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.
The chapter picks up after the battle with Mackaba’s odd water bubble. Mean and Dark return to Parlay’s mansion with the DNA sample. Trisk and Darrow are waiting there.
- Darrow wagged his finger. “Mean, we agreed that you would distract Mackaba from a distance if he was guarding it. You didn’t hit him did you?”
- “Well, maybe.” Mean looked ahead at the large house
- Kim – Maybe change? Something a bit funnier?
Ha! Mean’s dialogue was being indicated here. I’m glad to see Kim have confidence in my ability to come up with amazing gags. What should it be? “You could say I burst his bubble, Darrow!”
Yeah, that’s terrible.
Now we get inside the mansion. Everything in the first room, and only the first room, is destroyed. It doesn’t seems like a good idea to have a discussion there now that I think about it. -_-
- The parts of the floor that weren’t heaped with debris were flecked with splinters of glass and shattered, unidentifiable things.
- Kim – This sounds like debris. So the parts of the floor that aren’t heaped with debris are flecked with debris?
Uh, yes? Ha. I’ll change it to “The floor was flecked with splinters of glass and many shattered, unidentifiable things.”
Vornis appears out of the gloom.
- Trisk took up her stance, holding her fists between her and the monster. The beast––at least a foot taller––smiled back at her through tight, grey skin.
- Kim – The thing, the monster, the beast. Maybe just stick with one? Still not quite picturing what it looks like. Is it humanoid? Canine? Lizard? Hairy? Scaly? Cyborg?
You know, Kim, in the book Frankenstein the monster is never described. It’s just called ‘thing’ and ‘demon’ and such. Now, I don’t know why Mary Shelley did it. And I never read the book; I just looked at wikipedia. So maybe you’re right and I should just describe him.
Vornis IS a humanoid. He has thick scale plating hanging over his pecs, shoulder blades, and waist area. There are two tiny spikes coming out of his neck that form a ‘V’ up to his ears. Two larger blades stick out from each side of his torso. He has white eyes, grey skin, and sparse, wild hair. Hm, is there anything I’m missing?
Now Mean wants to know about everything that Parlay could be planning. Evil deeds and such.
- Vornis sighed. “Yeah, I have an idea. I’d have to go into Parlay’s personal life story though. When everyone else was alive. But wouldn’t feel right––spilling secrets to guys I just met.”
- “I guess that makes sense,” Mean said. She rubbed the back of her neck and glanced at Dark. “I’m sorry we asked.”
- Kim – Wow, she just readily accepts that without even trying to convince him otherwise?
You think it’s weird for Mean to accept that? Dark’s been keeping secrets. SHE’S been keeping secrets. Don’t you think it would be hypocritical for Mean to say “I’m fine with other people keeping personal secrets but I deserve answers from you!”
- Vornis waved her apology off with his clawed hand.
- Kim – Wait, he has claws? What is he? A giant lobster?
Ah, so I did forget something. Vornis has claws on his fingers like the ones bears have. I swear, Kim, if I DID intend them to be lobster claws you’d probably think they’re bear claws. Or demanding that I call them pincers. 😉
But seriously I’ll take the time to describe Vornis better in the chapter. Although it is funny that you think he looks like “Beast with Doc Ock arms.” Whether that’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ or ‘X-Men Beast’ I don’t know. But they’re both an honor.
- Darrow plopped down on the other half of the piano bench cushion.
- Kim – There’s a cushion?
Oh, not this again! Did you think the cushion from the tower showed up here too!?
Here’s the part where Vornis is talking about his past girlfriend Zenny.
- “A girl and a monster?” Darrow wondered out loud.
- Kim – Bit rude of Darrow. Also, braver than expected to call him “monster” to his face.
Rude, yes. Rude and foolish. I do want Darrow and Vornis to get off on the wrong foot. Sorry to say, EVERYONE can’t be best friends with Vornis.
Uh oh! Vornis and his mighty senses reveal that Mean is a native of his planet. She’s kept it a secret all this time, in case you forgot.
- Mean leapt to her feet. “Darrow! Dark! Guys! It’s me! Vornis was talking about me.”
- Kim – No reaction from Darrow or Dark? Just skips to Vornis’ reaction?
I had a discussion about this with Kim already. I thought I gave Dark a reaction but it must have gotten erased in an earlier draft. So let’s go with this tour idea: I think I’ll have the group pass through an ornament room like the one in Return to Oz. Then when Mean announces the news Dark can comically stumble into shelves of priceless artifacts. Hilarious.
- Trisk looked into the wide eyes of the monster.
- Kim – Is he really a monster?
What do you mean? Are you asking a philosophical question? Do I need to bring out the cactus juice box?
Now Parlay shows up outside. Vornis comes up with a plan to escape that involves everyone marching out the front door to where Parlay is standing.
- Outside, the path was darkening beneath the shadow of clouds: Its grime-covered surface bearing scant splotches of rain. Vornis’ scales clinked together as he walked with them over the cracked stone to the hex door. At the half-way mark Parlay stood with a hand on his hip.
- Kim – So confused. Thought Vornis was going to stall Parlay while they snuck out and used the hex door. Why are they letting him see them so openly like this? Thought he didn’t want them to fight?
I had a feeling this was a dumb idea. And I was going to change Vornis’ plan before sending you the chapter. But I thought: Let’s see what Kim says about it first. And it seems you are, indeed, confused by the stupid plan! You passed the test!
There’s a short scuffle because Vornis is programmed to protect Parlay from anyone that tries to attack him. Gosh, this plan DOES suck doesn’t it?
- Vornis wiped the dirt off his blade with his fingers. “Don’t know. But that person––whoever it is––needs to be stopped.”
- Parlay and Dring appeared inside Hardpan City ten minutes later.
- Kim – So the gang is really slow at following Parlay apparently?
Parlay didn’t leave with Dring, but he goes to Hardpan with Dring. This implies that he went and picked him up somewhere. I’ll do a better job at explaining how they’re covering their tracks though. You’re also probably thinking that Mean could just ask the hex door where Parlay went. And… good question! I’ll have to think about why they didn’t just do that!
Parlay and Dring go to the Dhaston building, where the hex door that leads to Jesice is located. There is a mysterious blue object in the middle of the door.
- Parlay backed up and lunged at the blue structure.
- Kim – Does it have a name/purpose?
I told Kim that this was vein, the malleable organism that is used to store magical patterns and program magical devices. Parlay is using it to nullify the hex door. I think I’ll have Vornis tell the group about vein during the tour. It will save on some exposition later.
- “I said we’re sending the model; get ready,” Parlay growled.
- Now Parlay is growling. Thought that was a Vornis character trait?
But Kim, those two were friends for a long time! And friends’ traits kind of rub off on each other, you know? Like how you became a good writer after I did? ::wink::
And now you know WHY Parlay is always growling and hissing! It was a clue that he was friends with a grumpy beast! Whoa! Such foreshadowing! Take notes, and I’ll see you next time! 😉