Aug 22 2011

Ekimmak’s Review Forum

Published by at 5:19 am under Review Forums

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38 Responses to “Ekimmak’s Review Forum”

  1. ekimmakon 29 Aug 2011 at 1:54 pm

    Chapter 1
    No sane person sets their alarm to go off at 2 AM in the morning. Similarly, no sane person would set their alarm to go off as a full volume air raid siren. Finally, no sane person would attempt to break into the main ITAB facility.

    What time is it? Shadow thought angrily feeling around her bedside table to shut off the offending noise. It wasn’t there. She opened her eyes a crack. There was her phone, buzzing away and flashing painfully bright light, on the other side of the room.

    It’s not worth the effort.She decided, and turned back over, burying her head in her pillow to shut out the racket. It didn’t work.

    There had better be a really good reason my phone’s going off. Shadow thought, as she shambled over and shut it off.
    There was a creaking noise in the room next door, and Shadow immediately snapped her out of her drowsiness. Snap, did I wake Mum?

    She waited a few agonizing minutes. Surely her mother would be bursting through the door, ready to ground her for the next century. But, nothing happened.

    Oh, right. Thursday night is the late shift. No way I’ll be waking her tonight.

    Despite that, Shadow was quiet as she picked up her bag from the chair. She took very slow, careful footsteps as she left the house, as the wooden floorboards seemed to be proud that they were very good at creaking, and eager to show off whenever possible. She slowly wheeled her bike away from the house, not getting on until she was a good street away. Despite the fact that if her phone hadn’t woken her mother, it was very unlikely anything else would, it’s very difficult for someone to be relaxed when they’re doing something they know they shouldn’t.

    And Shadow was not being a good girl.

    She rode off through the night, her black hair and clothes making her resemble a phantom, whisking from shadow to shadow. It wasn’t that dark, as there were no clouds, and the moon was full. She was tempted to turn around and head to the local graveyard instead. On nights like this, she’d probably curl up next to someone’s gravestone reading a horror or mystery novel, or maybe explore the catacombs till morning.

    Shadow sighed. As much as she’d like to, tonight she had other plans. She had spent the last few months planning for this, and, despite a few setbacks, it was down to this. Tonight, she’d either get the answers she wanted about her father’s work… Or, probably get arrested, if she screwed up. And despite how much more tempting the graveyard now seemed, she turned away, towards the Imperial Technology and Bio-Engineering Research Facility.

    Despite the fact that Shadow had been out on much worse nights than this, the atmosphere felt somewhat eerie. The only sound she could hear was her pedalling, and the bicycle’s wheels spinning in response. The streets were empty of life, apart from a few pieces of litter blowing around. Reflections off the windows made unusual shadows, making her wish that she’d brought her sunglasses. May have made it a bit tougher to see, she’d have preferred that to the paranoia she was feeling now…

    Get a hold of yourself, Shadow. You’re just nervous. Everything will work out, and you’ll look back at this and laugh. Despite that, she wasn’t feeling much better. There was a metallic clatter behind her, and she braked to a stop, instantly. Her head whipped back towards the noise, and she peered into the darkened alley.

    Idiot! Shadow thought You do not stop moving in the middle of the night if you hear something, you take off in the opposite direction. All this flashed through her mind in a second, and she prepared to pedal away, when a black cat strode out into the open.
    I know I’m supposed to be here, but what are you doing? It seemed to ask.

    Shadow breathed a sigh of relief. “Just a cat.” She muttered.
    The cat sat down, and tilted its head to one side. What, were you scared of me?

    Shadow shook her head, and started to pedal again. Despite the fear she had been feeling barely a few moments ago, and the fact that her nervousness would eventually return, the minor distraction from tonight’s break in had left her feeling a lot better. Not distracted enough that she didn’t ride through the next muddy puddle she saw, though.

    The ITAB facility was a like a research laboratory, a power plant, an office building, and a tourist destination, all rolled up into one building. There were pipes pumping in water from the nearby river, with chain link fences surrounding the whole facility. Only one road led to it, and there were only 3 gates, one for vehicles, two others for easy maintenance access. A few street lamps cast light into the grounds, covered in well trimmed grass. For some reason, it reminded Shadow of a fortress… or a prison…

    She shook her head. Now was not the time to be analytical. After messing about on the road for a bit, she dragged her bike onto the grass, and hid it in a nearby bush. She kept close to the ground and in the shadows as she circled the building, heading for the back maintenance entrance. Although it was unlikely anyone would be looking outside, it could happen…

    As she approached the back gate, she began fishing around in her backpack. Most people, seeing no barbed wire, would try climbing over the fence. Most people would then set off pressure sensitive wiring in said fence, and have the police all over them in ten minutes. Shadow was determined not to be like most people.

    After finding her gloves, she slipped them on. She then got out a set of sturdy bolt cutters, and snapped off the padlock on the door. After ensuring that they would appear closed without a close inspection, she then crept alongside the piping, hoping that they would provide adequate cover should anyone glance out the window. She sidled up to a small keypad near the door, shivering slightly from nerves and the cold air, and pulled out a small, grubby piece of notepaper. Squinting at the numbers, she typed them into the electronic lock, one by one.

    73592035

    A red light blinked at her. Shadow flinched in surprise, a feeling of dread rising up in her. She typed in the numbers again. Still nothing. She pushed against the door, hoping that maybe, just maybe, the red light meant it had actually worked. The door disagreed, and refused to open.

    What is going on? Did they change the numbers? Am I done already? Shadow though frantically, staring at the numbers in shock. Wait a second…

    13592035
    The red light flicked off to be replaced by a green, and a small click was heard. She pushed slightly on the door, and it opened with ease at her touch.

    How could anyone work with such terrible handwriting?

    Shadow crept through the darkened corridors, praying that she wouldn’t meet any security guards. The offices were likely to be locked at this hour, and even someone who’s half asleep would notice a teenage girl crouching behind a plastic plant. The carpet made no sounds under her feet, meaning that the footsteps echoing around her were coming from someone else…

    A light flashed at the end of the corridor, and Shadow froze. It bounced up and down on the wall, and her blood ran cold.

    It can’t end like this! She thought in terror, and looked around for some way, any way, of hiding. The offices are all locked electronically after 10 PM, following company procedures. The footsteps grew louder each moment, and the light grew brighter. Her eyes skimmed over the doors. Wyatt, Smithson, Brown, Morton, Dyer, Saunders, Spencer… Janitor! Shadow dashed over to the door, pulled it open as hurriedly (but quietly) as possible, slipped inside, and closed it with equal haste.

    It was pitch black inside, except for a small amount of light coming in through a crack under the door. She held her breath, as the light grew brighter and brighter, and the footsteps grew closer and closer. And then, when they had come to this door, they stopped. Had he noticed something? Her heart was beating so fast, it felt like it would explode.

    After a moment that seemed like an eternity, she heard a loud yawn, and the footsteps began again, but this time moving away, along with the light. Even when she couldn’t hear them anymore, she was wary of leaving the safety of the closet. She slowly counted to 100, and then slowly pried open the door. She peeked outside. Only moonlight coming in through the skylight. She edged out of the door, looking around. No guard pointing at her, no shouts of alarm. Shadow closed the door softly, and then began walking in the opposite direction of where the light had gone.

    Shadow had quite a few close calls with the security after that, but just managed to scrape by. The fact that it was very late, and the guards weren’t expecting anything to happen (after all, nothing had happened for most of their career, why would that be different tonight?) aided her.

    Eventually, she arrived at the car park entrance, and let out a huge sigh of relief. Right, now to business. Shadow walked over to the front desk, and began feeling around behind the computer.
    The master key should be here somewhere…. Got it! She mentally declared, pulling out the valuable piece of metal.
    And the spare keys are here. She dictated, unlocking the drawer before opening it gently. Using her phone as a light, she rifled through the pile before pulling out one with the number 156 engraved on it.

    She then slid it shut, locked the drawer, and then returned the key to its proper place. Just a precaution, Shadow reminded herself, just in case I can’t make it back.

    Shadow retraced her steps back to the office portion of the building. However, it took her a while to find the exact office she was looking for. Dr Gwendolyn Steele. Shadow fought off the wave of unease at the fact her father’s creepy assistant, Gwen, had taken his job. And if a Goth thinks that something is creepy, that says something.

    Shadow unlocked the door, and edged it open. The hinges screeched unnaturally loudly in protest, as if they knew she wasn’t supposed to be here. You’d think that she’d have done a better job of keeping things in order when she owns the office.

    It somehow managed to be much bigger than the average office, and yet look much more cramped with all the papers scattered over the desk and pinned to the walls. The shadows simply added to the effect, making the piles look much bigger than they actually were.
    Right, She thought, as she pulled out her phone, time for some reconnaissance work.

    She spent a few moments taking photos of all the blueprints she could find, as well as the sketches on the white board. She then pulled open the filing cabinet, and began filtering through it, removing any folders related to “Project Exodus” and “Survival Support System”.

    After she had finished with that, Shadow considered the computer. Although it was likely that more of the stuff she wanted to know was on there, it was also likely that Gwen changed the password…
    Can’t hurt to give it one try. Shadow thought, switching the computer on. Shadow switched on the monitor, and muttered angrily, as the sudden bright light hurt her eyes. It was asking her for a password.

    She pulled out the piece of paper, and typed in the cluster of random numbers and letters, the ones her father would be using before… Shadow fought off the wave of depression, and pressed the enter key. ‘Incorrect Password’ blinked up on the screen. Shadow sighed, and slumped back in the chair. Of course it would have been changed. It could take weeks to try and guess the combination. And she barely had hours.

    Shadow shut down the computer, only to duck behind the desk, as flashlight approached. Shadow cursed herself for not locking the door, and hoping that the guard wouldn’t think of trying the door. It was unlikely that he’d break a habit of patrolling the corridors just at this exact moment, and yet…

    There was more than a small sigh of relief when the light passed. Shadow opened the door, and immediately started mentally beating herself up, as the sound of the hinges echoed deafeningly around her, and down the corridor.

    Shadow jabbed the key inside and locked the door, before switching her grip on the door, so it looked like she had been trying to get in, just as the light came around the corner, nearly blinding her. She stepped away from the door, and started to run.

    “INTRUDER!” A voice bellowed, and footsteps thundered behind her. All of a sudden, the building seemed to be bursting with activity, as voices and running clashed into one great cacophony in her ears. It was impossible to tell where any of it was coming from, meaning one wrong move could end with her captured. And if that happened…

    I’ll lose them by an elevator. Shadow thought with determination, only to skid to a halt at the stairs. Guards were approaching from up ahead, standing between her and her escape method. So, she turned and ran up the stairs with great speed, her nervousness having turned into fear and adrenaline. The guard behind her made a grab for her, but he his hands closed on empty space where her arm was a millisecond earlier. I just go straight here, make a left, and then… Snap! She came out on the fourth floor balcony.
    It won’t work here, I can’t use this elevator! She thought desperately, glancing behind her. She had barely half a minute, probably less, to come up with a plan. The ground was so far below, she’d end up breaking her legs if she tried to jump. The third floor balcony was directly beneath her, almost impossible to get to. She glanced over at the elevator again. The windows outside were pretty close, with a sort of walkway. It wouldn’t take much effort to break the glass, she could escape out there, get to her bike, and get away. She already had most of what she came for, there wasn’t anything stopping her…

    Shadow sighed. Sometimes, she did some really stupid things. She dashed across the walkway to the balcony opposite, as guards rushed out from the corridor behind her. She ran to the far end of that balcony, and climbed up onto the railing. This is so stupid. Shadow thought to herself, before launching herself into space…

    She landed on a large decoration, suspended about halfway between the two third story balconies. If it doesn’t hold my weight, I’m in real trouble. Shadow thought nervously, as it worryingly swayed from side to side.

    “Don’t move! We’ll help get you down!” One of the guards shouted.
    Yeah, and then arrest me. Shadow thought, edging herself across the white marble. Although the cables seemed to be doing ok, Shadow couldn’t be certain they would last, and she had no intention of being rescued. She stood up uncertainly, making her makeshift platform wobble erratically. She took a step back, steadied herself, and then ran and jumped…

    She didn’t clear the railing, but did manage to grab a hold of it. Despite the burning in her protesting muscles, she managed to pull herself over it. There was no time to rest, though, as the guards hadn’t given up yet. She ran down the nearby glass staircase, taking her as far as the first floor. She ran to the escalators at the front of the building, and pelted down it, only to realize her mistake.

    It was almost like a large T-Junction. There was a small, sort of a halfway floor, which was where Shadow. The escalator she had just run was the straight | line, which led from the first floor. The – represented the other escalators, both leading to and from the real ground floor. And there was a guard headed up each one of them.

    Shadow turned to run back up, but the other guards had already arrived, and were headed down towards her. There were some more waiting around the ground in front of her, in case she tried to escape that way.

    No! I’ve come too far… Shadow thought, desperately glancing around. There had to be some way out, something… She stepped up onto the wall side lower railing, and from there stepped up onto a ledge running alongside it. There didn’t seem to be enough room for her, and it probably wasn’t, but she edged along anyway, just out of reach of the guard below. He kept moving, trying to keep pace with her, while the other ran up the stairs to try and follow her across the ledge. When she was just clear from the escalators, she pushed forwards, and fell…

    The guard had expected her to try and land further away or closer than him, to try and escape, and he was going to grab her when she landed. However, Shadow jumped directly on top of him, and even an underweight sixteen year old, from a good height, can knock someone out if dropped on them. Shadow leaped up from his unconscious body, and tore off towards the escalators to the underground parking. The guards, not expecting such drastic action, took a few moments to recover from the shock, and pursue…

    They heard the ding of an elevator as they arrived, and didn’t make it in time to see the doors close. The head of security switched on his radio.

    “Cut power to all the elevators, Bruce.” He snapped.
    They watched as the numbers above the door faded to black.
    “Right, is she in there?”

    “Oh, she’s in there all right. Sprayed some sort of paint all over the security camera.”

    The chief sniggered. What a stupid girl. He thought.
    “Ok, boys, split up and head to each elevator. Call in when you get there. Except you two, you stay here. We’ve got her now…”

    “That’s all of them, Bruce. Switch the power back on.”
    The lights above the door lit up again, and B was followed by G, where it slowed to a halt. The chief sneered, thinking about how easy it was to catch this girl, only for his sneer to turn into a look of shock, as there the elevator doors opened, but there was no one inside.

    “What the… how…”

    While his partner tried to find the words for his confusion, the Chief called in with the rest of them.

    “It was a trick. Comb the building, I want you to find her, and what she was here for. I’m headed outside, I want to know how this witch got in.”

    The chief glanced down at the muddy tire tracks. There were two sets, both of the same tire. Although he did consider it could mean there were two intruders, the fact that there were no bikes around more likely meant that it was just the girl. He had found the door to the underground jammed open a smidgeon, just barely enough for someone of her size to slip through, and one of the side gate’s padlocks had been cut open. Clearly, this break in wasn’t just a smash and grab. This was premeditated.

    His radio crackled to life, and he answered it. “What do we have?”
    “We’ve searched everywhere. We’ve checked everywhere that isn’t locked, and she’s not in any of them.”

    “What’d she grab?”

    “Nothing. Steve says he came across her trying to get into Dr Steele’s office, but it was locked.”

    “What about the master key? She could have grabbed that and locked the door.”

    There was a moment of silence.

    “No sir, I’m at the front desk now, and it’s here… Unless she grabbed all the spares.”

    There was another pause. The chief made a mental note to dock the pay of whoever it was he was talking to.

    “Nope, all the keys are here.”

    “You sure about that?

    “We don’t mark the keys. She couldn’t have known which one would get in there.”

    The chief stopped to consider this.

    “…sir?”
    “Alright, tell the boys that the intruder’s long gone. But just in case, take the master key. I’ll meet you by the front door to pick it up myself.”

    “Rodger.”
    The chief grinned unpleasantly. Now I’ll find out just who I get to take this out on… his grin was replaced by a look of defeat. And I have to explain to the boss how we let a kid break in here, and let them get away again. And right before the big event tomorrow. Actually…

    He stopped to consider it. Maybe that’s why it happened. Can’t tell yet, I’ll check in the morning.

    Shadow lay shivering in the toilet cubicle, partly because the floor was freezing, but also due to the adrenaline and terror she had been feeling just minutes ago. She had set up a lot of stuff earlier to make it look like she had already left, just in case she had been spotted. After the guards had split up to cover the elevators, she had headed to the basement door to make that look like her point of entry. After that she headed to here, the best place to stake out a full building search. After all, if someone decided to search the cubicles, she could slide underneath the walls to an already searched stall. But the human mind is quite paranoid, and her mind had convinced her that they were just waiting outside the girl’s toilets, for when she came out.

    Shadow took a few deep breaths, and her heart rate settled, to something slightly less than magnitude 9. Things were going ok so far. Sure, she hadn’t meant to be seen, but she already had all she needed now, and could wait out till morning. They probably already think she’d left, and are back to drowsily patrolling the halls… only a bit less drowsily, now that something actually happened.
    Shadow took out her music player, and plugged it in, changing it to a noisy track that would keep her awake. Only one headphone was used, as she needed the other ear as a heads up if anyone came in.
    It’s going to be a REALLY long night. Shadow thought gloomily. 6 hours to go…

  2. ekimmakon 29 Aug 2011 at 1:55 pm

    Dang, the Italics didn’t switch off when they were supposed to.

    I’m also planning to come up with some catchy chapter titles later, but for now, I’m just trying to write.

  3. ekimmakon 29 Aug 2011 at 2:12 pm

    Just noticed that My computer had randomly logged me out. I used the on-site guide for the HTML, so I can only assume that being logged out did it.

  4. Brian McKenzie (B. Mac)on 29 Aug 2011 at 2:41 pm

    I fixed the italics.

  5. ekimmakon 29 Aug 2011 at 5:27 pm

    Ok, thanks for that.

  6. ekimmakon 22 Sep 2011 at 11:39 pm

    Well, I feel pretty ignored. I shouldn’t demand that people review my stuff, but still… Anyway, second chapter. I’m probably going to mess up the italics again, but either way…

    Chapter 2
    Mr Blackburn, the science teacher of Hill Heights High School, rested his head on the bus window, and groaned. His class was even rowdier than normal, despite his attempts at keeping strict discipline. But today being a field trip, it was a useless battle. The students, who would normally be indoors, sitting in cramped desks, copying down notes, were out of class, and enjoying this time that should have been spent studying.

    To be honest, he would have much preferred no field trip at all. Blackburn was a man of routine, and breaking it by so much as a hairline would be a detention worthy offense. However, one student, Xenith Ward, had organized a fundraiser, and somehow, against all plausibility, successfully gotten the money to pay for all the expenses. And if there was one thing the vice principal liked, it was someone who can set a goal, and reach it. Add in the fact that they had recently lost a family member, and before he knew it, Blackburn was thrown out of routine with this ridiculous waste of time.

    Blackburn smiled for a moment. At least he had gotten back at them. Xenith had a nasty talent for breaking the rules during his lectures, despite excelling at the subject. Blackburn managed to get them in detention every school day that month, and not even the vice principal could come up with a reason that such a problematic and rowdy student should be allowed to participate. Not that they’d have come anyway, seeing as they’d been at home sick this week.

    The bus screeched to a halt, and Blackburn slipped, banging his head against the driver’s seat in front of him. He muttered, as the driver conversed with the gatekeeper, telling him that they did have the right address, yes this was approved by the CEO, and certainly, he wouldn’t mind waiting for confirmation. Blackburn turned around and roared at his class, who fell into deep silence. For a few moments. Then, there was whispering, followed by muttering, and soon they were chattering away again.

    “Why me?” Blackburn moaned, slumping down in his seat. The gatekeeper apologized for the delay, the gates opened, and the bus drove into the Imperial Technology and Bio-Engineering Research Facility. It pulled up with a screech at the front door, and Blackburn stepped outside.
    “Double line, don’t clamber, please, show some orderliness here!” He checked his watch. 9:59. The traffic had been worse than he had anticipated, they were a minute later than he had planned.
    “In through the front, now, remain in your lines. Don’t want to give the wrong impression.” Blackburn instructed, with the efficiency of a drill sergeant. His pupils were not as well trained as the military, however, as they walked in fittingly like the mob of teenagers they were. He checked his watch as he arrived at the desk. 10:00, on the dot.
    “We’re here for the field trip.” He told the desk clerk.

    Shadow twitched as her music changed to the sound of crickets. It wasn’t her normal alarm, but her normal one wasn’t exactly subtle. She switched it off, killed the music, and then checked the time.
    10:00. Blackburn should be here now. As she stuffed her things into her bag, her pulse quickened.
    Too many things could go wrong. What if they notice me? What if the guards are here? What if someone realizes I never went in? What if Blackburn’s late? What if-
    Shadow took a deep breath. Calm down. I chose to go with this, I’ll deal with it. The plan will work.
    She stepped out of the cubicle, and began walking towards the door.
    Besides, Blackburn would never be late.

    Shadow quickly assimilated herself into the rabble that the field trip was. She didn’t chat with anyone, or stick to the edge, making sure that no one would remember her. Blackburn would have taken roll call on the bus, so she wouldn’t need to worry about that, her biggest worry would be someone looking at her and saying-
    “Wait, aren’t you Xenith Ward?”
    Shadow’s heart skipped a beat at hearing her real name. She slowly turned around, seeing the puzzled face of Kristina. If there was one girl in the school who everyone knew by name and face, it would be Kristina. She could tell what fashion and music is in and out before it actually is, as well as tell you about every vicious rumour or groundless gossip in alphabetical order. If you were nice to her.
    “Name’s Shadow, remember?”
    “Oh, right. Sorry.” Kristina turned away, and Shadow relaxed…
    “Weren’t you banned from this field trip?” she turned back, one eyebrow raised.
    Snap! Shadow thought to herself. Kristina broke into a shrewd smile, seeing the look on Shadow’s face.
    “Oh dear. Aren’t we going to be in trouble if Blackburn finds out? I wonder if they’ll arrest you, or simply give you detention for eternity?”
    No! Why now? Why did this have to happen?
    Kristina noticed the worry on Shadow’s face, and gave a more gentle, friendly smile.
    “I’m no snitch. I’m not saying anything.”
    She turned away and walked off into the crowd, and Shadow lost track of her.
    Yeah… there’s a good reason she’s the most popular girl in school. Just hope nobody else noticed.

    The class soon arrived at the labs. Shadow knew this place quite well, and could have probably given a tour that was as informative as the actual guide was giving, but that would have defeated the point of sneaking onto the field trip in the first place.
    “And here, we have some of latest projects, nearing their testing phase, for which follows their conclusion and release to the public.”
    The guide indicated the glass wall that separated them from the large, white room. Inside, groups of men in white lab coats were taking notes and examining strange machines. A few stopped to wave, but most of them were too engrossed in their work to even notice. About the only noticeable thing about the room was the three doors, a small one that led into the corridor they were in, another small one that looked like it led into a nearby lab, and a large one that took up an entire wall, that probably led into a warehouse or something.

    “On the furthest left, we have our cryogenics chamber, capable of producing temperatures so low, that even the coldest days on earth will seem warm by comparison.” The guide said, indicating what looked like a space age sarcophagus. “Hopefully, with this, we will be able to slow down a human’s aging to the point of nonexistence, allowing some of the world’s richest men and women, if they choose, to preserve themselves for the future.”
    “So what’s so tricky about that?” One of the boys called out.
    The guide dropped her facade of friendliness and cheer to glare at him coldly.
    “It’s easy to freeze people. Just drop them in the water on Antarctica. It’s bringing them out of it alive that’s the problem.”
    Her scowl faded, and her face returned to its normal smile.
    “Fortunately, we’ve just about got that handled. Just a few extra adjustments and that will be ready.”

    “Next to that, we have experimental laser weaponry.” The guide continued, the item in question what looked like a rifle straight out of a sci-fi movie. “We’re hoping to develop a form of conventional weaponry that has no reliance on physical ammunitions. Pure energy. We’d probably be putting weapons manufacturer’s out of a good portion of their money. But, there were … complications.”
    She glanced at Mr Blackburn, expecting him to ask the question she wanted to answer. Mr Blackburn was staring at the ceiling, clearly wanting to get the field trip over with as soon as possible. Another one of the students, this time a girl, asked it instead.
    “What complications?”
    The guide gave a smile that could only be described as beaming. Shadow wondered if a smile like that could be seen in even in the janitor’s closet.
    Probably. She guessed.
    “I’m very glad you asked. You see, unlike in the movies, Laser weapons do not produce bolts that can be tracked with the naked eye. If we were to charge the laser with enough power to do some physical damage, then you would die before you even see it. For now, we’re more than happy to simply create a gun that turns each bullet into a miniature sun. It is extremely effective against human targets, as it should cause excruciating pain. Or so I’ve been told.”

    “Centre left, is our Neuronic Accelerator.” This time, it was a helmet, covered in wires and cables, connected to even more wires and cables. “The human brain only use 5% of it for memory, the rest of it is used for other functions, such as reactions and thought. This device will allow us to accelerate the mind, I guess, in a way, reorganize it in such a way that it could cure mental diseases, turn people into geniuses, create a superhuman intellect like nothing we’ve ever seen. Or, reduce them to a gibbering vegetable.”
    “Isn’t that dangerous?”
    The guide nodded. “Correct. Hence, the crucial word nearing. We aren’t even going to plug it in until we have plotted what will happen right down to a single neuron, and neutralized any potential risks. After all, results are meaningless unless you control their environment. And it is quite hard to get good help these days.”

    The guide tilted her head as she indicated at the fifth object in the line, something that looked somewhat like a bomb. “I’m not exactly certain about this one. I think it functions somewhat like an explosive, but one that erases electronic data and inflicts short term memory loss on anyone caught in the blast. I can’t quite recall. If it does work, it works too well for us to prove that it does.”
    There were a few laughs at that, but they died away as she tapped her foot impatiently, waiting for attention to return to her.

    Shadow glanced inside the room, and her pulse quickened, as she realized what was next.
    “And, our crowning achievement so far, is Project Exodus.”
    It was a machine, shaped somewhat like a man, but much larger and thicker than any normal man could be. Where a man would have hands, it had three steel claws, with several weapons where the wrists would be. Clamped onto the shoulders were missile launchers, and attached to the back of the legs were large jets. It didn’t have a head, but it did have a sort of cockpit in the upper torso. Scientists were attaching metal plates to it, making the covered parts resembled somewhat of an ogre clad in futuristic armour.
    “This technological wonder is, quite literally, a war machine. We considered calling it that, but Marvel threatened with a lawsuit. So for now, it is just the Extreme Tactical Assault Unit, or ETAU, for short. It only takes one person to pilot, but the controls are complex enough that only someone with correct instruction could use it. It has quite a lot of firepower, and when we finish armouring it, will be nigh indestructible. It can store enough power to function on basic systems for an entire month without switching off or recharging, so it could actually survive without maintenance longer than its human pilot could hope, although actual combat will deplete energy faster, obviously. It has enough ammunition to fire continuously for about 1 hour before running out of stuff to shoot, and keep in mind real combat does not mean keeping the fire button held down, so it can go without restocking for much longer than that. It has surprising manoeuvrability for its size, and has enough engine power to break a car in half.”
    The guide stopped for a moment.
    “Wow. We’ve got so much in there; it’s hard to keep track of it all. Have I missed anything, I wonder?”

    Shadow’s heart was beating quickly. Now was the moment she had planned for. She could have broken in and out with what she needed, but instead, she had planned this. The field trip, the fundraiser, everything was down to this. If Blackburn caught her now, it was all for nothing.
    “Who built it?” she asked, ducking behind someone else.
    Mr Blackburn looked around, trying to figure out why that question caught his attention. The guide looked puzzled as she answered.
    “It was a brilliant man, Dr Joseph Ward. He designed most of the machine himself, the neurological interface, the design, the program running the whole thing, a lot of it was his work. However, he designed it to be an extreme environmental support suit. It was unfortunate event when he found out our plans for it. He tried everything to change it back to his original design. Meetings, lawsuits, protests, begging. It soon became clear that the company would not bend to his requests.”
    The guide sighed. “His death was quite unfortunate. We lost a good part of the designs, and, although we were able to replicate them with the help of his assistant, the now Dr Steele, and what notes we’ve managed to find, it set the project back by quite a bit. A tragic suicide.”

    The guide continued to speak, but Shadow wasn’t listening. All the memories of her father, flashing through her head. Coming home each day from work, with several papers in his hands. Showing her a glove he had made, and the computer projecting an identical image. Bringing home a mechanical arm, that mimicked his every move. Coming home on her Birthday with his arms full of gifts for both her and her mother, because he had gotten the funding for his project. Explaining to them how it would save lives. The rage in his eyes, months later, at how his work had been corrupted. The late nights spent in vain, trying to change things. And lastly, the man in a black suit, coming to their house in 2 AM in the morning, to tell them that the man in both their lives, a man they would feel the loss of for the rest of their lives, had died in an accident.

    A tragic suicide. A tragic accident. There was no reason that these stories should be different. And yet they were. Did ITAB kill her father because he was getting in the way? Maybe the guide was misinformed. Maybe Shadow was going crazy. But she was determined to find out the truth, to drag the truth squirming out into public and make ITAB wish they’d never heard the name Ward.

    The gatekeeper looked up at the truck driving up. “Hey, we don’t have any deliveries scheduled for today, pal.” He snapped.
    It slowed to a halt in front of him, reflecting his angry glare off the black tinted windows.
    “Hey, I said-”
    The window rolled down, revealing a very attractive woman in overalls, sunglasses and a baseball cap. He stared at her for a few moments.
    “What, you think a girl can’t drive a truck?”
    The gatekeeper shut his mouth hastily. “Sorry, miss.” He apologized. “But I can’t let you in, we aren’t getting any deliveries today.”
    She scowled. “What’re you talking about? Got the credentials right here.” She said, pulling out a clipboard and holding it out for him to inspect.
    “Maybe” he said, taking it from her and scanning it. “But even if this is legit, without orders from higher up, I don’t have the authority to-”

    The gatekeeper was hit in the back with a taser, causing him to jerk erratically before slumping down in his seat..

    The woman watched from behind her shades as the hired muscle pushed buttons on the console randomly. She waited a few moments, before leaning over and pressing the correct one, causing the gate to slide open. She said nothing as he clambered into the back of the truck, along with the eight other mercenaries that had been hired along with her. Them, they weren’t that good. They were just random people she grabbed, who happened to be good at two things, beating people down, and stealing. Her, she was good. If you wanted something done, something stolen, somewhere destroyed, someone killed, and you wanted it forgotten, just written off as an unfortunate accident, you would hire Ericka Estelle Delgado.
    The man sitting next her glanced at the school bus. “You think there’s kids inside?”
    “Quite possibly.”
    “Will we hafta kill them?”
    “Only if they are stupid enough to get in the way.”
    She slammed the door open, and walked around to the back of the truck, rapping on the side.
    “Okay, boys. We’re here.”
    The doors slid open, and the men got out, shielding their eyes from the bright light with their hands.
    “Simple enough. Get in, grab the weapons, get out. Do it right, you get paid. Do it wrong, you get shot.”
    “They won’t try to arrest us?” One of the men said uncertainly.
    “Maybe” Ericka said in a manner of fact tone. “But you don’t need to worry about that. I’ll shoot you before that happens.”
    Somehow, that didn’t make them feel any easier.
    “But these aren’t proper guns.” One of them said, trying to decipher just what they were trying to do.
    “Well, if you’re so worried, then you stay behind and watch our truck.” Ericka said with a shrug. “The rest of you, with me.”
    “Uh, what happens if you get caught?” One of them asked. He flinched as Ericka turned her glare on him, but felt real terror when she smiled coolly at him.
    “I always have a way out. You? Not so much.”

    Shadow slipped away from the rest of the group. It looked like it was about lunchtime, and if Blackburn decided to do a quick headcount, she might get rumbled. Besides, she had all she needed to know. Now she just needed a way out.
    Front door would probably be the best option .If anyone asks, I’ll just say that I left something on the bus, and need to go get it. I also found this bag lying around, and was going to turn it in afterwards.
    Satisfied with her plan, Shadow began retracing her steps, which brought her back to the window that gave an excellent view of the corruption her father’s work had become. Fully armoured, it was like gazing at a suit of knight’s armour, making you wonder about what battles it had seen. Or would see, as the case may be. Shadow rested her head on the glass, feeling depressed.
    I could break in there now. She thought. I remember how it works, I could pilot that thing myself. No one could stop me, I’d get out, and then… Shadow sighed. And then what? Hide it? People would recognize her, her home would be the first place they’d check. And after that, everywhere she’d been. She wasn’t wearing gloves now, chances are they’d find evidence it was her. Sell it? How would that be any better than what ITAB was doing? Destroy it? She couldn’t bring herself to destroy something that her father had work on for so long, no matter how twisted it had become.
    It’s pretty simple for the Exodus Unit, it just lets someone else get in and tell it what to do.
    As much as it hurt her to, Shadow couldn’t come up with one good reason to do it, excluding the impulsive need to. And if there one thing Shadow wasn’t, she wasn’t impulsive.

    That didn’t mean shouldn’t make an impulsive move, like drop to the floor when hearing gunfire. Which is what she heard, and what she did.

    She crouched up against the side of the wall, watching in fear as men dressed in street clothes and carrying guns strode around the corner. A few guards appeared at the end of the corridor. She heard some muffled gunshots, and the guards went down like tenpins.

    One of the thugs noticed Shadow, and began aiming his gun, but Ericka shook her head. “She’s not in the way, she’s not a target.” She said, before shooting out the glass and stepping over the barrier.

    “Leave now, and you won’t be killed. Make any stupid moves, and you will regret it.” She announced. The scientists backed away slowly for a few moments, before turning tail and running for their lives.
    Shadow glimpsed into the room. Most of the punks were grabbing the experimental weaponry of the benches, but a few were pulling the Exodus Unit out of its container, ripping out the cables and pipes holding it in.
    There’s nothing I can do, I should run for it now while I can. Shadow thought, willing herself to move. But, she couldn’t. For some reason, she just watched in horror as the Exodus Unit was pulled out, and carried it towards the large door. One of the men pushed a button on the wall, and the door slowly edged open, allowing them to leave. Shadow’s common sense told her to run in the opposite direction, as fast as possible. Unfortunately, Shadow did run. Towards them.
    Out of all my stupid moves, this is undoubtedly the stupidest.

    Ericka watched Shadow approach, using a makeup mirror.
    She’s in the way, she’s a target.
    Ericka turned around, and fired. Shadow narrowly missed losing an eye, and barely had time to duck behind cover before the next shot hit.
    Ericka’s eyes narrowed as she backed away, towards the door. She had no time to play hide and seek, and they already had what they needed…
    She slammed her revolver into the emergency case on the wall, and blaring sirens filled the air. After firing a few random shots, she shot directly up at the door and stepped outside. It rattled, and fell to the ground with a crash. Ericka didn’t show any emotion as she holstered her gun, and followed her men to the waiting truck.

    Shadow coughed, and tried to wave away the smoke. There was a rattle of metal behind her, and turned to see large steel plates blocking off the doors and windows. Not good… she thought, only to see what the randomly fired bullets had hit. The tanks on the back of the cryogenics capsule had been ruptured, and were releasing sub-zero temperature gas into the air. Already, she could feel the temperature around her dropping, her hands numbing, her thoughts slowing down.
    Have… to get… out… Shadow thought, staggering towards the door. It wasn’t blocked at the top, she could climb over it if she got there before too much of her strength was sapped. She never made it.

    Cables from the intelligence enhancer were hanging over each other, shot loose by the final bullet. The cold air caused them to retract, and fall down, on top of Shadow. She convulsed as high amounts of electricity discharged into her body leaving her gasping for air on the ground. Breathing in the supercooled air.
    Didn’t… want it… to end… like… this… Xenith thought, as darkness ate away at her vision. She didn’t have the energy to feel frustrated, or sad, or scared, just clung to one thought as she finally fell into unconsciousness…

    I won’t let it end this way.

  7. ekimmakon 22 Sep 2011 at 11:40 pm

    Almost got it. Just got the bolding wrong.

  8. Crystalon 23 Sep 2011 at 3:42 pm

    Oh. My. Gosh. I completely forgot to review this. I mean, I kept thinking that I really should, and then I didn’t. I’ve been really busy this past month. I promise I’ll review later.
    (And if I don’t; remind me. Because I will probably forget.)

  9. Mynaon 25 Sep 2011 at 5:59 am

    YYAYYYYY CHAPTERS 8D
    I love reading other peoples’ stories~ so here is a review!

    *”No sane person sets their alarm to go off at 2 AM in the morning. Similarly, no sane person would set their alarm to go off as a full volume air raid siren. Finally, no sane person would attempt to break into the main ITAB facility.” LOL, I love this opening line, it’s really distinct. I think that the ‘setting off an alarm at 2am’ thing could be removed though, as it might be better to just go in all out with a full volume air raid siren and breaking into the ITAB facility. It makes more of a sudden first impression than an alarm clock going off at 2 AM would.

    *Also, what is ITAB? Is that going to be revealed later? If not, it might make more sense to start with “…break into the main nuclear facility” or whatever type of facility ITAB is, so the reader understands the situation our dear MC is getting herself into. But it’s up to you, ITAB still sounds really official and important otherwise.

    *”…it’s very difficult for someone to be relaxed when they’re doing something they know they shouldn’t.” Might want to make this stand out more, like “very difficult for someone to be relaxed when they’re planning to break into one of the most heavily gaurded facilities in the country.”

    *”And Shadow was not being a good girl.” I like the simplicity of this line, but something about it feels out of place, although I can’t figure out what.

    *”On nights like this, she’d probably curl up next to someone’s gravestone reading a horror or mystery novel, or maybe explore the catacombs till morning.” I love this description of her character, it immediately makes her really different from a lot of other protas. Chilling in graveyards at night? Hardcore, man.

    *”Most people would then set off pressure sensitive wiring in said fence, and have the police all over them in ten minutes. Shadow was determined not to be like most people.” I like the thought process here. xD

    *”After finding her gloves, she slipped them on.” Feels a bit clunky to me, how about “She found her gloves and slipped them on”?

    *”Shadow fought off the wave of unease at the fact her father’s creepy assistant, Gwen, had taken his job.” How is she creepy? Maybe you could sneak in some kind of a description of her here, something short to get the point across, like, “Gwen Steele always talked in a cold, deadpan voice that sounded like she was reciting lines for a funeral” or something.

    *”And if a Goth thinks that something is creepy, that says something.” Goths dress black and Victorian, but they don’t outright try to be creepy or anything. It’s just their style.

    *”Sometimes, she did some really stupid things.” Probably could be removed, this doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the passage.

    “It was almost like a large T-Junction. There was a small, sort of a halfway floor, which was where Shadow. The escalator she had just run was the straight | line, which led from the first floor. The – represented the other escalators, both leading to and from the real ground floor.” I think I understand what you’re describing here, but the keyboard | and – references take away from the story and snap the reader out of the escape scene. You could probably remove those, and just say like “Shadow was on a small, halfway floor, having just run down a long escalator. But coming up to the halfway floor were two other escalators. And guards were running up both of them,” or something.

    *”However, Shadow jumped directly on top of him, and even an underweight sixteen year old, from a good height, can knock someone out if dropped on them.” CLEVER xP I wouldn’t have thought of that. Guard makes a nice cushion, too. ; )

    *”The chief made a mental note to dock the pay of whoever it was he was talking to.” LOL xD

    *”He stopped to consider it. Maybe that’s why it happened. Can’t tell yet, I’ll check in the morning.” The last line here cold probably be removed, it makes the guy seem all passive about a really serious situation.

    *”She had set up a lot of stuff earlier to make it look like she had already left, just in case she had been spotted.” Could also probably be removed, as it hardly shows us how she got out. The rest of the paragraph already explains it pretty well.

    *”But the human mind is quite paranoid, and her mind had convinced her that they were just waiting outside the girl’s toilets, for when she came out.” The tensing is a bit off, I think it should be “for when she would come out.”

    Overall, EPIC first chapter! I really like how you developed Shadow’s tricky character as well as this really sick escape scene all in the first chapter. o-o I am IMPRESSED, dude! I’m also really curious as to what this secret facility and Gwen Steele is doing. o.O CREEPY~ Great story so far, I’ll read chapter two in a bit!

  10. Crystalon 25 Sep 2011 at 11:35 am

    Yay, I’m back!
    Hmmm…Myna got pretty much everything for Chapter One. Just one thing that I have to say is that the ending was really good. I can just see her there, lying on the floor of the bathroom, waiting… 😀

    Just to let you know, I’m still getting the hang of this review thing. So let me know if I’m being too harsh/easy and I’ll change it. I write pretty long reviews too. 😉

    S-o-o-o…Chapter Two…

    – “To be honest, he would have much preferred no field trip at all.” For whatever reason, this made me smile. 🙂

    – “Xenith had a nasty talent for breaking the rules during his lectures, despite excelling at the subject.” Getting an idea of who this ‘Xenith’ is. 🙂

    – “Why me?” Blackburn moaned, slumping down in his seat.” 😀

    – “He checked his watch. 9:59. The traffic had been worse than he had anticipated, they were a minute later than he had planned.” I like this; it shows Blackburn’s personality very well.
    Though, there should be a semicolon between anticipated and they.

    – “Shadow’s heart skipped a beat at hearing her real name. She slowly turned around, seeing the puzzled face of Kristina. If there was one girl in the school who everyone knew by name and face, it would be Kristina.” These two sentences sound slightly akward. Maybe if you just gave Kristina a last name in the second sentence.

    So, “She slowly turned around, seeing the puzzled face of Kristina ______ ”

    – “All the memories of her father, flashing through her head. Coming home each day from work, with several papers in his hands. Showing her a glove he had made, and the computer projecting an identical image. Bringing home a mechanical arm, that mimicked his every move. Coming home on her Birthday with his arms full of gifts for both her and her mother, because he had gotten the funding for his project. Explaining to them how it would save lives. The rage in his eyes, months later, at how his work had been corrupted. The late nights spent in vain, trying to change things. And lastly, the man in a black suit, coming to their house in 2 AM in the morning, to tell them that the man in both their lives, a man they would feel the loss of for the rest of their lives, had died in an accident.” This just made me feel like I was going to cry.
    Though “Birthday” should be lowercase.

    – I. Loved. The. Ending. It was amazing. And sad. And I really, really hope Shadow is okay.
    (She is okay, right? Right?)
    —————————————–
    So, yeah. I love this so far. Can’t wait to read the next chapter!

  11. ekimmakon 25 Sep 2011 at 1:40 pm

    Yeah, she’s okay … although, if you ask her about it, she’s a lot worse off than before. Got to warn you, though, I am suffering major writer’s block on this. Haven’t finished with Chapter 3 yet.

  12. Crystalon 25 Sep 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Yay, Shadow’s okay! Don’t worry, sometimes you just need to take a break from writing. That’s what I did.
    Anyway, good luck writing!

  13. ekimmakon 25 Sep 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Chapter 3
    Ericka caught up with her men loading the suit into the back of the truck, which had been driven around to the warehouse. It was a tight fit, and would be even tighter when they got in. If it turned out that they didn’t have enough room, then she’d just start shooting people until there was.
    “Boss, we got a problem!” The man who stayed behind to watch the truck said. “They shut the gate on us! We’re trapped!”
    Ericka simply pulled out her phone, and dialled a quick number. There was an explosion, and the fencing by the gate was blown out of the ground.
    “I always have a way out.” She muttered, and climbed into the driver’s seat. “Everyone, get in. We’re not out of the woods yet.”

    Despite police cars giving chase, they managed to make it bake to their riverside warehouse with ease. After driving in, six more mercenaries shut the doors, and she parked the truck in front of it, forming an effective barricade. No one was getting in that way any time soon.
    “Alright, there’s six girder’s in here.” Ericka instructed. “Each has a secret panel. Find it, and stick a few guns in there. Our client will come by and pick them up at their pleasure.”
    “Just the guns?” One of the men asked.
    “Yeah,” Ericka said, nodding. “We’ve got special orders for the suit. Need to drop that one off personally. Drag it to the boat out back.”

    One of the men muttered “It’s just a suit. Would be easier to just walk it over there.” Only to find himself staring down the barrel of a revolver.
    Ericka scowled back at him. “That suit is worth enough to start a small war over. The programming alone is worth starting a small war over. You try to get in there, and I will blow your head off. Understand?”
    The man paled noticeably, but did nod. Ericka lowered her gun for a moment, only to shoot him in the arm.
    “I can tell when someone’s lying to me.” She said grimly, as the man crumpled to the floor in pain. “Anyone else think they know better?”
    They all backed away, shaking their heads frantically.
    “Well, then. Get to it! You five, get the armour to the boat. You four, watch our backs. You see something move, shoot it. Rest of you, drop off the guns, then join us on the boat. Including you.” She added, referring to the man on the floor.

    The punk began feeling around the pillar, trying to find the secret that was supposed to be there. Where’s the- Bingo! He thought, as he pulled the hatch open. He stuck the guns in, then slid it shut. The police might find it later, but he wasn’t paid for that. The guns had been dropped off, and that was-
    “AURGH!”
    He jumped at the sudden scream of pain from his comrade. He ran over, and looked down at him. The man was sprawled out, as if he’d been hit by something that knocked him out cold on impact.
    What the hell could have-
    “YEARGH!”
    He spun around, just in time to see someone else fly into a wall, and crumple to the ground, unmoving.
    He turned, and began to run for the door. He heard another cry, followed by another, which only made him double his efforts to get out. He saw the man injured earlier trying to escape, just like he was. They were both terrified of whatever it was that was tracking them, trying to get out of-
    He felt something smash into the front of his legs, forcing them behind him. He hit the ground, and knew nothing.

    Ericka watched in irritation, as her men struggled to pull the Exodus Unit onto the boat. The three men who were put on watch waited at crucial points, guns at the ready. They eventually managed to get it on deck, dropping it in hull before closing the door, but something still had her on edge. Something felt wrong…
    One of her men burst out from the warehouse, the one she had shot earlier.
    “Boss! Something’s after me! We need to-”
    There was a blur of white, and he crumpled to the ground. The blur dashed from cover to cover, travelling towards them at an alarmingly fast rate. Ericka cursed, and turned and ran for the boat. The first watchman tried shooting at it, but whatever it was reacted with lightning speed, dodging the bullets as it closed ground between them. One thud, and he was down. The boat, having realized the danger they were in, had already started to draw away. Under other circumstances, Ericka would have shot each and every man on board for it, but she had to agree. Leaving ASAP was the only way to get away from… whatever it was that was chasing them. Another shot, another cry, another thud. Her second guard was down. Ericka leaped at the boat, not quite making it, but landing close enough to grab the rope ladder dangling over the side. Her final guard wasn’t so daring, and stood at the end of the pier, waving frantically.
    “Hey! You can’t just-”
    *WHAM*

    He got shoved off the end of the pier, and the blur stood where he had been just a moment ago. Ericka hauled herself up the rope ladder, as the boat quickly picked up speed. After pausing to catch her breath, she looked up, to see just what had been causing so much trouble.
    Ericka had seen a lot of things in her work, but this was something she could hardly believe. A pale skinned girl, with blue hair, wearing what appeared to be white and cyan… she couldn’t make out just what it was, but it certainly didn’t look like normal clothes.

    “That girl nearly wrecked everything?” She asked incredulously.
    “The man near her shrugged. “Well, she can’t do anything now. It’s not like she can walk on water.”

    Ericka winced. It was stupid comments like that, that would get them caught. And sure enough, the girl was tearing across the water, leaving a trail of quickly frozen ice behind her. Ericka pulled out her gun, and pointed it at the man beside her. “Hey, what did I do?” He asked fearfully.
    “You tempted fate.” Ericka answered. “And fate retaliated!”
    She pulled the trigger and… nothing. She attempted several more shots before confirming that yes, she was out of bullets.
    The man sniggered. “Out of bullets?” He asked. Ericka responded by throwing him off the side of the ship.

    “Alright, listen up.” Ericka shouted. “Do whatever it takes, use as much ammo as necessary, just keep that girl off this boat!”
    “How can we stop someone who moves that fast?” Someone asked.
    “Find a way. Or else I blow this ship, and everyone on it, to Kingdom Come.”
    “But you’ll die too!”
    “ I always have a way out. And I am not getting brought down by some freak like her.” With that, Ericka went below decks.

    The men clutched their weapons nervously, as the girl closed the distance between them in shockingly short time. Individually, they took aim, trying to judge the distance that they should start shooting at.
    But, the girl came to a halt in a split second.
    “Hey!” she shouted, waving at the boat.
    Some of them decided to take advantage of the brief pause, and shoot her. Bullets ripped up the water into spray, as machine guns and revolvers tore up the water. But, the girl had moved in that split second, to a new location on the river.
    “You aren’t very good shots, are you?” She shouted, cupping her hands around her mouth to carry the sound.
    This time, all of them shot at her. With the same result.
    “It’s not working!” She called out helpfully.
    They kept releasing barrages of gunfire at the girl, who would move faster than they could track to a new location, totally unfazed. Although they soon became confident, as a gap grew between the two, this confidence vanished when she closed the distance in a split second, leaning on the back of the boat while keeping in sync with its speed.
    “Would it help if I stood closer?” She asked.
    The response was more bullet fire. Which she evaded again.
    The driver of the boat leaped back in shock, as she crouched on the front of the boat.
    “Up here!”
    His eyes widened in fear, and he barely had enough time to drop down before his comrades guns tore up where he had been standing, turning the controls into scrap metal and sawdust. There was a blur of light, and all of them found their weapons tossed into the water.
    “That’s not good,” one of them muttered.
    “This is worse!” The driver said with panic in his voice. “We’re picking up speed, and the controls don’t work!”

    Caroline sat at the table, sipping her coffee. Her assistant, Brent, sat on the other side, rifling through a competitor’s newspaper.
    “Things have been quiet around here lately,” he commented.
    “And that’s a good thing?” Caroline asked grumpily.
    “Well, no, I guess not… but there’s that thing with the super suit later. That’s something.”
    “You mean ITAB’s project that was postponed months ago? Something’ll go wrong, we’ll write a story, and it’ll get cut when ITAB puts pressure on the paper. Just like normal.”
    “Well… how about the… boat?”
    Caroline sighed. “We’re at the pier right now. And its opening isn’t exactly thrilling news.”
    “Boat!”
    “Are you even listening?” Caroline looked up. Brent was pointing out towards the bay, eyes widening in horror. People around them were fleeing. She glanced over her shoulder.
    “It’s a boat that’s gone out of control. It’s unexpected, maybe worth writing over but not worth the panic. It’s a metal boat, this is a concrete pier. We should probably be more worried about the people on it.” Caroline said in a rather dull tone, before returning to her drink.
    “Ice!”
    “No, this is coffee, not iced…” The look on Brent’s face had changed from terror to shock, but he hadn’t lowered his hand. Carol turned her head, and her eyes widened. What appeared to be an iceberg was lodged between the boat and the pier. Men were jumping off the boat into the river, but strangest of all, a girl with blue hair, dressed in white and cyan, was crouched on top of the ice.
    Carol drained her coffee in one big gulp, and pulled out her pen and notepad.
    “Now this is a story!” She exclaimed, running towards it. A real superhero, and it would be her exclusive-
    A crowd of journalists had already gathered, taking photos and asking questions. Okay, maybe not an exclusive. But still, something worth an article or three.

    The girl looked quite flustered, being bombarded with questions and camera flashes.
    “What are you?”
    “What are your powers?”
    “Are you old enough to drive?”
    “Left handed or right?”
    The girl may have been able to take down armed thugs with ease, but to her, the press was much more ruthless.
    “Which question do I answer first” She asked.
    “First!”
    “Last!”
    “All of them!”
    “Second two!”
    Caroline groaned in frustration. If you wanted something done right…
    “Who are you!” She shouted over the rabble.
    Immediately, there was silence. The girl paused for a moment, running through ideas in her head.
    “Yuki Girl!” she announced, striking a pose on the ice.

    “All civilians, back away from the boat!” a policeman shouted through a megaphone.
    Most of the press complied, although Brent had to literally drag Caroline away, asking her “Do you want to get arrested?”
    “Hey, I got what I needed,” she answered, “now to make a good article with it.”
    “Attention, boat owners. You are all under arrest, including the blue haired girl.”
    Yuki looked around. “A girl with blue hair? Where?” She then paused to consider it. “Oh, you mean me. Sorry. Can’t stay”
    She then took off, faster than anyone could react. She reappeared for a brief second, saying “Oops. Forgot to leave a calling card” and froze a symbol onto the nearby wall, before dashing away again.
    Brent took a photo of the symbol, and then started walking to his car. “So, back to work?” he asked over his shoulder.
    Carol shook her head. “No, first the library. Everyone will be writing an article about this ‘Yuki Girl’. We need to write an article that’s good.”
    There was a resounding boom, and they spun around. The boat had erupted in a fiery explosion, turning the boat into fragments of scrap metal.
    “Ok, make that two good articles.”

    Yuki watched the explosion from the other side of the bay. Those men were already being pulled out, they should be okay…
    She saw them talking across the bay, and tried to guess what they were saying. Her lip reading skills were pretty good, but some of the words were a bit too short to be certain about.
    “The boss did say it’d blow if we got caught,” One of them said
    “Guess he’d thought we’d last longer than that,” Another said.
    Yuki scratched her head. This was getting confusing. What were they keeping there? Who was the boss? The police grabbed him, right? Or maybe they weren’t even there?
    Yuki groaned. It’s too much effort. They had some laser guns, a truck, a boat… some sort of power suit… an Exodus Unit?
    She snapped her fingers. “Now I remember! I need a new toaster!”
    No, that didn’t sound right. Explosions, a power suit, guns, something about a phone… why did that make her think of toast?
    Her stomach rumbled.
    Ah, that was why. She needed breakfast. So, back to home…

    Where was that? Yuki wracked her mind. She could remember where everyone else she knew lived, but had no clue where she lived.
    Do I have amnesia? I don’t remember having amnesia… doesn’t that mean I have it? If amnesia means you forget, then I’ve clearly forgotten having it, which is why I don’t remember it. Unless the reason I don’t remember is because I never had amnesia which is why I don’t remember having amnesia because I never did have it. But clearly I have it, because I’ve forgotten about me, which is why I’ve forgotten about having it…
    What was I thinking about again?
    Her stomach rumbled. Ah, right. A new toaster. I need breakfast, and probably some lunch, too. Xenith is has been sick at home this week, I’ll go visit her.

    Morgan Reeve, the CEO of ITAB was quite gothic. He wore a pitch black business suit, which augmented his pale skin. The sunglasses finished the look, making him resemble someone in the secret service… or the morgue. Despite his looks, his company was very successful, known for aggressive business deals and research years, if not decades, ahead of the pack.
    He watched as the class piled onto the school bus, oblivious of the danger they had been in an hour earlier.
    “Status report?” he asked his secretary.
    She looked down at her papers.
    “No casualties, and we should have everything repaired in about a week. By tomorrow, if we hire independent contractors.”
    “Do it. I want this facility running like clockwork before the weekend.”
    “Of course sir. But they also made off with some technology…”
    “What did we lose?”
    “Some of the experimental conventional weaponry, and the Exodus Unit.”
    “That’s somewhat unfortunate. How long will it take to replace them?”
    “The weaponry we can have rebuilt by the end of next week. The Exodus Unit… We aren’t certain about that.”
    “What do you mean?”
    “The man who originally developed it for us, no longer works for us.”
    “Then get him back! I don’t care what money you have to offer, or who you need to blackmail, I want this project to succeed.”
    “He’s dead.”
    “Of course he would be.”
    “He was sabotaging the project, sir. Withholding information. We tried to interrogate him for answers, but he died during the procedure. A tragic accident.”
    “I really need to start taking more personal interest in my more expensive projects. Are you saying he’s the only one who knows how to make it?”
    “Well, there is Dr Steele…”
    “Then do whatever it takes to get him in.”
    “Very well sir.” The secretary pushed the intercom button on his desk. “Mr Reeve is ready to see you now.”
    Reeve turned around. “I didn’t mean it so literally.”
    The tour guide from earlier that day walked in.
    “And this would be?” Morgan asked.
    “Oh, right. Forgot.”
    She grabbed the bracelet on her arm, and twisted. Her image flickered for a few moments, like a badly tuned television, before disappearing altogether, revealing Dr Gwendolyn Steele. She had something of an unsettling air to her, as if she had already determined what you were made of, and the best way to dissect you. Or at least, that’s how his secretary felt. Morgan was as grim as ever.
    “Hologram Bracelet.” She explained. “An old project of mine.”
    “I don’t care.” Morgan said darkly.
    “Tell him what you told me.” His secretary said, with a slight note of panic in her tone.
    “Well,” Gwen began, “With minimum funding, I can replicate most of the unit myself in four months. Proper funding and enough manpower, I can get the same result in just one month.”
    “Most of it?” Morgan asked.
    “Well, I helped him build it. After he died, I took over the project, and know all the adjustments that were made. But…”
    There’s always a but Morgan thought.
    “It wasn’t a high priority project while Dr Ward was in charge. No one expected it to work, so all the notes were his. Some of the exotic technology in there was designed purely for this project. I’ve still got all of the notes and files, but some of the files on his computer are password protected.”
    “Don’t you know the password? Or could just hack your way in?”
    Gwen shook her head. “He never told me, I don’t think he trusted me enough. He did tell me how it worked, that the password was randomly generated after each attempt, based on the previous five entries. He only memorized one set of entries, it could take years of guessing to determine it. If we’re lucky.” She shrugged. “We tried interrogating his wife last night, but we got nothing.”
    Morgan sighed. “And you didn’t examine the Unit while we had it?”
    “Well, we intended to disassemble it for examination after the first test…”
    “And, of course, that won’t happen because it’s been stolen.” Morgan concluded.
    “Destroyed” his secretary corrected.
    “Well then, there’s bound to be something left. Organize a search of the riverbank. No explosion could destroy it completely, especially if it was fully armoured.”
    “Very well, sir” his secretary nodded.
    “And as for you-” Morgan whirled around on Gwen.
    “You have full funding, and whoever you need. Rebuild as much of the Exodus Unit as you can. When you get to the point that nothing more can be done, then I’ll figure out the next move.”
    “Yes sir” Gwen said quickly, “I’ll start first thing Monday-”
    “Today.”
    “… right, I’ll get started on that today.”
    Gwen walked briskly out of the room, leaving only Morgan and his secretary.
    “Well, get to it.”
    “Sir?”
    “You have your job to do.” Morgan said, pointing to the door. “I have to make some private phone calls about Project Exodus’ second delay.”

    “Hello?” Yuki called out, knocking timidly on the door. “Anyone home?”
    There was no answer. She gave the door a slight push. It swung open without protest.
    I knew Xenith wasn’t feeling well, but… I didn’t think it was so serious they had to be in this much of a hurry. Not even locking up the house?
    She glanced around. No broken windows, no missing things, no punks holding baseball bats. It seemed like the only person who had broken in today was Yuki herself.
    Strange… Yuki thought, only to be distracted by her clothes. Skintight spandex in Summer… what was I thinking? Hope Xenith won’t mind if I borrow her clothes.
    Yuki began rummaging through Xenith’s closet, tossing out clothes as she made mental notes about them.
    Black, black, grey, black…
    Mainly what colour they were.
    Grey, black, black, purple, black, grey, black and purple… white?
    Yuki pulled out the one odd colour.
    With lace. And somehow managing to be the scariest thing in her wardrobe.
    After putting it back inside, she emptied the rest of the closet (mostly black).
    Well, guess I can’t have expected to see vibrant colours in her closet. But anything’s better than this.
    After a quick shower (what else?) Yuki then proceeded to the kitchen for food. She decided to have a quick snack, which consisted of cereal, pancakes, bacon, eggs, orange juice, fruit salad, soup, two minute noodles, fish, chips, and whatever was left in the freezer (She’d have had toast as well, but the toaster was broken. Besides, it was only a quick snack). She finished off her meal in record time, and sat down to watch whatever was on television this late at night. Turned out to be the news.
    “Today, a daring heist was pulled off in broad daylight at the Imperial Technology and Bio-Engineering Research Facility. Several research projects were stolen, and attempted to transfer them to places unknown, via the river. When it seemed inevitable that the police would be unable to stop them, a girl with supernatural abilities-”
    The newsreader paused at the word, and read over his lines again.
    “Are you sure about this?” she muttered, “do we have any footage, or…”
    The girl looked up, remembering she was still on air.
    “A girl with supernatural abilities intervened. Not only did she disable their means of escape, but she managed to prevent said transport from crashing into the newly opened docks.”
    A picture of her appeared beside the news reader. I’m pretty sure that’s not my good side.
    “The quick thinking actions of this ‘Yuki Girl’, along with the fast response time to the situation by the police, ensured that there were almost no casualties.”
    Yuki felt her blood run cold. Almost?
    “While the perpetrators gang members were successfully apprehended, the leader of this heist was trapped in the boat when it exploded. Both she, and all the technology that was stolen, were lost. Recovery efforts so far have yielded no trace…”

    The news reader continued to speak, but Yuki couldn’t hear it properly. She just sat there in shock, trying to make sense of it all. Thoughts were buzzing through her head, flitting around like insects.
    I killed someone.
    You didn’t kill her, the boat did.
    She wouldn’t have been there if it weren’t for me.
    She’s evil, she deserved it.
    No one deserves to die!
    She deserves no remorse.
    Shut up!
    I killed someone.
    It wasn’t your fault.
    Murderer.
    You can’t change that.
    MURDERER!

    “QUIET!” Yuki screeched, running out of the room. She collapsed onto someone else’s bed, and wept, all the while voices whispering in her head…

    Shadow opened her eyes a crack, as sunlight poured into the room.
    It is way too early for this… and I don’t care how late it is.
    Seeing as her body hadn’t woken up like her mind, Shadow took advantage of the moment to straighten out her thoughts.
    Yesterday… yesterday was the heist. Judging from the lack of jail bars, it must have been successful.
    She pushed herself up, eyes still half-closed.
    My pillow is soaked, so it must have been boiling hot last night. It’s late now, and I still can’t remember most of yesterday, so I must have been worn out. Anything else?
    Shadow opened her eyes properly now, only for them to widen in horror.
    What the hell happened here?

    All of her clothes had been scattered around the room. A quick count identified that only one missing was the expensive white dress she had bought for a formal event her parents had never taken her to. Shadow ran out of the room, only to be greeted by a worse scene in the kitchen. Pretty much anything related to food had been scattered over the bench, making it impossible to determine if anything had been stolen.
    “Mum!” Shadow cried, running for her mother’s bedroom, to be greeted with a horrific sight. Her mother’s body was entangled in the bed sheets, red bloodstains on the white sheets. Shadow ran for the phone…

    Hospitals have an artificial feel to them. The unnaturally reflective surfaces, seeming lack of colour, the scent of chemicals, an ominously quiet feeling to the atmosphere. If there was one place that could pull off a Gothic feel in bright white, it’s a hospital. Shadow cultivated these thoughts, using them to keep her mind off her mother, trying to avoid the worry and feelings of general uselessness. But no matter how far her thoughts strayed, they always returned to the same place.
    “Xenith Ward?”
    Shadow looked up. Shadow looked up. It was a man in a white doctor’s coat. He looked somewhat sympathetic, but mostly depressed.
    “Yes, that’s me.”
    “I have a few questions for you, if you have the time?”
    Shadow sighed. “Yeah, sure.”
    The man nodded, and looked at his clipboard. “We’re doing what we can. But, the injuries… we believe the injuries were made late Thursday night. Why did you wait until Saturday to call emergency services?”
    Shadow’s eyes widened. “I had no idea! I only just found out… I’ve been ill, I didn’t-”
    The man held up his hand. “It’s ok, I understand.” His words were sincere enough, but it looked like something was still bothering him. “Do you have any family members, guardians or friends of the family that we can contact?”

    Shadow had given her answers quickly, making it clear that she wanted to be left alone. Her mind squirmed with feelings of guilt and betrayal. Thursday… thanks to my little escapade, Mum didn’t get any medical treatment for at least a day’s worth. If she doesn’t make it….
    If Shadow’s mother died, it would be her fault. Because she wanted to get a few pictures of her father’s work and a guided tour, she wasn’t there when her mother needed her. Her mother could die. She could lose what little family she had left.

    These thoughts burned in Shadow’s head, turning minutes into what seemed like hours. What had previously been a good distraction, was now adding more fuel to the fire. Although she prided herself on never crying, she was seriously considering it when a doctor relieved her, saying “She’s ready to see you now.”

    Julianne Ward was normally a pillar of support in Shadow’s life. With a cocky smile, one raised eyebrow, and a can-do attitude, not even her low station job as a waitress could discourage her. Her mother’s motto for the job, and for life, was “If you meet a nice person, give them a quick and pleasant service, because they deserve it. If you meet a nasty person, give them a quick service so they’ll leave sooner.”
    Seeing her mother bandaged up and lying in the hospital bed, looking so fragile… it hurt Shadow. It really hurt.

    Her mother beckoned to a chair beside the bed, and Shadow sat down.
    “Are you okay?” Her mother asked quietly.
    “Yeah,” Shadow said, her voice shaking, “just been worried sick about you.”
    Her mother laughed softly. “It looked a lot worse than it was. The doctor’s are just checking to make sure nothing’s serious, I’ll be out of here by Monday.”
    “I’ll stay with you until then” Shadow promised.
    “No,” Her mother said sharply, “you’ll go to school on Monday. You aren’t missing out on your education just because of me.”
    Her mother seemed to strengthen for a moment, before lying back in her bed. “How’s the house?” She asked.
    “The police are looking after it.” Shadow answered. “It doesn’t appear that anything’s stolen, and the only fingerprints they’ve found so far are ours.”
    “I see…”
    Shadow shook her head. “Mum, how are we going to pay for this?”
    “It’ll be okay.”
    “But, you barely earn minimum wage as is. I just don’t see how-”
    “It’ll be okay, Shadow. You’ll see.”
    Her mother closed her eyes, and began breathing more slowly. Shadow sat back in the chair and watched, intent on staying by her mother’s side for as long as she humanly could.

    A weekend passed by her mother’s bed, but routine had to be kept. Shadow snuck back to ITAB and recovered her bike, undiscovered by the security forces. She rode into school on time for once, no longer worried about her mother, but still feeling guilty. Is it even worth it? Shadow thought to herself. It’s fine now, but could I have lived with myself if-
    “Hey, Shadow!” A voice called, snapping her out of her thoughts. Shadow braked to a halt, and began securing her bike.
    “You feeling better now?”
    Shadow ignored them, as she stood up, and stormed off.
    “Uh, okay… see you round.” whoever it was called after her.

    Shadow was well known for being anti-social at even the best of times. Add that she’d barely gotten any sleep and yesterday’s stress, and there was no reason whatsoever she’d so much as acknowledge someone else today-
    “Hold it right there, Xenith Ward!”
    Unless they were a teacher. Shadow slowed to a halt as Mr Blackburn marched up to her.
    “So glad to see you could join us. And here I was hoping you’d spend this week in bed, too. You’ll have plenty of catch up work to deal with today. Oh, and I had intended to give you lines to copy down on Friday, as you weren’t going to be coming with us on the field trip, but you were absent. So, you’ll just have to come and do them during recess, instead.”
    There was a fatal flaw in his logic there, but Shadow didn’t bother pointing it out. She already gave Blackburn enough reason to hate her in class, the last thing she needed was to insult him outside of the classroom too.

    The day rolled by slowly. Catching up with missed class work was challenging, and Shadow doubted she’d manage to catch up before the end of the week. The lines was brutally dull, but she sucked it up and pushed on. Even so, by lunch time she was both mentally and physically worn out, and in desperate need of some rest. Unfortunately, she wouldn’t get any.

    “I’m telling you, she came from a planet far away, and there’s radioactive rocks around here that remove her powers-”
    “No, she fell into a tank of liquid nitrogen, definitely.”
    “You’re both wrong, she has a mutant gene, and was bitten by a radioactive snow worm.”
    Shadow moaned at the disturbance, but her curiosity was piqued. Is it worth it? She considered the options. Shut them up now and get some well needed rest, or…
    She dropped out of the tree, startling them.
    “Just what are you talking about?” She asked. She didn’t really recognize them, two guys and a girl.
    “We’re talking about the mutant who showed up on Friday.”
    “I keep telling you, she’s not a mutant.”
    “Oh? You think she’s some alien, ripped straight from a comic book-”
    “Again, what are you talking about?” Shadow asked through gritted teeth.
    “Yuki Girl.”
    “Who?”
    “You haven’t heard yet?” The others exchanged looks of surprise.
    “Come on, then. To the student’s lounge.”

    The student’s lounge wasn’t anything fancy, just a place for the senior students to gather. It had a kitchen, a few old computers, a beat up couch… and a television. One of the guys grabbed the remote, and skimmed channels until he found the news.
    “It has been three days since we last heard from Yuki Girl. Who is she? Where did she come from? What does she want? We await another appearance from her with baited breath.” The news reader then turned to someone off camera.
    “Seriously, why do we keep running this story? We haven’t-”
    She was cut off by the transition to some footage of Yuki Girl freezing the runaway boat.

    “See? No one knows anything about her, the mystery is why everyone is talking about it.”
    “Yeah, no one knows. So why are you pulling plots straight from a comic book?”
    “Hey, that’s rich coming from-”
    “Seriously?” Shadow asked incredulously.
    The others turned to her in surprise.
    “What?”
    “Yuki Girl. She seriously took that for a name.”
    “I don’t get it.”
    “Yuki, it’s a name that can mean gentle princess, or it can mean snow. Either way, that’s incredibly sad.”
    “Oh, so that’s what it meant. I thought it was Kryptonian.”
    Shadow face palmed. “I don’t have time for this.” She said. “I’ve got four straight classes, and the last one is with Blackburn, I need to get some rest.”
    A split second after she finished her sentence, the bell to end lunch rang.

  14. ekimmakon 25 Sep 2011 at 3:45 pm

    Here, I am totally stumped. I know what I want to happen next, I just have a lot of trouble getting it from my head to the paper. Anyway, this chapter was a bit of a contraversy to me, as it seems to switch POVs. Although an observant reader can pick out that it hasn’t really after reading a few pages, I’m uncertain at how safely I can break this writing rule. And Yuki has such a different thought proccess to Shadow… it’s a conundrum.

  15. B. McKenzieon 25 Sep 2011 at 5:38 pm

    Here are my thoughts on chapter 1. I’ve been feeling very disconcerted due to illness/medication so please bear with me.

    –I feel that the first two sentences could be more stylish.

    –“2 AM in the morning” is redundant.

    –“She had spent the last few months planning for this…” If she’s exhaustively planned for this, could you show that?

    –“Shadow was determined not to be like most people.” I like how this sentence built on the rest of the paragraph.

    –I like using 73592035 vs. 13592035 to show how on edge she is. This is why people use computers! 🙂

    “After a moment that seemed like an eternity…” This phrase strikes me as a bit cliche. Could you show this? For example, maybe there’s a ticking clock in the room?

    –“the guards weren’t expecting anything to happen”–but the offices automatically close at 10 PM and they have pressure-sensitive fences? This sounds like a highly secure facility, so maybe the guards might be a bit more alert.

    –“Shadow had quite a few close calls with the security after that…” Careful here. I think you’re short-circuiting the suspense of whether she might get caught later.

    –“And if a Goth thinks that something is creepy, that says something.” Could you mention her Gothic tendencies before?

    –In my own story, when someone puts an incorrect password into the boss’ computer, security is automatically dispatched to see what’s going on. More often than not, it’s just that the boss’ hand slipped. However, when it’s not…

    –“There was a small, sort of a halfway floor, which was where Shadow.”

    –She’s 16 and she’s biking on a secret mission? Could I recommend bumping this up to a car? For example, maybe she sabotages the windshield wipers a few days before the mission, so the car isn’t safe to drive in bad weather. Her mother has to wait for the shop to get in the new custom wipers. In the meantime, the mother drives a rental and leaves the (supposedly undrivable) car at home. Shadow can take that and it won’t be a problem… as long as there’s no rain/snow. By the way, if she does encounter any rain/snow, I’ve driven in a car without windshield wipers through the snow and it was like driving with a white bucket over my head.

    “She had set up a lot of stuff earlier to make it look like she had already left, just in case she had been spotted. After the guards had split up to cover the elevators, she had headed to the basement door to make that look like her point of entry. After that she headed to here, the best place to stake out a full building search. After all, if someone decided to search the cubicles, she could slide underneath the walls to an already searched stall. But the human mind is quite paranoid, and her mind had convinced her that they were just waiting outside the girl’s toilets, for when she came out.” Haha, I love this.

  16. ekimmakon 25 Sep 2011 at 6:46 pm

    Spending free time in a graveyard isn’t gothic?

  17. Mynaon 26 Sep 2011 at 2:51 am

    “Spending free time in a graveyard isn’t gothic?” Gothic, for the most part is a fashion/music thing and isn’t really related to how much time you spend in graveyards, js.

  18. ekimmakon 26 Sep 2011 at 4:27 am

    Ah, right. Sorry.

  19. ekimmakon 26 Sep 2011 at 4:43 am

    Out of curiousity, what kind of music?

  20. B. McKenzieon 26 Sep 2011 at 9:11 am

    I noticed the graveyard, but I felt it didn’t seem to fit in much with her personality? Besides her telling us she’s a Goth, what about this character would suggest that she might want to spend time in a graveyard? (Some possible examples: for whatever reason, she’s morbid/obsessed with death, lost a loved one, REALLY enjoys reading in absolute silence and/or is totally somber, etc).

  21. Mynaon 26 Sep 2011 at 11:51 am

    Gothic rock is usually a lot of guitar and synthesizer stuff to create a really morbid or dramatic feel. I’m not familiar with most gothic music (more of an alt rock/rap person) but there’s a list of goth bands on wikipedia, and this site http://www.darkgrave.com/ says it has a lot of popular gothic music. : )

  22. Mynaon 28 Sep 2011 at 3:17 am

    Here’s the review for chapter two : )

    * “Not that they’d have come anyway, seeing as they’d been at home sick this week.” Why is Xenith suddenly referred to as a ‘they’? Are you referring to more than one person?

    * “…nearing their testing phase, for which follows their conclusion and release to the public.” I wasas a bit confused by the phrasing, would “nearing their testing phase, after which follows their conclusion and release to the public” work?

    * Quick note on cryogenics: they don’t use water in freezing people. http://www.alcor.org/AboutCryonics/index.html or http://www.alcor.org/cryomyths.html#myth2 (Alcor is one of the largest cryonics institutes in the world.) They ‘vitrify’ organs, not freeze them, as in most of the water in cells is changed to chemicals to be preserved, no ice involved. I think there’s something else involving liquid nitrogen as well. That website is an awesome look into modern-day cryonics if you’e interested. : )

    * “The guide nodded. “Correct. Hence, the crucial word nearing.” I’m not sure why you bolded this, italics would probably suit you fine. Bolding is used pretty rarely.

    * I LOVE your description of Project Exodus, it’s really detailed and I was like WHOA o-o EXOSUIT? WANT

    * “This technological wonder is, quite literally, a war machine. We considered calling it that, but Marvel threatened with a lawsuit…” xDDD

    * “It was unfortunate event when he found out our plans for it. He tried everything to change it back to his original design. Meetings, lawsuits, protests, begging. It soon became clear that the company would not bend to his requests.” Though I understand the tour guide is just answering a question, it struck me as a bit odd that she would go into this much detail about the private going-ons of ITAB, let alone the fact that ITAB was doing thing without its’ scientists permission. As a tour guide to a bunch of students, it’s a bit strange. I know you need to convey this information though, but doing it a bit more smoothly might help, just a light suggestion : )

    * “If you wanted something done, something stolen, somewhere destroyed, someone killed, and you wanted it forgotten, just written off as an unfortunate accident, you would hire Ericka Estelle Delgado.” I really like this line. : )

    * “Somehow, that didn’t make them feel any easier.” Should probably be changed to ‘feel any better’ so it flows.

    * “That didn’t mean shouldn’t make an impulsive move, like drop to the floor when hearing gunfire. Which is what she heard, and what she did.” It doesn’t sound very impulsive to me that she’d hit the floor upon hearing gunfire, that sounds more like a “I don’t want to get shot” thing, js.

    * “Unfortunately, Shadow did run. Towards them.” SHADOW YOU CRAZY GIRL WHYYYYYY

    * “I won’t let it end this way.” o.o

    HOLY CRAP WHY YOU LEAVE ME AT A CLIFFHANGER?

    The ending with the cryonics gas leaking into the air really freaked me out! DON’T DIE/GET CRYONICALLY PRESERVED, SHADOW! I have the weird feeling that she’s gonna wake up 500 years in the future. Not good, man. On the bright side, maybe everyone will have the keys to an Exodus suit in their pocket by then, and it will have been made safe and she won’t have to worry about nothin. *nodnod* *slapped by Shadow*

    I’m sorry if my review sounds overly critical, but I really enjoyed this chapter <3 I love your actiony scenes. Will read chapter three in a bit!

  23. ekimmakon 28 Sep 2011 at 4:25 pm

    You’re right, the tour guide does know too much about it. If you read what I’ve submitted of chapter 3, you’ll find out why…

  24. ekimmakon 28 Sep 2011 at 4:26 pm

    ah, sorry, I reread that point. I guess I was a bit too expositional with that.

  25. ekimmakon 07 Oct 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Ok, I think what I submitted for chapter 3 was lost in a tide of comments up there. To be honest, I’ve only got a paragraph and a bit more in there before chapter 4, so I’ll write out that and then post it alongside it.

    Today, I’m going to remind myself what editting I made, and where I haven’t made changes despite feedback on them (and remind myself why). Expect another post sometime in the next 24 hours.

  26. ekimmakon 07 Oct 2011 at 2:44 pm

    Ok, for some reason, the most controversial feedback was B Mac’s. Sorry, mate.

    First point, is that I’m short circuiting the tension by skipping over a lot of her sneaking around. Yeah, but I don’t know how I’d extend that. It’s a bit confusing.

    There’s actually three good reasons why she’s taking her bike instead of a car. Firstly, is that it’s a lot easier for her to leave tracks suggesting that she’s already left. You just ride the bike onto the dirt, you ride it off the dirt, and then carry it ato some nearby bushes and hide it. Much harder to do with a car. Secondly, is that if a guard finds her bike, he knows that she used to have a bike. And doesn’t now. Doesn’t really help him. If he finds her car, then it’s much more trouble. They can simply trace their license plate. Even if that’s removed or altered, they can check the colour, the make, and give that to the police, or keep it for themselves. Either way, it means trouble. The final one is simply that I haven’t quite decided where she is, but in Australia, at least, you can’t get a driver’s license at 16. You can get a learner’s permit, which won’t help if she’s pulled over by the police for looking too young to be driving.

    The rest of the feedback, I was quite happy to get. Although changing the first sentences was a challenge, because it seemed to be something that needed the rule of three. But, I’ll see what I can alter.

    And I’ll mention it again, I’m not too certain about chapter three. For some reason, Myna’s and Crystal’s reviews made me nervous about what I actually want to do with the character.

  27. Crystalon 07 Oct 2011 at 2:52 pm

    Oh, gosh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you nervous!
    You made a good point about the bike, though. I wouldn’t have thought of that!

  28. Mynaon 07 Oct 2011 at 3:04 pm

    o.o I didn’t mean to make you nervous, I was just writing what I thought about the chapter, but by all means write what YOU want to write, not what other people want you to. : )

  29. ekimmakon 07 Oct 2011 at 7:31 pm

    Well, ok. Feeling better now about giving Xenith superpowers. Back to grinding out a fourth chapter.

  30. ekimmakon 13 Oct 2011 at 6:47 pm

    I’ve been feeling a bit depressed lately. I have an idea of what I want to do with it, but having trouble getting it down. Also, I’m not sure whether to include a scene involving one of Xenith’s distant friends and her homicidal ex, or not. It doesn’t add much, but sort of sets things up. Both of said character’s are one-shot for that scene.

    Anyhow, it seems that Chapter 3 was lost in the tide of reviews above. Granted, I said it was incomplete, but only by about a paragraph. Putting that in the comment below.

    URGENT!

    Do not read any further until you’ve read Chapter 3 above. Sure, there’s not that much spoiler… and all you’d really wonder is how she got from dying on Friday afternoon to School on a monday… but hey. It’s your choice.

  31. ekimmakon 13 Oct 2011 at 6:53 pm

    Chapter 3 Cont.
    Shadow made it through three of the classes without incident. Although at times she began to nod off, a quick bite of the tongue snapped her out of her drowsiness quick enough. Blackburn’s lesson had her worried, though. On a normal day, she’d be taking two steps ahead of the class curriculum, correcting mistakes in copying down, and in general, upsetting the teacher, giving him reasons to give her detention. Today, though, was lower key. Instead of jumping at the first chance to show off, she was slumped in her seat, eyes half closed. The lecture was getting jumbled somewhere between her ears and her mind, leaving her with just dull gibberish. Maybe just a quick moment…
    A ruler cracked across her table like a gunshot, and Shadow jumped.
    “I’m sorry, am I being too dull for you?” Blackburn asked pleasantly. “Perhaps it would be more thrilling if you were to stay after class and copy my presentation down, word for word, one hundred times?”
    “No, sir.” Shadow answered, now wide awake.
    “Then kindly refrain from falling asleep in my class!” He snapped, and returned to the front to continue his lecture.
    The discipline didn’t last, though, as soon, a few students across from Shadow were muttering to each other. Blackburn gave them a few moments to collect themselves. When they didn’t, he strode over, and asked sweetly “Is there something you’d like to share with the class?”
    “Uh…”
    “This is not a debate!” he shouted.
    “You are here to listen. I’d say that you are here to learn, but that seems to be beyond you.” He said angrily, bending his ruler as he spoke.
    “I don’t care how you waste your own time, but when you are in my class, I expect you to at least act like you are … paying … ATTENTION!”
    Blackburn snapped his ruler in half from the pressure.

    The class froze. No one dared make a sound. And then, horror of horrors, someone sniggered. Blackburn slowly turned to the offender, who had now descended into low, uncontrolled chuckling. It was Shadow.

    “Is this amusing you?” Blackburn asked darkly, as he took slow, methodical steps toward her.
    Shadow’s eyes widened in fear, as she tried to stifle her laughter. She didn’t find it funny at all, and yet couldn’t stop herself.
    “If you do not cease disrupting my class with that infernal chuckling, there will be very dire consequences.”
    Everyone’s eyes were on Shadow. Some were horrified that anyone could show such a blatant continuing disregard for Blackburn, others wanted to see these ‘dire consequences’, and some were utterly mystified that Shadow could laugh at all. No one knew what to expect.

    The bell to end school rang. The class emptied itself in seconds, leaving Blackburn alone in his classroom.
    “That girl just does it to irritate me.” He moaned to himself.

    Shadow had run straight for the girl’s toilets, and was trying to hold herself up from laughing so hard.
    What’s going on? It wasn’t even that funny. Why can’t I stop laughing?
    Her laughter had died down to a wheezing chuckle from lack of breath, and she collapsed to the floor. Darkness crept at the edges of her vision, and everything began to feel fuzzy.
    Something is very wrong with me …

  32. ekimmakon 06 Apr 2012 at 12:37 am

    Well, this is annoying. I wanted to check if something in my other novel was bad writing or not, but I can’t track down where I saved the thing.

  33. ekimmakon 12 Jun 2012 at 3:12 am

    Ok, need some writing aid, using a rough copy and paste from a journal entry of what I was feeling at the time.

    I was thinking about how she’d handle different ‘classical’ hero dilemnas. The one that worries me is the one where a criminal discovers the hero(ine)’s secret identity. Now, most heroes say “I can’t kill, not even for this”, and then convenient amnesia removes the threat, or a convenient death. I didn’t want things to go that way, so I considered it. Yuki would be extremely idealistic about it, and subtly threaten the person. Xenith would not. She would kill him outright, or, failing that, she would cut off his hands and remove his vocal cords.

    That deeply disturbs me. And try as I might, I cannot see how she’d handle it any different. This is not the behaviour of a hero, this is the behaviour of people who end up sharing a cell with Joker.

    I don’t know if this is pre-exam stress, my creative slump making me distressed, or just my head getting jumbled up, but it worries me. It worries me deeply.

  34. B. McKenzieon 12 Jun 2012 at 10:22 am

    That would probably compromise Xenith’s likability greatly. One possibility is that the consequences for killing the criminal would be too great (e.g. cast out by allies, problems with police, etc) and that Xenith comes up with a somewhat less brutal alternative. Perhaps Xenith attempts to kill the criminal but other characters intervene.



    “Yuki would be extremely idealistic about it, and subtly threaten the person.” Threatening the criminal is extremely idealistic? One possibility would be altering Yuki’s response so that Xenith can try something very different without necessarily coming across as a murderous psycho. For example, if Yuki’s extremely idealistic, maybe she is convinced that she can persuade the criminal to do the right thing (or perhaps turn the criminal altogether), whereas Xenith starts with the threats (“If you squeal, I’ll use whatever’s left of your head as a soccer ball”). I think readers would cut Xenith a lot of slack on overly violent rhetoric here because it might just be rhetoric/bluffing, whereas actually using a criminal’s head as a soccer ball would raise eyebrows.

    Alternately, if their secret identities are relatively strong, Yuki might go about discrediting the criminal and/or stealing whatever evidence the criminal has OR planting false evidence which would lead the criminal to falsely implicate other people to cast doubt on the actually correct allegations. For example, if a criminal publicly claimed that Superman’s secret identity was Michael Clarke Duncan and that the Flash was Barry Bonds and that Batman was secretly Bruce Wayne, even criminals might dismiss the Bruce Wayne revelation as either pure nuttiness or perhaps one know-nothing criminal pursuing a grudge against a major businessman for whatever reason (e.g. maybe he got fired from Wayne’s company or maybe Wayne owned his apartment building at one point). PS: If somebody makes accusations against one major hero and one minor one (e.g. Superman and Plastic Man), they will definitely look at the accusation against the major hero first. So a “Superman is Michael Clarke Duncan [wrong] and Plastic Man is Pat O’Brian [right]” situation very much plays to Plastic Man’s advantage because people will care a lot more about the Superman accusation (which isn’t plausible and can eventually be proven false).

  35. B. McKenzieon 12 Jun 2012 at 10:25 am

    …a criminal discovers the hero(ine)’s secret identity. Now, most heroes say ‘I can’t kill, not even for this,’ and then convenient amnesia (or a convenient death) removes the threat.” The most dangerous thing you can do in Metropolis is to learn Superman’s secret identity,* whereas the most dangerous thing you can do in Gotham is to be in Gotham.

    *After a while, you’d think the police would start wondering about whether all of these convenient deaths are actually being engineered by Superman.

  36. ekimmakon 14 Jun 2012 at 7:23 pm

    Post vanished. Drat.

    I don’t think I should involve other hero’s identities, because then I’d probably have to expand on that. Judging from Extreme Team, I probably shouldn’t tempt myself.

    I do think that perhaps Xenith could arrange for the criminal to acquire a diary filled with false evidence, that while appears logical, under closer examination has major flaws in it. Such as getting her powers from an event that happened long after Yuki started showing up.

  37. ekimmakon 30 Aug 2012 at 12:32 am

    Ok, this is just an offside scenario that I thought up, that would have to occur a considerable distance into the series, IF it’s a series. But I kind of like it.

    Xenith and a confident are confronted by some superman archetype outside of school.

    Friend: Wait, you know Captain Ultimatum?
    Xenith: Yes. We had a dispute over the legal ownership of Exodus technology.
    CU: Aw, come on. I thought you were over that. Didn’t you forgive me?
    Xenith: Yuki forgave you. I still don’t trust you. Fact is, you know my secret identity, but I don’t know yours. Pretty useful blackmail material.
    CU: I’m Vivian Jones.
    Xenith: And that’s supposed to make me trust you?
    CU: It means we have common secrets. A feeling of camaradrie. It-
    Xenith: It shows that you’re lousy at keeping your own secrets, and I doubt you’ll be any better with mine.

  38. ekimmakon 27 Dec 2012 at 2:03 am

    Looking back at the date on this, I really haven’t gotten any good writing done in ages. It’s all been in my head, nothing down on paper (digital or otherwise). Now, I’d like to get at least one book out about Xenith Ward, and her second persona, but my biggest worry is that they’re too different.

    Xenith Ward reads sort of like a spy novel, I guess, or Batman level dark hero work. She’s a fairly grim and serious person.

    Wheras Yuki Girl (and I get the feeling no one has read the part about her) is quite jovial, hyperactive, and comical. I think I wrote that part shortly after watching that old superhero movie The Mask, and it shows.

    They’re extremely different people, the tone and writing differs greatly between them. And I worry that will drive away readers, as fans of one side will stop reading when they get to the other. Indeed, whenever I pick up Eragon books, I always skip over the parts that aren’t about Eragon, because I find them too disconcerting. And if I do that for something that’s relatively similar, then I can only imagine what happens with such a huge difference here.

    But that’s just my problem.

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