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Save.Face.
March 17th, 2013, 12:09 AM
An idea I'm trying to work out. Is it discernible? I picked a place and began writing, so I'm not sure if I need more exposition than I've put into it. Enjoy! Or don't. Either way, feedback always helps. :)


The pack was hungry. I could hear their moaning song, deep and gravelled, resonant in the hollow of my chest even from this distance. Their speed was unmatched, their sight flawless, their power peerless. What was left of this squad wouldn't stand a chance.
"Nine, set the charges, were leaving." I whispered over the warcomm. We would bury our enemies beneath miles of ice before we left this good forsaken moon.
Travers came loping down the tunnel, pack in one hand, his other muscled appendage buried to the elbow, digging for the proper charge. Thermal charges would be useless, the pack would see them and be out of range before they went off. Had to go old fashioned this time. Concussion mines, set in the faults in the tunnels would do the trick.

"Why were there outriders." Doran, thinking aloud.

"Outriders scout for the packs, that means they're near," Scarecrow said in a matter-of-fact tone. Doran shook his head, not bothering to thank him for stating the obvious.
Travers took his time, as always, and I didn't mind. He never got it wrong. Never.

"That's that, boss, can we fuckun' boogie now?" Travers was spooked. He stood and hoisted his pack onto his shoulders. I nodded. He was the most sensitive to the Aura, when he said it was time to go, you listened.

"Doran," I called over my shoulder.

"Already patched through, boss," my warcomm specialist was always a step ahead. He gasped between breaths, clutching a torn side from our brush with the pack's outsiders "The blast pod hits in twelve minutes, I'll have a location before we're topside." I felt as exhausted as he looked, but now was no time to let it show.

"Let's go." That was all the command they needed. We ran. No rearguard, no weapons unslung, just a dead sprint back through the labyrinth of ice to the surface. I called a tab check and got back the count for our six remaining men. Fourteen tabs.
Not good, if we missed that blast pod. Each tab had a six hour effectiveness, and we would still be violently sick with the proximity of a close quarters run in with a pack that size. Travers was already struggling to keep his stomach from erupting past his mouth.

"Proximity!" Doran gripped his head where the proximity implant was undoubtedly seeing in his scalp behind his ear.

"Distance!?" I shouted at Doran as we ran. Travers answered for him by dropping like meat from a hook and wretching what little his bowels held. He was fumbling in his chest pocket as I snapped my fingers for Amos and Scarecrow to pick him up. No doubt he would crack another tab and pretend he was fine. The pack song was almost deafening now, rumbling in our bones.

"Eight hundred yards, they'll be on us in minutes, boss!" Doran snapped a plastic tube and pulled the needle from it, jabbing it into his side, inhaling sharply. Stims, to fight the drowsiness of the blood he'd lost.

"Get him!" Quentin screamed, and I whirled to see Travers rising, not with a fresh suppression tab, but with the dull silver of a detonator in his hand.

"Fuck, Travers, NO." I pointed at him, glaring with all my might, struggling to concentrate as the growing pack song rumbled in my skull. He wiped his slobbering mouth and laughed.

"You can eat a dick, boss, they'll pass those charges before the timer blows em!" He was right, we knew. But a quarter mile blast radius in these tunnels, and only half the range with the detonator...
He turned and started a wobbly run, but Amos darted forward and sent him sprawling with a foot to the back. He stepped over Travers and palmed the detonator, holding up his sidearm in the other hand. And Silent Amos spoke the only sentence I'd ever heard him speak.

"You all need to go." His solemn mask radiated pain from the eyes. Quentin started to scream at his brother, and Amos ripped the front of his greatcoat open, revealing the purple and black splotches on his chest. The Black. Shit.
I nodded to him as he tossed me his suppression tabs and calmly jogged out of sight. He was a dead man anyway.
The crew had seen it too, and when we'd subdued Quentin and gotten Travers to his feet, we ran for the surface.

"BLAST!!" Doran' s warning wasn't quick enough to save us from the shock wave, but we managed some form of bracing, and found the surface minutes later. "He didn't get em all, boss," Doran heaved as we waited for him to open the blast pod.
"What does it matter, anyway, ya ugly prick?" Quentin slumped to the ground, letting his pack drop and his rifle clatter away. Doran let the comment pass unanswered. Travers stopped wretching and dry-heaving long enough to speak.

"Oh it matters, Q," he said, hacking and clutching at his torso. "There's WAY more of those fuckun' things than we thought. I can feel em." I looked to the specialist with the proximity implant. Doran met my eyes and nodded.

"Thousands down there," he spoke softly. Even with the stims he was getting groggy. Quentin just sat, uncaring, his face slack, eyes distant. Doran keyed the last of the codes and the hatch of the blast pod hissed open. I ushered the squad in, strapping Doran's weakened body down myself.

"Whatever Cronus sent us down there for... they're after it too." Scarecrow whistled. He No one had the energy to thank him for stating the obvious. He pressed his palm to the blast pad, and collapsed as the pod detonated the ground below it with the force of its skyward thrust. We could all sleep for the few minutes it would take for the ship to catch us. All but me.
I was down from twelve to five men, and we never found what we were after. Enemy presence was minimal, they had said. Well, outriders had killed seven of my bastards; seven of the vilest heathens I'd collected in this war, and outriders were never the vanguard of packs, they scouted for hordes, legions. An entire legion could be down there!
Someone fucked up. And if that fuck up cost us, I would make sure it cost them. Just as soon as this ride was over...

Apple Ice
March 17th, 2013, 11:45 PM
Is this going to be the opening chapter? I guess if it is then everything will become apparent later. The only qualm i have with it is the lack of surrounding description, i have a terrible ability to picture scenes if it's not told to me.

Other than that though i enjoyed it. Things rarely hold my attention and the way you simply referred to them as the "pack" was a very nice touch I thought, it builds suspense and kept me wondering about them. So yes, seems like a good story line and interesting.

Gasher
March 18th, 2013, 02:59 PM
I felt there was too much dialog and not enough description. You have to go easy on the reader in short fiction like this; you don't have time to let us acclimate to your universe without meeting us part way. What I did gather was that this group of marines (scout party maybe) were looking for something and there were creatures of a sort impeding their progress. Also the climate was hostile as it "corrupted the blood" and made you nauseous--what was that about exactly? Also, things like describing the radio as a warcomm make the military theme seem forced. I was disappointed that we never got to see the creatures, since you foreshadowed them so nicely with the opening line.

The other thing I'll caution against is throwing too many characters into the mix right away. It's hard enough to make the reader care about one character. If you're dead set on doing it, I'd recommend shifting the focus from the characters to the scene, like if you're talking about a company of soldiers on a battlefield, make most of the description about the battlefield rather than what the soldiers are saying to one another. This lets us get acquainted to them by making us feel more like we're a part of the group as we can see what's going on and relate better to their emotions.

Save.Face.
March 19th, 2013, 01:10 AM
I felt like I rushed this scene, but I was so intent on getting the events out while I had the idea. The rewrite should be a bit more polished. Here it is, I hope it doesn't exacerbate any confusion.
Thanks for the feedback, guys!



The pack was hungry. I could hear their moaning song, deep and gravelled, resonant in the hollow of my chest even from this distance. The enemy was highly sentient, but the packs were feral when they found prey. Their speed was unmatched, their sight flawless, their power peerless. What was left of this squad wouldn't stand a chance.
"Nine, set the charges, were leaving." I whispered over the warcomm. We would bury our enemies beneath miles of ice before we left this good forsaken moon.
Travers came loping down the tunnel, pack in one hand, his other muscled appendage buried to the elbow, digging for the proper charge. Thermal charges would be useless, the pack would see them and be out of range before they went off. Had to go old fashioned this time. Concussion mines, set in the faults in the tunnels would do the trick.
Something had made these tunnels, made the air that flows through them, managed to keep an atmosphere down here that we could breathe. Whether we did it, or the pack that we were fleeing did it, Cronus hadn't said. Nor would they, if we had dared to ask. Some things are best left alone.

"Why were there outriders," Doran, thinking aloud.

"Outriders scout for the packs, that means they're near," Scarecrow said in a matter-of-fact tone. Doran shook his head, not bothering to thank him for stating the obvious.
I could still see the outriders, bipedal Sunday looking monstrosities, skinned every movement was fluid, deadly. Skin like wet starfish, the red of human blood absorbing into the porous hides as they tore apart Connor first, then Lewis, and clawed and gnashed their way through us. That far from the pack, their auras went unnoticed through the defense of our suppression tabs. We killed all eight of them in that confined space, but it had cost us half or squad strength. And these outriders were different. Deadlier.
Travers took his time, as always, and I didn't mind. He never got it wrong. Never.

"That's that, boss, can we fuckun' boogie now?" Travers was spooked. He stood and hoisted his pack onto his shoulders. I nodded. He was the most sensitive to the Aura, when he said it was time to go, you listened.

"Doran," I called over my shoulder.

"Already patched through, boss," my warcomm specialist was always a step ahead. He gasped between breaths, clutching a torn side from our brush with the pack's outriders.
" Their not happy we're leaving, but they couldn't object when I sent them the data on the pack size and location. The blast pod hits in twelve minutes, I'll have a location on it before we're topside." I felt as exhausted as he looked, but now was no time to let it show.

"Let's go." That was all the command they needed. We ran. No rearguard, no weapons unslung, just a dead sprint back through the labyrinth of ice to the surface. I called a tab check and got back the count for our six remaining men. Fourteen tabs.
Not good, if we missed that blast pod. Each tab had a six hour effectiveness, and we would still be violently sick with the proximity of a close quarters run in with a pack that size. Travers was already struggling to keep his stomach from erupting past his mouth.

"Proximity!" Doran gripped his head where the proximity implant was undoubtedly searing in his scalp behind his ear.

"Distance!?" I shouted at Doran as we ran. Travers answered for him by dropping like meat from a hook and wretching what little his bowels held. He was fumbling in his chest pocket as I snapped my fingers for Amos and Scarecrow to pick him up. No doubt he would crack another tab and pretend he was fine. The pack song was almost deafening now, rumbling in our bones.

"Eight hundred yards, they'll be on us in minutes, boss!" Doran snapped a plastic tube and pulled the needle from it, jabbing it into his side, inhaling sharply. Stims, to fight the drowsiness of the blood he'd lost.

"Get him!" Quentin screamed, and I whirled to see Travers rising, not with a fresh suppression tab, but with the dull silver of a detonator in his hand.

"Fuck, Travers, NO." I pointed at him, glaring with all my might, struggling to concentrate as the growing pack song rumbled in my skull. He wiped his slobbering mouth and laughed.

"You can eat a dick, boss, they'll pass those charges before the timer blows em!" He was right, we knew. But a quarter mile blast radius in these tunnels, and only half the range with the detonator...
"You don't know how many there are. "There's -acgkk!!" He puked again, steadying himself on an icy wall, "So fuckun' many down there!"

"I don't care, Travers, we'll outrun them." I breathed angrily.

"Not all of us," Doran whispered. That fuck.
Travers turned and started a wobbly run, but Amos darted forward and sent him sprawling with a foot to the back. He stepped over Travers and palmed the detonator, holding up his sidearm in the other hand. And Silent Amos spoke the only sentence I'd ever heard him speak.

"You all need to go." His solemn mask radiated pain from the eyes. Quentin started to scream at his brother, and Amos ripped the front of his greatcoat open, revealing the purple and black splotches on his chest. The Black. Shit.
I nodded to him as he tossed me his suppression tabs and calmly jogged out of sight. He was a dead man anyway.
The crew had seen it too, and when we'd subdued Quentin and gotten Travers to his feet, we ran for the surface. Quentin was in a rage, and we all understood, but it took a gun at his back to press him onward. He almost made me shoot him. Poor Amos.

The black was common among veterans in the probe squads. Deserters, criminals, fuck ups, we were all sent into the Probe Corps for one reason or another. It was a death sentence. Such close contact with the enemy was poison to our species, and the Probe Corps got the worst of that close contact systemwide. From the moment we met these creatures we began dying.
Sentient beings with feral sub species of so many types, each version of the foe had a type of aura, and the poison effect was stronger when they gathered.
The brains on Luna said it was their souls. No one cares what the fuck it is out here. It would poison us even if the things didn't kill us the old fashioned way, and these suppression tabs don't block their auras completely. Even with them, we're on a timer. Dead men, all of us.

"BLAST!!" Doran' s warning wasn't quick enough to save us from the shock wave, but we managed some form of bracing. The heat was enough to set the tunnel walls dripping. They were frozen again by the time Doran had led us back to the surface, only minutes later. We had to shut Quentin out of the comm after the blast. Even after he stopped screaming, his ragged breaths were haunting.

The snowscape was absolute hell, just the way we'd left it. We donned the suits we'd left at the cave entrance that led to the tunnels, pointedly ignoring the seven extra suits on the frosted ground. Full life support systems on, Travers was the only one with any problems. He was still battling his vomit for supremacy of his throat.
Our drop pods were already buried in the ice gale, there was no visible trace of or presence here. The blast pod, our only way out of here, was half buried by the time we had trudged the two miles to it under a twilight sky turned white with the non stop snowstorm. Shit visibility. One second exposed to this atmosphere would see us flash frozen and shared by the first piece of debris that flew by. And the pack could move in this. In their bare skin.

"Scarecrow!" Travers yelled, bending to grip his ankle, "I've got puke in this suit up to my knees!" The two of them cackled for a second, falling into an awkward silence. Not even Travers could break the gloom this goose chase had set on us.

"He didn't get em all, boss," Doran said with a laborious inhale. He worked calmly as we waited for him to open the blast pod.

"What does it matter, anyway, ya ugly prick?" Quentin slumped to the ground, letting his pack drop and his rifle clatter away. Doran let the comment pass unanswered, Quentin was calmer than we'd expected. Must have been the exhaustion. Travers stopped wretching and dry-heaving long enough to speak.

"Oh it matters, Q," he said, hacking and clutching at his torso. "There's WAY more of those fuckun' things than we thought. I can feel em." I looked to the specialist with the proximity implant. Doran met my eyes and nodded.

"Thousands down there," he spoke softly. Even with the stims he was getting groggy. Quentin just sat, uncaring, his face slack, eyes distant. The snow blew past his visor, piling on him as he sat, until he began to look more like a frozen carcass than squad man eleven. Doran keyed the last of the codes and the hatch of the blast pod hissed open. I ushered the squad in, strapping Doran's weakened body down myself.

"Whatever Cronus sent us down there for... they're after it too." Scarecrow whistled. No one had the energy to thank him for stating the obvious. Dumbest pilot we'd ever had. Longest living, but most definitely the dumbest.
He pressed his palm to the blast pad, and collapsed as the pod detonated the ground below it with the force of its skyward thrust. We could all sleep for the hour it would take for the ship to catch us. All but me.
I was down from twelve to five men, and we never found what we were after. Enemy presence minimal, they had said. Well, outriders had killed seven of my bastards; seven of the vilest heathens I'd collected in this war, and outriders were never the vanguard of packs, they scouted for hordes, legions. Fuck, an entire legion could be down there! That still didn't explain the uniqueness of them.
When they found us they should have tried to stall us, the way an outrider patrol would normally do. Stall the enemy, wait for the pack to overtake their position. They're no match for humans,in most cases. These outriders hardened their hides and went straight for the kill. And they almost succeeded. I watched their starfish skin sop up blood as it sprayed from gouges, saw them deflect normal slugs and felt the resistance of their flesh on the sharp end of my own combat knife. They seemed...enhanced.
Someone fucked up. And if that fuck up cost us, I would make sure it cost them. Just as soon as this ride was over...



.

Saiknohx
March 19th, 2013, 03:31 AM
So is this a prequel to or beginning of the other story you posted? With every character introduced I kept wondering if it was the one you'd mentioned before.

Save.Face.
March 19th, 2013, 06:19 AM
This is a rough of the first scene, I've not posted any writing on this story arc aside from some plot ideas in another thread. The post just above yours is a rewrite of this thread. Work in progress. I'm horrid with dialogue. Aaaand I just saw your post on my other thread. Yes. First scene from that thread is here.

archer88iv
March 19th, 2013, 09:00 PM
Read it through without stopping to make notes--which is a good sign, actually, I think; the fact that I didn't think, "Hey, I should open notepad..." Yeah. Good sign. I thought it was very effective.

Making notes on my second read.


I thought the "muscled appendage" bit was a little forced.


I'm not certain you take advantage of the first person perspective, here. Now, the scene is very effective, as I mentioned earlier, but I almost forgot that it was in first person by the end.


Actually, maybe that's a good thing. Too often, the perspective character butts into the narrative. Ok, I officially like that. Nevermind my earlier comment. I'm sure if you needed the character to butt in, they would have.


"We would bury our enemies..." That line is a great stinger, but it's kind of like popping someone with a rubber band--you gotta pull it back far enough. Building a little more tension before laying out the plan of action might be effective.


And not much, you know. Just maybe an extra sentence.


You alternate between "outsiders" and "outriders."


No time for a rearguard, but time to count tabs. Actually, they *probably* aren't counting, but rather simply approximating from memory. I wouldn't bring it up at all, but I want to be thorough.


Description for the blast radius vs. transmitter range thing could be clearer. It took me a second glance (or a third) to gather what exactly the problem was. Kind of a sly suicide.


You do "state the obvious" twice in one scene. Dunno if that bugs you the way it bugs me. :)

Save.Face.
March 19th, 2013, 09:22 PM
The outriders/outsiders is a typo from my kindle's autocorrect feature. I thought I'd gotten them all, but hey.
I wanted a cheesy, easy way to describe scarecrow, with the captain obvious lines. It's like a running joke. If it's familiar, you get to be proud you've remembered it and now you're on the author's side. I could find a cleverer way to use it, though.
And the first person character is not one I'm comfortable with, but I loathe seeing so many 'I did' and 'I said' sentences in first person stories. Ugh. Hopefully the first person feel isn't compromised because of it. Thanks, archer. (Which is currently one of my favorite shows.)

archer88iv
March 19th, 2013, 09:32 PM
Funnily enough, it's one of mine, too--though I wanted to hate it for stealing my actual surname. :)

No, the first person felt great. I would shoot for three instances of being "obvious" in order to make it clearly intentional; funny things tend to be funnier in threes, I'm told, though I'm not at all experienced in writing for comedic effect. Not deliberately, anyway.

Save.Face.
March 19th, 2013, 10:10 PM
I'll bet I could throw in a third instance. He is my cheater's way of delivering exposition into the storyline sometimes, it's part of the reason I put him there.

Definitely jealous of the surname. Mine is slightly...plainer.