View Full Version : Addon's Hunt

June 16th, 2012, 12:01 PM
This is going to be a "short" story. I use the term loosely because I know where I want to go but I don't know exactly how long it will take to get there. I hope this can end up standing on its own but it also fits into a concept for a novel I would like to write eventually. If this goes well I may continue to elaborate on the universe.

This is the first piece of fiction I've started in years. It's been even longer since I've written anything seriously, so critique is much welcome and desperately needed.

The air was thick, humidity multiplying the sickly warmth of the planet. There was no more than thirty feet of visibility before sight was cut short by knots of crossing trees.Where the pale trunks didn't hinder the way, giant dark curtains of leaves did. The soil was soggy. The dryer ground was well cushioned but difficult to tread. Any solidity was blanketed by layers of moss like vegetation. Even though it wasn't physically pleasant to travel it was attractive to the eyes. Everything was vibrant in contrast against itself. Bark was covered by a symbiotic foliage adding to the ambiance of the landscape being something very much alive. As much as it could be considered beautiful the place also inspired fear. It was intimidating to step through its bowels and realized that it was as vast as it was known for being deadly.

It wasn't normally the ideal vacationspot for visitors but Eturi had a special appeal to the four humans that currently trod along its bottom. Even swathed in clothes built to breathe, the mingling of sweat and moisture trickled hot down their backs and rolled from the tips of their noses. None of them payed much mind. They moved steady over the massive roots and tangles of spongy matter despite discomfort. At most one may have irritably pulled at the strap of their gear to ease the weight on their back or wipe their faces with their sleeves. Besides that they walked on with little to no words. All attention was set on the trek. Time was lost with the sun's position obscured by the highest curtains of dense leafs. It wasn't until dark that the group stopped.

They hunkered down in a a sort of cove made by an overarching root to a monstrous tree. This was as ideal as they could hope for out of all the uneven terrain. The group unloaded their belongings, finally resting against the smooth bark. They unzipped their gear and began setting camp for the night. The dark was cooler than the day but the jungle seemed to trap the heat.

Once everyone was comfortable enough the buds of conversation began.

"Its at times like this that I'd rather be in Endra. Even if it's crawling with vermin. " A shaggy haired dark skinned individual commented off hand. He was half reclined whittling away at a thick barked branch he had discovered,slowly revealing the pink flesh. "But I guess I'll survive aslong as I continue to find scerro root."

A young athletic woman looked up from her work of starting a fire. "You may want to check yourself Varla. Mr. Evalia is an Endra native." There was more insinuation in the use of the word native besides literally meaning he was born and raised there. It said something about his character. His three companions knew this having visited the city plenty. It left an imprint on people.

Varla raised a brow and continued to strip the stick in hand. "For being a dishonest man I like beinga very honest man. I have nothing to hide if he is already aware ofthe former." He chuckled.

"Varla..." The woman warned once more, though she didn't seem too offended. She casually threw back brown hair over shoulder not even bothering to take her sight from her task. The reason for voicing herself seemed to be for their employers benefit. Jenedelle didn't seem to be the type to rein in her partners if they wanted to rouse trouble, but she liked to do her job well and in this case they were chaperoning an important man.That meant they would be receiving a better sum than usual. She wanted her second half of the pay so naturally she wanted to avoid any hiccups.

Addon Evalia waved a hand in noncommittal fashion. He was standing at the edge of the overhang of dirt and roots, looking up into the sheer black canopy the jungle offered. No starlight seemed to reach them here. It was abandoned by light almost suffocating. The only glow came from the power-packs oftheir gear until a spark bloomed into a small flame thanks to Jenedells handy work. She sat back on her heels to appreciat the small accomplishment. Their small circle had visibility grown and became a warm flickering ring. It reminded the man of the overbearing heat. Addon shrugged off a layer of damp clothing tossing it over a stray branch.

"Don't worry about me. I agree with him." He continued to pull the gloves from his hands. They wouldn't be hunting tonight and now that they were no longer climbing through the brush he had no plant spines or sharp edges to worry over. "It's a pit of vipers back there. Why do you think Ineeded this trip? Eturi is favorable."

Varla started laughing again amused,dark eyes glinting in the firelight. "You see this man's gull? He talks like he isn't one of them."

Addon gained a small smile. It was a modest one but didn't look bad on him. It was an average smile on common features, but he was the kind of man that wore average very well. Hair grown just past being neatly kept and unusually gentle dark eyes. He wasn't necessarily fit but took care of himself all the same. It could be argued that he was so average, so mundane for his status that he was easily looked over. Perhaps he did it purposefully. If it weren't for the fact he appreciated nice things that came at a nice price. This trip for instance. You wouldn't have thought he was anyone of importance. Now dressed in more practical hunting gear he blended in perfectly among his poaching companions.

"You are perceptive."

"Some of us have to be." Varla grunted. "You should understand that. I'd think that would be a necessary instinct in your career."

Career was used very similarly to the word native. It carried the weight of subtext.

The entrepreneur nodded in what seemed almost a solemn manner.

Hue the last of Addon's hired trio turned his gaze back at the others, his vision falling on Varla. His weapon rested gingerly across his knees for the time being. It looked precious to him. Not something he ever liked letting go of. He said nothing and kept to himself as he occupied the edge of their camp, a solitary bird of prey. His sharp oily features betrayed little of his feelings and he preferred to hold on to an almost mysterious silence. Addon couldn't recall the man saying much. Hue didn't appear fond of conversation and was perfectly happy to stand watch on their trip as far as Addon could tell. He had proven himself capable so far, only two days into their venture. The carcasses of two uncomfortably large reptiles and a toothy subterranean beast was proof enough. So he watched with little input, chewing deliberately on something or other that probably wasn't going to improve his health before growing bored and staring back out into the dark world around them.

Addon wasn't so interested in talking about home either. This was a vacation and the way he conducted himself on Endra wasn't exactly what he wanted to focus on or even emulate here. He would be back in that arena soon enough. Right now he wanted to play a different sort of game. He was here to experience something more primitive and instinctual. A type of challenge that was bred into life by the course of nature itself. The sweet simple relationship between a predator and its prey. Exactly what role hewould play wasn't clear just yet. All he was aware of was this was the perfect place to escape. It was wild crude and nothing like civilization as he knew it.

He dodged the conversation with grace.Even after dirtying himself by crawling hands and knees through awilderness like some long forgotten ancestor his upbringing still shone through.

"I suspect you think I am like yourself. Not so." Varlra was no longer smiling but Addon continued without hesitation, not timid in the least. He kept his tone gentle as he inquired with genuine curiosity. "The root in your hand."


"Yes, the Scerro root." He moved near to the two closest to the fire. Jenedelle scooted over to make room for Addon between them. He sat and pointed to the stripped bark. "What makes it so special?"

Varla once again looked amused. If he had been insulted by their employers earlier comment it had been forgotten or forgiven. He propped himself up into a better sitting position and leaned towards the other. "You obviously are too sheltered for the kind of man I thought you were. This is only the single best treat you can find. When Eturi was discovered so was this plant. Its has a sweet fruit like sap. See." He lifted a strip he had peeled from the branch. The pink flesh sweat a vibrant blood colored liquid. It was viscous and smelled strongly of some cross between butter and berries. The man grinned. "We are lucky to have been hired for this trip. The root is now farmed on several other planets but it doesn't grow or taste as good as from Eturi."

Jenedelle shook her head though entertained.

"What, Dell?"

"Oh, nothing." She answered." You talk like there is no comparison. It's okay. Tastes like ordinary jam to me."

Varla scoffed. "Nostalgia helps. I grew up with it."

Addon listened and smiled. They had not much to talk about on their flight to Eturi. It was hard to find common ground with a handful of criminals and Addon was a social creature.

He held out his hand. "May I try then?" Varla complied and passed him a strip and naturally peeled another for Jenedelle. The sucked off the sweet juices while they exchanged talk about good food and nostalgia. The conversation remained perfectly pleasant from that point and lasted till the scerro root ran dry and they had gnawed the last of the flavor from its tender flesh. It wasn't till then that Hue strolled casually from his perch and into the group. He spoke in a voice that was higher pitched then one would guess and unfitting for such a violent character. It vaguely reminded Addon of a house cat.

Hue expressed It was time to sleep, explaining It would be impossible to catch anything in this kind of night. They were best to save as much energy for as much daylight as possible. Reluctantly they agreed and turned in for the night. The group settled against their packs and slept in the open. There was no need for blankets or bedding where every bit of weight was more hazard than a help. The only items they let themselves be weighted by was their weaponry, their limited clothes, and only the bare necessity of rations in case they were unable to find something suitable to eat. For all the discomforts this trip brought it gave the perfect excuse for Addon Evalia's mind wander and forget Endra for a while.

They fell asleep and none slept any deeper than Addon. His sore limbs and tired mind appreciating the recuperation. The ground wasn't terrible. The cushy surface of the jungle was bedding enough. He was also content to know his companions were taking their turns guarding the camp just in case anything thought the hunters would make better prey.

It felt as if he was shook awake not but a few hours after he rested his head, maybe less. Addon was groggy and his head was still foggy from dreams. A sharp pain brought the clarity of consciousness fast and he was bright and alert almost immediately. The grip of Hue's bony had held tight at his shoulder,nails digging through the thin cloth. Addon didn't think he meant it purposefully. The mans gaunt face was as white as his knuckles. He looked like he had just seen himself in the grave. When Addon tried to speak a shuddering and grimy hand pressed over his mouth while Hue rose a finger to his lips with a tremble. The fact that this man in particular was shaken was reason enough for Addon to feel the chills creeping up his spine. He swore the hairs on his neck were standing on end. He didn't even know why. He strained his vision to see the others pulling their weapons close and standing guard, hardly visible by the light of their power-packs, the campfire long since stampedout. The two looked just as nervous as the man knelt over him.

Feeling he should express he understood, Addon nodded slowly. Hue removed his hand cautiously before turning to his weapon and lifting it towards the dark, pale eyes open alert and wide. It was similar to a harpoon gun but extremely lightweight and doubled as a blade, the head of the harpoon portion curved back over the gun like a scythe. The name of it escaped the man but he knew Hue was apt with it.

Addon shifted stiffly into a sitting position before turning on knee to unzip the satchel he had been sleeping on. With quiet hands he withdrew the weapon he had packed for himself. It was an acoustic rifle. Guns were one of a few weapons he had ever learned to use and the only kind he knew how to work efficiently at all.

June 16th, 2012, 10:40 PM
Interesting and unique language. There's a certain dialect, i dunno, I like it. :)

June 17th, 2012, 03:53 AM
Interesting and unique language. There's a certain dialect, i dunno, I like it. :)

Thank you. In dialect do you mean the speech of the characters or do you mean the writing itself?

Also for everyone else reading I went through and tried to catch all the words sticking together from copying everything over from Word. So it should be easier to read through.

Jon M
June 17th, 2012, 05:32 AM
I think the beginning has a lot of problems. Many of the details in the first paragraph seem to be written from the point of view of a character or characters, but none are introduced there. So it was very awkward to read. For example,

"The dryer ground was well cushioned but difficult to tread." -- difficult for whom?
"Even though it wasn't physically pleasant to travel it was attractive to the eyes." -- pleasant for whom; attractive to whom?

I found the introduction of the group needlessly vague, like some sort of cheap mystery. First they are, "four humans", then once a character speaks he of course doesn't have a name, but a description: "A shaggy haired dark skinned individual ..." and it is all very awkward for this reader.

I lost interest after five paragraphs. Not trying to offend, just being honest. A few reasons for this:

Changes in diction / awkward sentence construction, e.g., "The air was thick, humidity multiplying the sickly warmth of the planet." Multiplying is an odd choice here and doesn't sound good to my ear. Sounds a bit elevated, formal, mathematic compared to the rest of the sentence.
Passive writing, e.g., "Bark was covered by a symbiotic foliage ..." Instead of 'was covered', could be: "Symbiotic foliage covered ..."
The problems listed above. I suggest that you begin your stories with character, and that your descriptions come from your characters. For example, when you write "it wasn't physically pleasant to travel (but) it was attractive to the eyes" there ought to be a specific set of eyes you're talking about, belonging to a specific character.

Which is a more effective opening line? Compare:

"The air was thick, humidity multiplying the sickly warmth of the planet."

"It wasn't normally the ideal vacationspot for visitors but Eturi had a special appeal to the four humans ..."

"Eturi wasn't the best spot in the galaxy for a vacation, but something about the heat and the carpet of mossy vegetation and the ground that sucked at their boots held a special appeal for Bravo company, if they didn't think about it for longer than a couple seconds ..."

Two of these are horribly vague. In the first, which planet are we talking about? In the second, 'humans' could refer to a number of occupations, etc.

Hope this helps.

June 17th, 2012, 06:16 AM
Thank you very much. It gives me some things to fix and think over.
I did feel that I really disliked the beginning in particular but I don't know if it is because of the lack of character. It does settle into the definite viewpoint of Addon. No question. If the setting of the scene was too slow for people I will edit it in my next draft for sure.
All the comments on the sentence structure and wording I completely agree with! I think technically I have a long way to go and your input is very useful.

June 17th, 2012, 09:02 AM
What I meant by dialect, i think, was overall. like the entirety of your writing. Perhaps I meant style.

like this part:

"Hue the last of Addon's hired trio turned his gaze back at the others, his vision falling on Varla. His weapon rested gingerly across his knees for the time being. It looked precious to him. Not something he ever liked letting go of. He said nothing and kept to himself as he occupied the edge of their camp, a solitary bird of prey."

Is a good example, it's very flavorful and flows very well. Good word usage!

June 17th, 2012, 11:54 AM
I have to say I really like the potential in this, but I agree with JonM that the lack of a definite character at the start robs the opening of some perspective. The narrator's descriptions of the jungle are somewhat left floating with no one to relate them to. The same goes for the introduction to the other characters - it can be more interesting to describe characters subjectively rather than objectively. If there was a Wikipedia article written for your story then it might describe the characters as you have, but I really want to feel that I'm there as part of the group. For a companion narrator, defining characteristics wouldn't be things like hair or physical build, they would be more unique and personal than that, which is why I felt the introduction to Hue was by far the most interesting.

It's been mentioned I think, but there's something very peculiar going on with the way you word things. I don't know if you wrote it in a fit of enthusiasm and then missed going back, but there are places where the phrasing is borderline nonsensical. Just to take the first couple of paragraphs quickly:

Perhaps try "It was as deadly as it was vast" instead of "it was as vast as it was known for being deadly."

I might say "None of them paid much attention", instead of "much mind", as you would tell someone to Pay attention! but Pay mind! doesn't make sense.

Presumably you should put "moved steadily", instead of "steady"

I would suggest "little to no conversation", instead of "little to no words"

Also consider "They hunkered down beneath the overarching root of a monstrous tree", instead of "They hunkered down in a a sort of cove made by an overarching root to a monstrous tree"

With regards to setting out speech: '"Dialogue, dialogue, dialogue," someone said.' is all one sentence so the s in someone needs to be lowercase and there should be a comma (or question/exclamation mark) at the end of the dialogue, but not a full stop.

Anyway, as I said, I think there's a lot to like here and going through it to check for clunky wording, narration and structure would really pay dividends. Hope that helps!

June 17th, 2012, 09:13 PM
Thanks for the input. I haven't edited it yet so these are all good things to look at as I go through. It is a first draft and I've avoided over editing right away so I can run through everything before I get caught up in revisions.

Thanks again! You all have been very useful.