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.

The Scion Suit

The Scions – 1

Don’t get excited.

Seriously.

I wrote this section because of insomnia, but for the time being I have no intention of continuing the story for at least several months.

Like I said, I wrote this because I couldn’t sleep, so it definitely could use plenty of refinement. But for the moment, I’m busy with preparing for Christmas/managing kids that are growing exponentially excited every single day, so I don’t really have the brain power at the moment.

Without further ado,


The Scions

Lambert had opened the curtains of the cabin to let in the morning sun, only to discover that a Suit was casting its shadow across his window. He gave himself a moment to let the sight sink into his mind, knowing that it meant Carol had come through for him, and that the Aurigans had accepted his proposal of joining them. Although there had been no other communication, this new Suit was obviously meant for him to climb aboard and pilot back to meet them, wherever they were hidden. His retrieval was nowhere near as grand as Carol’s had been, but it was still happening.

He realized that he was laughing. When he had first seen that mouse of a woman, flustered and nervous as she sat alone in that tiny interrogation room, he hadn’t the slightest inkling that she would one day take him to the stars – literally. The best that he had hoped for out of the acquaintanceship was a promotion in the military.

Instead, Carol had cost him his position as captain. Her following absence had made her encroach increasingly into his thoughts, until he had found himself drunk and alone in his hunting lodge, and she had unexpectedly flashed back into his life. The Suit outside was proof that they would be reunited again, and much sooner than he had hoped for.

Lambert thought about whether or not he should put any lingering affairs in order, or if he should simply disappear without a trace. He had no family, and had ranked everyone he had known as either ‘subordinate’ or ‘superior’ rather than by any metric of friendship. The material items in his life would not miss him.

He walked silently to the bathroom, where he showered to rinse away the sluggishness of a hangover, then very carefully shaved the stubble that had grown over the past few days of apathy and booze. Finally he dressed smartly in civilian clothes, choosing a well-pressed navy button-up shirt and slacks. After giving himself a thorough examination in the mirror, he went outside and hesitated as he breathed in the fresh morning air, marveling at how real and vivid nature around him felt now that he was leaving it forever.

Then he climbed into the Suit.

The interior whirred to life after the door closed, and a computer voice chimed, “User detected: Welcome Guest. Run autopilot program ‘Return home?

“Yes,” Lambert answered, his throat tight. He hated the way the Suit squeezed when it adjusted itself to the user, and had passed over his chance to pilot the original to avoid the repeated sensation of claustrophobia. In retrospect, after it became apparent that unintended side-effects had damaged MSG Hartmann’s brain, it had been a fortuitous decision for him personally. He wondered how the Aurigans would deal with that complication once he joined them – he wasn’t going to spend a second longer than necessary inside the Suit until he knew the answer.

There was a jerk as the jets kicked on and the Suit flew upwards, higher and higher than Lambert had ever imagined himself traveling before. It was surreal to watch the curve of the Earth grow wider and deeper, until it took his breath away to realize that he was now viewing a complete circle. And still, the Suit traveled onward.

As the Earth grew smaller behind him, the moon grew larger before him, and he unconsciously noted the rocks and hills of the surface before the Suit zipped him out of the light and into darkness. There, on the far side of the moon, the Aurigan ship was waiting.

Lambert half expected to discover a hodgepodge gathering of alien ships lurking unseen in the shadow of the moon, all of them secretly observing the nearby Earthlings as they swapped stories and goods with each other. In contrast to his imagination, the single ship was a lonesome sight. However, although the angle was different, he recognized it as the one that had hovered above base, the one that Carol had been sent to investigate then never returned from. He would later learn that it was a simple research vessel, a common and unassuming ship for the Aurigans, but it was impressively larger than any aircraft that existed on Earth.

As his Suit approached the ship, doors opened and he entered into what looked like a cargo bay. When his feet touched the floor, the Suit relinquished control back to him, and left him free to move about on his own. As he flexed, trying to feel natural inside a giant mechanical body, it struck him that his muscles were stiff and sore. A quick check of the Suit’s chronometer revealed the journey had taken close to five Earth hours, and a strange jolt jumped through him. He hadn’t been remotely aware of that much time passing, and wondered how on it had been possible. Had the Suit messed with his brain?

A door on the far end of the room opened, and two more Suits entered, slowly coming toward him. In many ways they were visually identical, and if they had been standing still he would have never been able to guess at who could have been piloting them. But one of them moved with a body language that Lambert would recognize and know on his death bed.

Carol had come to greet him.

The Scion Suit

The Scion Suit – Behind the scenes

I know, everyone is all like, “Oh my god, she’s beating a dead horse! The story wasn’t that good.”

But ha ha! I intend on turning this horse into GLUE! The only escape is to stop reading my blog, bwahahahahahahaha!

Actually, I’ve had a really crazy week, and now I’m coming down sick/loopy from the stress. Hoo-rah!

ANYwho, some of my personal notes on The Scion Suit:

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I changed a few things for the final version, but you can probably see how things evolved.

Not pictured: Research into military rankings and culture. This was the hardest part for me; I didn’t want to be blatantly wrong, but the only personal experience I have is a handful of conversations with a couple of ex-military guys. I’m not actually sure if Lambert would have had his own office as a captain.

Also not pictured: Lots of brainstorming with my husband. He’s my number one source of inspiration, meaning he comes up with the ideas and I steal them. Just kidding. He knows how to get my juices going. Lol.

Why did I choose that particular prompt?

My method is to sort by ‘new’ then keep scrolling until I find something that stands out to me, and ignore popularity altogether, because I’m an arteest and not an attention whore. I picked that prompt because it reminded me of a reoccurring dream that I’ve had several times over the past few years, and I very nearly wrote the dream as my response. However, I very quickly decided that the dream deserved the time and attention that I put into my novels, and opted to come up with an entirely new story instead. The dream was still a major influence.

Then the prompt got popular. Whoopsie.

So there you go.