Monday, November 18, 2013

Talynn Lynn: Rev 2: The ClockWork Bounty Hunter

Name: Talynn Lynn
Genre: YA Contemporary SteamPunk Fantasy
Title: The ClockWork Bounty Hunter
The clockwork dragon detonated in a barrage of fire and metal.
I yanked my sword 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. I growled 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 to its 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 remnants of dragon stench 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 there. With 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.
 I picked through the pieces of downed airships, armor, and weapons looking for the injured. I was the only one fool enough to chase the dragon away from the safety of the city. What seemed like an invasion only minutes before turned out to be nothing more than a show of power. I should have returned home with the others, but the dragon got the best of my pride. At least I won against him.
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 watchman returned 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 light glowed 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 into the dark shadows. 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 in here 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 symbol could 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. He was 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 is Zavati Cleon. Perhaps you’ve heard of me, or my family?”
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. And this guy wanted my pity?
 “I could care less about your kind, including your family. Now, lets go, before my sister hemorrhages to death. 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 sealed, leaving the tiniest ridge similar to that of a seamstress stitch. Too bad it only worked on human flesh. Echo wound dripped eerily to the floor “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.”
The last bit of sun slipped behind the trees lining the bog. One look at Echo told me time was of the essence. Her face paled and eyes dilated. I walked with an impatient speed.
Echo limped beside me. “I have a good feeling about him. He could have killed me.”
“Or he could be the kind that bootlegs illegal parts and dabbles in cyborg or genetic magic, striving to be the world’s next mad scientist.”
Zavati chuckled. “One thing I’m not is the one who ends up torn from limb to limb in some godforsaken cyborg cell.”

3 comments:

  1. I love the changes you've made--it all flows really well and I have a much clearer sense of the setting and battle scene at the beginning. It's such an interesting premise and I'm so curious to know what happens next!

    I still feel like Zavati would be worse off after losing so much blood--he seems to be healed completely, but it seems like he'd at least need support walking, or some other acknowledgment of his injury. The healing glue does feel a little too convenient, considering that it's something that apparently isn't needed in their cyborg realm.

    The last sentence is much better--but the repetition of the word "one" tripped me up. Maybe, "Well, I'm definitely not the one who ends up torn limb from limb in some godforsaken cyborg cell" or something similar.

    And one other tiny thing: I'd suggest changing "Give me one reason why?" to "Give me one good reason." (or something similar.) That way you don't have two "why"s (and two questions) in a row.

    But overall, this is a very strong opening and I wish you the best of luck with it!

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  2. The opening is better, but a dragon that detonates, then later hisses and disappears doesn't work. It’s either one or the other.


    It is unknown how the protagonist defeated the dragon as well as what role the twin sister played. All that is revealed is that the twin sister was wounded and ran away. This could be an opportunity to show the different abilities of your characters.


    The battlefield could be more clearly drawn. Were there more dragons in this battle or were the other soldiers fighting the same dragon as the protagonist?


    You mention the protagonist looking for injured but he encounters no one.


    I would like more info. on the basics of the prog. sex, age, what’s the prog. look like. I don’t need a full picture but something. I still get the impression that the prog. is a boy, not a girl.


    Lopsided wooden depositories of


    or


    Lopsided wooden depositories for


    drizzling rain should be mentioned earlier. Most reader’s will assume this takes place under a clear sky unless led to believe otherwise early. This should be in the first paragraph when prog. is fighting the dragon in rain.


    One question I have is the dragon is a robot and the protagonist is a robot. So this is a robot on robot war/conflict. I need some sense of what are the sides in this war/conflict.


    Humans can be twins, but robots? You may want to explain how the prog. and the sister can be twins.

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  3. Hi Talyn! Wow, you've done so much wonderful work on this piece. I flew through this opening and I am so impressed with how you've incorporated the feedback from the group and made it much stronger. The worldbuilding is really well done and I feel so much more grounded in Sterling's thoughts/feelings/actions, as well as the physical setting. You've included some wonderful sensory details to bring his experience to life.

    I only have a few very minor suggestions. The first is that I don't fully understand the context in which the dragon attack occurred. It sounds like other people were around and possibly injured, so it feels odd that it's so desolate now. How many other people were there and who were they? Why haven't they come back to survey the damage now that the dragon is gone?

    I think that you establish that the transient is hurt, but he still sort of pops up from his stupor and is able to address the twins quite clearly. I think you could add more details about his physical condition when he first wakes up. Also this exchange feels clunky:

    “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?

    I think it could be drawn out a bit more.

    On a sentence level, your writing is strong, but I think you could vary some of the sentence structure more and pay attention to the rhythm of the writing. In the second paragraph, you have these three sentences:

    I growled 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 to its creator, though it left most of it’s working parts scattered around the battleground.

    Each sentence starts with ____ and ____. Even just something as simple as changing the second sentence to "It settled in the bog, sliding beneath the surface," will keep the syntax from getting repetitive. (also, should be: "its working parts...")

    I wish you the best of luck with this project and all of your writing. I so enjoyed reading your work. Thank you for sharing this with the workshop and for working so hard on your craft!


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