Monday, November 4, 2013

Talynn Lynn: The ClockWork Bounty Hunter

 Name: Talynn Lynn

Genre: YA Contemporary Steampunk Fantasy Title: ClockWork Bounty Hunter


The clockwork dragon detonated in a barrage of fire and metal.

I yanked the sword I wielded back and shoved the shield in front of my body, but it was too late. The acid laced fire already started to melt the silver blade. Igrowled and flung the weapon away from my body. It settled in a muddy bog and slid beneath the surface.The dragon hissed and disappeared, transmitted back toit’s creator, though it left most of it’s working parts scattered around the battleground.

“Echo!” I yelled over the explosion of noise. “It’s over. You can come out now.”

My twin sister had been standing behind me a few minutes earlier, tucked away in safety, but now I fought alone in the damp muskeg. I scrunched up my nose, the acrid smell left behind from the dragon burned when I breathed. I glanced around me. It wasn’t easy to concentrate on the battle when Echo wasn’t in sight. Nothing but dark shadows, where the bog mixed with cypress tress and deep caves in the distance. All I could make out was rocky crags with dark circles that looked like black eyes keeping watch over the swamp. Creepy, even for me. Echo wouldn’t have run in thereWith one last look around, I walked back toward base camp, betting my cards she’s run home to the safe house.

Lopsided wooden depositories spread out toward the bog on my left and the ghetto was cramped with half rotted shanties down by the river, off to my right.The worn path was slick with drizzling rain, and the fine mist fogged my glasses and dampened my hair.

Pieces of downed airships, armor, and weapons littered the area, but at the moment, the streets were deserted. What seemed like an invasion only minutesbefore, turned out to be nothing more than a show of power. Our city’s fiercest enemy had shoved us to the edge of the world. They lived on the other side of the bog, in the neighboring realm, yet they wouldn’t be happy until we were all extinct and they owned all the land, including the worthless swamp we now called home. I would fight until the end to protect my family. No matter the cost.

Searching the sides of the road, I brushed my arm across my forehead. Black ash smeared my skin and my hand burned from the fiery exhaust left from the dragon’s spew. A wire poked out of my skin, too, and the cutaneous markings on my arm had been burned off. I needed a cybernetic artist, preferably from Chantal’s office. Her fees were the cheapest in town.

First, though, I needed to find my family and check to make sure they were okay. I stopped at the safe house that bordered the city gate and tapped the call button on the iron door and lowered my mouth to the speaker.

“Check in for Bridges 2-6-0.”

Static answered me before the posted watchmanreturned my inquiry.

“Number and name.”

“2-6-3 Sterling Bridges.”

Silence, followed by a beep.


One down, and three to go. I pushed through the gate and turned left, toward the terraced area. Shuttered windows and reinforced doors opened here and there. I shouted down skinny alleys as I passed by, “Echo Bridges! Are you here?”

A quiet reply came from the second alley way. “Sterling? Is that you? I’m here. Follow the brick path to the end.”

Her voice came from the opening of the mechanical depository. The faintest beam of lightglowed in the dusty window. Echo emerged from the shadows. Her tousled hair didn’t distract from her dainty features. The only clue evidenced to her heritage was her steel gray eyes.

Black stains soiled her lace-trimmed bodice, and her elbow length white gloves were covered in oil and streaks of blood.

My arms tensed. “Shisters. What happened? Are you hurt?

“Just a tiny puncture. I’m fine. But he’s not.” Echo nodded behind her.

I squinted past her, back into the dark shadows of the depository. Hidden partially beneath a low shelf filled with parts, rested a crumpled body. His white lab coat was covered in blood.

“A genetic transient?”

“Yes, a cute one, too. Looks like he’s about our age.”

I slammed my fist into the doorframe. How did he get past the guards?

“I bet he brought the dragon with him.”

Echo frowned. “I don’t think so. He was inside the depository when I ran in here. And, he was already wounded.”

That didn’t surprise me. Echo couldn’t hurt a fly.

“Do you think he was killed in here, or dragged inhere from the alley?” I looked around the floor for evidence of a body getting dragged through the door.

“He’s not dead, Sterling.”

I stopped in my tracks. Every hair on my body stood on end. Never in my life had I enjoyed taking the life of someone else. Not even the enemy. My eyes shut tight, I breathed in through my nose and exhaled, nice, long, slow, through my mouth while I reached for my dagger inside my boot. As I took a step in the direction of the wounded transient, Echo grabbed my arm.

“Please don’t kill him.”

Her gloved hand was damp with oil. “You’re leaking too much. I thought you said it was only a small puncture?”

She smiled her innocent, girly smile. “It is, but it’s in my main artery. I’ll need repairs soon.”

“I can see that.” I glanced at the still figure across the room. He moaned softly and I squeezed the handle of my dagger tighter. “Why don’t you want me to kill him?”

Echo reached in the pocket of her apron. “I found this in his jeans pocket.”

She held out a bronze bracteates, smudged gray and red from the oil and bloody mix. I rubbed it on the smooth material of my pants leg until an etched symbolcould be seen. A simple arrow shot at a lightning bolt.

“A demurrage? From the Genetics Realm.”

“What did he come here to buy?” Echo looked over her shoulder at the moaning transient.

“Obvious what he was looking for. Hwas in the mechanical depository. I’d say he was looking for body parts.” I started toward the shelves and Echo followed close on my heels.

“Are you going to kill him?”

I bent on my knees beside the transient. His eyes flashed open. “Oh God. Don’t kill me.”

I held the dagger at his throat. “Give me one good reason why?” Why were all transients so weak?

He glanced at me burned arm and over at Echo’s gloved hand, which was saturated by now, ebbing up her arm toward her elbow.

“I can fix that leak and I know how to repair your burned cutaneous area.”

Echo leaned close to my ear. “Do we have enough savings?”

The transient smiled. “I’ll do it for free, in exchange for you sparing my life.”

I couldn’t pass up his opportunity. We had enough in saving for one repair, not two. I pressed the dagger deeper into his skin.

“If you lie to me, trap me, betray me, or hurt my sister in any way, form, or fashion, you are dead. Any questions?”

He shook his head. “I understand. My name isZavati Cleon. Perhaps you’ve heard of me, or my family?”

“I could care less about your kind, including your family. Now, lets go, before my sister hemorrhages todeath. Where do we go?”

Zavati struggled to sit. He compressed his hand over a gaping hole in his upper thigh. “I need a stitch or two before I can walk. Care to help me with that?”

I stood and searched the shelf for a bottle of healing glue. His wound was healed in an instant. “Let’s go,” I said as I hooked my hand around his elbow. “Where to?”

The transient stood. “I have a realm jumper. It seats four.”

I rolled my eyes. “This must be our lucky day.”


  1. I like where this is going but there are several word choices and phrases that are a little awkward and with a little rewriting could be good. The word depository is used way to much. Also cutaneous. All it means is relating to eh skin so say that in another way. It's used twice in the first five pages alone. Transient as well.
    Then there's bracteates. I think it's definition lends itself to a much more rich description that readers will be happy about and visualize instead of going to their thesaurus. In fact there are several thesaurus words and sometimes that's good but not all the time.

    There are some awkward phrases like "The only clue evidenced to her heritage" rewriting that phrase would make it much clearer.

    Little things like "The worn path was slick with drizzling rain, and the fine mist fogged my glasses and dampened my hair." Possibly slick from drizzling rain. Also if it's still drizzling it may not be a fine mist fogging her glasses and dampening her hair.

    I think you have a good start and what seems like a good story. I can't wait to see the revisions next week.

    1. I'm not for sure what you mean by thesaurus words?

    2. Words that the reader may have to either look up in the dictionary or look in a thesaurus for another word to describe it.

  2. I agree with billypayne other comments that I have though are (I'll insert them in the paragraphs below):

    Our city’s (WHAT CITY? COULD YOU GIVE A NAME, A SPECIFIC LOCATION TO GO THE WITH BEAUTIFUL DESCRIPTIONS OF YOUR SETTING?) fiercest enemy (THE SAME GOES FOR ENEMY, YOU EXPLAIN THEIR MOTIVE IN THE FOLLOWING SENTENCE, BUT COULD THEY HAVE A NAME.)had shoved us to the edge of the world. They lived on the other side of the bog, in the neighboring realm, yet they wouldn’t be happy until we were all extinct and they owned all the land, including the worthless swamp we now called home. I would fight until the end to protect my family. No matter the cost

    I stood and searched the shelf for a bottle of healing glue. His wound was healed in an instant. (YOU HAVE SUCH BEAUTIFUL DESCRIPTIONS SO I WAS HOPING YOU COULD ELABORATE ON HOW HEALING GLUE HEALS THE WOUND, THAT IT SEALS IT LIKE THE SEAM OF A FABRIC OR SOMETHING) “Let’s go,” I said as I hooked my hand around his elbow. “Where to?”


  3. This is a great beginning! It's a fascinating premise and I'm curious about what happens next. The setting is suitably creepy, and Sterling is a likable heroine.

    One thing that I think would help in terms of increasing tension and making their partnership with the transient more believable is to show Echo starting to fade from her wound. It seems like she's really badly hurt, her glove filling up with oil, and yet she seems to not be affected by it at all; she smiles, and seems fully present. I can understand that she'd want to tell her sister she's fine and not to worry, but you could really increase the urgency by showing us how she's deteriorating throughout the scene.

    Likewise with Sterling: she has a wire loose, but how does that affect her?

    Also, if the transient had lost enough blood that his lab coat is soaked and he appears dead at first, it seems he would be in worse shape, even once his wound is repaired with the glue. I assume this glue only works on flesh wounds and is of no help to Echo, but it might be good to make that clearer.

    I am curious about the clockwork dragon and the battle at the beginning, too. What were the circumstances leading up to the two girls facing the dragon alone in the bog? If their city were under regular attack from the other realm, it seems like others might have been fighting too.

    Anyway, there is a lot of great stuff here and I'm looking forward to seeing how it evolves!

  4. Hi Talyn! Thank you so much for submitting this piece to the workshop. What a fun and exciting opening this is. Now I'm reading the comment above me and I realize that I thought Sterling was a guy? He seems to see his sister as weak (and refers to her "innocent, girly" laugh..) and in need of protection, and I guess I took that as a male viewpoint. Maybe I'm wrong and they're just very different sisters! Anyway, I think this chapter is constructed quite well, starting off with action, but having that tie into the bigger danger in their world and setting up some good tension and conflict for Sterling and Echo. Sterling's voice is astute and direct, and you show his emotions well through his actions and physical experiences. I'm not sure how old the twins are? They read like they could be anywhere from late teens to young twenties.

    I think that the paragraph that begins with "Downed airships" and goes on to describe their world, is the one spot that takes me out of Sterling's voice a feels more abstract where the rest of his perspective is very in the moment. I think this information could be woven into other places ,and we already get his sense of duty to his family through his actions. The reader can infer a lot of motivation because you show his character well. I also think that the scene with the transient could be expanded on more and taken a little slower, really just fleshing out what you already have. I want to know a little more about how Sterling feels about the transient--impulsive and rash versus Echo's compassion and common sense. There's room to show more of the worldbuilding in this interaction. Also, I thought the transient was almost dead, so I would think he needs medical help of his own.

    My only other comments have to do with tightening up the prose. Some of the prose feels overwritten or redundant. Instead of "I yanked the sword I wielded back," it could easily be "I yanked my sword back." "the acrid smell left behind from the dragon burned when I breathed" could be "the remnants of dragon stench burned when I breathed."

    Anyway, I think there is so much richness here to work with: a fabulous world, vibrant characters, tons of conflict and questions, and I can't wait to see where you take it in revisions. Thank you again for submitting!

  5. Thank you EVERYONE for you helpful comments. I'm so excited to put these to good use and making my first five pages stronger. I can't wait to post your helpful suggestions next week:)
    Again, thank you all.