As I was typing through this chapter I realized something: I might need more characters in this book! Usually I want to get rid of them, right? I’m always thinking “Oh there are too many people here. I’ll chop a few and just combine their traits into another character.”
But I’m not sure if I can do that this time––not without adding more people to take their place. There are events happening that no current character can comment on! Feelings that nobody established can express! What are these powerful emotions? Well read the chapter and I’ll explain afterward. With pictures, don’t worry. There will be at least two for the “graphic-lovers.”
20 – Regretful Citadel
The Nameless plummeted and the side with the man’s statue dropped: its legs with the marred name hitting the ground first. A tremor sent Tyle’s vehicle clattering; the chassis rocked upon the large wheels; Mean held fast to Dark while Trisk held Darrow in place. The Enpo flattened themselves, whining.
The statue’s ivory shins were shattered; the pieces pushing up through the kneecaps and cracking the thighs. A great billow of dust spread over the plain, preluding the torso and head as they slammed to the glass next. Slaberdashia’s limp body bounced along with the car as everyone else atop it stumbled to hang on.
With the airborne debris spreading out from the face-down male side the woman’s figure was directed toward the stars. Its body was cracked and large slabs slid out of place: they fell away from a curved, metallic surface beneath the facade of the ship. As the cloud of dust neared it hid the features from view. Tyle revved the engine to full.
“Hang on; I’m getting out of here!” he cried back. Some of the Enpo were dashing away from the cloud; Tyle followed them as the car jerked into motion. The group raced around the outer rim of the arena, continuing past it with the growing haze at their backs and a shuddering beneath them.
“Wait,” Dark said. Mean leaned over.
“What?” she asked above the din.
“I’m being stupid,” Dark replied. “Tyle, stop the car!” He pounded the cab window. “You need to stop!” Tyle tipped his head back, keeping his eyes forward.
“You’re kidding; what for?”
“It crashed into something,” he said. “We can’t see it now–I was so stupid.” Mean crawled up beside him. “I thought everything had been changed when I first got here,” he went on. “But everything’s been here. It’s all been here the whole time.”
The Enpo ahead of them were laying still on the ground.
“They just stopped!” Tyle shouted. He pressed on the brake and the car skidded over the glass. He let out a curse as the front end of the vehicle smashed into something, the hood crinkling inward. The seat belt held him in place as his head bobbed. Mean had grabbed Darrow and Jelk by the shirts; she was keeping them from smacking their heads on the back of the cab while she kept Dark held in place with her magic. Tenny threw himself behind Trisk to shield her from the impact with his body.
“Everyone alright?” Tyle asked after a moment.
“I think we’re all fine up here,” Mean affirmed. “What did we hit?” She coughed; the hazy dust from the crashed ship had caught up with them. Ahead, the way remained clear.
“It’s an illusion,” Dark said. Mean gestured and he settled into a seat. “An illusion of emptiness.”
Several of the Enpo on the ground cried out: a figure was standing next to them in the haze.
“Shirka!” Elder Sain called. He pulled himself up from where he had fallen. “What is this?”
Shirka slinked through the dust, her black dress remaining pristine as she went. “Look around you,” she said.
The black sky flickered. The small dots of white that were the stars pulsed. Their colors expanded and smeared together, coating the darkness with texture and form. A wall rose before them, starting at the crushed fender of the car.
“Miss Mean was right,” she said. “I had all those people gazing up at me on that day.”
The sheer cliff above them snapped into focus, revealing buildings attached to the face with long struts.
“I found the guilt in the minds of the Lords, thinking ‘Oh, how I’ve failed those down below!’”
The buildings above them all had their roofs facing downward; with piping snaking across them and long antennas dangling.
“Everyone in the city. Everyone beneath the city. They all felt guilty. ‘I shouldn’t have sent him to school today!’ or ‘If only I’d gone up there instead!’”
The stars were smearing out in large blotches at the ends of the wall, giving it form and expanding it out to encompass Joy’s Focus. The buildings along its side were skewed at odd angles; jutting out from many differing directions. The surface of the rock was now speckled with patches of grass and segments of road.
“I had a lot to work with that day,” Shirka said. The walls were growing out to encircle the temple, the castle–every building that stood on the plain. The sky was yielding to the towering mishmash of city and field.
“This has to be a trick,” Jelk expressed.
“It isn’t,” Dark said. He pointed a finger across the haze, at a spot on the wall near the downed ship. Most of the wall on that side was in shadow; the glow from the clouds beneath the glass gave the contours soft definition. An elongated smear of ivory ran up the side of the cliff.
“Don’t worry, Sain; Cougo wasn’t on the ship when it crashed,” Shirka cooed. “He’s with all the others.”
She tipped her head back with her hand on her hat. Massive chain links trailed away from the top of the cliff, crossing over their heads. Another chain was set in the wall above Joy’s Focus, and another was planted over Beebee’s castle. Three other chains were spaced out around the heights of the circular wall: making six. They were all pulled taut from the cliffs and a shape was forming in the center where they all converged: a ring spanning the width between the arena and factory.
The chains held the circle aloft; the circle itself held something else.
“What is that, Sain?” Slaberdashia asked. “It feels like I know.”
She gazed up at a tower: held aloft at the ring’s center. Its shape was smooth with a thin top and wide base. Struts curved away from the tower in decorative waves and loops. They held fast to the inner edge of the circle, keeping the structure stable high above the glass plain.
“It’s that damned chandelier,” Elder Sain muttered. “You’d make it again, Shirka? After all Zonzabee did to us there?”
“It’s your home,” Shirka told him. “And you’re all going back.”
Slaberdashia’s lips crinkled. “Sain, that really isn’t it is it? I don’t want to go there again.”
“Dark, I don’t like this,” Mean said.
Elder Sain spoke past her to Trisk. “You! Use that power of yours again! Break off this armor! Don’t let her take us!”
“Calm, drop it,” Shirka said.
Slaberdashia, still on her back, looked out through the jagged hole in her visor. Her slit of a pupil found something above.
“Sain, something is falling. It’s armor like yours. From the chain.”
Elder Sain stood. “Slab, you need to get out of here–run!” He nudged her leg with his bound arms and she reacted; rolling off the vehicle and landing on her feet. The bus’ chassis bounced as it was freed from her weight.
“Sain, come with me,” she said. As she spoke a smack sounded behind her: a massive suit of armor had fallen to the glass plain in a cloud of white dust. The suit was all black, with elongated limbs and a chain attached to the neck. The numerous links jingled, stretching up to a far-off spot in the sky. The suit stirred, pushing itself upright.
“You don’t even know what it is, do you?” Shirka said, seeing Slaberdashia’s puzzled stare. “Cougo granted you mercy while he left me to remember. Every day trapped in there. Never letting me do what I was made to do.”
“Slab didn’t do anything to you, Shirka!” Elder Sain pleaded. The armor was standing with its boots planted on the glass. The chain rattled and the suit advanced on Slaberdashia, the feet sliding along.
Slaberdashia bounded backward; shooting a glare at Shirka as she landed.
“She’s not really here, Sain,” Slaberdashia said. “She’s too far to sense.” The armor glided forward; Slaberdashia sidestepped with long strides.
Mean stepped around Dark using one of the seats. She held her hand out to the armor. It jerked still, the chain at its neck wobbling.
“What are you doing!?” Dark asked.
“I’m stopping it, Dark;” Mean explained, “I’m not letting her kidnap anyone else.” The armor rocked to the side, then to the back. Its boots stuck fast to the ground. “Can’t seem to get it up off the glass, though.”
Shirka sighed as Slaberdashia dashed further away from the immobile suit. “Well, Sain, I guess I’ll just have to kill her.” She tipped her head. Slaberdashia continued to run: straight away from the armor at first, then with a bit of a swerve.
“What’s happening?” Elder Sain asked. Slaberdashia flinched and was brought to a stagger. She rose her large forearm above her head.
“Something’s falling,” Mean said, squinting. She winced; small loops of metal were pelting Slaberdashia’s shoulders, back, and head. They fell from above, thumping her helmet and fur, clinking against the plain. “They’re bits of chain,” she said. “I can’t stop them and hold the armor too.”
“Oh you can’t?” Shirka said. “Good to know.”
The hail of metal swept toward the bus, leaving Slaberdashia staggering. Tyle revved the engine and the tires squealed.
“Hang on back there!” he shouted over the speakers.
“Hey!” Mean shouted back as she was jostled with the others.
“Get down!” Dark said, shielding her with his body. He threw his poncho over his exposed head as he shoved Mean under the seat. The Enpo scattered and the tour bus swerved away from the cliff. Metallic chain links fell in a downpour, clinking upon the vehicle as everyone except Sain rushed to get beneath the seats.
“Aw, c’mon, no!” Tyle whined as the tiny loops dented his hood and sent cracks splitting across the windshield. He pressed the bus faster. The continuous pelting of metal lessened and eventually ceased. Tyle kept driving.
Vornis had his head ducked, holding on to Sain as he looked back through the falling metal.
“Release me!” he demanded, looking back through the last pieces of metal bouncing against the glass. Beyond that the largest suit of armor was mobile; closing in on Slaberdashia. She was on the ground. Seams appeared on the suit and it opened to consume her. Sain jerked at the clawed hand that held him; he stomped his boot on Vornis’ toe. Shirka’s laughter sounded over the whirl of the tour bus’s wheels.
“Oh, Elder, this is just dandy!” she said, her image appearing in the back seat. “I never thought I’d get to see you throw a tantrum like that! Marvelous!”
Elder Sain glared at her through the clear visor. The bus continued toward the casino and the weeping sun. Darrow, Jelk, and Trisk crawled out from beneath the frontmost seats.
“What’s even funnier is that I’m not done,” Shirka told him. She leaned back and flipped the brim of her hat. Over her shoulder, Slaberdashia was being hauled upward by the chain. Her limp form swiveled as she rose.
“Pladomir was the first, and when I put him back in his suit I went to his world and explained what happened. I also told them how to get here, and I kept the way open.”
“Shirka!” Elder Sain barked. “Why would you tell them that!?”
“I told every world,” Shirka said. “And I figured they’d be so happy to be free from my siblings that they’d rush through to meet me. But you know what?” She rested her arms on the back of the seat. “They’re all just waiting on the other side! Every world! ‘Studying the anomaly’ or whatever.” Shirka nodded up at the chandelier-shaped tower held aloft by the chains. “I replicated all of Zonzabee’s machines up there. I found her device that powers the interplanetary gates. So I just had an idea: let’s make them bigger!”
The bus lurched. The glass plain trembled with a low hum. Ahead, the casino was blurring. New structures were popping into view from all sides: dilapidated buildings and broken-down carnival rides. People in uniform were appearing on the glassy surface between these new buildings, along with equipment and pieces of trash.
Tyle exclaimed something over the speaker. He swerved as a weathered kiosk that read ‘JO S FOCU’ snapped into view past the cracked windshield. The bus came to rest just before it collided with a shuttered-up concession stand.
“What happened?” Mean asked. She turned; Shirka’s image was gone.
“She’s letting the other worlds in,” Elder Sain said. “You have to let me go!”
“I’ll go up–see what’s happening,” Mean announced. Dark touched her arm.
“Don’t go up to far. Be careful,” he told her.
She gave him a quick kiss. “I’ll be right back.”
With a push from her feet she lifted off from the back of the bus.
She rose past the tops of the vacant buildings, letting out a gasp at the alterations occurring in every space on the plain.
To the far south a fine ash was spreading out from where the Nameless had been docked. Tanks and other armored vehicles with treads were all parked on the silty ground, their cylindrical cannons pointed at the cliff.
Several of the tanks were rotating to face Slaberdashia’s arena: a large number of Enpo and humans had appeared there. A few whole trees were lying on their sides, along with leaves, rocks, and small stones.
On the other side a large cloud of blue gas was roiling off a rooftop that was only a few feet above ground level. A zeppelin was resting upon it, and the walls of a larger building now encompassed the factory.
The the west of that, sandwiched between the factory and the expanding park, Beebee’s castle stood. A smaller building with parapets was nestled next to a lake ensconced by slick stone. Tyle hopped out of the driver’s side of the bus as Mean descended next to him.
“Did anyone just see that?” he asked his bus’s passengers. “She was flying! She just landed next to me!”
Trisk was walking around from the other side. “Oh, yeah, Tyle, we all can. Didn’t you know?”
“You’ve got to be kidding,” Tyle said.
“Anyway,” Mean began, “there are lots of those animals back where we got the fruits. There are huge tanks with huge guns on one side and a bunch of weird smoke and a blimp on the other–where I met those people with glowing skin.”
“What about our world?” Jelk asked. “Is anything coming through from there?”
Mean shook her head. “No, it’s still empty. So is that temple place. The safest spot looks like it’s around that castle where I got the cinnamon roll; there’s just a pond there.”
“Maybe we’d better get going,” Vornis said, staring cock-eyed at an approaching group of uniformed men and women.
“You civilians need to get out of here,” the one on point announced. She wore thick glasses and a smooth helmet, with a rifle and pack strapped to her back. The others in the squad were equipped with similar gear: they all had either glasses or goggles as eyewear. Several showed shock at the sight of Vornis’ scaly bulk.
“You guys have no idea what’s going on do you?” Jelk said.
“Hello all you beautiful idiots!” a voice thundered from above. A huge image of Shirka was lying upon the long curve of the ring that encircled the towering chandelier. “My name is Shirka: I’m the one that just brought you here. Welcome to Arsiling.”
“Up until now I shared this place with my siblings, and from here they’ve been messing about with your worlds.” She pointed down at the casino, where the squads of people were staring up.
“Clance stole the magic from your world with his unique power: keeping it all to himself. Well, try using your magic now.”
Mean turned back to the squadron of scouts. Their leader nodded back at a man in goggles.
“Go on, you can try it,” she said. “How about the things stuck in that bus?”
“You know why you can use magic again? It’s because I saw my brother–my greedy little Clance–taking it all. So I stuck him in a suit.” Below her, an image of Clance was hanging from the ring: his face visible through the visor in the armor.
“It keeps him from using his powers,” Shirka explained. “It keeps him subdued for the moment.”
“This is great!” the man in the goggles exclaimed.
“I’ve liberated every world down there that can hear me,” Shirka hummed, sweeping her arm across the buildings. “Pladomir’s world is now free of their cravings; the Enpo of Slaberdashia’s planet are now lucid again. We do have a problem with Cougo’s world, though,” she went on. She sat upright, her feet dangling above the rumbling armored vehicles down on the ground. “I have Cougo sealed, but the memories he stole remain in the minds where he put them. The only way things will truely return to normal is if he is killed.”
“She can’t kill him,” Elder Sain muttered.
“How can you be sure about that?” Vornis asked.
“Everyone made after me was programmed that way,” Sain told him. “Zonzabee wasn’t about to make the same mistake more than once.”
Shirka was still addressing those below. “Since I’m too kind to bring harm to my siblings I had an idea: I’d open the way that leads to Arsiling; every world that was intruded upon would get their chance at revenge!”
The six chains that kept the tower aloft let out a groan. The massive ring dipped with a lurch.
“Cougo, Clance-they’re all here with me in the chandelier,” Shirka claimed as the chain links clanked against each other. “They came into your homes and violated you: I think it’s time you had the same chance. Come to me and you’ll find them. If you walk back toward the cliffs you’ll be transported back to your worlds. Bring reinforcements if you want; we’ll all be waiting for you here.”
She winked through the ring strapped to her eye and the image vanished. The ringed chandelier continued downward. It lowered toward a spot in between the arena and factory.
“We’re still in contact with HQ,” the soldier in goggles told the others. “I patched most of that through; we’ll have to wait to see what orders are.”
“You idiots!” Elder Sain shouted. “Don’t broadcast her image! That’s what she wants!”
“Who are you?” the soldier with clear glasses asked.
“He’s wearing the same armor we saw Clance trapped in,” a soldier with green goggles observed.
“Uh oh,” Darrow squeaked.
“I’ll need you all to come with us,” the soldier with clear glasses told Sain and the rest.
“Well, what’s going to happen now?” Sain blurted out. He looked over at Mean, Dark, and Trisk. “I heard you say you had a way back to your world.” He stood, his hands still shackled in vein. Through the gaps in the buildings the fleet of tanks were kicking up sand as they moved in formation; in the sky colored zepplins could be seen rising to meet the massive chandelier tower as it desended. The nearby soldiers repeated their command, reaching for their rifles.
“If you’re going to run, I sure don’t know what it is you’re all waiting for.”
First Draft Discussion Fun Time:
It turns out all those things that Hellzoo did at the end of book one actually had a purpose –
Yeah I bet you weren’t expecting that huh, Matt? The magic from zillions of minds or whatever. Anyway, on to the stuff I was talking about in the intro.
Shirka expands the gates to let the other worlds appear on Arisiling –
First, let me get this out of the way: I was going to have Shirka visit each world individually. I’d spend a whole chapter cutting between each one; I’d give you a glimpse into what every planet was like. Then Shirka would tell everyone to come visit her and they’d all go through all the hex doors to meet at Arsiling. Yeah, that would take forever. So that got me thinking: Why not just have Shirka gather up the groups below her chandelier castle? Then she can address them all at once from high in the air! Zounds! I must be a genius!
Alright I’m not gonna lie; I got the idea to do this from DC’s “Convergence” storyline. In that event cities from differing DC timelines are placed under domes. Once enough cities are gathered the barriers are dropped and the champions within are told to fight each other. FOR SURVIVAL!
And it was pretty good! Flash fought Evil Hawkgirl! Wonder Woman tussled with Vampire Joker! It was almost as pointlessly violent as MY stories!
Of course I’m joking, because I want every action to have purpose. But what about these worlds in MY story? Do I want the reader to care about these places? The people that live there? Or should they just be a backdrop to the struggle the main characters are experiencing?
This reminds me of the current storyline in One Piece. SPOILERS for One Piece: chapter 700 onward.
This shot is from the “Dressrosa” arc. The fact that this story also features an inescapable dome over a city with a villain addressing everyone from high in the air is a coincidence. ::wink:: But let’s put that aside; what I want to discuss is the formula One Piece usually follows.
What often happens is that the Straw Hat crew visits an island. They have their own business to attend to, but then the crew meets some indigenous people that need to be saved from some evil force. These new characters usually have some dramatic past to make the crew, along with the reader, feel sympathy for them. The natural progression of things from there lead to the reader wishing for the antagonist of the island to get a giant punch from Luffy’s rubber fist.
In almost every One Piece story a “native in peril” has been used. My question is: should I use that more often in Abandonment Party 3?
I have used this device before. Well, everyone was suppose to be dead in the first book so that doesn’t count. But in the second book I had numerous characters show up from the past world. I also have the siblings from Arsiling in this book. But what I DON’T have are people from the other worlds the siblings control. Well, some are there but they’re either mind-controlled or brainwashed into thinking their situation is good. None of them interact with the main characters on Arsiling so no one knows whether they want to be rescued or not.
Now I have a decision to make: do I want to keep these guys in the background or should I bring a few out to the spotlight?
If I do I’ll have to make some changes to the later drafts. And yes I’d have to SPEND TIME THINKING UP NEW CHARACTERS. Characters that would accompany either Dark or Mean through Arsiling. One of the hawks from the Nameless for example. Or the woman with the glowing facial marks. I did have Chinpo and his buds hanging out with Vornis but will that be enough?
It’s a tough decision but a decision MUST be made! So put it to vote in the comments. I only have enough time in my schedule to count the first thousand, so hurry!