30 Apr 2015

Unruly - The Great Jennifer Round-Up Chapter 5 - Commentary

Caitlin's dream is cruelly interrupted and the students go on full alert.  Welcome to the commentary for The Great Jennifer Round-Up Chapter 5.  Please read the chapter first, though.  Thanks.

Dreams are fun, provided that a story doesn't start with a bait-and-switch scene.  By this point, it should've been obvious that Caitlin was dreaming.  Sometimes, it's interesting to see just what a character is thinking without having to worry about how others will react.  With Caitlin, the dream let me show the more romantic side of her.  Dream-Caitlin is in charge, making the suggestion to go elsewhere and, well, audience imagination can fill in the gaps.

Technically, Vamsi is breaking Rule One, "Always wear your uniform."  If there was a teacher around, she'd be in trouble.  However, the bigger emergency trumped getting dressed to go next door.  Vamsi is her dorm's leader, as much as her roommates bother to listen.  Flora and Fawna are deep into their interests and tend to tune everyone else out, including each other.  Cassie is Cassie.  Caitlin uses her neighbour as a second-in-command when dealing with her entire graduating class, though Skye is her go-to for anything involving just her dorm.

Skye isn't happy  about being woken early twice in one week.  She does understand why, though.  Autumn takes a little longer and isn't quite awake before she starts speaking.  Under Siege, the movie Autumn hated, is a Steven Seagal flick that has him as a former SEAL turned ship's cook stopping terrorists on board a battleship.  The movie is older than Autumn, so she had to see it on TV at some point.

In the lair of the Jennifers, Laura also is rudely awakened to get evacuated.  Kristie got that fun job, though Jenn did have her reasons, which get demonstrated later.  During that evacuation, Laura's chemistry knowledge comes back into play.  It's not quite tear gas; the cloud is a makeshift gas designed to incapacitate anyone in it, through intense nausea and burning exposed skin.  The detour finally let me introduce the one last element that was missing, the supernatural.  Yes, Kristie cast a light spell.  She isn't the only Unruly who has that ability.

Skye and Autumn aren't quite in uniform, but they made the token effort to wear their blazers, something Vamsi didn't do.  Caitlin, naturally, made a point to be fully dressed.  It's another example of the differences in mindsets.  The trip to check on Laura also runs into the same gas.  Jenn's reactions is starting to become a running gag, between picking on Autumn and pointing out where Laura is.  To be fair, a lot of the attitude Autumn gets from the Jennifers, she brought it on herself.  Skye was able to prevent Autumn from commenting on how revolting the Jennifers are.  I also got to show that most of the girls avoid the fourth floor labs, the ones Kristie is taking Laura to for safety.

While Autumn deals with Jenn, Caitlin gets to deal with Cassie, who is incredibly perky for four in the morning.  Vamsi has reasons for not being around, most of them related to her ability to get whatever an Unruly Girl needs.  Those same reasons are how she has a laptop and how Flora has aerial drones with professional grade cameras.  Cassie, surprisingly, is correct.  In any TV show or movie, the only time someone looks up is because there is someone above them.  If there isn't anyone, no one looks.  And that only applies to the heroes.  The opposition will be too focused on finding the hero on ground level that they never think of the third dimension.  Fawna also has a way to scout around, though it's a more organic approach.  Fawna has a famliar, and, yes, that was a horrible pun.  Caitlin will speak of this nevermore.

I don't think I ever made the ages and school years clear.  The Gephardt Academy provides for students from the Seventh to the Twelth Grade, as per Ontario's Ministry of Education.  The Jennifers, being first year students, are in Grade Seven, and Caitlin's year is Grade Twelve.  The "minor niners" and the Grande Nine students, third year girls.  The distinction doesn't come up much, but the rioting Jennifers made it an issue.

The end is inspired by far too many sitcoms where a character would say, "At least X hasn't happened," guaranteeing that X would happen.  It's a variant here.  Caitlin needs time to plan.  The worst thing that could happen is something that would force her to make a snap decision.  The technique is useful for NaNoWriMo.  If you need to add to the word count, figure out what would make it more difficult for the characters, then throw it at them.  At worst, the characters come up with a solution after a few paragraphs, which still means adding to the word count.  Since NaNo is a first draft, it can be fixed in editing later.  Best case, though, means a chapter or two dealing with the problem and the fallout, with character growth and an unexpected twist.  In my case, I got a cliffhanger out of it, a few scenes in the next chapter, and a bit of panic in Caitlin.

Tomorrow, Chapter 6, "Nothing Good Happens at 4AM".
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, The Equalizer.
Saturday, over at MuseHack, the April news round up.
Also Saturday, check out Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of Lost in Translation.

24 Apr 2015

Unruly: The Great Jennifer Round-Up - Chapter 5

"You left Laura down there?"
"The juniors needed more convincing than expected.  I had to put the fear of me into them."
"Don't you see?  Juliana left willingly."
"Fine, I'll shut up.  But only if you let me sleep late tomorrow morning."

The Great Jennifer Round-Up
Chapter 5 - Early Morning Shenanigans

Caitlin danced in the ballroom, both her and her partner looking resplendent in their full dress uniforms.  The band played a jaunty tune, one that fit a time immemorial than any dance music could ever hope to fill.  Caitlin's partner pulled the redhead in close.  She gazed into his soft brown eyes.  "Oh, Alex," she murmured, for his ears only.  "This could be our last night together.  We need to do something more than just dance."  Caitlin pressed in on her gallant escort's body, her head raised, eyes closed.  Explosions boomed outside.

Caitlin jerked her eyes open, only to find herself in her dorm room at the Academy.  She groaned, then turned over on her side.  The booms repeated, this time more a hammering than explosions.  Biting back choice commentary about the parentage of the person at the door, Caitlin rolled out of bed.  She pulled on a dark red bathrobe before shuffling to the door.  Another series of pounding got cut off as Caitlin yanked the door open.  "What is it?"

Vamsi stood out in the hallway, a jade green robe over her beige pajamas.  "Caitlin, problem."

"I should hope so.  What time is it?"

"Three-forty or so.  The Jennifers are attacking."

"Which ones?"

"How would I know?  The Headmistress cancelled the tagging hunt several years ago."

Caitlin closed her eyes.  "It's too early for sarcasm.  Where are the Jennifers now?"

"I've got reports that the second year dorm took the brunt of the hit.  I've got Flora and Fawna checking."

"You didn't send them, did you?"

Vamsi laughed.  "I'd send Cassie first.  No, one of them has drones, the other has, well, less I think about it, the better I sleep."

Caitlin nodded.  "Let me know what you find out.  Who else knows?"

"I've got Claire out rousing the seniors.  Felicia's gone to warn the juniors."

"Good.  Let Claire finish with the seniors.  I need to know what the twins find out as soon as possible."

"Be findable."  Vamsi took a few steps back to her dorm.  "Caitlin, if things go south here, I'm bailing.  I can't have the heat here."

"Let me know before you leave."  Caitlin returned inside.  She clapped her hands.  "Skye, Autumn, get up!"

Autumn stirred in her bed.  "Go 'way, Caitlin.  It's still dark."

Skye flipped over on to her stomach.  "Never had to toss people twice in one week, Caitlin."

Back at her bed, Caitlin started putting on her clothes.  "Emergency, ladies.  We're under siege."

"Hated that movie," Autumn mumbled.

Skye pushed herself up.  "Siege?  By who?"

"Whom," Autumn corrected.

"The Jennifers."  Caitlin pulled on her black leather boots.  "Get up!  Skye, I need you and Autumn to check on Laura."

Skye swung her long legs out of bed.  "What are you thinking, Cait?"

Caitlin walked over to the whiteboard.  "I don't have enough information yet.  I need to know if it's the missing Jennifers returning or the remaining Jennifers rioting."

Autumn peeked out the curtain above her bed.  "No fires.  And no alarms going off."

Fully out of bed, Skye adjusted her night shirt.  "Jennifers aren't quiet, Cait."

"I know.  That's what has me concerned."


Laura woke up to a persistent shaking.  She opened her eyes and looked down at her legs.  "What?"

"Jenn says we have to find a safe place for you," Kristie whispered back.

"Good luck with that."  Laura closed her eyes and let her head fall back on her pillow.

"Let's go!"  Kristie grabbed Laura's foot.  "It's going to be dangerous here!"

"If you don't let me sleep, I'll guarantee it."

Kristie locked her arm around Laura's leg.  With her free hand, she began tickling the older girl's bare foot.  "We need to go, now!"

Laura fought to free her leg.  "I'm up!  Someone better explain to me why I'm not sleeping in."

"Jenn told me to get you someplace safe."  The young brunette tried to grab Laura's arm.  "We've got people invading."

Laura rolled out of bed, landing on her feet.  "Why didn't you tell me that?"

"Jenn told me not to frighten you."  Kristie started walking to the door, checking over her shoulder to make sure Laura followed.  "I know of a safe spot, but we have to hurry.  The second years' dorm has been taken."

"Taken?  Laura smoothed out her rumpled clothes.  "Taken by who?  Taken where?"

"I don't know!  That's what I was told.  Jenn needs you safe.  This way!"

Laura looked around the dorm room as she followed the younger girl to the door.  "Where is Jenn?"

"Busy getting the other girls rounded up and moving to safety, too.  My job is to get you out of here."

"Who's invading?"

Kristie stopped at the door.  She felt around the door jamb for a length of string.  Following the string, the young brunette disabled the trap on the door.  Kristie looked back at the chaotic mob of young girls.  "Hey, Jessica, reset this once I'm out!"  She waited for Jessica to yell back before opening the door.  Kristie paused, looking down the hallway before setting out.

The overhead lights flickered.  Some flashed once, twice, then died.  Kristie broke into a run, forcing Laura to rush to keep up.  Pipes rattled, echoing off the walls.  Steam rolled across the hall, blocking the view beyond to the running girls.  A hiss came from the other side of the steam.  Laura put her hand on Kristie's shoulder to slow her down.  "Wait," the older girl warned.  She sniffed the air.  "We don't want to go that way."

Kristie looked up at Laura, her brown eyes wide.  "Why?"

"It's not quite tear gas, but it's close."

"You can smell it?"

"I've got a good sense of smell."  Laura looked around.  "We need to go another way."

Kristie closed her eyes for a moment.  She pointed back towards her dorm.  "That way.  We passed a side corridor."  The young brunette took the lead back.

Laura kept an eye on the steam behind them, making sure it stayed where it was.  "Is there a washroom the way we're going?"

"You have to go now?"

"No, but what I have in mind will be easier to do there."

Kristie turned down the side corridor.  "Do I want to know?"

"It's a way to deal with the gas.  It worked in World War I.  Soldiers there peed on a cloth that they then tied around their nose and mouth."

"I didn't want to know!"

"Do you have a better idea?"

Kristie stopped at a set of emergency stairs.  "Up!  Don't open any of the doors.  That will set off alarms."

"Wouldn't that be a good thing if we're being invaded?"

"If it was, we'd be hearing alarms by now."  Kristie waited for Laura to start climbing the stairs before following.

In the darkness, Laura felt her way up the stairs.  She stumbled at the landing, reaching for a step that didn't exist.  Behind her, Kristie progressed at a slower rate, taking her time to make sure there was a place to put her foot before committing to the step.  Laura lost count of which floor she was on, but Kristie pressed the older girl to keep going.  After what felt like a dozen stories, Laura couldn't find any other stairs up.  Kristie joined her on the landing.  "There should be a door here."

"Where?  I can't see a thing."

Kristie snapped her fingers.  A mote of light formed, dim at first, growing quickly to become as bright as a candle.  The young brunette held the light over her head.  "See it yet?"

Laura saw an outline in the candlelight.  "Over here!"

"Move.  Jenn said there's a trick to this one."  Kristie brought the light to the door.  She felt around the edges, trying to find the trick.  She worked her fingers on a bump, hearing a faint crack as she dug in.  "That must be it."  Kristie opened the door.  Light from the hallway banished the shadows around her and Laura.  "This way."

Laura followed the younger girl into the hallway.  She didn't recognize the rooms they passed.  "Where are we?"

"Fourth floor labs."

"Labs?"  Laura peeked into a room as the two girls ran past it.  "What sort of lab?"

"Safe ones."  Kristie stopped in front of another lab.  She pulled out a key from her blazer pocket.  "Just don't touch anything inside."  The brunette unlocked the door and ushered Laura in.  She took one last look up and down the hall before following the older girl.


Skye led Autumn through the halls.  Unlike Caitlin, the only part of the Academy's uniform they wore was the deep red blazer.  Autumn managed to grab a floor-length robe to put on over her purple baby dolls.  Skye had a pair of gym shorts on, peeking out from under her night shirt.  The Asian kept directly behind the taller girl, trying to hide.  "I don't like this, Skye."

"So you keep saying."  Skye paused at an intersection of corridors.  She peered around the corner.  "Clear."  Skye continued down the hall.  "If you hadn't left Laura behind, you wouldn't be here."

"If I left?  Who left me down there in the first place?"

"Cait.  I'd be going down now to check on you both if you were still there."

"I feel so relieved."

"You're cranky in the morning."  Skye stopped at a stairwell door.  She checked through the windows to make sure the way was safe.  "Let's go."  Skye slipped through the door.  The tall girl was far quieter as she climbed down the stairs than anyone could imagine.

"Cranky," Autumn grumbled.  "I need my eight hours of sleep."

"Tell that to Cait, not me.  Or, better?  Tell it to whoever kidnapped the Jennifers."

"I will."

"Great.  And the more you complain now, the more likely a Jennifer will hear us.  I'm sure I can handle myself if there's a fight, but I don't know about you."

Autumn opened her mouth to reply, then shut it again.  She glared at her tall roommate.

Skye kept the lead as the two girls crept out into the Jennifers' dorm.  Autumn remained as close as she followed her roommate down the hall.  Lights popped as they went out, plunging the corridor into darkness.  Autumn shrieked, then clung on to Skye.  The tall girl rolled her eyes, then pointed further down the hallway.  "Look."

Autumn peeked around Skye.  Down the hall, light broke through steam.  "That's not normal, Skye."

"Where else do we-"  Skye broke herself off.  "Did you hear that?"

"Hear what?"  Autumn listened.  "I don't hear anything."

Skye pushed Autumn against the wall.  "Voices."

"Echos?"  A hint of hope threaded through Autumn's question.

Skye shh'ed the smaller girl.  She held her own breath, waiting.  "I think we're surrounded."

Autumn's eyes widened.  She covered her mouth, not wanting to make a noise.

Lights shone on the two.  "Are you two kidding me?"  Jenn stepped into the light.  "We don't want her back."

Skye breathed out in relief.  "We were looking for you."

"Technically, we found you."

Autumn slipped out from beneath Skye.  "What do you mean, you don't want me back?"

Skye grabbed her roommate's arm and pulled her away from the leader of the Jennifers.  "Ignore her.  Where's Laura?"

"Someplace safe," Jenn answered.  "We were about to see what's happening."

"You don't know?"

"If we did, why would we go look?"

Skye shook her head.  "When did it become sarcasm o'clock?  Don't answer.  What I've heard, it's a Jennifer revolt.  Autumn, don't you dare say anything."

Autumn mimed zipping her mouth shut.  "Not a word."

Jenn glowered at the two seniors.  "It's not us up there."

"Where is Laura?" Skye persisted.

"I had one of my girls take her up to the fourth floor labs where it'll be safe."

"Safer than what?"  Autumn tried to escape Skye's hold.  "Safer than being on the the table of a mad dissector?  Safer than jumping out of an airplane without a parachute?  Safer than being left tied on the tracks in front of a GO Train?"

Jenn stared at Autumn.  "You have issues."

"Skye, let me at her!"

"Guys, as much as I want to hit someone right now, we need to get Laura back."

"I told you, she's not here."  Jenn pointed at the ceiling.  "She should be with Kristie in the fourth floor labs.  The rest of us are going to take a look.  If it is my year, it might be the missing ones and I need to know."


"No way, Skye," Autumn interrupted.  "I am not going to look for Laura in the fourth floor labs.  That isn't how I want to die."

Skye spun the Asian girl around.  "What I was about to say was, go tell Cait what's happening and where Laura is.  The goth twin can look for her instead.  I'll stay with these Jennifers and try to get Cait her info."

"Oh.  Anything else?"

"Get the coffee brewing.  It's going to be a long morning."


Caitlin knocked on her neighbour's door.  After a few moments, it opened, revealing Cassie's beaming smile.  "Kitty-Cait!  Vammie said you'd be coming over.  Come in, come in!"  Cassie swished back into the room.

The redhead followed the blonde inside.  "Good morning, Cassandra."  Caitlin looked around the room.  One bed had a duffle bag on it, open with several articles of clothing already inside.  "Is there anyone else here?"

Vamsi emerged from the bathroom.  "Caitlin, good.  Get comfortable.  Want a tea?"

"I'd like a status report."

"Right."  Vamsi sat down beside the duffel bag.  "Drones are showing movement outside.  I've got video if you want."


Vamsi got up to retrieve her laptop.  She set it down on the table to let Caitlin watch the video feed.  "I'll need that back before I leave."

Caitlin watched as dark humanoid forms crawled through the long grass of the Academy's grounds.  "Satellite feed?"

"Drone, like I said."

"And they're not looking up?"

Cassie trilled a laugh.  "Oh, Kitty-Cait, who looks up these days?"

"Cassie has a point, Caitlin," Vamsi said.  "I think the drone is just under radar detection, so maybe three hundred metres.  I got the twin a good remote camera with zoom function, which you didn't hear from me."

"What about the other one?  The goth?"

"Funny thing."  Vamsi's expression did not show any humour.  "She's getting Quoth to take a look around."

"Quoth?  I don't think I know the name."  Caitlin got out a notepad and jotted the word down.  "Who is Quoth?"

"Her bird," Cassie answered.  "Black, and just stares and stares at everyone except Goth Girl.  Creepy.  It's like walking down the street at times."  The blonde shuddered.

"A bird?  What kind of bird?"

Vamsi smiled.  "I was hoping you'd ask.  It's a raven."

Caitlin added the info then stopped.  "Quoth, the raven?"  She tossed her notepad on the table in disgust.  "Vamsi, really?"

"I didn't name the bird, Caitlin."  Vamsi continued her packing.  "Both have radios, but they're keeping quiet.  The Jennifers might have walkie-talkies for all I know."

"You're not listening?"

"I am, but the channel's clear.  Doesn't mean they're not listening.  Caitlin, they know this place as well as we do.  Better, maybe.  They know where their traps are."

Caitlin began pacing.  "We need to lure them back.  Now's our best chance."

"Lure them how, Kitty-Cait?  Those dreadful Jennifers are just so alien."

Caitlin eyed Cassie.  "We could use a certain blonde as a stalking goat.  Vamsi, do you still have ropes and a way to drive pitons into rock?"

"Oh, Kitty-Cait, you like me."  Cassie poured a cup of coffee for herself.  "You have such a strange way of showing it."

"Oh, I am so tempted, Caitlin."  Vamsi zipped up her duffle bag.  "However, I am out of here.  Things aren't improving.  The second years are being held captive, and the Jennifers are moving on to the minor niners.  I can't take the risk."

"Just how are you getting out of here?" Caitlin demanded.  "The main gate's closed."

Vamsi looped the duffel's strap over her shoulder.  "I have a route, Caitlin.  It's been a pleasure doing business with you, but I need to get out until the heat's died down."

Over the walkie-talkie, a voice said, "Vamsi?  Vamsi, are you there?"

"It's for you, Caitlin.  That's the drone twin calling."

Caitlin picked up the radio.  "This is Caitlin.  Vamsi's not available.  Report."

"Are you watching the video feed?" Flora asked.

Caitlin sat down at the table to watch the video on Vamsi's laptop.  "I am now."

"Lower left corner.  Let me zoom out a bit."  On screen, the view widened, showing more of the grounds.  "There's a new group coming in."

Caitlin peered at the scene.  "Can you zoom in on them?"


The picture focused on the new group.  Caitlin recognized the tall girl leading it.  "Keep an eye on them."

A pounding came from the door.  Vamsi ran over to open it.  "Good morning, Autumn."  She moved aside to let Autumn enter.

The Asian girl ran over to the table.  She braced herself on the back of a chair.  "Caitlin, Skye says she's trying to get you information."  Autumn panted, trying to catch her breath.

"I know."  Caitlin turned the laptop to let Autumn see the video.

Autumn let her head fall.  "I ran for nothing."

"Where's Laura?"

"Fourth floor labs."

Cassie set her coffee mug down hard on the table.  "Up there?"

"Are you insane, letting her go up there?" Caitlin said.

Autumn held up her hands in surrender.  "Hey, not my idea.  She was already on her way when Skye and I met the Jennifers.  They had one of their own take her there."

"I need someone up there with her, Autumn."

Autumn sat down.  "It's not me.  Caitlin, I just ran from the Jennifers' dorms to get here.  I'm not leaving unless there's a fire."

Caitlin grabbed her notepad.  "Give me a moment.  I can figure out something if I get enough time."

The fire alarm blared.

Next week:
"If I burn to death, I am so haunting you."
"Caitlin, if the Headmistress finds out, I am toast.  I don't want to go to North Korea!"
"Juliana, you scream and I will let not only let Sasha know who swapped out her bath oil but I will also tell your mother what you did."
"A booby trap."

Unruly - The Great Jennifer Round-Up Chapter 4 - Commentary

Laura is still a hostage of the Jennifers.  The young girls chose which of Laura and Autumn was the more valuable.  Autumn didn't like the answer.  Welcome back to the commentary.  Please read the chapter first before continuing.

I've moved some long stuff off screen.  Caitlin threatening the juniors, I felt, is best left implied instead of shown.  No one really needs a chapter with Caitlin just ripping into younger girls like a drill sergeant.  The Jennifers returning Autumn was also left off-screen.  Having Autumn appear tied to a bed lets the audience have their imaginations run away with themselves.  The opening scene shows that Caitlin will focus on her needs, including putting herself ahead of her roommates.  Sure, she didn't know Autumn had been returned for a refund, but stopping to do her English homework while two of her roommates are the prisoners of the Jennifers is Caitlin taking full advantage of the situation for her benefit.

Down in the Lair of the Jennifers, Laura's still investigating.  Being new herself, Laura doesn't get that the Jennifers are the school's version of a Star Trek redshirt.  Thus, the nameless, faceless horde who would've had a different look each time one of them appeared if this was a webcomic starts to get names and individualized.  Not the intention when I started, but that's how the story evolved.  So far, it's just Jenn and Kristie, but now that I've started, Laura will meet others as needed.

Jenn is serious about keeping Laura until her missing classmates are back.  Laura has reasons for not wanting to disappear, specifically, the trial against her father.  Jenn also has noticed that Laura doesn't treat the Jennifers like everyone else her age does.  Laura makes a point of learning people's names.  Her little bit on politeness is based on events that have happened in Ontario; it is not unknown for gangs to murder rivals and leave them in fields.

Juliana's footlocker wasn't planned, but came from needing to keep the story moving.  I had an idea of what happened, now was the time to start revealing.  Juliana's belongings became key.  As Laura explains, there's a difference between leaving willingly and being forced.  If a girl was allowed to get some of her things before being taken away, she might leave a clue behind, either something of hers that she's never seen without or making a point to be messier or neater than normal.  A girl who leaves of her own free will is just grabbing her good stuff.  Laura's reasoning is filtered through her background.  She may have thought about the situation a little much.

The last sentence of the chapter is Laura starting to get into how life at the Academy works.  There's something she wants, there's something Jenn wants, there's room for negotiations.  Poor, Jenn.  Laura is scaring her, more than Caitlin ever could.

TomorrowLater today, Chapter 5, "Early Morning Shenanigans".
Also tomorrowtoday, over at Psycho Drive-In, continuing the history of adaptations with the early years of film.
Saturday, over at MuseHack, The Equalizer.
Also Saturday, check out Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of Lost in Translation.

17 Apr 2015

Unruly: The Great Jennifer Round-Up - Chapter 4

"Caitlin, I don't like this."
"We're looking for an Unruly?"
"What's stopping them from stealing a uniform from the Academy, then?"
"Then let one of us go back."

The Great Jennifer Round-Up
Chapter 4 - We Are All Jennifer

Caitlin and Skye returned to their dorm room.  Inside, the red-haired girl flicked on the lights.  The scene in front of her halted her.  Autumn was tied down In Caitlin's bed, spread eagle, each wrist and ankle bound to a different corner.  The Asian girl raised her head.  "About time you got back."

"This is different."  Caitlin removed her blazer and hung it up in the closet.  Skye continued in to the kitchenette to retrieve a bottle from the fridge.  "The Jennifers didn't even do this to Cassandra," the red-haired girl continued.  "What did you say to them?"

Autumn pulled at her bonds.  "Can I get untied first?"

Unruly - The Great Jennifer Round-Up Chapter 3 - Commentary

Caitlin took her girls into the heart of the Jennifers, a dangerous place to be.  Welcome to the commentary!  Please read the chapter first to avoid spoilers and so that what follows makes sense.  This gets a bit lengthy, so the discussion starts after the break.

12 Apr 2015

Test Run - Slashing Cortex+ for Reboot

Or do I mean Hack?

Slash is the blue one on the left, Hack is the red one on the right.  Or, Hack is on the right and Slash is on the left.

10 Apr 2015

Unruly: The Great Jennifer Round-Up - Chapter 3

"The Jennifers are missing."
"This Jennifer might know something."
"Someone could be getting them ready for transport to where they'd sell well."
"But that means we all go to the Jennifers' lair."

The Great Jennifer Round-Up
Chapter 3 - The Lair of the Jennifers

Caitlin led her troops down the hall towards the first-year student dorm.  While the red-haired girl marched with purpose, the rest of her roommates weren't as sure of themselves.  Autumn kept close behind Caitlin, never focusing on anything any longer for several seconds.  Laura followed the Asian girl by several paces, eyes wide, jumping at any creak.  Skye brought up the rear, keeping watch for the group and ready to leap to the front if trouble arose.  The group's footsteps echoed in the hallway.  Lights flickered overhead, adding to the unease the group felt.

Laughter and scurrying bounced off the walls.  Caitlin held up a hand, bringing the troop to a stop.  She waited, trying to hear if the noises continued.  "Hello?"  A beat started, a soft tapping on pipes at first, growing louder.  More tapping joined in, off the main beat, using wood instead of the metal pipes.

"Caitlin, I don't like this."  Autumn turned in a slow circle.  Her eyes darted left and right, up and down.  "Caitlin?"

Unruly - The Great Jennifer Round-Up Chapter 2 - Commentary

Welcome back to the commentary.  Caitlin gets the troops together, Autumn gets paranoid, and the Jennifers are still missing.  Please read the chapter first to avoid spoilers.

Two more seniors are introduced, Claire and Felicia.  That means at least four rooms of seniors, including Caitlin and Vamsi's dorms.  Both will re-appear in later chapters.  For now, they're handy to have speak.  Felicia is good at stating the obvious.  Each girl, other than Caitlin, was voted by their dorm to go to the meeting.  In Vamsi's case, it was three votes for her and one for Cassie.  Caitlin voted for herself with no dissenting or, indeed, any other votes.

I always had in mind that one of the Jennifers was going to be named Jennifer.  Yes, it is confusing, but Jenn, to distinguish herself from the generic Jennifer, is annoyed by the misuse of her name because of that confusion.  She does take a stand by insisting on her name.  Jenn is a future dorm leader, just from her actions here.  Caitlin does notice, as she does the response Jenn gives to her question.  Sometimes, you have to phrase your question just right to get the answer you need.

Autumn's paranoia was fun to write.  She's overstating the response by a bit.  The Ontario Regiment wouldn't be the first called out to the Academy.  Containment is the key to preventing widespread destruction if the Unrulies did riot.  The Diefenbunker is a real place, a decommissioned nuclear bunker created for use by the Prime Minister, his cabinet, and other Members of Parliament.  It's now part museum, part meeting place.  DiefCon, a gaming convention, was held there in 2014.

The bombing is Autumn misreading a government document.  Ontario does not arm its firefighting aircraft to assault girls' schools, even if they are housing a number of dangerous girls.  Autumn's knowledge of government is lacking, though she doesn't trust what people tell her about the different levels.  Laura does enjoy poking at her roomies' foibles.  Caitlin has a better source about future bombings; her mother would call ahead.  Caitlin's parents are military; her mother is Lieutenant Colonel Anna Kane-O'Shaughnessy of the Royal Canadian Air Force.  She crewed on Auroras out of Greenwood, Nova Scotia.  The CP-140 Aurora is used by the Air Force as a reconnaissance airplane, and would be used on the Academy to get a situation report without risking lower-flying craft like helicopters.  Who knows what the Unrulies could have, right?

With their experience as rioting Jennifers, the girls, save Laura, do have in idea of what to expect.  A mob of half-feral young girls wreaking havoc should be breaking news, at least locally.  Even if the news is in on the cover up, traffic cameras should still pick up disruption on the roads.  If the Jennifers aren't out rioting, what happened?  Laura's background comes into play.  Not that she ever kidnapped girls or even drugged them, but her father knows people who know people in that field.  Skye's explanation fits Occam's razor, "Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily."  The simpler theory is better, mainly because it's easier to prove or disprove.  Caitlin has bribed Jennifers before, using chocolate.

Tomorrow This evening, Chapter 3, "The Lair of the Jennifers".
Also tomorrow today, over at Psycho Drive-In, how adaptations can surpass their originals.
Saturday, over at MuseHack, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Also Saturday, check out Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of Lost in Translation.

9 Apr 2015


Please be patient.  The commentary will be up tomorrow.  Time slipped by me this week.

To bide the time, have a picture of a kitty.
Out of the box kitty.
Or two!
Yes, that is clean laundry she's in.

3 Apr 2015

Unruly: The Great Jennifer Round-Up - Chapter 2

"No one misses English, Laura.  No one."
"We were all Jennifers once."
"Do you know how much damage the Jennifers can do running wild?"
"Tanks.  Lots of them.  And that's just the beginning."

The Great Jennifer Round-Up
Chapter 2 - What Happened to the Apocalypse?

Caitlin walked into the centre of the room.  Each senior dorm room sent a representative to the classroom the redhead had commandeered.  All eyes were upon the red-haired girl.  "Thank you all for coming."  Caitlin surveyed the room, making sure she had her peers' attention.  "We have a situation.  The Jennifers are missing."

"Missing."  Claire rolled her eyes as she scoffed.  "Isn't that a little over-dramatic?"

"Claire, so good you could come."  Caitlin singled out her detractor.  "Tell me, Claire, when did you last see a Jennifer?"

"This isn't our problem, Caitlin."

Vamsi stood up.  "Hang on."  She addressed Caitlin.  "Caitlin, who pays attention to the Jennifers?  They're no longer our responsibility.  They belong to the juniors now."

Murmurs of approval bubbled up.  Caitlin nodded to Vamsi.  "And what happens when the juniors drop the ball?"

"They get what they deserve, really."

2 Apr 2015

Unruly - The Great Jennifer Round-Up Chapter 1 - Commentary

The new arc has started, and now so does a new round of commentary.  Please read the chapter first to avoid spoilers.

Greg pointed out in the comments that, in the previous arc, Laura was one of the early risers and Skye slept late.  Caitlin was up before her, but Laura was up at 7:45.  Autumn and Skye were both up late the night before with Skye having a hangover.  In the new chapter, Laura wants to sleep in.  What happened?  Part of it, authorial mishap.  However, Laura was also using her gigglesmoke, which has drowsiness as a side effect.  Laura was the first to bed and slept straight through the night.  She hasn't used her gigglesmoke since and was up later while the other girls are looking forward to their first class.

Laura's roommates prepared for class in an unusual manner.  Autumn is wearing perfume.  Caitlin has makeup on.  The colour, Russian Red, came via a friend's Facebook post.  It sounded interesting enough for Caitlin.  The reason revealed itself in class.  The teacher, Mr. Baker, is based on a conversation with another friend.  The teacher's appearance is based upon Simon Baker, star of The Mentalist.  My friend mentioned the actor's smile and the effect it had on her.  Who am I to ignore such research when offered?

Flora's twin sister makes her first appearance.  Fawna looks nothing like her sister, dying her hair black and tying her hair into pigtails.  I try to give each named character at the Academy a distinctive hairstyle when possible to help tell the girls apart.  Fawna much prefers Poe over Shakespeare.

Laura shares a few thoughts about English class as I do.  Other characters believe differently.  Caitlin and Cassie enjoy the class.  Autumn enjoys the teacher.  Laura doesn't see the point and isn't interested in poetry.  Show her a diagram of an organic molecules and Laura will be as rapt as Autumn was.

The chemistry class needed a little bit of research.  I knew about sulphuric acid, or H2SO4, but I had to verify its appearance.  It is colourless, just like water.  However, smelling it direct from the flask is a bad idea.  Even the fumes are acidic.  Best to waft the odour from the flask towards you to dilute the concentration in the air.  Drinking is a very bad idea.  All this info came from high school chemistry, bolstered by university-level classes in chem and in materials engineering.  Laura passed her first assignment in her class.

Going back to the English class, not every girl is going nuts over the teacher.  Skye didn't do anything extra.  But, as Flora points out to Laura at lunch, standing out from the other girls isn't a good idea.  So, even if a girl isn't interested in Mr. Baker, she puts on an act in front of her classmates.  Her roommates may know different, but Rule 3, "Always support your sisters," is in effect.  As mentioned, Caitlin and Autumn are trying to catch the teacher's eye, as is Cassie.  The other girls, well, that remains to be seen.

The law enforcement and military units mentioned do exist.  Oshawa has the Durham Regional Police as the local department.  The Ontario Provincial Police patrol provincial roads; the tactical unit is what the OPP calls their SWAT team.  The Ontario Regiment is a Canadian Forces reserve armoured recon unit; it doesn't use tanks now, but has in the past with some available in the regiment's museumJoint Task Force 2 is the Canadian Forces' special forces unit; Caitlin is letting her ego run away with her here.

Chapter 1 set up the plot lines for this arc, from the missing Jennifers to Laura's scholastic adventure.  The girls have a few problems to deal with, and the arc is just beginning.

Tomorrow, Chapter 2, "What Happened to the Apocalypse?"
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, Frankenstein.
Saturday, over at MuseHack, Lost in Translation looks at the idea of adaptations being better known than originals.
Also Saturday, check out Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of Lost in Translation.

1 Apr 2015

Test Run - Hacking Valiant Universe RPG

To put this post into perspective, I've been re-watching Reboot after working on Ringette and several PCs for a friend's game at CanGames.  A though occurred to me that the Valiant Universe RPG could be easily used to set a game in /Reboot/'s setting.  The game can handle everything from binomes to sprites.

Valiant has several power levels, from sidekick (as Nasty was built) through hero and superhero (as Ringette is) to legend.  Sidekick covers the likes of Mike the TV and first season's Enzo, the characters who have limited abilities.  Hero covers most of the experienced characters, like Dot, Bob, and Captain Gavin Capacitor.  Superhero handles the likes of Glitch!Bob, Megabyte, and Hexadecimal.  Legend, the ultimate power level, easily handles Daemon, who wasn't one to be trifled with.  The levels can be mixed, though a sidekick is going to feel limited compared to a superhero.  The series does show the difference, with Dot, Bob, and Enzo together in a game.  After the break, I'll create a young Guardian, just fresh from the Academy.