8FOLD: Mancers # 1, "In Media Res"

Drew Perron pwerdna at gmail.com
Wed Jul 18 00:33:37 PDT 2018

On 7/9/2018 12:54 PM, Tom Russell wrote:
 > Theirs is the midnight war - theirs, the twilight destiny! Kissed by
 > Venus, conduits for eldritch forces beyond mortal understanding, are
 > they the last best hope for the Earth, or the instruments of its
 > destruction...?

God, I love your openings. :D I love them so much, bringing me not just 
nostalgically back to the days when all Marvel comics had one at the beginning 
of page one, but reminding me why they were so useful in the first place, and 
kissing them with melodramatic comic-book style sharpened into something sublime.

 > Maile's running. The rain's coming down in sheets, and she's running.
 >  From the ache in her legs and the pounding in her chest and the
 > blinding pain just behind her right eye she must have been running for
 > quite a while. Running faster than she's ever run before. Running from
 > something? From somebody?
 >     She doesn't see anybody chasing her. But she's scared half to death
 > for some reason, maybe even three-quarters to death, so she doesn't
 > dare to stop. Not until she can get somewhere safe.

Ohhhhh. I see what you mean by "in medias res" - if you find yourself somewhere 
with no memory of how you got there, running... o3o

 >     Of course, if she had any idea where the heck she was, she'd be
 > able to find that somewhere safe. She'd be able to run to that
 > somewhere. Running to is always better than running from. Running from
 > is reactive; running to is smart. And if Maile wants to stay alive,
 > she's going to need to be smart. She clutches at the cold metal
 > crucifix hanging around her neck. "Cross of Plus 2 Intelligence," she
 > wheezes solemnly.

Interesting. Some characterization coming together here...

 >     So. Look around (still running). She's in a city. Signs in English.
 > American. Lots of closed businesses. Brick buildings. Bare trees
 > (autumn? winter?).

Ohhhh, she doesn't even know what season it is. Jeez. :o

 >     Suddenly she's pitching forward. Wet, loose shoelaces. They'll do
 > it every time.

Oh dangit. ^^;

 >     Now, at long last, she sees them. Or, to be more precise, she sees
 > where they're supposed to be. The rain rolls off shoulders that aren't
 > there. There are human-shaped places where the rain refuses to go.
 > There are three of them? Four?

Ohhhhh, that's nice and creepy. (I'm weirdly reminded of Organization XIII from 
Kingdom Hearts.)

 >     "No!" she screams, throwing up her hands. At that instance, four
 > bolts of lightning rip from the sky, each one striking the same exact
 > place. Smoke rises up from chunks of flesh and bone. The rain pounds
 > it with impunity.

WOW. :o I didn't expect that. It's clearer why they're chasing her now.

 >     For some reason that scares her more than the alternative. "Like
 > heck you will," she growls.

Her saying "heck" is itself a piece of characterization.

 > With surprising ease, like flexing a
 > muscle she didn't know she had, a half-dozen more bolts of lightning
 > come crashing down in split-second tandem. This time, she spreads them
 > out, apportioning them amongst the shapes she thinks she sees in the
 > rain.

Niiiiiice. :3 She's picking this up quickly. Memories resurfacing? Or perhaps 
just skill that's been internalized that deeply?

 >     She doesn't think that all of them make contact, but she doesn't
 > wait around to confirm it. The point of it wasn't to take them all
 > out, because she can't be sure how many there are, or even what they
 > are. The point is to cover her exit.

Yes good.

 >     "Can I move it?" she wonders aloud. Push the rain that-a-way while
 > she moseys on this-a-way? If they keep tracking the rain, it buys her
 > more time to figure out what's going on. Whereas if she just turns it
 > off, cold turkey, they'll liable to fan out to try and find her.
 > Better to send them on a wild goose chase, yes? Yes.

Ohhhhh, *very* smart.

 > The question remains: can she even do it? And if she can, how the
 > heck does that work? The rain had to do with her emotional state, her
 > pulse and the chemicals in her brain; the lightning was something
 > instinctual, like knowing how to breath or swallow. So this isn't an
 > intellectual thing. It's not a matter of thinking it, or visualizing
 > it. So if she can do this thing, it's got to be grounded in something
 > physical, something real.

Innnnnnteresting. That's not the conclusions I would draw from those facts, but 
hey, they work for her :3

 >     That's when she realizes that it's more than connected to her, but
 > that it's a part of her, the way her foot is a part of her, or her
 > heart.


 > She could feel the lightning when it ripped through the sky,
 > and felt the shock of its impact. She can feel the clouds and the rain
 > now, she can feel herself pulsing into it. It's like stretching her
 > fingers, she realizes, only it's not her fingers, but her clouds and
 > her raindrops, and sure enough, they're gently rolling along,
 > stretching further and further out.

oh my god I love this sort of experience :D

 > She's not sure how far she can push her
 > pretty little storm, or how far apart she can be from it, but even a
 > few minutes might buy her enough time to figure out what the heck is
 > going on, where the heck she is, where the heck she can go, what the
 > heck she's going to do, what the mother-flipping heck.

She keeps heckin' it

 > She slaps around her
 > pockets to look for her wallet (Maile never was a purson),

That's an interesting neologism.

 > She hasn't stolen a
 > gee-dee thing since she was fourteen, and while her mom raised her
 > better than that, she'd definitely rather be a thief and alive than a
 > saint and dead.

So she definitely has memory of her past, just not her recent past. (Or perhaps 
the holes are bigger than that - but definitely some amount of past and identity 
thru it.)

 >     "So cold in the D." So, Detroit. Okay, that's a little scary,
 > considering she's never been further east than Texas.

Significant amount.

 >     "Aw, come on, Mal." She steps forward, hemming Maile in against the
 > wall. Maile figures a good kick to the stomach ought to do it, and so
 > out flies her foot.
 >     The woman sees it coming. She catches the foot in her hands, and a
 > second later, Maile is flat on her back. Knocks the wind right out of
 > her.


 >     "You're not kidding," says the woman. Maile can't quite place the
 > accent. "You really don't remember me. The Company must have done a
 > job on you.

That immediately makes me suspicious. An enemy pretending to be a friend! >:o 
...is a distinct possibility that I'm on guard for.

 >     "No," says Maile. "And you need to step back. I don't know you, and
 > I don't trust you."
 >     "Alright, Mal, alright," says Lieke. "Here. I'm giving you a big
 > huge bubble of personal space, okay?"

I mean, that makes her slightly less suspicious.

 >     Maile starts to back out of the alleyway.
 >     Lieke pulls aside one flap of her red leather jacket. There's a
 > holster on her belt. Faster than Maile can react, Lieke pulls out the
 > gun and fires.
 >     There's a groan behind Maile. She turns around and sees the little
 > drops of blood coming out of the thin air. Then the air turns into a
 > man, and crumples to the pavement. Lieke walks up to him, aims at the
 > head, and fires.

Daaaaaaaamn. :3 That's so cool.

 >     "I can save you now?"
 >     "You can save me now. But, I just want to be on record here, if
 > you're going to all this trouble so you can murder me, I'm going to be
 > really cheesed."

Yeah, my suspicion isn't completely gone but I'd make the same decision, easy.

 >     "Is that... is that a Ferrari?"
 >     "Yes, an Enzo," says Lieke.
 >     "Well, that's inconspicuous," eyerolls Maile.
 >     "You don't need to be inconspicuous if you're fast," says Lieke.


 > "Three-hundred sixty-five kilometers per hour. Same as days in the
 > year. (Two twenty-seven for the American in my audience.)

Holy shit.

 >     Maile opens the door, and is surprised to see a second Lieke in
 > sunglasses reclining in the front passenger seat. The other Lieke sits
 > up, letting Maile squeeze into the back. As soon as she has, the seat
 > goes back down, and so does the other Lieke. "You're twins?" she says.
 >     Lieke (the first Lieke) smiles. "No. We're the same person."
 >     "What do you mean, you're the same person?"
 >     "You make it rain," says Lieke. "And we're the same person."

Ohhhhh. That's a cool power. :D

 >     Lieke slams on the accelerator. "So, you probably have questions.
 > Self, answer Maile's questions. Self? Self!"
 >     The other Lieke appears startled. "Huh? What?"
 >     "You were just conscious two seconds ago," says the driver. "I
 > don't know how you can fall asleep like that at the drop of a hat."
 >     "Yes, you do."
 >     "Yes, I do.

Heeheehee. :3 Fascinating. This is cute and good banter.

 >     "Great question," says Lieke, cracking a smile. "Venus was, and is,
 > some serious bad news. A bunch of folks got together and sealed Venus
 > off, cut off magic at its source. A little bit leaked in here and
 > there, and so there's always been some of us, but just a handful. Over
 > the centuries (and now we're moving rather nicely into history times),
 > they kept putting spells on top of spells, strengthening the Lullaby
 > that was keeping Venus asleep. But there are some dudes who would be
 > mancers if Venus was awake, and some mancers who would be more fierce,
 > and those a-holes have been working together the last four or five
 > hundred years to try to undo the Lullaby. The short version is, they
 > did that, and now magic is everywhere again. I got magic. You got
 > magic. A lot of folks have magic."

I knew most of this already from other stories, but it's very well-summarized 
here, both coherent and fun to read.

 >     "So, why me? Why you?"
 >     "Nobody knows," says Lieke. "The Company thinks it has to do with
 > birthrights and genetics, but I know there's people who were expecting
 > magic, and didn't get it."


 >     "The Company?"
 >     "Those are the dudes who woke Venus back up," says Lieke.

Ahhhh, I didn't remember if it was them who did it.

 >     "I can't even remember what I can't remember," says Maile. "I don't
 > even know what year it is."
 >     "Twenty-fourteen," chirps driver-Lieke.
 >     "Well," says Lieke with the sunglasses, "you can't remember us (and
 > we're awesome and worth remembering, btw), and we met back in
 > September. Do you remember the Last Story?"
 >     "The what?"
 >     "So, you definitely don't remember August 25, then. How about a
 > couple of big airline crashes?"
 >     "One of them got shot down, right?"
 >     "Yep. So, you remember July. And we're now coming into December. So
 > that's five months of your life you'll never remember."

And there we go, sorted. <3 Though man, it took only five months to learn her 
magic and train Lieke to do the stuff she was doing? My suspicion is acting up 

 >     "Well, it's like this. Venus is still bad news. They're awake, but
 > they got dealt a whammy, and they're still kind of discombobulated.
 > The Company's looking for ways to snap them out of it, to usher in a
 > new Venusian Age. And there are folks who are looking to stop them.
 > Maybe even find a way to seal Venus off, permanently. Folks who are
 > fighting to save the world for mancers and humans alike. That's us.
 > That's the secret circle."

Ooooooh. :D Fascinating. (I'm still suspicious tho)

 >     "And I'm a part of that," says Maile. She's never been part of
 > anything in her life.
 >     "Maile," says Lieke gently. "You're not just a part of it. You're
 > the one who started it! And now, more than ever, we need you to lead
 > us."


 > Lieke heads into a changing room, and then taps the six points of the mirror.
 >     "I found her," says Lieke. "She's fine. Scared and confused. Looks
 > like David did his job. She's still sharp though. Resourceful.
 > Dangerous.
 >     "I still don't know about this, Beth. Every time I lay eyes on the
 > bitch, I just see Marcus. What she did to him. What she's going to do
 > to us if she finds out who she really is, what she's done, what we've
 > done to her.
 >     "There's a reason she's The Company's best assassin."

!!! Oh, holy shit. I was right to be suspicious, but this wasn't what I was 
expecting at all. I expected that Lieke & co. would be pulling something shady, 
not that the secret I was expecting would be something like this.

Drew "that's so rad" Perron

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