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Breaking Ice (1 Viewer)

torosuperfly16

Senior Member
This the beginning of a long story that I'm hoping I'll actually go through with finishing.

Prologue – The Final Years

I never thought I would ever do something like this... but I’m tired. Tired, depressed, and without any single reason to move forward. The world can find another hero... I just want to end everything for myself... my name won’t hold any more meaning in the world... a world that was probably doomed from the start... so who cares?

Ha, to think it all started out as something fun, something exciting... my curse was to have found that stupid thing, whatever it was... a crystal? Or just some weird, shiny rock? Well, it didn't matter. The point was that the day I found that, my entire world sunk to the lowest level imaginable.

I had been happy to be able to help out in fighting against those demons... happy to have acquired all this power... yes, I remember all those great times. I remember being so popular, so happy... I was more than a celebrity, I was like an icon for people everywhere!

Every enemy I faced would fall, bleeding, to the floor, and would not stand up again... and it made me feel so good. It's still quite a satisfying thought, actually... except for those other guys. Poor people. They weren't bad at all, they just didn't really know what was going on, they were confused... I mean, rebel against the people that were saving everyone? What was the point in that? But whatever... now everything is going to fall into chaos...
That last mission was so cool, too. I killed so much of those monsters in that cave... who would have thought that it would go all wrong in the end? We killed off one of their main commanders that day, what great teamwork that was... I remember... how we shredded him to pieces... even after it seemed all was lost. But that thing he was hiding... I wish we wouldn't have found it.

That stupid rock held an immense amount of power, and it seemed like a great discovery. Feeling all proud, I took it and pocketed it myself... I had been the hero, after all... why was I so stupid? Why couldn’t I foresee that it was incredibly stupid to do that? I put myself in a cage from the day I picked up that rock. It wasn't a half hour later that those huge birds had come swooping down and killed everyone around me all in the time that I blinked my eye. I drew my sword, thinking that I could dispose of them... I guess it was because I hadn't seen their speed. Being so fast, I hadn't really seen what they did to my comrades. I lasted... what? Twenty seconds? And even then I remember stupidly thinking that at least I hadn't died.

Still, why did they let me live? They just wanted the rock, right? I remember they just took it from me and locked me up in here. Why are they letting me live now? I know nothing about the outside world, but everyone here seems pretty chill and happy about everything. Everyone that passes by seems to have a smug smile on their face. Either their leader thought of some incredible plan, or their enemies were withering away... personally, it seems more likely that my comrades are dying... if they have creatures of great power like the ones that captured me, then there wasn't much that... what was our organization’s name again? Well them, there isn't much they could do. There were a few people here and there that might have been able to defeat them, but... no, things seem to be in a great crisis. Who knew, maybe the normal people had even found out that their world was infested with beasts and maniacs... as if half of them weren't beasts and maniacs already...

As the years have passed by, I seem to be growing weaker. Every morning when I wake up, my bones feel so stiff... and it's just so hard to get up. I wonder if it's just the lack of exercise in this little, dark, and cramped cell. They must not feed me very often either… I can hardly stand to look at the gray skin that thinly compresses my bones.
Escape. Something I still laugh about every time I think of it. I've tried everything, from brute force to searching for secret compartments, from killing to persuading the guards outside.
Now that even more years have passed by, I have both lost track of time and don’t care that I have. My skin is ashy, wrinkly, and dry. I feel old and weak. Hope... I guess I was always the type of guy who would have hope... but for some reason, I've forgotten what hope even feels like. I've forgotten how to feel every good feeling there is in the world... All I know now is despair, depression, weariness...
But now, a piece of this iron wall has chipped... maybe I can escape this world of suffering once and for all... ah, yeah, it's pretty damn sharp... whoa, I think I'm smiling, too. But I can’t help but remember that promise I made, so long ago...
 

Crash_Tomas

Senior Member
After the second paragraph a recurring thought kept bugging at me. All the ellipses. the .... and the .... they were nearly everywhere. I liked the premise of this Prologue, though titling it "the Final Years" seemed a bit counterproductive. Or just contradicting? Well, by the end of it I was like "whoa!" I want to know the promise! cos now there's a prologue before the prologue and how epic is that?

I think this could be worked around a whole lot and made way more into a great story. I want to see scenery and events. I want characters and interaction. Something that keeps me engrossed in the story. I think this prologue as it is can serve as a character development page, like background. I only say this because usually "prologues" tell a story before the story. Which sets up the future story that will be told. The story before should set up what comes next, you know?

I really enjoyed this as it is, I just think you could do a lot with it, since it reeks of potential. There's a gem here, and I know you've found it. You just need to polish and cut the thing out of the rock.

Good luck, hope this sort of helped. Though it wasn't a critique exactly.

Crash~
 

torosuperfly16

Senior Member
Thanks! There was a lot of ellipses because the whole prologue was actually the character's train of thought. I was kind of trying to briefly introduce a very important character that would surface later by showing a bit of him as the prologue, but if it's really not a good idea I suppose I could change it.
 

Crash_Tomas

Senior Member
I totally get the train of thought thing. But he just seems so uncertain with the ellipses. I just kind of figured he was a more confident character than always trying to think in the midst of his narrating. If that makes sense at all.
 

torosuperfly16

Senior Member
Oh, yeah, I get you. That was kind of the point, though, such a long imprisonment has made his mind befuddled and he's lost himself quite a bit.
 

The Jaded

Senior Member
I like the premise, and find myself wanting to know more. The prologue is telling the end of a rather unhappy tale, a tragedy. Yes, I agree with the point about the ellipses - they are perhaps too over-used, and there are other ways to show that the narrator's train of thought is wandering. For instance, you might have him think of something seemingly unrelated to the matter at hand rather than simply ending the paragraph with three (four?) little dots. That's my immediate thought anyway.
 

Elvenswordsman

WF Veterans
Ellipses... add... a... certain... quality... to... the... reading... process...

Annoying, right? Maybe, and this is my opinion, try using less... and more, and -. Good job, and keep posting!
 

torosuperfly16

Senior Member
Okay, I see what you guys mean. I'll edit that later, for now I'll post the next part. Oh and sorry if the paragraph spacing is a little off I had to do it manually cause when you copy it from Word it doesn't do it right.

Chapter 1 – KORE City

Fernando started pulling on jeans over his shorts, in a cheery mood along with everyone else for the win they had managed to get today.

"Tell me why we were savage today," one of his teammates said.

Everyone chuckled, picking up their bags and starting to walk towards the parking lot.

"Tell me why I scored a goal today," the same teammate said. "Tell me why Ivan missed that shot, though."

There were mixed replies of laughter and 'naaahs', and Fernando beckoned over to him, smiling.

"Tell me why I'm about to beat your ass," he said.

Omar shrugged.

"Cause you always ask why," he said, bumping him in the head and making him stumble back against the sidewalk. Everyone laughed at him, with increased intensity when he slipped on a puddle.

They were all walking together in a small group, either going home or to get picked up by their parents or someone else. Most of them were all in their last year of high school, and this included Fernando, who was relatively tall, with an athletic and typical soccer player build, with toned and defined muscles but still appearing relatively thin with clothes on. He had tan skin and straight hair that was flat on the front, going down onto to his forehead slightly, and which turned into a mohawk the rest of the trajectory across his head. The sides were fashionably cut in perfectly straight and curved lines, as was the style among many people his age. His eyes were a light brown, almost honey-colored, and shone brilliantly in the setting sun. His expression exuded a casual confidence that only served to highlight the attractive features of his face. He had full lips that he licked every so often just enough to moisten them a little. The only blemish was a thin line of a scar that stretched from his right eyebrow to his cheekbone.

The group started to diminish as some got in their cars and others found their rides already waiting for them. Soon, Fernando was left alone. He roamed around, looking for people he could talk to and checking his cell phone to see what time it was. The school wasn't very fancy once you delved deeper into it, but the front parking lot was the one area that seemed better set up. The small lanes for the cars were glossily painted and the sidewalks seemed newer and less chipped around here. There were a few pine trees outlining the walkways and a large grassy area with a stone wall and letters outlining the name of the school in the middle of all this, like an island along the crowds of parked cars. He always ended up being the last one of the team around here because, even though he had a car, there was something deeply satisfying about sitting on one of the yellow benches and plugging in his earphones for a while, meditating on the game and giving himself a personal evaluation. Besides, he had to admit that from the vantage point of someone else, he must look pretty badass, with an expression of concentration on his face and the sun shining off his tanned skin.

A shiny black Mercedes drove up and stopped in front of the yellow benches, disrupting Fernando’s thoughts. He looked around, wondering who was getting picked up in that car, but no one stepped up. The window rolled down and a young man with sunglasses was looking at him from the interior, around his age or maybe one or two years older.

Fernando ignored him, knowing that it was not a wise idea to have anything to do with this stranger. When the man saw this, he stepped out of the car and walked towards him. Fernando tensed his muscles, ready for anything.

"What do you want?" he asked.

*****

Once Daniel was outside the city and in the country that lay outside, he took out a cell phone and called the headquarters.

"All right, I got him in the car. Do you want me to go ahead and take him to the base?" he asked, his blue eyes sparkling slightly. He had straight, blonde hair that could be seen coming out on his forehead under the white hat he always wore, and he had a
muscular build. He had light skin that rippled with muscles, but he was not overly stocky. The orange horizon reflected strangely off of his deep, blue eyes.

He was already late, very late, in his recruiting these last two people. They were on the list of dossiers as very physically fit, and even possessed a greater degree of intelligence than most of the recruits he had picked up before. It seemed like such a waste to put them with the rest of the foot soldiers, but it could no longer be helped. Before he had left, he had the misfortune to run in with his family. They had not seen him, of course, but he hadn’t been able to help being enthralled with them for a while. He knew he couldn’t talk to them or contact them in any way ever again, as long as he lived. It had been so many years since he had seen them, though, and his eyes had seemed to grow hungry at their sight. No matter how long he stared, he could not get his fill of looking at them. The simple, mundane lives they led were uninteresting to say the least, but at least they were happy, and he could not help but stare at each and every resemblance of theirs that likened them to him. His brother’s deep set jaw, his mother’s blue eyes, his father’s mouth.

A deep and commanding voice came from the other line. "Remember to make sure no one is watching."

Daniel placed the phone in the passenger's seat and opened the glove compartment, taking a small device with a small blue button in the middle. He grabbed it at the ready with one hand and steered the wheel with the other. He quickly looked around. There were grape vines on both sides of him, and a few cars along the road, but none of them seemed to be cops. He pressed harder on the gas, accelerating to nearly 100 miles per hour. In a few minutes, he finally came across the desired street and made a right. The grape vines were still on both sides but the road was now dirt instead of cement. A house finally came in view, and he started paying closer attention to the land around him, looking for haystacks. Finally he came across an open piece of grass with a haystack and a large piece of tin propped up against it.

This must be it,
he thought. Accelerating to the top speed of the car, he drove straight onto the makeshift ramp, making the car fly in the air. He pressed the button on the small device and a disturbance in the space in front of the car materialized. He
quickly looked to the side. From the window of the house, a man in black clothes was nodding, and then, all in a matter of 2 or 3 seconds, they were thrust into darkness.

*****

Jasmin woke up in the back of a dark and very dirty alley. She looked up and found, to her surprise, that she couldn't see the sky. It was covered by a thick, iron plate, and the light that made things visible around the place had a greenish tint, making everything look even slimier than it was. The alley seemed to extend a long way forward from what she could see, and it seemed to be a very bad part of the city, if this place was a city, for the walls were cracked and appeared to be very old. There was graffiti all around this particular area, and it all seemed to be screaming out obscenities to something called KORE.

"Hey there," a voice said behind her. She quickly snapped her head back, her long, straight hair waving in the air as she did. It was auburn, and she had lightly colored skin, but not exactly white. Her face seemed hard and cold, giving her an unfriendly look. Her eyes were a soft green color, and she was tall, at least for a girl. She had the look of someone who would entrance you with their beauty, then stab you in the back.

The person in front of her was easily 4 inches taller than her, with tan skin and looking as if he had also just woken up.

"My name's Fernando," he said. "Looks like you finally woke up. I guess you're wondering what's going on. Well, I'd like to know that too," he said, looking around with a comically confused expression at the dirty alley and holding out his hand.

Jasmin hesitated for a moment, not really wanting to shake his hands. He could be dangerous, after all. For some reason though, he radiated confidence in every aspect of his being, from his beautiful eyes to his expression, and from the way he stood to the way he moved. He seemed rather laid back and cheery despite knowing that they had been kidnapped, and personally, she couldn't understand why. In the back of her mind, she felt a creeping sense of initial fondness for him, and his rather attractive features didn't help, but she quickly shut the thoughts away and roughly shook his hand, trying to walk past him on her way out of the alley.

"So what's your name?" Fernando asked, turning at the same time as her and getting purposefully in her way, which rather irritated her. "You know, if it's okay for me to know," he said, still good-humoredly.

Well, it looks like he finally knows I'm not friendly,
Jasmin thought, satisfied yet at the same time feeling a little bad for it.

"Jasmin," she replied after a small pause.

"Well, I know that you don't care to hear it, but I think that's a really pretty name," he said, though without that same friendly voice he had been using.

Jasmin turned her eyes back towards him and consented to give a small smile.

"Thank you," she said. Feeling a little angry with herself, she continued to try and walk past him.

Then, unexpectedly, the tall man with white hat that had captured them dropped suddenly from the buildings above, landing on both feet with a loud thud but as easily as if he had jumped from a table to the groud, staring at them with hard, blue eyes.
 

Elvenswordsman

WF Veterans
Here's a word of advice in consideration to the use of "-", "...", and "," - a hyphen adds a note, and holds about a half second pause for a reader.

"I used to believe him until this - now I'm not sure what to believe."

The same is generally true with a comma, however it is a shorter pause (and the stylistic use must be adjusted from the above hyphen).

"The tree had a bright yellow ribbon hanging above it, leading me to assume that my sister was hidden about fifteen feet off the ground."

If you're looking for in-depth editing, I can only help a tiny bit (exam time, large contract for my company in the works). It sounds good, and I hope you continue expanding on this.
 

Crash_Tomas

Senior Member
Well, gotta say that this story is definitely going to go somewhere, though where that is, I'm not quite sure. You could run into a wall and just have no way around it. I hope you have like an outline that has different courses the story can take, because sometimes there are alternate routes that prove to be more interesting and offer more for the story. I suggest writing multiple parts of the same chapter, like from different perspectives or just a new way the story can be told. Don't limit yourself with just third person omnipotent or even third person limited, try different sorts of narrators and descriptions that can help you.

Along with Elven. In Micro word, if you do two dashes -- and hit " then it should connect the two, you can delete the quote and the long dash will still be there. One dash is good for connecting words like super-special. and jump-happy.
 

Notquitexena

Senior Member
Maybe it is just me, but I am not drawn to commit to reading something that I know will end in sadness and defeat. Perhaps if you add a teaser at the end of the prologue that hints at an unexpected change. It is a little tricky to do this right. Did you happen to catch the feature "Megabrain" that came out last year? It begins with the ending, then starts the story, then takes you back to the ending and twists it around so it ends better than was expected.

But you may just be intending to write a horrific story with a depressing ending, which is okay, too -- it just wouldn't be something I would want to read.
 

The Jaded

Senior Member
Don't take this the wrong way, but nothing about the character of Fernando before he's stuffed in a trunk agrees with him having a "higher than average intelligence." He comes off, frankly, as a jock, and a bit vain. Rather than having another character protest the guy's intelligence for him to the reader, you'd be better off making him look it, it would keep things together more. After all, we got hints that Fernando is athletic and in good physical shape from his description and the fact that he had just played a game of soccer, that did not come as a surprise.

Daniel placed the phone in the passenger's seat and opened the glove compartment, taking a small device with a small blue button in the middle. He grabbed it at the ready with one hand and steered the wheel with the other. He quickly looked around. There were grape vines on both sides of him, and a few cars along the road, but none of them seemed to be cops. He pressed harder on the gas, accelerating to nearly 100 miles per hour. In a few minutes, he finally came across the desired street and made a right. The grape vines were still on both sides but the road was now dirt instead of cement. A house finally came in view, and he started paying closer attention to the land around him, looking for haystacks. Finally he came across an open piece of grass with a haystack and a large piece of tin propped up against it.

On a narrow dirt road with hedges or vine-covered walls on both sides, you don't go that fast. (Especially not in a black mustang that will show scratches easily, but I digress.) The close-in walls amplify the feeling of speed, and amplify the visual problems with steering anything moving that fast (to say nothing of the effects of the dirt road itself) Also, you can't even corner a formula 1 car at those speeds on any street intersection (much less a Mustang) You'd just skid in your original direction, or more probably go into a death roll and turn your car into confetti. If in this scene the car is supposed to be obviously violating the laws of physics, you should note it so the reader does not immediately wonder where the normal rules of existence went.

The point is, you can't make dragging characters out of their world stick to the reader if you don't make that world feel normal while you're there, do you see what I am getting at? The soccer game at the high school was a step in the right direction for that, by the way.

While I'm on the soccer team thing, something else struck me there. You probably over-invested in describing people at this stage. If you're describing Fernando's perspective, describing Fernando himself jars. Having another character's perspective (either of the two following would do) describe him would probably fit better. Similarly, Daniel is probably best described from Fernando's perspective. That way it seems less like you have to stop the action to describe characters.

As for the final scene, there is another easter egg there in the laws of physics (Daniel landing on his feet unharmed after a drop of many stories). I translated that to be something intended, but if you're still telling from Jasmin's perspective you should strengthen the wording describing this several shades to make sure the reader notices.

Just my suggestions.

Also, to counterpoint Notquitexena, sci-fi and horror are both generes that favor endings besides the standard Hollywood fade-out happy ending. Oftentimes the best ending for the story is not the best ending for the characters. It is not a failing that any story advertises this at the beginning. Curiosity about how things get to the described end is a valid means of getting readers hooked.
 

torosuperfly16

Senior Member
I supposed there really never is a need to go that fast, so I might just take out that whole part about the intense speeding. And at the end I'll be sure to add something about Jasmin's confusion at why he was unharmed.

The intelligence part maybe wasn't so clear; Daniel himself didn't know whether he was intelligent or not, he was just reflecting on what he had read from a paper. You're right, though, he is pretty vain, though that was intentional.

As for the descriptions, you're talking about physical descriptions, right? You're probably right on that one, I'll have to change it.

And the whole thing about everything ending in sadness and defeat: I didn't mention any names in that prologue purposefully. You don't know who that character was, so there should be no reason to think that it's all going to end on a depressing tone.

Anyways, in the meantime I'll post another chapter so you guys can give me more thoughts, you've all been really helpful! :)

Chapter 2 – The Line
Daniel eyed the two individuals he had captured closely. He was only a few years older than them, and yet in his eyes it was almost as if they had a twenty year gap. They seemed so young in every aspect that he wondered if they would even be fit for the path that lay ahead of them. The female, however, had something interesting... she actually seemed hardened, something the male lacked. Sighing, he began the monotonous process of giving the same explanation he had given perhaps twenty times the past few days.

"All right, I'll cut to the chase," he said. "Report to that building over there, the tallest one you can see, in about an hour. Basically, you're going to fight for us. Don't ask any questions, you can save those for later. You're going to get a special chemical placed inside of you, but I was one of the last ones to get back from the recruiting, so you will each receive a very small portion, like the hundreds of others in the same situation. This will mean you'll be weaker, but still useful. Explaining anything else to a pair like you would be a waste of my breath, so I'll leave you now," he said. "Do whatever you want in the hour you have, just don't cause any trouble. And don’t try to escape, either. You’ve been injected with tracking devices, and if we see that you’ve wandered off instead of following instructions, it won’t go well for you."

With that said, he slowly turned around to walk off. He was rather surprised that they didn't follow him with questions or some kind of hostile intention, but he didn't turn back, merely continuing in his way. He drew the greatsword on his back and looked down at it, ignoring the people who looked at him with near reverence in the streets. Far from finding happiness, this place had only brought him close to death and a strange feeling of emptiness in his heart. Still, it was probably better than an aching heart, which is something that he had tried to escape for a long time. He looked up at the plate covering the city, seeing that the light was turning blue.
What a shame, he thought to himself as he walked towards the KORE building. They looked more promising than any of the other recruits, but I was too late. Now it’ll be a
miracle if they survive the slaughter that awaits them.


*****

Fernando watched as the man walked away, clenching his fists as hard as he could. Whatever was happening, he felt an increasing frustration with every second that passed, all due to a strange feeling of helplessness that was welling up inside him. It reminded him of soccer games, where he was always irritable if they were losing and he was incapable of making a difference himself, either because he was hurt or because he was simply having a bad game.

They were being tracked. They could not escape. And from the man’s words, whatever was in store for them was not pretty, whether they followed orders or rebelled. The man had a giant sword on his back, and he could not understand why. Whatever was going on, it was starting to become a lot to take in. Slowly, he turned back towards Jasmin.

"So how the hell are we supposed to know when an hour passes?" he asked, in an annoyed voice.

"Don't be stupid," Jasmin said.

Fernando turned around to look at what she was pointing. He realized that they had been subconsciously walking towards the end of the alley. There was a large building in front of them with a huge clock at the top. It was an hour from noon, but it didn't feel like a morning to Fernando at all, probably because of the gloomy half-light of the place. He saw that he had also failed to notice that the light had changed to blue.

He tried to think of what to do, but his frustrated mind held all possible answers in a heavily locked area inside of him, and he could not break through to benefit from them. Growling, he felt memories tug at his conscience, and he remembered how he was never able to do anything in soccer when he got frustrated. He would calm himself a little first, then keep his head cold and use his anger only to fuel his actions and provide a supply of energy. It always worked.
Slowly, he started to calm himself down, and in a short amount of time was able to have a functioning brain once more. Finally, he was able to sort out the man's words. So they were supposed to be weak, huh? All because that idiot had been slow. For now, he kept questions of what was going on out of his head. As the man had said, the best time for those would be later. At the moment, all he knew was that he didn't want to be weak, and there couldn't possibly be nothing they could do about it. And with this thought, he finally started to think like himself again. The situation was actually even becoming a little exciting.

However, he did have to remember that he was not home, and that these people apparently did not plan on them returning. He thought for a moment of his parents and his siblings. A paralyzed father, who felt like the lousiest person alive no matter how much his family tried to convince him otherwise. A hardworking mother who would work every single day of the week, including weekends, just so that she could provide for her family, and even then, she still depended on Fernando to work so that she could buy enough food. Luckily, apart from having a part-time job, Fernando also refereed soccer games on the weekend, which payed very well for the amount of time that was worked. It allowed him to support not only his mom with the necessities and bills, but also to pay for his own devices and clothes. He was able to shop at stores with his own money and paid for his own cell phone, and for this reason no one at school had any idea of how much the family struggled to get by. And his sister, ten years younger and a bit of a brat, not old enough to realize how much the family struggled to give her the life she had. For the most part, she was annoyed by her frivolousness and her inability to understand that things in life did not come free, but he had to admit to himself that she was still too young to know this, and she was his sister. He loved her too.

Everyone at school believed it was him and his sister only. Not even to the closest of friends had Fernando told the painful story of his two brothers, one a few years older, and the other his twin. In fact, at times he tried to convince himself that they did not exist, for he did not consider his older brother to be family and his twin brother wasn’t with him any more.

Leaving his mother to herself was suddenly no longer an option. Of course, with one less son, she would have one less mouth to feed, but she still depended on him for the monthly income. He was not sure she would be able to pay all her bills without him. No matter what kind of exciting adventure could present itself here, it was not the time to chase glory fighting for these people. He had always craved more excitement in his life, it was true. He had always wanted to be someone people looked up to in admiration. Family, however, came first and above all else. If he did not provide for his family, he didn’t deserve any kind of attention or admiration he could ever garner.
His father had taught him that, before he became paralyzed. In fact, if it wasn’t for his father, he did not think he would be anything close to the person he was now. Fernando only wished his father would understand this and not be so slunk in his own helplessness.

Yes, he had to go home. Before he did, however, he planned to take something of use back. "Hey... he said to go the building in an hour, right?" he asked, mostly to himself. "Well... what if we went there now? Maybe there's a line or something, and we can cut before the last ones so that we get the full amount of whatever chemical
they put in us," he said.

Jasmin looked at him with a skeptical expression. "How do you even know this chemical is something good? Don’t you realize what kind of situation we’re in? Why are you worrying about being weak when you don’t know where we even are or who we’re dealing with? What if it’s all some kind of trap to lure us into taking this chemical in the first place?”

Fernando sighed. "Personally, I don't think there's anything to lose," he said. "So I'm going. Bye."

He started to walk away, hoping that she would come but not really expecting it or needing it to do what he planned. She was right, in some ways. He was acting as if he knew exactly what was happening, and he had not yet stopped to consider or even think about how incredibly unlikely the situation was, and he didn’t want to either. If he did, he might suspect himself of dreaming, because the entire thing was just that insane. He had to walk several steps before he heard Jasmin start to walk as well.

"All right, let's see what happens," she said, walking behind him.

Fernando smiled and made his way along the streets, noticing that the farther they progressed, the cleaner and better set up they were. He looked around, wondering what kind of place this was. It seemed just like any other city, with streets full of houses and some full of stores or restaurants. The main difference was that there was hardly any plants, everything was lit up as if it was night, and there were strange buildings every now and then that were built in a short, pentagonal shape with no sign or visible door. He didn't know what the people that lived here thought, but he found it rather depressing and gloomy, especially the lack of vegetation.

Soon, the building that they had been looking for was in front of them, and they only needed to go around a long house that barred a complete view of the bottom. When they did, Fernando held his breath for a moment. Before, they had only seen the top of a large building with the letters K.O.R.E at the very top. Now that they could see more at the bottom, he saw that it had a huge front courtyard, as big as a park and set up like one as well. This was the only place he had seen so far with grass, and it had an abundance of trees and plants with small dirt paths winding up to the entrance. In the paths there were long lines of people, but the lines were moving fast and smoothly. The entrance was a large double door that shone brightly in the bluish light, swung open so that the people in line could pass through, and Fernando wondered whether it was made of crystal.

"All right, let's do this," he said, smiling, as a small waft of air blew the rosy smell of Jasmin’s hair his way.

*****

Jasmin had no idea why she consented to follow him. Obviously the whole idea was rather stupid and had no real point, at least to her. She doubted that she would follow along with anything that anybody in this place told her. The most likely thing was that she would desert everything here and head somewhere else, though probably not home. There was nothing she wanted there, and plenty of things she didn't want. Sighing, she followed Fernando through the strange city.

Staying here and fighting for unknown people and for unknown causes was not in the slightest way appealing. She preferred operating alone, and here, she had a feeling everything would require some type of teamwork. By the sounds of it, she would be fighting as the main force of an army, an expendable soldier on the front lines. She did not want this. It was true enough that she had already lost everything she had ever cared for, but that didn’t mean she wanted to die, either. Survival was ingrained in her instincts so completely that she could never bring herself to do anything rash that could get herself killed unless she was sure it would work. In this way, she was not a risk-taker, and she did not care how much that seemed to lack in courage. She did what she had to, and it worked. If she had to be underhanded, she would. Life was never fair to her, so she had no reason to be fair to anyone in return.

Selfish. This was probably the way others would describe her, if she still talked to anyone. But she had been on the run since she was thirteen years old. Whatever friends she had were long gone, and she doubted anyone even remembered her. Sometimes, she thirsted for company. Sometimes, she simply wished there was someone there she could talk to, even if that person only listened. Sometimes, as she lied on her back on a hard bed in the cheapest motel of whatever town she was staying in and the rain seeped through the ceiling to make a soft pattering noise on the ground, she would feel a dull ache inside of her at remembering how she had lost everyone she ever cared for, and she would feel more alone than anyone else in the world. Sometimes, this loneliness turned to anger, and she wanted nothing more than to get revenge, but this, too, was impossible. She had no idea who she could take revenge on. When she woke up on Christmas morning four years ago, the only presents she received were her parent’s corpses, as well as those of her older brother.

And ever since then, she had left home without a backwards glance. She learned to steal food and break into people’s homes, always taking what she needed with no consideration. The people who lived there would not suffer the pain she had if they missed a meal, or some clothes. This was her justification for stealing. To this day, she did not doubt it was more than enough.

It wasn’t a life many would want to return to, however. Still, she had got along just fine before. Here, she only knew that she was putting herself in more danger than was necessary. So she planned to escape as soon as the opportunity arose. However, if Fernando was right… then this chemical they planned to put on them might just come in handy. She wouldn’t turn down something that could potentially be of use.

Jasmin thought she was going along with Fernando’s plan because it was convenient for her. At the back of her mind, however, she questioned herself. Even with her unfriendly disposition, she could not help but notice that she already liked being around him. This made her wonder whether she wasn’t just following him for the company
she had always thirsted for.

As she got her first full view of the building, she had to admit that even to her, the sight was rather amazing. Still, she suppressed any sign of surprise, not wanting to get rid of her outer shell so easily. She followed Fernando when he started to move on again, noticing with great anger that she had started to smile. Almost subconsciously, she noticed the light begin to turn red as they neared the lines of waiting people, and the crystalline doors absorbed and reflected every change.

"Hold on," came Fernando's voice.

"There's guards at the entrance looking out over all the lines. They'll notice us if we go any closer," he said. "But hold up. I'll give you a sign when to move, then you just run as fast as you can following me."

Jasmin nodded, and felt her own hands jerk immediately to her belt as if wanting to take out a weapon, but none was there. Instincts. Shaking off the strange feeling, she attentively watched until Fernando moved his hand forward and ran. She stuck close to him, keeping up right behind until he stopped behind a large tree trunk.
Fernando's voice came again.

"Alright, you see that big tree over there? It's at a bend in the line and is right next to it. Even better than that, though, is the fact that it's very close to the entrance. If we can get there without being noticed, I think we'll be able to slip into the line without any trouble. We'll have to move fast, though, because we're gonna have to make a big trip around if we want to be sure we won't be seen," he said.

"Okay," Jasmin whispered back, staring at Fernando. Despite herself, the expression on her face was curious. She had not thought that he would be able to think of so much so quickly, and had not seen herself doing this with him when she first saw him in that dark, dirty alley. She allowed herself a soft smile as she quickly followed his signals from tree to tree.

Soon, they were only two trees away from their destination. This one was thinner than most, and they had to move quickly so their cover wouldn't be blown. Before they moved, however, Jasmin felt, to her surprise, Fernando's body stiffening next to hers.

"What happened?" she asked, feeling a little nervous.

"They're looking over here. Don't move a muscle and they won't spot us," he whispered.

Jasmin wanted to take a peek at the guards but didn't dare move her body. She wanted to fidget herself into a more comfortable position as well, because she was standing with her legs slightly bent, making her struggle to stay still. Her body was closely pressed against Fernando's, and with a slightly guilty feeling she knew that he would make a perfect shield for her at the moment if anything went wrong and they were attacked.

After what seemed hours, Fernando finally let out his breath and gestured to move on, which she happily consented to do, glad to finally be able to move again. Soon, they had reached the last tree.

"All right, when we move out from here, you're going to have to hold my hand, okay?" Fernando whispered with a strangely firm and serious voice.
Jasmin hesitated for a moment before agreeing. "Okay. Tell me when," she said.

Fernando seemed very hesitant to make the last move, or maybe he was already planning ahead. Finally, he gestured forward, but before moving, he held out his hand without looking back at her. Jasmin slowly placed her smaller hands into his larger ones and immediately felt herself being rushed forwards at a faster speed than she had thought he could have even pulled her. Before she even really got a chance to look at what was happening, he was roughly pushing her in between two other people who seemed to get angry but luckily did not cause a big commotion. She realized she was still holding on to his hand and quickly let go of it, scowling in distaste at herself.
They had somehow managed to squish themselves into the line, and she felt relief wash over her, though she felt rather uncomfortable with what the people around her might say. However, it seemed that Fernando was already talking to the young man behind. He had a large scar that went from his eye to his lips.

"Hey bro, do me a favor. I'll owe you big time when we meet again, so you can ask me a favor in return or something, okay? Because of us, the line is gonna stop its routine momentum for a little, and the guards will probably notice. So when they come investigate, just call them over and say that you bent down for a little to tie your shoes, so the line was held up a little, okay? Please, just try to act as honest and natural as you can, and I'm sure they won't do anything to you because of it," he said. His voice was so smooth and possessed just the right tinges of confidence that the man would help as well as well as urgency that the favor was important that Jasmin felt convinced even she would have helped.

The man looked at him for a moment with an unreadable expression, then nodded. "All right, I'll do it," he finally said with a small smile and hint of humor.
Fernando then turned around to look at everyone else around them. "Okay, everyone just try to play along with this okay? I talked loud on purpose so you could all hear me, and the ones who didn't just ask around to know what's going on. We just wanna have a little fun here," he said with a small laugh. "So just act like all you saw was this guy tie his shoes, okay?"

Everyone nodded and there were a few “yeah's” and small laughs among the near crowd, and Fernando finally let out his breath in a final sigh of relief.
Jasmin looked at him, her eyes almost wide with surprise. His words were simple, but the way he projected them out towards everyone was admirable. If he had seemed intelligent before, now she was even more amazed. The way he had planned everything out so quickly seemed incredible.

"Hey, that goes for you too, okay? When they come, just act natural. Don't show any nervousness," Fernando said, looking at her once more.

Jasmin nodded, still looking at him.

"You know, when I first saw you, I thought you were you were just another one of those people that are really stupid and reckless... but I’m glad to say you’re proving to have quite the head on those shoulders," she said.

Fernando laughed. "Thanks, but I don't really think so. We just snuck into a line of some crazy people who are going to make us more “powerful” or something, in a weird city that has no sunlight and that we didn’t even know existed. From what I’ve seen, these guys are powerful, and we’re not following their orders. Isn’t that reckless?”
 

GonneLights

Senior Member
I haven't read the rest yet, and I'm sorry for posting without reading the rest, but on the first post;

I am intrigued by it, this isn't generally the kind of story I would like, but I am intrigued; I like the premise. Unlucky stones and being taken off by birds to imprisonmet, it's so wonderfully cliche'd, but theres something very new about it - and while I keep feeling like, 'Oh, I've heard this a thousand times before', I haven't! I've never heard it before! And that means, that premise, it's a classic. And I'm feeling that, you've got a gift for premises.

But, the only thing I'd say is your character isn't a character, he's a narrator. People don't say "I can hardly stand to look at the gray skin that thinly compresses my bones.", a narrator says that. 'He could hardly stand to look at the tray skin that thinly compressed his bones', but nobody talks like that. We don't talk in flowery description, we just talk. You have to distinguish his viewpoint, and work out how to convey things like that without leafing into narrative. And also, the whole 'Augh, this depression!' is a little cliche'd, but I won't give you stick for it, it's good.
 

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