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heir_of_isildur0
December 22nd, 2012, 01:17 AM
I've been working on this one for awhile. I'm pasting it from Word and I don't understand why it didn't copy the paragraph settings. I'm using a book format so on there it looks completely fine but here its just a little too spaced out...
Anyway here's chapter one, I have eight total right now and so I don't flood the forum I'll wait a day or two between postings.







North Training Complex-Inner Building 12:35 pm Feb. 28th 2109

Quiet. It was too quiet. . Mark shifted his rifle against his shoulder as his eyes danced around in the mock twilight. The north training complex’s inner building had a perfectly lit artificial sky, giving the illusion that he was actually outside. Black pillars stretched in front of him, jutting from the ground like an alien planet city. He took a deep breath and edged forward slowly, turning into a hallway, if that’s what it was. He couldn’t see light on the other side, but he also didn’t know where else to go that he hadn’t checked.
OK, bend your knees to stay low, he thought, remembering his training. Sweep the gun back and forth across the-

BAM! BAM! BAM! Shots echoed behind him as he spun around, only to have something bowl him over. His head hit the ground with a loud smack. Whatever it was had landed right on top of him, constricting his breathing. He tried to gasp for air but when he did hair flowed into his mouth, causing him to choke and spit.

“Stop eating my hair!” came a shout from atop him. The hair removed itself from his mouth as someone got off him. He then saw that it was Victoria. Victoria was the top in his class at everything, and flaunted it. Standing 5’4” didn’t worry her one bit as she stood up to numerous superiors and others who were well over a foot above her head.

Mark reminded himself to breathe as he got up rubbing his aching head, marveling at how amazing she looked even in uniform. Her black jumpsuit matched his; she had refused the female tailored ones because they accentuated the breasts. Even having the male jumpsuit didn’t matter; Mark had made a point of earlier (to himself of course).

His eyes left her body and trailed up to her face. Dark brown almond shaped eyes matched her curly shoulder length hair, all framing her face. She had what they used to call back in the early 21st century a “beauty mark” on her left cheek somewhat above her lips.

Her eyes narrowed as she looked at him. “Done? Great! Let’s go!” She strode forward and grabbed him, hauling him back down the hallway he had just come down.

“Um why…what are you doing?” he managed to finally say as they got to the end of the hallway.

She turned toward him and tilted her head to the left and smiled.

“Ever heard of a human shield?” she asked.

Mark paled when she said this, taking an involuntary gulp of air as she began pushing down a path that he guessed she knew was the right one for this exercise. He had no idea what to do because something like this was not in their field guide that was issued. He tried to stop a few times but she kept pushing him forward, even hitting him once in the back of the head with the butt of her rifle. After about 10 minutes of walking she finally stopped him.

“You hear that?’ she asked, ‘I swear I think I just heard something.”

Mark just looked at her, wondering why she was even consulting him, seeing how he was her prisoner at the moment.

Ugh, he thought, way to go letting a girl take you prisoner with the intent to use you as a human shield against the squad leaders. Everyone is going to get a huge laugh out of this…

Something made a noise to his left, snapping him back to the present. Victoria got down on a knee and let loose a barrage of bullets at it. She stopped abruptly, staring out into the dark searching. Mark saw his opportunity and backed up quietly, taking extra caution not to trip. He made it about five feet when he felt a barrel push into his back. His rifle was taken from his hands.

Great. Just great.

The barrel urged him back forward. This time he didn’t take care to mask his steps. Victoria heard and turned around, only to find that she was surrounded by a dozen more barrels. As Mark stepped forward hands up he saw her face tense as she pressed her lips together in anger.

Uh oh. I’ve seen that face before…last time that happened she put a captain in the hospital.

“Drop your weapon. Now.” came a voice from the shadows.

Victoria smiled, but didn’t drop her weapon.

A man came out of the shadows. Mark felt his stomach drop. It was Captain Alden. The very same captain Victoria had put into the hospital previously. Victoria just kept smiling as the tall man with short blonde hair and blue eyes stepped forward.

“I said drop your weapon!” he yelled, seething as he did so. His had a feral look, his nose wrinkling with anger. Victoria just shook her head and smiled. Mark could see her eyes darting from Alden to him and narrowing. Alden strode forward just as she looked at him, not smiling anymore. The look of rage on her face was unmistakable.

With a growl Victoria shoved the midsection of her rifle into his face as hard as she could, invoking blood from the captain’s nose. He fell back screaming as two others replaced him, aiming their rifles at her. She ran forward and slid between them, using her elbows to trip them. The two stumbled forward, accidentally shooting their rifles, which were both aimed toward Mark.

He sank down to the ground as fast as he could, feeling his hair get pushed backward in two sections. Now that, Mark, is what a close call is. There were two loud clunks behind him. There were some behind me?

Peering back up he could see Victoria making her way this way and that, breaking bones and vaulting herself over the group of squad leaders. It seemed she was everywhere at once, attacking with everything she had. Mark could barely make out her face. He saw that her eyes were wild, yet focused. She knew what she was doing.

It was all over in about 45 seconds, Victoria standing in midst of squad leaders lying on the ground, groaning at their wounds. Mark stood up and strode forward. She heard him and swung around to her left. Mark realized he had made a big mistake and ducked just as her elbow hit where his head had been just before. She rebounded and jabbed with her left. Mark stuck out his hand and grabbed her wrist, his other hand stuck out underneath, fingers fully spread.

“Stop, stop, stop! It’s me!” he stammered as fast as he could. Victoria’s eyes rolled. She drew him close, looking him directly in the eyes. Mark had never had a girl this close before, and tried not to be bothered, but this was Victoria here. He knew his eyes betrayed how scared he was because her face drew into an evil smile. She slammed her right fist into his stomach, fully knocking the air out of him as he staggered against her, only to find that she had moved out of the way. He fell down on his shoulder with a loud thud.

Great. Head, stomach, and now shoulder hurts like a mother.

Victoria watched him stagger up slowly, a look of disgust on her face.

“What is your deal?’ she asked, ‘you're able to counter me but you are such a wimp! How is it that you even got this far?” She shook her head and darted off into the shadows.

He finished getting up as the training facility’s lights shifted back to daylight. He felt himself swaying from side to side. His head was burning on its left side now. He rubbed the spot and felt blood. The mere sight of it made him nauseous. His vision began to fade as his limbs went limp. He thought he heard voices to his left. As he turned toward them his numbed sense of momentum carried him too far and he fell forward and everything went black.

3 WEEKS LATER

Mark sat up. He knew something was wrong the moment he had awakened from his nap. Looking to his bedside table he saw his digital clock read 7:27pm. He darted out of bed and ran to his closet. Pulling the door open too fast, with a sharp twang he found himself on the ground again. It had hit his head when he opened it.

How do I do that? I am so clumsy it makes me sick…literally.

He got back up and slipped his uniform on, zipping up the front of the black and blue jacket. After pulling his pants and boots on, he stopped to look in the mirror. He had turned 20 back in October, thus signifying him a man and able to join the academy. This also issued in almost 4 months of grueling training in combat and tactics, not to mention piloting as well. He was of what he would call an average build; not having particularly big muscles but not small ones either. His messy brown hair was not quite shaggy and straight as can be. He never had known what to do with his hair so he dug back into the past and found that “emo” cuts( although he had no idea what it was) suited him perfectly. Side swept bangs and layered hair set him apart from all the short cropped hair of everyone else, and he liked it. Deep blue eyes stared back at him, the light hitting them at an angle that made them sparkle with intensity. His nose and mouth to him were boring, and proportionate. If he had his way he would have made them either abnormally big or small so he could be even more different.

For some reason Mark never dreaded being different. While other recruits concentrated on wooing the opposite sex during their brief periods of leave, Mark buried himself in comics and historical books. He liked to delve into the past because of how interesting things were. The Quarem library held thousands of comic books just waiting to be read, the oldest one dating all the way back to 2002. Spencer, the librarian, had made it a hobby to preserve them as best he could. Every time Mark stayed after hours in the library to talk with Spencer, upon leaving with the librarian, he would see Spencer remove the oxygen from the building.

Mark’s favorite comics were those with darker characters like Batman, but he really liked the Teen Titans. A group of teen superheroes was just a fun adventure he wished he could experience in real life, although he knew he never would. He didn’t have friends as close as the Titans. Standing in front of his mirror, he saw himself sigh. He didn’t really have any friends at all.

Or family…

He glanced at the time again and freaked out. It was now 7:39 and he was going to be late. The walk to the Quarem Graduation Center took at least 5 minutes at the minimum. If he was fast, he just might make it.

He reached into his pocket and pulled out a thin metal box. He pushed a blue button on the box and it floated up into the air. It turned inside out and a small hole formed. Out of the hole fell a skateboard. Mark smiled. The only one in existence was his to use. He jumped on the board and pushed the box back into his pocket. He grinned at passersby as he boarded. They had never seen a skate board before because it was a dead technology. But it was going to get him to the center faster than if he’d walked.


*****

Victoria sat next to an empty chair. Oh where is he? She turned around to look at the doors, seeing recruits come in but nobody with the ridiculous haircut that he had. Victoria thought it made him look unprofessional and childish.

Why does he have to screw up everything he does? I still don’t get how he’s graduating despite the fact that he failed the combat exercise. But still…he dodged AND stopped two hits from me. He’s got skills…even though he doesn’t know it.

She heard the doors close and a pack of important looking people started taking the stage. Head Chairman Eric Gustav took the podium and tested the microphone before proceeding.

“Welcome, welcome! To all new recruits and their families! It is such a joyous day-” he began but wasn’t able to finish. The doors thundered open with a loud WHAM! Someone covered in cabbage flew into the room and skidded to a stop atop a board that had four wheels.

Oh this is too good! I have to get a picture!

Quickly she pulled out her Imagecrafter and snapped a picture.

The plans I have for that picture…
*****


Too late.

Mark glanced around the room, eyes searching for his spot. He grimaced as he saw that he had to sit next to Victoria. Mark shot into a salute as he saw Head Chairman Gustav descend from the stage and stride over to him. As Mark saluted, cabbage fell off him in heaps, spraying everywhere. One piece landed in front of Gustav. Gustav glanced down at it.

“What happened?” he asked.

“Artificial cabbage patch sir.”

Gustav heaved a sigh and looked at Mark, still at attention. His eyes showed a deep disappointment, and Mark wondered whether he was going to graduate today. But Gustav just shook his head and motioned Mark to take his seat. As he went to take it he glanced at Victoria, who was looking like she was about to bust out laughing at any second.

Gustav made his way back to the podium and restarted the ceremony. As the recruits were called by name they ascended the stage and received brass dog tags. Mark knew that the dog tags were just a symbol and that after the ceremony he’d have to give them back.

Calling out the names didn’t take as long as he thought it would. Looking around, he saw why. There were just a little under three dozen recruits graduating. Maybe everyone is too scared of the outside.

Mark shivered. Just thinking of the outside of the city made his skin crawl. He noticed everyone was suddenly looking at him. His eyes widened and he strode forward to the steps to the stage. He carefully picked his way up them, thinking that tripping would just be another embarrassment. When he got to the top he smiled and let the air out of his lungs. He kept on toward the center of the stage and accepted his tags from Gustav, who wasn’t smiling. Gustav didn’t even shake his hand, but turned back to the microphone and called the next name

Mark just shrugged and moved toward the down steps of the stage. This time he went a little too fast. A loud WHAM! echoed throughout the room as he landed face first on the floor. He could feel his face grow hot as his anger at himself grew. He could hear Victoria openly laughing along with other recruits. Pulling himself up faster than he would have imagined, he bolted out the side door of the building. He ran two blocks and turned left into an old parking garage. He slowed to a jog and went all the way up to the top.

It was all Mark could do to not collapse. He didn’t want to, so he walked over to the edge of the garage and set his hands down on the outside railing of the building. He leaned his head back and closed his eyes, breathing in heavily and letting it out slow. His face and ears were burning; a sharp reminder of his embarrassment that he wished would go away. He opened his eyes and peered at the horizon, seeing beyond the edge of the city walls. The barren wasteland outside New Dallas held no plant life. The ground was a dull gray, seeming to be poisoned by the very wind that whipped about it.
For some reason looking out beyond the city always calmed Mark down. If he was ever depressed he could look out at the world and see that his depression was insignificant compared.

Someday…something needs to be done about the Earth. I can’t believe that humans have survived this long without plants. Whatever is creating oxygen, I don’t see it. Everything is dead. Well, dead-ish…

As he looked out his attention was drawn to something moving on the main road from the city. Mark leaned forward, squinting as he tried to make out what it was. To him it looked like some kind of car, just driving along as if everything was okay. Mark wished he had brought his binoculars. Suddenly he heard something behind him, the ever so slight noise of boots scuffing on concrete.

He spun swiftly and narrowly avoided a fist that swung from his left. He launched himself forward and jutted out his knee and connected it with the assailant’s stomach. Mark realized too late he put too much momentum into it and stumbled forward, landing on top of his attacker. He pulled up his head and saw that he was lying on top of a smirking Victoria.

“So I see you’ve also graduated from just looking to touching,” she said, her eyes directing his downward. His right hand was resting on her chest.

Mark jerked upward as quickly as he was able, desperate to get away from the crazed eyes that stared at him. He stumbled backward, his hands in front of him signaling a truce.

“Hey you attacked me just now! I just reacted the best I could and…it happened!” Mark yelled at her as she got off the ground.

Victoria just laughed hysterically, slapping her knee. “Just listen to you! You are so pathetic!’ She moved closer, her face turning serious, ’How did you manage to graduate when you are nothing but a loser?”

Mark stayed silent as she began to pace.

“I mean seriously, I work my ass off almost every second of the day to keep myself at perfect mental and physical shape and you-you just read books all day!” she yelled, pointing her finger at him. Mark raised an eyebrow as he saw her face redden.

“What’s your gauntlet time?” she asked, her face twisted in anger.

“Um, um...’ Mark stammered, trying to remember, ‘I’m not sure…exactly… to be honest I don’t even think they told me.”

Victoria’s shoulders sagged, apparently giving up trying to figure him out. She frowned and said, “You don’t know. That’s your answer. Well what DO you know!?”

Mark couldn’t think of what to say, so he just shrugged his shoulders and lowered his head instinctively. He turned back toward the wasteland and sighed.

“What do I know?’ he asked, almost to himself. He glanced back at her. ‘When you look outside the city what do you see?” he asked.

Victoria moved to the edge of the garage and swept her eyes across the horizon. As she did so a gust of wind swept her hair back, giving her the look of some stoic angel.

“I see trash…trash that needs to be exterminated. To the very last one.’ she said, turning away. ‘What do you see?” Mark thought he saw a glimmer in her eye.

Tears?

Mark shoved the idea from his mind and looked back out from the city. He closed his eyes and replied, “I see a damsel. One that needs saving.”

“What?” asked Victoria.

Mark opened his eyes and turned toward her. His eyes shone with a fury she had never seen before. “Do you not see how ugly the earth has become? Doesn’t it make you angry?”

Victoria raised her eyebrows. “It’s just dirt,” she said. She turned and walked away shaking her head.

Why does it seem I’m the only one who doesn’t worship concrete and metal?

Mark waited for a time before he headed back home.



Copyright 2012 via MyFreeCopyright

wehttam
December 22nd, 2012, 04:12 AM
The opening line is a cliche, and to be honest, that kinda sums up the whole story. The femme fatale, the main character whose primary character flaws are that he doesn't fit in and that he's clumsy, and the usual last bastion of society in a post-apocalyptic world, standard super soldier academy included.

Aside from the occasional grammatical error that could be fixed with a good read-through, this story is mechanically sound. Otherwise, it could use a serious dose of I don't know what. There's something about a good story that just pops out as soon as you start reading. And maybe it's just me, but I don't think this story has it.

monseratthefool
December 22nd, 2012, 04:59 AM
Full disclosure, I don't really feel any attraction to the futuristic action sci-fi type novel (not your fault, hehe!!!), however I wanted to have a read and see if I could stay interested.The previous reviewer is right; definitely don't start the chapter with a cliche. I understand the attraction of beginning a story in the middle of an action sequence, and it can certainly be pulled off, but I don't care enough about Mark at all to really feel at all invested in what's going on with him and Victoria. Perhaps try to find a way to flesh out some aspect of his personality very early on in order to give us something to care about regarding this particular exercise, otherwise, it's just like watching some poor sap be pathetic. Otherwise, I liked the use of the perceived emotions of the recruits to learn more about New Dallas, and am interested to know what would be on the outside...however, it sounds a little too desolate. A bit of mystery is drummed up, but maybe go even harder. Drop something truly unique and fascinating about the outside to make me wanna take that trip out there with you.

Thanks for the share!

heir_of_isildur0
December 22nd, 2012, 10:44 AM
Thanks guys, I actually agree with both of you whole-heartedly. I wrote this opening maybe 4 years ago and I've always felt it lacked the punch needed to get people interested. Sad enough, the great twist to the story doesn't occur until chapters 4-5, taking the story to a whole new direction(direction meaning genre). Mark IS supposed to be a pathetic sap and the majority of the story is his journey from clumsy idiot to well...lets just say its not a Luke Skywalker farmboy to Jedi or Harry Potter cupboard boy to savior wizard. I really appreciate the feedback because it confirmed exactly what I was thinking about it too. My mind may be to stuck on what's going to happen in the future lol