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Enter Pyos ( Language) (Short Story/Potential Serial) (1 Viewer)

RJA

Senior Member
I am about to go to bed, so I figured I'd throw up a story. Any and all feedback is greatly appreciated. This is the first part of a potential serial depending on whether or not people feel it's worth the time. Here's a bit of info on the world, since it's not Earth:

The world is... Not quite Earth. They live in a world heavily dominated by one country, that country is called Lachas. The language is Lachan. Pronounced "Lock-iss (like hiss with no H) and "Lock-in", respectively. The language actually does exist and is fully functioning, grammar rules, et-al. As well as history of the language and quite a few other things (Though they would only show up now and again for very specific affects). I've been working on this world for a long time. Their technology is crazy far superior to everyone else in the world's because of a... Well, let's say there was an accident and they opened a portal like thing that you can walk through to a different version of Earth, where they've been able to reap the benefits of essentially unlimited and unchallenged resources. After that, things took off and they got WAY ahead of absolutely everyone in every conceivable technological way. The rest of the world is more similar to our own. Certain languages from our world exist there as well as some unique ones. (The familiar ones have different names though).
The main character, Pyos, is not from Lachas. He is from somewhere near Lenka (his backstory will definitely come up later, I have a lot of the characters deeply fleshed out as well as a decent idea where I wish to take the story). The guy from this one, he is a high ranking officer of sorts in The Olika, which is like the major organized crime faction in Lachas. They basically run the slums there. Pyos will be brought back and you'll be introduced to Lachas in either the second or third portion of this.

Anyways, here is the story:


The afternoon was cold, but not Lachan cold. At this time of year in Lachas, spit bounced. A woman passed Shada on the sidewalk with her collar turned up around her ears, huffing in the cold. Shada sneered at her.

All and all, Shada was comfortable in Lenka. It was a shithole. Shada was used to shitholes. He had grown up in a Fuevok outside Lachaskan, and that damn near made him a shithole connoisseur.

Shada checked the time. 2:342. He stood on the sidewalk for a moment, a rangy, scruffy man chewing a toothpick reflexively between bad teeth. Still twenty minutes until the meeting and he hadn’t yet eaten—and, as luck would have it, there was a convenience store just ahead. The sign was unintelligible, of course—nothing but blocky Les scribbles—but it’s hard to mistake a convenience store for anything else.

Shada’s appetite won out. There was a hobo sleeping on the stairs leading to the shop, a scrawny thing with lank dark hair. Shada passed him without a thought. He bought a sandwich and a bag of chips, employing the few phrases he knew of the local language, and paid for it with coins from his pocket.

On the way out, however, Shada paused. The hobo was still curled beside the shop door like a cat, but now he blinked sleepily at Shada. His eyes were blue. Shada was suddenly struck by how young he was—just a kid, with his skin stretched tight around his skull and his bones straining to escape his body.

Shada hesitated, then cursed. He drew the sandwich out of his bag and placed it on the step, beside the kid’s bony hand.

He walked away. Halfway down the sidewalk, he looked back. The kid was sitting up with the sandwich clutched in both hands. He hadn’t bitten into it yet; instead, he was staring back at Shada. His expression was unreadable.

For one long second, Shada stared back. Then he resumed his walk. He had a meeting to attend, and a bag of chips to eat. He did not think about the kid on the stairs for the rest of the day.


○ ○ ○

Two days later, Shada passed the same convenience store going in the other direction. He thought about stepping in again, but decided against it—three hours of negotiating with those Bratva assholes really soured his stomach. He spent the entire meeting fantasizing about punching the ringleader in the face; he couldn’t decide what was most irritating about them, their grating mother tongue or their disgusting cigars.

Shada drew a toothpick from his pocket and placed it between his teeth. He clenched down savagely. It was 2:456 according to his watch and he had another sixteen hours until his flight back to Lachas took off. As far as Shada was concerned, he couldn’t board the plane soon enough. He was comfortable in Lenka; it was the people he hated.

Distantly, he heard a click from behind him. Then a thud and a shout.

Shada whirled, hand drifting reflexively to the gun in his jacket. The hobo kid from the other day stood between Shada and a third man, who was screaming in Leskiy. Shada didn’t need to understand the words to understand the reason—two fingers splayed out at an unnatural angle, cradled in the other hand. A switchblade was laying open in the street.

Spitting a Leskiy curse, the man threw a punch with his good hand. The kid took the blow full in the face and stumbled backwards, but made no sound, not even a grunt of pain. He shifted his weight, retained his balance. The man drove forward again and this time the kid deflected the hit and struck. The man’s elbow gave in a splintering crack, like old wood. A moment later he was on the ground.

He wasn’t shouting anymore. Now he was whining, a high-pitched keening in the back of his throat. The sleeve on one arm had drawn back, and stamped into the skin was a clumsy tattoo—Bratva. The kid stood very still over him, eyes all black and blue, blood in his mouth.

Around them, people were muttering. A woman was crying for the cops. Shada made a split-second decision; he reached out and grabbed the kid. His fingers reached all the way around his bicep, pressed into bone. The kid looked sideways at him and said something in Leskiy, his teeth outlined in blood.

“I dunno what you’re sayin’, kid,” Shada said. “Come on.” He gave a tug and began walking briskly in the other direction, hauling the kid along with him. “Come on. Walk fast.”

The kid obliged, although it was unclear whether or not he understood any Lachan at all. He was shaking in his thin skin, pale and suddenly exhausted, stumbling as much as he walked. He gave a cough that ground in his chest like worn machinery. He allowed Shada to lead him away.


○ ○ ○

“What’s your name?” Shada spoke softly, gently, hands laced together in his lap.

His translator echoed him, in Leskiy.

From across the coffee table, the kid stared back. His eyes were flat blue circles sunk deep in dark sockets, like the button eyes of an old doll. He looked smaller with Shada’s coat draped over his shoulders.

“Pyos,” said the skinny kid. “Petro. Synytoko.”

“What happened, in front of the shop? How’d you know the man was coming to kill me?”

The kid’s eyes jumped from Shada to the translator and back again. “I don’t know. The way he was walking. His eyes. Then I saw the knife.”

Shada shifted on the couch, crossing his legs. His head, resting placidly against his hand, was tipped to one side with interest. “I see.” His voice was mild and without inflection. “What I’m most interested in, Pyos, is why you did what you did.” He pulled absently at a seam in his sleeve. “When it coulda gotten you killed. Why did you fight him?”

Curled in the armchair across the table, Pyos looked more like a young bird rejected from the nest than a fighter. The delicate bones in his wrists and neck stood out beneath waxy skin; his voice was rough, and at intervals hacking coughs shook his thin frame. Blood from a split lip ran in a line down his chin.

He looked confused. “He was coming to kill you,” he said through the translator.

“But why’d you fight him?”

“He was coming to kill you.”

“No, no.” Shada rubbed his chin impatiently. “I mean, why’s that matter?”

Pyos was quiet for a long moment. Shada opened his mouth to ask again when he responded, “You gave me food.”

“Aha.” Shada leaned back. “I did, didn’t I? And you thought you’d pay me back.”

Silence from Pyos.

Shada shifted again. “Okay. So where’d you learn to fight like that, Pyos?”

“I’ve always been able to do that. Since I was little.”

“Who taught you?”

“A couple people.”

“Anyone in particular?”

Pyos hesitated. “…Anulan.”

“Last name?”

“…I don’t know. Hadi?”

Shada nodded slowly. “And was Anulan in charge?” He spoke smoothly, as if to a child.

“No,” Pyos answered. “Mother was.”

Shada frowned. “Why’d your mother want you to fight?”

“For her.”

“And where is she now?”

A shadow crossed Pyos’s face. “Dead.”

“Do you have any family, Pyos? A home?”

“No.”

“How about a job, Pyos, you have a job?”

The translator looked questioningly at Shada, his brow slightly furrowed, before repeating his words in Leskiy.

“No,” said Pyos.

Shada leaned forward, meeting Pyos’s gaze with his own. “Would you like one?”


○ ○ ○


Pyos scuffed idly at the carpet with one raggedy shoe. He felt distinctly out-of-place; he had seen rooms like this on the blurry television in Anulan’s house, but he had never in his life imagined he would one day be standing in one. It was huge, with a ceiling that made a glowing arch far above. The light was soft and low.

Several feet away Shada was conversing with a man in Lachan. Pyos couldn’t understand a word, but he watched them curiously. The man had green eyes, and he wore all black; there was something in Shada’s stance that suggested this man was boss. And it was not just in Shada’s stance, it was stamped all over the house: the guards outside, masquerading as house staff; the pillared hall; the plush carpet, deep red—the man carried himself like a king at home in his kingdom.

Shada called him ‘Baneka’. Periodically they would glance over at Pyos, as if they were discussing him, and Pyos would tip his head to one side.

The carpet was so soft. One part of him wanted to lay down and sleep; even with the food and medicine Shada had given him, Pyos still felt heavy and cold, and there was an ache in his chest. Now and then he rasped a cough.

Still, another part of him wanted to stay awake forever. He had gotten off the plane just hours ago, putting his worn shoes down on new land. Right away he took in air that was colder and cleaner than Les; his heart was still racing from the plane ride and he felt simultaneously exhausted and ecstatic. He saw Lachaskan off the runway—largest city on the planet sprawled out between the mountains, bristling with buildings that went up into the sky forever. There were no skyscrapers in Lenka. He was very far from home.

The ride in was even better. They boarded a car on rails that dropped down from the airport, the sudden speed putting a strange pressure on Pyos’s ears. The car made a loose arc into the city and it was like entering a forest, if forests were forged from silver steel and white and blue light. From the train station, they moved to a smaller car, this time so small it was only Pyos and Shada inside—a car like the ones in Lenka. But this one drove itself, and there were no signs or lines in the street, only the glow that was everywhere. Pyos had never seen so many people.

And now he was here, standing in a spectacular room with a vaulted ceiling and pillars so wide he could barely reach all the way around them. His life had changed so much in the past few days. Pyos had no idea what Shada and Baneka were talking about, but he felt optimistic.


○ ○ ○


“So you’re saying he saved your life…over a sandwich.” Baneka quirked his eyebrows up.

“Yeah,” Shada said. “That sandwich woulda cost about three royas here, but look at him, he’s starving. I guess it looked like a lot more to him.”

Baneka nodded absently. He scrutinized the kid across the room with narrowed eyes, appraising. The kid was a walking skeleton, all sharp edges and shivers, and his skin was waxy and dark around his eyes. His black hair was a tangled mess that reached to his shoulders.

He looked like a stray dog made human. Weak, sick.

But Baneka’s eyes were sharp and he saw something else, too. Everywhere the kid showed skin there were scars; long, faint ones along his arms, short snips on the heels of his hands, grazes along his throat, his jaw, his face. He saw scarred knuckles and two fat lines drawn across the bridge of the kid’s buckled, offcenter nose.

He looked like someone who had fought many battles in his life. Tough, tempered.

“What do you think?” Shada said.

Baneka turned his gaze back to Shada. The ghost of a smile touched his lips. “I think perhaps they were three royas well-spent.”

Again, thank you very much to anyone and everyone who reads and gives feedback! ^^;
 
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Charlaux

Senior Member
Hi, RJA.

I really enjoyed reading this, and it has definite 'hook'. Is this from a chapter far in, or is it an opening chapter? Since you provided the background I wasn't sure where it was meant to stand in the overall shape of things.

Your characters were well described and I feel like I got a sense of who they were, and you managed a lot of subtle description which fleshed out the surroundings without breaking the pace of the narrative. The one thing I'd like to see is more of a hint of what the meeting was about, or what Shada is setting out to achieve. You explained it in the background but it wasn't mentioned in the story. I read the story before the background, and thought he was an undercover government representative.
 
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LamentableBard

Senior Member
I thought this was fantastic. The world you've created is intriguing for all that it echoes our own in many ways and as a reader, it was new and original enough for me to want to discover more about it. Your writing is tight and the dialogue is sharp and interesting without any boring filler. The amount of time you've put in really shows and I don't have any criticisms worth mentioning at this point (sorry!). Very good job, sir.
 
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mber341

Senior Member
Hey RJA, I don't think I can add anything Charlaux or LB hadn't already said. I really enjoyed it and it kept an engaging pace. Great descriptions. I was actually disappointed when I got to the end not due to the story but because it was over so quickly. I definitely wanted to read more. I did read the background first however, and in doing so I thought it was going to be confusing or hard to follow. That wasn't the case at all. Nicely done.
 

RJA

Senior Member
First, thank you all very kindly. ^^; Really.

Hi, RJA.

I really enjoyed reading this, and it has definite 'hook'. Is this from a chapter far in, or is it an opening chapter? Since you provided the background I wasn't sure where it was meant to stand in the overall shape of things.

Your characters were well described and I feel like I got a sense of who they were, and you managed a lot of subtle description which fleshed out the surroundings without breaking the pace of the narrative. The one thing I'd like to see is more of a hint of what the meeting was about, or what Shada is setting out to achieve. You explained it in the background but it wasn't mentioned in the story. I read the story before the background, and thought he was an undercover government representative.

Since you had a question, I figured I'd give a quick answer. This is the start of this particular work. It would serve as the first chapter! I never really thought of the meeting as being of particular importance, but I'll see if I can't figure out some way to make his actual purpose more obvious, or at the very least, who he is! Sorry about the info dump with the background info. I just wasn't sure how well the unfamiliar words like "Lachas" and such would work, so I wanted to let people know so that they could tell me if they were confused and maybe have some info to reference for how it might be fixable!

Anyways, thank you again very, very kindly. ^^;;;;;
 

mber341

Senior Member
I never really thought of the meeting as being of particular importance, but I'll see if I can't figure out some way to make his actual purpose more obvious, or at the very least, who he is!

Once I saw you passed over the meeting, I wasn't concerned with wanting to know the details right away. It felt like something that could be explained later to the reader, especially once we got to Lachaskan and met Baneka and/or once Pyos begins his initiation into the organization. I think it works as is, but I could be wrong.
 

kinetika

Senior Member
I really loved this story, and the title you gave makes it stand out more. The story flowed nicely, wasn't overly wordy/descriptive, and holds your attention -- at least, it did for me. I don't have anything really to add, as far as critique goes, and I'm a little on the fence about the meeting. Part of me wishes you added it in there, even if it were something brief, to not make the assassin guy's motive look vague/random because despite it making me want to know why he wanted Shada killed, it kind of threw me off a bit. The other half of me wasn't distracted too much from the lack of detail there, and you could just detail it later -- but I feel you probably have to do that as soon as you can.

I'm not sure if my critique will help you any, but those are my thoughts. Oh, and:


“Who taught you?”

“A couple people.”

Did you mean "couple of people"?

I'll be sure to keep up with your story, though, if you decide to add more to it.
 

RJA

Senior Member
I really loved this story, and the title you gave makes it stand out more. The story flowed nicely, wasn't overly wordy/descriptive, and holds your attention -- at least, it did for me. I don't have anything really to add, as far as critique goes, and I'm a little on the fence about the meeting. Part of me wishes you added it in there, even if it were something brief, to not make the assassin guy's motive look vague/random because despite it making me want to know why he wanted Shada killed, it kind of threw me off a bit. The other half of me wasn't distracted too much from the lack of detail there, and you could just detail it later -- but I feel you probably have to do that as soon as you can.

I'm not sure if my critique will help you any, but those are my thoughts. Oh, and:




Did you mean "couple of people"?

I'll be sure to keep up with your story, though, if you decide to add more to it.
Thank you, very, very much! I will definitely bring all of this up and look into it! It also will be explained going forward (who they are)! :D

As to your question:
The character speaking, Pyos, isn't well educated, so his speech will have the occasional... Quirk like that! ^^

And I think enough people like it that a second part will show up! ^^ Again, thank you all very much for your thoughts and any and all suggestions for this one are welcome!
 

Ariel

WF Veterans
I wasn't sure why the assassin showed up either. I think that the two language names are too close and are confusing because of that. Otherwise this flowed ok and was an interesting read.
 

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