31 Dec 2015

Crossover Chapter 19 - Commentary

The fight ends!  Please read the chapter before continuing.

This is where Omega's third arm appeared, when he opened the weapons port.  Moving the port to the shoulder was a minor edit that still let me keep most of what I had without the undeclared third arm.  The explosions along Omega are from the emergency escape system built into the armour.  Safe to say that Meredith managed to knock Omega silly.  And what better way to signal that one fight is over than with an explosion?

Nasty wound up dealing with Tori after working out all her frustrations on Natasha.  I realized that Nasty might not stop beating up her counterpart unless she had a reason to focus on someone else.  Thus, the switch over to Tori.  Vicki was having problems dealing with her counterpart, mainly because of the powers in play.  Nasty's, though, is one that neither Vicki nor Tori have immunity to.  Vicki might be able to dodge Nasty's blow; Tori is just too big to avoid it.

Vicki, while having problems with her own counterpart, has no problems against the others'.  Natasha could have been dealt with sooner, but Vicki wasn't about to get in between her and Nasty.  Omega, now outside his armour, is a regular person.  His armour may have had enough breaches in it to let the Pixie Dust in by the time Meredith was done with him.

The fight's over, the villains are rounded up, but the story isn't done yet.  There are still a few dangling plot points to clean up.  The next few chapters will clean things up a bit.

Tomorrow, Crossover Chapter 20.
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, the year end wrap-up.
Saturday, over at Seventh Sanctum, looking towards 2016.
Also Saturday, check out Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of /Lost in Translation/.

25 Dec 2015

Crossover Chapter 19

Featuring Subject 13, Prototype Alpha, and Pixie of Youth Brigade
The following chapter has scenes of violence and course language.  Might rank as Adult Accompaniment if this was a movie.
Parking lot, Hank Cheetas, Cleveland, evening

Nasty looked up at her opponent.  Me and my fucking big mouth.  Tori glared down, a look of amusement on her face.  Better get this over with.  Nasty took a step forward.  "What the fuck are you waiting for?"  Tori put all her force into a stomp meant to crush Nasty into the parking lot asphalt.  Nasty darted away, her left arm protesting at the motion.  She channelled her scream of pain into an  incoherent shout of rage.  Nasty leaped into the air, aiming herself at Tori's leg.  Purple flared.

24 Dec 2015

Crossover Chapter 18 - Commentary

The dance partners switch and neither side is willing to give up yet.  Please read the chapter before continuing.

As mentioned last week, the fight kept evolving.  Both sides made gains, so neither want to give in.  For the villains, they have a goal that they can achieve if only they can deal with the pesky heroes in their way.  The heroes are doing a decent job at slowing the villains down.  No one has dropped yet, though Natasha will feel the effects of the fight in the morning.

Nasty is tenacious.  She was like that in Subject 13, and it's something that is core to her character, even moreso than the potty mouth.  Nasty also has no problem tackling someone bigger than her.  She relies on being the last one standing, no matter what.  Her battle with Omega just highlights her stubbornness.  Nasty does pay for it, though.  Being hurled into van hurts.

Meredith gets caught in a tough choice.  Should she make sure the dimensional breech is closed or go help Nasty.  The strength enhancers from the beginning return.  Sure, it's a Chekhov's Gun*, but the idea with showing what the characters can do at the beginning meant that the action now doesn't need an explanation.  The enhancers were planned; I knew Alpha would be fighting an evil version of Keith in a more traditional suit of power armour that would have enhanced strength.  Meredith needed to be Omega's equal for the fight.  Plus, I got a cool scene at the beginning.

Alpha also gets to talk at Omega.  It's a take on how Spider-Man fights; the web-slinger maintains a patter during a battle, generally keeping his opponents off their game because he just won't shut up.  The less he banters, the more serious the fight.  With Meredith, she knows that Omega has an ego.  Attacking him there pushes him into making unforced errors.  The result is Omega losing an arm.

Oddly, when I was making an editing pass through Crossover, I noticed a tiny problem.  Omega had lost three arms, which is amazing when he only has two.  I wound up making a fix, taking out the problem section and re-writing the third arm loss.  I was pantsing** during that section, just trying to reach word count, and never went back to verify when he lost arms.  I was caught up in the moment, really.

While Meredith had her attention on Omega, Nasty did crawl away.  Meredith just didn't notice; she was too busy holding back someone's fist.  That said, Nasty's appearance to deal with Tori finally gave me the moment to put Natasha out of the fight.  Vicki's power is a fight ender, which is why Tori was immune to it.  The fight is nearly over, though, and I did need to stop Natasha.  However, the dimensional wall has been breeched.  Complications are always fun to add, until it's time to finish up.  I did have an idea at this point on what to do.

Astute readers may have noticed the sentence fragments separated by commas.  "Drying blood from her nose, bruises forming on her jaw and forehead, a blackened eye."  That was done for style.  I know better than to use sentence fragments, but the description defied being verbed.  Natasha should feel lucky that she's still around.

With one villain down, that still leaves Omega, immune to Vicki's dust thanks to a sealed system, and Tori, immune because she's Tori.  The next chapter is the end of the fight.  If you've followed this far, stay tuned.

Tomorrow, Crossover Chapter 19.
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, A Charlie Brown Christmas.
Saturday, over at Seventh Sanctum, the year end wrap-up.
Also Saturday, check out Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of /Lost in Translation/.

* But not Chekov's phaser.
** With NaNoWriMo, there are two approaches used with writing.  One is to properly plan things out, create an outline, and build the world properly well before November.  The second is to write by the seat of one's pants and see what happens.  Crossover had scenes to be hit already in mind, but nothing pre-planned like By the Numbers.  Of course, Crossover had more planning involved than The Elf's Prisoner, my 2015 NaNo project.

18 Dec 2015

Crossover Chapter 18

Featuring Subject 13, Prototype Alpha, and Pixie of Youth Brigade
The following chapter has scenes of violence and course language.  It's a superhero battle featuring a heroine with a smart mouth.
Parking lot, Hank Cheetas, Cleveland, evening

Nasty grabbed a chunk of broken asphalt off the ground and threw it sidearm at Natasha.  She turned to the figure in the power armour, only hearing her double's cry of pain.  "I'll give you noise," she growled.  She sprang at Omega's arm, her hand blazing with purple.  With a leap, she struck up at the arm aiming at Prototype Alpha.  The purple energy flashed on contact.  Omega's arm jolted as the railgun fired.

Omega's headpiece swivelled around to look at Nasty.  "Do you have a death wish?"

17 Dec 2015

Crossover Chapter 17 - Commentary

The tide keeps shifting and the fight's still going.  Please read the chapter before continuing.

When I wrote Crossover, I was never expecting to turn it into a serial.  If I had, the fight would not be going on this long.  The round robin approach helped with writing, but turning the fight into chapters really does need a shorter fight.  That said, I have no idea what to cut.  Each heroine has her own battle, and each villain has a goal.  Neither side wants to give up just yet.

To show that the villains are dangerous, I needed someone to get smacked around.  Nasty became the target of choice.  First, of the three heroines, she's the only one getting up close and personal with her counterpart.  Meredith is keeping her distance from Omega and Vicki knows better than to let the giant version of her smash her like a gnat.  Nasty, though, took the fight to Natasha.  Second, Nasty has been roughed up in Subject 13.  She just doesn't stay down.  Even in the lost issue, she takes a beating.  Thus, Nasty is elected to get tossed through a window.

Meredith's fight gets interrupted.  Omega is still, nominally, under contract to Natasha and should follow her orders.  His armour has dimensional breeching hardware built in, specifically for his current mission.  Keith really needs to create a user's manual for the BIKINI, and Meredith needs to read it.  With all the little adjustments he makes, Keith makes it difficult for Meredith to learn how the BIKINI works.  However, the idea behind Prototype Alpha is that the two of them are the hero, with Meredith taking the credit as Alpha while Keith works behind the scenes.

Turns out, the dangling plot thread about Tori and her father did come back.  Vicki's father makes the perfect stand-in and hostage.  Stopping Tori was the problem.  There's a size difference, to say the least.  Giant Tori is stronger than Tiny Vicki, as Vicki found out.  Vicki has to out-think her counterpart.  Not that hard to do, admittedly, but she had to come up with something to keep her father safe.  While her Pixie Dust doesn't put either Vicki or Tori to sleep, it is still dust.  The trick might not work on someone normal-sized, but against someone over ten feet tall?  That's a big enough nose to irritate.  It's also a one-time only trick; Tori does learn from her mistakes.  Vicki also learns that Nasty's approach to fighting isn't easy on the hands.

There are two more chapters of fight to come.  I was tempted to compress them into one, but that would throw off the size, and the Internet has the "tl; dr" - "too long, didn't read" - factor.  Would a double-sized issue work?  Maybe, but part of the goal in posting Crossover is to place the story into proper chapters.  It's a process that takes time, and I do need to learn how chapters work.

Tomorrow, Crossover Chapter 18.
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, a deeper look at adapting tabletop RPGs.
Saturday, over at Seventh Sanctum, A Charlie Brown Christmas.
Also Saturday, check out Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of Lost in Translation.

11 Dec 2015

Crossover Chapter 17

Featuring Subject 13, Prototype Alpha, and Pixie of Youth Brigade

[Contains scenes of violence and coarse language.  It's a superhero battle featuring Nasty, so it shouldn't be a surprise.]

Parking lot, Hank Cheetas, Cleveland, evening

"Your friends are too busy to come to your side."  Nasty let the energy drain from her fist.  "You can't fight your own fights, can you?"

"Shut up!"  Natasha pulled herself up to stand straight.  Both arms charged up.  "I am not going to lose to the likes of you!"

"Could have fooled everyone."  Nasty spat on the ground.  "Bring it!"

10 Dec 2015

Crossover Chapter 16 - Commentary

The combatants have paired off.  Please read the chapter before continuing.

For the fight, I rotated between the pairs of counterparts, allowing me to show their differences.  With Nasty and Natasha, the difference in their fighting styles should be apparents.  Nasty is a scrapper, getting in close and just hitting.  Natasha's approach is to shoot from a distance, avoiding the melee as much as possible.  Their personalities are also in opposition.  I'm sure Natasha speaks for many people when she tells Nasty to stop swearing.  Both versions have tricks they use with their powers.  Nasty's energy touch has appeared before.  Natasha's energy sheath is a more extensive variant of Nasty's touch; it came from Natasha not wanting to have to fight for long up close and personal.

Meredith is using Spider-Man's approach to fighting - keep the banter up enough to distract the opponent until the decisive blow can be landed.  She's also using psychological warfare; Meredith knows her Keith well; Omega is not acting at all like him.  The designs of the suits of power armour even show the different mindsets.  Keith's approach was to create a suit that could be hidden, to keep the intended wearer, law enforcement, from being threatening.  Omega, however, is out for intimidation.  The fight is one of finesse versus brute force.  Omega has missiles and machine guns.  Meredith uses pinpoint accuracy.

The fight between Vicki and Tori is also one of finesse against brute strength, with the added size difference.  Both girls are immune to Vicki's Pixie Dust, which added an extra level of complexity.  Vicki's power could end a fight before it started, as seen in chapter 1.  In this fight, Vicki could deal with Natasha without a problem, except Nasty doesn't need help.  Omega, though, is in sealed power armour, and, as mentioned, Tori's immune.  This means I now have to figure out what a doll-sized girl could do to fight a giant double of herself.  Somehow, during the writing of Crossover, Tori lost some intelligence.  I'm sure if she had time to think, she'd realize just how silly Vicki sounded with the "your momma" comment.

Tomorrow, Crossover Chapter 17.
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, the Star Wars Rebels pilot, "Spark of Rebellion".
Saturday, over at Seventh Sanctum, a deeper look at adapting tabletop RPGs.
Also Saturday, check out Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of Lost in Translation.

4 Dec 2015

Crossover Chapter 16

Featuring Subject 13, Prototype Alpha, and Pixie of Youth Brigade

[Contains scenes of violence and strong language.  Nasty is being let loose, so reader discretion advised.]

Parking lot, Hank Cheetas, Cleveland, evening

Nasty brushed off her jeans, keeping her double in view.  "Nice shot.  There's no fucking way in hell you're going to get that lucky again."

Natasha's breath came in ragged gasps.  "We beat you once."  Her arm charged up.

3 Dec 2015

Crossover Chapter 15 - Commentary

The beat down has begunPlease read the chapter before continuing.

The next few chapters have a strong language warning attached.  Blame Nasty.  She's a tad upset with her counterpart.

Eric gets to be the dude in distress.  Natasha has plans for him, and Eric has stalled her as long as he can.  He wasn't meant to be Natasha's victim when I first added him to /Crossover/.  He was there to guide Nasty, help her get through the con.  Natasha's crush on him came naturally, but wasn't planned.  There's a bit of backstory in Natasha's universe that involved Eric, but it's left in the mirror universe.  Again, readers can fill in their own details.

Hank Cheetas was a real restaurant in Cleveland.  It existed when I wrote Crossover, but has closed since then.  I chose it because of its location, close to the hotel and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  Google Street View and Google Maps gave me the layout of the exterior, especially the parking lot.  It's rare for me to use a real place, but I chose the danger back in 2008.

Nasty is jealous.  She already has many reasons to hate her counterpart, from wardrobe to being kidnapped, but Natasha hitting on Eric turns the rematch into something far more personal.  Nasty finally make the connection she's been missing in /Subject 13/, that she can allow herself to get closer to Eric.  She's seeing what could be, with her evil twin usurping her role.

Gwen came with personality.  She was never planned, though much of Crossover wasn't planned.  The "favourite binoculars" line came out of nowhere but fit her.  Gwen is a decent agent, but the Eagle Foundation is a non-profit; the Foundation can't pay as much as other agencies with government backing, so they get the odd ones from time to time.

The opening blow, though, was planned.  Nasty kept it together just long enough to walk up to her counterpart.  Then the dam broke.  Natasha would regret the error of her ways if she wasn't getting pummeled.  The fight is choreographed.  After a night of writing, I'd head to bed and work out the visuals for the next few exchanges, starting from the general and then working out specifics from there.  Each match-up needed to be worked out, with everyone's abilities taken into account.  Even if the fight went into a direction I hadn't planned, I still needed to work out the hows and whys.

Tomorrow, Crossover Chapter 16.
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, it's a hiatus week.
Saturday, over at Seventh Sanctum, Star Wars: Rebels, for real this time.  It's not becoming Ma & Pa Kettle.
Also Saturday, check out Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of Lost in Translation.

2 Dec 2015

NaNo 2015 - An Excerpt

Since I've mentioned the story over the past four weeks, here is an excerpt of The Elf's Prisoner, after the break.