In this chapter the crew meets Vornis, an organically modified human. He’s Parlay’s friend from the old days, you see, and he’s got a story to tell about their friendship. In fact, Vornis’ tale was so long that Kim thought he sounded like a video game NPC that you meet inside a house.
I started to protest, but realized that I do agree with her: Having a setting that fits the conversation is one of the lessons I learned from the Aeon Flux commentaries. I talked about this a while back, but I’ll go over it again. It also gives me an excuse to reuse this image of Trevor:
See, in the episode titled The Purge, Trevor Goodchild has a philosophical discussion about conscience. At the end of the episode he talks with Aeon. The setting for this finale is on a stage with an audience full of people. It’s around this point in the commentary that Peter Chung says:
Well what happened I think is that the discussion about the value of conscience and morality became–it’s such an abstract thing. You can’t help but address it using a lot of dialog and I just hate having scenes where people are just in a room talking. And the way to kind of–push it onto a stage and exaggerate it. Because if Trevor had to give these speeches in a normal situation it would come off as being incredibly declamatory. But in this setting he can say very declamatory things. And it fits.
The episode also has interesting things going on in the background so even if you don’t understand all the dialog you can still be entertained by dancing girls and mask-wearing cactus beverages.
Now, back to my chapter, where Vornis is talking to everyone in a single room of Parlay’s house. How can I make this conversation more interesting? Move the group throughout the various rooms of the mansion? Like a tour? Since the discussion is about Parlay’s life, it would make more sense for Vornis to bring up different events as he passed by Parlay’s old stuff.
So that is my mission! I’ll spice up Parlay and Vornis’ backstory by having the characters move through the mansion as he speaks! No cactus juice boxes though.
Oh dear, Kim had quite an email for me after she finished this one. Scathing stuff. Worthy of that picture above. But first, here’s the chapter summary for context:
Mackaba is going through his day in Hardpan City. He’s pacing the halls of Police Headquarters, telling himself how noble he is to stay and defend the empty buildings.
As he reaches the lobby window he notices that a billboard outside has been vandalized. He flies out in a rage to find Mean standing in the streets. A seven-page battle ensues. It’s totally amazing.
Mackaba is defeated and Dark comes out of police HQ with Parlay’s DNA sample.
Now here’s what Kim told me in the email:
- The fight scene goes on a bit long. Could trim by a couple pages to help keep the action flowing at a fast pace.
- There aren’t really any stakes to the fight. We don’t know why Mean’s fighting Mackaba or what will happen if she loses. We find out later she’s distracting Mackaba so Dark can find the case, but during the fight, there’s a slight lack of suspense.
I’ll be honest: I didn’t want to hear this. I LOVE my fight scenes. I told Kim that she’d have to try harder in order to convince me to change it. So she DID try harder. She called me on the phone and told me how she was counting the pages until the end because the battle was dragging on and on.
Oof. BUT–! Lesson time! That’s the first rule of taking criticism. You gotta put your ego away. Even if it’s a chapter you’re proud of. So I did. And I listened.
Because you know what’s next? After you’ve humbled yourself at the feet of the teacher, you get to follow the second rule of criticism: Bring your ego BACK out to fix the problem! Tell yourself “I can do this! I can find a solution! I am the greatest storyteller in the entire UNIVERSE!! HAHAHAHAHA!”
So that’s what I’ll do. First I’ll add a quick scene at the start, with Mean and Dark walking toward Hardpan City. They’ll discuss the distraction plan and they’ll see the birds flying around the buildings. They can also mention changes to the grounds by the walls which will come in handy during the finale. This will also match up with the scene that Thomas Hugo painted for my cover: it depicts Mean and Dark staring at Hardpan City. I hate it when covers depict events that don’t take place in the story, so now I won’t be a hypocrite.
As for the battle with Mackaba, well, I’ll think of something.
A short chapter, but Kim still has a few good ideas to talk about. Including one idea of hers that I ignored from the previous chapter, ha,ha.
But first, here’s the summary:
After the confrontation in the Pinada wing of the Brinkland National Museum, Mean and her buddies use the hex door A.I. to search for Parlay’s house. They eventually find a promising result: a run-down mansion. The group pops on over.
Mean reveals that she can use one of Tenny’s arts to fly now, and she zooms across the garden with Dark. The two have a bit of a talk where Mean promises to reveal the secret of her origin. Of course she doesn’t get the chance since they’re interrupted by Darrow. Man, I hate it when that happens in OTHER stories but I’m sure I have a really good reason for delaying it.
The mansion, however, is locked. Forcing the door open will only bring doom upon them. So of COURSE the only option is to go to the Hardpan Police Department to pick up a sample of Parlay’s D.N.A. that was obtained with the help of a cryogenic root beer mug. What? I set it up in the prologue! It makes perfect sense!