About Writing, The Scion Suit

Hartmann

We’ve finally hit December.

This year has been very draining for a number of reasons. I don’t even want to get into them, because of the overwhelming, “Ugh, just get everything over with already,” feeling that comes with them.

So, along the lines of Things That I’ve Been Thinking About….

Mandatory Exposition: I wrote The Scion Suit in 2019 as a response to a Reddit writing prompt, and it ended up becoming mildly popular, etc. This year, I’ve been working on an expanded version of it.

Given the circumstances of when I originally wrote the story, MSG Hartmann’s character ended up being regretfully underused. I wrote some other thoughts about that. With rewriting and expanding The Scion Suit, I’ve had a lot more time to further develop his character.

At some point during the last several months, I decided that Hartmann coped with the stress of military life through womanizing (specifically PUA), and it’s had a rather interesting effect on his overall characterization.

In 2019, I wrote, “Brooding, he hung around to watch Carol work on his beloved Suit, and his heart stung with jealousy when he saw how tenderly she touched the metal. When she opened it up to wipe down the leather interior, he couldn’t stand it anymore; it was worse than walking in on a spouse in the thralls of another lover.”

But, this new course in characterization has resulted in a fundamental shift.

Instead of feeling possessive ownership over the Suit, Hartmann instead sees himself as The Other, who has no choice but to return the Suit to its loving spouse (Carol) after every excursion. He uses the Suit, but he knows that he doesn’t belong to it — which adds an element of pain to his actions and motivations (and all that jazz).

His development and redemption now involves learning to see himself as a person worthy of an actual relationship and future goals, instead of simply being a military puppet with zero long-term prospects.

But he still has to give up the Suit in the end … because of the aliens… >.<

Stories, The Scion Suit

TSS – Nightmares

Is there anything more exciting than a story passage presented completely out of context?

Hee hee, enjoy.


Carol began to gasp and moan in her sleep, whimpering the words, “Don’t … take me …” before Lambert managed to shake her awake. She was thoroughly drenched in a cold sweat, and still confused as she frantically asked, “Where’s Henry? I can’t find him!”

“He’s there, right next to you in his crib,” Lambert answered soothingly, and waited for her to pick up their four-month-old son before pulling her into an embrace. “Everything’s fine. You had another nightmare.”

She was quiet, and he suspected that she had dozed off again. He kept her pressed against his chest, however, feeling her clammy skin underneath his hands as his mouth formed a straight line. He had hoped that with time and emotional support, Carol’s struggle with postpartum anxiety would resolve on its own, but instead it was growing worse.

The baby woke and began to root, so Carol shifted to breastfeed. “Sorry about this,” she murmured, completely awake. “Could you get out another pajama shirt for me?”

He nodded, but remained still. “Carol …” he began, and she stiffened from his tone. “It might be time for you to go see a professional.”

“I don’t want to,” she answered slowly.

“You’ve been having nightmares every night for awhile now. It might be best to get you on medication to help you through this.”

“I have you.”

Lambert felt Carol move to curl up around their baby, and for a moment he debated whether or not he should drop the subject all together. He got up to rummage through the dresser in the darkness, found one of the over-sized shirts that she liked to sleep in, and handed it to her.

“Cognitive therapy isn’t making any difference,” he said quietly. She remained silent, so, he pressed on, “You’re a good mother, and it’s natural to have some feelings of anxiety with a new baby …” he began, and the therapist’s intonation that he had slipped into grated against his own ears.

“Would you mind holding Henry while I change?” Carol interrupted, her voice slightly higher pitched than usual. She had recently discovered that he couldn’t argue with her when she spoke that way, and utilized it whenever she wanted him to back down. It was enough to make him cave and give up on his line of reasoning.

Lambert didn’t know what to do. For the most part, Carol was still Carol. They went fishing together on the weekends, and he came home every evening to dinner and a clean house. As long as she had their baby pressed against her in the carrier or in her arms, it was as if nothing had changed. The car trips were almost endearing, with the way she frequently checked the mirrors to ensure that Henry was still breathing, and needed the occasional reassurance that he wasn’t going to be stung by a bee or bitten by a spider while he was in his car seat.

But the nights were different.

Lambert had purchased a special crib with one side that clamped onto their mattress to help her feel closer to Henry, but it couldn’t overcome the mental separation of sleep. There were times when she had startled awake with the baby in her arms, crying about how she couldn’t find him. Recently, she had begun to fight against the fear of being taken away herself, but once awake she always claimed that she could not remember what she had been dreaming.

They had talked. And talked. And talked. Lambert had accepted the military relegating him into a paper-pusher role after the war had ended, because it enabled him to be home every night, and he didn’t dare leave Carol to sleep alone. He had even quit drinking for the most part, so he could maintain his vigilance and be there for her the moment the nightmares began.

After four months, he had reached the end of what he could handle on his own. Carol needed something more than talk to help her, and as a defunct psychiatrist, he was no longer qualified to provide it.

Stories, The Scion Suit

Lartmann and Hambert Are Dead

A/N: …I wanted a break from serious writing...

……


Hartmann paced around the empty room, occasionally flipping a coin and studying it, before continuing on his circuit. Lambert, on the other hand, sat still in the middle of the floor, staring up at the ceiling.

“Do you …” he began, then hesitated.

“Get sick of all these tails?” Hartmann suggested. “Can’t say I do.”

Lambert gave him a flat look. “I thought you were getting heads.”

“Not from you,” Hartmann muttered in reply.

“What I meant to say was that it seems like we’re stuck in a featureless void.”

“Looks more like a room to me.”

“Do you see any doors or windows?”

“No. But there are distinct planes and vertices.”

Lambert rolled his eyes. “Alright then, a featureless cube.”

“Clearly, the answer is that when we were told we were going to be integrated into a biomechanical alien species, we were lied to. Either this room is some sort of alien prison, or we’re dead,” Hartmann replied.

“Yes. That makes sense,” Lambert mused. “But why do you have that coin?”

“It was in my pocket.”

“And why does it only ever come up heads?”

“Alien space magic. Why else?” Hartmann answered.

“Do you ever think that you and I are ultimately interchangeable?”

“We’re the variables. You represent the noble side of humanity, while I’m the cavalier aspect. Lawful good versus chaotic neutral.”

“Whatever.”

“You wanted to talk about it,” Hartmann muttered.

“Sometimes we might as well be the same person,” Hambert said darkly.

“There could be some truth to that,” Lartmann replied. “Our identities are already intermixing.

“I liked who I was,” Harbert said sulkily.

“How do you think I feel? You are a comparatively boring person,” Lamtmann pouted.

“Damn alien technology,” Hartert grumbled.

“Tell me about it,” Lambmann agreed.

“Fading …” Hartmet gasped.

“No …” Lambeann sobbed.

And together, they merged into Lartbertmann – half man, half another man.

~Fin

Quotes, The Scion Suit

Quote

Carol had never felt anything towards anyone before, and had never had a reason to be uncomfortable with that fact, either. But something about Lambert was strangely familiar, as if they were simply falling back into a relationship that had begun long ago. Somehow, she was certain that she had been to his house before, and had sat in the living room watching a movie in much the same way, only this time they were finally indulging in their feelings for each other.

It was a very odd sensation.

The Scion Suit – Multiverse Edition
About Writing, The Scion Suit

MSG Hartmann

Wow do I need to come up for some air.

If I had written Alice and the Warden at this pace, it would have been done in half the time. XD

One of the things that I’m really loving about doing TSS as a branching story is that I can more fully explore MSG Hartmann’s character. Originally, I created him with every intention of him playing a much bigger part. Then I realized that, logically, he’d be neutralized pretty quick, assuming that my military had any sort of competency. Like, if you can’t apprehend a severely injured man on your own danged base, then you guys are pretty pathetic.

My military isn’t supposed to be the best — they’re losing and desperate, after all, — but that’s a level of stupid that I wasn’t willing to go to.

I basically had to give Hartmann a cursory nod, then medically discharge him. Thank you for your service, and all that jazz.

But what if Carol had made a choice that sent the story in a totally different direction?

What if Hartmann was placed front and center, while Lambert was relegated to the sidelines? Brain damage and all?

So that’s what I wrote.

And the part that has my heart beating excitedly is that I managed to work in a survival in the woods scene. Finally, my past life has a purpose! Har de har.

Truth be told, sometimes I kick myself for how I let myself get wrangled into writing a story about the military. I’ve been researching and all that, but I don’t have the IRL experience to feel confident about what I’m writing.

The Scion Suit

The Scion Suit Character Notes

Carol

  • Age: 31
  • Rank: special officer
  • Time served: *2 years cleaning the Suit*
  • Appearance: 5’4″, brown hair – just above shoulders, wears neutral t-shirts and tank tops
  • Personality: “Obedient and unambitious”, but has a petty vindictive side. Struggles with anxiety. Starts off bland, because [SPOILER].
  • Drink of choice: Moscato (sparkling white wine)
  • Other notes: Lambert mockingly calls her “commander”. The Suit recognizes her as the primary user.

Lambert

  • Age: 40
  • Rank: Captain
  • Time served: 6 years
  • Appearance: 6’0″, bulky, dark brown hair, wears dark colors when not in uniform.
  • Personality: Irritable. Has no life outside of the military. Secretive about himself.
  • Drink of choice: Whisky
  • Other notes: Was a psychiatrist before joining the military.

Hartmann

  • Age: 35
  • Rank: Master Sergeant
  • Time served: 18 years
  • Appearance: 5’11”, angular, sandy blonde hair
  • Personality: Joined the military for the action, loves being recognized for his accomplishments.
  • Drink of choice: hard liquor for getting drunk/showing off
  • Other notes: Brain damaged by the Suit

Holmes

  • Age: 21
  • Rank: Corporal
  • Time served: 3 years
  • Appearance: 5’10”, lanky
  • Personality: Young, likes to tease, but takes his job seriously and follows his orders very well.
  • Drink of choice: Anything lawl
  • Other notes: Has a girlfriend, planning on getting married after his service is up.

The Scion Suit

The Scion Suit VN edition

I’ve been converting The Scion Suit into a script for an interactive fiction game, and I’m amazed at how well it’s translating over into second-person narration. It’s almost like I wrote the story for this purpose without realizing it…

I don’t remember laying it on so thick with the Carol/Lambert pairing, but apparently I did. Lambert’s seriously got the hots for Carol, but she’s too obsessed with the Suit to realize it, lol.

I wasn’t actually planning on starting this project right away, since I know full well that I’m committing myself to months and months of work here, but my husband can be so persuasive. He immediately jumped on getting me set up with Twine and Vim, supplied me with documentation, and appealed to my teenager years when I played with HTML for fun.

Tangent: Bit funny, really, but the only reason why I didn’t go down the web designer path is because one person flaked out and left me feeling stranded. I would have eventually quit to raise babies and write anyway, but it could have possibly spared me from developing a great deal of cynicism.

Let’s not kid ourselves: we’re here for the deep undercurrents of cynicism and alienation.

Back to our regular schedule …

It’s fun to type up things like:
<<Lambert “I yell at you so much because I secretly want to bed you, but I know I shouldn’t.”>>
”How do you reply:”
[[I love you too! -> Ooo_la_la]]
[[Who are you again? -> OUCH]]

Look at me! I’m programing! I AM SO SMART! LAWL.

Anyway

While I’m playing it safe and basic on the technical side of things, I’m feeling ambitious in terms of branching “what ifs” for the story. The whole point is to provide tons and tons of avenues to explore.

Including this:

Unfortunately, this isn’t the sort of thing that I can really share as I work on it, so you’re going to have to wait until I’m ready to publish the game. I know, I’m disappointed too.