longer inside their inflatable Zodiac boats before immersing themselves in this aggravating water. Here where the very deep sea met the shallow shelf it became choppy enough for whitecaps that suddenly sprang up hissing like a cobra to spit burning salt into his eyes.

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B. Georgian Port of Batumi, Waters Edge of the Heavy Ships Pier:

Kirov shuddered from the winds swiftly swirling out from the alpine air mass cascading down the Caucasus highlands that made each minute feel colder than the last. He watched the plummeting chill forge part of the sea mist into crystals that settled into a dull glaze all around him. Each aching minute relentlessly grated into Kirov. It became harder to balance himself in his cramped kneeling position on the prickly iron skin of the 100 year old pier. He felt the rough metal drawing out his dwindling body heat. His lips and nostrils burned from the slimy brine splashing into his face each time another gust burst over the beaten down sea wall. Repeatedly, Kirov felt each breaker’s splash crystallize to an ice skin on his legs and feet that began to feel like it insulated him from the frigid air, until the next breaker splattered him once again before retreating to the sea. His wrists pulsed raw from the taut plastic clasps cinching them behind his back and his ankles scraped into the chains pulled tight around them on one end with the other end clasped to an ancient iron ring welded into the dock.

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C. Vorkuta - Russia, North of the Arctic Circle

The greater visibility of daybreak only intensified Kirov’s dread. He stared at the fanning dawn rays neatly painting their deep purple aura to sharpen the naked ridge masking the horizon. Now soft lavender beams probed between the plump clouds retreating from the southward advancing pressure of crisp Arctic air. To Kirov, the distant rays felt warmer than his surrounding atmosphere. It chilled him to watch how the reckless Spetsialnogo Naznacheniya, or SPETZNAZ, shoved each other into the profuse flames crackling out from their dazzling bonfire.

The SPETZNAZ came to Shestaki for only one thing; live adversary combat training. Once each month Shestaki guards escorted selected puppets to the wide shallow lake within walking distance. The Vorkuta-garrisoned SPETZNAZ maintained their tradition of fighting their puppets while in a natural body of water; and the colder it was then the better it would deaden the staggering effects of the vodka drunk long into last night. And they would find it cold enough to their liking at sunrise.

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D. Baalbek, Bekaa Valley, Central Lebanon

Ancient Baalbek’s first city was built before the Great Biblical Flood by Cain, the son of Adam, whom the Bible states God banished from the Garden of Eden. After Baalbek fell into ruins from the Great Flood, it was re-built by a race of giants commanded by Nimrod, the ’mighty hunter’ and ’king of Shinar’ of the Biblical Book of Genesis.

The giants constructed their Baalbek temples on a foundation of nearly a dozen megalith stones. Many of these foundation stones are still visible today; they average over 1,200 tons and nearly 400 cubic meters in size. Aside from being the largest carved stones on earth, many were so precisely cut and placed together that even today a knife blade cannot fit into the vertical join between them. Accounting for all known and modern science and engineering, it remains a mystery how the megaliths could have been carved, lifted, and positioned so precisely.

It was upon these megalith foundation stones that the Roman Empire, during the reign of Emperor Augustus in the first century BC, constructed the gigantic Temple of Jupiter, the largest temple built anywhere during the entire Roman Empire, including Rome itself. Jupiter’s elegant and large by most ancient standards stonework appears diminutive contrasted to the megaliths they rest upon.

The mythology surrounding the Temple of Jupiter incorporates its standing upon the work of giants and the fantastical powers the giants wielded during their reign. Contemporary scholars debate Baalbek mythology accounts of an extensive system of catacombs beneath the megaliths where Gilgamesh, the self-regarded semi-deity, held orgies and sacrifices in vain attempts to appease the gods in his misguided hope of being invited to join them. The public record holds that nothing larger than smallish caves are found around Jupiter, but the myths persist.

Asaker scanned one final time for spies as he pretended to glance up the columns to the Denticulate Doric scrolls that distinguished their tops as he stepped into an obscure side entrance into the Temple of Jupiter. As he walked past Khan, the alleged clerk most thought was deaf, pushing a cart of artifacts at the rear of the Temple’s modest gift shop, an old key fell into Asaker’s hand. Seeing Khan turn the corner and out of sight, Asaker unlocked and entered an ordinary storage room. At the rear of the room he reached among the many wall hangings and pressed into the side of a wall-mounted façade bust of the image of Bacchus, the demi-god whose namesake is the adjacent temple to Jupiter. Behind a densely packed shelf, a wall panel opened barely wide enough to allow Asaker to enter and stand upon a dark precipice. Asaker produced his small torch and illuminated his steps around a narrow bend revealing steps descending into what appeared an abyss.

Each stair was nearly double the height of any he had ever seen; almost too high for someone even as tall as Asaker. He always marveled how large a human these stairs must have carried. After he reached the bottom, Asaker entered a dank cave and stepped among the rodents that warned of his approach. Asaker emerged from the other end of the cave beneath symmetrically arranged overhead LED lanterns that drizzled their ghostly hue over the vast chamber. Asaker’s vision quickly adjusted to the pale light so his gaze could absorb the twenty-four parallel arches constructed in an evenly-spaced series; each supported by a pair of broad columns slightly inserted into the stone sides of the chamber. At the top of each of the columns at the juncture where they supported the arches were embedded carvings of inhuman faces seething monstrous expressions.

Asaker stared down the length of the chamber toward the sound of the water. The cool damp air from a subterranean stream flowing further back behind the darkness and into the nearby Litani River felt refreshing from the hot dusty flight through the Bekaa valley that brought him to his hideaway. The smell of the damp earth invigorated him; perhaps, he mused, because he knew the damp earth would be his last sensation in this earthly world.

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E. The Head of the Chatibo Glacier at the base of Koyo Zom, in the Yarkhun Valley, 16 Kilometers Northwest of Lasht, the Frontier Areas of Pakistan

The Yarkhun Valley is the location of the climax, battle scene of Book One. It is found at the base of Koyo Zom, the highest peak in the Pakistani Hindu Raj mountain range at 22,546 feet above sea level. Embedded below the crest of Koyo Zom lies an ice cave that has only recently melted an opening to the outside world, wherein Kirov discovers a 40,000 old cadaver whose anciently yet distinctively transformed body holds the secret that ultimately radically transforms Kirov as well. In this locale we find Kirov rapidly sledding down the Kotal Kash glacier building greater speed with each passing second and into his disruption of a gold for drugs deal that degenerates into a three way shoot-out that ends with Kirov finally escaping to a long awaited yet tenuous freedom.

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F. Usambara Mountain Foothills - North Eastern Tanzania

Kirov and Nanuru warily peered out of their concealment. Kirov’s scan ran throughout the length of the narrow grove until the uneven movement of heads poking out of the stout elephant grass caught his eye. Nanuru glanced over and could tell that Kirov was trying to count the troop of Baboons loosely huddled beneath a massive basalt outcrop. No matter, Nanuru thought, one large male Olive Baboon was plenty reason enough to avoid what would have been a less treacherous walk.

Nanuru anxiously sensed Kirov’s ease and judged that he did not yet regard the Baboons with the healthy fear he should have. This European had obviously not lived in Tanzania long enough to know that if given the dark choice of being killed by a Baboon or a much larger Gorilla, a sensible African most willingly would run into the powerful Gorilla’s arms begging for the quick blow to snuff him like a candle. Unlike the fearful Nanuru, Kirov had never traveled with a drunken teenage fool on holiday from somewhere in Europe who cruelly taunted one of the more dominant males. So fast the animal leapt upon the human, clenching long arms and legs around the boy’s neck and chest until his face turned half inside out to fleshy ribbons by methodical slashing from the powerful clap trap fronted by upper and lower pairs of five centimeter Baboon fangs.

The gleaming ball of an ivory moon advanced into the perimeter of the tall trees sheltering the grove, infusing the lingering mist with a ghostly luminescence. When it abruptly emerged over the clearing and drew Kirov’s gaze, he saw the crescent-shaped shadows from its deepest craters mottle its ashen complexion. The lush green Kirov would have seen during the day was now a chalky pallor staining the meter high grass that obscured all but head and shoulders of the largest Baboons gathered down range. The looser rocks resting atop the outcrop and above the gently swirling mist captured the most light and appeared as tombstones that radiated their own light.

Ahead of Kirov ran a well-worn ridge that on most days contained a most often narrow and shallow remote tributary of the Pangani River that he could barely hear swishing over an unevenly rock-strewn bed. The water made muddy from frequent rainfall wash-off cloaked the closely-spaced rocks that gathered over time where the river slowed before an abrupt turn opened to deeper waters. Every Baboon in the troop of course knew every rock so they could easily dance through the water even if a runoff from a harsh downpour for many days powerfully pressed the water upon their legs.

Nanuru licked a finger and raised it slightly above his head. Kirov stepped toward the thick woods lining the river side of the grove when Nanuru grabbed his arm, silently pulled him back into the thicket, and thinly whispered.

“Not that way. We are downwind here.”

“What wind? The air is still.”

“That mist. It rolls out of the river and presses down there. It’s enough to carry your strange smell. Trust me; those Baboons don’t take well to strange.”

“If they are so close together they cannot be hunting, so why are they awake?”

Nanuru tried to quickly think of a lie but it fell short.

“Trust me, when they are like what you see there, then you don’t ever want to know that.”

“I don’t know if I trust you. Besides, they look more afraid than dangerous.”

“That’s a deadly mistake.”

“Well then can you tell me why they are afraid?”

“No I cannot tell you.”

“Sounds more like you won’t tell me. What are you hiding?”

“It’s dangerous for both of us if I tell you.”

Kirov looked closely as the moonlight reflected a genuine fear on Nanuru’s wide eyes, which made him smile much more at the idea that just struck him that he appeared to smile at his guide.

“You will tell me or I’ll just walk out there and you and I will see if you can out run me.”

“You enjoy this insanity rattling around in your brain?”

“And you enjoy having placed me in the objectionable position not knowing all of the danger around us?”

“Look we have to steer clear of the river. There may be men watching from the opposite riverbank.”

“Other men? And how are you so sure that we are not alone?”

“Look, give me a break man. I’m trying to get us through private property held by dangerous men as fast as possible, ok? This is a privileged and secret hunting preserve for the wealthy. The owner brings his city boy friends here so they can fantasize they are great hunters. At dawn they will come from over that river wanting to shoot everything that moves. And if they see us they won’t bother to try to tell us apart from those animals. There, are you satisfied if I am killed for telling you this?”

“Why don’t they shoot Lions? I thought that’s where the glory is.”

“There used to be leopards here, but I think they either shot them or drove them off. Now any of the big cats are either too endangered or expensive. Besides, Baboons breed like crazy fuckers – faster than you can reload an AK-47.”

The idea of shooting one of these animals was making Kirov hungry.

“Can you shoot them for meat? They taste good?”

“They shoot them for sport.”

“What is shoot for sport? Soccer is sport. How can killing animals be sport? So you mean to say they kill them because they enjoy killing a type of animal that may not be too distant a species from humans.”

“That’s an absurd idea. Baboons are definitely not related to man. If you have to ask me that, then you cannot understand.”

Kirov looked over the tall grass at the Baboons and shook his head.

“There should be nothing to understand, but maybe they kill them exactly because they are a distant relative. Look there directly in the center of them. The largest one. Look how the other males regard him. He is their Patriarch. They probably have a tribal structure.”

“Yes and that tribal leader your absurdly overactive imagination seems so fond of will shred off our limbs if he sees us; beginning with that smallest one you treasure the most.”

Kirov suddenly became aware of the weight tugging downward in his backpack and got another idea. Disregarding any of the risks, he decided to act.

“I want to move around behind their position, up above that outcrop.”

“Yes let’s get away from the river and out of their downwind.”

Nanuru doubled back leading Kirov in a semi circle around the grove until their path straightened and they began to move parallel to the length of the grove and the river beyond. As they neared the Baboons they worked their legs strenuously up a rocky path that crested until they reached a clear view of some of the Baboons around the outcrop. Kirov stopped and gently set down his heavy backpack, opened it, and began removing the laser’s electronic components.

Nanuru was astonished. His hoarse whisper sounded like tearing paper.

“You are way fucking crazy? You can’t stop here! They fly up here and be on us in less than ten seconds.”

“This is the place I want.”

“This is the place you want to bleed out of your manhood!”
Kirov clicked in the battery, the last part, and the laser assembly was complete. He nudged the small latex covered toggle that illuminated the pale blue diode LED indicating good battery power.

“Oh, so you are going to play Star Wars with those Baboons now? Definitely going to shoot the moon piss them off. Look man, you stay and let me watch them make pale boy sushi with you. I go quietly now."

Kirov stared at Nanuru as he slipped away. In seconds all Kirov saw of him were either his fear or hate widened eyes glaring back one last time out of the dark undergrowth. But once hidden, Nanuru did not move away very far since his orders were to watch Kirov. He found a large Baobab tree over 10 meters in diameter at its base. It’s silhouette to the moon-washed foliage presented a giant hand resting on the earth with five main near vertical branches proportioned as stubby fingers. He deftly scaled its wall trunk and was soon hiding securely in his own little portico looming 20 meters above Kirov.

Kirov moved a little to his right to see past the shoulder of one of the younger males and to a clear view to the rear of the largest male. That one stood half a full head over the next largest one. Big target -- good. Kirov pointed the laser end and saw a good line to the read of the fur framed head. Kirov hesitated and felt his hands grow cooler in the damp night heat. This was not a human like at the hospital camp. He recalled the lethal experiments on the rodents. What if he was about to kill another animal; a much more significant animal?

Kirov lowered the laser off aim and to his side and was about to release the battery lock key when a one frightening grunt immediately followed by many others forced his gaze back to the troop. All the Baboon’s noses were straight up in the air and rasping spastically. Kirov licked his finger and raised it. The air movement could not have qualified as wind. But the moisture heavy air did move from behind him like a slow motion wave rolling over him and down into the grove, carrying his scent right to the ever louder Baboons.

The Patriarch jumped out from behind the rocks and was the first to completely turn his torso around toward Kirov. The full moon maintained it's slow crawl across the dark liquid sky and slipped behind a dense cloud with a profile that Kirov thought reminded him of the Imam's beard. The grove ratcheted a little darker, but the all the Baboons’ impeccable night vision found Kirov in a second and one by one the animals stood up tall and roared at the human. The din reverberated within the enclosed elephant grass grove, creating an unnerving Doppler effect on Kirov's senses. Instinctively Kirov raised the laser up to his line of sight. He cursed that he had never thought to add even modest gun sights to help steady his now shaking aim. The Patriarch pushed past another male and began his amble up the slope to close on Kirov when he suddenly stopped at the bright green line that ran from this human right to his chest. After a long second the animal felt a stunning sense of barren warmth radiate from his chest throughout his body. When he felt it intrude upward into his brain he throttled his head back and forth from its sense of invasiveness so fast that Kirov did not need much light to see the blur where a head rested a moment ago.

The Patriarch had never felt such a razor sharp pain, as if a part of his brain were pulling away from itself. But it was even more confusing than painful because somehow it did not feel threatening but more disturbing instead to the point of disrupting his perceptions of things around him. He looked back and around at his troop. There among them the other ambitious males who coveted to be him sooner rather than later. They all now appeared less related to him, yet more than ever he felt with a disturbing depth that they all belonged to him. At that moment he realized that they all were his possessions, he recalled the vivid images of the humans with their fire sticks appearing just as the first thin slices of sunshine peaked between the thick tree trunks. In his mind the patriarch tried to run away from the images of how he helplessly watched his possessions, especially the slower very young and very old, destroyed one and again in spurting red mists and collapse and grow cold on the grass run red from them.

A sudden awareness that he had felt completely powerless to protect his possessions seized the Patriarch. This awareness together with recognition the humans would return to kill, as they had often returned before, burned through him into an existential agony. It blazed through his suddenly elevated consciousness and overloaded his mind far beyond what it’s organic design was ever intended to accommodate. The nearest males peed themselves when they saw their Patriarch's eyes flutter and roll up and back in their sockets. To Kirov, he appeared to be choking on something. Existential physical agony surged through his blood as an incendiary rage melting gaping holes throughout his disintegrating identity. Then suddenly the Patriarch stood straight once again and vomited unintentionally upon the nearest two males. He stopped shaking his head and his eyes regained their function and he rapidly scanned all the other males in his troop with his new eyes, and they saw his eyes were strange and even more fearsome, though not in the violent way they were accustomed to seeing him. For a moment the Patriarch’s vision drifted from his possessions and fixed upon the human directly up the steep rise ahead of him. And suddenly returned the fear the humans would slaughter his possessions again and how he would never again allow that.

The Patriarch burst a bawling shriek that caused nearly every other Baboon around him to defecate and leap back in fright. It rattled Kirov out of his awestruck stare and slammed his focus upon the Patriarch's four prominent fangs grotesquely glistening in the moonlight. Kirov had never seen such a face of rage that grew closer to him and it made his skin sting from its intense prickly sensation that registered the imminent butchery the charging animal was bringing out of the tall grass and directly up to him.

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G. Shestaki Penal Colony and Mining Complex - Vorkuta - Russia, North of the Arctic Circle

Inside the CCTV monitor-cluttered master control room, Colonel Gerisimov scanned the wall of Block C screens presenting various actors of the riot theater appearing only to increase in its organic mayhem. He was a moment too late in hiding a grimace in reaction to close-ups of joy on two inmates faces as they slew a guard who strangely appeared relieved at his fate, as if all danger were finally over.

During his 18 month Eastern Caucasus campaign Gerisimov had seen and smelled from close enough comrades cut to separation at the hands of the merciless Neo-ISIS. However, there was something transcendently grotesque about the wanton feast these barbaric inmates preyed upon the outnumbered guards that made him desperate to avert his eyes from the screens. But he could not be seen weak enough to turn away as he addressed the warden standing to his right. Still he could not resist speaking his mind.

“Warden Dondrenovich, do you happen to have reinforcements, preferably better armed than these uniformed victims that you would care to assign to suppress those animals?

“Colonel Gerisimov, with respect, perhaps you were not apprised of my Systema? And I am surprised that a decorated intelligence officer as yourself could not discern that these so-called guards are impostors who murdered the real guards while they traveled by rail to my facility and then stole their uniforms. Today just happened to be the day I saw fit to resolve this discrepancy.”

“Warden Dondrenovich, I am familiar with the barbaric natural selection process that you deploy as the religion of your mining colonies.”

“No no, you have the wrong idea Colonel. I assure you this is an isolated incident. Just a convenient way to settle the affairs of those guard impersonators.”

Gerisimov stared and absorbed all the monitors reflecting the dozens of killed and maimed men sprawled and crawling on the crimson-stained cold concrete floor of Block C. Affected by the carnage he turned and sneered at Dondrenovich.

“Are you certain you were thorough enough?”

Gerisimov’s sarcasm was lost on the stoic Warden.

“I confess it got a bit out of hand. But perhaps it’s constructive to occasionally allow the men to let off some steam. All within Vorkuta’s natural order, I suppose.

Gerisimov, with his own tension to release, bellowed out each laughing syllable into Dondrenovich’s face.

"Na-tur-al Or-der?"

It was simply Dondrenovich’s numbness from the limitless violence that kept him stoic.

“Well Colonel, think of Vorkuta as a special kind of ecology. Just like an overgrown deep forest. Occasionally you need a raging forest fire to clear away the dead wood just to make room for fresh growth to invigorate it once again. After all, our nickel and copper mines require the strongest men. I regret there is no place among these prisoners for those who can no longer pull their weight. Besides, Norilsk Mining would literally have my head if they discovered I misallocated their prisoner food ration funds to the feeble and the infirm.”

“Yes, my Warden Dondrenovich, I understand you now. You are trying to tell me that even Mother Nature has a scorched earth policy. And so Norilsk Mining is Father Nature?”

Gerisimov found himself also becoming numb, but pushed a resigned shrug.

“Warden Dondrenovich, it is as you require and corporately sanctioned, of course. I am simply here to relieve you of some of your men.”

“Colonel Gerisimov, perhaps in less than an hour, you may have all you want of those left standing. Ha! Indeed they ought to represent true survival of the fittest for your Darwinian convenience, yes?”

“Comrade Warden, I prefer not to wait that long, let’s begin with those two.”

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We have developed seven short assignments based on lessons learned from great fiction in general, not just SFF. They are designed to cajole you into considering crucial aspects of your project. All together, they should not take you more than a few hours. You must complete them and post the responses. Your responses to these assignments will be reviewed as necessary by workshop faculty, and could potentially play a role in any final decision to request your project.
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