Mar 17 2011

Myna’s Review Forum

Published by at 5:31 pm under Review Forums

A reckless kid with a drug that gives superpowers sets out to become a fake superhero.  Little does he know that the real superheroes are hiding even more lies than he is.

135 responses so far

135 Responses to “Myna’s Review Forum”

  1. Mynaon 24 Mar 2011 at 4:29 pm

    So here we begin!

    The general premise of the story starts with a kid named Seth Massri. On the verge of dropping out of high school, Seth is pretty much at the breaking point. He’s failing a lot of his classes, his family is full of tension and his dad is virtually never home, and he’s distracted by a big gang war that’s starting to creep up in his part of the city. That’s the other thing about Seth–he lives in a city well-known by others only for a staggering homicide rate and some of the worst violence in the country.

    Well… there’s another thing his city is known for. The Hero Society, which acts as a spandex-clad Justice League of sorts to take down criminals when the police can’t. The Hero Society is made up of people with actual superpowers, super-speed, invisibility, etc, and they are absoutely FAMOUS. They’re treated like celebrities, and their leader Static is practically fangirled by every high school girl in the area.

    His father works with the police department, and is constantly out. But little does Seth know that the police, and a corporation from within, are creating a ‘super-serum’ that can give the user powers. The serum is top secret, and even the Hero Society doesn’t know about it at first. The serum’s purpose is to strengthen the police and other personnel, so that they can more easily deal with trouble in the area; but little does anyone know it might have more of a purpose than just that…

    Seth’s dad is one of the first people instructed to start using the serum. At first Seth doesn’t notice the subtle differences in how his dad is acting, but then somehow he gets his hands on the chemical, and everything changes…

    Well. There’s quite a few problems with it I’ve already caught, which not to dump on you guys, but y’alls are notoriously good with helping out with things like this, so…

    * Okay, the universal “What shall I name it?” question. Right now the city is being tentatively called “New Mortras” but I absolutely loathe that name. This is a downtrodden, urban city in the north USA (either East or West Coast) with vaguely Portuguese influences. (I did see on another topic around here a list of how to make city names, with roots like pax and mar and iola and such, still working with that as well.) Also, if anyone has a better idea for a name than ‘Hero Society’, that would be lovely.

    * The serum. I feel like the man who created it (A man named Mr. Hallow, again, any better name ideas if you’ve got ’em? xD) might be using it for another purpose; perhaps to strengthen a group of people >> take down the Hero Society, which would make then make Hallow’s corporation the most powerful people in the city. The Society, and leader Static, would eventually find out about this, but I’m still figuring out Static’s motives, plans, and what he would react like… I want to say it would involve eliminating the ‘weaker’ members of the Society (who Static hates, see there’s a divide in the organization itself) >> Static and the strong members might try to steal powers from some other people, making themselves even stronger >> results in a big showdown between Hallow and the Society that Seth would eventually get caught right in the middle of.

    That and he’s dead meat once the Society finds out he’s on this drug…

    * The powers the serum gives you are probably going to be basic things like strength, agility, perhaps speed, sensitivity to sight/sound etc. I’m avoiding things like pyrokinesis or bio-manipulation because there’s no way a drug would allow you to do that.

    Those are the major issues right now, that and the villain motivations, although I’m working on those currently.

  2. Mynaon 24 Mar 2011 at 4:43 pm

    Don’t mean to dump a lot of information all at once! Just gonna go over some of the more influential members of the HS.

    STATIC—he can manipulate the senses of others, making them blind, deaf, senseless or anything else at will, hence his name Static. Also, he has mild control over sonic sound and forcefields. Very manipulative as a person, rules the Society with an iron fist. He has unnaturally yellow-blonde hair, pale skin, very muscular build.

    THE SPIRIT—A woman almost as manipulative as Static himself, Spirit can melt herself into the shadows and control invisibility and intangibility, as well as other ghost powers that make her perfect for stealth missions. Also one of the smarter people here. Has floaty purple hair, tall and lank, with grey eyes and pale skin.

    ASH—His real name is Michael, and he’s the twitchy pyro of the Hero Society. Has serious control issues with his powers. Ash is also one of the younger members, with hair the same color of ash, which is where his name comes from. One of the few nicer members here.

    [unnamed]—this is some kind of super kung-fu fighter. He can take out opponents with a single kick, knows every pressure point on the human body, and yes, he’s Asian. Considered pure awesome by the people lower than him in the Society, like Seth. Knows a lot of wise quotes but is not supremely wise himself.

    ATOM ATTACK—He can’t control molecular energy. He can just shrink. Constantly made fun of for his powers, even though they can be quite useful sometimes.

    DAYDREAM—A seductress at heart, Daydream is a tricky shapeshifter who can become several different types of animals, using this well to her advantage by exploiting her opponents’ weaknesses. She hates Ash and considers him annoying. Has an amazing body (to say the least) with a large chest and behind. Maybe she likes toying around with men?

    There are a few good guys in the Society however! xD None of them but one have super-names yet though…

    Julien Wright—Like Spirit, he is one of the smarter members of the Society, although he doesn’t get much credit for it. I haven’t quite decided his powers yet, leaning on maybe mind-reading, telepathy, I’m not sure. (Avoiding technopath and electric powers so that he doesn’t turn into the Nerdy Black Guy stereotype on the spot. xD) Despite this, Jules doesn’t realize what Static is planning (about eliminating the ‘lower’ members of the HS? Or maybe doing something to the city as a whole…) He’s known throughout the Society for his penchant for lockbreaking. Rather protective of his younger sister, Amber.

    Amber Wright (APPLE)—She has a fiery personality and loves to have fun, is Julien’s younger sister. Can control nature, hence her name ‘Apple’–although there is a running joke the real story behind her name has more to do with her ‘apples’ than Mother Nature’s… Amber/Apple is very friendly but can completely lose it if you tick her off. Several other Society members are scared of her… xD

    Elodie Randolph—She’s the youngest member of the Society, at a ripe 16, and can see into the future. Although her powers got her into the Society, they aren’t good in immediate combat, and so most of the members consider her useless and don’t care much for her visions. But she’s intent on proving herself, and little do the other heroes know, but they could REALLY use her powers…
    * She becomes very important later, as she’s the one who first cracks what Static is doing, to everyone’s surprise. xD

    What do y’all think? Good, bad, too cliche?

  3. Mynaon 03 May 2011 at 5:56 pm

    BAM! Alright, this is the revised version of Chapter One, with the stuff at the hospital instead of the stuff at school. Chapter Two will probably be the bit with Lighting and the police department (it’ll make sense at the bottom, heh) and then I’ll incorporate that school thing in there somehow, probably Chapter Three? I know that sounds lengthy but this actually fits better with the overall structure of the novel as a whole so hopefully it’ll work. 🙂

    CHAPTER ONE

    There are a lot of things that could wake you up in the middle of the night in Bellem—you know, that don’t involve gunfire. Cop cars, cop sirens. Shattering glass. Sometimes yelling from the streets, screaming, sometimes the guys trying to party in the apartment next to you. Sometimes normal things like phone calls. And sometimes phone calls from the hospital, saying that your dad’s in the E.R and that he’s been poisoned and he’s convulsing and, would you please come to the hospital right now for him, only I don’t hear that part too well ‘cause by then the only thing I can hear is Mom screaming “GET OUT HERE, SETH!”, a slamming door, and nothing else.

    It’s about 2 A.M. when we get the call, and it’s about 2:02 when Mom rushes outside, down the apartment stairs into the cold, nothing but pajamas and a coat on. I’m still trying to make sense of the phone call. He’s been poisoned… he’s been poisoned? Okay, I think as Mom yells for me to get to the car, this is bad. I run after her, ‘cause if anything I gotta keep her calm, and keep her from scaring the nurses.

    We’ve been called to the hospital for Dad before. He’s got the kind of job even a solid paycheck isn’t worth having here: being a cop. He used to joke around that he wouldn’t even get into retirement age with his work, and he was always kidding, but after he got shot up the first time we wondered if he was right. He’s never been poisoned before. “Mom, mom, calm down. You’ll get into an accident before we even pass 32nd. Let me drive,” I say as she jams the apartment keys into the ignition by accident.

    “Then get there fast, Seth,” she says firmly and slips into the passenger seat. I nod and then we’re rushing right out of the apartment parking lot. Forget stops. Forget traffic lights. Nobody stops in this city, especially not now. So I stomp on the gas, ‘cause I’m not gonna stop in this city either, no I’m not.

    The hospital is on 19th, in between a parking garage and an old medical research facility. I almost crash into the hospital building when we park, as if I thought I could just drive right into the E.R. to check in on Dad. Doesn’t matter, ‘cause Mom’s already out of the car, into the E.R. Heart pounding, I go in after her.

    “Where is he?!” Mom demands a surprised receptionist as soon as we get inside. I quickly catch up, as the woman gets some confused look on her face and starts looking through the papers on her desk, as if they got the answer.

    “She means Officer Massri. What room is he in? Can we see him?” I ask, all in one breath. I gotta admit, I don’t know crap about poisons. So there are a lot of questions running through my mind, but most important of ‘em being: how quick do they kill you? The answer to that, I definitely don’t want to know.

    “He’s in room A114. But ma’am, we can’t let you in yet. They’re still trying to take care of him. Just go to the waiting room—“

    Oh great. Just the words I don’t want to hear.

    “Forget that nonsense! I’m not sitting around if my husband could die!” Mom shrieks and storms off down the hall looking for A114. Even with her and her mad temper, we still find the room easy. We’re familiar enough with the setup.

    We get to A114 easy enough, but when we do, there’s a cop by the door.

    It’s not Dad.

    “My name is Officer Cirne,” The guy says fast before Mom can barrel past him. “You are the Massri family?”

    “Two-thirds of it,” I snap at him. “Can we see Dad? Is he okay? I mean, how—“

    “Calm down,” Officer Cirne says. “I need to talk to you two first. The doctors are taking care of him for now, but we need some information to help figure us out who’s poisoned him. And with what.”

    “What are you talking about?” Mom asks. “I want to see my husband! Is he okay? What do you mean, you don’t know what’s poisoned him?!” she demands.

    Officer Cirne looks over to a doctor that comes up to the room next to us. He talks to Mom in that cool, collected matter, that I’ve come to find real creepy whenever stuff like this happens.

    “Ma’am,” the doctor says, “My name is Dr. Carvalho. I’m helping out on your husband right now, however his case is very… severe. The poison used was a very powerful, narcotic agent, but beyond that, we really don’t know what it is. It could be anything, but we can’t figure it out, we’ve never seen it before you realize—and that makes it very hard to treat him,” he tries to explain.

    Officer Cirne nods. “I’m here to help figure out who poisoned him, as I said. Hopefully to figure out with what as well. But perhaps you have some… ideas. Would you please come with me, ma’am?” He looked at Mom. “We’ll interview you two separately—“

    Mom suddenly gets a look of death on her face.

    “You think we did this, don’t you?! You think we poisoned him?! Are you absurd?!” Mom shrieks all of a sudden. “Officer Cirne, don’t you know my husband? I know you do! Why on earth would you put this on his family, huh?!”

    “How the hell are we going to know who poisoned him?!” I demand. “Whenever he got shot, we didn’t know who pulled the trigger!”

    “Mrs. Massri! Both of you!” Officer Cirne yells. “It’s going to be alright. Just come with me.”

    I look back at the door to A114. Is he even still alive in there? Or is this really worse than all the other times? Another question I really don’t want to know the answer to. My heart’s pounding all fast again and I look up at Officer Cirne.

    “We’ll just make this interview quick,” Cirne says to us. “And um… Sam…”

    “Seth.”

    “Yes, of course, well go on and stay in the waiting room, won’t you?”

    I trudge back into the waiting room, and the receptionist gives me a glare when I walk back in, s’if to say I told you so. I roll my eyes and grab a seat, keeping a good distance from some woman with an arm slick with blood and a guy who’s wheezing into a tissue, his face changing colors from blue to pale to pink as he gasps. Well, Bellem’s ‘Maria Memorial Hospital’ was never known for fast treatment, but if you’re bleeding bad enough that they gotta catch it in a cup, they’ll take you in quicker.

    My hand’s clenching and unclenching as I sit there, like some little kid they wanna shove out. Calm down. He’s fine. He’s probably fine. I try to tell myself. Well, most likely he’s probably fine. Most likely he’s probably in good shape. Oh god, who am I kidding, I think and lean back against the chair, hoping that ‘most likely he’s probably in good shape’ is enough.

    After a good half hour, Mom comes back in, Officer Cirne with her. “Thank you Mrs. Massri,” and then he looks at me, and his face draws a blank and then he checks his paper, “Oh, Sa—Seth. Come with me.”

    I look at Mom, but she just seems like she’s thoroughly ticked off. I walk past and Officer Cirne leads me to a back room, in some corner of the hospital near the edge of the E.R. department. It’s just a conference room, really. I sit down after he does. “So lemme guess. You think that somehow we decided Dad’s job wasn’t dangerous enough and decided to poison him, right?” I say sarcastically, too tired to care about formalities.

    Officer Cirne gives me a cold look. “Well, you’re familiar with the P.D., aren’t you? You know how… difficult these situations can get. If you’re going to bust a drug dealer and suddenly he pulls out a gun and shoots your partner, well then, you know who pulled the trigger, don’t you? But if he just collapses in his office. It could be anyone.”

    “So you say it’s us,” I repeat, giving the guy a blank look.

    Officer Cirne ignores me. “I just need to know a few things. What does your mother do for a living?”

    “Sells cars.”

    “You all still live at the Apartment on 38th?”

    “That won’t change anytime soon, now will it?”

    Officer Cirne marks a few things down on his paper as another police officer wanders in. I recognize him, he works with Dad a lot, an Officer Haes. He sits down across the table.

    Cirne ignores him. “Is your mom away from home a lot?”

    “Yes. Ten hours a day,” I pause. “Selling cars.”

    Cirne turns to me sharply. “Look, just because you’re his son doesn’t mean I’m gonna cut you any slack, you got that?! We need to get to the bottom of this and if you give me any reason to suspect you at all—“

    “Then what?! Why the hell would I poison him?! Or Mom?! We’re not damn chemists!” I yell. “Find an actual suspect to interrogate at 4 A.M.!”

    “This is policy—“

    “It’s not policy, it’s just you trying to follow a dead end, you don’t really think I—“

    “Will you two shut up?!” Officer Haes demands us. “Tony, just ask the questions. The kid’s what, 16? 17? He’s not gonna poison his own dad anyway. Hell if that kid knows anything about narcotics,” Officer Haes says and he sighs, putting his palm to his forehead. “I doubt his mom would try to either, seeing how hysterical she was about an hour ago,” he mutters. “So just get it over with. Maybe Massri himself knows, if he’s even awake right now.”

    “So Dad’s okay?” I ask, practically jumping out of my chair. Cirne growls something under his breath.

    “Ask the doctors. Now let me finish, kid. Your mother ever have weird things lying around the house?”

    I close my eyes. “No.”

    “She ever had any affairs?”

    I turn to him sharply. “Are you serious?! No, she never had a damn affair. You don’t really need these questions, do you?!”

    “Has she ever brought different men home—?”

    I stand up fast. “How the hell is that relevant?! Just ‘cause everyone else in Bellem that comes to you may be—”

    But Officer Haes cuts me off before I can finish, smacking the desk with the flat of his palm and jumping to his feet. “He wants to know because—well he needs—oh for the love of God, forget this. Tony, we’re done,” he says to his partner real fast.

    Tony Cirne, however, doesn’t seem too quick to finish this. He stands up also, looking me in the eyes. “You wanna know why I ask these questions? Because I need to know if there’s a bad family history, because it’s so common around here! It’s the same story every time—“

    “Yeah, and what were you going to ask next, if she was actually my mother—?!”

    But before I get the chance to give this police officer a new reason to hate teenagers, another voice fills the room. And suddenly, me and this Cirne guy yelling, well… we both shut up real quick when we see who’s come in now.

    “Well. This doesn’t look very good, now does it?”

    And that’s when we happen to find a guy in a robo-suit, standing in the doorway; tech-pad in his hand, enhanced pistol at his belt, semi-amused look on his face.

    And that’s when I think, holy crap. The Hero Society’s getting involved in this?

    X

    Bellem is known for a lot of things. But if you were gonna ask someone from outside of Bellem if they knew anything about that little dot on the map, they’d probably say something like “Yeah, it’s full of superheroes!”

    We’re the only place in the world that’s got ‘em, although to be fair, we’re not full of superheroes. There are only about a dozen of them, and they’re all part of a group called the Hero Society: superpowerful crime-fighters of Bellem. Nobody knows where these people got their powers, but nobody cares. Bellem is one of the most violent places in the country, and just knowing that someone with superpowers is out there, doing something to protect you… that’s all people need. Let’s put it this way: They’re the reason no one around here bothered to read comic books.

    The Hero Society has a lot of lower members, but it’s the higher-ups people know best: Hachiman; resident karate-guy who could knock two guys out with a single punch. (Two words: He’s Hachiman.) Lighting; the scary-smart, clairvoyant electro. Haunt; a woman with powers over invisibility and shadows. And Static, their leader.

    Static’s the guy with a statue of himself in O Centro, the one people buy posters of and the one people try to chase down whenever they see ‘im out on the streets. He could make someone blind or deaf at will, clouding their senses. He could control them, paralyze them. He could put out forcefields that would throw a guy back 20 feet into a pane of glass. But he didn’t even need to pull out all the stops to win, and that’s why he’s the only guy in Bellem who gave crooks a real reason to be afraid.

    To put it simply: he’s boss. And in Bellem… all that matters is who’s boss.

    I’ve seen them all the time, but I’ve never met them before, not up front, not like this. And if this was a bad time to meet a superhero—in the middle of some police investigation—then I certainly didn’t care.

    Officer Cirne gets a dumbfounded look on his face. “Lighting—they said someone from the Society would come, but we didn’t think…”

    Lightning, tech-pad and suit and all, almost looks amused. ‘It’s okay… Tim, right?”

    “…it’s Tony,” the man says awkwardly. I force down a laugh, choking.

    Officer Haes goes up to Lightning. “Glad to see you decided to come by and help with this, Lightning. Did the doctors tell you what was going on?”

    “Yes, they mentioned some kind of untraceable poison?” Lightning leads the two cops out of the room, and I follow with ‘em, for once not saying anything. I tell myself, don’t be an idiot Seth, this is a guy from the Hero Society Seth, you at least want him to like you, although I’m sure that if I say anything else I’ll get in a fight with that rotten cop again anyway, and that won’t be very good at all no.

    When we get to A114, the door is open.

    “Dad!” I say and some nurses shush me but I don’t care. I rush inside. Mom is already there and she’s talking to a groggy Dad, mumbling little things. He’s kinda okay, although he’s hooked up to a lot of I.V.’s and there are beeping machines and more doctors in here than usual. I try to ignore that and sit down next to ‘em.

    “Dad, how’re you doing?” I ask, a bit softer this time, ‘cause he’s probably all sick still. “God, you had us all scared there. I’m so glad you’re okay…” For the first time all night, I at least know the answer to one question. Is he dead? The answer being, hell no. And not anytime soon.

    He laughs, weak and forced and more of a gasp than a laugh, but it’s still there. “Yes… your mother already told me… about going to the hospital… with nothing on but pajamas and a coat…” he says.

    Lightning, right outside the room, says something to Officer Haes and then they both come in. “Hello. My name is Lightning, I’m sure I don’t need to introduce myself more than that,” he begins with a slight smile, and Mom, who practically looks tearful by now, just nods. “I’m only here to investigate the poison, as I have quite a few… other obligations to fulfill this morning, but I’m sure the P.D. will act well in finishing up the rest of this case. I would definitely be able to find good evidence, and what this poison was, if I could visit your office at the P.D., Officer Massri? That was where you collapsed.”

    Dad sits up a bit, even though Mom tries to shove him back down on the bed, with that you’re not going anywhere now look of hers. He ignores her and turns to Lighting. “Of course… though I’m not sure… you’ll find anything…” he takes a long pause, “I don’t even… recall much…”

    Lightning smiles. “You’re doubting me? You forget who I am. We’ll have this taken care of in no time,” he waves a few doctors out of the room. “Now Officer Massri, as I know you can’t exactly leave the hospital now, is there someone else who would be willing to come with me to the department for this? An office search, that’s all. I haven’t been in the police department in a good while, you realize. Most of our action is done more… on the minute.”

    He looks around. Officer Cirne stands up—

    And then suddenly, I hear my own voice saying, “I’ll come with you, Lightning.”

    Lighting turns to look at me, surprised. “You, eh? You’re Officer Massri’s son, right?”

    “Yes,” I say, even surprising myself that these words are coming out of my mouth, but it’s an opportunity to be with one of the guys of the Hero Society, and it’s is one I can’t pass up. “Dad, you’ll be okay, right? Until I get back?” I ask seriously. Things change fast around Bellem, too fast.

    He nods. “Go ahead… just don’t be stupid… or break anything…” he jokes.

    I laugh. “I won’t.” I look over at Officer Cirne, who has a solid, irritated look on his face. Yeah, okay, I’ll admit it. I also did this to keep him outta my dad’s office. The last thing I want is this guy going through my dad’s stuff looking for ‘evidence.’

    “Wouldn’t the Massri boy need to be in the department himself to help with an investigation of this kind?” Cirne snaps. Lightning doesn’t seem to worry about that too much.

    “No, I’m sure it’s alright. Investigations by the Hero Society fall under much different regulations… much less paperwork and barriers, I’m sure you’d understand,” he says to Officer Cirne, and then turns to me. “Now let’s go. Best to get there before daylight, right?”

    I look outside, and I’m actually surprised to find the sun rising in the sky. It’s a weird thing, y’know. We’ve never had to come to the hospital in the daytime. And somehow, this time, I’d almost forgotten that existed.

  4. B. Macon 03 May 2011 at 7:35 pm

    –The opening is rock-solid. The only quibble I can come up with is that “He’s got the kind of job even a solid paycheck isn’t worth having here: being a cop” could be phrased more smoothly. What do you think about something like “He’s got the only job in town that makes hobos look sane. He’s a cop.”?

    –“Oh great. Just the words I don’t want to hear.” Could you show this? (For example, could you move it into dialogue or body language, like an eye roll?)

    –I’m not terribly fond of the name Cirne here. It sounds more like a fantasy name. Could I suggest a more common surname, or perhaps a Portuguese one? (For example, Abudo, Bartolo, Carrasco, Cardigo or Escada).

    –“He talks to Mom in that cool, collected matter, that I’ve come to find real creepy whenever stuff like this happens.” This observation at the end (“that I’ve come to find real creepy whenever stuff like this happens”) is unusual. I like that—this sort of thing comes up enough for him that he has an opinion about it? 🙂

    –“My name is Dr. Carvalho.” I think this could be shortened to “I’m Dr. Carvalho.” Also, I think “helping out on” could be shortened to “treating” or perhaps the more casual “helping.”

    –“The poison used was a very powerful, narcotic agent, but beyond that, we really don’t know what it is. It could be anything, but we can’t figure it out, we’ve never seen it before you realize—and that makes it very hard to treat him.” I think “It could be anything, but we can’t figure it out, we’ve never seen it before you realize” could be shortened to “We’ve never seen it before.”

    –“You think we did this, don’t you?! You think we poisoned him?! Are you absurd?!” I think one of these could be removed. Probably the first sentence.

    I’d like some body language when Mom gets upset with the officer. Maybe a slap—she thinks she’s being accused of poisoning her husband and she’s obviously not in the clearest emotional state, so I think something over-the-top may be appropriate. You can contrast that with how well Cirne shrugs it off.

    I like that Cirne doesn’t get Seth’s name right. It’s an interesting way of building distance between Seth and Cirne and showing that his calm, friendly demeanor might be more of a façade.

    –“ but if you’re bleeding bad enough that they gotta catch it in a cup, they’ll take you in quicker.” I love this phrase, but I’d like something bigger than “cup.” Maybe “rain bucket” or something like that.

    –“ Calm down. He’s fine. He’s probably fine. I try to tell myself. Well, most likely he’s probably fine. Most likely he’s probably in good shape. Oh god, who am I kidding, I think…” What would you think about shortening this to “I try to convince myself he’s fine. Oh God, who am I kidding?” Also, minor usage note: The U.S. publishing industry usually capitalizes God.

    I really appreciated that you nailed the detail that cops are absolutely loathe to interview 2+ people at the same time, ESPECIALLY if they think there’s any chance that either (or both!) is a suspect.

    — I’m sort of getting the impression that Officer Cirne is not a highly competent detective, which is totally okay if that’s intentional. One thing that the detective doesn’t seem to notice (but that Seth mentions) is that it’s totally implausible that a car salesman or her high school son could come up with a poison advanced enough to stump a specialist. “The doctor said this was a narcotic exotic enough that he had never seen it before. I’m not a master detective or anything, but how about you make a list of all the drug dealers in town that have a chemist on staff. And get your head out of your ass while you’re at it.”

    To be honest, I’m guessing there are a lot fewer possible suspects in this case than for something like a random shooting with a stolen gun*. (Unless somebody brags about it on the street, the only way you’re solving a random shooting is if you find the weapon. I guess you could catch a hugely lucky break with tire tracks or security footage or a witness that recognizes the attacker or in the interview room, but those are real long shots). What I think is truly scary here that doesn’t seem to have crossed the detective’s mind is that this sort of killing takes a LOT more expertise and effort than putting a cap in somebody. Violent white collar criminals with scientific backgrounds are really bad news.

    *–Stolen guns are every cop’s nightmare. They’re almost completely impossible to trace or recover).

    –I like the way that Cirne rephrases the questions (“She ever had any affairs?” into “Has she ever brought different men home?”) He’s really gunning for the wife (which makes absolutely no sense in this case, as Seth points out, but his explanation that it’s the same story every time is actually pretty chilling). One detail you could work on that front is that cops tend to work a CRAZY amount of hours and it really eats into quality family time. Especially homicide.

    –In superhero stories, the police tend not to be very competent. I really like how you’ve handled that here. It seems like Seth of all people had a much better chance of solving this case than the actual detectives did.

    –I’d like the visuals on the Hero Society guy to be more spectacular. “A guy in a robo-suit” does not sound all that impressive. Unless that’s intentional?

    –Are these two sentences consistent? “There are only about a dozen of them [HS members]” and “The Hero Society has a lot of lower members,” followed by four named members. It may help to replace “a lot of” with “a few.”

    –“Lighting—they said someone…” I think this is supposed to be Lightning.

    –“I force down a laugh, choking.” I like that you didn’t explain the joke here. It rewards readers that have been paying attention. 🙂

    –“ Officer Haes goes up to Lightning. “Glad to see you decided to come by and help with this, Lightning. Did the doctors tell you what was going on?” I feel like “Glad to see you decided to come by and help with this” might be chatting. I feel it’s a lot of words to welcome him.

    –“ with nothing on but pajamas and a coat” could maybe be shortened to “in her pajamas”

    –“…turns to Lighting…” Lightning. 🙂

    –It’s a bit unusual that Seth volunteers to take Lightning down to his dad’s office, but I think his rationale (keeping Cirne out of his father’s things) totally makes sense. Also, although it didn’t make sense for me at first glance, in retrospect I think it makes a lot of sense for Lightning to keep the cops at arm’s length on this investigation. If these cops are remotely typical of the police force as a whole, I totally wouldn’t want them hanging around as I was working, either. Lightning’s explanation sounds sort of like BS, but I’m guessing this is a diplomatic way of saying “Sorry, but you’re way too incompetent to be working my case.”

    I think the cliffhanger could be a bit sharper.

  5. Mynaon 05 May 2011 at 6:24 pm

    “The opening is rock-solid. The only quibble I can come up with is that “He’s got the kind of job even a solid paycheck isn’t worth having here: being a cop” could be phrased more smoothly. What do you think about something like “He’s got the only job in town that makes hobos look sane. He’s a cop.”?”
    * I like that rephrasing, s’pecially with the hobos. xD I’ll put that in there. ^.^

    “I’m not terribly fond of the name Cirne here. It sounds more like a fantasy name. Could I suggest a more common surname, or perhaps a Portuguese one? (For example, Abudo, Bartolo, Carrasco, Cardigo or Escada).”
    * I had looked up names on a random Portuguese name board, Cirne was listed there, but I see what you mean–it doesn’t sound very Portuguese or fit with the story. I’ll switch that out, Pires works pretty well. Nice and common Portuguese name. (I’m saving the really cool ones like Oliviera for later, although I don’t know for whom yet. xD)

    “My name is Dr. Carvalho.” I think this could be shortened to “I’m Dr. Carvalho.” Also, I think “helping out on” could be shortened to “treating” or perhaps the more casual “helping.”
    * Will do! Thanks for all the help with shortening stuff up in this section, pacing and rambling are huge problems for me.

    “I’d like some body language when Mom gets upset with the officer. Maybe a slap—she thinks she’s being accused of poisoning her husband and she’s obviously not in the clearest emotional state, so I think something over-the-top may be appropriate. You can contrast that with how well Cirne shrugs it off.”
    * Ohhh, I really like that! She would be just the type to do that too… xD

    “ but if you’re bleeding bad enough that they gotta catch it in a cup, they’ll take you in quicker.” I love this phrase, but I’d like something bigger than “cup.” Maybe “rain bucket” or something like that.
    * Will do ^.^

    “Calm down. He’s fine. He’s probably fine. I try to tell myself. Well, most likely he’s probably fine. Most likely he’s probably in good shape. Oh god, who am I kidding, I think…” What would you think about shortening this to “I try to convince myself he’s fine. Oh God, who am I kidding?” Also, minor usage note: The U.S. publishing industry usually capitalizes God.
    * Gotcha. I had a feeling that paragraph was quite a bit of rambling but I liked it so I kept it, however I see what you mean so I’m changing it. xP

    “I really appreciated that you nailed the detail that cops are absolutely loathe to interview 2+ people at the same time, ESPECIALLY if they think there’s any chance that either (or both!) is a suspect.”
    * Yayyy thank you! 8D I don’t know very much about cops, I’m studying what I can but it’s rather difficult as I’m not the type of kid who’s gonna have frequent visits to the PD or jail so xD yeah. Thank you, though. If there’s anything you pick up that’s blatantly wrong about the PD, cops, or policing in general please let me know. Thanks ^.^

    “I’m sort of getting the impression that Officer Cirne is not a highly competent detective, which is totally okay if that’s intentional. One thing that the detective doesn’t seem to notice (but that Seth mentions) is that it’s totally implausible that a car salesman or her high school son could come up with a poison advanced enough to stump a specialist. “The doctor said this was a narcotic exotic enough that he had never seen it before. I’m not a master detective or anything, but how about you make a list of all the drug dealers in town that have a chemist on staff. And get your head out of your ass while you’re at it.”
    * Ha, thanks, and yeah, Cirne is not suppposed to be a good cop at all–you were right about the facade, he puts on a calm show for others but he’s really a good bit tempermental and doesn’t know to look in the right places for his answers. Btw, I totally love that quote I hope you don’t mind I used it. xD

    “To be honest, I’m guessing there are a lot fewer possible suspects in this case than for something like a random shooting with a stolen gun*.”
    * Actually, the case Cirne was referring to was like, you go in with your partner to bust a guy, and the guy pulls a gun on your partner. Very easy, since you’re an eyewitness, you SEE who’s pulled the trigger. You would know exactly who it was. I’ll make that a bit clearer.

    “What I think is truly scary here that doesn’t seem to have crossed the detective’s mind is that this sort of killing takes a LOT more expertise and effort than putting a cap in somebody. Violent white collar criminals with scientific backgrounds are really bad news.”
    * Mmm… yes they are aren’t they… >xP

    “Stolen guns are every cop’s nightmare. They’re almost completely impossible to trace or recover).”
    * I will remember this!

    “I like the way that Cirne rephrases the questions (“She ever had any affairs?” into “Has she ever brought different men home?”) He’s really gunning for the wife (which makes absolutely no sense in this case, as Seth points out, but his explanation that it’s the same story every time is actually pretty chilling). One detail you could work on that front is that cops tend to work a CRAZY amount of hours and it really eats into quality family time. Especially homicide.”
    * That’s exactly what I was going for, actually. I might edit that section to make it a bit clearer, but the idea in mind was that Cirne suspects there were distance problems in the family, which tends to happen to cops because of the absurd shifts and the idea that they’re closer to policing partners than their own wives… his idea is that Mrs. Massri decided to get rid of him/that she was having an affair and wanted to continue with it without any ‘consequences.’ That’s obviously not true but Cirne doesn’t know that (and would probably deny it anyway.)

    “In superhero stories, the police tend not to be very competent. I really like how you’ve handled that here. It seems like Seth of all people had a much better chance of solving this case than the actual detectives did.”
    * Thank you!

    “I’d like the visuals on the Hero Society guy to be more spectacular. “A guy in a robo-suit” does not sound all that impressive. Unless that’s intentional?”
    * Mmm, good point. I’m having a hard time describing Lighting I suppose. He’s got a version of a robo suit, but… huh. I’ll work out the details of his uniform and incorporate the cooler ones into the description.

    “Are these two sentences consistent? “There are only about a dozen of them [HS members]” and “The Hero Society has a lot of lower members,” followed by four named members. It may help to replace “a lot of” with “a few.””
    * Ah yeah, that’s what I meant (a lot=between like 6 and 9, tops, but that’s a lot for the HS) I’ll edit that.

    “I force down a laugh, choking.” I like that you didn’t explain the joke here. It rewards readers that have been paying attention. 🙂
    * Thankya. xP

    “ Officer Haes goes up to Lightning. “Glad to see you decided to come by and help with this, Lightning. Did the doctors tell you what was going on?” I feel like “Glad to see you decided to come by and help with this” might be chatting. I feel it’s a lot of words to welcome him.”
    *I’ll rephrase/edit that.

    “It’s a bit unusual that Seth volunteers to take Lightning down to his dad’s office, but I think his rationale (keeping Cirne out of his father’s things) totally makes sense. Also, although it didn’t make sense for me at first glance, in retrospect I think it makes a lot of sense for Lightning to keep the cops at arm’s length on this investigation. If these cops are remotely typical of the police force as a whole, I totally wouldn’t want them hanging around as I was working, either. Lightning’s explanation sounds sort of like BS, but I’m guessing this is a diplomatic way of saying “Sorry, but you’re way too incompetent to be working my case.”
    * Thank you! I will edit that to be a bit clearer, though, although I’m glad the rationale itself makes sense.

    “I think the cliffhanger could be a bit sharper.”
    * Mmmm, good point. I couldn’t quite figure out where to cut this off but I’ll slate the part at the end or fix it up or something.

    Thank you again so much for helping B.Mac! You know, if you’re not an editor already, you really should be. You’re a great help with this.

  6. Mynaon 14 May 2011 at 5:29 am

    Hey, quick question (and this is probably a dumb question but I’m gonna ask it anyway) I’m a bit confused about police officer ranks in the US? I assumed that all policemen went as “Officer” like as a formal term, regardless of rank; but according to wikipedia (don’t judge me xD) “Officer” is the LOWEST rank of a policeman?

    From highest rank to lowest:
    * Chief of police/police commissioner/superintendent/sheriff
    * Deputy Chief of police/Deputy Commissioner/Deputy Superintendent/undersheriff
    * Inspector/commander/colonel
    * Major/deputy inspector
    * Captain
    * Lieutenant
    * Sergeant
    * Detective/Inspector/Investigator
    * Officer/Deputy Sheriff/corporal

    Neither Massri, nor Pires or Haes, are the lowest members of the department, but what would you call someone formally if you can’t use Officer, because saying they’re “Lieutenant” or “Captain” makes it sound as if they’re in the military and I don’t think regular civilians would use those terms or be able to distinguish the ranks in the first place. Can you still use Officer or will American readers see that as that they’re all at the lowest rank in their department?

    (I don’t know if I’d be able to get away with calling them ‘Officer’ even if that’s not their rank–I know it’s done in other countries but it would probably just confuse Americans :/ )

  7. B. Macon 14 May 2011 at 3:42 pm

    I’ve never worked with the police, so I’m not completely sure. I think civilians would call everyone lower than major a “police officer” (or “cop”) whether it’s their title or not. I think cops would be more likely to use the proper titles, but mainly in formal situations (like addressing someone that considerably outranks you). If it’s important that the character’s rank be addressed, you could have the police officer introduce himself as Lieutenant Smith or whatever.

    Alternately, since Seth is the son of a police officer, he and his mother would probably know more than most about police ranks. “Lieutenant Daniels, my husband is knocking on death’s door and you are accusing me of trying to murder him. One more word and I will have IA on your ass.”



    I think the Hero Society could go either way–Lightning might know enough about the police to figure out their ranking system and he might be polite/formal enough to address officers as Lieutenant or whatever rather than just Officer. I think it depends on the situation. The federal agents in my story are notably cool towards local police forces, so I don’t think they’d often address officers by proper rank, especially in tactical situations. (“Daniels, get back! This is no time to be a bullet-sponge.”)



    For more details on handling cop-to-cop and cop-to-civilian conversation, I’d recommend checking out The Wire. It’s an extremely realistic police procedural that will cover pretty much any American metropolitan police force.

  8. Mynaon 16 May 2011 at 12:05 pm

    Thank you very much B.Mac! That clears it up quite nicely. And I’m worried about your Lieutenant Daniels… bullet-sponge? xD

  9. B. Macon 17 May 2011 at 4:48 am

    Not to be confused with the Navy slang for Marines. 🙂

  10. Mynaon 17 May 2011 at 5:40 pm

    Haha, I didn’t even know they were called that… learn something new every day xD sorta xD

    By the way, sorry Chapter Two is taking so long, I think it’s gonna be the most difficult out of the first five or six something chapters ’cause it’s proving very hard to make it believable. The situations that happen in that chapter aren’t entirely plausible (or maybe I’m just a big realist) but either way it’s a bit hard. Hopefully I’ll have something up by Friday. Thanks for being patient and happy May to ya!

  11. B. Macon 17 May 2011 at 7:30 pm

    “Hopefully I’ll have something up by Friday.” No rush–I’m patient.

  12. Mynaon 19 May 2011 at 6:26 pm

    Yayyy here’s Chapter Two! Yet again I don’t have much to say, except that I apparently have a (quite annoying) habit of writing 3,000-word chapters. Sorry? xD

    CHAPTER TWO

    It’s storming outside. Nice and thunder-y. I wouldn’t really notice this, but as me and Lighting’re are walking into the police headquarters, there’s a big SMASH of thunder and the whole city lights up, and then Lightning goes “Gee, I love these kind of mornings.” And he happily walks right in.

    “Well I suppose if you’re shock-absorbent,” I mumble under my breath and follow him in. It’s about 5 A.M. by now, and the city’s still dark, but all the lights are on in the P.D. These guys never sleep, after all. I see a few of the Officers I recognize—Sergeant Aires, and another guy named Lieutenant Williams. I know Aires pretty well, and I’m about to go over when Lightning turns sharply to me and asks, “Alright son, we don’t have any time to waste. Where’s your dad’s office?”

    “Back over here,” I say and lead him towards where the offices are, down a grey hallway that lights up blue every time actual lightning flashes outside the windows. I motion to one of ‘em. “Say, can you actually control that stuff?” I ask as we go inside dads office.

    Lightning half-smiles. “For the most part. But if you’re wondering if I made that storm, the answer’s a no. I do electrokinesis, I’m not a magic weatherman,” he jokes, and then tosses me some plastic gloves, like the kind they use in hospitals. “Now put these on.”

    “Eh?” I pull them onto my hands after a moment, looking at him. “This is an office, not a bomb site,” I mutter.

    “Well, there was poison around here. If the doctors don’t know what it was, we can’t assume we do either. For all we know it could be floating around in the air,” he warns. After seeing my baffled expression, Lightning adds quick, “Well, it’s probably not, otherwise it would’ve gotten into the ventilation and all of the Bellem police would be in the E.R. by now, but. It can’t hurt to be cautious, can it? Does your dad keep anything strange in here?”

    I look around the place. It still smells like coffee. “Y’know, a lot of people’ve been asking me that today. He doesn’t keep weird things lying around, though. Smarter than that,” I reply and turn around, notcing a few family pictures on a shelf. I quickly lay them face-down, mostly ‘cause Lightning doesn’t need to see ten-year-old Seth no he doesn’t. Lightning laughs, starting to go through the desk drawers.

    “Trying to hide the family photos, eh? Don’t worry about it, I don’t need those anyway. Believe me though, I can see the history of almost any object just by touching it. You can put the photos down, it won’t matter,” he takes out random things from the desk, post-it notes and pens and a few files he deems unimportant just by rifling through ‘em for a second.

    I lean back. “You can really see the history of any object, huh? That’s sick,” I say wistfully. It’d be amazing to have powers like that, hell, any powers would be amazing. “Hmm… what’s behind this one then?” I ask, and I toss him a small USB that’s lying on the desk.

    Lightning catches it, amused. I wonder if he gets this often, but I really don’t care. His eyes flash that strange shade of orange again. “It’s your dad’s USB. He doesn’t put a lot of stuff on this, although whenever he does he forgets which folder he put it in. He’s had it for about five years, and it keeps glitching but he refuses to get a new one,” Lightning turns over the little device in his hand. “I could probably read everything on this thing easy, but I won’t bother with that now,” he says, putting it down.

    I think for a moment and toss him something else, rearranging random things on the shelf. “This?”

    “This isn’t even your dad’s, this is your pocket knife. Got it two years ago from a friend,” Lightning turns it over a few times in the dim office light. “It’s already seen blood a few times, hasn’t it?” he frowns. “That’s something.”

    I rub the back of my head. “Eh…” He gives it back, and I jam it in my pocket. “So you can’t read minds?” I ask with a raised eyebrow.

    He shudders at this. “Oh, God no. Can you imagine how awful that would be? I knew a guy who could read minds once. The man was a wreck. He would parrot back the things he heard, couldn’t keep his own head straight,” Lightning takes in a long breath. “I’m just clairvoyant. Objects only. Good in investigations like this.”

    I nod, tossing him a pen ‘cause I can’t think of much else. I’m a bit relieved he can’t read minds, mostly ‘cause the idea of someone probing minds, while cool, just gets really weird when it’s your mind being probed. “This?”

    “Made in China.”

    I hold back a laugh. “I coulda told you that.”

    “Yeah, well that pen doesn’t have any evidence we need anyway,” Lightning says, and I get a bit more serious again. He’s right. I’m doubting there’s gonna be anything good at all in here, but we’ve gotta try, right? It’s strange searching your own dad’s office though, so I linger back—instead of tearing through the desk I just look in the cabinets, s’if I’m expecting to find a bomb there. “Y’know, according to that Pires guy, it’s ‘the same story every time’ or something. That this happens so much he just knew it was apparently Mom who did it.”

    Lightning scoffs. “Well, clearly there’s something different involved in this case. Pires thought it was your mother. But most wives in this situation wouldn’t poison their husband.”
    I turn around fast. “So you don’t think it’s us?”

    Lightning laughs again and straightens up. “I’m not as paranoid as some of the cops around here. In any case, your mother almost attacked three doctors when they wouldn’t let her see your dad. The woman was inconsolable. Has your mother ever been an actress?”

    “What? No.”

    “Exactly. Even the best actress couldn’t pull off something like that,” he’s going through drawers still, but I don’t think he finds nothin’, ‘cause he just moves over to the cabinets and leaves everything out on the desk. “Hey kid, I want to tell you something though. Don’t let all this mess you up. I saw that fight you and Sergeant Pires were about to have. The police around here, they like to look like they’re taking things seriously, but around here, we’re the real defenders of law, not them,” he points to himself and smirks, “Got that?”

    I glance up from a random book Lightning had left out on the desk. I smile back at him, getting that weird surge of hope y’get whenever one of those Hero Society’s guys talks right at you. “Yeah. Got it,” and I believe him, ‘cause he’s Lightning and ‘cause he’s never screwed up before, even if some of the Bellem police have.

    Lightning smiles. “Good. Now…” He’s rummaging through some more files now, looking a bit more intense, more serious. His gaze lingers on the page of a thick set of files. Suddenly, Lightning turns on the computer. With a wave of his hand. All he’s gotta do is whoosh, and suddenly the entire thing is lit up and loading. I blink in surprise until another SMASH of thunder brings me back to my senses.

    Lightning keeps glancing back at the file, but he’s still making small talk, although I don’t know why. “Hmm… how old are you, again?”

    “17.”

    He turns the pages real slow, s’if there’s something important in them. I’m tempted to ask what’s in ‘em, but I hold back, for now. Lightning, still reading, doesn’t meet my look. “Because you know, it’s almost six. This investigation might take a good while. Do you have school?”

    “…”

    He looks up with a small, exasperated sigh. “Do you still go to school?”

    “Sometimes,” I shrug, rubbing the back of my head, looking through cabinets as if I didn’t already know what was in ‘em. “But it’s really not worth it. I’d rather be helping with this than going there.”

    “Uh-huh,” he looks back at his paper and then slams the file shut. The computer is online and in seconds he’s working through the hard drive. I walk over slowly, noticing his eyes flash orange again, only they stay that way as file after file on the computer comes up, flash, and he scans it over like some kinda robot, flash, hundreds and hundreds of ‘em.

    “S’there something specific you’re looking for?” I ask. All I’ve really found was notes, a few files on some gangbangers and lots of coffee mix. But Lightning’s apparently found something else, ‘cause he’s suddenly a lot more serious, no more orange-flashing eyes or joking around.

    “Seth, I think you should go,” he says all of a sudden. My gaze meets with his. CRASH says the actual lightning outside. I suddenly look back at the file.

    “You found something. Didn’t you?”

    X

    Oh yeah. He found something. The files and whatever was on the computer weren’t the only things, either, but he refuses to tell me what else he’s looking for. He also refuses to let me help ‘im look for it, ‘cause all he tells me is “Go get the Commander” and I’m out.

    I don’t look for the Commander. I look for Sergeant Aires. He’s more agreeable than the other guys around here, won’t shove you outta things just ‘cause you don’t have a Bellem Police badge. I find him talking fast to another cop, “how’re we supposed to get Lightning out of there, the Society won’t be pleased if—“ “Sergeant Aires?”

    He turns around fast. “Seth! How’s your father doing? I thought you all were still at the hospital.” The officer he’s with, Williams, impatiently checks his watch. It blinks 6:44. It’s too dark outside to feel like 6:44 at all.

    “Well, Mom still is. He was conscious the last time I saw him, but…” …that can change. I bite my lip. “Well I don’t know how much longer that’s gonna last. I came here with Lightning to look for evidence. He found some,” I look up at Sergeant Aires. “In the files and papers, but no actual poison. Although I guess there wouldn’t be much left anyway,” I mutter bitterly. It’s probably all being pumped out of his stomach. At that I instantly think, whoever poisoned Dad, they don’t know what they have coming. ‘Cause I will personally hunt ‘em down myself if no one else does. Just to prove that you don’t mess with this family. And that whoever tries is gonna—

    “Seth?”

    My hand is clenching and unclenching. I run a hand through my hair in frustration and nod. “Sorry. Just… nevermind.” My head’s full of distractions, but thinking about ‘em won’t fix ‘em, will it? And besides. Williams is still standing there, real impatient, checking his watch, which blinks 6:49. “I don’t know anybody who had such a problem with Dad they thought poisoning him would fix things,” I mutter.

    “Then you would have to think differently now,” Sergeant Aires says with a small sigh. “You of all people should know how quickly things can—Lightning!”

    I turn around and find an angry Lightning storming into the room. And then, CRASH says the storm outside, and I really can’t help but wonder if he was lying to me when he said he couldn’t control those.

    Lightning comes up to us, the files in his hand. He’s also carrying something else, but I don’t see what it is. He gives us all a dead serious look.

    “The Hero Society is going to take over this case.”

    “What?!”

    That shock, it’s from both me and Sergeant Aires. ‘Cause both of us knows what this means. I’ve known for a long time from Dad that the Hero Society barely ever picks up cases. Only real serious… real bad ones. That’s not too great for us, ‘cause it’s one thing if Dad gets poisoned, but if the Society thinks only they can handle it…

    I’m the first to speak. “Why take the case? Did you find out what it was… who it was?! Did you find anything you’re willing to tell us?” I demand without catching myself, without remembering that little he’s part of the Hero Society Seth, dammit. You don’t want him to hate you. “What’s in the files?”

    Sergeant Aires, he’s a bit calmer. “Lightning. Perhaps we should have a quick talk,” he says firmly, looking the man dead in the eyes. “Massri is one of ours. And just because you’re with the Society doesn’t let you determine what happens to our officers.”

    “You might think differently once I show you something,” Lightning says. “Come with me for a second, would you?”

    Lieutenant Williams, seeing the look Lightning is sending him, quickly walks off grumbling to himself. His watch blinks 6:53 before he turns a corner and disappears. I look at Lightning. “Lemme guess, I’m out again?”

    “I needed the Commander,” Lightning says calmly.

    “Couldn’t find ‘im.”

    Lightning mutters something under his breath that sounds like “Couldn’t find much in the way of evidence either,” but I ignore him. “Aires?” Lightning asks.

    Sergeant Aires sends a glance at me. “Wait here for just a bit.” He says, and then to Lightning, “You have ten minutes to explain this.”

    His voice is cool. He and Dad were close, worked on a good deal of cases together. He’s got just as much reason as anyone to be angry. Then I notice my fist is still clenching. ‘Cause all I want to know, all I really need to know, is why. Without that, I’d never know if Dad’ll be alright.

    Lightning nods and motions for Sergeant Aires to follow him. “Nine more than I’ll need. Come on,” and they go into another room. I wait until two seconds after the door closes and then decide, screw it, and go over there trying to hear the conversation. I got faith in Lightning, and in Static and the Hero Society, and I’m sure they can handle the case… but why would they need to?

    Static’s boss. Whatever he says goes. Maybe he just wanted to take an… ‘interesting’ case, I think, before realizing that thought’s dumb as hell so I quit speculating and stand by the wall. Quiet voices creep out from behind the door.

    “Lightning?”

    “Yes, yes, I know you want an explanation. First, tell me. Do you recognize this type of poison?” There’s the sound of something getting thrown down on a desk, probably the files, and then a long pause. “Do you see? This type of narcotic agent is not made by just any random drug dealer.”

    “Holy—“

    “I know. Something serious is going on here,” Lightning’s voice is calm, the way Pires’ was back at the hospital, but unlike Pires I know his isn’t fake. “Someone with this much access to severe toxic agents is probably not one the police could easily get to.”

    “We still have access to most of the city,” Sergeant Aires begins, “and a judge can pass warrants if it’s absolutely necessary to search a place. The courts here still trust us even if you don’t.”

    “Yes,” Lightning pauses. “But who do the people of this city trust?”

    And there’s a long silence.

    “I would also hate for another officer to get harmed in this,” Lightning continues, “As it seems the outcome is pretty… severe. And I can’t imagine it would be easy to track the culprit down or find his records, considering that they would have to be very well-hidden for you to not have caught this previously…”

    “Then what’s in these files, eh?” There’s a tapping sound, and pages flipping.

    It sounds like Lightning’s getting closer to the door for a second, and I get ready to run back to the other room, but it’s just a false alarm. I let out a little sigh of relief. Lightning continues, “Oh, these are just legal matters involving the last… case Massri was working on. I thought it might be important.”

    There is a long drawn-out silence.

    Then.

    “Lightning, I really don’t—“

    “Now now, don’t trouble yourself with this. As the Commander is apparently unable to be reached right now, you need to inform him as soon as possible of this decision when he returns. We’ll be taking over this unusual case, and I can guarantee you we will have it solved,” he says. “In any case, Massri’s last assignment might be… relevant to this poisoning, but it may not. We’ll just have to find out, won’t we? That’s what the Society is here for.” And a set of files are slammed shut.

    “Lightning—“

    Lightning’s getting closer to the door. I move down the hall a bit, ready to sprint if I’ve got to. Lightning’s laughing now. “Sergeant Aires, you forget that the Hero Society is the most powerful organization here, not the police. You can’t take the case back from us and frankly, I don’t know why you’d want to. Give it a rest. Massri will be fine.”

    The Society is boss, I hear something tell me in my head. Static is boss…

    The doorknob turns. I turn around fast and run back down the hallway, to the main room where Aires had been earlier. There’s a clock by the receiving desk. 7:09. My mind goes back to Maria Memorial Hospital, 7:09, it’s been a couple hours, is he still okay, is he—

    “Seth?”

    Sergeant Aires and Lightning come back into the room after a few moments. I walk up to ‘em like I’ve been here the whole time. “Eh?”

    “I’m assuming you’d want to go back to the hospital to check on your father,” Sergeant Aires says seriously.

    “Yes.”

    Aires nods. “I’ll drive you back. Your mom’s car is probably still at Maria Memorial. And Lightning…” He bites his lower lip. “Good luck.”

    Lightning nods and then he’s walking off, knowing something else nobody else knows about those files, and the poison and some secret culprit and Dad. I walk outside with Sergeant Aires in the pouring rain. He turns to me as soon as we’re outside. “You eavesdropped on that entire conversation, didn’t you?” He asks me with a kinda deadpan look as soon as we’re on the sidewalk.

    I jam my hands in my pockets. Aires knows me and Dad too well, so there’s no point in lying. “Yeah. Sorta.”

    “Then listen,” he says, and he glances around the parking lot for a second, s’if to make sure no one hears. “Don’t tell anyone else about this, and don’t make a big deal out of it either. Cases that go to the Society are too dangerous to get involved in, let alone to tell the wrong person or… look, don’t even tell your mother about this. I trust Laila, but I don’t trust her with keeping this quiet, you understand?” He fumbles with his umbrella. “Let them take care of it. It’s the best we can do at this point. Alright?”

    I look around the parking lot, at some old SUVs drenched in rain, and invalid parking spaces, and across the street to a lit building with a sign I can’t read from here. All of those cars belonging to people, the buildings with people inside ‘em, or with people running ‘em, and none of those people got a clue about what the Hero Society’s doing.

    And I think, there’s a reason for that.

    “Gotcha.” I say.

    And Sergeant Aires just smiles. “Now let’s get back over there before morning, shall we?”

  13. Mynaon 21 May 2011 at 12:53 pm

    Hey, don’t mean to be rude (heh o-o;;) but can I ask if you saw this? It’s perfectly alright if you take a few days on the crit, I’m just wondering that it wasn’t overlooked with all the topics on this site since I posted a few days ago. 🙂 Thanks! -Myna

  14. Crystalon 23 May 2011 at 5:11 pm

    Oh…sorry…I meant to write a response to this Friday night, but it was getting late, and I was busy all weekend…You get the idea.

    Okay! Here goes:
    One thing I liked was…All of it! It just seemed very realistic, while still keeping the superhero element. The dialog was great and the characters were believable.

    Um…Usually, when I’m reading someone’s work, I try to list stuff that I like and stuff that I don’t like (I hate it when I give someone a story that I’ve spent hours on and get “It’s good.”)
    Problem is, I can’t find anything that’s bad…Maybe there was one sentence that was phrased a little awkwardly, but, overall, it’s good!

  15. Mynaon 23 May 2011 at 5:19 pm

    Lol it’s okay. I tend to post stories at the most random times, mostly ’cause on Friday nights I try to pull all-nighters to do the chapters and then fail horribly… you should see me when I wake up Saturday mornings… “I WROTE this crap?!”

    Well I’m glad you like it. 8D The superhero stuff’ll prolly come into play more by chapter… 4 and 5? Yeah. I’m glad it was believable (ish? I’m not sure, I’m working on that lol) so yeah. And I agree, I hate when people leave comments and I can’t even tell if they bothered to read it or not. In any case thanks for the comments :3 They mean a lot!

  16. Echoon 23 May 2011 at 7:18 pm

    I have to agree with crystal – your story’s extremely good. I particularly like seth’s character. As it is, there’s nothing really for me to criticize. Keep up the good work!

  17. B. Macon 24 May 2011 at 11:36 am

    Okay, thanks for waiting, Myna. Here’s my review…

    Thanks for the reminder. I’ll get on it as soon as possible.  However, one caveat: I’m working on a Japanese computer with a (sigh) Japanese keyboard so my punctuation may be, umm, Japanese. In particular, my computer is having a lot of trouble getting quotation marks down.

    –It’s storming outside. Nice and thunder-y. I’m not sure this sounds on-tone for somebody whose father has nearly been murdered. I think it sounds too cute for this scene. Relatedly, I don’t feel the first paragraph is consistent with the tone/mood of the second. In the second paragraph, Lightning is a bit curt and strapped for time. (Understandable and highly believable, given that he’s investigating a near-murder). In the first one, he’s chatting idly about the weather. Moreover, if a lightning-themed hero is going to chat about a rainstorm, I think we can probably assume he likes lightning-loaded weather, so maybe he’ll say something a bit deeper. (For example, I wouldn’t have an accountant say he likes numbers—I don’t think it’s necessary—but he might talk about how comforting it is that there’s always a right answer in math. (Well, there are some so-far unsolved problems in theoretical mathematics, but they didn’t come up on his CPA exam).

    –I see a few of the Officers I recognize—Sergeant Aires, and another guy named Lieutenant Williams. I know Aires pretty well…–I think you’ve shown pretty effectively that he doesn’t know Williams (by calling him some guy named…), but I think you could ALSO have him show/imply that he knows Aires. For example, maybe he gives some interesting personal detail about Aires, which will help develop Aires as well as their relationship. Or maybe Aires nods at him in acknowledgment when he comes in the room.

    “Back over here,” I say and lead him towards where the offices are, down a grey hallway that lights up blue every time actual lightning flashes outside the windows. In the context of this paragraph, I think you could shorten this sentence to I lead him down a grey hallway that lights up blue every time lightning flashes outside. (I think we can infer that he’s taking him to the office, and that there are windows inside the hallway).

    “I motion to one of ‘em”—could you make this more distinct? For example, is there anything that stands out about his dad’s desk and/or workspace? (IE: If you were looking for Agent Orange’s cubicle at the Office of Special Investigations, it’s the one with a sign barring Canadians from entry and shelves full of presidential bobbleheads—if you reach the cubicle with machine gun rounds spilling out into the hallway, you’ve gone too far.

    “For the most part. But if you’re wondering if I made that storm, the answer’s a no.”Could be shortened to something like “Mostly. But I didn’t make that storm.”

    I really like Lightning taking the precaution to give Seth gloves. Again, I think this helps reinforce the idea that the heroes are more competent than the cops. (His elimination of the aerial hypothesis was pretty clever).

    Lightning’s explanation of his psychometry ability feels a bit off to me. In a superhero story where the heroes are celebrities, I don’t feel like an established superhero would have to explain his powers to anyone except people that were really new to town. Also, you could mention the psychometry when the hero first arrives—for example, he’s a natural for this assignment because his ability helps him investigate, right? (It sort of came out of the blue here). One way I think you could set it up more smoothly might be to have him start using his PM ability on various other things, and THEN have Seth hide the photos. PS: Seth could joke that he’s not actually hiding it from Lightning, but from the cop that was trying to pin the murder on the wife. 🙂

    The pocket knife was an interesting twist. “It’s already seen blood a few times, hasn’t it?” Seth is smart not to answer that. Supernaturally collected psychic evidence is probably not admissible in a court of law*. A confession to a law enforcement officialprobably is. (It’s not hearsay if it’s taped, and I’m guessing his earpiece is wired to a recording device whenever it’s turned on).
    ——-* (If you are interested in legal speculation, read on: I think a lawyer would be able to get this thrown out of court on the grounds that it can’t be independently verified/questioned and the U.S. legal system has not looked favorably on spectral evidence since, umm, the Salem witch trials). At least, that’s my take—you’re obviously writing fiction, so write the story that makes sense for you.

    I think he shortens quite a few words with apostrophes. For example, I don’t think he finds nothin’. It got a bit distracting after a while.

    “Made in China.”
    I hold back a laugh. “I coulda told you that.” I think the “I hold back a laugh” line is unnecessary. We can see Seth is making a joke, so the laugh is an unnecessary cue to readers.

    “getting that weird surge of hope y’get whenever one of those Hero Society’s guys talks right at you.” Has he ever talked to one of them before?

    Realistically, I don’t think anybody would expect a kid to go to school the day after his father got nearly murdered. However, Lightning might encourage him to go to school anyway (perhaps he feels that keeping on with life more or less as usual is the best way to keep the crime from mentally ruining you). If Lightning wants to be a real ****, he can drop Seth off at school when they’re done. 😉

    Do you have school?”
    “…”
    He looks up with a small, exasperated sigh. “Do you still go to school?”
    “Sometimes,” I shrug. Haha, I like this exchange quite a lot. Clearly Seth is a more interesting character than I am,heh.

    “Seth! How’s your father doing? I thought you all were still at the hospital.” Seth walked in with a guy in bright-colored spandex. Also, the cops knew that the guy in bright-colored spandex came in. How didn’t they know he had a guest? 🙂

    “I really can’t help but wonder if he was lying to me when he said he couldn’t control those.” Unless you’re trying to draw Lightning’s character (and hidden motives) into question, I would be really careful with this.

    “I trust Laila, but I don’t trust her with keeping this quiet, you understand?” No offense to her, but she doesn’t exactly seem like a model of self-control. Heh.

    I would like more of a cliffhanger or something else to keep us pushing on at the end of the chapter.

  18. Mynaon 24 May 2011 at 12:27 pm

    “I’m not sure this sounds on-tone for somebody whose father has nearly been murdered. I think it sounds too cute for this scene. Relatedly, I don’t feel the first paragraph is consistent with the tone/mood of the second. In the second paragraph, Lightning is a bit curt and strapped for time. (Understandable and highly believable, given that he’s investigating a near-murder). In the first one, he’s chatting idly about the weather. Moreover, if a lightning-themed hero is going to chat about a rainstorm, I think we can probably assume he likes lightning-loaded weather, so maybe he’ll say something a bit deeper. (For example, I wouldn’t have an accountant say he likes numbers—I don’t think it’s necessary—but he might talk about how comforting it is that there’s always a right answer in math.”
    * Ah, you’re right, that makes a lot of sense. I’ll fix up that paragraph then, make it more realistic (or cut it down some.) Thank you for the tips!

    “I think you could ALSO have him show/imply that he knows Aires. For example, maybe he gives some interesting personal detail about Aires, which will help develop Aires as well as their relationship. Or maybe Aires nods at him in acknowledgment when he comes in the room.”
    * Will do. I’ll shorten up the bit about the hallway as well.

    “For example, is there anything that stands out about his dad’s desk and/or workspace? (IE: If you were looking for Agent Orange’s cubicle at the Office of Special Investigations, it’s the one with a sign barring Canadians from entry and shelves full of presidential bobbleheads—if you reach the cubicle with machine gun rounds spilling out into the hallway, you’ve gone too far.”
    * Hmmm, I will work on that. Massri’s usually got his office in a mess and something tells me he collects random things that he thinks might be ‘important’… idk if that’d make sense at all (it would probably look suspicious, I might take that out), but I’ll incorporate something more distinct in there.

    “I really like Lightning taking the precaution to give Seth gloves. Again, I think this helps reinforce the idea that the heroes are more competent than the cops. (His elimination of the aerial hypothesis was pretty clever).”
    * Thank you! My friend suggested the gloves, she watches so many crime stories she gave me a complete run-through of what a criminal investigationw was like… xD

    “Lightning’s explanation of his psychometry ability feels a bit off to me. In a superhero story where the heroes are celebrities, I don’t feel like an established superhero would have to explain his powers to anyone except people that were really new to town. Also, you could mention the psychometry when the hero first arrives—for example, he’s a natural for this assignment because his ability helps him investigate, right? (It sort of came out of the blue here). One way I think you could set it up more smoothly might be to have him start using his PM ability on various other things, and THEN have Seth hide the photos.”
    * That makes a lot more sense actually. I was thinking I needed to explain the power to the readers but it’s probably just easier to slip it in, you’re right.

    “PS: Seth could joke that he’s not actually hiding it from Lightning, but from the cop that was trying to pin the murder on the wife. :)”
    * So doing this. xD

    “The pocket knife was an interesting twist. “It’s already seen blood a few times, hasn’t it?” Seth is smart not to answer that. Supernaturally collected psychic evidence is probably not admissible in a court of law*. A confession to a law enforcement officialprobably is. (It’s not hearsay if it’s taped, and I’m guessing his earpiece is wired to a recording device whenever it’s turned on).”
    * Mmm, yeah. xP I’ve been try to slip in little details about Seth through the first two chapters, glad it’s working some. ^.^

    “I think he shortens quite a few words with apostrophes. For example, I don’t think he finds nothin’. It got a bit distracting after a while.”
    * I’ll fix that.

    “Unless you’re trying to draw Lightning’s character (and hidden motives) into question, I would be really careful with this.”
    * Ah crap I’m unintentionally foreshadowing stuff again! (Admitted, Lightning isn’t even a bad guy, soo…) yeah I’ll take that out. xD

    “I would like more of a cliffhanger or something else to keep us pushing on at the end of the chapter.”
    * Gotcha. (Weird, it’s easy to make cliffies for short stories, but very hard for chapters…)

    “Realistically, I don’t think anybody would expect a kid to go to school the day after his father got nearly murdered. However, Lightning might encourage him to go to school anyway (perhaps he feels that keeping on with life more or less as usual is the best way to keep the crime from mentally ruining you). If Lightning wants to be a real ****, he can drop Seth off at school when they’re done. ;)”
    * Hahaha. xD Actually, that’s one of the problems I’m running into with chapter three? That’s probably where I’ll end up putting a lot of the school scenes that were originally in chapter one. Thing is Seth doesn’t even show up a lot to school in the first place, so why would he now? I’m having a bit of trouble figuring that out… I’m thinking maybe his dad would be like “I’M FINE GET TO SCHOOL DANGIT D8” (paraphrasing, paraphrasing xD) because he knows full well his son is screwing up when it comes to classes and he hates it, but really Mr. Massri ain’t in much of a position to be giving orders right now… any ideas? :/ Thank you so much for the review, btw! It helps a ton! ^.^

  19. B. Macon 24 May 2011 at 12:56 pm

    “That’s probably where I’ll end up putting a lot of the school scenes that were originally in chapter one. Thing is Seth doesn’t even show up a lot to school in the first place, so why would he now? I’m having a bit of trouble figuring that out…” I’m thinking the superhero takes Seth to school because he knows that Seth’s father would have wanted him to go, but obviously Seth’s father is in no position to make him go right now. When a cop gets nearly killed, everybody pitches in… even if it’s as a makeshift truant officer. 🙂

  20. Mynaon 25 May 2011 at 6:26 pm

    Alright, this is just the last section of Chapter Two (about Lightning dragging Seth off to school xD) you don’t need to critique if you don’t want to, as it’s very short; I’m just posting it so that the beginning of Chapter Three doesn’t come completely out of the blue.

    X

    Aires nods. “I’ll drive you back. Your mom’s car is probably still at Maria Memorial. And Lightning…” He bites his lower lip. “Good luck.”

    Lightning suddenly shakes his head. “I’ll drive Seth back. You have other things to attend to, I’m sure. I’ll take care of it.” He turns to me. “Would that be alright?”

    I raise an eyebrow and look at Aires. He just nods. “Eh, sure.”

    Lightning nods. “I need to do something quickly, then I’ll get the car.” He walks off. I go outside with Sergeant Aires in the pouring rain. He turns to me as soon as we’re outside.

    “You eavesdropped on that entire conversation, didn’t you?” He asks me with a kinda deadpan look as soon as we’re out on the sidewalk. I jam my hands in my pockets. Sergeant Aires knows me and Dad too well, so there’s no point in lying.

    “Yeah. Sorta.”

    “Then listen,” he says, and he glances around the parking lot for a second, s’if to make sure no one hears. “Don’t tell anyone else about this, and don’t make a big deal out of it either. Cases that go to the Society are too dangerous to get involved in, let alone to tell the wrong person or… look, don’t even tell your mother about this. I trust Laila, but I don’t trust her with keeping this quiet, you understand?” He fumbles with his umbrella. “Let them take care of it. It’s the best we can do at this point. Alright?”

    I look around the parking lot, at some old SUVs drenched in rain, and invalid parking spaces, and across the street to a lit building with a sign I can’t read from here. None of the people in that building, or any building, got a clue about what the Hero Society’s doing.

    And I think, there’s a reason for that.

    “Gotcha.” I say.

    Sergeant Aires just smiles. Lightning comes back out right around then, and I wave at Sergeant Aires ‘fore going. The car ride back is also kinda silent. I’m afraid that if I mention anything from the investigation, I’ll let slip that I listened in on him, so I just shut up until—

    “…we’re not going back to the hospital.” I realize as he turns back into the East Side of town—closer to where we live, but further from Maria Memorial. “Lightning,
    you—ohhhh you’ve got to be kidding me—!”

    He stops the car in front of Vitória High School. The name’s a lie. If there was a place for the word ‘victory,’ it would be running as far away from this school as it could get.

    Lightning turns to me. “I know your father’s very sick, but it’s easier for everyone if you go to school for once instead of lingering in the hospital, you realize? I’m sure he’d want you to be in school.”

    “Well I wouldn’t know that, ‘cause he’s still in the effing hospital.” I hiss at Lightning. “I can’t leave him! Or Mom! Hell, she’ll probably kill someone if they take Dad away from her for a minute—“

    “Seth. Things will be fine. I’ll make sure your mother doesn’t freak out.” He says calmly.

    I glare at him. “And you expect me to just leave Dad?!”

    Lightning looks me in the eyes. “Listen to me. I know you’re worried. But he’ll be okay—“

    “You’re like a damn truant officer.” I hiss and slam the car door shut. He’s Lightning, he’s supposed to be going around and saving people, not driving people to war zones. Before I can even turn around, the car’s already sped off. I growl under my breath and jam my hands in my pockets. Great, I think, the last thing I need is to end up here. I jam my hands into my pockets and wander inside.

    The halls are empty, as classes have already started. I linger in the halls for a bit. Screw English class, I’ve got more important things to worry about. Like the poison. And Lightning and the cops. And Dad. Maybe Dad knows what’s going on, I think, but I can’t be sure—and what if he’s as clueless I am? I don’t know what happens then. Do I even bother trying to figure this all out? Can I? I don’t know, I think. But something tells me I’ve got to.

  21. Aineon 26 May 2011 at 10:11 am

    There’s a lot to read so you’ve probably found a new name for Spirit. If you haven’t, you could name her Phantasm.

  22. Mynaon 26 May 2011 at 12:28 pm

    I named her Haunt, but thank you. ^.^

    The actual first chapter is much closer to the bottom, actually. >.>;; I’m thinking of cutting out all the drafting stuff at the beginning so I don’t overwhelm new people. xD Actually, that’d be a good idea… B. Mac, if you can, cut everything before the revised version of chapter one? The review forum is getting large so yeah… Thankya!

  23. mustaphalicon 26 May 2011 at 1:33 pm

    wow, really impressive , love the plot and setting and is a book i would definitely read . there are some books that you can read , which can help with the writing of your book. try this link :http://www.michaelowencarroll.com/qp/main.htm . i’ve just finished reading the first book. it might give u some ideas.

  24. Mynaon 29 May 2011 at 2:25 pm

    Thanks mustaphalic! I’ll check it out. ^.^

    I’m gonna post the third chapter tonight, but for those of you who are reading, I do have a question. Do you think the story is moving too fast?

    I have awful problems with pacing and ever since last year’s NaNoWriMo I’ve been focusing on more faster-paced stories so as not to waste a ton of wordcount and space over nothing but filler. But I read over the two chapters this morning and even though they total up to over 7k already, I couldn’t help but feel like it was WAY too fast, like I was dragging the reader along behind a Japanese speed train or something. What do you think? I don’t want to slow it down if it’s good, but I also don’t want to mess up the next few chapters by jumping into the story too quick. What d’you think?

  25. B. Macon 29 May 2011 at 2:59 pm

    I feel like it’s well-paced. When I feel a story is too fast-paced, I think the issue is usually some combination of:
    1) I know too little about the setting and/or plot to understand what’s going on.
    2) Scenes are glossed over in an unsatisfying fashion. (IE: The main character breaks out of a maximum security prison or gets defeated by a supervillain in less than a page).
    3) The story introduces too many characters without developing them and/or the reader’s attention is split over too many characters that might plausibly be major.

    Although some things are happening quickly, I feel the plot is not hard to follow. And you’re definitely not glossing over scenes. (Over 7000 words, we’ve had Seth learning about his father’s poisoning, the confrontation at the hospital and the searching of the office).

    I’m really pleased with how you’ve handled #3. In the first 7000 words (~25 pages), you have named maybe 5 characters, of which only 2 (Seth and Lightning) might plausibly be major characters. In contrast, I’ve read one novel that named ~20 characters in ~30 pages. At least 9 of those characters could be plausibly major (8 members of the main character’s superteam and the villain).

  26. Mynaon 29 May 2011 at 6:59 pm

    Thank you! In the NaNo last year I sort of went on a tangent… that lasted 40,000 words… and went nowhere… I’ve been terrified of bad pacing ever since. xD I haven’t read SIWBI, is it worth reading? I did see your review, but there seems to be good and bad parts to the novel, overall is it worth it?

  27. Mynaon 29 May 2011 at 8:30 pm

    Alright, here’s chapter three! It is a good bit similar to the original chapter one (I kinda just tore the fight scene and a few other things out from the original) so yeah. xD

    CHAPTER THREE

    “Seth? Seth? C’mon dude, wake up!”

    I jerk awake and find myself lying with my head down on a cafeteria table. Oh, right. I remember. Lunch. Food. School. It’s the third time I’ve passed out today. I rub the side of my face and look over at Elliott. “Sorry, man. What…”

    “You’re falling asleep when we’re figuring out how we’re gonna start our band?” Elliott demands. He looks across the table at Ray, a short guy with a tat on his arm of a dragon, and Manuel, who’s drawing pictures of guitars onto the cafeteria table. I blink. Out of everything that’s happened this morning—was it really this morning?—and since, I haven’t been thinking about bands.

    “We’re starting a what?”

    “It was your idea, Seth!” I give him a weird look, not remembering this either. “We gonna start a band. Manny’s drummer. Ray’s guitar,” Elliott says, and Ray nods with a smirk. “What d’you wanna be?”

    Someone who can fix one hell of a mess, I think, but instead I say, “I dunno. Bass,” and then put my head right back onto the table.

    Elliott groans. “What’s up with you, man? You supposed to sleep in math or something, not lunch!”

    “I don’t care,” I say, but I think all that comes out is gibberish. Elliott smacks his palm to his forehead, and then I sit up, feeling like crud. I don’t got time for any stupid bands, I think. Elliott, Ray and Manny are cool, don’t get me wrong. We’ve done a lot of crazy shit together, what with Elliott and his insane ideas—just ask the guys in the apartment on the first floor below me who nearly crashed a car into their window last year. But Elliott’s ideas won’t do nothing now. They can’t help fix this, they don’t have a cure for narcotics or a cure for whatever screwup Officer Pires’s got. That’s all I can think about.

    “I’ll be back,” I mumble and push myself up, wandering outta the cafeteria and trying for once to stay outta anybody’s way. I walk fast out in the hallway, wondering where to go, when—

    CRASH

    “Ay, watch where you’re—Mina?”

    I mentally kick myself and help her up, wondering what she’s doing here, ‘cause like me, she’s usually not in school, though for different reasons. I hand back the book she was holding, ‘MARTIAL ARTS OF OLD JAPAN.’ Mina, I know by now, has a thing for fighting practices, or maybe she just liked knowing the best way how to kick someone in the face.

    “Nice to see you again too, Seth.” She rolls her eyes and stands up, a light sarcasm dripping off her voice. “You in a hurry?” She has dark shadows under her eyes, but a small smile on her face, like she wants to be here, even though I knew she’d be better off just giving herself some rest. “Finally taking school seriously now?”

    “Ha. You’re funny. I haven’t seen you in awhile, you alright?” I wander down the hallway with her, staying off to the side ‘cause the fights usually start in the middle of the hallway and I’m not gonna get caught up in one today no I’m not. I look over at her. She’s got a ton of books in her arms and barely anything in her backpack, and I can immediately see why—that thing’s old as hell and there’s a huge tear going through it. Anything bigger than a notepad would fall right through. I sigh. “Mina. Lemme carry some of those.”

    “Seth—“

    I take some of the books from her ‘fore she can protest. “You really gotta buy a new one of those. Really, I dunno why you keep that thing.” I roll my eyes. She doesn’t say anything to that.

    “In any case. I’m glad to see you’re at school for once,” she says. “Do you even remember the last time you showed up?”

    “Do you?” I roll my eyes. “Face it, showing up isn’t either one of our strong spots. What brought you here?”

    She shrugs. “I’m off work. Had nothing better to do.”

    I nod, kinda wishing I could say the same. We go into an old classroom as the bell rings, and students fill the hallways. Elliott, Ray and Manny all got some other class to go to now, as lunch period is over. This class is study hall. Free period, really. There’s no teacher in here. Mina tosses her bag down onto a desk. We’re the first people here.

    She looks up, brushing jet-black bangs out of her eyes. “Hmm. Well you’re gonna be out of school in a few months and then it’s just senior year and then you’re done, Seth. Right?”

    “A whole ‘nother year? Ugh…”

    She whacks me over the head with a rolled-up notebook. “Now you’re being stupid,” she laughs lightly. “What, you’re still sick of school? I thought you promised me you were at least gonna try.”

    I slide into a desk. “I haven’t seen you in weeks and you’re worried about school?”

    She makes a face and sits down next to me. “Ugh, you’re right. I’m sorry. I’ve been stressed lately.”

    “I can kind of tell.”

    Mina looks up at me, pushing her long hair back behind her shoulders. “I wish sometimes it could be like a few years ago… what with your crazy antics and all the horror movies… it was funner back then. Is it stupid for me to think like that?”

    I shrug. “I don’t think so. I miss that too. S’pecially the horror movies.” Fond memories for me and Mina, bad memories for all our neighbors who had to put up with preteen screaming all night. I think for a moment. “Like that one movie about the mummy…”

    “Or the one with the vampire…”

    “Or the one with the Egyptian vampire! You remember that one?” I laugh. “Man, that gave me nightmares for a week.”

    Mina bursts into snickers. “You serious?”

    “What, are you telling me it didn’t—“

    Her cheerful expression suddenly fades, which kinda bothers me ‘cause Mina isn’t the type to smile all that often and so I thought I’d done good by making her laugh, but then I look up and see what she’s looking at.

    Then I wish I’d had the brains to skip study hall.

    A tall guy with a bandana around his head and two other guys, one with this symbol shaved into his head, walk right in. I didn’t know that Luis and his gang of morons still even bothered to show up to school. For about a year now Luis’s been going on about his new gang and how they can tear up everyone else in the East Side, but we all know it’s fake. All the black was just a ripoff of another local gang. The problem with Luis is that he likes to screw around with people and pick fights, trying to look like a real tough gangbanger, and he likes picking fights with me ‘cause dad being a cop apparently means I’m a little good kid he thinks he can beat easy.

    He sits down on a table and lights a cig, then happens to notice me and Mina were talking at another table. “Ay, look what we’ve got here. What’re you doing here Seth, got no place else to go?”

    “Depends what you’re doing here. You finally given up on the little wannabe gang of yours?”

    Luis spits something out on the ground. “It’s not a wannabe gang, you punk. We’re the new big boys around here. Remember the Black Bullets?”

    I lean back. “The gang the cops busted two years ago? Yeah, I remember ‘em. Cute while they lasted.” I roll my eyes. “Nice black hoodies by the way, you match like teenage chicks. The real Black Bullets must love that some real morons tried to take their place.”

    The guy with the symbol on his head is named Marcos, and he stands up fast upon hearing that. “Copying? More like refining.”

    “You know what that means?” Luis asks sarcastically. I roll my eyes.

    ““Nothing? Give it up Luis, ‘fore someone takes you seriously and decides to beat the shit outta you,” I growl. These guys are a pain in the ass to deal with even when they’re not pretending they run half of Bellem.

    Luis leers at me angrily. “Like who? Other gangs? Hell no. Cops? I don’t give a damn about no cops. So maybe the real Black Bullets couldn’t handle ‘em. But us? We’re the new Black Bullets, we’re better than the Black Bullets!” he smirks. “I’ll pop any one of those cops who tries to stop us. We already run the East Side,” he yells and I stand up fast, and Mina grabs my arm and pulls me back down into the seat even faster.

    “Seth,” she says quietly, “Just drop it.”

    “Yeah, maybe you should listen to your girlie, ‘fore you get hurt,” Marcos laughs. “Although I’m sure a little trip to the hospital’ll set you straight.”

    I bolt upright and this time Mina can’t stop me and I turn to ‘im and go, “Yeah, I’m sure you’re used to hospital visits, someone try to pop a cap on you yet?” I hiss.

    Luis straightens up. “That depends, someone finally pop a cap on daddy the cop?”

    That’s pretty much when I decide someone’s gonna die today.

    I send a punch right into his jaw, SMACK, and then there’s Marcos screaming “Set that little punk straight!” as I try to get another punch at Luis. The third guy, Abel, jumps and pulls me back.

    There’s no teacher in this room, although even if there was, I doubted a teacher would do anything. I don’t care. I send another punch flying, this time out at Marcos, and then he’s lunging at me, landing a punch at my collarbone, so I send an elbow into his. “GETTOFF!”

    Mina groans and stands up. “You idiots! Give it up!” she yells and then Abel grabs her by the arm. She socks him in the eye and twists away, frustrated. “Seth, let’s go. Forget these assholes.”

    I don’t listen to what she’s saying, all I hear is the CRACK of Luis’ arm getting twisted back ‘fore, CRASH and he sends me into a wall and something warm and wet trickles down the back of my neck.

    I lean forward and hurl another punch at him. It lands in the chest and he staggers backwards. “Tell me Luis, how’d you ever manage to get into high school? Last time I checked they only let kids in who don’t got brains the size of peanuts.”

    “You think you gotta be brilliant to get places?” Luis hisses, although his voice was slurred. “You don’t need nothin. All takes a little something called strength, something you got none of.”

    I punch him hard enough he falls into the wall again, CRACK, this time blood rolling down his face. “You wanna bet, you cabrão?”

    Remember those not-nice words they teach you not to say in kindergarten?

    “That’s it, I’mma mess you up good Seth—“

    Suddenly all three of them are on me, and I sock Marcos in the face and then Abel gets a knee to the gut, although I might’ve just knee’d Marcos again, I’m not looking at their faces. Marcos keels over and falls to the ground, swearing loudly, holding his stomach. Abel helps him up right before promptly throwing me back into that damn wall again, with a heavy punch, heavy enough to make something go SNAP inside of me, literally. I can hear it.

    “You, fuck off!” I yell and elbowed Abel away. Mina swears under her breath and sends a high kick at his jaw, pretty much throwing the guy to the floor, where he slides under a nearby desk and just sorta stays there.

    “Oh, little girl’s kicking now. This’ll be cute.” Luis laughs, although now his voice’s all heavy and thick. Mina hisses at him.

    “Oh really? Who’s the little girl here, you?”

    I send a hook punch at the back of Luis’s head, throwing him forward ‘fore he could reply. Suddenly a teacher, a woman by the name of Mrs. Nogueira, storms in.

    “What’s with all the—oh you’ve got to be kidding me. BREAK IT UP!” She screams and grabs me and Luis both, pulling us away. Abel’s slowly getting up from under the desk. Luis quickly tosses his cig to the floor and smashes it as Marcos stands up as well.

    Mrs. Nogueira’s so angry it’s like she’s got smoke coming out of her ears. “This is the second fight I’ve had to break up today! What’s the matter with you?!”

    We all give her a blank look. She groans.

    “Well at least there were no knives… just come with me. All of you.”

    Mina sends me a small glare. “Congratulations. This fix your problems, Seth?”

    X

    The five of us—me, Mina, Luis, Marcos and Abel—end up in front of the principal’s office, only some guys who got in a fight before us are also there, and they take up all the chairs, so we’re leaning against the wall like a bunch of idiots. Both Marcos and Luis are holding ice to their eyes, and I’ve got a gauze pad on my cheek, swallowing down blood ‘cause I’m not gonna spit it out in front of them, no. Mina sighs as the guys from earlier wandered into the principal’s office.

    “You know,” I say to her when Luis and Marcos and Abel can’t hear, “We still won that fight.”

    “That’s not the point, Seth,” she frowns and looks at me, right in the eyes. “You gotta stop letting people mess you up like this.”

    “Mess me up? I messed him up—“

    She cuts me off. “That’s not what I mean.”

    I lean back against the wall. Somehow, I get what she’s talking about. ‘Cause she knows what set me off, and it’s got nothing to do with the Black Bullets. It’s just one sentence. Someone finally pop a cap on daddy the cop? “I’m not letting him rag on my family like that, okay?” I whisper fast to her. “‘Sides, if we won, what’s the problem? Would you rather have lost—“

    “And besides,” Mina cuts in. “You know what cabrão means, right? I told you not to run around calling people that. Jesus.”

    “He is a cabrão, the little fucker,” I mutter, mostly to myself, although Luis then shoots me a cold look with one eye. Gotta say, he was never very intimidating, but with one eye all he really looks like is a cyclops.

    The other guys come outta the office, and an angry secretary yells at them, “Remember what you’re here for! To learn!” They ignore her and shuffle out. We shuffle in. We get a lecture, and more ice. I’ve gotten yelled at so many times at this school for fights that I almost got the speech memorized by now. It starts like this: oh God, Seth Massri. What are you doing here again?!

    X

    The rest of the day goes pretty smoothly. Fourth period is math, and so me and Mina find ourselves sitting in the back of a classroom, me doing pretty much everything but math. Elliott’s also got this class and he wanders over, sees me, and then blinks. “Seth, you get in a fight or something?”

    “Sorta. How bad’s it look?” I ask with a wince.

    “It’s swelling. But I guess it’s okay. Who was it?” Elliott sits down next to us as Mina tries to figure out one of the geometry problems. She squints and then grumbles under her breath and crosses everything out. I look up at the board. There’s nothing there except a badly-drawn picture of a guy who sits up front. The teacher parades around looking for the artist.

    I look back at Elliott. “Luis.”

    “Escada?”

    Yes Luis Escada, who else?”

    “Damn that cabrão,” Elliott says. Mina rolls her eyes. “You knock him down good?”
    “They both ended up in the nurse’s office with a lot of ice and gauze pads,” Mina cuts in curtly. Elliot gives her a strange look.

    “You ticked, huh? Mina, right?” He leans across the desk. “Well, it’s—“

    The teacher suddenly storms up to him, smacking a yardstick on the desk, and he jumps back. “Elliott, if you’re going to show up to class I expect you to behave—Candace let go of that other girl!” she snaps and is going off to the other side of the classroom ‘fore Elliott even does anything.

    “Oy. I better fix this. Candace only listens to me.” Elliott mutters and jumps up, going over to keep his girlfriend from tearing up some other chick. I nod.

    “You know,” I say to Mina after a long moment, thinking, about this morning and Lightning and everything. “I think being a high school student is a lot like being a superhero. High school and Hero Society! They’ve even got the same initials!” I nod.

    She snickers at this, dark glossy hair falling onto the desk and covering most of her face. I smile a bit ‘cause this means I got her to laugh again and that’s good. “Why’s that?” Mina asks.

    “’Cause. You still fight people a lot, like a superhero. You fight to defend yourself, or you fight to defend someone else, like a superhero. And if you win…” I begin and then she cuts me off.

    “Seth, you’ve really gotta give up on the whole winning thing. That’s not the only part that matters.” Mina leans back. “Don’t tell me you’re still obsessed with the Hero Society.”

    “I’m not obsessed—“

    Mina smirks. “C’mon, those guys are amazing. But you can’t be one of them without powers anyway.”

    “What about the power to kick someone’s butt?”

    “Seth, that doesn’t count. They all have that by default,” She says and scrawls down another answer, but then crosses it out and looks back up at the board. The picture is still there. Frowning, Mina just flips open a book to read, this one some murder-mystery novel by an author I don’t even try to pronounce. Hala-something. She reads for the rest of class. No one finds the artist.

    Elliott goes off with Ray after school to try songwriting, so I walk Mina back to her place. The apartments where she lives are on the way back home anyway. Danmann Apartments always has this look to it like it’s a minute away from falling apart. The stairs creak in a bad way, not like a fifteen-year-old apartment building should. I go inside and she waves goodbye and I wave goodbye and the door closes and that’s that. I kind of want to hang out with her since it’s the first time I’ve seen her in awhile, but I know I shouldn’t, and I also know that I might accidentally tell her all of this if I do, so I just head back.

    When I get home Mom’s there. She’s grabbing some things to take back to the hospital. Dad’s alright, she says, he wanted potato chips, the hospital won’t let him have any, and she’s packing Doritos into a bag as she says this. I roll my eyes. We head back to the hospital and go to A114. And we’re walking but then suddenly, Dr. Carvalho appears in the hallway and stops us—

    And he doesn’t look grim or sad, but rather frustrated and confused—

    And he’s got a bunch of lab reports in hand—

    “Ahem. Mrs. Massri, Seth… we need to talk to you.”

  28. B. Macon 31 May 2011 at 1:08 am

    Okay, some thoughts and suggestions on chapter 3.

    First, I’d recommend past tense. It’s sort of the industry standard.

    Again, I think you used the wakeup effectively here. I would sort of like more style to the setting early in the chapter, though, because this is the first time we’ve seen the school. For example, if you wanted to establish that the school is seedy by showing the cafeteria, maybe at another table students are doing a drinking contest with vodka (in a water bottle, you couldn’t tell it apart from water unless you smelled it).

    “You supposed to sleep…” –> I’d recommend “You’re” here.

    “feeling like crud.” For this character, I’d recommend “crap” instead of “crud.” It feels off for a character not shy about profanity.

    “…what with Elliott and his insane ideas”–“what with” sounds a bit too educated for this character. Likewise, I’d recommend substituting “drugs” for “narcotics.”

    I like that you gave an example of one of Elliott’s insane ideas, but I’d sort of like you to go even further.

    “has a thing for fighting practices”–> I’d recommend “fighting styles” or “martial arts” because I think those sound more natural.

    “She has dark shadows under her eyes…” I like this a lot. It’s an effective use of imagery to show her state of mind. Also, I like the use of her backpack not only to show that she’s poor, but also to give HIM a way to show his personality.

    “I haven’t seen you in awhile” could be shortened to “It’s been a while…”

    “I roll my eyes” is repeated in consecutive paragraphs. I think one could be removed. “…showing up isn’t either one of our strong spots.” This might be more smoothly phrased as “Neither one of us is good at showing up”, but either way I think it might be too circumspect for this character.

    “I’m off work. Had nothing better to do.” Unless boredom is really important to where this character is right now, could I recommend something that sounds a bit less bored? (Boredom is contagious). For example, “I’m off work. Beats Oprah” sounds a bit spunkier and less bored.

    “I’ve been stressed lately.” Hmm. Might be more natural as “Work’s been rough” or something more specific.

    I like the use of the word “funner.” It’s sort of slangy but I think it fits the character.

    “Fond memories for me and Mina…” Can you show this?

    “Mina isn’t the type to smile…” could be shortened to “Mina doesn’t”

    …”one with this symbol shaved into his head” — I think this image could be sharpened. For example, could you tell us what the symbol is? (Maybe a death’s head or something else that immediately comes across as a sinister gang symbol?

    –“you match like teenage chicks” –> since the character is a teenager, I’d recommend cutting “teenage” here.

    –“Copying? More like refining.” “You know what that means?” I might have gotten confused here. One gang member is mocking a fellow gang member in front of strangers?

    “These guys are a pain in the ass to deal with even when they’re not pretending to run half of Bellem.” Could you show this bad history? (Maybe given an example of a notable run-in between the two of them?)

    –“…any one of those cops who tries to stop us” could be shortened to “any cop that gets in my face.”

    –“Although I’m sure a little trip to the hospital’ll set you straight.” I think this line could be removed or sharpened.

    “That’s pretty much when I decide someone’s gonna die today.” I think this could be shortened to just “I decide someone’s gonna die today.”

    “There’s no teacher in this room, and even if there was, I doubted a teacher would do anything.” Could be tensed more smoothly. I’d prefer “There’s no teachers in the room, and even if there were, I doubt they’d do anything.”

    “Last time I checked, they only let kids in who don’t got brains the size of peanuts.” I think this could be sharpened. For example, maybe he knocks at him with something like “Keep it up and they’ll put you in women’s prison. I don’t think it’d help you all that much, though.”

    “You think you gotta be brilliant to get places?” I’d like this to be more mocking. For example, “How’d that degree work out for your pops?”

    “Remember those not-nice words they teach you not to say in kindergarten?” I think this could probably be removed.

    “Suddenly a teacher, a woman by the name of Mrs. Noguerira, storms in.” Could be shortened to “Suddenly a teacher storms in.” If it’s important to name her–and I don’t think she’s important enough to need a name yet–then maybe something like “Suddenly a teacher, Mrs. Noguerira, storms in.”

    –I found it darkly hilarious that they couldn’t sit down in the principal’s office because the seats were taken by another group of students that had gotten in a fight. 🙂

    –Tensing. “She knows what set me off, and it’s got nothing to do with the Black Bullets.” Since “set me off” is past tense, I’d recommend switching “it’s got nothing” to past tense as well. Maybe “it had nothing…”

    –“Candace only listens to me.” Elliot mutters…” The period after me should be a comma.

    –“But you can’t be one of them without powers anyway.” I think there should be a comma after powers.

    —“Don’t tell me you’re still obsessed with the Hero Society.” This feels sort of out of the blue to me. Up until this point, he hasn’t really thought about them at all, has he?

    “Seth, that doesn’t count [as a superpower].” Could maybe be sharper as something like “Kicking someone’s butt through a window, maybe.”

    At the end, I’d like you to show that the doctor looks frustrated/confused rather than grim or sad. For example, maybe his hair’s all out of place, like he’s been pulling at it a lot?

    This was good. I’m looking forward to the next chapter.

  29. Mynaon 01 Jun 2011 at 4:34 pm

    Okay… I have a question about the present tense thing. I’ve read quite a few books with successful present tense narration, and just as successful with past tense; I’m willing to switch mine into past (especially ’cause I know a lot of people don’t like reading present tense and it would put them off) but I feel like it would be harder to develop Seth’s voice/narration in past tense. :/ I started converting it and then I realized, this doesn’t sound like him, it doesn’t sound right and I feel like present flows better. What do you think? Just wondering…

  30. B. Macon 01 Jun 2011 at 7:07 pm

    Hmm. What sorts of problems are you having developing his voice in the past tense? (Could you offer me an example of a paragraph or two that didn’t feel right in past tense? Maybe I could try rephrasing it?)

  31. Mynaon 04 Jun 2011 at 9:01 am

    Sorry for being on and off a lot lately! I had finals this week, and I’ve got more next week, so I’m a bit pressed for time. I’m gonna put up Chapter 4 next weekend instead of this one for that reason, and also ’cause I’m still converting the first three chapters, heh.

    Thank you B. Mac! I’ve started turning the chapters into past tense and I’ll see if I can fix the voicing issues over the weekend or so, if not I’ll put a few of them up here. Thanks again! (Man I can’t wait till summer… xD)

  32. Cool don 04 Jun 2011 at 12:27 pm

    Hey myna, your book is pretty good, It has a good balance of action and story. Are you sure you don’t want to be published ’cause I would definitely buy it.

    This might probably not what you’d want. An idea for an arc of my comic book Blayze popped up in my head. I would like if you could please write the opening comic of the art, because your style is similar to what I’m going for in that arc. You can write it in book form and I’ll convert it into comic book format for the artist. I’d really appreciate it.

    If you’re interested please tell me, so far I’m done with character planning just need to fix some story hiccups, so you have some time before your arc comes. I’d like to see your writing in my story.

  33. Mynaon 04 Jun 2011 at 4:15 pm

    Thank you! On the publishing thing, the major reason I’m not is ’cause there’s probably not a major audience/market for this story (there might if this was a comic book, but meh.) In any case…

    Hmmm… I think I might 🙂 Although please describe the scene to me, what you’d like and stuff, before I write it out. I just wanna say though, novels and comic books are very different, I’ve tried to convert scripts into books and vice versa before and it’s very complicated. Just throwing that out there. I’ll try and write it good for script though. Sounds pretty cool, so I’m in, see how it works. 🙂

  34. B. Macon 04 Jun 2011 at 7:41 pm

    “cause there’s probably not a major audience/market for this story…” Don’t give up on it so quickly! 🙂 While superhero novels generally do not sell very well, I think it’s plausible that a publisher would pick this up because the characters are interesting and the pacing is rock-solid (not because of the superheroes). Moreover, the book is exciting even when there isn’t any action.

    Finally, you have several assets that might convince a publisher to give the story a go.
    –It’s not mindless action. (I think that stereotype is one of the main obstacles for superhero authors).
    –You’re a lady with some military experience. Because of those demographic traits, I think both ladies and men will be more receptive to your work. (It would not take much to convince the average male reader that a book written by a cadet is not a CW romance, which I think is the most common hang-up men have about women authors–the male MC helps there, too). Also, appealing to women is helpful because women read more novels on average, so that helps cover both bases.
    –If the story is otherwise more or less publishable, being pretty young* when you wrote it will pleasantly surprise some publishers. Young adult readers are frequently more receptive to authors in their age range and a notably young author is easier to promote because his/her age gives journalists something newsworthy to hang onto.

    *I think “pretty young” includes everyone up to age ~22 (the usual age of college graduation).

  35. B. Macon 04 Jun 2011 at 10:29 pm

    “I haven’t read SIWBI, is it worth reading? I did see your review, but there seems to be good and bad parts to the novel, overall is it worth it?” It’s not the smoothest novel I’ve ever read, but I liked it. The characterization could have used some more attention and I think it would have helped to pare down the cast, but there were some scenes (mainly with the villain) that were highly enjoyable.

  36. Cool don 05 Jun 2011 at 12:32 am

    Sure myna, thanks I’ll send it to you soon.

  37. Mynaon 07 Jun 2011 at 5:09 pm

    Thanks, B. Mac xD I’m still not sure about publication, but I suppose you’re right. Either way, I’m too early in to focus on publishing, but thank you, I didn’t realize some of those factors.

    And on SIWBI, I shall pick it up sometime then. ^.^ I love superhero novels (‘course xD) and they’re such a rare find~

    Thanks Cool D!

  38. Mynaon 17 Jun 2011 at 4:55 pm

    Alright, here’s Chapter Four! I had a lot of trouble with this chapter >.>;; I have my issues with it, but I’mma let y’all crit first and see what you find. Quick request though , my review forum is getting loaded with posts… B. Mac, if it’s possible could you remove all of the posts before the second version of Chapter One? (http://www.superheronation.com/2011/03/17/mynas-review-forum/#comment-125438) Thank you!

    And one more random update, I’m going to NYC tomorrow for a few days, so no commenting from me, but I’ll get back to everything when I’m back with mah computer. xD So yeah. Here we go!

    CHAPTER FOUR

    “What’s going on?!”

    “Calm down, do you think I’m not going to tell you?! Come with me.” Dr. Carvalho led us into a small room, one that was annoyingly similar to the room Pires interrogated me and Mom in earlier. He put his files down on the table. I glanced over ‘em, trying to make sense of it, but it was all full of acronyms and numbers, and words so long it looked like they’d fall right off the paper. It was like a freaking code, and I wondered why doctors wrote like that. Did it make cutting into peoples’ chests more exciting?

    Mom sat down next to me, and then Dr. Carvalho spoke. “Your husband was very, very lucky,” he began.

    “Believe me… I know—” Mom began, but he cut her off.

    You don’t understand. That narcotic was so powerful it would’ve killed him in under an hour. Actually, I’m still amazed it didn’t. But whatever happened—it wasn’t a fatal dose.”

    I looked up. Of course it wasn’t a fatal dose, how was this news?

    Dr. Carvalho pointed to something on the paper. “Whatever—or whoever—poisoned him messed up quite a bit, it seems. We calculated… the fatal dosage for this is about 25 percent more than whatever he took. That is to say,” he continued, seeing my confused look, “He was given three-fourths of the poison. It was a lot, but not enough to kill him. That miscalculation probably saved his life.”

    I looked over, and Mom was crying quietly, nodding. I took her hand and squeezed it. “Shh, Mom, it’s a good thing, he’s okay—“

    Dr. Carvalho flipped the page in his lab report.

    “However, that’s not why I brought you here.”

    I slowly looked back up at him, and so did Mom. Dr. Carvalho pointed to a chart. “There was something else in his system—some kind of chemical—that appears to have been unrelated to the narcotic he was poisoned with.”

    “What are you… my husband is not on drugs,” Mom began icily, leveling Dr. Carvalho with the type of glare that used to scare me shitless when I was a little kid.

    Carvalho nodded. “Look, I don’t doubt that for a second ma’am, but see here? When we did the blood tests, we found that not only did he have a poisonous narcotic in his bloodstream, but also a chemical that vaguely resembled a type of steroid,” he explained, and he spoke again fast ‘fore Mom could attack him. “It wasn’t actually a steroid, but similar, you understand? The chemical properties were similar. But it wasn’t your typical anabolic steroid… it didn’t have the same effects as an anabolic steroid, didn’t even have testosterone or androgen in the drug. It seemed to focus mostly on outright strength, and a few other things, like vision sensitivity—“

    I was officially lost. A what? That didn’t make any sense. Why would Dad be on some kinda drug? He didn’t even like to take pills. Dr. Carvalho had it wrong, I decided. He’d screwed up. People in Bellem were notoriously good at screwing up.

    “Let me get this clear,” Mom began coldly, and her eyes weren’t red anymore. “You’re telling me my husband was shooting up?!”

    Dr. Carvalho swallowed nervously. “Well, ma’am, not precisely, but he was definitely on something.” He looked her in the eyes, and Mom’s hand clenched. I started counting seconds. I wasn’t even sure whether I was counting seconds for Mom or for me. One, do not attack anyone, two, do not attack anyone—

    “The unusual thing is,” Carvalho cut in to my thoughts, “is that he doesn’t… show any typical signs of drug abuse. I—“

    “That’s because he’s not on drugs!” Mom screeched, slamming the table. Dr. Carvalho took a deep breath.

    “Trust me, I know what I’m talking about. I have a lot of experience in these matters—”

    And twenty bucks said Vitória High School gave me more ‘experience’ with drugs than Carvalho’s ever had, anyway.

    “Err…” I began, not sure how I was s’posed to talk to him. The only reason I wasn’t snapping at him too was ‘causa shock. “How do you know that that wasn’t just part of the poison? Maybe he got, I dunno, drugged with that stuff too—“

    Carvalho shook his head. “It wasn’t part of the poison, that’s the thing. This has been in his system longer. You can tell by the kidneys,” he explained, and I had no idea how the kidneys were s’posed to tell you anything, but I decided not to ask about that. Dr. Carvalho looked at the table for a moment.

    “I don’t believe this shit,” I muttered under my breath and stood up. Carvalho stood up fast.

    “You two needed to know. But, for what it’s worth, we ended up getting both drugs out of his system… quite a few kidney complications at the same time, you know, but he should be alright. Officer Massri is awake now.” He closed his lab files. “I suggest,” he added, “That you go speak with him now, before Dr. Rosstoren comes back for the—“

    Before Carvalho could finish, Mom had already raced out of the room. Whether she was furious at Dad, or furious at Dr. Carvalho, I didn’t know, and frankly I didn’t want to. “Well, believe me,” I said to Carvalho, harsher than I meant to, but I didn’t care. “I’d know if my own father was on drugs.”

    I think. But why wouldn’t I? I knew a ton of stuff about Dad, so it didn’t make sense that I would miss this. I mean, I knew that whenever he came home at night he’d instantly go looking for Mom, I knew that he liked Chinese food best, he thought football was stupid but wouldn’t hesitate for a soccer game. He worked so much that usually he was only home for a few hours in the middle of the night when his shift was up. But he most definitely did not do drugs.

    I paused. “Does… does Dad know about what you found?”

    Dr. Carvalho met my gaze. “Trust me. He knows.”

    I didn’t know what to make of that. I also didn’t know if he expected me to answer ‘im, ‘cause I didn’t, just ran out of the room to go find Dad and figure out what all this was. ‘Sides, I thought. Lab tests can glitch. Doctors can screw up just as much as anybody else. “Dad… Dad?”

    I looked into the hospital room to find Mom already there, yelling. “What were you hiding from me?!” she demanded him.

    “I wasn’t hiding anything…” Dad was saying, sitting up straighter. I came into the room.

    “He says you’re on drugs,” I said bluntly. I didn’t know what else there was to say.

    Mom hissed under her breath. “And what do you mean you weren’t hiding anything?! You were certainly hiding this! I was accused of trying to kill you last night, I had to convince a cop I hadn’t drugged you with narcotics, only to find out that you’re drugging yourself?!”

    I sat down near the bed, running my hand through my hair in frustration. No, no, this was messed up, this wasn’t right. Was he ever even acting strange? I thought hard on it. He was always a bit twitchy when he came home, but that was usually ‘cause it was late and he was tired. Wait, had he always been twitchy? Was that new? I tried to remember, but the only thing I could think about was narcotics aren’t the only things in Dad’s system…

    My hand was clenching, and I forced myself not to snap. Dad has a reason. He’s got to have a reason. I could snap at a lot of people, I could snap at Luis or other jackasses at school, but I couldn’t snap at Dad. He had to have a reason. We just… didn’t know what.

    I then looked up to see Mom screaming at Dad again. Aw, hell—

    “I’m telling you!” Dad was yelling now too, “It was part of something the P.D. was working on—“

    Even if that reason doesn’t make a lot of sense, I thought.

    “Working on steroids?” Mom hissed. Dad growled something under his breath.

    “It wasn’t a—“

    “And how long have you been using this, hmm?!” Mom demanded, cutting him off. As an afterthought, she added, “And don’t lie to me… Dr. Carvalho knows too… something about your kidneys…” she trailed off.

    Even if that reason fell apart with just a few lab tests…

    Dad frowned. “Laila… it was a… it was a thing the P.D. was working on, something that’s very difficult to explain… I’ve…”

    “Answer me!” Mom yelled.

    Even if he won’t tell us what that reason even was…

    Dad gritted his teeth, staring off at something on the other side of the room, and then finally he spoke up.

    “It’s only been two months. So far.”

    I stared in disbelief—only two months?—when suddenly Mom got this look of rage in her eyes and I knew this had all gone to hell.

    “So far?!”

    Even if that reason is still making him do it…

    Immediately, a new doctor poked her head in. “Hello, my name is Dr. Rosstoren, I’m here to check up on the…”

    She trailed off, and everyone in the room went dead silent.

    “Whatever it is,” Mom began through gritted teeth, and she had this look of pure rage in her eyes. She wasn’t glaring at Dr. Rosstoren, “You can check on it later.”

    “I’ll be back in five,” the woman squeaked and scurried off. Mom took in a long breath to contain herself, and I glanced up slowly, trying not to get angry myself. I bit my tongue to keep from saying everything I was thinking.

    Mom sat down next to Dad, and her voice was softer now. “How could you … how could you just…” she began quietly.

    Dad had a pained look in his eyes, one I’ve almost never seen him have before. “Laila. You have to trust me, alright?” he said. “It’s more complicated than it seems.”

    …except that it’s not complicated at all.

    “I’m gonna… I’m gonna go,” I said flatly, and I stood up and suddenly turned around and made for the door. I was starting to feel sick. The hell would he—why the hell would he—I couldn’t get my thoughts to shut up, and so ‘fore Mom did anything, hell ‘fore Dad did anything, I was out of there.

    I fell onto a bench on the main floor, balancing my elbows on my knees, and tried to come up with a good reason. I was surprised to find I didn’t really remember anything of the past two months, least not with Dad. I mean, he had been acting a bit strange. Jumped at little noises, was more edgy than most, things like that. But was that weird? For him? He’d always been that way, ever since I was a kid. I figured it was ‘cause he was a cop. Not a cop on drugs. I racked my mind, trying to figure it out, but I got nothing.

    He’d said it was something the P.D. was working with. That sounded like one helluva lie, but then it hit me.

    Lightning. Back when he was talking to Sergeant Aires. He hadn’t just taken the poison from the office; he’d taken something else.

    A set of files.

    “Massri’s last assignment might be… relevant to this poisoning…”
    Dad’s files.

    “So the P.D. was doing something…” I mumbled under my breath, running my hands through my hair again. “Something they… hid… and something someone else wanted to kill them for?” I frowned and tried to make sense of that. Didn’t work. “How in hell…”

    Suddenly, a voice spoke up from nearby.

    “Seth?”

    “Gack!” I jumped up from the bench and almost gave myself a heart attack before I saw who was standing there. Sergeant Aires? “Ai—what are you doing here?” I demanded suddenly, more bluntly than I meant to.

    Aires laughed lightly. “My shift’s up. I came here see if your father was okay. Last I was told, he was still out… Why aren’t you with him?”

    I went silent. Sergeant Aires frowned. “What’s going on?” he asked.

    I bit the inside of my cheek. Was he in on what Dad was doing? Did he know? “They said there was this… there was this other drug Dad was using. Not poisoned with. Using.”

    Sergeant Aires’ face fell, and suddenly he put his hand on his forehead. He closed his eyes and groaned under his breath. “Oh boy, I was worried they’d catch this…”

    Instantly, I wanted to punch someone in the face.

    “You knew about this?!”

    Aires looked at me, and then back towards the hospital room. He just sighed and sat next to me. “You need to be quiet. You’ll wake up patients,” he said in a low voice. I knew he wasn’t worried about waking up any damn patient.

    My hand clenched. “What’s going on? Are you on that serum too?!” I hissed.

    He shook his head. “No. Only some of the police were on it. It was a…” He bit his lip. “A… test. Of sorts.”

    “A test? To do what, see how long it took for a cop to end up in the ER?!” I snapped before I could stop myself.

    Aires wrung his hands a bit. “That part was a mistake. I still… I still don’t know why it happened, that’s why the Core took the case, because it was very serious. Seth…” he trailed off. “I know you want to have the details, and I know you want to figure it out, but I really need to leave it at that. Your father knows what he’s doing, and you have to understand that, okay?”

    “Yeah, well what was he doing?” I asked. “He’s no scientist. It’s not like this is some kinda dumb lab test, y’know? He was doing something else, I’m not an idiot—“

    Aires cut me off. “I know that. And you’ll have to be okay with not knowing everything, Seth,” he said, sounding kinda exasperated. “No one’s trying to keep you or your mother in the dark, okay? It’s more for your own safety.”

    My throat tightened. “And what about his safety? He pretty much told us he’s still doing it—“

    “Seth—“

    “I don’t want to be in the ER again for something like this,” I snapped, and bit the inside of my cheek again, thinking. Damn ER, damn poison, damn police with their damn serum. I guess the Hero Core’s got one helluva case on their hands, I figured. “What’s the Core s’posed do about it?”

    “Well, what do you think?” He turned to me. “They’ll do what they do best: fix it, and knock in a few windows along the way.”

    He had a small smile now. I nodded, laughing halfheartedly.

    “This is why they wanted the case, right?” I asked. “’Cause they’re the Hero Core. Lightning said it was too difficult for you guys to handle. Something about people getting hurt.”

    “Yes…” Aires slowly stood up. “And they’re taking care of it, Seth, alright? Don’t worry about ending up here again, I can assure you, it’ll be alright. You just need to let them do what they have to.”

    “I guess.”

    Aires shot me a suspicious look. “That means don’t try to get involved. Hang out with your friends, go to school, and leave the worrying to the adults.”

    “I’m seventeen, y’know,” I said. “Not seven anymore.” I paused. “I know a lot about the Hero Core. I know why they take cases. Hell, no one ever even figures out what happens with those cases.” I frowned. “And that’s crazy shit, ‘cause you know people around here, they follow the Core like maniacs. It doesn’t add up. Nothing adds up, Aires.”

    Sergeant Aires closed his eyes, frustrated. “And why do you need to be the one to figure it all out?”

    I looked up. “Well he’s my Dad, isn’t he?”

    He sighed. “The only thing you should be adding up is numbers in math. Seth, I’m going to check on your father now, and I’m serious, I don’t want you pulling any stunts out there, alright? It’d be much worse if you get hurt. Just think first. And if your thoughts tell you to figure it out, then dammit, think again.” He made a face. “Just don’t make me regret letting you know what’s going on.”

    There was a long pause. I wasn’t sure what to say.

    “Seth…”

    I nodded, but I already had ideas were springing up in my head. “I won’t do anything. Promise. I’ll let ‘em handle it.” Aires nodded, smiled at me and then walked off, closing the door to A114. I looked back after a moment. Why should I let ‘em handle it? I wondered. I trusted the cops, I trusted the Core, but…

    There was something still bothering me. The drug. The serum. Well, whatever Dad was taking, ‘cause I sure as hell didn’t know what. What kinda police test required you to freaking shoot up?

    I thought. And thought some more. By this point I had a damn headache, and all I really knew was that I had to keep Dad from getting hurt again. I had to keep even worse shit from happening. If I didn’t, who else would? Officer Pires?

    I just need to know why the case went to the Hero Core. That’s all I’ll need. I decided. Nobody can get hurt trying to figure that out.

    And figuring out why… it all went back to one thing. Dad’s last case.

    The drug…

    And whatever ‘test’ the P.D. was doing.

    I stood up as a few clueless nurses scurried past. Dr. Rosstoren from earlier went down the hallway and knocked on A114. The door opened, and I heard voices from inside. I wondered if Mom was still pissed. I wondered if they were still fighting. And I wondered what Dad and Aires knew, that I didn’t.

    “Well, fuck this,” I muttered to myself. “I’m figuring this out if no one else will.”

  39. Mynaon 21 Jun 2011 at 8:12 pm

    Hey, I’m back from New York! …and it’s silent…?

  40. B. Macon 21 Jun 2011 at 11:10 pm

    –Okay, I’ve deleted the earliest posts here except for your synopsis of the story.

    –“Calm down, do you think I’m not going to tell you?! Come with me.”” This could probably be shortened to “I’ll get to that. Come with me.” (In addition to being shorter, it also avoids repeating the ?! used in the previous line, “What’s going on?!”)

    “It was like a freaking code, and I wondered why doctors wrote like that.” Could maybe be rephrased to something like “I wondered why doctors always wrote in freaking code.” I think this implies that this particular scrawl is like a code, too.

    You don’t understand. That narcotic was so powerful it would’ve killed him in under an hour. Actually, I’m still amazed it didn’t. But whatever happened—it wasn’t a fatal dose.” I think this dialogue is missing quotation marks at the beginning. Also, I think “That narcotic was so powerful it would’ve killed him in under an hour. Actually, I’m still amazed it didn’t. But whatever happened—it wasn’t a fatal dose” could be rephrased to something like “That narcotic was so powerful it could [insert appropriately impressive feat here—maybe “dissolve metal”). Even with such a small dose, I’m amazed it didn’t kill him in under an hour.”

    — “Whatever—or whoever—poisoned him” could be rephrased as “His attacker” or “The criminal”.

    –The doctor’s voice tends to fluctuate. Is “messed up quite a bit” consistent with “We calculated the fatal dosage for this is about 25% more than whatever he took”?

    –The first page, leading up to “That’s not why I brought you here,” felt pretty slow to me. The main thing we learn is that the dosage was a bit below-fatal. I feel that could be conveyed more quickly than 300 words.

    –So far, the mother doesn’t seem like she’s adding much to this scene. You might be able to cut her out if she’s not on-hand and the doctor briefs Seth so that he’ll tell her. (Alternately, in a situation where family members might get shocked and/or hysterical, I think it’d be believable if the doctor wanted to brief them separately).

    “type of glare that used to scare me shitless when I was a little kid.” “when I was a little kid” could probably be removed here.

    –I’m really liking where the mystery steroid angle is going. It strikes me as a lot more pertinent than the issue of how close to lethal the dose was.

    –“…a chemical that vaguely resembled a type of steroid… It wasn’t actually a steroid, but similar, you understand? The chemical properties were similar. But it wasn’t your typical anabolic steroid… it didn’t have the same effects as an anabolic steroid, didn’t even have testosterone or androgen in the drug.” I feel this could be shortened/rephrased to something like “…a chemical that vaguely resembled a steroid. The chemical properties were similar. [Give an example of something steroids and this drug share in common.] But the physical augmentations were unusual. For example, I’ve never seen pupil dilation of that magnitude. Was he unusually sensitive to light?” (In terms of fleshing out backstory here, maybe Seth noticed that his father had recently taken to wearing sunglasses indoors, but he had attributed that to cops being cops. Or maybe Seth recently noticed him reading or doing something else visually demanding in low-light conditions). [Minor science note: Larger pupils -> more nightvision).

    “…he had screwed up. People in Bellem were notoriously good at screwing up.” I’d recommend shortening “screwing up” to “it.”

    “And twenty bucks said Vitória High School gave me more ‘experience’ with drugs than Carvalho’s ever had, anyway. “Err…” I began, not sure how I was s’posed to talk to him.” The confident, snarky voice in the first sentence doesn’t quite jibe to me with the hesitant, shy voice in the second. (The first one feels more consistent with the character up to this point—he doesn’t strike me as the sort of person to be shy about saying what he thinks just because there’s a doctor in the room).

    “he thought football was stupid but wouldn’t hesitate for a soccer game”—AMERICA-HATING FIEND. Add me to the suspect list. 🙂

    I paused. “Does… does Dad know about what you found?”
    Dr. Carvalho met my gaze. “Trust me. He knows.” I like this exchange (subtle foreshadowing), but I’d like a more distinct bit of body language (or voice tone) than “met my gaze.”

    I’d recommend cutting down on the number of ?!s.

    “Whatever it is…” “You can check on it later.” I liked this. 🙂

    “He hadn’t just taken the poison from the office; he’d taken something else. A set of files.” I like this development of what we saw earlier.

    “That means don’t try to get involved. Hang out with your friends, go to school, and leave the worrying to the adults.” I’d like a more memorable response than “I’m seventeen, y’know,” I said. “Not seven anymore.”

  41. Mynaon 23 Jun 2011 at 4:39 pm

    Thank you so much for the crit B. Mac 🙂 I’ll edit Chapter 4 tonight and then start on Chapter 5 soon.

    I’m doing two WriMo’s this summer (aka both sessions of Camp NaNoWriMo–the write-a-novel-in-a-month-thing–for July and August) but I’m gonna try and update Jackal on a somewhat regular basis despite that. So three novels this summer! I’m so doomed. xD

  42. Mynaon 28 Jun 2011 at 10:37 am

    At what chapter should I start emailing instead of posting? I’m still gonna post for awhile, I just wanna figure this out. There’s gonna be maybe ~35 chapters in the story (if I can squeeze everything in. xD)

  43. B. Macon 28 Jun 2011 at 11:17 am

    I’d usually recommend switching to email after posting 5000-10,000 words. At that point, you have a pretty good idea of who your reviewers are and it limits the amount of the story that’s available online.

  44. Mynaon 28 Jun 2011 at 11:28 am

    As of now (halfway through writing chapter five), I’m at 14,916 :/ I suppose I’ll post five and then switch to email for whoever’s interested, thanks!

  45. Marquison 28 Jun 2011 at 12:06 pm

    Man this is nice. The plot is nice, and seth seems like he’d be a cool guy to hang out with. Maybe you could give me some pointers on how to stay on track with my storys. I don’t think i’d ever be able to keep my story going for this long. Reading This has truly helped me understand what i want to see in my story a nice strong plot, memorable charcters that the reader can relate to and feel for.

    Very Nice.

  46. B. Macon 28 Jun 2011 at 2:24 pm

    “As of now (halfway through writing chapter five), I’m at 14,916 :/” Well, it’s just a recommendation. Do whatever you feel comfortable with. If you’d like, I can delete chapters whenever you’re ready to submit to publishers.

    “I suppose I’ll post five and then switch to email for whoever’s interested, thanks!” Please add me to the list. I can be reached at superheronation-at-gmail-dot-com. Thanks!

  47. Mynaon 28 Jun 2011 at 5:10 pm

    Will do!

    Quick q, would anyone know the details of a police stations security system? Alarms, locks, that kinda deal? I don’t need high-tech, just a vagueish, believable description. (Google hasn’t come up with anything.)

    I was gonna use Yahoo Answers, but somehow that didn’t look like it’d come out right… “How do you break into a cop station? What kind of alarms are there and how do you disable them? No seriously, it’s just for a novel…”

  48. Mynaon 28 Jun 2011 at 5:12 pm

    @Marquis: Thanks! I’m glad you like it. I’ll check out your review forum in a bit 🙂

  49. Crystalon 28 Jun 2011 at 7:05 pm

    What?! I won’t be able to read your story anymore?!
    I’m not allowed to give out my email address, so…:(
    Yeah! Anyway, sorry for not commenting on the past few chapters! I’ve been meaning to do that, but I have a huge to-do list involving writing, so every time I mean to review something, that’s when I remember what I’m really supposed to do. And only when I’m trying to review something. It’s like this little voice in my brain goes, ‘Hey, you remember that story that you’re trying to write? Why don’t you actually get something done?”
    Oh-kaay…Before I get completely off topic…
    I did read all of the chapters as you posted, and everything’s looking pretty good…Right now, I don’t have any complaints, but I’ll read everything again in the morning.

    Seriously, almost 15,000? I have ten chapters and I just hit 10,000 like, five minutes ago (cue nagging brain voice: I need to get more work done). And that’s only because I’m revising Chapter 5 before I post it and it’s getting pretty long.

    Sorry, I don’t know what the inside of a police office looks like, but I’ve seen some pretty weird stuff on Yahoo!Answers, so you shouldn’t worry.

  50. Crystalon 28 Jun 2011 at 7:07 pm

    What? No frowny face? We have smiley faces, grinning faces, and even surprised faces, but no frowning faces?
    Oh, well…just turn this upside down: 🙂

  51. B. Macon 28 Jun 2011 at 7:14 pm

    🙁

    It’s just a : followed by a (

  52. Marquison 28 Jun 2011 at 10:35 pm

    You guys are writing gods!!!

  53. Cool don 29 Jun 2011 at 9:56 am

    Hope this helps myna http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Police

    you should find what you need.:)

  54. Crystalon 29 Jun 2011 at 10:32 am

    Ohhh….
    🙁
    Yeah, must have been the ellipses.
    Sorry.
    Actually, I’ve been the lobby of a police station before, but I was eight, if not younger, and only getting my bike license, so forgive me if anything here is incorrect.

    So, my general impression was that it was very clean. As in, squeaky clean. The tiled floor was so shiny that you could see your reflection.
    There were a couple of chairs for you to sit in, the uncomfortable plastic kind, and, some counter that you could talk to a policeman at. I think that there was some sort of glass window separating the person behind the counter…Bulletproof? I have no idea.
    When you walked in the glass doors, the first thing you saw was the counter. To the left, there was a wall…I don’t know if there was anything there. To the right, there was a sign with all the rules.
    Also to the right, there was a hallway. The sign above the entryway stated that this was where you went if you were visiting someone, and listed visiting hours. I peered down the hallway a little bit, but it ended in darkness.

    I hope that that helped you a little bit…As far as I can tell, they were taking every measure to ensure safety…Bulletproof glass!
    But, no, I don’t know anything about the security system.

  55. Crystalon 29 Jun 2011 at 10:48 am

    Also, I’ve watched a few prison shows, but those were maximum-security prisons. I guess if you want that much security, here’s what you need:

    -Barbed wire around the prison, for starters. Like, twenty feet high.
    -Prison is divided into sections: Minimum security, medium security, and maximum security.
    -Men and women are separated.
    -Pretty much everything is made of barbed wire, metal, or concrete.
    -Unless you’re in solitary confinement, you’re sharing a cell.
    -If you’re in solitary confinement, you are in a cell all alone. Somehow, this works in disciplining prisoners.
    -Special force teams in case of an emergency
    -armed with:
    -guns
    -some sort of explosive grenade
    -pepper spray
    -Most prisoners eat meals together in a huge room.
    -Prisoners help make and serve the food.
    -The cell doors look like regular doors that you would find on a classroom. Big and made of wood, one window at the top – more for the police to look in than for the prisoner to look out.
    -If you’re in solitary confinement, or otherwise are not allowed to go to meals, there is a tiny slot in the bottom of the door to get meals through.
    -Slot is also useful for emptying cans of pepper spray into the room.

    I also remembered one more thing about my local police station: During a question and answer session at school, a visiting policeman confirmed that yes, there is such thing as a padded cell. And it has a drain in the floor.

    Did that help?

  56. B. Macon 29 Jun 2011 at 11:17 am

    “Quick question, would anyone know the details of a police station’s security system? Alarms, locks, that kinda deal?” Okay, a quick caveat. The only time I’ve ever been in a police station, it was in a small, affluent suburb where I was getting my fingerprints taken for an FBI background check. This place has a murder rate lower than a Dutch church social and I imagine they’d take security more seriously in a more violent precinct. For example, when someone gets taken “to county,” they’re going in with REAL criminals rather than the dilettante watermelon forgers and cigarette smugglers we have around here.

    Anyway, in this small-town police department, I think they have a short-term detention facility (a jail) on-site. If you get convicted of anything long-term, they’ll send you to prison. (For more on the difference between jails and prisons, please see this). From my uninformed observations, I would say that the main defenses in this facility were:
    –Plenty of police close at hand
    –Cameras pretty much everywhere
    –An intercom system that could be used to call an alarm.
    –The way the building was laid out probably would make it harder for large groups of people to make trouble (i.e. break in, riot, etc). There weren’t very many open spaces. I would imagine that the police would have an easier time maintaining control over tight hallways.
    –I didn’t see much in the way of this here, but I wonder if a Detroit precinct would do more with electronically controlled door access, metal detectors and/or TSA-style x-rays?
    –I didn’t see any fire alarms. That would make it harder for somebody to cause a distraction by faking a fire. However, if you started a REAL fire, I imagine the police would still have to carefully evacuate all of the prisoners/detainees from affected parts of the facility.
    –Note: As always, the police have VERY little control over lawyers coming in to see prisoners/detainees. I don’t think the police can legally spy on a lawyer meeting with a defendant or search the lawyer’s briefcase. So, if you’re trying to smuggle something past security, that’d be one of the most plausible ways to do it.
    –Police buildings usually have really small windows (too small for a prisoner to escape from). One side-effect is that it’d also be too small for most superheroes to get into… Unless they’re crocodiles or something. (One of the villains in The Taxman Must Die designs the vents to be small enough to keep out someone like Batman, but an enterprising alligator really ruins his day).

  57. Mynaon 29 Jun 2011 at 1:28 pm

    Guys, wow thank you so much for the help! I left this morning to help with a summer camp and came back and BAM many replies! Thanks so much xD

    @Cool D: Thank you for the link, I COMPLETELY forgot to check Wikipedia (well, I did, but I ended up in a section about British police which was SO not helpful xD) so thanks! ^.^ I’ll see if I can find some ifo there.

    @Crystal: Okay, so the front area of a police station is generally clean and protected (bulletproof glass) and all? That helps 🙂 I think the Bellem PD might be a bit different in terms of appearance (not awful, but if you spend most of your time tracking drug dealers you’re not gonna have time to do the floors, lol) but they still try to be, ah what’s the word, professional; so I suppose the front entrance would still look something like that.

    Although, the chars aren’t breaking into a maximum security prison, but thank you for that advice! It does help quite a bit, thank you. 🙂

    @B. Mac: Thanks for the link on the jail/prison differences, I’ll read that in a sec. And cigarette smugglers? xD

    Thanks for the details also, I’ll keep those in mind. Hmmm, seems a bit more difficult than I thought… although, it’s not a large group of people, just two, two folks looking for info and nothing more so no huge riots and stuff. Their goal isn’t to rile up the cops, but rather to make sure they don’t run into the cops. xD

    Dressing up as lawyers… hmmm… they’re not looking for an inmate but I think this still will prolly work… *strokes chin evilly*

    Small windows in the cells, huh? And in the cops offices? Do those have small windows too, or are they barred or anything? (I mean, they won’t have to worry about the police escaping, but maybe like, someone breaking in.)

    I found a floor plan of a PD in New Hampshire… http://www.pelhampolice.com/plans2.htm what concerns me is the offices aren’t separate? Do most detectives get separate offices, or only if they’re high-ranks? (If so, I might need to edit some things?)

    Thanks again SOOO much for the help you guys! 8D

  58. Mynaon 30 Jun 2011 at 6:09 pm

    Okay! Here’s Chapter Five, lemme know what you think, pacing, fight scenes, if everything’s plausible, etc.

    Camp NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow (I am PSYCHED! xD) so I’m doing a different novel for it, however I’m still gonna try and update Jackal at least once or twice in the month, so… we’ll see how that works. xD

    For now…

    CHAPTER FIVE

    “You really better explain this, Seth. This isn’t one of yours and Elliott’s crazy ideas, is it?”

    “’Course not, Mina.” I flashed a playful grin at her, kicking some rocks with my foot. It had been a week since I’d figured out about Dad’s little serum, and a week since I’d decided I was gonna figure out more. “I just… need your help with something.” We were leaning on the fence that separated Vitória High School from the sane half of society, ‘cause for the first time in ages, we’d both shown up to school for a few days in a row. Of course, our teachers didn’t know that, ‘cause we’d skipped all our classes entirely.

    But this was actually important. Mina poked me and raised an eyebrow. “Earth to Seth? Seriously, what’s going on? And why with all the hypothetical questions, ‘say, if you were a league of superheroes, what would you do if a random cop got poisoned?’” she mimicked my voice. “The hell?” Mina asked.

    I had decided that the first thing in figuring out this mess of a case, was figuring out Dad’s last mission. Lightning had the files now, sure, but if there was anything I knew about the PD, it was that every single case always had a mess of paperwork involved. Which meant that somewhere in the Bellem Police Department, there was more information on this. I jammed my hands into my pockets. “Well, you’re good at… stealth stuff, right?”

    There was a long pause.

    Then.

    “What?”

    I backtracked. “Okay, well, hear me out here. I’m looking for something, right? Like a… hunt, kinda. And you gotta help me out with it ‘cause you’re good at this stuff.” I dropped my backpack onto the concrete. “Like, ah… remember that time when you were twelve and we broke into Mr. Wilson’s house ‘cause you thought Wilson’s kid had stolen Casper’s watch?”

    She tilted her head to the side, and I continued. “And you managed to break in through the window next to the fire escape, and kept me from making the building alarm go off by accident? And even though the watch wasn’t in there, you get what I’m saying, right? That was frickin’ A, Mina. How many other twelve-year-old chicks can just randomly break into a locked apartment, disable the alarm and then steal all the candy from the kitchen in one night?”

    This time she snickered lightly. “C’mon. You helped me out. Wait, are you suggesting we break into someone elses house?”

    I paused and bit my lip. “…not a house.”

    Minas eyes widened, and she sighed after a moment, lighting a cig. “Ugh, I gotta loosen up…” she mumbled. She took a drag and asked, a bit more softly now, “What’s going on, Seth?”
    “I told you. I need to find something. Real important.”

    “Where?”

    “Bellem Police Department,” I began slowly, avoiding her now wide-eyed, disbelieving look. “Seventh Precinct Police Station.”

    “You want to break into the police de—wait.” She took another drag and put her hands on her hips. “Isn’t your dad a cop?!”

    “Well, yeah—“

    “So why can’t you just ask him to take you?” she asked. I let out a long breath through my teeth, wanting to tell her. But at the same time, it was too complicated, too confusing, and I definitely didn’t want her knowing what I was planning. I just needed her… help with it. Oh God, that sounded crazy.

    “Mina, that’s not gonna work. Can’t you just help me with this? I won’t ask you for another favor, just come with me tonight and I swear I won’t bother you with the stunts anymore.” Even though she used to be cool with it…

    She paused, thinking. “You’re trying to get past your dad, huh?” It wasn’t a question.
    I ran my hand through my hair and close my eyes. “Mina, I swear it’s not like that. I… look, are you gonna help me out or not?”

    Mina took one last drag from her cigarette and then crushed it onto the ground, under a beat-up shoe. She burned through those things fast when she was worried. “Fine. But you better let me know what we’re looking for before we go in. Wilson’s place wasn’t swarming with cops.”

    I halfheartedly smiled at her. “Don’t worry, just relax. I got this.”

    She just looked up at me and laughed, but barely. “Seth. That phrase from you is enough to scare anybody shitless.”

    X

    I met up with Ray and Manny after school, bored, and not even wanting to get close to that hospital again anytime soon. “What’s up?”

    “Not much, man. Can’t find Elliott, though. He mentioned something about finding a bunch of paper clips, a metal tube, some baking soda and an old phone. I don’t get it.” Ray shrugged, walking along the street. Cars rushed past, and next to the sidewalk parked cars were pressed against each other. One of ‘em had its windows smashed in, like some dumbass decided he wasn’t gonna bother with any picks and just broke in the easy way. Or, y’know, was bored.

    I frowned, jamming my hands in my pockets. “A what? He trying to be some kinda inventor?” I asked. “I thought he wanted to do the band.”

    “Yeah, he did, but then he changed his mind.” Manny shrugged. “I dunno, but it’s better than when he decided to be a drag car racer.” At this, he shuddered, and then looked over at me. “Say, you got a couple bucks? They shut down the pizza place on 40th, but there’s a store the next block over. I figured we could check it out. Might have something cheap. Maybe even edible, too.”

    “I got nothing, but—ah damn, I gotta go.” I’d looked up and noticed it was starting to get dark out, and I was s’posed to meet Mina a few streets away from the station in less thirty minutes. “I’ll see you guys around. Tell Elliott not to destroy anything.”

    Manny groaned. “You’ve been running off even more than usual lately, y’know? Every day after school you’ve start disappearing. It’s weird, what’s going on?”

    I paused. I hadn’t told them about the serum, or what Sergeant Aires had told me. Hell, I hadn’t even told them that Dad’d nearly been killed a week ago. “Uh… nothing,” I said flatly after a long moment. “It’s fine. I just gotta go. Take care of something.”

    “Have fun,” Manny said sarcastically as I ran off, but it only took a few seconds for me to hear them start talking about where to get pizza again. But really, I didn’t blame ‘em. Elliott was the one who always ran off and did crazy shit. I ran off and just… left.

    X

    “Alright, I owe you for this Mina, big time. You ready? It’s just down here,” I explained, voice barely above a whisper as we came down the alley next to the police building. I had run back to my place, found the cleanest, most official-looking clothes I could find, and headed back pronto. It was just black pants and an old jacket with a hole in the pocket, but it would have to do. I had a plan. “Just a quick in-and-out.”

    She raised an eyebrow. “And what’s with the jacket? I thought we were looking for information, not trying to show off that you can’t iron your clothes.”

    “Look, just hear me out, alright?” I asked and looked her over. Dark jeans, white blouse. It was formal enough, and she’d even put her hair up into a bun. Me and her both looked older than high school students anyway, so hopefully age wouldn’t be a problem. “We can’t break in through the windows, those things are freaking airtight. Just follow my lead, and lemme handle the talking, okay?”

    “We’re gonna get arrested,” she muttered irritably under her breath, walking with me to the door. “Won’t any of these guys recognize you?”

    “Meh, they can’t even remember my name. C’mon!”

    Dark shadows were cast across the front of the building as we went in. It wasn’t nearly as quiet as it was a week ago, but most of the cops were out on duty right now, not lingering in the office, so it was still pretty clear. There was a guy sitting at the front, and he looked up as we came in. Along the side of the wall a couple people sat in plastic chairs, and a few shot us annoyed looks as we came in. Perfect, I thought, it’s working, and I walked a bit faster.

    “Good evening, sir,” I began, in the most refined, ACLU-wannabe voice that I could muster. “My name is Zachary Blake. I’m here to speak with one of your inmates, a Mr. Lopes? You know how this is, sir, civil work is all.” I sent a quick glance at Mina, who was doing a pretty good job at looking professional, and keeping a straight face. Don’t screw this up, I told myself. I swallowed and looked back at the cop. “May we?”

    He nodded, muttering something under his breath, and scrawled something down on a paper. “Go ahead. Be quick, mess is in 20 for them.” He paused all of a sudden, and gave me and Mina a long look.

    “Wait a second… let me see your papers first.”

    I blanked. Ahh, shit. I completely missed this. Of course they would ask for papers! Just ‘cause all the people in here were authorized didn’t mean they wouldn’t check to make sure! “Ah…”

    “Sir,” Mina stepped forward and spoke in an icy tone, “I’d prefer you not question our authority to be here. Myself and Mr. Blake have already set up the appointment with your inmate, and mailed in all the required paperwork. I cleared it with a Sergeant Parker, so speak with him. My schedule is very busy, Officer, and I don’t have time to linger… and I’m certain no one will take kindly to you trying to keep lawyers from your inmates…” She left the statement hanging.

    The cop looked momentarily surprised, and then quickly nodded. “Yes, yes, of course, go ahead…” he muttered.

    We went down the hallway, and as soon as he was out of earshot, I turned to her. “Damn, Mina, where’d you come up with that?” I asked, stunned.

    “Realizing that you trying to impersonate a lawyer was gonna fall apart otherwise?” She half-laughed. “Where’d you come up with that? Lawyers, that’s new.”

    “Meh. Dad complains about ‘em all the time. They can’t keep ‘em out of the station, always going on about rights and stuff like that. Lawyers go to see inmates all the time,” I explained with a shrug.

    She nodded. “And the prisoner named Lopes?”

    This time I forced back a laugh. “Dude, everyone and their brother knows somebody named Lopes in this town. Sergeant Parker?”

    “I guessed,” Mina said sheepishly.

    We came up to Dad’s office, and I looked back up and down the hallway. “Alright, they got this place locked up, can you pop that thing open real fast ‘fore someone comes down here?” I began to ask, but she was already on it. I grinned. “Okay, we don’t got a lot of time… thirty…twenty-five…”

    She focused on the little thing, and I kept counting under my breath. “Twenty…”

    I glanced over at her. “Fifteen…” And just as I heard footsteps down the hall, she’d cracked the thing open and pulled me inside, then closed the door.

    “Now can you explain what’s going on?” Mina asked, her voice barely above a whisper.
    I moved over to the desk, opening the drawers and sifting through them for anything recent. “I just need a few files and then we’re out. Look for recent stuff, say… past two months.”

    “Your dad’s cases? Why on Earth do you need those?” Mina asked in disbelief. “Why isn’t he here, anyway?”

    “Eh… his shift is over.” I knew that was crap. His hours would’ve actually started now. “I just need to figure something out, okay? Mina, it’s nothing serious, it’s just something I need to know.”

    Mina bit her lip for a long moment, thinking. She finally wandered over and went looking for files. “Okay… but Seth, something about this is messed up, alright?”

    “More messed up than stealing stuff from Mr. Wilson?”

    She met me with a cool look. “Yes. Jesus, does your dad drinks a lot of coffee…”

    I nodded, focusing on what I could find. His stuff was all out of order, which I guess was a sign we were related, but that was no help now. Even some stuff from five years ago was on top, and I could only find new things at the bottom… wait. What if he did that on purpose? It’s not like he wasn’t hiding anything, I thought bitterly.

    I flipped the pile over and went through the stuff at the bottom first. Some of the files were from only a few weeks ago. Jackpot. “Yo, Mina, he keeps his new stuff at the bottom. Look there first, kay?”

    “Yeah, there aren’t any files in here.”

    “Eh?”

    I turned around, to find her going through a cabinet under the shelf where a coffee maker was stashed. There were a few boxes down there, and she took out some. Most of ‘em were just coffee mix and random equipment.

    I pulled out another box, and a water bottle fell out. I unscrewed the top and looked over at her. “Yeah? It’s mostly just boxes in here. Not what we’re looking for,” I said, and took a swig from the water bottle, before realizing—

    I practically gagged and spat out half of it on the floor, thankfully not on Mina.

    —that it was definitely not water.

    Mina jumped and then grabbed the water bottle. “What’s wrong?”

    I leaned back against the cabinet. “What? Uh, nothing. It’s just…” For some reason, verything was suddenly going a lot slower. Not like a movie in slow-motion, but like when you’ve phased out and everything’s taking a lot longer to happen. Aww, shit, I thought, was that the poison? No, no, no… But then I remembered, Lightning had taken the poison with him. Then what was going on? The image of Mina shifted and changed above me.

    “Seth. Seth!”

    “What?” I blinked and looked up at her, feeling lighter for some reason, more agile, or something. Whenever I moved it was faster, quicker. It was like the world had slowed down just enough for me to catch up with it. I blinked again, and everything was still moving and shifting. I could see Mina’s mouth moving but I had no idea what she was saying.

    Then she started shaking me. “Seth frickin’ Massri, do you hear me?!”

    I slowly looked up again. “Yeah… I hear you,” I began slowly. The room was several shades brighter now, and almost all of the dark shadows that had filled up the office were gone.

    “What happened?” she asked. She looked at the water bottle. “Looks like normal water to me…”

    “Oh, ah, yeah. It’s just real stale, I guess. Must’ve had something in it,” I covered lamely and stood up, only with everything going slower in my head, I stood up a lot faster than I meant to and then stumbled into the counter.

    “…that’s bullshit, Seth.” Mina caught a cup before it could hit the floor and then felt my forehead. “You don’t seem sick…”

    “Gack, Mina, I’m not sick! Let’s just finish this and go, alright?” I snapped. Suddenly I heard footsteps down the hall, and voices. They were real far down the hall now, and I wondered how I could hear ‘em if they were so far away, but—“Mina?”

    “Yeah?”

    It was two cops, talking as they came closer, their steps quick and light. One of ‘em was going on about “Lopes didn’t say anything about a lawyer coming… where’s that Blake guy…”

    Oh, shit.

    “We gotta go. Like, now,” I said fast, throwing the water bottle and two random files into my backpack. I had no idea if those were the right files, but it didn’t matter now. Shoving the boxes back into the cabinet, I looked back at her and snapped, “Dammit, didn’t you hear me? Someone’s coming. We gotta scram before they get here!”

    “I don’t hear anything,” she said, closing a drawer of files and standing up. “You hearing things, Seth?”

    I hissed under my breath. I knew I wasn’t hearing things. Their footsteps were getting louder, and yeah, maybe they were so far down the hall I shouldn’t have been able to hear them, but so what? When life gives you a warning, you don’t question it. “Those two lawyers were imposters, go set up guards and make sure no prisoners leave the building! We could have an attempted escape here. Check every room—“

    And then I heard them break into a run.

    Mina looked up, black bangs falling across her eyes. “…I hear something now,” she said slowly, eyes wide. She went for the door. “Quick, let’s—“

    “No, they’re gonna be right in front of that door in a second! Try the window, okay?”

    She stared at me in disbelief. “You said those things were practically airtight! If I open it, every alarm in the facility’s gonna go off!”

    “Thirty…”

    “Seth, this isn’t gonna work. Let’s just try the door—“

    “Twenty-five…”

    She swore at me and then went for the window. Suddenly, the door to the office was kicked open by a cop with a scowl on his face. “What in the—I found those two ‘lawyers!’ Put your hands up!” he yelled at me. “You wanna know how much impersonating a lawyer can get you in for?” he hissed. “Get down, Blake, and you too. Lopes didn’t have a lawyer coming in today.”

    Before I could say anything, the cop went at me. I dodged fast, blocking him when he tried to grab my arm. He hissed in pain, and I wondered why a simple block would put someone in pain. That had never happened before. No lingering, gotta run, now! I reminded myself. “Mina! Twenty!”

    Another cop ran in, and went at her first. I heard someone yell “And by the way, Sergeant Parker doesn’t exist!”

    Mina just scowled and then suddenly backhanded the cop in the face.

    I didn’t even need to tell her what would happen next.

    “Hands up, now! Assaulting a police officer is a felony, do you know how much jail time you could be looking at?!” he was screaming, and he cracked out the handcuffs. Before I could help Mina out, another cop had grabbed me—

    I pulled away so fast and then, without thinking, elbowed him away from me. He shouldn’t have moved too far, as it wasn’t that powerful—but as soon as I elbowed him, he was violently thrown back into the cabinet, and the wood cracked loudly with the force. The coffee machine fell over and smashed into the ground. I stared, and even the officer stared, probably wondering what the hell that was. So was I.

    I turned around to see if someone had helped me, but Mina was still on the other side of the room… “The hell…” I mumbled, before remembering, we had a situation.

    “Fifteen! Dammit, hurry up—“ I yelled. The cop after Mina turned on his radio and called for backup, fast. I ran over to the other side of the room where Mina was, backpack in hand, and then—

    Yelling could be heard outside. Aww, crap, I thought. If they were outside on the property too…

    “Ten,” I hissed to Mina under my breath, and then blocked the guy from trying to go at her again. This time, he pulled out a taser.

    “GET DOWN, NOW!”

    I threw out an arm and blocked him again, the side of my arm crashing against the side of the weapon. I shoved my foot out to throw the officer back. “MINA! FIVE!”

    “Give me a second!” she yelled, working frantically with some kinda lock or alarm, I didn’t even know. All I knew was that if we wasted one more second, we were more than dead.

    “We’re OUT of seconds!” I snapped, but right as I finished saying that, she had shoved the window open. She grabbed me by the arm and without warning, CRASH, and we were on the pavement outside and running.

    “So what now, mister I-got-a-plan?” she hissed, sprinting through the back alleys of Bellem’s South Side. Graffiti covered the brick walls, mostly new, red-and-blue gang signs, and also some of the old Black Bullets stuff—the skulls and barbed-wire designs that marked everything they touched. But wait, it was late at night—too dark to see anything real good on the walls, street lights or not. But somehow, it was easier for me. It wasn’t brighter, but everything just… stood out more. What was—

    “Seth, snap out of it!” Mina yelled at me. “What’s wrong with you?! Was it worth it, hmm?” Her voice was icy and slick, and really, I didn’t blame her for being pissed.

    I paused. My legs were pumping and I knew that we were getting further from the station, and soon we’d be safe, but my heart was still pounding and I could still hear the officers yelling in my head. I’d planned this thing carefully, but it wasn’t s’posed to end with the entire precinct department on our case. For once, I had no idea what to do.

    So I told her straight.

    “We run. Then we fix this mess.”

  59. Mynaon 30 Jun 2011 at 6:11 pm

    ALSO: For those of you who want to keep reading, after this chapter I’m switching to email. Please tell me what your email is, so I can be able to send to you. If you don’t wanna put your email on the site, then just shoot me an email at mynakekoe @ gmail . com (but without the spaces in between) so I know how I can contact you.

    I’mma try and make a list of anyone who still wants to read, and for those who have read so far, thank you SO much! It really means a lot, I love readers xD

  60. B. Macon 03 Jul 2011 at 12:16 am

    ““Well, you’re good at… stealth stuff, right?” There was a long pause. Then. “What?” I really liked this exchange. This humorously indirect way of asking “Would you like to do something stealthy for me?” makes him sound like he hasn’t really thought this through. 🙂

    I paused and bit my lip. “…not a house.” Given that he’s been monologuing about a police station up to this point, I like this awkward way of building up to what he’s trying to say.

    “He mentioned something about finding a bunch of paper clips, a metal tube, some baking soda and an old phone. I don’t get it.” Is the first sentence here believable for this character? Rather than having him remember and recount a laundry-list of odd things, it might be more believable to do something like “He went out looking for paper clips and crap. I don’t get it” or “He went out looking for ghetto ninja crap, like paper clips and crap.” Then when the character comes back, he can explain what he got and maybe why.

    Is it believable that Mina agrees to help Seth on something this big and this crazy without having even the vaguest outline of what’s going on? (This seems like it might be a good point to have him mention that his father had a REALLY bad day at work—no specifics—and that Seth absolutely won’t let this go without finding out what the PD has on him).

    “I began in the most refined, ACLU-wannabe voice that I could muster.” I found this pretty amusing. Interestingly, I too would probably have claimed to be with the ACLU in this case. (And an intern—they still count as part of the defense, even if they’re 18 year olds researching the case — the Constitution and courts make it very hard for the police to interfere with a defendant’s right to legal representation).

    “I’d prefer you not question our authority to be here. Myself and Mr. Blake have already set up the appointment with your inmate, and mailed in all the required paperwork. I cleared it with a Sergeant Parker, so speak with him. My schedule is very busy, Officer, and I don’t have time to linger… and I’m certain no one will take kindly to you trying to keep lawyers from your inmates…” She left the statement hanging.” I’d probably recommend a slightly different tone here, maybe a bit less stuffy. For example, “Officer [X]! It was hard enough getting Sergeant Parker to let us in for thirty minutes. We don’t have time to linger, and I’m certain that Mr. Lopes would appreciate the unfettered access to legal representation that the 6th Amendment…” “Whatever, just get on with it.”

    PS: It might be more believable for them to masquerade as legal interns rather than actual lawyers. Lawyers have graduated from college and law school, so they’re at least 25. In contrast, a legal intern might be a college student (18-22) and are still entitled to the legal rights and protections afforded to actual lawyers. (Your right to counsel includes the right to meet with legal interns researching your case).

    “Sergeant Parker?” “I guessed,” Mina said sheepishly. Hmm. Might be more believable if she looked that up. It’s probably online. I imagine that the guy at the desk would know the name of the sergeants in his unit. (Later on, when the police officer says that Sergeant Parker doesn’t exist, you could just change that to something like “Parker went on leave three months ago!”)

    If Mr. Lopes is such a common name, wouldn’t the police officer ask her which Lopes they’re coming for? (Unless, I suppose, he was just sort of lazy and didn’t care. He didn’t seem like the most competent watchman in the world). PS: It probably wouldn’t be too hard for them to actually schedule a preliminary interview with a suspect that had just been arrested. Every inmate knows how bad/overworked public defenders are and they will take any help offered to them, even if it’s from a teen posing as an ACLU flunky. 🙂 If the suspect’s smart, he might even figure out that they’re not really with the ACLU. (He might be okay with that, too. He can guess that they’re up to some hijinks in the police department and some suspects would not cry too hard about that. No snitching! 🙂 ).

    Wow, I totally did not see the serum coming like that. I think it worked effectively as it is. (However, I sort of suspect that if he had a super-secret experimental drug, it’d be packaged in such a way that it wouldn’t be mistaken for water 😉

    “verything”—everything, I think.

    “It’s just real stale, I guess”—I’d like this to be more stylish. Maybe “It tastes like sand.”

    I like the introduction to the serum and his new perspective, but I’d like a bit more showing and less telling. (ie: “I blinked and looked up at her, feeling lighter for some reason, more agile, or something. Whenever I moved it was faster, quicker” was not as sharp as “It was like the world had slowed down just enough for me to catch up with it” and the way the lighting in the room went crazy on him”).

    “Those two lawyers were imposters, go set up guards and make sure no prisoners leave the building! We could have an attempted escape here. Check every room—“ This is very clever—it’s not correct, but it’s a totally believable misunderstanding.

    I don’t understand why Seth is counting down. (Oh, does the window only open after 30 seconds or something?)

    PS: Later on, I think the cops could potentially find them later by looking for high school students named Mina. It’s a rare name and he used it in front of the cops. How many students are there named Mina in public schools in the city? Probably fewer than 10. How many of them were absent from school on the day in question? Probably fewer than 5. That’s a small enough pool that the police could, if they were sufficiently interested, personally speak to all the candidates and see which Mina is the one they remember from the PD break-in. (Depending on the way you wanted to go, I think you could plausibly have them either go balls-to-the-wall pursuing this case because it makes them look really bad to have kids sneaking into police stations and scuffling with cops, OR they could just let it go because there are bigger crimes out there and it would take too many hours to catch these punks that they could be out looking for actual murderers).

  61. Mynaon 03 Jul 2011 at 3:56 am

    Alright, awesome and thank you so much for the crit ^.^

    “Is it believable that Mina agrees to help Seth on something this big and this crazy without having even the vaguest outline of what’s going on? (This seems like it might be a good point to have him mention that his father had a REALLY bad day at work—no specifics—and that Seth absolutely won’t let this go without finding out what the PD has on him).”
    * Alright, will do! I didn’t want him explaining the entire situation just yet, but I like this idea.

    “PS: It might be more believable for them to masquerade as legal interns rather than actual lawyers. Lawyers have graduated from college and law school, so they’re at least 25. In contrast, a legal intern might be a college student (18-22) and are still entitled to the legal rights and protections afforded to actual lawyers.”
    * Good idea, I was a bit worried about the age. Thank you!

    * I’ll fix up the descriptions some, make ’em more sharp.

    ““Those two lawyers were imposters, go set up guards and make sure no prisoners leave the building! We could have an attempted escape here. Check every room—“ This is very clever—it’s not correct, but it’s a totally believable misunderstanding.”
    * May I ask real quick why it’s not correct? (Just so I don’t mess anything up later on.)

    “I don’t understand why Seth is counting down. (Oh, does the window only open after 30 seconds or something?)”
    * It’s this thing he does with Mina, whenever she has to break into (or out of) something he’d start counting down as a sort of ‘hurry-up-get-on-with-it’ deal. He did it when they were getting into Massri’s office too. 30 seconds = safe time bet, any longer than that and you’re pushing it. xP I’ll fix that up though, so it’s more clear.

    “(Depending on the way you wanted to go, I think you could plausibly have them either go balls-to-the-wall pursuing this case because it makes them look really bad to have kids sneaking into police stations and scuffling with cops, OR they could just let it go because there are bigger crimes out there and it would take too many hours to catch these punks that they could be out looking for actual murderers).”
    * Hmmm, I really like this! It’s a new direction, I didn’t think about the cops going after them over something like this but it’s an interesting idea, I might use it. ^.^

    Thank you so much for the crit yet again 🙂

  62. Mynaon 03 Jul 2011 at 4:16 am

    Ooooh nevermind I figured out what you meant by it’s not correct, I thought you meant that some part of what the cops were doing was not correct/not something an officer wouldn’t do, my bad. xD

  63. B. Macon 03 Jul 2011 at 1:59 pm

    “I figured out what you meant by it’s not correct, I thought you meant that some part of what the cops were doing was not correct/not something an officer wouldn’t do, my bad.” Yeah, sometimes it’s GOOD for characters to get something wrong, if the misunderstanding is believable. It suggests that the characters are three-dimensional (they’re looking at the situation differently than you are). In this case, I feel that some sort of jailbreak is a really plausible concern after two imposters are found in the building. (Another possibility is some sort of evidence destruction or vandalism, but vandalism is not life-or-death and the evidence lockup usually has a watchman of its own).



    Relatedly, one thing I tend to find impressive is when characters take precautions against a superpower or supernatural ability someone might have rather than assume everybody is 100% ordinary until they see otherwise. For example, in one episode of Heroes, a secret agent suspects that a power-stealing serial killer has shapeshifted his wife. He asks his wife a question that only they would know and the wife gets the answer right. But he doesn’t know whether the serial killer has also acquired the ability to read minds. So he asks her a question that only she and their daughter would know, and then he calls his daughter to make sure that the answer is right. Although his theory wasn’t correct (his wife was really his wife and not a shapeshifter), it developed his character and advanced the plot by showing how his paranoia was straining his marriage.

  64. Mynaon 04 Jul 2011 at 6:15 am

    “Relatedly, one thing I tend to find impressive is when characters take precautions against a superpower or supernatural ability someone might have rather than assume everybody is 100% ordinary until they see otherwise.”
    Agreed. In a universe where superheroes/superpowers are commonplace or at least well-known, sometimes I find it silly when law enforcement doesn’t take that into consideration… but then again, it may mean they’re just not genre-savvy, but I like genre savvy chars best so. xP

  65. B. Macon 04 Jul 2011 at 12:12 pm

    “In a universe where superheroes/superpowers are commonplace or at least well-known, sometimes I find it silly when law enforcement doesn’t take that into consideration… but then again, it may mean they’re just not genre-savvy.” I guess it’s sort of understandable for low-level cops, because 99.99% of the people they bust are not superpowered.

    But on Heroes, it’s sort of striking how often groups that really should know better (the Company and Homeland Security) try preposterously stupid plans like sending in teams of men with assault rifles to take down superpowered targets (who almost always end up killing all of the agents). At the very least, if you ARE going to try defeating a superpowered target at close range (HIGHLY dangerous), try to figure out what his superpower is and counter it. For example, if the guy’s got something like the ability to control electronics, shut off the power to the building before rushing in.

  66. Cool don 13 Jul 2011 at 7:48 am

    Hey myna, i’ll send an email so i can continue to read the story.

  67. Mynaon 13 Jul 2011 at 9:52 am

    Awesome, thanks! So that means so far I’ve got you and B. Mac.

  68. Mynaon 13 Jul 2011 at 1:17 pm

    Btw, lemme know when you do send the email so I know if I got your message or not (my email is a bit odd, and sometimes not everything will get through.)

  69. Crystalon 13 Jul 2011 at 3:57 pm

    Just wanted to let you know that I really liked the last chapter. You’re a good! 🙂

  70. Crystalon 13 Jul 2011 at 3:57 pm

    Sorry, meant to say that you’re a good writer.

  71. Mynaon 14 Jul 2011 at 6:12 am

    Thanks, Crystal~ 🙂

  72. Cool Don 14 Jul 2011 at 6:50 am

    I’ve sent it!

  73. Mynaon 14 Jul 2011 at 6:57 am

    Thanks Cool D!

  74. Grenacon 14 Jul 2011 at 4:06 pm

    May I have a copy as well? My throwaway email is hyperpill@yahoo.com

  75. Mynaon 14 Jul 2011 at 5:22 pm

    Added you to the list, and thank you. 🙂

  76. Grenacon 17 Jul 2011 at 9:39 pm

    I re-read the chapters you have posted because I’m loving the story so far. It’s really hard for me to focus on a story on the net, but this one really drew me in c:

  77. Mynaon 18 Jul 2011 at 4:23 am

    Thank you, I’m glad you like it!

  78. Cool don 22 Jul 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Hey myna could you please send me Seth’s physical description, you’ll see what I need it for soon.

  79. invader-mynaon 22 Jul 2011 at 12:36 pm

    Oh? Okay…

    Seth’s about 5’11” (I have no idea what the average height is for a 17-year-old boy, but he’s tall for his age) with messy black hair and thick bangs. Often has a playful smirk or grin on his face. He has tan skin, I’m thinking bronzeish? (technically, his dad is Arab-American and his mom is Portuguese, so he’s half-white, but he doesn’t look it. I mean, most Portuguese have dark skin and hair, so they don’t look white, y’know?) with a muscular build. Usually wears a t-shirt and dark jeans, torn-up shoes, etc.

    This help?

  80. invader-mynaon 22 Jul 2011 at 12:50 pm

    Oh, and brown eyes. LOL I’m forgetful, this is what happens when you spend four hours a day around 15+ leetle kids…

  81. B. Macon 22 Jul 2011 at 3:26 pm

    “Seth’s about 5’11″ (I have no idea what the average height is for a 17-year-old boy, but he’s tall for his age).” Well, guys usually stop growing around 17-18, so he’s just an inch taller than the average U.S. man.

  82. invader-mynaon 22 Jul 2011 at 3:57 pm

    Ah, okay. Well that works then, thanks!

  83. Damzo (Cool D)on 28 Jul 2011 at 1:27 pm

    Hey myna where is the topic on making city names, cant find it.

  84. invader-mynaon 28 Jul 2011 at 5:14 pm

    Not sure. It wasn’t a topic, just a set of comments somewhere. There was a guy who was trying to name a gritty dystopian city, and there were like different suffixes and prefixes you could use, like mar and pax and iola… I can’t find it though…

  85. B. Macon 28 Jul 2011 at 5:21 pm

    I think this is the comment, IM.

  86. invader-mynaon 28 Jul 2011 at 6:12 pm

    Awesome, thanks!

  87. Damzo (Cool D)on 29 Jul 2011 at 5:17 am

    Thanks.

  88. Damzo (Cool D)on 29 Jul 2011 at 8:23 am

    Also i’ve posted three or four versions (i forget) of the script which is your favourite.

  89. invader-mynaon 02 Aug 2011 at 2:34 pm

    Okay, B. Mac, Cool D and Grenac: I have (finally) sent Chapter 6! I’m really sorry for the, well, month-long delay… maybe more than a month month… Camp NaNo… heh. (Btw, Grenac, how did your Camp NaNo go? And are you doing August as well?)

    If anyone else still wants to read Jackal, you can still shoot me an email at mynakekoe @ gmail . com, but without all the spaces in between because then the email server would probably eat it yes.

  90. Grenacon 03 Aug 2011 at 11:04 am

    I have received it \o/ I’ll get back to ya

    I bombed July’s NaNo unfortunately :B My drawing muse came back and I hit a snag on chapter two. I have to pick up the slack this month UAU;;

  91. B. Macon 03 Aug 2011 at 2:05 pm

    Okay, thanks. I’ll get on it as soon as possible.

  92. Grenacon 10 Aug 2011 at 9:21 pm

    What’s Amber look like? If you don’t mind saying, that is :B

  93. Mynaon 10 Aug 2011 at 9:40 pm

    Amb–OH Amber xD I’d almost forgotten about the poor dear, I haven’t introduced her yet. Amber/Apple is in her mid twenties, she’s black (think coffee-colored–I know, I know, I hate all the food descriptions for non-white chars but that’s the best thing I can come up with xD) with dark eyes and a fair face, she’s very pretty, and also rather curvy. She’s Julien/Lightning’s sister. I haven’t decided on her hair yet, at first I was gonna do dreads but I have another black character with dreads, so maybe thick, wavy black hair that’s braided or something like that. :3

    As for her Core uniform, I have no idea yet. I’m throwing those together as I go. xD

  94. Mynaon 17 Aug 2011 at 6:29 pm

    Okay, so I came to a slight predicament and I need some opinions. I’m at Chapter Eight right now.

    So throughout the past few chapters, Seth got on the serum by accident/figured out he had powers from it/was accidentally shoved into the Hero Core. And now he’s all like OH CRAP THIS IS SO NOT GOOD.

    However, that kind of reeks of chosen-one stuff (“LOL YOU HAVE POWERS YOU NEED TO BE IN THE HERO CORE”) and besides, I managed to make it all (somewhat?) plausible but it’s still a bit unlikely that even if he was investigating an attempted murder, he would have come across the serum and run into all the problems that came with it, including being enlisted into the Core.

    I was wondering if it would be better if he somehow, while investigating the attempted murder case, came across the serum, took it intentionally and then used the powers he got from it to join the Core himself, knowing full well that would give him access to more information about the case (as the case went from the PD to the Core.)

    Although it’s not really believable some high school student would be able to do that intentionally. That and it would take FOREVER to build up to (like eight or nine chapters just to START the story? No way >.>)

    I’m gonna keep it the way it is now for the first draft, but any opinions? Would the second option be better when I go into editing?

  95. Grenacon 17 Aug 2011 at 6:49 pm

    Hmm, well from how you’ve written it so far (from what I have available), it doesn’t seem bad. I mean, he was caught with his powers and they’re forcing him to join because he could be a potential threat (possible hidden motives aside). That sounds as plausible as it can be.

    BUT, I do like the second option a lot more. Because there’s more of an ‘interest’ factor. While investigating, it would make sense that he would learn more about the serum, but lo and behold, the information could be limited, seeing as how the Core took over the case. So he needs to find out more information. How? Getting into HC himself. But that’s impossible. Not if you’ve got superpowers. In comes the serum.

    While there’s the issue about building up the story….well, B. Mac would be of better help. It’s going to take me several chapters before I get my MC into the main superhero stuff, so I feel your pain /patpat

    So, in my opinion, the second option sounds more interesting.

    P.S. – Chapter 8? HNNNNGH <3 Edge of my seat C:

  96. Mynaon 17 Aug 2011 at 6:54 pm

    Lol I’ll send you Chapter Seven in a bit. <3

    And I was thinking of possible solutions, the only plausible one (besides condensing everything like so: "Today my dad almost got killed. The next day I found a super-serum. The next day…" xD) would be to start the story a lot later, but there's so much stuff that would then get crammed in as backstory I'm not sure how well that'd work.

    I'm too lazy to rewrite chapters right now, so what's important at the moment is that he's IN the Core. I'll figure out how in the second draft. xD

    Thanks for your imput <3333

  97. Grenacon 17 Aug 2011 at 6:59 pm

    /kermit flail

    I like the beginning the way it is now. Ack, there needs to be more opinions sdkfdlfkjdsl D:

    Yeah, it might be better to put it off (the idea, not the writing) for a while. Maybe some solution will come up.

    No problem 😀

  98. Damzoon 18 Aug 2011 at 4:19 am

    Just got around to reading chapter 6, which was nice by the way. Just waiting for Chapter 7 now. Also I kinda agree with Grenac, I’d like Seth to show us why he should be in the core.

  99. Mynaon 18 Aug 2011 at 6:16 am

    Thank you Damzo! I’m keeping it the way it is for the first draft but I’m probably gonna edit the different beginning into the second 🙂
    Will send you Chapter Seven in a bit!

  100. Damzoon 29 Aug 2011 at 8:51 am

    Chapter Seven was nice, any hope of chapter eight coming anytime soon.

  101. Mynaon 29 Aug 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Thanks Cool D! I’m done with Chapter Eight, but I wanted to get ahead a little bit before I send more chapters; I’ve found that as I write more I tend to add oh-I-forgot-this edits into previous chapters, so yeah. :3 Will come soon, though, thanks!

  102. Grenacon 29 Aug 2011 at 9:45 pm

    HNNNNGH, can’t wait 8D!

  103. Damzoon 30 Aug 2011 at 6:03 am

    Okay, “HNNNNGH, can’t wait 8D!” same here.

  104. Mynaon 25 Sep 2011 at 6:03 pm

    Fast question to those I’m emailing: what chapter did I send y’alls last? ‘Cause like I’m at different chapters with everyone xD I’m so stupid, um, Grenac I think you and Damzo both have seven and then B. Mac five, right? Just checking, sorry! I need to even it out later…

  105. Mynaon 25 Sep 2011 at 6:42 pm

    Wait, B. Mac had six nevermind, is that correct then?

  106. Grenacon 25 Sep 2011 at 7:44 pm

    Damzo and I are both at seven, looking forward to eight.

  107. Damzoon 26 Sep 2011 at 10:18 am

    Seven here.

  108. B. McKenzieon 26 Sep 2011 at 11:00 am

    Could you resend me the ones I have not yet reviewed?

  109. Mynaon 26 Sep 2011 at 11:56 am

    Okay, awesome. B. Mac I’ll send you chapter seven, thanks for letting me know you guys : ) I’m so out of track with things, lol

  110. Mynaon 29 Sep 2011 at 3:15 pm

    yayyy random mina doodle. http://missdedodakes.deviantart.com/#/d4baxak

  111. ekimmakon 29 Sep 2011 at 3:50 pm

    I’m somewhat jealous.

  112. Mynaon 29 Sep 2011 at 3:59 pm

    thanks <3 I was boredly sketching in medsci, got me a drawing bug lol

  113. Nicholas Caseon 29 Sep 2011 at 4:14 pm

    Great job Myna! 😀

  114. Grenacon 29 Sep 2011 at 7:51 pm

    Ah, myna that is super awesome OAO

  115. Mynaon 14 Oct 2011 at 2:06 pm

    sent chapter eight! :3 B. Mac, take however long you need with the critiques, I know you’re real busy as of late so that’s fine, I’ll send eight when you’re done with the previous. BAM EXPLODING TACO!

  116. Grenacon 14 Oct 2011 at 5:35 pm

    AHH, I WILL GO READ! 8D

    I just came from a carnival at the school and now this, today was a good day C:

  117. Mynaon 14 Oct 2011 at 6:39 pm

    Ooooh! Glad you had fun at your carnival! And kk. : )

  118. Damzoon 15 Oct 2011 at 6:24 am

    Happy belated birthday.

  119. Mynaon 15 Oct 2011 at 7:01 am

    Thanks : D

  120. Grenacon 15 Oct 2011 at 6:30 pm

    Ah, I loooove chapter eight 8D! I’ll give a proper review when I get access to my com ;-;

  121. Mynaon 15 Oct 2011 at 6:51 pm

    Glad you liked it and kk : )

  122. Mynaon 27 Nov 2011 at 11:01 am

    May I ask what chapter everyone’s on? I’m a bit confused, I barely got much of a response for the last chapter so I’m not sure if I should keep sending or if everyone’s just like meh. I know that what with Thanksgiving and NaNoWriMo, people have been busy, but I sent the last chapter back in October.

    Y’alls have been a godsend for helping me with this story so far, but I also understand if people aren’t interested anymore or something… it’s been kind of quiet.

    Also, happy (belated) Thanksgiving xD

  123. B. Macon 27 Nov 2011 at 12:43 pm

    Oh, sorry. I’ve been really slow on all SN-related fronts for the past month (I just moved to a temporary place, I’m still looking for a long-term apartment, and my new job is moving very quickly and won’t die down until New Year’s at the earliest).

  124. Grenacon 27 Nov 2011 at 2:09 pm

    I’m still discombobulated from being sick, my mom being sick, moving and having no proper internet access* this month. If all goes well, I’ll be fully back this week.

    *My time on this phone is limited because my sister is addicted to FB.

  125. Milanon 08 Apr 2012 at 9:08 pm

    Thanks to B. Mac’s latest article, I found myself here. My goodness, what I have been missing! Loving the story, you do personalities, pacing and reveal so well. If the momentum persists I’d love to help review.

  126. Mynaon 22 Jul 2012 at 3:31 pm

    Hi Milan! Thank you so much for the comment, I’m flattered you like the story. I’m working on finishing the first draft now, once it’s done I’ll send chapters to people for critique and stuff, so if you’d like chapters then just let me know. : )

  127. Mynaon 17 Jun 2014 at 4:23 pm

    Hey so like, hypothetically, if I were to have rewritten this draft, edited it into a second draft (after taking an unnecessarily long hiatus and writing two other novel projects in the meantime oh dear) would anyone be interested in betaing?

    I’ll swap with anyone who wants to beta if you also have something you’d like to get looked over, but you know, curious. Hypothetically, of course. Hypothetically.

    It’s cool if anyone on here is busy/doesn’t have time and stuff, that’s fine.

    I just figured I should come back here since everyone on this site was amazingly helpful with the old draft, you know? Yeahhhh.

  128. B. McKenzieon 17 Jun 2014 at 5:28 pm

    I’m in! I can be reached at superheronation-at-gmail-dot-com.

  129. Mynaon 17 Jun 2014 at 6:15 pm

    Cool cool cool! Thank you! I’ve sent the first chapter.

  130. Mynaon 09 Jul 2014 at 4:45 pm

    By the way, did you get the email? It’s okay if you’re busy, I’m just wondering that it didn’t get eaten by my email service (because it does that… a lot…)

  131. B. McKenzieon 09 Jul 2014 at 5:54 pm

    I have received it, but have not yet had a chance to review it. Could you remind me if I haven’t gotten back to you by 7/19?

  132. Mynaon 09 Jul 2014 at 6:11 pm

    Yeah that’s totally fine! Don’t worry too much about it, I just didn’t want the email to get eaten ^.^

    I’ve started another round of edits, so I made some changes to the first few chapters, would you like me to send the newer versions instead? There were some problems with the first versions that I wanted to take a stab at.

  133. Mynaon 09 Jul 2014 at 6:11 pm

    *newer version instead. I’m not gonna send like ten different versions of chapter one. xD

  134. B. McKenzieon 09 Jul 2014 at 7:53 pm

    Sure.

  135. Mynaon 10 Jul 2014 at 4:11 am

    Awesome, sent the newer version!

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