[Writing] Keller - Chapter 34 (30th Nov 2023)

Started by Tapewolf, April 14, 2022, 06:14:22 PM

Previous topic - Next topic


Quote from: Starcat5 on October 09, 2023, 05:49:42 PM...wow! From length alone, this has passed the threshold of Side Story, and is landing solidly as an Intermission, if not straight up Sequel. Add in the fact that Keller fell from MC POV position to Recurring Character rather early on, perhaps it would be a good idea to save his self-titled story for an actual character piece.

For the sake of brainstorming, might I suggest simply going with "Project Future Intermission: The Dragon Mask"? With the Mask showing up as early as Chapter 5, it isn't really a spoiler. In fact, I would put the Mask solidly under the Hitchcock definition of McGuffin: The thing everyone wants that kicks off the plot, but the object itself is entirely interchangeable. Effectively, "The Maltese Falcon" as a AA Battery. All the interesting stuff is what happens around it.

Heh, yes.  'Keller' was always a working title, and this is definitely intended to be Project Future III now, and the main story after Epsilon assuming all goes well.  "Dragon Mask Replica" is a title I've considered, or possibly "The Dragon Project". 

QuoteAlso, every time I read Lord Ravage's name, I hear it in the voice from this video:

I never really watched many of the animations so I didn't really get a feel for what he sounded like.  Apparently he was far more talkative in the UK comics than the US versions for some reason.

J.P. Morris, Chief Engineer DMFA Radio Project * IT-HE * D-T-E


Part the First: Hmm... Is putting "Replica" in the title the right move, when the original is inside said replica and presumably has the same likeness? Likewise, there really isn't a "Project" in this story. Well, one maybe, but "The Queenslayer Project" is a bit of a spoiler, and not relevant for most of the run time.  >:3

Part the Second: Yeah, the G1 Animation did Ravage and the other cassette-based beastformers dirty. At least he got a speaking role during his stint on Beast Wars. ...with a Russian accent. WTF?  :B  For a good fan voice though, let me recommend this classic rendition:

That said, my post wasn't talking about Ravage's voice. I was commenting on the fact that every time I read his name, I kept hearing it in that announcer's over the top gravelly voice. ...or at least my memory of it. The real thing was much more subdued than what was in my head.  :P

Part the New: Oh snap, I forgot to mention my sorrow for R-ALF's loss. Getting knocked back to Square One through no fault of his own, or that of the test body, must really sting. I wonder if he'll reconsider the Anthro upgrade if they throw in a set of CyberJag-themed plate mail?  ;)
Conservative Democrat or Liberal Republican: You decide!
The Centrist line has moved a long way to the Right over the years.

I'd argue that's a horribly shallow argument, except it's completely true. ~ooklah


Quote from: Starcat5 on October 11, 2023, 04:12:54 AMPart the First: Hmm... Is putting "Replica" in the title the right move, when the original is inside said replica and presumably has the same likeness?

Yeah, I'm not completely sold on the idea for the reasons you mention.  But it's mostly because of this:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trout_Mask_Replica

QuotePart the New: Oh snap, I forgot to mention my sorrow for R-ALF's loss. Getting knocked back to Square One through no fault of his own, or that of the test body, must really sting. I wonder if he'll reconsider the Anthro upgrade if they throw in a set of CyberJag-themed plate mail?  ;)

Yeah, it might be that he'll get another shot at that later, we'll have to see.  R-ALF would certainly go for it, it's a matter of convincing the Commission.

J.P. Morris, Chief Engineer DMFA Radio Project * IT-HE * D-T-E


Okay - no promises on how regularly this is going to update, but here we go:

Chapter 34

Jakob went into the hangar and abruptly froze, causing Strauss to bump into his back.  Zordan was reclining upon the concrete floor, surrounded by a number of cyberjags who were sitting in a semi-circle around him, listening attentively.  He appeared to be telling them a story.

"What's all this?" the wolf asked once the dragon had stopped speaking.

"Since I am likely to spend the foreseeable future here and in this form, it seemed wise to get to know the locals," the cyber-dragon explained.  "They were understandably skittish at first, but we appear to have smoothed over that now, I hope."

Strauss frowned slightly and Zordan rolled his eyes.

"You are about to accuse me of colluding with the cyberjags and corrupting them," he said.  "Actually, I find their presence soothing.  Remember that I am built on the same technology, and subject to the same penalties as them if I go off the rails.  Why should I not feel some kind of kinship with them?  It may also be a side-effect of the brain technology you have given me."

"He was telling us tales of the past," R-MAC said.  "It is always interesting to hear different viewpoints.  Especially from a race believed to be extinct."

"And who would have made you extinct if they'd known," Strauss pointed out.

"Hizell certainly would have," Zordan said.  "But you wouldn't have needed his help.  The Creature Council alone would have been outraged by Mr. Pettersohn's actions in creating artificial sentience.  He would likely have been condemned to beheading for such impudent deeds if he had been caught.  Or else, he would be deported to Hizell's domain, which amounts to the same thing.  The panthers would have been destroyed soon after."

"Thanks," Jakob said ruefully, unconsciously rubbing at the "Do Not Remove" mark that Daryil had left on the back of his neck.  "And what about you?  Would you have seen us extinct?  What did you actually plan to do with the Dragon Mask, if you had been able to take it?"

"I was not pro-'Cubi," Zordan admitted.  "Few were, at the time, thanks to Hizell's propaganda and the misdeeds of the Jyraneth.  Your kind did not exactly help yourselves, but I think you already know that.
"But at the same time, I did not push for your extinction either.  Now, as for the artifact, I had sought it for the usual reasons - greed, and the promise of great power.  Among others, Hizell and M'Chek had become top-tier Dragons, disgusting though the latter's method of achieving it was.  I saw that in the proper hands, the Mask could have raised me to similar heights.  So naturally, I coveted it too."

"And how would you have used such power?"  Jakob asked nervously.

"I don't know," Zordan said sadly.  "You may find this hard to believe, but at one time I sought to throw down Hizell and reach a settlement with the 'Cubi race.  End the hostilities, and break the cycle of might-makes-right.
"Now do not mistake me - I would not have done this out of love for your kind, who I saw as upstarts and usurpers at best.  But such a world-shaking deed would imbue me with fame and reputation on a grand scale!  I would be forging a new age, remaking the world in my own image!  And you lot would have owed me big," he added with a wicked smile.

Jakob started in horror.  "So you're saying that if Daryil had protected it less thoroughly, you could have stopped Hizell in his tracks...?  Saved the lives of untold 'Cubi left headless by Hizell's death squads, and prevented the extinction of the Dragon Race?
"...And we threw all that away by our own over-cautiousness?" he whimpered.

The cyber-dragon sat back and shrugged sadly.  "Who knows?  Without that safeguard, Hizell may have obtained it first and become wholly unstoppable.  He would likely have executed me for daring to try and take what was rightfully his.
"And if I had obtained the device, would I have stuck to that plan once such power was truly within my possession?  You, Lord Cross, know as well as I do, that power corrupts.  What may start as a worthy goal can be perverted by time and character flaws.
"Just as you became a tyrant over Ha'Khunn, it is all too likely that I would have begun to hoard my power and prestige, jealously guarding my position at the top of the tree, and seeking ruthlessly to destroy all who threatened to dethrone me.
"In short, and to be brutally honest, even if I had started by trying to change the world for the better, I would likely have become Hizell in all but name, and the War would eventually have happened anyway." 

There was a stunned silence while everyone digested that.

At length, Jakob turned to the Ray twins.  "So, given that background, how did you become friends with Zordan?" he asked.  "I'm not against it, I'd just like to know."

"He's big and powerful," X-RAY said, looking a little awed.  "And yes, it was scary at first.  He could probably kill us with those big clawed feet of his!  I don't think we count as protected personnel!"

"But he promised that he'd use that power to protect us and watch over us," Y-RAY chimed in.  "After being shot in the head... You can see how that was a comforting thought, right?  I mean... I hope we don't end up in such a fix that we need a Dragon to save us... But if we do, we're covered, right...?"

"It was not a selfless act,"  Zordan admitted.  "Even a Dragon on an high mountain needs someone to talk to, after all.  Hizell had his minions, M'Chek had the cream of his city, and Pyroduck sojourned among the lesser races... no offence intended.
"I need company, so I made overtures to those in a similar condition.  It has been most illuminating.  I believe have been experiencing friendship, something that does not happen often to Dragons.
"Our culture does not encourage such things, but without any peers to pressure me, what does it matter?  Bonding with others like this has been a pleasing experience."

"Well, I'm glad you're settling in," Jakob said.  "Even if it's worrying Ms. Strauss."

"You do still hold the upper hand," Zordan pointed out.  "Aside from ordering my execution, you can now suspend my visiting privileges if I commit some lesser infraction.  Doubtless you would have thought of this yourself anyway, but I point it out myself as a token of my earnestness.  I cannot go back to how things were, so I must move forward.  And that means becoming part of your team as best I can."

"I'm sorry," Strauss said.  "But I can't forget that Demonkind was pencilled in as the next target for extermination after the 'Cubi had been obliterated.  That does not make things easy."

"I will try to be good," Zordan promised.  "And now, I presume that since the both of you came here, you wished to ask me a question?"

"Yes," Jakob said.  "Daryil, Strauss and a number of other parties have a meeting shortly, and we would like to have your opinions on the matter at hand."

"Very well," the Dragon said.  "Show me how to operate the communications system and I shall attend."

*  *  *

"Amanti?"  Niall said.  "The Lord Daryil wishes to see you."

"No!  I haven't killed anyone!"  Amanti whimpered, looking terrified.  "Well, apart from that psycho mayor and the Talon guys!  But they don't count, right...?  That was self-defence!"

"It's not about that," Niall said, facepalming.  "We think you know who hired them."

"It wasn't me!" the incubus screeched.  "The Talon mooks tried to kill me too, remember!  And Keller!"

"Amanti!  Stop panicking and listen," Niall snapped, rolling his eyes.  "For all your faults, Daryil does not believe you're responsible.  But we have learned that the perpetrator may be part of your family, so naturally he wants to ask you about it.  That is all."

"Oh," Amanti did not look much happier.

"I have been given information that Sims is actually Silas Jyraneth," Daryil said, appearing behind Amanti, who screamed in panic, claws almost tearing his gloves.

"I... I've only met him once or twice," Amanti admitted once he saw there was no escaping the question.  "You know we're a very fractured clan.  After my parents were executed, he tried to recruit me into some scheme.  Bastard told me that it would help avenge them... But I turned him down."

"That was noble of you," Niall said, looking at Amanti with new respect.

"I may have been grief-stricken, and I may have wanted to get back at Daryil having their heads chopped off," the cat said miserably, "But I wasn't that blind.  I loved my folks, but they died because of what they did, and I knew it.  Knew that it was only a matter of time until their deeds caught up with them.  Taking over the world wouldn't fix anything...  It wouldn't bring them back, now would it?"

"You made the right choice," Daryil said softly.  "And I'm proud of you for it.  I'm only sorry I couldn't help your parents before they crossed the line into the unforgiveable.  All I could do then was grant them the spectacular deaths they requested, even though I find public execution very distasteful."

"Thank you, MiLord," Amanti said.  "For granting them that wish, and for saving their child from a similar fate."

"We cool...?" Daryil asked, opening a meeting room door and gesturing him inside.

"We cool," Amanti replied.  "As for this Silas, I suppose you've asked Keaton...?  She was far more infamous than me, she'd have made the perfect ally for someone like that."

"Thanks," Keaton said proudly, slouching in one of the meeting room chairs.  "But... Well..." she trailed off uncomfortably at the sight of Zordan, who had just appeared on the main screen.

"Is that..." she whimpered.

"A dragon?  Yes," Zordan said.  "Or what is left of one, at least.  There will be time for introductions later."

"Keaton's last run-in with her own clan hadn't ended well," Daryil said, switching back to the topic at hand.

"Yeah," the black-backed jackal said.  "I found some fanatics.  Ex-Inquisitors, I think, doing the only thing they know how.
"All smiles and roses until I made some remark - then they pulled a greatsword on me for heresy against The Lady.  So when this other guy turns up later, and says he's a Jyraneth and wants me to help him conquer Her...  Well, either it's the Inquisition again, trying to entrap me for blasphemy and lop off my head, or he's mentally unstable and the Inquisition will have his head off next.  Either way, I knew better than to stick around."

"Thank you Keaton," Daryil said.  "Now, I guess we'd better get this meeting underway."

J.P. Morris, Chief Engineer DMFA Radio Project * IT-HE * D-T-E


but HOW will I choose just ONE THING in this chapter to be excited about??? oh i will have to love it all