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Wounded Ronin
This story is the second episode I have written from the perspective of an old SR3 character I used to do. The first episode, also posted in the Shadowrun forum, was "The University of Hard Knocks and the Janitor of Doom".

This story was originally posted in Tisoz's fiction contest. However, I realized that I had some misunderstandings about the way that the contest was being run and so I decided to withdraw from the contest ( http://forums.dumpshock.com/index.php?act=...t=0#entry409090 and http://forums.dumpshock.com/index.php?show...=0&#entry409456 ). Since I have withdrawn from the contest I no longer need to wait before showing my story to the DSF community and so I have posted it today.

Since some discussion has come up on DSF before about role playing across gender, and since I am a male author who is trying to write from the perspective of a female character, it would probably be worthwhile to give me your comments about whether you thought I was able to do so convincingly or not. I look forward to hearing your views.

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Preface

http://forums.dumpshock.com/index.php?show...pic=11874&st=25

Chapter 1

Have you ever rode on a Greyhound bus from Boston to New York City? It's something that everyone should do at least once in their life because it's almost miraclous how Greyhound makes you torture yourself. You see, in theory, a passenger could ride the bus for eight hours before disembarking for the night, staying in a motel, and continue on well-rested enjoying soykaf in the bus while absorbing a glorious East Coast sunrise through the tinted windows of the coach. This is because the tickets that one purchases from the Greyhound matrix site aren't specific regarding dates and departure times. In practice, however, there are never any kind of clear schedules posted in the bus stations and the bus stations themselves are strategically nestled in urban crannies far away from any motels. In practice, when the traveller pulls into a station at eight o'clock at night and her choices are either to stumble through the shadowy streets looking for a motel which may not exist while at the same time not knowing what time tomorrow morning she should return for her connection, or to simply wait for an hour and stew in exhaustion on the nine o'clock all night connection, most would choose the latter.

That is the rationale behind my sitting in this tiny coach seat in a dark bus with myriad babies mewing through the night providing dolorous entertainment to the slumping adults who pretend to sleep. Shakespeare once described sleep as "death's downy counterfeit" but I think that most of them would rather be dead right now.

My underwear is clinging to my body because the stiffling foam padding of the coach seat draws my sweat from my flesh. Hours-old soykaf churns in my stomach, rebellious and acidic. Fatigue scratches at my eyeballs like a vengeful sea hag and nausea teases me like a deliciously cruel lover. I am surrounded by single mothers and by the impoverished. I, too, am impoverished.

Last month I successfully completed a mission which involved stealing some research from Harvard University. However, the universe chose to chime in with its usual sense of humor which it reserves for my life and I was captured by a sadistic janitor who was probably a serial murderer and sex offender back in his day. The injuries I sustained included broken ribs, severe bruising to my belly area, electrical burns in very unfortunate places which due to their unfortunate placement complicated into dangerous cases of infection, and cuts all over my body. I'd made 500 nuyen worth of profit after paying for rent and essentials and I'd tried to save money by not seeing my street doc but instead giving myself time to heal up on my own. Economic hardship has the power to transform us all into theraputic nihilists.

Unfortunately, theraptutic nihilism can did not work out very well with my unsanitary slum living conditions combined with my poor diet and woefully high alcohol consumption. Perhaps I have vitamin E and protein deficiencies because within the month I was ravaged by infection. It's difficult to not seek treatment when you've got a crimson, angsty, and leaking development in your nether reigons. The result of this medical debacle was that I actually ended up spending close to 500 nuyen on curative treatment when I could have spent considerably less on preventative measures had I gone to the doctor immediately.

Even this would have been a satisfactory outcome from a financial standpoint but the problem was that I had already spent my 500 nuyen profit on alcohol; the money goes quickly when you're paying for the real thing. I had never truly intended to spend quite that much on crapulism but I felt as though it wasn't quite under my control. Even though I had killed the janitor as revenge, dragging him along the highway, dismembering him, I still had bad dreams. Sometimes I would be back in his apartment and he would be standing there with his body streaked and red like so much raw steak mixed with cottage cheese. Sometimes I would be standing next to his car on the highway looking at his body which was missing its feet by now but his contorted dead head would slowly turn, slowly and inexorably turn, until it was looking up at my face to give me a knowing and triumphant grin. Sometimes when my dreams sank deep into the heated abyss of my subconscious the face of the janitor would morph, as if by a computer program, into someone younger whom I knew long ago; somehow just witnessing this slow transformation in progress, never fully completing, was the worst thing I could imagine. I would have these dreams and it would feel like my belly was screaming at me to wake up before something incomprehensibly horrible happened but when I woke up I'd come crashing into my hangover, pulsating and vengeful. I knew that if I merely groaned and rolled back under my damp and rancid sheets I'd be in the grip of the janitor, no, the nightmare, once more, so that's when I'd reach for my bottle of gin and take a big swig without bothering to add any vermouth or stir it with ice.

I hate it when my emotions win out over my meticulous side.

My street doc extended me a line of credit because I'm a regular customer but he wants 650 nuyen from me now instead of just 500. I don't really have a choice but to give him what he wants because I can't afford to be without a doctor I know won't remove my organs and sell them when I'm under the knife. So I've taken another job, a badly paying job, just to keep a roof over my head this month and my organs in my body when I get hurt. My ribs are still broken, though, because they haven't had time to heal. They should be fine as long as they don't get pressed; I've got some supportive bandages wrapped around my trunk the doc gave me to keep them in line. I've known people who would grapple with broken ribs and manage to avoid further injury so if I plan my mission meticulously enough I can hopefully do the same.



Chapter 2

Cold water erupts from my belly, up my throat, and sloshes forth into the toilet bowl with only a little bit of detritus in it. My stomach grinds in agony and my forehead reproaches me severely and yet the water cooling my esophogus is strangely refreshing. I kneel on the ancient tiles, tilting forward like a medieval supplicant, as my hands steady my quivering body by gripping the peeling and annoyingly small toilet seat. It's early in the morning, far earlier than I wish it to be, and no matter how much water I drink my body rejects it. My vigorous vomiting heaves draw threads of agony from my broken ribs. My stomach lining must be be severely inflamed from yesterday's regimen of whiskey mixed in my soykaf while I rode here to New York City. For a moment I saw my reflection in the toilet bowl water; I was a Fury, pale in mein and bloodshot in eye. But the reflection was shattered as the first wave of cold vomit, not half an hour in my belly, surged forth with the fury of a column of mounted Frankish knights.

The bitter feeling in my mouth lends power to my clenching hands. With a halfhearted regret I relive the conversation which brought me to New York City; it was a conversation on a public telecom unit in a deserted street on Boston. The man hiring me was making an international call and had insisted on this manner of meeting as a safeguard for his privacy. In the anemic darkness of an urban center before dawn I had battled the East Coast chill with surreptitious sips of whiskey.

"Bonsoir, Madamoiselle."

Formality. A Paris accent. Different from my French Canadian accent in a way which most people would regard as subtle but which a true French Parisian would construe as monumental.

"Bonsoir, Monsieur."

"Madamoiselle, avez-vous une rhume?"

Canadian French sounds more nasal than Parisian French; I trust that you grasp his barb.

"Non, mais le moutard monte au nez."

He may not have grasped my barb. My mediocre 1930s style play on words was in fact an exaggerated characterization of the Johnson's reliance on verbal point-sparring. To emphasize this characterization I had modulated my voice while speaking to sound more effeminite but unfortunately since I am female this subtlety may have been lost on him. He may have simply regarded me as being mentally feeble and unsophisticated.

Regardless, I doubt I could have changed the fact that the Johnson held me in contempt both as a professional working alone and as a human being on account of my non-Parisian accent. He had needed someone to travel to New York City, infiltrate the Torturer's Ball being held in a lower East Side cathedral-themed S&M club, and steal a briefcase containing diplomacy-related documents from the Algerian delegate which were scheduled to be delivered to the Egyptian delegate. Since it would be easy for the Algerian delegate to simply hand the briefcase for the Egyptian delegate and for the Egyptian delegate to leave ahead of schedule, arriving at the ball early and stealing the briefcase immediately would be essential to the success of the mission. Furthermore, stealing the briefcase from the club itself, where MAD scanners prevented anyone from carrying weapons in the immediate vicinity of the briefcase, would be much more feasible than trying to steal the briefcase from the heavily-guarded five-star hotel rooms where the various dignitaries would be staying for the nights of the ball, or trying to capture the briefcase in transit when the delegate's security would have an open season.

Back in Boston the job had seemed like a life preserver cast into the ever-rising sea of debt; it was easy to agree to such a task. Now that I'm in New York City the cloying sickness in belly berates me and fills me with a cold regret. Later today, as it gets dark, I must travel to the nightclub. I hate it when my emotions win out over my rationality.




Chapter 3

The club used to be a cathedral so there are several entrances. There's the main entrance; the grand front doors, which lead straight to the conference area, which is where the pews and altar would have been long ago. Then there are the side doors attached to the wings of the cathedral. Most promisingly for me there's a trap door in the yard area behind the cathedral which goes directly into the crypt, which in turn has probably been converted into a kitchen area or staff room. This is probably the most realistic point of entry since it would be easiest to blend in with caterers or entertainers.

I've circumambulated the cathederal once and only once so as to assess the situation now that the party is about to get underway without attracting the attention of the guards, of which there are many. There are around ten obviously cybered guards at the front and side entrances respectively and since everyone who enters through these doors are checking their weapons just inside there must also be concealed MAD scanners. However, the trap door in the yard behind the cathedral, although it's also guarded by ten samurai, has latex-clad entertainers, caterers in white uniforms, and the occasional custodian coming and going. The latex-clad entertainers are typically carrying a lot of metal on them; they're festooned with chains, hanging handcuffs from a single wrist, or have slits in their costumes to expose garish displays of pierced flesh. Perhaps if there is a MAD scanner on the trapdoor it's either been turned off or else security isn't paying attention to it.

As I see a latex-cocooned woman leave from the trapdoor holding a red rubber ball and a pack of cigarettes in her left hand and swinging an empty ballgag jauntily in her right I walk 30 feet behind her concocting a plan. Her head is masked with tiny holes for her eyes so she can see and slot where her ballgag can fit neatly. The latex covering her legs and body is constrictive, like shrinkwrap, and sheer; the contours of her body just under the latex are perfectly modeled. Her costume appetizingly combines the sufforcating cloyingness of latex with a kind of vulnerable nakedness.

The woman leaves the yard, turns, and walks down the block. As I pass the yard I walk slowly so as not to draw attention to myself, but as soon as I've passed by I walk faster, closing the distance between me and my intended victim. In my black canvas backpack I'm carrying my Browning Max Power, a silencer, my electronics kit, a set of plastic restraints, 5 loaded magazines, two kilos of C4, and several detonators, but I don't wish to risk using any of this equipment in a relatively wealthy and secure-looking area of town for fear of attracting the attention of the police, and furthermore I don't want to damage the woman's costume which I am hoping to procure.

My intended victim turns the corner on the block, walks about halfway down, and begins to light her cigarette with an alacrity which suggests that many hours have passed since her last smoke break. I do not slow my stride when she stops and an instant later I've wrapped my arms around her neck from behind and have yanked her into the nearest alleyway. I feel sacks of trash distorting and crunching under my heels as I prepare to tug her head upwards, slam a knee into her spine, and finally twist her head on an upward diagonal with all my strength, just like I was taught by him all those years ago.

Unfortunately, my victim had mentally recovered while I tugged her into the alley. Self defense classes must be popular among exotic dancers because she bellows "FIRE!" as her cigarette falls from her lips and she stomps down hard with one of her viciously narrow stiletto heels into the middle of my sneaker. I grunt as my body jolts in response to the acute stimulus and I unconsciously curl forward a bit as I fight to keep my grip on her neck. This sets up my victim's next move; she bucks forward and snaps her head back, catapulting her skull into my nose. My vision flashes white and I lurch dizzily to the right as tears spring reflexively from my eyes. My arms around her neck are no longer executing a death grip, but are now desperately striving to steady myself.

I'm aware that her head has sharply moved down and now the world upends as the dancer executes a shoulder throw. Amidst the newly excited buzzing of flies and squeaking of rats I crash on my back into the spongy trash that has been underfoot. Agony pierces my world as the items in my pack dig into my back with the force of all my body weight behind them. I feel foul, cold liquid seeping from the ground into my pants. The impact has jarred my broken ribs and the urge to vomit stirs within me like a groggy beast.

I watch her high heeled foot rise off the ground to deliver final stomps to my head, and for a moment my imagination illuminates my head with visions of her stiletto support plunging through the gelatin of one of my eyeballs, but she hesistates for a moment as she notices that I'm a woman; no doubt she wonders why I attacked her. The moment of hesitation, with one leg raised, ignites my defensive reactions. I fling myself along the ground with scrabbling legs and arms and cling to her supporting leg as though it were a life preserver in the ocean. I push against it with my body and with desperation fueling my frenzy I bite her Achilles tendon.

If I were to use this tactic against any other opponent I would soon be dead, since I would be putting myself in the position to recieve any number of vicious kicks and stomps. However, since the entertainer is wearing very high heels her ability to balance herself is quite poor. She topples backwards like a felled sapling and lands with a small splash in a pool of cloudy, tan alley slop.

I swallow my pain and lunge forward on my hands and knees to rain blows upon the dancer's face. As I surge forward to straddle her body she wraps her legs about my trunk and hooks her feet together. I land two jarring blows to her face before she uses her legs to push me away from her body so that I cannot put weight and force behind my strikes. Her legs, like great anacondas, tighten, and push directly against my injured ribs. My world momentarily becomes a vortex of pain and I cannot stop the animal-like scream, starting in a low pitch and escalating into a high pitch, which erupts from my throat.

Adrenaline and desperation beat the inside of my head as though it were a tiny taiko drum. I plant my feet on the ground and begin to stand with more strength than I expected I could produce. The dancer isn't a very heavy woman and before she can even begin to manuver for a kneebar I've practically thrown her up into the air and then sat back down, whiplashing her skull into the cement. There's a satisfying combination of a splashing and cracking noise. Her legs disengage from me and her body becomes rigid, with her arms and legs sticking out from her core at slight angles. They are vibrating rapidly which suggests that he knockout was traumatic enough to her body that she's going into shock.

I work quickly, somewhat hampered by her protruding limbs. I remove her latex costume, and carefully throw it out of the puddle, even though it's already been smeared by the thick sour-smelling grease from the ground on the outside and has collected a lot of perspiration from my victim on the inside. Under the costume she is completely naked and my misgivings chew at me like so many hungry rats when I realize that if I wear this costume to gain entrance to the ball I'll have no way of bringing any equipment in with me; I'll even have to remove the bandaging which is supporting my ribs.

As I see my victim laying helpless and dirty before me the foul urge to hurt her, hurt her as repayment for the pain she gave me, awakens once more. My emotions scream like a house of maniacs, but they struggle against my intelligence, my rationality, and my plan. There's no time to be spent dallying here, especially since my screaming could have attracted the attention of a passerby. And a naked, mutilated body lying in an alley would immediately attact precisely the kind of attention that would be disastrious.

For a moment I kneel in the alley; my mind overflows with mental constipation. And then I begin removing my clothes. Spikes of pain dance gleefully as I timorously remove my supportive bandages. The latex slides on over my skin easily because the insides are lubricated with rapidly cooling sweat. It conforms to the precise shape of my body and squeezes my sides, spinning delicate threads of pain from the injury. I can practically see my nipples through the opaque but clinging garment. My calves clench in protest as I struggle to balance on the unfamiliar terrain of cruelly tall high heels. I fasten the ball gag about my head and lock in the ball which reeks of the other woman's spittle. If I have an obvious reason not to speak no one will ask me questions that I won't be able to answer.

I will be less at risk for attracting attention if I don't leave a naked woman lying in this alley. A naked person will attract attention but a fully clothed person lying in the trash will just appear to be a drunk. I dress the dancer in my own clothes that I was just wearing; my usual blue jeans, sneakers, sweatshirt, and baseball cap. I pinion her legs together using the plastic restraints from my backpack; I reason that if she wakes up and runs down the block obviously handcuffed she will cause more problems for me than if she has her hands free but can only writhe around in the trash. For a moment I consider snapping her neck and a deliciously wild surge of adrenaline shakes my body as my barely intellectualized lust for revenge batters me once more. But I think that a body buried by trash which wiggles strangely is more likely to make people willfully ignore it and pass by than a body that is perfectly motionless and has its head twisted at an unhealthy angle.

Just before I leave I make an intelligent compromise. I use a pair of tweezers from my electronics kit to stab the unconscious dancer in the belly; the two tiny puncture wounds don't produce very much blood. Next, I carefully splash some of the foul-smelling tan alley water into the puncture wounds. With any luck the dancer will have a sweat-squeezing ordeal later with internal infection. My lips struggle to form a grin behind the constraints of my ball gag as I finally bury my victim under a mountain of torn trash bags. Maybe if I'm lucky the rats will nibble her. Nibble nibble nibble. Hee.

With a thrill of euphoric excitement lightening my steps I gather up my bag of equipment and stash it in a seperate alley, since I'm unable to take anything in with me. Now it's time to hit the cathederal.



Chapter 4

The main area of the cathederal is filled with round tables and those round tables are filled with two bit generals and human rights violators from around the globe who are all paunches, uniforms with too many medals, and the grinning, intense faces of egomaniacs. Red lights with faint highlights of green dynamically skip over the space turning the once sanctified air into some kind of hideous projection of the infernal fate which the priests no doubt would claim await these men. Women flit between the tables, all shrinkwrapped in the ubiquitous latex fetish gear. Some carry trays with food and drink. Some are lead by leashes with their hands cuffed behind their back; they are ambulatory scenery. Some carry whips and others wear ball gags like mine. I wander with them, seeking my target. I pass by a table, and overhear some conversation.

"yeah, I read that spread by Rolag the Merciless in the Torturer's Quarterly. It looks like jumper cables are shaping up to be the new rack."

The altar has been converted into a stage, an exhibition grounds for the evil and perverse. Speakers, expounding on the latest advancements and the most sublime finesse in the field of torture, are applauded by the assembled mass. At one corner of the room I find my mark, the Egyptian delegate. He wears a magnificient suit of light blue and his hair is slicked and parted. Unlike most of the other people in this room he wears no military uniform nor any medals. By his knee leans a black leather briefcase; the Algerian delegate must have already made the transfer.

I turn and hurry back towards the underground kitchen area, yet I am careful not to topple myself on my outrageous high heels. I will need to come up with a way to remove the briefcase without being noticed. The current speaker's voice echoes through the cathedral as I concoct a plan.

"The theme of my talk this evening is 'Tarring and Feathering: Only Skin Deep', because it's come to my attention nowadays that often times tarring and feathering is not being done in the traditional way and as a result there are many accidental and unnecessary fatalities in torture chambers across the globe."

I nearly stumble precipitously down the stairs leading to the crypt but my hand firmly grips the handrail and provides me with safe passage. In the kitchen area below a team of cooks assaults packages of catered food items, rearranging them for transport by the latex women up to the dining area. A few items, hamburgers and grilled sandwiches, are being prepared near the back of the kitchen on a simple Gaylord brand cafeteria grill. I begin to notice the extent to which being encased in latex overheats my body as I approach the heat of the grill; the sweat my body produces is trapped against my skin with nowhere to evaporate and I begin to feel pools of warmth form to torment the warmest parts of my body. A temptation comes to life to take a long sip of water from one of the kitchen faucets, which I cannot do because I wish to keep my ball gag in place. Near the grill is a white metal door that says "MANAGER'S OFFICE", which is equipped with a maglock. Today the door sits slightly ajar and the manager, wearing a polo shirt and khakis with damp spots under the sleeves, seems to come and go.

I endure the heat from the grill for a good minute and feel increasingly as though the inside of my latex suit contains a lake before I notice something that I can use to distract the Egyptian delegate. One of the latex women opens a refrigerator which is filled with beer which she arranges on her serving tray and carries towards the conference. In a moment I'm standing before the open refrigerator with a serving tray of my own; I'm beginning to feel so sufforcatingly hot inside my suit that if I weren't wearing my gag I wouldn't have been able to stop myself from draining one of the frosty bottles of beer.

Once my tray is loaded with beers I return to the Egyptian delegate. I stand at this table, look at him, and smile as much as I can with the gag. It looks like he's about to say that he didn't order all those beers, so I shake my head, put the tray down, and point at the Algerian delegate. The Egyptian pauses for a moment, smiles, nods, and waves to the Algerian, who, being unaware of the context of this gesture, simply waves back. The Egyptian begins to drink the beers eagerly, so I wander back down to the kitchen.

The heat of the grill assaults me and my thirst becomes a dominating monster inside my head. Every time I move I feel sweat-lubricated flesh sliding against sleek, glistening latex. After about 20 minutes, I concoct another strategem by which I will be able to get the contents of the briefcase to my Johnson without the guards posted at the doors stopping me as I attempt to bear a briefcase past them. As the manager approaches his office, I tap him on the shoulder. He turns to face me. I point in the direction of the conference area, and stab the air with my hand, flapping my thumb and fingers together to indicate talking. Then, I roll my eyes.

"They're asking to see the manager again? Stuck up dirty fraggers."

The manager grumbled for a moment before heading to the conference area.

I follow the manager and break away from him to return to the table of the now-intoxicated Egyptian delegate. I clear the bottles from his table, bide my time, and wait for the attention of the room to be turned towards the speaker.

"And now I present to you...the Torturer's Quarterly torture picks for this upcoming year!"

An adrenal thrill chills my lower belly and contrasts with the enfeebling heat which wracks the rest of my body, but there can be no hesitation now or all is lost. I scoop up the briefcase with one hand and walk causally with my tray in the other back to the kitchen. I slide my tray onto an aluminum food preparation area and walk into the now-empty manager's office. Perhaps the latex women and cooks wonder what I'm doing but the sight of someone walking into the manager's office with a briefcase isn't enough to raise their suspicions to the point of alarm.

I close the manager's office door behind me and lock it. People outside won't see what I'm doing but if someone tries to enter, wonders why it's locked, and finds out that I was the only person in there I might encounter an unreconcilable difficulty. I will have to work fast. The adrenal chill in my intestines juices my sweat glands as I scurry to the manager's telecom unit. I dial up the contact number which my Johnson gave me. While the line rings my hands scrabble behind my head to remove my ball gag. As it falls free I find that my jaw has cramped stiff.

"Espece de con..." grumbles the Johnson. His hair stands erect like a scrub forest on his head; no doubt I had woken him up at a strange time. Someone might try to enter the room at any moment so I speak rapidly in French.

"I've got what you wanted. Listen..."

"Nice tits. Who the hell are you."

"I'm at the Cathedral now. I'm going to hold the pages of the treaty up to the telecom camera and you're going to tell me when you've screen capped each page."

"Jesus, you've got an off-the-cuff way of doing things. I should have just hired you to hang in my closet while wearing that suit."

"Just make sure you send the escrow to my fixer." The situation is too urgent and tense for me to make any sort of effective banter. I hold the first page of the agreement up.

"I'd ask you to show me your tits but I can see them just fine through your suit. Done."

I hold up the next page.

"They're not tiny or anything, but it's a shame they're not bigger. Then again, averages will be averages, and I think the international average is indeed a B cup. Done."

I raise the next page.

"So, you're a submissive? Done."

I lift the next page to the camera.

"You prove beyond any doubt that even the utterly crass can be alluring. Done."

The next page slides into position.

"What comes to mind is 'crude but effective'; I'm sure you'll enjoy cavorting for the rest of the evening in that getup. Done."

I hold up the last page. I began to realize that in all probability my being hired by this Johnson had less to do with my own unhireability and more to do with the Johnson's inability to get any one person to work for him more than once. My hand starts to shake.

Incidentally, the treaty appears to be a secret military alliance between Egypt and Algeria; if my Johnson is French he could be representing any number of governmental or national corporate interests that would prefer to undermine the former colony of Algeria.

"My only regret at the end of this call is that I didn't get the chance to see you get drunk while you were wearing that. Done."

Glancing backwards to make sure that no one had wandered into the room, I terminate the call and barely am able to arrange the papers neatly in their case again with my shaking hands. Next, I replace my ball gag, slick with my own thick and drying spittle, and stride out of the manager's office with my heart pounding like Athena's weapon-crafting hammer and with my sweat gliding freely back and forth across my skin. The glandular cocktail of rage and fear directed at disparate sources feels like a glass of Bacardi 151 burning in my bowels.

There is one thing I must do before the manager realizes that no one has been making a complaint. I seize another serving tray and stock it with a fresh round of beers. I wait for a moment until I hear fresh applause from the conference room, and then I approach the Egyptian delegate from behind. I let the briefcase fall against his chair and begin serving him more beers.

Out of the corner of my eye I see the manager start to head towards the stairs leading to the crypt and his face is a gaudy mask of annoyance. It is time that my soujourn here at the Torturer's Ball come to an end. Doing my best to appear casual while my emotions thrash within me I return to the crypt and leave the cathedral by the yard entrance, as if for another cigarette break.

A few moments later, once I'm out of sight of the cathederal, I'm stumbling down the city street, repeatedly fouled by the high heels as I attempt to run. I retrieve my black canvas backpack and head into a subway station and my toes greet me with stabs of agony as I trot precariously underground. It comes to mind that riding the subway in New York City during the early morning hours while wearing a sheer fetish outfit is probably a bad idea but at this point in time my priority is escaping back to my motel room. In a worst case scenario I can always resort to my Browning. Because it's already so early I probably won't sleep but will rather gather my personal affects and head directly to the bus station to catch a dawn ride back to Boston. I suspect that by then my exhaustion will hit me and I will mercifully sleep as one dead until I reach my destination.


Epilogue

I've made ends meet this month and my ribs are on the mend. A cause for celebration is truly the ingredient which makes a 1930s martini (one part vermouth to five parts gin) taste the best. Perhaps I'll even be able to work with a trustworthy team again some time soon. In whirling ecstacy of drunkenness confined within the nutshell of my apartment where I am a queen of infinite space, I am momentarily free from bad dreams.
Backgammon
First, see my comments in the other thread.

For this story, your writing is still superb. Amazing vocabulary, nothing confusing, everything is clear. Technically perfect.

However, I feel this story had pretty big holes in it. A torturer's meeting at an obvious location? I can sort of buy that, for the SR world. But my major problem is the delegates, trading plans for a secret alliance, casually metting up at some party to eventually swap the stuff, without a care in the world. I can't buy that.

Also, the Egyptian delegate got drunk in the space of 5 minutes. On beer. Which he can't drink cause he's muslim (maybe he's not, could let that slide). But chugging down beer that fast? No way.

So, problems there. But the character still has one hell of a psychotic feel to her. Definatly one of the best shadowrun characters I've ever read.

Incidently, where did you learn french? And the whole french-canadian vs france french differances? I'm curious.
Crusher Bob
QUOTE (Backgammon @ Jun 9 2006, 11:51 AM)
On beer. Which he can't drink cause he's muslim (maybe he's not, could let that slide).

hahahahaha. And christians don't do any naughty things against their religions either. Plenty of drinking goes on in muslim countries, they just aren't open about it.

The S&M community dosen't have secret handshakes and so on. A better analogy would be something like a gaming convention, they are not really well advertised beyond the community and most normal people just really think about it.
Kurb
I liked this story just as much as the other....the visuals were quite erotic. Please keep them coming...
Backgammon
QUOTE (Crusher Bob)
QUOTE (Backgammon @ Jun 9 2006, 11:51 AM)
On beer. Which he can't drink cause he's muslim (maybe he's not, could let that slide).

hahahahaha. And christians don't do any naughty things against their religions either. Plenty of drinking goes on in muslim countries, they just aren't open about it.


Indeed. But a delegate from muslim country would NEVER drink beer in public. Part of the job.
eidolon
Yeah, I was wondering the same things as Backgammon. Just a tad disrupting.

I like it though. Very cool. I'm really liking the way you carry her feel from story to story (her lines about her martini, etc). It gives it a "weekly serial" feel.

As far as critique, are the spelling errors an intentional attempt at showing a part of the character? If not, I'd be more careful about running stuff through a good spellcheck program. Also, there were a few fairly innocuous grammar errors of the type that Word probably wouldn't catch. I proofread and edit technical reports all the time, so spelling and stuff jumps out at me. (Examples: Have you ever rode ridden on a Greyhound bus from Boston to New York City? and It's something that everyone should do at least once in their life, <comma missing> because it's almost miraclous miraculous how Greyhound makes you torture yourself.) Not huge, but present, and taking care to correct them goes a long way in improving how professional your work looks.

Keep up the cool stories. Thanks for posting them.
PH3NOmenon
excellent story, enjoyed it moreso than the first installment. I'm having some trouble 'liking' your shadowrunner though, but that's not really a critique on your writing other than that it's not really my taste. (honestly, poking someone with pliers and hoping they'll get an infection before they're eaten by the rats... very not done... wink.gif )

I did notice some small errors too , i'm thinking you haven't read over this story as much as you have read over your first one, right? (Mademoiselle, not madamoiselle, for one, unless it's a french-canadian thing.)

Other than that, superb writing.
emo samurai
AWESOME.
jklst14
I enjoyed this one as well. Please write more. smile.gif
Wounded Ronin
QUOTE (Backgammon)
First, see my comments in the other thread.

For this story, your writing is still superb. Amazing vocabulary, nothing confusing, everything is clear. Technically perfect.

However, I feel this story had pretty big holes in it. A torturer's meeting at an obvious location? I can sort of buy that, for the SR world. But my major problem is the delegates, trading plans for a secret alliance, casually metting up at some party to eventually swap the stuff, without a care in the world. I can't buy that.

Also, the Egyptian delegate got drunk in the space of 5 minutes. On beer. Which he can't drink cause he's muslim (maybe he's not, could let that slide). But chugging down beer that fast? No way.

So, problems there. But the character still has one hell of a psychotic feel to her. Definatly one of the best shadowrun characters I've ever read.

Incidently, where did you learn french? And the whole french-canadian vs france french differances? I'm curious.

Well, I learned French in school. I've been studying it since I was in third grade. I'm proud to say that even though I've mostly learned French in an artificial "classroom" situation I seem to be able to be understood when I use it in France. If I made any French language errors it's probably due to my weak classroom-fu.

Regarding French Canadian vs. French French certain words and pronounciations are different. French Canadian sounds a bit more nasal. It's interesting to note that while I seem to be able to communicate effectively speaking French in Paris I cannot seem to communicate effectively speaking French in Montreal. Like, in Montreal or Quebec, I can read and understand things which are written in French, so the grammar and vocabulary is basically the same, but no one seems to be able to understand my speaking. I remember I once had a French language teacher who complained about the same thing; being able to use French just fine in France but magically not being understood in Canada. My guess is that it has something to do with pronounciation since my experience has been the same as the teacher's.

You're right about both the delegate getting drunk too fast and the fact that he probably shouldn't have been drinking in public. It hadn't occurred to me at the time but it's a very good point. I was thinking of a time I was in Egypt and I saw a couple of AK-toting Egyptian cops stop by a tourist hotel to have some beer, but of course the policemen aren't as high-powered as a delegate.

I'm glad that you liked the character. As I said, it's a SR3 character I once ran, so I'm glad that some people find the character concept compelling.
Wounded Ronin
QUOTE (PH3NOmenon @ Jun 9 2006, 07:50 AM)
excellent story, enjoyed it moreso than the first installment. I'm having some trouble 'liking' your shadowrunner though, but that's not really a critique on your writing other than that it's not really my taste. (honestly, poking someone with pliers and hoping they'll get an infection before they're eaten by the rats... very not done... wink.gif )

My gut feeling was that the first story was a little stronger; I felt it was harder to describe more complicated and detailed actions effectively, as happened in this one. So, if you liked this one better, I'm happy. smile.gif

I'm also really happy that even if you didn't like the character you found her compelling. Let me tell you, trying to role play this character in actual games was a mind-twisting experience. I had to try and see things from this character's point of view and impulsively go and do all sorts of super-sadistic tortures to NPCs given the chance. After each gaming session I would feel kind of mentally weird, as though my mind were smarting from going in such an evil direction so forcefully for hours. RPing this character was always a very intense experience for me.

You, eidolon, and others were right. I did make some spelling and grammar errors and I certainly didn't want to make those. Next time I'll use my spell check instead of trusting myself not to make any mistakes.
Mardegun
I like it so far, but I donít know how long it will take me to read it. I only have moments here and there to read it.

The only thing I donít like is the richness of words you use; it is very bookish to me. I wish it was more expeditious for my connivance. wink.gif Sorry I canít explain it more effectively. I guess over all I lack the patience to get into the story. As ironic as it sounds, I like things to be more to the point. Lol

<Tangent>
I am reading screenplays these days and they are more to the point. Perhaps this combined with my inability to read the story in one sitting, is causing problems for me.
</Tangent>

All in all I like what you wrote; especially the way you describe the reality of SR. Good style, but this style of writing doesnít jive with me at the moment.
Backgammon
QUOTE (Mardegun)
I like it so far, but I donít know how long it will take me to read it. I only have moments here and there to read it.

The only thing I donít like is the richness of words you use; it is very bookish to me. I wish it was more expeditious for my connivance. wink.gif Sorry I canít explain it more effectively. I guess over all I lack the patience to get into the story. As ironic as it sounds, I like things to be more to the point. Lol

<Tangent>
I am reading screenplays these days and they are more to the point. Perhaps this combined with my inability to read the story in one sitting, is causing problems for me.
</Tangent>

All in all I like what you wrote; especially the way you describe the reality of SR. Good style, but this style of writing doesnít jive with me at the moment.

Ah, explains the story you posted yourself. It was, as you put it, much less 'bookish' and to the point.

Not that there's anything wrong with your preference, but short stories are pretty much supposed to be more verbose than scripts, so I don't think Wounded Ronin can be faulted for that.
Mardegun
QUOTE (Backgammon @ Jun 12 2006, 08:46 PM)
so I don't think Wounded Ronin can be faulted for that.

No, no it isn't Wounded Ronin fault at all.
hyzmarca
QUOTE (eidolon)
As far as critique, are the spelling errors an intentional attempt at showing a part of the character? If not, I'd be more careful about running stuff through a good spellcheck program. Also, there were a few fairly innocuous grammar errors of the type that Word probably wouldn't catch. [...] It's something that everyone should do at least once in their life, <comma missing> because it's almost miraclous miraculous how Greyhound makes you torture yourself.) Not huge, but present, and taking care to correct them goes a long way in improving how professional your work looks

A comma isn't necessary when the dependant clause follows the independant clause, and because is a subordinate conjunction. Thus, the second clause is dependant and that particular sentence possess a correct form.

Wounded Ronin
Yeah, it's actually correct to not have a comma. I used to put more commas in my writing before I learned grammar in a formal and systematic manner in high school. After that experience I realized that many people use too many commas; or at least, more commas than are grammatically required.
eidolon
Ah, right-o. Not an Eng prof, just trying to be helpful.
Wounded Ronin
Well, I appreciate pointing out the spelling errors. I didn't realize I'd made them and so now I have learned that I need to use the spell check.
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