SCHISM: Chapter Three

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SCHISM: Chapter Three

Postby Gemini » Wed Mar 10, 2010 5:30 pm



Jack ran over to a wall intercom and punched it.  “All hands on deck!  Be suited and armed on the double!”

Goodenberg touched his own intercom.  “Belay that,” he said.  “Captain Sherall, do you really think we’re in any position to fight?  They outnumber us by dozens.”

“I’m sure as hell not giving up without one,” Jack replied.

“Then you’ll die for nothing,” Goodenberg replied.  He pressed his intercom again.  “This is the admiral.  A Protoss boarding party is coming.  All hands are to lay down arms and fully cooperate with them.”  He stood up and walked briskly to the bridge’s exit.  “Captain, come with me.”

Jack followed him.  “Where are we going?”

“To the cargo bay, to meet our ‘guests.’”

Jack shook his head.  “It had to be a trap.  Retaliation for destroying that base.  They lured us in with wreckage of a ship they’d destroyed and left some vortex thing to pull us in.”

Goodenberg clenched his jaw.  “I haven’t seen the Protoss this aggressive against Terrans since the start of the Zerg invasion.  I think a war between us and the Umojans is the least of our worries.”

They passed by the covert ops room, and Jack excused himself from the admiral to duck in there.  The three coverts and Craig were busy putting away all the weapons, and didn’t notice him come in.

“McCormick!” he said.

Justin McCormick spun around to face him and saluted.  “Sir, what’s going on out there?”

“A Protoss fleet of warships lured us into a trap.  They’re going to be boarding any second now.  I need the three of you to execute Operation Omega Orange.”

McCormick hesitated.  “Sir, the admiral ordered all hands to lay down arms.”

“You let me worry about the admiral,” Jack replied.  “I will not sit on my hands and let the Protoss take this ship without a way to get it back.  Omega Orange, boys.”

“Yes sir,” McCormick replied, saluting.

“Craig, you’re with me,” Jack said, turning to him.  “We’re going to the cargo bay.  The admiral seems to think it’s a good idea for the highest ranked men on the ship to stick their necks out.”

Craig smirked.  “I’m hardly one of the highest ranked men on the ship.”

“No, but I am, and I want someone who’s got my back.”

Crew members stood in formation in the cargo bay as several Protoss shuttles docked and warriors came pouring out, surrounding the men on every side.

A tall Protoss with light blue skin and a large crest on his forehead, dressed in what looked like the robes of an official, strode toward the admiral and stopped in front of him, the full imposing height of 8 feet dwarfing Goodenberg.  He narrowed his glowing eyes.

“You are the commander of this vessel?” he demanded in a booming voice.

“Ryan Goodenberg.  Admiral.  Serial number zero five one dash eight two niner five two six.”

The Protoss scoffed.  “That is not the format we have assigned for serial numbers.”

Goodenberg folded his arms.  “I must have missed the memo,” he said, defiance in his face.  “Why did you attack the Snowshoe?”

The Protoss jabbed a long finger at Goodenberg’s chest.  “You will not speak unless I tell you to.”  He continued to Jack.  “And you are?”

“Jack Sherall.  Captain.  Serial number bite me dash rot in hell.”

The two warriors flanking the Protoss official charged their psi-blades and struck threatening poses.  The official glared at him.  “Defiance will NOT be tolerated.  This is your only warning.”  He continued to the next person on the line, Craig Skillen.  He turned to face him... and suddenly dropped to one knee.  “My apologies, sir.  I was not aware you were on this vessel.”  He turned outward to face the rest of the Protoss warriors.  “Stand down!”

Craig stood there, stunned speechless, as almost every ship’s crew member stared at him with suspicion.

The official turned back to face Craig.  “Again, I must apologize for this.  But sir, why were you traveling on an unregistered ship without Protoss escort and without submitting a travel plan?”

“Um...” was all Craig managed to get out.  He looked at Jack, trying to figure out what was going on, but Jack was giving him the same look.  Finally he turned back to face the official.  “Who do you think I am?”

“You are the Minister, are you not?”

Craig looked back at Jack, as if asking what to do next.

Jack mouthed “Play along.”

Craig turned back to the Protoss.  “Uh yes, of course I am the Minister.  Who are you?”

“Of course, my apologies sir.  I am Judicator Toross of the Fifth Fleet.  We have met before, but it is understandable that you do not remember me.”

Skillen nervously smirked.  “Yeah, I mean, it’s hard to tell the difference sometimes.  One Protoss, another Protoss.  They all kinda blend together.”

“Sir, again, I must ask.  Why were you traveling without Protoss escort?”

Craig sighed.  “Oh, you know how it is.  Sometimes you just want to get out and stretch your legs without someone following your every move.”

“It is for your protection, Minister.  You never know when the next Zerg attack or insurgent strike will occur.”  He leaned in close, his voice a whisper.  “Are you being held here against your will?”

“No, no, of course not,” Craig replied, strolling over between Jack and Goodenberg.  He put an arm around each one’s shoulder.  The admiral stiffened a little at his touch.  “These are my good friends aboard my secret vessel.  They don’t like Protoss much but they’re all right.”

Toross had a confused look on his face.  “This is not the sort of thing you should have ever kept secret from us.  We could have very well destroyed this ship when we found it.  I do not think you understand the gravity of the situation.”

Craig shot a finger out.  “Hey buddy, who’s in charge here, me or you?  Now go get me a sandwich.”

Jack tried his hardest to keep a straight face, and tried even harder not to punch Craig out.

Toross tilted his head in confusion, exchanged a glance with one of his guards, then grabbed Craig by the collar with both hands and lifted him clear off the ground.

“YOU ARE A CHARLATAN!” Toross yelled, and the Protoss boarding party charged their weapons again.

Craig scowled.  “Man, everyone’s a critic.”

Toross threw him to the ground.  “This is NOT the Minister.  This is an impostor!”

A warrior stepped next to him.  “Shall we kill him now, Judicator?”

Toross shook his head.  “Take control of this vessel.  Round up the crew.  We depart immediately for Umoja.  The Minister will be very interested to learn of this plot to usurp his authority.”  He leaned down, coming face-to-face with Craig.  “As for the impostor.  Keep a close eye on him.  Keep him separate from the others.  And take his two ‘good friends’ with him.”  He turned around, his cloak sweeping behind him dramatically, and returned to the shuttle as the Protoss started grabbing people and hauling them off to the ships.

As they were led out by armed guards, Jack glared at Craig.  “‘Make me a sandwich.’  I should kill you.  I should really just kill you.”

“Well I don’t know!” Craig said, throwing his hands up.

“Craig, you are just stupid as hell.”

“It’s not my fault!”

The three of them were thrown into a cove on one of the Protoss warships, and a glowing blue wall of energy appeared at the open end, sealing them in.  Goodenberg folded his arms and put his back to the wall.  He cleared his throat.  “Any time you feel like explaining this, Staff Sergeant, I’m all ears.”

Craig shrugged.  “Sir, I have no idea what is going on, sir.”

“Knock it off with the ‘sirs,’” Goodenberg said.  “You’re not the type to pull it off with any sincerity.  For some reason, they think you look like the Minister of the Protectorate.  Now, last I checked, Jorgensen looked NOTHING like you.  I don’t suppose you have any family on Umoja in a position of power.”

Craig shook his head.  “No, sir.  I’m the only brother to three sisters, none of whom look very manly, and my dad died when I was six.”

Jack sat down on a bench protruding from the wall, clearly designed for a Protoss as his feet barely touched the floor.  “This is probably just a case of ‘you all look the same to me.’  Could either of you pick an individual Protoss out of a crowd?”

Craig pointed at Jack.  “I think the captain’s onto something.”

“Not really,” Goodenberg replied.  “Our ship is still captured, we’re being taken to Umojan space, and we don’t officially exist according to Dominion records.  At this point it doesn’t matter if Staff Sergeant Skillen looks like a trained ape.  We won’t be treated as prisoners of war, we’ll be treated as pirates.”

“Then it’s sure a good thing I disobeyed orders, admiral,” Jack replied.

Goodenberg shot an eyebrow up.  “Come again, Mr. Sherall?”

“I gave the order for Omega Orange.”

Goodenberg stepped forward, no longer leaning on the wall.  “Of all the times to go behind my back.  Omega Orange hasn’t even been drilled!  Only a dozen men on the ship even know what it is!  A thousand things could go wrong.”

Jack nodded.  “Yes, like us being executed as pirates.  Desperate times and all that.”

Goodenberg turned his back on Jack, clenching his fists.  “Well, you had better hope it goes off without a hitch, because if we get out of this and it doesn’t, I’ll string you up for all to see.”

“It’ll work, admiral.  I have our best men on it.”

“A maverick covert and his childish peons are our best men?  They’re the only ones you could have possibly given the order to.”

Jack felt his fingers swelling, and rubbed them together.  “Well, we’ll find out how competent they are soon enough, I hope.  We’ve just gone to warp.”

After several hours spent at warp, the Protoss Fifth Fleet arrived in orbit around Umoja.  Several guards arrived to escort the three men out of their cell and into a shuttle, which departed immediately for the planet’s surface.  Toross was on the shuttle, glaring at Skillen the entire time.

Craig glanced out the window of the shuttle, seeing the planet rapidly approaching.  “Home sweet home,” he quipped.

“Enough!” Toross shouted.  “You are NOT the Minister.”

“Buddy, you’re right, I’m not,” Craig replied.  “But I’m still from Umoja, so you can stuff it.”

Toross tilted his head.  “If you like, I can stuff you in the engine’s exhaust port.”

“Yeah, but you won’t,” Craig replied.  “You still want to show me off to the Minister.”

“You do not need to be alive, or even in one piece, for me to ‘show you off,’ so I would advise silence unless you are asked to speak.”

Craig gulped and nodded.

The shuttle arrived in the middle of a Terran military base.  A small army of men in full Umojan uniform stood in formation, arms presented, ready for the prisoners to be led out.  Before they were, Toross threw a cloth bag over Craig’s head.

“Hey now, I’m not THAT ugly,” Craig replied, but with his hands bound, there wasn’t much else he could do in protest.

One guard for each prisoner grabbed them and led them out of the shuttle, past the rows of armed soldiers, into the command center of the base.  Craig could barely make out shapes through the hood that covered his head, and nobody was talking, but finally they were stopped in what sounded like a medium-sized room.  He could hear footsteps, and a gasp from Jack next to him.

“Okay, Toross,” a new voice said.  It sounded somewhat familiar to Craig, but just a bit odd.  “Let’s see this guy.”

The hood was taken off, and Craig looked across the room to see a man dressed in the same style of uniform Minister Jorgensen wore.  He then looked at the face, and saw... himself?

“Oh, now that’s just pathetic,” the Minister said, walking closer to Craig.  “That has got to be the worst clone I have ever seen.  He looks nothing like me!”

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Re: SCHISM: Chapter Three

Postby Gemini » Fri Mar 12, 2010 10:48 am

boo, again with the no comments.

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Re: SCHISM: Chapter Three

Postby IskatuMesk » Fri Mar 12, 2010 1:17 pm

oh I thought I gave you comments but WHATEVER HERE WE GO

I like it, but I still think it travels a wee bit too fast. Some more detail and description of the characters and such would be nice.
Warning: dialogue contains politically incorrect content. Viewer rearsore may occur.

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Re: SCHISM: Chapter Three

Postby Legion » Mon Mar 15, 2010 6:16 am

Gemini wrote:boo, again with the no comments.

I think it's something to do with message boards being generally quite unpleasant to read from if the posts are longer than a couple of sentences. At least that's it for me. I think that if you made these documents or formatted webpages available from your site directly, you'd reach a bigger audience.

This here is mainly just clicking, scanning the message, clicking back/replying. For me at least. =)

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Re: SCHISM: Chapter Three

Postby Archangel » Mon Mar 15, 2010 10:44 am

I need to go with Mesk on this one. There's a ton of potential for memorable moments (Skillen and the Protoss) that get kicked to the curb as throw-away scenes because there's just not enough meat in them; blink and you miss them.

Remember that with prose, our only imagery heavily relies on the words you choose and how much you give us. If you give us little, we see little. If you give us a lot, we see a lot.

People walk down corridors, but what do they look like? Are they cluttered with dashing crewmen? Are the walls lined with industrial pipings or smoothed in clean sheets of metal?

I understand there's a sense of urgency, but I don't get that from the actions of the characters or the ambiance around them, only their words. You don't have to kill that urgency by going into great detail about this "covert ops room" but I'd at least like to get SOME picture in my head of what a quick glance would capture. Are weapons going into lockers or do these people display them over their bunks? Covert ops sounds like a computer room to me, so help me out. What are weapons doing there? Are they emergency small-arms for a daring (and unforseen "Covert") escape? Are they just stashing random sidearms into drawers? What's going on here? The lack of imagery actually caused more questions than answers and now the whole scene is just a fog with people talking inside of it.

Writing literature is about the only time I'll excuse the practice of treating the audience like idiots. Instead of leaving a character's uniform as "it looked like an official would wear it," really give us some imagery. Why would an official wear what they're wearing? Because they're robes? What color are they? Are there some sort of spacey brass medallions or anything? What do they look like? These could further impress the character's military importance, bringing even the reader to anxiety of what might happen next.

When you bring a new character into a story, you usually introduce them with a first and last name. I'm walking into this story of yours at chapter 3, so when you mention someone as "Justin McCormick," I'm assuming this is the first time someone has heard of him. If not, why bother mentioning his whole name? Seems to me that's one extra word that could have gone somewhere else for some more exposition. But since we're here, if this is the first time we've met Justin McCormick in this particular story, what does Justin look like? Is he "a scrawny-looking man with boyish features creeping from his malnourished, impressed cheeks to his  dangling arms and legs," or is he "a stout man, standing in front of his taller peers. His broad shoulders and veined arms compensated for the strikingly un-menacing height. Still, he had no chin - and his voice squeaked as he saluted."

Even if you have introduced us to McCormick already, this is the sort of imagery that's sorely lacking from the story I just read, here.

It seems like a fine story with some good adventure. Like I said, there's moments of potential here, which means you've got a solid concept. Now lets bring it out some and really let it flourish like it deserves.
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Re: SCHISM: Chapter Three

Postby Lavarinth » Mon Mar 15, 2010 2:08 pm

What the?! You cut it just as I was getting into it!
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