Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Dreams of Stars Part 24

      It was weird, they had been moving since well before sunrise, and now it was well after sunset and Deborah still wasn't tired. She should have been exhausted. Between the long walk and her own emotional trauma, her mind and body should have had it, but they were fine, energized a bit in fact. What's more, it didn't feel like she was being pushed to keep going, it felt, well, natural. The whole trip, L’lorne never prodded her to keep moving, yet Deborah always felt that she was, somehow. Now, that was gone. They walked side by side most of the trip, and now it was time to rest.

      “We're about five hours out,” L’lorne said as she gathered up some dried branches for a fire. Deborah nodded as she brushed up some dry pine needles from a nearby tree into the makeshift fire pit. “I think we should both get a good night's sleep tonight, tomorrow will be a busy day.”

      L’lorne stacked the branches on the needles, and Deborah pulled out her father's lighter and lit the stack. “Have you slept at all since I met you?” she asked.

      “Ah, you've noticed,” L’lorne said. “Aside from the motel I stayed in before we started this trip, no not really.” She settled down on the ground across from Deborah and the fire. “Not really necessary either, nor is eating for that matter, which I also haven't done any of.”

      “Oh, so you were lying about sneaking food from me?”

      “Would you feel better if I had let you think you had been eating like a pig?” Deborah frowned, causing L’lorne to laugh. The two then shared a bit of laughter.

     The evening was cooler than it had been, so Deborah pulled her coat closed around her. “Do you get cold too?”

      “I do, but usually I try to find ways to keep it from happening in the first place.”

      Deborah nodded and watched the fire for a while. Her mind was dancing with thoughts and questions, and she decided it was time to answer some of them. “Why are you going to kill your boyfriend? I mean, it's not just for my mama, is it?”

      “No, it's not just for that,” L’lorne said. “Honestly, I really don't know.”

      “You don't know? That's stupid. If you're going to kill someone, I would think you would know why.”

      L’lorne chuckled, not that knowing chuckle, but just a regular chuckle. “Well, it's a bit more complicated than that. I actually do know why, I just can't remember it.”

      “Uh.”

      L’lorne straightened up and took a deep breath. “I blocked the memory of the event from my conscious mind. Whatever it was that made me want to kill Ritch 'arrd was so terrible that simply remembering it made it impossible to think clearly.”

      “But if you can't remember what it was, how can you be sure you want to kill him?”

      “The block isn't perfect,” L’lorne said. “Emotions still get through sometimes, some stronger than others. Certain events and thoughts make it leak through even stronger.” She looked down into the fire and took a few deep breaths. “When your mother, well, died, it nearly tore the entire block apart in the process. I had to throw a few more layers of protection on just to stay in control.”

      “Oh,” Deborah hadn't forgotten her mother was dead, but hearing L’lorne say it reminded her a bit of the horrible truth, and she teared up a bit at the thought. She wiped them away a bit and took a few deep breaths, trying to shuffle the pain away. Still, some memory of the events bounced around. “So Richard is an alien?”

      “Ritch 'arrd,” L’lorne pronounced. “And yes, he is. The last of his people in fact. They've all been dead for a very long time.” Suddenly L’lorne yawned, something that caught Deborah a bit off guard. “Damn, more tired than I thought I was.”

      “I thought you didn't need to sleep.”

      “I don't need to,” L’lorne said. “But it's still good to get some once in a while.” L’lorne laid down on the ground, a pillow made of dirt and moss her own support. “I haven't slept under the stars like this in a long time.”

      Deborah said nothing, choosing to watch the leaping flames of the fire, adding another thick branch after a few moments. “So when was the last time you slept under the stars?” L’lorne didn't respond. Deborah shuffled up a bit, only to see that her black haired companion was sound asleep. “Good night,” she whispered.

      She still wasn't sleepy though. The fire, while fascinating and beautiful, was slowly becoming boring, and she wanted to ask more questions of L’lorne. No answers would be coming, so Deborah did the next best thing and pulled out the glasses and brought up some music she had found while walking earlier. The bands had been recommended in the articles about Art Flexible as possible inspirations and related music, and while Deborah didn't think they were nearly as good, they were still pretty good.

      Passively she began looking up information about the other bands. Phillip's Racing Cups, Her/She/Me, and Skattered Brains, among others. Biographies and other things filled her vision, overlapping the roaring fire before her. So much information, she could learn the entire past of every member of every band on Earth if she wanted. Of every person even.

      Of Lcorn L’lorne.

     Deborah sat up at the idea and cleared the screen with a simple thought. “Where is Lcorn L’lorne from?” she asked quietly, hoping not to awaken L’lorne with the exchange.

     The screen filled with the map she had seen so long ago when L’lorne had first given her the glasses. She now made the connection she had tried to make before: the weather map. That location was near one of the larger cities out west, and while it didn't explain everything, it did mean, for sure, L’lorne wasn't an alien or anything that bizarre.

      10 1 DDEFQ 99221 66345.88991.

      That number still sat at the top of the image, and it looked so odd. L’lorne had said it was a reference number, which was odd as nothing else Deborah had seen with the glasses had displayed any reference numbers. “I wonder what that is supposed to mean anyway.”

      “It's universe reference.”

      Deborah looked up across the fire, but found L’lorne was still fast asleep. She glanced around quickly, trying to find the source of the voice that she had heard. “Who said that?” she asked sternly.

      “I'm sorry, I did not mean to startle you.” The voice was almost feminine, but not quite. Certainly motherly, Deborah felt almost like she was at home again with the tone, but the voice was not her mother's, or L’lorne's, or anyone else's she had heard before.

      “Who are you?”

      The image the glasses displayed cleared, and the stylized word “Delphi” reappeared, as it did whenever she accessed the database. “Does that answer your question?”

      “And creates new ones,” Deborah said absently. “I didn't know you could talk.”

      “You never asked, or thought to ask. And I probably would not have, but explaining certain things with plain text often doesn't get the message across as well as a voice does.” There was a pause. “Incidentally, if you do not wish to wake L’lorne, you can simply think your responses to me, I can translate them quite well now.”

      Deborah thought hard. “Can you hear me?”

      “Quite clearly. I doubt L’lorne would be awoken if you screamed out your questions, but would I think the chances are significant enough to warrant it.”

      “I see,” Deborah thought. It was weird, but it felt oddly comfortable. After all, she had been accessing the database like this for a while now, so why not talk to the database directly? “So what's a universe reference?”

      “It is a code I use for referencing specific universes. This makes it easier for locating events and locations across the multi-verse.”

      “Multi-verse? You mean there's more than one universe?”

      “Infinitely more. Every possible outcome of every decision and event is played out in another universe. The laws governing it are a bit complicated, but I can go through them if you would like.”

      “No, that's alright, I guess I understand, sort of,” not at all. She didn't think this at Delphi, but she was positive the machine heard it anyway. It didn't respond like it did, though. Perhaps it was simply being polite, after all it had suggested not speaking in case they accidentally awakened L’lorne, and even offered to explain everything without hesitation.

      “In any case, the universe reference code you see on the top of that map,” which promptly was redisplayed. “Indicates which universe L’lorne was born in, and the location on that version of Earth she came from.”

      “Wait, that version of Earth?”

      “Yes. The reason you did not see a reference code with anything else you accessed was because it was all from this universe. This location is not from this universe, so it has a code.”

      The line of thought that started to come up with that revelation nearly knocked Deborah over. “L’lorne is from another universe,” she concluded.

      “Correct,” Delphi said. “The previous universe, by her and my reckoning.”

      Deborah took a deep breath and gulped part of it down. “Previous universe. Meaning that she came into this universe. . .”

      “By way of the end of the previous universe.”

      “Whoa,” she said aloud. Older than the universe. She wasn't sure exactly how long that was, but it meant L’lorne was very, very old indeed. “I didn't think she was much older than my mama.”

      “Her body's clock was stopped at about that age, but no, she is much older.”

      “Alright then,” Deborah said, then thought. “Tell me about L’lorne.”

      There wasn't an immediate reply. When it came, there was a sense of caution in the voice. “I am not sure you really want to know.”

      “I do,” Deborah protested. “I wouldn't have asked if I didn't want to know.”

      “True, but there is much to know about her, and while I could summarize it in a few short paragraphs, I doubt you would get much from it, or understand it completely.” Another pause. “Perhaps I could simply show you a few important events, would that suffice?”

      “Show me?”

      Before she could ask Delphi to clarify the view before her went black and was replaced with a field in the evening. Stars hung in the sky high above and in the distance she could just see the line of a great river. Deborah turned and found a young girl, not much older than herself, but with long black hair and dark skin, laying in the grass, staring upwards into the sky. Instantly she knew it was L’lorne, the same eyes were there, if younger, the same line of the jaw and curve of the cheek.

      "They are quite pretty, aren't they?” a voice said. Both Deborah and the young L’lorne looked up to see a rather handsome man standing there, looking up at the same batch of stars. Before Deborah could ask, a white text label appeared next to him, indicating that he was “The Ritch 'arrd.”

      "What do you want?" L’lorne asked with a huff. Deborah settled back and listened carefully.
---------

Questions

1. What kind of person is Lcorn Llorne? What does she look like (in your mind)?
2. What kind of person is the Deborah Ignigus? What does she look like (in your mind)?
3. Does the setting seem fitting? Would you like to know more?
4. Does Delphi's explanation make sense without overdoing it?

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Culling

More site maintenance this week

You see, with last week's entry to the Wild Webcomic Review, I'm over 100 comics on my read list.  Well, maybe.  The status category of the New List hasn't been updated properly, so I need to sort that first then get things straightened out on the official read list, because if it's still over 100, that cannot be allowed to stand.

First, though, I need to clear up my Hiatus folder.

Does Not Play Well With Others now has all of Poe's focus, so it's going into the read list, weekly for now, might move it later.

Templar, Arizona updated a bit, back in December and February.  I'll move it to Monthly rather than outright Hiatus for now.

The Meek and The Pain will stay in Haitus status.  The Meek because, I'm sure when and if the artist gets time, he'll draw it again and The Pain because, well, it did update reasonably recently apparently.

Edible Dirt and Gypsy!, however, are going directly to the Dead file.  They're gone.

Okay, that's done.

Serenity Rose, aka Heart Shaped Skull is being moved to the Complete category, it's finished for now.  I'll try to keep tabs on it in the future.

Shi Long Pang is going to Hiatus until it starts up again.  Alex Ze Pirate has also been moved to Hiatus, because it hasn't done anything since announcing it would be updating more.  Since Poe has changed his focus for a bit, Errant Story, though complete, will be listed in the Hiatus folder on the side.  It's more so I remember to check it than anything else.

Makeshift Miracle is moving to Non-Read because I just can't get back into it for some reason.

Haru-Sari is being moved to the Dead folder because it looks like it's done for.  Shame.

Several random comics were listed as Read, even though I didn't read them.  I won't go through all of them, but I needed to do something about it.  I've also added missing Retrospective links for Exploitation Now! and Life of Riley, I kind of forgot them.  Whoops.

Okay, after all that, I'm down to 90 comics, plus 4 Hiatus comics.  That's good.  If it goes over 100 though, not counting newspaper strips, I'll have to cull.  I'm not sure the form it'll take at this time, but it will be a big deal when I start trimming comics because of time.  I don't look forward to it, I assure you.

Until next week kiddies when I'll be doing, um, something.  I hope.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Dreams of Stars Part 23


            It was cooler now, a slight cold front had pushed away the warm air L’lorne had parked over the region, but this was natural and expected.  If the warm air had remained for too long, Ritch 'arrd would have noticed it.  No matter, she was already building up a second front that should arrive the next evening.

            That didn't begin to explain Deborah's position, curled up in a ball, her knees up to her face in a sitting position.  She obviously wanted to cry, to bawl her eyes out, again, but she had simply run out of tears and she was otherwise exhausted.  It would take much to get her moving again, and L’lorne was considering some options.

            In the meantime, they waited on top of a building some distance from the Asylum, in just the right position that L’lorne could easily watch the comings and goings.  Ambulances had surrounded the area for some time, and most left at low speed, no rush needed for corpses after all.  In any case, she was waiting for someone more important.  A limo pulled up near the front door and a figure rose up out of it.  “Here we go,” she said.

            “What?”  Deborah said, moving next to L’lorne so she could watch.  The man who had gotten out of the limo stopped and pulled out a cellphone, responding to a call.

            “That's not him,” L’lorne said.  It was a slim hope that Ritch 'arrd would make an appearance, he wouldn't be flushed out so easily.  Still, she had thought that maybe he would slip up.  No matter.  She tried to follow the phone conversation but found a sequence of blocks and other distractions in her way.  “He's probably talking to Ritch 'arrd now.  He'll go inside, assess the situation then report back.  Now he's probably just giving an initial report.”

            “I've seen him before.”

            “You have?”  L’lorne studied the man as he closed his phone and moved into the Asylum.  She couldn't recall him, which didn't mean much.  “Where?”

            “In the paper.  Front page.  He was next to the funny looking guy.”

            The paper was already being displayed as soon as Deborah spoke.  The headlines were rather generic, aside from the article about the mystery of an exploding military truck a day earlier.  L’lorne wondered how long it would take Deborah to make the connection to their little encounter at the farm.  The headline, and the picture with it, however, were the focus.  “EDUCATION MINISTER PURPOSES NEW EDUCATION PLAN.”  Two men in the picture, one was the man who got out of the limo, a personal assistant to the Minister of Education, one Malcolm Donalds.  “Ritch 'arrd.”

            “You mean that funny looking guy is your boyfriend?”  Deborah was looking at the paper as well, probably at the same picture.  “He doesn't look like an alien.”  No, he didn't look like an alien, he looked completely normal, which of course would drive Deborah's innate senses nuts.  He was too normal looking, and it stuck out to her, and to L’lorne.

            “Yes, it's him,” she let go of a deep breath, a sigh of victory.  “At long last, I've got him, and this time he isn't getting away.”

            Deborah got up with L’lorne and the two stood looking out towards the Asylum.  “What are you going to do when you meet him?”

            “I think,” L’lorne said.  “I think I'm going to kill him.”

            Deborah said nothing for a moment, composing her thoughts probably.  “Then I'm going with you.”  There was a fire in her eyes as she said it, a fire of anger and hate.  L’lorne put her hand on Deborah's shoulder for a moment, then they left the building.  L’lorne wouldn't need to find any way to motivate Deborah, she had all the motivation she needed.

---------

            There was a lot of crying and wailing.  The stench of death was obvious, and the buildings were on fire now.  Soldiers made their way through the village, gathering the bodies of the fallen and throwing them into a cart to be moved to a nearby pit for burial.  Nearly all had been shot in some way, most were warriors, a few were innocent women and children.

            L’lorne stepped over one body, carefully looking at him for a moment then moving on.   She wasn't alone, as he followed her closely, observing.  “It doesn't look like your plan worked,” he said without actually sounding like he was scolding her, an ability that was as natural as breathing, she had learned over the last few hundred years.

            “No, it didn't.”  She looked at a soldier who passed within feet of her.  His pale skin and slight beard made him look almost not human, but she let the feeling pass.  “They didn't have to kill them like this though.”

            He responded with a questioning grunt.  She could feel the invisibility field around them shuffle a bit as another soldier stepped past them, rifle in his hand, checking each building before one of his subordinates put it to the torch.  “So what now?”

            “Perhaps,” she paused and watched as the next building burned.  “Perhaps they need to see what's it like to have their entire way of life threatened with annihilation.”

            “That could prove interesting, but there isn't much around now that could actually do that.”

            “There would need to be a series of rather potent technological advances, I suppose,” L’lorne thought aloud.  They continued to walk, making their way near the burial pit the soldiers had dug.  They wrapped bodies in blankets and tossed them in with little regard beyond that.  “Just not sure where best to start it.”

            “Technology is one thing my dear, but reason to develop and use such technology is just as important.”

            “Reason, eh?”  L’lorne thought for a moment.  “How about Russia?  I think we could get some good reasons out of there.

            “Possibly,” he said.  “But they lack some important elements to make ensure things go badly.  Well, right now they do.”  He furrowed his brow in thought.  “Actually, I think we should head for the Germanic states.  Then Russia.  I've got some ideas we should try out.”

            “I'd love to hear them,” L’lorne said.  As she spoke, an officer ordered the burial to begin, and dirt was tossed onto the bodies of the fallen.


---------

Questions

1. What kind of person is Lcorn Llorne? What does she look like (in your mind)?
2. What kind of person is the Deborah Ignigus? What does she look like (in your mind)?
3. Does the setting seem fitting? Would you like to know more?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Wild Webcomic ReviewSPLOSION! Part 2

Previously on the:

WILD WEBCOMIC REVIEW

"I got 10 comics via the blog's email account and have decided to do them all in two potent batches."

Now the conclusion.

Okay, that was silly, even for me.  Anyway, this time I must face the problem of taking email reviews: ones I don't like.  This is not as much fun as you would think.  Let's get these two out of the way first.  Yeah, two of them.

256.  Ruin-Nation - The first thing is the art, then the writing, then the story.  All of it says "bad comic" and yet I can't really declare it such because, well, it feels like someone's first comic.  The art isn't good, but it's more like a junior high student's sketches than art work that's just plain bad (I actually checked, and no, I don't think the artist is in junior high).  In fact there are a few moments where it gets a bit better, and sometimes simple arrangements and layouts are there, just not the art itself.  The writing has some amazingly awful moments of grammatical errors, but there's also a bit of elegance in some of it (especially the first page).  The story is, well, all over the place (time travel, government conspiracies, evil corporations and nuclear war), but they are kind of all tied together, though how exactly isn't really in the comic yet.  This is a young comic, a FIRST comic, so it gets a bit of slack.  Oh, it's not good, but I think the artist might have a comic worth reading in a few years, though that comic might not be Ruin-Nation.  Oh, and the archive is one of the most annoying things I've ever run into, but that's a minor nitpick in the end.

257.  Tales of the Winterborn - I can't give as much leeway to this comic as I did Ruin-Nation.  The art is better (anime style), but it really doesn't improve much over the course of the comic.  The writing is better, and by god there is a lot of it (whole pages of transcripts, which work), and the story is, well, less focused than Ruin-Nation surprisingly enough.  The problem is two fold.  One, the comic doesn't explain ANYTHING for a long time, making it hard to understand what is going on, the nature of the world or, well, anything.  Second, the comic switches scenes constantly.  Every two or three pages, the comic changes to a different set of characters doing something completely different.  It's confusing at first, but even later in the comic it's just as bad.  Action scenes are divided up, important plot events are divided up, the climax of the first half of the story is divided up for the most part.  It really disengages the mind and made me crawl through this archive dive in a way I haven't done in a long time.  The comic is currently on an extended hiatus, and I'm half thinking it might stay that way.

258.  Short Stories - Well, they are short, but there's only two of them right now.  Of about 7 pages each.  Normally, I wouldn't give it a review because, well, it's so short.  Shortest comic I've done, possibly ever.  Still, from these two I can tell there is a quest for quality even in a small package.  They are well drawn, and tell short, concise stories.  They're good, quite good.  But short, very short.  It's easily worth reading, but I'll likely have to come back and do a re-review when they have a few more stories under their belts.  Looks like it'll have quite variety as one story is a noir style gangster story and the other is about a ninja.  Yeah, it's going to cover a lot of ground.  Go ahead and read it.

259.  Demon Archives - For a comic with that title, expecting it to be about say, hell beasts, magic, swords and sorcery would be pretty common.  Nope, sci-fi action comic.  Yeah, it's post-apocalyptic, kind of (rather pointless post-apocalypse, honestly, but don't sweat it), but that had nothing to do with monsters, unless you count men with nukes as monsters.  Still, for not meeting the name expectations, it is very well done.  High level presentation between art, story and writing making it a damn good comic and one that I would recommend and read myself.  I would read it regularly, except for some reason it doesn't work in my browser of choice, Opera 12.  No, I'm not changing browsers for one comic, and opening another browser might be a pain just for one comic.  I'll have to play with it because it is quite good and worth reading.

260.  The Fifth Circle - This comic is a bit different than most I read.  It's actually a blog comic, created daily about the artist's life.  And I do mean daily as there's something like 1500 strips making it by far the largest comic archive I've read in a long time.  The sad part?  It's a year behind where it should be, mostly because the artists spend 2 years in Africa as part of the Peace Corps.  This guy is also the definition of the artist.  Comic artist, yes, but also painter, poetry writer, I think he's done some short stories, and he plays music (often in a band, mostly covers from what I can see, but damn).  It's a hell of a life he has and I am glad to have taken the time to read the archive.  I would recommend reading it all, but only if you have the time to do it (and can get around the few times he draws himself nekid).  Good comic, and I'll be keeping an eye on it for as long as I can and as long as he intends to draw it.

And that's it kiddies.  10 more comics to add to the list (which I'll be doing next week, I think).  Until next time.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Dreams of Stars Part 22

Little longer than normal, but it works.


            “Mama!”  Deborah began pounding away at the side of the large cylinder.  Inside was her mother, or the creature that used to be her mother at least.  The face was still very much that of Patricia Igningus, but the body was decidedly not human.  The long tentacle like appendages that had replaced her arms and had been added to her lower torso hung floated slightly in the tank due to the pressure of moving water.  Her legs had been deformed into a pair of backwards bending legs that looked like those of a frog.  Aside from her hair and face, the rest of the body was covered in smooth, green skin that L’lorne immediately identified.

            She grabbed Deborah and held on to her tight as the girl began bawling into her shoulder.  It was so odd the empathy L’lorne was feeling for the girl right now, the sight of her mother's current state was probably the most terrible experience ever, so perhaps it made sense as L’lorne remembered her own mother's death.  Casually, she traced the path of emotions and found the block in her mind as the source.  Whatever was on the other side was related to this, and it was causing cracks to form.  Her eye's panicked for a moment, and she quickly threw up a few extra layers of protection.  

            “What did they do to her?”  Deborah bawled.  “Mama, mama!”

            L’lorne checked the other cylinders, hoping she'd find a better answer than the one she suspected.  Each contained a different person, their faces and heads all that remained of their once human bodies.  This wasn't what she had expected, and now she was faced with the hardest task of all:  Explaining it to Deborah.  “Ritch 'arrd.”

            “Oh no, is he here too?”  Deborah seemed to cry extra tears for L’lorne as she looked up and tried to stare into the other cylinders.

            “No, they all look like him.”  The silence from Deborah was the result of shock, so L’lorne let it sit there for a moment.  “He isn't human, he never was.”

            The shock had worn off just enough for Deborah, through her red, tear filled eyes, to speak.  “Does that mean you're not. . .”

            “No, I'm human, through and through.  He isn't, wasn't when I met him, though he looked it back then.”  How many times had he changed his form?  She couldn't even remember, but he did it nearly all the time.  He liked to blend in to his environment, and after hundreds of worlds, it was a surprise to see the original form so well presented here.  The head was wrong, of course, but they must have wanted to maintain a slightly human look, to prevent insanity probably.

            “Why?  Why would he do this?  Why?”  That was the question, wasn't it?

            “Well let's find out.”  She pushed Deborah away slightly and began working her way toward the terminal on the far wall.

            “Wait!  We need to let her out.”  Deborah pulled on L’lorne's shirt, trying to halt her progress.

            L’lorne shook her head.  “Something must be wrong, otherwise they would be out and about.  Let's see what's going on first, then we'll let her out.”  Deborah released the shirt in silent agreement, rubbed her nose and eyes on her coat sleeve and followed.

            The terminal lit up as L’lorne decided to move toward it.  The password protection was cracked before L’lorne was within two steps, and the desired information was already on the screen before she even touched the terminal's keyboard.

            “Well?”  Deborah sniffled before and after she spoke, trying to hold herself together.

            “It's some kind of super-soldier program,” L’lorne said, paraphrasing the mountain of documents.  “Looks like they got the genetic material from an unnamed source and had been using it along with an accelerated mutation program to make people who were better swimmers and such.  He always was as much at home in the water as on land,” L’lorne mused about his tendency to jump right into rivers and lakes simply because it was in his nature.

            Deborah was less interested in such nonsense.  “What about letting her out?  Or fixing her?”

            L’lorne waved her hand slightly over the keyboard, like flipping the page of a book with the light breeze such an action produced.  The result was more pages of data and documents.  “They messed up the first few attempts, killing the subjects,” L’lorne paused at this and amended her statement for Deborah's sake.  “Killing the people in the process.  They got better, but there are still problems.  Insanity often occurs, and,” she breathed in to create and artificial pause, this line wasn't going to be pretty.  “And often the sub. . . person is unable to process air again as planned.  Once out of the tank, they die of suffocation within minutes.”

            “Oh.”  That was all Deborah said as she slumped down to the floor, her legs no longer holding her up.

            “They're working on fixing the problem, but not much success as of yet.  In the meantime they've got a mental reconditioning program in place.  They've already got all the people in the tanks undergoing it except their most recent addition.”  The screen popped up a picture of Deborah's mother, the last addition.  “She's due to start undergoing the treatment in the morning.”

            “What does that mean?  What are they going to do to her?  What else can they do?”  Fear, that was what sat in Deborah's eyes now, and L’lorne felt sorry for her because the fear was completely justified and terrible.

            “It means that by lunch time, she won't remember her own name, by this afternoon she won't remember your name, and by tonight, she won't even remember being human in the first place.”  The scheduling was oddly coincidental, and L’lorne traced the entire path of the data, looking to compare it with past events.  For a moment she considered it was a set up by Ritch 'arrd, but all the others had been done at a similar stage.  Perhaps it would have been more merciful if they had come the next day.

            “We've got to get her out of here,” was Deborah's reply.  “Now!”

            “She won't survive outside of the tank.  She'll die if we take her out.  And we can't take the tank with us.”

            A reality Deborah hadn't expected was slowly starting to sink in, but it was obviously not going to let it win if she could help it.  “There must be something we can do?  Maybe we could keep her head in water or something.”

            L’lorne looked at the floor and considered their options.  The first one was to simply undo all the modifications, but that would ruin all her plans.  Before, the plan was to leave her mother here, then once Ritch 'arrd was dealt with, let the system let her out, probably within days once his support was removed.  Now, however, that couldn't be done.  There were things she could do, including sabotaging the mental conditioning apparatus, but that could be repaired long before they found Ritch 'arrd, and even then they weren't likely to let her out.  No, there was only one option, and she could feel the pain that it would cause already.  “There are only two options.”

            Deborah's hand came up, stopping L’lorne from continuing.  Her eyes, even behind the glasses as they were, were very red and filled with tears, but she sniffed them back as best she could and spoke.  “There's only one option.”

---------

            As soon as the cylinder opened, alarms went off.  They were loud only for a few moments, then they became muted.  Water began pouring onto the floor, soaking Deborah's shoes down to the skin, but she ignored it.  Right behind the torrent of water, came her mother's body, and she and L’lorne did their best to arrest her descent to the floor.

            She was heavy, silky smooth, but not slimy as Deborah had expected.  They laid her body against the side of the cylinder and Deborah dropped to Patricia's side.  “The entire building is going into lock down,” L’lorne said as she looked towards the door.  “I can stall them for a bit, but we still won't have much time.”

            Deborah ignored L’lorne's warning.  She already knew there wouldn't be a lot of time, and she had no plans to waste any of it.  Her mother's hair was wet and flat against her skull and face, so Deborah brushed it aside, causing a sudden bout of coughing to erupt.  “Mama?”

            More coughing, her limbs, all of them rumbled around as if lost for a moment, then settled down.  Her eyes opened, the same eyes that Deborah remembered, and she looked at her.  “Deborah.”  Her voice was hoarce and she gasped a couple of times before speaking again.  “Run, you have to run.”

            “It's okay mama, I'm here to rescue you.”  Deborah was already starting to tear up again, despite thinking she had finally run dry.  A deep breath with her eyes closed and she pulled her mother toward her.  “We're going to get out of here.”

            “No, you have to go,” she gasped at her.  “They'll hurt you, you have to run.”

            “It's alright, it's alright,” Deborah said, trying to instill that same comfort she could remember being given time and time again over the years.

            “Go now young lady,” Patrica suddenly did a giant gasp, coughed and then wheezed out.  “I can't breathe.”

            “I know.”  It was starting.  L’lorne had tried to prepare her, but Deborah didn't want to believe it, even now she only partially believed.  It wouldn't be long now.  “Just hold me for a bit mama, and everything will be alright.”

            One of the green limbs draped itself around Deborah, and they pulled tighter together.  “Deborah,” her voice was going slowly, her eyes closing as if she were going to sleep.

            “I love you,” Deborah said, the tears now freely flowing, her face scrunching up in pain.

            Patricia traced her daughter's face for a moment, and smiled as best she could between the gasping, ineffective breaths.  “I love you too.”  Her hand grew still, then fell away, her body going completely limp.  Her eyes stared forward, locked in their last position even as the rest of her relaxed away.

            Deborah grabbed her tightly, holding her, swaying slightly in the hopes that this simple movement would undo what had happened, but there was nothing to be done.  Patricia Teresa Igningus was gone.

            Gun fire erupted from just on the other side of the door, pulling Deborah away from her own pain for a moment.  “What's going on,” she asked between light sobs.

            “My diversion,” L’lorne said quietly.  She kneeled down next to Deborah and her mother and gently closed Patricia's eyes.  “May the spirits guide and protect you,” she said quietly.  “We should go now.  They'll be here soon.”

            The gun fire died down, then lit up again, with along roll of a heavy machine gun firing.  Deborah reluctantly leaned her mother's body against the cylinder then got up.  “We can take the vent back.  He said the security seals wouldn't be active.”  L’lorne made no objection as Deborah made her way towards the ventilation duct.  Within a step of it, however, a solid plate of metal dropped down over the top of it with a loud clang.  “He said all the doors would be unlocked!”

            “Looks like this was added after his death,” L’lorne said without any serious concern.  More gunfire sounded from behind the door, then a sudden explosion shook the door.  “Time to go,” L’lorne said as she grabbed Deborah's hand.

            Before Deborah had a moment to question the plan, L’lorne placed her free hand against the wall, and then through the wall without disturbing it in the least.  The rest of her followed quickly, and Deborah did as well, dragged out and through a solid wall as if it wasn't there at all.  She looked back towards the still form of her mother just as the door burst open, flooding the room with light.  And then, all of it was gone.

---------

Questions

1. What kind of person is Lcorn Llorne? What does she look like (in your mind)?
2. What kind of person is the Deborah Ignigus? What does she look like (in your mind)?
3. Does the setting seem fitting? Would you like to know more?
4. Again, should I consider swapping the first section of this part with the last section of the previous part?
5. Is it too sappy or just about right? 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Nothing this week

Sorry, my week has been miserable work wise.  Yes, I got the next batch of comics read, but I need time to digest my reviews of them.  Next week, I promise.

I was going to post something about what went up on Chainsawsuit last week.  But, I think you guys have heard enough of my comments about criticism and how it should be viewed.

Next week, the conclusion of ReviewSPLOSION!  Until then kiddies.




Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Dreams of Stars Part 21


            “You left me behind!”

            How could she have been so careless?  L’lorne had spent so much time thinking of ways to get into the Asylum, she hadn't thought to check up on Deborah and make sure she was still sleeping.  If she had seen her awaken, at least she could have intercepted her before she got inside, and now they both stood there, face to face, right in the heart of the Asylum.  “Yes, I did.”

            “How could you?  This is my mother we're talking about.”  The girl was near hysteric in her anger, and L’lorne had to quickly squelch the sonic detectors in the room as well as set up a sound deadening field to keep Deborah's voice from alerting everyone and their uncle.

            “I wanted to do some reconnaissance.  See where the weak points were and. . .”

            “BY COMING INSIDE!”

            L’lorne grumbled silently.  This wasn't going to go well.  How had she gotten in anyway?  The ventilation ducts was good, but how did she get into them?  Didn't matter, really, she was here now, and L’lorne would have to deal with the situation.  “Yes, by coming inside.  I wanted to make sure your mother was actually here before we both tried to get inside.  I'm a touch more agile than you, so I figured. . .”

            “You didn't tell me.”  Deborah was starting to recompose herself, but was still visibly angry, crossing her arms in a very scolding manner.  L’lorne considered flooding her system with something to calm her down, but it seemed she was doing it herself.  Good, L’lorne wasn't completely sure it would have worked anyway.  Deborah was obviously starting to resist the less overt influences L’lorne had been working on her.  She shouldn't have woken up until morning.  Still no excuse for not watching her more closely.

            “I decided to do it after you fell asleep.  I figured you wouldn't notice.”

            “Would you have told me in the morning then?”

            Good question.  “I suppose it would depend on what I figured was the best way for us to get in.  But seeing as you found your own way in, I guess it's a moot point.  How did you get in, by the way?”

            “Oh, I asked the ghost.  He told me of a secret way in he had developed, right before he moved on.”

            “He moved on then?  That's good.”

            “Why didn't you try to help him move on?”

            Not a good question.  Not because she hadn't thought about the answer, but strictly because Deborah was unlikely to enjoy the answer:  Because L’lorne didn't consider it important.  The ghost would have moved on, eventually, but helping him?  That wasn't even a remote thought in her mind.  Deborah likely would disagree with that sentiment, probably figuring that helping others, even the otherworldly, should be a priority.  Have to break her of that eventually.  In the mean time, she would need to answer.  “I figured he might know something more that could help us.  Apparently I was right.  Good work.”

            Deborah smiled at the compliment, half hearted as it truly was, and released the remains of her more heated anger.  She would still be upset for a while, but at least she wasn't screaming any more.  “Well, now that we're here, let's find my mom.”  She turned to the large cylinders.  Their dark forms, highlighted by only displays and indicator lights, dominated even the massive room.  “What's in these things.”

            “I haven't had the chance to look yet,” L’lorne started, already accessing the data files remotely.  Lots of genetic information, familiar information.  Oh no.

            “I'll look,” Deborah announced, her hand digging into her pockets for the glasses before she had even finished her statement.

            L’lorne looked very quickly, just as the glasses slid over Deborah's ears.  The first cylinder, what were the odds?  “No don't!” L’lorne cried out, but it was too late.

            Deborah screamed.

---------

            “Mother!”  L’lorne pushed past the people who crowded into the small hut. Her brother's both looked at her, one with disgust the other with surprise, as she stumbled into a kneeling position next to her mother.

             Denofors looked far older than L’lorne could remember, and she gently grabbed her wrinkled hand, afraid that too much pressure would shatter it.  The old woman opened her eyes and smiled.  “You came back.”  Her voice was weak and old, but still had that loving tone that L’lorne had grown to love.  With her free hand, Denofors stroked L’lorne's face.  “You've grown to be a beautiful woman.”

            “Oh mother, I'm sorry I didn't come back sooner, I was just so busy and. . .”  L’lorne stopped her explanation and buried her head into her mother's shoulder.  “I got here as soon as I could.”

            “It's alright,” Denofors said as she patted her daughter's head.  “Most believed you were dead, though I'm sure they're more than surprised right now.”  She eyed her sons, the youngest of which turned his head away.  The other continued to glare at Lloren.  “I knew better.  Though you did cut it rather close.”  L’lorne said nothing as she raised her head.  The tears trickling down her cheeks was all the response she really needed.  “Now then,” Denofors said as she wiped a few of the tears away.  “Tell me what you learned about the stars.”

            “The stars,” L’lorne smiled, remembering her promise.  “They're just like the sun, only so far away they look like points of light instead of disks.  Like the sun, they're really huge, many times bigger than the biggest thing you can imagine, made of a gas that is hotter than the hottest fire ever.  There are arcs of fire that fling out every once in a while, and they even have spots.” 

            “More amazing than I ever believed,” Denofors said quietly.

            L’lorne thought to continue, but it was obvious that her mother was starting to fade even as she spoke.  “Mother, you can't die now, there's more to tell you.”

            “And there is much I must tell you, but there is no more time.  I'm sure I will learn all I need soon enough, but you, you will have to learn everything on your own.  I'm sorry.”

            “Don't be, please don't be.”

            “I am.  But I know you Lcorn L’lorne, you will figure it out.” Denofors' eyes closed for a moment, opening only slightly.  She moved her hand on top of her daughter's hand and held it for a moment.  “I love you.”

            “I love you too.”

            Lcorn Denofors, she who bathes in the light of the stars, died.  L’lorne wept for a moment, holding the still hand of her mother.  The hand of one of the priests pressed itself against her shoulder and pulled slightly.  The hut began to empty as the rituals of passing were beginning.

            Tears welled up in her eyes as she moved outside, followed by the crowd of family and friends.  L’lorne leaned up against a nearby pole and let her tears come.  She didn't break down into hysterics, but she cried anyway, weeping long and hard.  It was only when her eldest brother, Mcorn Gunah, approached her that she pulled back on the tears to try to greet him with a smile as best she could.

            “Damn you,” Gunah growled back at her, and grabbed her wrist with such a tight grip that she almost instantly lost circulation in her hand.  For a moment she was surprised, but the next instant was nearly pure instinct.  L’lorne spun her hand around and grabbed his wrist back, then twisted it up and over, braking his grip and forcing his arm behind his back.  He squealed for a moment in pain as she pushed him down to his knees.

            “Don't ever do that again,” L’lorne responded with a sudden flood of anger.

            “I'll kill you traitor!”

            “Gunah, L’lorne!”  The familiar, if older, voice of her younger brother was enough to convince L’lorne to break her hold and Gunah snapped back up into a fighting stance.  “I said enough!”

            “She's a traitor Phulan,” Gunah started to argue.

            “Go home Gunah,” Mcorn Phulan ordered.  “I will come get you when it's time for the burial.”

            “But. . .”

            “Go home now.”

            Gunah turned from his brother and glared at L’lorne.  “I will kill you for what you did to father, I swear it.”  With that he stormed off, heading for the far end of the village.

            L’lorne watched with wary eyes, then took a deep breath.  “I knew neither of you would be happy to see me, but I didn't think. . .”

            “Father,” Phulan said without looking at L’lorne.  “Gunah blames you for what happened to father.”

            L’lorne studied her brother's form, far older than she last remembered him, but still younger than herself.  She saw her father's stern frame and face, and her mother's eyes and nose, and most of all she saw the markings that once was her father alone.  “You took his position.”

            Phulan still didn't look at L’lorne, instead he focused on the people selling things in the nearby market.  “I had to.  Father was so angry when you left, he and Gunah went off to look for you.  Someone had to fill his role, and with mother's help I did.”  He finally looked up at L’lorne, directly into her eyes.  “I wanted to go looking for you too.  I was young, but I understood enough to know that you shouldn't have just left like that.  I wanted you back.”

            “I had to, he promised to teach me. . .”

            “All about the stars, I know,” Phulan finished.  “Mother told me, explained it to me as best she could.  Father refused to accept it.”  Suddenly his face grew very sad.  “He died while looking for you, three winters after you left.  An accident, but Gunah blamed you.  He still does.”

            “I'm sorry.”

            “For what?  Father was a hot headed fool.  If he had just let you go, he'd still be alive.  He couldn't let his pride go though, and kept at it.”  Phulan shifted his weight from one foot to the other.  “Gunah will kill you if you stay too long.  He is a warrior now, in charge of one of the stronger groups.  They will come for you as soon as the burial is over and there is nothing I can do to stop them.”

            “Yes, I understand.”  L’lorne reached out for her brother, but he stepped back.

            “Good bye L’lorne.”  Phulan turned and left without another word.

            L’lorne stood there and felt the tears coming again.  They were flowing when his hand landed gently on her shoulder.  “Not the welcoming you were expecting?”

            “He didn't even want to touch me.  Gunah I understand that, but Phulan, we were so close.”

            “Perhaps that's why, and maybe he'll change his mind before we leave.”

            L’lorne shook her head as she wiped the tears away.  “I don't think so.”  She began to look around the small section of the village they were in, trying to find something, anything, that could distract her from the pain.  The small market stand seemed busy as usual, and she watched with waning interest as the farmer bartered for tools and clothing.  All this seemed completely normal, but with a sniff, L’lorne looked closer.  “Something is wrong.”

            “Oh?”

            The baskets of grain looked alright, but the grain was strange, not quite right.  Her eyes moved down to the next stand, and found something similar.  She then looked up at the mounds that dominated the village, and looked at the various temples and buildings.  All seemed normal, looked normal, but something was definitely wrong.  “I can see that there's something wrong.  But I can't figure out what.”

            “I wouldn't expect you to see that yet.  In a few more years, maybe, but not now.”

            “What is it?  Tell me, please.”

            “Very well.”  He took a breath, then let his smile fade away.  “This place is dying.”

            The phrase was enough to put all the pieces together and she began weeping again.  “No, it can't die.  I can't let this happen.”

            “Stopping it would be hard, especially with the way they feel about you right now.”

            “I have to, this is my home, these are my people, I have to help them.”

            “Then I will help you, however,” he raised his hand to make his point.  “There will be another problem in the future.  Remember chess?”  L’lorne nodded, her hand instinctively going to the T sharped piece of twisted metal that hung from her neck.  “The people who invented that game are coming here.  They will play to win, but I don't think anyone else on this continent will be able to stand up to them.”

            “My people can.”

            “Perhaps, perhaps.”


---------

Questions

1. What kind of person is Lcorn Llorne? What does she look like (in your mind)?
2. What kind of person is the Deborah Ignigus? What does she look like (in your mind)?
3. Does the setting seem fitting? Would you like to know more?
4. It's obvious, but I'm not sure I can move the second section and still have the story flow right, but if moving it might be best, say so.