It’s that time of the year again! Christmas! Time for me to go to Kansas to visit my extended family.
Like always, I took my laptop and INTENDED to work on my book and blog, but something distracted me again. Is it because I have so much fun visiting my relatives and playing games? Or is it because they stick me in an unfinished basement to sleep in, right next to a furnace that rumbles like a freight train? And then an actual freight train blasts its whistle outside, carrying over the plains of Kansas and right through grandma’s windows?
Yeah, it’s because I spend too much time playing video games, ha,ha.
Trisk has destroyed Tyle’s artificial arm and leg, but the art swap has left her unconscious. Tyle crawls over to the hex door and warps in some new limbs. As Darrow stands in one place, Vornis arrives. Tyle warps in a Staccato rifle and blasts him through a wall.
Under Hardpan, Mean and Dark are still in Dring’s tunnel trap. Dark’s momentum alone isn’t enough to wear down the hex doors, so Mean flies alongside him. They drain the door’s power, escape, and head up to Hardpan’s ground level.
On Jesice, Tecker and Hatchel requisition a fruit harvester so that they can approach Error unmolested. Hatchel jumps onto Error and destroys its A.I. Dring activates the remote override and counterattacks. Hatchel is wounded, but Tecker is able to smash Error against a tree. Despite their efforts, ‘Program Zero’ is launched toward St. Tra City.
Tyle sees all this happen from the monitors in Hardpan. He goes to collect Vornis’ corpse to help convince the Jesians that magic is evil. But Vornis is still alive, and he fights back. The two are both taken over by instinctual programming, and Tyle’s own automatic reflexes end up dooming him.
Whew! That’s quite a long chapter. Let’s get started; Kim has been bugging me to finish this. I mean, holding me accountable. 😉
Trisk has just cut off Tyle’s cybernetic limbs.
- Tyle Dhaston was crawling away from her on one elbow and knee, dragging shattered components from his severed prosthetics.
- Kim – “His shattered prosthetics dragged behind him”? It almost sounds like he’s holding the components and taking them with him, but how could he hold them and crawl at the same time?
Yeah it does sound like that. Excellent work! I’ll start you off with a win, Kim, as a Christmas present.
Tyle notices a furious Darrow has arrived.
- He glanced over as Darrow’s shout pierced the room.
- Kim – Possible to re-word to a stronger reaction than a glance?
Pf, it’s just Darrow. Although I suppose Tyle hasn’t met him before has he? It would be funny to give Tyle a frightened reaction to someone that’s really no threat to him at all!
Tyle warps in a new arm and leg.
- The damage Trisk had done at Stone Rory was patched up in a long scar: running from the elbow and ending between the first and middle fingers.
- Kim – Wait, is this an older arm he’s using? Not clear what’s going on.
Did I say new arm? It’s really Tyle’s OLD arm that was damaged by punching Trisk. It’s been repaired. Kim talked to me about how confusing this was, so I’ll try to make it clear. “I patched this old thing together in a hurry, but it should be enough to finish a brat like you!”
Or some such line.
Darrow takes a stand!
- Darrow stood resolute over Trisk’s body.
- Kim – Noticing a lot of “stood” with Darrow. “He stood to watch” “stood as straight as he could” and now this. Could he be doing something besides standing maybe? Maybe move to put himself between Tyle and Trisk?
Kim told me about this when I was visiting her house. Not just the standing, but how Darrow wasn’t doing anything in the book’s finale. She told me that every character should have some sort of personal arc in the story, and that Darrow’s arc wasn’t going anywhere.
She could be right! But I’ll address that in a later post. Let’s start with what Darrow can do here and now. Kim suggested that he should try to take Trisk out of the building. Especially since Tyle starts blasting away with a Staccato rifle soon. But I asked: Could Darrow pick up Trisk, a 6-foot tall woman, from a prone position? In a shocking twist, Kim’s husband happened to know of a way! AND he knew of a YouTube video that would show me how! It happens around 1:50.
Did you watch it? He rolls over the guy’s body, grabs his leg, and uses momentum to wrap him over his back and into the air. But how would Darrow of all people know how to bust this particular move? Kim knew the answer to this one, too! Tome, his spirit friend, could be the one to teach him. Even better, Tome could use his power of temporary possession to perform the maneuver himself, in Darrow’s body.
Now Darrow has something to do, and it gets him out of the way of Vornis’ upcoming fight! Thank you, Kim’s husband! You truly are the world’s greatest champion!
Vornis arrives, and Darrow explains the situation to him.
- Vornis walked over and nodded down at Trisk. “I was on my way up to Parlay when I sensed Trisk’s magic drain. What happened?”
- Kim – Feels like we’re rehashing this a lot. We already know what happened to Trisk from reading last chapter. Tyle has already told Darrow. Now we’re going over it a third time in the space of just a few pages (including last chapter). Could probably skip some of this.
I just agreed to take Darrow and Trisk out of the room, so this exchange will never occur. Making characters leave always solves lots of problems!
Vornis sees Error on the monitors, and wonders….
- “Hm, should I shut down the hex door? Or go through after it? Looks slow.”
- Kim – Not sure what he means here. What would shutting down the hex door do to stop Error?
Maybe that’s how Error is getting a signal? Maybe Parlay is going to use that hex door to send more evil robots through? Maybe I could just have Vornis wonder about this stuff out loud so you aren’t confused anymore?
- Dhaston reached to the pants pocket at his left leg, then withdrew.
- Vornis snarled, circling away from Darrow and into the open room.
- Kim – Tyle? Or Dhaston? Keeps changing back and forth for some reason. And not sure what he reached for here. Did his leg itch?
Well, Kim, if you must know I’m alternating between Tyle Dhaston’s first and last names so that I can express the duality of his character. “Tyle” for the human side and “Dhaston” for the inhuman, or monstrous side. The name “Dhaston” has an extraneous ‘h’ that represents the artificial limbs that he relies on. The name itself is the surname that represents the family business that he claims to protect.
Now go back and look for every time I choose to use either name and come up with a reason for why I did so. THEN become a writing professor after my book is done. After that you can quiz students on “The Duality of Tyle Dhaston” so that you can make my story appear to be artsy and intelligent, when in reality I just B.S.ed my way out of your criticism.
- Kim – Why is he snarling here anyway? Does he really hate it when people touch their pants pockets? “Arrg, you touched your pocket, you fiend!”
Ha,ha. No, Tyle is just touching the amulet that Parlay gave him. It saves his life later, and he’s just checking to make sure he still has it. But I should probably have Tyle take it out and put it back so you know it’s and amulet, and not jock itch.
And I don’t know why Vornis is growling. He just does that sometimes. Okay, all the time.
Tyle starts summoning up some monster-busting gear.
- He banged on a hex door pillar again. Two objects appeared in mid-air above the platform: a pair of noise-canceling headphones and a large shoulderpad. His oily, mechanical arm darted to catch them.
- Kim – Not clear on what’s been going on whenever he bangs on a pillar. Like do certain bangs mean he needs certain items to come through? Or does a numbered item come through with each bang? One bang for an arm, second bang for a leg, third bang for headphones and shoulderpads?
I also talked about this ‘banging thing’ during my visit to Kim’s house. I added it on a whim before I sent the chapter to her; the bangs were just for show. So I told her I’d take them out and just have Tyle wearing the shoulder pad and headphones ahead of time. Maybe add in a gag where Tyle warps in the wrong thing first before he gets the gun out of the hex door.
Mean and Dark escape the tunnel!
- Mean shook her head and pointed upward. “There’s a ladder and manhole: We need to get to Trisk and the others; I’m worried. Ah, after you, of course––just to be safe.”
- Kim – Wait, why did they want to come to this engine room again? They finally get to the room and now they’re leaving without doing anything? Confused.
Ah. Yes, I agree with you on this. It seems rather silly for them to just leave after they worked so hard to get through the tunnel. I’ll put more down here, like the controls for levitating the city. That way Dark will know where to go when he and Dring try to stop it later. I’ll also write that part in later, since it all happens off-page currently.
Back on Jesice, Tecker and Mean’s Dad have found a way to sneak up on Error without activating its defenses: drive a fruit harvester!
- “A fruit harvester!” Tecker stopped at the fence. “I can drive one of those––think it’ll work?”
- Kim – Is there some background story on why he can drive one of those? Was he a farmer or something? Might be more interesting dialogue than the “Sure” and “Okay. Good” dialogue that follows. Also help flesh out Tecker a bit to have a tiny background story.
Yes, there is a reason why Tecker can drive one. It was his job! I just didn’t think it would be very interesting to put here. But as you pointed out, the current dialog is even blander than fruit-picking.
Tecker drives at Error as it approaches the city!
- Tecker kept the harvester’s acceleration steady.
- Kim – If the machine is coming to them, do they even need to go down the road? Wouldn’t it be easier to just wait there for it?
Ah, but you haven’t seen my edited chapters yet! In those, Error announces that it’s going to launch PRIMARY FUNCTION ZERO once it’s close enough to the city. That’s why Tecker must RUSH toward it.
Hatchel jumps from the harvester onto Error.
- All four of Error’s arms curled upward upon him. Two clasped at his ankles and another pinched at his shoulder.
- Kim – What about the fourth arm?
Uh, it couldn’t reach him? Hm, why did I even say all four went after him then? Let’s keep going to unravel this compelling mystery.
Hatchel destroys the AI globe and hops back over to the fruit harvester.
- He caught on to the crane as Tecker drove it close.
- Kim – Oh, so Tecker was following them? Might be more tension to have him try to keep up? Maybe the arms could be attacking him while he tries to stay close? Or he keeps the arms busy while Hatchel tries to find the globe thingy?
The arm can’t attack Tecker. That was the whole reason they used a harvester, remember? Error isn’t programmed to respond to that vehicle.
But that 4th arm can still remain vigilant! Or something!
Now Dring takes over Error’s movement controls. He lashes out at Tecker.
- It flailed the long, segmented arms up at the crane. Hatchel was caught in the stomach.
- Kim – Hatchel is still on the crane? How long has he been just hanging there? Is he a former rock climber?
He jogs every day. But since the cliff-side city of St. Tra IS on a cliff, maybe he IS a rock climber. Maybe lots of people are! Maybe it’s required training!
As the scene ends with Error being destroyed, Kim has some more trivial questions that aren’t worth mentioning here. I mean, tires will squeal on either road OR grass, right? Right. So now we’re back to Vornis and Tyle. Tyle is reacting to Error’s destruction on the news monitors.
- “Lord ley and local level alien machine!? Bombing aborted!?”
- Kim – Re-word? Lot of L words here. “Lord ley and local man defeat alien machine”?
I did it like that on purpose. Don’t all news headlines use cheap tricks like repeating the same consonant at the beginning of words? I mean, they’re not hard workers at writing like WE are, Kim.
The chapter ends as everything shifts to Vornis’ point of view.
- I know an end to this confrontation is nearing: My insticts have taken over.
- Kim – Who is I here? Why the sudden shift to first person? “instincts”?
I’ll change the first part of the chapter to mention Tyle AND Darrow so that you can figure out it’s Vornis by process of elimination. Although I’m sure you figured it out by the time he started talking about his scales dropping off from the earlier Staccato blast.
I also believe first person is the best way to present this scene, since Vornis’ inner voice and heightened senses can show the reader exactly how Tyle is undone by his own mechanical reflexes.
- It’s a shame that we’re fighting, I think, as I fling a scale and drive him to the side this time.
- Kim – Isn’t all of this thoughts? Maybe should be in Italics? The third to first person shift is a bit random as there’s nothing else like it in the book.
Good idea, I think, as I reach over to the mouse and click the ‘italics’ button on my browser. Yes, you can really see that something special is going on. Nothing else like it.
As Tyle is gravely wounded by his own rifle, Vornis shouts!
- I sense Parlay on the roof of this building. I shout––I beg for him to come save this man.
- I hear no reply.
- I realize that the person I knew is dead.
- Kim – Is he talking about Parlay or Tyle here? Confused.
Remember that professor job you take in the future, Kim? Well, when your students get to this part you just stroke your chin and say “Who do YOU think Vornis is talking about? Tyle? Parlay? Himself, perhaps? Hmmmmmm!”
Well, that’s another chapter post done! Only six or so left! See you next time! Happy New Year!
That final thought could be cleaned up a bit for clarity. Maybe something like, “The Parlay I knew would have replied. I realize that the Parlay I knew is dead.”
You don’t think it should be left vague? I joked around about it, but I do like the idea of having multiple interpretations.