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The Day Before Tomorrow: Part 8

 
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hboff
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 28, 2009 3:21 pm    Post subject: The Day Before Tomorrow: Part 8 Reply with quote

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The Day Before Tomorrow: Part 8
Posted by Azrael (sherwood.tondorf@gmail.com)
28 August 2009, 7:57 am

http://halosn.bungie.org/fanfic/?story=Azrael0828090757481.html
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Azrael
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 28, 2009 3:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Previously, on "The Day before tomorrow":

Ron shrugged. "My brother's a Marine. We did stuff like this all the time. He thought it was fun."

"Where is he?"

Parsons stopped working for a second, and turned to Tim. "Look," he said, locking eyes with the shorter student, "I'm sure for the short time we're alive we're gonna trust and bond and whatever, but I don't like talking about the fam, ok?"
****
"Come on," he said, trying to lead her away, "we're not safe here."

"One more second." Rachel said with resolve, blinking away a tear and trying to get whatever handle she could on the moment. After a minute, she turned and looked McManus in the eye. "Thanks for coming back for me, Tim." She said. McManus scratched the back of his neck sheepishly and did his best to shrug it off.

"It was Ron's idea." He said, looking at the ground.

"Bullshit."

McManus chuckled and met her gaze again. "Yeah."

****
"Okay," O'Shea announced, tapping in commands and zooming in on a map of Boston, "Bad news first: Covies set up shop in Copley and they're not giving it up any time soon. That means they're buying long-term real estate and we don't have the force to make Boston a bad neighborhood. We scrap big assault plans starting now."
***
The voice filling the room now turned decidedly hostile. "You listen good, you scared, ungrateful little ass. Mom and Dad want you back, and even though I tried to talk them out of it, they still want to see you. Just because I left home to defend our fucking species doesn't mean you get to leave with some slut and think it's acceptable. You don't want to join the Marines, that's your choice. Keep living your life in that glorified shoebox while real men save the fucking human race."

Ron swiped his hair back as the words sunk in. "Hey Pete," Parsons asked, voice dripping with disdain, "did they ever find your arm out on Harvest?"

"Fuck you, Ron."

***

The missile slammed into the fleeing Pelican, exploding one of its engines in a plume of black and orange and causing it to spin wildly between decimated buildings and, belching a trail of oily black smoke, eventually fell out of sight. Through the din of the Covenant's war, the explosion of the crashed ship could not be heard. Jack could not believe what he had seen. Before he could attempt to put his thoughts into words, Gus came back to him on the COM.

"Did you just see—?"

"Yeah." Jack replied dumbly.

"Was that—?"

"ASGM-10s. That was a textbook UNSC anti-air strike, either there's a turret in my city I don't know about, or there's guys running around with UNSC missile pods acing friendlies."

"What the hell is going on here, Captain?"
*****

"I'm holding your men and the refugees for myself."

"Excuse me?" Jack demanded, anger seeming into his voice.

"Things were moving so fast back at the warehouse," Meryl continued, "we didn't have enough time for formal introductions. My full title is Dr. Meryl Alper, Office of Naval Intelligence. You and your men shot down my colleagues."

"No." Captain O'Shea said forcibly, jabbing a finger at ground as if she was right in front of him. "That wasn't us."

"Regardless, my function was a safeguard for agents Ricardo and Phillips, and in the event of an attack on them, these were my orders. Consider this a small price to pay for betraying the UNSC."
****
Tim glared at Walsh's body, enraged at the coward's final act. Before he or anyone else could say anything further, McManus's eyes flitted down to the M6C lying in the limp hand of Frank Walsh and noticed a very faint trail of smoke wafting lazily from the barrel. Confused and afraid, Tim jerked his head toward Rachel and visually scanned her body armor in a panic. Lynch returned his look with equal confusion until she looked past Tim, eyes opening wide in shock. The color left Tim's face as he heard the unusually shaky voice behind him.

"Uh…guys…?" Ron Parsons asked hesitantly, withdrawing his hand from the right side of his chest and revealing his gloved palm glistening red with fresh blood. As the group rushed toward the blonde cafeteria worker, Ron's legs went slack and he collapsed on his side, still looking at his hand in bewilderment, hitting the dirty floor with a heavy thud.
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Arthur Wellesley
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 31, 2009 10:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent work as usual, Az. While I was rather critical of the flashback device in your last piece, I thought it worked considerably better here. I'll admit, I was a little skeptical at first with your direction with Ron - I wondered what the point of his backstory would be - but you really made it more and more compelling with each journey back in time. I really felt for Ron by the end. It did a lot to bring some more depth to this character.

The present narrative was pretty short here to make room for the flashbacks, so I don't have too much to say. I thought you did a great job in making us worry for Ron, even though, as this is a prequel, we knew he'd be alright. I think this may have been necessary at this point in the story, as it really solidifies the three kids' relationships. After all, these people haven't known each other for more than a few days at this point.

Also, the concept of a "Prison break" maneuver is really cool - both conceptually and as a narrative device. Now we get to see the characters separated and trying to find each other again. Nice.

I noticed a few times the writing style slipped - usually either the repetition of a word close together or an unusual choice of adjective. Overall, though, you held to the quality that I've come to expect in your writing.

Great job, as usual. Keep 'em coming... I always enjoy myself.

- Arthur
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Azrael
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 01, 2009 1:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Arthur. I've always felt like Ron was the most hollow of the characters. We didn't know where he came from, why he's constantly dismissive, mouthy, etc. I thought giving him a bit of this gravitas with his family would make him a lot more whole. So thanks.

And yeah, the hard part with putting Ron in that is-he-going-to-make-it situation is the knowledge that it is a prequel so, yeah, he IS going to survive. I played around with having him lose an arm and getting a cybernetic replacement, but at no point in Battle of Boston or Cronin Protocol do I even nudge at the possibility. Ah well. I thought I better revive him quick than face the kinda unbelievable prospect of lugging his unconscious form around.

Thanks for keeping me on honest about the slipups. I wrote this in chunks over a couple months, and jamming the pieces together can be awkward sometimes.

Prison break will be fun. There's only a couple chapters left, so I'm getting ready to throw one last magnificent set piece into the series before I'm done with it.

BTW, Vestal Sins rocked my world. SO good.
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Chuckles
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2009 8:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Weaving the flashback into the story worked well. Good way to focus the reader's mind on the person in distress without having everyone standing around talking about how much he meant to them. Michael Bay might even want to make a movie about Ron's back story since it's packed full of breathtaking young women. Dang it Az, are there any women in this series who aren't drop-dead gorgeous Wink ? Seriously, though, if your intent was to make Ron less "hollow" then I think you succeeded.

I did wonder about a 22 year being ordered around by his mother, especially when she told him to go into the kitchen and not come out until she said. I can only speculate that Ron is still living off his mother (living at her house, eating her food, using her money) and thus she has more say/control than a mom usually would over a boy that age. Certainly not a big deal, but it made me wonder.

You do a good job of handling these busy scenes. You've got a lot of people doing a lot of things and you have to make sure that the reader is tracking with it. If anyone thinks that sort of writing is easy, they should try it sometime. But it is the sort of writing you do in every chapter of this and (especially) your previous stories. Here is one example:
Quote:
"She knew she was it," O'Shea muttered, crouching by the body and picking up one of Alper's arms by the wrist. "She knew no one was coming back for her, so she just made the best deal she could, knowing it would probably go wrong, and knew just how to fuck 'em if they crossed her." He let the limp appendage drop with a thud to the ground and resumed standing, arms crossed and chin buried in his chest. His dark eyes glared at the corpse. "That's a real dirty move."

Reynolds nudged the body with the toe of his boot, as if he was still prodding for an off switch. "We'd do the same thing at the end of the world."

"Didn't say it was a bad move," Jack replied, turning around and pointing at the front watch to take another look outside. "Iban—?"

"Fifteen seconds!" The Latino medic suddenly yelled. "Can you give me fifteen fucking seconds without an interruption, extra bodies, or creepy Covenant distress calls coming from dead people? Jesus!"

Jack and Gus shared an exasperated look. O'Shea took the allotted fifteen seconds to direct the men around him.

"Tim, assist Ibanez. Master Guns, have a tech ask the Superintendent to keep an eye on the area." Jack's hand then slipped up to his right ear. "Delta," he asked, his voice all business, "how's that load out?"

"This is Delta actual. Getting the last in now," the harried, disembodied voice replied, the echoing background noise of organized chaos nearly overwhelming the transmission, "Drivers need a course."

"Super's working on it," O'Shea responded, trying to sound positive of the fact.
Two distinct and overlapping situations involving a bunch of different people. On top of that, you have to somehow convey to the reader that events and voices are overlapping. Getting this scene out of your head (where I'm sure it played like a movie) and onto the page in a satisfying manner ... well, my hat's off to you. On the surface, the Boston half seems like a pretty simple story that would be easy to write. They check him, move him, pull the bullet out and prepare to execute a "prison break." It's neither easy nor simple, of course, but it is your job to make it look as if it is and, as usual, you do it well.

As a whole, I don't think this flowed as well as your chapters usually do. You said it was written over a couple of months and I know from experience what than can do for flow. What was most surprising, though, was that some of your dialogue lacked the usual zip. The words you were having your characters say were fine but the surrounding sentences/details seemed awkward, as if you weren't in your usual rhythm when you were writing. None of it was bad, but you consistently deliver the finest dialogue on this site, and there's a price to be paid for being that good Very Happy . That's not to suggest that this entire chapter lacks your usual touch. To the contrary, much of it was vintage Az. The above quote is a perfect example.

Loved the ending. Got a real kick out of this:
Quote:
"What'd I miss?" Parsons muttered through grit teeth, the wound stretching against the hardening biofoam and causing their comrade unknown amounts of pain.

Tim did his best to improve his grip on Ron without jostling the victim. He and Rachel moved as quickly as they could behind the sturdy bar and placed Ron gently in a sitting position, out of sight and out of the line of fire for the moment.

"You know, same old," Tim said, trying to act nonchalant as he stole a moment's glance over the serving space, "there's a bunch of refugees in the basement, we fell into a dead woman's booby trap when she turned out to be a spy—"

"—I hate those," Ron muttered in mock sympathy.

"—And now Covenant are moving to surround us before we can get out in time."

"So we're probably going to die," Rachel finished, only slightly surprised at how normal that sounded.
Hilarious. It has a real "Empire Strikes Back" feeling to it, you know, after they've reunited the newly thawed out Han with Luke.

Good chapter. I liked the structure of it and enjoyed learning more about Parsons. By the way, did you make up "prison break" or is that actually a term for such a maneuver? Either way, I agree; it will be fun.

C.T Clown
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Sterfrye36
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2009 6:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You know, I take way too long to get around to reading some stuff on here, this being one of them.

Quote:
VF-13


Is it nerdy that I thought of Robotech and Macross here?

You do flashbacks much better than I do, and heaven knows I've relied on them far too much in LR. Excellent work.

Also, you manage to do a good job of walking the fine line between tantalizing and, uh...well, let's just say you could easily do a PG-13 script. Laughing

Also, nice job with the foreshadowing on Ron's datapad ringing. I love how you described it as angry even though there's no way a mechanical device can have emotion.

Why don't you write a full fledged novel some day? You're much better than half of the hacks out there getting published these days.
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