Posted 15 August 2012 - 11:34 PM
Stats: All Standard
There was a chandelier in the ceiling, hanging back and forth. The lights were dusty. Hazel noticed because she was forced to look up by the pressure on the base of her neck. There was a woman on the left side of the room who had very pretty hair tied up in a ponytail and fed through the back of a baseball cap which was pushed down to hide her face. Hazel wished she could make her hair do that, but since she had cut it short, nice hairstyles like that were out of reach. Her nametag read Sally. Hazel shook her head and forced herself to focus on the important things. The woman was holding a gun, a pistol to be precise. Her grip was correct, as though she'd been trained. From what Hazel had glimpsed as she walked in the room, everyone around her had a gun. They were all behind desks or some other kind of furniture for cover. This ambush was well planned. Hazel took quick inventory of the room around her.
How many guns are there in this room?
How many are there besides the ones I have?
How many are pointed at my head?
Well, I’m screwed, aren’t I?
The day before, Hazel was in training. She stood in a line of others, some men, some women. It was the end of Gun Training. They had spent the last three hours drilling with rubber bullets. In this program the training was never co-operative; it was always a competition. Hazel's hair was messed up from crawling through the mud. The entire front of her shirt was ruined. The woman next to her was bleeding freely from the nose where Hazel had punched her. Her rubber bullet pistol.
The Iceman walked up and down the line, staring into the eyes of every single one of his recruits. He had watched the training fight from a distance. Now it was time for him to dispense his judgement.
"Hazel, front and center!"
Hazel stepped out of line and walked toward The Iceman. He stared at her and she averted her gaze, awaiting his assessment.
"You, madam, are some kind of woman, did you know that?"
Hazel couldn't tell if that was positive or negative, so she responded, "No, sir."
"You is just like a coyote." Coyote was pronounced with two syllables. Hazel realized then that The Iceman was probably American.
"How so, sir?"
"You see what you want and you just go for it."
"Thank you, sir."
"I think you're ready. You're one of us, now."
Hazel's eyebrows shot to the top of her head and her mouth hung open. "Really? Like, no longer a recruit?"
The Iceman smiled. "Come with me."
He dismissed the recruits and walked away toward the tall building that Hazel had never been allowed into. She followed The Iceman to a small room in which there was one table and two chairs. He took the chair facing the door, Hazel took the other. There was a small bottle on the table, about the size of a saltshaker.
The Iceman cleared his throat and began speaking. "I am now your superior officer. I will be assigning you missions in here. This is the briefing room. Do you have any questions?"
Hazel was too excited to ask anything. She shook her head "no".
"You're going to have to take these pills here." The Iceman pushed the bottle towards Hazel. "This will expand your mind and merge your subconscious with your consciousness. You'll never miss anything again and you'll know everything you see. You have the choice whether to take it or not, but bear in mind that we in this organization operate at a higher level. You'll probably need this pill to keep up."
Hazel's first thought was that the pill might be poison. But why would they make an effort to poison the best of their ranks. Hazel was the best recruit, she made sure of it. Not one of the recruits had tagged her with a rubber bullet once in the last five training missions. There was no doubt Hazel deserved a reward for her efforts. She screwed the top off the bottle and balanced the two pills in her palm for a second. They were speckled black and white and almost too big to swallow without water. She considered asking for some, but then decided against it and swallowed both.
"Good. Very good. There is a bar in The Spires I'd like you to go to. There you will find your first mission. It's called Mirror, Mirror. I trust you'll be able to find it."
Hazel could barely speak through the large pills in her throat. "You mean no more training?"
"Of course not," The Iceman chuckled, "You're one of us now."
Standard Environmental Awareness (Noticing) (2)
The bar was pretty crowded. Hazel had to fight her way to the bartender. "Hey, I'm looking for someone."
'What does he look like?"
Hazel realized she didn't have an answer to that question. Everything snapped into place. The first test: find the operative. Hazel shrugged and looked around to the bar. Her subconscious kept bubbling through with information she picked up about every person.
That man wants to buy me a drink. Hazel swung her head to the person she was thinking about. He turned his head away and glanced back a second later. Hazel was flattered and under other circumstances, she probably would have gone to talk with him. Instead she ignored him and kept looking for people.
That's her, right there, next to the door with the green, spiked mohawk and the nose piercings. Hazel wasn't used to her subconscious relaying information directly into her consciousness. The thoughts felt weirdly intrusive, as though they weren't hers. She looked at the woman near the door. She was wearing a choker and dressed in a way almost specifically to stand out.
Hazel guessed they were going easy on her for her first mission. She went and sat down across from her.
The punk woman looked offended. She set down her drink and leaned forward over the table. "Who the hell are you?"
Hazel panicked on how to apologize for her intrusion into this stranger's life when a hand settled on the stranger's shoulder.
"Don't worry, Sam. I’ll take it from here." Another woman, who apparently knew the punk woman, took her seat across the table from Hazel who sat there with her mouth open wide in shock. The only thing this new woman said by way of explanation was, "Sufficiently shocking stimuli will overwhelm your subconscious. It is your job to control yourself. I hope you've learned your lesson, because your first mission starts now."
"Who are you?"
"My name is Jack. I work for the Iceman and now you do too."
Hazel noticed the wedding ring on Jack's finger. She noticed the bags under Jack's eyes. Her subconscious was picking up details about Jack that she didn't want to know. Hazel forced her focus on to what Jack was saying.
"There's a hidden cellar out in January Docks. The people who live there have something that we want. I need you to take it back."
Standard Reaction Speed (Training) (2)
The gun that Jack gave her felt heavy. It was a semi-automatic pistol. A lot bigger than the guns she was used to in the training exercises. She checked the ammunition when it was first handed to her. Jack seemed mildly offended by the lack of trust, but she hadn't said anything. The bullets inside were real.
The smell of the South Atlantic ocean was strong near January Docks. The salty tinge in the air tickled in Hazel's throat. The building was smaller than she’d expected. A humble bungalow that didn’t extended very far backwards. Hazel could hardly believe there was space for more than one room, let alone a treasure cellar. Still, she had been taught to trust the information she was given.
Her subconscious started picking up details about the buildings as she walked toward. She realized that the windows were unbarred and big enough to jump through. That information turned out to be useless however, because the door opened easily.
Hazel was greeted by a bear of a man who stood up from his seat at the other side of the room and walked forward. He held his big, meaty palm out and said, “I’m gonna need to see some identification.”
“My name is Hazel,” she reached for the gun that she had stowed in the back of her jeans, “I’m here to take your treasure.” She whipped the gun forward and leveled it at the brute. He chuckled and pulled out a knife. “What are you doing?”
“There’s no silencer on that gun.”
“So if you shoot me, you’ll be buried in a world a shit. A dozen people will be here within a minute.”
Hazel nodded and put the gun back. “Well then, I guess I’ll have to kick your ass the old fashioned way.” Her fists went up to protect her face in the best approximation of a fighting stance she could come up with.
The thug charged with the knife raised over his head. Hazel moved to the left to avoid the stab and hit him three times in the kidneys. The brute grunted slightly, the punches hadn’t done much damage at all. Hazel glanced around the room for some kind of weapon. There was a vase on a table nearby. Hazel thanked her subconscious again before picking up the vase to use as a weapon.
She turned back just as the thug was swinging again. Hazel screamed and raised the vase to protect herself. Her eyes shut involuntarily against the impact. When she opened them again, the thug was struggling to get his arm unstuck from inside the vase. Hazel grabbed on tight and twisted it down. She heard the knife clatter to the bottom of the vase.
She was starting to get tired. Hazel needed a way to end the fight fast when the knowledge came to her as though it had been there all along. She swung the vase hand up into the air where it slammed into a ceiling fan. The vase shattered, raining sharp bits of ceramic down on Hazel and the thug. The knife fell and lodged itself in the space under his eye. Hazel reasoned from his loud screaming that she had a limited amount of time left to get the damn treasure.
Standard Marksman (2) (Training)
The cellar was bigger than the building above had intimated. Hazel descended into a tunnel curving away to where she couldn’t see the ending. The walls were sandstone and the floor was dirt. She started walking slowly, keeping her gun at the ready.
She heard some footsteps coming down the hallway. Details about the person flooded in from just the sound of his feet. The only important detail was his height. As he rounded the corner, Hazel put a bullet right between his eyes. He hadn’t even had a chance to see her. Hazel stepped over his body as she continued.
In the next room, there were three men in the next room. One was facing the door and talking to the other two. She shot the one facing her first before taking out the other two. It was easy. Just like training with rubber bullets.
Standard Piercing Ranged Multi-Attack (4) (The bark of a semi-automatic pistol)
The tunnel ended with a rusted metal ladder leading up through a trap door. Hazel placed the gun in the back of her pants before starting to climb up. She pushed open the trap door and peeked her head out. On the far side of the room was a safe door built into the wall. It was pretty obvious that The Iceman’s treasure was in there, but there should be some security around here. She turned her feet so that she could swivel around on the ladder and look at the whole room. Her head turned just in time to meet a boot swinging into her face.
For a second everything was dark. Hazel was scared she had lost consciousness, but as her vision started to blur back in, she realized the darkness was just a temporary effect of having her nose broken. She felt someone dragging her out of the hole. Her back rubbed mercilessly on an uneven stone floor. She felt the gun slip out of her pants and lay on the floor. They dragged her face up by the feet to the center of the room. Hazel pretended to let her head loll around uselessly, but in fact she was gathering details about where everyone in the room was. She glanced up at the ceiling and almost laughed out loud at a detail that she picked up.
The chandelier was really quite dirty.
Superior Tactician (Training) (4)
There were three targets in the room two of whom were behind some form of cover. The blonde woman, Sally, was 35 degrees to the left and there was a black man eighty degrees to the right. Each one looked like a pretty good shot. Their skill level was an unknown variable in her plan. Hazel estimated.
Another man, presumably the ringleader from his posture and the way he referenced the other two gloated over Hazel’s body. Her pistol lay alone on the floor unused and about twice her height away from her. He wasn’t holding his gun right. Hazel was sure if she could catch him off guard, she could take it. She knew how, she’d been trained.
She wiggled her arms and legs to make sure she wasn’t particularly incapacitated. Blood flowed down from her nose and leaked across her cheeks into her hair where it dried in clumps. Otherwise, she felt all in all pretty fine.
And then she waited and watched for her chance as the boss gestured with his pistol. In the height of his speech, Hazel shot up from the floor. Every one of her muscles engaged at the same time, just as she’d been trained. She quickly grabbed the pistol and wrenched it from his hand. His mouth opened in shock as the woman he’d just defeated erupted from the floor. Hazel waited a half second for the two lackeys to take aim and then continued erupting effort, leaving the floor and grabbing hold of an arm of the chandelier with her free hand and both thighs. The lackeys’ bullets whizzed under her, shredding through the boss.
Hazel barely had time to celebrate however; she knew that the lackeys would eventually re-align their shots. This was where the variables started coming into the skirmish. The chandelier spun with the force of Hazel’s. After a tenth of a second, Hazel fired a bullet up through the center of the chandelier. Glass shattered and the chandelier detached from the ceiling and with it Hazel fell towards her gun on the floor. Hazel was pleasantly surprised to see both lackeys flinch at the sound of the gunshot. She had overestimated them.
When Hazel hit the floor, she grabbed the pistol as fast as she could and rolled out of the glass debris. She raised both pistols above her head with her arms crossed and fired both simultaneous. Hazel glanced left and right. Both of the lackeys fell to the ground. The plan worked. Hazel brushed shards of glass out of her clothing and proceeded toward the safe.
It took her a while to crack the code, but once she did, the safe swung open easily. She stepped inside and picked up a box about the size of a loaf of bread and snapped open the latched on the side. Hazel opened the box and her mouth dropped open.
“The Iceman wanted that?”
Posted 18 August 2012 - 09:45 PM
Same with Ice-man. I need a little more description about him. I love the lines "You, madam, are some kind of woman, did you know that?", "You is just like a coyote". They give him some character, and it would be cool to see more dialect in the character voices. Also, why Ice-man? You don't have to explicitly say why, but you could address it, "Hazel didn't know why he was called Ice-Man. None of the recruits did, and that's the way he liked it." Or whatever.
Also, I really like the subconcious awareness stuff, its good and makes her inner monologue unique. I might suggest to do away with the pills and replace it with something else, brian surgery, implant, a special soda "nirvana cola", etc. I only say this because that one Bradley Cooper movie had a similar idea and also used pills, so this could stop your story from being compared to that and could allow for a even more memorable, and unusual, means of self-enlightenment. Something crazy. (also on a related note, you don't always have to announce that her subconscious is observing the stuff. Maybe do it once in the EA section and the reader will pick up on the fact that its her subconscious every time after that.)
Aside from those two, I only have minor notes.
-In the first paragraph you mention she had some pressure on her neck, is that the boss's boot on her throat or what?
-"There was a chandelier in the ceiling, hanging back and forth"/ hanging from the ceiling, probably not literally in it. Also swinging back and forth, not hanging.
In the sentence "her rubber bullet pistol" it looks like something was left out.
- at multi-attack you might as well take full auto. semi-auto is like a revolver, one squeeze one shot. A machine pistol is kind of badass and is actually a little closer to what you're paying for anyway.
- "Boot swinging" seems a little off to me. Fists can swing, feet can too I guess. But the first time I read this it sounded like some guy was actually swinging a boot into her face (I mean really, who throws a shoe?). Maybe a more vicious verb could do it: crunching, smashing, pounding, slamming, biting, hammers, clobbers, etc, etc.
- "rubbed mercilessly on an uneven stone floor": Rubbed? Perhaps, 'chafed' maybe? I don't know how else you could be rubbed mercilessly, and I really hope I never have to find out
- "She felt the gun slip out of her pants and lay on the floor." She can feel it fall out of her pants, but she can't feel it lay on the floor. Her nerves don't run through the gun (but what if they did?). However, if you just say she felt her gun fall out of her pants, we can assume it ended up on the floor. Where else would it go?
- "They dragged her face up by the feet to the center of the room" ????? Had to reread this a few times. She was being dragged by her feet while on her back? How I might do it,
"She was staring straight up at the ceiling as something tugged at her feet, dragging her across the cold, uneven floor. The chafing was merciless."
- "Hazel estimated" Not sure if this was supposed to be its own sentence. Needs clarification.
- "Her pistol lay alone on the floor unused and about twice her height away from her"- Haze measures things in units of her height? Not in, you know, feet, or meters, or barleycorns, some standard unit of measure? We don't know how tall she is, so it kind of matters.
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