31 Mar 2013

NaNo Prep 2013 - Steampunk Superhero


Previously in this series, I expanded an idea for a Traveller story to work on in November.  This time around, I look at a possible expansion to the Subject 13 setting.

One of the commentaries I made for Subject 13 detailed some of the ideas for the S13-verse, including the ideas that Nasty's world is full of superheroes and that heroes pass along their code names.  If you've been following the series, so far, neither of that has occurred.  Thus, The Clockwork Avenger.

What I want to do with the story is have it be told over two different eras.  Part of the story would be set in the Victorian era, modified to allow for mystery men and men of magic, and part would be set in the now.  Two main characters are needed, one for each setting.  Also needed, a villain worth thwarting in both time periods.

For the Victorian era, I have the idea of the Clockwork Avenger, a scientist and inventor who has designed himself a suit of steam-powered powered armour.  The idea for this came from a Marvel Universe RPG session set in Victorian times.  I mucked about with the rules for inventing and power armour and came up with the only normal person (as opposed to being a metahuman) of the group.  The steam-powered powered armour was large, cumbersome, well armoured, and carried a cannister launcher with a mix of lethal (fragmentation rounds) and non-lethal* (ether rounds) ammunition.  I can easily divorce the game mechanics from the character, leaving the concept in tact and a little more pliable.  (Not to mention, I can├Ęt find the character sheet. *^_^*)

In the modern era, a descendant of the Clockwork Avenger would receive the plans for the armour.  The descendant would then create a new set of armour, this time, high tech with modern alloys far lighter than the original design's iron, with electronic feedback controls.  The descendant will still take the name "Clockwork Avenger", but, this time, the clockwork is digital.

Still leaves me needing a villain.  The only idea I've had so far is have the Clockwork Avenger take on an occultist, leading to a technology vs supernatural theme.  I also need to have the plot occur in two time frames, but I still have a few months to work on that.  "That which slumbers" might be a nice underlying idea and a tag for the title (ie, The Clockwork Avenger: That Which Slumbers).

And looking back at the Traveller idea, I perused the Mongoose Traveller Sword Worlds book.  I found the menace - Ubermannennir.


* Allegedly non-lethal.  I fired an ether round into a room filled with cannisters to stop the villainous being from escaping.  After the explosion, no villainous being and no room.  Oops.

29 Mar 2013

Subject 13 #13 - Night Out

[Adult situations ahead.  Reader discretion advised.]

Maria entered the nightclub to the sound of a bass drum pounding.  She took a moment to adjust to the dim lighting and the loud music, then walked to the bar.  This is more like it, she thought.  There has to be some action here.  Reaching the bar, she got the bartender's attention.  "Miller on tap," Maria said, shouting to be heard over the music.  The bartender nodded, the poured Maria's beer into a glass.  Maria paid for the drink, then pushed away from the bar.

28 Mar 2013

Subject 13 #12 - Commentary


Again, if you haven't read the issue, go now.  Spoilers and coherency abound!

The issue picks up where issue 11 left off.  Nasty's previous experience with actually using her power punch involved first a football player then a coffee table.  Now, she's destroyed a test dummy.  She's now a loaded weapon without a safety.  Nasty also reacts predictably when told to calm down - an f-bomb of anger.  However, she did figure out how her hand turns off.  All she has to do is remain calm and collected.

Yes, she's going to have to work hard on that.

Meanwhile, Maria gets to relive her lost years as she dresses up to head out clubbing.  Freedom!  On the surface, though.  A little deeper, she does miss her daughter.  Just because they can't live under the same roof without triggering World War III doesn't mean they don't love each other.  Family gets complicated.  Sometimes, space is what is needed.

Back at the Consortium, elevator problems and trust issues abound.  Nasty isn't sure of her new teammates but can't put her finger on it.  She does open up enough with Jackson to explain the relationship she has with her motorcycle.  It's one part exit strategy, one part mind clearer, one part exploration vessel.  Not mentioned, but will come up in later issues, is that Nasty maintains her motorcycle.  Her part-time job is at a garage doing scutwork and paperwork, and any downtime she has is spent learning at the side of the mechanics.  She went from mascot to unofficial apprentice.

The end part is an assessment on Nasty's capabilities.  If you go back to issue 2, you'll see Subject 2's power, the ability to resist being damaged.  He's bulletproof.  And he thinks that Nasty might hurt him.

Tomorrow, Subject 13 #13 will be up.
Saturday, since I wound up reviewing Clue instead of Paragon Lost last week, this week is the Mass Effect animated feature.
Still to come, more NaNoWriMo prep work.

25 Mar 2013

NaNo 2013 Prep - The Traveller Stories


Usually, I figure out what to write by September, giving me a month or so to waste before I construct a setting and cast of characters in a rush.  Well, not quite.  Typically, I have characters floating around and whichever set clamors the most for attention gets to be written about.  Sometimes it works, such as Crossover featuring characters from the S13-verse.  Sometimes, not so much, like my aborted paranormal romance.*

Each NaNoWriMo, I try to do something different, something new that I hadn't tried before.  The first NaNo I did, the new thing was doing NaNo.  So, if I work on a Traveller story, what's new?  I've already written an RPG tie-in novel with a Shadowrun story a few years ago.  However, strange as it is for me to admit, I've never written a science fiction story set in the galaxy.  To date, my NaNo works have included a mystery, a paranormal romance, a text-based graphic novel, an urban fantasy that almost became a paranormal romance**, a cyberpunk novel, an attempted erotica, and a giant mecha story.  That last is probably the closest I've come to a "traditional" SF story.

So, this time, Traveller, specifically, the Third Imperium and the lead up to the Fifth Frontier War.  This means, I'm using the Spinward Marches as the main setting.  However, that still means I have a lot of interpretation to do.  I do have the official releases, but the sector is large and, even with the world codes created, still leaves a lot of creativity in the hands of the gamemaster or, in my case, the writer.

I do want my characters to have some degree of freedom of travel.  Space is big.  Incredibly big.  Even the fastest ships in Traveller would take over six weeks to cross the sector, not including time spent refueling.  The characters won't have access right away to a ship that fast.  I also want to keep the main cast a reasonable size.  I like ensembles, but at some point, I find that some characters fall by the wayside and not get enough spotlight time.  Typically this is when the main cast numbers five or six.  So, four characters.  And, a quick check of canon starships later, hey, look, the Scout/Courier has four cabins.  Perfect!

Now, casting.  I'm going to use Mongoose Traveller for this, at least until my copy of Traveller 5 comes in.  (I contributed to the kickstarter with the rest of my /Traveller/ group.)  Best way to have the Scout/Courier is to have a member if the Imperial Interstellar Scout Service go out on detached duty.  So, there's my first.  I do want an alien in the mix, though one that's from an Imperial ally.  I'll also needs someone who knows which end of a rifle to point at others.  That leaves one cabin unfilled.

Oddly, I've been picturing Philomena as part of the cast.  She'd bring an interesting set of skills.  After all, you never know when you need a lawyer who can man a laser turret.  This means, I should create the rest of the cast over the next couple of months.  Maybe do a test run with them as a group to see how they get along.

After that, the plot.  The working title, The Sword Worlds Menace gives me an idea of who and where - a Sword Worlder and either in or near the Sword Worlds subsector.  Since the Sword Worlds have allied themselves in the past with the Zhodani Consulate, this lets me use the Fifth Frontier War as the backdrop for the drama and adventures of my crew.

This will be a story idea I'll expand over the next few months.  I still need a cast, but, with a ship and the crew requirements it'll have, I can start populating the story and work out the first meeting.

* The lead character was more interested in magic than any of the romantic partners in the story.  I should salvage the ideas from it, toss the romance angle, and restart.
** This time, the lead character found someone she wanted, even though I wasn't planning the romance.  Goes to show me to listen to my characters.

22 Mar 2013

Subject 13 #12 - Basic Training


[Nasty's mouth tends to swear.  Reader discretion advised.]

Nasty stared at the broken mannequin.  She was aware of the door sliding open behind her, but didn't turn around.  Hands pulled on her shoulders, getting attention.  She raised her fist, ready to hit the person who grabbed her.

"Natasha, relax.  It's just me," Jackson said, backing away.

21 Mar 2013

Subject 13 #11 - Commentary


Again, go read the issue.  It helps making sense of the commentary.

Nasty's still undergoing indoctrination.  It looks like extra programming is getting added, too.  Or, Nasty just didn't realize she liked her men hunky.  The Consortium wants to find out how Nasty got her abilities, though they know she was at the accident way back in issue 1.  I also manage to finally work in the term "altie" properly, along with the baggage it carries.  This is the S13-verse version of the anti-mutant hysteria in Marvel's X-books, but applied to everyone with superpowers.  I mentioned this before, but allow me to restate it: While I understand the reasoning behind the anti-mutant movement in the X-books, and it works well within just those titles, it doesn't hold up well across the rest of the Marvel-verse.  Why are mutants hated but not Thor, Captain America, or the Fantastic Four?  The Human Torch has the same potential to kill someone as Cyclops does, yet the Torch has better publicity.  So, in the S13-verse, it gets a little more nuanced.  Not everyone distrusts alties, but most people know better than to stay around when an altered human (generic term for the metahuman population) not in costume suddenly starts throwing eye beams or even I-beams.  Meanwhile, a costumed altie, especially one that is established, doesn't necessarily inspire the self-preservation fear, unless said altie is a known criminal.  (And the costuming reasoning is just something recent; I hadn't considered why heroes wore costumes, especially since Nasty has yet to don one.)

Maria's story continues.  It's slow, more of a side-bar at the moment, but key events will happen that will be called back upon later.  It's slow foreshadowing.  Also shows that the world keeps turning, even when Nasty isn't around.

Back to Nasty, and into the training room.  I needed Nasty to control her abilities, but she really doesn't have anyone to turn to.  In-story, the Consortium much prefers their agents to be in control of their abilities, and their agents under the control of the Consortium's board.  The training here sets up montages later and acts as a way to show that Nasty is improving on her abilities.

Finally, Subject 11's file.  Remember the agent who paralyzed Nasty a couple of issues ago?  Her.  Her concerns about Nasty's attitude towards Maria gets explained as Agent 11 also has two children, powers unknown.

Friday, Issue 12 will be up and go into more detail on Nasty's training.
Saturday, over at Fan To Pro, I take a look at the Mass Effect animated release.
Coming still, NaNoWriMo prep as I try to figure out what I'm going to work on this November.

20 Mar 2013

A Most Excellent Update!


Going back a bit, I introduced Rufus, my character for this season's D&D Encounters.  I am having a most excellent time playing him.

Rufus has reached second level, and should soon reach third.  In this time, he has helped root out a most heinous conspiracy in Hommel Lane, helped a poor drunken villager find out about his brother's fate (without the flumphs), and got set up in a most bogus trap, all while gaining followers!

The conspiracy in Hommel Lane involves a most heinous ugly evil god, one who hates the excellent people of the land and wishes to enslave them, or worse.  While rooting out the scourge of banditry has helped the excellent village, that was merely a mere scratch into the conspiracy and the bogus cult.

In an oddity of the setting, one that I wasn't aware of when first conceptualizing Rufus, there are two main religions.  First, there's the Old Faith, one that follows the ways of nature.  A benign following, though, like nature, can be a most dangerous foe.  Second, there's the Lawgiver, the new faith, bringing order to an undisciplined land.  Naturally, given the choice, Rufus went for the lasagna.  Rufus follows the Most Excellent One, whose greatest wish is for all peoples to be excellent to each other and to party on, dudes!  However, in Hommel Lane, Rufus is seen as an harmless oddity, even by the constabulary.

A side trip to the Caves of Chaos (a most forboding name if I ever saw one) brought Rufus face to face with the villager's missing brother.  Seeing that the villager was in great peril of becoming another gateway for the most evil and ugly god trying to return to wreak havok across the land, Rufus defeated the zombie that the brother had become and returned the body to the villager for proper last rites, all while telling the villager of the good his brother had done.  And good he had indeed done, for he had located the second artifact needed to open the gateway for the heinous deity.

During the wake, which was only different from an Irish wake because the deceased wasn't propped on a bier with a beer, Rufus and his comrades continued their investigation, trying to find how deep the most heinous cult had installed themselves into the village.  The discovery that the innkeeper was in on the conspiracy came about when he asked the group to go to the party room in the basement.  Fully expecting the betrayal, the party was ready.  It was during the wait that Rufus discovered that one of the party, a dwarf by the name of Belfire Battleheart, had become a follower of the Most Excellent One.  Rufus now needs a proper church, but that can wait until after the heinous conspiracy has been removed.

What's next, you may well wonder.  I wonder, too, for after springing the trap and trouncing the most heinous brigands to attack us, we're taken their bodies and followed a cavern beyond a secret door leading to the Temple of the Lawgiver.  It appears that the Temple has a bogus infestation of cultists that needs to be cleansed.

15 Mar 2013

Subject 13 #11 - Insight


Nasty looked back to check on her motorcycle.  The Kawasaki swayed, but the ropes tying it down kept the motorcycle upright.  Satisfied about her bike's safety, she turned her attention to the driver of the pickup she was in.  Jackson, the driver, watched the road and the traffic.  Kinda attractive, I guess, Nasty thought.  Longer hair would suit him better.  She closed her eyes.  What the hell am I thinking?

"You've been quiet," Jackson said.  "Anything wrong?"

"The day's been strange, that's all."

"How strange?"

"Things just don't seem right, for some reason," Nasty said.  "I can't remember yesterday at all."

"The doc said you'll get your memory back.  The bump wasn't that serious."

"How the hell do you know about that?"

"I was there when it happened.  A freak accident, that's all."

"A freak accident."

"Just try to remember what you can about yesterday, Natasha," Jackson said.

"Anything?"

"Even if you think it's silly."

"Okay."  Let's see.  What do I remember?  "Well, I remember two agents meeting me at school yesterday to make me sign a form.  I remember helping a kid, and being in the principal's office a couple of times.  I remember seeing . . . seeing this guy."  Okay, why am I not mentioning Eric's name?  "I had a weird dream, too.  At least, I think it was a dream.  I was in a sedan after being drugged and tied up."

"Sounds like fun."

"Hardly," Nasty said coldly.  That is an odd dream.  I don't have that type of dream.

"Remember anything else?"

"No.  Not now."

"It'll come back," Jackson said.  "Give it time."

"So why did you pick me up?"

"First day of training is always easier with someone who's gone through it before.  All the brass wants is to find out what you're capable of.  Shouldn't take too long."

"You've been through this?"

"All metahuman agents have been."

"You're an altie?"  What sort of freak squad am I with?

"I'm an altie, just like you.  Not everyone on the squad you'll be on likes the term, though."

Nasty rolled her eyes.  "So I'm supposed to watch their little feelings?"

"You've got spunk."  Jackson smiled.

Spunk?  Sheesh.  "Just watch the road, Jackson.  Is it much further?"

"Not long.  The facility is just out of town.  Gives us space in case of problems."

"Problems?  What sort of problems?"

-**-

Maria returned home from work.  Tired, she fell on to the couch.  She kicked off her shoes and wiggled her toes.  That feels better.  God, I was on my feet all day.  I could use a drink.  "Nata--"  Maria cut off her shout.  Right.  She doesn't live here anymore.  Gotta remember that.  Means I have to get my own beer now, though.

Maria stretched, then stood up.  If I have to get up, then I can go somewhere else for the beer.  Maybe bring home someone for a change.  Natasha's not here to put a damper on events.  She trotted into her room, where she dug into her closet to find a red dress.  Perfect.

-**-

"This is the training area?" Nasty asked.

"I know it doesn't look like much, but it serves our purpose," Jackson said.  He led Nasty to a weather-beaten corrugated metal building.

"So what am I doing here?" Nasty asked.  /I'm sounding like a broken record./

"Just preliminary work, see what you can do.  Nothing difficult."

"And that shed can do that?"

"Never judge a building by its facade."  Jackson held the door open for Nasty.

Great.  Completely dark.  "How about a light in here, or does this dump have electricity."

Jackson flipped a switch.  Lights blazed, forcing Nasty to shade her eyes.  Sorry I asked.  Looking around, Nasty saw that the building was empty, with only one other door besides the exit.  This is supposed to test me?  I'm supposed to destroy the building with my bare hands?

"You look dubious, Natasha," Jackson said.  "Everything will be explained in that room.  Just go on in."

Nasty opened the door and stepped into the room.  Jackson followed behind her, closing the door.  The room's metal walls gleamed in the florescent light.  As Nasty slowly turned around to see the entire room, Jackson opened a panel near the door.  "Hold on," he said.

The door slid shut and the room lurched.  Nasty staggered, feeling herself starting to black out.  "Damn," she cursed.  Jackson ran to her side to steady her.

"Sorry about that.  I should have warned you," he said.  "We're in a high speed elevator.  You'll get used to it in time."

With an effort, Nasty remained on her feet.  "Gee, thanks."

"Can you stand?"

"Yeah, I can stand."

Within minutes, the door slid open to reveal a long white corridor.  Nasty passed several unmarked doors in the hall before Jackson ushered her into a new room.  Inside, she saw several computers wired to weight machines and devices Nasty couldn't even guess their purposes.  Two men in a lab coats greeted Jackson.

Nasty looked over one of the strange devices.  I hate to be the guy who has to fix this when I'm done with it.  "So, what do I do?"

"Natasha, this is Christopher and Mikail," Jackson said.  "They'll show you what needs to be done."

Nasty looked over the two men.  Blondie, I don't know.  The other guy, I swear I've seen him before.  "Okay, let's get started.  What first?"

"Well, first is to figure out what exactly you can do," the blonde man said.  "What do you know about your abilities."

"Not much."  How much do I tell them?  "All I know is that I broke a table with my fist.  There was a purple glow, then bang!  Coffee table's ruined and Mom's still chewing me out."

"Do you know how the, um, purple glow happened.  Did you power your fist up?  Did you do anything special to get the glow?"

"It was just there," Nasty said.  "I didn't do anything on purpose to get power."

"Do you remember what you were doing before breaking the table?"

"Fighting with Mom.  Nothing unusual.  I've never broken anything before, no matter how much I wanted to."

"What about the fight with the football players?  Did you use your power then, too?"

"No."

"Are you sure, Natasha?"

"Yes.  Maybe.  I don't know."  Oh, that's telling them.  Nasty sighed.  "I didn't notice, but it was four on one.  I was fighting and trying to keep myself from getting hurt.  I really didn't have time to wonder about what I was doing, y'know?"

"Mike, set up the dummy for Natasha," the blonde man said.  "Natasha, once Mike is done, I want you to try to activate your power and hit the dummy with it."

Nasty watched Mikail wire a man-sized padded mannequin.  He still looks familiar.  "Mikail, that's Russian, isn't it?" she asked.

Mikail glared at Nasty.  "As is Natasha," he said with a faint trace of an accent.

The blonde man, Christopher, led Nasty aside.  "Mike's a little touchy about that," he said.  "Just worry about getting that power of yours working.  Did anything unusual happen with the fight with the football players?"

Other than four of them ganging up on me?  "I told you, I was in the middle of a fight.  I do what I can to win fights."  C'mon, Natasha, you know better than that.  Think, girl.  "Okay, the first guy I hit I sent flying.  I've never hit anyone that hard before.  Normally, they just drop."

"Good, good," Christopher said.  "Did the guy you hit do anything first?"

"There was yelling.  No one touched me."

"Okay."  Christopher looked over at Mikail, who nodded.  "Mike's done.  We're going to watch you from another room.  It's not that we don't trust you, but you are a rookie.  We don't know what will happen."

Another door slid open.  Jackson and Mikail walked through the opening.  Christopher joined them, leaving Nasty in the middle of the room.  The door slid shut with a heavy clang.  Nasty walked up to the mannequin and looked it over.

"Natasha, it's Jackson," came Jackson's voice from an intercom. "Just relax, okay?  Don't get fancy."

Right.  Like I know how.  Okay, Natasha, let's see if you can get your hand to flare on purpose.  She held her hand up in front of her face.  Just don't blow up on me.  Concentrating, she focused on her hand.  C'mon, turn on.  She felt a slight tingle in her fingers.  That's it, that's it.  A faint purple flow formed around Nasty's hand.  Yes!  She looked at the mannequin, marking a target on it with her eyes.  She cocked back her fist.  Glancing, she saw that her fist now glowed with a bright, steady purple light.  Nasty took several deep breaths to steady herself, then let loose with a punch.  Purple energy exploded when her hand hit the mannequin, forcing Nasty to blink.  After her eyes cleared, Nasty checked the mannequin.  It had a large black burn where she hit it.

"Shit," Nasty said, shocked.  I used that on those jocks?  I could have killed them.  She stared at her hand.  What have I turned into?

-**-

Subject 11
Name:  Karen Barnard (nee Walsh)
Birthdate:  September 17, 1961
Birthplace:  Greensboro, North Carolina
Sex:  Female
Description:
Eyes:  Brown
Hair:  Black, starting to grey
Distinguishing Marks:
        0.5 cm scar along knee

Parents:
Mother:  Louise Walsh (nee Sutter)
Father:  Robert Walsh

Paranormal Abilities:
Subject's bloodstream has a paralytic agent that affects most humans.  Agent does not affect Subject 11.  Agent can be passed through touch, though is blocked by clothing.  Paralysis lasts from one to four hours, depending on size of dose and size of recipient.

Other Notes:
Subject 11 has two children - Kevin (born 1986) and Kayla (born 1992) (see file:\\FS16735-1\Subjects\11\family.doc).  Subject 11 has expressed concern about her children and a desire to see them.  Recommend that Subject 11 be allowed to her family on a regular basis to maintain her loyalty.  Recommend also that her children be watched and possibly procured for experimentation.


[End Issue 11]

Next issue:  Nasty's training continues, and Maria adjusts to living alone.

14 Mar 2013

Subject 13 #10 - Commentary


Really, go read the issue first if you don't want spoilers.

Next, Happy Pi Day! :D

The title pretty much describes what's going on with Nasty.  She's confused, she's not where she thought she should be.  And, yes, Subject 4 is working on altering her memories, as the Coordinator tells the two people who brought Nasty in.  Eleven's concerns should make sense once Issue 11 is posted tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Maria is still showing that she's not that great a parent.  She had a kid far too young, lost her "sowing wild oats" years and, once Nasty could take care of herself, tried to make up for it.  Her plotline will continue.  Why should Nasty be the only one forced to have character development?

Back in Nasty's head, she's making it difficult for Subject 4 to lay new memory tracks.  Think of all the details you have in your life.  Now consider how many of them are summed up with a word or two - "home", "the computer", "work", "the guys".  Expand those words, though.  Is "home" just an address?  Or does "home" encompass not just a layout of your home but the feeling you have when you return from work or school?  Do you even keep a layout of "home" in mind?  How much of "home" do you take for granted?  This is what Subject 4 is facing with Nasty.  Nasty's beloved "bike" is, as described way back in Issue 1 as "an aging Kawasaki in desperate need of new paint".  Subject 4 managed to make a saving throw and adjust the "car" for the situation, but it was a close one.  Yes, telepathy can be fought, even without needing an earworm.

Tomorrow, Nasty's training continues.
Saturday, over at Fan To Pro, my review of The Incredible Hulk will be up.
Still to come, some NaNoWriMo prep work.

8 Mar 2013

Subject 13 #10 - Indoctrination


[Once again, Nasty has a potty mouth.  Reader discretion recommended.  The rest of the story after the cut.]

Nasty arrived at W.H. Seward High School in time to hear the first bell.  With a sigh, she went into the building and to her locker.  She grabbed her notes for English, then trudged upstairs.  I really should just skip class today.  If I had to go home yesterday, I could get away with being away today.  Except, what the hell was I doing at home?  I thought I stayed somewhere else last night, er, the other night.  What the hell happened to me yesterday?  I remember these two feds, but --

7 Mar 2013

Subject 13 #9 - Commentary


As always, go read the issue.  Spoilers, and all that.

The title, "Snapshots" is descriptive.  The scenes are short, a quick insight into the world around Nasty, starting with her abductors.  The scene with Nasty, though, is the beginning of the next plot arc.  It is deliberately contradictory.  Subject 9's entry goes to show that not every power is useful, and some can be fatal.  The entry also allows for a bit of history, fleshing out the setting more.

Since there's not much to comment about, with this issue wrapping up some plot lines for now (Eric's story will return) in preparation for the next arc, I'll mention the setting.  One of the goals of Subject 13 and the S13-verse is to create a starting point for a larger superheroic setting.  Some of the idea is to have analogues, equvilencies of elements in Marvel's and DC's universe, though not necessarily on the character level.  At the same time, I want to show avoid the insanely massive continuity snarls that even reboots don't fix.  I also want to have titles that are dark and gritty, titles that are light and fluffy, titles that are pure adventure, titles that are character pieces.  I also want to figure out how to do all that with believable characters and still have time to get all of it done.  There is a reason why comics have a team of writers, artists, letterers, inkers, colourers, and even editors.

The S13-verse will have an Avengers/Justice League analogue, the Vanguard.  They'll even get a mention in a future issue of Subject 13.  The team, so far, consists of Q-Ball (gadgeteer with power armour), The Laser (speedster), Feral (super scrapper), and Detonation Lass (psychokinetic explosions).  A few details have been worked on, such as Q-Ball's secret ID of Quentin Q. Quimby, CEO and chief engineer of QE (formerly known as Quimby Electronics, Inc.).  The Vanguard are the premier super team in the setting, and thus deal with dangers far above Nasty's weight class.

The Youth Brigade is the S13-verse's version of the Teen Titans and X-Men, more for the "teenagers with powers fighting supervillains" than the X-Men's anti-mutant hysteria theme.  Like the Vanguard, the Brigade has a roster already: Kid Inscrutable (occult magician), Pixie (fairy powers), Damage Magnet (like it says on the tin), Flashbulb (light controller), and Mystery Dude (psychic).  I've tried to write their Issue @1, but can't quite get the right view to pull it off.  They have appeared with Nasty in a different project, though.

The anti-mutant hysteria as seen in the various X-Men comics I am using, but spreading it out.  It never made sense to me that mutants were feared, not when heroes with superpowers, like Goliath, Captain America, and the Human Torch were accepted by the population and members of in-universe popular teams (Avengers for Goliath and Cap, the Fantastic Four for the Torch).  To add to the confusion, members of the X-Men have become Avengers, as have their X-opponents (Quicksilver and the Scarlett Witch, f'rex).  The difference seemed to be solely whether the powers were gained through accident or experiment versus being born with the powers.  Meanwhile, when there's someone rampaging and causing severe property damage, the general feeling isn't, "Well, as long as it's not his fault for having out of control powers."  It's, "There's another altie out of control!  Run!"  Thus, the distrust of alties (altered humans).  The Laser, of the Vanguard above, is a beloved hero because he puts himself on the line, powers or no.  Feral, of the same team, is seen more of a danger because of her attitude.  Pixie, of the Youth Brigade, is barely known; coupled with her power to shrink, she's not considered a danger.  Nasty, though, would be asked to leave Seward; she's already known as a rough element.  Her power, the Power Punch, just adds to her danger level.

As mentioned, time will pass in the setting.  It won't be a set rate like in Marvel's New Universe.  Time will proceed as needed, but characters won't be stuck at the same age forever.  The plan for Nasty is for her to graduate high school, get into college, eventually marry and have a kid, though her abilities may not let her experience this as a normal person would.  At the same time, her supporting cast will grow, mature, marry, divorce, and be nuisances, especially Nasty's not-yet-existing younger sister.  Nasty's future has much planned for it, whether she's ready for it or not.

Tomorrow, Issue 10 will be up.  I'm taking a week off at Fan To Pro so I can find the time to watch the movies I want to review.  Keep an eye out for some NaNoWriMo prep work, even though November is still eight months away.

3 Mar 2013

The 33rd Annual Razzies and Their Implications


While most of Hollywood gathered to see and be seen at the Oscars on Sunday, a different set of awards got handed out earlier that day.  The RAZZIES announced their worst of 2012.  The list of "winners" can be seen here, but I wanted to make note of a few, since there's some overlap with Lost in Translation.

First up, Worst Supporting Actress.  Rihanna got the "honours" for her role in Battleship.  I've gone on about the movie, both at Lost in Translation and elsewhere here.  The movie itself was in parts fun, disappointing, and frustrating, for reasons pointed out in my reviews.  Rihanna's role in /Battleship/ was to pull in her fans.  Her character could have gone to anyone and the same amount of impact would've been felt.  The character was an extra promoted to a speaking role.  I wouldn't be surprised that the first few drafts of the script only had the character listed as "Gunner's Mate" or just "Gunner".  But, the role had screen time.  Rihanna's win might have been close, given the other nominees, including co-star Brooklyn Decker (in a meatier role) and Jennifer Lopez.

Next, Twilight.  Just as with the Oscars, where Return of the King won not for itself but the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn 2* won for the full Twilight series.  Twilight was expected to sweep the awards, but Rihanna, above, and Adam Sandler (Worst Actor, Worst Screenplay) prevented it.  Still, snaring 70% of the awards is no small achievement.  Special mention to Kristen Stewart for getting Worst Actress for both Twilight and Snow White and the Huntsman.

So, Rihanna's not so hot as an actress and Twilight was a series of bad movies.  So what?  And, indeed, so what?  Oh, if only it were just that.  There were worse movies in 2012.  The problem isn't quality; it's the high price for the lack of quality.  Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn 2** was made for $120 million.  Battleship's budget was $209 million.  Both movies made a profit, Breaking Dawn 2*** moreso than Battleship.  I went into some detail about Rihanna's problems above.  The short version is that she was in a role that had screentime but was expanded to a speaking part to accommodate her.  The writer even added a catch phrase for her that, well, comes from nowhere.  Rihanna should really share her Razzie with the writers and casting director.

Twilight, though . . ..  Many of its problems stem from the original books.  Pro tip, if your romance can check off every sign of an abusive relationship, you are a frantic 911 call by a neighbour away from appearing on /Cops/ as a domestic disturbance.  As a character, Bella is a blank.  She reacts.  She's caught up in the plot.  She has little agency of her own.  The Twilight movies improved on her by the necessity of giving her a personality.  I was willing to give Kristen Stewart a pass - she didn't have much to work with as Bella - but Snow White and the Huntsman gave us more of her emotional range from A to the outskirts of A.  The quality, or lack thereof, of the original work probably gave the one vote edge to That's My Boy for Worst Screenplay****.  Twilight, the full series, since this was its last shot at Razzie history, did get Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-Off or Sequel, despite the issues with the original novels.  Though, that does create an interesting dilemma.  If the script cleans up the worse problems if the novels, including the adult werewolf imprinting on a newborn for a lifeling mate, fans could be outraged.  The adaptation wouldn't be as accurate.  But, the story could improve as a result of the meddling.  Or should the studio just adapt faithfully and pander to the audience, despite the issues?  Making a change would risk $800 million***** in gross receipts.

In general, the Razzies serve a role beyond popping a hole in Hollywood's collective ego.  The awards give people a chance to stop and take a good look at the direction pop culture is going, at what the studios think is important, and at what point too much is too much.


* Electric boogaloo.  Really, that title is an eyesore.
** The Sparkling.  The title really annoys me.
*** See?  Most people would know what franchise Breaking Dawn is, and the ones who don't will figure it out from proper advertising.
**** Being an Adam Sandler movie didn't hurt.
***** But will the fandom persists, like the ones for Star Trek and Star Wars?  Or will the fandom move on and abandon Twilight?

1 Mar 2013

Subject 13 #9 - Snapshots


"What did you knock her out for?" Subject 6 said.  "She's going to fight us when she recovers."

"Not if we keep her out," Subject 11 said as she steered the sedan around a stalled truck.  "Can you believe the mouth on her?  And how she went on about her mother?  What sort of kid talks about her mother like that?"

"It doesn't matter now, Karen.  We have her.  If that bothers you so much, we can get Sergei to reprogram her to swear less and love her mother.  Right now, I'm more worried about her waking up.  You saw the medical reports on those jocks.  Concussion and internal injuries.  Broken rib and collar bone.  I don't want to fight her."

"Then wrap her up.  Do I have to think of everything?  Christ, Adam, it's not that difficult."

"Then find somewhere to pull over.  I don't want her breaking out easily."

-**-

Eric scanned the stands.  "She should've been here by now," he said.

"What's that?" Tia asked, her attention still on the action on the field.

"Tasha.  She should have been here by now.  It's not like her to be late."

"Don't worry about her.  She's probably still working."

"Maybe."

Tia sighed.  "You're missing the game.  Go!  Go!  Go!  Damn!"  On field, the Seward receiver was tackled on the opponent's fifteen yard line.  "C'mon!  Let's get 'em!"

"How much longer?" Eric asked.

"Longer?  Oh, for Nasty.  I don't know.  I'm not her, thank God."

Eric turned his attention back to the game.  "She suggested meeting here.  The game's almost over."

"Look, Eric, about Nasty," Tia said.  "I wouldn't worry about her too much."

"She's never been late before."

Tia turned to Eric and took a deep breath.  "Eric, you haven't heard the stories about her.  Nasty's earned her nickname.  She fights all the time.  She's even been arrested."

"Tasha never mentioned that to me."

"She's dangerous, Eric.  I'm worried about you when your with her."

"My mom even likes her, Tia," Eric said.

"Your mom is weird, Eric," Tia said.  "Just be careful around Nasty, okay?  I don't want her to hurt you."

"Tia, she's never even raised her voice around me."

"She's only using you, Eric.  Someone like her doesn't care about anyone else beyond herself.  You're better off if she doesn't show up."

"You just don't know her."

"I don't need to know her, Eric.  I've heard what she's done.  Trust me on this, okay?"

"I suppose."

Tia turned back to the game.  "Get him!  Get him!  Yes!"  She jumped from her seat, cheering and clapping.  "Let's go!  Sack him again!"  She sat back down, then smacked Eric' arm.

"What was that for?" Eric asked.

"You haven't said anything about the cheerleaders' outfits.  It took me several days to make the original outfit."

Eric looked at Seward's cheerleading squad.  The twelve girls were dressed in a tight orange sweaters with white miniskirts, and shook pompoms of the same colours.  Eric returned his attention to Tia.  "What's different?" he asked.

Tia smacked Eric's arm again.  "You are so oblivious, Eric!"

-**-

Maria collapsed in her chair after a long day at work.  She twisted the cap off her bottle of beer and took a swig.  Stretching out,  she lay back in her chair, letting the alcohol take effect.  She looked at her coffee table and the hole in it.  Maria sighed.  Damn that girl.  I can't afford to replace that table.  When did she leave that can there?  She knows better than that.  Where the hell is--  Maria cut herself off mid-thought.  Right.  She's not here anymore.  She drank another swallow of beer.  It's going to be quiet around here without her.  Maria drained the rest of her beer.  /Good./

The phone rang, startling Maria.  On the second ring, Maria set the empty bottle down, and after the third ring, Maria answered the phone.  "Hello?"

"Hi," a young man's voice said.  "Is Tasha there?"

"Tasha?  Oh, you mean Natasha.  No, she's not here," Maria said.

"Oh.  She was supposed to meet me after she got off work.  Do you know when she'll be home?"

"Not for some time.  She's probably out of town by now.  She never mentioned anything to me about meeting someone this evening."

"I see," the young man said.  "Well, if you hear from her, could you ask her to call Eric?  She knows the number."

"Eric?"  What does he see in Natasha?  "I'll let her know."

"Thanks.  Bye."

Maria hung up the phone.  Natasha isn't sleeping with him, is she?  Why haven't I heard of this Eric?  She reached for her beer.  Damn.  Empty.  With a groan, Maria got out of her chair.  She grabbed the crushed Coke can from the table and took it to the kitchen.  She dumped the can into the garbage, then went to the fridge to get another beer.

Why hasn't Natasha told me about Eric? Maria wondered as she opened her bottle.  He didn't sound like one of her punk friends. Another altie?  She swallowed a mouthful of beer.  Can't be.  He would have known about her.  If he's not an altie, I'm not going to let him know my girl's a freak.  Maria returned to the living room.

How did Natasha become an altie?  She's never showed anything before.  How long has she been hiding it?  Between her temper and her power, she could have killed me.  Maria drained her second beer.  And why did she turn herself in?  That's not like her.

-**-

Nasty woke up to her alarm clock blaring.  She reached over to turn it off.  Weird dream.  A couple of weirdos took me from school for bondage of some sort.  Gah.  Weird.  Nasty looked around.  What the hell?  When did I get home?  What the hell am I doing here?  She got out of bed and stormed into the kitchen.  "Mom!"

"You don't have to yell," Maria said, sipping her coffee.  "How are you feeling?"

"What are you talking about?"

"Your school called me at work yesterday.  You passed out in class.  They sent you to the hospital, remember?"

"I what?"

"The doctors said you might forget details.  You couldn't even tell him.  Were you taking anything?"

"I'm not you, Mom," Nasty said.  What the hell?

"Fine.  If you don't care, I won't either."

"So sorry for the school calling you at work.  I'm sure it took you away from something important.  Sheesh."  It's tomorrow?  Damnit.  Eric's going to wonder where I was.  "Is it safe for me to go to school today, or are you going to babysit me all day?"

"I'm not making you stay," Maria said.

Nasty returned to her room.  That was weird.  Mom almost cared.  Must have been serious yesterday.  Eric's going to be so worried.  She dressed, then left for school.  When she reached the apartment building's foyer, she cursed.  The Kawasaki's still at school.  Great.  She started walking.

-**-

"Is the paperwork complete?"

"It's all in order.  Subject 13's school has been given transfer papers; her mother thinks the girl is with the Secret Service; Subject 4 has started the training.  Everything is going to procedure."

"Estimated time for completion?"

"Two or three weeks.  I'll know better when Subject 4 reports."

-**-

Subject 9
Name: Sherry Meyer
Birthdate: August 23, 1977
Deceased: June 17, 1999
Cause of Death: Self immolation.
Birthplace: New York, New York
Sex: Female
Description:
Eyes: Green
Hair: Light brown
Distinguishing Marks:
none

Parents:
Mother: Nina Meyer (nee Henderson)
Father: Robert Meyer

Paranormal Abilities:
Creation and projection of plasma to a maximum range of 1500 metres.  Temperature of the plasma is in excess of 800 degrees Celsius.  No drawbacks have been found.  (See also file:\\FS16735-2\Projects\Lambda\i-lamba13-beta.doc)

Other Notes:
Subject 9 died as a result of pushing her abilities beyond previously established limits.

[End Issue 9]

Next Issue:  Lather, apply conditioning, rinse, repeat.